History of the Giessen Emigration Society

In 1833, fellow University students, Friedrich Muench and Paul Follenius, from Giessen Germany, published a small pamphlet suggesting a massive group of emigrants could establish a German State or colony in the far western United States. Over a thousand applied to be members of this Utopian endeavor. And by July of 1834, the last members of the Giessen Emigration Society settled along Lake Creek, a small tributary on the north bank of the Missouri River across from Washington, Missouri and about 50 miles west of St. Louis, Missouri. Many of the members settled in St. Charles, Warren, and Franklin County, when the group disbanded.

These emigrants were brought together by their political ideals, originated from several cities and villages across Germany, and were of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish backgrounds.

While the Utopian dream was never realized, these early emigrants did firmly establish themselves and their culture, filling the Missouri River valley from St. Louis to Hermann, Missouri. The interesting stories of the Giessen Emigration Society members, are vivid examples of what so many emigrants envisioned for their new lives in the U.S. in the 19th Century.  Much of this rich heritage still remains today.

The Giessen Emigration Society is an important event in Missouri’s German heritage, of which descendants of the original Society are proud of their ancestor’s role. If you are a descendant of a member of the Society, please use the form below to contact us!

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