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The Iowa Wends

From 1846-1925 many members of the families of Drachhausen, Brandenburg, Germany (and some of the small surrounding villages) made the difficult decision to leave their homes, gamble all they had, and seek a new life in the United States. Theirs is an example of "chain migration".

They first traveled from Germany to Baltimore, Maryland and down the Ohio River, then up the Mississippi River; where when winter ice stopped them, they settled in the state of Iowa, farming in and around Fort Madison, and forming a small community. Later Iowa bound Wendish (Sorbian) emigrants traveled through New York City, yet continued to use the Ohio River route for some years. Still others made the Pembroke Canada area their first stop, where another community of Wends had been established during the US Civil War period before eventually moving on to Iowa, in the USA.

Circa 1871, a number of the Wends moved from Fort Madison and on to farms clustered near the small towns of Saint Anthony, Zearing, and State Center (Iowa). Their farms were concentrated on 2 country roads forming a “T;” running north and south and lining 5 miles of what is today 730th Avenue; and running east and west on 170th Street, for 3 miles.

As some Wends became successful they returned to Drachhausen to encourage others to come to Iowa. One method to encourage others to come would be to pay their fare on a ship and in trade the emigrant would work for the farmer for a year or so, to repay the price of passage (indentured servitude). Afterward, they were free to go their way, though many stayed and married 2nd generation Wends.

In the end, over 200 people emigrated during this time period creating the Iowa Wendish colony.

The Iowa Wendish Heritage Society

Please visit the website for the Iowa Wendish Heritage Society by going to the Quick Links page,

the message board to communicate with the I.W.H.S. as well as this website's page for them:

The Iowa Wendish Heritage Society