Exploring rich German history in central Wisconsin

From sauerkraut to schottisches, there’s no doubt that hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents are proud of their German heritage.

This influence will be explored in a new traveling exhibit called “Neighbors Past and Present: The German Experience of Wisconsin” which you can experience now at the Marathon County Historical Society in Wausau.

Archivist Ben Clark joined the Deep Bench on Wednesday to talk about history and how the culture of the past translates to today.

He said that while early German immigrants thought the soil was too sandy for farming, that eventually changed, when large numbers of people moved to Marathon County.

“But it was actually quite close to some of the Baltic areas and so when the Germans were looking for somewhere to go, it made sense to come to Marathon County where the ground was very similar to where they were. usual,” Clark explained.

The exhibit, a project of the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies at UW-Madison, includes 14 panels that explore German migration and settlement in Wisconsin, issues of ethnicity and identity in newly forged communities and the cohesion of these communities over the decades, especially in times of economic crisis or war.

Specific topics include language, print culture, religion, Amish and Mennonite, traditions and social clubs, education, rural and urban life, business, political and civic engagement, wartime and immigrants and their descendants in the global world, past and present.

It will be presented at the Marathon County Historical Society from July 16 to August 22. The exhibit will be complemented by exhibits on the German history of Marathon County, as well as two special events on August 17.

The first is a lecture by DuWayne Zamzow, who will present “Pomeranian German Immigration to Central Wisconsin” at 2 p.m. at the Woodson History Center, 410 McIndoe St., Wausau.

The Zamzow lecture will discuss the history of how groups of people were “pushed” from Pomerania, their journey across the Atlantic Ocean, their arrival in America, their “pull” to Wisconsin, and how they established a life in this region. There will be information about the central Wisconsin Pommerscher Verein and its goals in preserving this German heritage.

DuWayne Zamzow became interested in genealogy as a teenager and achieved his dream of finding his ancestral home in Pomerania after 14 years of research. He is a founding member of the Pommerscher Verein of central Wisconsin. He leads the club’s Pommerscher Danz Gruppe (German dance group), writes for its newspaper and assists in its library.

Harold Schauer’s Brass Band will perform an outdoor concert at 3:30 p.m. on August 17 in the gardens of the Yawkey House Museum, weather permitting.

Harold Schauer’s Brass Band plays music in the traditional German style that was popular throughout Marathon County in the late 1800s.

There is no admission charge to view the exhibition or to attend the conference or concert. Donations are appreciated. For more information, please call the Marathon County Historical Society at 715-842-5750.