A few years back when the PA German Society and the offices of the American Folklife Institute hosted a modern Germanic television film crew to televise our current PA Dutch territory for an European Broadcasting Company, we were glad to meet local PA Dutchmen, some of which were Palantine Germans, who came from New Jersey and were celebrating their 300th anniversary of arriving in America. As were French Huguenots in the Oley Valley also commemorating their Colonial anniversary in the historic Oley Valley of Berks County.
However, French ancestors were seeking relief from freedom of religion denied them under the French King Louis the XIV in the fertile Rhine Valley that they had shared with Germany. Ironically, the Shaners, were also rejoicing in their PA Dutch Heritage. They were owners of the 1804 town crier’s home, where hangs an original oil portrait of King George III who the 13 colonies had declared their independence from in the American Revolution to establish our United States Republic in 1776. But few Americans realize that George the Third was actually a German-born prince before he became the King of England (1738 to 1820) at a time when royal families intermarried and the peasant class did not mean much to the monarchs of Europe.
Thus, his kinship to the PA Germans of Palantine and Huguenot ethnic ancestry of the fabled Rhine Valley did not mean anything to King George III, as he fought against PA Deitsch immigrants to prevent the Thirteen original colonies from achieving Independence. He was now King George the Third and the head of the Great British Empire whose land the Sun never set on as its colonies were spread around the globe. He was now one of the most powerful monarchs of the world whose ethnicity had nothing to do with the peasant immigration class or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; not even realizing that a third of the Colonial population of William Penn’s proprietary colony was made up of German immigrants from the historic Rhine Valley.
As early American colonists, they were a hundred percent behind the Declaration of Independence, and later became full-fledged citizens under the United States Constitution. Welcoming these modern German citizens at our offices in Kutztown’s Town Crier’s home with a number of antique German artifacts was an Americana treat. Included in this collection were a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence at the front door, and the rare oil painting of King George III of England wearing his English Monarch medallions that was hanging over the front parlor Georgian fireplace.
George Apgar, a Palantine “Deitsher” from New Jersey, eyed a PA Deitsch long rifle standing behind a Kutztown American Eagle tall case clock and called it to everyone’s attention. It was one of the guns that made it possible for us to win the American Revolution. Needless to state, the German guests felt very much at home as they continued to see other local artifacts at the Kutztown Historical Society Museum later that day. But most of all, conversing amongst themselves with local natives in the Palantine German Dialect of Colonial America or the Pennsylvania Dutch language was very real to them, made more nostalgic to them being among the American-German material artifact treasures.