Section 8: Germans

German immigrants began settling in northern Dakota in the 1870s. Most of these early pioneers came in colonies, or groups of families, and settled in the southeastern corner of the state. Some of the Germans were well educated, whereas others had little education.

Unlike the Scandinavians, the Germans did not share one religion. Some of the Germans were Roman Catholics, while others were Protestants (Praht-is-tents), or non-Catholics. A major Protestant religion was Lutheran, although it was a different form of the Lutheran religion than was practiced by most Scandinavians. The German Lutheran Church was called “Missouri Synod (Sin-ed) Lutheran.”

The Northern Pacific Railroad was involved in developing towns and bringing colonies of immigrants to northern Dakota. New Salem and Hebron are examples of towns begun by German immigrants with the help of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Pioneers could travel to the area by train at a low cost. They could then either homestead or purchase cheap land from the railroad.

German settlements were established in the southwestern, north central, and other parts of the state. Each community kept its German language and customs. The people in the German communities did not really trust outsiders.

Many of the German immigrants moved to towns where they went into business. Anton Klaus arrived in Jamestown in 1878. He was involved in starting so many businesses and played such a role in promoting the city of Jamestown that he was called the “Father of Jamestown.”