The Lovira Hart Letters : Frankenmuth Noted

The Hart family of Tuscola Township, Tuscola County were early Michigan pioneers, settling here, as my knowledgeable uncle proudly tells me, “before Michigan was a state.”[1] Several letters spanning the years 1837-1853 written by the family’s patriarch, Lovira Hart, and his wife to family in New York State are today housed in the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library[2]. Transcriptions of the letters were published in Hildred Jay Hart’s Genealogical History of Lovira Hart, Sr. and His Ancestors and Descendants 1605-1976.[3] Not only do these letters give details of their family life, they also provide insight into the early settlement of Michigan’s Saginaw Valley.

Though not explicitly named, the new German settlement at Frankenmuth was noteworthy enough to gain mention in two letters written by Lovira Hart of neighboring Tuscola Township. In the excerpt below, it is clear that Lovira had already visited the German settlers not too long after their arrival.

Aug. 24 1845

“A new settlement has ________ Reserve between here and Bridgeport ________ seven Dutch families they are direct from Germany of the German Lutheran Order and have brot [sic] their Preacher with two Church bells they have also got their School Teacher and they expect more of their Country men soon to follow them they appear intelligent and can most of them speak the English language and possessing some considerable money they bought about one sec of land on the River at 20/ per acre.”[4]

Reference Notes:

[1] This oral history corresponds to the published assertion of Lovira Hart’s arrival in Tuscola County in 1836. See, History of Tuscola and Bay Counties, Michigan : with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers (Chicago: H. R. Page & Co., 1883), 33; digital images, University of Michigan Library, Michigan County Histories and Atlases ( : accessed 14 August 2015).

[2] “Lovira Hart papers, 1837-1853,” entry, University of Michigan Library, Mirlyn Catalog ( : accessed 14 August 2015).

[3] Hart, Hildred Jay. Genealogical History of Lovira Hart, Sr. And His Ancestors and Descendants 1605-1976. Centreville, Michigan: n.p., 1979.

[4] Hildred Jay Hart, Genealogical History of Lovira Hart, Sr. And His Ancestors and Descendants 1605-1976 (Centreville, Michigan: n.p., 1979), 188; excerpt from letters dated 24 August, 1845, written by Lovira Hart.


The Letters of Carl Gottlob Ammann : First Settler of Frankenhilf

 “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 ( : accessed 17 July 2014), Family History Books.