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Going West

Arrival of a Party of Wealthy Immigrants from Russia on their Way to Dakota – Their First experience of American Justice as Dispensed with by Banyon.

"Going West." Chicago Daily Tribune, 5 August 1873, 3.


In the year 1800 a number of Germans settled near Odessa, Russia, and at that time were granted many privileges by the Russian Government, such as exemption from military service and the free use of the German language. Since that time these rights have been taken from them, and they were compelled to speak Russian language and to do military service the same as any other subjects of the Russian Empire. They therefore decided to emigrate to this country, where they could enjoy liberties denied them in Russia.

A party of about 100 left the old country, and settled near Yankton, Dakota Territory, and there were so well satisfied with our laws and the productiveness of the soil that they were soon followed by 600 more. Another installment of about 500 arrived in this city by the Michigan Central railroad on Sunday. These parties are very wealthy, and are said to be worth over two millions of dollars in the aggregate. The richest, as well as the most intelligent, in the party, is Mr. Philip Jossman, who has with him about $100,000 in cash; but others are also very wealthy. As, for example, Mr. Gries, who is worth about $60,000; Groshans, $30,000; sons of Groshans, $30,000; Hoffman, $20,000; Soorr Brothers, $35,000; Jassman Brothers, $15,000; Bender, $20,000; Gemar, $20,000, and many others are worth from $500 to $10,000. As they are all experienced farmers, this acquisition to the population of Dakota will be of immense benefit to that Territory.

These previously settled in the Territory sent a delegation to this city consisting of Messrs. Jossman and Branch, to receive and properly care for their countrymen and prevent them from being swindled. The emigrants themselves sent forward on of their party, a Mr. Gruenstein, to assist in providing for their comfort while here. When the party arrived at the depot, these three gentlemen were there to conduct them to the hotels where arrangements had been made for their lodgings, but there were also a lot of runners, who did not like to be euchred out of such valuable game without a struggle. Consequently, they put all their persuasive oratorical powers into operation to allure some of these emigrants into their dens, and in this they were ably seconded by the depot police. Being foiled in all their efforts, they had the leader of the emigrant party arrested for acting as emigrant runner without a license, and taken before Justice Banyon, who held the prisoned in bail of $600, which was promptly offered by Mr. Nic Hennes, an emigrant hotel-keeper in this city, but was refused, because Mr. Gruenstein was not able to sign his name in English. After urgent entreaties the great Judge allowed Mr. Gruenstein to sign his name in a language he, the Judge, did not understand, and graciously accepted the bail. Yesterday morning the case was called up for trial, and Mr. Gruenstein, one of the party of emigrants, was fined the sum of $3 for acting as emigrant runner without a license, which sum was promptly paid, and Mr. Gruenstein left the court pondering about the immense wisdom of Chicago Justices, who, as he expressed himself, were far superior to those of Russia.

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Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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