The Germans Settle In

Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Mann, who arrived in Ann Arbor in 1830, were the first Germans to settle here permanently. Finding the land to be excellent for farming, they encouraged friends and relatives from southern Germany to join them. As more families emigrated, they sent for a German Lutheran minister.

Frederick Schmid, who also established churches throughout southeastern Michigan, founded the congregation that later split to become both Zion Lutheran Church and Bethlehem United Church of Christ.

Michael Staebler, born in Germany and raised on a farm west of town, built the Germania Hotel on West Washington Street in 1886. He and his sons ran several businesses in the hotel—coal, oil, hardware, bicycles, and automobiles—as well as groceries across the street.

David Allmendinger capitalized on the German community’s love of music by building parlor organs. Begun in his barn, Ann Arbor Organ Works grew to occupy a large block of brick factory buildings at First and Washington.

Musicians Reuben and Pauline Kempf were both from German pioneer families. In their front parlor studio, Reuben, who also directed the choir at St. Andrew’s Church, taught piano and Pauline taught singing. They moved easily between the business world of the town and the more intellectual world of the university.

Caption 1: German pioneer families pose in 1880 in front of their original meeting-house west of town. A boulder in Bethlehem Cemetery now marks the location.

Caption 2: The Germania Hotel at Washington and Ashley later became the Earle restaurant. Ann Arbor Organ Works.

Caption 3: The Kempfs in 1890 on the porch of their Division Street home, now a city-owned house museum.

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