Pacifists, Early and Late Comers to America
My mother’s people, Menonites, came from Germany to Pennsylvania at the invitation of William Penn about 1740. Being pacifists, after the American Revolution, they found themselves unwelcome and undertook a six-week wagon train to Ottowa Canada, becoming the first European settlers in their area. Later my great-grandfather moved south into Michigan.
My father’s father and his uncle fled Lithuania and conscription in the Russian Army, sailing into New York City about 1906. Their brother was publicly executed near the local cemetery in our ancestral village of Jotainiai. The story goes they sold a cow the next day and booked passage out of Hamburg.
We were raised near our father’s father with an immigrant identity. We only recently discovered how deep our mother’s family roots in this country are. Such a mix of long ago and recent, of groups who most likely would never have met, happened in the matrix of the American Dream. With globalization this glorious aspect of human mingling will become the norm.