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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter  41 - Germanism

by Reinhold Liebau


(-as transcribed from pages 553 - 555)

If we dig deep in the history of America we always find some Germans mentioned, and most of them have been more or less prominent in the different stadiums of this country.

At the time of the first discovery of this continent in the year "One thousand," the first known man who set his foot upon this land, Leif of Greenland, had among his followers a German whose name was Tyrker, and he came from the vicinity of the River Rhein, Germany. After the rediscovery of America by Columbus, in 1492, mainly Hollanders and Englanders have been mentioned, but a good number of Germans have been among them. In the year 1626 the first German name is mentioned again. It was Minuit, born in the city of Wesel on the River Rhein, and he held the office of governor of New Amsterdam, that is the island of Manhattan. It was he who bought the whole island, containing 22,000 acres of land, for sixty gulden, Holland money, equal to twenty-four dollars in gold. Another governor was the German Johannes Rising, born in Elbing, Germany, and still another, with the name Prince, came from Pommern, Germany, and was governor of New Sweden.

From now on we read in history of many Germans among the immigrants, and especially when the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia were founded in the year 1682.

Though the Germans were mainly farmers, a good number of them engaged themselves in different industries and professions. Soon we found them also engaged in bigger enterprises. They erected the first paper mill at Germantown, Pa. In 1717 we read of the first printing plant at Ephrata. In 1739 we find reports of establishing other paper mills, flour- and sawmills, other printing plants, foundries, bookbinderies, manufacturing of printing ink, etc.

Then at the end of the eighteenth century came the war for the independence of the United States, and we learn again from history that the Germans took a very essential part in it. They formed whole regiments, and many officers of high rank were Germans, and the fact that General Washington had a special body guard composed exclusively of Germans, bears witness that he appreciated their faithfulness and reliability. At the time of the Civil War history tells us of the same circumstances, only this time many more Germans took part in that war. Many more regiments of Germans were formed and a great many Germans of high rank and as leaders were named.

But this is not the place to report about the Germans at war times, but rather of this work they accomplished at the time of peace. The Germans were not in the rear when the wilderness was changed to cultivated land, and the entire country was investigated as to which places were best suited for agriculture settlers.

In this way it happened that the state of Wisconsin was preferred by the Germans for settlement. Very probably the fact had something to do with that, that the climate of Wisconsin is much like that of Germany.

It is estimated that at present (1914) fifteen millions of Germans live in the United States. That means men, women and children. Six millions have emigrated from Germany. In twenty-nine states the Germans outnumber all other nationalities. Of these twenty-nine states Wisconsin is in the lead. More than half of the whole population are Germans, and of its seventy-one counties Eau Claire has always been in the rank with the others. The last census for 1900 shows a population for Eau Claire county of 32,665. Of these there are 6,326 Germans, with the Norwegian close to follow with the number of 5,924. All other nations falling far back. About two-thirds of these Germans live in the city of Eau Claire, the balance in the smaller cities and villages and on farms. This proves the Germans are mostly farmers.

In the high school of Eau Claire the studying of the German language is accepted as a branch of education. Of the 600 students of that school almost one-third study the German language. For some years those students have formed a German society (Deutsche Gesellschaft), which arranges several entertainments in t he interest of the German language during a school year. Occasionally prominent German professors are engaged for lectures about German history, music, poetry and nationality, etc. By presenting of pictures the students are taught of the German art of building and culture of ancientness up to the present time. Also German plays, oratory and singing is cultivated by those students to keep them in practice. The present teachers of the German language are the Misses Jeanette Marsh and Ruth Gower.

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