Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

 

The following information has been excerpted from an article which appeared in the Orrville, Ohio Courier written by L O Weiss [date not given to me]. It may be presumed that this historical background applies to our ancestors.

* * *

"In the early days of the Reformation, religious thinking fell into 3 distinct patterns. There were the Catholics, who remained loyal to the Papacy at Rome, the Church People, who fought incessantly against the political power vested in the Catholic Church, and the Anabaptists or 'Plain People', who were repelled by the moral and spiritual decay of the Holy Roman Empire.

"It was an age of bitterness and religious intolerance, which always breeds persecution of individuals and war between the groups. Catholics and Church People fought each other in the courts and on the battlefield. The Anabaptists were persecuted and prosecuted by both Catholics and Church People whenever there was need for a political scapegoat.

"These "plain People', who professed and practiced plain and simple living, split up into a number of sects, chief among them being the Moravians, the Baptists, the Amish and the Mennonites. Most of them were located along the Rhine from the Alps to the Zuider Zee. They emigrated back and forth along the Rhine and its tributaries whenever persecution by a hostile government was intolerable.

This territory along the Rhine was known as the Palatinate. The many hundred of Swiss, French, Dutch and German immigrants who set sail during the years 1720-1750 from Rotterdam were called Palatines. This immigration movement was the largest, longest and most consistent one in the history of the United States.

"The immigrants were with few exceptions of Protestant faith, many belonging to a group calling themselves Mennonites. The Dutch Mennonites, as early as 1710, had settled in Penn's Grant of Lland, in the section later known as Lancaster County, and by the year 1725 there were flourishing settlements.

"During the Palatine immigration it was only natural that those of Mennonite faith should seek their Dutch brethren when they needed help. Many had fled and it was only through the kindness and brotherly help of the Dutch settlements that they were able to pay their passageway and find food and shelter.

"The voyage during this immigration movement was fraught with danger, disease and death. Often, for days, passengers on the immigrant ships lived on wormy and foul food, drinking putrid water swimming with live insects. Needless to say, many died, while others landed weak and discouraged. History tells us that many Protestants in the Palatine turned back at the dock in Rotterdam after hearing the terrible tales of hardened sailors, but the Mennonites were never known to falter. They were seeking peace in God's abundant land and no sacrifice was too difficult to achieve their goal.

"The ships from the Palatinate usually landed at the port of Philadelphia, especially those carrying a large percentage of Mennonites. A voyage across the Atlantic took approximately 35 days."