Find German restaurants, stores and events in Arkansas.
Germans in Arkansas
On May 22, 1833, the Arkansas Gazette newspaper reported the arrival of 140 Germans to the state. These settlers were part of the Mainzer Emigration Society and planned to create a German colony in the state of Arkansas. They were escaping political strife and economic difficulties that plagued the not yet unified German kingdoms during the 1820s and 1830s. However, assimilating into Anglo-American life was not part of their plan. Like many German immigrants in America, the Mainzer emigrants planned to build an autonomous community that would give them the freedom to speak their language, practice their religion, and preserve their traditions and culture. While their objective was noble, it was one that unfortunately couldn’t stand the test of time. As opposed to building one large and robust German settlement in Arkansas, Germans actually built modest communities all over the state. Since the communities were rather small, they were more susceptible to assimilation, particularly during WWI, when most Germans in America were feeling pressure to suppress their “Germanness.” Although Germans comprised the largest immigrant group in early Arkansas, there are unfortunately very few physical traces left today.
While there may not be many German historical landmarks in Arkansas, visitors still have some opportunities to learn about the state’s German past. The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie, located in the German-founded city of Stuttgart displays a collection of relics from the state’s early pioneers. In addition to the collection of German artifacts, Arkansas also hosts an annual “Little Rocktoberfest” in the state capital. There are also two more Oktoberfests in the cities of Fairfield and Eureka Springs that give visitors the opportunity to sample various beers and taste German food. These Oktoberfests in Arkansas allow visitors to still celebrate like a German today, even if the early German settlers’ colony was never achieved.