In the past few weeks, descendants of members of the Giessen Emigration Society, have been revisiting their family history on both sides of the pond! While the exhibit Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America has been on tour in Bremen, Germany at St. Stephanis Kulturkirche, several families from the United States have visited and admired calling it “Excellent!”
At the beginning of June, Paul and Sharon (Cookie) Stahlschmidt, descendants of Anton Stahlschmidt’s son Engelbert, who was one year old when he arrived on the ship the Olbers in New Orleans, visited the exhibit in Bremen. Later they, Agnes Stahlschmidt and her sister Nancy Tsupros, who are descendants of Agnes Freymuth, another member of the Society; visited with Peter Roloff, while he was working on audio portions of his new documentary to be released in November. The film, also called Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America will be part of the St. Louis International Film Festival, and will be shown at the Missouri History Museum at 3 pm on November 23, 2014.
On the Fourth of July, Joan Koechig, her husband Martin from St. Charles, Missouri, visited the Utopia exhibit for an All-American Barbeque, before the exhibit closed its run in Bremen. Now the exhibit is packed and ready for its transatlantic voyage to Baltimore, the same voyage members of the Society made to the U.S. in 1834. It will open in September in Washington, D.C. at the German American Heritage Foundation Museum there.
In November, it will open at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. It was at the Missouri History Museum’s Library and Research Center, that on July 15th, Janet and Wim Blees from Hawaii, visited with writer and historical consultant Dorris Keeven-Franke and Missouri History Library and Research Center intern Jaime Staengel and discussed the Blees’ recent donation. They were there to see the collection of their ancestor, the Giessen Society’s founder Friedrich Muench. The collection in the archives contains many rare and important items relating to the Giessen Society, including Muench’s account book with notations about the members; and the portraits of he and his wife Louise Fritz, prior to their departure for America, which have recently been restored.
The Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America exhibit shares the story of a large group of politically motived German emigrants in 1834, from all occupations, religions, cities and villages; and brings to life what it meant to be an emigrant bound for Missouri in the early 19th Century. It’s thought provoking images and words bring relevance to the subject of emigration, and its future.