Mission / History
Our main concern is with the people, history, customs, language, and artifacts of the settlements in Western New York established by Prussian Lutherans who fled from religious persecution in the 19th century, their descendants and the communities that grew from these villages.
In August of 1971 Mr. Eugene Camann founded the Historical Society of North German Settlements in Western New York. He was primarily responsible for researching documents, collecting artifacts and gathering information on the Prussian Lutheran migration to America and devoted much of his life to this effort. By diligently studying and translating old German church records, which led him to various states and several trips to Germany, he discovered valuable and previously unknown information which he compiled in his book “Uprooted from Prussia, Transplanted in America”. It is the cornerstone document still available today through the society along with his second book, “More Prussian Transplantings in Wheatfield”.
Not only do these books provide a wealth of information in researching one’s ancestry, but they also help the 21st century person understand the trials and tribulations faced by the original settlers in 1843. These determined people made their way to a new country, came to Western New York and formed the communities of Bergholz, Walmore and Martinsville, all in Niagara County.
In 1843, 800 Prussians left their homes, occupations, and families in Germany to make the 5,000 mile journey to a land they knew virtually nothing about. Their primary reason for leaving was to obtain the ability to worship as they pleased and avoid persecution from the state for their beliefs. These hardy farmers and craftsmen were exactly the people that America needed at that time. They landed in New York City and came to Western New York via the Erie Canal. Although the land in some other locations was more favorable, it was more expensive and these frugal settlers chose the land that is currently is Bergholz and surrounding communities in the Town of Wheatfield.