Here is a snippet from The Bavarian Jeweler about Wilhelm's welcome to America. Please keep in mind, in 1850 when Wilhelm emigrated, the German states were not yet unified into one nation. Just as some of my immigrant ancestors insisted on the U.S. Federal Census forms their country of origin was Prussia, not Germany, Wilhelm would have considered himself a citizen of Bavaria.
The man snarled a response. “I’ll talk how I durn well please, and y’all won’t say no different about it unless all y’all want to get back on that there ship and sail back where y’all come from. So, y’all are German?”
The man sighed in frustration. “Durn foreigners. Spell it out so I can write it.”
“I write. To me the paper give.”
“Gotta to be readable. The chicken-scratch some of y’all foreigners call writing is—well—chicken-scratching.”
Wilhelm could not understand what scratching chickens had to do with him entering America. He stretched to his full height. “You no like people not Americans, why here you work?” Ignoring the man’s glare, he continued to argue with him. The clerk finally allowed him to fill out the form himself.
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