PALATINE GERMANS AND OUR FIRST EOFF’S IN AMERICA

 

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Generations of wars and heavy taxation in southern Germany plus a severe winter in 1709 caused devastation in the land and impoverished the people, making many families seek relief by migrating.

They were called “Palatines” as most were from the Palatinate region of Germany. One group left in 1708, but a larger group left in 1709. They traveled down the Rhine River to Holland and camped near Rotterdam waiting for ships to England. Of 13,000 Germans who reached London in 1709, only an estimated quarter came on to New York.  The rest found refuge in other places. The huge migration overwhelmed the British government and caused a big political uproar.

Queen Anne encouraged this Protestant migration to her American colonies. Most boarded ships for New York in December 1709, but did not leave England until April 1710. They sailed on eleven crowded boats with unsanitary conditions. Typhus was a problem for these already malnourished refugees. Four hundred seventy people , most children, died before reaching America. With about twenty-one hundred survivors, the Palatine immigration was the largest single immigration to America in the colonial period.  

On reaching New York in June 1710, the ships were quarantined on Nutten Island (now Governor’s Island). Governor Hunter of New York needed the immigrants for the making of naval supplies of pitch, turpentine and tar. Most families first settled along the Hudson River in work camps, to pay off their passage. (This was not a well-thought out process, since Governor Hunter’s pine trees were the incorrect species for producing the needed naval supplies, causing more hardship for the refugees.) Some widows and children, deemed as unfit for the work camps, were left in New York.

Our first Eoff ancestor to come to colonial America was Hans Jacob Eoff (variously spelled Öff, Hoof, Oave and Offin) born October 17, 1679 in Grossheppach, Germany. He was serving an apprenticeship as a weaver, when his illegitimate son Johann Jacob Öff, born to Magdalena Nussbaum, was baptized on April 10, 1702.  Han Jacob and Magdalena married on June 14, 1702. Since an apprentice could not be married, the financial burden of not having a trade and the lure of cheap land could be the reason for the family’s migration. A subsistence list on July 1, 1710 in New York shows the Hans Jacob Off family with five members. By October 4, 1710, the family had decreased to three members. Hans Jacob Eoff died on September 24, 1710 on Governor’s Island, probably from typhus. A child must have also died before October 4, 1710. Magdalena Offin was listed with John Jacob Offin age 8 (or Johann Jacob Off/Eoff our direct ancestor and founder of the Eoff family in America), and Anna Barbara Offin age 6. Magdalena and her children were probably left in New York and did not go the ill-fated Hudson River work camps. She married Joan Peter Kassener (John Peter Castner) in New York 2 April, 1711.

Source for Eoff material – excerpts from “The Eoff Family from the Old World to the New”, from a manuscript by Roberta Grahame in “The McIntires and the Elliotts of Bickle’s Cove, Stone County, Arkansas and the descendents of John McIntire of Maury County, Tennessee” by Pauline Mitchell Pierce, January 1997.

The Eoff ancestors were in my maternal family line, through Edith McIntire Holder.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.

 

About Andrea Musgrove Perisho

Genealogy research on my own ancestors is a new focus. Posts will include information about those ancestors including the social and economic issues, along with techniques for research.
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