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Origin of Our Name:

New Paltz

    New Paltz is a unique name. It is probably the only New Paltz in the world. Many people outside the community can't get the name straight and spell it P-L-A-T-Z, which is a fine word in German, but that is not our Paltz.

The state historical marker in front of the Jean Hasbrouck Memorial House tells a little of the name's history.

DIE PFALZ
A FRENCH HUGUENOT VILLAGE GOVERNED BY THE DUZINE
A BODY OF MEN CHOSEN ANNUALLY,
FOR 200 YEARS THE ONLY FORM OF GOVERNMENT.

    Local tradition holds that Christian Deyo suggested the name. He, like the others of the Dusine, or Duzine (the spelling varies) left Mannheim, in what was then Die Pfalz or The Palatine region of Germany, in 1675. The name he gave was probably that found in the record of the first meeting of the New Paltz Reformed Church in 1683. That name is Nouveau Palatinat, French for New Paltz. Christian Deyo's French, his former home's German and the English governor's English were not the only languages spoken. The colony had belonged to the Dutch until less than ten years before.

    Marc Fried, who wrote the The Early History of Kingston and Ulster County, NY, surmises that the process started with the naming of the river, which is now the Wallkill but for a time was the Pals, or Palse River. Then, in the Documentary History of New York, we find a note to the English Governor Dongan perhaps misdated February 22, 1687, which refers to N. Palse and ye Paltz.

    There are good historical reasons for giving the name Pfalz the pronunciation "Paltz". That is still the way it is pronounced in Mannheim, the German city the settlers of New Paltz called home for a time.

    But we are still not at New Paltz. The deed of land to the French schoolmaster Jean Cottin, dated 1689, gives the name twice as palls with no capital, in the French fashion. And the will of Hugo Freer, another patentee, of 1697/8, calls it Palle and palle. Then, in the first formal subdivision of the lands of the patent in 1703, the conveyance to Louis Bevier gives the name, at last in English, as ye New Paltz and even the New Paltz.

This article is a condensed version of Alfred Marks' pamphlet, "New Paltz and the Pfalz".


Page Last Modified: March 21, 2005
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