Salaman, Redcliffe N., W. G. Burton, and J. G. Hawkes. The History and Social Influence of the Potato. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985. Print.
The History and Social Influence of the Potato was a very helpful and insightful compilation of the potato’s history and its effects on Ireland at the time of my family’s immigration. My maternal Grandfather’s family came over from Ireland in the early nineteenth century. From this book I learned that farming, and the majority of industry were on the decline during that era and there were mass emigrations from Ireland. Because of the decline in the economy, by the start of the nineteenth century “nearly two million Irish natives who were regarded as being surplus to the economic requirements of the country … maintain[ed] an exiguous existence based almost entirely on the potato” (278). My family was part of the Catholic population in Ireland that found wealth in farming before the economic decline. Once the government changed and Catholicism was not favorable, land was quickly lost by my family.
With no land left, and only a daughter to inherit it, my family moved to America in hopes of attaining more land. The only person left to make the decision to immigrate to America was my ancestor who married to be able to travel to America and her first name was not written down, but she later had a daughter named Bridgett McVey who is my great-great-great grandmother. Bridget’s mother had tried to win her land back but being a woman, and a Catholic in Ireland at the time meant that all of her land was taken from her, not that it would have been that profitable considering the famine. My family was not as poor as some because of the farming success in the 1700’s under favorable Catholic rule, and though they were “free to choose a more varied diet, [they] became confirmed potato addicts” (279) which I believe still applies to my family today. In struggle and in success, dishes with potatoes are a staple in my family’s diet.
This book provides a lot of insight and the authors, Redcliffe, Salaman, and Burton did a fantastic job of pairing the economic with the social. This book also contains a lot of things that are not useful to me, there is an 11 page chapter that is very helpful because it is about the time period that my family was emigrating from Ireland. Also the section on the 18th century was helpful in understanding the changing climate of the time. Overall the parts of the book that applied to my family were very useful and will be utilized in helping to explain the push factors for my family’s emigration from Ireland. What this book did not touch on however was the effects of the potato outside of Ireland, and the majority of my ancestors were from other parts of Europe.
Reader, John. Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent. New Haven: Yale UP, 2009. Print.
The book Potato by John Reader was useful in obtaining knowledge about the potato’s worldwide effects. This book was very interesting but it took a lot of reading and searching to obtain useful information. After reading the first book on potatoes I kind of felt like I knew everything there was to know about potatoes, so Reader, the author of Potato, had a lot to prove. He wrote a very interesting book that was entertaining, even if it was at times, unrelated to my topic. A few fun facts about potatoes, in Shakespeare’s time “the potato was believe to be an aphrodisiac… [and] physicians … recommended potatoes” (78). I feel like this quote, and this book in general emphasized the whole purpose of this English 1103 class. Food really does make a huge impact. Because of the importance the potato had, when my family emigrated from Ireland they began farming in the Midwest to grow the crop they knew so well. My maternal line descended from Germany and were also farmers when they arrived, and according to my Grandmother they too grew potatoes for a short period of time until her paternal grandparents moved to Milwaukee to get into industry and real estate.
Potato is at times a very scientific book and so it is a little out of the range of what I’d like to include in my paper. Learning about the scientific genetic modification of the potato was very interesting to me as a genetics major, but not exactly on par for what I’d like to use to describe my family’s lineage. The book gave me very few helpful things, one being its section on the importance of the potato in Germany. With my family coming from so many countries, it was hard to see how my dish, cheesy potatoes, was going to represent the majority of my heritage, German. Potatoes were important in Germany too because “without potatoes Germany could not have become the leading industrial and military power of Europe” (95). The potatoes also depict the rush of immigrants to America from all European countries. During war time potatoes were the easiest food source to get to soldiers along with bread because they were accessible and easy to transport. The importance of potatoes in common homes could be seen as well because many families, even outside of Ireland used the potato as a staple in their diets, it was so cheap in the early 16th century. Even with “the setbacks of famine, warfare, and high infant mortality, the population of Europe was rising steadily throughout the 17th century” (99). Europe could not meet the demands of its growing population and that is why the majority of my ancestors came to America at relatively the same time. Because of the lack of potatoes — among other foods that became unavailable as industry rose, farming declined, and population boomed — there was a mass emigration from all around Europe to find a better place to live. The American dream called my ancestors from all of their respective home countries, and that is in part due to the potato, so “why should it be absurd to suggest that the potato changed the world?”
Blake, William. “Proverbs of Hell.” The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. London: Oxford UP, 1975. 7–10. WordPress. Web. 14 Oct. 2015. <https://thesorcerersapprenticeonline.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/no-24-the-marriage-of-heaven-and-hell1.pdf>.
William Blake compiled a novel called The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and the book had some very useful quotes that I can use as transitions or attention-getters in my project proposal. I find that the quotes, especially in the section “Proverbs of Hell”, apply to my family’s struggles when coming to America. When they emigrated from their homelands, they used up most of their money, and settled in the Midwest hoping to strike farming-gold. Having come from years of prosperity in Ireland when Catholicism was favored, the transition to struggling though the famine and losing all of their land must have been literal hell for my ancestors. The quotes from The marriage of Heaven and Hell are a good depiction of my family’s struggle and how those around them assisted in their farming and success. My favorite quote is “The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest” because my family traded their crops for different crops and goods to be able to feed their family. I know that my maternal great grandfather owned land and sold a plot of it for a years worth of clothes for his 15 children. These stories have been passed down through generations because the struggle that my family experienced when they came to America helped build the foundation for the life I have today. Being a large Catholic family you hear the word “sorry” more times than almost anything else except “thank you”. We are raised to give and not receive so when help is needed we are always very thankful which leads to us always having people willing to help us, so this quote very accurately depicts my family’s values.
The book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell was written in 1793 and it expressed the revolution of the time. Ireland was taken over by England, Germany was at war with a growing population and dwindling supplies, and France lost its recent gain of land. The book represents the change and unstable political climate of the century which was a push factor for my family to move to America. My family has roots in many European countries and yet they all saw promise in America around the same time. The land of religious freedom that would provide bountiful land to farm was very appealing. Coming to a new land “Once meek, and in a perilous path, The just man kept his course along The vale of death. Roses are planted where thorns grow, And on the barren heath Sing the honey bees.” Not only was this book written in the time of my ancestors, I feel like it speaks to their feelings and struggles in their home countries. They came over — most not understanding the weather in Wisconsin at the time — in early spring expecting to be able to begin their farming season. They arrived and found barren land still covered by snow. They truly arrived to thorns. I can see the fruits of their labor today with a family that is larger than ever, and prosperous in love and charity, it is true that “roses were planted where thorns grew”.
The Best Film Archives. “Ellis Island — History of Immigration to the United States (1890–1920)_ Award Winning Documentary.” YouTube. N.p., 20 June 2013. Web. 03 Nov. 2015.
I wanted to know more about the trip and the process that my ancestors went through to get to America, so I looked up the Ellis Island process to know more about their struggles in finding home in the mid-west. This video was not only intriguing but also extremely useful to my project. There were so many things that I am sure I have heard before in school about Ellis Island, but I had forgotten the hardships thousands of people endured to reach the “promise land.” There was a man in the video talking about how everyone on the boat was sea sick and how the boat was detained for a few days on the coast of an island due to waves, how a two week trip turned into a month. He said that the trip almost did not feel worth it until he saw the statue of liberty “you could see it through the fog, everyone went over to the railing, looking in awe, I thought I was in heaven… you had to cry.” While some immigrants experienced short uneventful trips, others were in misery until they arrived in New York “a journey that could last from a week to a month” and there was no telling when you got on the ship if you would even be accepted into America.
Not only was this video informative in regards to immigration, it also helped me identify my past ancestor’s home country. When I had talked with my grandmother about what I found on ancestry.com she was adamant that the site had it incorrect. She said that a part of her family had come over from Poland, not Germany. So I searched and searched and found that the person I had found on ancestry was correct, they boarded in the Homburg ports in Germany in 1898 claiming German lineage. I truly believed that I had solved the puzzle until the documentary began talking about unrest in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Russia from 1880–1920. I learned from the video that there was political unrest and that the police were feared more times than they were trusted. “The government was taking young boys to the army, in a mother’s life time she may not see them again”. Many Polish, Russian and Czechoslovakian families boarded trains to get to a port city, usually Homburg or another port in Germany, to leave for America. Because of the unrest in their home countries, many of these immigrants had little to no money. They worked where the train let them off for a year or two before having enough money to take the ship to America. While I do not know if this sequence of events is true, it seems probable that my ancestors took a train from Poland to Homburg and worked for a few years until they had enough money to take a ship over to America in 1898. When I told my Grandmother this, she was very excited to hear that she was still Polish and she loved the idea of knowing her family’s story of how they got to America. Overall this video was very, very helpful, it not only made me connect more on an emotional level with my ancestors, but it also helped me identify another piece to my family puzzle.
“Wisconsin History.” History, Wisconsin, WI. Witravel, 2009. Web. 03 Nov. 2015. <http://www.wistravel.com/history_of_wisconsin/>.
I figured out that not many people who read about my family would know as much about Wisconsin as I do, so I found a website that provided some good knowledge that I can cite for my essay about this history of Wisconsin. Growing up in Wisconsin I had learned almost all of this information previously, but for this project I needed a way to tell the audience that I had sources for my facts. This site was useful for basic knowledge, though there are still a few specifics that were left out. The site was also not easy to navigate, but with some effort I found information that would be relevant to my project. There were however, new things that I did learn from reading about Wisconsin. I was interested in seeing what the climate was like when my first ancestors came over in the 1830’s and 40’s. I found that “the first wave of American settlers in Wisconsin came in the 1820’s as a result of a lead mining boom in northwest Illinois and southwest Wisconsin” which increased the population of the area drastically. This means that there were a lot more people in Wisconsin and these people were interested in mining not farming, so in a few short years after towns had built up around the mines, farmers would be needed. My ancestors all began as farmers and they most likely found a lot of success in the mid-west at the time because of the increase in population due to the mining. My suspicions that my family became farmers as soon as they settled in Wisconsin can be supported by the fact that “around the 1840’s a third wave of settlers came to Wisconsin, attracted by good farmland” which is when the bulk of my ancestors came over.
I was also interested to find out that “in 1836 the Wisconsin Territory was organized” I had just assumed that when my family came over Wisconsin was already set up as a state with a functioning legal system and orderly roads, but my picture of Wisconsin was all wrong. When they showed up the mid-west was not even part of the territories of America, much less states, and the land was not set up for farming at all. A lot of work was required to start a life in Wisconsin at that time. The people who chose to live there really were on the frontier.
“Rural Life in the United States.” American Memory Timeline. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2015. <http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/riseind/rural/>.
I was also interested in the national climate around the time of my family’s emigration because I know as a country, America was in rapid change. The article, and the website it is found on, were created by the Library of Congress for classroom use. The information is therefore easy to read, but not very in depth. I thankfully needed just a refresher of what exactly America was like in the 1800’s when my ancestors came across the ocean. Also because this information was made accessible to children, it does not go into great detail of the hardships that people faced. I had already learned about some of the difficulties when I had read past sources so this article served as a general refresher for me.
There are not a ton of usable quotes, but rather general knowledge that I can gather about living in America around 1850. One useful quote is about the prospect of land, something my ancestors would have been very interested in as farmers. “Abundant rainfall in the 1880’s and the promise of free land under the Homestead Act drew easterners to the plain. When dry weather returned, the homesteaders’ crops failed, sending many of them into debt, farther west, or back to the east or south”. My ancestors were in the northern part of what was categorized as the “planes” and so most likely they saw the rainfall but not as much of the success and boom in farming, therefore they also did not see as much of the drought. Records show that they did not leave Wisconsin, which was smart because even though the lure of perfect land and thriving crops was in the heart of the plains it was not long lived.
Overall this website was useful as a history refresher but not necessarily as a strong source for my project. It did however get me thinking about the assimilation of an immigrant into American society. Reading some of the other sources, like the one about Ellis Island, compared to reading this article about American people is completely different in tone even though it refers to the same farmers and same groups of people. This article refers to all of the characters as Americans and I wonder how long it took my family to truly feel American. I find it interesting how when referring to the immigrants when they get off the boat they are seen as outsiders, the tone is that they will endure many struggles before they will find success. Whereas articles written about the exact same people and time period are much more optimistic if they are referring to the people as Americans. I found it interesting that there was such a stark contrast between the two groups even though they were technically the same. Because of the climate in America at the time it was probably easier for my German relatives to feel American than my Irish ancestors because on average the German settled first and the Irish were seen as taking German jobs and farm land. I question how my ancestors that came over later in 1878 felt due to the fact that most of America was already fairly set up. I look at all of these questions and am reminded of how important food is to a family. When they arrived to America no matter how they were treated they had their family’s culture and food and that brought comfort. Going back to the Ellis Island video, there was a quote from an immigrant where he noted that “as long as you have someone you love by your side it is bearable, if you are alone it will be hell.”
Smitha, Frank E. “Macrohistory and World Timeline.” N.p., 2005. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <http://www.fsmitha.com/time/ce19-3.htm>.
The macro-history of the world is a website that was complied by a single person and it encompasses the history of America and Europe. The website covers from 1000BC to current day history including two or three main points from each year. I questioned the reliability of the site because I did not understand how one man could put all of this history together. After doing some research I found that this is a very reliable source and that the author includes a very extensive bibliography. This project is constantly in the works. Since 2005 until present day the site has been worked on to include more of the present day things, as well as working backward to include more and more past information. I feel that this site is not only reliable but also very helpful to any research involving things of the past. To know the climate of the world in the time of my ancestors’ immigration to America was very helpful. I feel like I know a lot about the dates and the countries and the climate in Ireland and Germany, but not the world as a whole. All of my ancestors were in America by 1878 and they began to immigrate in 1824. This 50 year period was a turbulent time in Europe, where all of my ancestors are from. I used this timeline to figure out the main highlights of these 50 years. It is not necessary for me to read about every little thing that happened in 50 years in the world, I honestly just would not have the time, so this site was incredibly useful.
I was most interested in the developments in France because I know that my maternal great-great-great-grandmother came to America from France around 1825–1845. The date is not exact because there was no information on ancestry.com for her emigration, but my grandmother knows that Theresa came from France and was later wed in America at the age of 20, so there is a 20 year span of time that she could have came to America in. In 1827 “Britain, Russia and France break with Austria regarding the Greek war of independence — Austria still feeling threatened by any revolt against empire while the Russians want to protect their fellow Orthodox Christians” which lead to a large unrest politically in Europe at the time. While a country changing allegiances would make headlines today, I don’t suspect that my great great great grandmother was too concerned about that in her time. I feel that a more likely push factor is in 1830 when “businessmen and common people loathe Charles X, who has returned to absolutism, including dissolving parliament. The barricades go up in the streets of Paris”. This is the time period that the famous musical Les Miserables is written about.
The great unrest in France at the time caused a lot of people who were able to get the money to come to America, to emigrate. It was felt across the country, even to the lower class or farming people felt the unrest and “civil war” that was taking place in France. I believe that this is one of the strongest push factors in the time-period I’m looking at. My second possibility that I’ve entertained since reading this very helpful timeline, is that the push factors in 1839. In 1839 the unrest or instability were settling down, but that was the time when American colonies were becoming very popular in France who “becomes the first European power to recognize Texas as independent of Mexico”. I feel that this is a weaker push factor, but potentially Theresa belonged to a well off family and France was always hospitable to them, America just seemed like a better opportunity because it was in the headlines. Because I know close to nothing about Theresa, besides the face that she is my only ancestor from France, I am left speculating many things about her and her family. I feel like this website allowed me to theorize more than I was able to before, and it is like fitting pieces of a puzzle together.
This website timeline was also helpful in understanding the climate in Germany as well. I was unaware that in 1830 “violence erupted across Germany. Rent, tax and military records are burned. People want bread or are annoyed by higher prices for food, military conscription and in places feudal dues”. Germany was in unrest and that could explain why a bulk of my ancestors left Germany around this time. I realized after reading this site though that many times the highlighted facts for a year in history are mainly about war because that is what changes the geographical and political climate of an area. I saw that from 1825–1850 Europe looked like a mess, land always exchanging hands, power battles being fought between neighboring countries, and limited food and land for the lower class. I so see the flaw that the source only cites the bad things and the war, and I take that into consideration when I say that it is no surprise that so many people, including everyone of my ancestors, fled Europe between 1825 and 1873.
“Famous French Food.” Famous French Food. SBI!, 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://www.traditionalfrenchfood.com/famous-french-food.html>.
On the hunt for food that represents my family and my culture, I looked to a French tourism website for classic french dishes of the past and present. I wanted to see if any of the meals that my family served regularly could be tied to our ancestors. I had already decided on cheesy potatoes for the dish that best describes my family and their heritage, but now knowing that part of my lineage was French, I wanted to see how I could relate to the part of me that is French. I found that many things that my family eats are french, including french toast, crepes, and walnuts.
As I read down the list I found that french cuisine had many different types of cheeses. Being from Wisconsin I naturally associated the cheese of cheesy potatoes to be a state specific addition. After looking at all of the french recipes I can see that many dishes, including desserts were very heavily laden with cheeses and milk. The calcium rich diet of the french emulates the way my family eats as well, cheese on everything and milk to drink. Another connection from cheesy potatoes to France is the fact that cheesy potatoes are a casserole dish, and “Cassoulet comes from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France and is named after a special kind of pot called ‘cassole’ or ‘cassou’ which was designed especially for french casseroles and was originally made in the village of Issel, near Castelnaudary”. I was pleasantly surprised that French food was able to relate to my families dish. I found this website very helpful in making connections that I can use in my paper.
I also found that the most famous type of cheese in Franc is brie and while that is not used in cheesy potatoes, I have seen many members of my family in-cooperating this cheese into our meals. Many of the other cheeses in France were made from goat’s milk or the milk of another animal like “Roquefort cheese [which] is made from ewe’s-milk and comes from the south of France”, but Brie is a “delicious, round of soft french cheese is made from unpasteurized milk and takes approximately 6.5 gallons to make one 20cm round.” Learning about the cheese of France makes me feel more connected to my ancestors because cheese is such a large part of Wisconsin cuisine. I can see now why my ancestor from France came to the mid-west, the farming and the use of dairy are very similar and most likely made America feel a lot more like home.
Nolan, Katherine. “History of Irish Food.” Dochara. N.p., 2009. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <http://www.dochara.com/ireland/the-irish/food-history/>.
After finding so many connections between French food and my family’s cuisine, I decided to see if anything from Ireland, besides the potato, was used in my family’s dishes. Potatoes are a vital part of my family’s diet but I wanted to find out if there was another food or dish that also came from Ireland and represented my family. This source was filled with knowledge and great information, unfortunately none of it applied to me. I have already researched a lot about the potato and the site focused on “three major periods in Irish history, before the potato arrived, after the potato arrived and after the potato failed” which were all interesting, but not useful for what I was looking for now.
I did find a lot of recipes for things that were not made with potatoes but my family has never eaten any of them. I now know that my family took the strong influence of potatoes and almost nothing else from our Irish heritage. I can, however tell that Wisconsin was founded by people from Ireland because Wisconsin in its early days was dubbed the break basket of the south. The staple food in Ireland “for thousands of years … was grain based, mainly oats and barley,generally eaten in the form of porridge but also ground into flour to use for bread” which is very similar to how the land was cultivated in Wisconsin.
“Germany.” Time Line Chronological Timetable of Events. World Atlas, 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/europe/germany/detimeln.htm>.
“Germany in the 19th Century.” Germany in the 19th Century. 52nd New York State Volunteers, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <http://52ndnysv.com/germany.html>.
I used two sources in tandem because the World Atlas timeline and gave me a layout for what I wanted to know about, and the other site contained blocks of text that are hard to navigate without a timeline. By this point in my research I had discovered many push factors from France, Ireland, and Holland at the time of my ancestor’s emigration from their home countries to America. I had not, however, found a sound reason for why all of my German Immigrants left at that time. I knew that there was some unrest, and that a huge wave of German immigrants were leaving at the same time as my relatives, but I wanted to know more specifically why they were all leaving.
I turned to the Word Atlas which contained a timeline of German specific history from 800-present day. I was thrilled to see an easy to read list with many points for each year. I hoped that this would help me identify the push factors for my relatives to leave Germany. I found that in 1803 there was territorial reform of the German states which meant that after the war with Austria, Napoleon gave all of the land conquered to the larger German states and caused an imbalance. This caused there to be drastic differences between rich and poor between states and made Germany less stable. The trouble continued when Napoleon rule was tried time and again by Prussia, Russia, and Austria from 1806–1814. This caused considerable unrest and a shortage of goods, especially in areas that were left with no land or goods after the redistribution. I can see the declining conditions being a huge factor for my farm driven ancestors. I believe that this played a large role in their emigration to America. I continued reading however because some of my ancestors came over from Germany as late as 1860–1870 from Germany.
When consulting the timeline I saw that in 1866 there was a Franco-Prussian War that matches up with the leaving of my ancestor, Margharita Fhram. Being unfamiliar with this war, I consulted the second source for more information. I first looked back to 1848 when life in Germany seemed to be looking up. All of Europe “in 1848…was swept by revolution. The ideas of the American and French Revolutions, simmering for decades, combined with the bad economy of the 1840’s, led to a revolution in Sicily in January 1848. The revolution soon spread to France, where the king was forced to abdicate, and then to the German states.” The reforms seemed promising, and my search for a push factor seemed hopeless, until I read that “the Revolution was to be short lived… By 1851, almost all of the gains made in 1848 had been reversed”. Slightly relived that all was not well, I could see that the glimmer of hope that may have kept my ancestors through the troubles of the past was now extinguished. With all of Europe in turmoil, I am certain that it was difficult to find the money to come to America, especially since they were farmers. The Franco-Prussian war was most likely the final straw for my rural family. The other disputes could be over looked because there were minimal consequences to their farming, country life. However, this war caused more redistribution of land. Land to a farming family is worth more than gold, and now without a way to make a living, or even feed their family, my ancestors had to flee the German state, which was slowly being taken over by King William I of Prussia.
I was excited to learn more about German history, especially because the largest percentage of my ancestors are German. I was pleased to find that while each site separately would have been of little help, in conjunction, they were very useful. I can see now that even though all of my German ancestors came over at different times, they all had specific push factors that must have put them over the edge. Without land to farm, my family was unable to stay. America was a beacon of hope with promises of abundant land and fortune, and my ancestors bought into it.
“Netherlands.” Chronological Timetable of Events. World Atlas, 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/europe/netherlands/nltimeln2.htm#page>.
Harry Bartels was born in Holland in 1873 and was my last ancestor to leave their home country. I know very little about Holland and my family has never really mentioned that part of our lineage. I am interested to find out what some of the push factors were for Harry to leave his homeland. The world atlas source was not very helpful, because the closest thing I found to a push factor was a disastrous flood in 1894. For the most part according to the world atlas, Holland seemed fairly stable and like it was a nice place to live. Unless my ancestor, Harry, was a framer and all of his land was flooded and he had no way of attaining more land, I cannot see how there were any push factors for him to come to America. I turned to another site to attempt to find a better push factor.
“1850–1900 Social Unrest — Dutch History.” Rijksmuseum. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/explore-the-collection/timeline-dutch-history/1850-1900-social-unrest>.
I know that my ancestor Harry came to America between 1873, when he was born, and 1906 when his first child was born. I looked for reliable websites on the history of Holland and found very little useful information. The most I can piece together is that a lot of people from Holland that came to America settled in Wisconsin. I can relate this to the similar climate and farming that they were used to. I turned to the Rijks museum website for some more information about a potential push factor for my great great grandfather, Henry, to travel to America. I found that there was some general social unrest from 1850–1900 surrounding the abolition of slavery. If Harry happened to be a farmer, the combination of the drought, and having to pay for his slave labor may have pushed him to move to America. I find this unlikely however because America was also in the process of a civil war and abolishing slavery as well. I question why anyone would choose to leave a country that they have always known, for one that they know almost nothing about, and on top of that, the new county is in the middle of a civil war and their own social unrest. Potentially that is also why many of my ancestors went to live in the mid-west, it was slightly out of the way of the battles and issues that America was facing.
Maybe there is a chance that Harry was not a farmer, but a factory worker, or his parents were factory workers, and in Holland at the time “amid the rise of industry and the growth of towns in the second half of the 19th century, life was often wretched for the working classes. Many worked twelve or more hours a day, women and children too. The conditions in which people lived and worked in the towns were often appalling”. Potentially as a child Harry had to work to support his family and the long days and minimal family time lead my ancestors to move to the land of hope and opportunity. I think that there may have been push factors for all of my ancestors, and while they are all varied, their pull factors are all very similar. The mid-west offered good farming ground, hills and valleys that were familiar, and a reprieve from the turmoil of the other states. My ancestors were frontier people, they were not interested in the political climate, they were seeking an oasis from their tumultuous pasts in their home countries. America was seen as the land of opportunity and even though it was hard work, the freedom and potential for success was more than what they had back in Europe.