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The first wave of Germans came in the mid-1830s. Only eighteen German families lived in St. Louis in 1833, but some 6,000 German souls lived here four years later. Most came looking for land to escape crowding, lured to Missouri by romanticized descriptions of the state through the Giessen Emigration Society which described it as the American Rhineland. Within two years, Saxony Germans started stepping off riverboats too. These Saxons brought with them their conservative brand of Lutheranism. Within ten years they established Trinity Lutheran Church and the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church. The denomination moved Concordia Seminary here in 1849, making it the first college in Missouri to accept both men and women.

The immigrants formed churches and cemeteries. The Germans populated churches in three denominations – Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, and Evangelical; the latter became United Church of Christ. The first German Catholic churches in St. Louis were St. Mary’s of Victories and St. Joseph’s Shrine. The first Lutheran church was Trinity Church, and the first Evangelical was Holy Ghost Evangelical Church. Further information on churches is listed under Religions on this website.

Some of the immigrants purchased property and became farmers. Others lived in tenements in the downtown area of the city. They brought their life skills from Germany, working as butchers, cigar makers, ministers, and many other occupations.

Germans established their own neighborhoods and towns as well. Between the river and Broadway from Buchanan to Salisbury on the near north side, German immigrant Emil Mallinckrodt established the town of Bremen in 1844. The promise of a friendly environment where German was spoken attracted many new and recent arrivals. Omnibus connections between St. Louis and the ferry landing at Bissell’s Point started in 1845, linking the hamlet to St. Louis. It became part of the incorporated city ten years later. Now the Hyde Park neighborhood, it retained its German character well into the twentieth century.

Germans arriving after 1850 were usually ardent abolitionists and nationalists. Their political activism made them instrumental in keeping Missouri in the Union during the Civil War.

The immigrants retained their native language in numerous German newspapers, church sermons and records, schools, and even on their tombstones. Three German newspapers in St. Louis were the Anzeiger des Westens, published from 1835 to 1912; the Westliche Post, published from 1857 to 1938; and the Amerika, published from 1872 to 1924. Your ancestors may be mentioned in articles printed in one of these newspapers.

The St. Louis County Library Special Collections offers a special finding aid outlining the German resources available at the library. Click on St. Louis County Library Finding Aids for further information including an extensive German finding aid list.

The St. Louis Genealogical Society sponsors the StLGS German Special Interest Group.



Bachkuber, Claire Marie. The German–Catholic Elite. Ann Arbor, Michigan: St. Louis University, 1984.

Bellis, Genevieve Hoehn. German Immigrant to Missouri. Arlington, Virginia: privately printed, No date.

Bohley, Wilfred W. Historical Review of the Holy Ghost United Church of Christ. St. Louis: Holy Ghost Church, 1969.

Faherty, William Barnaby. The St. Louis German Catholics. St. Louis: Reedy Press, 2004.

Jensen, Larry O. A Genealogical Handbook of German Research. Pleasant Grove, Utah: L. O. Jensen, 1980–1983.

Minert, Roger P. Baden Place Name Indexes: Identifying Place Names Using Alphabetical and Reverse Alphabetical Indexes. Woods Cross, Utah: GRT Publications, 2000. [Mr. Minert has written similar books for other locations including: Brandenburg; Braunschweig, Oldenburg, and Thuringia; Hanover; Hesse-Nassau; Kingdom of Saxony (with Anhalt); Pomerania; Posen; Province of Saxony; Rhineland; Schleswig-Holstein (with Bremen, Hamburg, and Lübeck); and Westphalia (with Hohenzoller, Lippe, Schaumburg-Lippe, and Waldeck).]

Minert, Roger P. Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents: Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Vital Records Written in German. Woods Cross, Utah: GRT Publications, 2001.

Minert, Roger P. Spelling Variations in German Names: Solving Family History Problems Through Applications of German and English Phonetics. Woods Cross, Utah: GRT Publications, 2000.

Minert, Roger P., and Shirley J. Riemer. Researching in Germany: A Handbook for Your Visit to the Homeland of Your Ancestors. Sacramento, California: Lorelei Press, 2001.

Riemer, Shirley J. The German Research Companion. Sacramento, California: Lorelei Press, 2000.

Wright, Raymond, III. Meyers Orts-und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs: With Researcher’s Guide and Translations of the Introduction, Instruction for the Use of the Gazetteer, and Abbreviations. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.


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