April 23 12:15 PM

Getting acquainted with Frankenmuth

November 28, 2007
Frankenmuth has a wonderful public library called the James E. Wickson Memorial Library. I visited the Libaray this past Sunday afternoon.

I was interested in the history of Frankenmuth and found a Thesis written by Robert A. Dengler in 1953 he called "The German Settlement at Frankenmuth, Michigan, in its first century."

Dengler began, "During the first half of the nineteenth century, Michigan developed from a wild territory of virgin forests to a state populated largely by immigrants livng in small farming communities and lumbering towns. The population of Michigan increased from a mere 5,000 in 1810 to 300,000 in 1840. Most of the early settlements were concentrated within the area 50 miles north of the Ohio and Indiana borders.

He added that in 1831 there was only one white settler in the Saginaw Valley. In 1837 Saginaw City built its first public building, a combined courthouse and school. By 1860 the Saginaw Valley region also had five Lutheran Bavarian Settlements: Frankenmuth, Frankentrost, Frankenlust, Amelith and Frankenhilf.

Independence Village has its center of activity as you enter the front door; a reception lounge, the circular dining room and entertainment lounge beyond with a grand piano and large screen TV. Three "Hauses" spoke out from it. Mayer Haus, Craemer Haus and Loehe Haus. Daisy and I live a short way down the hall in Loehe Haus. I wondered where they got their names. Dengler's Thesis answered my question.

Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe from Bavaria began training men for mission work in America....especially evangelizing the Indians in Michigan. Loehe learned through reports that the Indians did not live in permanent settlements and soon realized that mission colonies in America were not practical. He was still interested in sending a group of emigrants under the leadership of a pastor to settle in the vicinity of Indian Villages so that the pastor could administer to the spiritual needs of the emigrants and carry on missionary work among the Indians. They lacked a leader and Loehe chose Friedrich August Craemer. He and a band of colonizing-missionaries weighed anchor and arrived in New York City in June, 1845. They traveled to Albany by boat, to Buffalo by train, and by boat to Detroit and Bay City and down Saginaw River to Saginaw City.

Loehe wrote Pastor Schmidt in Scio asking to find a suitable location for the settlement. Schmidt told one of his missionaries at Sebewaing to choose a site. Loehe had chosen in advance the name for the settlement. It was to be Frankemut, that is, 'the courage of the Franks.'

Michigan's most thickly populated area in the 1830's was Washtenaw County. Ann Arbor, vying for the seat of the state's capitol, had a population of nearly 1,000. Among the early immigrants in this region was a group of protestant Germans from Swabia who began settling in Ann Arbor, Scio, and Lodi townships in 1830.

Mayer Haus of Independence Village was named for the Mayer pastors of St. Lorenz Lutheran Church. The first was Emanuel Mayer who was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1859, emigrated to America and graduated from Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne in 1880. Several Mayer pastors followed in his footsteps.

St. Lorenz Lutheran Church is on the corner of Mayer Rd. and Tuscola Rd., kitty-corner from Independence Village.

— Country Cousin

Gertie is an Almont native and historian. She has been writing a local column for us for over 30 years. You'll enjoy her friendly and colorful style of writing.
Castle Creek
04 - 23 - 19
Site Search


Thanks for visiting Tri City Times