Ever Dear Cousin ... An Annotated Historiography of Mid-19th Century German-American Settlers in the Midwest United States
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During the mid-19th century, when new territory opened up west of the Mississippi, children and grandchildren of European immigrants followed in the spirit and tradition of their ancestors, seeking affordable land and new opportunity. They left their family and friends in the crowded eastern and central parts of the United States to settle in what is now called the Midwest. A story unfolds as John C. Rauch of Ohio receives handwritten letters from relatives and friends, encouraging him to follow suit as land became abundant and rich opportunity awaited him. My thesis is a compilation of eyewitness accounts transcribed, extracted, and annotated from a collection of 40 original letters handwritten between 1856 and 1866 by John’s relatives and friends who settled in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. My research will create a historiographical narrative of mid-19th century daily life surrounding the recorded experiences of settlers in the Midwest United States with special attention given to the significance of German-American migration and settlement. Material supplementing and adding texture to this primary material include statistics, historical records, land plats, period and current photographs accessed through state and local historical societies of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois, as well as comparative literary excerpts of frontier literature written by 19th century German authors Gottfried Duden, Friedrich Gerstäcker, and Charles Sealsfield - important historical contributions depicting non-fictional as well as fictional accounts of settlers who migrated and settled in the new frontier west of the Mississippi. These important literary works were also primary influences toward the 19th century German migration to America.