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September 23, 1997

The recent column about the number of hard-working Germans and Austrians who came here around the time of the opening of the Cherokee Outlet needs to be supplemented with information about those of other national origins who helped make up the band of pioneers in this new country. Perhaps some of your ancestors were among that group, and maybe this will shed some light on those in your family.

In 1900 the first Federal census after the 1893 land run was taken in this area, and that provides the basis for these figures. The Census report, incidentally, is on film file at Perry Carnegie Library and that is the chief source of information for this modest little study. Because the composition of the U.S. population was undergoing dramatic ethnic changes in the wake of unprecedented immigration, the Census Bureau included questions about the lands of national origin of citizens who were counted that year.

The first official nose-count showed Perry's total population to be 3,351. Of that number, 1,264 were first-generation Americans of German parentage and 212 were German-born. That was far ahead of any other national strain. In addition, 270 were of Austrian heritage and thus were closely related to the German contingent. Native-born Austrians numbered 65.

The second-largest first generation nationality was composed of immigrants from Moravia and Bohemia, and they were referred to collectively as "Czechs." They numbered 160, plus 611 whose parents came from that part of Western Europe. All other-nationalities were single- or double-digit quantities. A number of blacks took part in the run and today they would be counted as African origin, but they were not so identified in the 1900 census.

Forty-five were natives of England, with another 284 claiming to be sons or daughters of native-born English. Thirty-four were Irish-born and 428 were first generation Irish. The Russian delegation consisted of 30 native-born and 91 first generation immigrants. If you're still following this, here are the others:

Switzerland, 11 native-born, 67 first generation.
Denmark, 11 native-born, 72 first generation.
Norway, six native-born, 30 first generation.
Belgium, two native-born, five first generation.
Wales, two native-born, eight first generation.
Holland, one native-born, eight first generation.
Scotland, 10 native-born, 65 first generation.
Sweden, 13 native-born, 40 first generation.
France, seven native-born, 32 first generation.
Greece, one native-born, two first generation.
Poland, three native-born, 12 first generation.
Hungary, five native-born, 15 first generation.
Mexico, one native-born, three first generation.
Asia, one native-born, 10 first generation.
Italy, no native-born, one first generation.
Prussia, no native-born, two first generation.

Interesting information to contemplate as we remember those intrepid men and women who came here from other cultures in the early days. They braved the wilderness to create a new society in this fertile land. Although we don't often think of the American Southwest as an example of the melting pot experience customarily assigned to the East and West coasts of the U.S., the census figures tell us that our community is indeed a blend of nationalities. Let's be thankful for the many good qualities that issued forth from that mixture of frontiersmen and women when they came together here. Their work ethic, their perseverance, their dignity in the face of adversity, still distinguish the frugal, peace loving people of this land. May we never forget our heritage.