Along the beautiful hills of southern Warren County lies the first German settlement in Missouri. A small group of Germans arrived in 1832, known as the Berlin Society, wanted to purchase land near the farm of the German writer Gottfried Duden. This small group’s founder the “Baron” Wilhelm von Bock had sent this group ahead, and would soon arrive to plat and found his village of Dutzow, which he named after his former estate in Mecklenberg Germany. There are only two Dutzows in the world, one in Missouri and one in Germany.
When Gottfried Duden’s Report on a Journey to the Western States of North was first published in 1829[i] the idea of colonizing ‘a pure German Republic’ in the United States spread like wildfire across Germany. In his book, Duden had suggested that “an emigration company organize…buy a tract of land…on these individual tracts towns are founded…make provisions for a good physician and schools, the town will be sure to prosper…” “Baron” Johann Wilhelm von Bock (1785-1852) was a wealthy landowner born in Germany, with just such a plan in mind when he sold his huge estate in Mecklenberg to fund the so-called Berlin Society, one of the earliest attempts at group emigration following Duden’s suggestion.
Doing as Duden suggested, the very small emigration company communally purchased over 350 acres directly adjoining Duden’s farm shortly after their arrival in September 1832. This marked the arrival of the first German settlement in Missouri. The group of emigrants were led by Frederick Rathje, the business partner and son-in-law of Bock, included Rathje’s wife Emilie, August Walcke, Charles and Augustus Blumner, Edward and Julius Hutawa, and their families.
By November of 1833, the ownership of the property reverted to J. W. Bock, and he began to create the social world he was so fond of, in the form of a small village. Germans from the area around Osnabrueck arrived settling in St. Charles County, Warren County and Washington, with twelve of those families founding St. Francis Borgia. In 1834, others had followed the Steines family from the villages surrounding Solligen Germany and settled in the St. Albans area. “. Steines visited Bock whom he described as “wealthy and having a large farm with a brick house, a good library and a piano,… running a large distillery, with his son-law and business partner Frederick Rathje”. The kindly features, charming voice, and cheerfulness of old Mr. Bock made a deep impression on Steines.
By 1834, Bock’s ideas were published in Philadelphia newspapers: For that reason, I came up with the idea of establishing a village – not a town – which I have named Dutzow, after the name of my former place of residence. I have laid out 168 lots, each the size of a half acre with streets which are 50 feet wide and have been named after admirable Germans”. Bock named his streets, Mozart, Schiller, Herder, Moser, Humboldt, Schroeder, Jean Paul, Iffland, Kant, and Salzmann.
“In the Village of Dutzow, there are three terms under which lots can be obtained. The first being a ten year Lease, and if the leaseholder dies, his widow can remain for the yearly payment of $1.00. The second being a Sale with conditions, that the mortgage would have to be paid if the owner wanted to sell the property during those first 10 years to someone who was not of German descent. The last Term being is one without any conditions, when $100 is paid for the lot.
From these conditions my fellow Germans can see that it is supposed to be a pure German establishment…The village of Dutzow in Warren County Missouri is intended for German families who prefer to live in the German way among Germans. Where they will live among other German families, and wear clothes that were brought from home which are not considered ‘strange’ by others, and so that the vanity of the females will not force men into great expense”.
Bock intended “to establish a good German School of higher learning. Only through their industriousness, cleanliness, decent and moral behavior, knowledge of languages (not only German and English, but others also) and education in other scientific subjects, can the German immigrants earn the respect of the rest of the American free states for themselves
Bock explained that in Dutzow, emigrants would find German Gemuthlichkeit (good will) and sociability, “since in the vicinity of 10 miles at least 150 Germans were living”. In 1834, when Friedrich Muench and his contingent of members of the large Giessen Emigration Society, stopped in Cincinnati, they encountered Bock on his way to Philadelphia. It was he who informed Muench that Paul Follenius and some members of the Giessen Society had settled near him on Lake Creek, by Gottfried Duden’s farm.
The arrival of Friedrich Muench, brought many more Germans to Dutzow, and the area. Muench, who wrote under the pen name Far West often referred to the area as Lake Creek, which was what it had always been called, because the creek that ran through the area (along Hwy TT) formed several lakes before it reached the Missouri River.
When Gustave Koerner visited Dutzow in 1836 he described “Mr. Von Bock as a perfect gentleman who seemed to be the soul of the colony”. Bock was considered eccentric and a dreamer by some of his neighbors. Although well liked, his jovial and benevolent personality betrayed him, and it did not always allow others to take him seriously. Neighbor Frederick Muench often criticized Bock for his ventures.
With Bock’s original purchase came a distillery, and a mill, formerly owned by the Darst family, known to make the best apple brandy in the area. The village of Dutzow had a blacksmith, churches, a school and even a Post Office. The hillsides had orchards and vineyards. Bock’s original part of Dutzow lies along today’s Highway 94, starting just east of Town and Country Nursery. Blumenhof Winery is in the heart of the original Dutzow.
When the railroad came through in the 1890s, along what is now the Katy Trail, Dutzow expanded westward with a bank and new stores opening up. While the size of Dutzow may not be very large, its’ scope in the history of German emigration to Missouri is huge.