Alstaette Book

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Excerpt from a book by: Heinrich Holters, 
Ein Heimathaus in Kanada, in: Alsteer – Alstätte, Dorf an der Grenze
1, Alstätte 2001, p. 244-248

 Heinrich Gerwing, born February 16th, 1847, lived and worked on a farm in Brook as a “Wönner2” of Lütke-Hündfeld (Lammersbuer3). At the age of 20 he left his parental farm4 to find happiness in the new world. After a short stay in Cincinnati he settled down in Pierz, Minnesota USA. He married Bernhardine Rohling, born in Damme/Oldenburg, Germany. She gave birth to 8 children, all of them boys.

 After the death of his wife in 1887, he married the widow Anna Wessling. She already had a son from her first marriage. Together they had two more children. According to documents in the USA, Heinrich Gerwing took tools with him to produce wooden shoes. These were sold in the surrounding areas especially during winter time.

 At the beginning of the last century (1903) Heinrich, Anna and seven  sons decided to make a life for themselves in the Canadian Province Saskatchewan. At that time this province was still undeveloped and settled mainly by First Nations Peoples. According to local history, they gave away new farmland for the settlers. The group of settlers that Heinrich's family came to Canada with was under the spiritual leadership of the Benedictine monks.

 Bernhard Gerwing, the eldest of Heinrich Gerwing's sons, was the first one to erect a log house in the newly established village called Lake Lenore. This house is full of history. Thirteen persons stayed in this house in the winter of 1903/1904. Until the formation of “St. Anthony's parish in 1904, they even celebrated church services in this house. This parish belonged to newly founded St. Peter's Colony (Münster). Heinrich Gerwing died there on November 21st, 1905 at the age of 58. In 1920 the main part of the village was moved because of the construction of a new railway. As a result, the Gerwing´s house  was suddenly  isolated from the rest of the village.

 On the occasion of  “St. Anthony`s” 75th anniversary in 1978/79, the house was moved into the heart of the village. Nowadays the house is changed into a lovely local history house where you can learn about pioneer life.

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Some explanations to the above are added by Karl Schulte:

1. Dorf an der Grenze  - village near the border

2. Wonner  - A rental agreement in which the tenant rented his land from the landlord in exchange for work on the landlord's farm.

 3. Lammersbuer is the Plattedeutsch(N. German dialect) for the farm name Lütke-Hündfeld

 4. Lütke-Hündfeld was the owner of several small farms. On the early maps  you see the term "Hundfeld Lz" (Lz =Leibzucht), all these farms belonged to  Lütke-Hündfeld . Heinrich Gerwing's family rented their little farm from the farmer Lütke-Hündfeld. The rent wasn't money, they had to work on the Lütke-Hündfeld farm. People, who rented such a farm under these terms were called "Wönner" in Plattdeutsch. Such people were often poor and economic development was impossible.

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Alstaette Book by H. Holters Remnants of the Heinrich Gerwing home on the
Lutke-Hunfeld farm near Alstaette Germany.
Pat & Herman Gerwing visited in 2008
   
 
 

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