The Hessian Goes Home: Anglicization

The Hessian Goes Home is a short series of blog posts I did on a former blog; I’m moving them there for posterity.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Since covering those two landmarks, it was time to go to the main, the town itself. The official family records state the John Henry Gall was born in the city of Buchenburg, Vohl, district of Kassel, on 24 March 1834.

A closer look at the records, though, shows something that I should have anticipated but did not. His entire name was Anglicized. He was actually born “Johann Heinrich Galle”. So they changed the spelling of the last name, and changed the first and middle names completely. “They” being (I’m guessing) the port authority personnel at New Orleans, where Johann made landfall in the United States. In any case, it stuck, to the point that Johann Heinrich appeared before a circuit court in Missouri in 1866 to renounce all allegiance to King Ludwig of Germany and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and thus became a US citizen.

The trip to Buchenburg was up steep hills on winding roads. The city sits at the confluence of several forests and sparsely populated farmland, so it really feels out in the wilderness.


The downside is that almost all the houses appear to be pretty recent construction. No old half-timbered farmhouses. In fact, I saw very few buildings that could have been around during Johann’s time at all.

At the edge of town we saw this house.

Really, it’s a pretty non-descript, modern German home. But take a closer look at that placard near the mailbox.

The family tree states that what is now “Gall” in the United States was “Galle” in Germany, and sometimes “Gallen”. A long-lost cousin, perhaps?

I knocked, but sadly, there was no answer. I took down the address, though, so I may try and reach out by letter and see if anyone responds…


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