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The Lake News Online
  • Day trippin': Missouri’s early German heritage

  • In rural Southeast Missouri near the Mississippi River, gently rolling hillsides make for a picturesque landscape where wineries and vineyards abound.
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  • In rural Southeast Missouri near the Mississippi River, gently rolling hillsides make for a picturesque landscape where wineries and vineyards abound. The area is southeast of Perryville off of Interstate 55, exit 117. Tourists taking a left turn at the exit ramp will find a cluster of towns and villages that were founded in the early 1800s. German immigrants arrived in 1839. Most of the areas were named by settlers for towns in the region of their native homeland of Saxony, Germany.
    1 - Old Appleton is a village of less than 100 residents. The focal point is the Old Appleton Bridge. It is made of wrought-iron and spans over Apple Creek on Main Street. The bridge was built in 1879. It was washed away by a flood in 1982 and rebuilt in 2005. Presently, only walkers and bicyclists can cross the bridge. The old Silver Dollar Tavern is now deserted. There is the Antique Merchantile store near the bridge. The store is opened on Saturdays and window peeking suggests it would be a great shop to hunt for treasures.
    2 – Uniontown, smaller than Old Appleton, was originally known as Paitzdorf. In 1840, an evangelical-Lutheran congregation was founded at Paitzdorf with 15 charter members. They called themselves The Old Lutheran Congregation at Paitzdorf, Perry Co., State of Missouri. According to their local history it was not until “1927 that English services were held, and then only once a month. Sunday Christian instruction remained conducted in German until at least 1943”. Visitors can see the log cabin that was the first Ev-Lutheran Missouri Sinod college building. The cabin was moved to its present site in 1912. In 1929 the name became Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.
    3 - Brazeau was named for the nearby Brazeau Creek. It’s very small, but it does have a mailing zip code, a museum, an annual Christmas tour, and a historical society. Brazeau was settled in 1817 by Scotch-Irish Presbyterians prior to the arrival of their 1839 German-Lutheran neighbors immigrated to the area.
    4 – Altenburg is one of the German areas founded in 1839. Residents number about 500 in population. The Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum is where tourists can explore several mid-19th century buildings that remain in the community as well as the Heritage Center's exhibition hall and library.
    5 – Wittenburg’s five remaining residents petitioned and were granted the disincorporation of the town. The Great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Flood of 1993 destroyed what little was left of the river-town community. Today only a few home foundations, steps, and the paved riverfront boat dock remain.
    6 – Frohna has less than 100 inhabitants. Notably, it is home to the restored buildings of the Saxon Lutheran Memorial. The outdoor museum buildings are in their original locations and include: a home with frame and hewn log sections, two log outbuildings, a granary, and a timber frame barn which contains within it an earlier double crib hewn log barn. The buildings range in period of construction from the second quarter of the 19th century to the first quarter of the 20th century.
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    This area offers an excellent tour of rural Missouri’s southeast corner of the state.
    A trip for more than a day — the bigger towns of Perryville and Cape Girardeau are nearby and offer a wide variety of lodgings and restaurants.

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