Our ancestors came to America for different reasons. Some came seeking riches to be made from the great gold rush in California or seeking religious/political freedom or to own their own land by homesteading. Whatever their reason for coming, they were following the American Dream. According to Wikipedia online: The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Modern day immigrants are still coming here to better themselves and their families.
JoAn McBride of St. George tells us of her ancestor’s dream of a better life that brought them from Germany to Russia then to America. I come from a long line of carpenters…carpenters and farmers that go back to the Hessian area of Germany and possibly Austria before that. In Norka, Russia, there is still a Spady bridge built by my great grandfather. One hundred years before my four year old grandmother came to America in 1887, Catherine the Great of Russia (herself being originally German) invited any German people to come to Russia that wanted a house and land and could farm on the plains and steps of the Volga River. She would guarantee them freedom to keep their own language and continue to be German, never getting Russian citizenship, and never needing to join the Russian military.
Those ancestors that came to Russia built the little town of Norka on the Volga River, but living in Russia was hard. There were wolves and Mongolian bandits, along with very cold temperatures, and hard labor. The Russian people resented the German people. Years after Catherine the Great, her grandson came to power. He ruled that all Germans must speak Russian, become Russian, and join the military to protect the country or leave. Many or most of the Germans left Russia. My grandmother came to America with her father, mother, and five brothers and sisters. The youngest was only 11 months old. They arrived New York June 4, 1887 on the ship S.S. Ems, coming from Bremen. My grandparents worked the land in Nebraska and helped build the railroads. Yet, they are still carpenters at heart and several by trade. Carpentry has been passed down generation after generation in our family to this day.NEXT TIME: Becoming an American.