December 17, 2019

"Bird Lady of Napoleon" - Spoering Cousin, Pauline

Image result for opaline parakeet

Pauline Maria Wilhelmina Helmke was the daughter
of George J. Helmke and my paternal grandmother's
sister, Anna Spoering Helmke.   I remembered
my father talking about his cousin, Pauline, but
I never imagined the celebrity she was in
the world of birds.  

An article by Karen Arnos in the May 24, 1982, newspaper, The Marketeer recently caught my 
eye while researching the Spoering family. What
a well-known breeder and seller of parakeets Pauline was!  

by Karen Arnos
Marketeer Staff Writer

NAPOLEON -Lots of people have a parakeet as a pet, or maybe even two.  But you'd have to be a real bird lover to keep as many as 500 pairs at one time. 
Pauline Polker is a real bird lover.

Today, Mrs. Polker has about 200 breeders plus about 60 young birds, 'but if you think that's a lot, I used to have 500 pairs,' she says.

It all began more than 30 years ago.  'I started with one bird.  Then I bought a female.  After my mother died in 1956, I started raising more to have something to do.  'I just love birds.'

Mrs. Polker, who lives with her husband, Harry, at 403 E. Washington St., raises the parakeets from babies and sells them retail and in pet shops as far away as New York.

Seven years ago, her grandson took over the business which she operates in a small building behind her home.  But when he decided to go into the ministry four years ago, Mrs. Polker returned to her first love.  

 However, the time has come for her to part with the business again - this time for good.  Her husband has asthma, she explains, and has been advised by his doctor to move to a warmer climate during the winter.  Since her parakeets cannot move with her every year,  Mrs. Polker, 69, has decided to sell the business.  'Otherwise, you couldn't beg, borrow or steal them from me.'

Image result for baby parakeets 

Mrs. Polker hopes to sell the operation as a unit, including about 200 breeders, 56 breeding cages, six flight cages, toys, other equipment and her own special seed and breeding formulas.  The young birds are still available for sale individually, of course.

Mrs.Polker's parakeets are not just the ordinary variety, either.  Along with normals, which are green or blue and have bars up their backs and on their heads, she also has Pieds (variegated colors with a square patch on their heads, coloring at the top, and white or yellow flight feathers); Harlequins (coloring at the bottom and no patch); Selfs (grey or same color wings); Albinos (white with pink eyes); Lutinos (yellow with pink eyes); Opalines (any color with a V on their backs instead of bars); and Fallows (colored with pink eyes). 
Except for normals, the other varieties are relatively rare, she says, noting that her first bird was a blue normal.

Mrs. Polker, who volunteers to teach ceramics at
the Henry County Senior Center, says it takes about
45 minutes once a day to feed and water the birds.
Cages are cleaned once a week, which takes about
two hours
Mrs. Polker explains that female parakeets lay an egg every other day.  It takes 17 days for an egg to hatch and five to six weeks for the baby birds, which resemble miniature young turkeys, to leave the nest.  After they are six weeks old, the birds are available for sale, and after nine months, Mrs. Polker begins breeding them.

The parakeets are kept in special cages which 
she made herself.  Old fashioned large bread pans
are used for the bottom of the cages and can be
slid in and out instead of using a small door,
making feeding easier.  She also made all of the
ceramic dishes.

Mrs. Polker, who volunteers to teach ceramics at
the Henry County Senior Center, says it takes about
45 minutes once a day to feed and water the birds.
Cages are cleaned once a week, which takes about
two hours

At her peak, Mrs. Polker shipped 150-200 birds
a week.  And during the past 30 years, she 
estimates she has probably raised 'millions' of
parakeets.  Of course, 'you have to love them to 
raise them,' she warns.
 'And I get so attached to them that it's hard to put them in boxes and send them away.'  

Although, she now considers parakeet raising her hobby, it was once the family's livelihood.  'When I started, there were at least 10 breeders in this area.  I guess I just stuck to it longer than anyone.  Now I'm the only one around.'

But her business is still booming.  People come from as far away as Kentucky and Pennsylvania to buy her special brand of seed, and birds have been shipped as far away as California.  

Her son, Raymond, who lives in Grand Rapids, also raises and sells normal and fancy parakeets and cockatiels and now has 900 pairs.  The Polkers have three other children and 15 grandchildren, many of whom keep parakeets as pets.

'Birds are good company, especially for older people,' says Mrs. Polker, who has won ribbons for her birds from the Toledo Aviculture Society, along with a state trophy.  'They give you something to talk to.  You can watch tv or listen to the radio, but you can't talk to them, and you need something that will respond.

If the birds are purchased as babies and the owner begins playing with them right away, they can easily be taught to talk, she explains.  In fact, many of them even pick up accents.

'But a lot of people think you can bring them home, set them in a corner and expect them to talk.  it doesn't work that way.  I can't guarantee a bird will talk unless you are willing to talk to it and play with it.'"

Pauline, born in 1913, passed away in January, 2016.  She is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Napoleon.



December 16, 2019

A ChristmasToast

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Eins! Zwei! Drei! — G’suffa!

I can remember that toast being sung at so many German dances and weddings in my youth. I never did know what it meant; in fact, as a child I couldn't figure out why everyone was singing, "I'm frozen, I'm frozen!" I also knew that you had to have something in your hand to drink when the "Gesundheit" part came at the end.

Finally, after all these years, I can rest knowing that this song can correctly be translated to:
"A toast, a toast
A feeling of good times, comfort and peace" (no exact translation to English for this word)
"One, two, three - Guzzle!"
A toast to all our family, wishing everyone a Christmas filled with good times, comfort and peace!

*This post originally appeared on Elling Family News on December 23, 2008.

Albert Elling's Baptismal Certificate

Thanks so much to the beautiful aunt (You know who you are!) who shared this  with me - the baptismal certificate of my grandfather, Albert Elling.  

The first Bible verse above the handwriting reads:

"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ." Corinthians 3:11.

Translation of the handwriting:

Albert Louis Johann born on 28 January 1888 in Henry County, Ohio
Son of Fritz Elling and Maria born Rohrs
On 28 February, 1888 at the house of the parents.

Printed banner - In the name of the Triune God (could not read right side)
Witnessing the Christening were

L. Bockelman, H. Miller
C. Bostelman, H. Meyer
Johann Harms
L. Damman, Pastor  (Louis) 

I'm sure the photos are very significant, although very hard to see in this copy, even with a magnifying glass.  The top has the ship sailing toward the light around the church.  On the left is Jesus with the lambs, a chick with her hens, and an angel pouring the living water over a child.

On the right side is Christ on the cross with lilies suggesting his Resurrection, a duck with its ducklings and finally the tree in the Garden of Evil with the snake and the skull.  Some passages are just too blurry to read, but I'm sure they all have a connection to baptism.

What a treasure! 

Albert and Ida Spoering Elling - Confirmation Certificates

It was interesting to know that my grandparents were confirmed in the same church - St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bartlow and Richfield Townships, Henry County, Ohio, just two years apart.  The name of the church was later changed - keep reading!

The elaborate, colorful certificate marked the confirmation of Albert Elling.  Surprisingly, this paper noted his birthday as 1887, while his baptismal certificate said 1888, which would be correct.  Albert was 14 years old when this
remembrance of his confirmation was presented to him.

The red printing could not be read, but the handwriting said this:

Albert Elling born on the 28th January 1887, 
confirmed on 23rd March 1902,
in the evangelical Lutheran St. John's church of
Bartlow and Richfield Township, Henry County, Ohio
John Boomgarder, Pastor  

The same certificate style was used a few years later for Ida Spoering's confirmation.
 Ida Sporing (Spoering) born 5th February 1890, 
confirmed on the 27th day of March
in the evangelical Lutheran St. John's church 
of Bartlow and Richfield townships, Henry County, Ohio
Boomgarder, Pastor

Again, a look at the symbolism on the certificate is worthwhile.  In the top right is the communion cup, carried by the angels to the feast.  A large sidebar on the left shows a pastor confirming three children who kneel at the altar.  A vine travels up the side of the page and leads us to the Lord's Supper at the bottom.  Poppies for remembrance, perhaps, and in the right hand corner I see a chalice with the risen Lord above it.  Maybe you see something different?  Please add in the comments.

**This church is now known as Peace Lutheran Church near Deshler.  In the graveyard near this church, the last child, an infant daughter, of Albert and Ida was buried.  She was stillborn, it was said, and she was unnamed.  Ida was 42 at this child's birth.

Young's Cemetery, Liberty Center, OH

Dipping into the old postcards again, I found this of Young's Cemetery in Liberty Center.  It was probably around 1918 or before.  Maybe someone has an idea when that fence came down.


A Passport to New Research - Kline

I haven't had a lot of time to work on genealogy lately, but recently I did a little search for new information on the Kline family.  (I know this is the ELLING family news, but I have to digress to explain how unpredictable a hobby genealogy can be, so bear with me.)

 I found that old passports had been added to the database of one of the genealogical sites I visit, so just for the fun of it, I entered Kline and Hocking County, Ohio to see what would come of it.  My husband's father was born in Hocking County in 1912, I believe, and his family was there many, many years before that. 

Much to my surprise, I discovered this:

This passport for Earl Franklin Kline, son of Abraham Kline from Hocking County, Ohio, was very interesting and chock-full of information.  I knew Abraham was in Jim's father's line, but the name Earl was unfamiliar and the fact that he lived and farmed in Portsmouth, Virginia was a surprise. I didn't know of any of the family there. 

Earl's birthdate was given and a complete description (as he described himself) and best of all, a photo, although not clear in this copy.  He noted the ship he planned to take to Europe and the date of departure. 

BUT most fascinating of all, was the fact that he was going to France for three months for the purpose of MATRIMONY.  He was marrying someone who was French?  Did he meet her in World War I?  Was he in the military?  If it were a honeymoon, he wouldn't use the term "matrimony," would he?
Now I have many new paths to follow...all from a lucky find late one night. 

Ok, it's late, but there were answers to find, so I went on a hunt and found that Earl, although born in Hocking County, lived in Farmdale, Trumbull County, Ohio, when he enlisted to fight in World War I at the age of 23 7/12. He was assigned to the 331st Infantry and joined the American Expeditionary Forces in the final phase of the war.  The 331st was a light tank battalion located at Varennes, France during early November, 1918.  It was credited with participation in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign.  He was discharged in February 1919.  He apparently lived in Virginia temporarily upon his return - Portsmouth is close to Norfolk and may be where his ship landed when he arrived home.  Perhaps he took a job to earn money for a trip back to France as soon as possible.  Just speculation...

By the 19th of August, we see in the passport above, he was all ready to go back to France.  He had a girl there and he married her!  A second passport I found named her as Martha P. (nee Picoulean) Kline, born in La Suze (Sarthe, France on April 23, 1896.  They were married on January 21st, 1920 and lived in France for the next year at which point they came back to the U.S. briefly, it appeared.  Earl named France as his temporary residence on the second passport which he applied for because he now worked for the Y.W.C.A. and was traveling to Belgium, England, France and Italy with his wife for his job.  I couldn't find them in the 1930 census, so maybe they remained in France.  That's a question for another day!

And the second passport...well, now I have photos of the lovely couple. 

The Wedding Party 65 Years Ago


 Back: Julian "Bud" Connolly; Ed Hausch

Front: Rudy Elling, Sue Connolly Clausen; Virginia Dershem Elling; Alfred Elling; Jerry Elling; Joan Myers Reimund

Not pictured: bridesmaid Helen Smith (late because of car trouble)

 This post originally appeared on The Elling Family News blog in April, 2011.

An April Wedding Anniversary #65

This post originally appeared on the Elling Family News blog in April, 2011.

On a beautiful Easter Sunday afternoon, April 21, 1946, Alfred A. Elling and Virginia Dershem were married in St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Napoleon, Ohio.
God willing, they will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary this month!

Mom has always said she married Dad for his money. He always said he married Mom for her pretty legs. They are quite the couple, keeping their humor through the years!

Some "love and marriage" quotes:

* A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance, and tenacity. The order varies for any given year. ~Paul Sweeney

* A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~Mignon McLaughlin

* Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

* A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short. ~Andre Maurois

* Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

And the BEST is yet to be.

Jane Elling Haas


I'm Just Watching Out for Your Blood Vessels

Top L to R: Marie Fuhrhop and
Donna Elling
Bottom: Rudy Elling

Recently I read an article on that discussed how our blood vessels really benefit from a good laugh.  Laughing causes us to relax and that increases blood flow, helping the heart.  One study measured blood flow among a group watching a funny movie versus a group watching an action film.  The action film brought on stress, resulting in the constriction of blood vessels and producing a strain on the heart, while the funny film - that's right, lots of relaxation going on and more blood flow.

So, in the interest of insuring that my family, friends and all readers of the blog have at least one good laugh today and superbly, flexible blood vessels, please watch this!  I guarantee a chuckle,maybe a chortle, and perhaps a guffaw.  Indeed a little snorting and howling would be good, too.  Enjoy!


Ok, now you've really had a laugh!

This post originally appeared
on the Elling Family News blog in
February, 2011.

Down Maplewood Avenue

Another look back at old Liberty Center.   Note the vehicle on the left; I think it's a car.  I zoomed it up to see if the road was paved and it didn't look like it.  Anyone want to venture a guess as to the year of the photo?


Cousin Correspondent - My Sister, Connie Caldwell

 Connie and Jim Caldwell
Serve on Kairos Prison Ministry Teams

Kairos Prison Ministry is a Christian ministry that has over 20,000 volunteers worldwide, actively serving prisons in 33 states and in the countries of Australia, Canada, England, Costa Rica and South Africa. I have served on Kairos teams inside the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW) in Marysville, Ohio over the past 6 years.

This October, I am excited about serving on my first Kairos Outside ministry team. This retreat weekend is held for women whose family members are incarcerated. Because families "do the time" right along with their loved ones in prison, Kairos Outside provides a safe Christian environment where women can interact with other women in the same situation, and receive support to help them on their life's journey.

My husband, Jim, is also involved in Kairos. After serving on teams inside Lucusville, Marion Correctional, and North Central Correctional (NCCI), Jim will be leading a team of 50 volunteers on a Kairos weekend at NCCI in Marion, Ohio in September. Kairos (Inside) consists of a team of trained volunteers who present a structured program over a 3 day weekend that could be described as a "short course in Christianity". Forty-two residents (inmates) who are considered "leaders" in their environment are selected by prison clergy and wardens to attend a Kairos weekend. Some arrive at the weekend angry and apprehensive about attending. Kairos volunteers show them unconditional love and acceptance.....and let God touch their hearts. Kairos volunteers help encourage them on their spiritual journey.

Kairos is an amazing and powerful ministry! It is so awesome to see how the Holy Spirit moves in people's lives.

If anyone is interested in serving or learning more about Kairos Prison Ministry, check out these links: - Kairos Prison Ministry - Ohio -
Kairos International /Silent Choir Video by Kairos Graduates - Kairos Recruiting Video

The post originally appeared on the Elling Family News blog in August, 2010.

Liberty Center Post Card

Isn't this the old St. Paul Lutheran Church in Liberty Center?
No date on the postcard, but I would guess 1920 - 1930.
What do you think?

A Special Lost and Found for Alfred Elling

In Spring 2007, Pastor Kramer tapped Al on the back while we were talking in the narthex between church services. "Come with me," he said, "I have something to show you."

He and Al walked down the hall to St. Paul's Lutheran School library.

"See what the librarian found!" he told Al.

"Where did you get this?" Al asked when Pastor Kramer gave Al his 7th grade report card.

What a SURPRISE! 63 years lost in transition. Double-click on the top photo to see Al's good grades. (Letters represent percentage scores in "those days.")


Pastor Kramer explained that the librarian had cleaned a top shelf in the library and found an old, dusty box.

The box had been moved from the old church building into the new school library many years before.

It contained three old report cards dated 1935-1936. (Al's 7th grade years would have been 1933-1934, indicating typos on the report card envelope. He graduated from 8th grade and was confirmed in the Spring of 1935.)

 Grandma Elling signed the report card each period.

A Surprise in an Old Newspaper

The last two days have been research days for me.  I've left the laundry and the mundane behind to go exploring in libraries, feeling the  twisted "joy" of becoming nauseated from hours upon end of viewing galloping microfilm and inhaling the musty smell of old books.  But sometimes it all pays off in a treasure or two.  My goal was to find some old letters home during World War I (see my other blog for that info) but always when reading old newspapers, I get caught up in the other stories...and sometimes, there's something fun to be had.

Today I was browsing through the 1947 Northwest-Signal looking for a certain obituary (which I never did find) and I came across this article on the FRONT page on June 19th.  Why wouldn't it catch my eye?  The name ELLING was in caps and bold letters.  

A very pretty and impressive candle light wedding took place Sunday, June 15, at 5 o'clock in St. Paul's Lutheran church, when Miss Lorna Elling, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Elling, became the bride of Edward Hausch, son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Hausch of Archbold.

Before the altar banked with palms and garden flowers, Rev. Martin Zschoche performed the double ring ceremony.  Miss Elling entered the church on the arm of her father, who gave her in marriage. The bride was attired in a long white satin gown and veil.  She carried a bouquet of white carnations.
Linda Lou Hicksted, niece of the bride, served as flower girl. She was pretty in a long pink gown of dotted swiss.  Her bouquet was of assorted flowers in pink.
Miss Eleonora Elling was maid of honor.  Her gown was of yellow rayon marquisette and lace over taffeta.  She carried a bouquet of pale pink carnations.
Miss Louise Elling and Mrs. Rudolph Elling served as bridesmaids.  Their gowns were of blue rayon marquisette over taffeta. They carried bouquets of red carnations.

Menno Hausch, brother of the groom, served as best man.  Rudolph Elling and Peter Hausch served as ushers. 
David Druhot, nephew of the groom, served as ring bearer.

The bride's mother wore a navy dress with black accessories.  Her corsage was of white carnations.  The groom's mother also wore a navy dress with black accessories and her corsage was of white carnations.

Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the Harrison Grange Hall for about two hundred guests.  The couple will reside with the groom's parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Hausch of Archbold."

Wedding Gowns of Aunt Louise, Aunt Lorna, Aunt Ginny
as displayed at 2009 Elling Family Reunion
Photo by Jane Elling Haas

This post originally appeared on the Elling Family News blog in December, 2010.

Don't Forget the Coffee Cake

But then...ah, yes...the old German Coffee Cake recipe appeared.  I can remember my mom making it a few times, but it must have been so frustrating for her because it disappeared in an instant once all six of us began eating.  I know we always had it at Elling Christmas dinners and I can envision eating it at Aunt Kate's table.  It was always (and still is) a treat, but when I look over this recipe, I think the odds of my attempting to make it again are slim. 
But for the more ambitious, here is the recipe. 

German Coffee Cake

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup peeled cooked potatoes that have been mashed up
1 cup of the hot potato water in which they have been cooked
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted lard (Yes, we used lard then!)
1/8 lb. yeast (6 envelopes or cakes)
salt (no measurement given - just guess)
6 - 7 cups flour

Mix ingredients in order listed and let rise until triple in size (about 1 hour)
Knead by the handful.  Roll to 1/4 inch thickness and press into greased pans.
Grease top with melted butter or margarine and let rise until double in size.
Dot with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees until brown (about 15-20 minutes)
Remove and spread with butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Whet your appetite yet?

Meeting Cousins at Spengler's

Yesterday we met some of the cousins for food and conversation at Spengler's.  What fun it was to see each other again and to catch up with each other's lives.  The time goes by so quickly!  We have to do it more often!

 This post originally appeared on the Elling Family News blog on October 31, 2010.

Family Treasures - Aunt Ginny's Quilts

And now back to our previously scheduled program... continuing the story of family heirlooms in the possession of my aunts and uncles and sharing  memories of their earlier lives with my Elling grandparents.  Aunt Ginny had many things to share, so let's get to it.

 Just look at this lovely wedding ring quilt, given to my aunt Ginny and Uncle Alfred as a wedding present from his mother and my grandmother, Ida Spoering Elling.  As Aunt Ginny tells the story, she and her then fiance', Alfred, went to his parent's house for Sunday supper and there were Grandma Elling and three of her Spoering sisters - Lydia, Freida and Annie - working on this quilt.  Grandma said, "Ginny, this is going to be yours, so you need to put some stitches in it."  Ginny said she put in three stitches, pricked her fingers and when the blood began to flow, she was told to quit!


 Isn't it fun to look at all the vintage fabrics used?  Most of them were probably someone's clothing at one time or another, as I doubt if new fabrics were purchased for a quilt during those days.
Ginny and Alfred were married in April 1946, so this quilt can be pretty accurately dated...and best of all, we know the stitchers were the Spoering sisters.  Any little blood spots on there to mark your quilting debut, Aunt Ginny?

 This second quilt was given to Aunt
Ginny from Aunt Kate, Albert's second wife who was a sister of his first wife, Ida - both born Spoering.
One Christmas Aunt Kate gave quilts to all the daughters and daughters-in-law - some time in the early 1960's perhaps.  No one seems really sure if she pieced the quilts or not (there would have been seven quilts to do), but we are fairly certain they were quilted by one or more groups of church ladies in a quilting circle, probably from Hamler.  Aunt Kate died in 1968.


 The posts concerning family treasures all appeared in August, 2010 on the Elling Family News Blog.

A Few More Family Treasures from Aunt Ginny and Uncle Alfred Elling

Grandpa Albert and Grandma Ida Elling used this solid oak rocker in their home.
Alfred refinished the rocker in the 1990s.


 Grandma Elling bought this hand-painted sugar and creamer set
at a household auction. There was never a lid for the sugar bowl.

Family Treasures - Aunt Ginny and Uncle Alfred Elling

Aunt Ginny brought along to our "Family Treasures" get-together a number of books that belonged either to Uncle Alfred or Grandpa Albert Elling.  A closer look will reveal that they are catechisms or prayer books...but one is an arithmetic book. 

Some have German on one side of the page and the facing page has the English translation.  Uncle Alfred was confirmed in the church in 1935 and his service was in German, as were his catechism studies.  Aunt Alma stated that it was often confusing for them because none of the brothers and sisters could speak English when they started school - only Low German.

Then by the time they went to catechism as young teens, they knew English and Low German, of course, but the books were in regular German, which created a problem for them.
Grandma Ida used a fibel (German primer) to help them learn the German they needed.

Grandpa Elling's arithmetic book - note copyright date.  I see Alma and Paul's name on
the cover, too.  And were those numbers like grades? 

Math problems


 Uncle Alfred and Aunt Ginny also have a hanging lamp that hangs in their foyer. It once burned kerosene and hung over the dining room table of Albert and Ida and family.  Grandpa Albert "electrified" it.