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Although Germans are among Utica's earliest settlers, with some Palatines from Herkimer and points east having moved upriver soon after the conclusion of the War of Independence, they did not become numerous and prominent until the 1850s, when a goodly number of Forty-Eighters and other immigrants primarily from southwestern Germany settled here.
By 1910, Germans constituted the largest ethnic group in Utica and supported several churches, a major newspaper, and many social organizations. World War I was a massive blow to Americans of German descent here as elsewhere in the US. Between 1933 and 1950, this area received its share of fugitives from Hitler's Reich and displaced persons of German stock from central and eastern Europe.
The Utica Maennerchor, founded in 1865, and the F.X. Matt Brewery, dating back to 1888, survive today as vigorous reminders of the major role Germans played in Utica at an earlier time. German entertainment and food is plentiful during the Maennerchor's annual Bavarian Festival in July, and also at St. Joseph's-St. Patrick's German summer picnic. Several area restaurants feature German dishes on their menus, and specialty meat markets complement their lines with substantial German offerings.
Each year, the Maennerchor awards prizes to the best students in German from area schools that still offer the language. Utica College enrolls a number of students from Germany each year. The History Project at Utica College has begun to publish student essays on local German American and other ethnic topics.
In addition to materials in local libraries and historical societies, there are several helpful publications:
- Philp A. Bean, "'Deutschtum' on the Mohawk: Utica's German-American Community,"
Ethnic Utica (2002), pp. 53-75;
- Philip A. Bean, "Germans in Utica: An Exhibition Program"
(Utica College, October 10-November 2, 1990). Catalog,
German Exhibition (Utica College, October 1990);
- Frank Bergmann, "Utica's Germans: A Tricentennial Retrospect,"
Oniota XVIII,2 (October 1983): 3-7;
- Douglas M. Preston and David M. Ellis, "The Ethnic Dimension," The History of Oneida County (Utica 1977), pp. 59-66.
For current German and German American news and links www.germany-info.org
For Maennerchor information and links www.ulster.net\~infoplus\NYSSB.htm
Suggestions for additions, corrections, and listing of current events are welcome.