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American Dream

Madison baker Moehlmann
earns his U.S. citizenship

He has lived in Madison for the past 37 years

Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(October 2009) – Horst Moehlmann and his wife, Mary, have seen years of hard work and dedication pay off in two areas of their lives. The owners of a popular Madison bakery have expanded their business to open a downtown location catering to tourists and area store owners. They now operate bakeries at 220 Clifty Dr. on the hilltop and at 112 E. Main St. downtown.

Horst Moehlmann

Photo by Don Ward

Horst Moehlmann
emigrated from
Oldenburg, Germany,
in 1972 after
answering an ad
seeking workers
for a bakery.

This growth should come as no surprise to those who know and love the donuts of Horst’s Little Bakery Haus. What might be more surprising is the fact that the family is also celebrating the swearing in of Horst as an official U.S. citizen.
On Sept. 17, Horst was sworn in as a citizen after having lived in Madison for the past 37 years. The couple traveled to Indianapolis for his official Oath Ceremony, which took place on Citizenship Day.
“It’s emotional,” said Horst.
Mary added, “I have never seen a person so proud to become a U.S. citizen. He is telling the town how excited he is. You would think it was Christmas.”
In 1972, Moehlmann moved to Madison from Oldenburg, Germany, after answering a newspaper ad seeking bakery workers. The ad had been placed by a former Oldenburg resident, John Dieken, who operated Dieken’s Bakery for 36 years. Dieken served as Moehlmann’s sponsor for his emigration, a requirement in the past for those looking to move to the United States, and guaranteed him a job. Moehlmann, who arrived speaking no English, recalls his first reaction to Madison, saying, “It was all new to me.”
Dieken’s decision to hire Moehlmann proved to be a positive one, not only for his own business, but for the entire Madison community. “He is probably the most dependable worker we had,” recalled Dieken. “Can’t find a better man!”
When Moehlmann began work, he would come in to the store at midnight and start preparing the donuts, coffee cakes, pastries and breads that made the bakery so popular. Those years of hands on experience and dedication are certainly one reason Moehlmann can honestly claim, “everything” as his area of baking specialty.
Moehlmann worked in Dieken’s Bakery until the owners retired in 2001. Then in 2004, after receiving numerous requests from those who remembered his cooking skills, he and his wife opened Horst’s Little Bakery Haus on the Madison hilltop.
Now, five years later, the business employs 13 people and has expanded to include a downtown store.
Moehlmann credits the bakery’s popularity to the fact that they make “everything by hand. It’s old-fashioned,” he says.
Dieken finds his former em-ployee’s accomplishments no surprise saying, “If you know what you are doing, putting out a quality item, success just follows.”
After 37 years as a legal resident, Moehl-mann was encouraged by friends and family to take the final step and become an official citizen.
“We kind of pushed him,” Mary says with a laugh.
Moehlmann explains that many people had stressed the difficulty of the citizenship exam. “You have to study the test – history, geography. I studied for about two weeks,” he says of his preparations.
The oral exam took 45 minutes to complete and covered a range of civic and legal questions. “There’s a lot of paperwork,” said Mary, listing some of the required forms.
Moehlmann also had to be fingerprinted and underwent a background check before the process could be completed. “It might be good if all us Americans would take the citizenship test just to show what we have forgotten or maybe never learned about our country,” Mary said. “We have the privilege to live in this great land and should stand together as family, friends and a great community. I wish we could all have the excitement about our country as Horst has about becoming one of us.”
As a successful business owner and popular member of the community, Horst Moehlmann certainly has achieved the American dream.

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