Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

John Taylor


In the late nineteenth century, diverse social and economic conditions in Europe caused immigration to America. The European experiences of these pioneers continued to influence their reactions against the pressure to assimilate into a Midwestern culture. Of the German people who settled in the Dakotas, the German Russians, particularly those who homesteaded in the Eureka, South Dakota area, formed one of the most culturally cohesive communities. When two major railroad companies were recruiting settlers for the Eureka area, the Germans from Russia were looking for an escape from the increasing pressure to blend into Russian society. These Germans originally had gone to Russia in search of land. Anton H. Richter, a South Dakota State University German professor and a scholar of the German Russians in South Dakota. says that because of the traditional division of land among the sons, these farming people were very poor and grabbed at the opportunity to own land. John Pfeiffer, a German-Russian historian, describes how in the late 1700s and early 1800s Czars Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great invited rural, agricultural Germans to cultivate the undeveloped land of South Russia. This was part of an overall push to lure German merchants, engineers and other professionals to this area to develop it and to create a buffer against the Asiatic tribes. In the historical account of one Eureka family, Adam Joachim tells that to encourage the immigration of the German farmers, the Russian government promised each family 62 acres of land, a sum of money, oxen, and farming and building supplies. The Czar also granted the Germans exemption from military service and a 10-year tax suspension. The immigrants were allowed to establish their own churches and schools and were granted local control of civil government affairs. These provisions in essence allowed them to preserve their German culture while living in Russia.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

English language -- Phonetics
English language -- Dialects -- South Dakota -- Eureka



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State