Becoming Eagan: The Making of a Community, 1972-2010

This week, the City of Eagan published my book, Becoming Eagan. As recent history, it was a challenge in that almost all the sources were still alive — different than nineteenth century history! The project included more than a dozen oral history interviews with key people. The book tells the story of a rural community, south of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, that was swept up in a population boom. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the heart of the book comes down to the choices that were made by the city’s leadership. The book, hardbound and lavishly illustrated, is available at the Eagan Community Center for $25.

New Ulm Turner Ladies

I am proud to have been a board member at New Ulm Turner Hall for more than a decade. It is truly “living history” — the oldest bar in Minnesota under the same organization as the oldest gymnastics program in Minnesota. Still fulfilling the same mission that it began with in 1856. That’s remarkable and a testament to the work of generations of board members. There is another equally important part of the story — the Turner Ladies. Organized as the Damenverein in 1889, this auxiliary has raised money for significant projects while assisting with banquets, dinners, and special occasions. For this year’s Stiftungsfest, I interviewed several members. Here is the half-hour video.

Loyalty & Dissent: Brown County and WWI

This exhibit is now open at the Brown County Historical Society in New Ulm, Minnesota. It was a great team effort to develop. I’m especially proud because it addresses significant issues that have relevance today.

A Sigel Township Farm

For our documentary, A Heritage Transplanted: German Bohemians in America, we gathered nearly 100 hours of interviews. The full-length videos will be available to researchers at the German Bohemian Heritage Society Library and the Brown County Historical Society. There was an abundance of wonderful stories, and none better than those told by Pat Kretsch. Last fall we toured the Sigel Township farm owned by his two uncles and an aunt. The interview is available here for the first time.

A Homeland Transplanted DVD Now Available

gbhs DVD

The German-Bohemian Heritage Society has just released the DVD of our documentary, A Homeland Transplanted: German Bohemians in America. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, immigrants from German-speaking Bohemia came to America, with many settling near New Ulm, Minnesota. There, they lived on farms in the surrounding townships or in neighborhoods like Goosetown and the Wallachei. They brought the folkways of their homeland with them to the new world. Today, the traces of that culture — their Heimat — linger. Many recall the use of the “Böhmish” dialect at home or in the fields. At the family table, bread dumplings with horseradish gravy or “schmierkucken” are still a part of their family fare. Older members of the community carry on crafts such as music-making and klöppeled lace. Based on oral history interviews, this documentary tells the story of a homeland transplanted. 122 minutes

For more information, contact:
German-Bohemian Heritage Society
P. O. Box 822
New Ulm, MN 56073

Flatboatmen of the Frontier

Friends are taking off for a year with their two sons, heading down the Mississippi River in a houseboat. It’s the life of Huck Finn, hopefully without the drama. It will be a voyage that they will never forget. We talked a little about the history of flatboats, and I sent links to several websites about George Caleb Bingham and his evocative early nineteenth century paintings. In the search for more history, I was sent to this fascinating documentary, done in 1941. It begins in a low key manner, never quite stating that it is a recreation.