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Sunday, 05 August 2012


And, as a result of those radical German traditions, you had a Socialist mayor in Milwaukee until 1960, now that's something to be proud of (in my book).

A few generations back (4-8) my ancestors are all English, Welsh or Scots but if I go back far enough there are a lot of Franks (Austria/Germany/France) and Scandinavians. We tend to identify our national origins by our most recent ancestors but it usually isn't that simple.

I know you were just off topic on Milwaukee and it's German background, but you did mention beer, and as an Irish-American, I did not want you to leave your viewing public with the idea that Miller is now just another British owned company.

I have been wrong before, but I believe Miller Brewing* is majority owned by SABMiller, which is now headquartered in London, but formerly it was South African Brewing, in South Africa. The largest owner of SABMiller is Altria, formerly Phillip Morris, Inc., headquartered in Richmond, VA.
Miller Brewing then is in a joint venture with Coors Brewing, and Coors is headquartered in Golden, CO. but the headquarters of the joint venture is based in Chicago, IL. So at the end of the day, I could argue that Miller is probably owned by more US stockholders than any other country, and as you pointed out, is still brewed in Milwaukee. Interestingly, back to the German theme, Miller branded products today are very popular in Germany, where they sell for much higher prices than many local German brews, or the European beers that sell for higher prices than Miller in the USA.

Such is the global market.

It has been said that the Germans were the brewers, and the Irish were the beer salesmen. This has been remarkably true. But now the financiers are Brazilians who are the key owners of the largest brewing company in the world.


* Oh, and while we are still off topic, but in Wisconsin, Fred Miller, whose family owned Miller up to 1973, was a key person in the 1950's in rescuing the Green Bay Packers with the concept of public ownership that continues today. Miller Brewing still owns 4% of the Packers. But of course, the Packers pay no dividends, so it was just a community contribution to help save the Packers in the 1950's. I hope this knowledge does not upset Vikings or Bears fans.


I first heard about the waves of German immigration to North America when I lived in Nova Scotia in the late 90's and I was surprised at the scale of it and how evidence of it was almost completely erased as a result of the two world wars. It struck me as one of the great untold stories of the rise of America, certainly in the old world it barely registers


When I was an adolescent (cough-1960s-cough) Buffalo NY harbored remnants of its once thriving German culture. There were still shops on the north side of the city where speaking English was tolerated but not preferred. All that disappeared by the 1970s with the suburban diaspora, America's cultural Cuisinart. The last local German heritage Brewery (Koch's) went under around the same time.

We've definitely lost a little bit of cultural variety; it's hard to find more than one German restaurant in a mid-sized northeastern city any more. On the other hand, it's great that folks are a little less obsessed with knowing which European country your ancestors came from before you're permitted to date their daughter. It'll be nice when such tolerance extends to everyone from everywhere. It's coming, of course. My kids genuinely don't understand why it should ever be an issue.

As a kid in the '50s in Wisconsin, I had friends whose grandparents still spoke German or Dutch, but none of my friends could understand more than a few words. By then we were speaking television English. But we still sang Christmas carols in school in German.

However, not sure if you were being sarcastic about "Wisconsin's progressive political traditions" since it includes the American Bund, the New Order, the John Birch Society and McCarthyism.

In addition to the peoples you identified both the Irish and French were represented. My Grandfather was born in Wausakee in 1888, and the lovely Melinda Beaudin who was to become my Grandmother was born the same year in Greenbay. They grew up together in Sagola MI where my G Grandfather had built a mill.

I bet some of your local radio stations play a lot of polkas....

"I bet some of your local radio stations play a lot of polkas...."

Tom V,
I'm not sure if it still exists (probably crushed under the ClearChannel steamroller with everything else), but until quite recently we had a radio station that played only polkas.


I'd heard that the Irish had been the most politically powerful ethnic group in Milwaukee until the Lady Elgin sank in 1860 taking a large chunk of Milwaukee's Irish-American power base with it. There seems to be something to it:


Vas you efer in Zinzinnati?

This is the downside of the old "melting pot" idea which then opposed with movements such as "back to the roots" decades later.

I prefer concept of countries like Canada where heritage cultures are valued as nations' enrichment.

My wife's mother born in 1911 in East Lansing Michigan spoke only German in the house until the outbreak of WW I when the family began speaking only English so as to not provoke their Anglo neighbors... Until her death in 1996 she could still understand the language and to this day the family still says the Christmas prayer over dinner in German.

Me? I'm Irish and while I love my pints of Guinness anytime I can get them, there is no denying the Germans know their way around a brewery.

Texas was also partly settled by Germans. Sounds like we could have used a few more.

Germans also settled in large numbers in Central Texas and Mexico--places where the brewing tradition continued. There are numerous famous small breweries located in Texas and several well known brands coming from Mexico with their roots in German and Czech brewing tradtions. The Central Texas Hill Country continues to have a large German and Czech population with the German language routinely spoken by some of the older residents. The German influence is also noted in the music. The polka influence is there in the use of the accordion in the Mexican music and the polka can also be heard in Western Swing, aka Texas Swing.

My German heritage (and my taste for beer) is from my father's side of the family. While no one ever related much of the family history, my great grandfather and his wife apparently settled in my home state of Louisiana during one of those periods of Germanic immigration during the 1800s. I've thought it likely that their original destination was in the Central Texas region but they changed their minds and put down roots along the way.

Very interesting. I was really surprised by what I found about this issue some months ago, since for most people in my country the anglo-saxon is supposed to be the main foreign ancestry in USA, but the following map confirms what you say now in your post: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Census-2000-Data-Top-US-Ancestries-by-County.svg

Turns out I have a connection with both Schmidts and Milwaukee.
As an adolescent, I had to wear a neck-to-hip orthopedic contraption named the Milwaukee brace, coloquially known as cervico-thoraco-lumbo-sacral orthosis, 23 hours a day, from age 14 to 18.
Sure enough, it was invented in 1946 by a Milwaukee MD named Albert C. Schmidt, together with one Walter Blount MD, also of Milwaukee.
It probably saved my spine. It surely wrecked my teenage years.

This was maybe ten years ago, but I remember reading around then that people of Germanic origin comprised the largest ethnic group (if you can call it that) in the United States.

"Very interesting. I was really surprised by what I found about this issue some months ago, since for most people in my country the anglo-saxon is supposed to be the main foreign ancestry in USA"

The predominant national/ethnic groups in America in Colonial times were 1. English, 2. Irish, 3. German, 4. African-American (lumping all those of African descent together). In 2000 it was the same groups, but in a different order: 1. German, 2. Irish, 3. English, 4. African-American.


Should all be irrelevant today, at least I would hope most moderns Americans could see past the past. I've personally always been a bit unsure of how to describe my EU heritage as my family on my fathers side has been here for 10 generations, ultimately from German roots. On my mother's side for two generations from Scotland. So, I usually say I'm an a American. The EU is pretty much long gone from my roots. :)

I´m married to a German man and I always feel proud of him and I will be proud forever. They are the best people I´ve ever met.My children will continue with this generation from German roots.

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