Banaters in St Louis


Dave Dreyer
 


With thanks to my coauthor, Josette Hatter, I recently received a copy of the newly published work entitled "The names of John Gergen"----subtitled "Immigrant Identities in the Early Twentieth-Century St. Louis", by Benjamin Moore (2021, Univ of Missouri Press, $50).   The work tracks the life of an infant, John, born in Gr St Nikolaus. who was brought by his father to St Louis.  The kid was shortly returned to the Banat in the care of a relative and, in turn, back to St Louis by his mother with his two siblings..  The three siblings were left in the care of extended family members (mainly from Billed) and their mother more or less disappears from the picture.
The author carefully documents these events using American records, as well as discussions of  the nature of the Banat community of St Louis in which John  grows up, especially the education system and how it accommodates the German immigrant community.  There is no direct evidence of how John feels about the institutions which shape his development in his new home.  
The author apparently ignores the rich trove of Banat records available from the German Banat community in Germany which would allow some judgement on comparison with that in St Louis.  Did they still celebrate the Kirchwieh, did anyone bring their Tracht to the New World, was Sunday afternoon card playing an institution among the older men?  Among the Banat resources would be the Heimat books which have been published for most Banat localities.   The HOGs of Banat are another possible source of background information.  Many HOGs publish an annual "Kalender". The Billed "Billeder Heimatblatt" is an especially beautifully illustrated and produced annual publication of almost 200 pages.  Between the 2018 and 2019 issues one can count about a half dozen Gergen families as Billed HOG members. What might they have contributed to the story? 
Moore's work likely will be of special interests to St Louis Banaters.
It is not obvious what conclusions the author has drawn from his study.  The frequent changes of address in the same St Louis neighborhood suggest some degree of domestic turmoil.  In short, a stark account of the reviewers experience here in San Mateo will illustrate the problem.  A German immigrate friend (not a Banater) once remarked to me, "My life is such a mess.  My wife is unhappy here and wants to return to Germany.,  My kids say, No way!  We're staying here!  He explained, I don't care, I can live in either place".  After some months I never saw him so they apparently solved their problem. 
With one foot in the old Heimat and the other in a new, far different challenging home, there would have been more then enough opportunity for family discord, not just for him but among the relatives John  lived with. 
These questions aside, Moore has demonstrated the possibilities to reconstruct the relationships among Banaters locally as they settle in a New World locality.  It is easy enough to pick out the Banaters from the U. S. census since they speak German but come from Hungary.  This leads to their records in the passenger ship manifests.  A surprising number of Banater family trees can be found in Ancestry and Family Search.  These can be fleshed out and verified with data from the appropriate Family books which are increasingly available. The details can be built up to provide a picture of the process of the formation of a new Banat community.  This would be impractical for a large place like Chicago or New York but could be work with more modest places like Mansfield, Ohio, Wyandotte, Mich or Harrisburg, Penn.  

Dave Dreyer
  


Shannon Frauenhoffer
 

Dave,

Thank you for bringing this book to light. My husband’s paternal great grandfather immigrated to St. Louis from St. Hubert. He tragically died from influenza during the outbreak in 1918, at the age of 27, leaving behind two very young children. The family knows very little about him and his traditions so I will be interested to read this book. This group has been a tremendous and invaluable help during my journey to learn more about my husband’s family.

Shannon Frauenhoffer


On Jun 5, 2021, at 11:32 PM, Dave Dreyer <ddreyer@...> wrote:



With thanks to my coauthor, Josette Hatter, I recently received a copy of the newly published work entitled "The names of John Gergen"----subtitled "Immigrant Identities in the Early Twentieth-Century St. Louis", by Benjamin Moore (2021, Univ of Missouri Press, $50).   The work tracks the life of an infant, John, born in Gr St Nikolaus. who was brought by his father to St Louis.  The kid was shortly returned to the Banat in the care of a relative and, in turn, back to St Louis by his mother with his two siblings..  The three siblings were left in the care of extended family members (mainly from Billed) and their mother more or less disappears from the picture.
The author carefully documents these events using American records, as well as discussions of  the nature of the Banat community of St Louis in which John  grows up, especially the education system and how it accommodates the German immigrant community.  There is no direct evidence of how John feels about the institutions which shape his development in his new home.  
The author apparently ignores the rich trove of Banat records available from the German Banat community in Germany which would allow some judgement on comparison with that in St Louis.  Did they still celebrate the Kirchwieh, did anyone bring their Tracht to the New World, was Sunday afternoon card playing an institution among the older men?  Among the Banat resources would be the Heimat books which have been published for most Banat localities.   The HOGs of Banat are another possible source of background information.  Many HOGs publish an annual "Kalender". The Billed "Billeder Heimatblatt" is an especially beautifully illustrated and produced annual publication of almost 200 pages.  Between the 2018 and 2019 issues one can count about a half dozen Gergen families as Billed HOG members. What might they have contributed to the story? 
Moore's work likely will be of special interests to St Louis Banaters.
It is not obvious what conclusions the author has drawn from his study.  The frequent changes of address in the same St Louis neighborhood suggest some degree of domestic turmoil.  In short, a stark account of the reviewers experience here in San Mateo will illustrate the problem.  A German immigrate friend (not a Banater) once remarked to me, "My life is such a mess.  My wife is unhappy here and wants to return to Germany.,  My kids say, No way!  We're staying here!  He explained, I don't care, I can live in either place".  After some months I never saw him so they apparently solved their problem. 
With one foot in the old Heimat and the other in a new, far different challenging home, there would have been more then enough opportunity for family discord, not just for him but among the relatives John  lived with. 
These questions aside, Moore has demonstrated the possibilities to reconstruct the relationships among Banaters locally as they settle in a New World locality.  It is easy enough to pick out the Banaters from the U. S. census since they speak German but come from Hungary.  This leads to their records in the passenger ship manifests.  A surprising number of Banater family trees can be found in Ancestry and Family Search.  These can be fleshed out and verified with data from the appropriate Family books which are increasingly available. The details can be built up to provide a picture of the process of the formation of a new Banat community.  This would be impractical for a large place like Chicago or New York but could be work with more modest places like Mansfield, Ohio, Wyandotte, Mich or Harrisburg, Penn.  

Dave Dreyer
  


 

Thank you for the info   I'll order a copy of this book.  My Mercydorf family came to St. Louis in 1904. The men  had been back and forth working in the electrical and train-car building and finishing trades, before finally making the move with the entire family.  Half the family settling in St. Louis and others received land grants in Alabama as farmers.   They were the community in St. Louis, catholic Churches but German and Hungarian.  St. Louis had it sections of immigrants, The Bevo area being Predominantly German and Hungarian, The Czech Hall, a Spanish Society, and "The Hill", Italian.  Many Banat names were the founders of great companies, Anheuser, Bensinger, Schnuck, Schuh, Bayer. 
As a child I remember going to the Strassen Fest and doing the Polka - everyone was so happy to be there with friends and relatives. 
I try to imaging picking up and moving to another country and not speaking the language.  It was a leap of faith for all of them. Anyone who has ever done this can truly appreciate the sacrifice.   It is enlightening. 
Thanks again Dave for bringing this book to our attention.    Julie Karner (Kraus) 
--
Julie Karner Menendez
Searching for information on The Kraus, Cserszy, Reich, Gyeppo from Mercydorf 

Pinehurst North Carolina


Dave Dreyer
 

Julie;

You focused on a point which I found very disappointing in the Gergen book.  There was no hint in the book of the characteristic leisure aspects in the lives of St Louis Banaters.  Although life was not all strudel and blast Kapellas, beer gardens probably with dancing, must also have been a big factor in the life German communities.  It is hard to imagine Banater life without the same social aspects of German life in St Louis as were found the Banat communities of the Heimat.  There was also no discussion of the typical self help organizations which were a feature of German ethnic communities.
I have a feeling that, in spite of the careful research, Moore has little association with ethnic Germans and possibility cannot read German thus missing any literature which was not available in English.

Dave Dreyer


On Sunday, June 6, 2021, 06:35:44 AM PDT, Julie Karner <julie.karner@...> wrote:


Thank you for the info   I'll order a copy of this book.  My Mercydorf family came to St. Louis in 1904. The men  had been back and forth working in the electrical and train-car building and finishing trades, before finally making the move with the entire family.  Half the family settling in St. Louis and others received land grants in Alabama as farmers.   They were the community in St. Louis, catholic Churches but German and Hungarian.  St. Louis had it sections of immigrants, The Bevo area being Predominantly German and Hungarian, The Czech Hall, a Spanish Society, and "The Hill", Italian.  Many Banat names were the founders of great companies, Anheuser, Bensinger, Schnuck, Schuh, Bayer. 
As a child I remember going to the Strassen Fest and doing the Polka - everyone was so happy to be there with friends and relatives. 
I try to imaging picking up and moving to another country and not speaking the language.  It was a leap of faith for all of them. Anyone who has ever done this can truly appreciate the sacrifice.   It is enlightening. 
Thanks again Dave for bringing this book to our attention.    Julie Karner (Kraus) 
--
Julie Karner Menendez
Searching for information on The Kraus, Cserszy, Reich, Gyeppo from Mercydorf 

Pinehurst North Carolina