Tag Archives: 52 ancestors in 52 weeks

The New And The

The trains still run by her old house in Puyallup, WA. In this story, my Aunt Iva Bailey, tells of growing up near near Meeker Junction in the 1920’s and 30’s.

The New and the Old

 Every time we take the short trip to Puyallup, the place where I was born and grew up in, there are new sights and sometimes new sounds. The railroad that runs through the middle of town is still there but the old steam locomotives that pulled the trains of cars are gone. In their place are diesels.

As we sat in our car at the crossing waiting for the train to pass before we could cross the tracks and be on our way. I thought of the days gone by and the part the railroad played in my memories.

We lived just a mile from the depot, in what was called Meeker Junction. Our house was less than a block from the tracks. When the train would come into the junction, they would start blowing their whistle for the several crossings between our house and town. They would keep blowing all the way into the depot.

The engines were fired with coal and the black smoke would pour out of their smoke stacks.

Sometimes if the wind conditions were just right, and this was quite often,  the smoke would all blow our way. The black soot would settle all over us. Many times my mother hearing the train coming would rush out and try to get her wash off of the clothes line before the train got there.  She didn’t always make it and would have to do the wash over again.

The  big red wooden water tank, where the engines took on their water was close by at the junction. It was always interesting for us kids to watch the man climb up the ladder and pull down the big spout that let the water run from the tank into the engine.

It was sad the first time we went back home after they tore down the big tank. It had become old and was no longer a need for the new diesels.

During the depression years in the 1930’s, people would walk up and down the railroad tracks with buckets picking up coal that had fallen from the many coal cars that was hauled by the big trains. That coal probably kept some little children warm that would have otherwise been cold.

 I remember the long trains of logs that would pass by every day. The train would be so long we couldn’t see the end from where we were. At first they were great big logs, sometimes only one log on a flat car, but as the years went by the logs got smaller and the trains got shorter.

It seems to me there were always men working on the railroad then. Many times the section gang, as the men were called, would be quartered near our house on the rails in bunks similar to those in a logging camp. They would have their dining car and after work at night we would hear the dinner bell calling the men to supper.

We were always sad when they would finish their work and move on to another location but it usually wasn’t long until some more men would come again.

It was fun watching the long train of passenger cars go by. We wondered where they had come from and where they were going. We would wave and the people would wave back. I can remember the first time I rode on the train. It was just a short trip. My Uncle Dick took my cousin Blanche and me from Orting to Puyallup which is about 10 miles. We had been visiting grandma and he was taking us back home. If we had been going to New York it wouldn’t have been the thrill that short trip was. It was fun watching for the places we knew.  When we came to our house my mother was watching for us and she waved. My dad met us at the station and took us home just as though we had come from a long distance.

During the 1930’s depression, men would ride the box cars hunting for work, or maybe because there was nothing else to do. Lots of them came to Puyallup. They would get off of the train before it went into town, so Meeker Junction was the place they established a hobo camp, as we called them.

This camp was just across the track from our house. Every day we would have men coming to the house wanting to work for something to eat. We didn’t have work for them to do but my mother would give them food anyway.

Sometimes they would want some particular item such as potatoes, carrots or some other vegetable. I guess they would make a soup or stew and several of them would get together on it. We had them ask for our used coffee grounds but we always gave them fresh coffee. I think they must have had some kind of a mark on our house showing that we some kind of easy mark because they kept coming all through the depression.

The Salvation Army would come to the camp every Sunday. They would have prayer and play their instruments and sing. The men would wash their clothes and hang them to dry on the fence along the tracks. It always seemed funny to us to watch the men hanging up their underwear while the band played Onward Christian Soldiers or some other hymn.

As the years went by and I was old enough to date, the train played another role in my life. My dad would tell me what time I was to come home but sometimes I  would be a little late getting there. I soon learned that if I would wait until the train came by before opening the door, the train made so much noise, dad wouldn’t hear me come in.

Yes, I remember the old steam coal powered train like an old friend. Somehow the diesels just aren’t the same.

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Treasure Chest Tuesday

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This is another treasure I inherited from my Mother. It was made by my Grandma Rose Meyer. My Mom brought it home when they left the old farmhouse. Mom loved it but she never did display it, for  years it sat upstairs rolled up in a corner. I can’t see the sense of having something if you can’t enjoy it, so I display it on the back of a seldom used love seat. At this time of year it echoes the colorful leaves of red, yellow and orange outside my windows.

The rug was made in the 1960’s. The design is original. My grandmother used the beautiful fall trees in her yard for inspiration. It is made of wool probably of old wool she collected. My Grandma Rose enjoyed making things out of cast off things.

The Life Peter Uelmen

Johann Uelmen-(1806-1860) —Peter Uelmen 1852-1926 —Rosalia Uelmen Meyer 1891-1975

Peter Uelmen

Peter was not quite five years old when his family left their ancestral  village of Strohn, Germany and made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. He  was accompanied by his parents Johann Adam and,Margaretha Lenertz Uelmen, his older sister Catherine, 16 and brothers Johann Adam, 11 and Nicholas, 9.

New York ship passage records show the family traveled in steerage,  They arrived aboard the ship “York” on July 2, 1857.  Family and friends already in Wisconsin no doubt had advised them of the necessary arrangements to get them from New York to Wisconsin.  Had selling their land in Germany given them enough money to make the journey or did the family in Wisconsin help out?

Family lore states that the family settled in St. Michaels, Kewaskum, Washington county, WI. Johann was said to have been a farmer who brought and planted grape vines upon settling.  Apparently the wine was either not any good or couldn’t be sold and the idea was abandoned.  Today the area they immigrated from is dotted with wineries.

1858 records indicate that his father had begun the process of applying for naturalization.  In April of  1860, at the age of 53, his father would die. Peter was left fatherless at the early age of seven. The cause of his death is unknown. I wonder if his death caused the family to regret their decision to move?

I have been unable to locate the family in the 1860 census records. Their name is probably misspelled and lost in the records. Did  they attempt to farm on their own?  Peter’s sister would have been 18, his brother’s 13 and 11 or perhaps they started living with another family member. His obituary does mention that he attended the New Prospect school as a young boy indicating the family probably lived in that area. The records do show his sister Catherine married John Meeth in1862, at St. Michael’s Catholic church in Kewaskum.  His brother John Adam married Margaret Siimon in 1868  at St. Mathais church in Auburn township, Wisconsin. I’ve found nothing else about the family until 1870. i

In  1870 the census shows Peter’s mother, Magaretha, living with his older brother  Johan Adam and his wife, at Armstrong’s Corner, Auburn  township, Wisconsin.  Margaretha’s brother-in-law Mathias Uelmen is also  living in the same area with his son, Adam Uelmen (Johann Adam).

The 1870 census shows Peter living  in  Menominee, Menominee county, Michigan. He is working in a sawmill and living in a boarding house.  His age is listed as 17.  Where his brother Nick was is unknown but he married Margaret Theusch at St. Michael’s church in 1872.

In 1871 Peter had moved just over the Michigan border to Marinette, Wisconsin.  He was working for the Stevenson Lumber Company.  Marinettes’ proximity to both the Menominee River and Green Bay  created a bustling timber industry.  Most likely Peter had gone  there to take advantage of the jobs available in the timber industry.

All during the months of 1871 this area lacked for rain. The dry conditions were  made worse by frequent sporadic fires.  The residents of Marinette took to walking around town with clothes covering their faces as dust filled air became a way of life.  Fevers and lung problems were commmon. Even so no one was prepared for the firestorm that would sweep through the area on the evening of Oct. 8th, 1871.

I don’t know exactly where or what Peter was doing that evening. I do know that my Mother use to have a copy of an interview, the Kewaskum Statesman newspaper printed, of his experience.  Apparetly a reporter overheard him talking about it while in a Kewascusm store on the anniversary of the fire and interviewed him. ( note to self I need to look this)

The town of Marinette did not experience the wholescale carnage the town of Peshtigo suffered.  But the fire encompassed a wide area not just Peshitigo.  Marinette was within the bounds of the fire storm.  Even if Peter didn’t experience the fury of the fire firsthand he was most likely called upon to help with the carnage left in the fire’s wake.

Today it is still the worst forest fire recorded in North American history taking between 1200-2400 lives. Another fire occurred the same night in Chicago, perhaps because of a famous song about a cow kicking a lantern over, it is this fire history remembers but the one that raged across the lake was far worse. If you would like to know more about this fire  you can consult one of the many good web pages dedicated to it.

In 1868 a family by the name of Schleis immigrated from Bohemia and settled in nearby Carlton township, Kewaunee county, WI.  They came with 5 children one of them a young girl by the name of Maria. In 1877, at the age of 20, she married Peter in Menominee Falls, MI. How they met or why they married in Menominee instead of her family church in Carlton is unknown.  Perhaps Maria had gone to work in one of the logging camps.

Peter by this time must have saved enough money to purchase his own farm back where his family lived. The 1880 census shows Peter and Maria living on a farm in the town of Auburn with two children, John age 2 and Barbara 11 months.  Both children were born in Wisconsin. Peter’s mother is living with his sister Catherine in Kewaskum.

Over the next two decades the family continued to grow.  By  July of 1900 they had 12 children ranging in ages of 22 to newborn.  It was also around this time that Peter built his family a fine new American style farm house.  It was this house and farm that later became the Meyer farm in New Prospect.

His children are as follows:   John b. 1878, Barbara, 1879, Anna b. 1881, Joseph P. b. 1883, Nicholas E b. 1885, Katherine b. 1887, Henry b.1889 (he was the only child to die young at age 4) , Rosalia b. 1891, Marie b.1893, Henry E. b 1894, Leo J. b. 1895, and  Norbert b.1900.

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In the winter of 1915 he sold this farm to my Grandfather George Meyer and moved his wife and youngest children to Campbellsport, WI.

In 1918 the Uelmen family received the alarming news that their son Leo had been seriously injured by a machine gun somewhere in France during WWI.  I can imagine the worry and fret the  family must have gone through while waiting for word on his recovery.

EXTRA
PRIVATE UELMEN INJURED

  Mr. and Mrs. Peter Uelmen received a message from Washington this morning, stating that their son Leo had been seriously wounded by a Machine Gun on March 22nd, “Somewhere in France.” The message does not give any further details.
News from Fond du Lac this morning states that 46 Fond du Lac county boys were suffering from wounds, among them being Sergt. John Mohr, a brother of Mrs. L. H. Beiersdorf of this village.

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(Scan courtesy Alan Krueger)

Peter was still living in Campbellsport  when he suffered a stroke.  He died 3 weeks later in July of 1926 at the age of 73.  His obituary states that he had served as the assessor of Auburn township for 13 years and the assessor for Campbellsport for 6 years. He was survived by his widow and 10 children. He is buried in St. Matthews Catholic cemetery, Campbellsport, Wisconsin.

Treasure Chest Thursday

Rustic Vase from My Grandma Rose

Rustic crockery vase belonging to my Grandma Rose Uelmen Meyer

Treasure chest Thursday means it’s time to share a family gem.  Yes, the sunflowers are pretty but the crock is the focus of this piece. Mom gave this to me several years before she and my Dad moved out of their house.  She knew I’d appreciate it’s rustic charm.  It’s my favorite vase for country bouquets.

I find it kind of strange though, that my Mom  chose this as one of the few things she could take from the family farm. Living in WA state limited how much she could bring home and she didn’t really care for the rustic look.

Although you can’t see it in this photo the crock does have a chip along it’s rim. It was the sort of thing she’d say when shown, “Who’d want that old thing.”  This piece must have must have spoken something about her childhood home and mother though, I guess I should have questioned her more.

She did tell me that her Mother found this piece while poking around in a vacant lot across the road from the church they attended. (ST. Mathias Catholic Church, Auburn Township, Fond Du Lac county, Wi)  According to her a  German convent had once sat on the property.  She figured the crock was something they used.  She told me the convent had been long gone by the time she was born.

So my question to you is – what kind of family treasures do you keep? Feel free to share in the comment section.

School Days in New Prospect

This is another story written by my mother about the days in a one room school house in New Prospect, Wisconsin. She attended school there from about 1927 until about 1934. Later she became a teacher and taught school there.

SCHOOL DAYS
Jeannette Meyer

I received my early education in a one room school house in Wisconsin. One teacher taught all eight grades.

The school house was a big square room with an entry way and a cloak room on each side: one for the boys and one for the girls.

On top was a bell tower. In the early days the building had also served as a church on Sunday.2014-07-01 22.33.40-1 That accounted for the fact that a cemetery was next door to the school. This fascinated all of us children. I can remember watching funerals from the school house window while the teacher tried in vain to get us all back to our desks. She considered it undignified but we just thought it was interesting.

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All of the students from the surrounding farming community walked to and from school in good weather and in bad. I had to walk about a mile and half from my home. I walked with my older sister and sometimes our big brother.

Our school was heated by a big coal burning furnace that stood in one corner of the room. It was encircled by an picket of aluminum so no child would fall against the furnace and get hurt. The teacher was also the janitor but often the big boys would help with carrying the coal.

Water was gotten from a hand pump in the schoolyard. The water was carried from the pump in a bucket to the water cooler in the back of the classroom. Each child had its own collapsible tin cup.

I loved school. I was happy when I could read. I remember my first yellow reader. History was probably my favorite subject. We had to memorize a lot of verse. This was good training for the mind. I can recite part of Longfellow’s “Evangeline” to this day.

Our school operated on a very small budget, so there was very little money for library books or reference material. We did get books from the county traveling library. One of my favorites was “Ox Team Days On The Oregon Trail” I read it many times and thought the children in the story were so lucky to travel in a covered wagon. Little did I dream, that when I was all grown-up with a husband and little girl of my own, I would travel along many of those same areas in an automobile on super highways to settle near the end of the Oregon Trail.

One big advantage to a one room school was that one could always get a review of anything forgotten by listening to the class below our level. If you were bored with your own classwork you could learn a lot by listening to the upper classes. I also had a brother and a sister to defend me on the playground if need be.

The student body was really like one big family with the older children looking after the younger. It was sort of a buddy system.

Recess and noon hour were great times. In the spring and fall we played baseball or “Run Sheep Run.” In the winter we went sledding on a hill a short distance from the school. In march we would walk to a nearby forest of maple trees and watch the cooking of maple syrup. In early Ma we would go to the same woods to pick Mayflowers and violets. There was also a swing set on the playground and it was here I met with an accident.

An eighth grade boy was swinging with me and I was a first grader. I sat on the seat and he stood on the seat and pumped the swing higher and higher. We all did this all the time but one day I fell off and landed with a thud on my stomach. I was knocked out and vaguely remember someone picking me up and carrying me into the school. Some time later I came to and saw one of the upper grade girls fanning me. I tried to stand up but the room spun around and I felt sick to my stomach. I laid down until it was time to go home. My brother tried carrying me for awhile but gave it up when he was offered a ride on friend’s bicycle. My big sister stayed beside me as I staggered home. I’m sure I must have had a concussion, but not called a doctor. A doctor was for big things – like broken legs.

Can you imagine a child today being allowed to walk home after an accident like that!

 

 

 

 

Throw Back Thursday

This photo is in honor of my Dad and Father’s day this coming Sunday. I’m planning to spend the day with him so this is a little early.   Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

I actually have the sailor suit he is wearing. His mother made it.  I think he must have been 3-4 years old so the year must be  about 1925 or 26.   He’s holding a bunny so maybe it’s an Easter photo.

The photo was taken at his home in Puyallup, WA.  The stonework behind him was part of the porch his dad built.  The house and porch are still standing nearly 100 years later.  He carried the stones home from the Carbon River.

John Meyer Gets Married

John Meyer and others at is home in Cascade

John Meyer and others at is home in Cascade. PD_0050

 

When Johannes’ and Julia Meyer went back to New York state they  took their youngest son Charles back with them. Johannes’ daughter, Catherine (known as Kate) was still in New York.  The remaining 5 Meyer children remained in Wisconsin. Margaret married Phillip Welter and eventually ended up on a farm in Kaukauna, WI.  Anna had married Fredrick Seyforth ( Julia’s son) and moved to a farm in the area of Pepin, Wisconsin. Mary married Wilhelm Demand, a civil )war veteran.  They lived in Sheboygan, WI. The two boys John and George were still unmarried when their father left but also remained in Wisconsin.  George married Sophia Allman and eventually moved to Brown county, South Dakota.  And John, my great grandfather settled in Cascade, Wisconsin where he became a shoemaker.

The 1880 census shows him boarding with August Hafenmeister, also a shoemaker and his wife. In the same census a young woman  by the name of Maria (Mary) Thomsen is living and working as a servant in the town.  The following year these two would marry on July 10th, 1881.

Mary was quite a bit younger than John. She had been born in 1860 in Denmark.  Thus making her almost 16 years younger than he.

They settled into a house in Cascade and soon their first son was born.  They  named him William.  He died about a year later of summer complaint.  He was followed by three more sons, Frank born in in 1884, Geroge H. in 1888 and Arno A. in 1893.

In 1892 John and August Hafenmeister dissolved their partnership and John continued to run the shoe business until 1925 on his own.

The picture below is a photo taken of John Meyer in front of his shoe shop.PD_0067

I know very little about their life there in Cascade except through frequent mentions in the Sheboygan Press after 1914 until his death in 1926.  His shoe shops was reported as a popular meeting place for the villagers to congregate to share the happenings and news of the day so he must have been a friendly, outgoing kind of man.

In January 1915 the Shebogan Press reported that John Meyer had remodeled and repainted his store and added electric lighting an improvement the paper suggested others in the village should also do.

The frequent postings in the Sheboygan Press similar to the ones below tell us friends and family were an important part of their life.

Feb 19, 1915

“Mr. and Mrs. John Meyer are entertaining Arno Meyer of Madison and George Meyer of Ladysmith and Miss Rose Allman of Dundee.”  (This post is  tells us John and Mary had their sons over along with George’s fiancé Rose Uelmen.  It also tells us George must have moved to Ladysmith before his marriage and that perhaps Rose is teaching school in Dundee.)

March 11, 1915 reported that; “Mrs. Koch and daughter Marion left for their home in Sheboygan on Monday after spending several weeks with their rleatives Mr. and Mrs. John Meyer.”  (Mrs. Koch would have been John’s niece and daughter of his sister Mary Meyer Demand. Although it is only 11 miles between Cascade and Sheboygan the frequency of family members  remaining several days on visits suggest getting to and from the two places was time consuming in the late teens).

In February of 1916 the paper reported: “John Meyer has returned home after he spent several days with his son George in Jersey.” ( This would have been just after George took over the farm there.  His Dad was probably helping him get situated. Rose had given birth to their first son John on Dec. 13th while the couple were visiting George’s parents in Cascade. According to my mother, Jeanette Meyer Caple, he was premature and very small. His grandmother Mary Meyer,  put him in a shoebox and kept him warm by the stove. Mary’s good care during the first few weeks of his life was credited with keeping him alive.)

June 30, 1916 the paper reported: Mr. and Mrs. George Balhorn, Dr. and Mrs. A W. Kraelzoch, Mr. and Mrs. Selle and Mrs. Thomson of Milwaukee, Mrs. Koch and daughter Marion and Mr. and Mrs George Meyer were week-end guests of Mr. and Mrs. John Meyer. (Mrs. Koch was John’s niece and Mrs. Thomsen was probably the wife of Mary’s brother Tom.)

On October 20, 1916 the paper reported: “Mr and Mrs. John Meyer motored to Jersey and were guests of Mr. and Mr.s George Meyer. (This post also indicates they own a car.)

Still other posts tell of John and Mary going to spend time with the same people in their homes.

In 1925 their are several posts mentioning that their grandchildren: John, Gertrude, Margaret and Marilyn have spent time visting their grandparents over night indicating that the couple enjoyed having their grandchildren around.

On Dec 8th, 1926 the paper reported that Mr. and Mrs. George Meyer and children visited on Sunday at the John Meyer home. Also that Mr. Arno Meyer of Waldo spent Monday at the John Meyer home. These 2 visits were most likely precipitated by a stroke John had suffered at about that time. A week later on Dec 13th he died at the age of 81. His obituary reported he had been in the shoe business for more 60 years and had enjoyed good health up until the stroke that resulted in his death. His funeral was held at the Cascade Lutheran Church and he was buried in St. Paul’s Lutheran cemetery, in Cascade.