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


Brian said...

Have you ever seen the name spelled as "Szulta"? I have some Szultas in my tree (Milwaukee) that I sometimes see as "Schulte" since I assume that's how it was pronounced.

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Brian for the comment, but I have never seen this surname spelled as Szulta. Interesting, though.