February 23, 2017

Heinrich Tietje's Story from Kerstin

When Herman Hinrich Johann Tietje (born 7 Mar 1835) and his wife, Catharina Maria Schwiebert (born 20 Oct 1840), decided to immigrate to America with their family, two of their older children chose to remain behind as they were already married with children and had jobs in Germany.  

 Dietrich, the father of Wilhelm (Dutch Bill, husband to Kate Spoering) and Dietrich's brother, Heinrich, stayed in Germany where they raised their families.  Heinrich, the younger brother of the two, was Kerstin, my German correspondent's, great-great grandfather.

Marie and Heinrich Tietje are sitting in front.  They would have been Wilhelm, "Dutch Bill" Tietje's aunt and uncle. ( Bill was married to Kate Spoering.)  In the back on the far left is Ida, their daughter, and her husband Dietrich Luhrssen and their child, Margarethe.  The others are grandchildren and spouses.

Here Kerstin writes the story of Heinrich Tietje from Bendingbostel:

“Heinrich Tietje, my great-great grandfather of my mother’s family line, was born 22 June 1862 in Verdenermoor in Germany.  This is a very small village and today a protected area in Lower Saxony in the north-western Germany.  The Verdener Moor belongs to the parish of Kirchlinteln in the district Verden.  It is surrounded by the Linteln Geest, also called Verden Heath, which is dominated by woods, hills, heath and small villages.  Today many people decide to build new homes there or to buy old cottages in the region because of its picturesque landscape and its location close to the cities of Bremen and Hannover.

Heinrich was the second son of Hermann Hinrich Johann Tietje and Catharina Maria Schwiebert.  He and his older brother Dietrich decided not to immigrate with their parents, brothers, and sisters in 1888 and stayed at Germany.  That was because they had jobs and were married and their first children were born.  Heinrich’s wife was Marie Therkorn and they married in 1882.  She was born maybe in Rotenberg and had lost her parents very early when she was a child.  So she grew up on a strange family and told often about her very poor childhood.  Sometimes she had no shoes to walk with.  There are some photos when she was getting old and she nearly got to 100 years old, living in Bendingbostel and was very alert.

After their marriage, Heinrich and Marie often moved and my mother remembers villages like Jeddingen and Cordingen where they lived before they moved to Bendingbostel.  Heinrich got the job as a stationmaster in Bendingbostel and they first lived in the house of the rail station with their children.  He had to fulfill a lot of different tasks as a stationmaster, for example to leave the barriers down for trains at specified times and to look after tracks and signals.  I think it was a very responsible job and one had to be very reliable.  My great-grandmother Emma often told about the nice garden around the stationhouse.  They had a big swing there, also a big baking oven outside where they baked their own bread.  Heinrich had five children: Ida, Emma, Heinrich, Karl and Gustav.  The three boys were all born in Bendingbostel.

The station at Bendingbostel

In 1905, he built a house with a garden and a small outbuilding in Bendingbostel “An der Bahn Nr. 30” and lived there first with his wife and daughter Emma and her husband, Hinrich Hoops.  Emma’s three children were born in that house.  After Emma moved away to Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg, the other daughter Ida and her husband Dietrich lived together with them.

In the small outbuilding they had some goats, pigs and a small smokebox and Heinrich owned some beehives.  In the garden, they had some fruit trees and a lot of vegetables.  During the Second World War, when my mother was a small child, they were so hungry and often visited Heinrich and Marie in Bendingbostel because there were so many good things to eat there and it was safer than the city in Hamburg.
The house in Bendingbostel

On Sundays, Heinrich and Marie liked to go by coach to church in Visselhoevede.  There Dietrich, Heinrich’s brother and father of William (Dutch Bill), was living and they met there and went to church together.  They were all very religious and praying before meals was a duty.  For example, “Come, Jesus, be our guest and bless the things you gave us.”  “We thank you, God, for food and drink.”  In German language, it sounds better because it rhymes.

And everyone I knew – my great aunts, my mother and others – talked about Heinrich’s indescribable strictness.  Especially while they were eating, nobody was to talk a word and one hand had to be under the table.  Once my mother, three years old, was on a visit and did some mischief.  He took her and locked her up into the dark cellar for a long time.  She never forgot that feeling of fright there in the dark and coldness, and her grandma found her later, totally exhausted.

Emma’s children, Hertha (1906), Hilda (1907) and Arthur (1909), were born in Bendingbostel in Heinrich’s house.  Aunt Hertha told about her one year in the small school in Bendingbostel, where a few children of different ages sat in the same room, the small ones in front and the older pupils in the back.  When she was seven years old, she moved with her parents, sister and brother to Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg.  Her whole life, she was longing for that wonderful life in the country when she was a child.  She often told how wonderful it had been for the children and theat they spent all holidays in Bendingbostel with Heinrich and Marie.  The new life in the city with apartment buildings was a great change for the children from the country.
Heinrich with his beehives

Heinrich, his brother Dietrich, and many people found jobs at the railroad because in 1873, there was the beginning of a new age for the railroad in the area of “Luneburger Heath.”  A new railroad line was built and a lot of small villages like Bendingbostel and Visselhoevede were bound on the rail network.  The “Uelzener Railroad Line” was 97,4 km long and connected from West Bremen-Langwedel-Uelzen-Berlin to the East.  First, it had been one track.  This track was also called America Line because it connected the east to towns like Bremen, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven where thousands of immigrants went to leave their country and to get by ship to America.  During the Second World War, it was of great use for the army, therefore it was often attacked and demolished.  During the lifetime of my great-great grandfather, it was a good time for the railroad and very many people used this railroad line.  Today there are many stations empty and a lot of tracks are moved away.  Some stations are still operating and mostly used by tourists.
Maria Tietje at 95 in 1959

I remember as a small child that my parents, sister,  Aunt Hertha, Uncle Arthur and his wife and my great-grandmother Emma made a day tour to Bendingbostel..  They wanted to look after the house because Marie and Ida had died and the house had to be sold.  I remember a cobblestoned road in front of the house.  The house was of red-brown clinker and there was a big front yard.  I never forgot the smell of different flowers in the garden.  The garden was overgrown, but you could find some flowerbeds with dahlia and behind the garden, I saw some railroad tracks.  We picked a lot of apples and other fruits.  It as summer 1966, I guess, and I’ll never forget that warm, sunny day adorned with flowers, which had been the day to say farewell to Bendingbostel and a part of the family history.  In following years, we came back to visit the family graves, but the house was sold and I never walked through Heinrich and Marie’s garden again.  I’ve a photo from their gravestone in Bendingbostel.  Heinrich died on 22 Sept 1937."

Here rests in God the stationmaster in retirement
Heinrich Tietje
22 June 1862 - 22 Sept 1937
Maria Tietje
born Therkorn
26 April 1864 - 7 April 1964
Far away from our eyes,
But near to our heart

 (This post originally appeared on my former blog, A Face to the Sun, on September 21, 2011.)

Finishing the Tietje History

                            Kerstin writes about the
ancestors of
Hermann Hinrich Johann Tietje (Henry)
back into the 17th century:

"Henry's grandparents, Johann Tietje und Margarethe Bokelmann from Verdenermoor.

The grandfather was Johann Tietje, born June 7, 1758 in Neddenaverbergen and died after 1811 in Verdenermoor.  His name was sometimes written Tiedge.  He was Lutheran and his address was Hof. Nr. 5 in Verdenermoor, and in other sources, Hof Nr. 84.  He was a Neubauer, a new farmer.

Johann's father, Henry's great-grandfather, was Jurgen Hinrich Tietje, born April 8, 1714 in Neddenaverbergen and died December 16, 1784 in Neddenaverbergen.  He married Anne Marie Winkelmann in Verden St. Andreas on November 25, 1744.  Anne Marie was born August 29, 1719 in Neddenaverbergen and died January 1, 1773 in Neddenaverbergen.  The great-grandparents lived on Hof (farm) Nr. 13 in Neddenaverbergen and he worked as a Halbmeier.

Johann, Henry's grandfather, had six sisters and brothers:
1. Dierk Tietgen, born 1745 in Neddenaverbergen and died 1820 in Neddenaverbergen.  He inherited Hof. Nr. 13 and lived there with his family.  He married Anna Margaretha Tietgen (1753-1810).
2. Trina Alheit Tietje, born 1747 in Neddenaverbergen.
3. Anna Engel Tietje, born 1750 in Neddenaverbergen.
4. Peter Tietje, born 1752 in Neddenaverbergen.
5. Jurgen Hinrich Tietje, born 1753 in Neddenaverbergen.
6. Christoph Tietje, born 1761 in Neddenaverbergen and died before 1819 in Verdenermoor.  One of his sons, Diedrich (1799-1844), lived in Bendingbostel later.

Henry's grandmother, wife to Johann, Margarethe Bokelmann (sometimes Bockelmann) was born August 10, 1765 in Neddenaverbergen and died February 20, 1811 in Verdenermoor at the age of 43.  They married November 22, 1787 at St. Andreas in Verden.  Margarethe's parents were Johann Hinrich Bokelmann, born about 1732 in Neddenaverbergen and Engel Meinke, born about 1735 in Westerwalsede.  They had eight children.

There was one job of Henry's ancestors that followed down the Tietje family line - the Meier.  Henry's grandfather, great-grandfather, and gg grandfather were Halbmeiers (Half Meier) and his ggg grandfather was a Viertelmeier (Viertel = quarter)*.

This is the photo of a very old painting in oil colors, where you can see on the left side the old timber-framed farmhouse from our Tietje family. When the father of Mrs. Bokeloh, the today’s owner of Krusenhof, Verdenermoor 1, had been in war captivity in France 1944, he had an old photo from the farm and asked a painter, a Mr. Brandt, to paint it. In the painting you see the old farm with its very modest buildings of former times, because they settled in poor moor land. Henry’s house on the left was pulled down in 1890, after immigration. So the photo must have been very old, before 1890. Mrs. Bokeloh owns the old contract of sale.

A Meierhof (sometimes also written Meyerhof was a whole farm and the Meier was the administrator of the estate.  A Meierhof had a number of dependent peasants who were obliged to pay taxes.  The hof could also include forests, gardens,mills, fish ponds, etc.  Today, especially in Northern Germay, many of these buildings are still known as Meierhof.  There usually was an allocation of duties, so the Halbmeier was responsible for half of the farm duties and the Viertelmeier only for a quarter part.

The farm, Verdenermoor Nr. 13 from Henry's grandfather, Jurgen Hinrich Tietje, a Halbmeier, for example, was inherited by his oldest son, Dierk (1745-1820), and he was a Halbmeier again. Later his son took over the farm and was also a Halbmeier.  A farm was usually inherited by the oldest son.  The other brothers and sisters had to find homes and other employment when they were grown.  From what I have found out, all the brothers became farmers. 
Johann Tietje had to find another place to live.  Henry could not read or write, according to the U.S. census, and he inherited a very poor farm.

The family line of the Tietjes of Verdenermoor back in the past...
1. Hermann Hinrich Johann (Henry) Tietje and Katharina Maria Schwiebert (Immigrants to America)

2. Henry's Parents - Johann Tietje (1758-1811), Neubauer, and Margarethe Bokelmann (1765-1811)

3. Henry's Grandparents - Jurgen Hinrich Tietje (1714-1784), Halbmeier Hof Nr. 13, and Anna Marie Winkelmann (1719 - 1773)
4. Henry's Great Grandparents - Dierk Tietje (1685-1732), Halbmeier, Hof Nr. 13, and Adelheit Storch

5. Henry's Great-Great Grandparents - Jurgen Tietje (Tietgen) (1656-1718), Halbmeier, born in Nordkampen next to Walsrode and died in Neddenaverbergen Hof Nr. 13 and Anna Hesterman (1653 - 1713)
Jurgen took farm Nr. 13 over because of marriage.  Anna Hesterman had inherited the farm Nr. 13 in Neddenaverbergen in 1680.  You find in the Lower Saxony State Archive of Stade: "Jurgen Tiedgen disputes with the heirs of the "Obersten Schacht" (perhaps a govt. agency) in Verden because of payments for the purchase of wine."

6. Henry's Great-Great-Great Grandparents - Lambert Titken, born about 1620 in Nordkampen/Walsrode, buried in Kirchboitzen.  He was Lutheran and lived in Nordkampen Hof Nr. 10.  He was a Viertelmeier and married in about 1648.  There is also a daughter, Anna Elisabeth Titken, who married about 1650, Rippe Kruse (1630 - 1700) from Bessern bei Verden.

Some history on the origin of the Tietje line in Walsrode:
The first ancestor who settled in Neddenaverbergen was Jurgen Tietje (Titken) from Nordkampen/ Walsrode, who married Anna Hesterman who inherited Hof. Nr. 13 in Neddenaverbergen. That family line Tietje has its origin in Nordkampen in Walsrode before the first ancestor moved to Verdenermoor.  There are two more Tietje lines in Neddenaverbergen who seem to have the same origin in Walsrode.

Nordkampen/Walsrode is a small village in the district of Heidekreis in Lower Saxony, Germany, near Verdenermoor/Neddenaverbergen.  The first recorded mention of the town is dated 986. In 1383, the dukes of Brunswick and Luneburg granted Walsrode a town charter.  In 1626, there was extensive destruction in the town by the troops of Count Tilly during the Thirty Years War.  In 1757, the town was totally destroyed by a catastrophic fire. Unfortunately, that is probably the reason it is now impossible to find more sources for family history there.  In 1811, during the Napoleonic era, Walsrode became a border town between France and the Kingdom of Westphalia.  In 1866, Prussia annexed Walsrode and in 1890 the railroad reached there.

I am aware that this work is not really finished.  Maybe there will be other facts which will be added or corrected later.  Hopefully, there will be more photos or other documents to add later."

(This post originally appeared on my former blog, A Face to the Sun, on January 1, 2012.)

Mr. Sandman

(This post originally appeared on my former blog, A Face to the Sun, on January 15, 2012.)

Did you ever hear the story about  the Sandman who visits children on New Year’s Eve?

 Several months ago, when my aunts and uncles were together reminiscing over lunch, some of them remembered my Grandmother Elling dressing with a black hood over her head and chasing her children on New Year’s Eve night, saying that the Sandman was coming to get them!  It was all done in good humor, of course. 

I had never heard of that German custom and so I asked friend, Kerstin, from Germany,
what she knew about it.  She did not know that the custom was attached to any particular day, but she did remember the old fable about the Sandman coming to visit children to throw
dust in their eyes to make them sleepy.  Later, I read that some parents then gave that as the reason for the crusty matter that might be in the children’s eyes when they awoke.  Oh, the Sandman must have visited!
However, a more vicious, old German fable, written by E.A. Hoffman, exists where the Sandman is very evil.  When he comes to visit children in the night, he snatches their eyeballs and takes those back to feed his children.  Now that was a scary thing to tell a child!

The whole Sandman story actually shows itself throughout history and many cultures.  I especially like this Danish version by Hans Christian Anderson. 

But, really, when I hear the word “Sandman,” this is what I think of…


February 15, 2017

Rudolph Adolph Otto Friedrich

(This post originally appeared on my former blog, A Face to the Sun, on February 1, 2012.)

When I was little, I always thought it pretty humorous that my dad had three middle names...and they were fun to say quickly. His middle names were the first names of his three godparents, and that was the custom of the day among the German Lutherans who had immigrated from northern Germany.
 I came across my dad's baptismal certificate, which was once quite beautiful, I'm sure, but now it is cracked and deteriorating.  It was rolled up in a box and I really didn't get to it in time; however, I did have color copies made so that what we have of it is perserved.
The top half of the certificate indicates that this is a Tauf-Schein, or baptismal certificate.  The drawing is of Jesus, gathering the little children to him with the dove or Holy Spirit above him.  The flowers, lilies of the valley and roses, symbolize usually happiness and perhaps purity.

The certificate says:
Rudolf Adolf Otto Friedrich Elling, born on the 18th September 1923 in Richfield Township, Henry County, Ohio
son of Albert Elling...
and his wife, Ida, born Spoering
is baptized on 7 October 1923 in the parents' house.

Baptized in the name of God.
G. Peters, Ev. Lutheran Pastor

The godparents were Adolf Baden, Otto Inselmann, and Friedrich Elling, his
uncle, probably.

The baptismal font is shown with Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..."

I'm not sure what the 7 indicates next to the date...7 a.m. doesn't seem right.  Any ideas?
(My German friend, Kerstin,helped with this question.  She writes:
"I read your article and saw the very beautiful document, the Taufschein. I can help you, was is the meaning of the "7".

It is meant, that Rudolf was baptized on the 7th Oktober 1923 in his parent's house. In German you say to a special date" am siebten Oktober", and like in this document, it is shortened to 7 ten. So you have a document for generell and you only have  to fill in a single number. It doensn't mean the number 10 (ten), and so, he was not baptized om a 10th October.

Ps: The other numbers are for example: Am ersten October( 1 ten), am zweiten, (2 ten), am dritten, am vierten, am f├╝nften, am sechsten, am siebten....."
 I have corrected the date in the text above.

Dad never spelled his name as Rudolf; it was always Rudolph ... or Rudy.
And he usually just took Frederick as his middle name.  Guess he just chose the one he wanted!  It was nice to have multiple choice!


 (This post was originally on my former blog, A Face to the Sun, on March 25, 2012.)

Not long ago, I read a book about wedding customs in Germany throughout the ages, and it brought to mind this photo.  After a long search through many unpacked (still) boxes, I found this gem.  The date was June 1972 and I am dancing in the hog trough with my brother, the groom.  My sister is approaching for her turn. The German custom is that siblings were expected to marry in order, and if not, then those older sibs who were not married had to dance in the pig trough.  Brother, #3 child, married first, so his two older sisters had to do the dance at his wedding reception.  My sister is his twin and only several minutes older!

The Low German term for wedding is hochtied, which literally means "high time," yet I think it was butchered into "hogtied" in our area.  When you married, were you hogtied?

Remember when girls had hope chests, usually a cedar chest to put linens in to prepare for marriage?  (When I graduated from high school, the local furniture store provided each girl with a miniature one.)  This idea stemmed from the German custom that girls would bring a good dowry to a marriage and would begin working on it as a young girls.  Perhaps the girl's Oma/Grandmother would help her learn to make hand towels, handkerchiefs and other linens.  In early times, a dowry of money was expected from the bride's parents to the groom, as well. 

In some eras, the bride would wear a black dress, which could be remade later into a dress for other occasions. I looked at my grandmother's dress, and it was definitely a dark color. If a virgin, the bride would wear a white veil or if less wealthy, a crown of myrtle or flowers or both together.  The crown could be quite elaborate with pearls and trailing ribbons, paper mache birds, mirrors or jewelry. The crown would become a family heirloom. The groom would wear his one best suit and have a flower in his lapel.
Someone would sew a pfennig piece in the bride's gown so that the couple would never be penniless. 

Usually gifts were opened during the meal following the wedding ceremony.  This was the custom still when I married in the 1970's, but that has changed to opening gifts during the next few days after the wedding.

I can remember my parents talking about "belling" newlywed couples, another North German custom.  The bride and groom would receive some rather loud visitors on their wedding night.  Bells, pots, pans, spoons...anything to make noise would be played beneath the couple's window until they came out and offered drinks all around.

In Northern Germany in days past, the men sat on the Epistle side, the right side, and the ladies on the Evangelist or left side of the church.  Hence even today, the bride stands on the left side of the groom in the wedding ceremony. The ring was put on the left hand, the hand of submission, the right hand being the hand of power.
I thought it interesting that a great deal of importance was given to how closely the bride and groom stood after the father gave the bride to the husband.  According to custom, no daylight was supposed to show between them to prevent the Devil from slipping in between them and causing mischief.

The gossips in the congregation might also watch for whose hand was in the above position when the couple first joined hands.  His hand above hers would mean that he would wear the pants in the family...or vice versa.  Also, the catty ones in the congregation might also check to see who first stepped into the aisle after the ceremony.  The man was expected to step out first. 

In reading about customs related to wedding receptions, I found so many similarities to what happens today.  The pastor would say a prayer, the musicians would play, the bridal couple would sit at the head table and his family sat on one side of the hall and hers on the other.  Should someone come late for the reception meal, they would be called "pottlickers," which meant they had to wait until everyone else was done to lick the pots...all in joking.  (But I remember my dad using that term and now I know its origin.)  The first dance was father and the bride, and so on...just like today, only the dollar tip after each dance was a tip to the band, not to the honeymooners!

If you know of an old German custom that was used at your wedding, I hope you will leave a comment...or if you, too, had to dance in the hog trough, please share!

If Only I Could Ask Him

(This post was originally published on my other blog, A Face to the Sun, on May 1, 2012.)

I've often wondered how it was for my great-grandparents and grandparents during World War I, when such an anti-German sentiment existed in the U.S.  Grandpa Albert once gave me a box of books, and in it was a complete history of World War I.  He was not mentally able at the time to talk about his experiences, but I did wonder if it was hard to be a German speaking person during that period of history.  His family spoke German exclusively in their home, and they attended German church services and schools.  Maybe they even knew family members still living in Germany.

Grandpa Albert registered for the draft, along with several of his brothers, in 1918, and one of Grandma Ida Spoering's brothers served in the American Expeditionary Forces from 1918-1919.  Could there ever have been any question about their loyalty (or his parents) to the U.S. or did he ever experience any prejudice because of his background?  After all, Henry County was full of the descendants of German immigrants.

I was excited to pick up a book a few weeks ago entitled: Henry County in the Great War: German-Americans, Patriots, and Loyalty, 1914-1918 by Michael R. McMaster, a native of Henry County, which speaks to some of my questions.  Using largely research done in local newspapers, he has pieced together the story of how the war affected the citizenry of Henry County.  A League of Henry County Patriots was formed in Henry County and their goal was to seek out any who they thought were disloyal to their country, or in essence, supportive of Germany, the Huns.  They became particularly active after Henry County failed to raise their quota of money for several Liberty Bond campaigns.  A "Go and Get Um" committee would seek out and apprehend anyone accused of traitorous talk.

They actually held trials against the accused disloyal
citizens.  Maybe one of them was your ancestor:
Gus Plassman, Mat Reiser, Fred Albrink, Ted Daman, L. W. Schultz, William Rohrs, John Mehring, Fred Groschmer of Napoleon; Charles Krauss of McClure, Bert Sharp of Liberty Center, Julius Rohrbaugh near Malinta, among others.  I was glad that my family had not been persecuted this way, but some of these men were indicted in Federal courts, some lost their jobs and all, I'm sure, suffered public humiliation.

I was very interested in the League's goal to ban the German language from all schools and churches.  They succeeded in the public schools, but the German Lutherans stood firm.  After all, their whole congregations relied on those German services.  I think of the thick accent of my Aunt Kate even forty or more years later, and I wonder how she would have handled all English services.  McMaster noted that some German books were burned in Henry County. 

I imagine how the Germans in Henry County would have tried to "lay low" and not speak German in public, perhaps.  To show their loyalty to America, they even had a huge, patriotic rally in Napoleon. 

You can read more about the book at this site.   

By the way, my next post has to do with this topic and how it relates to the man who signed my dad's baptismal certificate.  Take a look.

Poor Peter Peters' Plight

(This post originally appeared on my blog, A Face to the Sun, on May 7, 2012.)

 In a previous post, I showed my dad's beautiful baptismal certificate from 1923.  I had to show it in parts because it was so large and I wanted you to see the details.  In the bottom section, shown below, is the seal of St. John's (Johannes) Church (near West Hope and Deshler, Henry County, Ohio) and the signature, "P. Peters."

As I read Michael McMaster's book, Henry County in the Great War: German-Americans, Patriots, and Loyalty 1914-1918, I saw that the Reverend Peter Peters was a man whose loyalty to America was questioned greatly.  According to McMaster, Rev. P. Peters was a first generation German immigrant who had done missionary work in India before being called to St. John's Lutheran Church in Henry County.  St. John's had both a church and a school and Rev. Peters was both pastor and teacher, with all services and teaching being conducted in German. (I don't believe the Elling family was attending there yet in 1918 as they lived near Liberty Center at the time, according to Grandpa Albert's draft registration.  If they had been parishioners, they would have witnessed quite a scene in July 1918.)

The Henry County League of American Patriots had been regularly questioning the loyalty of various German-American citizens and trying them in "their" courts.  The League was also demanding strongly that the Lutheran churches in the county quit preaching and teaching in German.  They made several requests and declarations and called meetings of the pastors, yet all of the staunch Lutheran pastors turned a deaf ear to them.  As part of one last declaration, the League stated, in part:
"...any pastor or church officer allowing German to be used in any church school in this county, after July 1st, will be regarded by the organized patriotic public opinion of this county as un-patriotic, un-American, and by such action, they will be regarded as caring more for German institutions than American. 
That in further defiant action on your part, you assume full responsibility for results."
(McMaster, p. 148)

On July 9, 1918, Rev. Peter Peters drove his buggy into West Hope to visit the blacksmith and while there, several boys put an American flag on his buggy.  He kept taking it off and they kept putting it back on.  Accounts vary, some saying that he put it in his wagon and said he would take it home and others stating that he threw it in the road.  Either way, this was apparently seen as a traitorous act by the League.
Reverend Peter Peters

Late that evening a large group of League members from all over the county stormed the parsonage .  Whether it was a spontaneous gathering or well planned depends on the newspaper account one reads, which are all reported in McMaster's book. The Henry County Signal stated that a crowd of 500 people supporting the League, including carloads from Liberty Center, McClure, Napoleon, Deshler, Holgate and Malinta, swarmed to the church parsonage.  The parishioners, hoping to defend their pastor, also came by the carload.  Some church members were in the dark house with the pastor and when they tried to escape to hide, gunshots were fired.  It was quite an event until the Napoleon officers arrived and broke it up.  The patriots left a large American flag nailed to Rev. Peters' door.

No one was ever arrested, but the "West Hope Incident" gives us insight into the climate of the times.  Our German ancestors, with their thick accents and their customs, were daily at risk of being under suspicion. 

I tried to go a little further into the life of Rev. Peters, using the 1920 census.  Pastor Peters was living in Bartlow Township still, 41 and single, born in Friesland (German) and naturalized in 1914. 
He married at age 44 to Margereth who was quite a bit younger.  In the 1930 census, he was 52 and she was 33, and they had a young son, Frederick, age 5. 
According to Mr. McMaster, Rev. Peters continued to minister at St. John's until 1939.  If you enjoy reading about local history, as I do, I think you would enjoy this book which has a much more detailed account of this and other incidents during WW I in Henry County.

February 3, 2017

Meet You at Spenglers!

The post originally appeared on my previous blog, A Face to the Sun, on July 5, 2012.)

 It won't be long and the cousins will be greeting each other at Spengler's in Napoleon, a place I've known of my whole life and "the oldest continuing business in Napoleon, Ohio," as author John Jaqua claims in his comprehensive book on the history of Spengler's.  I came across it on Ebay during a late night search, and was thrilled to win the bid.

Published in 1992 to commemorate Spengler's 100th anniversary, Jaqua's book tells the story of the grocery/ saloon from its very beginnings.  It's a remarkable story of one German immigrant, William Spengler, and his emigration from Prussia through the port of Hamburg to New York City, arriving at the end of the Civil War  in September 1865.  From there, he went directly to Defiance County where he and his family lived with Uncle Ludwig who had come to the U. S. five years before.

The family soon moved to Florida, Ohio, where William's father set up his own tailor shop.  When William turned 21 in 1877, he moved to Napoleon and began a job as a clerk in the grocery store of Gustave Kohler and by 1879, they became partners in the business.  Their grocery was located in the location of Wendt Shoes.  But in 1882, the partnership ended when Gustave bought out William for $2250 and they went their separate ways.  William took $1600 and bought a farm in Monroe Township, but with the rest he opened a grocery store in competition with Gustave and located about across the street from the current Spengler's.

In those days, it was customary for a saloon to be located at the rear of the grocery, so William procured his liquor license and the business did well.  (Jaqua points out that there were 20 saloons in Napoleon in 1887!  The largely German population of the county loved their beer.)  In 1892, he moved his business to the current location and the building became known as the Spengler block.
Jaqua describes the building throughout its hundred year existence - the spittoons and the centrally located heating stove between grocery and saloon, for example. At one time, a large mural of Gettysburg, painted in 1887, graced one long wall to honor all the Civil War veterans in the county.  The decorative "steel ceiling" was put into place some time in the 1890's.  

In my memory, I can envision a swinging door between the grocery and the saloon, the barrels of bulk items like peanuts in front of the counter, the large wheels of cheese, the big glass jar of dill pickles and the produce stands in the front of the store in the summer filled with sweet corn and other local goods.  Dad loved to buy his horehound candy there by the pound. Later on, when food was served in the back, it was a lucky day when one went there to get a double hot dog on rye bread and a root beer.

 I loved that Jaqua included in his book a column from 1973, written by Mary Alice Powell, the the former food columnist from the Toledo Blade. Fred Freppel was the owner at the time; you might recognize his face on the front of the book.

"December 30, 1973
Prettles and Oats are his Pride 
Bushel baskets filled with black walnuts, hickory nuts, and apples in front of Spengler's on Main Street in Napoleon, O. were the first inklings that here is something special among grocery stores.

Inside, the feeling of nostalgia continues and the first-time visitor is aware somebody really cares that the past is preserved in the present.  That somebody is Fred Freppel, who is known far and wide for a unique grocery store that boasts restaurant, just as unique located in the back of the store.

It wasn't easy, but well illustrates Mr. Freppel's determination to attain his goals in food merchandising.  Prettles is a butchering-day meat, made of scraps of both pork and beef, seasoned with salt, pepper and allspice, and extended with steel-cut oats.  The meat and seasonings were no problem, but steel-cut oats (as opposed to rolled oats) were not to be found in this part of the country.  After letter writing and several telephone calls, Mr Freppel found them in Cedar Rapids, Ia., and he now not only buys enough for his own prettles-making, but sells the oats by the pound...

Spengler's is probably best known for its bean soupl and chili and in sandwiches, the hot dogs, the kind with skins, come two in a whole wheat bread sandwich.  The roast beef, served in a bun, has the aroma of high quality meat...
The prices?  Everything is 60 cents at Spengler's.  Whether you have bean soup or a hot dog, it's still 60 cents - 'makes it easier to figure that way,' Mr. Freppel says. Coffee is still a dime there, but Mr. Freppel says his beer is far better.  He has a fetish about good beer and was quick to list the three attributes of draft beer: Clean equipment, making sure the beer is held at a constant, cool temperature, and selling a lot of it before air gets into it.

The restaurant sings of the good old days.  The booths and tables and chairs were purchased in 1933 and the back bar dates back to 1889.  Mr. Freppel is up on his dates because he began working in the store in 1929 when it was operated by Ernest, Herman and William Spengler.  He became owner in 1959.  Ray Detterer has been cooking the restaurant foods since 1945, but when he is on vacation, Mrs. Freppel steps in to make some of her German specialties.  One is baubalaspitule, which takes all day to prepare and cook.  It is a sauerkraut and ham rolled in homemade noodle dough and cooked in the ham broth - a German version of pigs in a blanket.

Mr. Freppel may boast beer, but the cheese he sells is his real pet.  As a boy, he worked in a cheese factory where his responsibility was aging the cheese.  He buys from the same Indiana source many other northwestern Ohio stores do, but he tends the cheese with loving care, turning it every 24 hours and keeping it at room temperature.  A wheel of cheese is on the grocery store counter where you pay, but there isn't a lot of room there.  Customer's selections share space with large cardboard boxes of chocolates, gallon jars of shelled black walnuts, and other old-fashioned delights.

As for the prettles, if you buy a pound, the directions are to fry it without shortening until it sticks, then turn it over and fry it until that side doesn't stick and keep it up until neither side sticks. Or you can let Mr. Freppel tell you himself.  He's at the grocery store-restaurant Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m."

I think when I go into Spengler's next time, I'll see it with different eyes, imagining all that Napoleon institution has seen in its 120 years of continuous operation.  It's a survivor, that's for sure, and I always look forward to visiting there.

If you have a favorite memory of Spengler's, please leave a comment!

The Hike at Cantwell Cliffs

This post originally appeared on my previous blog, A Face to the Sun, on August 9, 2012.)

I am not a hiker.  Never was.  Maybe it's my level of physical fitness, ahem.  Well, a few days ago, I met my challenge.

Hubby's family came from Hocking County, so we traveled there recently to look around. We stopped at Cantwell Cliffs in Hocking State Park, the area where his grandfather, great-grandfather and on back lived for many generations.  The park was green and gorgeous, and the day was clear and sunny.  We saw before entering the cliff region that two hikes were available there - a moderate hike of 3/4 mile and then a more strenuous one of about 2 miles.  A moderate hike - we could do that, of course. Wouldn't take long.  So off we started along the edge of the top of the cliffs, but on fairly level ground.

For the first fifteen or twenty minutes, we marveled at the large stone cliffs with their enormous boulders and interesting formations. We had areas of two or three or five steps up and down, but it was not a difficult walk. Then things changed.  The steps became more frequent and went on for longer distances, all near the cliff edge.  We debated whether to just retrace our path and go back, but really, the trail wasn't impossible and Hubby kept reassuring me that we were probably close to the end anyway.  So we just kept walking and talking and enjoying the scenery, following the red dots marking the trees for the moderate hike.

 At last we came to a series of about twenty steps leading downward along the cliff's side.  It looked a little treacherous.  I didn't want to descend, but Hubby thought it looked really interesting and all would be well because after all, it was only a 3/4 mile hike, and we should be almost done.  So, clinging to every little tree trunk, rock, or even weed along the side, I slowly limped down the steps, hoping that this was the last challenge of the day and praying that neither of us would fall.   Finally at the bottom of the rocky steps, we hit a level trail again and I breathed a sigh of relief...until I looked ahead and saw these steps going up and up and up, following the cliff's edge as far as I could see.

 We debated - should we turn back and go where we knew what we had to face or should we just plunge away into the unknown before us?  I looked around and then I saw it!  The tree with the yellow dot - the mark denoting the strenuous path.  When had we wandered onto that?  Hubby said again, optimistically, that the end couldn't be too far away. Right.  I'd heard that before.  It had to be 90 degrees and the perspiration was rolling.  We had not seen another person on the trail.  We stood there for awhile, taking in the endless steps in front of us and the drop-off of the cliff to the right of us, and finally decided to just keep going.  So, with newly acquired walking sticks in hand, up we went. Five steps, rest and wipe dripping forehead - five steps, rest and wait until the heart stopped thudding - five steps and clean off steamy glasses - five steps and pant awhile, repeat...

Finally, 1 1/2 hours from our initial step onto the trail. we emerged into a fabulous area toward the top of the cliff where an overhang of rock provided shelter.
And, best of all, we saw other people!

"Are we at the end?" I asked, pleadingly.  "Why, yes," we were told, "all you have left is Fat Woman's Squeeze."  How appropriate, I thought wryly.  We looked to our left and there it was...the last challenge.  With the thought of a cold drink of water and the AC in the car spurring me on, I started slowly up the last flight of stairs, hoping they were kidding about the "squeeze" part at the end.

And we did make it, with no squeeze at all, thank you very much.  
With a sense of accomplishment and almost two hours after we started this adventure, we headed out to lunch and a cold drink, basking in the blast of air from the maximum air conditioning in the car.  

Later that day we stopped at Old Man's Cave, where we confidently and unanimously rejected the idea of the 6 mile hike around the premises! 

Frederick Elling, Sr. - New Information

(This post originally appeared on my previous blog, A Face to the Sun, on August 24, 2012.)

 My great-grandfather, Heinrich Friedrich Elling (known as Fred or Fritz) lived much of his adult life in Fulton County, so the search for his obituary led me to the Wauseon Public Library.  I couldn't get to a microfilm reader the day of my visit, but the helpful library manager offered to look up the obituary for me, and today I received two of them.

 Fred died on July 9, 1927, and you can read about him and this memorial photo on a previous post.

The first obituary appeared in the Democratic Expositor on July 14, 1927:

Fred Elling, Sr. of Swan Creek township, died Saturday night about six o'clock.
He had leakage of the heart for about twenty years.  Mr. Elling laid down for a few minutes and soon was dead.  Cause of death was heart failure.  
He leaves a wife, four boys and five girls."

The second obituary appeared in the Wauseon Republican on the next day, July 15, 1927, with a vivid headline and a slightly different scenerio:

Fred Elling, Sr., 74, a farmer of Swan Creek township, died suddenly at his home southeast of Delta, Saturday evening.  He was in his usual health and was talking to his wife when the summons came.  Coroner N. C. Wright was called and announced that death was due to heart failure.  Mr. Elling was the father of nine children, 4 boys and 5 girls." 

I am still searching for Fritz's wife's obituary and that of his mother.  My next stop will be the Delta Public Library for those, as they did not appear in the Wauseon papers.


Family in the 1940 Census

(This post appeared originally on my previous blog, A Face to the Sun, on September 3, 2012.)

Recently, the 1940 census came online and is now searchable by name.  I helped with the indexing, along with thousands of others, and it was finished in a record 124 days!
Last night I decided to search for my parents - their location and status in April, 1940.  They were not yet married; both were living at home with their parents.
Dad's family was living in Freedom Township, Henry County, Ohio, and it was Albert who reported that day to the census enumerator.  (When asked a question about where he lived on April 1st, 1935, he responded, Napoleon, but in 1940, the family lived in the country.) 

Grandpa Albert Elling was 52 and Grandma Ida was 50 at the time, and both noted that they had only completed grade 2 in school. That means that they were probably only 7 or 8 when they left school to work at home.  Albert was working as a farmer, and he said that he had worked 60 hours during the last week of March.  They were renting a house for $8.00 a month.  Ida did not work outside the home, and was labeled a housewife.  

Rudy Elling, my dad, was the only son at home and, at 17 and done with 8th grade, he was also working on the farm, but as an unpaid family worker.  (Dad had always told us that he finished 7th grade, and quit to work during his 8th grade year.)  Sisters Lorna,(14), Eleanore, (12), and Louise, (10), were also at home. Lorna had finished 7th grade, Eleanore completed 6th grade, and Louise was done with 4th grade. 

So, where were the other siblings? The oldest brother at 25, Paul was already married to Hildegarde, 19, and living in Harrison Township in Henry County. Paul's occupation was given as Farm Manager, a wage earner who made $600 in 1939.  He and Hildegarde were renting a home for $25.00 a month.  His brother, Alfred, 19, was living with the couple and working as a farm laborer.  He reported earning $450 in 1939. Paul, Alfred and Hildegarde all said they had completed eighth grade.

In the 1940 census, the 4th and 40th person listed on a page were asked additional questions by the enumerator.  Alfred was the 40th person, so we have the additional information that he spoke German in his home and he did not have a Social Security number.  Other questions were coded solely for the census bureau's information.

Still missing was the oldest daughter, Alma Elling.  She was not living at home and was not yet married.  She said she was working in the Zellers home at that time as domestic help.  Unfortunately, the Zellers didn't mention her to the enumerator as they probably thought her family would claim her.  But Grandpa didn't mention her because she was not actually living at their house at the time, so she was missed completely.

My mom's family owned a home worth $1260.00 in the village of Malinta, Henry County.  Father F. D. (Fred) Ordway was 39, mother, Dorothy E, was 40, and their only child, my mom, Donna A. was 14.  Fred had finished 4 years of high school, but Dorothy had only finished one.  She gave the information to the enumerator.  Donna Ordway, my mom, had finished eighth grade at the time.  Fred was a storekeeper of a retail grocery, working on his own account, meaning he owned at least a portion of the business, so his earnings were not recorded. Fred reported he worked 74 hours during the last week of March, 1940. Dorothy was a housewife and Donna was at school. 

The 1940 census was a snapshot in time for April 1940. 
Have some fun and start searching for your family!

Grandma's No-Fail Pie Crust

(This post originally appeared on my previous blog, A Face to the Sun, on October 27, 2012.)

It's been a long time since I've made a pie, but when I do, I always turn to my mother-in-law's recipe for no-fail pie crust.  She made a pie almost every Saturday morning of her adult life...and she lived to 93!  When she passed this recipe on to me, I looked at it and found some of the ingredients a little odd for pie crust, but I have found it tastes wonderfully flaky and light, and it is so easy to make.  I now use this recipe exclusively.
The recipe can make 2 upper and lower crusts, but today I am just making bottom crusts - one to use for dinner tomorrow and two to put in the freezer for Thanksgiving pies.  The rest of the dough will be put to another use...you'll see.


3 cups flour
1 cup shortening (I use Crisco Butter shortening)
1 1/2 tsp. salt.

1 egg
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. white vinegar

Make a well in the dry ingredients you have mixed together with your pastry cutter, and pour in the liquid ingredients.  Stir and form into a ball.  Don't overwork the crust.  Keep it light.  Roll out the dough and place in pans.  
Here are the three crusts I made this morning.  One is intended for a butternut squash pie for tomorrow's lunch...shhh, I'm telling the kids that it's pumpkin pie.

 The other two were sealed into bags for use at Thanksgiving time.  They will go straight to the freezer.

Now, what about that nice ball of dough left in the pan?  I follow my mother's example and always use it for cinnamon and sugar pinwheels.  Roll the leftover dough ball into a rectangle.
 Spread butter/ margarine over it and sprinkle with white sugar and cinnamon.
 Roll into a log, rolling lengthwise and then cut into 1/2 inch wheels.  Place into ungreased pie pans and bake at 350 until browned, maybe 25 - 30 minutes.  Mmmm...flaky, bite-sized goodness.  These won't last long!  Happy baking!

If it looks and tastes like pumpkin pie, it must BE pumpkin pie, right?
We shall see if I can fool the young foodies tomorrow!