Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Father The Bowler

My father was an avid sports lover.  Growing up in the Detroit suburbs he had plenty of outlets for his love whether it were the Tigers, Lions, Pistons or Red Wings and he could be seen either attending the games, watching them on television, listening on the radio or doing both the television and radio at the same time.  I can still see him sitting in his recliner with the main television showing one game, a small portable television (very small) sitting on his lap watching another and the radio in his ear listening to a third game.

My grandfather told me that my father received his first baseball uniform when he was a teenager and he wouldn't take it off for days.  He loved playing baseball as a young boy but that quickly changed when he discovered bowling.  Bowling would continue to grip him for his entire life.

During my childhood and teen years I like to say that I grew up in bowling alleys.  Actually my father bowled in two men's leagues a week and then my mother and he bowled in a mixed league on another day.  Three days a week my brother and I had to accompany them to the bowling alley where I would sit and either read or do homework.  Guess the action bored me.

Today I was going through some old photos and found a few of my father related to his bowling.  He was an excellent bowler and in high school was predicted to be a champ.  He probably could have if he had pursued that but WWII came up and that changed young men forever.

When I was growing up our house was filled with bowling trophies.  Here is a photo of my father in approximately 1958 with his championship team at the time.

 Back Row:  Robbie Robinson, Mylen Schulte, Floyd Labuhn
Front Row:  William Machleit, Clifford Rupnow
Ritz Bowling Alley
Detroit, MI, ca 1958 

In approximately 1966 another championship for his team and my father is sitting with his trophy.  I believe this was from the mixed league he was in with my mother; why her photo isn't here I don't know unless she was taking the picture.

 Mylen Schulte with bowling trophy
ca 1966

But where did this love begin?  A few days ago due to the post of another genealogy blogger, I learned something new about my father.  Kristin of "Finding Eliza" had an excellent post about her mother in which she mentioned that her mother had graduated from Eastern High School in Detroit in 1940.  My father graduated from Eastern in 1941 and I sent off a comment to Kristin.  I follow her blog faithfully but never knew of our "Eastern" connection.  A few comments went back and forth and Kristin asked me if my father had been in any sports or activities at Eastern.  I told her he was an avid bowler and she graciously checked her mother's 1940 yearbook and found a photo of the bowling team of that year.  She scanned the photo and sent it to me and there WAS my father in the photo in his Junior year of high school.  This was a photo I had never seen of my dad when he was very young.

 Eastern High School, Detroit, MI
Bowling Team, 1940
Mylen Schulte back row, left side

This only shows again the kindness and generosity of our fellow genealogy bloggers.  Thanks Kristin!

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Tenth Birthday

I was born on November 24, 1854 in Klein Tuchen in Pommern, Germany and was the third son of my parents.  In our family a boy's 10th birthday was a special occasion and the year I was turning 10 my birthday in November was on my mind constantly.

November 24, 1864 began bright and early.  I awoke even before it was light outside and could hear Mama and Papa working in the house.  Today would be my special birthday and many aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors would be coming by.  Papa and Mama had a strict law in our family that each child must attend school for 4 years; that was very important to them as they were not able to have any schooling.  So far my 2 older brothers, Albert and Fritz, had studied for 4 years in school and then when they were 10 they were allowed to begin working on the farm with Papa.  I was looking forward to this as well.  I must admit school was not my favorite thing to do; I would have rather been outside in the fields or playing with my brothers but Papa and Mama were very strict about the school rule.  Today I would be allowed to stop school and begin to work on the farm as well.

Papa called to us boys to get up while it was still dark.  Albert, Fritz and I got up immediately but our younger brothers, Heinrich and Johann, were lazier and had to be prompted to get up.  They were only 7 and 5 at the time.  Baby Hermann would be 2 tomorrow and he was still sleeping as well.  Mama also had the new baby, Gustav, who was only 5 weeks old at the time.  There had also been another brother, Franz, but he had died last year when he was only 2.  Mama had been so hoping that this latest baby would be a little girl but now we were a family of Mama, Papa and 7 sons.

That morning Mama had our breakfast ready for us and told us to hurry and eat because aunts would be arriving soon to help with the birthday celebrations.  Because Mama had baby Gustav to tend to some of the aunts would be helping with the food for the birthday so that Mama could rest.  Mama would do this for the aunts in return as well.  Having a large family was important Mama would say because everyone would help everyone else.

We had barely finished our breakfast and the light was just beginning on the day when we could hear a wagon outside.  It was Oma Kautz coming to help with the birthday.  Oma was Mama's mother and all us boys loved Oma Kautz because she always brought us special breads and cakes that she had made.  Oma was the only grandparent I had any more.  I had not known Opa Kautz because he had died long before I was born.  When he died, Oma married a Mr. Krause so that she would have help on the farm.  Mr. Krause was very stern and never smiled so we boys stayed away from him.  

Oma came in the house and told me "Happy Birthday, August" and showed me the basket she was bringing that held some special cakes with sugar on top.  She went over to Mama and inquired how baby Gustav was doing.  Mama said he was sleeping fine but not eating well and she was worried.  We did not know it then but in a few months baby Gustav would die.  

After breakfast all us boys were sent outside to give Mama and Oma room to work on the birthday.  Soon the aunts arrived carrying baskets of food as well.  Mama was going to make my favorite Pommern potatoes and the aunts had been helping her the last few days by boiling and cooling pounds of potatoes.  Now they were bringing them to the house so Mama could prepare them for me. The potatoes took a long time to make but it helped Mama that the aunts had boiled them ahead of time.  Mama then sliced them and put them in the pan on the fire with lots of lard.  The potatoes sizzled and fried for quite some time while Mama kept slicing more potatoes.  We would need a lot for all the family that was coming.  What made these potatoes special was after they were almost done frying Mama would crack eggs into the potatoes and fry them together; the eggs would work into the potatoes and Mama would get them very crispy.  I always wanted the potatoes around the edge of the frying pan because they were the best.  Many times we had these Pommern potatoes for dinner only because they were so good.  Mama had promised me she would make them herself for my birthday because her potatoes were much better than those made by the aunts though we could not tell them that.

Aunt Carolina and Uncle Johann vonJutrzenka arrived soon with some of the cousins.  Aunt Carolina was one of Papa's sisters.  They brought more food and chicken as well for the meal.  Mama was happy to see them because Aunt Carolina was a hard worker.  Soon Uncle August and Aunt Friederike Colberg arrived.  Uncle August was Papa's brother and he was my godfather which was something he reminded me of all the time.  I liked Uncle August because he would take my older brothers out behind the barn and let them smoke some tobacco and he had been promising this to me all year.  Aunt Friederike came bearing her usual gift for all the cousins which were hand knit socks.  She took great pride in using heavy yarn so that the socks would be warm and would always say the same thing "if your feet are warm you won't get sick".  We boys thought her socks were picky and uncomfortable but Mama always frowned at us and we quickly thanked Aunt Friederike.  Later Mama would tell us that we needed to be grateful because we had many feet in the house to put socks on and it helped Mama when an aunt would give new socks.

By mid day we had many guests - aunts, uncles and cousins and even neighbors all coming for my 10th birthday.  Uncle Gottlieb and Aunt Karolina brought a smoked ham from the hogs on their farm and Papa praised the ham.  Uncle Gottlieb was Papa's brother as well.  They had children the same ages as us boys and even had an August born the same year as me.  Sometimes it became very confusing when all the cousins were together.

The day went by quickly but it was grand fun.  Uncle August tried to take me out behind the barn to show me his tobacco but Papa saw us and quickly stopped this.  Uncle August and Papa talked loudly about this for a while but in the end Uncle August shrugged and walked away.  Papa told me that there would be plenty of time for tobacco but he didn't want me to be sick today on my birthday. I wasn't very happy but we boys knew we had to obey Papa.  That was the way it was.

By the end of the day the families were all leaving but Aunt Carolina and Oma Kautz stayed longer to help with cleaning up the house.  Mama was looking very tired and Oma was worried about her.  But she said to me "I think August Gottlieb that you had a grand 10th birthday and now you are a man".  Oma Kautz reminded me that Mama had worked hard on my Pommern potatoes while tending baby Gustav and I should never forget the grand birthday I had.

And I never did!!!

The above are recollections contained in notes written by Ella Kolberg Kijak from verbal discussions with her father, August Gottlieb Kolberg, on Ella's 19th birthday on August 8, 1914.  

Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cousins Meet after 80 Years

Newspapers and television broadcasts frequently have human interest stories of family members meeting after many years apart.  Recently I took part in arranging for my 87 year old mother to reconnect with her 85 year old cousin after 80 years apart.

I personally thought it was a slow news day in South Bend but alas nobody in the media appeared to cover this story.  So here is my coverage of this event.

A few years ago I received an e-mail from a person who had come across my blog.  While I frequently receive such e-mails, none have ever had a connection with my mother's paternal grandmother's family - the Rubisz line.  I have previously written about my great-grandmother, Mary Rubisz Kijak, and the very difficult life she had.  My mother knew very little about this grandmother as she had passed away in 1918 long before my mother was born.  My mother did know that her grandparents had a very rocky relationship and had separated around 1900 and that her grandmother had connected with another gentleman, moved to South Bend, Indiana and had 7 more children with him before she passed away in 1918.

That was why this e-mail I received a few years ago surprised and pleased me as the woman writing indicated she had seen my blog, noted the banner on the blog that contained the 4 photos of my great-grandmothers and recognized the name of Mary Rubisz Kijak.  This writer, D, told me that she believed that my great-grandmother was HER husband's great-grandmother as well.

E-mails went back and forth between D and myself.  She indicated that her mother-in-law was the daughter of Mary Rubisz Kijak's oldest child from her relationship with Frank Banner, Sr.  While my mother knew that there were children from her grandmother's relationship with this Mr. Banner she only remembered them from her childhood.  Living in the fruit belt of Southwest Michigan (St. Joseph) it was common for family members from other areas to visit St. Joe during the summer to take the fresh produce home.  Evidently members of the Banner family would frequently do so, coming from nearby South Bend, Indiana (35 miles) and my mother remembered playing with these half cousins when they were children.

D and I exchanged information and I learned that D's mother-in-law Betty was very eager to see my mother again.  My mother as well was eager and did remember Betty as a child though 80 years had gone by.

On August 22nd this year we had our reunion.  My mother and I drove from St. Joe to Mishawaka, Indiana where I knew there was a big mall. We arranged to meet Betty and her daughter-in-law, D, at a restaurant at this mall and there we did.

We had a wonderful lunch in a very nice restaurant.  D and I exchanged genealogical materials and both D and Betty had brought scads of photos with them.  Out came my Flip Pal scanner (love this device) and I was able to scan all the photos right at the table.  After lunch we went to Betty's house, right near Notre Dame, for some further visiting.

 Eloris Kijak & cousin, Betty Linehan,
August 22, 2012
Mishawaka, Indiana

When there are sensitive issues involving ancestors it is often difficult to learn any of the details involved but Betty was very forthcoming with information that was welcomed by myself.  It was information I would have never learned otherwise.  Since then D and I have really been fortunate in being able to learn much more information on the Banner family with the help of Ancestry and other web sites.

We are now planning a return visit with D and Betty coming here to visit us in St. Joe and we are hoping they also bring another cousin that my mother has not seen in ages either.

Never say never - there are always avenues to follow that will open up new information on a family line.

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Six Degrees of Kolberg

As with the trivia game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, I firmly believe that a case can be made for a "Six Degrees of Kolberg" connection.  In Berrien County, Michigan this could be reduced to "THREE or FOUR Degrees of Kolberg".  Consider this saga:

Last night was the first Ladies Aid meeting of the new season at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Joseph where I belong.  My mother and I are members and are continuing the tradition started by my maternal grandmother, Ella Kolberg Kijak.  I know my grandmother would be pleased that (1) we have relocated back to St. Joe and (2) that we are active in the Ladies Aid organization.  This organization has declined over the 15 years we have been back in St. Joe and now has 49 members.  Last night's meeting had 19 ladies present with a few guests. 

We sat at a table with several other ladies that we knew well.  One senior lady had a guest with her and she introduced the guest as her niece, Marilyn, who was her chauffeur now that she herself could no longer drive.   Marilyn was a very pleasant woman and she indicated to the group that she was a retired teacher who continues to do some special education teaching.  I inquired as to where she had taught and our conversation went like this:

Me:  Where did you teach, Marilyn?

Marilyn:  At Grace Lutheran Church in St. Joe (a neighboring church to Trinity).

Me:  Do you know Karen Kolberg K from Grace? 

Marilyn:  I do - Karen and I went to school together.

Me:  Karen and I are cousins.  Do you know Mary Kolberg B and her sister Donna Kolberg R?

Marilyn:  I do indeed.  I taught both of Mary B's daughters.

Me:  Mary and Donna are cousins of mine also.

Now Marilyn is intrigued and she asks me:  Just how are you related to Karen, Mary and Donna?

Me:  Through our very large Kolberg family.  My grandmother was a Kolberg - Ella Kolberg Kijak.

Marilyn:  Very intrigued now...Do you know Sharon Kolberg whose father was Alvin Kolberg and whose mother...oh, I can't remember her name now?

Me:  Yes I know who you mean; I never met Sharon but I know who she is.  (I then proceeded to open my purse and extract my Smart Phone which contains my Ancestry app with my whole family tree and I quickly found the above Sharon Kolberg).  I told Marilyn - her mother was Thelma?

Marilyn:  Yes indeed.  Now Marilyn intrigues me when she says:  Sharon's husband, Dave A., is MY brother.  Just what do you have on that cell phone?

I explained that I have my genealogy on Family Tree Maker which syncs to an Ancestry Tree.  Ancestry has an app for a smart phone and I can carry my data with me on the phone.  We proceeded to have a lengthy discussion about Marilyn's brother and sister-in-law, other Kolberg people that Marilyn knew and my genealogy.  Marilyn said she also knew a R. Kolberg and his parents R and E Kolberg (cousin ROY if you are reading this, you will know of whom I am speaking!!)

We had quite a conversation during the evening (yes we did listen to the program as well) and this further convinced me that each and every person in Berrien County is in some way, shape or form related to or knowledgeable of a Kolberg. 

Lesson to me:  When entering a room, any room, any place where 1 person at least is present, loudly declare "Does anyone in here know anyone named Kolberg?"  I'm guessing somebody will.

Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Two Generations of General Store Owners

If I were to do a comparison of my various ancestors and the occupations they had I would find invariably that most were farmers - both in Europe and in the US.  There was a butcher thrown in here and a blacksmith thrown in there but the majority were farmers.  An honest occupation for sure and one that was sorely needed but the farmers needed somewhere to market their crops in the 1800's and early 1900's in America.  That would be where the General Stores came in.

In my ancestry I have 2 generations of General Store owners and the stories are interesting, historical and were challenging to research.  My paternal grandmother, Ella Wellhausen Schulte, lived well into her 90's and I had many opportunities to tap into her memories of her ancestry.  She told me many times about the General Store that her parents had and in which she and her older sister lived as young girls.  Taking the meager information I had from her I was able to discover some interesting facts.

My second great-grandparents Charles and Christina (Graumann) Wellhausen were both born in Germany in the Pomeranian county of Demmin with Charles being born in the village of Alt Kentzlin and Christina born in the neighboring village of Hohenbollentin.  These villages are still in Germany in what later became the DDR.  Charles and Christina married in 1860 at the Evangelical Church in Hohenbollentin and their first two daughters, Bertha and Augusta, were also born there as well in 1860 and 1862 respectively.

 Evangelical Church in Hohenbollentin
 Kreis Demmin, Germany
Still standing in August, 1993

When Bertha was 3 years old and Augusta 6 months Charles and Christina decided to immigrate to the United States.  Accompanying them as well was Christina's mother, Christina (Neider) Graumann.  They arrived in the US on the ship Saxonia on April 19, 1864 settling in the village of Fraser in Macomb County in Michigan where their next daughter, Caroline, was born in 1866.  Information found indicates the next 3 children Anna, George and Edward were born in 1867, 1869 and 1872 respectively in what was then known as Greenfield Township in Michigan.  Following this they evidently moved back to Macomb County because their last child, son Charles, Jr., was born in Fraser in 1876.  Whether Charles was farming at the time first in Fraser, then in Greenfield Township is unknown but it is assumed that he was.  However upon relocating back to Fraser in Macomb County prior to the 1876 birth of their last child, Charles and Christina were able to purchase a large farm in what is now Clinton Township.  The 1880 Macomb County, Michigan US census corroborates the family was living in Clinton Township, Michigan and Charles was a farmer.

With more daughters than sons Charles naturally was assuming that his 3 sons would help him on the farm and Edward is known to have done so.  Son George, however, was not a well man with bronchial ailments and farming played havoc with his health.

On February 14, 1895 in Fraser, Michigan son George Wellhausen married Amelia Schluessler at St. John's Lutheran Church.  They are my 1st great grandparents.  Later in 1895 their first daughter, Gertrude, was born in Fraser and in 1896 their second daughter, my grandmother, Ella, was born. 

The 1895 Atlas of Macomb County, Michigan reproduced in November, 1985 by the St. Clair Shores Historical Commission in St. Clair Shores, Michigan contains some sketches of prominent farms in the area in 1895 along with photos of the owners.  In this volume in 1985 I was delighted to find the farm of my 2nd great grandparents, Charles and Christina Wellhausen, along with pictures of both.  This is the only photo I have of Charles.  Their farm was listed as having been in Section 29 of Clinton Township in that year of 1895.  

 Farm and Home of 
Charles and Christina Wellhausen
1895 - Clinton Township, Michigan

In early 1900 Detroit Creamery was buying up farms in Clinton Township attempting to corner the milk market.  Charles and Christina decided to sell their farm to the creamery as they were both now 67 and undoubtedly farming was becoming more than they could handle.  As part of the arrangement they retained ownership of the farm house which to this day still is standing on what is now called Moravian Drive in Clinton Township.  To have an ancestral home still in existence some 117+ years later is very exciting.

 Home of Charles and Christina Wellhausen
Currently Standing in 2012
Moravian Drive, Clinton Township, Michigan

Shortly after selling their farm in early 1900, Charles and Christina purchased a small general store in a nearby village known as Cady's Corners.  They gave this store to my great-grandparents George and Amelia who ran it.  This was much less taxing on George's health than farming had been.  George and Amelia ran this General Store until 1905 and then moved to Utica where George ran a "jitney" service which we now would call a taxi service.  There in Utica, George and Amelia had their 3rd and final child, a son they named George as well who was born in 1906.

My grandmother always spoke of Cady's Corners to me.  She told me that their General Store was on one corner and a "beer garden" as she always referred to a bar was on another corner.  In researching this little village I learned that Cady's Corners was an area first settled in 1833 with a post office being established on July 15, 1864.  The post office operated until July 31, 1906 when the village was disbanded.  Today the former area of Cady's Corners can be found at what is Moravian and Utica Roads in Clinton Township, Michigan.  

George and Amelia Wellhausen General Store
Cady's Corners, Michigan
ca 1905

While living in Utica, Michigan great-grandpa George was an upstanding citizen and involved in local politics.  He was Utica's Clerk in the years 1917-1918 and was even Mayor of Utica from 1920-1921.  

In 1924 the local Kroger store in Utica needed a manager and George and Amelia persuaded their 18 year old son, George, to apply for the position where he was hired becoming the youngest manager that Kroger ever had.  Son George remained with Kroger's as their manager for 24 years.  In 1948, an opportunity arose for George and his wife Eleanor to purchase a General Store at 24 Mile Road and Van Dyke in a village that was known at that time as Disco, Michigan.  The store had been built in the mid 1850's and not only was a general store but also a gas station and in the early days a stage coach stop.  Originally it had sleeping quarters on the second floor for travelers and supposedly General George Custer stayed there on one occasion.  An excellent article on "The Lost Village of Disco" can be found here by the Shelby Township Historical Committee.

After much deliberation George resigned from his position at Kroger's and he and Eleanor purchased this General Store which they owned from 1948 until 1970.  One of the big draws in this Wellhausen General Store was the home made German Pomeranian Teewurst sausage that was made there.  It was certainly a family delicacy and people came from near and far to purchase the sausage.  The recipe for the sausage came from my great-grandmother Amelia Wellhausen who had learned this recipe from her Pomeranian Schluessler ancestors.  Teewurst is a sausage made from two parts of raw pork, sometimes beef, and one part bacon which are minced, seasoned and packed in casings before being smoked over beech wood.  The sausage has to mature for 7-10 days in order to develop its typical taste and contains 30-40% fat - ahh a great dietary food.  I never had the privilege of tasting the teewurst sausage but sausage and I are not friends so it is just as well.  

My great aunt and uncle, George and Eleanor Wellhausen, had this General Store until 1970 when they sold it for $68,000.  Under the new ownership it went into disrepair.  On January 24, 1977 a photo was taken of the former Wellhausen General Store which I found on sale via eBay.  Why anyone would want to buy this photo is beyond me as the store obviously was not cared for in the 7 years since my great aunt and uncle had sold it.  The caption on the photo states:

"The 111 year old Wellhausen Country Store at Van Dyke and 24 Mile Road is the genuine rustic item in Disco".

Author Note 1/12/2014 - Photo removed by Web Site

Despite the efforts of the local historical association to raise money to move the store to an area nearby that had other historical buildings, the store was demolished.

Today a huge CVS store is at the location of 24 Mile Road and Van Dyke with the land purchased for $650,000.   

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the research and discoveries that went into this post.  I think it is a valuable piece of my family ancestry that deserved to be shared.

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Genetic Quirks

Two of my four goddaughters recently gave birth to their first baby - a little girl for each of them.  As always happens when a new baby enters a family, everyone is intent on seeing just WHO the baby resembles.  Does she have her mother's nose, her father's ears, her grandmother's eyes, etc?  I am sure my family did the same when I was born as well.  For as long as I can remember, and even today, people are forever telling me how much I resemble my father.  I always hated that!!

I wanted to resemble my mother.  She is small and petite, 5' 2", 120#, attractive, friendly, bubbly, self confident, interested in others and very outgoing.  I, on the other hand, am truly more like my father was - heavier, struggling with weight, reserved and have inherited the medical ailments that plagued my dad.  I have had digestive problems since I was a teenager - he did as well as did his mother and her father - direct line in that Wellhausen to Schulte family to me!  I struggle with blood pressure as he did, struggle with weight as he did and tend to be hard on myself as he was.  

Finally, though, I have come across something that I HAVE inherited from my mother and it makes me laugh in a way - my bad teeth.  Yesterday I had to have a tooth pulled; not the first time either but the first time in years.  I couldn't even remember what I had gone through before with the teeth but this time was quite different, not as bad as I had anticipated but not exactly something I want to do every day.  And it took a bite (oops) out of my wallet, too, to the tune of $307.00.  It would appear that my teeth are falling apart.  My mother reminded me though that these teeth have carried me to my 60's when HER teeth were all removed when she was 18.  Imagine!

She was working at the time, at the end of her day's work she went to the dentist, had ALL her teeth pulled that day and had the dentures put right in, she went home and back to work the next day and nobody at work knew she had dentures.  I asked her yesterday if she remembered how much that cost and, of course, this was 1943 so she did not.  Obviously different procedures for the time!

Recently I had another insight when I read an article on Kelly Ripa.  Everyone probably is familiar with Kelly and her career.  The headline of this article stated that "Kelly Ripa has a rare disorder".  I thought it would be interesting to read the article and my eyes popped open.  This rare disorder is just what my father had and another thing I have inherited from him.

The disorder has been identified for years and years and is called Misophonia though I had never heard of the title before.  Basically it is the "hatred of sound" such as gum chewing, snapping of fingers, slurping while eating, clinking teeth against silverware and an array of other sounds that cause the person to have heavy anxiety.  I remember only too well as a child sitting at the dinner table eating and having my father scream at my brother and me not to hit our teeth on the silverware, not to slurp and definitely we did NOT chew gum.  When reading about this disorder now I have to say that my father's case was probably mild but it was a very nervous household that I grew up in.

I find some characteristics of misophonia in myself as well namely gum chewing.  Yesterday while waiting at my dentist's office there was an elderly man in the waiting room chewing up a storm to the point I had to get up and walk across the room to sit.  While it may sound funny or humorous it really isn't and it was a tense time in my life over the years.  I think it added to my digestive distress.

I even have my father's situation documented in none other than his baby book.  Who wouldn't love to get a hold of a parent's baby book from 1923 and to even find that there was one.  I have my father's baby book and a copy of my uncle's (his brother) as well.  Evidently my grandparents were big on baby books and both my grandmother and grandfather wrote in them.

When my father was 15, my grandfather wrote the following which we always thought was so funny when we read it but obviously his Misophonia tendencies were starting then:

At the age of 15 yrs he took a notion to eat away from the table as 
he says he could not stand any one smack their lips when eating
so he'd eat by himself.  We hope he will outgrow this as if he 
ever marries his wife will have to eat alone.  

Written in 1938 by Elmer M. Schulte 
regarding son, Mylen Schulte

Who knows what can be found in a baby book that is of genealogical value!  It would appear there is a name and description for everything that could "ail you" and the Internet brings it all to us in glorious verbiage.  Perhaps before long there won't be any need for doctors; everyone can diagnose themselves from Google!!

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte

Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte

The 30 Year Search

In genealogy research some great finds happen quickly, others may take months to achieve or even years.  But one of my greatest "finds" took 30 years to discover.  During those 30 years there were many twists and turns on this journey as well as many incidents of giving up hope but in the end the great unveiling was achieved.

The majority of my genealogy success has been in the research on my Pomeranian ancestors.  These lines are from my maternal grandmother's family and despite the small villages they came from and the changes in borders from various wars I was fortunate in that many, many records were still available.  Over the years, as I have detailed in my series on The Family Colberg/Kolberg, I was able to extend these Colberg/Kolberg lines back several generations with actual church book records and sources.   I did very little, however, with my 2nd great-grandmother, Amalie Kautz Colberg's ancestors.  That is until 1982.....

In the early 1980's I had placed several ads in German periodicals looking for information on my 2nd great-grandparent's, Friedrich Wilhelm Colberg and Henriette Amalie Kautz.  In 1982 I received a surprising response to these ads and not what I expected.  A gentleman by the name of Herbert Kautz wrote me that he had seen my advertisement and while he couldn't help me with information on any descendants of my Friedrich Wilhelm & Henriette Amalie (Kautz) Colberg, he could help me with ANCESTORS of my 2nd great-grandmother and her Kautz family.  He proceeded to tell me that he was writing a book on the Kautz ancestry and had information on my Henriette Amalie's father and mother (which he gave me in the letter complete with dates and sources) and he further teased me by saying he could take that branch of the Kautz family back 14 more generations.  He stated that his book "wasn't quite ready" and that he would get back to me when it was so that I could purchase if if I was interested.  He estimated it would take perhaps 6 months to complete.

Was I interested?  Of course I was and I eagerly waited - month after month after month for his response.  When a year had passed I did write him again and gently asked if the book was ready; he responded that he had not forgotten me but was waiting for further data to complete his book and now felt it would take another year.  Twice more I wrote him over the next two years (all correspondence by snail mail, of course) and I received no further responses.  I will say that at that time I placed his correspondence in the back of my Kolberg file and went on to other surnames that were more productive.

The years went by and I would think occasionally about Herr Kautz and his project.  But I was working full time, had another part time job and then relocated across the state, bought a home and started a new business of my own.  Research was devoted to my Colberg/Kolberg line which continued to be extremely productive.  I made several trips to Germany but never was able to learn anything new about my Kautz ancestry.

The beginning of 2012 I happened to be going through my Kolberg file and came upon the correspondence from Herr Kautz.  This refreshed my memory on the events of 1982-1984 and I decided to see what I could find via the Internet.  A search for his name opened up information on many books that he apparently wrote dating back to the 1950's.  There was a book, copyright 1981, that was called, in English, "The Family Kautz".  A further search indicated that there was a copy on file at the LDS in Salt Lake City.

That was my first step in locating this book.  I called the LDS to inquire about the possibility of having this book loaned to my local branch and was told that books are not loaned out and that this book might not even be on the shelves in SLC and would have to be special ordered before a trip was made there.  I next went to my local branch of the LDS where our local genealogical society meets and spoke to the head of the genealogical collection.  She told me she had no idea how to even order a book from SLC and she wasn't even able to pull up any information on the computer regarding this.


A cousin suggested I try the World Cat site which I did and found the book listed.  There appeared to be only 3 locations in the WORLD that carried this book and only one in the US at Texas State University at San Marcos.  I printed off the information and trotted to my local public library here in St. Joseph - the Maude Preston Palenske Memorial Library.  I had never done an inter-library loan before but was confident this could be done for me there.  There, however, I learned that this public library did not participate in the World Cat system of inter-library loan and would only handle books within the Michigan libraries.  I will say, as an editorial comment, that the treatment I received at this library was poor beyond belief - rude, degrading and totally unwilling to help.


Another couple of weeks went by while I regrouped.  Then an idea hit me - I would try our local community college - Lake Michigan College.  I had a friend who was taking some classes there and asked her about their library.  She went in, inquired for me and got me the name of the head librarian.  I called this woman, told her my story, stated that I was not affiliated with the college in any way but wondered if they could inter-library loan the book for me.  I told her my friend would be glad to use her ID to pick up the book for me.  The librarian stated that they were not supposed to do this for anyone other than students but she would try.  A week later she called me to say she had spoken to the Library in Texas and they would be sending the book to her at the College.  She would let me know when it came in and my friend could pick it up.

We are getting somewhere...

Another 3 days and the librarian called; my book was in but in a check of their computer files they learned that my friend was not enrolled yet for the summer season so they could not allow her to check out the book.  BUT they were willing to let me borrow it myself and I could come over and pick it up.  She said they usually don't do this, especially when the book is the ONLY one in the entire US, but she would make this allowance.

Thank goodness for helpful and understanding people...

Over to the college I went, gave my driver's license for xeroxing and came out with the book which was 8 1/2 x 11, soft cover and obviously had been typed on a typewriter as opposed to computerized.  But I was thrilled beyond belief to have this book in my hand.  Yes it was completely in German but with the help of Google translate I was able to translate the few paragraphs of text.  The majority of the 74 page book contained lists of Kautz people arranged in family groups in a numbering system that was easy to decipher with church book sources.  I set about reading the entire book.

Excitement...OR WAS IT?

Unfortunately after reading the entire book and making notes on various family lines listed there was NOTHING pertaining to my Henriette Amalie Kautz or her parents, Adam Kautz & Louise Melchert.


I did scan the entire book into my computer, spent quite a bit of time enhancing each page (as the print was fading away) and then even printed out a hard copy for my Kautz book which I placed in acid free sheet protectors.  The book was then safely returned back to Lake Michigan College for transport back to Texas.  I was profusely grateful to the head librarian and her staff for their cooperation and willingness to go the extra mile for me.  I must have looked honest to them!!!

Now What...

More thinking and another idea came to me.  Obviously this book that I had, published in 1981, was NOT the one Herr Kautz talked about to me in 1982.  He must have been doing another book, hopefully, possibly?

I belong to a message board group of people researching in the former Pomeranian county of Stolp.  This group also has access to many church book records from my county of interest, Bütow.  So I prepared a query for the message board in which I asked if anyone was familiar with Herr Herbert Kautz, his family organization and briefly mentioned the book I was interested in.  Off went the query.  Three days later I had a response from a woman in Germany who told me that (1) Herr Kautz was deceased, (2) his family organization was still in existence but unknown as to how to contact anyone but (3) that she and two other fellow authors were in the process of writing a book on the history of the Kautz family and were incorporating data from the works of Herr Kautz.  She stated that this book was still in progress but that she had an article ready that contained MY ancestors and that she would forward to me this article.

A second e-mail was in my mail box and that contained this Kautz article.  Imagine my surprise when I opened it up, in a Word format no less, and found this article - 154 pages of perfectly written documentation of many, many branches of the Family Kautz.  Here indeed were my ancestors from my 2nd great-grandmother, Henriette Amalie Kautz, to her parents and on and on backwards to the 1400's.

Eureka!  I had done it...

After I calmed down and studied the contents it was easy as well to follow; German text had to be translated via Google translate but the numbering system and lists of family lines were easy to follow.  Some of the abbreviations for birth, marriage, death, etc were foreign to me but quickly figured them out.  There were sources listed back to the 1600's that match up perfectly with the church book records I had obtained in the intervening years.  Sources listed prior to that, back to the 1400's, are more difficult to understand but all in all I am thrilled beyond belief.  More research will need to be done to understand the sourcing used from 1400-1600 before I enter that data into my Family Tree Maker but I am confident in their research and the results.

In further correspondence between myself and this author she asked if I would share data with her on my Henrietta Amalie's descendants as they want to include as many additional surname lines, in my case Colberg/Kolberg, as they can.  I sent her a 90 page PDF off of my Family Tree Maker on the Colberg/Kolberg family and she immediately responded with gracious thanks.  We are now Facebook friends as well.

A cousin of mine is going to be visiting Germany in the fall and will be in contact with these authors to further elicit information on the sourcing used in the very early records and we have hope of confirming all the data.

The moral of this story...

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try and try again even if it takes 30 years!

Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Library is my Friend

I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember.  I could lose myself in books with very little difficulty.  However how I developed this love is a mystery to me because in all honesty I can't remember my parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles having any interest in reading nor do I remember books in their homes.  In searching my memory for specific instances in my life of books, libraries, reading I came up with some interesting (to me, anyway) remembrances:

Remembrance #1 - My father was a barber.  Barber shops were known in those days for having an ample supply of magazines for the customers to read.  While I do remember my father having National Geographic, Life and Look magazines in his barber shop I am almost positive that he didn't subscribe to them and I am thinking that perhaps a customer would bring in his past issues to share.  Those magazines eventually made their way to our home but they were stored in the basement and were not of real interest to me.  I can't remember my brother reading them either.  They just sat in the basement until my mother tired of them and threw them out.

While my father was an avid reader of the newspaper there were no books in the house and not even any bookshelves.  I don't remember ever seeing my father with a book in his hands and only in her later years has my mother developed an interest in reading.

When I was about 8 I developed a love for the Nancy Drew series of books and began collecting them.  They were sold at the JL Hudson Department Store at the time and I could always count on a book or two (or maybe three) for a birthday or Christmas.  Slowly my collection grew and I was known for taking a book to bed with me and reading with the bed light on until my mother would 'catch' me.  I devoured those books and still have the entire collection to this day.  Not giving my age away but at least the first half of these books all have a copyright date of 1932 and have the old blue bindings as opposed to the more current colored covers and binding.

I can remember two instances regarding my Nancy Drew books.  One involved my search for one elusive volume - "Nancy's Mysterious Letter".  For some reason I was not able to find that book.  One day at school I was on the playground and there in the dirt and grass was a book with a burgundy masking tape binding.  I picked up the book and lo and behold it was "Nancy's Mysterious Letter".  I was ecstatic and picked it up quickly.  It had obviously seen some wear but I still have that book today in my collection.

The other instance involving my collection was when I was having my 10th birthday party.  It was the heyday of my love for Nancy Drew and my grandparents came over to the house for my birthday.  My grandmother was carrying a huge present that she handed to me.  It was so incredibly heavy that I was just certain it contained lots of Nancy Drew books.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the package to find NOT books but rather a very unusual gift for a 10 year old - a set of WHITE bed sheets for my bed.  My grandmother remarked to me "your mother needs sheets" and that is what I received.  To this day I still remember my disappointment and marvel at my grandmother's thinking - if she wanted to buy me sheets maybe some pretty girly pattern would have been better than stark white.  I laugh about it now but that memory has remained.

Remembrance #2 - My paternal grandparents lived in East Detroit as well as we did and were just a few miles away from our  home.  I spent much time in their home over the years and remember it well.  My grandmother was a very particular housekeeper and her home was immaculate.  What I remember is that everything was in its place, clean as a whistle and when we were there we were not allowed to touch anything or mess anything up.  It was a very scary time being there as my grandmother exuded a spirit of toughness.  My grandfather on the other hand was wonderfully loving and tried to temper her personality to little avail.  I do remember that while they had no books sitting around or even book shelves, no magazines and if there were newspapers they were quickly picked up, they did have two books in their house that were hidden away (probably so they wouldn't get dusty-dust was NOT my grandmother's friend).  They had a large round table with claw feet in the living room that had a series of drawers around the table.  Only one drawer opened and when grandma wasn't looking we liked to try and figure out which drawer actually opened.  In the one drawer were two books - "Andersen's Fairy Tales" and "Grimm's Fairy Tales".  If I asked my grandmother really nice, and caught her in a good mood, she would let me actually open the drawer and read one book.  

I had to sit still in a chair and was able to read the various stories in the book.  These were both old books, too, with copyright dates in the 1930's as well.  I don't have any idea where they came from but somehow or other I was given those books and still have them.

Remembrance #3 - My parents were very active bowlers and my brother and I had to accompany them to the alleys on the 3 nights a week that they bowled.  I like to say that I grew up doing homework at bowling alleys and that was true.  One of their mixed leagues included an elderly widower in his 80's who loved the game.  Sometimes we would drive him home after bowling and one time, noting my persistence with reading at the alleys, he invited us into his home.  He said that his wife had been a lover of books and that he had some books in his attic that he wanted to show me.  Up the stairs we went and I had never seen so many books in one place other than a library.  He told me that I could borrow any books to read at the bowling alley and after the season was over he told me to pick one that he would let me have.  I chose "The Search for Peggy Ann" by May Hollis Barton, copyright 1930 and have that book to this day.  I think I need to re-read it because I have no memory of the content of the book any more.  He was a dear sweet man with no children or grandchildren and I often wonder what happened to all those other wonderful books when he passed away.

Now in my home today I have bookshelves and more bookshelves.  Today I counted and I have 8 sets of bookshelves between my bedroom and my lower level office.  Between these 8 sets of shelves, there are 38 individual shelves.  Also in my living room is an 8 shelf unit built into the wall.  I will admit that all these shelves are full - general reading books, children's books, Nancy Drew books and, of course, many genealogical reference books.  

I have recently added a new medium to reading and that is a Toshiba Tablet with e-reader.  I am finding that I love the convenience of reading a book on my tablet and am delighted with this new concept.

The library has definitely always been my friend whether it is the public library or my own private library.  I can't see myself ever losing my passion for reading though my passion for genealogy sometimes gets in the way!

With the Internet, Google, World Cat, etc there is little doubt that any book one is searching for can be found with little difficulty or even after a 30+ year search.

What?  A 30+ year search for a book?  That's right and in my next post I will reveal the search I undertook for a valuable genealogical reference book that took me from 1981 until 2 weeks ago to actually find.

Stay tuned! 

 Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte
 Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte

Monday, April 2, 2012

My First Family in the 1940 US Census

Here it is - April 2, 2012 and the day of the launch of the 1940 US Census.  Like so many other genealogists I have been eagerly waiting for this day and planning my attack method.  I will admit that I was pretty confident, though, that the much awaited census release would cause a major snafu with the National Archives and Records Administration and I was certainly correct.

Try as I might from early this morning until about 4 pm I was unable to gain access to any Michigan census records that I was hoping to find.  I had planned to search first for my mother in this census as she was 14 at the time the census was taken.  I have her on the 1930 census as a 4 year old child and that showed her family living in the "country" on the family farm on Cleveland Avenue in St. Joseph, Michigan which is where my mother was born.  Between 1925 and 1939 when my mother began high school, however, the family had moved 5 times into various rental homes in the city proper of St. Joseph and she could not recall exactly WHICH home they lived at in 1940.  They also traditionally had an open door policy for relatives that were in need of a home from time to time and I was interested in seeing if her grandfather was listed as living with the family in 1940.  Despite my best efforts today, nothing was working on NARA.

Other sites were offering the 1940 census but the pickings were limited to a few states that did not involve my ancestors.  But when I saw on Ancestry that they did have the 1940 Indiana census records I had a thought.  My mother's aunt and family had lived in South Bend, IN so I decided to go in search of their record.

First to the 1930 census I went in search of the family of Joseph and Rose (Kijak) Baker.  I found them easily (indexed naturally) along with their young daughter Rose M.  An interesting find was the neighbors on each side of them who were Rose's half sister and family on one side - Joseph and Mary Emma (Banner) Linehan and Rose's half brother and family on the other side - Frank and Bernice Banner along with two more half brother's Anthony and James Banner.  Here are these three families in the 1930 Indiana US Census:

The source for this image from is as follows: 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

From this census I was able to ascertain the Enumeration District which was 71-3 in Clay Township, South Bend, Indiana and that took me back to Ancestry to look for these families in the 1940 Census.  Of course with no index yet this would be a bit more challenging.  The census for ED 71-3 consisted of 62 pages and I began scrolling and scrolling.  I will say that the quality of the film was excellent and I continued to scroll, scroll, and scroll.  My mother was standing over my shoulder watching me as she was caught up in the excitement of this event.  As the scrolling continued I began to despair thinking that these 3 families probably moved in the previous 10 years.  Finally my mother gave up at about page 50 and went back to her TV watching.

Not one to quit I continued.  Perhaps I should have started at the end and went backwards OR remember the phrase "and the last shall be first" because it was on page 62, the very last page of this ED, that I found Joseph and Rose (Kijak) Baker along with daughter Rose M as can be seen here:

The source for this image from is as follows: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.
This was an interesting census for me in that it showed Rose having had 7 years of education and I will be curious to see if her older brother, my grandfather, Joseph Kijak, had a similar amount of education.  As an added bonus, the supplementary census questions that were selected for some to answer were asked of my great aunt Rose and these correctly showed that her parents were both born in Poland, that Polish was the language spoken in her home when she was growing up and that she had given birth to ZERO children - the above daughter, Rose M, was adopted as my mother had always told me.

I did not find in this ED the other two families of Rose's half siblings but I am sure they are somewhere else in the South Bend area as they remained there their entire lives.  In any event I am pleased and can say that this family is the FIRST for me for the 1940 US census.

 Copyright (c) 2012, Cheryl J. Schulte

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Family Kolberg/Colberg...Part Ten


When I began my genealogy research in the mid-70's, I seemed to focus on my maternal grandmother's Kolberg line. It wasn't that I chose that line over the other lines but it seemed like I continued to have the most success with that family. This was surprising in that my Kolberg ancestors originated from a small village in what was once Pomerania and what became Poland. The chance of getting records from this small area seemed a bigger challenge than focusing on my West German ancestors. That proved to be untrue.

As the years progressed I had continuing success in my research on this family. My information at the outset was that my 2nd great grandparents, Friedrich-Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. & Henriette Amalie Kautz had 12 children (11 sons and 1 daughter) with 4 of the sons and the 1 daughter dying in infancy or childhood. The seven remaining sons lived to adulthood and my goal was to trace these 7 sons down to the present generation.

Five of the sons immigrated to the United States between 1880-1910 and all settled in Berrien County, Michigan where I live. Over the years I was successful in achieving my research goals with these 5 sons and successfully amassed a database of near 2,400 individuals descended from these 5 Colberg/Kolberg brothers - August, Heinrich, Otto, Paul and Ferdinand.

My research then turned to finding descendants for the other two brothers (Johann and Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr.) who had remained in Germany. During this research I received the most stupendous gift that any genealogist would love to have - I discovered a German cousin, from the family of brother #6 - Johann Colberg, who lived in Berlin and who not only was happy to hear from me but who also shared my passion for genealogy.

This cousin, Gerhard Kolberg, and I have had 13 wonderful years of collaborative connection. We not only shared our mutual files and managed to each achieve in the process data on 6 of the 7 Colberg/Kolberg brothers but we also visited each other on more than one occasion, met and mingled with family on both sides of the ocean and developed a real kinship. I have come to consider Gerhard a very special Uncle though in reality he is my mother's 3rd cousin. Over these years our e-mails have burned up cyberspace and I have 5 three ring binders full of the correspondence that Gerhard shared with me.

Together we continued to work on attempting to find information on the remaining elusive Kolberg brother, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr. but were unsuccessful. Gerhard's health began to decline and our correspondence became mainly familial topics and general interests.

In the last month I have had the remarkable good fortune to make a huge break-through in the search for information on Friedrich-Wilhelm, Jr and his family. I was not able to share this news with Gerhard as his daughter had informed me he was very ill and had been hospitalized through the holidays.

Today I received the sad news that my special cousin, Gerhard Kolberg, had passed away. The e-mail arrived just 30 minutes following his death and I was saddened to read it. I had known he was ill but had held out hope that he could recover. This was not to be.

Even though our relationship only lasted 13 years it was a wonderful connection and one that I will cherish always. Gerhard was a remarkable man with extraordinary talent and drive, loved by his daughter and her family as well as many other family members and numerous friends. He was a graphic designer by career, an author, a poet, an exceptional photographer and creator of family history videos, an avid reader who enjoyed the outdoors and made good use of each minute of every day. He was a devoted husband during his wife's life caring for her during her final years and maintained a sunny and friendly disposition.

I will certainly miss him and our connection. Our relationship was such that I felt I had known him my entire life. This certainly speaks to his character and charm.

I will continue the research on our mutual Kolberg family in memory of Gerhard and to thank him for the part he played in my life. He was one special person and I am honored to have been a small part of his remarkable life.

Gerhard Kolberg & great-granddaughter, Milena
Christmas, 2009
Berlin, Germany

Above photos personal collection of Cheryl Schulte