German Settlers of South Bend
The story of the first German immigrants to northern Indiana is the story of the beginnings of South Bend. The predominant immigrant group from the 1840s to the 1870s, the Germans helped build South Bend from an isolated trading post into a thriving industrial city. They also played a key role in transforming the surrounding wilderness into fertile farmland. Using first-hand personal accounts and public documents, German Settlers of South Bend illustrates the lives and the impact of these pioneer immigrants.
Through organizations like the Turners and the many music societies, German immigrants played a crucial role in South Bend's culture. As an out of town journalist reported on July 4, 1865, without the Turner parade, its music, and patriotic speeches, "it would have been as quiet and as desolate in the town as in the streets of Pompeii." The immigrants were proud German-Americans, honoring their roots and loving their new home. However, with US entry into World War I in 1917, this changed and many anglicized their German names.
The material has been collected from sources on both sides of the Atlantic, including more than 200 German letters from the 1840s to the 1870s that provide glimpses into the day-to-day lives of these early settlers as well as their families back in Germany. Descendants of immigrants from all over the United States and Germany have come forward with genealogies, stories, and pictures, all helping to paint a far-reaching portrait of the times.
About Gabrielle Robinson (South Bend, Indiana Author)
Gabrielle Robinson was born in Berlin in 1942. After living in cities such as Vienna, London and New York, she has happily settled in South Bend, Indiana, with her husband Mike and their cat Max. She has been inducted into the South Bend Community Hall of Fame and been awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana's highest honor. Gabrielle received her PhD in Modern Drama from the University of London and after many years of university teaching is now Professor Emerita of English.
After writing academic books and articles, Gabrielle has turned to popular culture and local history. She has written about the coffee houses and open air wine bars of Vienna. "German Settlers of South Bend" deals with German immigration in the 1850's which helped build the city. "Better Homes of South Bend: An American Story of Courage" describes how the new arrivals from the South in the 1940's won out over the discrimination they encountered, "Jim Crow in the North," to build homes in a white district and create a vibrant neighborhood.
Gabrielle's most challenging book is the memoir/biography "The Reluctant Nazi." Through diaries she discovered Gabrielle found out that her beloved grandfather had been a member of the Nazi Party. His diaries give a day by day account of the bombing, the fall of Berlin, and the Russian occupation. That story is juxtaposed with Gabrielle trying to come to terms with German guilt, and all our political responsibility.