Tag Archives: Wisconsin

The Schleiss Family

 

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Maria Schleiss Uelmen

It has been a while since I made a posting. Life changed for me and my siblings when we lost our beloved Father two days after Christmas.This will be my last installment (for now anyway) on the extended Meyer/ Uelmen family. Next I will turn my attention to my fraternal side of the family.

Josef Schleiss b. 1819 and Catherina Prausa b. 1825 — Maria Schleiss b. 1857 – Rosalia Uelmen b.1891

Year: 1868 

Place: a village somewhere in the Pilsen region of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).

The family: Josef Schleis, wife Katherina Prausa and their 5  children – Anna b. 1850, Catherina  b.1852, Maria b. 1857,  Franz, b. 1859 and Josephine b. 1864

Eleven year old Maria Schleiss skipped home on the way she noticed the men, who came every year telling of the good fortunes to be had in America, had returned. They made her think of her uncle who  lived there. She had never met him but from time to time he wrote letters glowing with the reports of the good farmland. and the ease of obtaining citizenship. Two years ago, after Prussia had begun to occupy their country, her aunt Barbara’s family had joined him. Maria thought the place was called Wisconsin. Her mother and father had discussed going with them but lacked the funds to make the move. Maria hadn’t minded she wasn’t so sure she wanted to move to a strange place so far away, even if they did have family there.

Once home Maria opened the door of her house. How strange, her parents and two older sisters were sitting at the table even though it wasn’t meal time. Her father held a letter and another piece of paper. Seeing Maria her sister Catherina jumped up. “Uncle Prausa has sent us a bank draft. We  are going to America.” From that moment on Maria’s life would never be the same.

The next weeks and months were busy ones. Very little could be taken along so most of their property needed to be sold or given away. Finally the day had come for final tearful good-byes. Maria looked longingly at the village she’d been born in and the friends and family gathered to say good-bye.  With tears in her eyes she to took one last look and then turned and left her life in Bohemia forever.

The family made their way to a train station where they boarded a train that would take them to Bremen (now in Germany). There they boarded the ship Gessner for the voyage to America.

Below is the ship passenger record for the Josef Schleis family. The ship Gessner departed from the port of Bremen and arrived in NY on July 15, 1868.  Josef’s occupation is listed as a weaver.

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Like the Uelmen and Meyer families they most likely made their way to Northwestern New York where they boarded another boat that would take them across the great lakes to her uncle in Kewaunee county, Wisconsin. Since Kewaunee borders Lake Michigan they were probably met by family or were able to arrange for immediate transportation to Katherina’s family in Carlton township.

In  1870 the census, shown below, shows the family living in Carlton Township of Kewaunee county.4268465_00741

Josef and his wife are listed as laborers. Directly above his listing is one for Katherina’s sister Barbara and her husband Mathias Rutka. The Shleiss family carries over to the next page where child Frank, age 11 is listed as well as a new child, Theresia, age one. Also on this page  is Katherina’s brother Josef Prausa.

The 1880 census shows the family is still living in Carlton township. Joseph is now listed as farming. Maria is no longer living with the family as she married Peter Ulemen in 1877 and was living in Auburn township, Fond du Lac county.

In 1896 Maria’s mother, Katerina died and is buried in St. Joseph’s cemetery, Norman, Kewaunee County,  Wisconsin. Her  father, Josef  is found living with his son Frank in Carlton township, Kewaunee county. He died died in 1908.

From The Kewaunee county Enterprise News from Carlton.

Mr. Joseph Schleiss an old resident of the town died last Saturday night after a short illness.  The deceased was 89 years old and buried in St. Joseph’s cemetery. Mr. Schleiss moved to this county from Bohemia forty years ago. He is survived by three daughters and one son.

notes: Although I have no absolute proof that Joseph Prausa and his sister were Catherina Prausa’s siblings the evidence for it is strong. Maria’s children said her uncle Prausa provided the money for their passage to America. There are no other Prausa’s living in Kewaunee county during the time period of their immigration. Joseph Prausa had emigrated about 1855 giving him time to save enough money for the family’s passage. Further more they are found living within close proximity of each other in both of the 1870 and 1880 census.

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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!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

The Meyer family arrival in New York

What a day it must have been when the Meyer family finally saw land. Weeks of living in the cramped dark steerage quarters of a ship with only the endless ocean for scenery were at an end.Soon they would set foot on land for the first time in over a month.

Nearing the New York bay where their ship would drop anchor they must have stood on the crowded deck, along with the other passengers and sailors,to get a glimpse of their new home. As they sailed into the harbor they would have seen the multitudes of church steeples, public liveries, factories, store and other structures that lined the bay.

Those who arrived before 1855 were hardly noticed in any official way. Once the ship was declared disease frèe the passengers were taken ashore.The Meyer family may have simply walked down a gangplank and right onto the boards of the pier. But not all ships could find a free dock. Many anchored out in the harbor. Passengers were loaded onto barges pulled by steamers.Their baggage and trunks would follow later.

Did our Meyer family have some friends or relatives there to meet them? If they did they are unknown. Had they been given specific directions on where to go now that they were ashore and how to get to their final destination?

The piers were often haunted by con men who spoke their languages. They would attempt to allure bewildered immigrants into boarding house or offer to help them procure tickets to their destinations often charging two or three times the fair price. Still others just took the money and left.

Perhaps Johann bought some coffee and flour rolls for the family and then went to procure what was needed for the next leg of the journey.

I can picture the children growing accustomed to their surroundings, listening to the foreign words and splashing each other with water they found at a fountain while sour faced women tried to soothe crying babies and wait for their husbands to return.

Did our Meyer family spend their first night in America somewhere in New York city or did they head directly North for Lewis county? Had Johann already purchased the land he was going to or did he do that after he landed? Remember his grandson Pierre felt he had purchased the property sight unseen. We may never know. But we do know it was fall. Lewis County is not a very populated area, even today. It was certainly a rural area when they arrived. Johann still had to build or procure a home for his family and find a way for them to survived their first winter in a new home. He must have had enough money still left to provide for much of what they would need in the coming months ahead.

Ring, Ring, New York Calling

About a week after sending my letter to Harry Bingle the phone rang.  A  Betty from Carthage, NY  called.  When she informed me the Harry Bingle in the nursing home wasn’t the one I wanted, my heart plummeted. She told me the Harry I wanted had died in 1968. Then she told me the Harry I was looking for was her father and Catherine Sauer Meyer her great-grandmother. She went on to say it was just by luck the letter had reached her. Someone on staff knew her and had recognized I was inquiring about her family and had passed the letter on.  Talk about serendipity.

She went on to tell me several of Johann Meyer’s descendants still lived in the area. Her family had kept in contact with the far flung offspring who’d left for Wisconsin but eventually had lost track of them. She was able to verify, the names I had for the girls, were correct. She promised to send me her Great- grandmother’s obituary which said the family had been from Strasburg, Alsace.  And she offered to do more digging in the records in her area when she had time.

Not long afterwards a Mr. Seyforth from Milwaukee Wisconsin e-mailed me.  He’d seen my query on Johann Meyer and thought we were looking at the same family. Several quick e-mails back and forth determined that we were indeed were and we each had information to share.

When I had begun my Meyer search both my Mother and Aunt Gert had mentioned that their parents occasionally made trips to Mondovi, Wisconsin to visit relatives. They weren’t sure who they were or which side of the family they belonged to.  When my new contact mentioned his Seyforth family had farmed near Mondovi I knew they must be the relatives my grandparents had visited. My mother had also mentioned a Jessie Koch and a Trilling from Sheboygan as Meyer relatives who came to their family gatherings. How they were related she didn’t know.

Soon I got a packet of printed material my Seyforth contact.  Someone in his family had compiled the family names birthdates at an earlier time and he included that along with his research. The papers gave the place of origin for the family as Alpheshiem,  Niederetses, France and listed the name of Johann’s first wife as unknown.  (Niederetses, I would later learn meant Alsace) Then it listed his children as:

Margaret  who had married a Phillip Welter and they had lived in Pepin county, Wisconsin.

Anna had married Fredrick Seyforth and lived in Mondovi, Wi.  He was also her step-brother and son of Julia, Johann’s second wife.  (No wonder my grandpa George had trouble keeping this family straight.  He had an uncle who was being raised by one of her daughters and an aunt who had married her son.)

Catherine (Kate)  had married in New York to Fred Sauer.

John,  who had married Mary Thomsen and lived in Cascade, Wi

Mary married a William Demand and lived in Sheboygan.  She had descendants by the name of Jessie Koch and a Hattie Trilling the names my mother had mentioned.

George  married a Sophie Allman and they’d gone to live in Aberdeen South Dakota around 1900.

Also included in the packet was a copy of this photograph taken in Plymouth, Wisconsin.

Image

Meyer siblings. L-R Mary, Margaret, John and George taken about 1900

Johann Meyer married second, Julia Schleider Seyforth  Her children were:

Theresa who married Mr. Hoffman. ( The family said she was unable to have children and so adopted her half brother Johnann and Julia’s youngest son Augustus and lived in Wayne County, New York.)

Wilamina married a Mr. Sontag and lived in Clifton Springs, New York.

Fredrick married Johann’s daughter Anna Meyer.

Together Johann Meyer and Julia had children:

Charles  Meyer who live in Carthage, New York (father of Pierre and Edith)

Augustus Meyer Hoffman ( child adopted by half sister)  Family stories said his half -sister had been unable to have children so Julia and Johann had allowed her to adopt their youngest child.)

I now had two separate branches of the family to collaborate with.  Together we were able to fill out much of the family tree and account for not only the children of Johann but their children as well.  But there was still some details that eluded me including where in Alsace thy had come from?  Without a village name it would be next to impossible to trace the family back any further. Our collaboration had suggested several names: Strasburg from some of the girls obituaries, Airsheim from John’s marriage certificate and the Aphesheim suggested on the Seyforth document. With the exception of Strasburg I’ve been told the other places had never existed. It was suggested that perhaps the places had been eaten up as the city of Strasburg grew.  I also  needed to know the name of where Johann had died.  Who was the brother he went back to live with?  And of course I wanted what every genealogist wants to know, who were the parents?

For the next several years I added very little to my Meyer research until another descendant of the Meyer family contacted me. But that is another story to be shared another day.