WEBSITES: GERMAN AND OTHERS
BY GAYLE STUART
In the mid-to-late 1800’s millions of German citizens left their homeland and settled as immigrants in the United States. The 1900 U.S. Census documented that over half the citizens in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota were German immigrants or their descendents. Scott County, where the first passenger railroad crossed the Mississippi River, was the entry point for many immigrants to the upper Midwest region and points west. In 1900, Joseph Eiboeck, a veteran German newspaperman, described Davenport as, “the most German city, not only in the State, but in all the Middle West, the center of all German activities in the State”.
The German American Heritage Center (GAHC) was formed in 1994 in Davenport, Iowa to document and celebrate this German heritage. The former Germania House, which was built in 1861, was purchased by the German American Heritage Center in 1995 to serve as the home of the Center.
The Germania House was among the earliest of many “Gast Haus” buildings in the area. This structure is the last remaining immigrant hotel of that period in the region and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The GAHC saved the building from deterioration and potential demolition by raising $1.3 million to restore the exterior of the building and to restore the first and second floors of the four story building for use as a historical center. That work to save this historic treasure and to utilize it as the German American Heritage Center was completed in 2004.
The German Immigrant Experience, an interactive audio-visual exhibit, opened on October 3, 2009. (www.gahc.org)
The German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA has a website at http://gahfusa.org/. The foundation has almost 18,000 members throughout the United States. They are implementing a cutting-edge oral history research project as a valuable source for academic research and to foster common knowledge about the role German-Americans have played in history. The project is funded through the European Recovery Program, a German governmental program to foster transatlantic relations. By recording, evaluating, archiving and publishing audio-visual testimonials from Americans of German descent, they are following their primary mission of preserving the rich cultural heritage of German-Americans. The site contains information about their new Washington, D.C. museum, which was scheduled to hold its grand opening on March 21, 2010.
This is where passengers were processed when arriving in New York City.
Up to July 31, 1855: No processing. Passengers simply walked off the ship.
August 1, 1855 to April 18, 1890: Castle Garden
April 19, 1890 to December 31, 1891: Barge Office
January 1, 1892 to June 13, 1897: Ellis Island
June 14, 1897 to December 16, 1900: Barge Office (Ellis Island closed due to fire)
December 17, 1900 to December 31 1924: Ellis Island
(Courtesy of Steve Morse’s website, Accessing Castle Garden and Barge Office Manifests in One Step, www.stevemorse.org/ellis/mm2castle.htm)
If you need to hire a Professional Researcher a good place to look is on the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) website, www.apgen.org. Specialists are listed in a large number of genealogically-related areas, as well as geographically and by research specialty.
www.unclaimedpersons.org is a relatively new webpage where genealogists can volunteer to locate the next of kin for persons who have died without any known relatives.