Pomeranian Immigrants in America, Brazil, South Africa, and Other Places
Much of the descriptive information on Pomeranian immigrants below is from North Germany to North America: 19th Century Migration. Alto, Michigan: PlattDüütsch Press, 2003.
- "A Day in Castle Garden." Die Pommerschen Leute / The Pomeranian People. 32, 3 (Fall 2009): 39. Castle Garden was the center for immigrants in New York harbor until the 1890s, when it was replaced by Ellis Island. In March 1871, Harper's New World Magazine published a story called "A Day in Castle Garden," by Louis Bagger. It is written from the viewpoint of a journalist/observer, not a new immigrant.
- Freeman, Samuel. The Emigrant's Hand Book, and Guide to Wisconsin Comprising Information Respecting Agricultural and Manufacturing Employment, Wages, Climate, Population &C. : Sketch of Milwaukee, the Queen City of the Lakes, It's Rise and Progress, Busines and Population, List of Public Officers, with a Full and Accurate Table of Statistical Information of That and Other Ports on Lake Michigan : Also Table of Routes from New-York , Boston &C. to Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha, List of Steamboats &C., and Other General Information to Immigrants. Milwaukee: Sentinel and Gazette Power Press Print, 1851. <http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=67>
- Freeman, Samuel. The Emigrant's Hand Book and Guide to Wisconsin: Comprising Information Respecting Agricultural and Manufacturing Employment, Wages, Climate, Population &C.; Sketch of Milwaukee, the Queen City of the Lakes, Its Rise and Progress, Business and Population, List of Public Officers, with a Full and Accurate Table of Statistical Information of That and Other Ports on Lake Michigan : Also Table of Routes from New-York, Boston, &C., to Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha; List of Steamboats &C., and Other General Information to Emigrants. La Crosse, Wis: Brookhaven Press, 1998.
- The German-Americans: An Ethnic Experience. Adams, W Paul, Max Kade German-American Center, Bloomington, IN, 1993. History of Germans in America.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. Baltic Teutons: Pioneers of America's Frontier. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1998. Life of the Pomeranian pioneers in America.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. Bridge to Another World. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1985. A bridge from Pommern to Boehmer (Bohemia) by the marriage of a Pomeranian princess to the Holy Roman Emperor, Karl IV, and how it affected Poland and Germany.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. By the Content of Their Character. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1986. An identification of the cultural traits brought by the "Baltic Teutons" to America. It tells how they were formed there and how they fit into the multicultural society of America.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. Don't Get Me Confused with That Other Person. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1994. Another series of essays and quotations that cover the search for Baltic Teutons to fit into American society, testing whether multiculturalism is good or bad for America.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. Odin's Inheritors: The Essays. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1987. A series of essays on what these northern myths meant to the Pomeranians as Germans, Lutherans, and later as Americans.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. Odin's Inheritors: The Myths. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1987. The detail of the myths of the northern people.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. One Cubit of Stature: A Story of the Order of Teutonic Knights.Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1985.The history of Prussia from the viewpoint of the Order of Teutonic Knights in the Baltic.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. Pomeranians: The Persistent Pioneers / Pommern: die beharrlichen Pioniere. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1987. A detailed life of the Pomeranian ancestors in Germany and Prussia.
- Gruenwald, Myron E. Two Worlds for Our Children. Hubertus, Wisconsin: Gayle Gruenwald O'Connell, 1985. A history of Pommern from the time of the glaciers to 1950. It is basic to understanding the migration.
- Remus, William. "Pomeranians Impact Life in Danville, Illinois," Die Pommerschen Leute (Fall 2002)
- Steele, Patrick William. The Kirchhayners: An Early History of David's Star Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jackson, Wisconsin.
- Stockman, Robert Lee. North Germany to North America: 19th Century Migration. Alto, Michigan (USA): Platt Dütsch Press (10748 100th Street, Alto, MI 49302; tel. 616 891-8932)
- Wellauer, Maralyn A. Immigrants to America from the Prussian Province, Pomerania (Pommern), Germany, 1853-1854. Milwaukee, Wis.: Roots International, 1985. A list of emigrants to America from Pomerania in 1853-1854; based upon records from the Prussian State Archives, Administrative District, Stettin, housed in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.
- Wengert, Gene. "Erie Canal Boats Transport Pomeranians to the Midwest." Die Pommerschen Leute. 29, 4 (Winter 2006) 66-67.
- Zuehlsdorff, Donald C. "Pomeranians Who Settled in Michigan!!" Die Pommerschen Leute. 27, 3 (Fall 2004) 47-50.
Groups of Lutheran families from northeastern Germany (Mecklenburg, Pomerania, West Prussia, but mostly Old Lutherans from Saxony and Silesia), began arriving in Victoria in the middle 1840s. They clustered in and around Melbourne (Westgarthtown, Doncaster, Harkaway, Geelong and Germantown (now called Grovedale)). German and Wendish (Slav) Lutherans were invited by William Westgarth, who had purchased land at Westgarthtown (now called Thomastown). Many became dairy farmers, but also some started orchards and vineyards.
In 1838-39, about 600 Old Lutherans from Silesia came to the Adelaide area. Most of them were led by Pastor August Kavel. Most of the people came from Neumark or Posen; from villages like Tschicherzig, Klemzig and Kay. Pastor Kavel is the one who formally established the Lutheran Church in Australia. He established synods at Handorf, Klenzig, and Bethany. Several additional groups came from 1838-41. About 178 people were from Klemzig, in Brandenburg. They built a village called Klemzig northeast of Adelaide. Another group of 187 Brandenburgers came under the leadership of Dirk Han. They were mainly from the village of Kay, in the Züllichau District of Brandenburg. Around 38 families became tenant farmers at Handorf and Lobethal, on 150 acres in the Adelaide Hills.
By 1850, another 5,400 German emigrants arrived, coming from rural areas in northern and eastern Germany, as well as Harz Mountains. In 1854-55, some 8,000 Germans came to the goldfields north of Melbourne (Forest Creek). In the 1870s, a wave of German Lutherans from South Australia resettled in the Wimmera area, and later in the Mallee region.
The Brazilian people speak Portuguese because between 1500 and 1807 the land that became Brazil was claimed by Portugal. In 1815, Portugal converted the colony of Brazil into a kingdom (United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves), but it still technically was part of Portugal. In 1822, Portugal became an empire of its own. In 1889, this empire ended when Dom Pedro II (ruled 1831-1889) was overthrown by the military. His mother had been Dona Leopoldina, a Hapsburg princess. In the early 19th century, Brazil needed workers, and she invited German and Austrian immigrants. In the 1820's, Brazil offered free passed to Brazil. For a while, Brazil became the preferred destination for poor people in Europe, especially those in Silesia and Poland. Germans were encouraged to come directly to the largely unpopulated southern states of Brazil. The Brazilian government hoped that this would bolster the economy, and also provide a buffer against the Spaniards in neighboring Uruguay and Argentina.
The Germans from east of the Elbe were attracted by the offer, and the influx of Germans began on July 18, 1824, when 39 (including one child) German immigrants came to Brazil. This day, July 25, is now known as German Day in southern Brazil. Their ship, the Protector, landed at Pôrto Alegre, and they were greeted by the emperor Dom Pedro I. Four days later this group followed the river 20 miles inland to Feitoria do Linho e Cânhamo (later called Sâo Leopoldo). Additional German immigrants soon came to this area. Other German colonies spread, aided by local private commercial interests that needed workers.
These immigrants were both farmers and artisans. Due to the weather, living conditions, and a very restrictive government, life was very difficult for the German immigrants. But by the end of 1829, the number of German immigrants numbered about 5,000, with 3,000 of them being Protestants. The Protestants suffered religious discrimination in the Catholic country.
During the next 100 years about 200,000 German immigrants came to Brazil. About 2/3 of them were peasant farmers. The first German farmers used the "slash and burn" method to make arable land. They planted rye, potatoes and maize (to feed hogs) in the ashes. After 6-10 years, the land became unproductive and they were forced to move on. In time, the Germans learned to use crop rotation and manure to enhance their production. They used legumes to enrich the soil, and also grew vegetables. Joinville, Blumenau and Sâo Leopoldo blossomed into a prosperous dairy area.
A civil war from 1835 to 1845 devastated the German settlements, and German immigration virtually stopped. The government offered German emigrants incentives to come to Brazil, such as free passage, free farm animals, free land, tax exemptions, no military service, free seed and farm equipment. About 11,000 German emigrants did arrive in Brazil.
The failed 1848 revolution in Germany encourage more emigrants to come to Brazil. Most of them came to the Brazilian states of Santa Catarina and Paranâ, which had a more favorable climate. Because of difficult living conditions, prospective German emigrants became wary of moving to Brazil. The Prussian press portrayed Brazil in a very negative light. There was no school system, Lutheran marriages were not recognized by the Catholic government and Lutheran children were declared illegitimate, and the Lutherans could not display crosses on their churches. In 1856, the Prussian government embargoed any further emigration to Brazil, and completely banned it in 1859. This ban was in effect for 40 years.
The German emigrants who had come to Brazil, were largely from northern Germany. The German immigrants settled Brazilian villages, giving them names like Eisenau, Estrêla, Nova Berlin, Germania, Teewald, Neu München, Teutônia, Panambi and Novo Hamburgo. Other communities had German names such as Picada Frank Picada Schmidt, Clara, Welp, Bismarck, Berlin, Moktke, Köln, Krupp and Imhoff.
The majority of the Pomeranians wound up in the Sâo Lourenço community. Most of the emigrants in this area came from Pomerania, Hunsrück and Westphalia. You can also find Pomeranians in Santa Cruz. A significant number of Pomeranians also colonized in urban areas, such as Espirito Santo, near Rio de Janeiro.
Visit Brazil without Leaving Home
Our group was privileged to watch a video produced by a group of fellow Pomeranians in São Lourenço do Sul – RS, Brazil at our December 2022 meeting. Unlike most of our U.S. settlements, this group has maintained their language. They have given us permission to post the video here. Click on the link and enjoy! https://youtu.be/oFkZ8UteUMs
- Bethell, Leslie, editor. Brazil: Empire and Republic, 1822-1930. University of Cambridge, 1989.
- Fausel, E. July 25th: The Day of the German Brazilian. American-German Review.
- Deutsche Einwanderung in Brasilien. A book about the Pomeranians who immigrated to Brazil. Includes names, origin, ship and arrival date. (in Portuguese and German)
- Folha Pomerana. A newsletter available to the Brazilian Pomeranian Community. This newsletter was created with the purpose to integrate, in a virtual way, the different segments of the Brazilian population interested in involving the history and culture of the Pomeranian ethnic group.
- Heuser, Carlos A. "From Brazil: Searching for My Pomeranian Roots." Die Pommerschen Leute. 28, 3 (Fall 2005) 46-49.
- Jordan, Terry G. Aspects of German Colonization in Southern Brazil. University of Illinois Press, 1990.
- Luebke, Frederick C. Germans in the New World, Chapter B: Brazil. University of Illinois Press, 1990.
- Pomerode: A Typical German Town in Brazil. Pomerode is located in the Itajai valley, between the two important industrial cities Blumenau and Jaragua do Sul, in the Santa Catarina region of southern Brazil. It was originally a German colony that was begun by Pomeranians in 1863 on the Rio do Testo.
- Portal Luteranos. Contains records from the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil.
- State of Espirito Santo, Brazil.
- Schroeder, Marcos. "Pomeranians Settle in Brazil in the 1800s," Die Pommerschen Leute(Spring 2000)
- Waibel, Leo. European Colonization in Southern Brazil. Geographical Review, October, 1950.
Chile was colonized by Spain in 1541, and declared its independence in 1818. Pomeranian residents went to southern Chile, to the lake District just north of the archipelago of Chiloè. The Spanish government had offered them cheap farm land in the 1820s.
Guatemala was also a destination for North German emigrants, where they worked primarily on the coffee plantations. In the lowlands they also grew tobacco, sugar and cotton. The emigrants tended to form their own distinct communities.
Nicaragua was ruled as a part of Guatemala until it declared its independence from Spain in 1821. In the 1880s, the Nicaraguan government invited Germans to come and settle in the coffee growing region in the northern highlands. They helped establish many coffee plantations. One of the settlers was a Mr. Bösche, from Hamburg. As a result, one of the plantations is called Hammonia, a Latin name for Hamburg.
Paraguay gained its independence from Spain in 1811. Southern Germans began arriving in the 1880s. A settlement called Nueva Germania was founded in 1889. Many more came after World War II. There is a large German presence in Chaco.
The Afrikaners are the modern modern-day descendants of the Dutch who first visited South Africa in 1605, and started a colony there in 1652. The many Low German speaking emigrants who came later found the Dutch and Afrikaans languages easy to understand. In the 1850s, a group of stranded German legionnaires settled in the Cape area (Kaffraria) as farmers. Soon the Cape area had German settlements established, with names like Hanover, Berlin, Potsdam, Hamburg, Braunschweig, Stutterheim and Ohlsen.
In 1858, a group of poor peasants originating in Pomerania, and from the Uckermark and Wendland areas, came to Kaffraria, in the eastern Cape. They settled amongst the German Legionnaires. The soil was poor, so many worked on nearby British farms or found jobs in the towns. They remained very poor, and were despised by the British farmers. Another group of colonists came to the Kaffraria area in 1877, but because of the poor soil settled in nearby towns and other areas in South Africa.
During the 1870s, officials from Cape Town were recruiting settlers from northern Germany, offering free transportation. Emigrants came from Osnabrück and many other parts of northern Germany, including Pomerania and Brandenburg. They are often referred to as the Bergtheil group, in recognition of Jonas Bergtheil, a director of the Natal Cotton Company. This group settled the communities of New Germany and Westville, just outside of Port Natal (later named Durban). Their attempt to grow cotton here failed, and some grew vegetables instead, and others moved inland to Pietermaritzburg and New Hanover.
In the 1850s to the 1880s. a number of Lutheran missionary groups came to South Africa.
- Pienaar, Stephanie. "The Pomeranians Who Emigrated to South Africa: How They Kept Traditions Alive," Die Pommerschen Leute (Fall 2001)