Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Family Rott...Part One


If we take all the known surnames in our family and research them as best we can some will elicit more data than others.  While I have been highly successful with my research on my Colberg/Kolberg line progress on other lines comes more slowly.  If we are lucky something will appear on a line that is very exciting.

Such was my experience yesterday.  I have to confess that I had an interesting encounter that I can safely say few if any genealogists (or non-genealogists) have ever experienced before and  will probably not experience in the future either.  I had a delightful conversation with a woman in Minnesota who has the maiden name of Rott and whose father and grandfather were born in Borntuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern, Germany where my 2nd great grandmother, Emilie Rott, (mother of my great-grandmother Bertha Kramp Kolberg) was born.  The name is pronounced ROOT such as the root of a flower!

Now I can hear my readers saying to themselves "well great, Cheryl, but what makes you think we have not had similar experiences ourselves"?  The deciding factor in this statement is that the sweet lady I spoke with is 113 years old, fully cognitive and a pleasure to talk to.

Now how did this connection come about?  As often happens in our research an interesting tidbit will pop up here and there.  Such is what happened about 7 years ago when my cousin and fellow researcher, Sheila, told me that she had found a website of Trinity Lutheran Church of Audubon, Iowa that included a family history page.  In this family history page there was mention of various families that had originally immigrated to this part of Iowa from Borntuchen, Kreis Bütow including a woman, Anna Rott Stoehr, who at the time was 106 years old.  Sheila studied the web site, contacted the webmaster and subsequently had a conversation with Anna's son.  It was an interesting connection but at the time we had not uncovered that much about our Emilie Rott and we discussed the amazing life of a woman, who at 106 still lived independently on her farm, did all her own cleaning and cooking and was alert and cognitive.

Over the years Sheila would tell me that she had seen on the Internet that Anna was now 108, 110, etc and we would marvel over that.  Last fall Sheila told me that she had seen some articles again on Anna who was going to be 113 on October 15th.  She was listed as the oldest woman IN THE WORLD living independently and the oldest woman in Minnesota.  Here are a few of those articles:

a.  Article on her 112th birthday.

b.  Article in April, 2013 at the Minnesota Twins Lutheran Night.

c.  Article on her 113th birthday.

I decided to send Anna a birthday card and did.  A few weeks later I received a phone call from her oldest son and we had a lengthy conversation comparing names and data on our ancestors from Borntuchen.  We discovered that Anna's grandfather and my 2nd great-grandmother were both born in Borntuchen in the early 1840's and while there is no clear evidence at this time to connect our Rott ancestors it is highly possible.  During the conversation her son gave me Anna's phone number and told me that she would love to hear from me.  She had recently decided to give up independent living and had moved into an assisted living facility in Minnesota but still prepared two meals a day and did her own cleaning and laundry including baking her own bread!

I tried several times to call Anna but never received an answer.  Her son had told me that she is very busy with her activities at her assisted living facility, loves to play cards and hosts her "card club".  Yesterday afternoon I decided to give it another try and called Anna.

This time I was successful.  She answered the phone promptly and it was like talking to somebody 40 years younger.  She was pleased to hear from me, told me her son had talked to her about our previous conversation and she discussed her father and grandfather.  While she did not have much information on the early years of her ancestors she did know that they were from Borntuchen though she had never been there herself.  She was born in Iowa, lived in South Dakota and now in Minnesota and she told me she was a "prairie girl".  She inquired on my life, talked about the upcoming Christmas holidays and the weather.  She talked about her church and her activities there and how she was enjoying her new home.  She also said that she wished I could visit her and inquired as to where my home town was located in Michigan.  When I told her it was near to Chicago she said that was not all that far from her home in Minnesota.  She was just delightful and I enjoyed my time talking with her.

If for no other reason, it was a privilege to "meet" this delightful woman and spend some time talking with her.  She truly has a strong Christian faith which has seen her through the trials and tribulations of life and has blessed her with a long life and one which she is still able to enjoy.

In the realm of my genealogy research on my Rott family there will need to be further data that will allow me to, hopefully, connect my Rott family with that of Anna's.  New information on my Rott ancestry has become available the last few years which I will discuss in further posts in this series.

Copyright (c) 2013, Cheryl J. Schulte  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Family Kolberg/Colberg...Part Eleven


The amazing story of my Kolberg ancestors continues with Part Eleven.  It is hard for me to fathom that I have been able to have as much success with this line as I have and to have been able to continually find information to allow this series to grow.

One of the roadblocks in this research has always been the varying way that the surname has been spelled.  There has been no rhyme or reason as to why sometimes the name will be spelled with a "C" as in Colberg and other times with a "K" as in Kolberg.  I have found old records, from the late 1700's and early 1800's where children in one family have been listed with both spellings.  While I originally thought the name was always with a "C" and was changed when my great-grandfather, August, and his brothers, Heinrich, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand, immigrated to the US that wasn't accurate either.  These variances in spelling have made the search more difficult but certainly not impossible.

As my story has unfolded through the past 10 episodes I have shared how I was able to successfully research my great-grandfather's life and those of five of his six brothers - again, Heinrich, Johann, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand.  However, brother Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and his life has eluded me. 

In the sequence of children born to my 2nd great-grandparents, Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. and Henriette Amalie Kautz, son Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was their second son and the first child of theirs to survive childhood.  Family documents here in Michigan seemed to indicate that Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. had inherited the Colberg family farm in Klein Tuchen and he had remained in Klein Tuchen for his life.  This practice was quite common with the eldest son inheriting the family property and that story seemed logical.  It made sense as well that 5 of the brothers would take their chances by immigrating to the US while brother, Johann, chose to settle in Berlin.  However, family stories (while helpful and interesting) are not always accurate and the story of the life of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. did not include a life on the family farm in Klein Tuchen nor a life in Klein Tuchen at all.

To flesh out this story and find further data on Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was a journey that I could not take all on my own.  Without the unbelievable help of three researchers, two in this country and one in Germany, I would not have been able to finally fill in most of the gaps on this brother of my great-grandfather.

Special thanks must go to a wonderful researcher in Germany, Marion H, who helped me find more than I could ever hope to find on my own as well as researcher and cousin, David M, in Arizona and a long time research friend, Steve M, in Illinois.  

To begin this story, at the outset of my research, I had the following basic information on Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr.:

1.  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was born  28 Sep 1852 in Klein Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern, the second son of Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. and Henriette Amalie Kautz.  At the time of his birth, son #1 Albert Johan Carl Colberg was still living at age 1 1/2 but he would pass away in 1863 at the age of 12.

2.  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was baptized on 3 Oct 1852 at the Evangelische Kirche, Groß Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern.

3.  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. remained in Klein Tuchen his entire life with his family which included a wife and 6 children and inherited the Colberg family farm upon the death of his father, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Sr., in 1900.

4.  A photo, taken in Bütow, Pommern, was shared with me with the caption on the back which read "Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. and wife with son, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and wife standing behind, 1898".

5.  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. passed away in 1918 in Klein Tuchen, Bütow, Pommern.

The above information had been shared with me by two cousins of my grandmother, sisters Ruby Kolberg Berndt and Edna Kolberg, daughters of Paul Kolberg.  The information they possessed was from written notes that their father wrote of his life in Klein Tuchen and which they had inherited.

Some of the above information (#1, #2) proved to be accurate though parts were not (#3, #4, #5 ).  These are common occurrences with written memories; so helpful to have as starting points but not something that can be used as primary sources.

Over the years I tried to expand on this information but never really succeeded.  When I connected with cousin, Gerhard Kolberg, in Berlin he also had the above information from points 1 and 2 in his notes from his grandfather, brother Johann Colberg, but nothing further either.

With the interest in genealogy growing, the use of the Internet in the picture, a huge ongoing project to transcribe church books from the Pomeranian counties of Bütow and Stolp in place and the generosity of researchers helping others to discover facts about their ancestors I have managed to find the following on Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr.:

1.  On 07 Jan 1881 Friedrich-Wilhelm married Hermine Augusta Melchert.  They were married in Reinwasser, Kreis Rummelsburg, Pommern, a neighboring county to Bütow and the county of birth of Hermine.  Hermine had been born 14 May 1848 in Friedrikenfelde, Kreis Rummelsburg, Pommern to Gottlieb Melchert and Henrietta Winkel.

2.  Friedrich-Wilhelm and Hermine began to create a family of their own but tragically each of their children died - either at birth or shortly thereafter.  Birth, baptismal and death information was found in the church books being translated by the Stolp group and shared with me.  Sponsors for all of these children were listed as well and were helpful in proving other familial lines.  It was common in those days, in those particular church books, to list descriptive data on sponsors such as "uncle of the child", "brother of the father of the child" and in many cases "grandmother of the child", etc.  I learned as well that a male child would have three sponsors with two being godfathers and one godmother while a female child would have three sponsors as well but two godmothers and one godfather.  It was very interesting.  It was also notated that all of these children were born in Zemmen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern which was a neighboring village to Klein Tuchen and father, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. was listed on various records as farmer or landowner or tenant farmer.   Here are the 7 children of Friedrich-Wilhelm and Hermine Colberg:
  • Martha Marie Franziska Colberg (1882-1882)
  • Paul Willy Colberg (1883-1886)
  • Fritz Wilhelm Colberg (1885-1886)
  • Erich Ernst Franz Colberg (1886-1887)
  • Ernst Friedrich Paul Colberg (1888-1888)
  • Max Friedrich Adam Colberg (1889-1889)
  • Clara Marie Emilie Colberg (1893-1893) 
3.  Hermine Melchert Colberg passed away on 05 Jan 1898 with the following notation from the church books of Groß Tuchen:
  •  "Died 5 Jan 1898 in Zemmen,  Death Nr. 1 of 1898, Hermine Kolberg, geb. Melchert, 49 Years, 9  Months and 9 Days old, buried on 9 Jan 1898.  
With the death of Hermine in January of 1898, and the fact that none of her 7 children had survived, I felt this indicated the end of the line of this family.  My hope that I would be able to find descendants of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. still living today was thwarted.  While tossing this information around in my head I remembered the photo I had of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and "his wife" and his parents which was dated 1898.  Upon further examination of the photo I found it hard to believe that "the wife" indicated was a 49 year old woman as in this photo Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr's wife certainly looked much younger.  A thought was brewing in my head.  Could Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. have remarried?  He was 46 at the time of Hermine's death and it could have been possible he would have married again even though he had no children to raise that he needed help with.

I posed this question to my researcher friends who quickly sent me back the following information:

1.  From the church books of Groß Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern was found the following record:
  •  Marriage Nr. 12 of 1898 on 25 Mar 1898, Friedrich Colberg of Zemmen, born on 28 Sep 1852, First Wife Deceased, To Jungfrau Therese Lewitzke of Zemmen, born on 7 Feb 1868, Never Married, Daughter of Carl. 
  •  Baptism Nr. 13 of 1867 in Groß Tuchen on 31 Jan 1867, Therese Louise Mathilde, daughter of Carl Lawitzke and Albertine Gaul, baptized: 7 Feb 1867, Godparents:  Mathilde Lawitzke, Mathilde Lawitzke (correct, two with exact same name), Ernst von Domarus, all from Groß Tuchen.
 2.  Further information followed in the form of 4 children for Friedrich-Wilhelm and Therese as follows:
  • Max Erich Colberg (born 1899 and confirmed 1913)
  • Anna Meta Therese Colberg (born 1901 and confirmed 1915)
  • Paul Otto Colberg (born 1903 and confirmed 1917)
  • Helene Martha Minna Colberg (born 1905 and confirmed 1919)
3.  Confirmation dates were found for the above children as well indicating that they had certainly survived childhood and were living at the time they each reached 14.  This was positive and hopeful information that perhaps these children went on to marry and have families of their own.

4.  Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr. passed away in 1918 with the following church book entry as proof:
  •  Death Nr. 63 of 1918, 7 November, Friedrich Colberg, Pächter (tenant farmer) of Zemmen, Age 66 Years, 1 Month, buried 10 Nov 1918. 
5.  Therese Colberg's death was recorded as follows:
  •  Death Nr. 25 of 1928 in Zemmen, Therese Kolberg, geb. Lawitzke, 61 Years, 5 Months Old, died on 23 Jun 1928 and buried at 3PM on 30 Jun 1928.

To say that I was overwhelmed and totally excited would be understating how I felt with all this information.  It only took 30+ years of research to finally fill in the blanks on Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. to add to the information on his six brothers - August, Heinrich, Johann, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand.  To have the actual excerpts from the church books gave me primary source data and to have made connections with generous researchers willing to search these records for me and share them was phenomenal.  I cannot thank these researchers enough.

But what about the 4 children born to Friedrich-Wilhelm and Therese Colberg?  Did they marry and create families of their own?

Part Twelve of this continuing saga will share that data as well.  And to conclude, this is the photo showing Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and Therese Colberg with Friedrich-Wilhelm's parents, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Sr. and Henriette Amalie (perhaps a wedding photo as the photo is dated 1898 and Therese is holding flowers?).

Standing:  Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and Therese Colberg
Sitting:  Henriette Amalie and Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr.
Bütow, Pommern 

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
Copyright (c) 2013, Cheryl J. Schulte  

Friday, February 22, 2013

End of a Kolberg Generation

On my Schulte surname side I have two first cousins.  My mother, on her Kijak surname side, had 3 first cousins.  My grandmother, however, on her Kolberg surname side had 67 first cousins!  That's correct there were 68 children from 7 Colberg/Kolberg brothers.  After many years of research on my Kolberg line I have been able to collect data on each and every one of these first cousins of my grandmother.

Today in the newspaper I was saddened to read of the death of my grandmother's last remaining first cousin.  Over the years that I have lived back in my home town of St. Joseph I was able to interact frequently with this cousin and developed a fondness for her.  She was blessed to reach the age of 95 and when thinking of this, what can one say about somebody who lived to that age and will be remembered fondly by many.

Mildred Helen Grace Kolberg was born on August 22, 1917 in Stevensville, Berrien County, Michigan to Paul Kolberg and Augusta Zuhl.  She was their 10th and final child.  When Mildred was only 19 months old her mother passed away and she was raised by a combination of her father, her three older brothers and their wives and was very close to her next oldest brother who always was very protective of her.  On November 17, 1962 she was married to Charles Herman Price and they had 49 years together before Charles passed away in February of 2012.  I believe her sorrow at losing her partner of many years hastened her death though, again, I will say what more can someone ask than 95 years of life.  Mildred had a beautiful smile which she was always ready to give another and she had a strong personality and faith.  She will be remembered.

             Charles & Mildred Price
                   ca 1990


Family of Friedrich Wilhelm Colberg, Jr.:
  • Martha Marie Franziska Colberg (1882-1882)
  • Paul Willy Colberg (1883-1886)
  • Fritz Wilhelm Colberg (1885-1886)
  • Erich Ernst Franz Colberg (1886-1887)
  • Ernst Friedrich Paul Colberg (1888-1888)
  • Max Friedrich Adam Colberg (1889-1889)
  • Clara Marie Emilie Colberg (1893-1893)
  • Max Erich Colberg (1899-after 1913)
  • Anna Meta Therese Colberg (1901-after 1915)
  • Paul Otto Colberg (1903-after 1917)
  • Helene Martha Minna Colberg (1905-after 1919)
Family of August Gottlieb Kolberg:
  • Paul Louis Robert Kolberg (1879-1879)
  • Hedwig Johanne Auguste Kolberg (1880-1956)
  • Berta Hermine Franziska Kolberg (1883-1883)
  • Frederick Gustav Emil Kolberg (1886-1887)
  • Amelia Alvina Henreitta Kolberg (1887-1963)
  • Kurt Paul Hugo Kolberg (1890-1935)
  • Robert Ernest Paul Kolberg Sr. (1892-1950)
  • Hugo Otto Heinrich Kolberg (1894-1951)
  • Ella Emma Louise Kolberg (1895-1973)
Family of Heinrich Carl Kolberg:
  • Johann Charl Kolberg (1883-1883)
  • Carl Heinrich Kolberg (1885-1885)
  • Hertha Emilie Katherina Kolberg (1886-1976)
  • Alexander Otto Paul Kolberg (1889-1965)
  • Heinrich Friedrich Ernest Kolberg (1892-1966)
  • Retha Lina Minna Kolberg (1894-1947)
  • Ortha Amalie Friederike Kolberg (1895-1966)
  • Erick Carl August Kolberg (1896-1897)
  • William Louis Julius Kolberg (1898-1947)
  • Bentha Bertha Alwine Kolberg (1900-1989)
  • Arnold Albert Emil Kolberg (1901-1957)
  • Gerhart Walter Hugo Kolberg (1903-1966)
  • Esther Maria Helena Kolberg (1905-1988)
  • Lorenz Gustav Johann Kolberg (1907-1983)
  • Ralph Nelson Ferdinand Kolberg (1914-1915)
Family of  Johann Eduard Colberg:
  • Marguerite A. Colberg (1884-1946)
  • Richard Hugo Georg Colberg (1888-1982)
  • Johanna Helene Marie Colberg (1890-1977)
  • Johannes Colberg (1893-1964)
  • Walter Colberg (1894-1954)
  • Max Colberg (1896-1946)
  • Otto Hermann Erich Kolberg (1904-1937)
  • Charlotte Colberg (1906-1997)
Family of Otto Ferdinand Paul Kolberg:
  • Grace Henreitta Othella Maria Mathilde Kolberg (1893-1986)
  • Frederick A. Kolberg (1894-1978)
  • Victor Henry Kolberg (1896-1993)
  • Orville Carl Julius Kolberg (1904-1973)
  • Viola Elaine Kolberg (1911-1966)
  • Leo Henry Kolberg (1912-1994)
Family of Paul Wilhelm Rudolf Kolberg:
  •  Oscar Otto Gustav Kolberg (1892-1970)
  •  Ralph Heinrich Johann Kolberg (1893-1894)
  • Waldimar August Wilhelm Kolberg (1895-1985)
  • Clarence Heinrich Berthold Kolberg (1897-1989)
  • Lillian Maria Ottillie Kolberg (1899-1905)
  • Leo Otto Edward Kolberg (1902-1903)
  • Ruby Edna Kolberg (1904-1988)
  • Edna Olga Kolberg (1907-1991)
  • Harry Paul Ferdinand Kolberg (1910-1985)
  • Mildred Helen Grace Kolberg (1917-2013)
  • Alvin Albert Kolberg (1921-1984)
Family of Ferdinand Robert Kolberg:
  • Oscar Friedrich Hermann Kolberg (1898-1970)
  • Waldemar Paul Hugo Kolberg (1899-1989)
  • Alfred Paul Ferdinand Kolberg (1900-1995)
  • Selma Anna Helene Kolberg (1901-1988)
  • Gertrud Martha Marie Kolberg (1903-before 1910)
  • Herta Anna Augusta Kolberg (1904-before 1910)
  • Kurt Hugo Max Kolberg (1905-1986)
  • Arthur Ferdinand August Kolberg (1906-1990)
What a glorious reunion they must all be having tonight in heaven!  Rest in peace to all these cousins.

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
Copyright (c) 2013, Cheryl J. Schulte  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Father The Bowler

My father was an avid sports lover.  Growing up in the Detroit suburbs he had plenty of outlets for his love whether it were the Tigers, Lions, Pistons or Red Wings and he could be seen either attending the games, watching them on television, listening on the radio or doing both the television and radio at the same time.  I can still see him sitting in his recliner with the main television showing one game, a small portable television (very small) sitting on his lap watching another and the radio in his ear listening to a third game.

My grandfather told me that my father received his first baseball uniform when he was a teenager and he wouldn't take it off for days.  He loved playing baseball as a young boy but that quickly changed when he discovered bowling.  Bowling would continue to grip him for his entire life.

During my childhood and teen years I like to say that I grew up in bowling alleys.  Actually my father bowled in two men's leagues a week and then my mother and he bowled in a mixed league on another day.  Three days a week my brother and I had to accompany them to the bowling alley where I would sit and either read or do homework.  Guess the action bored me.

Today I was going through some old photos and found a few of my father related to his bowling.  He was an excellent bowler and in high school was predicted to be a champ.  He probably could have if he had pursued that but WWII came up and that changed young men forever.

When I was growing up our house was filled with bowling trophies.  Here is a photo of my father in approximately 1958 with his championship team at the time.

 Back Row:  Robbie Robinson, Mylen Schulte, Floyd Labuhn
Front Row:  William Machleit, Clifford Rupnow
Ritz Bowling Alley
Detroit, MI, ca 1958 

In approximately 1966 another championship for his team and my father is sitting with his trophy.  I believe this was from the mixed league he was in with my mother; why her photo isn't here I don't know unless she was taking the picture.

 Mylen Schulte with bowling trophy
ca 1966

But where did this love begin?  A few days ago due to the post of another genealogy blogger, I learned something new about my father.  Kristin of "Finding Eliza" had an excellent post about her mother in which she mentioned that her mother had graduated from Eastern High School in Detroit in 1940.  My father graduated from Eastern in 1941 and I sent off a comment to Kristin.  I follow her blog faithfully but never knew of our "Eastern" connection.  A few comments went back and forth and Kristin asked me if my father had been in any sports or activities at Eastern.  I told her he was an avid bowler and she graciously checked her mother's 1940 yearbook and found a photo of the bowling team of that year.  She scanned the photo and sent it to me and there WAS my father in the photo in his Junior year of high school.  This was a photo I had never seen of my dad when he was very young.

 Eastern High School, Detroit, MI
Bowling Team, 1940
Mylen Schulte back row, left side

This only shows again the kindness and generosity of our fellow genealogy bloggers.  Thanks Kristin!

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Tenth Birthday

I was born on November 24, 1854 in Klein Tuchen in Pommern, Germany and was the third son of my parents.  In our family a boy's 10th birthday was a special occasion and the year I was turning 10 my birthday in November was on my mind constantly.

November 24, 1864 began bright and early.  I awoke even before it was light outside and could hear Mama and Papa working in the house.  Today would be my special birthday and many aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors would be coming by.  Papa and Mama had a strict law in our family that each child must attend school for 4 years; that was very important to them as they were not able to have any schooling.  So far my 2 older brothers, Albert and Fritz, had studied for 4 years in school and then when they were 10 they were allowed to begin working on the farm with Papa.  I was looking forward to this as well.  I must admit school was not my favorite thing to do; I would have rather been outside in the fields or playing with my brothers but Papa and Mama were very strict about the school rule.  Today I would be allowed to stop school and begin to work on the farm as well.

Papa called to us boys to get up while it was still dark.  Albert, Fritz and I got up immediately but our younger brothers, Heinrich and Johann, were lazier and had to be prompted to get up.  They were only 7 and 5 at the time.  Baby Hermann would be 2 tomorrow and he was still sleeping as well.  Mama also had the new baby, Gustav, who was only 5 weeks old at the time.  There had also been another brother, Franz, but he had died last year when he was only 2.  Mama had been so hoping that this latest baby would be a little girl but now we were a family of Mama, Papa and 7 sons.

That morning Mama had our breakfast ready for us and told us to hurry and eat because aunts would be arriving soon to help with the birthday celebrations.  Because Mama had baby Gustav to tend to some of the aunts would be helping with the food for the birthday so that Mama could rest.  Mama would do this for the aunts in return as well.  Having a large family was important Mama would say because everyone would help everyone else.

We had barely finished our breakfast and the light was just beginning on the day when we could hear a wagon outside.  It was Oma Kautz coming to help with the birthday.  Oma was Mama's mother and all us boys loved Oma Kautz because she always brought us special breads and cakes that she had made.  Oma was the only grandparent I had any more.  I had not known Opa Kautz because he had died long before I was born.  When he died, Oma married a Mr. Krause so that she would have help on the farm.  Mr. Krause was very stern and never smiled so we boys stayed away from him.  

Oma came in the house and told me "Happy Birthday, August" and showed me the basket she was bringing that held some special cakes with sugar on top.  She went over to Mama and inquired how baby Gustav was doing.  Mama said he was sleeping fine but not eating well and she was worried.  We did not know it then but in a few months baby Gustav would die.  

After breakfast all us boys were sent outside to give Mama and Oma room to work on the birthday.  Soon the aunts arrived carrying baskets of food as well.  Mama was going to make my favorite Pommern potatoes and the aunts had been helping her the last few days by boiling and cooling pounds of potatoes.  Now they were bringing them to the house so Mama could prepare them for me. The potatoes took a long time to make but it helped Mama that the aunts had boiled them ahead of time.  Mama then sliced them and put them in the pan on the fire with lots of lard.  The potatoes sizzled and fried for quite some time while Mama kept slicing more potatoes.  We would need a lot for all the family that was coming.  What made these potatoes special was after they were almost done frying Mama would crack eggs into the potatoes and fry them together; the eggs would work into the potatoes and Mama would get them very crispy.  I always wanted the potatoes around the edge of the frying pan because they were the best.  Many times we had these Pommern potatoes for dinner only because they were so good.  Mama had promised me she would make them herself for my birthday because her potatoes were much better than those made by the aunts though we could not tell them that.

Aunt Carolina and Uncle Johann vonJutrzenka arrived soon with some of the cousins.  Aunt Carolina was one of Papa's sisters.  They brought more food and chicken as well for the meal.  Mama was happy to see them because Aunt Carolina was a hard worker.  Soon Uncle August and Aunt Friederike Colberg arrived.  Uncle August was Papa's brother and he was my godfather which was something he reminded me of all the time.  I liked Uncle August because he would take my older brothers out behind the barn and let them smoke some tobacco and he had been promising this to me all year.  Aunt Friederike came bearing her usual gift for all the cousins which were hand knit socks.  She took great pride in using heavy yarn so that the socks would be warm and would always say the same thing "if your feet are warm you won't get sick".  We boys thought her socks were picky and uncomfortable but Mama always frowned at us and we quickly thanked Aunt Friederike.  Later Mama would tell us that we needed to be grateful because we had many feet in the house to put socks on and it helped Mama when an aunt would give new socks.

By mid day we had many guests - aunts, uncles and cousins and even neighbors all coming for my 10th birthday.  Uncle Gottlieb and Aunt Karolina brought a smoked ham from the hogs on their farm and Papa praised the ham.  Uncle Gottlieb was Papa's brother as well.  They had children the same ages as us boys and even had an August born the same year as me.  Sometimes it became very confusing when all the cousins were together.

The day went by quickly but it was grand fun.  Uncle August tried to take me out behind the barn to show me his tobacco but Papa saw us and quickly stopped this.  Uncle August and Papa talked loudly about this for a while but in the end Uncle August shrugged and walked away.  Papa told me that there would be plenty of time for tobacco but he didn't want me to be sick today on my birthday. I wasn't very happy but we boys knew we had to obey Papa.  That was the way it was.

By the end of the day the families were all leaving but Aunt Carolina and Oma Kautz stayed longer to help with cleaning up the house.  Mama was looking very tired and Oma was worried about her.  But she said to me "I think August Gottlieb that you had a grand 10th birthday and now you are a man".  Oma Kautz reminded me that Mama had worked hard on my Pommern potatoes while tending baby Gustav and I should never forget the grand birthday I had.

And I never did!!!

The above are recollections contained in notes written by Ella Kolberg Kijak from verbal discussions with her father, August Gottlieb Kolberg, on Ella's 19th birthday on August 8, 1914.  

Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cousins Meet after 80 Years

Newspapers and television broadcasts frequently have human interest stories of family members meeting after many years apart.  Recently I took part in arranging for my 87 year old mother to reconnect with her 85 year old cousin after 80 years apart.

I personally thought it was a slow news day in South Bend but alas nobody in the media appeared to cover this story.  So here is my coverage of this event.

A few years ago I received an e-mail from a person who had come across my blog.  While I frequently receive such e-mails, none have ever had a connection with my mother's paternal grandmother's family - the Rubisz line.  I have previously written about my great-grandmother, Mary Rubisz Kijak, and the very difficult life she had.  My mother knew very little about this grandmother as she had passed away in 1918 long before my mother was born.  My mother did know that her grandparents had a very rocky relationship and had separated around 1900 and that her grandmother had connected with another gentleman, moved to South Bend, Indiana and had 7 more children with him before she passed away in 1918.

That was why this e-mail I received a few years ago surprised and pleased me as the woman writing indicated she had seen my blog, noted the banner on the blog that contained the 4 photos of my great-grandmothers and recognized the name of Mary Rubisz Kijak.  This writer, D, told me that she believed that my great-grandmother was HER husband's great-grandmother as well.

E-mails went back and forth between D and myself.  She indicated that her mother-in-law was the daughter of Mary Rubisz Kijak's oldest child from her relationship with Frank Banner, Sr.  While my mother knew that there were children from her grandmother's relationship with this Mr. Banner she only remembered them from her childhood.  Living in the fruit belt of Southwest Michigan (St. Joseph) it was common for family members from other areas to visit St. Joe during the summer to take the fresh produce home.  Evidently members of the Banner family would frequently do so, coming from nearby South Bend, Indiana (35 miles) and my mother remembered playing with these half cousins when they were children.

D and I exchanged information and I learned that D's mother-in-law Betty was very eager to see my mother again.  My mother as well was eager and did remember Betty as a child though 80 years had gone by.

On August 22nd this year we had our reunion.  My mother and I drove from St. Joe to Mishawaka, Indiana where I knew there was a big mall. We arranged to meet Betty and her daughter-in-law, D, at a restaurant at this mall and there we did.

We had a wonderful lunch in a very nice restaurant.  D and I exchanged genealogical materials and both D and Betty had brought scads of photos with them.  Out came my Flip Pal scanner (love this device) and I was able to scan all the photos right at the table.  After lunch we went to Betty's house, right near Notre Dame, for some further visiting.

 Eloris Kijak & cousin, Betty Linehan,
August 22, 2012
Mishawaka, Indiana

When there are sensitive issues involving ancestors it is often difficult to learn any of the details involved but Betty was very forthcoming with information that was welcomed by myself.  It was information I would have never learned otherwise.  Since then D and I have really been fortunate in being able to learn much more information on the Banner family with the help of Ancestry and other web sites.

We are now planning a return visit with D and Betty coming here to visit us in St. Joe and we are hoping they also bring another cousin that my mother has not seen in ages either.

Never say never - there are always avenues to follow that will open up new information on a family line.

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Six Degrees of Kolberg

As with the trivia game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, I firmly believe that a case can be made for a "Six Degrees of Kolberg" connection.  In Berrien County, Michigan this could be reduced to "THREE or FOUR Degrees of Kolberg".  Consider this saga:

Last night was the first Ladies Aid meeting of the new season at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Joseph where I belong.  My mother and I are members and are continuing the tradition started by my maternal grandmother, Ella Kolberg Kijak.  I know my grandmother would be pleased that (1) we have relocated back to St. Joe and (2) that we are active in the Ladies Aid organization.  This organization has declined over the 15 years we have been back in St. Joe and now has 49 members.  Last night's meeting had 19 ladies present with a few guests. 

We sat at a table with several other ladies that we knew well.  One senior lady had a guest with her and she introduced the guest as her niece, Marilyn, who was her chauffeur now that she herself could no longer drive.   Marilyn was a very pleasant woman and she indicated to the group that she was a retired teacher who continues to do some special education teaching.  I inquired as to where she had taught and our conversation went like this:

Me:  Where did you teach, Marilyn?

Marilyn:  At Grace Lutheran Church in St. Joe (a neighboring church to Trinity).

Me:  Do you know Karen Kolberg K from Grace? 

Marilyn:  I do - Karen and I went to school together.

Me:  Karen and I are cousins.  Do you know Mary Kolberg B and her sister Donna Kolberg R?

Marilyn:  I do indeed.  I taught both of Mary B's daughters.

Me:  Mary and Donna are cousins of mine also.

Now Marilyn is intrigued and she asks me:  Just how are you related to Karen, Mary and Donna?

Me:  Through our very large Kolberg family.  My grandmother was a Kolberg - Ella Kolberg Kijak.

Marilyn:  Very intrigued now...Do you know Sharon Kolberg whose father was Alvin Kolberg and whose mother...oh, I can't remember her name now?

Me:  Yes I know who you mean; I never met Sharon but I know who she is.  (I then proceeded to open my purse and extract my Smart Phone which contains my Ancestry app with my whole family tree and I quickly found the above Sharon Kolberg).  I told Marilyn - her mother was Thelma?

Marilyn:  Yes indeed.  Now Marilyn intrigues me when she says:  Sharon's husband, Dave A., is MY brother.  Just what do you have on that cell phone?

I explained that I have my genealogy on Family Tree Maker which syncs to an Ancestry Tree.  Ancestry has an app for a smart phone and I can carry my data with me on the phone.  We proceeded to have a lengthy discussion about Marilyn's brother and sister-in-law, other Kolberg people that Marilyn knew and my genealogy.  Marilyn said she also knew a R. Kolberg and his parents R and E Kolberg (cousin ROY if you are reading this, you will know of whom I am speaking!!)

We had quite a conversation during the evening (yes we did listen to the program as well) and this further convinced me that each and every person in Berrien County is in some way, shape or form related to or knowledgeable of a Kolberg. 

Lesson to me:  When entering a room, any room, any place where 1 person at least is present, loudly declare "Does anyone in here know anyone named Kolberg?"  I'm guessing somebody will.

Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte