You all probably realize that today is Columbus Day, but did you also know it's also Indigenous Peoples’ Day? Native Americans lived in the Frankenmuth area long (approximately 14,000 years) before its first German settlers came in 1845. They were organized into one group, but went by many names. Today, they are most commonly referred to as the “Chippewa” or “Ojibwe,” names specific to Native American groups in this region. They also refer to themselves as the “Anishinaabe,” meaning, “the first one lowered from above and placed on Mother Earth.”
The Anishinaabe typically lived in small bands, usually consisting of 5 to 25 families, who sustained themselves by hunting, fishing, gathering berries, and harvesting wild rice and corn. Their religion was also extremely sophisticated. They thought of themselves as being one of many elements of nature, rather than apart from it. They believed that a Great Spirit, Kitchi Manitou, created the heavens and earth, and then summoned lesser spirits to control the wind, water, and natural environment. Anishinaabe preserved their culture through word of mouth and passed it down for centuries.
In 1819, territorial Governor Lewis Cass negotiated the Treaty of Saginaw with the Anishinaabe. The treaty signed over a large swath of land for the price of $3,000, and the promise of $1,000 to be paid annually.
By the time that Frankenmuth’s first German settlers came to the region, most of the Anishinaabe were already living elsewhere. By all accounts, those that remained maintained friendly relations with the earliest German settlers. In fact, our collection holds oral histories of some of these encounters. Frankenmuther Anita Boldt (1911-2003) recalled in her memoirs,
“My Great-Grandparents also lived in a log house for a number of years after they came to Frankenmuth from Germany. Their property was in the area across the road from our present public schools. This entire area was still virgin forest and wilderness that they had to clear, so they would be able to plant crops and survive. Great-Grandmother finally had a little plot cleared for her garden. She had a little hand-hewn table between her log house and garden, where she would clean her vegetables before bringing them inside. One warm sunshiny day she sat outside at her table peeling potatoes when she heard a noise in the brush that still was all around their property. She looked up and saw about twenty Indians standing there and watching her. Nobody was around, she was all alone. Great-Grandfather was out in the fields. So she waved for them to come and as she entered her little cabin they followed. She had some bread that morning and there was meat in the cabin. So she gave them all something to eat. When they were finished they started to leave and kept saying, “Bushee-ni-Kawnee,” till they disappeared into the wood. When an interpreter came along some time later, she asked him what they said. He said that it means, “Thank you dear friends, Thank you dear friend.” A few weeks later, Great-Grandmother got up early in the morning to get a pail of water to make coffee for breakfast. As shen opened the door, she found a big hunk of venison on the step. She smiled and said, “I know where this comes from. My dear friends were back, but did not care to disturb me during the night, but left this meat to pay me back for feeding them.”
On May 30, 1983, an estimated 450 people gathered despite the rain. For what? To dedicate a memorial to the Anishinaabe. The 90-minute dedication program included speeches and cultural presentations by the Chippewa Indian tribe, its funders, and the Mayor of Frankenmuth. Designed by Harold and Larry Eckert of Frankenmuth, the memorial incorporates many aspects of Chippewa life. You may visit the Chippewa memorial near the Rose Garden and Memorial Park at:
830 E. Tuscola Street
Frankenmuth, MI 48734
And we are back! I hope y’all did not miss us too much, but another blog is coming your way. As with other blogs, we are looking towards Frankenmuth and the surrounding area’s history. Today we are taking a look at Hedwig “Aunt Hattie” Hubinger, a general store owner, gardener, cheese maker, and everyone’s “Aunt.
Hello and willkommen to this week’s blog post. We are stepping away from geography and larger concepts for a moment to talk about the thing that makes Frankenmuth, well Frankenmuth… People and beer. For this week, we are stepping back in time to talk about Frankenmuth’s first brewery owner Johann “John” Mathais Fallier.
Frankenmuthers, do you know the German saying, “Im Abschied ist die Geburt der Erinnerung.” I would translate this as, “With every farewell, a memory is born”. This saying came to my mind a few days ago when I realized my time in Frankenmuth was already drawing to an end!
But then I thought, “Wait, with Frankenmuth it’s different!” I won’t be leaving Frankenmuth with a memory, but with so many wonderful memories that, If you were to ask me to pick my top three Frankenmuth experiences, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Well, let me try anyway!
In your opinion, what does Frankenmuth tell us about the United States as a whole?
I would say it shows us that the United States is really a country of immigrants and that these immigrants have shaped the country and made it what it is today!
Frankenmuthers, have you ever imagined what it must have felt like for the German settlers of Frankenmuth to come here to start a new life in a foreign county, on a different continent?
If I really try to put myself in their shoes and imagine what that must have felt like, I realize what a drastic step they took by leaving their home country behind, perhaps forever, to come here! Imagine what it would feel like to leave your family, Frankenmuth, and the United States without knowing if and when you will be able to see them again and without the intent to ever come back home permanently?
Let me ask you a question: What is the first association that comes to mind when you think about the city of Frankenmuth? Right, the fact that it’s "Michigan’s Little Bavaria," or "Michigan’s most German town" of course!
Frankenmuth is a city where German heritage and culture live on, even over 175 years after the first 15 German settlers arrived. The buildings look German with their timber-framed architecture, you can enjoy German cuisine and stores, and German festival traditions like the annual Oktoberfest ensure that there is something fun going on all year round.
But how does all this look to a young modern-day German?
Happy "Washington's Birthday!"
"But wait FHA, isn't today President's Day? And isn't our first president's birthday actually tomorrow?"
We're glad you asked! Technically, today is officially "Washington's Birthday," not "President's Day." This day was originally a celebration of our first president's birthday (Feb 22). While Washington’s Birthday was an unofficial observance for most of the 1800s, it was not until the late 1870s that it became a federal holiday. Senator Stephen Wallace Dorsey of Arkansas was the first to propose the measure, and in 1879 President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law.
For the grand majority of the Cold War, the United States’ mainland was rarely in direct danger. There was the looming anxiety that nuclear weapons created, but an invasion of the US mainland was never to be something to fear. The problem of nuclear weapons became a very real and present fear at one single moment during the Cold War. For one month and four days during the fall of 1962, the US mainland was in the direct sights of nuclear warheads.
We are proud to present History at Home! History at Home is a virtual learning program that includes fun educational content, including a blog and our podcast. Even if you cannot visit us in person, there is still so much to do!