Skip to content
Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Germans in the United States

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

Germans, either by birth or descent, form a very important element in the population of the United States . Their number is estimated at not less than twelve millions. Under the name Germans we here understand to be included all German-speaking people, whether originally from Germany proper, Austria, Switzerland, or Luxemburg.


The landing, in the autumn of 1683, of Franz Daniel Pastorius and his little band of Mennonite weavers, from Crefeld, marks the beginning of German-American history. These early immigrants founded Germantown, Pennsylvania, where they soon built themselves a church and established a school, taught by Pastorius, who wrote for it, and published, a primer, the first original school-book printed in Pennsylvania. To this place came the German settlers who gradually spread over Montgomery, Lancaster, and Berks Counties, among them, the so-called Rosicrucians (settled near Germantown), a colony of German Friends, Quaker converts made by William Ames and visited by Penn (founded Cresheim, from Kreigsheim near Worms), and the Dunkers (Conestoga, Aphrata). From these early Pennsylvania settlers and their descendants many Americans of note have sprung, as Bayard Taylor, James Lick, Charles Yerkes, John Fritz, John Wanamaker, Charles M. Schwab, and Henry C. Frick.

In 1707, a small band of Lutherans, from the Palatinate, embarked for America. They landed at Philadelphia and settled in what is now known as Morris County. In the spring of the following year, another company of fifty-two Palatines, joined by three Holsteiners, went to England and appealed to Queen Anne, praying for transportation to America. The majority of these men were farmers and one was a Lutheran clergyman, Kockerthal; on arriving in the Colonies in the winter of 1709, they were settled in the district then known as Quassaick Creek and Thankskamir (part of the territory of the present Newburgh). Another, and far more extensive, migration took place in the same year and the following; about three thousand Palatines landed in America, by way of England. The severities of the winter of 1708-09 seem to have been the chief cause of this exodus. One company, under Christopher de Graffenried and Lewis Mitchell, settled at the junction of the Neuse River and the Trent ( North Carolina ) and in the neighbouring country. This colony included a considerable number of Swiss, and to their first settlement they gave the name, New Berne, in memory of the native city of the two Swiss partners, de Graffenried and Mitchell. Another company of Germans was settled about the same time, by Governor Spotswood, at Germanna in Virginia, whither, a little later, many of those who had established themselves in North Carolina are said to have removed. Some ten or fifteen years after Spotswood's retirement to Germanna, a company of Germans came into Virginia from Pennsylvania, doubtless Palatines from Berks County. They settled in the lower Shenandoah Valley and founded the town of Strasburgh, just over the mountain from Germanna.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

By far the largest expedition of Palatines left the shores of England towards the end of January, 1710. They were settled on the Hudson (Rhinebeck, Germantown, Newburgh, West Camp, Saugerties, etc.), whence many afterwards removed to the Schoharie Valley (Blenheim, Oberweiser, Dorp, Brunnen Dorp, etc.); the Government, however, refused to recognize their title to the Schoharie lands, and some of them at last migrated in disgust to the Mohawk Valley, where their increase and the stream of German immigration that followed made the Mohawk "for thirty miles, a German river" (Mannheim, Oppenheim, Newkirk, German Flats, Herkimer, etc.). But the greater portion removed from Schoharie in 1723 to Pennsylvania, where Governor Keith, on hearing of their afflictions and unrest, offered them an asylum from all persecution. Previously to this migration from New York to Pennsylvania, thousands of Germans had sailed directly to the latter territory, and so large was the Palatine element in these and the following immigrations that the natives of all other German States, coming with them, were called by the same name. Between 1720 and 1730 the German immigration to Pennsylvania became so large as to be looked upon by the other settlers with serious misgivings; Logan, Penn's secretary, suggested the danger of the province becoming a German colony, as the Germans "settled together, and formed a distinct people from His Majesty's subjects". As early as 1739, a German newspaper was published at Germantown, and another appeared at Philadelphia in 1743. The Germans became an important factor in the political life of Pennsylvania, usually uniting with the Quakers, and forming with them a conservative peace party. In 1734, the Schwenkfelders, followers of Casper Schofield, came to Pennsylvania and settled along the Perkiomen, in Montgomery County. About the same time a number of Germans established themselves near Frederick, Maryland, and between South Mountain and the Conococheague.

The first German settlement in South Carolina was in 1731, at Purysburg on the Savannah. In 1734 Lutherans from Salzburg founded Ebenezer, the first settlement in Georgia. Seven years later, there were about 1200 Germans in Georgia. By the middle of the eighteenth century the mountain counties of North Carolina had numerous German settlements. Meantime, the Moravians, who in 1736 had settled in Georgia, had left that colony and secured a tract of land in Pennsylvania, to which they gave the name of Bethlehem. Zinzendorf came thither in 1741. More than twenty years earlier, German settlers had established themselves on the lower Mississippi. The "German Creoles" of Louisiana are descendants of these early colonists.

During the war of the Revolution, thirty thousand German soldiers fought under the British flag. They had been sold to England by the petty princes of Germany, those "brokers of men and sellers of souls ", as one of these soldiers rightly styled them. As Hesse furnished more than any other German State (twelve thousand) all these soldiers were called Hessians. Over one third of the thirty thousand never returned to Europe ; some had died; many had deserted to Washington's army, "coming over in shoals", as Gates wrote in 1777; many thousands settled in the newly created States.

On the eve of the Revolution there were fully a hundred thousand Germans in Pennsylvania. Their number was little increased during the next sixty years, since the great immigration period did not begin until about the year 1840. Among those who came to the United States before 1830 was Franz Lieber, accompanied by his two friends, Professors Carl Beck and Carl Follen. For nearly half a century Lieber stood in the front rank as an authority on public questions. The year 1848 brought to our shores those thousands of political refugees who belonged to the most educated of the German nation. To mention several, merely as typical of the rest, among these "Forty-Eighters" were Carl Schurz, Friedrich Hecker, Franz Sigel, Oswald Ottendorfer, Friedrich Kapp, Wilhelm Rapp, Gustav von Struve, and Lorenzo Brentano. Soon the number of German immigrants grew enormously, averaging over 800,000 for each of the six succeeding decades. They did not, however, settle in the Eastern States only, but the majority proceeded to the Middle West, whither many of the Germans, who had already been very numerous on the frontiers, had removed as soon as the new country was opened for colonizing. Owing to prosperity in the Fatherland, German immigration began to decline in the early nineties. During the period subsequent to 1848 the Germans settled chiefly in the following states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (especially the western parts), Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, California, Louisiana, Texas, North Dakota . They were never attracted to the New England States until about the middle of the nineteenth century. Even now New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine have practically no German population; in Massachusetts there are very few except around Boston. According to the twelfth census, taken in 1900, there was in that year, a German-born population of 2,663,418 in the United States (about three millions from Germany and German Austria ). Since 1900 about 250,000 more have come over. Add to these the descendants of the immigrants from the earliest periods down to our time, and the large number of people of German descent who can now hardly be recognized as Germans, owing to the fact that they have assumed English names, it is safe to say that there are at present (1909) fully twelve million persons of German birth or descent in the United States.

The early Germans were mostly farmers in their old country, and it was but natural that, after their arrival in the United States they should have chosen the same occupation. There is no need of pointing out the merits of the German farmers, since those merits have been generally admitted in Pennsylvania, the Mohawk Valley, and, later, the Middle West. In trade, industry, and commerce the Germans in the United States are second to none. Men like Spreckels, Havemeyer, A. Busch, Fred Pabst, Henry Miller, and Henry C. Frick, stand among the pillars of American Industry. Rockefeller is proud of his German descent. The Belmonts came from Alzey, the Astors from Walldorf near Heidelberg, the Iselins from Switzerland. The largest lumber-yard in the world, is owned by Fritz Weyerhäuser, a native of Hesse. The Roeblings are still prominent in their line of industry. Prominent as bankers are those bearing German names.

But more important, thought less known, is the army of skilled mechanics in all different branches, designers, lithographers, etc., who, in their spheres, have made the German name honoured and respected. The Germans are known to be a hardworking, thrifty people, and, as a result, they are generally prosperous, and pauperism is hardly known among them. Americans have learned that wherever the Germans settle, prosperity and culture are pretty sure to follow. -- "What the Germans so, they do well", has become a common saying among their neighbours. Puritanism never gained a foothold among the Germans. Though they cannot be charged with extravagance, they are fond of the quiet joys and amusements of social life, witness their many societies, which combine beneficial objects with recreation and amusement. Their fondness for children and family life is well known; as a rule they have large families. The industry and carefulness of the German housewife are proverbial.

While there have not been any great political leaders among the Germans, with the exception, perhaps, of Carl Schurz, it cannot be denied that their influence on the political development of the country has been on the whole a very wholesome one. As adherents of a healthy and vigorous conservativism in politics, they are universally respected. Though anxious to preserve their language and customs, they have given ample proof of their loyalty to the land of their choice. The share taken by the Germans in the wars of the United States, was by no means limited to the War of the Revolution and the Civil War of 1861-65. From the very beginning of their settlement in this country, they always stood ready to take up arms in its defence. The early Germans of Pennsylvania and New York, responded freely to the summons to defend their new country against the French and their allies, the Indians. They gave freely of their men and means to the cause of liberty, in the War of the Revolution. The names of Generals de Kalb, F. W. A. Steuben, F. W. de Woedke, J. P. G. Muehlenberg, and George Weedon will always be mentioned with honour, among those who established the liberties of the country. Undoubtedly the ablest of them was General Steuben, the impetuous warrior who "took a mob and hammered it into an army". Nor should we forget to cite the name of Herkimer, than whom no braver man fought in the War for Independence. He was the son of a Palatine immigrant, and in the battle of Oriskany -- "of all the battles of the Revolution, the most obstinate and murderous " -- those whom Herkimer led were largely Palatines. To them and their brave leader belongs largely the credit of making possible the victory of Saratoga, by which the struggle for the Hudson was ended, and the vital union of the northern Colonies secured.

The Germans also did their duty in full in the War of 1812 and in the Mexican War. What they did to keep the United States together, can be learned from an article by General Franz Sigel, which was published at St. Louis after his death. The General calls attention to the historical fact, that, three days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, when the City of Washington was in imminent peril of falling into the hands of the Confederates, this catastrophe was prevented by the arrival of a detachment of infantry and cavalry from Pennsylvania, the five companies of which were chiefly composed of Germans, both from the older and from the more recent immigrant stock. Again, when St. Louis was in extreme danger of falling into the hands of the Confederacy it was four regiments of volunteers, mainly German, and one regiment commanded by Sigel that surrounded the camp of the Confederates and made them prisoners. There were, during that war, not fewer than 176,767 Germans in the United States Army. Of the more than 5,000 officers of the German contingent, the following may here be mentioned: the exiled popular leader Friedrich Hecker, who was one of the first to form a volunteer regiment, Gustav von Struve, General Blanker, General Osterhaus, Jos. Fickler, Nepomuk Katzenmayer, General Alexander von Schimmelpfennig, General Max Weber, General Sigel, and Captain Albert Sigel, a brother of the General, August Willich, the commander of a regiment from Indiana, and especially General Carl Schurz, who commanded the eleventh corps at the battle of Gettysburg. It is deserving of mention that among the Germans, the advocates of the abolition of slavery were always prominent. The first German settlers in this country, were also signers of the first anti- slavery petition in America (1688).

Although the first German colonists themselves, for the most part, had no higher education than what was to be acquired in the German village schools of that time, they considered it their duty to establish schools for their children, and therefore, as a rule, brought teachers over with them. School attendance was always looked upon as a serious matter, almost as serious as the teaching of religion, which was combines with elementary instruction, so that German colonies thus paved the way for compulsory education. Men like Muehlenberg and Schlatter did much in the way of improving the schools. The development of German literature in America, including thousands of publications, went hand in hand with this progress. The first German Bible published in the New World appeared in 1743, forty years before an English Bible was printed in America. The "Public Academy of the City of Philadelphia", not the University of Pennsylvania, is the first American school into which German was introduced. Gradually the language was introduced into the public schools of cities with a large German population, and numerous German private schools were established in the different parts of the country. And after educated Americans had become acquainted with German educational methods, German literature, and German science, either directly by attending German schools of learning, or indirectly from France through England, they enthusiastically advocated educational reform based upon the German models. It is no exaggeration to speak of a gradual "Germanization" of most of the greater American colleges. "Although Great Britain is generally regarded as the mother of the United States, Germany has, from an intellectual standpoint, become more and more the second mother of the American Republic. More than any other country, Germany has made the universities and colleges of America what they are today -- a powerful force in the development of American Civilization" (Andrew D. White).


A certain proportion of the Palatines who went to England were of the Catholic Faith, but they were not allowed to proceed to the American colonies, neither was the English government willing to permit their prolonged residence in England. They were therefore returned under government passports to the Palatinate. But of those who came later and directly to America, undoubtedly, a considerable number were Catholics. in 1741 the German Province of the Society of Jesus, sent out two priests to minister to the German Catholics in Pennsylvania. These were Father William Wappelet (born 22 January, 1711, in the Diocese of Mainz ), co-founder of the mission of Conewago, and Father Theodore Schneider, a Palatine (born at Geinsheim, Diocese of Speyer, 7 April, 1703), who took up his residence at Goshenhoppen, in Berks County. Other German Jesuits came later on, among them Fathers James Frambach (died 1795 at Conewago), Luke Geissler (died at Lancaster, in 1786), Lawrence Graessel, who was appointed coadjutor to Bishop Carroll, but died in Philadelphia, of yellow fever, before consecration, James Pellentz, one of Bishop Carroll's vicars-general (died at Conewago in 1800), Matthias Sittensperger (changed his name to Manners), Ferdinand Steinmayr (Farmer) , who, according to Bishop Carroll , founded the first Catholic congregation in New York (died in Philadelphia, 17 August, 1787, in the odour of sanctity ). Father Farmer was a member of the famous Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, and was made a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Philadelphia, when that institution was chartered in 1779. To these early missionaries may be added Father John Baptist de Ritter, who was a German, though a member of the Belgian Province. He died at Goshenhoppen, 3 February, 1787. Father Schneider was the pastor of the parish at Goshenhoppen for twenty-three years, ministering to the Catholics there and in the region for fifty miles around. Before he died, in 1764, he had the satisfaction of seeing the Church firmly established in Pennsylvania. His companion, Father Wappeler, founded the mission of the Sacred Heart at Conewago. Of him, Bishop Carroll wrote that "he was a man of much learning and unbounded zeal ". Having remained about eight years in America, and converted or reclaimed many to the Faith of Christ, he was forced by bad health to return to Europe. His successor, Father Pellentz, built the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the first in the country under that title. it is not probable that there was any large, or indeed appreciable, number of German Catholics in any other colony at that time, with the exception of Louisiana, whose French inhabitants shared and honoured their religion, whereas most of the English colonies had severe laws against the "Papists". But gradually all were opened to Catholics.

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

From a letter by the Rev. Dr. Carroll to the Rev. C. Plowden, in 1785, we learn that in that year he visited Philadelphia, New York, and the upper countries of the Jerseys and Pennsylvania, "where our worthy German brethren have formed congregations". Although we do not know of any German settlement in the Far West during the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, we find during that period German priests labouring among the Indian tribes on the coast of the Pacific, and in the south-western States. The first German priest on the Pacific coast was the Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino. His real name was Eusebius Franz Kuehn. He was a native of Trent, and entered the Society of Jesus at Ingolstadt. He came from Germany in 1680 or 1681, and to Lower California in 1683. In the following year he was called to Sonora, where he laboured until his death, in 1710, meanwhile making missionary and exploring trips to the Rio Gila in Sonora. Other German Jesuits in Lower California from 1719 to 1767, were Joseph Baegert, the author of the "Nachrichten von der Kalifornischen Halbinsel" (Mannheim, 1772), Joh. Bischoff, Franz Benno Ducure, Joseph Gasteiger, Eberhard Helen, Lambert Hostell, Wenzeslaus Link, Karl Neumayr, Georg Retz, Ignatz Tuersch, Franz X. Wagner. Arizona saw the indefatigable Father Eusebius Kuehn, towards the latter part of the seventeenth century, as far up as the Gila River at its junction with the Colorado. In 1731, Philip V, at the suggestion of Benedict Crespo, Bishop of Durango, ordered three central missions to be established in Arizona, at the royal expense. To the joy of the bishop, three German Jesuit Fathers were sent, Father Ignatius Xavier Keller, Father John Baptist Grashoffer, and Father Philip Segesser. Of the last two, one soon died, and the other was prostrated by sickness, but Father Ignatius Keller became the leader of the new missions in that district, taking possession of Santa Maria Soamea, 20 April, 1732. About the year 1750, we find Father Ignatius Pfefferkorn, a native of Mannheim, Germany, at Guevavi; and at the same time, Father Sedelmayr, at the instance of the Spanish Government, was evangelizing the tribes of the Gila, erecting seven or eight churches in the villages of the Papagos, among whom Father Bernard Middendorf also laboured, and Father Keller was endeavouring to reach the Moquis, who were willing to receive missionaries of any kind but Franciscans. Other prominent Jesuits from the Fatherland were Fathers Caspar Steiger, Heinrich Kürtzel, and Michael Gerstner. By the summary act of the King of Spain, in 1763, every church in Arizona was closed and the Christian Indians were deprived of their zealous German priests.

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

In 1808, the Diocese of Baltimore , which had, up to this time, embraced the entire United States, was divided, and the four new sees of Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Bardstown erected. There were, at that time, under the jurisdiction of the first Bishop of Philadelphia, Holy Trinity, attended by the Rev. William Elling and Father Adam Britt, the latter of whom issued a new edition of the German catechism ; St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum, erected in 1806, was the first institution of its kind established by Catholics in the United States. The Rev. Louis de Barth attended at Lancaster and Conewago. He was the son of Joseph de Barth, Count de Welbach, and his wife, Maria Louisa de Rohme, and was born at Münster, 1 November, 1764. When the See of Philadelphia became vacant by the death of Bishop Egan, Father de Barth became administrator of the diocese. He died 13 October, 1838. The Rev. Paul Erntzen had begun, in 1793, his quarter-century pastorship at Goshenhoppen. Father Peter Helbron, O. Min. Cap., had reared a log chapel in Westmoreland County. After years of devoted service, he went to Philadelphia, but died at Carlisle on his homeward yourney. The Rev. Demetrius A. Gallitzin was labouring in the district of which loretto was the centre, and had come to America in 1792, with a learned and pious priest, the Rev. F. K. Brosius, who had offered his services to Dr. Carroll. He travelled under the name of Schmet, a contraction of his mother's name, but this in America soon became Smith, by which he was known for many years. He bore letters to Bishop Carroll, and when he was introduced to the priests of Saint-Sulpice, was delighted with their life and work. His father had marked out a brilliant career for him in the military or diplomatic service in Europe, but the peace and simplicity which reigned in America contrasted to forcibly with the seething maelstrom of European revolution that, penetrated with the vanity of worldly grandeur, young Gallitzin resolved to renounce all schemes of pride and ambition, and to embrace the clerical profession for the benefit of the American mission.

In 1808 the diocese of New York was created, and its chief organizer was the learned and able Jesuit Father, Anthony Kohlmann, as vicar-general and administrator sede vacante . He had come over from the old country in 1806, together with two other priests of his order. The German Catholics in New York had gradually increased, so that they organized a little congregation by themselves. Their first pastor seems to have been the Rev. John Raffeiner, of whom Archbishop Hughes said: "Bishops, priests, and people have reason to remember Father Raffeiner for many years to come". He visited his countrymen far and near, always ready to hasten to any point to give them the consolations of religion. For a time the Germans in New York assembled under his care in a disused Baptist place of worship at the corner of Delancey and Pitt Streets, and afterwards, when the lease expired, in St. Mary's church; but on 20 April, 1833, the corner-stone of a church to be dedicated to St. Nicholas, on Second Street, was laid. By the sacrifices and exertions of Father Raffeiner the church was completed and dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1836. Father Raffeiner directed the church for several years and became vicar-general for the Germans in the diocese. By the year 1836, the German Catholic element in the Boston diocese required Bishop Fenwick's care, the largest body of them being in and near Roxbury. Having no priest in his diocese who could speak German fluently, Bishop Fenwick applied to his fellow-bishop in New York, and at the close of May, 1835, the Very Rev. John Raffeiner, apostle of his countrymen in the East, arrived. On the last day of May, that zealous priest gathered three hundred in the chapel of St. Aloysius and addressed them with so much power and unction, that he spent the whole evening in the confessional. Quickened by his zeal, they resolved to collect means to support a priest, and in August, 1836, they obtained the Rev. Father Hoffmann as their pastor, with Father Freygang as assistant; but, led by designing men, they would not co-operate with those sent to minister to them. Fathers Hoffmann and Freygang were both forced to retire, and an ex-Benedictine, named Smolnikar, became their choice. In a short time, however, the bishop discovered in this priest unmistakable signs of insanity and, unable to obtain another clergyman, became himself the chaplain of the German congregation. In 1841, stimulated by their bishop, they purchased a lot on Suffolk Street, and prepared to erect a church, laying the corner-stone on 28 June; he had already secured a zealous priest, Rev. F. Roloff, for his congregation. The German Catholic body in New York City, was now increasing so rapidly that soon another church was needed, and in June the corner-stone of St. John Baptist's was laid by the Very Rev. Dr. Power, to be dedicated on 13 September, by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Hughes.

About 1820 Ohio was already the home of many Catholic families of German speech. it was for this reason that Bishop Flaget , of Bardstown and Louisville, urged that a see should be erected at Cincinnati, and for its first bishop recommended the Rev. Demetrius A. Gallitzin, educated in Germany, and familiar with the language and ideas of the people; but the good priest, learning of the project, peremptorily refused. In 1829, two zealous German priests began to make a list of their Catholic countrymen in the State of Ohio. They found them everywhere -- at Cincinnati, Somerset, Lancaster -- and by their untiring zeal awoke in the hearts of many who had for years neglected to practise it. One of these itinerant priests was the Rev. John Martin Henni, a name to be known in time as that of the founder of the first German Catholic paper, first Bishop of Wisconsin, and first Archbishop of Milwaukee. In 1832, on the death of Bishop Fenwick of Cincinnati, the administration of the diocese devolved on the zealous missionary priest, Father Edward Reese , who had laboured so earnestly among his countrymen in the diocese and been instrumental in the establishment of the " Leopoldinen-Stiftung ", an association for aiding missions, at Vienna, whose alms have fostered so many missions and helped substantially towards developing the Catholic school system, particularly in the Diocese of Cincinnati, and the dioceses formed from it. Dr. Reese was born at Vianenburg, near Hildesheim, in 1791 and, like Pio Nono, had been a cavalry officer before he embraced the priesthood. he was the founder of the Athenæum in Cincinnati, which later was transferred to the Jesuits, and changed into the present St. Xavier College. Holy Trinity , erected in 1834, was the first German church west of the Alleghanies. Its second pastor, the Rev. John M. Henni, whom we have already mentioned, displaying untiring energy in founding and organizing schools in Cincinnati and was actively interested in the development of Catholic educational work throughout the States; he also formed the German Catholic Orphan Society of St. Aloysius, and an asylum was soon erected. About this time, log churches arose at Glandorf, Bethlehem, and New Riegel in northern Ohio, sufficient to gather the faithful together, and afforded a place for the instruction of the young. Meanwhile, the Catholic population of the State increased steadily, and the churches and institutions were very inadequate. St. Mary's church for the Germans, in Cincinnati, was dedicated in July, 1842; another German church was erected about the same time, as Zanesville, by Rev. H. D. Juncker. As early as 1836, a German congregation was organized at Louisville, Kentucky, by the Rev. Jos. Stahlschmidt; they soon erected St. Boniface's church, which was dedicated on the feast of All Saints, 1838. This church was attended for a time from Indiana and Ohio by the Rev. Jos. Ferneding and Rev. John M. Henni. In 1842, on 30 October, Bishop Chabrat dedicated St. Mary's church, Covington, Kentucky, a fine brick structure, erected by the German Catholics of that city. When, in 1833, the Rt. Rev. Frederick Reese became Bishop of Detroit, there were labouring in his diocese, among other German priests, the Redemptorist Fathers Saenderl and Hatscher. in the following year the German church of the Holy Trinity was established. At that time Vincennes was erected into a diocese. Three years later, we find a German congregation in Jasper County, Illinois. The German Catholics around Quincy, Illinois, had erected a house for a priest, and as a temporary chapel till their church was fuilt. Father Charles Meyer's ministrations in the little log church of St. Andrew, at Belleville, Ill., was his first step to a future bishopric. In 1841, a German Catholic church was erected at West Point, Iowa, in the present Diocese of Dubuque. At Pittsburg the German Catholics attended St. Patrick's until their increasing numbers made it expedient for them to form a separate congregation. They then worshiped in a building previously used as a factory. in 1839, at Bishop Kenrick's suggestion, a community of Redemptorists then in Ohio, came and took charge of this mission, and the factory was soon transformed into the church of St. Philomena, with a Redemptorist convent attached -- the first house of that congregation in the United States . Here, before long, the Rev. John N. Neumann received the habit and began his novitiate, to become in time Bishop of Philadelphia, and die in the odour of sanctity. When, on 3 December, 1843, the first Bishop of Pittsburg reached that city, he founded in his district a Catholic population estimated at forty-five thousand, 12,000 being of German origin.

An attempt at Catholic colonization was made about this time at St. Mary's, Elk County, where Messrs. Mathias Benziger and J. Eschbach, of Baltimore, purchased a large tract. Settlers soon gathered from Germany, who, from the first, were attended by the Redemptorist Fathers, but, though well managed, and encouraged by the hearty approval of the bishop, the town never attained any considerable size. Important and wide-reaching in its results, not only for the Diocese of Pittsburg , but for the Catholic Church in the United States was the arrival at Pittsburg, 30 September, 1845, of the Benedictine monk, Dom Boniface Wimmer . The Rev. Peter Lemcke, a German priest, had been labouring for several years in the mission of Pennsylvania. His life had been a strange and varied one. Born in Mecklenburg, of Lutheran parents, he grew up attached to their sect, trained piously by those who clung to the great doctrines of Christianity. Drafted into the army, he fought under Blücher at Waterloo, and afterwards returning to his home, resolved to become a Lutheran minister. To his astonishment and dismay, he found the professors to be men who, in their classes, ridiculed every religious belief which he had been taught to prize. He was led to study, and a thorough mastery of the works of Luther convinced him that Almighty God never could have chosen such a man to work any good in his Church. he went to Bavaria, where he began to study Catholic doctrines, and was received into the Church by Bishop Sailer. Having resolved to become a priest, he went through a course of study and was ordained. Coming to America in 1834, he was sent, in time, as assistant to Father Gallitzin, and laboured in the missions of Western Pennsylvania. As early as 1835, he appealed, in the Catholic papers of Germany, to the Benedictines to come to the United States. He returned to Europe in 1844, mainly to obtain German priests for the missions of the Diocese of Pittsburg. At Munich he met Dom Boniface Wimmer, a Benedictine monk of the ancient Abbey of Metten, in Bavaria, a religious whose thoughts have already turned to the American mission. Father Lemcke offered him a farm of 400 acres which he owned at Carrolltown, Maryland. Correspondence with Bishop O'Connor followed. Dom Boniface could not secure any priests of his order, but he obtained four students and fourteen lay brothers. Their project was liberally aided by the Ludwig-Verein, the Prince- Bishop of Munich, the Bishop of Linz, and others. After conducting his colony to Carrolltown, Father Wimmer paid his respects to Bishop O'Connor. That prelate urged him to accept the estate at St. Vincent's which Father Brouwers had left to the Church in the preceding century, rather than establish his monastery at Carroltown. Visiting St. Vincent's with the bishop, Dom Boniface found there a brick church with a two-story brick house which, though built for a pastoral residence, had been an academy of Sisters of Mercy. He decided in favour of the bishop's suggestion, and, 19 October, 1846, the first community of Benedictine monks was organized in the schoolhouse at St. Vincent's. Father Wimmer took charge of the neighboring congregation, and was soon attending several stations. His students were gradually ordained, and in a few years St. Vincent's was declared by the Holy See an independent priory, and was duly incorporated 10 May, 1853. Prior Wimmer showed great ability and zeal, and from the outset confined his labours as much as possible to German congregations.

Already, before 1850, the Rev. John E. Paulhuber and other Jesuit Fathers from Georgetown had been in charge of St. Mary's church at Richmond, Virginia, erected for Germans, of whom there were seven or eight hundred in the city. In the Diocese of Wheeling, erected in 1850, there was a log chapel near the German settlement of Kingwood. About that time, German settlers were gathering in Preston, Doddridge, and Marshall Counties. Soon after, the Rev. F. Mosblech began to plan the erection of a church for the Germans in Wheeling. When Bishop Hughes, in 1843, returned from Europe, one of his first episcopal acts was the dedication of the church of the Most Holy Redeemer, on Third Street, New York, which the Redemptorists had erected for the German Catholics. The Rev. John Raffeiner, the Apostle of the Germans, reported the labours among his countrymen, in New York State, of Fathers Schneider at Albany, Schwenninger at Utica, Inama at Salina, the Redemptorists and Franciscans of St. Peter's church at Rochester, and announced that peace prevailed in the long distracted congregation of St. Louis, Buffalo. In New York City, St. Alphonsus, the second church of the Redemptorists for the Germans, was erected in 1848. The German Catholics of Albany, though struggling with difficulties, were soon rearing a near Gothing church on Hamilton and Philip Streets. Addressing the Leopold Society, in January, 1850, to acknowledge their generous aid, Bishop McCloskey estimated the Catholic population of his diocese at 70,000, including 10,000 Germans. He had sixty-two churches, eleven of them for Germans. At about the same time, Bishop Timon, of Buffalo, estimated his flock at 40,000 souls, half of whome were Germans, attended by five secular priests and five Redemptorists. The Diocese of Cincinnati received, in 1843, a valuable accession, a colony of seven priests of the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood (Sanguinists), led by the Rev. Francis de Sales Brunner . The difficult mission of Peru was assigned to them by the bishop, with the charge of Norwalk and scattered stations in the neighbouring counties. The labours of the Sanguinist priests were singally blessed, and the healthy growth of the Church in that part of Ohio must be ascribed mainly to these excellent missioners. In December, 1844, Father Brunner established a convent of his congregation at New Riegel, another, next year, at Thompson, and, in 1848, one at Glandorf. Each of these became the centre of religious influence for a large district. Father Brunner was born at Mumliswil, Switzerland, 10 January, 1795, entered the Congregation of the Precious Blood in 1838, and, after taking part in the establishment of a community in Switzerland, formed a project of a mission in America.

In April, 1845, Bishop Purcell, with a large gathering of the clergy, societies, ecclesiastics, and pupils of the schools, laid the corner-stone of the German church of St. John the Baptist, Green Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, to be dedicated on 1 November of the same year, by Bishop Henni of Milwaukee, who had done so much for the German Catholics of Cincinnati. St. Mary's church, at Detroit, Michigan, was dedicated for the Germans, 29 june, 1843. In 1844 Bishop Kenrick of St. Louis estimated the Catholic population of Missouri at 50,000, one third being of German origin. At this time, St. Louis possessed the German church of St. Aloysius. The corner-stone of St. Joseph's, another church for the Germans, under the care of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, was laid in April, 1844. A letter sent, in 1850, by Archbishop Kenrick to the Leopold Association, gives the condition of the German Catholics of the diocese at this time. -- Four of the ten churches in St. Louis were exclusively German. The Germans had their own orphan asylum and an Ursuline convent, with sisters from Hungary and Bavaria. Three German congregations in Scott County were attended by a priest at Benton. Two congregations in St. Charles County had

Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.

Prayer of the Day logo
Saint of the Day logo

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.