Article written

  • on 13.04.2010
  • at 03:52 PM
  • by The Q

Herford and Quincy: A Story About Sister Cities 0

In the mid 1980s I was working at the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce. Joe Conover from the Herald Whig brought a letter to my office for translation into English. It had been sent to the Herald Whig, written in partial English and partial German, asking about what had happened to about 200 families who had left Herford County in the Mid 1800s for Adams County and Quincy. Were there descendants still in the Quincy Area? Was there any interest in renewing family relationships?

After I had translated the letter into English, I started writing to the person who had sent it, Friedel Schuette. In our correspondence over several years we determined that Quincy was settled in a large part by just those people who had emigrated from Herford. Quincy and Herford share much more in common, both have a river (although our Mississippi is MUCH bigger than the two rivers in Herford, the Werre and the Aa, even if you would combine them!), both are the hub cities in agricultural areas, there are hills (not mountains) found in both places, today both cities are county seats, population numbers are close – Herford is home to about 60,000, and Quincy to about 40,000 inhabitants, both cities have institutions of higher learning, etc.

My boss at the Chamber, Mr. Harry Button, started talking to city officials about a possibility for a sister city relationship, and Mayor Hagstrom was interested in starting such a relationship with a city somewhere in this world. Since it looked like Herford and Quincy shared many things, Mayor Hagstrom asked what the next step would be in confirming an official relationship. During the summer of 1988, my family was planning to visit Germany for the wedding of one of my siblings. I offered to take a resolution the City Council had written to Herford and hand-deliver it to them.

After the wedding, we made our way to Herford (I had never been in this area about 3 ½ hours north of my home of Frankfurt, basically because I am from a family of 7 children, and we did not have any relatives there. We only went on vacation in those days to places where we had family with a large attic for our sleeping bags). We were warmly greeted by people I had only known through letters. They showed us the town, introduced me to their Mayor and many others, and were very happy that the Quincy City Fathers had sent this resolution! Only one year later, in 1989, a delegation from Herford was in Quincy during the Dogwood Festival, signing our proclamation of establishing our Sister City relationship, and in September of that same year a large group from Quincy went to Herford to sign their proclamation and participate in their huge birthday bash – the City of Herford was celebrating 1200 years as a free city!

Since those beginnings, we have had many exchanges. Tourist groups travel between the cities about every other year; we have exchanged musical groups, students, young professionals, exhibits and more, and have taken part in each other’s celebrations. Many families on both sides of the Atlantic have reconnected with each other, and many people who are not related have made new friends. Some of these friendships were made in the very beginning and are still going strong!

This year, for the Dogwood Festival, we are expecting a group from Herford. We are excited about our visitors, who will stay with local families, and will be touring our area, as well as visit some of our country’s National Parks in the West. Next year, in 2011, we are planning our return visit to Herford in combination with a Baltic Cruise. More information on that to come later this summer.

By Mecki Kosin

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