Letters from a German Immigrant Family in Texas (1854–1885)
Edited By Ruth Cape
The Bergmann letter collection begins with a detailed description of the sea journey and the many exciting and disheartening moments experienced while at sea. Bergmann then gives deep insight into many facets of immigrant life on the Texas frontier while narrating how he and his family built a life for themselves in Texas.
This letter collection spans a period of three decades, presenting the reader with important insight into the process of German immigrant acculturation in Texas in the second half of the 19
Part One: Introduction
Throughout history people have departed from areas where they had lived their entire lives and immigrated to faraway places in search of opportunities to build better lives for themselves and their families. Often dissatisfaction with religious, political, social or economic conditions, political oppression or war at home led them to leave everything behind and take the risk of venturing into largely unfamiliar territory, to begin all over again. In the case of German emigrants, “an adventurous spirit,” sometimes referred to as “Wanderlust,” might also have played a role in their decision to leave Europe.1
One of the destinations of German emigrants was the United States of America. The United States is “a nation of immigrants”2 and were originally heavily built on immigration from Europe. Many immigrants stayed and succeeded in building new lives, some returned to Europe after they had experienced failure or had reached their financial goal in the New World.3 In the latter part of the nineteenth century, emigrants who went back to Europe were often referred to as “Americans” in their homelands.4
The single largest immigration group in the United States is made up by Germans. They helped shape American society by bringing in their particular farming methods, food, religions, politics, education, and intellectual life. Thus American history has a German element that is “more than a part,” but rather “woven into the fabric of America.”5
The nineteenth century was a “century of mass German...
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