Where Missouri’s German settlement began
A Brief history of Dutzow
The question is often asked, how did Missouri become so “German”? Much of the credit goes to a young 30 year-old German attorney named Gottfried Duden. His book A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America is often said to be the reason that thousands of Germans emigrated to Missouri.
Duden arrived in Missouri in 1824 and lived here in 1825, 26, and 27, writing about his farm and the people who lived in the neighborhood. Duden’s book suggested the German immigrant consider Missouri a land of opportunity in 1829. In the decade that followed, 120,000 Germans would take Duden’s advice and immigrate to the United States, with one-third of them settling in Missouri due to his book. Hundreds of thousands more would follow, making Missouri a state filled with Germans. Today, Duden’s farm along Lake Creek is still privately owned, with it and many of the nearby historic properties being only the third or fourth owner since Duden’s arrival.
- 1819 Gottfried Duden purchases 89 acres approximately, in advance of a trip planned for the United States, using an agent named Dabney Burnett. Burnett and his brother-in-law Jacob Haun make the purchase for Duden at the U.S. Land Office in St. Louis in February. In preparation for Duden, Burnett builds a cabin for Duden on this land.
- 1824 That fall Duden arrived in St. Louis with Ludwig Evermann from Bonn, and his private cook Gertrude Obladen. Eversmann and Duden jointly purchased an additional 139 acres (approximately) that lay directly north side of Duden’s first piece. They divide this joint parcel between them, using the creek that runs to the east from Lake Creek. Duden’s land is to the south, and Evermann to the north.
- 1824-1826 The house that was built in 1819 on Duden’s land
wasn’t suitable, so Duden resides with Jacob Haun. Haun is young and has several children. Duden has his cook with him as well. Duden begins writing what will become A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America. Evermann lives in Duden’s first cabin until his own is built, and then marries an American girl named McLean from Washington across the Missouri River, who has a large dowry of slaves.
- 1826 Duden moves into a new cabin built for him.
- 1827 Duden leaves for Germany. He plans on returning to the U.S. and leaves Evermann in charge of all of their property.
- 1829 Duden’s book is self-published in Bonn, and quickly becomes a “best seller”.
- 1832 A small emigration group, the first, called the Berlin Society uses Baron Johann Wilhelm von Bock’s funds to purchase 500 acres. This property directly adjoins both of Duden’s properties on the south side.
- 1833 Bock himself arrives. Augustus Blumner, a member of Bock’s Berlin Society purchases land to the north of Evermann, and south of Haun.
- 1834 Bock plats the village of Dutzow, names it after his former estate in Mecklenberg Germany, on 50 acres. The Village
has 164 lots, irregular streets named for prominent Germans, with lots for churches, cemeteries, schools and mills. It adjoins the south side of Duden’s farm (Dutzow shifted towards the M,K & T Railroad when it came through in 1897)
- 1834 Next the first contingent of the Giessen Emigration Society arrives, with Paul Follenius. He purchases Jacob Haun’s farm, where the hill that Duden used to climb to sit and write is located.
Augustus Blumner’s farm, whose land is to the south of Haun and north of Evermann, is sold to Friedrich Muench, a co-founder of the Giessen Emigration Society and brother-in-law of Follenius. The Blumner farm is north of the Evermann farm, but south of Hauns farm. All of these properties are connected and lay on the east side of Lake Creek.
Below is a map of the Lake Creek Area, with the village of Dutzow. The location is about 50 miles west of St. Louis on the north side of the Missouri River. What did Duden say about Missouri?
© Dorris Keeven-Franke