Palatine Roots: I. OUR GERMAN ANCESTRY

The dream.
     Living in America today we can hardly imagine the dreams and expectations which must have inspired our ancestors to abandon friends, family and familiar surroundings in exchange for a chance to live a better life in a new, but unknown world. Certainly there were many factors which motivated the thousands in central Europe who left their homes and set out for America in the eighteenth century.  The desire for religious freedom, fear of the devastation of war, oppressive taxation and the desperate need for more land for farming were among the most common causes of emigration. But underlying these seems to have been a very successful public relations campaign waged by the English colonial landholders who profited from the influx of industrious, dependable new citizens.
     These propagandists were most influential in a region of western Germany known as the Rhineland Palatinate (German: Rhineland Pfaltz) and in northern Switzerland where the concentration of the preferred Protestants was substantial.  So many emigrated from these areas that, to the English, Palatine became synonymous with German and the description "poor Palatine" was applied by them to any German-speaking, itinerant colonists.  In a series of tracts known as "Golden Books", the new lands (referred to as "the island of Carolina" "the island of Pennsylvania," etc.) were described in such glowing, unrealistic and even deceptive terms that many believed they offered heaven on earth and a life of ease. The propaganda was so successful that in 1709 and 1710 German and Swiss Protestants by the thousands made the six-week journey down the Rhine to Rotterdam.  From there they poured into London, expecting to be transported immediately to the colonies by a grateful British government.

Awakening.
     Unfortunately, there were far too many immigrants arriving in too short a time to be assimilated expeditiously into the British colonies in America. The city of London into which the nearly destitute Germans descended was already suffering from over-crowded slums where disease and hunger were taking a toll of fifteen percent per year. The burden on the local economy quickly became intolerable and riots broke out when it became obvious that the "poor Palatines" were taking jobs away from their reluctant hosts.
     The Palatines of that period were eventually settled in various parts of the British Isles as well as in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and other American colonies, but the picture painted by the propagandists remained to draw a steady stream of land seekers from the Rhine valley of Germany.

A Rempi goes to Nova Scotia.
     In the late 1740s, the conflict between England and France over control of land in Canada was settled in favor of the British, and Lord Halifax took the opportunity to strengthen the colony of Nova Scotia by attracting people of quality as settlers. He deliberately recruited German Protestants from the Palatinate because of their reputation for industry and stability. One of 2300 who responded to the call was Johan Andreas Rempi (b. ca. 1704-1711), the first of the Rampy ancestors
to come to the Now World.
     In 1751 at about the age of forty, Andreas (we would call him Andrew) took his family of six, including a daughter Anna Barbara (age 15) and a son George (age 8) by ship from Rotterdam to Halifax. The name appears on the passenger list as "Rimpie", but Andreas signed in a clear hand, "Rimbie".
     After two years in Halifax, the bulk of the German colonists established the new town of Lunenburg about sixty-five miles to the southwest. Not far from there George Rimby carried on the family name. Today the name may still be found in West Dublin spelled "Remby" and "Rimby".

The Rempi family in Germany.
     In northern Germany there is a well known family by the name of "Rampe" (pronounced Rom'-puh) which has been traced back to the twelfth century. Their genealogy and coat-of-arms are included in the "German Lineage Books" which were used extensively during the Nazi era to prove non-Jewish ancestry. It is not unlikely that the Rempis of southern Germany, from which the American Rampy family is descended, is related in some way to the Rampes. However, no such connection has yet been established.  As of this writing, the earliest known ancestor of the Rampy family is Christian Rimpy (b. ca. 1650). No conclusive evidence proves the relationship, but it is likely that he was Johan Andreas' grandfather. His name appears in the churchbooks of the town of Meisenheim on the occasion of his daughter's marriage in 1694. The marriage took place in the nearby village of Gangloff, presumably the home of the Christian Rimpy family at that time.
     The only surviving official records available to us from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are those made by the churches. They list the important events in the lives of the people: births, christenings, confirmations, marriages, deaths, and occasionally, notes regarding emigration (e.g., "Johan Georg Schwartz went to America"). Since many villages were too small to have a church of their own, the records are to be found in the nearest village where a church did exist.  In the records of the Evangelical church in Meisenheim, a small town of about a thousand people today, the names  of many Rempis appear beginning in 1694. The places associated with the names are nearby villages, none more than four miles distant.  Meisenheim is a delightful town with a street layout which remains today the same as it was over five hundred years ago when it was surrounded by a protective wall. Some of that wall still stands, and one of its towers is the repository of the city archives. The ancient records are lovingly cared for by Gunther F. Anthes, an engineer by profession who learned of his Meisenheim heritage some twenty years ago and has been spending his weekends there ever since.  Herr Anthes' family, incidentally, is related by marriage to the Rempis of the neighboring village of Breitenheim.
 


Meisenheim on the Glan River, Eighteenth Century
 
 


The author (L.) and Gunter F. Anthes. (Breitenheim, Germany)

Johan Andreas Rempi.
     Exactly when Andreas left his home in the Meisenheim area is not known, but in 1727, probably in his early twenties, we find him at the altar of an Evangelical church in the city of Landau, Germany, taking the hand of Maria Magdalena Speissert in marriage. She was the daughter of a baker and he the son of a "handyman," Johan Paul Rempe.  Although he was probably only an apprentice at the time, Andreas is listed as a "potter."
     The couple remained in Landau for at least nine years, during which time they had four children: Maria Magdalena (b. 1728), Johan Nicholas (b. 1729), Anna Maria, (b. 1730), and Anna Barbara (b. 1736). No records have been found for the period between 1736 and 1751, the year the family left for Nova Scotia, but during that time, at least two more children, George and Elizabeth, were born.
     In contrast to the pleasant, country atmosphere of Meisenheim, which lies among green hills alongside the Glan river, Landau is now a small metropolis, and not a very pretty one at that. No doubt the contrast was less severe two centuries ago, but nevertheless, it is clear that the Rempis were used to an urban, not a rural environment.

 

The Family of Christian Rempi
(Rheinland Palatinate, Germany)

CHRISTIAN (Haefelfingen, Switzerland and Gangloff, Germany)
b. 1632, m. Margaretha Sonnenberg, 1654, d. before 1695

Georg (Reiflelbach)
b. ca. 1670, m. ca. 1690
Children: Conrad, ca. 1691 Phillip, ca. 1694 Susanna Ells., ca. 1698

PAUL (Meisenheim)
b. 1672, m. ca. 1697
Children: Nicholas, 1698, Maria Elis., 1699, Georg, 1707,
              ANDREAS, 1711 (m.1727 m. Maria Magdalena Speissert), 
              Elis. Catherine, 1713.  (Andreas went to Nova Scotia, 1751)

Children of Andreas: Maria Magdalena, 1728, NICHOLAS, 1729, Anna Maria, 1730, 
Anna Barbara, 1736, Georg, ?, Elisabeth, ?
(Nicholas went to South Carolina, 1764)
Elisabeth (Gangloff, to New York, 1709)
b ca. 1674, m. 1694 (Nichlaus Wilhelm of Medard)
Children: Susanna Maria, 1695, Peter, 1697, Anna Maria, 1702

Heinrich (Becherbach)
b. ca. 1676, m. ca. 1695
Sons: Jacob, ca. 1695 (Jacob and his son(?), Christoph arrived Phila. 1741), and Peter, ca. 1700

The extremely common first name, 'Johan', has been omitted in the table above.

The vicinity of Meisenheim, Germany, where the Rempi family lived in the 17th and 18th centuries.


The record of christening, Johan Nicholas Rempe, 1729, Landau, Germany.

 
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