Like many cities in Iowa, the Polk City community was settled by a variety of nationalities, among them those from Germany. So, when the Iowa German Interest Group received the exhibit at the University of Iowa, it seemed the perfect opportunity for the group to share its presentation at one of Polk City’s local facilities.
The members of the German Interest Group will give a program at the Polk City Library tonight, May 11, at 6:30 p.m.
“Our group came about when the Iowa Genealogical Society members wanted help from people with a similar heritage to find the best practices when discovering our German roots. We hold monthly meetings with tips on how to overcome brick walls and suggestions where to look next. We also hear from members who have traveled to Germany or local teachers who can tell us about the history and culture of the German-speaking areas of Europe,” German Interest Group member Diane Green said.
Although it is a special interest group of the Iowa Genealogical Society initially formed in the early 1990s, today the German Interest Group consists of three members. Each member was born and raised in Iowa. Therefore, it wouldn’t be until their adult years that Linda Enghausen, Diane Green and Shirley Munier became interested in learning more about their family history.
“I was born in Wright County and grew up in Story County. I became interested in family history after my father died in 1981. In 1997, I took a genealogy class through the Des Moines Adult Education program at Hoover High School, and it included a visit to the Iowa Genealogical Society,” Enghausen said.
“I was born, raised and married in a north central Iowa community,” Munier said. “I knew of my father’s pre-1776 Iowa Pioneer ancestry, but I knew very little of my mother’s ancestry and almost none of my husband’s German and French forebearers. My friend introduced me to the Iowa Genealogical Society, where I now volunteer weekly since moving to Des Moines 40 years ago.”
And, finally, as one of the original members of the German Interest Group, Green has been fortunate to witness how the group has evolved over the past 20 years.
“I am one of the original members of the German Interest Group. I was born in Cherokee County and grew up in rural Ida County. I joined the Iowa Genealogical Society about a year after my maternal grandmother died, when I realized I didn’t know much about her family,” Green said.
Tonight, these three members of the German Interest Group will come together at the Polk City Library for an informative evening on Germany’s past, why and when people left Germany, and the traditions they brought with them when coming to America.
“Since our group is about genealogy, we are going to start with a brief overview of our group and genealogy. We will also share some history of Germany and why so many came to the United States. And, we will discuss where in Germany Iowans came from and some tidbit facts about the earlier years in the counties along the Mississippi,” Green said.
Although their handed-down artifacts are limited, the speakers will also bring with them a current German road map, information on starting your own genealogy and some personal collection items.
“We don’t have much,” Green said, “Linda has a small book that might have been given as a confirmation gift and we all have some newer items that reflect our heritage.”