History of Arenzville, IL
By Judge J. A. Arenz, Chapter XIV, History of Cass County, Illinois, edited by William Henry Perrin, Chicago, O.L. Baskin & Co. Historical Publishers, 1882.
Emigrants from Germany
Among the early emigrants from Germany, were many who had been accustomed to good society, and had enjoyed the advantages of superior education. Some held diplomas from colleges and universities. As most Germans, they were lovers of music, and some could play on one or more musical instruments. The pioneer lives in a new country, where hard labor, coupled with innumerable privations, without amusements of any kind, necessarily drew that class together, who could not bring themselves to the belief that the only aim and object in life should henceforth be devoted to hard work only, for which they at best could only get board and clothing. They were generally called the "Latin farmers."
A club, or society circle was formed, and social gatherings were had, sometimes at the house of one member, sometimes at another. Little concerts were gotten up, the instruments being piano, violin, flute, and violoncello. Dancing parties were occasionally arranged, and large hunting parties. A musical band was afterward organized under the leadership of a Mr. Holtzermann. This social circle continued for many years, until finally, when the number had increased to such proportion that no room was large enough to hold them, and some of the original members had by death, or removal to other parts of the country, made their places vacant, this very pleasant and useful club came to an end.
Whenever an opportunity offered to play some practical joke upon a new comer, it was eagerly seized. One of these, which caused considerable merriment, is herewith narrated: Several new emigrant having arrived, some of the older settlers went with them into the prairie, to select a piece of land for farming purposes. A skunk, or pole-cat, was seen in the grass, and it was given out that these animals were highly prized for their beauty and valuable fur, and it ought to be secured by all means. To shoot it would damage the fur, as it was alleged. One of these new ones was told to approach very cautiously and cover it with his hat, which he adroitly accomplished; but the animal at that moment squirted its perfume at him, some of which reached his face and bosom. The man ran and jumped about, gesticulating wildly with arms and body, vomiting and hallowing, "Oh Lord! Oh Lord!" He was asked what was the matter, whether he was sick; to which he replied, "Don't you smell that infernal stink, or are your noses lined with cast iron?" Although it was at first pretended that no bad smell was noticeable, the hearty laughter of some of the party brought him to realize that a joke had been practiced upon him. Nothing could induce him to take the skunk, which had then been shot, home with him. He picked up his hat, which was a new one, carrying it at arms length from his body, marching sulkily in the rear of the party, and when Arenzville was reached, the hat was gone too--he had lost it willfully.
The hunting parties also furnished a great many amusing incidents. Game of all description, was found in abundance. The pond along Indian Creek were, in the spring and fall at times so covered with ducks that no water could be seen.
In the summer of 1844, when the river had been the highest ever known, the deer had to leave the low land and retreat with their young to the sand-ridges, which were also surrounded with water. Mr. William Carter, then living nearest to the Illinois river, caught a great many fawns, which he penned up, and when fully grown, shipped them to St. Louis.