Germans in the Midwest

More than five million Germans came to the United States in the 1800s, the largest foreign language group at the time. The majority moved to the Midwestern "German triangle," between Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Many were farmers in their homeland and pursued the same livelihood in the Midwest. Living in close proximity to other Germans encouraged these immigrants to maintain traditional customs and language. The anti-immigration sentiment so prevalent in some U.S. cities gained less ground in the rural areas of the Midwest.

The Peter Glass Family

Peter Glass and his German-born first wife preserved aspects of their cultural identity by living near other Germans and keeping in contact with family in Europe. When his first wife died the Protestant Glass married an American-born daughter of German Catholic immigrants and became involved in her church.

Glass Family Homestead, Scott, Wisconsin, after 1862

Glass Family Homestead, Scott, Wisconsin, after 1862

German immigrant Peter Glass came to the United States from Bavaria in 1844. Like many immigrants, he worked on the East Coast, before moving his family to a Wisconsin farm in 1857. There he lived near other Germans, Irish immigrants, and other white English-speaking migrants, along with Native people.

Peter and Marian Glass and children, 1850s

Peter and Marian Glass and children, 1850s

Peter Glass and his second wife Catherine, 1868

Peter Glass and his second wife Catherine, 1868

Bringing the Old World to the New

The industrial revolution in Germany pushed many to migrate to the American Midwest, where they could continue to work as independent craftsmen or farmers. In Wisconsin, Peter Glass farmed and used his woodworking skills while embracing his adopted country. He became an American citizen, and made furniture that incorporated U.S. patriotic and historical motifs.

Peter Glass with one of his inlaid wood tables, 1860s

Peter Glass with one of his inlaid wood tables, 1860s

Inlaid wood table with patriotic themes, made by Peter Glass, 1868

Gift of Mrs. Frank A. Vidano

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Veneer panel, late 1800s
 

Gift of Mrs. Paul E. O'Sullivan

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Scroll-saw blade used by Peter Glass

Gift of Mrs. Frank A. Vidano

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Award won by Peter Glass for his woodworking, 1850–1868

Gift of Mrs. Frank A. Vidano

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Award won by Peter Glass for his woodworking, 1850–1868

Gift of Mrs. Frank A. Vidano

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Award won by Peter Glass for his woodworking, 1850–1868

Gift of Mrs. Frank A. Vidano

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