1804 – A Protestant group from Wuerttemberg, named Rappists after their leader George Rapp, founded Harmony, Pennsylvania, a utopian community.
1814 – The Rappists purchased 30,000 acres of land in Indiana and founded a new settlement, New Harmony. In 1825 they returned to Pennsylvania and founded Economy, 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Other towns founded by religious groups in this period included Zoar, Ohio, Amana, Iowa, and St. Nazianz, Wisconsin.
1821 – The Germanic custom of having a specially decorated tree at Christmas time was introduced to America by Pennsylvania Dutch in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Later in the century, the Pennsylvania Dutch version of St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, evolved into America’s Santa Claus, popularized by a German immigrant and influential political cartoonist, Thomas Nast. The Easter bunny and Easter eggs were also brought to this country by German immigrants.
1829 – Gottfried Duden published in Germany his idyllic account of the several years he spent as a settler in Missouri; so popular that it appeared in three editions, the book caused numerous Germans to leave for the New World.
1836 – John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-60) arrived in the United States in 1836 from his native Bohemia to work as a priest in the country’s German-speaking Roman Catholic communities. He founded the first American diocesan school system, and in 1852 became Bishop of Philadelphia. In 1977 he was canonized as a saint by Pope Paul VI.
1837 – The German Philadelphia Settlement Society was founded and purchased 12,000 acres of land in Gasconade County, Missouri; two years later the society’s town of Hermann was incorporated with 450 inhabitants.
1844 – Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels sailed to America with three ships and 150 families to settle in Texas; the following year, New Braunfels, Texas, was established.
1847 – The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church was founded by German immigrants to combat what they saw as the liberalization of Lutheranism in America.
1848-49 – The failure of the revolutions of 1848 to establish democracy caused thousands to leave Germany to settle in America; the most famous of these refugees was Carl Schurz. He later served as a Union general in the Civil War, a United States senator from Missouri, and secretary of the interior under President Rutherford B. Hayes.
1850s – Nearly one million Germans immigrated to America in this decade, one of the peak periods of German immigration; in 1854 alone, 215,000 Germans arrived in this country.
1856 – Margaretha Meyer Schurz, a German immigrant and wife of Carl Schurz, established the first kindergarten in America at Watertown, Wisconsin.
1857 – Adolphus Busch (1839-1913) left the Rhineland and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. Four years later, he married the daughter of a prosperous brewer. In addition to children, this union resulted in the founding of what was soon to become an industry giant with holdings across the country: the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association.
1860 – An estimated 1.3 million German-born immigrants resided in the United States; 200 German-language magazines and newspapers were published in this country; in St. Louis alone, there were seven German-language newspapers.
1872 – The century-old privileges granted to German farmers settled in Russia were revoked by the Tsarist government, causing thousands of the farmers to emigrate. By 1920, there were well over 100,000 of these so-called Volga and Black Sea Germans in the United States, with the greatest numbers in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Colorado. Black Sea Germans soon became known for their skill as wheat farmers. In 1990 an estimated one million descendants of these Russian Germans lived in America.
1880s – In this decade, the decade of heaviest German immigration, nearly 1.5 million Germans left their country to settle in the United States; about 250,000, the greatest number ever, arrived in 1882.
1890 – An estimated 2.8 million German-born immigrants lived in the United States. A majority of the German-born living in the United States were located in the “German triangle,” whose three points were Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and St. Louis.
1894 – About 800 German-language journals were being printed in the United States, the greatest number ever.