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TWO CENTURIES OF GERMANS IN LOWELL
 
Germans in the late Nineteenth Century
Between the end of the glassworks era in Lowell in the 1840s and 1890, there was little German immigration into the city, although considerable numbers of Germans continued to settle in other parts of the country.  According to 1880 census figures there were less than one hundred Germans living in Lowell, an industrial city with a population of some 60,000 at that time.  Some of these Germans were employed in the cotton and woolen mills as weavers, wool cleaners, and dyers, while others worked at different trades.  One notable immigrant, Austrian-born August Fels, became an agent for the Merrimack Woolen Mill in Dracut in 1877.  In the 1880s he succeeded John Ames as president of the Lowell and Dracut Street Railway Company, the first public transportation system in the city of Lowell.

      In contrast, the city of Lawrence had a total population of 39,000 in 1880 of which about 1,100 were Germans.  Why this difference?  Around 1850 German weavers from Saxony, Silesia and Bavaria, having escaped an economic crisis in their homeland, found work in the textile mills of Lawrence.  More Germans seemed to have been attracted to Lawrence where their culture flourished through such support networks as clubs, churches, and the German school.  This was not the case in Lowell, where Germans were not connected to a single, large employer like the textile mills.  Later, however, the Harvard Brewery would become the common denominator for a more cohesive group of German immigrants.

     By the end of the nineteenth century, the number of German and other immigrants from Europe increased greatly.  Steamships had replaced sailing ships and trans-Atlantic passage was reduced to 17 days or less.  Special passenger ships were built, and the railroad speeded up land transportation.

The Harvard Brewing Company 1898-1956
In 1894, the Consumer's Brewing Company was founded in Lowell and in 1898, this brewery changed its name to the Harvard Brewing Company.  The plant was the largest of its kind in the New England States.  It attracted many German brewery workers and their families, until by 1910, about 200 Germans were living in Lowell.  Most of these brewery workers settled around Plain Street where the brewery was located.  In 1913 they built their own German Hall, a place where the German-American Club, the German Ladies' Society, the members of the United Brewery Workers' Union, and the Workmen's Sick and Benefit Society could meet.  This hall was the center of the German neighborhood, where the German immigrants and their families often spent weekends socializing.  It helped relieve homesickness, but it was also a center for activities and celebrations.

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