Emil Metelmann was born August 8, 1855 in Mecklenburg, Germany. He spent his youth and received his education in Mecklenburg and then moved to France where he worked in the public parks of Paris and London. In 1880, he moved to Epsom, England and worked as a horticulturalist and met Mary Wood whom he would later marry. In April 1882, Metelmann arrived in the United States, settling near Bathgate in North Dakota where he purchased 160 acres of land and started a tree nursery. Metelmann went back to England between 1884 and 1885 and during that time rented out his land. The next year he moved back to the United States to farm at a new location two miles from Walhalla, North Dakota. On November 5, 1886, Emil Metelmann married Mary Wood.
Metelmann was one of the first pioneers in Pembina County and was always interested in its development. He was a member of the German Lutheran Church. Mary (Wood) Metelmann passed away in May 1927, and Emil Metelmann passed away November 25, 1933, in Walhalla, North Dakota. They had seven children.
The Emil Metelmann Papers consist of correspondence written by Metelmann while in England and Pembina County to his mother in Boldebuck, Germany (1880 and 1886). The letters, originally written in German, were translated into English in the early 1930's by Metelmann's nephew Ernst Metelmann, a journalist in Leipzig, Germany. Ernst Metelmann photocopied the translations and sent the copies to Metelmann's children.
Also included in the collection are photocopied translations of the reported agenda from the Metelmann family reunion, which took place in 1937 at Arendsee, Germany, sent by Ernst Metelmann. There are also copies of land documents including the Bathgate Township plat map showing Emil Metelmann's homestead, a receivers receipt he obtained from the land office in Grand Forks, and a homestead certificate. The collection also holds a newspaper article from the Grand Forks Herald and two other articles from the Cavalier Chronicles written about Metelmann and his letters.
Additionally, the collection contains the correspondence of several other members of the Metelmann family, as well as various records from Emil’s childhood and from his time in America. An extensive record of the Metelmann family tree is also included, with not only a copy in the original German, but also notebooks from the translation process, and the final product of a master copy in English.