Being German in America Series: Part 1

I have been fascinated with my immigrant ancestors for much of my life. Like many people I wonder about their motivations for leaving their homeland and taking that chance for a more prosperous and fulfilling life in a new land. Their journeys sometimes were challenging and even life-threatening, but most made it here in the second half of the nineteenth century. This is the first in a series of articles I am writing about my German kin.

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The German Empire and German Americans

On this day in 1871 the Deutsches Reich, or German Empire, was proclaimed from a group of 26 disparate entities. My ancestors hailed from the western side of the Prussian empire near Coblenz, the Duchy of Nassau, the Kingdom of Hanover, and the Electorate of Hessen.  Lately, I’ve been researching the 1920s, German immigration to the U.S., prohibition, and WWI.  Most of my ancestors emigrated prior to unification and therefore, I don’t believe they ever identified with the German Empire as their homeland. 

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A Brewery for Hastings as Prohibition Looms

During the previous decade one of the fasted growing industries in the United States has been craft beer.  Many of the new brands have purchased rights to old names and recipes from breweries across the United States that were forced out of business when the Volstead Act and the 18th Amendment to the Constitution came into effect in January 1920.  The temperance movement had won but the unforeseen consequences of prohibition included the rise of organized crime, underground movements such as speakeasies, moonshine and bootlegging, all of which led to rapid changes in cultural norms. 

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