I Never Had a Chance

I would like to read a book about Germans in America, because, for reasons it’s not necessary to go into here, I’ve been having the kind of month where I’ve just been staring at the people who bathe in the same gene pool as me wondering “How the fuck did I get here?” You know, in a metaphysical sense.  I don’t need a birds/bees lecture and I never, ever need to hear the phrase “penis hug” again for as long as I live.

And then Bridgett goes and posts something like this and I’m all “Oh, hey, those are my people.”  Now, clearly, we weren’t St. Louis Germans, but we would have come out of Germany at that same time as the guys in this post:

A great many of them came straight from Germany – and formed part of a very large German speaking population that then dominated both the urban and rural landscape from St. Louis to Chicago, to Cincinatti and far into the farmlands of Pennsylvania. And these immigrant workers were a very rowdy and radical bunch. Many were veterans of Europe’s great revolutionary battles of 1848 – the first upheavals when working class and communist revolution emerged as a living threat to the world’s ruling classes.

I don’t know for sure when many of my German relations came over, but it seems to me very likely that it was in this bunch.  I know my grandpa was the first person in his family to speak only English (though even my dad can read some German)–but he was born between the two world wars, so it makes sense why–even though his family had been in America for at least… Well, he was born in America, his mom was born in America, and her parents were born in America, but I don’t know about that next generations AND I don’t know anything about his father’s family.  (We really need to do a family tree).

Anyway, it seems obvious to me that they were coming over right about this time, these rowdy, radical folks who were a “living threat to the world’s ruling classes” and that those are my people.

Shoot, I even have relatives who ran for office (and won) as socialists back in the day.

And I too love crappy beer.

So, yeah, that’s cool.

3 thoughts on “I Never Had a Chance

  1. Sounds like the book you’re really looking for is Jon Gjerde’s Minds of the West: Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917. It’s not exclusively about German immigrants, but it would be an illuminating read for you. If you want to hear it from the horse’s mouth, pick up Kamphoefner, Helbich, and Sommer’s News from the Land of Freedom — it’s a collection of immigrant letters that makes for poignant reading. A reasonable general survey text (though getting a little dated) would be Willi Paul Adams, The German-Americans. An Ethnic Experience.

  2. I’m of Irish stock and I, too, dig on crappy beer — your people don’t have the monopoly.

    You should really research your family tree — mine explains a lot — Here’s a link about my 5th great (or something like that) grandparents.
    It’s all very “Dances with Wolves” — but I find it ultra cool to have an ancestor named “Mad Dog”


  3. Damn, you and bridgett had to go an make the husband’s family tree seem all interesting and worth looking into. Don’t you know I’m distracted by trying to figure out how to track people with the last name equivalent of a “Smith” or “Jones” from Korea to Hawaii? :P

Comments are closed.