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