Tag Archives: emigration

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!


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


Where Missouri’s German settlement began

A Brief history of Dutzow

The question is often asked, how did Missouri become so “German”? Much of the credit goes to a young 30 year-old German attorney named Gottfried Duden. His book A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America is often said to be the reason that thousands of Germans emigrated to Missouri.
Duden arrived in Missouri in 1824 and lived here in 1825, 26, and 27,  writing about his farm and the people who lived in the neighborhood. Duden’s book suggested the German immigrant consider Missouri a land of opportunity in 1829. In the decade that followed, 120,000 Germans would take Duden’s advice and immigrate to the United States, with one-third of them settling in Missouri due to his book.  Hundreds of thousands more would follow, making Missouri a state filled with Germans.  Today, Duden’s farm along Lake Creek is still privately owned, with it and many of the nearby historic properties being only the third or fourth owner since Duden’s arrival.

A Timeline

  1. 1819         Gottfried Duden purchases 89 acres approximately, in advance of a trip planned for the United States, using an agent named Dabney Burnett. Burnett and his brother-in-law Jacob Haun make the purchase for Duden at the U.S. Land Office in St. Louis in February.  In preparation for Duden, Burnett builds a cabin for Duden on this land.
  2. 1824         That fall Duden arrived in St. Louis with Ludwig Evermann from Bonn, and his private cook Gertrude Obladen. Eversmann and Duden jointly purchased an additional 139 acres (approximately) that lay directly north side of Duden’s first piece. They divide this joint parcel between them, using the creek that runs to the east from Lake Creek. Duden’s land is to the south, and Evermann to the north.
  3. 1824-1826 The house that was built in 1819 on Duden’s land
    "Duden's Hill"
    “Duden’s Hill” is located on the east side of Missouri Highway TT, on the farm formerly owned by Jacob Haun. Missouri Germans photograph collection.

    wasn’t suitable, so Duden resides with Jacob Haun. Haun is young and has several children. Duden has his cook with him as well. Duden begins writing what will become A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America. Evermann lives in Duden’s first cabin until his own is built, and then marries an American girl named McLean from Washington across the Missouri River, who has a large dowry of slaves.

    The small rise in the distance is the site of Gottfried Duden’s Missouri cabin in 1827. Photograph by Dorris Keeven-Franke.
  4. 1826         Duden moves into a new cabin built for him.
  5. 1827          Duden leaves for Germany. He plans on returning to the U.S. and leaves Evermann in charge of all of their property.

    Frontspiece of A Report on A Journey to the Western States of North America. Keeven-Franke collection.
  6. 1829          Duden’s book is self-published in Bonn, and quickly becomes a “best seller”.
  7. 1832          A small emigration group, the first, called the Berlin Society uses Baron Johann Wilhelm von Bock’s funds to purchase 500 acres. This property directly adjoins both of Duden’s properties on the south side.
  8. 1833           Bock himself arrives. Augustus Blumner, a member of Bock’s Berlin Society purchases land to the north of Evermann, and south of Haun.
  9. 1834         Bock plats the village of Dutzow, names it after his former estate in Mecklenberg Germany, on 50 acres. The Village
    Hilltop cemetery on Lot 40 in Dutzow owned by Friedrich Muench and used for his Free Thinker “talks” on Sundays. It was shared on alternate Sundays with Hermann Garlichs, an Evangelical pastor from Femme Osage. Missouri Germans photograph collection.

    has 164 lots, irregular streets named for prominent Germans, with lots for churches, cemeteries, schools and mills. It adjoins the south side of Duden’s farm (Dutzow shifted towards the M,K & T Railroad when it came through in 1897)

  10. 1834         Next the first contingent of the Giessen Emigration Society arrives, with Paul Follenius. He purchases Jacob Haun’s farm, where the hill that Duden used to climb to sit and write is located.
    Muench's haus
    Friedrich Muench farm purchased in 1834 from Augustus Blumner, a member of the earlier Berlin Society. Photograph from the HABS Survey located in the Library of Congress.

    Augustus Blumner’s farm, whose land is to the south of Haun and north of Evermann, is sold to Friedrich Muench, a co-founder of the Giessen Emigration Society and brother-in-law of Follenius. The Blumner farm is north of the Evermann farm, but south of Hauns farm. All of these properties are connected and lay on the east side of Lake Creek.

Below is a map of the Lake Creek Area, with the village of Dutzow. The location is  about 50 miles west of St. Louis on the north side of the Missouri River.  What did Duden say about Missouri?


© Dorris Keeven-Franke

How do I find where in Germany my ancestors came from?

When Missouri became a state in 1821, there were Germans living here. A few were first generation, and many more were either second or third generation. Germans have been coming to the United States since 1683, when they settled Germantown Pennsylvania. Many of those early German families had later generations that emigrated on to Kentucky, who would eventually move west just prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1804. Several had come from Maryland and settled down in the Cape Girardeau area. Some had joined the migration westward as Daniel Boone’s friends and come to the St. Charles Territory about this same time.

ReportWhen Gottfried Duden arrived in 1824, he had friends here already who had helped him purchase some of his land in 1819. But it wasn’t until after his visit from 1824 until 1827, when he published A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America that emigration really took off. His book was first published in 1829, but went through several re-prints and other emigration societies re-printed it as well. By the 1830 Germans like Eugene Gauss had read his book and headed for the new land.

Why they came

Duden’s book talked about a place where there was so much wide-open land available at cheap prices. Germany is not much larger than Missouri, and had just become a state 3 years before he arrived. Plus there had been financial and banking crisis and land was cheap. Anyone could buy the land – you didn’t have to be a citizen! You could buy as much as you wanted and wherever you wanted. Game was plentiful, and the people here ate as much land in a month as they did in a year in Germany. There were not any taxes, there wasn’t a King, and you could be whatever religion you wanted. Plus you were free to take whatever occupation you wanted, and speak your mind freely, and not be censored or executed for your words. Everything was so abundant that in Germany they called him the Dreamspinner! How could there possibly be such a Utopia? Some said it could not be real but a fairy tale. Perhaps some was anti-propaganda by the Government as they did not want to lose their best citizens.

There were as many reasons to be an emigrant, as there were immigrants

To decide that conditions are no longer tolerable, and to sell everything you own, and say good-bye to all of your friends and family is not an easy decision. It is not one made lightly, as  anyone who has made such a decision to emigrate can tell you. And besides the push, there has to be a pull from a place to be significantly sufficient. When Duden’s book is published, there are hundreds of similar books being published suggesting emigration to Russia, Brazil and England to name a few. And knowing the reason that made your family decide to come, may give you leads as to when over the decades. As conditions changed in both America and in Germany, so too changed the reasons, and the manner in which it was done. However many times, families hear of someone whose reason of freedom from a King or how the land looked the same, and just assume that is the reason for their own family.

Basic Genealogy

Before one can trace where their German ancestors came from, they have to be absolutely certain that the basic information they have collected on their ancestor is correct! They may have touched a hint on an online Genealogy program and have assumed that a person is their ancestor. It is highly unlikely that our ancestor was the only person ever born that used that name and it is easy to pick up a line that is not ours without enough documentation. If you have hit a brick wall, this could be the reason perhaps. And don’t assume that if you cannot find where an ancestor was born, that it automatically means they were born in another country, and because Grandma always said, “we are German”!

Top Ten

Listed below are my favorite documents that provide clues to where in Germany someone was born. Be careful too, because like the U.S. sometimes a City, or an early Kingdom, will have the same name as a Province or a State. And while there were and are residents of Bremen, and Hamburg, thousands gave this as an answer to the question “where did you come from” at the U.S. port as they entered. These are our Top Ten documents that provide a clue. Do not quit with the first one you find with the name of a city, but definitely keep going. While one may state a larger City the original place may have been a village nearby. If you don’t keep looking, then you may not find the one that said Nieder Gemünden instead of nearby Giessen. It was common practice just like today to name a larger more recognizable city in place of our own.


  1. Occupation: If your ancestor’s occupation put him in the spotlight there are often histories devoted to that occupation. Did he perhaps found a company, or was he the first to bring Lager beer to America?
  1. Military Records: Indian War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II – Naturalized veterans. Chances are high that your ancestor served in one, and the National Archives is the Government’s repository for all of these.
  1. Newspapers – Missouri’s State Historical Society has done a fantastic job of collecting old newspapers – even those in German – before they were tossed or destroyed. With a little work with Google online you can understand a little easier.
  1. Obituaries and Gravestones: Again – If they are in German – use Google Translate for basics or to use translators. And don’t consider these infallible resources.
  1. County Histories (In the 1870s every county in America had one! Written by theirself!) If he held a position such as Mayor, was the local doctor, or everyone’s favorite blacksmith, he may be mentioned in local histories. And Community histories: Local Historical Societies still are republishing these early county histories, and making new ones by collecting local family histories.
  1. Federal and State Census: Don’t forget to read the census. Look at where their neighbors came from. If the whole neighborhood comes from Hesse – and yet 5 name Nieder Gemünden, chances are more likely they all came from the same or nearby villages. The census for 1900 and 1910 will also say when they emigrated.
  1. Legal records: Justice of the Peace, Probate, Land Deeds, Circuit Court, County Court, Taxes, and Plat Books. Many times there are more than one Johann Henry Schmidt in a county, and the Clerk will know this and note that this is the one from Offenburg and not Remscheid.
  1. Ship Lists: Indexers misspell names, names on arrival by Americans that don’t understand German. One of my favorites is Schöne, that between dropping the umlaut and anglicizing the pronunciation, it became Showney in the Bureau of Land Management in the land purchases. Don’t think the same name, but spelled differently means that it is not your ancestor.
  1. Religious Records: Their confirmation, their marriage, the baptism of their children, the cemetery listing. In many religions, these were the most accurate of reporting on this information to be found.
  1. Naturalizations: Intention – From the moment they stepped off the ship, and Finalization – years later. More about this in the Fall 2015 issue of Der Anzeiger.

If you want to read all of the Genealogy blogs, just use the Categagories search to locate Genealogy. We will continue to examine each record individually. Sign up to follow MO-Germans to get future updates.