Even though the Pfalz (Palatinate) was once home to several branches of the Gatter family, no Gatters survive there today. Also none of the over 150 Gatter families living in Germany today are originating from this area (I contacted them all !).

These families either disappeared over time or migrated to Hungary and the New World.

Once Gatters could be found in the villages of:


Three towns where Gatters lived in past centuries, Elmstein (right), Lauterecken (below), and Hinzweiler (lower-right).



Gatters first appear in the Pfalz area after the 30 years war in around 1650. In Protestant areas the parish registers start earlier than in Catholic areas.

Gatters of Grevenhausen left for Lovrin in Hungary

In Lauterecken the Catholic parish registers start only around the year 1700. Here we find Blasius Gatter (born ca. 1670/80) and his wife Maria Catharina, daughter of Joannis Nicolaus Finckelang.

Their grandson Stephan Gatter (1733-1803) left Germany in 1784 and emigrated to the Austro-Hungarian empire (during the reign of Emperor Joseph II). From the southern German city Ulm he traveld by boat down the Danube to Lovrin, today located in Hungary and settled there. This area was in those days colonized by many Germans from the Pfalz region. Some left due to religious persecution, other just looked for new opportunities. The territory that is today Hungary, nothern Yugoslavia and Rumania was in those days the prime settlement area, since it had been stripped of its population by killings and waves of plague during the countless Turkish-Austrian wars.  

Lambrecht-Grevenhausen, once home to the Gatter family

In Hungary his descendents live to this day, some emigrated from there to Brazil.

The Gatters lived in Lovrin until the early 20th century and then spread to neighboring villages. One family member emigrated to Brazil. After the Second World War the Gatters were expelled from the area.

Another Gatter familiy appeard around 1800 in the Hungarian town of Neusatz (today Novi Sad in Yugoslavia). They may also originate from the Pfalz, but so far we have no proof for this. To visit this line go to the Hungarian Gatters.


Hungarian Gatters appear in the Pfalz


Is it a coincidence that in the late 18th century Hungarian Gatters appear in the city of Pirmasens? I rather tend to believe that these Gatters (Josef Gatter born ca. 1750) who are coming from Budapest are originally from Palatinate and for whatever reasons decided that the life in their old country is favorable to the one in Hungary. Pirmasens at this time was a garrison city already in decline, while Budapest back than was a boom-town, and entry point on the Danube to all trade with the new territories in the east.

Besides being a soldier town, Pirmasens was the cradle of the European shoe industry. In the early and mid 19th century the town experiences another time of economic prosperity and Europe's first shoe factories are built here. Till today the town has the nick-name of being the German "shoe-capital". This is reflected in many old postcards (see below).




The City of Pirmasens, Pfalz



It is thus not surprising that also the Gatters in Pirmasens worked in that trade and exported it in 1876/78, when Josef Gatter's grandson, Michael Gatter, emigrated to America with wife and children. Michael Gatter probably travelled ahead of his wife and children, who followed in late 1877 and arrived in New York on January 5, 1878:

SS Neckar - Ship from Bremen (Germany) to New York January 5, 1878

Origin of the 70 Passengers: USA: 17, Germany/Prussia: 45, Germany: 3, Bohemia: 4, France: 1

Among them:

Name,  age  sex, occupation, Origin   Destination Accommod.
Gatter, Charlotte 44 F  None  Ger/Prussia  US of AM Steerage
Gatter, Charlotte 12 F  None  Ger/Prussia  US of AM Steerage
Gatter, Fritz 9  M None  Ger/Prussia  US of AM Steerage
Gatter, Valentine 11mo M None  Ger/Prussia  US of AM Steerage


The family first settled in Philadelphia, Pa. (see 1880 US Census). While Michael's older son George Gatter stayed in Pennsylvania. Michael moves with his younger son Jacob Gatter around 1886/89 on to California and settles in Oakland.


Oakland in around 1890.

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