Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Location: Liverpool, NY
|Posted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:08 pm Post subject: Kansas Migrations
|Many of us have German ancestors who settled in the Concordia, Missouri area after immigrating from the old country, possibly with a short stay in St. Louis or some other German communities in Missouri such in Franklin or Morgan/Benton Counties. However, sometimes family lines may disappear from the Concordia area after a generation or two. Obviously, those families moved to another location.
Back in the second half of the 19th century, a number of families moved further west, particularly to Kansas. As families grew, the next generations looked for additional land and the cheap government land in Missouri was no longer available. The next logical step was Kansas. Others may have moved to Nebraska and other states, but Kansas appeared to be a popular choice.
This trend was started by the Homestead Act signed into law by Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. The Act declared that any citizen or intended citizen could claim 160 acres - one quarter square mile - of surveyed government land. Claimants must "improve" the plot with a dwelling and grow crops. After five years, if the original filer was still on the land, it was his property, free and clear. Not long before, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 had created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. By 1862, the land grant boom in Missouri where one could by land directly from the government for $1.25/acre had pretty much ended, at least for the better farm land. So these two states were obvious destinations for those seeking new land.
Pockets of German communities, similar to Concordia and Cole Camp, sprang up in those new states. They brought with them their German customs and Low German dialect. Language researchers studying the use of Low German in Kansas have found that at least twelve Hanoverian Lutheran settlements in Kansas can trace their roots back to either Concordia or Cole Camp (see Low German Resurgence in Western Missouri?, pg 6). In Kansas, the most popular areas were Miami County (Paola), Lincoln County (Sylvan Grove) and Washington County (Linn and Palmer). Concordia, KS is in nearby Cloud County which may have given rise to the legend that it was named after Concordia, MO. But, as noted in another posting (Naming of Concordia, Kansas), there is no direct evidence that this occurred. In Nebraska, the migration seems to have centered in the southeast portion of the state, generally around and to the south of Lincoln. Chain migration of a number of families to these areas from Missouri can be seen.
One good example of this migration can be found in the Stuenkel family. One case is Dietrich Louis “August” Stuenkel who was born in Concordia in 1858 to Heinrich F. and Louise Scharnhorst Stuenkel. He and his wife Christine (also a Stuenkel by birth) moved to Palmer, Kansas sometime after their marriage in 1878, where they had 10 children. He dropped the umlaut in his surname, so you will find his name there listed as ‘August Stunkel’. Other Stuenkels moved to Nebraska and subsequently some of them also moved to the Washington Co., Kansas area.
So, if you had ancestors that originally lived in Concordia, MO and lost track of the family from that point, you might try searching those areas.