Friday, November 28, 2008

My Amana

I don't usually get into conversations with anyone about where I come from. It is not because I am not proud of my background, it is because no one understands it. In the past, I remember getting into conversations with acquaintances and simply walking away from the conversations because they think I don't really know my background. It is easier to keep quiet than get into heated discussions with people who have no clue about where I am from.

You see, I am from the Amana Colonies in Iowa. It is a religious sect of Piests who left Germany in the 1850's because of religious persecution. They are called "True Inspirationalists." They first came to Ebenezer, New York, and then to Amana, Iowa. I am not Amish or Mennonite. There is nothing wrong whatsoever being Amish or Mennonite, but I cannot claim that to be my history. In early history, the Amana Colonies actually lived communistically and they did so very reverently. It was in 1932 when they decided that they could no longer live this way and adjusted to giving up the communal living with everyone living independently. This is my background and I am proud of it. I am related to the forefather who left Germany to settle in America, Christian Metz. On my paternal grandmother's side, though, I am related to the Hutterites of South Dakota. They came from a part of western Russia and settled in America. I am very proud of that association also.

One of my greatest thrills was finding the Castle Ronneburg, east of Frankfurt, Germany. This is the castle where my ancestors took refuge for many years before coming to America. It is one of my most favorite places in Europe. It is beautiful and a place I have visited many times.

To most people, when they hear "Amana", they think of air conditioners. That is true. Air conditioners and freezer/refrigerators were made in the Amana Colonies and still are to some extent today. That is where most colonists worked after 1932 to earn a living. I even worked there for several years.

It is a beautiful place to live, to raise children and to retire. I only have cousins living there now since all family has passed on or moved away. (It still is Iowa and cold in the winter).

This is my background and it is what made me the person I am today. I am proud to be from Amana, to be bilingual, but I am certainly past the stage where I will argue with someone who does not have the knowledge that I have of my own background.


  1. Tom K6:14 PM

    Dear Susan,

    I am at David's house for Thanksgiving. I read your blog and am really proud you came out as a Colony person! As of yet, I haven't had the nerve or guts to come out as you have. Usually I tell people that I am somewhere from Iowa. Hopefully, before I die I'll have the gumption to tell the world that I was born and raised in the Amanas. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. Say hello to Dale. I often think of the crazy times we had in high school.

    Tom Kiesling, a.k.a. Tommy, a.k.a. the "Beaver".

  2. Thanks for visiting Delights of the Heart today.

    Amana Colonies brings back so many memories. When my children were small we vacationed there and loved it.

  3. Dave K9:45 PM

    Susan, I could not agree with you more. Over the years I learned not to go into detail about the Amanas, where I also was raised. For whatever reason or reasons so many people confuse Amana with Amish settlements. It got to the point where I did not tell anyone that I was born and raised in the Amanas. It was just too exhausting trying to explain the Amana experience to an "outsider". I, too, am very proud of my heritage and am I so thankful that I was raised in such a close knit, loving community. Susan, I consider you part of my extended family because we have known each other since we were five years old and we shared the same religion, values, political philosphy and heritage. Thank you for sharing your unique background! Hopefully, people will have a better understanding of Amana.

    Your 'ole classmate,
    Dave K.