Tag Archives: immigration

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, younger brother of Arnold  Krekel as the story was 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/ 


The German Heritage Corridor

Missouri Life’s “Exploring Missouri’s German Heritage” will be a richly detailed book with MO_GHC_logo_concepts-2hundreds of high quality photos. We’ll explore Missouri’s German Heritage with a fresh look at a state rich and deep in German history and cultural heritage. Missouri Life is producing this in conjunction with the heritage tourism initiative by the Missouri Humanities Council that brings to life the amazing story of how the land along the Missouri River from St. Louis to Glasgow was settled by German MissouriLife.comimmigrants beginning in the 1830s. While this explores the past it is also aimed at inspiring people to visit these areas and explore what is there today.
German settlement developed throughout Missouri, with a majority of immigrants settled along the Missouri River. Thus the German Heritage Corridor will focus on the counties north and south of the Missouri River, from St. Charles and St. Louis, to Chariton and Missouri Humanities Council logoSaline counties. Along this corridor, distinctly German communities still exist today, including Augusta, Dutzow, and Washington, to name a few. Hermann is often considered to be the most German, but few often realize the communities in Westphalia, Loose Creek, and all the way up to Glasgow, were founded and settled by the mass of German emigrants that came to Missouri in huge waves in the 19th Century.
The Missouri Humanities Council’s German Heritage Corridor connects all of those communities along scenic byways, showcasing their 1823 Missourispecific German heritage and creating a corridor designed to increase tourism in the entire region. It will preserve Missouri’s German heritage as a designated scenic byway preserving it for future generations to enjoy. With this book, and other applications,  the German Heritage Corridor help everyone learn what this rich heritage has brought our state. We applaud the Missouri Humanities Council and Missouri Life Magazine for their work. For more information visit GermanHeritageCorridor.com or Like German Heritage Corridor on Facebook!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



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