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1900s German immigrants showcased in presentation

1900s German immigrants showcased in presentation

January 3rd, 2019 by Danisha Hogue in Local News

Stephana Landwehr shows a photo of the 1925 eighth-grade graduation class from Immaculate Conception School on Wednesday during a presentation on the daily lives of Missouri German Farm Children in the 1900s as part of the Missouri State Museum's "Landing After Hours" event.

Photo by Mark Wilson /News Tribune.

Local family history brought more than 60 people to the Missouri State Museum's first Landing After Hours event of the year.

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On Wednesday night, a presentation featuring photographs and artifacts from the lives of German immigrant farm children in the early 1900s was shared through an immigrant's granddaughter, Stephana Landwehr.

What is now 2024 E. McCarty St. was once the Landwehr's farm near Little Boggs Creek. Now, a big white house in the middle of a field is still filled by the family.

Exploring the artifacts and sharing stories of her aunts and uncles put a huge smile on Landwehr's face.

"They were outstanding adults and they inspired a work ethic and values that had to do with relationship and family," she said. "It's interesting to share those with people today and help people understand the values they lived and passed on."

Stephana's grandparents, Theresa and Fred Landwehr, traveled to Jefferson City in 1908 bringing nine children with them.

In those days, she said, children worked on family farms, in mines or factories prior to child labor laws. Landwehr said there are no books written about the lives of German immigrant farm children, and it's unique their family gets to share a great variety of things.

Through stories written and passed down by the farm children when they grew up, many people now know the type of lives those immigrants lived.

"It's not so much about our family as it is an appreciation of a time and place that are very important," Stephana's brother, John Landwehr, said.

He said he also grew up in the farm house where his father played music and milked cows.

"This was a time when neighbor farms got together and helped each other butcher, helped with crops," John said.

Guests at Wednesday's event asked questions of the present family members who have kept the historic collection in good condition. The sepia-like images were enlarged and displayed along with a handmade lace dress, goose-feather pillows, song books and more.

"These pictures are factual — this is fact. Nobody can make this up," Stephana said. "They defy a lot of the stereotypes that you often see and hear and read about."

She asked those who attended to look into the eyes of the children in the photos and write down what they observed.

She added, "I'd like to see what the pictures communicate."

Natascha Lord said the presentation showed her how immigrants came to the U.S. and adapted to local life.

"It was really nice to see how German immigrants were living in Missouri and how they kept some of their heritage," Lord said.

Beyond the farm, the family name is recognized in the area from the former Landwehr Dairy, which is now Prison Brews restaurant.

Missouri State Parks Department staff said the collection is rare based on the culture of most families at the time. Family photos show several members together in their best outfits. Stephana laughed as she showed her grandmother, Theresa, dressed in men's clothing out on the farm.

She said she learned her work ethic from the time she shared with her relatives on the farm. Earning a doctorate degree in political science from University of Missouri-Columbia, she said she grew up knowing what respect and hard work would achieve.

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