Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The White Man Comes to the Valley

Circa Fall 2005

Chapter One of the History of Schoharie County, New York is mostly about the settlement of the German Palatines in Schoharie County. It concerns their life back in Germany, their voyage here, and other facts.

In the early 1700s, the Palatines lived in Southern Germany. In 1708 and 1709, the French, who were at war with England, Holland, and Germany, “carried hostilities” upon German soil, and devastated the lower part of the country. England, who wanted to continue it’s acquisition of the New World, seized the opportunity. England sent agents to Germany to induce the poverty stricken Palatines into settling in the New World. The Palatines were involved in the second immigration of Germans to New York, and were promised forty acres a family and necessary supplies.

The journey to the New World was difficult, as over 400 Palatines died on the voyage. The Palatines arrived in June and July of 1710, landing near Long Island. As they waited for other provisions, the Germans stayed in New York City. New York City, at the time, was mostly inhabited by the Dutch, who were not on the best terms with the Germans. This lead to ill feelings towards each other.

Huts were constructed for the Germans to live in as they stayed in New York. These huts together were called camps, or “the dorfs”. By 1711, the Palatines became frustrated by their lives, and they demanded that they were to be moved to the land they were promised in Schoharie, then called “Schorie”. English officials denied that an agreement ever existed.

Perhaps the largest grievance of the Palatines is when the English, in 1711, secretly planned to take French Quebec. Over 300 Palatines went along with this expedition, and, after a storm drove a British fleet planning to attack, back, the English turned back. Returning to their camps, they were immediately disarmed, and they found their poor families near starvation.

In frustration, the Palatines wrote a plea to King George, in hopes that he would help them. In this plea they stated their problems and asked for assistance. These problems included all of the previously mentioned events, along with a lack of pay and supplies.

It is very interesting that these letters written 300 years ago are being read today. When a Palatine wrote these letters, they never expected them to be read by a student 300 years later. I wonder what their reaction would be if they knew this.

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Mr. K said...

If we can learn one thing from your article - it's that the English were terrible bastards 200 years ago.

Alezend said...

They would be thinking I really hope the king gives us those supplies.