Christoph von Graffenried’s Grand Adventure!

March 18th, 2017 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

Palatines to America Luncheon, Speaker – Philip Otterness

North Carolina, T233, “Christoph von Graffenried’s Grand Adventure and the Palatine and Swiss Founding of New Bern,” 12:15 pm, Thursday, 11 May 2017

Philip Otterness is professor of history at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. For many years he conducted research on the Palatine migration of 1709-10, focusing on the Palatines who ended up settling in New York. His book, Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York, summarizes much of that research. In 2015, Otterness was tapped by TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” to help actor Katey Sagal learn about her family’s Amish roots.

Now Philip has turned his attention to those members of the 1709-10 migration who traveled to North Carolina rather than New York. There they joined a group of Swiss settlers under the direction of Christoph von Graffenried and helped to found the town of New Bern, North Carolina. Although the settlement was almost completely destroyed in the Tuscarora War soon after the Palatines arrived, it slowly recovered and eventually emerged as North Carolina’s colonial capital.

Philip’s talk will relay some of the findings of his research on the origins of both the Palatine and Swiss settlers and will attempt to unravel the complex and often tragic story of New Bern’s founding.