Friday, February 18, 2011

I enjoy every episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” but usually not for the same reasons as most of the viewers.

Last Friday’s show was no exception. Tim McGraw, famous country singer and husband of Faith Hill, lives in Tennessee near the same area where I lived for ten years. History is a part of everyday life in Williamson County. Historical Markers dot roadsides to commemorate Hood’s Retreat. Homes like the Carter house and McGavock Cemetery at Carnton Plantation stand stalwart and resonate the echoes of battles long past. Yes, I love the landscape and history of Tennessee.

Tim’s family history did not begin in Tennessee. He grew up in Lousiana yet his ancestors made an impact in a number of states between the 1700 and 1800s. For the WDYTYA show, he retraced their steps and traveled to the Shenandoah Valley, Washington D.C. and New York City. places I have gone, too. My favorite part was when Tim saw the place of origin listed for one of his great, great grandfathers and asked,“What is a Palatin?”

I realized most of the audience probably asked the same question Tim did, yet my heart soared as I saw a connection to my own heritage. As a German from Russia, I knew the Palatine and I knew why so many people chose to leave such a beautiful section of the world in the 1700s. I was ecstatic to know that the story would be part of prime time as it would be explained to Tim.

"Palatines are people who emerged from the Palatinate which is described as
The Palatinate or German Pfalz was subject to invasion by the armies of Britain, France, and Germany. As well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708 and 1709, the harshest in 100 years.

The scene was set for a mass migration. At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7,000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4,000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest.

In 1710,three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3 000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for New York and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival.
Retrieved February 12, 2011 from 2011 from

Tim’s Palatine ancestors sought refuge west while mine sought refuge east. His family headed to England where they were promised free land in the New World.
They sailed for New York a bit earlier than the Germans who accepted Catherine’s Manifesto invitations to Russia. Both of our ancestors left for many of the same reasons, but mine left after the Seven Years War. Invitations to migrate from the Palatinate offered hope of food and a new life through all of the 1700s.

Such a fabulous history lesson this show provides! I can hardly wait for the show to begin tonight.

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