In 2008 after hearing about WeRelate.org, this genealogy researcher joined the website, and chose the User Name of "White Creek" for his project. White Creek is the name for an area on the border of Bartholomew and Jackson counties, in southern Indiana, which was settled by mostly Saxon immigrants, beginning in the 1830s. However, that "project" got put on the "back burner". It is hoped that the history of those people can be added at a future date. Right now, the "White Creek" people are NOT a part of this story. The User Name of "Stone Creek" would have been more appropriate for THIS work, but it is too late to change now!
Beginning in 2012, it was decided to link a group of pioneers in northern Indiana, to a few individuals who had already been added to WeRelate.org over the years by others, who are unknown to this compiler. This new "project" focuses mostly on the history and genealogy of a group of pioneers mostly from an area between Rockenhausen and Meisenheim, in the Palatinate. These people are NOT of Saxon origin, as the White Creek people are. Therefore, "White Creek" has no meaning, regarding them. Centuries ago, this area was an independent land that was known as "THE PALATINATE". In 2012 it is part of the modern German state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rhein-Pfalz). In the German language the Palatinate is known as the PFALZ. The area had many names over the years. Bayern. Rheinbayern, Bavarian Palatinate, Rheinpreussen, Rheinbaiern, etc. The history of the Palatinate goes back 5,000 years, to the time of the early Celtic settlers. Once known as a part of Gaul, it was conquered by the Romans, who established a successful wine industry. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, the area was invaded by German speaking Frankish tribes, and also other Germanic tribes. Therefore, the population is a mix of cultures and peoples, as is almost all of Europe - contrary to the thinking of some people. In the middle ages the area was ruled by the "Counts Palatine", and the country spanned both sides of the Rhine River. The area was a part of the "Holy Roman Empire", established by Charlemagne, and ended a thousand years later by Napoleon. The famous city of Heidelberg was once the capital city of the Palatinate, until Napoleon removed the east bank section from the Palatinate in circa 1803.
By the 1830s, life for the "common people" up in the hills, who were not part of the wine growing region, nor a part of the great intellectial communities along the Rhine River, had changed very little in all those thousands of years. They had been exposed to many wars over the years, which had impacted their populations significantly. Some of the wars were political, and some religious. The larger Rhineland area became a "hot bed" of religious conflict during the Reformation, with a population which became pretty evenly divided between Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist (mostly German Reformed). With the end of the religious wars, all other faiths except those three were banned. The religion of the population of the area we are concerned about in this project, became almost entirely known as "GERMAN REFORMED". Their many tiny villages, usually had only one church, and almost always it was a German Reformed structure. Their religion and occupations (most were farmers) dominated their lives until the coming of the Industrial Age (and sometimes after). In the early 1700s there were so many refugees up and down the Rhine River, that William Penn offered them homes in his Pennsylvania lands. Many thousands migrated to America and elsewhere. Additional refugees streamed into the Palatinate from Switzerland and the Kingdom of Wurttemburg, some staying, and some moving on. In America, often these Rhine River immigrants were called the "Pennsylvania Dutch".
Perhaps beginning in 1834, some of these Palatines were somehow motivated to migrate to a remote area of Tuscarawas County, Ohio, which had just been formed into townships. Here they could farm and worship as they pleased, with their own kind, and be left alone by the world. One could almost think of them as Amish in their appearence and behavior, and certainly in that era they would have appeared the same! In modern times, the world's largest concentration of Amish live in the next county to the west of Tuscarawas = Holmes County. Also many Amish live in Tuscarawas County. In the townships of Jefferson, Bucks, Auburn, York, Salem, and Sugarcreek; Palatines poured in over many years. They were joined by many other German Reformed, especially from the Kingdom of Wurttemburg, and Switzerland. Also a few Pennsylvania Germans moved in, who were mostly Lutherans, some of whom had lived in America for many generations (like the Pershings). Later Palatines settled in the northern part of Tuscarawas County, and to the north in adjacent Stark County. Tuscarawas County was mostly opened up for large scale settlement after the construction of the Erie Canal across New York state, in 1825.
Tuscarawas County, Ohio is beautiful! Very scenic! Also historic! It reminded the immigrants of their former homes in the Palatinate and Switzerland, and they said so. However, as scenic as this area is, much of the terain is a farmer's nightmare! It is very hilly, the soil in the higher elevations is rocky (mostly flint). It is still very forested in many areas. The farms are nothing like the huge farms that the former citizens created in the Urbana, Indiana area.
History has not disclosed WHY a group of these mostly Palatine pioneers, decided to move on, and WHY they chose Wabash County, Indiana. We know that the History of Tuscarawas County (1884) states that DANIEL LOWER was the "FIRST", and that "many of his neighbors and acquaintances rapidly followed him". They did not migrate all at once. Daniel and his "group of pioneers" probably numbered no more than 30 individuals, most of whom were under the age of 30 years of age, and related to Daniel Lower. They likely left in the summer of 1848, and took canal boats to Cleveland (the same route most of them took to get to Tuscarawas County years earlier). From Cleveland they "probably" went by Great Lakes boats to Toledo. After that, the St. Peter's Church records say they "followed the Wabash-Erie Canal". On foot? The bigger story is that some of the Palatines who had settled in Stark County, Ohio, also migrated shortly after them, and built their new lives in adjacent Huntington County, Indiana. Affiliated German Reformed churches were quickly built in Huntington (St. Peter's), Bippus (St. John's) and on the county line (St. Paul's, sometimes called Beldon), to join with German Reformed churches in Urbana (St. Peter's), and the City of Wabash (St. Matthew's). These churches, after a number of mergers, are now a part of the United Church of Christ, as they apparently are also in Tuscarawas County.
Like the Amish, these Palatine people kept to themselves for a couple more generations, and as in Tuscarawas County, inter-married mostly with their own. However, the Industrial Revolution had spawned an opportunity for the second and third generations to break away from the farms, and from the lifestyle their ancestors had toiled in for perhaps thousands of years. The immigrated Palatine people who had congregated together for perhaps thousands of years, have - within the last one hundred years or so - almost disappeared into "the great American melting pot".
The purpose of these pages is to help to preserve some of the history of those pioneers who populated the area around Urbana, Indiana. So much of that history has already been lost - forever! This is a great story of perseverance, which the pioneer's descendants should know about! It is hoped that there will be some significant stories added to this website, of which this compiler has not yet become aware!
--White Creek 16:20, 16 August 2012 (EDT)