Palatine Roots: I. OUR GERMAN ANCESTRY
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
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
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.
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
The author (L.) and Gunter F. Anthes.
Johan Andreas Rempi.
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
The Family of Christian Rempi
(Rheinland Palatinate, Germany)
CHRISTIAN (Haefelfingen, Switzerland
and Gangloff, Germany)
b. 1632, m. Margaretha Sonnenberg, 1654,
d. before 1695
The extremely common first name, 'Johan',
has been omitted in the table above.
b. ca. 1670, m. ca. 1690
Children: Conrad, ca. 1691 Phillip, ca.
1694 Susanna Ells., ca. 1698
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)
Elisabeth (Gangloff, to New York, 1709)
Children of Andreas: Maria Magdalena,
1728, NICHOLAS, 1729, Anna Maria, 1730,
Anna Barbara, 1736, Georg, ?, Elisabeth,
(Nicholas went to South Carolina, 1764)
b ca. 1674, m. 1694 (Nichlaus Wilhelm
Children: Susanna Maria, 1695, Peter,
1697, Anna Maria, 1702
b. ca. 1676, m. ca. 1695
Sons: Jacob, ca. 1695 (Jacob and his son(?),
Christoph arrived Phila. 1741), and Peter, ca. 1700
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.