Every year, on October 6, the United States is celebrating German-American Day to commemorate the establishment of Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1683. The day is mostly celebrated by the largest ancestry group in America with almost 50 million US citizens claiming full or part German heritage.
Former President Barack Obama said some years ago on German-American Day that the US citizens of German descent are excelling in practically all disciplines and that they have their minds open to expanding human development and possibilities. We are reminded of German achievements when we’re driving across suspension bridges, when we’re listening to a Steinway piano, or when we’re sending our children to kindergarten. In all these circumstances, we’re surrounded by their unique customs and traditions.
So how come there so many people of German descent in the United States? Well, it all started in the 1680s when a steady stream of German immigrants came to settle in the U.S. and the number of Germans made up almost ten percent of the total American population at the end of the 18th century. It all began on October 6th, 1683, when thirteen German Quaker families from the Krefeld region arrived in Philadelphia, and the place where they settled, on the northern portions of the city, became known as Germantown.
American food is heavily influenced by the Germans, though this influence is largely hidden because it has been around for such a long time. The most reliable accounts state that around 25 percent of the American population is in some way of German descent. In earlier days, German restaurants and their food guaranteed a top notch culinary standard across most major American cities. Nowadays, German restaurants are pretty hard to come by, even in cities that have strong German ties and traditions such as Milwaukee, Cincinnati, or St. Louis. and Milwaukee. Nevertheless, both the hamburger and the
Anyway, both the frankfurter and the hamburger and many other cured meat and sausage varieties, egg noodles, and numerous other so-called “typical American dishes have “their roots in the German cuisine. Strong German influences are even found in the proud barbecue cooking styles of many central Texas areas that house some major German influence pockets.
Some very popular American dishes, such as sauerbraten (the famous sweet and sour roast) retain their German names, just like sauerkraut, knackwurst (the sausage often referred to as knockwurst), leberwurst (that was slightly altered into liverwurst), and the always highly popular bratwurst. Americans are using the original German names comfortably, regardless whether they are of German descent or not.
By the mid-18th century, a steady stream of German immigrants came to America and they took a central place in everyday American life. German immigrants were accounting for more than 30% of the entire population of the new American colonies, only outnumbered by the English. In practically every colony, German was a widely spoken language.
In the 19th century, the flow of German immigrants was booming, after wars in both America and Europe had slowed down the stream of new immigrants for a couple of decades, a period that started in the mid-1770’s, but around the mid-1830’s the German immigration flow had increased again dramatically.
By the time they were established in the new country and in their new home, the German settlers started to wrote to their friends and families in Europe and told them about all opportunities that were available in America.
Because the Germans had become such a predominant immigrant group during the 19th century, it is no surprise that they had such a strong influence over all sorts of development in America and determined the culture in their new home land considerably.
There are quite a few German contributions to American life that are easy to indicate: for example bear brewing facilities across the U.S., sauerkraut, or the tuba. Yet German influences on life in America run much deeper, they have influenced many of the traditions, the institutions, and also many daily habits that Quite a few Americans today consider to be American.
Muennichwies (a.k.a. Vricko or Turoczremete) was a town in what is present-day Slovakia. It was founded in 1113 by Germans who had emigrated there at the request of the local Magyar ruler. During the centuries that followed, the hard-working people developed their own culture and customs. At its height, the population of Muennichwies was 2924 almost all of whom were German-speaking, Roman Catholics.
Recent history has been less kind. The turn of this century saw an emigration to America, especially Charleroi, Pennsylvania, as the resources of the Carpathian Mountains became scarce. Following World War II, the German-speaking people of this area were driven from their homes. The Muennichwies refugees settled in war-devastated Germany, Austria, and elsewhere. There, with no possessions except the resolve and energy that has always been their hallmark, they built a new life.
This website was created to preserve the history of the village and is a project of three high school teachers who educate youth towards their GED diplomas with BestGEDClasses online prep. They work together with like-minded friends on both sides of the Atlantic. We seek to aide descendants of Muennichwies in tracing their family roots. If desired, we may also be able to establish connections between distant relatives.
Life in the mountain valleys of the Mala Fatra (Smaller Fatra mountain range) was rich in folkways, customs, and traditional practices. In the quiet, remote places the folkways could be preserved in nearly pure ways unaffected by outside influences.