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Liechtenstein Quilt Project
Text and photos by Phyl Broich-Wessling
In 1993, the historical society of the Principality of Liechtenstein, began a rather unique project, which to our knowledge involved four families from Iowa. Our daughter, Joan Wessling-Hanson, the great-great-granddaughter of Jacob Welte, was offered the opportunity to celebrate her Liechtenstein heritage by participating in the creation of a special quilt.
Joan was one of the 11 participants, (10 from USA and 1 from Canada) who created the American portion of a quilt which is 1 yard wide and 5 yards long. It depicts blue skies, oceans, sky scrapers and factory smoke stacks, the St. Louis arch, wheat fields and a combine. Joan's portion was the heaven or the clouds. The second half of the Transatlantic Quilt depicts Liechtenstein in the year 1900. That half was created and stitched by the Liechtenstein Quilt Group. Together, the quilt makes a complete picture signifying unity among people. The quilt was designed by Donna Marxer, an artist from New York, who is of Liechtenstein descent. Each participant, creating the American portion of the quilt, stitched their strip together and then mailed it to a Liechtenstein research, who was living in N.Y. at the time. The pieces were then sent to Liechtenstein, where they were stitched into a whole by the Liechtenstein Quilt Group. The quilt was completed late fall of 1997. The finished quilt was selected to be displayed at the Quilt Expo V1, which is a juried show, that was held in May 1998 in Innsbruck, Austria. This exhibition is held every two years in an European country.
Liechtenstein is a small alpine country, covering 62 square miles, about the length of Manhattan, but somewhat wider and is home to approximately 30,00 residents. Eleven communities are nestled in this picturesque land of the medieval castles, Rhine River meadows, quaint charming villages, orchards and small vineyards dot the foothills. Bordering Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein shares in the Alpine beauty of the region.
Jacob Welte was born 1843 in the small village of Mauren, Liechtenstein. On the 7 of May 1852, the Four-Mast ship, "Jersey" docked on the pier of New Orleans, La. after a 49 day crossing. She had 305 passengers on board including 9 year old Jacob Welte. Also on the ship were Jacob's widowed mother, Maria Anna (Matt) Welte, three sisters, Katharina, Maria Ursula and Kreszenz and Jacob's soon-to-be step-father, Andrew Marxer.
The family traveled from New Orleans, to Guttenberg, Iowa where Jacob learned the trade of barrel making. In 1868, Jacob married Theresia Werner from Festina, Iowa. Theresia was born 1850, at St. Mary's, Pa, the daughter of Christoff Werner and Walburga Schoeberl. The Werner family had come from Herbstadt, Germany to Pa. in 1845. The Schoeberl family had come from Holzheim, Germany to Pa. in 1848. In 1855, the Werner family arrived in Winneshiek Co. Iowa.
The first two of Jacob and Theresia's 9 children were born in Guttenberg, IA. In the mid 1870's Jacob and his family moved to Festina, Iowa. In 1881, Jacob got the urge to go west. He and his family moved to Danbury, Iowa where they operated a store. Jacob and Theresa's daughter, Mary Welte married Louis Wessling in 1900. Louis was from the town of Breda, Iowa, Carroll Co. They lived and raised their family south of Breda, Iowa.
[An additional note:]
The people of Liechtenstein, have shown a great interest, in the people of Iowa. They have organized three wonderful projects, involving the Iowa people. The first, was the Liechtenstein Quilt, the second was a 2 volume set called Nach Amerika! It tells about the history of the emigration in the 19th and 20th century. It follows their routes and has 15 biographical articles on individuals and their families. About 17 Liechtenstein emigrants, tell the story of their emigration and their lives. Unfortunately, both volumes are in the German language! The third project was a filmed documentary which they made on the life of Norman Lee. Norman, was born in Danbury, Iowa and he was Jacob Welte's nephew's son. He also was a member of two "Big Bands": Lawrence Welk and Eddy Howard. For a time, he had his own band, based in Wichita, KS. Norman co-wrote the well known "Champagne Polka" with Lawrence Welk.