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  According to census records, Germans came to the Americas and settled in Illinois in the following numbers.
 

 1870  1880  1890  1900 1910  19201930    1940  1950Total 
 203,798 N/A  338,382  331,605 319,182   205,491 190,605  138,023  96,517 1,823,603

                               

        

 

 In the 1850s, new prairie towns were forming across the Illinois prairie. Illinois was on the verge of expansion and development; its population increased by six million people between 1840 and 1850. This was partly due to an increased birth rate but largely to the rapid immigration of Europeans. Many were attracted to Illinois because of the job opportunities available for the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad. Many Europeans were drawn to Illinois by the new cities that were springing up along the railroad's right of way. Illinois did not have enough workers to help construct the railroad. The railroad decided to solicit European labor.

Germans were a popular group that advertisers tried to attract. The construction of the Illinois Central Railroad was not only a significant time in Illinois, but for the nation as a whole. The government granted land to Illinois to build the railroad, and this was the first government grant in United States history obtained for a public construction project. Small numbers of workers came from Ohio, Kentucky, and New England, but the majority of the workers were from Europe. Advertisements placed in national newspapers to attract them. The ads displayed Illinois as a beautiful land and a comfortable place to live. A daily wage of $1.25 and a transportation fee of $4.75 to the work location advertised.

Many immigrants already in America lived in poverty, and a job on the railroad was a way to get to the west to start a new life. From New York, fifteen hundred German immigrants came to work on the railroad. Men with families were the most popular recruits. The Illinois Central Railroad hoped that family life would expand in Illinois and the new cities would benefit economically. This occurred most dramatically in the once-small city of Chicago. Chicago’s population grew dramatically in the late 1800’s as the construction of the railroad attracted many industries. The number of workers needed for building the railroad was still insufficient. This led to increased wages in St. Louis for the workers on the railroad to $1.37 per day. This upset the Illinois Central president Schuyler because it led to higher construction costs. It also led to loss of workers, because workers were making enough money to settle down, and they worked for a shorter amount of time than expected.

German immigrants worked until they made enough money so they could buy land and have their own property. As the Germans bought land, new settlements grew along the railroads, as well as German churches in cities such as Galena, Champaign, Anna, Centralia, Dixon, and other railroad cities. In 1860 and 1861, three German communities formed in Will and Effingham Counties. This brought in Germans who came to Illinois for the railroad, but stayed to live with their fellow Germans. They came and moved into the German settlements. Sixty-nine Germans from Niagara Falls settled in Effingham County, and the settlement quickly grew to eighty families. The Germans were excellent farmers and the rich farmland helped them become very prosperous.

Soon after its incorporation, Germans made their way into Chicago as the railroad brought more and more workers to the states. The German Lutheran's have been a part of Chicago almost since the beginning. First Saint Paul Lutheran Church was the first German Lutheran congregation and founded in 1846. The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, then called the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Missouri, Ohio and Other States, founded in Chicago on April 16, 1847. By 1900, Chicago's population was 1,698,575 and there were 38 German Lutheran congregations in the city. The largest had memberships of more than 5,000 souls each. As Germans changed from railroad building to farming, the demand for labor grew. This led to the Illinois Central sending advertisers to Ireland.

Irish immigrants brought to Chicago by railroad, and from there they dispersed into central Illinois. The Irish settled near Chicago. They also worked on the railroad, but stereotyped as disruptive. However, the spirit and desire to escape the famine in Ireland led the Irish to work in the harsh conditions of the cold and muddy northern lands. Most of the immigrants did not go further south than central Illinois because the citizens of some communities did not welcome immigrants. The southerners were hostile to immigrants and caused many immigrants to stay up north. The railroads increased population in Illinois and led to its diversified ethnic groups. They came to Illinois to start a new life, and in return they left behind their cultures and customs to the young prairie stale.

Population grew and new cities were born from the railroads. People settled near them and this led to easy transportation between cities. Old cities more than doubled their population, and the high costs of paying for railroad construction paid off by bringing more people and wealth to the state. The mixture of nationalities contributed to the different cultures influencing Illinois life. The foreign names of the cities are obvious influences. Europeans also influenced city life based on their experiences abroad.

Chicago Incorporated as a city in 1837, founded in 1833, at the site of a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi river watershed, it soon became a major transportation hub in North America and quickly became the business and financial capital of the American Midwest. Since the Chicago World Fair of 1893, Chicago is regarded as one of the ten most influential cities in the world. Among the field's where its influence has been seen are physics where Chicago Pile-1 served as the world's first artificial nuclear reactor and archecture where it has contributed Chicago School of Archetecture and it boast's some of the worlds tallest buildings and skyscrappers under construction. In the 18th century the area was inhabited potawatomis, who had taken the place of the Miami, Sauk and Fox peoples. The first European settler in Chicago, Haitian JeanBaptiste Pointe Du Sable, arrived in the 1770s, married a Potawatomi woman, and founded the area’s first trading post.

In 1803, the United States Army built Fort Dearborn, which destroyed in the 1812 Fort Dearborn Massacre. The Ottawa, Ojibwa and Potawatomi later ceded the land to the United States in the 1816 Treaty of St Louis. On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago organized with a population of 350. Within seven years, it grew to a population of over 4,000. The City of Chicago incorporated on MArch 4, 1837. The city began its step toward regional primacy as an important transportation hub between the eastern and western United States. Begun in 1836, Chicago’s first railway, Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, opened in 1848, a year that also marked the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The canal allowed steamboats and sailing ships on the Great Lakes to connect to the Mississippi River. A flourishing economy brought many new residents from rural communities as well as immigrants from abroad. The city’s manufacturing and retail sectors became dominant among Midwestern cities and subsequently influenced the American economy, particularly in meatpacking, with the advent of the refrigerated rail car and the regional centrality ot the citys Union Stock yards. 

During its first century as a city, Chicago grew at a rate that ranked among the fastest growing in the world. Within the span of forty years, the city's population grew from slightly under 30,000 to over 1 million by 1890. By the close of the 19th century, Chicago was the fifth largest city in the world, and the largest of the cities that did not exist at the dawn of the century. Within fifty years of the Chicago Fire, the population had tripled to over 3 million. In 1893, Chicago hosted the Worlds Columbian Exposition on former marshland at the present location of Jackson Park. The Exposition drew 27.5 million visitors, and considered among the most influential world's fairs in history. The University of Chicago founded one year earlier in 1892 on the same South Side location. The term "midway" for a fair or carnival referred originally to the Midway Plaisance, a strip of parkland that still runs through the University of Chicago campus and connects Washington and Jackson Parks.

German Valley Today German Valley has a predominantly German population, 53% of German Valley residents report German ancestry, and 9% report Irish. Through out its history, German Valley underwent several name changes, such as, Baalton, Ballton, Meekin, and Wieman. A group of immigrants from East Frisia, a German lowland province adjoining Holland, settled German Valley. East Frisians considered themselves distinct from other Germans, their language much related to the Dutch tongue as to the German. They brought their rich heritage to Stephenson County. In the latter half of the 19th Century, there was a surge of immigration from the Lowlands of Germany (East Frisland) and Holland. These people shared a common culture and basic language and they professed a strong Christian faith based on the Protestant Reformation and the teachings of the reformist Hendrick de Cock. Their initial settlements were in the eponymous German Valley, Illinois, and the Iowa communities of Pella and Grundy County.

Northern Illinois is home to many different ethnic groups, but few people know of the importance of the East Friesen. East Friesens, or Ostfriesens, are a Germanic people akin to the Angles and Saxons. Ostfriesland is located in northwestern Germany on the North Sea coast. Most of these northern Germans immigrated to America in the mid to late nineteenth century because of a lack of good land. They brought their culture with them and faced several problems along the way. The first Ostfriesens that immigrated to the Midwest settled in Stephenson and Ogle counties in Illinois. The Ostfriesen settlement started in Illinois, around 1847, just north of the city of Oregon in Ogle County. The population grew denser as more immigrants came to the area looking for cheap land, settling between Oregon and Byron, now known as German Valley. As more Ostfriesens came to German Valley, they wrote back to Germany, telling of a beautiful land full of opportunities. In these letters, "it was pointed out that the little people, the craftsmen and wage earners, would have the opportunity in America to work their way up and become land owners. As elsewhere throughout Germany, many Ostfriesens left Germany due to, poverty overcrowding, unemployment and lack of the possibility to own land. On top of this, many fled German to avoid military conscription, or, religious enlightenment and a chance to pursue happiness and success in this land of paradise.

Many Ostfriesens in Illinois faced discrimination, especially during World War I, because of their German heritage. Anti-Germans threw buckets of paint on their doors and law officials overreacted, afraid that the settlers might be anti-American. That was not the case at all. Many young Ostfriesen boys fought for America in the war. The same ones, who left Germany out of fear of conscription, were then drafted into the American military, and they served faithfully. Schooling was important up to eighth grade, unless a young man wanted to go into ministry. Then he finished high school and attended a church-supported college. Other young men and women expected to help on the farm. It was a waste of time to learn information that was never used when they could be working a plow or cooking lunch. Parents were also afraid that if their children attended public high schools, they would be more likely to marry outsiders, non-Friesens. This group of immigrants may not be the largest or best known, but its members contributed very much to the development of northern Illinois. Ostfriesens brought with them a faith that still exists and in which they strongly believe today. Many people in Ogle and Stephenson Counties are descendants today.

Belleville Southern Illinois and the lower Mississippi Valley, the heart of French Illinois, gave way to unparalleled German migration, especially in Southwestern Illinois. Gottfried Duden's book of the Mississippi Valley, published in 1824, was widely read in Germany, and many heeded Duden's call. Another great influence affecting German migration was the "Giessener Gesellschaft" - an immigration company that chose Missouri as its major New World destination. After the failure of the German Revolution in 1830, many of the educated by necessity fled their homeland. But preferring a free state, thousands preferred Illinois. Belleville was the center of the first important German settlement in the State of Illinois. Belleville welcomed German immigrants, and soon an estimated 90% of the city's population was either German born or of German descent. The influence of Koerner, Hilgard, Bunsen, ABEND and Engleman was long felt in law, journalism, education, science and industry. Not only the educated fled, the mechanically inclined emigrated also. Bornman, Braun, Gundlach, Eimer, Knoebel and Brosius were mechanical geniuses who involved themselves in all manner of community improvements. In 1870, their "smokestack industries" made Belleville the second largest producer of manufactured goods in the state, tied with Peoria and second to Chicago.

MILLSTADT The earliest settlers of the Millstadt area were of English ancestry, who had come from the 13 original states. The first land entries in Millstadt Township first claimed in payment for military services rendered in the late 1700's. George Lunceford is the first white settler to have lived near present day Millstadt. He was a native of Virginia and had been a soldier under George Rogers Clark during the capture of Kaskaskia and Prairie Du Rocher in 1778. In April 1797, a group of 154 settlers left Hardy County, Virginia and arrived at New Design in Monroe County on July 4, 1797. This group led by the Baptist preacher, David Badgley, and included the families of Abraham Eyman, William Miller, and John Teter. They came by flatboat down the Ohio River to Shawneetown, IL and then overland by horse to Monroe County, Illinois.

The first large group of German settlers to arrive in the Millstadt area came from villages near Kaiserslautern in the Rhineland-Pfalz area of Germany. According to existing records, this first group left Germany together on Sept. 4, 1834 and traveled to America on the Ship Ruthelin, which arrived at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana on Nov. 17, 1834. The group then traveled by boat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, where they disembarked for St. Clair County, Illinois. They settled in the Millstadt area on Nov. 30, 1834.

Additional German immigrants continued to settle here in the 1840's, with a second large wave, which began in 1848 after political turmoil in Germany. There were numerous families settled in this area from the Alsace-Lorraine area. The ownership of that area in Europe varied between France and Germany, but the residents usually spoke German and fit in with other Germans who had settled previously in the Millstadt area. Many of these early German settlers were farmers who came here seeking better farmland and better economic conditions. Many of the settlers were also escaping the political, social, and economic turmoil that the German states were experiencing at that time. Most wanted a better life for themselves and more opportunities for their children. This German immigration was so large in the Millstadt area that reportedly only "seven families of English descent" were still residing here. The majority of the first Germans who settled in this area did not know the English language and few had the time or opportunity to learn it. Many preferred to use their native German in most everything that concerned their life, including business, social organizations, church services and records, public notices, tombstone inscriptions, letters, and wills. Some of the earlier English-speaking settlers did not always get along well with their newly arrived German neighbors and some called the Germans clannish and unfriendly.

The founding of the town of Millstadt dates back to 1836 when Simon Stookey was having a barn built a short distance north of present day Millstadt. Joseph Abend and Henry Randleman were helping him and it was proposed to Randleman that a piece of his land in Section 9 would make a most eligible town site. Abend proposed the name "Centerville" for the new town since it was seven miles from Belleville, seven miles from Columbia, and seven miles from Pittsburg Lake. Henry agreed, and the town of Centerville was platted and surveyed on 13 March 1837. It originally consisted of only 40 lots. That was the part of town bounded roughly by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe streets. Later additions to the town were made as the existing lots were sold out. Although the village name officially spelled as "Centerville" in the records of the Recorder of Deeds of St. Clair County, the German settlers usually used the European spelling of "Centreville".

 

 NameFather Mother Spouse Children Born 
 

George J Simbeck

     
 

Lum Simbeck

     
 

Charlotte Simbeck

     
 

Ann Simbeck

     
 

Joyce A. Simbeck

     IL
 

Cathy Simbeck

     
 

John Simbeck

     
 

Brita Simbeck

    IL