Time for another family legend. This one concerns my great-great-grandmother Ottelie “Ottelia” Zierke.
My grandmother Norma Schmidt Krueger used to tell me a story about her grandmother, Ottelia. It went something like this:
My grandmother was a healer. She could put her hands on people and cure them of illnesses. One thing they would do is to bring a recently-deceased person into the house and there would be a ceremony where she would touch someone with an affliction, like a birthmark or some illness, and then touch the dead person, and she would transfer the ailment from the living person to the dead person. There was some kind of prayer or something that was said in German.
One day when I was a little girl I was playing in the barn on our property. There was one part where there was a low sort of a half-wall that went along. I was walking along the top of it like a balance beam when I lost my balance and fell into a pile of junk that was accumulated at the base of the wall. There was a broken wine glass in the pile of junk and the sharp point of the broken stem of the wine glass went right into my temple. I got up and it was just gushing, spurting blood. I put my hand over it and started to run toward home and my mother, but something told me to stop and go to my grandmother’s house instead. [Ottelia’s home was next door to the home of Edwin and Olga Schmidt, my grandmother’s parents.] I ran into my grandma’s kitchen. She knelt down and put one hand on each of my temples for a minute and the bleeding stopped immediately.
I asked other family members about this story and some of them confirmed hearing about this:
She supposedly had a healing touch and I recall her being bed ridden and people coming to the house to get healed. When she laid hands on people I remember she was praying or saying these words and I am not sure if it was in German or English.
As I’ve said before, the oldest member of the Schmidt family is Russell Schmidt, who is Ottelia’s grandson. I asked him about it:
Yes, I have seen Ottilia heal someone years ago. If I recall correctly, they called it “blowing”. One time when my Dad was sick in bed and apparently delirious, Grandma put her hands on him and said words I couldn’t understand. I would guess I was a little over 10 years old. I understood that she also did this with a woman from Schofield called Grandma Achterberg.
It’s interesting, and it made me wonder where she got her knowledge of how to do this. If it was a thing “from the Church” or if she learned it from her mother? Another cousin told me a story that might shed some light on this:
My mother did recall that [Ottelia] was a healer but she called it “behexing”. She remembers Ottelia saying that she could pass along her gift, but it needed to pass from woman to man. She passed her healing onto Otto Preilipp [Otto was the son of her husband’s first cousin, Hermann Prielipp]. My Mom doesn’t think he ever used it that she could remember.