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Reasons for emigrating to America

 
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roger.pape
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reasons for emigrating to America Reply with quote

Why did our ancestors decide to leave their homes in Germany, risk the perilous voyage of over 3,000 miles across the Atlantic, and suffer the hardships of building a new home in the remote and uninhabited area of eastern Lafayette County Missouri? Historians note that there were two primary reasons why the large number of Europeans emigrated to America: economic and religious. For our ancestors in the Concordia area it was economic.

While the Irish potato famine is familiar to most people, for a prolonged period there was widespread poor weather and famine across all of northern Europe in the mid 1800's. In addition the problem was compounded by over population in Germany. The size of farms was quite small and the primageniture rules of oldest son takes all meant that the younger sons in the family did not receive any land. A significant influence that addressed the problem of over population was a book by Gottfried Duden, an official in Germany,"Berich uber eine Reise nach den westlichen Staaten Nordamerika's.." (a translation of the book "Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America" was published by University of Missouri Press). It recommended the migration of people to the US, Missouri in particular. This book was widely circulated in Germany and is credited for the reason why over half of the population of Missouri by the 1900's had German ancestry. Some people arriving in Concordia brought a copy of that book with them. Interestingly, the baggage listing in the passenger manifest for the voyage of the Dierking and Frerking brothers on the ship Burmah in 1837 included materials recommended in Duden's book.

I obtained a privately published book by David Menke "From County Ravensberg to Miller's Landing" that describes the migration of a large number of families from the village of Borgholzhausen in Westphalia on the ship Mississippi in 1846 that included my Kappelmann ancestors. It describe how young men from the area would walk to the Netherlands in the spring to find work and then return in the fall. An additional reason for the economic hardship was that area of Germany, including Hanover, had a cottage industry of producing linen cloth. Beginning in the 1800's the importation of cheaper cotton fabric decreased the demand for linen. After arriving in America, some farmers continued to grow flax but eventually that acreage was switched to more profitable wheat and corn. Another cash crop popular in Lafayette County was hemp. This was in demand to produce rope for binding cotton bales. For many years later, wild hemp could be found in the ditches along the roads around Concordia.

The desire for more land was illustrated by the emigration of my great-great grandfather, John 'Henry' Bruns. Henry had a comparatively large farm back in Buren, Hanover, Germany, (he was a Vollmayer), but also had four sons. He wanted to provide for them equally. If he had divided his land into four lots he felt that the resulting farms would be too small. So, he sold his land in Germany and moved his family to Missouri on the ship Meridian in 1840. At that time, land could be purchased from the government at $1.25 an acre. Typically an emigrant would buy 40 acres for $50. Henry bought a number of lots totaling 320 acres. Then he could divide his land into 80 acre parcels for each of his sons; a decent size farm for each of them.

My grandfather, Jacob Pape, was a fifteen year old orphan living with an older brother, and as the eighth child had no chance of receiving any land. But, the deciding factor in his coming to America was military conscription. Knowing that young men had no desire to be drafted, farmers in the US advertised in Germany that they would pay the boat passage in exchange for indentured servitude of about two to three years. A number of boys in the area, including my grandfather and his friend and ringleader, Bill Horman, decided to take advantage of this offer. While indentured servitude might be considered severe, it sounded like a good deal to them because all their travel arrangements were made and paid for, and they had room and board as they assimilated to life in a new world.

Finally, the religious reason for emigrating is covered in the book by Walter O. Forster, "Zion on the Mississippi", Concordia Publishing House. It is an excellent description of the Saxon Lutheran immigration from the Dresden area of Saxony to the St. Louis area. The Rev. Martin Stephan brought five ship loads of his conservative, Pietist followers on the Copernicus, Johann Georg, Republik, Olbers, and Amalia. [note. The Amalia never arrived in New Orleans and is assumed to have sunk during the voyage.] The remaining group traveled up the Mississippi River to found a new colony in Perry County Mo. just south of St. Louis. The book includes information about Rev. Biltz, a prominent pastor in Concordia, who was part of that group. The sainted Rev. Biltz was smuggled from Germany while still a young boy, dressed as a girl to avoid detection. Because of Stephan's insistence on forming an Episcopacy with himself as archbishop, and his affairs with several young ladies including Biltz's half-sister, Stephan was banished from the colony and sent across the Mississippi River to southern Illinois.
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:13 pm    Post subject: Why Concordia? Reply with quote

With all the land available in the US, why did our ancestors decide to come to the remote area of Freedom Township? As noted above, the book by Gottfried Duden influenced a large number of Germans to settle in Missouri. As a result, St. Louis became the focal point for many of these immigrants and a sizeable German community was established there. Friedrick Dierking, the first of the Concordia pioneers, had studied Duden's book and came to St. Louis first. Being farmers, the group wanted land to establish a new farm. Most of the best land along the Missouri River had already been purchased by that time. But, as described in Frizzell's "Independent Immigrants" there was a chance meeting between Friedrick and Dick Mulkey. Mulkey suggested that Friedrick come with him back to his home in Lafayette County to look at land there. Friedrick knew what things to look for and liked what he saw. Besides plenty of uninhabited fertile land, Freedom Township had wooded strips along the Davis and Peavine Creeks, another requirement for woodlots. Friedrick immediately went to the Lexington land office and purchased Freedom Township land. He then returned to St. Louis and told his relatives and friends what he had seen. Friedrick was an influential and trusted advisor of theirs as indicated by his nickname, "Troester", (Comforter). They soon also purchased land in the Concordia area. Information about the Concordia area probably spread through the German community in St. Louis. So additional immigrants also came to Freedom Township. An area where people spoke the same language and practiced the same religion was appealing. Note that some of the later immigrants did not come to Concordia directly. They may have first come to other areas in the US, like, southern Illinois (the Niermanns and Zieglebeins), Indiana (the Klinkermans), Ohio (Walkenhorst), Franklin County Mo. (Kappelmanns), and Benton Co. Mo., ie, Cole Camp (the Bodenstabs, Schnakenbergs, and others).

Last edited by roger.pape on Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:00 am; edited 2 times in total
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roger.pape
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:05 pm    Post subject: Deciding What to Bring Reply with quote

After deciding to emigrate to the US, people would then have to decide what to bring with them to their new permanent home. Some left with little more than the clothes on their back. Most brought a trunk or two with their clothing and some of their important possessions. My grandfather built a wooden foot locker (see photo below). Being a young lad it was big enough for his clothing and meager possessions.

Gottfried Duden's book (actually a collection of his letters) included suggestions of what families should bring with them. One of the things he suggested was to bring firearms for hunting if they were heading to the midwest. He also suggested what to buy after arriving in the US and where to buy them. He recommended buying a wagon as soon as they arrived in America. The luggage listing for the Friedrick Dierking group is shown below. See the highlighted section. They obviously took some of his advice and brought four muskets but notice that they also brought a wagon. The group probably used this wagon to bring their luggage on the eighty mile overland trip from Esperke to Hamburg. When he arrived in Hamburg he would have decided to keep that wagon and avoid buying a new wagon in the US. One can imagine the Frerking boys pushing that wagon on the ship and stowing it away for the voyage. After all, it was not a ferry boat.

Duden also wrote about the various ports of departure and the ports of entry in the US along with the suggested routes to travel to St. Louis. From New York City Duden recommended traveling up the Hudson River, across the Erie Canal and Lake Erie, down to Pittsburgh and from there down the Ohio River towards St. Louis. He noted the times during which the rivers and canals would be ice-bound. It is not clear why Dierking decided to depart from Hamburg rather than the closer port of Bremen on the Weser River. It probably was because of the availability of ships. He wanted to arrive in the US early enough in the fall to make the trip to St. Louis by the end of the year. On the other hand, Conrad Stuenkel, who came on the same voyage, decided to stay in New York City over the winter and travel to St. Louis the following spring.
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