Anaheim’s German Roots

This year, the Homestead will offer two, two-part workshops on the basics of genealogical research instructed by Steven Dugan and Sherri Salmans. The first begins on February 20. Ever curious about people and their roots, Steve recently looked into the history of Anaheim and its German founders.

California has obviously been heavily influenced by the Spanish language due to it once being a Spanish and Mexican territory. Even if one isn’t fluent in Spanish, Californians are surrounded by familiar place names like Los Angeles (the Angels), La Puente (the bridge), and Rancho Palos Verdes (Ranch of the Green Sticks).

One city however, Anaheim, can trace its founding to the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany.  Anaheim is a blend of the words “Ana,” after the Santa Ana River, and “heim,” the German word for home.  Anaheim was the second city in Los Angeles County to incorporate (1876) and is now the largest city in Orange County.  So how did German immigrants make it to California?

The founders of Anaheim first settled in San Francisco and came south in 1857 to become wine-makers. While initially successful, a disease infected and destroyed the entire crop in the 1880s.  By that time, walnut, lemon, and orange orchards had replaced vineyards.  Those in the wine-making business easily made the transition to these new cash crops—especially when the region was connected by rail directly to the rest of the United States in 1887.

The period that saw the most German immigrants come to the US was between 1840 and 1880—the same time that William Workman and his son-in-law, F.P.F Temple, were living in Southern California.  This was motivated in part by the Revolution of 1848 of the several independent German states, during which many professionals, politicians, and journalists immigrated to America.  This migration was so significant that the group was called “The Forty-Eighters.”

sud californische
The Sud Californische Post, a Los Angeles German newspaper, May 29, 1875. Note the advertisement from the Workman & Temple Bank and a Workman Brothers saddlery business. From the Homestead Museum collection (2005.1.1.1).

In Los Angeles, the Mexican-era census of 1836 showed that, among the 46 foreigners listed, Johann Groningen, a.k.a. Juan Domingo, was the only German.  By the 1870s, German-born immigrants, including a significant number of Jews, accounted for 14% of all foreign-born residents and were steadily increasing.

It would make sense, then, that Workman and Temple felt the need to advertise their bank to the German-speaking residents of Los Angeles through newspapers like Süd Californische Post, an issue of which is shown here.  Newspapers were already printed in Spanish and English, so both men saw the advantage of reaching out to as many potential customers as possible.

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