Monday, March 4, 2013

Program Review - Hank Z. Jones on "Palatines"

Hank Z. Jones, Jr. always has a fun and informative presentation, and he did not disappoint on 27 February with his talk on "Tracing the Origins of Early 18th Century Palatine and Other Emigrants."

Hank, of course, "wrote the books" on Palatine Emigration to Ireland and the United States (and we have them in the Family Research section of the Chula Vista library).  He started out noting that "Palatine" was a generic term in the early 18th century for a person of German origin.  Many of them came from the Pfalz region on the Rhine called the "Palatinate."

After discovering his own connections to Irish Palatines, he began work on his book for the Palatine Families of New York, making a comprehensive study of the 846 families that arrived in 1710, then tracing as many as possible to their ancestral homes in Germany, and document the results.  Other books treated later arrivals to New York, and also Palatines to Pennsylvania.  He found that "to find one tree, you have to search the forest," because many of the families came from one location and knew, worked and socialized together when they arrived in America.  

Hank noted that he had made many mistakes, and from those mistakes learned a number of lessons, including:

*  "An immigrant is an immigrant..." - and the research process is the same no matter when they migrated.  
*  Don't look overseas too early - investigate the American resources first.
*  American colonial churchbooks have significant data and are ripe with clues as to European origins
*  They came in groups - the saving grace of his 40-year Palatine project.  Study the names of neighbors, baptismal sponsors, and witnesses to marriages, wills and deeds for clues 
*  Study the juxtaposition of names on all available unalphabetized lists on which your ancestor appears.
*  German churchbooks are a prime source in establishing your Palatine roots
*  Other German sources to be utilized in your research include emigrant permission lists, court records, oaths of allegiance, deeds, probate records, historical and genealogical libraries, and German periodicals.
*  Be open to all spelling variations of German names.
*  Follow your instincts as well as your intellect.

Hank's handout provided a great bibliography of books to help trace the origins of 18th century German emigrants.

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