German Marietta and Washington County Introduction:

"Revolutionary War officers and soldiers of Anglo-Saxon descent founded Marietta, Ohio, in 1788 with the goal of establishing a New England–style town in the frontier of the Northwest Territory. The town developed slowly until a great influx of immigrants, particularly German pioneers, flooded into Washington County during the decades after 1830. The landscape's rolling hills, creeks, and forests drew German farmers to rural areas, while others settled in the cities as shoemakers, brick-makers, leather workers, bakers, brewers, grocers, butchers, carpenters, and dry goods retailers.

Between 1880 and 1920, the population of Marietta nearly tripled, mainly due to German immigration.

By 1905, German merchants dominated the shopping area of the first two blocks of Front Street. Otto Brothers and Strecker Brothers built regionally significant businesses in the developing shopping area of Putnam Street. Germans of Marietta and Washington County also enriched the culture with their musical talents, churches, and participation in civic activities."

Source: German Marietta and Washington County, Jann Adams Kuhn


The first English settlers arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, and were accompanied by the first German American, Dr. Johannes Fleischer. He was followed in 1608 by five glassmakers and three carpenters or house builders. The first permanent German settlement in what became the United States was Germantown, Pennsylvania, founded near Philadelphia on October 6, 1683.

Large numbers of Germans migrated from the 1680s to 1760s, with Pennsylvania the favored destination. They migrated to America for a variety of reasons. Worsening opportunities for farm ownership in central Europe, persecution of some religious groups, and military conscription pushed them to leave. They were drawn to the colonies by better economic conditions, especially the opportunity to own land, and religious freedom.

Often immigrants paid for their passage by selling their labor for a period of years as indentured servants.

Large sections of Pennsylvania, Upstate New York, and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia attracted Germans. Most were Lutheran or German Reformed; many belonged to small religious sects such as the Moravians and Mennonites. German Catholics did not arrive in number until after the War of 1812.



Time line

1732 - The first German-language newspaper, Philadelphische Zeitung, was published in the United States. German publishing flourished in Philadelphia and in smaller communities such as Ephrata, Pennsylvania.

1733 - John Peter Zenger, who came to America as an indentured servant from the Palatinate region of Germany, founded a newspaper, The New-York Weekly Journal; two years later he was acquitted in a landmark trial involving freedom of the press.

1741 - Moravians founded Bethlehem and Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

1742 - Christopher Saur, a German printer in Philadelphia, printed the first Bible in America.

1772 - German American/Native American Protestant Moravian settlements at Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhutten prior to the American Revolution. Rev. David Zeisberger founded both settlements.

1778 - General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian officer, became inspector general of the Continental Army.

1783 - As many as 5,000 of the Hessian soldiers hired by Britain to fight in the Revolutionary War remained in America after the end of hostilities.

1784 - John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) left his village of Waldorf in Germany and arrived in the United States in 1784 with $25 and seven flutes. He amassed a fortune from real estate dealings and the fur trade, and at his death was by far the richest man in the country, worth an estimated $20 million.

1790 - By this date as many as 100,000 Germans may have immigrated to America; they and their descendants made up an estimated 8.6 percent of the population of the United States; in Pennsylvania they accounted for 33 percent of the population; in Maryland for 12 percent.

Timeline Source:


Peters, Bernard, Ohio History Journal: "The German Pioneers"

Andris, James F: The German-American Community of 1875 in Northwest Lawrence Twp., Washington Co., Ohio
Andris, James F: My German-American Ancestors (PDF file)

US WWI Centennial Commission: Are You an “American” or a “Hun”?: Anti-German Hysteria during World War I

Adams, Jann Kuhn: German Marietta and Washington County