NEW ULM - It may not be common knowledge, but Minnesota's first Secretary of State was the first known Luxembourger in southern Minnesota.
Francis Baasen settled in New Ulm in 1856, became Brown County Record and a military leader, according to the recently-created Luxembourg Heritage Society of Southern Minnesota.
Fertile and low-cost prairie land brought many Germans to southern Minnesota in the 1850s to 1880s.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Luxembourg-Americans Mary Ann Zins, left, and Terry Sveine talk in front of the Luxembourg emigration to America display in the Markplatz Mall Thursday.
Luxembourgers assimilated into the culture and lost most of their cultural identity to the larger number of Germans.
The recently created Society was designed to celebrate some of the "lost" ancestry and better understand the culture, history and legacy of Luxembourg ancestors while learning about modern Luxembourg too.
"This isn't just for Luxembourgers, any group of immigrants will appreciate the free exhibit," said Terry Sveine of New Ulm.
If you go:
What: Luxembourg emigration exhibit
Where: Center of Marktplatz Mall
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sat. Jan. 31
On Thursday, he helped set up the detailed exhibit with Mary Ann Zins of New Ulm.
Zins has a number of historical artifacts and documents her ancestors received when they emigrated to Nicollet County from Luxembourg.
"A good number of them settled in Brown and Nicollet Counties," said Zins.
The society's annual meeting will be held from 4-7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17 in the German Rivers Room at the New Ulm Holiday Inn.
On Saturday, Feb. 21, the Sleepy Eye Community Center, 115 2nd St. N.E., will host a movie and Luxembourg food fest from 1-4 p.m.
"Heim in Riech" is a story about how during and shortly after World War II, tired of German domination, Luxembourgers saw a rise in national pride and sense of identity.
Participants are asked to bring food to share.
Both events are open to the public.
Luxembourg Heritage Society of Southern Minnesota goals include learning from expert speakers, visiting like-minded societies in the Midwest, collecting historical artifacts and documents, compiling family biographies and stories, hosting social gatherings, developing a tour program for Luxembourg visitors and erecting a monument to Luxembourg ancestors.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).