Muss I’ denn …

XL brought the German communities in Texas to my attention by sending me links to German settlements there, as New Braunfels (wiki), Gruene, and Friedrichsburg. Neu-Braunfels, Fredericksburg, and Castell (wiki) result from the work of the German Adelsverein, an organization that brought some hundred families from Germany, seemingly mostly from the Rhineland area, into the “new germany”. The name Castell is a bit astonishing in this connection, because it is a Franconian noble family, their place of origin is visible from the next hill on a clear day.
The Germans in Texas kept their own language and speak it still today, Texas German (Ger., Eng.), the subject of the Texas German Dialect Project (TGDP) that collects and preserves samples of the still spoken language. The German-Texan Heritage Society (link) focuses more on actual social events and offers courses for current spoken High-German, Hochdeutsch. And help with genealogical research – I wonder whether I should drop them an email, after all I would like to do some genealogical research again.

I did not realize that there is a considerable German community in Texas that dates back before 1848. I always thought the German emigrants would have went in more northern states like Illinois f.e. A new museum in Bremerhaven deals with the German emigration in general but especially with the role of the large harbours, the organization of emigration, and they offer a unique source, the passenger lists that were kept here on the German site (German pdf). When I last had to use it some years ago they were still digitalising – and of course exactly the year my customer was interested in was still missing, I think it’s worth a look how they progressed.
The University of Oldenburg had a research institute, but I have no idea how things are going there actually.
Some years ago (2004) a Landesausstellung covered especially the Bavarian emigration to the US, they made a really helpful catalogue. Such a useful tool is missing for the German emigration to Southern America, because they also went to Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. There exist today a Argentinisches Tageblatt, and a German-Chilenian weekly, Condor. For reasons unknown to me, I remember Blumenau (Ger., Eng.) in Brazil, but I forgot the context. Strangely enough another website I am connected to is  regularly visited from Blumenau, Brazil.
My family name is not too common, but I found it in Northern American census records of the 1920s, and one traveled over: The twenty-five year old stonemason Valentin mago arrived aboard the “Suevia” on the second of October 1889 in America. I hope it went well for him.


18 thoughts on “Muss I’ denn …

  1. What a great post about the German communities abroad, specifically in the US! I heard about Swedish communities, but not about Germans.
    Do you know the history of your family back to 1889? I am really amazed! But I suppose it’s not hard for you, because you must be very familiar with genealogy and historic research -which I presume is basically what you do and like to do-.

    I’m also curious about the Germans that settled in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay) after WW2.

    On another note, I have known that some of my ancestors came from Italy -escaped from jail, who knows what they had done!- but the story is lost somewhere in a church that was burnt.

    Gute Nacht for now, Lieber. I wake up at 6,30am tomorrow -back to die Arbeit, grrrrr….-.

  2. I wonder if any of those early German immigrants felt like they had been tricked once they suffered through a Texas Summer!

    In Das Boot, the 1st Lieutenant character was a German who was from a plantation in Mexico.

    Texas Deutsche: Gute Nacht Y’all!

  3. 06:30 – Oh Herr … I sympathize, dear Leni! But nevertheless will turn around when the alarm clock goes off in number 81 …
    I did not do serious research for my own family, Valentin was an occasional find. My father was born in Breslau, today Wroclaw in Poland, and I have no idea how the archives are organized there. The other members of the family settled in the North of Germany after the war and I have no connection with them. I did research for people whose forefathers emigrated from Franconia, mostly to the US. I know the archives here, know where to look. After the war very different people emigrated.
    From Italy to the Sandwich Islands? Have you an idea when this happened and where the sadly burnt church has been standing? Just curious …

  4. We once transscribed a letter a father from Franconia wrote to his son in America, and he says “throw your Heimweh in the water where it’s deepest” – so they had expressed Heimweh in a previous letter. And not all emigration stories are successes. I am sure that most people from Germany were not prepared for real hot seasons.
    And that’s a nice detail – indeed a lot of people rushed back to Germany 1939.
    I am really tired now, so sorry for this uncoherent talk, XL.

  5. Texas? Really? They must have been really unhappy at first. It’s flat and hot and resembles nothing close to their homeland. I can see why most settled in the mid-western states because it’s easier to farm/etc. VERY interesting… I had no idea so thank you XL for the history lesson.

  6. Lieber Mago,

    Even in the hypothetical chance that you would bray, you wouldn’t talk uncoherently. 😉

    So just for your curiosity, here is the tiny bit I know about my genealogy: some of my relatives have collected marriage, birth and death certificates of ancestors up to two brothers who arrived in Spain around the end of the 18th century from the island if Malta, where they escaped from prison. It seems that they were born in Italy, from a Spanish family that was settled in the east coast. I’m not sure about the burnt church location -I think it’s a village in Almería, South of Spain-. There’s also a blurred story about a lost inheritance in Italy that was suposedly stolen by the local priest… but that’s not clear at all.

    Upon their arrival in Spain, the 2 brothers split up: one of them went to the north and the other went to Andalusia (that one would be my direct ancestor) and settled in Almería.

    Some generations later, my great-great-grandparent was a foreman in the English iron mines (they were mainly owned by English, Belgian or German companies, like The Bacares Iron Ore Co. Ltd. and Müller y Cía.. But the mines were soon wasted and they couldn’t cope with the foreign competition and the iron and steel industry crisis in the UK.

    To top it, my great-great-grandparent had 13 children and he loved to gamble, so the family sold everything they had to the British and emigrated to the north-east, in search for a better future. They settled in Catalonia, a well developped region with more opportunities. I’m the third generation born there, but I moved again. To the South Sandwich Islands, it is. 😉

  7. Yes, it’s astounding, Boxer, and I am still not sure why this Adelsverein was working for the emigration, what their motivation and aim was and how the “New Germany” should look. And flat hot areas … must have been a good test for the motivation!

    The Orden has taken over the island since sometimes in the 16th century and 1798 the French took over. It must have been un-quiet times then in the Mediterranean. I have to confess that I understand Napolen’s impact on Europe north of the Alps, but have no idea what happened in and around la mer in the 18th century. The two brothers may have originated from one of the Italian Stadtrepubliken – and the Adria sees some from regina Venetia down to Brindisi, Apuila. They may have been merchants? It would be interesting to know something about Spaniards moving to Italy in the 18th century or earlier. And later from Andalusia to Catalunya. It’s astounding how families moved, the romantic idea from the static continuity is not realistic (romantische Kontinuitätsprämisse).

  8. Leah! It’s been a time since you last commented here! Is it Neu Braunfels where the Lindenbaum is located? I only yesterday saw a video about a Lindenbaum at the foot of the Fuji – the Germans should develop a little more phantasy when naming their taverns. I was at the Bären only Monday.
    How is your book search going?

  9. “The City of Kitchener (pronounced /ˈkɪtʃɨnər/) is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada. It was the Town of Berlin from 1854 until 1912 and the City of Berlin from 1912 until 1916. The city had a population of 204,668 in the Canada 2006 Census. ” From Wikipedia

    The city’s original founders were German Mennonites escaping persecution in Pennsylvania. 25% of the population today is of German descent and they celebrate Oktoberfest. Thought you might be interested.

  10. Ah, New Braunfels! One of my fave places in Texas, because it’s the home of Schlitterbahn! The best water park in the world! That’s right! I said it! It’s the best water park in the world!

    There are a lot of different communities in Texas–everyone from native Indians, to Hispanics, Polish, Czech, German, and so many other people who over the past centuries have moved here and called Texas home–and Texas has hill countries and plains and forests and swamps and coastal beaches and deserts and so many rivers and canyons. It’s a huge state! It used to be it’s own country!

  11. A giant Wasserrutsche! One more reason to ge there, Eroswings! In my imagination, that may have been formed by black/white tv western films of the fifties and sixties, Texas is flat, sunburnt and dusty, no hills or forrests but big hats and guns. But I will happily correct this imagination!

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