Sunday, July 19, 2015
“Hinrich: Annals Of An Immigrant Family 1866-1913”
Chicoan Dave Schlichting has published a documentary account of his ancestry that is a model of historical preservation. Aided by family members who provided photographs and documents, and by his own research, Schlichting has crafted the detailed story of the family patriarch in “Hinrich: Annals Of An Immigrant Family 1866-1913” ($18.95 in paperback from Memoir Books).
Hinrich “was raised on a farm near the small village of Neuland in northern Germany,” beginning “his military service with the Royal Hanoverian Guards Regiment in 1858.” He served seven years. (There’s a copy of his discharge papers and a helpful translation from the German; other documents are also translated.)
Work was not plentiful in civilian life, and Hinrich resolved to emigrate to the United States. Schlichting sifts census records and the passenger list for the steamship “America” and concludes that likely Hinrich arrived in New York City in 1866. Though post-Civil War America was still reeling from the bloodshed, what attracted many Germans--the “pulling force”--was “the availability of land. The conceptual rationalization that made land available was known as Manifest Destiny.”
The author situates his forbears’ experience within a larger historical framework. “Like other immigrants, they moved in a pattern that offered both opportunity and comfort. They lived in communities populated by German-speaking immigrants as they followed the development of the American frontier from east to west.”
There is much about land ownership in these pages, and Schlichting has provided scholarly endnotes including GPS locations so readers can enter coordinates into Google Maps.
“Hinrich,” he writes, “was the family leader who achieved a financial base first in Cincinnati and then in the farming frontier of Wabasha County, Minnesota. By June of 1870, he was a landowner in America. … His marriage to Caroline Truebenbach was the beginning of a diverse first American-born generation with dispersed families in the West and the Midwest. The American generation included my grandparents, Henry and Emma Schlichting.” (A tidbit: Henry’s two brothers also married women named Emma.)