Rubin and Crystol Luthi

Last Wednesday (9/20) Amy and I got to meet with an Apostolic couple, Rubin and Crystol Luthi to talk about their perspective on our project as well as look through some family records and Apostolic resources. To begin, we sorted through a lot of information on the Luthi, Moser, and Schmidt families. I created a few family trees and organized them based on who was from where or held tightly to their German or Swiss heritage. It turns out that Christian (Christ/Criss) Luthi was Ruben’s grandfather and brother-in-law of Chris Moser. Turns out that Chris Moser was one of the most influential people in bringing over the Luthi family to America, specifically Northeastern Iowa and later Minnesota, and even taught him agriculture and farming.

We gathered a lot of information, but don’t want to give it all away! So here’s a little snippet!

Unlike we previously believed, the community here is a large mix of Germans and Swiss. We now have a new gap to look into!

We deduced that the families are very interconnected, and based on the basis of Christian faith that family ought to take care of one another, it is pretty obvious that, even during times like the great depression, the Apostolic church took care of each other. There was also talk of punishment (kind of like bannishment)

We heard a lot about the agriculture here in Stevens County and especially about the relationship of Apostolic’s in Northeast Iowa to those here. There is still a lot of migration in this community throughout the Midwest. Amy and I have decided that this is interesting but I am not convinced that it would be worth investigating. I really think that opens the scope of the project too much.

It was between 1932 and 1935 that the use of German in Apostolic churches was being discussed, and there are still churches that are strictly German speaking. Some of the Luthi’s relatives spoke both English and German, but were reluctant to change.

My favorite piece of information was when Ruben told us that the Apostolic people really impacted Morris, and Stevens County as a whole. They were perceived as honest people which helped them be accepted here among a variety of other ethnicities and religious beliefs.

This is just one meeting from a local historian that Amy and I are blessed to meet with. Grateful for a wise, educated, organized, and invested community supporting us!

Must Use Resource: Immigration to the Great Plains

Looking through some of our annotations for secondary sources, I realized that I wrote, “Must Read” with nine exclamation marks behind one source on Immigration to the Great Plains from 1864 to 1914. After taking note of the rather long timeline and seeing the words “great plains” that grabs every Minnesotan’s attention, I skimmed the first page and concluded it was a must read. Every sentence is packed with information and now that I have dissected this article, I think I forgot an exclamation mark or two.

This journal article touches on some very interesting and very specific topics that Amy and I really need for both a more global timeline as well as an understanding of the midwest before the German Apostolic population arrived.

To begin, Garver discusses the influence of six wars and explains how they created the proper conditions for migration. Although all of these wars have obviously had their influence, three of them have pertinence in our research.

  1. The American Civil War (1861-1865): Abolished slavery which in turn encouraged immigration for the continuation of work on the Railroads throughout the United States. This was also about 40 years before the Apostolic church was founded in Stevens County in 1902, which gives us some perspective.
  2. The 7 Weeks War (1866): Prussia and Italy defeated the Austrian Empire and several small German Principalities which lead to a small and preliminary German migration out of the German Territory. This was the same time that the Mexican Republic was reestablished after the expulsion of the French under Benito Juarez. The only reason that is pertinent is that lead to great commerce trade and more Mexican influence in the construction of the Railroad in the Midwest.
  3. Franco-German War (July, 1870- May, 1871): Prussia and Germany allied to defeat France and establish an authoritarian constitutional German empire. This allowed for and created rapid industrialization and a new political structure that promoted aggressive foreign policy and destabilized European powers in a variety of ways. This also allowed for them more freedom to travel and move to a different country.

Above I touched a bit on the importance of these three specific wars, but there are five influence Garver makes to discuss the influence of war on the Grate Plains. To be as concise as possible, he outlines these as:

  1. Enlargement of Civil Liberties
  2. Extreme Economic Growth
  3. Industrial Technological Innovation
  4. Growing World Market
  5. “Advent” of Mass Eastern/Southern European Immigration

Each one of these things is absolutely crucial to our research because they are all a piece of one of our overarching topics. While that seems pretty straightforward (and exciting!), the book says that these products of war were facilitated by “the achievements of widespread literacy through universal, free, compulsory, and state funded elementary education.” I don’t know what this means I don’t think that it was very clearly described throughout the journal. This may have more to do with states closer to the center of the United States, but nevertheless is a topic to be explored as well. Another thing that this journal has information on are the churches and general culture of the Eastern and Southern European immigrants. The influence of small town industry and rural life is also discussed throughout the article and will be very useful to our research.

Religious painted glass in German that was most likely from a small town Main street.

Garver, Bruce. “Immigration to the Great Plains, 1865—1914: War, Politics, Technology, And Economic Development.” Great Plains Quarterly 31, no. 3, 2011: 179-203.