Author: Susan C Fassbender

Johann F. Faßbender and Salome Barbara Bel

Johann F. Faßbender was born February 2, 1811, the sixth of seven known children born to Johann and Maria Apollonia Stüsser. Then as now, the birth needed to be recorded with the government officials. The very next day Johann, “age fifty-four years farm-worker living at Oedecoven” trudged through the early morning chill with his newborn son (the average February temperature for Oedekoven is 37°F). He appeared before the mayor of Oedekoven to present the child, declaring his name as Johann. [1]

Very little is known about the life that Johann and Maria Apollonia led. We know that they were successful farmers who made sure their children received an education and served as needed in the German army. Johann was also a skilled artisan. A 1921 article published in Wisconsin newspapers, tells of a snuff-box, given to his grandson while on a visit home to Germany in 1901. [2] “The cover is inlaid with mosaic work which represents two robins on a bough tree. The stones are no larger than a point of a pin and a magnifying glass has to be used to distinguish them. [3] The snuff box remained in the family until sometime in the 1940s when it was sold. [4]

Born October 19, 1812, in Oedekoven, Salome Barbara Bel was the fifth of ten known children born to Joseph Guilleaume Bel and Anna Maria Schweikart. 

Joseph passed away September 12, 1837, at age 66, [5] and so did not live to see his daughter Salome marry Johann F. Fassbender a few months later on Thursday, April 19, 1838. At 10:00 a.m. 27-year-old Johann and 25-year-old Salome appeared before the mayor of Oedekoven requesting to be married. They arrived with the required proof that they had posted the announcement of their wish to marry on the main door of the town hall on April 8, and again on April 15, 1838, and that no “contradiction against this marriage had been brought.” The mayor confirmed that Johann had been born on February 2, 1911, Salome on October 19, 1812, that the father of the groom had died on January 12, 18135, and the father of the bride on September 12, 1837. After the “co-present mothers of the bridal pair” agreed to the marriage, the mayor read aloud the vouchers, and “the sixth chapter of the marriage-title of the Civil Code.” He then asked Johann and Salome if they were willing to marry each other, and upon receiving an affirmative reply, he announced them “together legally married.” 

The chapel at Behlsmühle

Joining them in the mayor’s office, and acting as witnesses, were Johann’s brothers, 28-year-old Adolph, and 31-year-old Theodor, both stating their profession as “farmers in Oedekoven,” and Salome’s brothers, 27-year-old carl, profession, farmer, and 29-year-old Joseph Ignatz, who was an innkeeper in Duisdorf. Signing the marriage document was the bridal couple, Salome’s mother, Anna Schweikart, and the four witnesses. “The mother of the new husband declared not able to read and write. [6] As was the custom, Salome and Johann had their marriage blessed by the Catholic Church. This blessing occurred in the family chapel at Behlsmühle. [7]

Johann and Salome started married life with great hope and promise. Their first child was born on December 22, 1838. [8] One can only imagine how cold it must have been, when two days later at 9:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve, Johann arrived at the office of the mayor of Oedekoven and “presented to [him] a child of male sex,” declaring they were giving him the first names: Peter Joseph Hubert. Acting as witnesses were his brother, Heinrich, and Johann Lommerzheim.

Over the next five years, two more children would be born to the couple, but neither survived to adulthood. Nothing is known about these children other than what was included in published biographies about their brother, Peter. “She [Salome] was the mother of three children, all of whom are dead save our subject Peter Fassbender…”[9] and “…[Peter] is the only survivor of three children born to John and Salome Fassbender, the former of whom died in 1843 in Germany, leaving three children, of whom Peter is the only survivor.” [10]

The day before Peter’s fifth birthday, December 21, 1843, Johann died. The civil record that records his death does not include any details as to the cause of death. Witnesses to the death record were Heinrich Faßbender, and Johann Lommerzheim, the same men to act as witnesses to the birth of Peter just five years earlier.

SOURCES:

  1.  Oedekoven, Administrative District Cologne, Germany, “Births,” 1811, No. 23, 12th Certificate of Birth,  Johann Fasbender. Cit. Date: Apr 1999. 
  2. I believe that the trip referred to in this story was made in 1899, not 1901 as I have yet to find a trip made that year.
  3. “Has Snuff Box More Than 100 Years Old,” The Capital Times, 10 Feb 1921, p. 3, col. 7; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE (www.newspapersarchive.com : accessed 6 Nov 2002).
  4. Interview with Arthur Ellenbecker, by Susan C. Fassbender, Appleton, Wisconsin, 6 Dec 2002. 
  5. Administrative District Cologne, Germany, Certificate of Marriage,  “Fasbender to Bel, 1838, No. 7”. Cit. Date: 6 Oct 1999.
  6. Administrative District Cologne, Germany, Certificate of Marriage, “Fasbender to Bel, 1838, No. 7”; Community Oedekoven, Circle Bonn; Schloß Augustusburg, Brühl. Cit. Date: 6 Oct 1999; translated by Karl Wüllenweber.
  7. Interview with Arthur Ellenbecker by Susan C. Fassbender, 10 Aug 1999, Appleton, Wisconsin.
  8. Oedekoven, Administrative District Cologne, Germany, “Births,” 1838, no: 139,  Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender; Schloß Augustusburg, Brühl. Cit. Date: 29 Sep 1999.
  9.  J. H. Beers & Co., editor, Commemorative Biographical Record of the Fox River Valley Counties of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families., 2 (1895; reprint, Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers & Co., 2004), volume I: 570.
  10.  Thomas H. Ryan, History of Outagamie County Wisconsin (Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911), 924.

Behlsmühle

I was first introduced to Behlsmühle in 1999 while visiting with Arthur Ellenbecker, the grandson of the Fassbender patriarch and immigrating ancestor, Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender. As we sat talking with Arthur in his home – the very home that his grandparents purchased when they “retired” to Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin, he stood up to take a picture off of his wall. We immediately offered to assist him, but he brushed off the help stating that it wasn’t heavy, as he had dropped it a while back and the glass had broken. 

“Peter Fassbender Received This Picture From his Cousin. 1904 From Germany”

Handing the framed image to us, he continued with the story. We had been talking about his great-grandparents, Johann Faßbender and Salome Barbara Bel. The image he handed us was a chalk drawing of the property in Oedekoven, Germany, owned by his maternal great-great-grandfather, Joseph Bel. Arthur told us that before his marriage, his great-grandfather, Johann, had lived in an apartment behind the “third upper window from the right.”

The property was known as Tempelhof Manor and the Tempel-Mühle (Temple Mill). Today, in 2021, the building is called Behlsmühle, for Joseph Bel. The manor, first mentioned in print in 1362, originally belonged to the Hospital of St. John and St. Cordula in Cologne run by the monks of the Johannites. The monks were descendants of the Tempel-Knights who operated many hospitals along the roads leading to the Holy Land and the Temple of Jerusalem.

The French conquered the Rhineland during the French Revolution. It was at this time they also confiscated the property of the churches and monasteries of the region. Over the next 20 years, they sold the property back to the German people to fund the war. It was at this time that Joseph Bel had the opportunity to purchase the property. The property included an oil mill, a 4-wing structure, a chapel, and a two-story manor house. 

In 1812 Joseph Bel became Mayor of the 14 villages that comprised the Borough of Oedekoven. He held this position for two years. Joseph died at the age of 66 on September 12, 1837, [1] having spent his later years as a Gutsbesitzer, or “Gentleman Farmer.” [2]

Behlsmühle still stands. In 1984 the manor house was given Monument status. The plaque on the house reads: “Anna 1818 Joseph Bel.” [3] While the house and the mill’s wheel still stand, the rest of the property has been converted into a multi-family housing complex.

Google Map image, 23 Jul 2021

Sources:

  1. Administrative District Cologne, Community Oedekoven, Germany, death certificate no. 68 (1837), Joseph Bel; Schloß Augustusburg, Brühl. Cit. Date: 27 May 2002.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Rheinisches Amt für Denkmalpflege, Central Monuments Archive, 23, Rhein-Sieg-Kreis, Alfter, KZ.

Piano space

The listing read: “Located on a quiet cul de sac is where you will find this Federal Style Home. Exceptional finishing both inside and out. Impressive all brick exterior. Side loading garage. Private yard w/beautiful garden. Stunning entrance w/turned staircase. Formal & informal spaces. Prized kitchen w/commercial appliances. Fabulous 3 Seasons Rm w/1 of 6 fireplaces thru out. Cozy hearth Rm, Piano space, 1st Fl. Office, Grand Master Suite w/private patio. Finished LL for family fun. Garage can accommodate 3 cars.”

Piano space. Our homes have always had “piano space.” When I met Gary he owned a spinet, and there was space for it in his living room. This was the piano that we brought with us to Pinewild Court and the piano that both of our children used as they started piano lessons. As they grew both in size and competency, we decided that it was time to upgrade, and we purchased a Yamaha Studio Upright. This larger piano also found space in our home.

As the house was going up, I remember standing in the family room with Gary and our contractor discussing the progress. By this time we were wondering if the family room was too small, and so asked the question about the possibility of someday building out by blowing out the wall and adding the screen porch to the interior living space. Yes, was the answer. Followed by the statement that it would be about $150 now, or $1,000+ later. We decided to go ahead and add the additional header right away.

Ten years later it was time. We loved our screen porch but dreamt of a larger space. One that had a fireplace, a four-track window system to block out inclement weather and extend our use of the space, and room to spread out. Our children continued to play the piano, and we dreamt of upgrading our piano once again to a Yamaha C2 Grand. We discussed the design of the porch, and how we would transition the porch into an interior living space – a Music Room.

What I can relay in just a few sentences was actually the result of months of study, planning, visits to an architect, and talks with our contractor, now the son of our original builder. 

We started our time in the house with the original screen porch nestled in the L of our family room and breakfast room and was roughly 10 x 15’, its sister porch, accessed from the master bedroom, was directly above. We accessed the lower porch through french doors through the breakfast room. These french doors would be re-purposed, matched with a second set, and used to access the new screen porch. The original window in the family room looking into the porch would be moved to the outside wall of the music room. The room would be entered from both sides through arched openings designed after the arch found at Carter’s Grove Plantation in Virginia. 

Work began in October 2003, and it was a super cold day in January when they finally opened the house to the outside. I was stripping wallpaper in the kitchen wearing a heavy Irish fisherman sweater with the fireplace in the family room roaring. Working quickly, they soon had the window moved into place, and the doors set in their frame.

A few weeks later and the wall was ready for Gary and me to free-hand the arch opening. We were also busy removing carpet as we planned for hardwood to flow from the existing kitchen and breakfast room into the family room and music room. 

This new space was a beautiful addition to our home. The music room was a cozy place to sit with a cup of coffee or evening snacks with a glass of wine. Listening to our daughter play the piano was an added bonus. For us, it was more than a piano space, it was our music room. 

The Thrill of the Hunt

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 1 Dec 2013.

Cleaning the chandelier for the last time

This past Thanksgiving was bittersweet. The house has been sold,  leaving an unexpected hole in our hearts. We were taken by surprise with the feelings of renewed loss that we experienced with the thought that we will never be able to enter the home again. I guess we were feeling a sense of being close to Butch and Marie every time we walked into the house, even though it had been sitting empty for 5 1/2 years. As we began the preparation for this year’s Thanksgiving “Feast,” Gary asked that I not only prepare our traditional wild rice stuffing but to add his mother’s famous recipe to our dinner list. 

But what was the recipe? I, the collector of all things family!! had never asked Marie for a copy, nor asked her how she made it. This was just a dish that magically appeared each time we gathered for Thanksgiving in our home, the perfect complement to the wild rice stuffing that I was making. She was always going to be there to add another delicious element to the table, right? Wrong. With that being said, we realized that it had probably been over eight years since we had last tasted Marie’s recipe. 

Our daughter Kate has a version written in paragraph style that she had received from one sister-in-law a year or so ago, and I also asked our other sister-in-law if she had a copy, which she then sent to me.

So I set about combining the two, looking for similarities, looking for the differences, and picking Gary’s brain as to what he remembered from helping his mother make stuffing for so many Thanksgivings. One big difference that we discovered is that the use of commercial breadcrumbs was more often used by our sisters-in-law than drying bread for the stuffing. Another was that one recipe included eggs, and the other did not. We dried, we studied, we tasted – and we baked small dishes of stuffing after making adjustments. While I am not ready to post my findings, I will say that the dish was deemed pretty close in flavor to what it should be. Once the feeling of being stuffed by Thanksgiving has passed, I will mix up another batch to use throughout the year to stuff pork chops, serve with chicken, etc. and we will take another look at how close I have come to Marie’s Famous Stuffing.

Christmas 1976

Women Drivers

This archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” was first published 13 Sep 2013.

I heard on the news the other day that women drivers now outnumber male drivers. This got me to thinking “How long have I been driving?” and so the mental math began, 50 minus 15… 35 years! I can easily document the years, but wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to document the miles? Miles driven in cars from my early stick shift days with no air conditioning and AM radio, to my now 10-year-old Mountaineer with lots of bells and whistles.

This news was also the push I needed to write this blog post that I have had noodling around in my mind for a while. A blog post about a car. A 2000 Mercury Sable. A blog post about its first owner, Marie Fassbender.

It starts in the year 1947. When Marie was in the hospital, having just given birth to her first child, she received her first driver’s license. And I do mean that; she received her license. It was at that point that her husband, Butch, decided that she needed to drive. So he headed to the town hall to get her one. Stating his intent to the city clerk, the response was: “Well, she’s a Fassbender so she must know how to drive.” And he handed over the license. 

Jump forward to November 2000. Butch had been in the home for almost two years when the decision was made that it was time to get rid of the problematic New Yorker that Marie had been driving to and from, first the hospital, and then the nursing home. Her son, Gary, had been looking at cars for himself and noticed the Sable on the car lot. It had all of the luxuries that his mother had always loved about driving Butch’s Lincoln Town Cars, but without the size. One added feature that we felt was important for this 5’2″ (-ish) petite woman, was the adjustable foot pedals. She would no longer need to sit so close to the steering wheel but could sit at a comfortable distance and bring the brake and accelerator to her.

One bright day, I picked up the car, collected Butch and Marie from the nursing home, and we went for a “test drive.” Butch sat in the back seat and gave his full approval of our choice of the new car. 

Marie proudly drove this car until she went to live in a nursing home in June 2008. Later that summer as her granddaughter prepared to start her sophomore year at Edgewood in Madison, Gary made the arrangements for Kate to have the car and use it to go back and forth to school. Kate drove the car for the next three years, two of them heading back and forth on sometimes treacherous winter roads. The car never failed her, and is now being driven back and forth to college by yet another Fassbender granddaughter. Butch would certainly approve of the lifespan of his last car purchase.

One of the only images I have of the car. It had just been released from a snowbank and was being pushed toward the garage.
Need to find the source for this one.

The Tree Must Come Down

This archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” was first published 18 Aug 2013.

At the time that we built our home in 1993, White  Clover Dairy was in the middle of an expansion, and because of this, trees that had been on the property for many years needed to be removed. We took advantage of this and moved a large crab apple tree and a maple to our property. The trees were moved in November 1993, the maple straining the size limits of the largest tree spade that the tree moving company owned. We placed the crab to the right of our driveway, positioning the “flat side,” the side that had been growing against the building, away from the street. This tree has rewarded us for the last 19 years with the most glorious blossoms each spring. 

The maple was planted in the backyard with the idea that it would provide a nice dapple-shaded area for the swing set and patio. While it took a while for it to settle into its new home, we soon had a large and beautiful tree – with a history! 

Gary received a 1972 Cougar XR7 as a high school graduation gift. It was blue with a white vinyl top and a blue leather interior. He loved that car. But it soon became a favorite of Marie’s, and as she did not  at that time have a car of her own when she needed a vehicle and Gary’s was available she would choose the Cougar. As it happens this particular model of Cougar had a flaw, while idling in park, it would unexpectedly pop out of park and throw itself into reverse.  One summer day Marie packed her eldest grandson into the car and made a quick stop at the factory to let them know she was heading to town. While she was inside letting Butch know where she was going, the car popped out of park, spun around, and rammed into the maple that had been recently been planted on the neighbor’s property near the factory office. Luckily Rich was not harmed, the car was intact, but the tree bore a scar from the impact for years. The neighbor had great concern that his tree might not survive the brutal Cougar attack, so in typical Butch fashion, he paid the man an agreed-upon value for the tree. The tree survived but the money was not returned.

Jumping forward 40 years, late Tuesday night, August 6th, six tornadoes ripped through the Fox Valley. The storm woke us up just long enough for us to close windows, comment on the strobe light lightning and the wind that was pushing harder at the side of the house than an other time in memory. Then we went back to bed. No sirens went off that night, so many of us slept safely through the storm. Looking at the damage the next day, it is amazing that no one was killed by the tornadoes. We do count ourselves one of the lucky ones, we only lost a tree.

Meatballs – From Ken’s Mary

  • 3 lbs ground beef – I, Susan, like a mix of 90% lean and 80-84% lean
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup saltine crackers, crumbled
  • 24 oz. chili sauce – 2-12 oz bottles
  • 24 oz. Water – fill the chili sauce bottles
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar

Combine the first 6 ingredients, and roll into balls, bake in a 350° oven till brown. Approximately 10 minutes, turning at 5 minutes.

You can freeze the meatballs at this point.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil, and then simmer the browned meatballs in the sauce for 3 or more hours. 

NOTE: We discovered that if you still have sauce remaining when the meatballs have disappeared, you can freeze the sauce for a later time and just add meatballs.