History of Pfalzdorf

Interesting history of Pfalzdorf, from the book "175 years of Louisendorf" by Josef Jörissen,
published by Pfälzerbund am Niederrhein, 47574 Goch (Pfalzdorf)

In 1740 colonist from Pfalz came to the lower Rhein. Three large Rheinships anchored June 1741 at Schenkenschanz. On board were emigrants. Religious reasons and economic hardships (frost in winter of 1740/41) that had made farmers poor, were the reason for the emigration to leave their homeland. Many emigrants who were not willing to denounce their religion (protestants) had already shipped downriver to the Netherlands and from there to America.The target was Pennsylvania, a heaven of religious refugees. Some of these emigrants were brought to the states on British ships.

Others got into the hands of bad agents that made profits from the bad luck of the emigrants. They brought them to Rotterdam (Netherlands) and left them there, where they, poor and robbed from all possessions, became a burden of the country.

Since 1739 England and Spain were at war on sea, because Spain had insisted on visitation of English ships in the West Indies. This war limited the commercial ships to North America. This affected the emigrants because only a few ship owners had the courage to transport goods and people over the Atlantic. The ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam were flooded with emigrants who could not find passage. The government for bid more emigrants to enter the country unless they had written documents that they had passage to the USA. The German (Prussian) government did not know the new law in 1741 and let the emigrants pass, but they could not enter the Netherlands.

Only a few who could make arrangements with English captains for passage to the USA could travel on to Rotterdam. The others hoped to get permission from the government, but failed.

The ship owners Dietz and Eichelberg did not want to wait any longer and asked for payment so that they could return upriver. The passengers did not pay because the contract said to pay after arrival in Rotterdam, and so a judge was asked. The judge was unable to make peace and asked the higher court, the war and domain champer in Kleve. This court finally ordered the passengers to leave the ships.

On July 17 the unlucky passengers had to leave the ships with their belongings. The ship owners left immediately. A group of 20 families with 130 people, asked the Kleve court "to get a piece of land for farming and that they would be good citizens under the majesty".

The court acted fast and asked July 18 the cities of Kleve, Emmerich, Huissen and Goch, if they could accommodate the emigrants. The cities of Kleve and Huissen said no quickly, but good news came from Goch. The city promised the emigrants land on the Goch Heide (heide is not very good land). On the good news the emigrants elected two deputies, Friedrich Conrad und Michael Grossart, to contact the city. They went to see the land and on August 8 they gave a list of the families to the city.

On August 23 1741 a contract was signed between the city of Goch and the deputies in the amount of 130 hectares (320 acres), for five years free, five years half interest, and then full interest of 2 taler (4 per acre about).

The emigrants started to clear the land. They bought wood and started building houses. The initial euphony soon gave way to depression because during the winter many died because of too much work and illnesses. There was not enough room to live. Some families looked fro housing in teh city Goch, but they were a burden to the inhabitants and were ordered to leave. In their trouble they sent a note to the King personally though their deputies. In April 1743 the two deputies went to Berlin. A month later they returned with a document of teh King that confirmed their land on the Goch heide. The king refused financial aid because they were not under country responsibility, but the right to the land brought better treatment by the local authorities, and it did not take long until the first 6 houses were finished. They worked hard and new houses were built and more land was cultivated. The news of the success of the colonists was heard in their homeland and another 15 families followed. In 1747 a small town formed and was named Pfalzdorf.

More and more colonists arrived. Between 1750 and 1760 another 25 families arrived and got land. Between 1762 and 1765 another 60 colonists and families arrived, the second period of big growth. After a few years of little growth, between 1769 and 1771 a third period of growth with another 30 families followed.

Even before 1770 the original Goch heide was used up. 1777 there were 103 families and 568 people in Pfalzdorf. The land could not be further divided so children and new colonists had to look for land somewhere else. Some families found places in Aperdener Heide and Bönninghardt, others went to Ostfriesland, that was part of Preussen since 1744, where there were other Heide and Moor land pieces, and the first colony of Plaggenburg was founded.

At about 1780 the Pfalzdorf environment was enlarged. By clearing and cultivating the Scheppenbaumer forest, the colonists advanced over the old border between Kleve and Geldem, up to the road between Kleve and Uedem. This area of 600 acres was owned by the Waldgraf of Monterberg.

At the turn of the 19th century the problem of the young people that had to leave was still a hot topic. More colonists from Pfalzdorf that was now part of France emigrated to the Ostfriesland and founded a new Pfalzdorf.

At the end of the wars when the Rheinland became part of Preussen again, Ostfriesland became part of Hannover. Some of the colonists who had emigrated to Ostfriesland thought about going back to Preussen and the lower Rhein. This was looked at when cultivation of the Kalkarer forest was considered, which was an immediate neighbor of Pfalzdorf after the Schneppenbaumer forest was cleared.

This is the story of Pfalzdorf.

zurück zur Homepage