THE PASTOR OF NEW MEXICO
Peter Küppers’s Memoirs
By Tomas Jaehn
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There are few foreign original voices talking about early twentieth century Northern New Mexico. Father Peter Küppers who immigrated from Germany to New Mexico is one of those few voices.
Father Küppers was born in 1885, came to New Mexico in 1911 and aside from a few short trips to Colorado and the mid-West, remained in New Mexico all his life. Rather limited in his knowledge of American culture when he arrived on this continent—after all, he once got mad that folks in New York did not speak German—Küppers grew to love New Mexico. Always biased and fierce in his protection of Northern New Mexicans, particularly his often poor Catholic parishioners, he became a cultural agent for Hispanics and Anglos and a chronicler of rural small town life.
In his sometimes jolly account from the early 20th century, Küppers discusses growing up in Germany, describes personal experiences in the United States, and particularly in New Mexico, where he had to adapt to rural life, interact with town folks, parishioners, and Penitentes, and his adjustment to cultural surroundings so very different from his homeland in Germany.
Tomas Jaehn grew up in Germany and has lived in the United States since 1984. He attended universities in Germany and the United States and holds a PhD in history from the University of New Mexico. He has written about Germans in the Southwest and West and is the author of Germans in the Southwest, 1850–1920 (University of New Mexico Press, 2005). He has worked for over ten years at the New Mexico History Museum’s Fray Angélico Chávez History Library in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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