History Blog Week 3, Caleigh Deane

The Stille and Krumme reading provided accounts of multiple immigrants coming from Lengerich to various states within America throughout the 1830’s. The preface to the letters gives a brief synopsis of the economic conditions within Tecklenburg that prompted many citizens to immigrate to the states. The population decreased by as little as one percent per year, and possibly more due to rampant illegal immigration. The article then explains the unfavorable conditions within Holland during the 1820’s due to the decrease in individualized linen production, which had shifted to industrialized factory work. It was then made clear that Wilhelm and Wilhelmina were married and decided to leave the country due to the surrounding stigma, among economic reasons as well. We then find out that Wilhelm Stille decided to immigrate to Monroe Country, Ohio, where he found his Swiss wife. Wilhelm Stille’s brother in law, Wilhelm Krumme, immigrated to the Wheeling, Virginia area, or so it was called at the time. The author then details the qualifications the various Wilhelm’s and Krums claimed as they entered America. Wilhelm Stille was very familiar with farm life, as his entire life had been spent there until his current age of 32. Wilhelm Krumme was supposedly a smith, yet this is an otherwise undocumented profession in the states. Ernest Stille was the youngest and poorest of his family, spending the entirety of his life as a farmhand with little to no to spare upon arrival in America. The author specifies the five writers that are included within the document, including Wilhelmina Krumme, Wilhelm Krumme, Wilhelm Stille, Caroline Krumme, and Ernst Stille, each of which having a different degree of education and sophistication in their letters to their relatives at home. Wilhelm Stille begins the letters, writing home to his family about his current living conditions, including his wage, free board and washing, his boss, and future job opportunities. He also references his nephew Rudolph Stille coming to America and states that “if he were here, he’d do alright” (67, Stille). In his next letter, he recommends only individuals come to the states, as coming as a family is both costly and physically difficult. He also discusses language barrier difficulties. His next letter reveals that his nephew Rudy died of dysentery along with the respectable nature of his funeral. Wilhelmina Stille then writes, saying that she is content in the fact that Wilhelm lives near her and can dine with her often. She wishes well for her mother, and discusses her own abundant social life, stating that “I’m much better off here than with you” (Stille, 71-72). She then explains that even rich people that came to America as immigrants wish they had remained in their home country. Then Wilhelmina Krumme then writes, referencing her father who had passed away and her grief, yet gratitude that he lived a fulfilling life. She recounts that her husband bought 80 acres of land and is unable to finish paying off the debt. If they cannot pay it off, the seller would repossess the land, so she asked her parents for money to stay afloat. She later on writes again with the announcement that she had a child, Johannes, who was named after the child who called on the doctor during her his birth. Wilhelm Stille then writes again, making about twelve points, some of which including his trip to South America, the fact that he has a wife and land now, that Ernst should come to America, how poor families survive with little to no income, and that Fredierich Krumme should also join them in America with the money he (Wilhelm) is owed. Wilhelmina Krumme then writes again, stating that she met with friends of the family and now knows everyone is doing well back home. Wilhelm Krumme then contacts his family to inform them that Wilhelmina, his wife, passed away due to consumption and dropsy. He then details his struggles in raising Johan in Wilhelmina’s absence, explaining that he was forced to send him away for a long period of time to live with another family. He also announces that he remarried to Caroline Schulte. Ernst Stille then writes that he became rather ill and had to go to a hospital as he couldn’t pay for private medicine. After he could walk again, he was able to get a job as a brick hauler. He then continued on to detail his various work endeavors and sends his mother Prussian money through the mail for her own wellbeing. He also writes a letter to his uncle asking for an advance in his mother’s travel fees, as he will need to send them next summer. He also mentions his niece Friederike coming to America, because he knows “what will become of her in Germany” (88).  Wilhelm Stille then begins writing again to his brothers and sisters and asks them for three pipes whenever they can send them his way. Wilhelm Krumme then continues on to his brothers and sisters in law, giving them permission to later send Ernst’s sons to America. Wilhelm Stille then writes to his brothers and sisters, rather upset that they haven’t answered him in over a year, hoping that they are still well. He also asks for the rest of his inheritance. He requests that his brother Friederich send him “a small sum” as well, because he is without a family and has money to spare. Wilhelm Krumme concludes the collection of letters by writing that Johan, Wilhelmina’s son who he hasn’t seen in two and a half years, is now working as a clerk and Cincinnati. If I am being completely honest, the amount of Krummes, Stilles, Wilhelms, and Wilhelminas in this piece confused me a bit, but I believe I was able to provide an accurate depiction of the majority of their letters and how detailed their accounts of post-immigration constantly were. 

The second reading was about Martin Weitz, an immigrant from the German State of Schotten. The reading begins by describing the decline in the weaving and spinning industry in Schotten that resulted in mass emigration. Individual weavers and spinners were overtaken by a surplus of industrialized factories that began to produce cloth in the 1820’s, similar to the story of the Stille and Krumme families. There were many skilled laborers in Schotten, but not enough jobs to sustain everyone. In America, the opposite problem arose; there were many factories, but not enough skilled laborers. Martin Weitz was a weaver himself, eventually settling in Rockville, Connecticut, finding a job in a factory after struggling to maintain a living wage by completing odd jobs such as chopping wood in the winter. In the beginning of the readings, he describes his journey, a somewhat less taxing one than that of Harrower, from Germany to America. He writes of quickly encountering old friends and deciding to board with one of them for a small fee every two weeks. In many of his initial letters, he complains of the immense poverty of immigrants in America, especially during his stay in New York, and their usual inability to get a job because they most commonly could not speak English. He knows that he could have gotten a job much faster he had spoken English, but to no avail. After finding his factory job in Connecticut, his life remains somewhat static for a time, yet he continues to write home to his father, sister-in-law, and brother. He gives them ample advice, as they have been writing them that they are unable to get along as a family unit. He advises that his father gives in to the demands of his brother and sister-in-law more often to improve their relationship; being stubborn will not improve the situation. On various occasions, he sends his family money to either buy clothes, food, or to sustain their household back in Germany. Throughout his letters, he also discusses the political situation within America, being the upcoming election in November. He describes the Democrats and Republicans and their platforms with the Republicans being against slavery. From his phrasing, Weitz seems to agree with the Republicans, as he is rather upset when writing that the Democratic candidate won the election. He mentions the bloodbath in Kansas due to its controversial ruling as a slave or free state. Weitz seems to insinuate that his family believes he abandoned them but explains that he himself has trouble receiving his wage on time and cannot always provide funds for them. He went for four months on one occasion without receiving his wages, so he could not send them what he did not have. Earlier in his letters, he mentions that he does not want to get married anytime soon, as he is not ready yet. As time passes, this notion changes, and he believes getting married would be economically beneficial in itself, because in most situations, two people can live off the payment for one. He eventually finds a bride and pays for her safe transport to Connecticut and then retrieves her from New York; they got married the next day. He also mentions that he has begun English classes and was slowly but surely understanding the language. He later sends his condolences to his father and sister-in-law because his brother had passed away. He sends his regrets that his father must continue to work in his old age of 78 because his son is no longer there to be a breadwinner. As his letters conclude, He writes that his wife gave birth to a daughter, Amelia, and detailed her health complications, but ensures them that she was improving now. In the afterthoughts of this article, the author writes that Martin Weitz died at age 45, and before his death, had another son. His son went on to accomplish Martin’s dream of changing professions, becoming a barber. This reading was much easier to follow in my opinion and made much more sense from an outsider’s perspective; I was able to clearly understand Martin’s line of thinking. 

One thought on “History Blog Week 3, Caleigh Deane

  1. Caleigh,
    Really amazing job. I honestly don’t think you could have done a better job of summarizing these pieces. I must admit, the way you seamlessly moved between members of the Stille and Krumme families was extra impressive to me, as I myself struggled endlessly trying to keep track of everyone. I also liked how you made a few connections to the piece, like how both stories’ subjects complained to their families bout their difficult learning English. Keep it up!

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