[Mappy Monday] : The Second Barn Built in Frankenmuth

Detail, Section 28, Frankenmuth Township 1877 plat. [1]

Detail, Section 28, Frankenmuth Township 1877 plat. [1]

Check out the upper left hand corner of this detail from an 1877 plat map of Frankenmuth Township. It notes the “Second Barn Built in Town” which lies on the north side of Tuscola Road on the Georg Conrad Bernthal property. It’s not often I’ve seen extraneous notes like this on plats, but the mapmaker thought it significant enough to mention. Georg Conrad Bernthal took over the Bernthal homestead from his father Georg Martin Bernthal. The property still bears the Bernthal name today. Pictures of a contemporary barn on the farm were featured in a previous post here.

Reference Notes:

[1] F. W. Beers, Atlas of Saginaw Co. Michigan, From Recent and Actual Surveys and Records Under the Superintendence of F. W. Beers (New York: F. W. Beers & Co., 1877), 81; digital images, Michigan County Histories and Atlases (http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/micounty/ : accessed 25 February 2014).

Military Monday : 29th Michigan Infantry. Rally, Boys!

29th Michigan Infantry recruitment poster; 1864.

29th Michigan Infantry recruitment broadside; 1864.[1]

This past November Johann Georg Leonhardt Weber (a.k.a. John G. Weber) was featured in a Tombstone Tuesday post on FrankenGen. Through my research, I believe that John G. is the only direct Bernthal descendant to serve in the United States Civil War. The Civil War fascinates me in general, and family involvement interests me particularly. For this reason, I have been scoping out material on John G. Weber’s company and regiment. John G. Weber enlisted in company D, 29th Michigan Infantry on 17 August 1864, two weeks after the date printed on the broadside shown above.[2] Perhaps he answered the call to serve after viewing a similar advertisement.

Reference Notes:

[1] Civil War broadside advertising for enlistment in Michigan’s Twenty-ninth Infantry, with the text “Rally, Boys, Rally for the Flag! And Avoid the Draft,” dated 3 August 1864, Marshall, Michigan; digital image, The Archives of Michigan, Seeking Michigan (http://www.seekingmichigan.org : accessed 8 February 2015).

[2] Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865, 46 vols. (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Ihling Bros. & Everard, 1903[?]), 29: 68; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2014).

Settling In : Documentary’s Airdates Announced

Airdates for the new documentary Settling In: Immigrants & Cultures That Built Mid-Michigan have been announced. The program premieres on public television station Q-TV (Mid-Michigan) this February 28 at 7pm. It will also air at 8pm on March 5. Unfortunately, there are currently no plans to make the show available in other parts of the state. It will also not be made available online.

Settling In will tell the stories of immigrants to Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region. Among the various groups featured will be the German settlement at Frankenlust. Previews were featured in two previous posts here and here.


[Those Places Thursday] Frankenmuth : “A Modern Arcadia” circa 1898

Frankenmuth, known for its Bavarian-style architecture and family-style chicken dinners, has been a tourist attraction for decades. When did it begin to gain its popularity as a great place to visit? I had heard it began during the Prohibition era when it earned some fame as a place to get a good meal and possibly some bootleg beer. But it seems it was gaining a reputation long before then as asserted in the following 1898 article, transcribed below, from The Saginaw Evening News.


A Modern Arcadia. 

Such Might Frankenmuth be Regarded by a Poet.

If the Pen of Longfellow could be provoked from its long and silent rest, a fruitfield would be offered for its inspired mission in the peaceful and prosperous village of Frankenmuth. This place has become famous throughout the state because of its peculiarities of customs and the uniform contentedness of its people. Settled in 1845 by sturdy and industrious settlers, it has ever preserved an individuality and worked out its own destiny regardless of the changes which take place in the outside world.

The village has always been cut off from railroads and being compelled at first to depend entirely upon themselves, the inhabitants grew to be almost entirely self-supporting. Almost everything that they need is manufactured right in their own village, and besides supplying their own wants they export many articles of commerce to the outside world. The German arts of brewing, wine-making, cheese-making, flour milling and weaving are all brought to perfection there.

Perhaps the most striking feature of Frankenmuth life is the religious side of its existance [sic]. When the earliest settlers were yet on their way to the country they organized a church and called it St. Lorenz Lutheran church. A building was erected as soon as possible after settling the village and that later gave place to the splendid edifice, capable of seating 2,000 people which now stands as a monument to the religious spirit of the people. On each anniversary of the dedication of the church a festival is held which attracts thousands of people from miles around. This occurs the last Sunday in August.[1]


Frankenmuth, Michigan, circa 1895. [2] St. Lorenz Lutheran Church is visible in  the right background.

Frankenmuth, Michigan, circa 1895. [2] St. Lorenz Lutheran Church is visible in the right background.

Reference Notes:

[1] “A Modern Arcadia,” The Saginaw (Michigan) Evening News, 29 June 1898, p. 5, col. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 14 January 2014).

[2] E. A. Mayer, Geschichte der Evangelisch-Lutherischen St. Lorenz-Gemeinde U. A. C. zu Frankenmuth, Mich. (St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House Print., 1895), n. p. (placed prior to title page); digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 8 January 2015).

FrankenGen’s First Year in Review

Happy New Year, readers!

FrankenGen began in January 2014. Following are the most popular posts from FrankenGen’s first year:

1. Did it rain on Grandma’s wedding? : Using Historic Weather Data in Your Genealogy Research

2. Field Trip Friday : Oakhill Cemetery (South), Grand Rapids, Michigan

3. Military Memories : Frankenmuth Veterans Memorial

4. 3 free local newspaper archives

5. Tombstone Tuesday : Johann Georg Leonhardt & Anna Abalonia (Heinlein) Weber

The post I wish more people had viewed was:

Generations of Love

Probably my favorite post of the year was:

“Passing of the Last of the Old Pioneers.”

Thanks for reading FrankenGen. I plan to continue adding content in 2015. Your suggestions and comments are always welcome!

Tomorrow’s History : Satow Drugs – Saying Goodbye to a Frankenmuth Landmark

Satow Drugs, Frankenmuth, Michigan; 2014.

Satow Drugs, Frankenmuth, Michigan; 2014.

Last week I came down with a formidable cold while visiting my mother in Frankenmuth. And that gave me occasion to call at Satow Drugs for what was likely the last time. Something of a Frankenmuth mainstay, Satow Drugs is a local, independently operated drug store, and it will soon be shuttering its doors. A family-run operation, it has been in business for over seventy years. Satow’s is the real deal, where the owner-pharmacists know your family’s medical history better than you do. It even has a soda fountain; the sort of place where, if you are of a certain age, you might saunter up to the counter, nod your head in exactly the right fashion, and be invited to join the locals enjoying their morning coffee. Satow’s was also the place where as a child I would buy my mom a Precious Moments figurine to surprise her on Mother’s Day. More than a drug store, Satow’s was a tradition, seventy-plus years in the making.

Thank you Satow Drugs and pharmacist Ken Boesnecker for taking care of us all these years. Thank you for giving us a place of real community. You’re irreplaceable.

History of pharmacy mural panel, Satow Drugs exterior, Frankenmuth, Michigan; 2014.

History of pharmacy mural panel, Satow Drugs exterior, Frankenmuth, Michigan; 2014.