People of Allen County, Indiana

German Heritage in Allen County, Indiana

June 17, 1918 News Sentinel

February 25, 1919 Indiana Governor James P. Goodrich signed into law State Senator Franklin McCray's anti-German language act, which forbade elementary schools from teaching the language.

The Enemy Alien Registration Files created by the Fort Wayne Police Department in 1918 was a four page form titled "United States of America, Department of Justice, Registration Affidavit of Alien Enemy." Search for names from the forms in the Genealogical Records of German Families of Allen County, Indiana, 1918 Index at The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Read more in The Alien Enemies Act of 1917 A disturbing chapter in the history of Allen County nearly wiped out the city’s rich German heritage by Jim Sack published August 8, 2016 and again November 5, 2018 in the Fort Wayne Reader. Some background information is at The WWI Home Front: War Hysteria & the Persecution of German-Americans on Authentic Alien Registration Records 23-page report.

German immigrants had been settling in Fort Wayne and the surrounding region since the 1830s, in the days of the Wabash and Erie Canal. The Germans had established churches and had taken their places in political, social and economic life.

By the 1890s, the Chicago Tribune typically characterized Fort Wayne as "a most German town" whenever it reported the news here. Three daily German-language newspapers were hawked in Fort Wayne; the mayor, Charles Zollinger, was a German immigrant, as were most City Council members; and German breweries such as the Berghoff offered some of the finest beer in the Midwest. German was the language commonly used in church sermons and classroom lessons, and it was the most often-heard tongue on the streets. German clubs of every type and description, from the brotherhoods of veterans of the Kaiser's army to the sports clubs and singing fraternities, were the staple of Fort Wayne social life. There even was a Germania Park on the east bank of the St. Joe River. (Today it is a housing development).

Copied from CITYSCAPES World War II camp had impact on city by MICHAEL HAWFIELD from the archives of The News-Sentinel.

By 1890, more than 1,000 German newspapers were being published in the United States. Read more on Chronicling America’s Historic German Newspapers and the Growth of the American Ethnic Press by Leah Weinryb Grohsgal published July 2, 2014 on National Endowment for the Humanities.

For people in Fort Wayne, World War I was fought on two fronts: against Kaiser Germany in Europe and against themselves at home. Between 60 and 70 percent of Allen County's population was of German descent during the war years of 1914 to 1919. But even strength in numbers couldn't protect them from the effects of wartime propaganda and pressures of Anglo-cultural conformity. Before the war, German was the primary language in the homes, churches and parochial schools of these German-American settlers. Many street signs were in German. (Main Street, for instance, was Haupt Strasse.) A large portion of local industry and commercial enterprises had at its roots German tooling and emigres. (An entire German town was moved to Fort Wayne when Wayne Knitting Mills opened.) Mayors, judges, firefighters and other community leaders had strong German ties. Social and sporting clubs and Germania Park in St. Joseph Township provided outlets to engage in traditional German activities. Copied from WWI altered the German accent of Allen County by Cynthia Moothart O'Bannon in 1910-1919: THE INDUSTRIALIZATION ERA of The News-Sentinel newspaper. Also found as The Germans of Fort Wayne, Indiana prior to WW1 on German American National Congress.

Still need to read the 153 page THE 1901 FORT WAYNE, INDIANA CITY ELECTION: A POLITICAL DIALOGUE OF ETHNIC TENSION by Nancy Eileen Brown published as her Master’s Thesis in May 2013.

Registration of German alien enemies by United States. Dept. of Justice Publication date 1918

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The Registration of Alien Enemies in The pictorial history of Fort Wayne, Indiana : a review of two centuries of occupation of the region about the head of the Maumee River by Griswold, B. J. (Bert Joseph), 1873-1927; Taylor, Samuel R., Mrs, publication date 1917, page 582, The Registration of Alien Enemies.

1940-1949: IN THE SHADOW OF WAR German POWs curious but non-threatening Prisoner of war by Bob Caylor of The News-Sentinel newspaper. See Camp Scott for more information.

The 1980 Federal Census ranked Indiana ninth among the 50 states in the number of people claiming German ancestry. (p 147 Peopling Indiana - sourc p177) Need more recent research.

German ancestry is claimed by a majority of Americans in 2000. Germans were attracted to America for open tracts of land, religious freedom and their contributions to the nation included establishing the first kindergartens, Christmas trees, hot dogs and hamburgers. From The map that shows where America came from: Fascinating illustration shows the ancestry of EVERY county in the US September 2, 2013 on

  1. German-American National Bank (1906) - in 1918 during World War I became Lincoln National Bank, in 1990's became part of Norwest Bank, then in 1998 merged to become Wells Fargo Bank.
  2. Following the end of World War I, in February and March 1919 the Indiana legislature passed two laws banning German from being taught in any public, private or parochial schools. Read more on September 27, 2013 Friday Fact on Indiana Genenealogical Society on Facebook.

German Language Newspapers

  1. Genealogy Librarian Allison DePrey Singleton of the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center provided information about German-language newspapers in Fort Wayne not mentioned on new state historical marker on German-language newspapers published October 16, 2017 in The News-Sentinel newspaper. The Genealogy Center has a year or so of Freie Press - Staats-Zeitung July 1, 1926 - January 29, 1927 on their Newspapers On Microfilm page. This was in reponse to October 6, 2017 when a new state Marker Dedication: German Newspapers' Demise located at 41 S. Delaware St. in Indianapolis by the Indiana Historical Bureau was about the demise of German-language newspapers during WWI. The Täglicher Telegraph und Tribüne were published near there before it was forced to close in 1918.
    1. Der Deutsche Beobachter von Indiana: This paper was probably founded in 1843. It is claimed to be Indiana’s first German language newspaper, page 17 of THE 1901 FORT WAYNE, INDIANA CITY ELECTION: A POLITICAL DIALOGUE OF ETHNIC TENSION by Nancy Eileen Brown published as her Master’s Thesis in May 2013. There is some question as to whether it was actually printed.
    2. Die Zeitung or Deutscb Zeitung: It was established in 1856 and two years later merged with another paper whose name is not known.
    3. Der Ft. Wave Denwhat: This paper was founded in 1856 and issued irregularly.
    4. Indiana Staatszeitung: It was founded in 1857 and in 1908 combined with Die Freie Presse. It was a tri-weekly issued in the interest of the Democratic party. Die Freie Presse ceased publication in 1926.
    5. Indiana Volksfreund: This was a weekly Republican paper established in 1871.
    6. Der Anzeiger: No date of the establishment of this paper was found. The Fort Wayne Daily News of Nov. 11, 1874, stated that it was being moved to Grand Rapids, Mich.
    7. Das Ft. Wayne Tageblatt: This was a daily Republican paper founded in February 1876.
    8. Der Wteltbürger: This was a Catholic paper founded in 1883.
    9. Die Ft. Wayne Freie Presse: This was a daily paper founded in 1888, which ceased publication in 1926.
    10. Die Abendpost: It was a daily paper founded in 1908, which merged with Die Freie Presse.
    11. Dm Botschaftec: It reportedly was a monthly religious paper founded in 1909.
  2. September 18, 2017 photos of local Freie Presse-Staats Zeitung newspaper posted on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Closed group on Facebook.
  3. The Chicago Tribune in 1893 declared Fort Wayne "a most German town" from the long article WWI altered the German accent of Allen County by Cynthia Moothart O'Bannon of The News-Sentinel newspaper.
  4. The Disappearance of the German Language Press In Indianapolis And Throughout the United States During 1917 and 1918 published June 1, 2012 under Newspaper Histories Indiana Tribune on Hoosier State Chronicles.

Fort Wayne Männerchor/Damenchor

Website: Their About pages states: On October 4, 1869 the first German male chorus, established by German immigrants, was organized in Fort Wayne under the name of the Fort Wayne Sangerbund. Since its origin the chorus has been dedicated to the preservation and promotion of their German heritage as expressed in choral music. Eventually, there were eight singing societies in the city: the Sangerbund, Eintracht, Concordia, Teutonia, Germania, Frohsinn, Lieder Tafel, and the Manner Gesangverein. In 1899 these eight choruses combined under the name of Concordia Gesangverein, which consolidated with the Saxonia Gesangverein in 1922. Four years later this consolidation became the Fort Wayne Männerchor. A Ladies’ Auxiliary was organized in 1938, but the ladies only began singing in 1974. In 1997 they became full members of the chorus and it became known as the Fort Wayne Männerchor/Damenchor. The Indiana German Heritage Society states Fort Wayne is "Indiana’s second largest city. Part of its growth stems from Fort Wayne actively recruiting Germans with skills needed by area industries. By the late 1800’s approximately 80% of the population was German! Fort Wayne remains a stoutly German city with about 50% of the residents claiming German ancestry. The Fort Wayne Männerchor/Damenchor Is the second oldest German Singing society in Indiana. It seeks to preserve and promote German choral music. It still sings all of its music in German. German's believe that physical fitness leads to a sound mind. This is the basis for the Fort Wayne Turners Society. They have a planned recreational and social program for all members of a family. The Fort Wayne Sport Club was started in 1927. The members were soccer players who had come from Germany to Fort Wayne. The Sport Club today continues its soccer program and includes German culture in their social events." See also Choir celebrates 150 years of German tradition by Megan Knowles -published March 25, 2019 on

Henry Rudisill was one of the most influential people in encouraging German immigrants to come and stay in Fort Wayne. Read about more than Germanfest in More than Legs and Lederhosen by Carmen Doyle published June 18, 2014 in History Center Notes & Queries blog.

The popular Germanfest started in 1981 as a project to bring a German cultural festival to Fort Wayne according to Fort Wayne Männerchor/Damenchor who since 1936 has participated in district conferences involving approximately 350 singers which are held each year in April or May maintaining a German singing tradition which dates to October 4, 1869. German Heritage Society formed in 1986 to promote German heritage and culture in Fort Wayne, to keep German traditions alive in “this most German city” and was instrumental in establishing our Sister City relationship with Gera, Germany.

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Becoming American at from Journal of German-American Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1 (1980), 9-18.

Sister Cities program with Gera, Germany started June 6, 1992, Plock, Poland in March 1990, and Takaoka, Japan in 1977. "The National program for Sister Cities International was created in 1956 by President Eisenhower to foster citizen diplomacy and create a more peaceful world. Fort Wayne Sister Cities International, Inc. (FWSCI) was established in 1976 and organized in 1983 as an Indiana 501(c) (3) Corporation, and is affiliated with Sister Cities International, based in Washington, D.C." From City of Fort Wayne. They also have a Facebook page.

1851 Constitution of the State of Indiana
10% were printed in German

November 1, 1851, On this day in Indiana History, 1851, the new Indiana Constitution goes into effect. A little know fact found on last page of the history pdf is 10% of the copies were printed in German! Indiana Constitution The Indiana Historian "Before the convention adjourned, it ordered 50,000 copies of the Constitution printed in English and 5,000 copies printed in German (Dunn, 496). The new Constitution was also published in many newspapers throughout the state. (Barnhart and Carmony, Indiana, 99)" Posted by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook.

Gesetze des Staates Indiana : passirt in der Extra-Sitzung ... Indiana flip book from HathiTrust.

FRIDAY FACT: Because of Indiana's large population of German immigrants, in March 1879 the Indiana legislature passed a law allowing legal notices to be published in German-language newspapers, in addition to English-language newspapers. From December 20, 2013 Facebook post by Indiana Genealogical Society.

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In 1897, at Robinson Park on the north side of Fort Wayne on German Day, 10,000 people came for a singing competition. Mentioned in City Scapes Trolley whisked thrill-seekers to park June 20, 1994 by Michael Hawfield from the archives of The News-Sentinel.

December 24, 1909 Fort Wayne News had a Christmas dividend check newspaper advertisement from the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook. Lincoln National Bank and Trust was chartered as The German American National Bank in 1905. Their 1906 book has officer photos and details on has examples of German-American National Bank of Fort Wayne National Currency Notes. During World War I, anti-German sentiment was running high and therefore on May 31, 1918, the German American National Bank became Lincoln National Bank. From Wikipedia.

A 6 page article by Clifford H. Scott, Hoosier Kulturkampf: AngloGerman Conflicts in Fort Wayne, 1840-1920 in Journal of German-American Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1 (1980), 9-18 .

In April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. German was the second most commonly spoken language in America. Read a national level perspective in America’s war on language by Dennis Baron published September 17, 2014 on Oxford Dictionaries blog.

February 17, 1919 three months after the armistice that ended World War I, the Hoosier State became one of fourteen states to ban the teaching of German to children, a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment. WHEN INDIANA BANNED THE GERMAN LANGUAGE IN 1919 by Stephen J. Taylor published August 26, 2015 in the Indiana Historic Newspaper Digitization, Labor History, World War I on Hoosier State Chronicles - Indiana's Digital Historic Newspaper Program.

Where is/was Germania Park? March 24, 2014 on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook

Look for "Fort Wayne German-Americans in World War I: A cultural flu epidemic," written by Clifford Scott, associate professor of history at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

The Lincoln Tower is one of tallest buildings in Fort Wayne and had a big German Immigrant influence in its formation. Construction of the Lincoln Tower started less than a month before the stock market crash of October 1929 that signaled the beginning of the Great Depression. Completed in November 1930, the 312-foot Tower was for many years Indiana's tallest building. From the Lincoln Tower plaque on

A City of Immigrants: a brief overview of immigrants in Fort Wayne through 1920 published December 19, 2011 in the History Center Notes & Queries blog.

German Clubs

  1. The Fort Wayne Männerchor/Damenchor is the second oldest German Singing society in Indiana, founded in 1869 by immigrants who wanted to preserve and foster the tradition of German choral music.
  2. The Fort Wayne Sport Club grew out of the German's love of soccer. In 1927, the club was started by the many soccer players who came to this area from Germany after WWI.
  3. The Fort Wayne Turners were organized in 1865 as the Turnverein, with a focus on gymnastics. Today the Turners have many physical education and civic programs, as well as many social events.German believe that physical fitness leads to a sound mind.
  4. Germanfest began in 1981 formed from the 4 local German organizations. Jim Sack started the festival as well as founding the German Heritage Society and the Gera-Fort Wayne Sister City program from his August 2019 email.
  5. The German Heritage Society formed in 1986 to promote German heritage and culture in Fort Wayne. Sponsors many cultural events, provides scholarships to study German, and promotes travel to Germany. Was instrumental in establishing our Sister City relationship with Gera, Germany. The GHS goal is to keep German traditions alive in "this most German city".
  6. Indiana German Heritage Society - states "By the late 1800’s approximately 80% of the population was German! Fort Wayne remains a stoutly German city with about 50% of the residents claiming German ancestry."

Fort Wayne is a city where Embassy Theatre’s Grande Page pipe organ is practically a local celebrity and where scores of people drive from church to church just to hear their outstanding pipe organs demonstrated as part of “Follow the Pipes” during the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival. The Rev. Paul Grime, dean of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Kramer Chapel at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, traces part of that interest to the city’s German Lutheran roots. It’s a denomination that spawned arguably the most virtuosic organ composer in history, Johann Sebastian Bach, and in which traditional hymn-singing still plays a central role in worship. Quote from the newspaper article Instrument has many local fans by Rosa Salter Rodriguez of The Journal Gazette newspaper on February 7, 2013.

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