It’s well known that some of Missouri’s earliest European settlers were French, founding cities like St. Louis, Florissant, and St. Genevieve in the eastern part of the state. But it was the Germans who settled along the Missouri River Valley and into northern Missouri. They started to arrive in the early 1800s. They had their own dialect of German, their own newspapers, and were known for their wine, which they made it what is called the Missouri Rhineland. For many, German was their first language and the language they spoke at home.
KBIA producer Ryan Schuessler visited with Terry Loehnig, a Missouri native who runs a farm outside McKittrick, Mo. Loehnig's parents and grandparents were born in or near Hermann, Mo., and he grew up learning a regional dialect of German at home called Hermanndeutsch. It's a mixture of Low and High German, and English.
These days, it's hard to find anyone who speaks Hermanndeutsch, and the dialect is quickly becoming a distant memory.