The reading regarding Martin Weitz discussed the experience of Weitz who emigrated to America from Schotten Germany. Weitz was a wool weaver in Germany and came to America in 1854 to work in the textile industry, it is noted that it was not that Germany was not as technologically developed as America but that it was the demand for labor in America was much greater than in Germany. Looking at my notes I noticed that Weitz would have been a part of the second wave of immigration from Germany to America, and he fit the description mentioned in class of single men coming to work. When Weitz came to America the wool industry began to grow, and more labor was needed to keep up, this allowed Weitz to find work in Rockville Connecticut. This town had a recent and rapid immigration growth between 1846 and 1855, including Weitz, the reading goes on to read about the experience of Weitz as an immigrant working and living here through letters he wrote once in America. In the first letter, Weitz mentions the poor health in America, stating that there are “all kinds of fever”(341) and prays that he will be able to stay healthy and therefore successful. This had me wonder if Weitz was regretting emigrating to America but then he goes on to say that he can’t write anymore because he was distraught thinking of the misery they faced in Germany. Weitz goes on to write about his marriage and eventually family and fairly successful life in America despite struggles. I think this reading was a great way to learn about the experience of German immigrants that went into factory jobs especially in the textile industry.
The next reading I completed was not about an individual but about the Stille and Krumme family and their experience of emigrating to America from Lengerich in Prussia between the years of 1833 until at least 1871. First Wilhelm Stille came to America in 1833 and then his nephew in 1836 and sister and fiance soon after and more after. The reading mentioned that many people emigrated illegally from this area of Prussia, including Wilhelm, this was likely due to how easy it was to complete this. Their father was a tenant farmer in Prussia but because of the economic situation, there was not work from Wilhelm and Wilhelmina here as well as the fact that the relationship between Wilhelmina and her fiance was not accepted there were reasons for the choice to emigrate to America. Through the letters of multiple members of this family written to their family back in Prussia, we gain insight as to the experience of their lives after coming to America. The first letter was interesting to me as in it Wilhelm seems to be reassuring his family that he will be trying to find success in America and not worry because if he can’t he will just return. In the next letter, Wilhelm is writing more about the potential that his family or some relatives at least will also be emigrating to America, which we can confirm as the next letter is from his sister Wilhelmina. I found this reading very interesting as it dealt with the idea of chain migration. I have always been interested in the way that one may persuade someone to emigrate after they had done so and this gave me a bit of insight into this idea.
Weitz letters did have a common theme of worry and strife in them. However, he masked that worry almost seamlessly by frequently invoking God and his power. He often found himself in hopeless situations both back in Germany and here in the U.S., but instead of succumbing to his woes, he recognized them and placed all his worries in God’s hands. This demonstrated the central role that religion played in the German immigrant community. Religious devotion was not only common in this community, it was expected; it was considered an integral part of being a “good” member of society, along with characteristics such as diligence and filial piety.
I am rallying off of Noelle’s comment above here as well when I contest that yes, Weitz did express worry for the issues back home and in America, he did transition to directly advocate there was still more opportunity and freedom in America despite the turmoil.
Also, I feel like this post and I resonate in the impression of more clear chain-migration being depicted in the Stilles and Krumme account, but I think that prominence in chain migration is more obvious because it’s direct and through generations and generations of the same family lineage and relations. However, I think the same amount of chain migration was present in Weitz account, but not in direct lineage or from the exact same area as he only knew one other person from his township. I’m not 100% sure on this, but I do know the German enclaves were extremely prominent and chain migration was discussed In relation.
Emma – I really liked how you referred back to your notes from class in order to clarify when Weitz came over to the U.S. I’m not sure if it was just em that found it odd, but I feel like Connecticut was a weird place to settle? Dr. Moon talks about the grouping of German immigrants in the large, midwestern cities, so I’m wondering why he ended up in the northeast? I appreciated the research and look into your notes beyond the reading!