A German-American Chronology

Last updated 9-20-2017.

 Adapted from: The German Americans: An Ethnic Experience (link is no longer active).
by LaVern J. Rippley and Eberhard Reichmann
1608 Some Germans accompany Captain John Smith, founder of Jamestown, VA

1618 The Thirty Years' War devastates Germany; the country disintegrates into numerous independent principalities

1626 The Rhinelander Peter Minuit (Minnewit) -- director of the Dutch colony-purchases
Manhattan from the Indians and builds Ft. New Amsterdam

1633 First publication in Germany encouraging emigration to America
1661 Georg Hack from Cologne settles in Maryland

1670 Hudson Bay Co. founded with Prince Ruprecht as governor

1676 Nikolaus de Meyer from Hamburg becomes Mayor of New York

1683 Early German settlers come to the American colonies for religious reasons, including the Mennonites and Quakers who arrive on the "Concord" and found Germantown, PA with Francis Daniel Pastorius as their leader / Vienna defended against Turkish invasion

1688 Germantown's Pastorius pens first protest against slavery

1691 British execute Frankfurt-born Jacob Leisler, first elected governor of New York and
champion of American independence

1709 First mass emigration from the Palatinate (Pfalz)

1710 650 Palatines and Swiss settle at New Bern, NC

1720 Augsburg and Marienthal founded in Louisiana

1728 Seventh-Day Adventists under Conrad Beissel build Ephrata Cloisters in Pennsylvania

1732 The "Philadelphische Zeitung" (newspaper) appears

1733 Schwenkfelders from Silesia arrive in Pennsylvania

1734 Salzburg Protestants come to Georgia

1735 Printer John Peter Zenger's acquittal -- landmark victory for freedom of the press / Moravians
(Herrnhuters) under Count Zinzendorf settle in Georgia

1736 Moravians found Bethlehem,Nazareth, and Lititz, PA

1741 President Eisenhower's ancestor-Hans N. Eisenhauer-arrives

1743 First Bible printed in America by Christopher Saur-in German

1768 Barbara Heck, German-lrish, founds first Methodist church in New York

1772 Pennsylvania Germans ("Dutchmen") form their own militias / Moravians found Schoenbrunn
mission in Ohio

1776 The Great American Revolution / Braunschweiger and Hessian troops land in Quebec (and introduce the decorated Christmas tree to North America); nearly 5000 Hessians remained in America

1777 Gen. von Steuben trains American army / Molly Pitcher (Maria Ludwig) fights in several
battles / Christopher Ludwig is the army's director of baking / Major F. von Heer commands Gen. Washington's German body-guards / Gen. Nicholas Herkimer and the Germans of the Mohawk Valley defeat the British at Oriskan

1779 Gen. von Steuben writes first handbook for U.S. Army

1784 Johann Jacob Astor arrives and becomes richest American / German Society for the
Protection of Immigrants founded in New York

1786 Prussia's Frederick the Great recognizes the independent USA

1804 The Harmonists under George Rapp arrive in Pennsylvania. Their Indiana settlement, Neu
Harmonie (1814- 824), becomes the economic "Wonder of the West"

1806 Defeated by Napoleon, The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation ceases to exist 1807
Martin Baum, riverboat pioneer on the Ohio and Mississippi, becomes mayor of Cincinnati

1815 Boston's Germans found Handel and Haydn Society / Napoleon defeated by British and
Prussian forces

1817 Joseph Baumeler and his German separatists found the Zoar commune in Ohio

1820 Joseph Heister becomes Governor of Pennsylvania

1825 German introduced at Harvard University / Harmonists build their third town, Old Economy,
now part of Ambridge, PA

1827 Francis Lieber from Berlin begins editing the Encyclopedia Americana in Boston

1829 Gomried Duden's published travel report encourages thousands of Germans to come to America, especially Missouri

1835 The Giessen-Society aims at a "New German Fatherland" in America; this and similar attempts
failed / Philadelphia Maennerchor founded

1837 Pennsylvania publishes laws and governors' messages in English and German

1840 German Lutherans found Concordia College, Ft. Wayne, IN / First "Volksfest" celebrated in
Richmond, VA

1842 William Bouck (Bauk) becomes Governor of New York

1843 German Inspirationists settle near Buffalo and later move to Amana, IA

1844 German aristocrats found the "Mainzer Adelsverein"for settlement in Texas. They build New
Braunfels and Fredericksburg

1847 Lutheran Missouri Synod organized, C.F.W. Walther, president

1848 The German Revolution for "unity, justice and freedom" / J.J. Astor donates $400,000 for the
Astor Public Library in New York City / New York's Germania Orchestra founded / Cincinnati
Turnverein founded

1849 Arrival of "Forty-Eighters" after the failed democratic revolution in Germany /  J.A. Sutter loses his land and fortune in the California gold rush

1850 Levi Strauss produces first pair of jeans!

1853 Heinrich Steinweg creates the Steinway piano in New York

1854 221,253 German immigrants arrive in this peak year

1856 Mrs. Carl Schurz establishes first American Kindergarten in Watertown, Wl

1859 Abraham Lincoln acquires the "Illinois Staatsanzeiger" paper and struggles through German

1861 The Civil War (1861-65) / German-American militia safeguard Missouri for the Union / Julius
Sturges brings first pretzel on the market in Lititz, PA

1862 Homestead Act / Sioux Uprising in Minnesota results in an attack on the German Turner town of New Ulm, MN

1865 Union army volunteers born in Germany numbered 5,000; 41 reached the rank of Major
General / Young Count Zeppelin spent some time as a balloon observer during the Civil War

1866 After Prussia' victory over its arch rival, Austria is no longer a member state of the German
Federation / Adolf Pfannenschmidt from Rinteln founds Pfannenschmidtstadt-better known today as

1867 America's first Socialist party formed in New York City

1868 Joseph Pullitzer becomes a reporter for a German-language newspaper in St. Louis, MO. He later the New York World and turned it into a successful newspaper. The prestigious Pullitzer Prizes in literature and journalism are named in his honor.

1870 San Antonio, TX is 50% German / The Franco-Prussian War (1870-71); Chancellor Otto
von Bismarck unites German states in the "Second Reich" (1871-1918)

1872 Brewers Philip Best, Valentin Blatz, Franz Falk, Frederick Miller, Jacob Obermann, Frederick Pabst, Joseph Schlitz and others make Milwaukee the leading beer exporter

1873 Bismarck's 14-year "Kulturkampf"- power struggle with Catholicism over control of education, civil marriage, and church appointments-motivates Catholic emigration

1877 Carl Schurz, Secretary of the Interior (1877­81)

1878 Bismarck's Socialist Law leads to wave of Social Democrat emigration / "New Yorker
Volkszeitung" becomes organ of Socialist-Labor party

1880 Wisconsin has more German-Americans than any other state. It still does!

1882 250,630 German immigrants come to America, more than in any other year

1883 15,000 German Mennonites from Russia settle in Kansas / Brooklyn Bridge opens -- built by
the Roeblings

1884 Ottmar Mergenthaler revolutionizes type-setting

1886 The Haymarket Riots in Chicago lead to arrest and execution of radical socialist editor August
Spies of the "Arbeiter Zeitung"

1888 Some 800 German-language publications represent more than 50% of America's foreign
language press

1892 Henry Heinz, a German-American living in Pittsburgh, creates ketchup.

1893 Hesse-born John Peter Altgeld becomes Governor of Illinois

1901 The National German-American Alliance founded

1904 St. Louis Germans bring the "hamburger" on the market

1910 German-Americans developed 672,000 farms on a total area of 100,000,000 acres (an

1914 WW I begins in Europe. Pres.Wilson issues proclamations of neutrality / Frederick
Weyerhaeuser, German-born lumber king, dies. His fortune: $300,000,000

1915 A German-American, Irish-American Alliance formed to keep the US out of the war

1917 The US enters the conflict. Anti-German hysteria throughout the country; German-language
instruction ends in most states; hundreds of German-language publications cease to exist; many a
Schmidt changes to Smith

1918 End of WW l; the imperial "Second Reich" ends / National German-American Alliance

1919 Germany's "Weimar Republic" founded / German instruction banned in Indiana and Nebraska; Steuben Society founded

1920 Prohibition until 1933; dark days for beer makers!

1921 First Quota Law limits immigration

1923 Supreme Court rules prohibiting German in schools unconstitutional / Charles P Steinmetz,
GE's wizard of electricity, dies / Inflation rocks young German republic / Hitler arrested after failing to seize power in Munich

1928 Herbert Hoover (originally Huber) elected -- first president of German ancestry

1929 "Black Friday" on New York Stock Exchange leads to worldwide depression / baseball stars
Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Honus Wagner, Frank Frisch, all of German descent

1933 Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany. Beginning of mass exodus of Jewish and non-Jewish
intellectuals and artists from Nazi Germany, including Bauhaus members

1934 The Steuben Society and most German-Americans oppose Nazi movement in the USA / the
Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation (National Carl Schurz Association) publishes the
"American-German Review" and assists refugees from Germany

1936 The German-American Bund (Deutsch-Amerikanischer Volksbund) with Fritz Kuhn as
"Fuehrer," a Nazi organization

1937 The American Nazi Party claims 200,000 members

1939 Fritz Kuhn jailed for misappropriation of Bund funds / Hitler starts WW II with his Blitzkrieg
against Poland

1940 Most of the 114,058 Germans coming to the USA between 1931 and 1940 are opposed to,
or escape from, Nazi tyranny

1941 Following Pearl Harbor, Hitler declares war on the USA

1942 Gen. Eisenhower commands US Forces in the European theater. Like "Ike," Adm. Nimitz,
Gen. Spaatz and others are also of German descent

1945 May 8, WW II in Europe ends with Germany's unconditional surrender / CARE packages and
other American assistance during post war hunger period in West Germany are a big help

1948 The Marshall Plan, in conjunction with currency reform, jump starts the German economy into
the "economic miracle" of postwar recovery

1949 The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic founded; Germany
divided until 1990

1950 128,600 Germans immigrate

1952 General Dwight D. Eisenhower elected President

1968 Society for German-American Studies established

1969 Wernher von Braun and other German-American scientists provide leadership for US space
program and moon landing

1973 Fuerth-born Henry A. Kissinger becomes Secretary of State and receives Nobel Peace Prize

1983 Tricentennial of German Immigration (landing of the "Concord" with 13 Krefeld families and
founding of Germantown in 1683). German-American Day, Oct. 6, reinstituted by President Ronald Reagan

1990 According to the US Census, German-Americans are largest ethnic group with nearly 58 million (more than 23% of the population) claiming at least some German ancestry. Wisconsin has the highest percentage of Americans of German descent (nearly 54%), and Milwaukee is the US city with the largest % of German-Americans.

2000 German remains the largest reported "ancestry" in Census 2000.

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