Oct 6 – German-American Day

This day of German American day has officially been part of the National Calendar since 1987, when President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5719 declaring October 6th to officially be known as German American Day. There are approximately 58 million people can claim German ancestry in the United States today.

It was October 6, 1683 that 13 German Mennonite families originally from Dusseldorf and the Rhine River in Germany arrived in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania colony to start fresh in a new land and in search of religious freedom. The town of Germantown became the first German settlement. There had been some individuals who had come earlier to America but the first large group was 1683. For example in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, the first German American, was Dr. Johannes Fleischer. He was followed in 1608 by five glassmakers and three carpenters or house builders to Jamestown.

German continued arriving over the decades but especially in the 1850s the immigration numbers were over 1 million. Between 1820 and 1870 over seven and a half million German immigrants came to the United States. Many settled in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, California and Iowa. Those settling in the Great Plains and in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio were mostly farmers. In those small German communities even well into the 20th century, German was the main language spoken in the home and in school.

Germans over the years have helped establish many things such as Chrisman traditions, kindergarten for young children, and free primary education. They also promoted the ‘Sunday outing’, doing things with family and friends on Sunday. This included picnics, music, singing, social events and sports clubs.

Germanfests have become very popular, held in October (Oktoberfest). The top three towns with the highest percentage of present-day residents of German ancestry are Monterey, Ohio; Granville, Ohio and St. Henry, Ohio.

Photos: German-American Day – October 6th

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

German Immigrants

German Ancestral Towns

Pennsylvanian Germans

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