If you have found that you had family ancestors, especially of German heritage living in Michigan during the 19th century (1800s), they may have been actually recruited to come to that region from Germany.
In the early 1800s, Michigan was a territory of the United States. However, it appeared that there not many new settlers were coming to the Michigan Territory. Reasons why? First, it was difficult to get there from the east. Next there was no land survey of the territory. Homestead land from the US government was not for sale. There had been the War of 1812 in the east, making resettlement more difficult. Not until the Erie Canal was constructed covering 363 miles across New York to Lake Erie was completed in October 1826 did the travel situation improve some.
By 1837 Michigan had enough people to be admitted as a state and more people came to the new state from New York and the New England states. The Michigan State Senator Edwin M. Cust by the 1840s thought it was time to encourage foreign born people to immigrate to Michigan. In 1845, he asked for the establishment of a Foreign Emigration Agency. Michigan Governor John S. Barry signed the resolution on March 24, 1845. This agency’s sole purpose was to encouraging foreign immigration to Michigan.
One of the best agents for recruitment was Maximilian H. Allardt, who opened an office in Germany in 1869. He spoke to variety of people there and encouraged Germans to work and live in Michigan. He had produced a special magazine in German between 1870 and 1875 that covered about all the advantages of living in Michigan, seeing the magazines were sent out throughout Germany, Bohemia, East-West Prussia and Hungary, free of charge.
From 1869 and 1874, Allardt and the other recruiting agents such as John Reisig and John Hemmeter created the Governor’s Reports filled with information on recruitment and even passenger lists. If you see any of these agents’ names, they did the recruiting.
The agency over the years had been very successful helping to encourage new settlers, especially those from Europe to come to Michigan. Knowing when this recruitment occurred and if you did have German, Polish, or other ancestors from those regions, it is worth checking with the Michigan Archives.
There is a small town created in Fentress County, Tennessee named Allardt. Settled by Bruno Gernt, originally from Germany, then moved to Michigan, then settled in Tennessee around 1880. Allardt did help to promote the new town, but he died in Port Huron, Michigan, in August 1882 due to typho-malarial fever.
Photos: Recruitment page advertisement, 1872 expense report by recruitment agents and Maximilian H. Allardt .
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