Growing up in Rhineland

German Heritage German Roman Catholics settled Rhineland and Hermann, Missouri. Rhineland was named for the Rhineland region of Western Germany, which is near Cologne and the Rhine River. My Struttmann relatives came to the United States in 1836. Names in Rhineland and Hermann were mostly German; e.g., last names often ended in MANN): Baumgartner, Baumstark, Beckmann, Bruckerhoff, Brueggemann, Dittmann, Eberlin, Eldringhoff, Elsenraat, Gerdemann, Hagedorn, Heidbreder, Hoemann, Hoffmann, Horstmann, Kirchofer, Kunz, Loenig, Mundwiller, Pottebaum, Rethemeyer, Ruediger, Schaefferkoeting, Scharnhorst, Scheidegger, Schuetz, Sellenschueter, Shulenberg, Spreckelmeyer, Stolte, Struttmann, Toedtmann, Winkelmann, Witthaus and Zimmermann. Common male names included: Adolph, Aloysius, Alphonse, Ewald, Fabian, Fredrick, Gerald, Gervas, Godfrey, Henry, Hilary, Leander, Ludweg, Marcellus, Oliver, Orwine, Severian, Sydney, Sylvester, Sylvan, Theodore, Valerian, Velten, Victor, Vincent, Virgil, Wendell, Wilford, Wilfred and Zeno. Common female names were: Alida, Amelia, Berniece, Elberta, Genevieve, Geraldine, Katherine, Leoba, Lucille, Olivia, Pauline, Stella, Velora, Vineta, Viola, Wilhemena and Wilmetta. 

Rhineland's Spirit It was an area of small farms and a small village in the middle of this region. Growing up, the population was 194 villagers. I considered Rhineland as a rather unique community. The residents had strong family ties, high moral values and cooperation, especially seen during disasters such as floods and bad crop years. Villagers helped each other whenever there was a need. Everyone knew each other. (Joan said I was nosy because we knew everyone's business. She is right.) Rhineland had a central meeting place, the St. Joseph's Parish and School. These facilities were supported via church attendance, school participation, social events and maintenance needs. The residents attended every marriage, every funeral, First Communion and Confirmations. Many kids went on to high school and college or worked in larger cities like Hermann, St. Louis and Jefferson City. Individual farms were small, generally 100 to 150 acres. There were no company farms. Thus, there were more farm people and some stayed on the farm, usually the youngest. A few stayed in the village to help in their parents' business and eventually took over ownership. We never considered Rhineland to be a backwoods village. Very few people had a Midwestern twang. We listened to modern music and went to dances where big bands from Hermann and vicinity played. We were ready for a bigger world because of our parents and the formal education given to us by our wonderful nuns. Religion had a great effect on our lives. A book was published entitled Rhineland-Winter in a Missouri Rivertown in 1979. It was written by the Curators of Mizzou's School of Journalism and edited by Donna Holman. (Note: This book is in the Struttmann Library and is not to be destroyed nor sold.) Before rereading this book, I wrote my impressions of Rhineland. Betts Theissen included her impressions. She was our church organist for 65 years. This book included The Rhineland Story by Fritz Theissen. Fritz and Betts wrote Rhineland articles for The Hermann Advertiser-Courier. We still read this weekly paper. 

Rhineland Sayings Some of the sayings villagers often said included: Make hay while the sun shines. You cannot have light without darkness. You cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander_ Take an extra pair of underwear in case you have an accident. If you lose something, pray to St. Anthony. Money is as scarce as hen's teeth. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. You can always tell a German, but you cannot tell them much. He/she is as useless as teats on a boar. That is the greatest thing since apple pie. That dog will not hunt. Knowing when to come in out of the rain. The early bird gets the worm. Life is not always fair. Dumb as an ox. A cold day in Hell. `Til the cows come home. Do not count your chickens before the eggs hatch. A Nincompoop was a silly, foolish person. A Rigamarole was an elaborate or complicated procedure. 

Starkenburg Starkenburg is about three miles north. It is a shrine to The Blessed Virgin Mary. There is a Parish Church, now on the National Registry, and a chapel which Grandpa Struttmann helped build in the early 1900s. Pilgrimages are held in May and September. Many miracles have happened: Canes, crutches, and other items were left in the chapel. In the late 1800s, the rains were very heavy and a carrier with the statue of The Blessed Virgin Mary on it (a statue that has been at the Shrine since 1852), was processed on the chapel grounds with the local folk following. On the same day, the sun shone and farmers planted their crops. The statue was displayed in a small chapel. One night the chapel was struck by lightning and burned to the ground; however, the statue was not harmed. Mary's veil did not burn and the wax holding it on did not melt. This statue is still on display. Visits to the shrine can be made any day. After Sandy's death, we donated a new altar in her name for the chapel. There is a plaque stating as such. You should visit this shrine. The population was between 150 and 195. Rhineland had three beer taverns, two general stores, an ice cream shop and two garages with gas pumps. We also had a telephone center, post office, train depot, funeral home, blacksmith shop, grain elevator, paint and furniture store and bank. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (MKT) served our community. The MKT roadbed is now one the largest bike trails in the United States. From the St. Louis area to western Missouri, it is known as The Katy Trail. I can still see the big black engines huffing and puffing as the train came in to town to deliver the mail, etc. We also had a doctor, Dr. Rauschenbach, and a dentist, Dr. Graf. I hated going to the dentist and my teeth were not the best. He had stone-faced drills and did they hurt. There was no anesthetic. 


Next week: 1945-1949 - Living in town

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