The Senior Adult Ministry (SAMs) from First Baptist Church made a recent trip to Stuttgart, the Rice and Duck Capital of the World.
The Rev. George Adam Buerkle is considered the founder of Stuttgart. He was born in Plattenhardt, Germany, where he married Barbara Roth. They had one child when they immigrated to America in 1852. Upon arriving in America, Buerkle first settled in Woodville, Ohio. In 1876, he bought 7,000 acres of prairie land in the area that is now present-day Stuttgart.
In 1878, Buerkle brought his first colony to the prairie. They traveled by train — six chartered railroad cars — and included 48 men, women and chldren. Getting off the train at what is now Carlisle, they made the rest of the trip by wagon. Buerkle brought his own family to Stuttgart in the second colony. He kept almost one-half of his original land purchase and sold the remainder to his colonists. The price was $3 per acre.
Eventually Buerkle and his wife had 15 children. Twelve of them lived to maturity, and nine of them married. Their descendants reside in this area today.
In 1880, Buerkle was appointed postmaster, and he named the new office in his home Stuttgart for the town in Germany near where he was born.
It is thought that most of the adults in the colony were born in Germany, and for years, church services in the Lutheran churches in Stuttgart were conducted in German. The colonists had their own private schools and a weekly all-German newspaper was published for more than 20 years.
Present-day Stuttgart has all the advantages and amenities of a big city. Downtown Stuttgart has a “down- home” atmosphere and friendly local merchants.
Upon arriving in Stuttgart, the SAMs went to the Gourmandise Restaurant for lunch. The proprietor of the restaurant said that the name of the restaurant is derived from the French word “gourmand”, meaning a person who loves to eat. The seniors decided that they were in the right place since all of them love to eat. The menu might be described as southern soul with burgers and desserts.
Even though the weather was miserable, a steady drizzle, the SAMs didn’t intend to miss shopping downtown Stuttgart. The merchants were getting prepared for the annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest and the Wings Over the Prairie Festival. Hunters from all across the country gather for the celebration of ducks.
Retail is central in the beautifully maintained downtown, where historic shops like the Coker-Hampton Drug Company and Gift Shop and Buerkle Drug Company continue to thrive with trendy clothing. Wilkerson’s Jewelers shines as one of the state’s premier fine jewelry dealers. There are many other unique stores in downtown Stuttgart.
After leaving downtown and heading home, the group stopped at the newly remodeled Belk clothing store. The remodel of the original store and the addition of a second started in early 2013, and allowed the store to increase the number of brands it offers, as well as added an additional 15,000 square feet. The store is spacious, well-designed and carries all the major brands.
Those making the trip included the driver, Roger Minyard, Linda Minyard, Jeanette McGrew, the organizer of the trips, Jimmie Lee Nichols, Betty Craig, Peggie Howard and Ann Adair.