Max Kade Institute

for German-American Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison

From Mecklenburg to Middleton: A Local History Project


Mecklenburg-Middleton map

                                            Map by Mark Livingood

Research at the Max Kade Institute is deeply rooted in close connections with local communities. In one such example, MKI is investigating the history of emigrants from the German Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin who settled in rural Middleton, Wisconsin, beginning in the early 1850s. Their history is a good example of chain migration: people from one community or region in Europe followed each other to America where they settled together in the same locality, and where many of their descendants still live today. While Americans are aware of their ethnic heritage, few realize that their ancestors and the founders of their communities hailed from the same parts of the old world, knew each other, and were often related. Together with members of the community, MKI tries to illuminate the history of the Mecklenburg immigrants in the town of Middleton. Traces can still be found in the landscape in the form of old churches, farmhouses, or in the footprint of an early log cabin; the names of the early settlers still dominate in the local phone book and on land records; and letters, photos, and other documents kept in families for generations now inform us about what life in this community once was like.

Petty, Antje. "Traces in the Landscape: Immigration from Mecklenburg to Wisconsin." In Max Kade Institute Friends Newsletter, Vol. 21, No. 2, Spring 2012
Petty, Antje. "History of the First German Evangelical-Lutheran Congregation in the Town of Middleton, Dane County, Wisconsin." In Max Kade Institute Friends Newsletter, Vol. 21, No. 2, Spring 2012

External Links: Pope Farm Conservancy

  Carl Goth cabin   Carl and Sophie Goth, immigrants from Mecklenburg, in front of the cabin that was their first home in Middleton, WI, ca. 1890      History Church Middleton

Pastor E. F. Scherbel's history of the first German Lutheran Church in Middleton, Wisconsin, 1902