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[graphic header] The Amana Colonies: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary of a unique historic communal society in eastern Iowa

[graphic] Taglohner Houses
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[Photo]
Taglöhner Houses
Photograph by Shannon Bell

Soon after the Inspirationists arrived in Iowa in 1855, they established a large farm and forestry operation, several flour, calico, and woolen mills, and a variety of other economic activities. Community members worked according to their skills and abilities, but they often hired outside workers for various jobs. These Taglöhners (hired hands) did not officially join the Church or participate in the communal life of the Amana Colonies. Even so, they played an integral role in the economic life of the community and were included to an extent in the social life of the villages. They lived in small buildings in each town and ate at the community kitchens. If they did seasonal work, they often moved on at the end of the harvest; but some stayed for several years working in the mills or on the farm. Many of the houses still stand today and are now used as residences. Perhaps the best examples of Taglöhner houses are in High Amana. The four small houses located on the west side of 12th Avenue were originally built to house the hired hands. After the "Great Change" in 1932, the Amana Society began to rent the Taglöhner houses.

[Historic Photo]
Historic interior of a Taglöhner House in High Amana
Photograph courtesy of the Amana HeritageSociety

According to William Perkins and Barthnius L. Wick, authors of History of the Amana Society or Community of True Inspiration, published in 1891, "During the summer months nearly three hundred hired laborers are employed." Perkins went on to add that the men were well provided for, and enjoyed working in the Colonies so much that they were willing to work $5.00 dollars per month less then neighboring farmers were paying. Although the Inspirationists maintained good relationships with the Taglöhners, they did not attempt to admit outsiders into their sect or convert others to their beliefs.

High Amana's Taglöhner Houses are located at 703, 705, 709, and 713 12th Ave. Now homes of Amana Colonies residents, these houses are not open to the public.

 

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