YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Shaking Your Family Tree!

Tracing Palatines' Path to New York


Henry (Hank) Z. Jones Jr. manages to combine an acting career with his lifelong love of genealogy.

"Acting is a feast or famine proposition, so in between my roles I always return to my first love, genealogy, which I have pursued since the age of 8," Jones said.

Jones began his acting career as a co-star of the daytime "Tennessee Ernie Ford Show" on ABC-TV in 1962. He has appeared in several Walt Disney productions, including "Cat From Outer Space," "Shaggy D.A.," "Herbie Rides Again," "The Barefoot Executive" and "Million Dollar Duck," and has appeared on numerous television shows.

In between acting jobs he has written and recently published a history of the courageous German emigrants known as the Palatines who came to New York in 1710.

It took him 16 years to chronicle and document these 847 families. The result is a two-volume, 1,350-page work called "The Palatine Families of New York." For his outstanding work he was awarded the prestigious Donald Lines Jacobus Award by The American Society of Genealogists.

The book is the result of his investigations into original source materials dealing with these families.

"Some of this documented information has been buried in archives and repositories around the world for 275 years and is published for the first time," Jones said. Information about more than 500 of what he calls the "1709ers" has been found in Germany about the period prior to their emigration.

He notes that by reading this history of all the Palatine families who arrived in 1710, one can see just how many of these courageous settlers were intertwined before as well as after their journey.

"The Palatine Families of New York" contains detailed genealogies of these emigrants. This information will enable many researchers to tie in their pre-Revolutionary War German lines.

Also included is a section on the historical background of the Palatines, their reasons for leaving and the hardships they faced--drawn mainly from previously unpublished, poignant and personal views of some of their contemporaries in Germany at that time.

Jones' interest in Palatine genealogy began in 1960 when he discovered his ancestors--the Berghmann/Barkman family--were prominent in the records of the 1709ers who first settled in Ireland. He began by collecting all the church and civil records extant on these Irish Palatines.

Noting that in 1760 his ancestors emigrated from Ireland to Colonial New York with the Philip Embury party of pioneer Methodists, and that many of these Irish Palatines then intermarried with descendants of the 1710 New York Palatines, his fascination with all the New York Palatines was heightened.

He transcribed all extant New York-Palatine church books for the 1710-1776 period onto family group sheets. Then he enhanced this data with everything he could find on each couple from contemporary 18th-Century sources.

Many new "finds" turned up during the course of the project: ancient family Bibles, long-buried naturalization papers, new material on the 1709ers as they passed through Holland uncovered in Dutch sources.

"The Palatine Families of New York" is available from the author, P.O. Box 8341, Universal City, Calif. 91608 for $89.50 postpaid.

Los Angeles Times Articles