Wednesday, December 1, 2010

There's One In Every Family..

..A Favorite Teacher

It has been many years since I was in school - many, many years - but I still remember each and every one of my teachers. I had a 100% Lutheran education with 8 years at St. Peter's Lutheran School in East Detroit, MI followed by 4 years at Lutheran High School East in Harper Woods, MI. My high school has now been closed, the building demolished and today I read in the paper that Ford Auditorium in Detroit, where my high school graduation was held, is going to be demolished as well. There will be no physical reminders of my school days.

However, I do have memories of one special teacher. Actually most of my teachers were pretty good. I do specifically remember a rather unkind second grade teacher who scared me, but other than her, my teachers were decent.

But my third grade teacher was the best! I remember her well.

It was the summer preceding my entrance into third grade. It was the custom at St. Peter's in those days that the teachers visited each of their students the summer prior to the start of school. This was the day that I was expecting my third grade teacher to visit and I knew her name was Miss Margaret Johnson.

Early afternoon I was playing with my friends. We had strung a clothesline from the side door of my house, across the driveway and attached it to the neighbor's fence. We had all our little doll clothes hanging there to dry but quickly got tired of that project and decided to ride our bikes instead. But our bikes were in the garage and the clothesline was in the way.

My little brother got the idea that he would stand at the clothesline and hold it up so we could all ride our bikes under. He was only about 4 at the time. My friends all rode their bikes under the clothesline but I picked up my head too soon, the clothesline caught me at the neck and my bike fell into the side door, breaking the glass and cutting my face badly.

Blood was everywhere and my mother was panicked. I was screaming, sure I was dying and the neighbor lady came over and together they bandaged me up. What a sight I must have been for Miss Johnson when she visited later in the afternoon. But she was so sweet and sympathetic and I think I fell in love with her then.

By the time school started, her name had changed. She was now Mrs. Margaret B and had recently married. Third grade was going to be fun, I was sure. I can still remember my second floor classroom, how our seats were arranged and how kind, complimentary and patient a teacher she was.

Although I was the most sedate and quiet child there was, I had another incident during the school year. We were out on the playground and I was standing still, minding my own business when a boy student ran into me, knocked me over and I passed out. The next thing I knew I was waking up IN the classroom ON the second floor and all the students were sitting staring at me asking me "what is your name"? Mrs. B called my mother who came over, panicked and took me home. Mrs. B was so concerned and checked often on me before I returned to school but I suffered no lasting effects.

Later in the year, another girl student suffered a similar incident, suffered a concussion and was out of school even longer. My goodness, us little third grade girls were tough on poor Mrs. B.

At the end of the school year, Mrs. B was gone. I never knew why and the years went by. Over those years I learned that Mrs. B's husband was a
noted composer of church music and a concert organist and I did follow his career as well as I could before the Internet.

A few years ago I was pleased to hear that Mr. Donald B was going to be coming to my church in St. Joseph, MI to perform an organ concert. I was hopeful that his wife would be accompanying him. The church choir was going to be performing as well and my mother, a member of the choir, spoke to Mr. B. and learned that his wife could not be present.

I wrote a letter to Mrs. Margaret B, attended the concert and at the social hour following I introduced myself to Mr. Donald B, told him his wife was my third grade teacher at St. Peter's Lutheran School in East Detroit and that I had this letter for him to give her. He was gracious and pleasant and told me that my class was the only class that his wife had ever taught, that they had started their own family that year and now had 6 children and many grandchildren. He did take my letter and told me his wife would be pleased to receive it.

Since that time, I have enjoyed a correspondence with Mrs. B. She and her husband, who has recently retired, live in Ohio. I had joked with her in my first letter that perhaps she had given up teaching because the girls in the class were so accident prone and gave her angst but she answered that we were the best experience she could have asked for and she frequently thinks of her class. Our class had recently had a confirmation reunion and I had a photo of about 20 of her former students as adults and I framed the 4 x 6 photo, sent it to her and she was pleased to have it. To this day, she remarks on the photo when she writes me.

At this time, her grandson's future wife is the organist and choir director at my church. Their family is planning a 2011 reunion in St. Joseph for the summer of next year and I am hopeful that I will be able to see her again at that time.

I wrote her recently to tell her that I had retired this year. Her remark was "do you know how old I feel in knowing that my former student is retiring". She has sent me photos of herself and her family and she remains my favorite teacher. What a joy to have reconnected with her after all these years.

There's One in Every Family..

..Special Holiday Traditions

Every family has their special holiday traditions and memories. Perhaps they date back to our childhood, and as we mature and have our own households, we try to duplicate those memories. Others forgo continuing their childhood traditions and carve out new ones for their families.

In my family, I can remember distinctly one yearly holiday over all the others. No, it was not Christmas but rather Easter. My mother's family lived in St. Joseph, MI on the western side of the state, and while I was born and baptized there, we moved to the Detroit suburbs when I was a toddler. Each Easter, though, we returned to St. Joe for our family holiday.

My mother was one of 4 children. One of her brothers lived with his family locally and her other two brothers lived in the suburbs of Chicago. They were all always the first to arrive at my grandparents' home on the day before Easter. My father needed to be at his barber shop on that Saturday and my mother would load the car with our suitcases, myself and my brother and we would drive to the barber shop to pick him up at his closing time of 6 p.m. My mother most definitely could not forget the Easter baskets that we kept at our house but which my grandmother would fill in St. Joe. Sometimes we had to wait for my father to finish his last customers but we were usually on the road by 6:15 p.m.

On I-94 we went and 3 hours later we were arriving at my grandparents' home. Even though it could be as late as 9:30 my grandmother always had a chicken dinner awaiting us. She bought only fresh chicken to roast and what a difference from the poultry we buy today. There is nothing more prominent in my memory than the smells in her house when entering while she had dinner cooking.

My grandparents lived in an old frame home in downtown St. Joe. The home had two bedrooms on the main floor and four on the second floor. My parents always received the extra main floor bedroom and my cousin, Jeanine, and I were lucky to have a second floor bedroom. We always felt like grown ups when we were upstairs in our own little area. The two sets of aunts and uncles also took the two other bedrooms on the second floor and my little brother and Jeanine's little brother, Mike, got to sleep on the couch in the living room.

My grandparents had little money but it didn't matter. When I was 12 my grandfather passed away and my one uncle and his family had moved to California. But the two Illinois uncles and their families and our family continued the Easter trip to St. Joe.

My grandmother outdid herself with decorating the house. Her cut glass punch bowl sat on the buffet and sparkled for us to enjoy.

Cut glass punch bowl of Ella Kijak

She put together her hand made Easter egg tree and had that displayed on the buffet as well. I now have both the punch bowl and the Easter eggs to cherish.

Easter egg tree with homemade eggs by Ella Kijak
Antique Easter baskets behind tree

We all sat up late on Easter eve talking and visiting but finally we were off to our respective rooms for sleep (and more giggling with our cousins).

On Easter morning grandma would arise at 5 a.m. (with little sleep) and walk downtown to Wilson's Bakery which was on State Street. She wanted to be the first to arrive so that she could select the best coffee cakes and muffins for our breakfast. She worked on a huge breakfast for all of us as we sat in her dining room around her huge table. When we came to the table we noted our Easter baskets were now filled with chocolate covered eggs, marshmallows, colored eggs and a present for each of us. I remember one year Jeanine and I received little glass covered dishes with mine in the shape of a deer and hers in the shape of a bunny. The covers came off to reveal a little jar of dusting powder. Again, grandma had little money but knew how to find just the right presents to please us. Another year, much earlier, I remember receiving a cylinder shaped box with crayons and a sharpener. I think the love that went into the gifts was what made us cherish them so much.

I don't have those gifts anymore but I do have the little lamb stuffed animal that she made me and I put it out each Easter on my buffet.

After breakfast it was off to church for all of us and grandma was so proud to have her whole family there to accompany her. One year the church was so full that we were forced to have to sit on folding chairs in the basement where the church piped the service in (the church wishes today to have such attendance). The uncles (and my father) did not appreciate the basement seating and after that we made sure that we arrived at church at least 30 minutes before the Easter service.

Back home after church and grandma, the aunts and my mother with Jeanine and myself set to work finishing the dinner of ham, potatoes, vegetables, relish trays, home made crescent rolls (that took two days to make) and pies, pies, pies - all handmade by grandma. There were even Easter cut-out cookies for us to enjoy though I have to admit that my grandmother had a preference for anise in her cookies and the taste did not excite me. But her pies were heavenly.

As a centerpiece each Easter my grandmother made her special Lamb cake. She had this mold that involved a special recipe (and much fiddling around to not knock off the lamb's ears, etc) and she would make a yellow cake, frost it with white frosting and cover in coconut. Again, it was a sight to see, though not liking coconut, I don't remember ever tasting the cake.

I now have the mold and have made lamb cakes the last few years myself but have chosen to make a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I have even named the cake as "Lucy Lamb". Don't ask me where the name came from; I have no idea.

Lucy Lamb Easter Cake
Antique vase with hyacinths
Both cake mold and vase from Ella Kijak

Following dinner, all the women chipped in to do the dishes and clean up the dining room while the men did what men do - watched television. In those days, I remember, men did nothing in the way of chipping in and cleaning up or certainly the ones in my mother's family did not.

The afternoon went by quickly with talking, visiting, snacking and by 7 pm or so my father was ready to make the trip back to Detroit. He was never one for taking an extra day off from the barber shop-being self employed dictated that.

It always seemed that the week-end went by so quickly. The aunts and uncles had a much shorter trip back to the suburbs of Chicago and didn't leave as soon but off we went, waving good-bye and wishing the week-end could have lasted longer. We would be back in the summer to visit our grandmother but this was our one time to visit with our aunts, uncles and cousins. My grandmother always stood outside and waved to us until we could not see her any longer and we were back on I-94 for the trip home.

Ella Kijak with roses
St. Joseph, MI

Many years have gone by since those Easter memories. My grandparents are both gone. My father and all of my uncles are gone. Even my special little cousin, Jeanine, is gone, dying way too soon in her early 40's of cancer. My mother and I are living back in St. Joe now and try to replicate those Easters as best we can with the keepsakes that we still have.

Easter definitely was that one special holiday in my family.

Above photos from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Sunday, November 28, 2010

There's One In Every Family...

...The Jokester!

When Jasia announced her topic for the 100th Carnival of Genealogy, I struggled with what to write on the subject "There's One In Every Family". Cousin, TK, of Before My Time was visiting and we were going through my photos of our mutual Schulte family. TK came across some interesting photos of one member of my family and she strongly suggested that I base my blog post on this relative. So, TK gets the credit for the decision and I will do my best to do the subject justice.

In my Schulte family, the men were known for their sense of humor. My grandfather, Elmer Schulte, had a good sense of humor and my father did as well when he was in the mood. But the one with the outstanding sense of humor and ability for joking around is my Uncle Mel.

Melbourne M. Schulte was born on September 27, 1920 in Detroit, MI to Elmer M. Schulte and Ella A. Wellhausen. He was their firstborn child and came along in their third year of marriage after my grandfather's return from WWI. Evidently my grandparents had the camera and the means to take multiple photos because many exist of my uncle as a baby and a young child.

As other children came into their family, their photo taking diminished some but this photo, taken in 1935, shows what a prankster my uncle was becoming. Here he is shown with his tongue out while his brother and sister are looking appropriately serious. When I told him recently about this photo, he laughed and said "I was such a pistol".

Melbourne, Mylen & Marilyn Schulte
Detroit, MI

In 1940 both my uncle and my father got jobs as ushers at the old Rialto Theater on Gratiot Avenue and Mt. Elliott in Detroit. Here they are looking serious in their uniforms standing outside the theater.

Melbourne & Mylen Schulte
Rialto Theater, Detroit, MI

My uncle reported that his favorite part of his ushering job was when he went up and down the aisles of the theater shining his flashlight down the rows of seats. He did admit to me that if there were pretty girls in the row he would shine his flashlight on their legs. He evidently found just such an interesting pair of legs because he chose the young woman to be his wife and they were married November 15, 1941.

Virginia, nee Reske & Melbourne Schulte
Detroit, MI

And, where did they go on their honeymoon? Why, November 15th is the start of deer hunting in Michigan and my uncle, an avid hunter, did just that - taking his new bride up north in Michigan while he and his uncle went hunting all day. My aunt loves to tell the story that she sat in the cabin with her husband's aunt while the men hunted and this was her memorable honeymoon. And, each anniversary that followed? Why off deer hunting again.

I like to tell my uncle that he is lucky that my aunt stuck with him with his romantic ways. They both just laugh about it now but I wonder if she was doing a lot of laughing in the early years of their marriage!

With WWII in progress, both my uncle and my father enlisted in the Armed services with my uncle enlisting in the US Navy and my father in the US Army Air Corps. Both young men left for their duty on the same day at different locations and my grandmother told the story that they took one son off to the war and took the other son in a different direction off to the war as well on the same day causing her much anguish. My uncle also left behind his wife who was expecting their first child.

In December of 1943, my aunt and uncle became parents of a baby boy and the American Red Cross got their signals crossed and sent the notification of birth to my father instead of to my uncle. The postcard read "Congratulations on the birth of your new son. May be prove to be as fine of a citizen as you are a soldier". My father was understandably confused by this message and it took the Red Cross some time to get the message delivered to the true father in the Pacific.

Upon his return from the service, my uncle playfully posed for a photo with his father, Elmer Schulte. My his strength must have been great to be able to lift his father off the ground like this.

Melbourne & Elmer Schulte
ca 1945
Detroit, MI

Proud father with his son, they posed for this photo in 1947; in 1948 when I was born, this special uncle became my godfather.

Melbourne, Jr. & Melbourne, Sr. Schulte
Detroit, MI

In 1956, my uncle decided to show off his strength again by lifting his uncle, George Wellhausen, off the ground. I would like to tell him that it is obvious to me why NOW he is suffering from back problems. Should have left these full grown men standing on the ground by themselves.

Melbourne Schulte & George Wellhausen
East Detroit, MI

Over the years his sense of humor and joke playing has made him loved by all. I have never seen him angry, never heard him scream or shout and his motto is that family is important, everyone should love each other and accept them as they are, though he can get pretty animated over US politics and politicians I will admit!

On September 27, 2010, my uncle turned 90 years of age. He told me that in church on the 26th of September he decided to go to the front of the church and make an announcement. He has no problem with shyness and up he walked where the minister asked him what he wished to share with the congregation. He told me that he stated that "tomorrow I will be 90 years of age and I never thought my wife and I would be here that long and on the 15th of November we will celebrate 68 years of marriage and I think I should get the Medal of Honor for this long marriage". He received much applause and laughter for this announcement and was proud to share it with me.

I, though, hastened to tell him that in reality his 2010 anniversary would be their 69th anniversary and not their 68th. Back and forth we went on the phone with my aunt getting in her opinion as well and they both insisted it was going to be 68 years. I reminded them they were married in 1941 (like I was even there!!) and they agreed it was 1941 and I stated that it would be 69 years as this is 2010.

My uncle's response? "Oh, my God now I have to go and stand up in church next Sunday and tell the congregation I made a mistake and shortchanged my wife by a year".

I am sure he did just that to another rousing laugh and round of applause from the members.

Today my aunt and uncle live in Arizona where my aunt is 92 and my uncle 90. He is my aunt's primary caregiver as her physical health has deteriorated but her mental health is sharp and her memory is intact (other than her memory of her years of marriage, of course!). He maintains his sense of humor and tells me some of the conversations he has with neighbors, church friends, bank tellers and others in their town in Arizona.

And I don't think he looks all that bad for his age. A sense of humor and positive attitude do help for sure.

Melbourne Schulte
2005 (85 years of age)
Sierra Vista, AZ

Above photos from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Monday, November 1, 2010

Religious Rites in my Family

Religion has played a major part in my life and in the lives of my family and ancestors. Throughout my 35+ year mission of tracing my family history I have discovered diversities of faiths and church affiliations but a definite pattern of religious lives.

Dating back to the 1600's in Bavaria, my paternal Bauer and Feucht ancestors were definitely of the Evangelical Lutheran faith and continued that pattern when arriving in the US. Once in Detroit, they attended Trinity Lutheran Church (now Historic Trinity) and my great-great grandparents, Johann Jacob Feucht and Magdalena Helena Bauer were one of the first couples married in that church on February 20, 1859. All of their children were baptized and confirmed at Trinity as well.

My paternal Schulte family from Beckum, Westphalia, Germany were of the Catholic faith while in Germany, and according to records found from those years, they were members of St. Stephanus Catholic Church. There still remains a church in Beckum with that name, and whether that is the same parish that served my Schulte ancestors, I don't know. Upon arriving in the US, though, some of the family switched to following the Lutheran faith while others remained Catholic.

My paternal Wellhausen/Schluessler family, with information that I have found dating back to the early 1700's, continually practiced the Evangelical Lutheran faith while in Germany and continued that when arriving in this country.

On my mother's side, we also had a diversity of faiths. My mother's paternal line were Polish and Roman Catholic and continued that in this country. Her maternal line, from Bütow, Pommern, were Evangelical Lutheran and remain that to this day.

Here are some examples of my family members during their various confirmations, with one baptismal example as well.

My paternal grandfather, Elmer M. Schulte, was born on August 4, 1894 in Detroit, MI. Here he is at his baptism in his Lutheran church later that same year.

Elmer Schulte
Baptism - 1894
Detroit, MI

My paternal grandmother, Ella A. Wellhausen, was born on November 15, 1896 in Detroit and was confirmed in the Lutheran faith in Fraser, MI.

Ella Wellhausen
Fraser, MI

My maternal grandfather, Joseph Kijak, was born on August 3, 1892 in Bay City, MI and was baptized as a Catholic at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, also in Bay City. After marrying my grandmother, he took confirmation lessons to become Lutheran and was confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Joseph, MI as an adult on March 26, 1920.

Joseph Kijak
Confirmation - 1920
St. Joseph, MI

My maternal grandmother, Ella A. Kolberg, was born on August 8, 1895 in Stevensville, MI and was confirmed in the Lutheran faith at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Joseph.

Ella Kolberg
St. Joseph, MI

My maternal grandparents raised their 4 children in the Lutheran faith, all were baptized and confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Joseph, MI where my mother and I still belong. I am the 5th generation of my mother's family to have been a member of this particular congregation. My mother was confirmed at this church in 1939 and she organized a 60 year reunion of her confirmation class in 1999 where many attended from around the country.

Eloris Kijak
Confirmation - 1939
St. Joseph, MI

My paternal grandparents raised their 3 children in the Lutheran faith as well and attended both First English Lutheran Church in Detroit and later Mt. Zion Lutheran also in Detroit. First English has now relocated to Grosse Pointe, MI and Mt. Zion was disbanded some years ago. My uncle and my aunt are shown here at their respective confirmations.

Melbourne Schulte
Detroit, MI

Marilyn Schulte
(with parents Elmer & Ella Schulte
and brother, Melbourne Schulte)

Detroit, MI

My father, also, was confirmed at First English Lutheran Church in Detroit. I do not have an individual confirmation photo of his but do have this fantastic group photo of his entire class including the minister. This always draws a laugh when I see the photo because of the "unique" expression on my father's face. Take a look and see if you can pick him out of this group.

Confirmation Class of 1937
First English Lutheran Church
Detroit, MI

Mylen Schulte
Bottom row, far right

That's right, he is indeed the young boy in the bottom row on the far right. Guess he wasn't having a good day that day. I would bet he wanted to get home and listen to the Tigers on the radio!

Above photos from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Whose Mother Are You?

I love old photos and portraits. I certainly don't have enough of such items from my ancestors though I do have some good ones. I love all the ones I have and treasure them.

That is why it is beyond me when I go into an antique store or visit an estate sale that I see old photos and portraits for sale. I just can't understand why people would be willing to part with such objects reflecting their heritage.

I have a good friend, Karen, who loves antiques. After a long career as an executive secretary at Whirlpool Corp., she was able to take an early retirement and devote her time to her passion which is antiquing. She goes to estate sales, auctions, has booths at various antique malls in our area, shows her wares at our annual Antiques on the Bluff in St. Joseph and sells items on eBay. She enjoys this and does quite well.

The other day I was at her house and noticed she had a lovely portrait in an even lovelier frame sitting in her back room where she traditionally puts all her antique "finds". I commented on the portrait and she remarked that she had picked it up that day from an estate sale. Her intention was to take out the picture, dump it and put the frame for sale at her antique booth.

I immediately commented that she should most definitely not destroy the photo as it was beautiful and obviously an original oil painting. In her ever generous spirit, she then told me to take the frame and portrait if I liked it so well and believe me, I did. Here it is:

Thomas & Ida Padgett
ca 1888

I told her that I could only wish that I had such a portrait from one of my ancestors and she told me she had been to an estate sale at one of our local mobile home complexes. That was all she knew about the portrait other than the estate sale was from an elderly lady who had recently passed away and her adult daughter was conducting the sale.

The genealogist in me wanted more information. So, I put on my Nancy Drew 'hat' (I did read all her books and have them all still) and went on a mission. I knew someone who lived in that particular mobile home complex so I called her and inquired if she knew who had recently had an estate sale in her area. She did, she told me the name of the daughter of the deceased as well as her phone number and I called the woman.

Once I explained why I was calling, the woman was very receptive to giving me more information. She told me the couple in the portrait were her great-grandparents and she knew his name was Thomas Padgett and the great-grandmother's name was unknown to her but that was all she knew. She told me that her grandmother was this couple's daughter and her name had been Edna and she was born in 1888 or 1889. She explained that her mother had had the portrait, nobody in the family was interested in it and there were no descendants to come so she and her brother decided to sell it. She was delighted that the portrait had found a good home with someone who would appreciate it.

Off to I went in search of more information on Thomas Padgett and his wife. I also searched for the obituary in our local paper from this recently deceased lady who had had this portrait. Armed with the information from the obituary and the sketchy information from the great-granddaughter, I learned quite a bit.

Thomas Padgett was born in Cuyahogo County, Ohio ca 1859. He was married on June 1, 1887 to Ida Mills in North Plains, Ionia County, Michigan. Ida Mills had been born in 1868 in North Plains, Ionia County, MI. Her parents were William Mills (born in 1832 in Michigan) and Emma Wright (?) (born in 1849 in Michigan).

Census records showed that this Thomas & Ida Padgett had had a daughter, Edna, born in 1888 who married Chester Barr. Edna and Chester Barr had had a daughter, Ida Lucille Barr, who was the lady who had recently passed away and who had had this portrait.

I was able to find vital records on this family, information that extended back further generations indicating Ida Mills Padgett's family had come from England and generally found more information in a shorter amount of time than I ever spent on any of my personal lines. It was exciting and challenging and the information just flowed from the computer on this family.

Today, on Mother's Day, I hope Thomas & Ida know that their portrait has found a good home and someone is appreciating it and thinking of them.

Above photo from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Heirloom Hallmark Family Tree

I will admit that my cousin, TK, of Before My Time is one talented artistic person. When she wrote her 3 posts about her Heirloom Hallmark Family Tree and discussed the photo ornaments that she created for her tree, I was mesmerized.

I did go out on eBay and found a similar tree for sale. A good bid later and the tree was mine. It was shipped promptly and was easy to assemble. TK and I had several e-mails back and forth about how I was going to adorn my tree. I will probably also do the photo ornaments as she did and she graciously offered to help me with the preparation of the photos.

In the meantime, though, I had another seasonal use for the tree:

Easter eggs handmade by Ella Kolberg Kijak
ca 1945
St. Joseph, MI

These egg ornaments were all made by my grandmother, Ella Kolberg Kijak, approximately in 1945. She displayed these eggs on a tree at her home in St. Joseph every Easter. Her tree consisted of using a large crystal vase and putting live tree branches in the vase with stones and sand at the bottom to hold up the tree branches. It was the focal point on her buffet and something that stands in my memory of "Easter at Grandma's house".

She gave my mother the eggs perhaps in the early 1970's and we have displayed them in a variety of ways over the years. However, this year, I thought this Hallmark Family Tree was the ideal display option. I don't remember how many eggs there were originally. I do remember the detailed work that went into creating these eggs, though. We have only broken a few over the years and there are 23 remaining. Today the tree was disassembled and the eggs packed away for safekeeping.

Now it is time to begin collecting locket ornaments and creating my own Heirloom Family Tree. TK, are you ready?

Above photo from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Family Kolberg/Colberg...Part Nine


Following the successful discovery of the family of Johann Colberg, after many, many years of research, cousin, Gerhard Kolberg and myself had now successfully traced the descendants of 6 of the 7 Colberg brothers...August, Heinrich, Johann, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand. We were pleased with our success and pleased with the shared connection between ourselves.

The question remained, however? What happened to any descendants of the eldest sibling of the 6 Colberg brothers? Where had these descendants ended up? How would we begin to learn anything new about this family?

Gerhard and I compared our records and pooled our information. What we knew was the following:

(1) Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr. had been the second son of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Sr. & Henriette Amalie Colberg. He was, though, the first son to survive to adulthood.

(2) We had the following photo of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. and his wife:

Henriette Amalie (Kautz) & Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg (sitting)
Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. & Hermine (Melchert) Colberg (standing)
ca 1899
Bütow, Pommern

(3) Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. had been born September 28, 1852 in Klein Tuchen, Bütow, Pommern and he was christened at the Evangelical church in Groß Tuchen on October 3, 1852.

(4) He and his wife supposedly had had at least 6 children, whose names were unknown.

(5) He was to have stayed on the family farm in Klein Tuchen when brother, Johann, relocated to Berlin and his other 5 brothers immigrated to the US.

(5) He died in 1918.

This was the extent of our shared information and was not much to go on.

Over the course of the next several years we both did some research in the LDS microfilms both here in Michigan and in Berlin. With this research, we did discover some further data:

Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr.'s wife was named Hermine Melchert. Together they had at least 6 children that we discovered, namely:

(1) Martha Maria Franziska Colberg, born May 28, 1882 in Klein Tuchen.
(2) Paul Willi Colberg born December 25, 1883 in Klein Tuchen.

Then the family must have relocated to the nearby village of Zemmen in Kreis Bütow because the next 4 children were born there:

(3) Fritz Wilhelm Colberg, born May 27, 1885 and died April 21, 1886, both in Zemmen.
(4) Erich Ernst Franz Colberg, born November 12, 1886 and died January 24, 1887 in Zemmen.
(5) Ernst Friedrich Paul Colberg, born January 17, 1888 and died February 11, 1888 in Zemmen
(6) Max Friedrich Adam Colberg, born November 1, 1889 and died November 20, 1889 in Zemmen.

This information opened up new possibilities for us:

(1) With 4 of their 6 children dying in infancy, was it possible that the oldest two died as well before having any children of their own? We could find no records of that happening.

(2) If the 2 oldest children DID marry and have children, is it possible they died during WWI or even WWII when many German people were killed while fleeing from what became Poland?

(3) Was it even possible that there were NO descendants remaining from the family of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. & Hermine?

It became evident that we had reached a brick wall. However, I have learned more times than not that one should "never say never". There is always hope of learning something new.

A few years ago something fell in my lap that I hope proves to be a connection to any descendants still remaining today from the family of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. & Hermine Colberg. A cousin here in Berrien County contacted me and explained that she was a granddaughter of younger brother, Ferdinand Kolberg. She and her husband were involved in genealogy as well and wanted to meet with me. They came to my home for some discussions and to my surprise brought with them the German photo album of her grandfather, Ferdinand. They explained that when Ferdinand Kolberg and his family came to the US in 1910 that Ferdinand had carried with him this old photo album. Growing up she had seen this album many times and the family here always referred to it as "Grandpa's German album of his Kolberg family".

There were 21 photos contained in this album. All were professional cabinet photos and were in mint condition. They were all taken in Germany, some listed the photographer's name and location, some were taken in Bütow, some in Stolp (a neighboring county), some in Berlin and other areas as well. They allowed me to borrow the album and I scanned all 21 photos into my computer and then returned the album to them.

There were no identifications on any of these 21 photos. I e-mailed the 21 photos to Gerhard Kolberg in Berlin and he immediately responded that 4 of the photos were from the family of his grandfather, Johann Colberg. There was a photo of Johann in his military uniform, another photo of the wedding of Gerhard's parents and two other photos of daughters of Johann Colberg. The other 17 photos were unknown to Gerhard as well as the other Johann Colberg cousins he shared them with.

This led us to wonder - IF some of the photos were from the family of Johann Colberg, was it possible that the rest were from the family of Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr.? Is it possible that the two first born children of Friedrich-Wilhelm & Hermine DID marry, have children, grandchildren, etc and that they had shared their photos with "Uncle" Ferdinand? We don't know but there was no other explanation we could think of for the identity of these 21 photos given the album was always known as Ferdinand's German family album.

The 17 photos follow. It is my hope that by posting these photos here, that perhaps someone will recognize one and we can move closer to learning more about brother, Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr.


And, the search continues!

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Family Kolberg/Colberg...Part Eight


I was one excited researcher as I waited to hear from this woman contact in Berlin as to whether she indeed was from the family of my elusive Johann Colberg. It only took her a surprising two weeks to respond to me. When I saw the letter in my mailbox, postmarked Berlin, I eagerly opened the envelope and out spilled some photos with a letter.

There for me to see was the photo of a very distinguished white haired gentleman with the indication on the back that he was Johann Colberg of Berlin!

Johann Colberg
Berlin, Germany
ca 1930

This lady indicated that her husband had been a grandson of Johann Colberg and that she indeed knew the Gerhard Kolberg that I was searching for. She told me she had telephoned to the daughter of Gerhard who would stop by her apartment and pick up my letter to deliver to Gerhard. She commented also that she was sure that Gerhard would respond to me as "he is retired and has much time to spend on his research".

I could only hope. It was only another 10 days or so when my first letter from Gerhard Kolberg arrived. He expressed pleasure and surprise that I had found him from his 7 year old letter to the "O" family and more surprised that I was able to find him after he and his wife had moved to a new apartment. He had extensively traced his grandfather's family and he eagerly shared the data with me. The fact that he had been a graphic artist in his career certainly did not hurt and his charts and graphs were beautifully presented. I, in turn, shared the data from the 5 Colberg/ Kolberg brothers who had immigrated to the US. After just a few letters back and forth, with Gerhard writing in German and my needing to have the letters translated, he switched to using English which was just as proficient as his graphic design skills.

In the course of our correspondence, Gerhard explained that the surname was originally Colberg and that most of the cousins still in Germany used that spelling. He told me an interesting tidbit that there had been two Otto Colberg men in Berlin, both dentists (Gerhard's father was a dentist) so Gerhard's father, Otto, changed HIS surname spelling to the Kolberg which is the spelling that Gerhard uses. However, all the other cousins in Berlin, descended from Johann Colberg, continue to use the Colberg spelling.

We now had SIX Colberg/Kolberg brothers' families traced to the present generation. It had only taken me 23 years to accomplish this but it wasn't until the Internet was popular that this connection was actually made.

Over the years since our 1999 discovery of each other began, Gerhard and his two adult grandsons have visited my mother and I here in St. Joseph for our 2000 Kolberg family reunion.

Humorous pose at Kolberg Family Reunion 2000
Oliver Beyer, Gerhard Kolberg, Kai Beyer
St. Joseph, MI

They stayed in our home and spent 3 weeks with us here in the US. He obtained the Internet and E-mail and our correspondence travels quickly through cyberspace.

Both my niece and nephew have visited Gerhard and his family in Berlin on several occasions while studying in Spain and Italy respectively.

My niece, Diane, (left side in black shirt) in Berlin, Germany
with Gerhard Kolberg family
(Gerhard not shown-taking photo)

My nephew, Jay, (back row, far right side) in Berlin, Germany
with Gerhard Kolberg Family
(Gerhard in back row far left side)

In October, 2008, I visited Gerhard and his family in Berlin for two weeks where I met his daughter and son-in-law and met the new wives of both of the grandsons who had visited us in 2000.

Gerhard Kolberg, Harald & Uschi Beyer, Cheryl Schulte
Berlin, Germany
October, 2008

In addition, Gerhard arranged a mini Colberg/Kolberg family reunion in Berlin where I was able to meet other Colberg cousins.

To further prove the connection with Johann Colberg and his five brothers who immigrated to America, Gerhard had the written verification, in Johann Colberg's diary in his own hand:

Johann Colberg Diary

Entry for Vater Colberg
Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr.
Born 1821/Died 1900

Entry for Mutter Colberg
Henriette Amalie Colberg
Born 1831/Died 1908

Entry for Bruder, Friedrich Colberg (Jr.)
born 1852/died 1918

Entry for Bruder, August Colberg
Born 1854
To America

Entry for Bruder, Heinrich Colberg
Born 1857
To America

Entry for "self" Johann Colberg
Born 1859

Entries for Bruder, Otto Colberg
Born 1867
To America
Bruder, Ferdinand Colberg
Born 1872
To America

Entry for Bruder, Paul Colberg
Born 1869
To America

What have I learned from these years of research and what hints have I come away with from my extensive efforts in tracing this family?

(1) All things come in time. If I had connected with Gerhard in 1979 when I began my research, perhaps it would not have been as important to him at that time, he was still working, he was raising his family. Only in retirement did he develop his passion for his family history.

(2) Snail mail is still a good option. While e-mail has overtaken the world and researchers alike, sometimes success is found with writing letters to small villages, churches, archives.

(3) Cemetery searching and vital records searching are still vital tools for research. Not every cemetery is computerized. Not every archive has their records on the Internet. Much can be found in stomping through cemeteries, reading gravestones, visiting vital records repositories to search out records.

(4) Family assistance is of the utmost importance. I could never have even begun my research without the assistance of Kolberg cousins Grace (Gaul), Ruby (Berndt) and Edna Kolberg. They started me on the path and encouraged me along the way and we remained close the rest of their lives.

(5) Memories of other family members adds to the knowledge. If not for cousin, Oliver Kolberg, I would never have made the connection that took me across the ocean to the family of Johann Colberg. Oliver was a source of inspiration and encouragement. His death in January, 2006 was a true loss and his memory lives on.

Oliver Kolberg

While I sincerely appreciate all the help that I have received over the years, and truly believe I could never have achieved what I did without this help, if it were not for my very special cousin, Bernice Gaul Schoenfelder, I would never have had the enormous success that I did with this research.

Bernice Gaul Schoenfelder

Bernice was a researcher's dream and her help and excitement over every step of this research was inspiring. She passed away unexpectedly in June, 2007 and will never be forgotten. Following her death, her children surprised me by presenting me with all of her genealogical documents, photos, albums and other information which they knew would be preserved and appreciated by myself.

To be successful in genealogical research is not a solitary venture. It is only with the help and assistance of many, many people that success is truly just that...success.

Coming next...Addendum...What About Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Jr.?

Above documents/photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte