Monthly Archives: January 2014

Baptism Record for Edmund Krueger (1902-1995)

One of the frustrating and exciting things about genealogy is that you can revisit the same information over and over again, sometimes years later, and find things that you didn’t see before.  As you learn more and more about your family history, names that didn’t mean anything to you at one point will jump out at you as very important later.  This happened to me tonight.

This is the baptism certificate for my great-grand-uncle, Edmund Karl Franz “Eddie” Krueger, who was born on 12 Jul 1902 in Wausau, Wisconsin and was baptized at St. Stephens in Wausau on 31 Aug 1902.

Edmund Krueger Baptism,1902

Edmund Krueger Baptism,1902

The document says:

Werda glauben getauft wird der wird selig werden (Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved), Mark 16:16.

Taufschein (Baptismal Certificate)

Edmund Karl Franz Krueger, born 12th July, 1902, son of Heinrich Krueger and his wife Bertha née Kamrath, on the 31st August, 1902, in Wausau, Wisconsin, has been baptized in the name of the holy trinity.

Godparents: Karl Tisch, Franz Christian, Anna Krueger

F. Werhahan, Pastor.

“And he lay his hands on them and blessed them”, Mark 10:16

St. Stephens Evangelical Church, Wausau, Marathon County, Wisconsin

Ed and sister Norma Krueger, 1904

Ed and sister Norma Krueger, 1904

Eddie Krueger

Eddie Krueger 1919

Ed Krueger & Laura Hanke, 1924

Ed Krueger & Laura Hanke, 1924

I know much more about Prussian christenings than I did when I got this baptism record from my cousins Tom and Virginia Krueger about two years ago.  The family didn’t just pick anyone to be a godparent.  Often two adults and one young woman were chosen, and they were usually related to the family, either by blood or marriage.

“Franz Tisch” was Franz Joseph “Frank” Tisch (b 1863) who was the brother of the husband of Bertha Kamrath’s sister Helene Kamrath.  Helene was married to Joseph Tisch, and Franz was Joseph’s brother.

Johann Tisch & Helene Kamrath, wedding portrait

Johann Tisch & Helene Kamrath, wedding portrait

“Karl Christian” was Carl “Charles” Christian (b 1860) who would eventually be related to the family three different ways.  At the time of Eddie’s birth, however, he may have been only a close friend of the family.  The next Spring Carl’s son Anton Christian would marry Bertha Kamrath’s niece Annie Wymer.  Annie was the daughter of Bertha’s full sister Auguste Kamrath Wymer Otremba.  Annie and Anton were married in April of 1903.  Carl Christian was also the uncle of Anna Krueger’s eventual husband Carl Friedrich Daniel “Charley” Christian.  They were married in 1907.  The Christian family also became related to Bertha Strehlow’s family later when Arwin Strehlow married Angela Christian in 1929.

“Anna Krueger” was Anna Marta Auguste Krueger (1887 – 1981), Heinrich Krueger’s niece.  She was the daughter of Heinrich’s brother Carl Bertold Krueger and his wife Bertha Strehlow.  In 1907 Anna would marry Charley Christian, as stated above.  She was only 15 at the time of Edmund’s Christening.

Anna Krueger Christian

Anna Krueger Christian

Anna, Bertha (Strehlow), Helena, Walter, Carl, and William Krueger (l to r) c1925

Anna, Bertha (Strehlow), Helena, Walter, Carl, and William Krueger (l to r) c1925


Let There Be Color

Recently someone on Facebook posted a link to a series of historic black & white photographs which had been realistically colored using computer software.  You can visit the article here:

http://twentytwowords.com/2013/11/06/realistically-colorized-historical-photos-make-the-past-seem-incredibly-real-36-pictures/

I was surprised by my reaction to the photographs.  They seemed to come alive for me emotionally in a way that I didn’t expect.  As moving and artistic and full of “vintage charm” as black and white or sepia-toned photographs can be – and believe me, I love old photographs – seeing the past colorized in this realistic way made the captured events seem visceral… tangible… in a way they had never seemed to me.

I looked around on the web to find someone who did this kind of work.  What I really wanted was to see some of my favorite family photographs redone in this way.  To bring them from the distant past to the present, emotionally.  I found a web site called scancafe.com which did a great job scanning some old family slides for me.  I sent them a few photos to colorize, and I think they did an amazing job.

The first photo I had done was a photo of my great-great-grandparents, Heinrich and Bertha Krueger.  When I opened the file I was just as thrilled as I had hoped:

Heinrich & Bertha Krueger, c1895

Heinrich & Bertha Krueger, c1895

I made Bertha’s eyes green, because green eyes are a Krueger trait that many members of the family carried or carry, including my mother.  The first thing I did when I got the file was to blow it up until my grandparents faces were life-sized.  It felt like looking into the eyes of someone I knew.

The next photo I had done was a photo of Bertha when she was a younger woman.  This photo was probably taken about 1885, shortly after she came to America from Roggow, Pomerania, Prussia.  As much as I love this photo, she seems even more lovely with her green eyes and beautiful grey dress.

Bertha Kamrath Krueger, c1885

Bertha Kamrath Krueger, c1885

This next photo is another of my favorites.  It’s the photo of the Schmidt family taken in 1893 when they were reunited after the five sisters and their mother, Wilhelmine Winkelmann Schmidt, made the trip to America from their home town of Gornitz, Posen, Prussia.  The textures of the clothing are really remarkable.  I love how “real” the fabrics seem.

Schmidt Family, 1893

Schmidt Family, 1893

My great-great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt, c1908:

Wilhelm Schmidt c1908

Wilhelm Schmidt c1908

 


Schmidt Saloon – Rothschild, Wisconsin

A little after the turn of the century my great-great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt opened a saloon on the outskirts of Weston, Wisconsin.  [In 1917 the part of the town where the Schmidts lived was incorporated and became the village of Rothschild, Wisconsin.]  The saloon was located on what is today Highway 51, and was was then called Grand Avenue.  It was the only place to drink between the Rothschild Paper Mill and Wausau, where most of the workers lived, and it was right along the highway that led from the mill to town.  It did big business with the mill’s thirsty workers whenever each shift ended.

The saloon underwent several name changes.  It was known at various points as the “William Schmidt Rothschild’s Saloon”, the “Five Mile Saloon” [so-named because it was five miles from Wausau], and the “Schmidt and Throm Saloon”.  From what I’ve been able to determine from land records, the saloon was located near the present site of “PJ’s Log Jam” just outside of Rothschild.

Saloon location shown on modern-day map

Saloon location shown on modern-day map

The saloon apparently opened sometime between 1900 and 1905 since Wilhelm was listed as a “farmer” on the 1900 US census for Weston, Wisconsin, then was listed as a “Saloon Keeper” on the 1905 state census.

This photo was taken right about 1905 outside William and Ottelia Schmidt’s “Rothschild’s Saloon”.

Rothchild's Saloon, 1905

Rothchild’s Saloon, 1905

The photo is from the book “Wisconsin Heartland: The Story of Wausau and Marathon County” by Michael Kronenwetter. The caption reads

“From left to right: Dogs “Lody” and “Rover”, E.F. Schmidt, Loui [Louis] Schmidt on horse “Katie”, William Schmidt and Grandma [Ottelia] Schmidt, William Schmidt Jr., and “Muxie”, Fred Altenburg of Merrill with “Fredie” and “Maude” (horses that helped build the [Marathon Paper Company] dam), and Albert A Schmidt with his pet “Lambie” standing in front of the Wm. Schmidt Rothschild Saloon.”

Fred Altenberg is listed as a farm hand living with the Schmidt family in the 1905 census.  I find the caption somewhat humorous because Ottelia would not become a grandmother until 1912 when the Schmidt’s first child, Mabel, was born.

Apparently the bar could be a fairly rough-and-tumble place.  The experience of working in the saloon lead Wilhelm’s son Albert to become a teetotaler, according to his son Russ Schmidt.

This next photo, likely taken a couple of years later, shows another angle of the Saloon with a bevy of locals drinking and celebrating.  The man in the doorway seems to be my great-grandfather Edwin Schmidt.

Patrons outside the Schmidt Saloon

Patrons outside the Schmidt Saloon

Photo courtesy of Jayne Schmidt Robinson.

This photo shows the saloon during its “Five Mile Saloon” phase.  Seemingly not much was changed except the name.

Five Mile Saloon

Five Mile Saloon

Photo courtesy of Norma Wendorf Bandock.

This next photo, taken on Labor Day, 1908, shows my grandfather, the proud owner, behind his bar.  If you have some time, download the photo and really go over it in detail.  There’s so much to see behind the bar!

Wilhelm Schmidt in his Saloon, Labor Day, 1908

Wilhelm Schmidt in his Saloon, Labor Day, 1908

Photo courtesy of Norma Wendorf Bandock.

This next photo shows the “back room” of the Saloon (you can see that the wallpaper is the same).  There is an elaborate pot-bellied stove in the center of the room, a scale and packaging paper on the left, and a display selling cigars, cigarettes, and chocolates on the right.  There is also a smaller room for employees visible in the back with a beautifully-carved dresser.  A barely-visible calendar on the wall shows the year: 1909.

Schmidt Saloon Backroom

Schmidt Saloon Backroom

Photo from the archives of Norma Schmidt Krueger.

Wilhelm apparently ran the bar with help from his wife, Ottelia Zierke Schmidt, and his son Edwin Schmidt Sr., my great-grandfather.  Edwin Schmidt’s WWI Draft Registration Card from 5 Jun 1917 lists his occupation as “Bartender in mother’s Saloon, Rothschild”.  It was listed as his mother’s bar because Wilhelm was in Waupun Prison at the time.

Edwin Schmidt WWI Draft Card

Edwin Schmidt WWI Draft Card

The last photo I have was part of a photo album owned by Wilhelm’s son Billy Schmidt.  It shows a somewhat remodeled Schmidt Saloon in 1915, a few years before Prohibition took effect in 1919 shutting down most Wisconsin taverns.  There are, however, family rumors that the Schmidt saloon kept operating with illicit liquor “coming in the back door” even during prohibition.

Schmidt Saloon, 1915

Schmidt Saloon, 1915

Photo courtesy of Norma Wendorf Bandock.

This photo seems to show the view from the doorway of the Saloon looking out onto Grand Avenue, showing a passing Model T truck.  It was probably taken about 1915 also.

Saloon View, c1915

Saloon View, c1915

Photo from the archives of Norma Schmidt Krueger.

Wilhelm’s son Billy eventually opened his own bar called “Schmidty’s” at or near the same location.  This is a flyer for that incarnation of the bar, which shows the exterior of the bar as well as a map with its location on the back (courtesy of Norma Wendorf Bandock):

Billy Schmidt Bar Flyer (front)

Billy Schmidt Bar Flyer (front)

Billy Schmidt Bar Flyer (back)

Billy Schmidt Bar Flyer (back)

Finally, a photo of Billy Schmidt’s tavern showing the interior of the bar c1938.

Billy Schmidt Tavern, 1938

Billy Schmidt Tavern, 1938

Photo courtesy of Norma Wendorf Bandock


Bigger Than Us

In doing genealogy I have had several encounters with people who are fiercely protective of information about their ancestors.  They don’t want this or that picture on the web.  They want this story taken down.  They don’t want anyone to have a copy of certain documents, etc.  They want the information kept just for them.  They know, but they don’t want anyone else to know.

Broadly, our ancestors do not belong to us.  They belong to all those who will someday be born to their lines, generation after generation.  They belong to history itself.  It is not our job to keep information locked away where it will be lost eventually when we die.  If we see things that way, eventually every one of the ancestors who gave us our genetics and the lives we know will be forgotten, dust, lost.

People who feel like they should keep information about their ancestors secret and lock it away – people who think they *own* their ancestors – they are making it more likely that those ancestors will be forgotten.  It makes me sad, because the loss is so much greater than just the loss of a person. It’s the loss of that person to every descendant who could have known them and, in doing so, known something of themselves.


Schmidt Family Postcards, 1913-1914

Sending postcards was a very important method of communication for my Schmidt family living in Marathon County, Wisconsin around the turn of the century. Fortunately for me, some of these postcards have been preserved by various family members.  I am also fortunate because it was apparently a fairly common occurrence at that time and place for roving photographers to take photos of everyday people, then make postcards to sell back to them.  My family purchased and used these postcards on many occasions.

Here are two important postcards that were in the archives of my cousin Jayne Schmidt Robinson. The first was written by my great-great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt. The message it conveys is banal, unfortunately, but the larger context makes this absolutely priceless to me.

The postcard was written on 12 Oct 1913, which was a rather dramatic period of time for my family.  As I documented elsewhere, George Kramer was shot by a gun set in the family orchard on 24 Aug 1913, and he died on 4 Nov 1913.  So this postcard was sent in the period between those two events.  My grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt seems to have tried to get away from the pressure at home by going north to Tomahawk Lake, which is near Minoqua, Wisconsin.  The script is in his hand, and is written in German with several English words used, but written in German spelling.  For example “Gut bei” for good-bye, “fichun” for fishing, and “laeck” for lake.  That little detail makes me feel much closer to my grandfather.  Here is the translation:

From Tomahawk Lake, WI

Mr. Louis Schmidt
Rothschild P.O.
Marathon Co. Wis

Oct 12 1913
Hello Louis,
How are things with all of you? Things here are the same.
Bad fishing, too much wind on the lake.
Good-bye from
W. S.

WilhelmSchmidtPostcard_12Oct1913_back

The postcard itself shows my great-great-grandfather standing in the back row at the far right (bald with mustache) and a group of unknown men in what seems to be a semi-permanent tent with a heating stove.  I’m assuming this was taken at some kind of lake resort for hunting and fishing in Minoqua near Lake Tomahawk.

WilhelmSchmidtPostcard_12Oct1913_front

Wilhlem Schmidt with unknown men, Oct 1913

The second postcard, just as poignant in terms of its timing, was written by Wilhelm’s son Louis on 11 Apr 1914.  His father had just been sent to prison a couple of weeks earlier and Louis is writing to Wilhelm at the men’s penitentiary in Waupun, WI.  Louis was 24 years old at the time.

Wm. Schmidt
Box C S 28
Waupun, Wis

Rothschild, Wis
22 Apr 1914

Hello Pa, how are you?  I’ll you you the new 9 inch[es] of snow this morning.  I got a job.  100 cord slabs [of wood] to cut for [the] ice and fuel co[mpany].  He was after me yesterday so I can go, and not tomorrow either.  D.C. Everest wonce [wants] me to take the team [of horses] out to town hall tomorrow.  He wonce [wants] Ferd Laut too.  Get in well Pa, so good-bye.  [Hope] to hear from you soon.  Your son, L. Schmidt

LouisSchmidtPostcard1914_back

The photo is one of the professional photos shot of the Schmidt Family the previous Summer in front of Louis Schmidt’s home.  You can see more of these photos with identifications here.

LouisSchmidtPostcard1914_front


Threshing Machine, c1901

One of my favorite photos that my cousin Jayne Schmidt Robinson allowed me to scan yesterday is this one of a team of men working a threshing machine in a field.

[Click on any photo to enlarge or download.]

Threshing Machine c1901

Threshing Machine c1901

Once it was scanned I could zoom in on it with the computer, and I recognized that the boy standing on the threshing machine (with a red dot on his chest made with a pen) was my great-grand-uncle Louis Schmidt:

LouisSchmidtThreshingMachine1901_detail

Louis Schmidt on Threshing Machine

Louis Schmidt (zoom)

Louis Schmidt (zoom)

I also noticed that the wagon on the far right of the photo said “Meuret & Schmidt”:

LouisSchmidtThreshingMachine1901_detail3

So, this was apparently a partnership between my great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt and a man named Meuret.  Next I found the 1901 plat map for Weston Township in Marathon County, Wisconsin and noticed that my grandfather owned some land in the middle of the township, but also 80 acres in the south of the township which was listed to “J. Meurett & Wm. Schmidt”:

Plat Map showing Meuret/Schmidt land.

Plat Map showing Meuret/Schmidt land.

I checked the census records and I found an entry in the 1910 census for nearby Schofield, Wisconsin which showed a John Meuret, a French immigrant, and his son Joseph Meuret, who was listed as a “fireman” on a “threshing machine”:

Meuret Census 1910

Meuret Census 1910

The fireman on a steam train was the person in charge of stoking the boiler.  Joseph was only 9 years old in 1901, so it’s perhaps an older brother of his running the steam engine in this photo.  John Meuret Sr. had 9 children, 7 of which survived, according to the census.

JosephMeuretThreshingMachine1901

Joseph Meuret running steam engine.

If you look closely you can see that the “tractor” is actually just a steam engine on wheels,  You can see the wood piled in front of it to stoke the boiler, and a barrel with water to put inside that will be turned to steam.  The engine is powering a big pulley that, in turn, runs a very large belt that’s providing the power to the threshing part of the operation.

There are three men with wagons who are hauling the straw (and likely grain) generated by the threshing.  If you look at the photo of Louis, there are three other men on the machine, one of whom has a huge oil can in his hand, so they are probably the team in charge of operating and maintaining the thresher.  Then there are six men with pitchforks who are moving the straw into piles and into wagons.  A rather large operation!

I think the man running this wagon is my great-great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt:

LouisSchmidtThreshingMachine1901_detail2


Schmidt Family Photo Session – 1913

In the Summer of 1913 my great-grand-uncle Louis Schmidt or his father Wilhelm decided to have a professional photographer take some photos of the Schmidt home and family.  I’ve managed to accumulate several of the photos taken that day and I thought I’d post them all together here.  This is such a bitter-sweet set of photos for me because only a few weeks later, on 24 Aug 1913, George Kramer would be shot by a gun set in Wilhelm Schmidt’s apple orchard, and the family would never be the same after that.  These photos capture the family just as it reached its power and stride, right before it would be tested by having its patriarch sent to prison for five years.

The photos were taken at the Schmidt farmhouse on Highway 51, which was called Grand Avenue at the time, in Weston, Wisconsin.  Today the land is part of the village of Rothschild, but the home itself was demolished to make room for a subdivision after falling into disrepair.

The farm was along Highway 51 between what is now Schmidt Avenue and Becker Street.  The large, beautiful home was built in 1909 by Wilhelm Schmidt – the foundation was dug May 1st of that year – and cost about $1,400 to build.  Wilhelm and Ottelia lived there with their family until about the time these photos were taken when they moved further north up Grand Avenue and built a home there which still stands at 1127 Grand Avenue.

LouisSchmidtPostcard1914_front

The first photo shows, l to r: Martha Radtke Schmidt, Ottelia Zierke Schmidt holding Mable Schmidt (Edwin and Olga’s first child) and Helen Schmidt (Louis and Martha’s first child), Olga Hanson Schmidt, Wilhelm, Edwin, Louis, Albert, & Billy Schmidt.  Courtesy of Jayne Schmidt Robinson.

Detail of larger photo.

Detail of larger photo.

SchmidtFamily&LouisHouse1913

(l to r): Wilhelm Schmidt, Ottelia Zierke Schmidt, Billy Schmidt, Albert Schmidt, Louis Schmidt, unknown girl (servant?), Martha Radtke, unknown man (farm hand?), Edwin Schmidt, Olga Hanson Schmidt. Courtesy of Jayne Schmidt Robinson.

Edwin and Olga Schmidt (detail).

Edwin and Olga Schmidt (detail).

Detail of larger photo.

Detail of larger photo.

SchmidtFamilyOnLawn1913_front

Left to right: Wilhelm, Albert, Edwin Schmidt with Mabel Schmidt in front of him, Olga Hanson Schmidt, Ottelia Zierke Schmidt, Martha Radtke Schmidt, Louis Schmidt holding Helen Schmidt, Billy Schmidt.  Courtesy of Jayne Schmidt Robinson.

SchmidtFamilyLouisHouse1913

l to r: Edwin Schmidt, Albert Schmidt, Ottelia Zierke Schmidt holding Mabel Schmidt, Olga Hanson Schmidt, Martha Radtke holding Helen Schmidt, Louis, Wilhelm, and Billy Schmidt.  Courtesy of Norma Wendorf Bandock.

Detail of larger photo.

Detail of larger photo.

SchmidtFamily1913_cleaned

L to r: Edwin, Albert, Billy, Martha (holding Helen), Olga (holding Mabel), Louis, Ottelia, Wilhelm.  From the archives of Lloyd and Norma Krueger.