Washington County, Illinois

Return to : Washington County

Book Review
furnsihed by : Carolyn Bening

Udo Thöerner's History of Lutheran Immigration
from Venne, Germany to America
Udo Thörner, trans. Rosalie Horstman Haines.
Venne in America: The historical account of the emigration from a Lower Saxony Village in Germany to the Americas in the 19th century, 2008.

In his preface to Venne in America, Udo Thöerner, historian and genealogist from Venne, Germany, explains that he wanted to record stories of the "little people [who] each singularly accomplished just as much as so many [big] persons of history." Venne in America portrays the 19th century mass emigration from a village in Germany's Osnabrück region to America of primarily landless tenants, or Heuerlings, the "little people" who made up 80% of the immigrants.

According to immigration expert, Dr. Wolfgang Grams, no comprehensive documentation of a German village has before been published which discusses both the overall development of the factors contributing to emigration as well as documenting so completely the individual fates of the participants.

Therefore, this study exemplifies not solely Venne, but most of the rural settlements in Northwest Germany. Thoerner's well-documented work is supported by numerous photos, charts, maps, and immigrant anecdotes. In the first part, the author details the causes of emigration, found mainly in the poverty and overpopulation, but also in the end of the linen industry, the revolution in 1848, the famine years, and the marriage laws.

In the section "The Voyage," Thoerner focuses on the organization, financing, and the difficulties of the emigration journey. The author then focuses on specific immigrant settlements in the US: Venedy and Southern Illinois; Pittsburgh and Allegheny City, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; Cincinnati and the Black Swamp settlements in Ohio; villages in Jackson County and throughout Indiana; Richfield, Iowa; and St. Louis, Kansas City, and Holstein, Missouri.

Throughout the book, Thöerner profiles the biographies of numerous immigrant families: their occupations, church and home life, illnesses and deaths, and reasons for migration. The appendix lists spouses, birth dates, immigration year, and destination for over 2000 Venne emigrants, an invaluable aid for genealogists.

Reviewed by Dr. Adolf E. Schroeder, Professor Emeritus German Studies, University of Missouri, Venne in America is called a "valuable and welcome contribution to the history of German emigration to the United States, providing unique insight into the economic, political, and social conditions in nineteenth century Hanover." The English edition of Venne in America was published in the fall of 2008, nine months prior to Thöerner's untimely death at the age of 44 in July 2009.


See Thöerner's website   [http://www.venne-families.de/]   for history of Venne and a list of emigration surnames.

For more information about this 323-page paperback contact :
The Hamilton County Chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society,
Hamilton County Chapter's website   [http://hcgsohio.org/]
P.O. Box 15865,
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215.


© 2010     Wayne Hinton

Return to : Washington County