Minden began its fifth annual Fasching Celebration at 11:11 a.m., on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2014.
With a full crowd, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler was the keynote speaker at the Fasching Brunch at Orleans on Main. Schedler is of German heritage, and he not only talked about his own family history, but touted the Louisiana State Archives – of which the Germantown Colony and Museum is now a part.
“We have a great genealogy library at the state archives,” he said. “(It is) one of the best, and it’s probably a little known secret. People come from all over the country, especially people from France because of their heritage in the deep South and New Orleans.”
Interestingly, Schedler’s name by heritage is German. He talked about his mother who lost her home during Hurricane Katrina. Following the aftermath, his family found a box of letters from pre-Civil War and during the Civil War from family members writing home to loved ones. He took the box of letters to the archives and had them clean it up and put them in hermetically sealed boxes.
During this process, his mother’s name was researched in the genealogy department, and he learned his mother’s heritage is Irish and predominantly French.
“It is amazing what you can find out,” he said. “It’s just amazing. In the mid-1700s, I was able to run my mother’s name back. You would just be amazed at the stuff you can find out.
“The reason I mention this to you is because I am a big believer in who we are and whence we came,” he continued. “If you think about this celebration today, it really started back in the 13th century. What you’ve started here, to me, is something that can only grow in time and benefit this community and this state. Part of my job is to keep history and part of that is certainly what you have going here.”
Schedler said before the Louisiana Purchase many along the coast were of German heritage and assimilated when the French began migrating to south Louisiana.
“Most of those individuals who settled in Louisiana came in 1722 and settled along in St. Charles Parish and then later in St. John,” he said, “but (it is) known as the German Coast.”
The definition of a coast is a shoreline along a waterbed, but in this case it was a shoreline along a riverbed, he said.
“From there, they moved into mainly New Orleans and lost some of their German language and converted to French,” he said. “Some even took over their name in more of French heritage, but nonetheless, of German ancestry. That’s the thing I think you’re trying to foster here with your community which has such a strong German connection.”
Schedler said under his office, there are 16 museums and the Germantown Colony Museum is one of them. He visited the newly opened museum and colony as part of his trip to Minden to ring in the Fasching Celebration.
Schedler was given a tour and history lessons of how the Germantown Colony came to be. He studied several of the exhibits already in place and learned about others still in the works.
Fasching is pre-Lenten festivities celebrated in grand style in mostly the predominantly Catholic regions of the German-speaking countries, according to German language expert Ingrid Bauer.
The Fasching celebration in Minden began roughly five years ago, fashioned after the celebration in Germany when Michael Fluhr, a native of Germany, suggested the idea to the City of Minden’s Economic/Downtown Development Director Pattie Odom.
Recently, Lynn Dorsey, executive director of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitor Bureau, visited Minden’s namesake, Minden, Germany, to collaborate and promote each city.
The Minden Fasching Karneval will be Saturday, Nov. 22, with food, fun and entertainment all day.