Here in Family Tree Magazine’s hometown of Cincinnati, where the population in 1900 was 60 percent German-Americans and a downtown neighborhood is called Over the Rhine, Oktoberfest is a pretty big deal.
The oldest and biggest Oktoberfest, of course, starts in late September in Munich, Germany—which is celebrating its 200th Oktoberfest this year.
Oct. 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen held a grand horse race in Munich to celebrate their wedding five days earlier. The successful event was held again the next year and the next, and Germans—who continue to claim the largest ancestor group in US censuses—brought the celebration to the United States.
Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest includes the Chicken Dance and plenty of goetta, aka “Cincinnati Caviar.” Supposedly, ours is the largest celebration in the United States. Other Oktoberfests take place across the country in towns such as La Crosse, Wis.; Fredericksburg, Texas; and Tulsa, Okla.
Here’s our article about how a fellow Cincinnati genealogist unpuzzled surname variations to discover his German roots.
Our German Heritage Toolkit has helpful articles for you to explore your own German roots, including
- a roundup of German research websites, books and organizations
- how to use Meyers-Orts- (a handbook for tracking down German villages)
- translations of words you’ll see in German records
… and more. For extra assistance, you can download our research guide to German ancestors, available from Family Tree Shop or look into our Find Your German Roots Family Tree University course.
Family Tree Magazine Plus members with German roots can check out our online research guides to Prussian and Bavarian ancestors, and to Germanic ancestors who lived outside of German borders.