1860s – World War I (1914-1918)
It could well be that Anton Schmidt, a Pressburg tinsmith, was the first Germany-based immigrant from the area that today is Slovakia in Central-eastern Europe. Already in the mid-1750s, Schmidt married into the Pennsylvania community of the Moravian Brothers. Anton Schmidt was born in Pressburg in 1725 and died in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1793. Most probably, some more individuals immigrated to America as well in that period of time.
Later, between the 1860s and the start of World War I in 1914, tens of thousands of Carpathian Germans left Europe and emigrated to the New World. After 1900, many families immigrated to the area around Charleroi, Pennsylvania, especially people from the town of Muennichwies. Around 1940, Thomas Kendrick, a Muennichwies descendant, estimated the number at families in that area around three hundred.
More Carpathian Germans came to America, and families from the village of Metzenseifen settled in Cleveland, Ohio, to work at the factory of Theodor Kundtz (1852-1937). Kundtz was also from Metzenseifen who had gotten wealthy in the late 1800s manufacturing wooden cases for the sewing machines produced by White, at least that’s the story on a website of one of these immigrants’ granddaughter. Quite a few descendants of these Carpathian German families, with names like Eiben, Kundtz, and Mueller, still live in the Cleveland area.
Several Carpathian Germans, Slovaks, and Ruthenes later went back to Europe, but only little is known about these immigrants today, and there are several reasons for this phenomenon. There were not that many Carpathian Germans anywhere, even not in cities where they originally settled like Charleroi and Philadelphia, PA, New York City and Schenectady, NY, Cleveland, Chicago, or Danbury, CT. Carpathian Germans also had, very unlike Danube Suebians or Transylvanian Saxons, not a developed sense of uniqueness or regional ethnicity. Most Carpathian Germans regarded themselves as German-Hungarians anyway.
Due to this and the relatively small number of families, many of the people from the town of Zips, Pressburg, and Hauerland just joined bigger and existing German, Hungarian, or Slovak clubs and parishes. The Carpathian Germans, unlike many other German immigrant groups, did not establish many societies across the regions where they lived and therefore, it is not easy to find any material about this group of immigrants, though it could well be that some individual families still have information about them.
No copies of the newspapers Deutsch-Ungarischer Bote, and also the German-Hungarian Herald, edited in Cincinnati for all German-Americans immigrated from the old Hungarian Kingdom, did survive in U.S. libraries except for the last half year of 1918. These copies can be found at the Chicago Center for Research Libraries, but are abusively cataloged under the title German-American Herald. Another likely source was the Oesterreichisch-Ungarische Zeitung which was published in New York City and Chicago in the period 1881-1912, but all copies of this paper have vanished as well.
The Hauerland region in Upper Hungary had no German papers before World War I, but information about individual emigrants who had returned may almost certainly be found in the Pressburg newspapers and the Kesmarker paper Karpathen-Post, which was published in the period 1879-1940. People from Zips had a slightly stronger sense of regional ethnicity and had founded several K.U.V. (Krankenunterstuetzungsvereine, or sickness support societies) before WW I.
On 12 October 1889, immigrants from Zips founded the 1. ZIPSER KUV in New York City. The labor newspaper New Yorker Volks-Zeitung dedicated articles on these developments a few times per year. These clippings are giving us a small but important glimpse into the life of the early Carpathian German immigrants in America and their influences. To give you an example, on June 19, 1893, the 1. ZIPSER KUV celebrated its fourth annual picnic get-together in Maspeth, Long Island, at Zahler’s Clinton Park. On September 3 of that same year, the society hosted a great fest in Tremont, Bronx, at Wavrac’s Garden. The New Yorker Volks-Zeitung articles indicate that besides Germans originated from Zips, many guests were present from different ethnic groups from Hungary. Languages as “German, Slavic, Magyar, and Croat were spoken.” The paper reported that all men had “recht flott gezecht” (drunk heartily).