German descendants in Cole Camp are looking to honor the heritage their families brought to the area with a proposed monument to the area’s German immigrants.
Beginning around 1835, waves of German immigrants began settling a large portion of Benton, Morgan and Pettis counties. Over the next few decades, that German population would largely come to dominate the cultural landscape of many rural communities, including Cole Camp.
The project, overseen by the Low German Club of Cole Camp, is meant to celebrate and preserve the history and heritage of those families and their descendants, according to Neil Heimsoth, the club’s president.
“A large part of southern Pettis, northwestern Morgan County and northeastern Benton County was settled in the mid- to late 1800s by Germans, primarily from the province of Hanover. By the turn of the century, if you walked through southern Pettis County in a south-westerly direction toward Cole Camp, you would have heard nothing but the Low German dialect that came over with those people from Hanover.”
The monument will be on an vacant lot (being donated for the cause by Heimsoth, and his wife, Marilyn) that will be “located a half-block east of the four-way stop on the north side of (state Route) 52.”
“Next year is the 175th anniversary of Cole Camp, so we would like to build it and be ready to dedicate it next year,” Heimsoth said.
The monument will
feature a memorial garden with a large stone monument located at its center, which will feature a dedicatory inscription on one side and an inscribed map of Hanover and it’s 39 districts. A low stone wall behind the monument will include 39 ceramic tiles decorated with the coats-of-arms of each district.
However, Heimsoth said, the unique part of the monument will be the two sections of brickwork that will line the area in front and behind the main monument. Those behind the monument will be 8-by-8-inch inscribed and numbered bricks — costing $150 each — dedicated to an original immigrant settler to the area who is either from German or a German-speaking country such as Austria.
The numbers from the “Immigrant Area” will correspond to bricks in the second “Descendants Area,” which will be 4-by-4-inch bricks costing $75 each. The Low German Club is a 501(c)3 nonprofit group and donations are tax deductible.
For example, Heimsoth said his grandfather will have a brick in the “Immigrant Area” that would be numbered “14.” Then, the brick he purchases in his own name would be inscribed with the code “3-14” to identify him as the third generation decedent of the person honored on brick “14.”
“With that we hope to be able to illustrate the whole settlement pattern and family history of this area,” Heimsoth said.
The monument will be rounded out by two friezes recovered by a friend of Heimsoth’s during World War II that represent the German House of Brandenburg, the ruling family at the time of the waves of immigration.
For more information or to purchase a brick, contact Heimsoth at 660-668-3157; by email at heimat@
aembarqmail.com, or by mail by writing to Low German Heritage, 1111 Benckeser Road., Cole Camp, MO, 65325. ?