In a message dated 11/30/2006 6:49:41 P.M. Mountain Standard Time,
So we have three incidents of serious hunger accompanied by some serios
economic problems that were followed by rebellions. The first was small
short, the second followed another year of hunger and a small war and was a
bit more organized. In 1848 after two years of hunger and a terrible
-- the worst conditions since the severe famine in 1816-17, the bubble
finally burst and a serious and prolonged rebellion finally succeeded. I have
sometimes wondered if any of the "agitators" who went out into the
countryside to seek the support or rural populations for that rebellion were some of
the same men who were students who tried to organize a rebellion in 1830.
If I wanted to draw conclusions I would say that the greater the hunger the
more apt the people are to finally rebel!!
Emigration is also associated with these same periods. The famine of
1816-17 sent more than 50,000 Germans from different parts of Europe to dutch
ports seeking ships to America. Only 20,000 succeeded in getting passage and
the others returned to their villages as paupers, often arriving looking like
In 1830 there was another short spurt of emigration and then, in 1848 there
were the "48ers" who represented some of the best talent German-speaking
countries could export. Many of them were responsible for starting the German
organizations that flourished for many years in some American cities.
There really was not much emigration from Bohemia during almost 40 years of
relative peace that followed the battle of Waterloo. The rebellion in
Bohemia in 1848 spread to Vienna and then all of Hungary rebelled, leading to a
war that lasted almost two years.
There were also some groups of people seeking religious freedom who left
Bohemia. As an example, there were 53 families of the "new Jerusalem"
who left Mies with their leader in 1853. About that time men who were
trying to sell emigration began to hold meetings touting the bounty and free land
and other merits of the Americas (they were paid by ships' captains who
wanted passengers or by land agents seeking residents or industries seeking
workers). There was so much interest in those meetings that they were soon
declared illegal bu that did not stop them.
So there was a lot of information out there, even in rural areas, that made
emigration look attractive. There were also a few families who had members
already living in America and doing quite well. Their letters home may have
convinnced more than one other family member to emigrate.
There were some severe economic conditions in all the Austrian lands in the
early 1860s and that was accompanied by pests in rural areas and rinderpest
that hit livestock causing many farmers to lose their farms to money lenders.
The two wars (1864 victorious, 1866 a disaster) were also factors to
Money was hard to come by in rural villages in 1866 and when vitorious
Prussian soldiers showed up demanding payment of war reparations
it cost some peasants almost their last penny.
My great grandfather emigrated in the spring of 1869 after serving in both
wars. I believe he had simply "had enough" after what happened to his
regiment in 1866. He left Bohemia illegally while he was still in the army
reserves. His parents, brother, uncle and his whole family followed the next
year, arriving in July 1870.
Austria made it easier to serve in the army after 1868. Soldiers only had
to serve 3 years of active duty after that but they had to report for reserve
duty every year for nine more years unless they got a discharge. They could
not emigrate legally while still in the reserves. Some commanders were
willing to give a good soldier a discharge so he could emigrate. Other
soldiers just took their chances getting across the border without a passport like
my great grandfather did.
(I have not found a record of my great grandfather's arrival in the US
although I have a ships list for his parents and brother. I did find a record of
his purchase of his first 80 acres in MN in the MN land register in the
Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul. That is how I know he arrived in the
spring of 1869 -- he purchased his land on May 11 of that year.)