Gerry Bade and Pat
Harrington Bade's Family
History Web Site
& Crowley Families (in part)
This web site is dedicated to my immigrant ancestors to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude. Without them, I would not have been fortunate enough to be born in the greatest country on earth. All of my ancestors came from Germany and ultimately settled in or passed through Bremer County, Iowa. I wanted to find out as much as I could about them - where they came from, what their lives were like, why they left Germany, how they got here, and how they fared in the 'Promised Land'.
I am humbled every time I think of the hardships these people endured in search of their dreams - dreams of owning land when they could not in Germany; dreams of working for themselves when in Germany they were lucky if they had work at all; dreams of being free to associate with whomever they pleased, to worship however they wished, and to marry whomever they wanted. And not only that, but as naturalized citizens they (the men at least) could actually choose their representatives at all levels of government. It must have been dazzling to these poor peasants who knew nothing like it at home.
They left their families and friends and everything they knew to come to a strange land with strange customs and a strange language they didn’t understand. They tended to settle together in communities of other Germans, often from the same villages they had departed. There they could associate with like minded people who spoke their language. They continued many of the customs they knew in the old country. They published newspapers in German. They conducted their church services in German. The had German-style social organizations like the Scheutzenverein (shooting clubs) and Turnverein (gymnastic clubs). Their children, of course, learned English in school but spoke German with their families at home. They may have been ridiculed by non-German residents as being backward or ‘dutchy’.
During two world wars many Germans were persecuted, or, at least, looked at with suspicion as if they might support their home country against the United States; even though most of them had renounced Germany and had become naturalized citizens and even fought in these wars against their country of origin. In 1918, Governor William Harding of Iowa ordered what was called the "Babel Proclamation" , requiring all Iowans to speak only English in public. The proclamation banned all situations in which German would be spoken in public, including church services, or would appear in written form such as in newspapers. The government even had telephone operators listen in to private calls because of fear of threats against the government or private citizens. In Davenport, Iowa, Secret Service agents guarded the bridges to Arsenal Island and if people failed to salute the American Flag, they were forced to kiss it (Quad City Times, 5/2/2010), and 27 teachers were summarily fired for the crime of teaching German.
The first war with Germany likely precipitated their desire to lose their ethnic identity and by the third generation they became fully absorbed into American culture. Although many stayed at home and continued to work the land their ancestors first settled, many moved away throughout the country in search of an even better life, attending colleges, meeting people of all ethnic backgrounds, intermarrying, and creating this great melting pot that is America. I am one of those and I am grateful to my ancestors for their foresight and fortitude in making the journey.
Researching ones ancestors is difficult at best. However, with the advent of the internet and web sites such as Ancestry.com, IaGenWeb.org, FamilySearch.com, and the generosity of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in sharing their vast repository of genealogical information with anyone who asks, it has become immeasurably easier to track down one’s roots. I’m sure it will become even easier in the future and many of the blanks in the my data can be filled in by other family members. I just hope someone will take an interest in doing so and I’m happy to have provided this beginning to any future efforts.
I must include a special thanks to a total stranger, Paul Natkin of Seattle, Washington, who responded to a message I posted on an internet web site for research in Mecklenburg, Germany. I had asked if anyone could tell me where Bades may be found in that area. He directed me to the Biendorf Evangelical Lutheran Church records and there I found my ancestors living in Biendorf and Büttelkow. This encouraged me to do more searching and I ultimately found many relatives I hadn't known of before. Thank you Paul.
One more thing. I’m sorry to disappoint those family members who would like to think that your ancestors passed through Ellis Island. The fact is that Ellis Island did not become an immigration center until 1892 and all of the ancestors discussed herein arrived earlier than that. If they came through the port of New York between 1855 and 1890, they would have been processed at Castle Garden, an island off the southern tip of Manhattan. I’ve included an interesting article about the immigrant's experiences on reaching our shores. Although I have edited it, it is still rather long.