Sister Cities: Ladbergen, North Rhine-Westphalia and New Knoxville, Ohio
Ladbergen Dorfstrasse 4, © Francis Flinch / Creative Commons
The partnership between New Knoxville, Ohio and Ladbergen has existed since New Knoxville’s founding.
Wilhelm Kuckhermann and his wife Elisabeth left Ladbergen in 1834 and settled in the area around present-day New Knoxville in 1836. He bought a large forested area north of New Bremen and wrote enthusiastically about his purchase to his relatives and friends back home, after which his parents-in-law and his friends H. Lutterbeck and H. Meckstroth arrived in New Bremen.
Together they founded a settlement, registered it officially on July 21, 1836, and built a wooden house large enough for six families. As a result, several more families immigrated to America.
When deliberating on names for the settlement, Neu Ladbergen (New Ladbergen) is said to have been considered, but was discouraged by some of the settlers. They argued that it was a bad omen because there was no progress in the original Ladbergen, and they would be resigning the settlement to the same fate. They eventually decided on New Knoxville after merchant John Knox.
Even before the First World War, Ladberger emigrants or their descendants from New Knoxville found their way back home to visit relatives or see where their ancestors came from.
The two communities have supported each other in times of hardship in the course of the past two centuries. In 1881, many Ladbergers were without food due to crop failure and New Knoxville responded by raising 577 Marks. Even after both world wars, the residents of New Knoxville sympathized with their German brothers and sent supplies. This sense of support and kinship also made possible the construction of an organ and a nurse’s clinic.
When the New Knoxville Evangelical Reformed Church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1938, it received a silver altarpiece and a large framed picture from the mother church of Ladbergen as a sign of fraternal solidarity and gratitude.
Mayor Deloris Fischbach visited Ladbergen on September 11, 1978. In the town’s Goldenes Buch (visitors’ book) she wrote:
September 11, 1978. Greetings to all the inhabitants of Ladbergen, the city of our common heritage. May God's grace continue to bless our partnership in the years to come. With the best wishes for you all.
Mayor Deloris Fischbach, New Knoxville, Ohio, USA.
The communities still maintain contact with each other through letters and visits.