Uli Shouse, a native of Stuttgart, Germany, who moved to Columbia County four years ago, should feel right at home.
According to the most recently released 2005 census figures for Columbia County, the most Columbia County residents identify with a German ancestry.
"I have three German friends here,'' said Shouse, who agrees there seem to be many people of German descent in Columbia County. Shouse met her husband, David ,in Germany while he was serving in the military, and moved to Columbia County in 2002.
The latest census figures for the area, released two months ago, show that an estimated 14,651 people in Columbia County are either natural-born German or have ancestors who were born there. The second most people, 14,167, claim American ancestry. In third in Columbia County, at 11,782, were those of Irish ancestry.
Shelly Lowe, a spokeswoman for the Census Bureau, said the figures were derived from a sampling of 700 Columbia County residents who filled out a questionnaire. The figures that were calculated based on that sampling come with a margin of error. In the case of the German ancestry figure, that margin is 2,416. The margin of error for those who said they had an American origin is 3,036.
Lowe said the Census Bureau is wanting to do more accumulating of such statistics between the 10-year periods when a complete census is normally taken.
"Now, we do a subset survey on a rolling basis to about three million addresses every year around the year and we can pull out the same data but on a more regular basis,'' Lowe said.
According to the latest census survey, Aiken County also has its highest number of residents claiming German ancestry, at 21,101. In second is American, at 18,658. The third-highest count went to English ancestry, at 17,624.
The most Richmond County residents, however, seem to have associated with Irish ancestry, according to the census tally, which lists 17,437 of Irish descent. Those with German ancestry come in second place, at 16,950, while English takes third at 12,667.
Barbara Seaborn, a Columbia County historian who is researching and writing a book about the county's history, says that when it comes to those who originally came to Columbia County many generations ago, history might hold the answer to why there is a higher number of those with German and Irish ancestry in the area.
"Before and around the time the county was formed in the 1700s, most people who came here then were Scottish-Irish, they of the 'Georgia Crackers' and those who migrated south from the other colonies when so much Georgia land opened up after the (Indian) land sessions of 1763 and 1773,'' Seaborn said in an e-mail. "But there also were the 'Salzburgers,' or German Lutherans who settled mainly near (north of) Savannah but may have migrated to 'the backcountry' (Augusta/Columbia County) as that same land opened up.''
Concerning new residents to the county, Seaborn said Fort Gordon might hold the answer to those of German ancestry: "... Lots of American GI's married German women, which feeds that theory.''
Shouse tends to agree.
"Most of the women that live here, it's because of a GI,'' she said. "I know both of my friends, my German friends, they're married to a soldier.''
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