Villages Helping Hands

Destination: The Americas

United States


Akron-Canton, Ohio (OH)
Archivist: Volunteer!

Emigration from Banat in the National Archives Ship Records. Destination to
Akron, OHIO. Extractions by David Dreyer.

Akron-Canton, Summit County & Immigration Records
Researched & Compiled by Nancy Fredenberg, 2008

Passenger Records: Destination Akron, OH
Ethnicity: German

Passenger Records: Destination Canton, OH
Ethnicity: German & Hungarian

Passenger Records: Destination Barberton, OH
Ethnicity: German & Hungarian

Passenger Records: Destination Akron, OH
Ethnicity: Hungarian

Akron Donauschwaben Club 1965

The German Family Society was founded in 1955 at St. Bernard’s Catholic church by Danube Swabian (Folk-German), German and Austrian immigrants. In the 1960’s, we moved to the German American Club in Akron, then in 1973 to our present location (Donau Park) in Brimfield Twp. [Complete Story]

Deutsche Familienverein Akron, OH / German Family Society of Akron, OH. (GFS)

Deutscher Familiernverein Akron, Uniontown OH  was among the list of the clubs that were listed as members of the North American Federation of German Folk Dance Groups from 1994 and a partial list from 1997.

St. Bernard German Catholic Church
– Akron’s first German church

The construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal employed many Irish immigrants to the Akron area, and as a result, the only Catholic Church in Akron was predominantly Irish. In the fall of 1861 a meeting of 46 of Akron’s German-American Catholics met for the purpose of establishing a German Catholic Parish and formed the St. Peter’s Bau Verein Society (Bau Verein is German for Building Association).  The group began with a meager $2.75 in their building fund. 

Because most of the German Akronites at the time were Bavarians, the members wrote to King Louis of Bavaria about the plans for the German Church, and they received a gift of $500, which enabled them to purchase the land for the new church.  In less than one year, the Society laid the cornerstone for the new church, an event which was witnessed by seven thousand people. 

Father Luhr, who was among the founders, announced a fund-raising incentive that would enable the person making the largest donation would have the privilege of naming the new church.  The person who earned that right was his niece, Bernadine Luhr, who donated $100, and named the church after her patron saint, St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux. 

In 1862, Father Henry Thiele became pastor of the 120-member congregation of German-speaking families now in the parish, and they worshipped in a church building which was later sold to a Slovak church upon the opening of their new church. 

Although the largest donation except for that of King Louis was only $100, this congregation raised $160,000 for the construction of the church and because there was never a mortgage or any debt, the church building was allowed to be consecrated, rather than simply a dedication ceremony.  By Canon law, there were also special requirements for the altar, which had to tie into the foundation of the church, and which must be constructed of stone and marble.  St. Bernard was one of only nine Ohio churches to meet the strict Canon law for consecration. 

The completed building was an architectural jewel, and surpassed all expectations.  The Akron Beacon Journal called it an inspiration, not only to Catholics, but to all religions, and an ornament to the City.  The magnificent building was constructed of 125 train-carloads of stone from the nearby Peninsula Quarry.  The German-Romanesque church with baroque influences had stained glass windows imported from Germany, twin spires, rounded apses, and a double gallery.  Father John Baptist Braun, the pastor at the time, worked with architect W.P. Ginther, to model the church after the great cathedrals in the Rhineland region of Europe. 

When the church opened its doors to the public for the first time on the evening of October 8, 1905 with a non-denominational concert to showcase the massive pipe organ.  Also presented was the Akron Liedertafel, a German singing group and other local musicians and singers, and the sold-out crowd was very impressed with the musical program, as well as the architectural splendor. 

The keynote address at the concert was delivered by Mr. P.E. Werner, a German non-Catholic.  In his remarks, which were delivered both in German and English, he praised Father Broun and the parishioners and their dedication to build such a magnificent structure without incurring debt, and he is quoted in the church’s Centennial brochure:  “It is not the money of millionaires that has made the erection of this church possible,” Werner said.  “What wonderful devotion to religion, what wonderful devotion to their faith, what wonderful sacrifice of material means have the members of this congregation demonstrated in making the erection of this structure possible,” he added.  The first mass was celebrated on Sunday, October 15, 1905. 

Despite the low income bracket of most of the congregants, St. Bernard’s Parish established a tradition of many different social service programs to serve the poor and help those in crisis.  Many more German families were to emigrate to the area, and after the 1880’s, the face of the immigrants changed from Western Europeans to also include German-speaking immigrants from the Eastern European, Slavic countries & Poland.  In the post-World War II period, English Classes were offered to mostly German-speaking displaced immigrants who flocked to the area for good jobs to be had.   

Now, over 100 years later, the church and the original pipe organ are still in use, and in 1989, St. Bernard Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

German-American Club (Mutual Aid Society) Collection
The online Special Collections inventory of Akron-Summit County Public Library donated by Ronald H. Gangle in 1998.

It consists of 2 storage boxes containing ledger books, journals and records of the German-American Club from 1917 to 1946. Many of these items are financial records of the club, including income and disbursements, as well as membership records with names and addresses. Some of the records are in German. There are also minute books of their meetings.

I found the follow two other items very interesting:

1) Box #1 contains several ledgers from 1927 - 1930: containing lists of
names and addresses of people who paid for stock of the GH Home Co. Does anyone know about know about this company, and why the members of this club would be purchasing this stock through the club?

2) Box #2 contains an Akron Germania Kalendar, 1916 in German -- wow! what a find!! Also a photocopy of a photograph of the Club.

I wonder if any of our Akronite subscribers have ever been to the library to view the contents of these boxes? My great-grandparents lived in the Akron area (Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls & Ellet) and I know they belonged to this club, which I believe was at 834 Grand St., Akron, OH. I think it has now been demolished, according to a record found on the internet.

Does anybody know about these holdings, or have more information on this club or about Ronald Gangle, the man who donated the records to the library?

The 1937 German-Hungarian (Donauschwaben) Family Calendar Magazine
– Palankaer subscriber list for the Entire U.S.A.

(Deutsch-Ungarischer Familien Kalender 1937, German-Hungarian Publishing Company, New York City, NY/Chicago, IL)
Transcribed by Dennis J. Bauer, 11 October 2008

Akron, OH

BOYER, Johann, from Palanka, Batschka, Yugoslavia, and Maria TOHN, from Palanka, Batschka, Yugoslavia, 394 Homestead Ave.

KAISER, Michael, from Palanka, Batschka, Yugoslavia, and Elisabeth JENOWAY, Csatalja, Batschka, Yugoslavia, 429 Homestead Ave.

SHUR, Michael, from Palanka, Batschka, Yugoslavia, and Elisabeth HOFFMAN, from Apatin, Batschka, Yugoslavia, 920 Lane Street.


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