Charleston has always represented a unique cultural context, a city then and now characteristically not like any other. As the city evolved from its singular beginnings to its not-too-distant past, Charleston’s nineteenth-century immigrant community established a solid middle class marked by European roots and values, modifying the character of the older city into what we know today.
It was during the period from the early 1800s to the turn of the twentieth century that generations of acculturating immigrants became Charlestonians of a different character than their southern hosts, many of whom had gained fame of one sort or another and whose names appear in the history books as Charleston notables. The European settlers, carrying lots of cultural baggage, took up residence in an adopting city and, if light in worldly possessions and wherewithal, were laden with determination and strong of backbone. The intersection of their acculturation with major political and cultural events occurring at the local, state, and national levels effected the transformation of these European settlers into representative Charlestonians by the end of the century. In the process, Charleston's patriarchal planter society mired in itself was changed into a southern culture that, despite its historical evolution, continues to be undeniably connected to its past.
Robert Alston Jones, a Charleston native, is Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His degrees in German Language and Literature from Duke University and the University of Texas-Austin have heightened his appreciation of the German and English immigrant heritage in Charleston and facilitated his research into the European origins of an extended immigrant family. Here he portrays their experiences against the backdrop of the city’s unique political, cultural and social foundations.
Jones has lived in Milwaukee since 1966, but considers himself a Charlestonian at heart.
Robert Alston Jones
(2012), 2023, 6x9, paper, 330 pp.