A tale of two cities

Staff Writer
GLANDORF — It’s a tale of two Glandorfs. Residents of Glandorf, Ohio, which was originally settled by immigrants from Glandorf, Germany, will be hosting guests from their namesake village this week.
A delegation of 53 guests from Glandorf, Germany will arrive in Ohio today after spending a few days in New York. They will stay with host families while they are here. There are two events open to the public: a welcoming ceremony tonight and a reciting of stories in the Low German dialect on Saturday.
The two communities have long had strong ties, and residents of both Glandorfs share many of the same surnames. But the bond between the two cities grew stronger in the 1970s, said Gene Warnecke, who has been mayor of Glandorf, Ohio for the last 20 years.
Around 1975, as the United States approached its bicentennial in 1976, residents of Glandorf, Ohio traveled to Glandorf, Germany, leading to what has become an ongoing series of visits with Ohio residents traveling to Germany and vice versa.
Warnecke has himself traveled to Germany.
“It was very neat,” he said.
In Germany, Glandorf is located in the Westphalia region in the northwestern part of the country.
“It’s mostly land very similar to around here,” Warnecke said. “Flat, a lot of agriculture.”
Farmers from Glandorf, Germany first came to Putnam County in 1834, starting a community and naming it New Glandorf, later shortened to Glandorf.
“We always knew that our little village here in Ohio was basically started up from folks who came over from Glandorf, Germany,” Warnecke said.
While visiting Germany Warnecke found it particularly interesting to see signs for businesses with names similar to those in Putnam County, which made him realize how much of an influence that part of Germany had over not just Glandorf, Ohio but surrounding communities in northwestern Ohio.
Warnecke said firefighters in the two communities have formed particularly strong ties after visiting with each other.
“They really have a unique relationship, those two different fire districts,” he said.
Warnecke said the two villages have hosted each other several times, usually in the fall but this year there was a group that wanted to visit in midsummer.
Tonight’s welcoming ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. at the city building. Host families and their guests will meet up there.
Thursday, the German visitors’ first full day in Ohio, is also the day Germany plays the United States in the World Cup.
“So we’re having a big World Cup soccer party for (the guests),” Warnecke said.
The visitors will also go on a hayride.
Friday will be a free day for host families to take their guests to sights throughout the area. Warnecke said some are going to Sauder Village in Archbold, some to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton and others to Cedar Point.
At 2 p.m. Saturday in the new Glandorf Elementary School, 140 Church St., the visitors will recite stories in the Low German dialect.
Low German was spoken when the German immigrants came to Ohio in the early 1800s. The language goes back to centuries earlier when Germany was split into different territories, Warnecke said.
As time went by, Low German has largely faded out but a few of the area’s older residents still speak it. Warnecke said Ohio has Low German clubs in Defiance and in Mercer County.
“There are people who are still interested in this Low German dialect,” he said.
Residents of Glandorf, Germany are trying to preserve the dialect for posterity, he said.
Warnecke said the German residents gathered stories from people who still spoke Low German and translated them into English. Along with reading some of the stories in Low German, they will present the Glandorf, Ohio residents with a book of the stories.
Also on Saturday, the visitors will tour St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Glandorf. The day will conclude with a dinner followed by a performance of Dueling Pianos out of Cleveland.
The German delegation is being led by Hubert Poehler, vice mayor of Glandorf, Germany, but Warnecke said most of the Germans coming are ordinary people rather than elected officials. The Germans seem “awful excited” to visit, he said.
Warnecke said in his 20 years as mayor he has seen the ties grow and “a lot of good friendships” formed.
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