Monday, December 28, 2009

From Whence I Came...George Wellhausen

My great-grandfather, George Wellhausen, was born December 28, 1869 in Detroit, MI to Carl Wellhausen and Christina Grauman. He would become the father of my paternal grandmother, Ella Wellhausen Schulte.

I know very little about this great-grandfather, he died long before my birth and while I knew my great-grandmother (his wife), she never spoke about him in my presence. My grandmother did talk about her father from time to time to say that he was a good man but not a healthy man as evidenced by his death in 1938 at the age of 69 from longstanding abdominal ailments.

What I do know I have learned from discussions with my uncle, some cousins and from plain old research.

George Wellhausen was born in Detroit but the family later settled in Clinton Township, Macomb County, MI where he met his future wife, Amelia Schluessler (how they met is not known to me). They were married on February 14, 1895 (Valentine's Day-perhaps he was a romantic man!) and they owned a General Store at Van Dyke and 24 Mile Road in Utica, MI.

Together they had 3 children - daughters Gertrude and Ella and son, George, Jr.

I do know that my great-grandfather enjoyed hunting and fishing as my uncle, Melbourne Schulte, relates that his grandfather taught him both sports which were activities that my father was definitely not interested in. Obviously George enjoyed his hunting with his younger brother Edward as well, as these photos depict.

George was particularly fond of his granddaughter, Alvis Jean, who was born to his son, George, Jr and wife, Eleanor. I have several photos showing Alvis with her grandpa and I have been told that he was particularly fond of this child.

Alvis Jean Wellhausen with
grandpa, George Wellhausen
July 1, 1935

George Wellhausen, Jr. holding son, Lynwood
Alvis Jean with grandpa, George Wellhausen, Sr.
ca 1935

George & Amelia Wellhausen with grandson, Lynwood,
and son, George Wellhausen, Jr.
ca 1935

Tragically, Alvis would pass away at the age of 5, and I have been told that her death greatly affected George, perhaps contributing to his own death a few years later.
George Wellhausen passed away on April 8, 1938 in Utica, MI and is buried with his wife, Amelia, in Utica Cemetery, Utica, MI.

Following George's death, my uncle asked his grandmother if he could have his grandfather, George's, car which he desperately wanted. George had taught his grandson, Melbourne, how to drive and had let him drive this car around their property on different occasions. Amelia agreed to sell the car to Melbourne for $300 but not until Melbourne had proved to her that he had the money readily available. We have had some laughs about that remarking "that definitely sounds like great-grandma!"

A few years ago, my uncle, Melbourne, submitted the story about his purchase of his first car, along with a photo, to Reminisce Magazine who selected the story and photo for their yearly calendar. He was mighty proud of this selection and the memories of his grandfather that this evoked.

Above photos from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Friday, December 25, 2009

From Whence I Came...Mary Anna Rubisz

My decision to write a 12-post series on my 4 grandparents and 8 great-grandparents was an exciting challenge. To date, the 10 posts I have written were enjoyable to write and not very difficult due to the materials and photos, information and identifiable data that I had on these ancestors. I derived pleasure in doing these posts and feel that I did these ancestors justice as I personally remembered them or as others have spoken about them to me.

Today's post, though, is going to be the most challenging of all. While all of the previous 10 ancestors lived lives that were not perfection, had financial and personal challenges, I am confident that they all had happy lives that overshadowed the down times. In all that I have learned about my great-grandmother, Mary Anna Rubisz, though, I don't know if I can safely say that her life was at all happy and pleasant. I hope that I can do her justice in my tribute to her.

Mary Anna Rubisz was born on Christmas Day in Poland in either 1875, 1876 or 1877. Her parents, Lawrence Rubisz and Anna Budas, had two older children - Andrew born in 1861 and Josephine born in 1868. Following Mary's birth, they had a 3rd son, Stanley born in 1878. Between the birth of Stanley in 1878 and the immigration to the US of mother, Anna with children Mary and Stanley in 1888, I am assuming that father, Lawrence passed away though I don't have any definitive proof of that. In the variety of records that I have searched, I have seen their surname spelled various ways from Rubisz to Rubis to even Rubish. For the purposes of this post, I am spelling the name as Rubisz.

I do not know what prompted their immigration to America nor why they selected Bay City, MI as their destination point, but all research has shown that all 4 children of Anna & Lawrence Rubisz did indeed emigrate to Bay City which had a large Polish community. Perhaps there were other friends from their home village already living in Bay City but I do not know that either.

On October 26, 1891 at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Bay City, Mary Anna Rubisz married John Albert Kijak. They would have 4 children in the next 9 years - Joseph born in 1892, Anna born in 1894, Martha born in 1896 and Rozalie (Rose) born in 1898 all in Bay City.

Sometime, during those years, the following photo was taken of Mary which I am happy to have. She most definitely looks young in this photo and I have often wondered whether this was a photo taken prior to her marriage or after. I have even debated whether this could be her wedding photo due to the flower that she is holding in her hand. I don't know but it is a lovely professional photo.

Mary Anna Rubisz (Kijak)
ca 1891-1893

The copy of their marriage record that I received from St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in the 1980's indicates that Mary's surname was spelled Rubisz and that she had been born in Zczierzany, Gniemenski, Poland. A vigorous search for any village in Poland resembling this spelling was never found. Family documents that I found later indicated the village of birth was spelled Wierzbiczany, Gniezno, Poland but, again, nothing could be found coming close to that spelling in maps and atlases.

A personal visit to Bay City in the late 1980's and a visit to the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church office, allowed for a look at the actual marriage register. There I saw the clear indication that Mary was only a 13 year old female at the time of her marriage and her birth year was given as 1877. The secretary at the church remarked that she had felt uncomfortable with documenting that on the earlier copy she had sent me. We carefully studied the book, with magnifying glass, and it was very clear the age was 13. As John Kijak was 30 1/2 years old at the time of their marriage, which I had verified with his Polish birth certificate that I had previously received and verified with numerous other records, this gave me more than pause for thought. Despite the varying birth years on the records I have seen showing Mary's birth as in 1875, 1876 or 1877, it doesn't really become any more acceptable if she was 13, 14 or even 15 marrying a 30 1/2 year old man. To my way of thinking, she was just a young girl herself who could not read, write or speak English, coming to a strange country and being married to a man much older than herself. Whatever possessed her mother to allow this, I can only imagine.

Okay, this did happen in those time periods. Women were married young and husbands were at times older but 13 or 14 seemed exceptionally young for a bride. This age was verified also on the 1900 Bay City census which showed the family of John and Mary Kijak with children Joseph, Anna, Martha and Rose with John Kijak listed as a butcher. This 1900 Bay City census also showed Mary's brother, Andrew, his wife, Marcyanna Wierzbicki, and their family along with mother, Anna and brother, Stanley living in Andrew's household. Also shown was an entry for the family of Mary's sister, Josephine, her husband, Thomas Krzywosinski and their family as well. It was clear that the entire family was represented in Bay City.

Was Mary's family life a happy one? Was it moderately happy? Were the 4 Kijak children growing up in a loving family atmosphere? From all indications that I have found, and after numerous discussions with cousins, it would appear that they were not. John Kijak was obviously not destined to be a family man. Each time Mary was expecting a new baby, John would take a hiatus and leave the family home, go off and stay with other family members and be gone for months at a time. He would return eventually, stay for a while and when Mary was again expecting another child, he would be off and running again. This has been told to me by more than one cousin, some who were old enough to still remember Uncle John staying at their home for months at a time. Evidently after the 4th such incident, Mary put her foot down and said enough was enough.

BUT...divorce was unheard of for a Roman Catholic young woman who was now no more than 23 years old with 4 young children ages 2, 4, 6 and 8. John Kijak went on to another family home to live where it appeared there were no lack of relatives willing to take him in. And, what about Mary and her 4 children?

Records indicate that Mary, her brother, Stanley Rubisz and her 4 Kijak children, Joseph, Anna, Martha and Rose moved to South Bend, IN. I do not know the significance of that destination, how they traveled there in 1900 or what kind of financial means they had to fund the trip.

Once in South Bend, Mary entered into a common law relationship with a man named Frank Banner. Whether they had known each other in Bay City and that is what prompted the move, I don't know. All information appears to indicate that Frank Banner was, and had always been, an Indiana resident so I am not aware of how Frank and Mary met. In short order, Mary and Frank had at least 5 children - Emma, Frank, Anthony, George and James Banner. The 1910 census of South Bend, IN indicated that Mary was the mother of 11 children, of which 9 were living. I can only assume that the two deceased children would have been Banner children but I don't know that for a fact.

This photo shows Mary with her children Emma, Frank and Anthony Banner taken in approximately 1906.

Mary Kijak with Emma, Frank and Anthony Banner
ca 1906
South Bend, IN

Am I able to assume that life in Indiana was better than in Michigan for Mary? Was her relationship with Frank Banner happier than her relationship with John Kijak? It would appear that the answer to both of these questions would be "no".

My mother's aunt, Anna Kijak, told my mother that Mary had a very sad and unhappy life without any kind of caring or sharing in her two relationships with both men being unkind, cold and mentally abusive. I can only hope neither was physically abusive as well but Aunt Anna never mentioned that.

In late 1917, Mary became ill in South Bend. Rather than caring for his partner himself, Frank Banner called Aunt Anna in Detroit where she and her husband were living, told her that her mother was ill and made the command "come and get her". Again, Aunt Anna personally told my mother this information. Aunt Anna and her husband, Uncle Ted, made the trip to South Bend from Detroit and she brought her mother back to Detroit to care for her.

Mary Kijak passed away at their home at 500 Piper in Detroit on April 25, 1918. On her death certificate her place of birth is now listed as Gniezno, Germany and her age was 42 years, giving her a birth year of 1875. She was buried in Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery on East McNichols and Van Dyke on the east side of Detroit.

Following her death, her children with Frank Banner were divided between Aunt Anna and Aunt Rose with a few of the sons remaining with their father, Frank Banner.

Over the years of my research, I have accumulated the following diversity of information on my great-grandmother, Mary Rubisz:

(1) She was born on December 25th either in 1875, 1876 or 1877.

(2) Her place of birth has been shown to be (a) Zczierzany, Gniemenski, Poland, (b) Gniezno, Germany, (c) Wierzbiczany, Gniezno, Poland.

(3) Her surname has been shown to be spelled as (a) Rubisz, (b) Rubis, (c) Rubish.

(4) She was either 13, 14 or 15 years old at the time of her marriage.

In the late 1980's, I contacted a professional genealogist in Salt Lake City to try to ascertain just what the place of birth for Mary Rubisz would have been. I had been successful in finding most of the villages of birth of my other ancestors but was stumped with this one. I sent all the information I had to this researcher and 1 1/2 YEARS later she contacted me and told me that the village of birth of my great-grandmother would be correctly listed as:

Jeziorzany, district Gniezno, province Poznan, Poland. She further stated that this was a very tiny village and that the Roman Catholic parish that served this village was located in Dziekanowice.

In 1993 I visited Germany when my brother and his family were living there during one of my brother's tours while in the US Army. Together we decided to visit all our ancestral villages that I had knowledge of which totaled 18. Over a 3 week period we traveled, in my brother's US van of great age and mileage, over 3,000 miles between what was the former DDR, into Poland and all the way east to Gdansk. We located all the villages that we were searching for but could not find any location for our Rubisz family. With maps, atlases and my sister-in-law's uncanny ability to pinpoint the most minute villages with the worst possible maps, we were still unable to locate any place coming close to the village of our Rubisz family.

Growing up, none of the above information about my mother's grandmother was ever discussed with family members. Neither my grandfather nor my grandmother ever spoke about Mary. But then I must admit that they never really spoke about any of their parents.

My mother grew up knowing her Banner aunt and uncles but assumed that her grandparents Kijak had divorced and her grandmother had remarried to Frank Banner. When my grandfather passed away in 1960, his half sister and half brothers all came from South Bend to St. Joseph for his funeral. The two families did stay connected and had a familial relationship over the years.

When I began my research, I struggled to find the death certificate of Mary which I assumed would be listed as Mary Banner. Nothing of course could be found as that was not her surname. It was only after my mother visited her Aunt Anna, who at the time was living in Florida (she lived to be 101 years old), that my mother learned more of the facts. Aunt Anna shared the information that her mother, Mary, had died in Detroit and was buried in "that old Catholic cemetery" and that her death certificate would show her name as "Mary Kijak".

With that information, I quickly received her death certificate from Lansing, found the cemetery to be Mt. Olivet and paid a visit there. The staff were more than willing to look up her death record and directed me to the grave site where there was no gravestone nor had there ever been.

This bothered me and I could not get past the fact that my great-grandmother, Mary Kijak, was lying in a single grave, far removed from her family members and that nobody even knew she was there to come and visit her. I visited a local monument shop that very day and selected a gravestone to have placed on her grave which remains there.

I can only hope that she is truly resting in peace now and that she somehow knows that her great-granddaughter thinks often of her.

Above photos personal property of Cheryl Schulte

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From Whence I Came...Emilie Auguste Christina Schluessler

Emilie Auguste Christina Schluessler (known as Amelia) was born November 25, 1876 in Sterling Township, Macomb County, Michigan to William Schluessler and Emilie Werner (aka Emilie Schauer). She would one day become my paternal great-grandmother, mother of my grandmother, Ella Wellhausen Schulte. Amelia was the 5th and final child of William and Emilie Schluessler, however, hers was a special birth in that she appeared with a twin brother, Albert.

She would be the only great-grandparent that I actually knew as she did not pass away until I was 16 and I remember her well.

On December 3, 1876, Amelia was baptized in the Lutheran faith at St. John's Lutheran Church in Fraser, MI.

I don't have much information about her childhood or school years but I do have a photo of my great-grandmother in a school play. This photo was a tin type and scanned very well. The young man with her in the boat is unknown. Despite knowing my great-grandmother, I naturally knew her as an elderly person, and seeing her as a young girl was very interesting.

Amelia Schluessler in school play
ca 1890

On February 14, 1895, again at St. John's Lutheran Church in Fraser, Amelia married George Wellhausen. They had a wedding party of 3 couples and began their married life in Sterling Township, later moving to Utica, MI.

George and Amelia had two daughters - Gertrude and my grandmother, Ella, followed 10 years after Ella's birth by a son, George, Jr.

4 Generations
Ella Wellhausen Schulte holding son, Melbourne Schulte
William Schluessler and daughter, Amelia Schluessler Wellhausen
ca 1921

Mother and Daughter
Amelia Wellhausen &
Ella Schulte
ca 1925

George & Amelia Wellhausen with
grandson, Lynwood Wellhausen
ca 1935

While Amelia's husband, George, passed away in 1938 at a young age, she continued to live in Utica and later lived with her daughter, Gertrude
. She was very social and enjoyed being with friends and family, though one of her favorite things to do was to visit the cemetery where her husband was buried and sit and eat lunch there. Hmm, sounds spooky to me but it was known far and wide that "Great Grandma loved to go sit in the cemetery". Too bad she didn't utilize that time in the cemetery for genealogy research which she could have documented and shared with her great-granddaughter!

Amelia Wellhausen with adult children
Gertrude Kolberg, George Wellhausen, Jr. and
Ella Schulte
ca 1942

Amelia Wellhausen
as I remember her
ca 1950

Amelia Wellhausen with adult children
George Wellhausen, Jr., Gertrude Kolberg and
Ella Schulte
ca 1955

On May 25, 1963 in St. Clair Shores, MI, Amelia Wellhausen passed away at the age of 86 and was buried with her husband, George, in Utica Cemetery, Utica, MI.

While I can't say that she was any more of a loving grandmother than her daughter, Ella, was, she was always pleasant, smiled and never uttered a nasty comment about anyone. She had a good life, financial security and her grandchildren gave her pleasure. One could not ask for more.

Above photos from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From Whence I Came...August Gottlieb Kolberg

My maternal great-grandfather, August Gottlieb Colberg (Kolberg) was born on November 24, 1854 in Klein Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern. He was christened the following day, November 25, 1854, at the Evangelical Church in Groß Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern. His sponsors were (1) August Colberg-likely the brother of his father, (2) August Goll, (3) Helene Litwinke.

Jasia, please note this birth certificate from a German, Lutheran church is actually written in Polish which owes to the fact that the village is now part of Poland and the churchbooks are housed in the Catholic church there!

Birth Certificate of August Colberg
November 24, 1854

August was the 3rd son of Friedrich Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. and Henriette Amalie Kautz of Klein Tuchen. This couple would eventually have 12 children with 11 sons and 1 daughter. Four sons and the one daughter died in childhood with 7 sons living to adulthood.

On October 4, 1878, in Groß Tuchen, August was married to Bertha Kramp at the above named Evangelical Church.

Evangelical Church of Groß Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern

They had at least 3 children while still living in Germany with 2 of the children dying in infancy.

August, Bertha and 3 year old daughter, Hedwig, immigrated to America on the ship Lessing arriving at the port of Castle Garden in New York on November 28, 1883. They had traveled from the port of Hamburg in Germany, on to the port of Havre in France and then on to the US. Their name was spelled "Colberg" on the ship passenger list. Bertha's sister, Emilie Kramp, and Emilie's future husband, Friedrich Skibbe, also traveled with them on the same ship. Upon arriving in New York, they traveled on to Lincoln Township in Berrien County, MI to join August's younger brother, Heinrich, who had arrived a few years earlier.

Over the course of their years in the US, August and Bertha had a total of 6 more known children with one son dying in infancy. Times were hard, farming did not produce much income but the family still grew.

In 1903, August owned 17 acres of land in Lincoln Township according to a plat book in the St. Joseph Public Library, St. Joseph, MI. The farm, home and property were located on Cleveland Avenue between what is now Rockey Weed and Linco Roads in Lincoln Township (Stevensville). I have searched for this property and located it by going out Cleveland Avenue, towards the town of Baroda and found the property on the left side of Cleveland Avenue, the third farm before Linco Road.

By 1917, August was a laborer and tenant farmer with a house and lot on St. Joseph Avenue in Stevensville.

Besides farming, August was a cabinetmaker and made such items as coffins.

While I don't have much definitive information on his life, the facts that I do have don't display a very happy lifestyle for August & Bertha. While August and his 4 brothers all became farmers in Berrien County, August's farm was probably the least productive. His wife, Bertha, had to supplement the income by picking berries on farms of the other brothers and then selling them for additional income. It also did not help that August had a propensity for alcohol and his wife, Bertha, certainly did not have a happy life.

Bertha Kolberg passed away first on February 26, 1915 and, interestingly, each of the 5 Kolberg brothers lost their wives at early ages. It would appear that the hard work of farming alongside their husbands, coupled with the enormous number of children that they had, made the lives of the Kolberg spouses hard and short.

In later years, August lived with his daughter, Amelia Mielke, and her family in Stevensville...

August Kolberg
ca 1918
Stevensville, MI

until his death on April 24, 1920 in Stevensville. He and Bertha are buried in City Cemetery in St. Joseph, MI.

While I was growing up, my grandmother, Ella Kolberg Kijak, never shared any information with me on either of her parents. While she was the baby of their family and was undoubtedly special to her mother, it just was something she never discussed. I only have the two above photos of August and only the one of Bertha but I am pleased to have what items I do possess and to have the limited knowledge of my great-grandfather that has been shared with me.

Above photos/documents from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Sunday, November 15, 2009

From Whence I Came...Ella Anna Helene Wellhausen

Ella Anna Helene Wellhausen was my paternal grandmother, born on November 15, 1896 in Detroit, MI to George Wellhausen and Emilie Schluessler. She was their second daughter and a son followed 10 years later. While the family had originally lived in Sterling Township in Macomb County, Michigan where their first child was born, they had moved temporarily to Detroit to live with Emilie's sister and that is where my grandmother was born.

Interestingly, I don't know if my grandmother was even aware of being born in Detroit as she always swore to me that she was born in Sterling Township and was baptized at St. John's Lutheran Church in Fraser. She sent me on a good number of wild goose chases when I began my genealogy. Quite by accident, while researching my Feucht family and THEIR connection with Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit, I came upon the baptismal record of my grandmother showing she was indeed born in Detroit and baptized there as well. When I informed her of this she said she was never aware of it. She also told me that she could remember her mother speaking of the brief time the family had lived in Detroit with her mother's sister but she didn't realize that she was actually born there as well.

As young girls, Ella and her sister, Gertrude, took part in a dancing competition and were named the "Dancing Darlings of Macomb County". They certainly did look darling and their sisterly relationship lasted for Gertrude's entire life with Ella assuming caregiver duties when sister, Gertrude's, health declined.

Ella did grow up in Sterling Township with her older sister and younger brother. She attended St. John's Lutheran Church where she was confirmed but I have no idea where she actually went to school. Nor do I know how she met my grandfather, Elmer Schulte, when he was born and grew up in Detroit. I am guessing that it was through her Aunt Lena Herz in Detroit whose sons were friends of Elmer but I don't know that for certain.

Ella and Elmer were married on Christmas Eve, 1917 in Waco, TX before my grandfather shipped out to the War in Europe.

Ella Wellhausen Schulte
December 24, 1917
Waco, TX

During Elmer's time overseas, Ella lived with her father-in-law, Rudolph Schulte, and his wife, Elizabeth. Funny to see my grandmother doing some type of needlework, whether crocheting or knitting, as I never knew her to do any sewing of any type.

Elizabeth Feucht Schulte &
Ella Wellhausen Schulte
ca 1918
Detroit, MI

When Elmer returned, several years later, they began their family life in Detroit. Together they had three children - sons, Melbourne and Mylen (my father) and daughter, Marilyn. Their life was rather affluent. Both my grandparents inherited money from their parents and my grandmother never had to work outside her home.

Elmer & Ella Schulte
with son, Melbourne, ca 1922

Detroit, MI

Ella raised her children, belonged to several clubs and activities with other women friends and socialized with family frequently. She and Elmer had several very nice homes in various areas of Detroit

Elmer, Mylen & Ella Schulte
ca 1942
Detroit, MI

Elmer & Ella Schulte
w/son Melbourne & daughter, Marilyn
ca 1942
Detroit, MI

and in their later years they built a home on Springer Avenue in what was East Detroit, MI (now Eastpointe). When Ella's sister, Gertrude, needed assistance due to failing health, Ella and Elmer moved back to Detroit to Gertrude's home on Engleside Drive. While living there, my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on December 24, 1967.

Elmer & Ella Schulte
December 24, 1967
East Detroit, MI

They were living there when my grandfather passed away on January 21, 1968. Following his death, my grandmother continued to care for her sister until Gertrude had to be placed in a nursing home. At this time, as well, my grandmother rekindled a childhood relationship with a man who had also lost his wife. Within a few years of my grandfather's death, my grandmother married Robert Bloss who she had known when they were both 5 year old children. Their marriage was short lived as Robert was not in the best of health and he passed away soon after their marriage.

Ella continued her independent life in several apartments after the death of Robert. She maintained her own home, did her own cooking and cleaning and continued her activities with family and friends. She lived independently until the age of 90 when her fading memory forced her to enter a nursing home as well. On December 28, 1989, at the age of 93, my grandmother passed away and is buried, with my grandfather, in Gethsemane Cemetery in Detroit. Both her sister, Gertrude, and her much younger brother, George, had predeceased her.

I was fortunate enough to have known all 4 of my grandparents. My grandmother, Ella Schulte, I knew the best as I grew up in East Detroit and she and my grandfather lived there as well. While she was a good Christian person she was not what I would characterize as a loving grandmother. I really think that children annoyed her. She didn't like having children in her home and she complained royally about crumbs or disarray. My grandfather, on the other hand, was a wonderful loving grandfather. Memories of my grandmother are many but they are memories more of a gruff, unsmiling person who my grandfather tried at all times to soften up. I can remember the times he would grab her in a hug and kiss her only to have her gruffly push him away. It was something he never minded and his humor and good nature lasted his whole life. My grandmother's aloof, gruff ways continued through her entire life as well.

The one thing that she did do for me, though, was to initiate my love for genealogy. I can remember in 1977 that she showed me an onyx ring with a small diamond in the center. She told me that she had worn a diamond necklace on her wedding day in 1917 and that necklace had 3 diamonds in it. Over the years the necklace broke and she had the 3 stones set in 3 different black onyx rings. She actually gave me the ring and it started me questioning her about her ancestry, her parents, grandparents, etc. Once I began that, I was off and running on my research. I was fortunate that she remembered not only her parents but her grandparents and great grandparents as well and her memory was sharp. She did share much information with me over the years, though she tempered it with quite a bit of false information, that had me running down false leads. Her comments at those times were "you don't need to know the truth, just let sleeping dogs lie". Luckily I was able to discern the truth from the fiction and when confronted with my facts she would confirm my data. I do have to give her the credit for my love of genealogy and she did give me all my grandfather's war medals as well as the medals of my great-grandfather, funeral home guest books, photos and cemetery burial records. Initially she indicated to me that she was saving all these items for one of her grandsons, but as none of the three of them had any interest, she did finally allow me to take possession of the memorabilia and I am very grateful for that.

When all is said and done, while she was not a loving, affectionate grandmother, she was a good person and she led a very good life wanting for nothing. Her health was good, she had no undue financial problems and she was able to build a life that suited her.

Above photos from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Saturday, October 24, 2009

From Whence I Came...Rudolph Myer Schulte

My paternal great-grandfather, Rudolph Myer Schulte, was born October 24, 1869 in Beckum, Germany to Joseph M. Schulte and Alvina Tobin. Joseph, Alvina and Rudolph immigrated to the US on the ship "Holsatia" and arrived on April 24, 1872 when Rudolph was only a 2 1/2 year old young boy. The family settled in Detroit, MI where father, Joseph, carved a career as a blacksmith.

Very little information exists about Rudolph's childhood but I do have this photo of him at the age of 21

Rudolph Schulte-age 21

just prior to his marriage to my great-grandmother, Juliane Feucht. Their son, my grandfather Elmer M. Schulte, was born on August 4, 1894 in Detroit when Rudolph was working as a Detroit Fire Fighter.

Rudolph Schulte
Detroit Fire Fighter

At the age of 28 he enlisted in the US Navy and served aboard the USS Yosemite during the Spanish American War. His younger brother, Theodore, also served in the military as this photo of the two of them indicates.

Theodore & Rudolph Schulte

Rudolph did not spend a great deal of time in the US Navy as he was injured and returned home to Detroit where he continued to work as a Detroit Fire Fighter.

Between my genie cousin, TK and myself, we have extensively researched our mutual Schulte line back to Beckum and uncovered exciting data which TK has recorded on her blog, Before My Time. Despite all of our research, we have not been able to uncover an actual birth record for Rudolph from Beckum though we have found records from his father, grandfather and generations earlier. We have, though, spent a great deal of time and research effort in attempting to uncover the reasons for the oft-times recorded hyphenated surname in the Beckum records of Meier/Meyer/Myer-Schulte and have not yet ascertained just why this family surname contained the addition of the variant spellings of Meier. In my own family, I do know that the name of Meier (again with variant spellings) has shown up as the middle name of one male in each generation going back 6 generations to Rudolph's father, Joseph. When I questioned my grandmother about this years ago, she indicated that the name of Meier was "an old family name". More research will need to be done to solve this mystery.

In 1907, Rudolph lost his wife, Julie, to cancer and he was left with his son, Elmer age 12. Despite the fact that Julie was to have been his "beloved" wife (as my grandfather often told me his father referred to his mother), Rudolph wasted no time in marrying again. Within a few WEEKS he was married to Julie's older sister, Elizabeth, who had been widowed twice before and came to their marriage with 5 children of her own. In essence, my grandfather grew up with a step mother who was really his aunt, cousins who were half siblings and one half brother even assumed the surname of Schulte. Must have been an interesting household.

Over the years, besides being a Detroit Fire Fighter, Rudolph also worked selling insurance and perfected the early art of investing in real estate. At one time in the 1930's he owned 4 homes on Concord in Detroit - homes that he promised to each of his 3 grandchildren when they grew to adulthood. Unfortunately, these promises did not materialize as Rudolph's second wife, Elizabeth, died in 1938 and he immediately turned around and married a third time to a previously single woman, Mary Bender.

This photo is probably my last photo of Rudolph with his granddaughter, Marilyn, and Amelia Wellhausen-Marilyn's maternal grandmother. I was quite close to my Aunt Marilyn but due to her young age at the time of her grandfather's death, she did not remember much, if anything, about him.

Baby Marilyn Schulte with her grandparents,
Rudolph Schulte & Amelia Wellhausen

Rudolph passed away on April 1, 1940, a short time after his marriage to Mary and he is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit with her.

Elmwood Cemetery is a very old cemetery in Detroit, considered an historic site and quite beautiful though located in an area now that is best visited with a large, burly partner. Despite this, I do have the following photos of the cemetery and the gravestone of my great-grandfather.

Elmwood Cemetery
Detroit, MI

Elmwood Cemetery
Detroit, MI

Section I at Elmwood Cemetery
Detroit, MI

Gravestone of Rudolph Schulte
Elmwood Cemetery
Detroit, MI

I have thought often of what drove my great-grandfather during his life. My father and my uncle remember their grandfather well and can recount that he always had huge wads of money in his pockets which he would bring out and tease them with. They said he was a good grandfather but their "grandmother" (as they referred to wife, #2) was very solemn and not a grandmotherly type. I have always felt a kinship to my great-grandmother, Julie, and am just amazed that Rudolph would have chosen to remarry just a few weeks after her death. While I know that men in those years did not want to be "alone" raising their children following the early deaths of wives, Rudolph did not have a baby to raise as my grandfather was already 12. Family stories have indicated that Julie's sister, Elizabeth, initiated the marriage prompting Rudolph to combine their families. I have to chuckle and say "sure" - she had 5 children to raise and having a husband with considerable financial savvy did not hurt. For whatever reason, they were married many years and it must have been a beneficial arrangement and the children of Elizabeth remained close to my grandfather, Elmer, following the deaths of their parents.

Above photos/documents from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Saturday, August 8, 2009

From Whence I Came...Ella Emma Louise Kolberg

My maternal grandmother, Ella Emma Louise Kolberg, was born August 8, 1895 in Stevensville, MI to August Kolberg and Bertha Kramp. I believe that she was probably named in part for her Aunt Ella Kramp and her Uncle Louis Kramp with her uncle being one of her godparents at the time of her baptism. Ella was the last of the children of August and Bertha Kramp and had 5 older siblings still living. There was such a disparity in age between herself and her eldest sister that in later years they were mistaken for mother and daughter rather than sisters which did not please her sister at all.

The August Kolberg family had a small farm in Stevensville during the early years of my grandmother's life. She was baptized at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Stevensville and attended school there as well. When she was confirmed, it was also at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

Ella Kolberg-confirmation

Family life was not easy in my grandmother's household. The farming her parents did was not enough to produce income to live comfortably. As a child, my grandmother often accompanied her mother to the neighboring farms of other Kolberg family members, where they were allowed to pick berries which they then brought home to their farm to sell. In addition, her father, August Kolberg, had a propensity for drinking and life was not pleasant. I must say, though, that I never heard any of this from my grandmother but rather from elder cousins of hers when I began genealogy research in earnest and after my grandmother was already deceased.

Over the years, my grandmother had some interesting experiences. While I could write about the dates of importance to her life, her marriage, raising her own family, etc much has already been written in my post on my grandfather, Joseph Kijak, and my grandmother's mother, Bertha Kramp. Instead I am going to list some of the experiences that my grandmother had in her life.

1. As a 14 year old she was sent from the farm to the city of St. Joseph to live with a wealthy family where she worked as a maid and lived in their home. When I think of that - 14 years old - I am amazed. While today a trip from Stevensville to St. Joe might take 15 minutes tops, in those days it was necessary for my grandmother to "live in" at her employer's home. She told the story about how one time the home was robbed and when the police came out to investigate they had to go through everything in the home. In the closet of my grandmother's bedroom she had a cardboard box in which she stored those 'delicate' items that women of the day had to use during those once/month occurrences. These items had to be hand washed and dried to be used over and over and the police had quite an eye full when they dumped out my grandmother's stash of female products. She liked to laugh about that in later years but said she was mortified at the time.

2. As a 16 year old young lady she was dating a particular young man who she never identified to me but she did tell the story of going on his motorcycle for a ride through the countryside, something she said her father would have been livid about. On this ride, she recounted that she fell, down a long hill and never was inclined to get on a motorcycle again. Gosh, she was a daredevil.

3. She went to work at Cooper-Wells Hosiery Mill prior to her marriage in 1914. When she actually began that job, I don't know but it was at that job that she met my grandfather and their marriage took place on June 17, 1914 at the parsonage at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Joseph.

4. On August 8, 1914, she received a poignant letter from her mother, Bertha Kramp Kolberg, written to Ella on "your first birthday as a married woman". I have this letter today and it is amazing to see how it has been preserved for 96 years. I can see my great-grandmother writing that letter to her youngest daughter.

5. On February 26, 1915, while pregnant with her first baby, Ella lost HER mother when Bertha Kolberg passed away in Kalamazoo, MI. This was probably a very hard time for her to lose her mother at the time she would have needed her the most.

6. In April, 1918, while pregnant with her second baby, Ella lost her mother-in-law when Mary Kijak passed away in Detroit, MI. I have often thought how both my grandmother's pregnancies must have been fraught with grief and loss.

7. Ella and Joseph moved many times from home to home before settling on a farm on Cleveland Avenue in St. Joseph where my mother was born in 1925 and my mother's brother in 1926. This was their first purchase of a home and my grandparents worked the farm together. However, the depression came and in 1929, they lost their home and their farm. They moved their family into the City of St. Joe proper and for years moved from rental home to rental home.

8. During the years from 1929-1940, Ella ran her home, raised her 4 children, added to the family with the addition of her father-in-law and uncle-in-law who lived with them as well. In addition, my grandparents took in boarders and my grandmother fed and did all the laundry for this large group of people. In addition to her work at home, she also took employment at the Manley Resort on Langley Avenue in St. Joe as kitchen help, washing dishes. While this resort is now gone, there is a Manley Street at this location. She later worked during these years as a maid at the Whitcomb Hotel in St. Joseph. She certainly knew the meaning of hard work but did so at all times with a sunny disposition. While working at the Whitcomb she cut her finger on something she was cleaning and developed a deep infection which would not heal. She later visited the house doctor at the Whitcomb for an exam. He asked her if "she played the piano" and she replied "no" and his response was "then you won't care if I cut the finger off at the first joint". Needless to say, she didn't let him near her and went to another physician in town who was able to save her finger.

Ella with Eloris & Leslie Kijak
USS Theodore Roosevelt
on a voyage from St. Joe to Chicago, IL
ca 1934

Joseph & Ella Kijak family
ca 1943
St. Joseph, MI

9. Ella was also very active in her church during these years and made sure that her children and husband attended as well. All 4 of her children were confirmed in the Lutheran faith, her husband converted from his Catholic faith at the beginning of their marriage and her two youngest children attended the Lutheran grade school as well. Ella took part in many activities at the church including Ladies Aid, where she held offices, Lutheran Women's Missionary League, sewing projects and the making of cancer dressings. She also sewed at home and began a sideline of making craft items and doll clothes some of which I have to this day. I can remember one room in her home filled with supplies for her craft projects and she always had a project or ten going on at one time.

10. During WWII, all three of Ella's sons served in the Armed Forces and she proudly displayed their photos in uniform on her living room wall along with a photo of my mother. Her six grandchildren's photos were displayed in another area of the living room as well.

11. One story she told about her years renting rooms in her home involved the time one of her renters was found to be involved in counterfeiting. After the man vacated the room, my grandmother found supplies left behind that indicated the counterfeiting of coin. The man was later apprehended and my grandmother had to go to federal court in Kalamazoo to testify against him.

12. After the death of her husband in 1960, Ella continued her activities. She continued, as well, to have renters in her home; fortunately the entrance to the second floor was separate from the entrance to her home itself so there was safety but there were several renters that she had to evict and she did so with gumption.

My grandmother stayed in her own home, alone, for over 10 years after my grandfather died and then was able to secure an apartment in a newly built senior citizens complex. She moved into her little "doll house" as she called her 14th floor apartment and lived there for the rest of her life until she passed away on May 29, 1973.

Ella & Joseph Kijak

My memories of my grandmother are many. She was the sweetest and kindest person ever and I was extremely close to her. While she had very little finances, she was happy and positive her entire life. I am pleased, even at this time, when I see people here in St. Joseph who tell me they remember my grandmother and recount wonderful stories about her. She was truly the best grandmother that any person could ask for.

Above photos-personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

From Whence I Came...Elmer Meyer Schulte

My paternal grandfather, Elmer Meyer Schulte, was born August 4, 1894 in Detroit, Michigan to Rudolph Meyer Schulte and Juliane Feucht. He was their only child, though they had lost an infant daughter two years earlier.

While I don't have many details of his early childhood, many photos exist of those years. I do know that he and his parents lived in Detroit, that his father went off to the Spanish American War in 1898 when Elmer was just 4 and that his mother and he were extremely close.

The 1900 Detroit census shows this family below.

In 1906, this family photo of the Rudolph & Julie Schulte family was taken and it is my most prized genealogical photo...

...because in January, 1907, following the taking of the above photo, Elmer's mother, Juliane, passed away of cancer, leaving a 12 year old boy without a mother. My grandfather told me many times when I was growing up how much he had loved his mother and how he had missed her terribly after her death.

His father didn't waste too much time, though, in marrying again - just a few short weeks - which just amazes me when I think of it. By February, 1907, following the January 14th death of his beloved wife, Rudolph Schulte had married Juliane's sister, Elizabeth, who had been widowed twice. Elizabeth came into the family with 4 children from her first marriage and a son from her second marriage giving my grandfather many cousins (or step siblings) to share a home with.

The 1910 Detroit census shows this combined family living on Concord Avenue in Detroit.

During the start of WWI, my grandfather enlisted in the Army and was stationed in San Antonio, TX. Prior to shipping off to Europe, his fiance (my future grandmother), Ella Wellhausen, made a secret journey to Texas and returned to Michigan a married woman. How my grandparents had met is a mystery but it is thought that they met through Ella's aunt who lived in Detroit and whose sons were good friends of Elmer. In any event, Ella, snuck off to Texas, with the above mentioned aunt, in order to wish her beloved Elmer farewell prior to leaving for France and when she returned, a married woman, her parents were none too happy and her mother was not that happy with her own sister - the above named aunt. Ahh, rebellious children in the early 1900's!!

Their marriage, though, which took place on Christmas Eve, 1917, did last just a month over 50 years and was a happy one.

My grandmother was a no-nonsense, tough, outspoken person in my memory so I have no doubt that she eagerly took this trip to Texas with the intent of becoming married. In any event, Elmer shipped off to Europe, was injured, was awarded the Purple Heart and they did not see each other for over 2 years.

Upon his return from the War, Elmer and Ella set up a home on Hendricks Avenue in Detroit as evidenced in the 1920 Detroit census.

In 1920, son Melbourne Meyer was born, followed in 1923 by my father, Mylen, and in 1928 by daughter, Marilyn. In 1930, the family lived on Strasburg in Detroit and Elmer was a driver for Bond Bread. As a child in the 1950's I can still remember him bringing us little loaves of bread from his Bond Bread company.

Through the years, my grandparents had a good life, they both inherited some money at the deaths of their respective parents and their life was more affluent than my maternal grandparents. Through it all, they had a strong faith and were active in their church and in the community. Though they only had 4 grandchildren, I was the only granddaughter and while my grandfather was loving and kind to all 4 of us, I like to think he had a special place in his heart for me. I can remember him driving me to and from school as my parents worked, he would bring me home to his house until my parents could pick me up from school, he spent time with me asking me about my day and having a genuine interest in what I was doing and thinking.

In December, 1967, my grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversary with a renewal of their wedding vows and a large party.

A little over one month later, on January 21, 1968, my grandfather passed away after a sudden and unexpected heart attack.

He and my grandmother are buried in Gethsemane Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan on a family plot.

I was extremely close to my grandfather; he was very special to me and when he died, I remember my grandmother telling me at the funeral home "your special buddy is gone". He was a sweet, kind, gentle grandfather who never raised his voice and always showed his love to me. I spent much time during my youth in my grandparent's home and the memories of my grandfather remain with me to this day. I have many keepsakes of his, his metals and honors from his service in WWI, numerous photos but the most important thing I still carry with me is my memory of my grandfather.

Above photos & documents - personal collection of Cheryl Schulte