Category Archives: Palatines to America

Palatine History Resources

Stufflebean, or Stoppelbein in its original form, is a German name straight from the Rheinland-Pfalz. Mainz is the modern day capital of this German state, which borders Luxembourg and Belgium.

The first wave of Palatine German settlers arrived in the colonies in 1709. The short version of why they left is that they lived in a region that suffered continual attacks by the French in the early 18th century; a severe winter and then famine compounded their already precarious lives and many made the decision to leave.

However, the governmental edict forbidding citizens to leave meant taking their lives in the hands to escape, but escape they did. Where they went and where they ended up is necessary information for a researcher tracing their own family’s Palatine origins.

Henry Z. (Hank) Jones is the pre-eminent scholar and genealogist who has traced the origins and pieced these families back together. His published volumes document many of the families who passed through England and/or Ireland and then made their way to New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

My goal today is not to detail the histories of individual families, but to provided resources to understand (1) what drove the Palatines to leave Germany and (2) the histories of the Palatine settlers in England, Ireland and the United States.

Just for the record, in the Stufflebean family history, there was a Peter Stoppelbein in the 1709 group of Palatines to America. He was an uncle of the 1740 family and so not my husband’s direct ancestor. Dave’s family arrived in the later group.

First, where did the Palatines go as they escaped from their homeland? They sailed down the Rhine River to Rotterdam and made their way to England. Although the English had encouraged the “Poor Palatines,” as they were called, to settled in England, so many arrived in 1709 and 1710 that they overwhelmed local resources.  The English government came up with a new plan to send the Germans on to settlements in Ireland and the colonies.

The Irish Palatines have been documented and descendants of some of these people still live in Counties Wexford and Limerick. Around the same time, families were also encouraged to continue on to New York and North Carolina.

What records were produced during these waves of movement? More importantly, how does a family historian understand what is and is not to be found in those records? He or she needs to see the “big picture.”

Here are some links to terrific articles to better understand the Palatines’ life situation and 18th century German immigration records:

7 Genealogical Lessons for Researching Your Palatine Ancestors by Hank Jones on Ancestry’s Blog

The Palatines, PDF file from the United Empire Loyalists Association

Palatine History by Lorine McGinnis Schulze on Olive Tree Genealogy

A Brief History of the Irish Palatines on the Irish Palatine Association website

A Short History of the Irish Palatines by Tom Upshaw

Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigration: A British Government Redemptioner Project to Manufacture Naval Stores by Walter Knittle

Palatine Immigration to America by Daniel Rupp

Palatine Immigration into England on Exodus, Movement of the People

The Poor Palatines: An 18th Century Refugee Crisis on the British Library European Studies Blog

Book Review –  Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to America  AND

The 1709 Palatine Migration and the Formation of German Immigrant Identity in London and New York, both by Philip Otterness

The Palatine Migration – 1723 on Berks History Center

The Valley’s Palatine Pioneers by Don Silvius

The Palatine Families Project on

The Great Migration 1717-1754: The Ocean Crossing and Arrival in Philadelphia, book excerpt from Pennsylvania Germans,  A Persistent Minority by William T. Parsons

Although Marianne Wokeck isn’t addressing just the Palatines, her (academic) explanation of information to be found (or missing) in ships’ passenger manifests is well worth the read:
The Flow and Composition of German Immigration to Philadelphia, 1727-1775 by Marianne Wokeck

Looking for a Palatine hereditary society? If you have Palatine ancestors, you might want to visit the Palatines to America National German Genealogy Society or the Irish Palatine Association websites.

Palatines to America

Yesterday, I wrote about my husband’s 4x great grandfather, Johannes Stoppelbein who became known as John Stufflebean, patriarch of many of the Stufflebeans/Stufflebeams today.

I also mentioned that John’s father was an immigrant Palatine, but didn’t say too much else about the Palatines except noting the two major time periods in which they arrived and showing a map of the Stoppelbein ancestral village.

The history of the Palatines to America before they arrived shows a life of turmoil and deprivation for most of them.

This German state borders France, Belgium and Luxembourg, but in the early 18th century, the reasonably well-to-do region had been constantly overrun by attacks made by the French army, bringing destruction to the region.

The winter of 1708-1709 had been especially harsh and left many near starvation after poor harvests.  Then a ray of light appeared when the British government allowed about 13, 000 Palatines to emigrate to England in 1709. However, once the Palatines arrived, their sheer numbers overwhelmed the English and many had no where to live but in tents.  There were English political elements to this story, but I am only giving a brief overview here.

By 1710, most of the Palatines had been transported either to Ireland or to the colonies, which was the preferred destination for most of them. Most of the Palatines were not highly educated and had worked in the vine-growing area of their homeland or as laborers and they didn’t particularly want to be settled into English cities.

There was an extremely high mortality rate among them as they traveled. In the end about 3,000 settled in Ireland, another 3,000 in New York and a slightly smaller number in the Carolinas.

In the intervening time period between 1710 and 1740, the rate of immigration of Germans to America increased and a second large group of Palatines arrived in 1740, with most settling in the mid-Atlantic region or the Carolinas. All hoped for a more prosperous life in the new land.

There are many resources on line giving detailed accounts of life in the Palatinate, England and beyond to the colonies. There are also several membership organizations open to Palatine descendants. Click the tab on my home page to Non-U.S. links and then scroll to German Palatines.

John Stufflebean, Rev. War Soldier

Many of those with German roots are descended from the Palatines, who arrived in the American colonies in two major waves – the first in 1709 and the second in 1740. The Stufflebeans (Stoppelbeins), my husband’s family, had ancestors that arrived with both groups, but his direct ancestor was part of the 1740 arrivals.

Stufflebean is a unique name and, as far as I know, all Stufflebeans/Stufflebeams descend from one of the Palatine immigrants of 1709 or 1740.

I have to admit I had no trouble jumping across the pond back to the Stoppelbein ancestral home in the Langenlonsheim area of Germany thanks to a friend I met at the Los Angeles Family History Center – Henry Z. (Hank) Jones, FASG, who is one of the pre-eminent experts on the Palatines to America. Langenlonsheim is a bit southwest of Mainz, Germany and slightly north of Bad Kreuznach.

In spite of my interest in the ancestral home of the family, most of my research has focused on the man whose name evolved from Stoppelbein to Stufflebean. After navigating the often unbelievably mangled spellings of the name, I was able to trace my husband’s line to Johannes Stoppelbein, born 28 Feb 1756 in Kinderhook, Columbia County, New York, son of Palatine immigrant Johannes Stoppelbein and his wife, Eva Dingman. Johannes served as a soldier in the American Revolution and, as he migrated westward after the war ended, it was his name that changed from Stoppelbein and giving rise to the Stufflebeans.

John first made a statement about his service in 1832 in open court in Estill County, Kentucky. He had quite an adventure as a soldier and it explains how he ended up living in Kentucky after growing up in New York. Here is an excerpt, with spelling corrected:

In Estill County, Kentucky, on the 20th August 1832, in open court, before James McQuinn, Samuel Tipton and Sampson Waters, Justices of the Peace in Estill County, John Stufflebean, resident of Estill County, aged about 80 years made oath: That he was born on the east side of the Hudson River not far below Albany, New York. That in 177?, he was living on a small river or creek which empties into the Delaware River. He thinks it was called Navasene or Nevasink (Neversink). He lived not more than 8 or 10 miles from the Pennsylvania Line and the New Jersey Line. That he enlisted in 1775 or 1776 or about that time in the service of the United States under Captain James Frontiers. He recollects of being stationed for a while at Hackensack, New Winston, Paramus and other small towns. He recollects of receiving 10 pounds as bounty money when he enlisted. About 2 years after he enlisted he went by direction of his Captain with others of the company to spy and guard the neighborhood of the Delaware in New York against the Indians. While out, he was surprised at the house of one Cajaw Indian near the Delaware and taken prisoner by the Indians and Tories. Brant commanded the Indians. Brant was an Indian, either part, or full blooded and was called Colonel Brant. He was said to have been commissioned by the King. That this deponent with some others who were taken prisoners were taken by the Indians of the Delaware after going up up it for some distance on logs or rafts. They afterwards crossed the Susquehanna River. That they were taken to the Mohawk settlement of Indians where this applicant with others were compelled to run the gauntlet. He continued a prisoner with the Indians about 8 months. He was about 18 miles below the Falls of the Niagra. He was sold by the Indians to Colonel Brittain, the British Commander then. Next he was taken to Detroit and remained there about 2 years or more. At length, he with with five others, on the 26th of April (years forgotten) ran away from Detroit, went down the Lake of Water for 100 miles or more, through a wilderness and came to the Muskingum River to the Ohio. There they fell in with James Garrard’s company to Kentucky. He joined this company in coming to Kentucky and has resided here ever since. For reference as to the truthfulness of his statements, he referred to his brother Michael Stufflebean, who resides somewhere in Illinois. In 1828, he went to Illinois and took his brother’s affidavit with a view of making application for a pension but never made application nor did anything more in the business.

When John made his service statement in 1832, he neglected to include the information that he escaped by agreeing to serve with the British forces, which was not an uncommon occurrence at the time.

Two sources verify that service:

1. Rolls of the Provincial (Loyalist) Corps, Canadian Command American Revolutionary Period , by Mary Beacock Fryer and William A. Smy, Dundurn Press, Ltd., 1981.  Page 76, which includes names of those who served in Butlers’ Rangers, lists “#610, John Stufflebem.”

2. Niagara Historical Society (Canada) Publication No 27, (Not Dated), Names Only But Much More, by Janet Carnochan. Page 4 of the Muster Roll of Butlers Rangers, signed by Jacob Ball, 1st Lt, 1783 includes “John Stufflebem, On command to Detroit.”

After two or more years as a prisoner, John may have seen an offer to serve with the British as his only chance for escape. Being German speaking, he may have been seen as a safer bet as a soldier than English speaking colonists.

I found a new item on line about John today – his obituary – and I learned another important fact about him. I knew that John married Priscilla Ross in Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1790 and had at least one son, William, with her and then married Elsee Larrison, widow of Joseph Ketchum, about 1793. His obituary included the revelation that he not only had a wife before Priscilla, but that when he married Elsee, he had three children by his earlier wives.

His obituary includes the tidbit that, during the war,  he and five fellow escapees “falling in among the Indians and representing themselves as sent from the British Army, in pursuit of deserters” were given food and saved from starvation.

The British military records don’t say how long John was considered a British soldier. I wonder if he and the other five men agreed to serve in order to be issued British uniforms to aid in their escape? I guess we will never know the answer to that question.

John and his wife, Elsee Larrison, had about ten children together, one daughter and nine sons, and most of the Stufflebeans who live in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and California are all descended from them.