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New Ulm, Minnesota German American heritage and culture

Updated on February 25, 2015

In southern Minnesota where the Minnesota River and the Cottonwood River meet is the City of New Ulm which is in Brown County. It was founded in 1854 by German immigrants, Christian Ludwig Meyer, Alois Palmer, Athanasius Henle, and Franz Massopous who named it after the City of Ulm in Germany. Today Ulm, Germany and New Ulm are sister cities. Going along with its German heritage, New Ulm is a brewing center and home of the August Schell Brewing company. New Ulm has also been noted for a center for Polka music and has had well known musicians, such as Whoopee John Wilfahrt and others. Georges Ballroom and KNUJ radio, and street dances also lent to the Polka interest. For anyone wanting a taste of German American culture, the city has many festivals throughout the year, as well as museums, golf courses and other activities.

History, museums and local lore

· the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 One Hundred and fifty years ago the U.S. Dakota War of 1862, a major event for this city, Little Crow and his Dakota Sioux warriors burned the city. This was a major event for the history of New Ulm and this year, 2012, is the anniversary of the event. There are three floors of exhibits and one of the largest archives in the state, including 5,500 family files.

· Brown county Historical Society Museum. The Historical society and museum are housed in what was once the Post Office building. It was built in 1910 in a German Renaissance style and is now on the National Register of Historical Places.

· German-Bohemian Immigrant Monument. The first German-Bohemians came to New Ulm in 1856. Many of them settled in an area called “Goosetown” because they kept flocks of geese. This was near the river and the southern boundaries of the town. The monument was made in 1991 to honor the Bohemian immigrants. Today Bohemia is known as the Czech Republic. The monument is 7 and ½ foot granite monument with a statue of a family. It is located in German Park.

· Tornado In 1881. The city was hit by a tornado which killed 6 people and injured 53.

· German POW’s During World War II prisoners were housed in a camp southeast of the city, where Flandreau State Park is now. In 1944 a family took a prisoner from the camp, housed him and took him to church. According to Wikipedia the family was fined $3000.

· Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. This is to honor those who have contributed to the Music of Minnesota in various genres. Whoopee John, Judy Garland, Bob Dylan, Prince, Fezz Fritsche are a few. The admission of $5 includes an audio tour.

The Kiesling House was one of three downtown buildings to survive the Dakota War and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kiesling House was one of three downtown buildings to survive the Dakota War and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. | Source


The New Ulm Visitor’s guide says that “New Ulm has been known as a ‘City of Festivals.’ “

· Schell’s Bock fest is on the grounds of Schell’s Brewery, with a bonfire and live music.

· Fasching is a German Mardi Gras. The visitor’s guide describes it as “an old carnival tradition” from the European Alps. Strips of cloth are strung across New Ulm’s streets and masked characters in costumes invite people to the party with music, food and dancing. Also a costume contest is held in the evening. Held in February.

· St. Patrick’s Day Parade. New Ulm boasts the oldest continuous Irish parade in Minnesota. Considering the city of St. Paul is the capital of Minnesota that is quite a boast.

· July brings the Bavarian Blast held at the Brown County fairgrounds. It is a weekend of German heritage and Culture.

· Brown county Free Fair. It is free and considers itself to be like an old fashioned county fair. With tractor pulls, demolition derby, talent contests and other activities.

· What would a German community be without an Oktoberfest? This one is modeled after the one in Munich, Germany. German music, Concord singers, German food and horse drawn trolley rides.

· New Ulm Christmas Many Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree. The celebration includes a Parade of Lights, St. Nikolaus Day with St. Nick in traditional costumes along with Krumpus his sidekick.

It is hard to find places in today’s world that maintain something of their ethnic heritage. New Ulm seems to be a place that is trying to maintain that interest and t is a good place to experience some of the German American culture or to just have a good time.

Sources for this article are: Wikipedia and The New Ulm Visitor’s Guide.

Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund

new ulm, minnesota:
New Ulm, MN 56073, USA

get directions

© 2012 Don A. Hoglund


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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Jonbwb, thank you for relating your visit and impressions of New Ulm. I'm glad you enjoyed New Ulm and my hub.

    • Jonbwb profile image


      6 years ago from Saint Paul, Minnesota

      Nice hub. I was in New Ulm a few weeks ago for a wedding. The downtown was pretty quiet, but has a park with a really nice fountain. I didn't go inside the brewery, but I was on the grounds of the brewery and it looked pretty interesting. Several old buildings and a nice garden.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy, I have not been to New Ulm since we took the kids through that area when they were young. I remember once that a young woman news editor I worked with talked about how it might be nice to live in a village. Since I came from Minneapolis I asked her what she meant by a village. "a place where they have street dances,"She said. i think she mentioned New Ulm. It might have been a village then but it is a bit bigger now.

      Thanks for commenting, votes and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My German ancestors settled in Wisconsin in the Milwaukee area part of the state. That Glockenspiel is really something! It is large and built to show the new land over here even with a native American Indian in it. I saw a Glockenspiel in Rothenburg, Germany...but it was on a taller building so the characters did not appear as large when viewing it from down below. New Ulm sounds like a great town in Minnesota. Nice to hear that they are maintaining some of their heritage with all of the festivals, etc. Would be a fun place to visit. Up votes and sharing!

    • suziecat7 profile image


      6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I agree.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      suziecat, thanks for coming by and commenting. I think that schools should teach more state history.

    • suziecat7 profile image


      6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Excellent Hub. It's great to learn about Minnesota history - something I knew very little about. Enjoyed the read - thanks.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      drjb, I appreciate the compliment. I do like to see places where heritage is preserved in a living way, rather than restoration.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      This hub, Don, is two tributes in one. One tribute to the flourishing city of New Ulm and the other a tribute to your skill in making its history, heritage and events come alive for the rest of us. Danke mein freund.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      praesetio, I'm glad you found something of interest about Minnesota here. If you have ever seen the TV show "Little House on the Prairie" the setting is not too far from New Ulm. Thanks for reading and commenting. Your vote is appreciated.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      alocsin, Although my wife comes from a German heritage, I don't. However, we both grew up in Minnesota. I think we feel that New Ulm is somehow part of the heritage shared by our home state. I appreciate your comment and vote.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Brother, I learn many things about Minnesota based on the culture and heritage from this hub. Thanks for share with us. Voted up!


    • alocsin profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      My ancestors were German but they came through Texas. It's interesting to see the difference. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      TFP, Thanks for commenting. I'll have to agree.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 

      6 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Great write up friend. Minnesota has spectacular scenery, beautiful women and great beer :)



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