German visitors reinforce Maeystown’s origins

Visitors from Bellheim, Germany to Maeystown are, from left, Sigrid and Hermann Joseph Schwab, Ute and Klaus Schaeffner, Dirk Schaeffner and Bernd Schuler. (Alan Dooley photo)

A group of six citizens of Bellheim, Germany visited heavily German influenced Maeystown over the weekend to strengthen ties between the two villages.

The flow has been both ways in recent years, and while there is no officially recognized sister city link such as Columbia and Waterloo have with their German counterparts, the linkage is vibrant and growing every year.

The six visitors are members of the Bellheim Kulturverein, or historical society. They are: Ute and Klaus Schaeffner, Sigrid and Hermann Joseph Schwab, Bernd Schuler and Dirk Schaeffner. They were hosted by Shirley and Buzz Asselmeier of Columbia, David and Marcia Braswell of Maeystown and the Maeystown Preservation Society.

They flew into Chicago, where they were met by the Asselmeiers. They first toured Chicago before heading south, where they also visited St. Louis and Columbia before heading to Maeystown.

In Maeystown, they attended services at St. John United Church of Christ and ate meals at Vici’s Front Porch and The Tavern before enjoying the pleasant weather and a walk to the old rock mill and museum.Β  There, they met numerous citizens for a 2 p.m. reception.

During the reception, the German delegation and their village hosts exchanged gifts, including books and historic map re-productions that will be displayed inside the museum.

The German visitors were given aprons with the Maeystown logo, books and other commemorative items.Β  One meaningful gift for them to take back to Germany included pieces of metal from the original metal steeple covering of St. John UCC, with prints of the church on them.

It was noted that the metal had withstood the ravages of time and weather for 140 years.

Information displayed at the museum tells a story of numerous German immigrants who came to the region in the 1850s, following the German revolution of 1848. Many settled in the village, originally known as Maeysville, and today, numerous family names from that era remain in the village or nearby.

Among them are: Hoffmann, Henerfauth, Sutter, Job and Doll, as well as Bentz, Marxer, Kramer, Stein, Esswein and Jung.

The area was heavily Protestant German, and much business and daily life was conducted in that language — church services were conducted in German until 1943.

The German visitors split up after their Maeystown visit, with some heading south through Memphis and to New Orleans before returning to their homeland.

And of course, over the coming winter, several of their friends – new and old – will be putting plans in place to trace the route in reverse, going to Bellheim and visiting friends there.

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Alan Dooley

Alan is a photojournalist -- he both shoots pictures and writes for the R-T. A 31-year Navy vet, he has lived worldwide, but with his wife Sherry, calls a rambling house south of Waterloo home. Alan counts astronomy as a hobby and is fascinated by just about everything scientific.
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