An Immigrant Story - Anselm Studer

A man and woman sit on a porch situated on the front of a house.
Anselm and Maria (Fretter) Studer on the porch at the camp in Bootjack ca. 1934.

Photo courtesy of Mary Lou Curtin

This is an immigrant story about a young man who left his hometown in the Alps for the copper-filled hills of the Keweenaw.

Born in Breitenbach, Switzerland, in 1860, Anselm Studer was discharged from the Swiss army in 1881 and came to the United States to work as a stonemason. His home parish, St. Stephens, had given him $50 because he couldn't afford to pay for the trip and to support his family while he was traveling. He is said to have repaid the parish with his first earnings in the US.

Two photos juxtaposed showing what was once a church is now an apartment building.
The Holy Rosary Church was deconsecrated in 1966; the structure is now an apartment building.

NPS Photo with historic image inset (Courtesy of Michigan Tech Archives)

Anselm found employment building stone foundations, first in New York City then in the Keweenaw for the Quincy Mining Company. Around 1885 he married Miss Mary Fretter, the German-born daughter of his supervisor at Quincy, and the two started a family. Several years later, they moved to Lake Linden where Anselm tried a different type of work for the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company, becoming a watchman at the stamp mills. He retired in 1934 as C&H's Chief of Security.

Lake Linden, though best known for its French-Canadian population, was also home to a substantial German-speaking community. After 1888, German Catholics tended to belong to Holy Rosary parish in Lake Linden. When a new Holy Rosary Church was built after the old building burned in 1905, Anselm donated his labor to construct the foundation of the new building. Perhaps his generosity to his parish here was inspired by the kindness of his parish in Switzerland which had helped him begin his own immigrant story.

Last updated: January 26, 2018

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