The Luxembourgers in America
A rural idyll in Winona, Minnesota, where a number of Luxembourgers
settled beginning in the 1850s.
From: L. A. Warming Company. The Paradise of Minnesota: The Proposed Whitewater State Park. St. Charles,
Minnesota: L.A. Warming Company, 1917.
This presentation provides information about immigration from Luxembourg to the United States, and about the activities of Luxembourger immigrants
in the United States from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Information is
contained in a chronology, bibliography, maps, photographs and other pictorial
sources, and links to other Internet sites in the United States and Luxembourg.
"The Luxembourgers in America" is part of the pilot phase of a larger project
to create, in cooperation with partners in Europe and the United States,
a Transatlantic Digital Library dealing with themes of common European-American interest and significance. This project is also linked to the Transatlantic Information Exchange System (TIES), which was launched in May 1998 under the auspices of the United States-European Union New Transatlantic Agenda. Other projects
in this series will deal with immigration from other European countries and
with the fiftieth anniversary of the Marshall Plan and other important anniversaries of transatlantic significance.
The chronology was prepared by Taru Spiegel and Helen Fedor, reference specialists in the Library's European Division. Robert Garian of the European Division was technical director of the European Division's Transatlantic Digital Project. Partial funding for The Luxembourgers in America was provided by the United States Information Agency.
Chronology | Selected Bibliography | Relevant Digitized Presentations
The earliest Luxembourgers to arrive in America came with the Dutch to New
Amsterdam (New York), although the first Luxembourger is thought to be Philippe
de la Noye (de Lannoy), who arrived on the Mayflower's sister ship, Fortune,
and who was a distant relative of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans as it appeared in 1794. Father
Raphael de Luxembourg was responsible for the construction of the
original church of Saint Louis. From: Chambon, Celestine M. In and
Around the Old St. Louis Cathedral of New Orleans. New Orleans: Philippe's
The number of Protestant fugitives escaping from the Catholic-ruled Low Countries resulted in legal sanctions. A 1669 edict by Louis XIV of France forbade the emigration of his subjects (including Luxembourgers) to foreign colonies. A document by Spanish authorities published in Mons in 1709 specifically forbade inhabitants of the Province of Luxembourg to emigrate to "The Island of Carolina in America."
Father Raphael de Luxembourg arrived in Louisiana on board the French ship
La Galathée with two other priests. Father Raphael had been chosen by
the king of France to represent the interests of France in the colony of Louisiana.
Among his accomplishments in this capacity, he enforced just pay for Indians
and Blacks, established a seminary for Indians, founded the colony's first
school for children, and was responsible for the construction of the church
of St. Louis, which later became a cathedral.
Le Chevalier Count of Vrecourt, an engineer and artillery officer from
Luxembourg, was commissioned a colonel of engineers by Congress.
The period from the 1830s to the mid-1840s is considered the first
period of Luxembourger immigration to the United States. A few hundred
had tried their luck in Brazil, Guatemala, and Argentina in the 1820s,
but as these areas proved more difficult to settle than anticipated, the
immigrants' attention turned to more northern regions. Points of entry
were Louisiana, New York, and Maryland. Luxembourgers were known to have
settled in Chicago in the early 1840s. The expansion of the railroad network
made it easier for the Luxembourgers to move beyond their ports of entry.
Inexpensive farmland was the attraction for the second wave of Luxembourger
immigrants, the majority of whom came through the offices of the Derulle-Wigreux
and Sons agency in Luxembourg. An example of a settlement of this period
is Aurora, Illinois, whose first Luxembourger settler, Phillip Jungels,
arrived with his wife Margaret, and baby William, from Waldbillig in 1850.
He soon increased his initial eight acres of land to over one hundred acres. It has been estimated that 70,000 to 72,000 Luxembourgers emigrated to the New World between 1840 and 1900. (Hatz)
Dominik Welter immigrated to Ohio at the age of eleven. He tried his luck
in the gold rush, but did not strike it rich, so upon his return to Ohio,
he enlisted in the 4th Ohio Cavalry in 1861 and was subsequently promoted
to the rank of captain. He was soon captured at Chickamauga and released
finally in 1865, when he returned to Chicago. In 1877, he was given the
command of a cavalry unit in Chicago. Eventually was hired as Secretary
of Police, with the rank of inspector. Welter and another Luxembourger
police inspector in Chicago, Michael Schaack, led the Luxembourg Independent
Club of Chicago. The club started as a political organization, but soon
became purely social.
Peter Stoos came to Rollingstone, Winona County, Minnesota, directly from
Luxembourg, to farm the ten acres of land he had bought from the United
States government. Other Luxembourgers joined him in the 1850s. A Catholic
mass was celebrated in Stoos' log cabin in 1857 by a Benedictine priest.
Stoos later donated land for the site of Holy Trinity Church.
Many Luxembourgers arrived in the United States on board Red Star Line ships.
From: Gonner, Nicholas. Die Luxemburger in der neuen Welt. Dubuque, Iowa: Luxemburger Gazette.
During this third period of Luxembourger immigration, which peaked in the
1880s, Luxembourger cultural and social life flourished. The Luxemburger
Unterstützungsverein (Luxembourger Benefit Society) was founded in
1870, the Létzebûrger Kranken-Ennerstétzongs Verein
(Luxembourger Sick Benefit Society) in 1871, and the Luxemburger Bruderbund
(Luxembourger Brotherhood) in 1887. Immigration was made easier by existing
community networks and by steamships such as those of the famous Red
Star Line, operating out of Antwerp.
The Luxemburger Gazette, one of the premier Luxembourger newspapers
in America, was published in Dubuque,
Iowa by the Deutsche-Katholische Druck-Gesellschaft. Luxembourger-Americans
wanted their own German-language newspaper that was free of pro-Prussian
Nicholas Gonner, an author and journalist who settled in Dubuque, Iowa,
became the editor of the Luxemburger Gazette. In 1889 he published Die
Luxemburger in der Neuen Welt (Luxembourgers in the New World),
a valuable resource for historians detailing Luxembourger lives and settlements in
the United States.
| Title Page of writer Nicholas Gonner's Die
Luxemburger in der neuen Welt. Dubuque, Iowa: Luxemburger Gazette.
From Die Luxemburger in der neuen Welt.
Dubuque, Iowa: Luxemburger Gazette.
Nicholas Muller was the first Luxembourger-American to be elected to the
U.S. House of Representatives. He served three times as Representative
from New York State: 1877-81, 1883-1887, and 1899-1902. Muller had also
been a member of the New York State Legislature and a founder and officer
of the Germania Bank.
Advertisement for one of the Druecker brothers' lime-kilns.
From: Gonner, Nicholas. Die Luxemburger in der neuen Welt.
Dubuque, Iowa: Luxemburger Gazette.
Two brothers, Johann Druecker from Chicago and Joseph Druecker from
Ozaukee County,Wisconsin, obtained a patent for their gas
lime-kiln. This invention further improved their already thriving lime
The Luxemburger Zeitung, later known as the Luxembourg Weekly, began publication in Chicago in 1899, with national subscription by mail beginning in 1902. It is still published, under the name Luxembourg News of America.
Eduard Conzemius emigrated to the United States to join his older brother.
When his brother became a logger on the Canadian border, Conzemius moved
to Chicago, where he worked at the Sherman House
Hotel. He learned English and Spanish, and was employed as an accountant
both in Chicago and New Orleans. In 1916, he left for Honduras and Nicaragua,
where he studied the Miskito, Rama, and Sumu Indians. His work on their
languages, Ethnographical Survey of the Miskito
and Sumu Indians of Honduras and Nicaragua, was published by the Smithsonian
Institution in 1932.
The Luxembourg Brotherhood pledged support for the U.S. war effort against
Germany in a memorandum addressed to President Woodrow Wilson.
|An 1880 illustration of the Sherman House Hotel where Eduard Conzemius worked as a young man in the early 1900s.
From: A Guide to the Hotels, Restaurants and Amusements of Chicago with Maps, Diagrams and Illustrations.
Chicago, Illinois: Glossop and Edwards, 1880.
Institution publication cover featuring the work of Eduard Conzemius.
From: Conzemius, Eduard. Ethnographical Survey of the Miskito and Sumu Indians
of Honduras and Nicaragua. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Insititution,
Jean Noerdinger, a young artist, emigrated from Diekirch to the Chicago
area. In Luxembourg, Noerdinger had organized a group of artists that broke
with the Luxemburger Kunstverein, the official art arbiter, and introduced
modern art to the Grand Duchy. In America, he participated in the 1933-34
Century of Progress exhibition, painted portraits, and worked in advertising
for a time.
Between 1937 and 1940, 200 to 300 Luxembourger Jews fled to the United
States to escape Nazi persecution, adding their number to the approximately
50,000 Luxembourgers who had settled in the United States during the previous
Actress Loretta Young, a descendant of Luxembourger emigrants, won Emmy
awards for Best Actress in a Dramatic Series in 1954, 1956, and 1958. Her
real name, Gretchen Michaela Young, and her charm are part of her Luxembourger
Well-known photographer Edward Steichen produced the noted 1955 "Family
of Man" exhibit and the best-selling book of the same name. Steichen and
his mentor, Alfred Stieglitz, were influential in getting photography recognized
as a valid art form. During both world wars, Steichen directed U.S. Army
and Navy aerial photography. Steichen was director of the Department of
Photography at the Museum of Modern Art between 1947 and 1962.
Despite the Americanization of Luxembourgers in the United States, they
have continued in their desire to celebrate their Luxembourger heritage:
the Luxembourg Jewish Society was established in New York in 1958, the
Luxembourg-American Social Club was founded in Chicago in 1960, and the
American-Luxembourg Society was established in Luxembourg in 1963. Prominent
Luxembourger-Americans include biologist Francois Mergen and historian
Arno J. Mayer.
The Luxembourg American Chamber of Commerce was founded in New York City, with the support of Crown Prince Henri of Luxembourg to foster trade between Luxembourg and the United States.
Chris Evert, of Luxembourger extraction, was unanimously elected to the
International Tennis Hall of Fame. She won six U.S. Opens, seven French
Opens, three Wimbledons, and two Australian Opens. During her professional
career, her international ranking was always in the top four.
The Luxembourg American Cultural Society, Inc. was founded in 2004, in the town of Belgium, Wisconsin. It is supported by descendants of the Luxembourger families who settled in Ozaukee County during the 19th century.
Ducat, Jean. Luxembourgeois dans le monde: Ardenne, Arlon, Gaume: contribution à l'étude de l'émigration de Belgique méridionale vers les Amériques. Biesme-Mettet, Belgique: Belgian American Heritage, 2002.
Gonner, Nicholas. Die Luxemburger in der neuen Welt. Dubuque,
Iowa: Luxemburger Gazette, 1889.
Hatz, Änder. Emigrants et rémigrants luxembourgeois de 1876 à 1900: Etats-Unis d'Amérique, Argentine et pays extra-européens: inventaire détaillé des mouvements de la population par cantons, communes et localités: index de personnes et de lieux. Luxembourg: Archives nationales, 1994.
Holmquist, June Drenning, ed. They Chose Minnesota: A Survey of the
State's Ethnic Groups. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press,
Krier, Beatrice Wester, ed. Tapestry of Luxembourgers. Belgium, Wisconsin: B.W. Krier, 1987.
Lies, Joseph J. Luxemburger Immigrants to Aurora. Aurora, Illinois:
Aurora Historical Society, 1976.
Nilles, Mary E. Dann Singen Wir: Viktoria! Luxemburger Immigration
to America, 1848-1872: A Selective Bibliography. Brussels: Center
for American Studies, 1979.
_________. A Legacy from Luxembourg: A Historical Guide to the Early
Settlement of Rollingstone, Minnesota. [S.l.]: M.E. Nilles, 1986.
_________. Rollingstone. [S.l.]: Editions Guy Binsfeld, 1983.
Thernstrom, Stephan, ed. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic
Groups. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980.
Western Historical Company. History of Washington and Ozaukee Counties, Wisconsin. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1881.
Witry, Richard J., ed. Luxembourg Brotherhood of America, 1887-1987. Park Ridge, IL: Luxembourg Brother Hood of America, 1987.
- The George Washington
Papers at the Library of Congress
Ninety-five percent of extant Washington documents are at the Library of
Congress. George Washington's letter to Continental Congress,
April 10, 1777 alludes to Le Chevalier Count of Vrecourt, an engineer and
artillery officer from Luxembourg, who was commissioned a colonel of engineers
by Congress April 12, 1777.
- Map Collections:
The focus of this collection is Americana and Cartographic Treasures of
the Library of Congress. In the Cities
and Towns category, nineteenth century maps of Aurora, Dubuque, Winona
City and Winona County, depict locations of Luxembourger settlement.
- Taking the
Long View: Panoramic Photographs 1851-1991
Images dating from 1851 to 1991 include scenes in all fifty states and
the District of Columbia. Photographs of Dubuque, Iowa show the hometown
of the Luxemburger Gazette.
- Touring Turn-of-the-Century
America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920
This compilation of pictorial material contains the work of a number of
photographers. Scenes and sights that might have been familiar to Luxembourger
immigrants include those of Rollingstone Valley near Lewiston, Minnesota,
as well as Winona, Minnesota.
- Built in America:
Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record,
1933 - Present
The collections document achievements in architecture, engineering, and
design in the United States and its territories through a comprehensive
range of building types and engineering technologies. Currently these
collections serve as valuable finding aids to the Prints and Photographs
Division's holdings. When fully digitized, this collection will have
images from areas of Luxembourger settlement such as Bellwood, Nebraska
and Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.