When I began to research our family tree, my father told me that his grandfather George Christ emigrated from Germany because he was a socialist. I eventually learned that it was not George Christ but his parents, Thomas Christ and Anna Maria Hemmerlein, who emigrated from Bavaria. Thomas died in 1863 when George was an infant and George died in 1895 when my grandfather was an infant, which explains how their stories got confused.
Thomas and Anna Maria emigrated less than a month after negotiations for a new constitution following the uprisings of socialists and democrats the 1848 revolution ended in failure. Thomas and Anna Maria boarded the ship to America under different surnames and listing different villages of residence. This suggests that they had fallen victim to concords signed by the church and state that prevented poor men from marrying. Besides not being permitted to marry her beloved Thomas, Anna Maria was herself an illegitimate child, one of three born to sisters in the family of the poor teacher George Hemmerlein after he died.
It is easy to imagine Thomas and Anna Maria supporting the revolution of 1848 in hopes that they would be allowed to marry and be given land to farm. Nor is it difficult to understand that they were deeply disappointed and perhaps afraid of being persecuted for their beliefs when they decided to leave Bavaria in 1849. Anna Maria, who lived until 1907, would have been the one who told these stories to her son and grandsons. Continue reading “My Guardian Angel Is a Socialist by Carol P. Christ”