Editor's Note: Frankenmuth native Wally Kern submitted this column to the News,
as German-American Day approaches this Thursday, October 6. Following is his thoughts
on the holiday.
October 6 is the day that the United States celebrates German-American Day. This
has been done annually by a presidential proclamation since 1983 when President Reagan
made the first proclamation. This was done to honor the 300 th anniversary of the
first German settlement in the United States in 1683 when 13 German families came
and founded Germantown, Pennsylvania. Individual Germans did come earlier such as
to Jamestown and were a part of other settlements. The German-American Day is to
recognize the contributions of progress and prosperity to this country made by people
of German ancestry.
Therefore it is fitting that the day be remembered in Frankenmuth since the founding
of our community was by people of German heritage. The founding fathers came from
Franconia from the state of Bavaria. Later German people from other regions of Germany
came to settle in Frankenmuth. Thus Frankenmuth has become a melting pot of people
with a German heritage.
A distinction is made with highlighting our Franconian heritage. In culture and
ancestry Franconians are distinctly different from the Bavarians with which our heritage
is often associated. The Franconian administrative districts were incorporated into
the Bavarian State in the early 1800s by Napoleon. Franconian people speak the Franconian
dialects and are mostly Lutherans. Bavarians speak the Bavarian dialect and are mostly
Catholic. Bavarians have their own culture and are somewhat an extension of the Austrian
region. The Franconians come from the Frank tribe which at one time ruled most of
France and Germany. The Franconian identity still exits in Germany today.
Frankenmuth was settled in 1845 by 13 settlers from Middle Franconia. Additional
settlers came quickly to enlarge the Frankenmuth settlement and form additional settlements
in the area. The immigration groups were formed by a Pastor Löhe from Neuendettelsau
for the German people to seek a better life and do mission work among the Indians.
Frankenmuth prospered as an agricultural community supported by services in the
town such as stores, fl our mills, and a lumber mill. The land in the area is mostly
fl at and fertile which makes it suitable for farming. Culturally, Frankenmuth prospered
with it strong religious practices and work ethic.
The city has been known for its chicken dinners, Christmas store, and breweries.
It now is known as one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the State of
Michigan with events almost every week. In addition, it has attracted people to live
in the community that work in other neighboring cities. The German heritage manifests
itself in the clean community with buildings using German architectural designs and
prolific flowers throughout the city.
German-American Day October 6 "A Reflection on Our Franconian Heritage" From the Frankenmuth
News on October 5, 2011. By: Wallace Kern