German American Museum
The German American Museum, Library and Family History Center provides a unique learning experience about the 165-year ethnic heritage of this community and surrounding areas.
The Museum is focused on several key themes:
- Why immigrants left Germanic countries and came to the Old Mission area of North East Iowa.
- The strong role of the religious and lay organizations in shaping the values of the community.
- The role of the clergy, school teachers and families in fostering the importance of education for enriching life.
- The steady growth and rapid change in agricultural practices and industrial arts in the community.
- The family and social life of the community.
- The role of sports in relating to nearby communities.
- The role of service in the military acquainting veterans with a broader sense of America and discovering the world. The exhibits and artifacts in the Museum focus on these themes.
The library books, materials and photographs are integrated with the exhibits to provide a better understanding of these themes. Currently the Museum and Library collections include several thousand artifacts, photos, documents, and books. These collections continue to grow because of the thoughtful donations made by many local families. Our challenge is to catalog and archive this rapidly growing collection. Currently the archive room is used to store and preserve these historic materials.
Family History Center
The Family History Center (FHC) is a repository of family genealogies and histories. Many local families have donated copies of their family histories, genealogies, photos, documents, or other related information to the FHC. The collection continues to grow as families begin to realize the importance of having a place to preserve and share their family story for present and future descendants.
Over the past decade Ken and Lorraine (deceased) Kuennen spent a significant amount of time gathering and organizing this collection of family histories and related materials. Currently the FHC collection consists of more than 200 family genealogies and histories. The FHC Room is very popular with researchers, family reunions and our lecture series. In our next issue of the newsletter we will begin publishing the names of the family genealogies in the current collection.
Please consider adding your family genealogy and history to the collection. A select list of family histories follows and can be viewed at the Family History Center.
More genealogies will be posted here in the near future.
- Bodensteiner, John Carl Family
- Lorraine (Bodensteiner) Kuennen, 1979.
- Boeding, Franz Xavier Family
- Unknown author. 1980.
- Drilling, Frank and Theresa Todt Family
- John and Clara Drilling, 1980.
- Duclos, Laurentz Family
- Unknown author, 2010.
- Franzen, Remke Family History
- Jane Thorsen 2004.
- Huinker, Descendants of Heinrich and Kathrina (Ellert) from Prussia to America, 1860 – 1982
- Deetta (Huinker) Hemesath, 1982.
- Klimesh, John Family History
- Cyril Klimesh and Dolores Ira, 1985.
- Kriener Family
- Alvina (Kriener) Imoehl, Eleanor (Kriener) Mracek, Alice (Kriener) Klemish, 1982.
- Kuennen, Family in America
- John H. Kuennen Family, 2004.
- Kuennen, J. Barney Family
- Denis Kuennen, 1983.
- Langreck, John H. Family
- Colette (Langreck) Ameling, 2008.
- Lichen, Theodore and Catherine
- Unknown author, no date.
- Manderscheids in United States and Germany
- Lorraine Manderscheid, 1995.
- Schaufenbuel Family, 1497 – 1993
- Mona Schaufenbuel, 1994.
- Leander Stammeyer, no date.
- Schmitt, Theodore family from Rohl, Germany
- Elnore Hackman, 1980.
- Wurzer, Michael Family, 1822 – 1903
- Marvin A. Wurzer, 2011.
Oral History Project
One of the missions that the St. Lucas Historical Society has begun and hopes to continue is an oral history project. Rosemary (Kuennen) Most and Carl Most have undertaken this project. Since 2004 they have interviewed a number of elderly persons with family ties to the St. Lucas area.
The interviews were recorded on cassette tapes in the homes of the person(s) being interviewed. The cassette tapes were then transferred to CDs by a professional studio. Several of the persons interviewed were quite elderly at the time of the recordings. Their voices may not have been strong but the studio was able to transfer the recordings to the CDs in a way that produced high quality recordings in terms of clarity of the voices and at a suitable volume level. The interviews were conducted between 2004 and 2008. Since that time, some of the persons interviewed have passed away.
This emphasizes the importance of interviewing people and families while they are still able to provide information of historical significance. Rosemary Most was the primary interviewer. She prepared a list of pertinent questions to be used during the interviews. These questions were based on her knowledge of the time-frame and cultural conditions in which these people lived.
The questions were intended to evoke memories that would provide important family information. For example, details about who they had grown up with, who were their family members, where they lived, their occupation etc.
This method was effective and allowed both the interviewer and the person(s) being interviewed to be on common ground. Much of the content resulting from the interviews is of historical interest. Information was provided about where in the community the person lived and was raised, description of the family structure, condition of farming and the economy during that time. They also talked about food that was common at that time. The type of food served at mealtime was German food and was recollected with fondness.
They gave details about school instruction and the subjects that were taught. Many of the teachers were Catholic nuns. The priests and the church were an important part of the community culture and played an important role in the formation of the character and belief of the young people
Families often know who their family historians are. It doesn't matter whether or not these family members think of themselves as storytellers. Some may be hesitant to be interviewed, but everyone has a piece of the history of the St. Lucas community and culture and has a story to contribute.
- Theresa (Franzen) Baumler (Mrs. Ray) 2004
- Florence (Lusson) Bodensteiner (Mrs. Clem) 2006
- Rose (Rausch) Bodensteiner (Interviewed by Lorraine Bodensteiner Kuennen) 1979
- Hermina (Rausch) Boeding (Mrs. Arnold) 2006
- Leonard and Odilea (Lechtenberg) Cremer 2007
- James and Verena (Rausch) Croatt 2004
- Mechtildis (Kuennen) Drilling (Mrs. Urban) 2006
- Mary (Kuennen) Finn (Mrs. Earl) (called Kinny) 2004
- Hugo Hackman, husband of Mildred (Weiling) 2006
- Elizabeth (Kuennen) Hageman (Mrs. Ignatius) 2007
- Irma (Wurzer) Hageman (Mrs. Florian) 2004
- Gertrude (Steffes) Johnson 2006
- Agnes (Mrs. Clarence) Soukup of the Chris and Cecilia (Kruse) family 2008
- Alice, (Mrs. Glen) Klimish and Alvina (Mrs. Jerome) Imoehl of the Joe and Julia (Kuennen) Kriener family 2008
- Linus of the Peter and Mary (Kuennen) Kriener family 2008
- Lucille (Hackman) Kruse (Mrs. Arthur) 2008
- Sister Rose Catherine Kuehner (Mary) of the Nick and Catherine (Hackman) Kuehner family 2005
- Arnold and Irma (Schmitt) Luzum 2008
- Meinert family 2004
- Mark Mihm, husband of Marge (Hauer) 2008
- Dale Ott, husband of Helen (Einck) 2004 Perry Veronica (Verna) Perry Wells (Mrs. Glen) 2006
- Marie (Stammeyer) Schaufenbuel (Mrs. William) 2007
- Margaret Josepha (Mihm) Smith (Mrs. Milton) 2004
- Lee Stammeyer 2015
- Nicky and Germaine (Schmitt) Winter 2006/2008
It is important that the oral interviews of our community members continue. If you or someone you know is interested in being interviewed, please contact the Society.
New Museum Exhibit
We are interested in developing an exhibition of the publications authored by members of local families. Many families have children and relatives scattered across the Nation and many have professional accomplishments, books and articles that need to be acknowledged and highlighted in such a display.
Please help us uncover these published materials and articles and significant professional accomplishments. Please forward the information of their accomplishments and a hard copy of their books and articles to the Museum for inclusion in this exhibition. Many thanks for your help.
Window Restoration Project
This project will restore the 52 double hung windows, storm windows, and their interior and exterior frames and sills in the 106 year old school building that houses the German American Museum, Library and Family History Center. This window restoration project completes the series of major efforts for: restoration of the roof system, tuck-pointing of the exterior brick facade, and providing a complete climate control system for all three levels of the building. This labor-intensive project will dramatically improve the appearance of the exterior facade of the building, prevent rain and wind damage inside the building and add to energy conservation in the building, and improve the climate control system in the building.
The Museum window restoration process involves a number of critical steps for an excellent final product:
- Remove the window sashes and storm windows
- Use a steam bath to remove paint on the outside and varnish on the inside
- Repair any damaged wood areas, sand the wood surfaces
- Insert the historic old glass, glaze and cure the material for ten days
- Paint exterior with primer exterior paint
- Paint interior with base wood oil, apply final coats of paint and varnish
- Install metal guides for the windows
- Remove old paint on the window frame
- Prime and paint the window frames
- Install new balance ropes
- Install the double hung windows
- Install the storm windows and remove any openings with weather stripping and energy conservation transparent tape
Please consider making a donation to help restore the window sets. The 52 sets of individual window, storm window, exterior frames are the defining characteristic of the Georgian Palladium architectural style of the Museum building.
We have applied for a matching funds grant from the State of Iowa. These grant selections will be announced in early July. If we obtain State of Iowa support, we will need to match their funds on this project. Our matching fund proportion per window is estimated at $900 per window set. We will be developing a large plaque with names of contributors. Several persons have already stepped forward to help us get this campaign underway. Your kind help is much appreciated.
The German-American Village of St. Lucas, Iowa
A paper for presentation at the Society for German-American Studies 28th annual Symposium in New Ulm, Minnesota on April 23-24, 2004. This paper tells the story of how St. Lucas came to be, and it surveys this German-American community over the past 150 years. The survey highlights some key topics for gaining an appreciation of the history of this unique community.
Topics include: the German Town and its Families, the Spiritual Center, Key Clergy and Community Benefactor, Land and Livelihood, and Importance of Education, It concludes with short essays by three of the authors, each with a unique perspective on Preserving the German Language and Heritage.
National Register of Historic Places Registration Documents
See the 2005 Iowa application to the National Park Service for the determination that placed the St. Luke School Building and Gymnasium on the Nation Registry of Historic Sites. This application contains a wealth of information on the history of the buildings and their educational use in the community. Thank you for your interest.
View National Register of Historic Places Registration