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In German: Rheinland-Pfalz, Deutschland



Rhineland Location

Rhineland-Palatinate (German: Rheinland-Pfalz) is one of the 16 states of Germany. The capital is Mainz. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate was established on 30 August 1946. It was formed from the northern part of the French Occupation Zone, which included parts of Bavaria (the Rhenish Palatinate), the southern parts of the Rheinprovinz, Preußen (including the District of Birkenfeld, which formerly belonged to Oldenburg), parts of the Prussian Province of Nassau, and parts of Hesse-Darmstadt (Rhinehessen on the western bank of the Rhine). [[1]

Rhineland-Palatinate (German: Rheinland-Pfalz, French: Rhénanie-Palatinat) is one of the 16 states (German: Länder) of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of 19,846 square kilometers (7,663 sq mi) and about four million inhabitants. The city of Mainz functions as the state capital.

The state of Rhineland-Palatinate was established on 30 August 1946. It was formed from the northern part of the French Occupation Zone, which included parts of Bavaria (the Rhenish Palatinate), the southern parts of the Prussian Rhine Province (including the District of Birkenfeld, which formerly belonged to Oldenburg), parts of the Prussian Province of Nassau (see Hesse-Nassau), and parts of Hesse-Darmstadt (Rhinehessen on the western bank of the Rhine). The state constitution was confirmed by referendum on 18 May 1947.

Rhineland-Palatinate is divided into 24 districts, formerly grouped into the three administrative regions: Koblenz, Trier and Rheinhessen-Pfalz. Since 2000, the administrative regions execute their authority over the whole state, i.e., the ADD Trier oversees all schools.


Rhineland-Palatinate has supplied immigrants to many parts of the world. The names of the villages of New Paltz, Palatine Bridge and German Flatts, New York, and Palatine, Illinois, attest to settlements of Palatine Germans. The Hunsrückischen dialect in Brazil also bears testimony to an immigrant community.

The Pennsylvania Dutch spoken by the Amish in the United States is (among other dialects) derived from the German dialect spoken in the Rhineland-Palatinate, which many Palatine refugees brought to the colony in the early decades of the 18th century.

Certain colonies in the United States were settled by major groups of poor Palatines—then refugees in England—passage paid for by Queen Anne to reduce the number of impoverished families who had taken refuge in London. In 1710 the English used ten ships to transport nearly 3,000 Germans to the colony of New York. Many died en route, as they had been weakened by disease. They were settled in work camps along the Hudson River, where they developed naval stores for the English to work off their passage. Churches set up in both the East and West Camps provided some of the earliest population records in New York. In 1723 the first hundred heads of families were allowed to acquire land west of Little Falls, New York along the Mohawk River, in what was called the Burnetsfield Patent after the governor. This became Herkimer County. The Germans and their descendants were important in the defense of the Mohawk Valley during the American Revolutionary War.

New Bern is one of the earliest North Carolina colonies settled in 1710 by about 400 Palatines (650 left Germany, but about half died in passage) and 100 Swiss. This venture was orchestrated by the Swiss-born Christoph von Graffenried after purchasing more than 19,000 acres (7,700 ha) from the British Proprietors of the Carolinas.

In the 19th century, there was a substantial numbers of emigrants from the area around Trier, many of whom settled in Wisconsin.

Other Regions Making Up the State of Rhineland-Palatinate

The Prussian Rhine Province (German: Rheinprovinz), also known as Rhenish Prussia (Rheinpreußen) or the Rhineland (Rheinland), was the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia, within the German Reich from 1822–1946. It was created from the provinces of the Lower Rhine and Jülich-Cleves-Berg. Its capital was Koblenz and in 1939 had eight million inhabitants. The Province of Hohenzollern was militarily associated with the Oberpräsident of the Rhine Province.

The Rhine Province is bounded on the north by the Netherlands, on the east by the Prussian provinces of Westphalia and Hesse-Nassau and the grand duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt, on the southeast by the Palatinate (controlled by Bavaria), on the south and southwest by Lorraine, and on the west by Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Province of Hesse-Nassau (German: Provinz Hessen-Nassau) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1868 to 1918, then a province of the Free State of Prussia until 1944.

Hesse-Nassau was created as a consequence of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 by combining the previously independent Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), the Duchy of Nassau, and the Free City of Frankfurt, areas gained from the Kingdom of Bavaria, and areas gained from the Grand Duchy of Hesse (Hesse-Darmstadt; including part of the former Landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg). These regions were combined to form the province Hesse-Nassau in 1868 with its capital in Kassel and redivided into two administrative regions: Kassel and Wiesbaden.

On 1 April 1929, the Free State of Waldeck became a part of Hesse-Nassau after a popular vote and became part of the Kassel administrative region.

In 1935, the Nazi government abolished (de facto) all states, so the provinces held little meaning. In 1944, Hesse-Nassau was split into the provinces of Kurhessen (capital in Kassel) and Nassau (capital in Wiesbaden). In 1945, after the end of World War II, these two provinces were merged and combined with the neighbouring Hesse-Darmstadt to form the northern and western part of the newly-founded state of Hesse. Parts of Nassau were also moved into the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Rhenish Hesse or Rhine-Hesse (German: Rheinhessen) was once part of the former People's State of Hesse (previously Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt) located west of the Rhine and now part of Rhineland-Palatinate. It is a hilly countryside largely devoted to vineyards, therefore it is also called the "land of the thousand hills." Its larger towns include: Mainz, Worms, Bingen, Alzey, Nieder-Olm and Ingelheim. Many inhabitants commute to work in Mainz, Wiesbaden, or Frankfurt.

The Palatinate (German: die Pfalz, Pfälzer dialect: Palz), historically also Rhenish Palatinate (German: Rheinpfalz), is a region in Southwestern Germany. It occupies more than a quarter of the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz). Historically in union with Bavaria, the Palatinate covers an area of 5,451 square kilometres (2,105 sq mi) with about 1.4m inhabitants.

History of The Palatinate

The former Celtic region was conquered by the Roman Empire under Emperor Augustus about 12 B.C., becoming part of the Germania Superior province. During the decay of the Empire, Alamanni tribes settled here. Their territory was conquered by Francia under King Clovis I about 496. From 511 onwards the area belonged to the eastern part of Frankish Austrasia, that—as Rhenish Franconia—became part of East Francia according to the 843 Treaty of Verdun.

From the Middle Ages until the end of the 18th century, the Palatinate was divided into several large and small states. The most important of these was the Electorate of the Palatinate (Kurpfalz), a number of territories formerly held by the Counts Palatine (Pfalzgrafen) of Lotharingia. In the late 12th century the Counts Palatine had achieved the status of a Prince-elector (Kurfürst), i.e. one of the seven nobles with the privilege of electing the King of the Romans, confirmed by the Golden Bull of 1356.

In 1214 the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach was deeded these estates, which they ruled until 1918, together with the collateral branch of Palatinate-Zweibrücken from 1410, until the re-unification with Bavaria under Elector Maximilian I Joseph in 1799. The major ecclesiastical territory in the region was the Bishopric of Speyer. The Imperial city of Landau joined the Alsacien Décapole in 1521, but was seized by France after the Thirty Years' War.

During the French Revolution, the region was occupied by the forces of the French First Republic in 1794 and after the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio incorporated into the département of Mont-Tonnerre. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, a significant stretch of land on the left bank of the Rhine, which included greater parts of the former Electorate of the Palatinate, became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1816, according to the Final Act of the Vienna Congress. Although the territory was geographically separate from Bavaria, it was ruled together with Bavaria as a single state for the next 130 years.

Since 1808, the administrative regions in Bavaria had been named after their main rivers. Thus, the region, after its incorporation into Bavaria, was officially called the Circle of Rhine (Rheinkreis). In 1835, the romantic-minded King Ludwig I of Bavaria ordered the administrative regions to be named by historical allusions, so the region officially became the "Palatinate" (Pfalz). The historic Electorate of the Palatinate was centered on the right bank of the Rhine with Heidelberg and Mannheim as its capitals, while the new "Palatinate" established in 1815/16 was solely on the left bank of the Rhine, and included territories that had never been part of the historic Palatinate. In order not to confuse the new Palatinate with the historic one (and with the Upper Palatinate), the name Rhenish Palatinate was common, but never official. The term Rhenish Bavaria (Rheinbayern) can also be found sometimes in older maps.

The French had introduced their system of administration and the Code Napoleon in the Palatinate. The Bavarian government preserved both after 1816, which gave the Palatinate a distinct legal status within the Bavarian kingdom. The royal family tried to symbolize the unity with Bavaria by erecting a royal palace in Edenkoben and by the restoration of Speyer Cathedral under direct supervision of King Ludwig I himself. The town Ludwigshafen was named after the king. On the other hand the Palatinate's representatives to the common Bavarian Parliament always prided themselves of their origin from a more progressive region and tried to expand the liberalism, which the French had introduced in the Palatinate, to the whole kingdom.

During the revolution of 1848, a separatist movement tried to establish a "Palatinate Republic" which collapsed under a bloody Prussian military intervention. The union persisted after Bavaria became part of the German Empire in 1871, and even after the Wittelsbach dynasty was deposed and Bavaria became a free state of the Weimar Republic in 1918. After World War I, French troops occupied the Palatinate under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The western districts of Sankt Ingbert and Homburg (Saarpfalz) were separated from the Bavarian Palatinate and became part of the newly established Saarland, which was governed by the League of Nations.

In a clear breach of the treaty the French in 1923 encouraged a separatist movement for a Rhenish Republic in the remainder of the Rhenish Palatinate and the Prussian Rhineland. The Bavarian government reacted sharply and even had the leading separatist Franz Josef Heinz assassinated by a squad under the command of Edgar Julius Jung at the Wittelsbacher Hof in Speyer in January 1924. In February 1924 members of the separatist movement were killed in a shooting in Pirmasens. Also in February 1924, a treaty between Bavaria and the inter-allied commission of the Rhineland (the supreme council of the Allied occupation forces) recognized and reassured the Palatinate being a part of Bavaria.

The union with Bavaria was finally dissolved following the reorganization of German states after World War II during the Allied occupation of Germany. Whereas Bavaria was part of the US occupation Zone, the Palatinate was occupied by French Forces. The French reorganized their occupation Zone by founding new states and, in 1947, the Palatinate was combined with Rhenish Hesse (Rheinhessen), the former parts of the People's State of Hesse left of the Rhine, and the southern part of the Prussian Rhine Province to form the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Current States of Germany

A Baden-Württemberg B Bavaria | Berlin | Brandenburg | Bremen H Hamburg | Hesse L Lower Saxony M Mecklenbur-WesternPomerania N North Rhine-Westphalia R Rhineland-Palatinate S Saarland | Saxony | Saxony-Anhalt | Schleswig-Holstein T Thuringia

North Rhine-Westphalia
North arrow
West arrow Rhineland-Palatinate East arrow East
South arrow


  1. Wikipedia:Rhineland-Palatinate

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I started my GEHRIS to GERES family study after visiting my Aunt Elsie in Florida during a vacation in 1983. She had lots of genealogical information on our Gehris family but not when our family arrived in British America from Germany and no information on where they lived in Germany.

So I began my search on our family, Where did they reside and when did they arrive here in Pennsylvania. That led me to join the Berks County Genealogical Society in Reading, PA. Since then I have found out that my ancestor, Simon Peter GERES and his family arrived in Philadelphia on 24 September 1742 on the ship 'Robert and Alice', After joining the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center located at Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA, I learned lots more info about the family. My wife and I have had two visits to Germany and visited the village of Horschbach, Palatinate, and met with some of our GERES families.

posted 20 Nov 2023 by Roy Gehris   [thank Roy]
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New Paltz, Ulster County New York, was never a German Palatine settlement- it was founded and named by French Huguenots in the 17th Century, who had fled France, across the border to Germany, before coming to New Netherlands which was taken over by the British by 1674 and renamed New York.
posted by Bill J Smith
edited by Bill J Smith