The Palatine Immigrants

Part 1

When one hears the name Alsace, it is often assumed that the region is thoroughly French, but it has not always been under French rule.  For much of its history, it was part of Germany. The Palatines were  emigrants from this middle region of the Rhine River. In the late 1600s and early 1700s, the region was repeatedly overrun by French troops, causing armed conflict, destruction, and famine. Even after it became part of France, many of the people spoke Alsatian or a German dialect and had German customs. After the Protestant Reformation, many Alsatians worshipped in Lutheran churches, which put them in conflict with the Catholic French monarchy.  On the map at right, a small red W marks the approximate location of a certain village in Alsace in the late 17th century.


The Ensminger family lived in that village, Waldhambach, very near the Rhine River. I write about the Ensmingers because I am descended from them several times. If you can enlarge the pedigree chart, you will see that both of Elizabeth Miller’s parents were descended from the Ensminger line.  Her father was the grandson of Nicholas Ensminger, and her mother was the granddaughter of Peter Ensminger. Nicholas, born in 1699, and Peter, born in 1694, were brothers, both sons of Philip Ensminger and  Elizabeth Quirin of Alsace. Since Elizabeth Miller was my great-great-great-great grandmother, and I am descended from three of her children, (Thomas, Susan, and Cynthia), my Ensminger ancestry is significant. Only Thomas is shown (above). However, Thomas’s wife, Julia Hunter, was also an Ensminger descendant, as seen in the second chart.

The first Ensminger to come to America was Peter. He left Rotterdam aboard the Samuel with his wife, Maria Catherina Trautmann Ensminger, mother-in-law, Katharina Emmerich Trautmann, and four children, arriving in Pennsylvania in 1733. Peter and Maria Catherina settled in Cocalico in Lancaster County, where two more children were born, and the family attended the Muddy Creek Lutheran Church. Peter was finally able to get 200 acres along Muddy Creek in 1738, but he died in 1739 at the age of 45. A few years later, Maria Catherina remarried.

In 1738, right before Peter died, his brother Nicholas and his family arrived in Pennsylvania on the Billender Thistle with another group of Palatines. Nicholas and his wife, Anna Ludwig, also settled in Cocalico in Lancaster County and attended the Muddy Creek Lutheran Church, where several of his children were baptized.  His daughter Catherine Elizabeth, born in 1742, married Theobalt Mueller (Miller), and they became the parents of Valentine Miller, who later settled in Monroe County, Virginia (now West Virginia).

Meanwhile, Peter’s son Philip, born in 1727, and his wife, Catherine Margaret Kessinger, had moved away from Pennsylvania to Maryland, but they also eventually settled in Monroe County, Virginia. Philip served in the Revolutionary War and is listed as a Patriot with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which has verified that I am his descendant. Philip lived to the ripe old age of 80, and his will was probated in Monroe County. I am a direct descendant of two of his children: Susanna, mother of  Elizabeth Miller, and Mary Elizabeth, who was the mother of Julia Hunter.

The family relationships are so complicated that even I can’t keep them straight unless I am looking at the pedigree chart. The bottom line is that I am descended from the first Philip Ensminger and his wife Elizabeth Quirin at least four times. Some of those relationships are not shown on the pedigree charts above. The first Philip and his wife, Elizabeth, died in France, never coming to America, but their sons and grandchildren seem to have made a positive contribution toward building this country.

Part 2

To be continued . . . (I am researching the following lines, which also appear to be the result of Palatine immigration: Koontz, Federkeil, Longenecker, Spahr, Baumgardner, Schnaeder)


2 Replies to “The Palatine Immigrants”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! We are distant relatives–my maternal great grandmother was an Entsminger. I traced her line on back to Phillip Ensminger and Anna Quirin. She is descended from Johan Henrich Ensminger. My great grandmother was quite a character from what I’ve heard. I’ve always wondered how they came to settle in Appalachia.

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