Sister Cities: Wiesloch, Baden-Württemberg and Sturgis, Michigan

Wiesloch, Blick in die Altstadt

Wiesloch, Blick in die Altstadt, © Rudolf Stricker

18.01.2019 - Article

Original German text provided by the City of Wiesloch

The town twinning with Sturgis was established in 1966. It began as a cultural exchange when a choir came to Wiesloch. This was followed by many student exchanges at the grammar school and some adult groups. The decisive push to intensify the partnership came from Lord Mayor Wolfgang Fürniß, who wanted to expand the official encounters through friendly relations.

In 1826, surveyors began surveying St. Joseph County in Michigan and marking it in city circles. When the surveyors returned to their base in Detroit, they raved about the fertile land of St. Joseph County, and the sheer inexhaustible supply of water and wood.

John Sturgis heard these tales and set off west with his 19-year-old neighbor George Thurston in 1827. The land there could be purchased very cheaply. In August 1827, John Sturgis decided to settle in St. Joseph County. To stake his claim, Sturgis plowed 10 acres (about 4000 m²) and planted wheat with the help of George Thurston. Afterwards he went back to Broenstown.

The three other first settlers in St. Joseph County were John Winchell, Leonhard Cutler, Arba Heald. In the spring of 1828, Sturgis returned with his family and built the first wooden house on the site, which would later be called Sturgis Prairie. David Sturgis, the 8th child and 5th son of the Sturgis couple, was born on 11 February 1830 as the first white child in Sturgis Prairie.

  • In 1850 Sturgis had 840 villagers.
  • The waterworks was built in 1889.
  • In 1896 Sturgis became a town with its own administration with 2476 inhabitants.
  • In 1911 the first electric current came from the dam at St. Joseph River.
  • In 1912 the sewage system, the pumping station and the sewage treatment plant were built. Today, Sturgis is one of the few cities that has never pumped untreated sewage into a river.
  • In 1915, Sturgis became the best lit small town in Michigan, with 2 1/2 miles of paved streets lit.
  • By 1927 the population had reached about 7000 inhabitants.

Sturgis ends its first 100 years with 6 schools, 9 churches, a hospital, 45 miles of cement sidewalks, 20 miles of sewers, 2 parks, a sports field, 23 miles of paved roads, 23 miles of main water pipes, a library and a municipal power plant.

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