Is Stearns County Syndrome Really a “Thing” Or is it a Joke?
Being that I have lived in Stearns Country for most of my life, I've heard from so many people that we have the "Stearns County Syndrome" here. I wasn't born here, not that it matters, but my point is that I'm not related to anyone in the area. I had to do some of my own research, because of that point.
If you Google Stearns County Syndrome you get a definition. Not necessarily one that you might like to hear, but this is what you get from the Urban Dictionary:
Resulting from people never leaving Stearns County, Minnesota. Inbreeding to this severity results in adults teaching biology for way too long to a class full of inbred stearns county children, drinking too much german beer, and dating your first cousin. Common last names include Schramel, Mueller, Schmitz, Schmitt, Gerken, or any other german last name.
This is not a reputable source. But what would you expect from the Urban Dictionary? Look up almost anything that's a slang term, or something along those lines and you will get some very colorful definitions.
Moving onto another source... if you just look up "Stearns County" you will find that the name "Stearns" was actually a mistake. The county was named for Charles Thomas Stearns. But it was supposed to be named for Governor Stevens. This is from Geneology Trails History Group.
"The bill, as originally introduced, both the name of Stevens county, in honor of Governor Stevens, then prominently connected with the survey of the Northern Pacific railroad and passed both branches of the Legislature n that shape; but in the enrollment of the bill the change occurred from Stevens to Stearns, and when discovered, it was concluded best to let the matter stand, as the name was still in the line of honorable mention, and Mr. Stearns well entitled to public recognition in this way."
This shows nothing to do with the "syndrome" part. Maybe the Urban Dictionary was referring to that part of it. Although is it really true? Did it used to be true? What this second source does show is some of the origins of many of the towns in Stearns County and that is kind of interesting, but nothing about any "syndrome".
The question still stands... why did this reputation happen? I know that a lot of people who live here have lived here all of their lives, and being from mostly agricultural and Catholic families. Meaning that many families are very large. The family would work the farm, and mostly immigrated from Germany. So you get a large base of German Catholics. Maybe that's where the sterotype would come from? Not that it's necessarily true, but that may be the perception.
I think more research needs to be done. Right now this just seems like a "joke" and not a thing based on anything legitimate.
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