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