Lesson 2 Table of Contents Lesson 4

L e s s o n 3


1. Key personalities

Gottfried Duden. A German journalist who visited Missouri during the 1820s and lived there for three years on a farm. After returning to Germany in 1829, Duden published a glowing account of Missouri which had the effect of drawing thousands of German settlers to the area in the years prior to the Civil War. Settlement was particularly concentrated in and around St. Louis and along the Missouri River.

Friedrich Muench (1799-1881). After serving as a pastor in Germany, Muench became interested in the idea of encouraging German immigration to North America and of establishing a German-speaking state in the American West. To promote this project he established the Giessen Society in 1833. The following year he came to America with Paul Follenius (1799-1844), another liberal reformer. Muench settled in Missouri, where he was elected to the state legislature. His numerous and varied writings include a book on the cultivation of wine grapes and an English translation of Heinrich Boernstein's novel The Mysteries of St. Louis.

2. Main trends

In 1766 a group of German-speaking colonists set out from Bethlehem, PA to establish a settlement at what is now Winston-Salem, NC. They were members of the religious denomination known as the Moravian Brethren, whose principal American settlement was at Bethlehem, PA. The daughter settlement which they established in North Carolina was called Salem. The original settlement has been remarkably well preserved as the Old Salem Historic District National Landmark, which contains more than 30 authentically restored structures. The historic district offers a complete tour and a museum of decorative arts. Among the historic buildings included in the tour are the Winkler Bakery, Bethabara Church, the Single Brothers' House, the Miksch House, the Salem Tavern, and the John Vogler House. The Single Brothers' House, built in 1768, is an impressive example of traditional German brick and half-timber architecture. Built to serve as a dormitory for members of the Moravian community, it is still in the possession of the Moravian Church. The Salem Tavern, built in 1784, was visited by George Washington in 1791. The John Vogler House (1819) was originally the home and shop of a silversmith and clock-maker. The carefully restored building has been furnished with period antiques.

Hermann, MO is a different kind of German-American settlement, dating from the 19th century rather than the colonial period. The town was founded in 1837 by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia. The name of the settlement alludes to the German national hero, Hermann the Cheruscian, who defeated three Roman legions in 9 A.D. The town is now the county seat of Gascondade County, the heart of the "Missouri Rhineland" lying along the Missouri River. The town contains an exceptionally large number of well preserved historic buildings dating from before the Civil War. The C. Henry Gentner Home, which was built around 1850 by one of the original party of German settlers arriving from Philadelphia, is open to visitors on the first Sunday of each month. A balcony at the back gives a view of a period garden and carriage house. The Carl P. Strehly Home, built around 1845, once housed the printing press for a German-language abolitionist newspaper. The house is privately owned but may be visited by appointment. The State of Missouri maintains Deutschheim, a staffed historic site.

The Germans who settled the Missouri River Valley brought with them the skills needed for the cultivation of grapes and the manufacture of wine. Among the historic buildings which can be visited in Hermann are the Hermannshof Winery and the Stone Hill Winery. Wine is still produced locally and is much appreciated by wine enthusiasts in St. Louis. One local vintage recently bore a label with a portrait of Friedrich Muench, the prominent Missouri-German who played an active role in promoting the local wine industry.

3. Suggested further reading

William G. Bek. The German Settlement Society of Philadelphia and Its Colony, Hermann, Missouri. Philadelphia: Americana Germanica Press, 1907.

Walter O. Forster. Zion on the Mississippi: The Settlement of the Saxon Lutherans in Missouri, 1839-1841. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953.

James Hunter. The Quiet People on the Land: A Story of the North Carolina Moravians in Revolutionary Times. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1976.

Charles Van Ravenswaay. The Art and Architecture of German Settlements in Missouri: A Survey of a Vanishing Culture. Columbia, MO: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1977.

Floyd C. Shoemaker. "Hermann: A Bit of the Old World in the Heart of the New," Missouri Historical Review, vol. 6 (1957), 235-244.

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Created: 4 August 1998, SEL
Updated: 17 November 2007, BAS
Comments to: Eberhard Reichmann, reichman@ucs.indiana.edu
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