Germans in America!
Germans were among the early settlers in Jamestown in 1608 and established their first settlement in Pennsylvania in 1683, but it wasn't always being easy being German-American in the US, especially after the start of WWI.
I actually started this thread just to celebrate the 1883 German-American Bi-Centennial for which I own several medals now, but in researching this, it turns out this was the first of many German-American Days which stopped in WWI and became a holiday under President Reagan. The history of how German-Americans were treated after WWI is intertwined in the history of the Bi-Centennial celebration on October 6, 1883 and important to remember.
The following is some information for Germans in America, including German-American Day which was celebrated annually from 1883 to WWI.
Don Heinrich Tolzmann wrote:
The Origins of German-American Day
On the 6th of October, thirteen German families led by Franz Daniel Pastorius came ashore in Philadelphia from their ocean voyage on the Concord and founded Germantown.
Although Germans first settled at Jamestown in 1608, it was not until 1683 that a permanent German settlement was established at Germantown.
Since then, the 6th of October has always held a special place in the annals of German-American history.
In 1876, the U.S. celebrated its Centennial and German-Americans got the idea of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of Germantown, which then took place on the 6th of October in 1883.
In the following years, this celebration came to be known as German Day and was widely celebrated across the country until World War I.
Some more information:
GERMANS IN AMERICA
October 6 is German-American Day. Just as Irish-Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day and invite everybody to participate in the celebration, on German-American Day Americans of German descent invite everyone to celebrate with them.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, communities with a sizable German-speaking element would celebrate in grand style the day of the German-Americans. In Indiana, it was a real Community-Fest with Indiana governors and Vice President Fairbanks (1899) as speakers. In Evansville, the grand German Day celebration in 1911 lasted for one week (September 24-30).
After the United States entered WW I against Germany in 1917, anti-German hysteria swept through the country. Many states passed legislation banning German in schools, religious services, newspapers and associations. Even in regions predominantly settled by German-speaking immigrants, cultural tolerance turned to Germanophobia, followed by abrupt abandonment of German-language programs in schools and colleges, churches, and associations.
Individual German settlers are documented already in Jamestown, Virginia (1608), the "birthplace" of America. However, it was on October 6, 1683, when a group of Mennonites from Krefeld disembarked from the "Concord" (the German Mayflower) in Philadelphia, constituting the first group immigration of Germans to America. Over 7 million would follow them over the next 300 years making German-Americans the largest ethnic group in the United States. In the 1990 Census 1 out of 4 Americans reported German ancestry.
Here are some interesting links I ran across researching this.
- German-American Society: Our History
- National German American Day
- Badges for the 1883 German American Bicentennial
- The Origins of German-American Day by Don Heinrich Tolzmann
- What is German American Day? A Celebration of German Contributions to America
Here are some of my medals from the very first German-American Day in 1883. The right-most piece is a So-Called Dollar showing Columbia and Germania. The white metal SCHD is ex. Tim Gabriele. The white metal SCD is ex. Alex A. Pancheco.
This one is the size of a gold dollar showing Germania with the 3-leaf clover and seal of Pennsylvania. It is also from my collection.
Here are some ribbons from LibraryCompany.org
Here's a list of Germans immigrants that participated our hobby:
- Adam Pietz - Assistant Chief Engraver US Mint Philadelphia - born Offenbach
- Anthony Conrad Paquet - Assistant Engraver of US Mint Philadelphia - born in Hamburg
- Felix Oscar Schlag - designer of Jefferson nickel - born in Frankfurt