John was born in Aldingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany on August 20, 1888. As an infant, he and his parents, Johannes and Christina (Birk) Spiegel, sailed to America and arrived in New York on May 3, 1889 on the SS Lahn
We were lucky enough to have his own recollections of his life preserved and I will leave a small portion of it here:
Born in Germany, Town of Aldingen, Province of Württemberg, in the year 1888--Aug. 20th. Left Germany with my parents when eight months of age. Arrived at Hancock, Michigan in the Spring of 1889; from there to Calumet, Michigan, and from Calumet to Hurontown, Michigan. [In]1891 from there to Atlantic Mine, Michigan where I got my first schooling, [but] after attaining the fifth grade I was compelled to leave school, and go to work at the age of eleven, due to Father’s health. Wages was $22 per month, working in a Rock House at hard labor.
Photocopy of original Handwritten recollection
He married Lydia Ann Lindgren at age 22 on the 11 Feb 1911 and had 7 children including my great grandma Ethel.
Wedding Photo of John and Lydia
He ended up leaving Lydia for another woman named Blanche and died in Princeton, IL on Feb19, 1954.
Obviously, John was an infant when he was brought over from Germany but it had to have been hard for his parents to make the daring journey over to the unknown and had to go through many difficulties. In the 1880s, German immigration reached a high of nearly 1.5 million that decade. Changing economic patterns left more people without land. Yet, the poorest people did not leave because they could not finance the trip. It was the lower middle class of agricultural laborers that most frequently set off to make a new life across the ocean.