“Grüß Gott” in Rensselaer County: The Golden Century

A second wave of German immigration began in the nineteenth century. Germans represented three percent of Troy’s population between 1870 – 1900 and four and a half percent in the county between 1870 – 1900. Despite these low percentage rates, they created a network of religious, civic and social organizations as well as a number of prosperous businesses.

German Jews founded Anshe Chased, later named B’rith Shalom, in 1852. Trinity Lutheran Church in Castleton, St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Church in South Troy and Taborton Evangelical Lutheran Church were established in subsequent years. These churches used German in their services for many decades. St. Lawrence established a day school which functioned until 1950. The Troy Turnverein, an athletic club and the Troy Maennerchor, a singing society, were established in the mid-nineteenth century. Germania Hall, located in Troy, was founded as community center in 1889. Businesses such as Stoll’s Brewery in Troy, the Grubb-Kosegarten Action Piano Co. in Nassau, the Goergen lamp factory in Castleton and the Troy Freie Presse, a weekly German newspaper, thrived.

A number of German immigrants served their adopted homeland through military and political service. Local war heroes included John Arts and Joseph Egolf, wounded in combat during the Civil War. Lieutenant Charles Rapp, also active in the Civil War, was later elected alderman in Troy. Other German-Americans politically active in Troy included Robert Patchke, Friedrich Schneider and Andreas Ruff. Christian Peter served as mayor of Castleton for twenty years. The community celebrated from 1902-1916 an annual German Day to commemorate their contributions to American life. A local chapter of the German-American National Alliance (DANB) was founded in 1907 to fight blue laws and later became active in fighting prohibition.