Historian Talks About Grand Island and Hall County's Origins

By: Rowena Li Email
By: Rowena Li Email

The revolutionary origins behind the founding of Grand Island and Hall County drew about 100 people to the Stuhr Museum Sunday.

"1848, all over Europe we had a Democratic revolution. These leaders of the revolution wanted to introduce an American-style democracy, American republican system. All over Europe they failed," said historian Yogi Reppmann.

The audience, many of whom are of German ancestry, listened intently as Reppmann talked about the German American founders of the area.

"I think we have so much to learn about our historical past. Sometimes we get so busy with our day to day, our little beaten path, that our parents and grandparents went through to create this wonderful place we live and call home," said Hall County resident Carol Quandt.

Reppmann said Grand Island's founders left Germany to find democracy, initially settling in Davenport, Iowa. How they came to Grand Island was a flux though.

"There were rumors in Washington, D.C. that the capital of the United States would be relocated to a central spot," said Reppmann.

So in 1857, 36 families set out to establish what is now Grand Island and Hall County.

"Low German, as a language, a dialect, came with with these immigrants, and some of their descendants still speak it," Reppmann said.

This October, a group of Hall County residents will be heading to Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany, where those founders came from.

"It's a chance for those who immigrated to this area in Grand Island, the founding fathers of our town. It'll be going back home for a lot of us," said Quandt, who is organizing the trip.

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