German Settlers


by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG

More than one-half of Americans claim to have German ancestors, which accounts for the great interest in this ethnic group. Additionally, many more of us probably have German ancestry but are not aware of it because so many of the German surnames were mutilated beyond recognition or simply were Americanized along the way.In order to trace your German ancestors in the “old country” you must determine their ancestral city, town, or village because the needed genealogical records are kept in local areas, with no nationwide indices to them. You are most likely to find this information in North American records, such as naturalization, military, or church records.Emigration from Germany took place in waves of migration during three major time periods:

— 1683 to 1820. Causes of emigration were religious persecutions and economic hardships. Many were Protestants from the Palatinate area. They went down the Rhine River and sailed from Rotterdam in The Netherlands. Many arrived at the port of Philadelphia.

— 1820 to 1871. Causes of emigration were due chiefly to economic hardships, unemployment, and crop failure, with many leaving to avoid wars and military service. Many were from Rheinland, Hessen, Baden, Wurttemberg, and Alsace-Lorraine. Major U.S. ports of entry for them were New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Orleans.

— 1871-1914. Large numbers emigrated during this time period, because of political and economic problems, and due to recruitment by U.S. states, railroads, industries, transatlantic shipping companies, and their friends and relatives. These emigrants, who included ethnic Germans, Poles and Jews, came from all areas of Germany, including large numbers from the eastern areas of Prussia. New York was the major port of entry.

The major ports of debarkation for German emigrants between 1850 and 1891 were: Bremen (40%); Hamburg (30%); Le Havre, France (16%); Antwerp, Belgium (8%) and several ports in The Netherlands (5%). Between 1868 and 1940 a few Germans sailed from Copenhagen, Denmark. Consult the Family History Library’s (FHL) Catalog for lists of available filmed ship passenger lists under: GERMANY (or name of country), [name of port] — EMIGRATION and IMMIGRATION.

Germans, in most areas, had to apply for permission to emigrate, and some of these application records for several German states and cities have been filmed by the FHL. Among the localities are Baden, Rheinland, and the Pfalz. Several published volumes of Wurttemberg records exist, dating from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s. Additionally, there are German Emigration Card Indexes for Hessen (various time periods), Baden (1660s-1900s), the Pfalz (1500s-1900s), and for World War II refugees. Many Germans lived in or emigrated through Alsace-Lorraine [ElsaB-Lothringen], and an index (1817-1866) of these emigrants is available .

German police began keeping records of each person’s residence in the 1840s. Citizens were required to tell the police at the local registration office when they moved. These records, called Melderegister (registrations) or Einwohnerregister (resident lists), are usually found in city archives. To use them you must know the approximate years a person resided in the town. Some of these, notably in Hamburg, Sachsen, and Thuringen, have been filmed and are available through the FHL. Look in its catalog under: GERMANY, [STATE], [TOWN] — POPULATION and OCCUPATIONS

An incredible amount of genealogical information pertaining to Germans can be found on the Web. The best place to start your search for these sites is under the Germany/Deutschland category at Cyndi’s List <>.

Using the Web and the FHL you can conduct a great deal of research for your German ancestors — at a minimum expense. Once these sources are exhausted, you probably will have to hire a professional in the “old country” — if the records exist that might be useful in extending the pedigree.

Written byMyra Vanderpool Gormley, CG. Previously published by Julia M. Case and Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG, Missing Links: A Weekly Newsletter for Genealogists, Vol. 3, No. 50, 11 December 1998. Please visit the MISSING LINKS Web page.



The German Settlers
The German settlers occupied the country east of Morganton, including Icard, Lovelady and Lower Fork township in Burke and Summers townships in Caldwell probably between 1763 and 1770. They were honest, thrifty, brave and self-reliant men; but they had not been ac- customed in the old country to maintain like their Scotch-Irish neighbors, that the duty of loyalty on the part of a subject to the sovereign was reciprocal to and dependant upon the performance by the King of the higher duty of furnishing protection in the enjoyment of civil as well as religious liberty. Hence we find that numbers of the best of the German citizens, true to their training, deemed it a crime to raise a rebellious hand against the government under which they lived. They were as conscientious in adopting and as bold in maintaining their principles as their neighbors. During the late war it was made manifest that the de- scendants of many men who were loyal to the King in 1776 were the most fearless of rebels in 1861. But they were not more honest nor were they braver than their grandfathers, who fought for England at Ramsour’s Mill or King’s Mountain.
Ballenger, Bodenhavin, Buckner, Chrisman, Cline, Clontz, Dever, Fisher, Fox, Garren, Grimes, Herrin, Ingle, Killian, Lance, Meese Moats, Mull, Purrier, Redman, Rymer, Shoap, Shoemaker, Shuford, Sluther, Stroupe, Tanner, Tester, Vess, Wagner, Wardrope, Waser, Weaver, Wilborn, Wolff, Worley, Yonce.

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