The German Emigrations to America

The Prasse family name is of German origin. The most common location for this name is in what was the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). However, one of the family groups is from what was the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Two of the family groups are from southern Poland, known as Silesia during the seventeenth century. Remember, during the time period of most of the immigrations, there was no such place as Germany, per se. When asked where they were from, German immigrants would have said a German kingdom/state such as, Prussia, Saxony, or Hanover. Be careful not to confuse Hanover (1 n -- kingdom) with Hannover (2 n's -- present day city) or the older Saxony (northern Germany) with the nineteenth century Saxony (southern central Germany). [See map of Germany, 1830s - 1870s]

Several of the families' ancestors immigrated to America in the mid-nineteenth century (around 1850). The German place names given by the 1850 immigrants are Lippe-Detmold, Bavaria, Saxony, and Hanover. In 1815, Hanover was a kingdom which ran from the North Sea and the Netherlands border, south of the Elbe River and north of the Weser River from the point where the Weser forms the common boundary with the Kingdom of Westphalia. Lippe-Detmold was an independent principality surrounded by Westphalia and Hanover. In 1842, Lippe-Detmold was annexed by Hanover. Most of Saxony was in what used to be East Germany. Leipzig is one of the main cities in Saxony. The Kingdom of Saxony is split by the Elbe River. Prussia was to the north, Bohemia to the south, and Bavaria to the southwest. Bavaria made up what is now most of the southern half of West Germany and the Danube River runs east to west through the middle.

Throughout the nineteenth century, Europe went from one war to another. Many of the immigrations of the Prasses were to avoid forced military service.

In the 1840s, depression was sweeping the European Continent. There was widespread discontent in the German Confederation. Political repression and deprivation of civil rights was prevalent in Germany at the time. Crop failures caused a major famine in the mid-1840s. For the lower classes who had already been suffering from the effects of industrialization, the famine and political atmosphere led them to the point of open rebellion. There were riots and other civil disturbances. In 1848, the French King, Louis-Philippe, was overthrown. This sparked more uprisings in Germany and a series of revolutions began against governments of the German Confederation. For the next decade, politics seesawed back and forth between the Prussian Empire and the Confederation of German States (Hanover was part of the Confederation) with the lower classes caught in the middle. As you can see, the climate was right for the large scale German exodus of the mid-nineteenth century.

The next time frame where some more Prasses immigrated occurs in the late nineteenth century (1890s). By 1871, Otto Von Bismark, the Prussian Prime Minister, had united the majority of Germany under the Prussian Empire. Parts of Hanover, Saxony, and Bavaria were annexed, however, Lippe-Detmold remained independent of the Empire. Political repression continued for the rest of the century under the Prussian rule. In 1890, Germany was again thrown into a turmoil. Bismark fell from power when William II took the Prussian throne. William had no need for Bismark's conservatism. With the German states now unified, Germany began its colonialism era at the turn of the century.

The most common ports of entry for Prasse families emigrating to the United States were: Port of New York, Port of Baltimore, Port of Philadelphia, and Port of New Orleans (and then up the Mississippi River).

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Last revised: Monday, May 29, 2000 04:28 PM

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