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4th of July, 1852 in Hermann, Missouri

A translation from the Hermanner Wochenblatt, editor Eduard Muehl,  published in Hermann, Missouri in 1852. 

At daybreak on the morning of the 4th, a chorus greeted the holiday from a platform in front of the Courthouse. Shorthly afterward, the Hermann Jaeger Company (1) posted on the heights of Fourth St., thundered a dawn salute with musket and canon fire. Flags waved in different locations around town, “even” as the paper reported, “in front of the Evangelical church.” At the conclusion of these dawn ceremonies, a distant drum roll could be heard as the Jaeger Company marched back into town.

img3_2048Members of the Union of Free Men (2) and their families gathered at 8 a.m. before the Erholung building (3). There in a circle, the crowd sang several verses from the Marseillaise (4) that had been translated into German. Afterwards the parade formed. The young people led off carrying an American flag. the musicians, the women and girls, and the men followed. The latter groups had their own flag carriers. The parade accompanied by renewed cannonading, marched along the shady lane leading to the festival grounds in the vicinity of Rasche’s farm about a mile from the Erholung.  Shelters had been erected under the oaks. So that no one would lack for refreshments, Hermann innkeepers presided over four booths where food and dring of different kinds were served.

After an hour given to relaxation, a trumpet called the crowd together in front of a flag-draped speakers platform. After the chorus sang several appropriate songs and the Declaration of Independence was read, the main800px-US-Unabh%C3%A4ngigkeitserkl%C3%A4rung-deutsch speaker addressed the crowd. All this took an hour-and a half. Although several more Union members had prepared speeches, they forbore, since it was dinner time (5).

Families gathered and wine flowed freely. The paper reported, “many tongues were deployed in holiday dexterity.”

The afternoon amusements included a birdshoot (6) for the men, target shooting with bow and arrows and pole climbing for the boys, and cock fighting. Others enjoyed themselves on the swings hung from the trees. Bolder young men and women could post letters at a “post office.” A courier, riding an old nag and dressed like Rochus Pumpernickel (7) delivered these letters in a very formal manner. The day wound up with dancing on the grass to music played by an ochestra on the speakers platform.

When the evening came, the parade regrouped and marched back to the Erholung. There the crowd again sang the Marseillaise and remaining speakers unburdened themselves.  The account concluded: It was a beautiful German-people’s holiday!”

From Hermann, Missouri 1852 News and Voices; translations from the German newspaper the Hermanner Wochenblatt, editor Eduard Muehl, translations by Siegmar Muehl, grandson of the editor.  Hermann was founded by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia in 1837-38. 

(1) Hermann Jaeger Company, Hermann Hunters Club - the Schutzenverein of Hermann, or today's equivalent of a gun club.
(2) Union of Free Men - Hermann's Free Thinker or Rationalist Society, a Christian based religious group.
(3) Erholung is the recreational hall operated by the local Turnverein. 
(4) The Marseillaise was a revolutionary song, an anthem to freedom, a patriotic call. 
(5) The noon-day luncheon meal.
(6) A birdshoot is a shooting contest by the Schuetzenverein where a high wooden pole was erected with a carved bird, (usually an eagle which to the Germans represented the King) on the top. The goal was to shoot the bird off the top.
(7) Pumpernickel is a German folk character, a dwarf noted for roguish and ribald behavior from the Brothers Grimm.

Germany in 1799

This post is the first in a continuing series in the category "Utopia Story" which follows the story of Utopia - Revisiting a German State in America. Use the categories bar at the right to search for all posts in this category.  
Why They Left

germany-italy-map-1806-1In 1799, the year that Giessen Emigration Society founders Friedrich Muench (1799-1881) and Paul Follenius (1799-1844) were born, Germany was in turmoil. Oppressive governments, kingdoms, and dukedoms all bowed to one King. The success of the American Revolution had sparked similar unrest worldwide. In France, Napoleon marched eastward after success in his home country. As the western border of Germany, Alsace-Lorraine, became overtaken, Germans experienced many new civil liberties that had been unknown to them. Fearing that this would lead to further advancement by Napoleon, the King suggested that if Germany  would defeat the French foe, that these same liberties would be allowed in Germany. Following Napoleon’s defeat though, the Confederation on the Rhine, a gathering of Germany’s rulers, failed to follow through with this promise.

Change had been witnessed, and these strange new liberties had been tasted, and the desire had not left Germany. The youth were not willing to return to the old ways and wanted the changes they had been promised. In the Universities across Germany, young men would gather in their fraternities and make plans. At the University of GiessenstudentsGiessen, the young Follen brothers led the ‘Giessen Blacks’ so called for their attire, their long black cloaks. Theology student, Friedrich Münch, had come from the small nearby village of Nieder Gemünden, just as his father and older brother Ludwig had before him, to obtain his education. Educated at home by his father, George Münch, the young man felt as if a strange new world had opened before him, as he was caught up in the desire for change. There he would meet Paul Follenius, whose family from Romrod in Hesse were leaders in this radical movement.

Friedrich Muench Springtime 1833
Friedrich Muench
Springtime 1833

Friedrich Münch hurriedly pressed his own education, in order to allow his younger brother Georg an opportunity follow, as the family could not afford both young men’s education at the same time. While a student though, Friedrich became involved in the radical movement sweeping the youth. Both Friedrick Münch and Paul Follenius had had their name entered in the Government’s ‘Black Book’ and were under suspicion. When caught, and one’s name was listed, your offense was entered, with the admission and promise to never repeat such an offense. With the admission of such guilt also came the agreement that the government had the right to execute one for their offense. This was soon demonstrated when Karl Sands, who had stabbed and killed the official Kotzebue, was executed. Everyone was under the watchful eye. And when Münch who had left the University, had requested permission to tutor at his father’s church, he was told that such permission would be granted “if he agreed to snitch and report on his friends and the Follenius family.”

Sands_Hinrichtung 1820 - LoRes

Karl Sands’ actions had reflected on his mentor Karl Follen (1796-1840). (Two of the Follenius brothers, Karl and August, had shortened their name to Follen.) Follen had written a small treatise that suggested that a safe haven, a refuge or place to disappear could be found in the new young country of America. If a small seed, such as a University, could be founded – perhaps a colony could arise. Colonization was not a new idea, and had been used by ancient governments as a peaceful intrusion in new lands. But before Karl Follen could follow through with his own plan’s suggestion, he was forced to quickly flee. First to Switzerland, then France, before coming to Boston in the U.S.. There he served at Harvard’s first German professor. Soon, others would be pressed by the government, as they were cast under suspicion for their activities.

Germans in Missouri

How “German” is Missouri? While many residents today would say “it is VERY German” we often forget just how it became so German. It didn’t start out that way at all.

The Louisiana Territory was added to the United States in 1804, by Jefferson purchasing it from France, making it the far west. At that time, its’ few thousand inhabitants were mainly French-Canadian fur traders, Spanish (who had owned the territory up until a few years prior) and American pioneers.  Daniel Boone had been invited by the Spanish, and had supposedly brought 100 of his best “friends and followers” along in September of 1799. Following Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the settlers started flowing in from the eastern states of Kentucky and Virginia. By 1815, westward expansion and the U.S. government literally shoved the original inhabitants, the American Indian tribes, out with “peace and friendship” treaties. From then on, we were all immigrants.

Gottfried Duden

In Germany, conditions prompted an attorney named Gottfried Duden, to purchase land in the new territory. After it became a State in 1821, he came and lived in Missouri from 1824-1827. In 1829, Duden published A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America extolling all of its virtues, like wide open land, abundant food, but most of all, the freedoms one had. He had advised that emigrants settle in groups, as this was still quite primitive conditions, and for the safety of the families.

The first to arrive

It wasn’t long after that Germans started coming. By 1832, “Baron” Johann Wilhelm Bock, had sold his estate in Germany named Dutzow, and funded the first group to purchase land adjoining that of Duden’s, which soon became Dutzow. Between 1832 and 1834, approximately 2,000 more Germans from areas around Soligen, and from Osnabrück, had arrived and settled along the Missouri River west of St. Louis.

Societies bring thousands

In 1834, one of the most organized of groups, the Giessen Emigration Society, had arrived. Originally they had plans to settle in Arkansas territory, in order to create a German “State”. When scouts had returned with advice against that, their destination became Missouri. Their plan was also to create a nucleus for further emigration.

Between 1834 and 1837, over 30,000 Germans emigrated to Missouri, with 7,000 taking up residence in St. Louis and almost doubling its population. First on the south side of the city, near Soulard Market, the immigrants took hold. It was said you could walk the streets there all day and never hear a word of English and forget you weren’t in Germany!

At the same time, in Philadelphia, the stronghold for all things German up to that time, a group of Germans thought that Missouri should be the place for all Germans. Creating the Philadelphia Settlement Society, they sent an agent to Missouri to purchase land, and then sold “stock” shares for that land, to Germans all across the United States (and in Germany too). Soon, the settlement took hold, gained its independence from the former society, and became the city of Hermann, Missouri.

Many Germans that were Lutheran were wanting religious freedom. Martin Stephan corresponded with Duden, and brought 700 to the U.S.. Coming in through New Orleans, on five ships (one ship,the Amelia had been lost) in 1839, they purchased land in Perry County. Soon after their arrival, discord led to C.F. Walther taking the lead in their settlement. The floodgates of German emigration to Missouri had opened.

In less than a decade, the young State of Missouri had begun to be one of the most “German” in the country, with St. Louis a major contender. Soon, several villages, cities and counties would be entirely German. With them came all of their German customs and traditions. Their societies for singing, their Turnvereins for gymnastics, sports and social meetings, and other cultural pursuits. Churches, usually one of the first buildings built, had “relief” societies as well as the social. And one of the most favorite social activities of all would soon find its’ place in the wineries, also making Missouri a major contender in the wine industry.