History From America's Most Famous Valleys
THE WINDECKERS AND RELATED FAMILIES
A Family History donated by: Harry Windecker
Motivating forces for migration. Historical events may have prompted the Palatine Germans, including Hartman, to leave for America. For instance, in 1702, England, Holland and Germany declared war on France, in support of Charles, Archduke of Austria to the Spanish throne. As a result, Louie XIV and the Catholic French took control of this area of Germany and subsequently placed the devout Protestant Lutherans of the area under intense pressure to convert to Catholicism. The standard operating procedure of those times was to partake in the preferred religious activities of the local ruler. If the ruler was Catholic, subjects were Catholic or suffer the consequences. Likewise, if the ruler were Lutheran or practiced another religion, the subjects would follow, or else!
In addition, living conditions were horrendous, and taxation severe. The winter of 1708 was also one of the coldest on record. Cattle are reported to have frozen in their stalls, and spit would freeze before hitting the ground (so it was said).
The English sent agents into Germany with the promise of free land in America. This promise must have been very appealing. Hence, an exodus out of Germany, to Holland, thence to England occurred. Was it religious freedom, the destitute living conditions of the tenant farmers, the offer of free land, or a combination of any or all of these conditions that made them leave their homes? For any of these reasons, as many as 3000 fellow Germans followed this pathway to America in 1709/10, preceded by a much lesser number in 1707, and other waves of immigration at later dates (1720s).