Too Many Shoemakers…..Not Enough Feet


Today, instead of looking at people, we are going to discuss their occupations.  Many of the original immigrants became farmers, but if you look at the immigration records, you can see that not really that many of them came over here as farmers.  The statistics indicate that most of the immigrants were either craftsmen or tradesmen.

If you just look at the people that listed their occupation on passenger lists, you find the total number to be 355 immigrants.  Most women and children gave no occupation.  The occupation which was represented by the largest number of immigrants was the  weaver.  If you include the members of the Gesellschaft, the New York Group, those on the Amalia, Gruber’s Group, and additions from St. Louis, you find that an astounding number of 49 weavers in the group.  That is 14% of those who listed occupations.  The large number of weavers is somewhat understandable, given that the Industrial Revolution had gotten underway about this time, and that revolution began in the textile industry.  Many weavers had lost their jobs in Germany and were looking for a new start in America.


The second-most represented occupation in the immigration was shoemaker.  Forty-four shoemakers are listed among the immigrants (12%).  One thing is almost certain.  There were not enough “feet” living within East Perry County to support that many shoemakers, even including the fact that three weavers went down with the Amalia and never made it to America.  However, it is also interesting that St. Louis would become one of the largest producers of shoes in the United States.

Finally, number three on the list were the farmers, coming in at 42 people.  The most common occurrence was that craftsmen and tradesmen were put in the position that they almost had to change occupations in Perry County, and many became farmers.  As it turns out, the men who came here as farmers probably had to give out a lot of advice to those men who were learning the agricultural trade.


I would make a few observations.  First, I am thinking that especially the craftsmen who came in the immigration may have had issues with bringing the necessary tools of the trade with them on the ships.  Baggage was very limited.  They may have been planning to purchase tools when they got to America.  Doing that would be quite difficult for those who settled in the primitive wilderness they found here.  Second, I think that many of the craftsmen and tradesmen ended up in St. Louis where their skills could be better put to use to support them and their families.  This could explain why over one hundred of the immigrants never made the trip to Perry County and formed a congregation of their own in St. Louis.

There were some other interesting facts that come out of the list of occupations of the immigrants.  Three hatters came to Perry County, all of them from the New York Group.  Included in the immigrants were also two lace makers, one sieve maker, one watchmaker, one royal groom, and one court footman.  Also, only 29 women were listed with occupations, most of them maids.

Just a sidelight.  My great great grandfather came over as a locksmith.  There were three locksmiths in the immigration.  I did a search today to find a locksmith and found the nearest one to be located in Perryville, seventeen miles away.  There still isn’t much need for a locksmith in East Perry County.  My great great grandfather was one of those men who became a farmer.

Finally, one of the potential tragedies of the immigration was that there was only one brewer on the ships.  So the immigration also ended up with too many beer drinkers…….not enough brewers.

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