Land of Opportunity: Grandpa Traveled to Frankenmuth, Michigan

Grandpa among German immigrants to make their home in Frankenmuth.

| Good Old Days

On April 18, 1848, Grandpa Helmreich and his bride, four other couples and several other people left Bremerhafen, Germany, on the sail-ship Regina bound for America, the land of opportunity. Despite unfavorable weather and other disagreeable experiences, they landed in New York on the afternoon of June 3, after being on the ocean three days short of seven weeks. They proceeded on their journey to Bridgeport, then on to Dierkers Barn in Saginaw, Michigan, where they were met by Pastor Sievers, who came to America in October 1847. The immigrants were to follow him about four weeks later; none of them came to Frankenlust Township in Michigan. Some went to Monroe, others to Wisconsin, and some stayed in Frankenmuth.

During the winter, Sievers and a few men from Frankenmuth looked at land by the Tittabawassee River, but found the soil was poor – wet and swampy. Sievers later went 11 miles north of Saginaw on the Squaconning River, where he found what he was looking for and bought 600 acres. He divided it into sections for his people who were to come during the summer of 1848. Wearing high boots and equipped with crude instruments, he tramped through the land to measure off the section, accompanied by hordes of mosquitoes.

At Dierkers Barn, the immigrants organized St. Paul's Congregation on June 22, 1848, naming Sievers as their pastor. On June 25, the congregation held its first service with Holy Communion. Sixteen people partook of the Lord's Supper. Four couples were also married that day.

The colonists moved on to their new home in two groups. Some drove the cattle through the forest, with Sievers as their guide. The other group sailed down the Saginaw River on a scow with an attached raft carrying 8,500 feet of lumber, stoves, windows, flour, food, household goods and most necessary tools, which Andreas Goetz had bought and brought from Detroit for $350. When this group came near the Squaconning River, which was the only way to Frankenlust, they had difficulty getting their scow and raft through the weeds and wild rice, so they did not get there that day. Because they had all the food with them on the scow, the other group did not get anything to eat that evening; only Mr. Hachtel had his meal. He bought one of the best cows, and to be sure she would get to Frankenlust safe and sound, he traveled with the group overland. When it came time to milk the cow, having nothing to milk into, he laid himself under the cow and milked directly into his mouth. He had his meal. The next day the two groups got together again and started to build a shanty. That night it started to rain. It rained for two weeks, so the colonists sat on their boxes and trunks, holding their umbrellas over their heads. A big share of their belongings spoiled, but they all remained in good humor and thanked God that He had led them to a fertile country.

The group going overland heard the sound of cannons being shot in Saginaw, it being the Fourth of July. When they arrived in Frankenlust, they slept the first night under the stars. The place they slept in eventually became a cemetery, where the settlers now rest in peace.

Grace Roedel
Frankenmuth, Michigan



February 15-16, 2020
Belton, Texas

Join us in the Lone Star state to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.


Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me