A study of the lists of the early arrivals in the county will show that most of them were of English descent, and came to Calhoun from some other state or territory. A large number settled first in Missouri, especially in Lincoln County, and then came to Calhoun at a later date. Before 1840 we find no settlement of any certain nationalities. The Germans and the Irish who came before that date were scattered about the county among the English and the few French.
The Germans started to come into Point Precinct soon after 1840 and formed two distinct settlements. One group was composed of Germans from Hanover who were members of the Catholic Church. They settled in Brussels and the region to the south and east of the village. The other group of Germans were of the Lutheran faith and settled to the west of Brussels. The German language was used to a considerable extent in the homes, churches, and parochial schools until the entry of The United States into World War.
In Batchtown and neighborhood territory there were Germans of both religions, but they were mixed among English and Irish and had more difficulty in keeping the German language. Because of the presence of a large number of English speaking people it was not possible to use the language in the churches or school to any extent.
Meppen was settled by Germans, most of whom came from the Province of Hanover. They named their village after one of the towns of Hanover. Since the community was almost one hundred percent German, the German language was used to a considerable extent in the homes, church, and parochial school up to 1918.
About Hardin and Gilead most of the people were of English extraction. Several miles north of Hardin a large number of French settled, their settlement being known as "French Hollow". Many of these people were not from France, but from the French Cantons of Switzerland. They made little attempt to use the French language in their homes, and the presence of a large number of English and Irish made the use in the church impossible.
A number of Irish settled in the region of Hamburg, especially to the east of the town, their settlement being known as "Irish Hollow". Most of them were Catholic and attended the church at Michael.
The first census that was taken after Calhoun became a county was in 1830. The population at that time was listed as 1,092 of which number 1,090 were free white people. This same census mentions that there were no colored people in the county, so the other two people included in the first figures were probably indentured servants. The county records of the 30's mention the presence of several in the county.
In the next census report, that of 1840, the presence of colored people is mentioned. The following table will show the number in each census report, together with their place of residence:
1840 — 15 colored people (13 males and 2 females).
1850 — 1 colored person (lived in Gilead Precinct).
1860 — 2 colored persons (1 in Belleview, 1 in Gilead).
1870 — 3 colored persons (1 in Belleview, 2 in Gilead).
1880 — 1 colored person (lived in Gilead).
1890 — and after, none found in county.
After 1890 the people of the county were very much opposed to having colored people in the county and on several occasions they were driven from the county. A story is told about the county of several negroes being killed in a fight with a white man. This fight took place in the Civil War days at Hamburg. A third negro in the party was wounded but succeeded in reaching St. Louis where he told other members of his race about the reception that he had received in Calhoun. The colored people that lived in the county were free, and there is no evidence to show that any slaves were ever brought to the county before the Civil War.
The largest gain in population came between the years 1840 and 1860. This was due to the great number of Irish and Germans that were arriving. The population by years is as follows:
5,347 total population of the county
3,524 born in the state of Illinois
204 born in Ohio
60 born in New York
108 born in Pennsylvania
144 born in Indiana
171 born in Kentucky
37 born in British America
96 born in England and Wales
110 born in Ireland
5 born in Scotland
875 born in Germany
36 born in France
86 born in Switzerland
19 born in Holland
1 born in Norway-Sweden.
Each year, the percent of foreign born inhabitants decreases, and it is probable that there are less than 1% of the population of the county that do not use the English language at the present time. There are few persons living in the county that are of southern European extraction.
Extracted 20 May 2017 by Norma Hass from History of Calhoun County, pages 28-30.
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