Is German heritage strong in Delano? Ja – Selbstverständlich!

January 7, 2008

In fact, German immigrants populate local cities by a margin of nearly 50%

By Lynda Jensen

A spot-check of ancestry for local cities reveals an interesting portrait of ethnic heritage.

For example, are there much German ancestry in Delano? See graph.

The answer is yes, with 48.1 percent of residents in that city listing Germany as heritage in the US Census – the second highest percent in local cities.

Other cities also claim Germany as its main source of identity, with Waverly registering 49.7 percent, Montrose at 47 percent, down to Maple Plain, which records 37.8 percent with German ancestry.

As such, local residents can claim a rich heritage of inventors as well as famous people who are German born or the children of German immigrants.

Germans created an endless list of inventions; including everything from aspirin to the zeppelin (floating dirigibles, such as the Goodyear blimp).

The following is a small sample of important German inventions:

• X-rays, discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
• The world’s first practical automobile to be powered by an internal-combustion engine was built by German Karl Benz in 1885
• diesel fueled internal combustion engine by Rudolf Diesel
• Geiger counters, which were co-invented by German Hans Geiger
• Aspirin, which was synthesized in 1899 by German chemist Felix Hoffmann, who worked for a German company called Bayer
• The unit of frequency of a radio wave – one cycle per second – is named the hertz, in honor of Heinrich Hertz.
• Gutenberg press, an innovative printing machine that used movable type by Johannes Gutenberg
• The first electric elevator was built by the German inventor Werner von Siemens in 1880
• Germans Max Knott and Ernst Ruska co-invented the electron microscope
• Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin was the German military officer who developed the rigid dirigible; a lighter-than-air vehicle that became known as the zeppelin (something like the Goodyear blimp).

There are also numerous famous Germans and German immigrants, including famous sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, as well as famous shortstop Honus Wagner (1874-1955)

• “The Flying Dutchman” (In Wagner’s time, the term “Dutch” was a common nickname for Germans.)

Other famous Germans:

• Martin Luther
• Johann Sebastian Bach
• Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

So what isn’t German? How about German chocolate cake.

The words “German chocolate cake” are derived from German’s Sweet Chocolate, which was a certain type of chocolate named after an Englishman named Sam German.

According to Kraft Foods/General Foods, Sam German worked for the Baker’s Chocolate Company, developed a bar of sweet baking chocolate in 1852. The new product carried the name of its inventor: Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate.

The first known published recipe for a cake using German’s Sweet Chocolate surfaced in a Texas newspaper in 1957. Over time, the name of the popular recipe, using Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, was shortened to “German chocolate cake.”

Next: Scandinavians

The next largest pool of ancestry for local cities is Scandinavians, which compose more than one quarter to one-third of local ancestry.

Immigrants from Norway and Sweden are concentrated in Maple Plain (32.6 percent), Buffalo (30.8 percent), Independence (30.5 percent) and Delano (29.5 percent); with lesser numbers in neighboring towns.

The smallest percent belongs to both Waverly and Montrose, which feature 25.2 percent and 19.5 percent respectively.

There are numerous inventions credited to Scandanavians, with many famous Norwegians and Swedes.

Such inventions include everything from dynamite to paperclips. A sample of inventions is as follows, courtesy of www.scandinavica.com:

• the wrench, developed by Johan Petter Johansson from Sweden in 1892

• the modern ball bearing, a bearing where the roll bodies consist of balls, was constructed in 1907, by Sven Wingquist from Swedish company Svenska Kullagerfabriken (SKF)

• dynamite. Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel patented this powerful explosive that allowed the construction of tunnels, roads and railways since the 19th century.

Nobel is also known as the founder of the Nobel Prize, an award given for outstanding contributions to mankind in the fields of science, literature, and peacekeeping activities.

• The Celsius or Centigrade thermometer, the international standard for thermometers, invented by Anders Celsius from Sweden in the 18th century.

• the propeller, so critical to naval maneuvering – invented by Swede John Ericsson, who was designer of the Union ironclad ship the Monitor in the Civil War. Two members of the ironclad’s crew were also Swedish: M. P. Sunstrum, assistant engineer, and seaman Hans Anderson.

• cheese slicers, invented by Norwegian carpenter Thor Bjørklund, who did not like the way his wife cut cheese, so, he started using one of his workshop tools. Everybody loved his cheese slicer and he patented his invention in 1927.

• gas turbines, invented by Aegidius Elling, Norwegian engineer, who built a revolutionary gas turbine in 1903 that would be used from offshore oil drilling on to aeronautical applications.

• pacemakers. Swedish physician Rune Elmqvist developed the first pacemaker to be inserted by operation, and surgeon Åke Senning carried out the first surgery in 1958. Later, in 1975, Finn Seppo Säynäjäkangas and his company Polar Electro started producing small and low-cost heart rate monitors, a major international success in the sports markets.

• paper clips. Norwegian Johan Vaaler. He invented the ordinary office paper clip in 1899.

There are many other famous Scandinavians, according to www.scandinavica.com:

• Sondre Norheim, the father of modern skiing
• Hans Christian Andersen
• astronomer and physicist Anders Celsius
• inventor Alfred Nobel, creator of the Nobel Prize
• Niels Bohr, author of the hydrogen atom theory
• Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA
• Thor Heyerdahl
• explorer Leif Ericson