My family’s heritage dates back to the early eighteenth-century in a settlement known as Baden-Wurttembert in Southwest Germany; the founders of this region, known as the Rhineland, were composed of Quakers and Mennonites.

From German Village to Rural Illinois

My family’s heritage dates back to the early eighteenth-century in a settlement known as Baden-Wurttembert in Southwest Germany; the founders of this region, known as the Rhineland, were composed of Quakers and Mennonites. It was in the 1730s that my mother’s seventh-generation ancestors, Johann Westhoeffer and Anna Haalin, boarded the Love & Unity ship to Philadelphia on which only 34 passengers, including Johann, managed to survive. Contrary to common belief, Germans immigrated to America for more than just escaping religious persecution; they also came here because of local conflicts such as the Thirty Years War and accounts such as Sauer’s that detailed generous land grants, leading them to believe that immigrating would give them a fresh start, devoid of poverty and violence.