Lives and Letters of an Immigrant Family: The Van Dreveldts' by Kenneth Kronenberg

By Kenneth Kronenberg

Anton and Theodor van Dreveldt grew up in Emmerich, Prussia, because the sons of a Catholic priest and his housekeeper—a scenario their father attempted to conceal by way of featuring himself as their uncle. As younger males, either Anton and Theodor came upon their lives more and more stricken. Anton drank seriously, and Theodor’s occupation used to be jeopardized via his participation in a banned political association. those issues, mixed with becoming Prussian authoritarianism, resulted in their self reliant emigrations to the USA, Theodor in 1844 and Anton in 1849.Theodor, affected by malaria and monetary problems, again to Germany, yet Anton and his son Bernhard, who emigrated after Theodor’s go back, remained. This separation helped produce a notable physique of correspondence describing the van Dreveldts’ frequently relationships with one another, their fatherland, and the United States. Their letters examine the age-old tribulations of Europe opposed to the promise and demanding situations of a brand new nation. The van Dreveldts’ stories offer a desirable glimpse into the complexities of immigrant existence.

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Extra resources for Lives and Letters of an Immigrant Family: The Van Dreveldts' Experiences along the Missouri, 1844-1866

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Further probing elicited the explanation that American rabbits were the size of a calf. I'm sure my eyes must have bulged. In any case, the memory has stayed with me all these years. "Little Charley" came through Emmerich during the summer of 1936 on his way to Baden-Baden. It was my birthday, and he gave me three dollars. I coveted them like a rare treasure, even though the Nazis forbade possession of foreign currency. During the war, my "treasure" burned along with my parents' house. Like many young Germans, I read James Fenimore Cooper's rather Page x misleading stories about the American frontier.

The French tried as much as possible to keep those Prussian bureaucrats in their administration who could adapt to the French system, which resulted in lingering liberalization in the region even after Napoleon was gone. The esteem in which Napoleon was held can be gauged by the fact that even after his death, his portrait was not uncommon in German homes along the Rhine. Napoleon's dictatorial power can also be seen in his road building policy. By fiat Napoleon created a system of ruler-straight roads "from church spire to church spire" that greatly facilitated travel and commerce as well as troop movements.

Most townspeople spoke Low German; the upper classes preferred High German and French. The Provost told the children that he was their uncle and Gertruida their Aunt Truijke. This fiction was carried on for years. Nevertheless, the older two children, at least, had to endure endless teasing from schoolmates who ran after them calling them "Pröpstkes" (provostlets), which would seem to indicate that the townspeople suspected the truth. Presumably, this caused the children some insecurities about their parentage.

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