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?
Following their surrender in World War II, world leaders divided Germany into four pieces to be occupied until the nation could re-enter the world stage. The US, UK, France and USSR all received a segment of the nation to occupy. However, with the nation’s capital, Berlin, firmly in the Soviet section the city was further split four ways to restrict the Soviet influence over the city. Here, in Berlin was where one of the most physical representations of the Cold War would stand. That representation, the Berlin Wall. For many of us, the Berlin Wall’s history is presented as the day it fell on the 9th of November 1989. The wall, however, stood as the constant reminder for German citizens that they were separate. This history of the wall is more than its fall.
What are the chances that you could become an Olympic athlete? As of today, the US is sending 621 athletes across 36 sports to Tokyo. While historians are not known for our math skills, this intern has calculated that one has a 0.00019% chance of becoming an Olympian. But look on the bright side, according to USA swimming your chances to become a US Olympic swimmer or diver are hovering at an *attainable* 0.00013%. Against these odds, 10,931 men and women from the U.S. have gone on to represent the Stars and Stripes on the Olympic stage. This blog will go on to recognize and celebrate the Olympians that have been produced locally.
Though Frankenmuth is probably the most well-known German settlement in the region, it wasn’t the only one. In fact, there were three other German settlements, one of those being Frankenlust.
If you ever drive North on I-75 or M-84, you may have noticed signs marking “Frankenlust Township.” Wait, why did Germans settle there when Frankenmuth was already fairly well established? Why would they choose to settle 25 miles away? I’m glad you asked!
What defines a community? What gives meaning to a place? Sure, buildings and businesses can provide great meaning and memories for many of us. But, at their root, is the people themselves.
Frankenmuthers, have you ever stopped and thought to yourself how unique Frankenmuth is? There is a reason it attracts thousands and thousands of tourists a year, and it doesn’t all have to do with Frankenmuth’s wonderful shops and chicken dinners… Though, who would pass them up???
Frankenmuth is an extremely unique city and was the first German settlement in Michigan. It all started when Lutheran Pastor Wilhelm Loehe felt inspired to spread the Lutheran faith. He organized a group of settlers to Michigan. After writing back and forth to Pastors in Indiana, Loehe approved of a location along the Cass River. He named the location “Frankenmuth” — “Franken” representing the Province of Franconia and “Muth” meaning “courage” — Thus, “Frankenmuth” means “courage of the Franconians.”
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!