“No doubt you have been curious for some time how large our Frankenhilf colony will be. Do not be disturbed when I tell you that as of now my family is the only one that will go there.”
-Carl Gottlob Ammann
Carl Gottlob Ammann (surname also spelled Amman) and his family were the first settlers of Frankenhilf, known today as Richville. Frankenhilf was founded in 1850, the fourth and last of Pastor Wilhelm Loehe’s mission colonies in the Saginaw Valley. Three letters written by Ammann were preserved and translated, and this typescript is now available for free download on FamilySearch.
The first letter relates the settlers’ journey across the ocean and onward to Frankenmuth. Ammann discusses the settlement at Frankenmuth, the defection of his fellow colonists, the procurement of provisions, and the selection of the site of his family’s new home.
“During the winter many Indians on the hunt camped near us…They are civilized to a certain extent, but they have no permanent residence.”
Gottlob Ammann’s second letter to his parents tells of local Native American population, the construction of a road from Frankenmuth to Frankenhilf, the clearing and planting of the land, and the construction of his family’s new log cabin home. He also explores his and other settlers’ adaptation to life in America.
“There will always be a Christmas tree decorated with homemade confections.”
Pending Christmas plans are outlined in Ammann’s 1852 letter. He exchanges family news with his parents and discusses the burgeoning church which meets in his home.
Details found in the letters help paint a picture of early life in Frankenmuth and Frankenhilf. Mentions of other early settlers in the area are also sprinkled throughout the texts. They are a worthwhile read for those researching family in this area.
Ammann, Carl Gottlieb; Vollmer, George, translator; Hock, Albert L., translator. “Letters of Carl Gottlieb Ammann: the first settler in Frankenhilf, 1851.” Typescript, n.d., FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 July 2014), Family History Books.