Language - Oma, Opa

The messages about Oma and Opa make me think there are as many difference
experiences as there are German families. My family came from the area of
Osnabrück and were all Low German speaking Lutherans. In our family our
grandparents have and still have been called Opa and Oma, however the children
always called their parents Pop and Nam. My cousins in Germany use the same
names, and my wife and I lived for a while with German family in Landshut in
Bavaria who used Opa and Oma.

    I have story written in 1776 in low German by a German relative who
lived in Melle, Kingdom of Hannover. My 56 year old cousin in Bremen, German,
cannot read the story but his father can as it is the dialect he learned in
school. Seems strange to me a father and his son learned in school different
versions of German.

    There were a number of families from what is now the Osnabrück of
Niedersachsen or Lower Saxony who came to southern Ohio. Though they arrived in
numbers from about 1860 to about 1900, most spoke their version of German most
of the time and always at home. My father and his siblings where not allowed
by the school until they learned enough English. That was in the period of
1915-1920. At family reunion in the early 1920s it was decided the family
ought to speak English. However an uncle who came to America in 1896 when 19
and died in the early 1940s never did learn any English and spoke only German.

    Though I knew some low German from my father and grandfather it forgot
in over the years. I can read and write standard or high German but have a
difficult time conversing in German.

Your posting brought back a memory or two. My grandparents on my father's side were first generation Americans born to German parents. Their families had settled in St. Louis in the late 1850's and for the most part stayed there. My grandad's family emigrated from Lower Saxony (Helfren, which, I am told, is today a suburb of Bad Rothenfelde). My Great Great Grandfather was a royal forester who was stationed there (if that is the right term). My grandma's folks came from Bielefeld (I don't remember the German territory that is in - Hesse?) and were merchants.

I grew up in a Swedish household in Chicago and my father and his parents died when I was young so I didn't see many German traditions. In fact the only one I remember (and I didn't know it until reading your post) was that I called my St. Louis grandparents Oompa and Nannie (I would have had to be taught that - I never would have dreamed these names up on my own).

German was never spoken in my presence as a child by my grandparents or father eventhough I am sure my grandparents were fluent in the language. They grew up in the German part of St. Louis (around 12th and Carr), went to German churches (St. Peter) and their families were engaged in business enterprises in the German community. Two of my great grandfather's brothers were very active in the German Evangelical Church, one as a pastor and one as head of the Church publishing house.

I suspect (based on documents and timing of actions) that they had some difficulties with the anti-German sentiment which developed prior to WW1 and I know that my father (who was an engineer) had a difficult time getting war related work in WW2 because of his Germanic ancestry. The may have tried to distance themselves from things teutonic. All I know is what I can gather from postings on this list.

In any event, Merry Christmas to all!

Al in Music City

Hallo Al,

    when your grandma's folk came from Bielefeld, those folk came from the
east of Westfalia. In that time Westfalia belonged to the Kingdom of
Prussia, together with big parts of "Rheinland". Today Nordrhein-Westfalia
is the the land within most inhabitants (ca. 18 Mill.) in German Federation.
Capital of Nordrhein-Westfalia is D�sseldorf. Bad Rothenfelde lies near the
border to East-Westfalia. In former times also Osnabr�ck belonged to
Westfalia and in old scripts you can read: >in Westfalia, what in old times
was named Saxony ....<. You see, nothing is so continually than change.
Sometimes change by marriages, often by wars, may be by political
arrangements - it is too difficult to explain all.

Have a Merry Christmas
Yours
Udo

<<They grew up in the German part of St. Louis (around 12th and Carr), we>>

Hi Al:

St. Louis was one of the unusual cities for settlement. Unlike Cincinnati and others, St. Louis was then in the midst of tremendous growth, so there was no 'German' part of town. Essentially, The Germans settled 35% North (yours), 50% South and 15% West.

Gary Stoltman
Mercerville, NJ

Hi Gary! I didn't know that. I thought that the area I mentioned was the German part of St. Louis.

I have ordered a book (haven't got it yet) called "Civil War St. Louis" written by Louis Gerteis which is supposed to have a very full treatment about the St. Louis Germans. I have an abiding curiosity about my German family (because I have so little information about them). I set out a few years ago (when I lived in New Jersey) armed with a piece of paper from a relative with some names on it and have managed to accumulate three filing cabinets of material and a living branch of the family in Germany.

I still haven't answered the question I started with, however. I wanted to know why a 16 year old immigrant kid (my Great Grandfather) from the Kingdom of Hannover joined the Union Army as a drummer boy and went off to the Civil War within a couple of months of his arrival in the U.S. He got his clearance to emigrate from the Hannoverian bureaucracy at Bad Iburg in July of 1860 and joined the 5th Missouri Infantry in St. Louis in the the early fall of 1861. Maybe this book with provide some answers.

Merry Christmas. I miss New Jersey at times but not the taxes.

Al in Music City

Hi Udo! Boy are you ever right. My father's family actually came from Marienhagen which is a little town near the Liene River in southwest Lower Saxony (the largest nearby town is Alfeld). I have never been able to pin down precisely who was in control of that area and have given up trying to figure it out. It apparently changed hands every few years.

My St. Louis Grandma was a Kopp and I think I have the place of birth for her mother and father. One of them came from Bielefeld, as I recall and the other from a nearby town. I plan to launch some inquiries next year. I will start with the Lutheran Church. They were pretty helpful with my searches in Hannover. I know the Kopps were Missouri Synod Lutherans (like I am) and there must be some records which can be accessed.

Fr�liche Weihnachten!

Al in Music City

Hi Al:

Your journey matches mine - files and all. I didn't know who my g-rand was who came to StL in 1854 (largest immigration year). I also was finally able to find out where he came from and have also established a link with a German couisn.

The question I've always asked is, "Why" - what were the reasons he came here and why did he end up in StL? It's a fascinating journey and you'll enjoy your accomplishments.

Here are some observations & quips that might help be of interest.

1. More than half the city's population of 160,733 in 1860 was foreign born and more than 50,000 were Germans.

2. St. Louis did assert its strength on the eve of the Civil War. Men who had dodged the draft back in Germany now signed up by the thousands to bear arms for their adopted nation. Nationally, more soldiers of German extract fought and died than any other ethnic group - almost all on the Union side. Six of the first seven volunteer regiments In Missouri were predominantly German.

3.. The St. Louis Germans did loathe slavery and admire Lincoln. So, in spite of Missouri's separatist Governor Jackson, the Germans of St. Louis would keep Missouri in the Union.

4. Not only were the Germans against slavery, or, at the least, its expansion, they were mostly principled enemies of what was called, "states rights," or the sovereignty of each state toward the Union. Many Germans had recently fought for a republican Germany and had no patience with talks of disunity. Germans had learned the bitter lesson of Kleinstaaterei or "small-statism" in Germany and had no desire to transform the splendid, dignified union of the United States into a mass of independent, petty state sovereignties, e.g, The Osnabrck District. Immigrant biographies give occasional glimpses of the motives behind emigration. These ideas would frame the attitude of these new Americans. One German St. Charles, Mo., resident explained that he had, "come to this country on account of his admiration of the free institutions of America" in 1854 and was not about to let, "this free Republic" be broken up in 1861.

5. The following is from a diary of a young lady taken from the book, "Valley of the Shadows." She wrote, "Five regiments composed of mainly German citizens of St. Louis were soon put together and were to be seen marching south to the Arsenal. I was instantly struck by their look of detachment on their faces, the machine like movement of their bodies. Were these German stoics? Or were they simply hiding their feelings under a mask of indifference?

6. Many of the young recruits were Germans bitter at the contemptuous treatment by the southerners, who taunted them and pelted them with mud and rocks. Joining with friends at Washington Hall, they listened to speeches, drank free beer, ate a free lunch, "Gemutlichkeit," and then signed up. They were eager to teach the German-haters an unforgettable lesson.

'Nuff

Good Hunting

Gary

PS Where in Jersey did you pay and pay your taxes?

Civil war records are readily available and an excellent place to find the
place of birth of your German ggrandfather, in case anyone is looking.
NH

Gary Stoltman wrote:

3.. The St. Louis Germans did loathe slavery and admire Lincoln. So, in spite of Missouri's separatist Governor Jackson, the Germans of St. Louis would keep Missouri in the Union.

4. Not only were the Germans against slavery, or, at the least, its expansion, they were mostly principled enemies of what was called, "states rights," or the sovereignty of each state toward the Union. Many Germans had recently fought for a republican Germany and had no patience with talks of disunity. Germans had learned the bitter lesson of Kleinstaaterei or "small-statism" in Germany and had no desire to transform the splendid, dignified union of the United States into a mass of independent, petty state sovereignties, e.g, The Osnabrck District. Immigrant biographies give occasional glimpses of the motives behind emigration. These ideas would frame the attitude of these new Americans. One German St. Charles, Mo., resident explained that he had, "come to this country on account of his admiration of the free institutions of America" in 1854 and was not about to let, "this free Republic" be broken up in 1861.

Gary, that's interesting. I wonder if the difference in attitude has to do with the time of the immigration, or perhaps the region of Germany that the immigrants came from.

The memoirs of J. Fred Fellwock give a different picture. He came to the US as a teenager in 1846 from eastern Brandenburg, with a group of Old Lutherans were came just a bit too late to be considered as part of the Old Lutheran immigration. They settled in Dodge County, Wisconsin. He relates that the older men (the heads of households at the time of the immigration) sided with the south, and that the younger men supported Lincoln.

In trying to understand the differing points of view, I thought perhaps the older men had seen the power of the strong central government, which had taken away from them their "pure Word and Sacrament" in the Prussian Union, and wanted to see states rights affirmed. And the younger men, heads of households at the time of the Civil War, and some of whom had participated in the the founding of the Republican Party, were strongly anti-slavery. These are just my own thoughts on the issue, so I'd welcome other input or suggestions as to the reasons for the different stands taken by older and the younger men.

As to why the young men enlisted to fight, one opinion is that the young guys were enticed with a little beer, and when mellowed, they signed up. In that small community just east of Mayville, Wisconsin, three young men died in the Civil War. (There is a plaque in the church as a memorial to the three.)

It really is difficult, at this distance of nearly 150 years, to assign motives to the actions that were taken that long ago.

Full text of the Fellwock memoirs is at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~monajo/fellwock/memoirs.htm
It's a fascinating read.

June 19, 1861, was one of the earliest battles of the Civil War in Missouri.
It happened two miles east of Cole Camp and the Union troops (approximately
900) were almost entirely German volunteers. They were attacked by a large
rebel force (approximately 350) that approached from Warsaw.
You can read about it here, and there is also a roster of the German men
involved. http://members.aol.com/hrftx/BCHG.htm
There were 35 casualties, and after the funeral of four members of Immanuel
Lutheran church at Cole Camp, Pastor Johannes added this notation in the
church record:
English translation::
"Friedrich Detjen, Theodor Bergmann, Claus Haink, Friedrich Balke.
Wednesday, June 19, at the sorrowful and terrible attack on our U.S. Home
Guard camp in the barn of a congregation member, Hinrich Heisterberg, by
troops of the Confederate States, (these men) died on the battlefield and
were buried on June 20. Altogether in this attack thirty-five died, either
immediately or shortly afterwards. Besides the general great
transgressions, piled up through many years, they (the Union men) brought
this disaster upon themselves through their absurdity. Most of them took up
weapons to gain a comfortable, free, and profitable life. May the Lord let
his punishment be for His praise."
According to an unpublished history of the church, Pastor Johannes had
pro-Southern leanings which he based on Romans 13: 1-2. From his entry in
the church record it is clear he did not approve of the participation of his
parishioners in the battle. These sentiments were in conflict with the
majority of the German-Lutheran population, and contributed to his accepting
a call to Bath, Illinois in early 1865.

Hi Mona:

Remember, I'm speaking of a different demographic. Almost all of these arrived StL during the late 40s &1850s with 1854 being peak. Yours look to be chain migrated and were established in the 1830s in a rural environment.

Lot's of interesting slants on this. Hope to hear more.

Gary

Interesting comment, Gary, on the German distaste for "small-statism". I hadn't heard that before but it makes sense. It is pretty frustrating today to try and sort out whose writ ran in the land of our ancestors (at least in the case of my ancestors); it must have been a lot worse for them. This may also explain why Germany embraced the post 1871 unification so easily and why they became fervently patriotic about the new order once created.

This being said, I tend to doubt that my family was very radical. My Great Great Grandfather was a royal forester and had what I think was a pretty good job for those times. He seemed to be fairly "tight" with the head man and probably had to be if he was in attendance during hunting forays (his exact title was Hunter and Forest Keeper). Oral family history has it that the eldest child was presented to the sovereign for a blessing or the sovereign was present at his christening but whatever happened exactly, the family was very proud of the event.

My Great Great Grandfather wasn't in much of a hurry to emigrate but remained in Germany after sending his sons to the New World and retired from his forester's job before joining the family in St. Louis. I have suspected that his retirement had a lot to do with the unification
of Germany - he and my Great Great Grandmother came to the U.S. in 1873, more that a decade after their older children. The Prussians had a highly developed forest service of their own, I am told, and they probably no longer needed local help after 1871.

It is more likely that my Great Grandfather, who was little more than a kid and probably didn't know or care about small-statism, was caught up in the patriotic zeal of the St. Louis German community when he enlisted.

You have provided me with some food for thought; thanks!

Al in Music City

Gary Stoltman wrote:

Hi Mona:

Remember, I'm speaking of a different demographic. Almost all of these arrived StL during the late 40s &1850s with 1854 being peak. Yours look to be chain migrated and were established in the 1830s in a rural environment.

Lot's of interesting slants on this. Hope to hear more.

I think a significant difference is that my families came before the 1848 revolution attempt. They also came from a rural area -- did the St.Louis ones you referred to come from a city?

Yes, it is fascinating.

Mona

Mona:

Yes, they were rural by today's standard. They came from the village of Gesmold, whose population today is about 3,000, I assume it was much smaller then? But, a great majority came from the rural areas during that time. Certainly, the majority of those 50,000 StL German born citizens in 1860 had been farmers of some stripe.

Industrially, Germany was far behind the countries of England, France and even the Low countries during that period. Until Germany caught up, there were few jobs available in the larger cities. This was another factor that led to emigration.

Gary

Hi Gary! I noticed I didn't respond to your question. I lived in Bernardsville (Somerset County). The real estate taxes were bad there but a few of my former co-workers lived in Union County and really got hit hard. When I moved to Tennessee, I felt like a got a raise.

Al