HISTORY,CULTURE,COMMUNITY

The Missouri History Museum and the German American Committee of St. Louis is proud to present Germans in St. Louis: History, Culture, Community with the Missouri Germans Consortium

What Makes Missouri So German? (Oct. 3)
Missouri’s German roots run deep, but why? What were the driving forces behind German emigration, and why did so many Germans end up in our region? Join Dorris Keeven-Franke, Missouri Germans Consortium, for a look at the earliest waves of German settlers in
Missouri, from the early 1800s through the Civil War.
This program is free and takes place at the Missouri History Museum.

German American Day Fest and Feast (Oct. 6)
Fest and feast your way through German American Day! Start by soaking up the GADayLogoculture and heritage of Missouri Germans, then enjoy an afternoon feast highlighting the culinary specialties of Germany! Visit germanamericancommittee.org for more information.
This event takes place at the German Cultural Society of St. Louis at 3652 S. Jefferson Ave., 63118.
The Fest is free! The Feast is $25 per person (or $20 for MHS members) and registration is required at mohistory.org/german.

What STILL Makes Missouri So German? (Oct. 10)
This panel will explore the ways in which German culture lives on in our community today at local and national levels. Moderator Dorris Keeven-Franke will share information about the German Heritage Corridor, the Sister Cities program, German language initiatives, and other issues related to contemporary German American life.This program is free and takes place at the Missouri History Museum. Panel: Consul General Herbert Quelle, Dr. Steve Belko (MO Humanities Council)

This series is presented with Missouri History Museum, Missouri-Germans, the German American Committee STL, and St. Charles County German Heritage Club

Friedrich Hecker

Friedrich Hecker was a hero to the vast majority of German Americans living in the United States during the mid-19th Century. The Friedrich Hecker Monument was dedicated on October 1, 1882 before a crowd of over 15,000 in our beautiful Benton Park, Fr_Hecker_3in St. Louis, Missouri.Born September 28, 1811 in Eichtersheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, he was a German lawyer and politician, and one of the primary agitators in the 1848 Revolutions in Germany. Following the 1848 German Revolution he moved to the United States, but maintained an acute interest in events in Germany. In the spring of 1849, the Baden revolution re-ignited, and Hecker returned to Europe to participate. However, he only made it as far as Strassburg when word came that the insurrection had been defeated by Prussian troops and he returned to Illinois once again.

Leading up to the Civil War, he became increasingly focused on the issue of abolishing slavery, and wrote the forward to a German translation to Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man so that all of his fellow Germans could know this great writing. After the Battle of Fort Sumpter, when Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers, Hecker would begin recruiting, and Illinois exceeded its allotment of 6,000 volunteers in five days. Hecker would serve as a Brigade commander in the Union Army during the Civil War, leading the 3rd 350px-Friedrich_Heckers_FarmBrigade, 3rd Division, XI Corps.  After the war, Hecker returned to his farm in Summerfield, Illinois. It was in 1871 that he gave his very famous address at St. Louis of his enthusiasm for the German Americans and their glorious future in their newly united Fatherland, the United States. He passed away on March 24, 1881 and was buried at his farm in Lebanon, Illinois called Summerfield.

On Sunday, August 12, 2018 Johannes Fechner (MdB) a member of the German Bundestag, will be visiting our area to lay wreaths at both the Benton Park Memorial and the burial site in Summerfield, Illinois. Members of the Illinois Civil war Hecker Regiment will be at the Summerfield Ceremony along with members of the Missouri Sons of Union Veterans. The wreath laying at Benton Park will take place at 10am. and is located at 2101 Wyoming St. St. Louis, 63118. The wreath laying at Summerfield will take place at 12pm Noon and will be at 9920 Summerfield South Rd, Lebanon, Illinois. Everyone is most welcome to attend either or both events. Please feel free to contact us using the comment section if you would like further information.

 

 

 

 

 

A German abolitionist

On January 11, 1865, Arnold Krekel signed the Missouri Constitutional Conventions Proclamation ending slavery here in Missouri.  Krekel, was born in Germany in 1815, served as President of Missouri’s Constitutional Convention when slavery was abolished in Missouri on January 11, 1865. He emigrated with his family to Dutzow, Missouri in November of 1832. The young man moved to searchSt. Charles and attended the  St. Charles College where he studied law. He worked as a surveyor and became a Justice of the Peace as well. In 1844 he graduated the bar and opened his law office. Krekel became the St. Charles County and city attorney from 1846 to 1850. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1852. In 1855, he purchased 320 acres of land, and platted the town of O’Fallon. There his brother Nicholas Krekel, built the first house, and established the town’s Post Office. They established O’Fallon as a town on the Wabash Railroad, with Nicholas the agent.

Krekel Addition

 

Arnold Krekel was editor of the St. Charles German newspaper, Der Demokrat from 1850 until 1864, and when the Civil War began, Krekel served in the Union Army, as Lt. Colonel of a regiment of Missouri volunteers. When the Civil War began, Missouri’s plans for gradual emancipation infuriated the Radical Republicans, who wanted slavery abolished immediately. They took their grievances to Lincoln, who refused to take sides in Missouri’s politics, which infuriated them even more. Provisional Governor Gamble offered to resign, but the First Constitutional Convention would not accept it. Gamble died in office on 31 January 1864. Missouri’s radicals arranged for elections and for a new Constitutional Convention in November 1864, where they elected Thomas C. Fletcher Missouri governor.

Constitutional Convention of 1865

Arnold Krekel, a Democrat, was elected President of the new Constitutional Convention that met in the Mercantile Library in St. Louis on January 6, 1865. On January 11, 1865 the convention, by a 60 to 4 vote, abolished slavery in the state with no compensation for slave owners. A month later the convention also adopted the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution to abolish slavery throughout the U.S..

On March 6, 1865, Krekel was nominated by President Lincoln to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, and confirmed on March 9, 1865. Krekel later taught law at the University of Missouri Law School in Columbia from 1872 to 1875, and continued to as a Judge for the Court until his retirement on June 9, 1888.

 

EmancipationProc

Coming to America

In the decade of the 1830s alone over 120,000 Germans immigrated to America, and one-third of those settled in Missouri. Those are the emigrants that made it. Thousands would not survive the journey at sea or the difficult overland trek westward.

Nicholas Krekel: “In the fall of the year 1832 we sailed from Bremen. It took about three months, we landed at New York, went up the Hudson River to Albany, and from Albany to Erie by canal. Intending to go to Cleveland Ohio from there and to Missouri. On arriving at Erie, there was so much ice in the lake that we could not make the trip, so we went overland to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, a distance of 160 miles. Mother, my sister Katherine (11 years), myself (Nicholas Krekel) rode in the wagon. Father, my three oldest brothers, Godfred [sic], Arnold and Frank walked. On this overland trip my mother took cold which continued to get worse when coming down the Ohio River, so we landed at Louisville, Kentucky to get medical assistance and religious consolation. She died there on December 14, 1832 and was also buried there. Three years later Arnold went there to find his mother’s grave but the city had been built beyond it. The voyage across the Ocean took 9 weeks, the overland trip from Erie to Pittsburgh took about 3 weeks. After her burial we continued our way to St. Louis. On arriving there we put up at the William Tell house on Main Street, a two story stone building.” 

Of the forty thousand immigrants that arrived in Missouri in the ’30s, at least one-fourth of those Germans chose the city of St. Louis. The city’s population grew from approximately 15,000 to 35,000, meaning that half of that growth was by Germans alone. The city’s Germans were often affluent and educated, supporting six German newspapers. The sound of German voices filled the air and it was said one could spend the day and never hear a word of English.

“From there we came to St. Charles and were there during the Christmas holidays and New Year. A man from the western part of the county named Cashew and his son named Jackson were there with a team of four horses having been to St. Louis. They took us to our new home. While looking about for a location we stopped with a man named Bonet, a bachelor that made spinning wheels (the place was later owned by the Braehus family) he showed my father a piece of land owned by the government on which a man named Wood had built a log house. After looking at the land which was covered with heavy timber my father went to St. Louis where the land office was and bought it for the sum of $__for ____ acres. He paid the man Wood $9 for the log cabin that was on it, he seemed well paid and settled further towards Warren County”

Warren County had been carved out of Montgomery County in 1833. St. Charles County which had been created out of the St. Charles District of the Louisiana Territory in 1812 had stretched to the Pacific Ocean until the counties like Montgomery and Franklin were cropped-cropped-1823-missouricreated in 1818. At least 30,000 German immigrants chose to go west in the 1830s, settling in St. Charles, Warren, Franklin and Gasconade counties. They settled along the Missouri River valley creating the towns of Dutzow, Dortmund and Hamburg. They helped the town of Washington grow and become a German town. They turned The Philadelphia Settlement Society into the German town of Hermann.

“The name of the vessel we came to America in was Isabella. Two years later Anton Hoester’s father and family came over in the same vessel. In the year 1835 it was wrecked at sea. Before leaving Europe my father had decided to settle in this neighborhood. A criminal Judge named Duden with whom my father was personally acquainted had come to America several years previous and wrote such favorable letters to Europe that my [father] thought well of this country”

In 1829, Gottfried Duden published A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America and a Stay Along the Missouri (During the years 1824, ’25,’26., 1827). ReportBorn in Remscheid in 1789, the young attorney had lived with the farmer Jacob Haun, even though he had purchased a large parcel of land himself. Observing the life of the “American farmer” and describing the life of Missouri’s earliest residents Duden described a place where freedom and opportunity were almost taken for granted, causing some Germans to decry Duden’s description as an impossible fairy tale.

“On our way there through St. Charles County we passed prairie lands that now are fine farms, but we were under the impression that where no trees grew, no vegetables would grow. So we settled in the dense forest and it took several years of hard labor to clear the land, burn the logs and the brush. Many large walnut trees were cut and burned.”

Duden’s farm was approximately 50 miles west of St. Louis on the eastern edge of Warren County adjoining St. Charles County, near the Missouri River. In 1832, a group of Germans often referred to as “the Berlin Society” made the first German settlement in Missouri when a town named Dutzow was established here. The village is named after the former estate in Germany of its founder, Johann Wilhelm Bock and adjoins Duden’s farm to the south.

“In sight of our home in Germany was the home of Carl Deus. Carl’s father was a brewer, distiller and coal merchant. The family was quite wealthy and of high social class.”

The conditions in Germany were desperate following the Napoleonic War, leading to overpopulation and famine. Revolutions were stirring among the students, and hundreds of such books as Duden’s were being written about Russia, Brazil, and England as places to immigrate to.

“In the year 1832 when Carl’s father heard that our family intended going to America he asked my father to wait until ’34 when there was a colony coming over, but my father was of a disposition not inclined to subject himself to anothers’ dictation so came alone with his family”

The Giessen Emigration Society  was founded by friends of the Krekel family, Paul Follenius and Friedrich Muench, whose farms adjoined Duden’s to the north. Their arrival in Missouri in July and August of 1834 brought over 500 Germans who settled all over St. Charles County, including St. Paul, Cottleville and St. Charles. By 1850 St. Charles County was over 50% German with many of them being established second generation families.

Next: Life of a German Immigrant Family

This is the voice of Nicholas Krekel and the story as told to his daughter Bertha Krekel. He was the founder of O’Fallon, Missouri, born in Germany on August 30, 1825 and emigrated with his family to America in 1832. The story was shared in his final years just shortly before his death. The journal has been graciously shared with me by a descendant, John Griesenauer. The author extends her utmost appreciation for allowing her to share this wonderful piece of family history.

From: https://stcharlescountyhistory.org/ 

Missouri Germans Consortium

We are a free online International association of everything German in Missouri, for those interested in the German heritage of Missouri. Our mission is to partner with other organizations such as ours, preserve the culture, educate on the history, promote with programs and projects, while providing an open forum for everyone to come together. Are you a Missouri German?  Anyone can be!

MO_GHC_logo

We support the Missouri Humanities Council initiative called the German Heritage Corridor of Missouri and other such projects every year who work to keep our German heritage alive!  We applaud the Missouri Humanities Council’s huge endeavor because Missouri is definitely one of the most “German” States in America! Like us on Facebook for up to the minute information https://www.facebook.com/mo.germans/

We also partner with several other like minded organizations, universities, museums, and individuals around the world, and across the U.S. and Germany to bring our story alive. Online we share everything from history to current events, provide programming, resources, focus groups, tours and more. With friends in 24 countries, we can provide assistance and partnership in Missouri’s German heritage everywhere.

Anyone can be a Missouri German! For free you can follow our blog and receive our newsletter. Or get involved and join us at any event or program listed in the Consortium’s Events calendar! Like us on Facebook and follow our up to the minute posts https://www.facebook.com/mo.germans/ 

Follow us on Facebook and if you are a descendant of a member of the Giessen Emigration Society we invite you to  join us on our Focus Group page.  Missouri Germans Consortium has online focus groups, such as the descendants of the Giessen Emigration Society which shares in an online digital research library. By locating descendants of the original 500+ members of the 1834 emigration society, we provided materials and partnership with the Traveling Summer Republic in Germany for their exhibition: Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America, from Giessen, Germany.

We are open 24/7, where the parking is always free and there are no rules or lockers necessary for researchers. Executive Director Dorris Keeven-Franke, can be reached by email at missourigermans@gmail.com

Emigrants hope for a better future

This grapevine above is growing on a trellis on the island of Harriersand in the Weser River near Bremen. Not where you expect grapevines, but these are very hardy. Like the German emigrants that gathered here as members of the Giessen Emigration Society, in 1834, looking forward to a new life in Missouri, “where the sun of freedom shines”. Their ship, the Olbers had left with one woman ill on board, disease spread like wildfire, nearly killing the entire ship.  The second group was just beginning to gather in Bremen 180 years ago, only to soon learn that the ship that they’d booked, would never arrive. They would spend weeks on the island, some families even taking shelter in the huge old hausbarn on the island. Others pitched tents and some who could afford to, found lodging in the nearby village of Brake.  An emigrant needs all the funds they have saved for that new life.

Unless you have emigrated from one country to another, it is difficult to understand all one faces.  On one level, there is the heated discussions with family and friends, if one’s chosen to share that plan. Some don’t because of this. When the Giessen Emigration Society left Germany, there were close friends very angry with the leaders, Muench and Follenius’ and their decision, labeling them traitors to “the cause”. Some of these same friends would be imprisoned and executed within two years.  Others considered them leaving for an impossible dream, a Utopia.

On another more personal level when one is leaving behind all that one knows, whether good or bad, and giving up all one possesses in the world, it takes a great leap of faith.  One hopes one will find one’s destination everything needed, and hoped for. When one arrives, one often faces discrimination; labeled an illegal emigrant when one isn’t, simply because of a name, one’s  appearance or birthplace.

Others don’t understand how often emigrants make the best U.S. citizens. Why?  Because an immigrant has chosen, worked hard, saved, and has given up everything to be a citizen. Immigrants often know the Declaration of Independence better than a natural born citizen. Why? Because they studied it, believed in it and chose the U.S. because of those words.  Immigrants are very hardy stockholders in a better future for the U.S., because they have already paid a high price to make it their own.

One cannot go back.  America is a melting pot for so many, as nearly all of our families were immigrants once. Once our own ancestors came here with their own dreams pinned with hope for a better future.

Giessen Emigration Society boarding the Medora at Bremen in July 1834
Giessen Emigration Society boarding the Medora at Bremen in July 1834

A German emigrant’s comments on July 4th, 1840

Excerpt from Friedrich Muench’s

Fourth of July Speech given in Washington Missouri in 1840

abbreviated and simplified by R. F. Vieth

   In 1840, Washington, Missouri was only one year old when the United States of America was celebrating its 64th birthday. The young city would celebrate the occasion at its’ own Liberty Hall, known for eagle screaming speeches. Friedrich Muench, who had just arrived six years earlier, was honored when a request was made for his comments, as follows:

“We Germans met a hearty welcome from some of you, but at the same time we heard and still hear a loud and passionate cry against us from a party that proudly call themselves “Natives.” Who, then, are properly and solely the natives of the vast territory now in possession of the United States? The red skinned hunters, who by the arms of the whites have been exiled from the country of their birth and driven to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

But, speaking particularly of my countrymen, what makes those “Nativists” cherish so hostile a feeling toward us? We newcomers, far from endangering the happy state of this country, will bring to it our skillful hands, our money, our talents, and our scientific accomplishments. We also bring the sincere desire to promote by any possible means the welfare and independence of this our adopted country.

Perhaps the “Natives” will object that we differ in customs and language. That is a circumstance harder on ourselves than on you! You are the great majority, and your language is, and forever will be, the language of all public transactions. We are eager to acquaint ourselves and our children with your language, but learning a new language is not easily achieved! That we will do, but what we shall never do is discard entirely the sweet language of our mother country, this sacred inheritance from our German forefathers.”

Continue reading A German emigrant’s comments on July 4th, 1840

Giessen Emigration Society

In July of 1833, the organizers of those that became Members of the Giessen Emigration Society as found on the Ship Arrival Lists, Friedrich Muench and Paul Follenius published the Call and Declaration on the subject of mass emigration from Germany to the North American free states. They began with

“We the undersigned, together with many of our most respected friends and fellow citizens, have decided to leave Germany and to seek a new homeland in the states of North America. This intention awoke in us once we had become convinced that, as far as we are concerned, conditions in Germany, neither now nor in the future will satisfy the demands that we as persons and citizens must make of life for ourselves or our children. This is since we have become aware that only a life such as is possible in the free states of North America can suffice for us and our children. The political situation of that growing state is well known to those who are informed. Lands, especially in the almost immeasurable regions west of the Mississippi, have opened only in the most recent times by the perfection of the means of transportation, lands with which almost non on earth may be compared for richness and the beauty of nature. Swiftly the primeval forests are being cleared, swiftly arise country estates and cities, and the great waters permit the liveliest commerce with all parts of the earth.  It is our idea that the better part of the many Germans who have decided to emigrate should settle as a group, united as a whole in keeping with the purified and presently existing political form and received into the great federation of states, so that in this way the survival of German customs, language, etc., should be secured, so that a free and popular form of life could be created. This is our idea, whose execution appears grandiose and desirable, appears to us to be possible and not too difficult.”

This treatise went on to provide the major reasons for the creation of their society, their plan and their goals. After its’ conclusion it was signed by the organizers:

Paul Follenius, Court Advocate in Giessen and Friedrich Münch, Grand Ducal Hessian Pastor at Nieder-Gemünden (Alsfeld District)

To read a translation of the Call and Declaration

To see the ship arrival lists

Members of the Giessen Emigration Society

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