MARION – The influence of German immigrants on local culture is on display at the Marion County Historical Society.
Executive director Gale Martin said the exhibit, which is currently being assembled, will run throughout 2017. Memorabilia from the First World War are included in the exhibit, it said. she declared.
“We have a lot of things that have been donated to society that are German language items,” Martin said. “We have a 1701 Bible that came here from Switzerland and it’s written in German. It’s one of the first books. We have a chest that came to Ohio in 1813 and eventually ended up here in Marion County. It came with German-speaking immigrants. We have an applewood spinning wheel that was brought here by German immigrants.”
Martin said that German immigration to the United States increased in the mid-19th century partly because of military conflicts in Europe and concerns about personal freedom.
“It’s about people who have been trying to flee a war-torn country for many, many years,” she said. “They come here to gain religious freedom and to escape persecution in their own country and conscription. Young men were drafted to fight battles they didn’t want to fight.”
Statistics show that there is a high percentage of Marion County residents who claim to be of German descent, Martin said.
According to census information provided by Martin, 46.1% of Tully Township residents claim German ancestry. The figure is 44.8% for the Township of Richland and 41.1% for the Township of Grand Prairie. In the city of Marion, 23.1% of residents claim German heritage.
“It’s interesting when you look at the percentages of people who still live here who still identify as German,” she said. “The Midwest had the highest concentration of German immigrants. One of the reasons I’ve been given is that much of the terrain in the Midwest is similar to where they came from.”
Martin said each of the exhibits has its own story, including the applewood spinning wheel that belonged to Philip F. and Rosa Ruehrmund who came to Marion County in 1841.
“There’s a really sad story attached to it,” Martin said. “During the emigration, as they crossed the ocean, the mother died. She was buried at sea. So she was never able to use her little spinning wheel in her new home and her new country. But the spinning wheel , which she had so lovingly packaged to bring it to America, did. But it has remained in the family all these years and now we have it on display.
The spinning wheel was donated by Jean Herzer Shaw.
The Ruehrmunds’ youngest son, Frederick Christian Ferdinand Ruehrmund, became a successful businessman in Marion County. He was a partner in a commercial operation, owned a store in Caledonia and worked in a local bank.
World War I artifacts on display include uniforms and helmets, a gas mask, and an artillery shell with an image of Warren G. Harding engraved on it. Harding was a senator during the war.
The Marion County Historical Society will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends starting in March. From May to November, the museum’s opening hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for children 5 and up. Admission is free for children under 5 years old.
The Company’s office is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit www.marionhistory.com or call 740-387-4255.
Andrew Carter is the Life In Marion reporter for The Marion Star. Contact him at [email protected] or 740-375-5154. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewCarterMS or Facebook @LifeInMarionOhio.