Thursday, August 2, 2012

Celebrating America's International Roots

Hola!  Li-ho!  Jum Reap Sour!  Hej!  Salut!  Ciao!  Labdien!  Hallo!  Moi!  Ohayoou!  Hei!  Zdravstvuyte!  Witaj!    

Hello to all the international followers of my blog!  One of the surprises and great pleasures of my blogging has been the number of international followers that read my blog.  That was something I did not anticipate when I began my weekly posts in October of 2011.  The numbers began small and gradually grew.  The week of July 4th, my international visitors exceeded visitors from the USA.  That may have been an exceptional week, but the numbers of foreign guests remain consistently large.

They come from all parts of the world.  Listed alphabetically, they include:  Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, China, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. 

Because the United States is a country of immigrants, perhaps I should not be surprised.  A brief history of our nation's immigration patterns reveals that in the colonial era of 1600 to 1795 the largest number of immigrants were British.  Strictly speaking, these early arrivers were not really immigrants, for in the early years we were still part of the British Empire.  A large number of those arrivals were indentured servants, whose passage was paid in return for their commitment to work as a servant for a certain number of years, typically seven, and of those early settlers, 90% became farmers.  In addition to economic reasons, many came for matters of religion.  My book, Should the Children Pray? includes chapters for each of the original thirteen colonies, describing the religious reasons why many colonists made the dangerous ocean crossing.  Along with the British immigrants, a large number of Dutch settlers located along the Hudson River, with people from Spain settling in Florida, Texas and New Mexico, while the French settled along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast.

During the period of 1790 to 1849 there was relatively little immigration, but beginning about 1850 a new wave of settlers arrived--Germans who settled primarily in the Midwest, and Italians, Greeks, Humgarians, Poles, others whose language was Slavic, and many Jews--all arriving in significant numbers.  These immigrants tended to fill the need for industrial laborers, and the USA expanded beyond its original agrarian roots to become a world leader in steel, coal, and textiles.

Of course, among the population were the Native Americans, who had made their homes here long before the immigrants arrived, and Africans, who arrived against their will.  The Chinese added to the growing population, as did Scandinavians, who settled primarily in the upper Midwest.  In the late 19th century, settlers from Lebanon and Syria came, many remaining in East Coast cities like New York and Boston.  Unavoidably, this brief summary leaves out other groups who arrived before and during Isaac's years on the prairie and made their own important contributions.

Focusing on the migration of populations in Kansas, it must first be remembered that many Indian tribes were relocated from their native homes in the eastern part of North America to land in Kansas.  In 1854 certain Kansas territory was opened to white settlement, but the population shift really began after the Civil War (1861-1865) and increased with the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862.  That settlement era included Black Americans seeking new homes after the Civil War.

Many of the Kansas homesteaders migrated from other states, their parents and other ancestors having immigrated earlier.  The largest international group coming to Kansas were German speaking, some coming from Germany and others from the Volga region in Russia.  There were also many Swedish immigrants, who arrived because of famine in their old country.  Mexican workers came along with the railroads and large agricultural operations, such as sugar beet production.

George & Theresa Hall with Maria & baby Lillian
Most of the homesteaders in Isaac's community relocated from other states, many from Pennsylvania (Isaac's childhood home), as well as a great many from Midwestern states.  However, there were also those who had not been born in the USA.  Among them were two of Isaac's close neighbors--George Henn and Gustave Gereke, both of whom came from Germany.  Surprisingly, the owner-editor of the County Capital newspaper in St. John, John Hilmes, came from Germany in 1872 and had acquired the proficiency with English to publish the weekly newspaper.  Of particular interest to me are my own great grandparents, George & Theresa Hall, who were close friends of Isaac.  They came from England in 1882, settling in Ohio for a few years before arriving in Kansas.  The baby on her mother's lap is my grandmother Lillian.  The picture was taken shortly before they left England for America.

Immigration to America continues.  In 2010 the countries from which the largest numbers of legal permanent residents came were Mexico, China, India, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic.  During the decade of 1990 to 2000, Kansas ranked 14th among all the states in the percentage of change in its foreign-born population, with a 114.4% increase.  The state with the greatest percentage change was North Carolina with a 273.7% increase.  The state with the least change was Maine with 1.1%

So, here is a tip of my hat to all of my international visitors.  I hope you continue to visit my blog and that you invite others to visit as well.  I thank all of you for the rich contributions your countrymen who have immigrated to the United States of America over the years have made to our national culture. 

To my international visitors, I invite you to "click" on the middle box below labeled surprising if you see your national flag on the map at the beginning of this week's post.  I had fun finding the flags for all the countries to glue on the map.  To my USA visitors, I hope you will open the comment box to leave a message stating the country of origin of your first ancestor who came to America.


Grandma W. said...

My ancestor came from England.
You are an amazing woman of many talents.

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Thank you for the compliment! Sometimes my curiosity and enthusiasm exceed my time, but I hope they grow my talents.

The Blog Fodder said...

When you list German speaking settlers to Kansas, don't forget the Mennonites who came from the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine to Kansas in about 1870. Regardless of what Wikipedia says they are NOT Volga Germans though they were part of the peoples invited by Catherine to come to Russia in about 1770. Many Mennonites also came to Canada at that time, settling mainly in Manitoba and I grew up in a community of Volga Germans in Saskatchewan (mostly Roman Catholic, some Luthren). The Mennonite community of Catherine in Kansas was named after Catherine the Great (Ekaterina Velikaia).

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Blog Fodder, Thank you for the more detailed information. The danger of attempting a brief explanation is in making statements that are too broad and general. We attended college in Ellis County, Kansas, where early settlers were spoken of as German-Russian. My research found an English colony in that area as well. I appreciate corrections and additional detail.

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

From SWR: "The first ancestor I know of is from my Grandmother's family on my father's side. His name was Hugh Lee, Sr. He was born in 1650 in England and died in 1714 in Prince George County, Virginia. I may have an ancestor who goes back that far on my mother's side as well. I have a Revolutionary War ancestor on father's side and mother's side."

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

From LMK: "William, Hugh, and Moses, three Masterson brothers came from Ireland, their forefather was Aaron, from Scotland. They migrated to Virginia where William married a Tucker girl from England. This was my dad's family and the information came from "Early American Immigrants" and family Bibles, 1719-1725. My mother's grandmother immigrated to America in 1868 from Germany and lost two children at sea. (The two siblings were tied to planks and put into the sea!) My grandmother, Matilda Tiede, was born in 1880. Grandfather Max Meyer immigrated from Germany in 1881 at the age of 4."

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Several people are having trouble posting comments. SWR and LMK sent e-mails to me with their information when it failed to appear in the blog comments. If you cannot get your comment to load on my blog, you are welcome to post it on my Lynda Beck Fenwick facebook page as a comment to the fb post about that blog. I'm so sorry for the difficulty people are having posting comments. My apologies!