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Winona County's Diversity
In an attempt to highlight the national and ethnic diversity of the Old Settlers’ membership, the Association website is creating links to activities focused on the history of various immigrant groups.

The first immigrants to be featured, 2006-2007, are the Luxembourgers of Winona County.

They will receive special attention this coming year, through a grant project entitled Hemecht: Luxembourger Life in Winona County, 1857-2007, funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Following the theme of Hemecht, (“home” in the Luxembourgish language), this project is developing a series of 2007 Winona County educational activities focused on the themes of “Immigration” and “A New Home in Winona County.” Grant partners include local schools, among them, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Winona State University; the Luxembourg-American Society of Rollingstone, The Polish Cultural Center, Winona; Rollingstone Community School, the Rollingstone Luxembourger Heritage Museum; selected local municipalities, including the cities of Altura, Elba, Minneiska and Rollingstone; the Marnach House Heritage Committee, the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area and the MN Department of Natural Resources, the Winona Arts Center, Winona County Historical Society, and Winona Public Library. Hemecht project director is Mary Nilles.

In 2007, when the City of Luxembourg and its Greater Region are the Culture Capitol of Europe, Luxembourgers who were members of the Old Settlers’ Association will be featured in the development of photographic exhibitions, displays of children’s art, exhibits of paintings and etchings, and the development of county-wide tours and visits to historic sites. These will include, among other events:

  • Hemecht student art show, in the Winona Public Library, January 6 - February 6, 2007- featuring children’s drawings of Luxembourger immigrants, family trees and Winona County architecture associated with the Luxembourgers
  • February 2007 exhibition on the Marnach House, at the Winona Arts Center. Stonemasons John and Nicholas Marnach, and their family, immigrants from Rambrouch, Luxembourg, began to construct this stone home shortly after their arrival in the Elba Valley in 1857;
  • June-July 2007 photographic exhibition in the Lillian Davis Hogan Gallery of the Michael J. Toner Center at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. The show will feature images of 150 Luxembourger immigrants and their descendents;
  • July 19-20, 2007 Conference featuring authors who have published on Luxembourger immigration to the United States;
  • A festive 150th birthday celebration at the historic Marnach House on July 21, 2007, honoring its history, its place on the National Register of Historic Places, and 150 years of Luxembourger presence in Winona County
  • Publications - a coloring book for children, and a Luxembourg Reader
  • Walking tours of Luxembourger-related sites in or near Rollingstone, MN and Winona, including the historic Marnach House
  • “Food for Thought” discussions at the Winona County Historical Society: on Luxembourger cuisines and styles of architecture, in January and May 2007.


Winona County became a new Hemecht for more than 150 Luxembourger families when, between 1857 and 1907, they established homes in large numbers in Rollingstone, and also bought land in or near Elba, Altura, Minneiska and St. Charles.

Within the limits of the City of Winona, during this period Luxembourgers formed a small colony in the downtown area (between Johnson and Market Streets, and Front and Third Streets). Here John Ludwig (1837-1906), an immigrant from Canach, Luxembourg, was voted Winona’s mayor four times. He erected, and for almost three decades was the proprietor of, the Ludwig Hotel, 52 East Third Street. He was one of the founders of the German-American Bank (established in 1892), and its president. The Mayor also managed a farm near St. Charles, often employing newly-arrived Luxembourger immigrants as hired hands until they could learn English and establish themselves within the county. Mr. Ludwig, a Civil War veteran, was involved in statewide and national politics as well, elected in 1893 president of the Luxembourg Congress, a position of national and international reputation. In 1905 he was nominated by Governor Lind to serve on the Minnesota State Capitol Commission.