Brief Timetable of German American history in Missouri
1760s – earliest communities in the former French owned, Spanish territory begin. Saint Louis, Saint Charles, and Saint Genevieve all have residents that immigrate and impact the original American Indians.
1804 The Louisiana Territory which includes the Districts of St. Charles, St. Louis and St. Genevieve is purchased by Jefferson and doubles the size of the United States.
1821 Missouri becomes a State with the First State Capitol located at St. Charles. Allowed to enter with legal slave holdings in what is known as the Missouri Compromise.
1824-27 Writer Gottfried Duden lives in Missouri, visiting with locals and observing daily life. His topics include the American indians, the mineral and agricultural resources and politics. His daily needs are met by a servant and a professional farmer that have accompanied him. He visits with Daniel Boone’s son Nathan.
1829 Duden returns to Germany leaving his farm in the care of Ludwig Eversmann, which he continues to own. At his own expense he publishes 1500 copies of A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America. Many Germans cry disbelief at the descriptions of Missouri that Duden provides, calling him a dream spinner and the area a Garden of Eden.
1830 Germans having read Duden’s book begin arriving. Written in the form of a group of letters to a friend, the Report has provided advice to potential farmers and businessmen. He stresses the importance of traveling in groups for the emigrants protection.
1832 First funded and organized group arrives: The Berlin Society, funded by “the Baron” Johann Wilhelm Bock, from Mecklenberg. Their communal purchase of 500 acres of land directly adjoins Duden’s farm on the south side.
1833 Groups from the villages and regions of Osnabrück, Oldenburg, Bielefeld, and Soligen begin arriving. The Giessen Emigration Society is formed in Germany, and sends two agents to inspect the potentials of the Arkansas Territory. This becomes one of the largest and most organized such societies, as the group develops a written charter stating their goals, and guidelines for membership.
1834 Giessen Emigration Society arrives in two groups. The first led by Paul Follenius aboard the Olbers arrives in New Orleans, after a costly ordeal with disease. The second group is forced into a five week stay on an uninhabited island, which threatens the cohesiveness of that group. Friedrich Muench’s leadership and speeches are reported by many participants as inspiring. They arrive in Baltimore, and encounter Bock in Cincinnati who informs them that Follenius’ group has disbanded.
1834-1837 Over 30,000 Germans emigrate to Missouri, with at least 7,000 making their homes in St. Louis, and the rest in the valleys and counties stretching westward along the Missouri River.
1836 Western Academy of Natural Sciences formed in St. Louis, patterned after the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences. The Philadelphia Settlement Society forms in Pennsylvania, in an effort to gather Germans that are spreading across the U.S.. The stockholders later organize the City of Hermann for Germans.
1844 Largest flood in Missouri history causes widespread disease. Giessen Society leader Paul Follenius dies and is buried on his farm, the former residence of Gottfried Duden.
1848 U.S.German immigrants organize and fundraise to support the uprisings in the homeland. After the revolutions fail, many radical and intellectual Germans flee to America. Many will become politically involved in their new homeland, and support emancipation and the end of slavery.
1859 Muench publishes The State Missouri to promote emigration and tours Germany. Upon his return he becomes involved in local, state and National politics.
1862 Muench life, family and home is threatened when he is elected State Senator for the First District which comprises some of the most German populated counties in the State, St. Charles and Warren. He loses his young son at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.
1865 The Germans have worked to maintain Missouri for the Union and put an end to slavery, which many historians consider relative to the war’s outcome.
1870 Prosperous and industrious Germans are joined by family and former neighbors. Wine culture and brewing are popular industries in the State. Settlements become towns, villages become cities. The south side of St. Louis is said to be so German that you can walk its streets and never hear English spoken.
1880 Germans fill the cities and valleys as the old American pioneers have moved westward. Germans have fondly retained many of their customs. Singing societies, Benevolent societies, Turnvereins, and wine gardens are popular recreations.