History and Heritage

To honor the significant history of Unitarians and Universalists in what is now known as the MidAmerica Region, we're creating this History and Heritage section of our web site, to highlight the stories, photos, and history of our Region.

Bertha TainterHere you will find a series of monthly History Vignettes, written by members of the History and Heritage Committee. They will write one every month for the next year or so, maybe longer. If you have a story to suggest, please contact Victor Urbanowicz at [email protected].

You will also find links to stories about how congregations have celebrated significant anniversaries, as well as videos congregations have produced about their own history.

We'll also be adding some information about how your congregation can begin working on its own history. If you have suggestions for links or other material to add, please send them to Nancy Heege at [email protected].

In 1852, German-speaking immigrant freethinkers founded the Freie Gemeinde von Sauk County in Sauk City, Wisconsin, about 20 miles northwest of Madison. Freie Gemeinde means free community or free congregation. The 80 founders included 15 or more women, who had full membership rights. As refugees from the Revolutions of 1848, the group sought freedom of thought unhindered by church or state. In 1884 they built Park Hall (known locally as Freethinkers Hall), a spacious, many-windowed wooden structure where the group continues meeting today.

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Bertha TainterWe encourage UU groups and individuals to create historical documentaries on video. Two are available:

Heritage of Heresy: Bisbee and Tuttle on the Universalist Frontier

In 1872, Minnesota's Universalists expelled Rev. Herman Bisbee for teaching heresy and for "unbrotherly conduct" toward a senior colleague, Rev. James. H. Tuttle. Twenty years later, Universalists - including Tuttle - had adopted Bisbee's beliefs.

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