Author: Susan C Fassbender

Baby Farms

In recent months I have been working with a client’s DNA, and researching adoption practices in the first decade of the 1900s in Des Moines, Polk, Iowa, and Chicago, Cook, Illinois. This post is not a comprehensive study about the issue or any individual establishment.

A baby boy was born in the summer of 1906 and adopted shortly after his birth. I knew from documented sources for him, that he had spent time in the Iowa Children’s Home, so this is where I started. Moving to newspapers, I soon discovered that the Iowa Humane Society was investigating what was commonly known as baby farms. The newspaper was full of news. 

In the usual back and forth of newspaper research, I soon focused my attention on Mrs. S. M. Ingraham who ran a baby farm in Des Moines “where women could become mothers, and their shame be concealed.”1

Mrs. Ingraham had taken out an ad for her home in 1906. She stated that she operated a “retreat for unfortunate girls” where the “home like surroundings and the kindness and skill of its treatment of patients, has defied all competition for more than 14 years past.” She declared that both she and her assistant, Mrs. Mary Gilson, were trained nurses who “stand at the head of the profession in the city of Des Moines.”2 Mrs. Ingraham retired later this year, moving from the home and passing her work to Mary Gilson.

The Des Moines Register-Leader, 4 Feb 1906, p. 8, col. 6

The newspaper advertisement may have led young women to believe that they would be treated with kindness, but the Iowa Humane Society’s research discovered that these young mothers were “in a position to ‘ask no questions’ as to what becomes of the infants. In many cases, they are told the infants are dead and never see them after they are born.” At this point, there was no state supervision over baby farms and the subsequent “disposal” of the babies.3 The Iowa Humane Society was determined to change this and worked to create new regulations and laws to require these institutions to be licensed and to submit to regular inspections.

In November 1907 this story came to light. A woman, the mother of two boys, one four years old, the other a “little over a year” was in court because she had admitted to her husband that the babies were not her own. Mrs. Ingraham and Mrs. Gilson were both in court to testify on behalf of the younger child. They testified that the woman had “secured the baby from them when it was but a few days old.” The husband had “left the city for a short time and when he returned he found the little stranger awaiting him. Never until last week, when his wife confessed, did he know the baby was not his.” The woman also admitted that she had “worked the same scheme” on her first husband, from whom she was divorced. While her first husband was away “on a long business trip she secured an infant twenty-four hours old from the West baby farm and palmed it off to her husband as hers and his. Not only that, but she had a doctor present her husband with a bill for attendance during her sickness.”4

The judge ultimately ruled that the youngest child, whose “real mother is a farmer’s daughter living near Stuart, Ia.,” be turned over to the Iowa Children’s Home. The older boy was to be given into the custody of his paternal grandmother.

Mrs. West, from whose establishment the older boy was “secured,” was the topic of news throughout much of 1907 as she stood trial for the murder of a young baby boy. As a result of the ongoing trial, the inner workings of her “lying-in” hospital were revealed. In February 1907 The Evening Times-Republican from Marshalltown, Iowa, wrote: “Mrs. West now has at her home thirty-eight unfortunate girls, young mothers, for whose care she has charged the father in the case $200 spot cash, that being the minimum fee. [I can’t find the source, but I read that if the girl would not name the father, they waited until the time of birth to coerce her to name him.] The birth records show that there is an average of nearly one baby a day born in this institution. This means that over three hundred and fifty girls annually cover their shame in the place, and the officers say it will be shown that few of the babies live. There are ten such institutions in Des Moines.” The article goes on to state that “the monthly receipts from persons standing sponsor for unfortunate mothers is close to $30,000, and the annual receipts way beyond a quarter of a million.”5

Chicago homes were run differently than those in Des Moines. Here my attention was focused on Dr. William Farmer Briney, in whose home a baby girl was delivered, and then “adopted” out. 

Chicago Examiner, 6 Nov 1911, p. 14, col. 4

As early as 1903 Dr. Briney was advertising himself as the “great women’s specialist,” “reliable and skillful treatment of all diseases and complications peculiar to women.” “Positively the only physician who owns, manages, and operates personally a first-class, strictly private maternity home for ladies before and during confinement.”6 By 1911 he was operating the Anna Ross Hospital on Kedzie Avenue, advertising for young women to take a three months training in maternity nursing, and also a six months hospital training in obstetrical nursing.7 He was also advertising babies “For Adoption.”8

In 1913 the Curran Commission was investigating foundling asylums and infant “homes” in Chicago. After each session, the newspapers gave a full report of their findings providing much anecdotal information. On April 15, 1913, The Day Book had this to say about the Anna Ross Lying-in Sanitarium: “Mothers who go to the sanitarium are induced to sign contracts giving away their children before the children are born. Five unmarried women were found in the place. The rates charged by the sanitarium depend on how much money the mother has.”9

When the Curran Commission met the following week, the newspaper reported new findings: “Testimony of witnesses disclosed the fact that physicians received one-third of the fees charged patients for care and treatment in the institutions. This money is paid by the superintendents for recommending their establishments. It also was shown that babies are sold when only twelve hours old to total strangers, without any understanding whatsoever regarding legal adoption.” The first witness called that day was Dr. Briney who stated: “he had eight mothers in his institution, and that the standard charge for each of these cases was $60. The mothers, he said, had been sent to him by physicians. Asked what he paid the doctor, Dr. Briney replied that he gave them $20 for each of the cases sent to him. ‘This is pay for their trouble,’” “If I did not give them this fee they would not send the cases to me.” He went on to say that he placed advertisements in medical journals with distribution in Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. “It is a simple matter to get rid of the babies left at the institution by the young mothers,” “‘We have three times as many calls for babies as we have babies to give away.’ he said 95 per cent of the mothers were willing to leave their babies.” When he was asked, “What do you charge a person who desires to adopt a child?” He replied: “Absolutely nothing.” 

Dr. Charles S. Wood’s testimony gave a deeper look at the industry. He stated that since 1894 he had “disposed of 665 babies, none of which was legally adopted.” One child born at 4 a.m. was on its way to McGregor, Ia., before noon the same day.” He “insisted there was nothing inhuman about the incident. He said it was the best time for a newly born babe to travel, as it did not require nourishment for twenty-four hours. He keeps no records of adoptions or the fathers, and held ‘It is nobody’s business.’”

His contract was presented to the commission and reads:

“This statement is to certify or declare that I gave birth to a baby on …. and being unmarried and unable to properly support and care for it I have authorized and directed Dr. Charles S. Wood to procure a home for it as best he can, and I do release all right I have in such child, and declare I have abandoned it forever. I also authorize and direct Dr. Wood to consent for me to its adoption at any time or in any manner he may see fit. I promise and declare I will never claim that child or seek it at any time or in any manner, but do abandon it forever.”

Chicago Daily Tribune, 19 Apr 1913, p. 2, col. 2

He firmly believed that he was doing “a lot of good,” as he had “saved the lives of many girls who might have become suicides, and I have saved the lives of their babies.”10

One final story about deception and discovery. In September 1915 two couples were in court discussing the custody of a 21-month-old baby boy who had been born in Dr. Briney’s establishment. “Twenty-one months ago from somewhere in Minnesota there came to Chicago” a woman “whose husband had long wished for a baby and consequently assented gladly to his wife’s suggestion that at a critical time she should visit the maternity and infant hospital conducted by Dr. William F. Briney.” The article states that she “did not wish to rear a baby.” She told Dr. Briney that her husband had left her, and asked that he find a family to adopt him. “He [Dr. Briney] says she signed a release. He says he did not know she wrote to her husband and said the baby had died.”

At that time residing in Chicago was a husband wishing for a child, the wife, did not wish to bear a child. The wife approached a doctor expressing her wish to adopt one. The doctors stated they knew nothing of the situation other than “One simply knew that there was a 1 day old baby to spare. The other simply knew there was a 1 day old baby wanted. It was as simple as the transfer of a pound of sugar from a grocer who did not want it to a housewife who did.” 

Twenty-one months later the birth mother confessed. Her husband immediately left for Chicago, hiring an attorney upon his arrival. Dr. Briney’s records “told the entire story” and the two sides met in court. The baby was given to his birth father, who returned with him to Minnesota. The adoptive parents “left the courtroom. In the evening people at their residence said the owners had ‘gone out of town’ for an indefinite stay.”11

Sources

  1. “Grand Jury Investigates Baby Farms,” The Des Moines Register and LeaderI, 13 Dec 1906, Thursday Morning, p. 1, col. 7; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 28 Jul 2022).
  2. “The Greenwood Park Home,” Personal, The Des Moines Register, 4 Feb 1906, Sunday Morning, p. m8, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 20 Jul 2022).
  3. “To Cure Horrors At Baby Farm,” The Marshalltown Evening Times-Republican, 13 Nov 1906, Tuesday, p. 1, col. 5; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 29 Jul 2022).
  4. “Admits Babies Are Not Her Own,” The Des Moines Register, 10 Nov 1907, Sunday Morning, p. 10, col. 7; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 20 Jul 2022).
  5.  “Stirred By Sense of Shame,” The Evening Times-Republican, Marshalltown, Iowa, 5 Feb 1907, Tuesday, p. 2, col. 7; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 28 Jul 2022).
  6. “Medical and Hospitals” The Chicago Daily Tribune, 24 Sep 1903, Thursday, p. 12, col. 7; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 28 Jul 2022).
  7. “Trade Schools” Chicago Examiner, 30 Apr 1911, Sunday, p. 3, section V-II, col. 3; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 28 Jul 2022).
  8. “For Adoption” Chicago Examiner, 6 Nov 1911, Monday, p. 14, col. 4; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 1 Aug 2022).
  9. “Find Shameful Conditions in “Homes” For Foundlings” The Day Book, 15 Apr 1913, Tuesday, p. 6, col. 1; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 31 Jul 2022).
  10. “Hear How Babies Are Signed Away” The Chicago Daily Tribune, 19 Apr 1913, Saturday, p. 2, col. 2; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 28 Jul 2022).

Salutatorian of a Class of Two

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 15 Jun 2015.

I don’t know when it started, but if Butch wanted to get Marie’s goat, he would mention that she was a “salutatorian of a class of two.” Granted, Hilbert High School in 1939 only had 13 seniors, but as Marie would say – “She still had to get the grades.” 

And get good grades she did. Back in the day before we were all concerned about privacy, Hilbert High School regularly submitted, to both the Appleton Post-Crescent and the Chilton Times, a listing of students who had made the “A” Honor Roll in a particular semester; Marie’s name was always included. Good grades and perfect attendance. 

In 1939 the Hilbert High School Commencement was held on May 25th, and Marie’s speech was about Education. I wish we had a copy of this speech. To read how 17-year-old Marie expressed herself would be pretty amazing. 

The salutatorian of the class of 1939 would soon be leaving the farm and moving to the big city of Milwaukee, where she would go to Beauty Culture School. While in Beauty Culture School she would study Cosmetology Law, and learn more about the brain and the nervous system than I will ever know. But that is for another post.

Tried and True Cookbook

Auto Theft

Elisabeth Fassbender was admitted to Appleton’s St. Elizabeth Hospital in late March 1937. Her daughter, Anna, had passed away on February 2nd at the age of 71, and at 97, Elisabeth herself was beginning to slow down. 

Monday afternoon, March 23rd, Henry and Ida drove from their home in Hollandtown, Brown County, to Appleton to visit his mother. They made the approximately 13-mile drive in the company car, a “1935 model Ford sedan, dark green, with the 1937 Wisconsin license plates No. 198-968,” registered to the Fassbender Brothers.1 Parking in the lot, they entered the hospital to spend time with Elisabeth. I would like to think that they met Henry’s sister, Elizabeth, and brother, Hubert in the room so that it was a nice family visit. 

Upon leaving his mother’s bedside at approximately 8:30 p.m. they were shocked to discover that the car was missing. It had been stolen. 

How did they return home that evening? A call may have been made to Elizabeth’s son, Arthur Ellenbecker. After filling out the police report, it was very late, and the 37-year-old was the perfect person to make the trek out to Hollandtown and back to Appleton.

Elisabeth was released from the hospital and returned home where she passed away peacefully on Wednesday afternoon, 14 Apr 1937. She was survived by four sons, one daughter, 34 grandchildren, and 34 great-grandchildren. The oldest grandchild was 41, and the youngest, Henry’s daughter, Rosemary, was just 11 years old.

But what about Henry’s car? What happened to it?

Tuesday afternoon, March 24th, the car was recovered at the St. Mary school grounds in Menasha, Winnebago County, by the Menasha police.2 “Apparently” the car had been taken for “transportation from Appleton to the basketball tournament under way” at St. Mary’s.3

“Four Plead Guilty Of Car Theft” read the Appleton Post-Crescent headline 26 Mar 1937. “Four youths plead guilty of operating automobiles without the owners consent.” Two of the youths 17 and 18 years of age were from Kimberly, Outagamie County. They were arraigned on two warrants, one dating February 25th, and the second being Henry’s car.

The other men, 19 year old residents of Appleton, were on probation when they drove to Menasha in the Fassbender vehicle, returning to Appleton in a second stolen car, as the previous October they had been convicted of taking two nickel slot machines from a Menasha tavern. They were arraigned on three counts of operating a car without the owners consent.

A total of eight vehicles had been stolen and used for “joy-riding about the country” by the young men; five cars from Outagamie and three from Winnebago County. One of the boys told the Outagamie county sheriff that one of the cars “was nearly new, with less than 500 miles on the speedometer. The sheriff said he boasted that he had ‘had it up to 90 miles an hour.’”4

The two 19-year-olds were charged to “three years in the state penitentiary [in Waupun] on each of the four counts on which they were arraigned. The sentences will run concurrently.” 

In December a judge canceled the probation of the two younger men, and they were sentenced to serve three years in the state reformatory at Green Bay, Brown County.5 The paper doesn’t give a reason for this, but it may have had something to do with the fact that “a loaded automatic was found on” one youth’s “person when he was picked up,” and “police reported finding a revolver under the mattress” at the other youth’s home.”6

So as the newspaper reported: “The Court Closes Crime Career.” I am sure that Henry was happy to have the car returned with only a few extra miles put on the speedometer, and without being damaged. 

Sources:

  1. “Report Auto Theft,” Appleton Post-Crescent, 23 Mar 1937, Tuesday Evening, p. 13, col. 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 4 Feb 2022).
  2. “Car Is Recovered,” The Daily Northwestern, 25 Mar 1937, Thursday, p. 17, col. 4; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE (www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 18 Nov 2015).
  3. “Car is Recovered” The Daily Northwestern, 25 Mar 1937, Thursday, p. 17, col. 4; NewspaperARCHIVE (www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 18 Nov 2015).
  4. “Youths Are Held While Car Thefts Are Investigated,” The Daily Northwestern, 23 Mar 1937, Wednesday, p. 4, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 18 Feb 2022).
  5. “Cancel Probations of Two Kimberly Youths,” Appleton Post-Crescent, 2 Dec 1937, Thursday Evening, p. 12, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 19 Feb 2022).
  6. “Youths Are Held While Car Thefts Are Investigated,” Wednesday, p. 4, col. 1.

In Memory Of

I belong to a German genealogy group on Facebook where members are ready and willing to help in any way, many times by translating German text.

I also have a scan of a small piece of ephemera that is part of the collection of a Tapper relative. In 2008 this collection was sent to my mother to scan, catalog, and organize, which she did, and then returned the box to her cousin. While I found all the small bits fascinating, one piece, in particular, caught my eye as it had the name A. H. Klöfkorn written at the bottom. I grabbed my German/English dictionary and took a stab at translating the text. I didn’t get very far in creating a translation that made sense to me. I opened Google Translate and what it produced made even less sense. I put the image of the piece aside but would return to it now and again to take another stab at it. 

The small piece is very pretty, with a bouquet of flowers on one side, with the text “Heartfelt Congratulations” written below, but scratched out with a strong line across it. This I could translate. Flowers, congratulations, the signature of A. H. Klöfkorn… All I could think ,was that this was a token of love given to my great-grandmother Gretje Folkerts Müller by her husband, Albert Heinrich Klöfkorn. I wrote about them in my post titled: “Strength at Christmas” which can be found here: https://www.outagamieandbeyond.com/2015/12/26/strength-at-christmas/.

A friend from high school is also a member of the aforementioned Facebook group, and I began to notice that she was having a lot of luck asking for translations of postcards and other items in her collection. A lightbulb went off as I remembered this piece and my frustration in translating it. I decided to ask the group for help. OH MY GOSH! Almost before I finished hitting send, the messages of help started to flow in. What I received that morning was not only a translation, but a link to the original poem it came from, a link to a good German to English translator, comments about the text, and me having the opportunity to tell everyone who helped why this was so important to me. It was a good morning. 

Here is what I learned. The text includes words that there is no direct equivalent in English, so the wonderful translator included options:

You remain in your still/quiet/peaceful being/existence.

And I must travel on.

Let us remember with gratitude,

What we were to each other.

As a reminder/memory, A. H. Klöfkorn

I was both right and wrong in my thoughts about what this small piece was to Gretje. Albert did not give her the small card, he did not sign the small card, but in many ways, it is a small token of love, a memory of a person lost. It is an early form of today’s funeral card. 

The text, (thank you to the wonderful translator) is the third stanza of a poem by Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866) titled: “Du hast mir hell in’s Herz geblickt.” The text has also been put to music. 

A bit of Googling tells me that mourning cards date as far back as the 1700s, and stem back to the custom of using calling cards to announce your visit. Receiving a mourning card could serve as your “ticket” to attend the funeral. 

While we may never know if this small card was created at the time of Albert’s death on 20 Dec 1870, or if Gretje found the card and many years later wrote his name at the bottom, I feel confident that this card with its stanza of poetry on the back meant something to Gretje. The sentiment reminded her of her first love, her husband, Albert Heinrich Klöfkorn who was lost at sea, going down with his ship the Drei Schwestern (Three Sisters).

A Trip to Hollandtown

Last Friday the 1950 U.S. Census was finally released for viewing, and so I decided to make a trip to Hollandtown, Brown, Wisconsin to visit my in-laws, my husband’s grandparents, and any other family members who happened to be living in this small community in April 1950.

“Heading into town” that morning, I had no idea that I would still be there a few days later. I love how the enumerator, Mrs. Margaret Farrell used St. Francis Catholic church as the departure point for her notes. The homes were unnumbered at this time, so people lived on “County Trunk D 1/2 mile church,” or “1/4 mile church,” and “near church.” She enumerated this community of 1,017 people, living in 231 dwellings between March 31, and April 21st. 

What kept me in Hollandtown was the insight into the lives of people I knew, some casually, some very well, all sparking memories of days gone by. Has it really been 36 years since I first stepped foot into Van Abel’s supper club for the 40th wedding celebration of Bernard and Marie Campbell Fassbender? 

Speaking of the Van Abel’s, I “ran into” them first. Living a 1/2 mile from the church on County Trunk D, was Nell Van Abel and her son, Wilfred, or Will, as we knew him. Nell had just lost her husband Bill in January, and Will would not marry Anne Duffy until 1954. Nell was enumerated as Keeping House, and Will the Proprietor of a “Tavern-Bolding.”


The 1950 census includes many chances for a person to be part of the “Sample Line,” and Will, enumerated on Line 8, was one such person. Unlike other censuses, no indication is made as to who provided the information, so it is left to our imagination as to why questions 33a-33c were left unanswered. The questions read: “If Male— (Ask each question) Did he ever serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during—World War II, World War I, any other time, including present service.” These questions were simply left unanswered. Will most definitely served during World War II and had also spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. Was the memory just too fresh to even answer with a simple, yes? 

Living a 1/4 mile from the church is his brother, and partner in the tavern, Don, who was enumerated with his family, wife Bernice, 3-year-old Patricia, and 2-year-old Sue. He was also enumerated as the Proprietor of a “Tavern-Bolding.” Bolding? I have to believe that Mrs. Farrell had a weak moment, and spelled the word Bowling as Bolding, as bowling lanes had been added to the property a few years before. Both men spent long hours working in the tavern, each stating that the prior week they had worked 84 hours. 

Continuing my walk with Mrs. Farrell, I finally arrive at my in-law’s household. I was surprised to see that the street was named Church Road in 1950, and delighted to see that she named their place of business White Clover Dairy rather than the expected generic “cheese factory.”

And here was a moment of Oh My Gosh. On this day, the day of Mrs. Farrell’s visit, 28-year-old Marie was eight months pregnant with her second child; her first child, Dick, was 2 years old. Dick must have been a rambunctious child if the number of photos of him that include bandaids is any indication. Mrs. Farrell asked Marie the question as to how many hours her 37-year-old husband had worked the week prior, Marie answered, 84. 84 hours. That’s a lot of hours alone, and with all chores being much more labor-intensive than they are today – imagine the laundry! Well, I don’t have to, there are pictures. 

Bernard (Butch), holding Richard (Dick) in the side yard of the house in Hollandtown.

Moving two doors down to take a look at Butch’s parent’s entry, I found that 70-year-old Henry was still working as a cheesemaker, working 70 hours the week before, and his daughter, 23-year-old Rose Mary, put in 48 working in the office. Rosie would marry Victor Busse in May 1951.

It got me thinking, how many people in this small community worked at White Clover? I found 19, and some even were part of the Sample Line. Four Fassbender family members, and 15 people from the community. A newspaper article dated October 1948 states that at that time the factory employed 14 people above and beyond the Fassbender brothers, so I am fairly confident that I have captured all of the employees.

Occupation: Proprietor

  • Bernard W. Fassbender, age 37, Hours worked last week: 84

Occupation: Cheesemaker

  • Henry J. Fassbender, age 70. Hours worked last week: 70
  • Norbert J. Fassbender, age 38. Hours worked last week: 75
    • Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, Income earned from working in own business – $3,000
  • Earl Vande Hey, age 23. Hours worked last week: 65
    • Sample Line: Worked in Own Business in 1949
  • Joseph F. Nies, age 24. Hours worked last week: 77
  • Donald J. Hart, age 23. Hours worked last week: 63.
    • Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, wages earned $2,181

Occupation: Office Work

  • Mike Flynn, age 54. Hours worked last week: 40
    • Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, wages earned $1,800.00
  • Rose M. Fassbender, age 23. Hours worked last week: 48

Occupation: Factory Helper/Cheese Helper/Helps Make Cheese

  • William Verheyen, age 18. Hours worked last week: 65
  • Alfred A. Brochtrup, age 21. Hours worked last week: 60
  • Clarence R. Kelly, age 43. Hours worked last week: 56

Occupation: Waxing Cheese

  • Theresa Van De Loo, age 18. Hours worked last week – not reported
  • Noeim Clark, age 20. Hours worked last week: 45

Occupation: Wrapping Cheese

  • Ann Van De Loo, age 18. Hours worked last week: 48
    • Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 26, wages earned $600.00
  • Dolores  M. Liebergen, age 20. Hours worked last week: 51
  • Eileen M. Penterman, age 20. Hours worked last week: 32
  • Estella A. Hagens, age 31. Hours worked last week: 40
  • Arlene J. Fink, age 19. Hours worked last week: 54

Occupation: Hauls Milk

  • Donald J. Weber, age 25. Hours worked last week: 65

To round up the rest of the Fassbender family I had to travel first to Dundas:

Occupation: Cheese Maker

  • Hubert Fassbender, age 31. Hours worked last week: 84

Then to Kaukauna:

Occupation: Partner/Proprietor

  • Fassbender, Harold, age 41. Hours worked last week: 65

Occupation: Cheese Wrapper

  • Fassbender, Mary, age 42. Hours worked last week: 27
    • Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 39, wages earned $1,200.

There were two residents of Hollandtown that worked for South Kaukauna Dairy. Namely, Jerome D. Van Abel, age 38, (brother of Will and Don), who worked 38 hours as a Bookkeeper, and Mary B. Wall, age 23, who packed cheese. She worked 32 hours the previous week, and her Sample Line tells us that she worked 26 hours in 1949 and earned $800.00.

Also working at South Kaukauna Dairy was the husband of Mildred Fassbender, Leroy C. Gerharz, age 41. He had worked the previous week 42 hours as a Traffic Manager.

Now that I have compiled this information, I am comparing it to the company financial statements I have from this period. Also, newspaper articles provide me with additional anecdotal information. So much, that my head is spinning. 

A Day for Peace

A week ago today the weather was miserable in Wisconsin. After two days of 65° degree weather we woke to temps in the 30s, and an expected snowfall of 2-5”. Not the weather we had hoped for as we laid my mother to rest in Neenah’s Oak Hill Cemetery. 

We met at the cemetery at 11:00 and headed to what shelter a nearby mausoleum entrance could provide from the snow and sleet. It was a beautiful service with readings and intentions from some of her oldest friends. 

Upon leaving the cemetery we headed back to our hotel at the Home2Suites in Appleton. We had two rooms that were adjoining, and so allowed the 12 of us ample seating and room to move around. Mom loved a grazing meal in front of the fire in the library, a glass of wine in hand. We couldn’t provide the fire or library, and we didn’t offer wine, but we had warm coffee, cupcakes, and all the cheeses and charcuterie meats she loved. 

As a genealogist, I love to tell stories. As the keeper of the photos, my mother loved to identify, date to the best of her ability, and gather them into an album of sorts for all to view. Last week we played on the room’s massive TV a slideshow I had put together of her life. 

In the past, we have done photo boards where pictures are randomly tacked to foam core sheets, and placed along the receiving line. For my mother-in-law, I created a movie using actual footage from their wedding and adding images of her and my father-in-law through the years. I was a bit ahead of my time as it didn’t transfer to a form that would play well at the dinner after the funeral. 

This time we had a bit more control as we sent the slideshow from my laptop to the Apple TV. 

As people entered the room, the kids had it playing and the coffee brewing (we brought a 12 cup pot from home, along with a favorite flavored decaf). The images stopped people in their tracks. 51 images with captions flowed across the screen. Mom and her brother as young children, mom as a teen in red shoes, a 1947 selfie stating “Me ’47 taken by me,” when she was 14. An image from her days studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, graduation from Drake University in 1955. Her summer trip to Europe where she and two college friends traveled 2900 miles over 31 days in a small Renault, visiting France, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, back to France, London, Scotland, back to London then the ship back to New York. Her days working at Quaker Oats in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, meeting my father, their marriage and move to New York City. The birth of their first child, me, and the second, my brother. Images of us as a family, and her days working as the secretary at First English Lutheran Church in Appleton. Images through her life. A snapshot of time. A life. My mom’s life. 

Because of COVID and distance, it took a year for this to happen. But I think she would have been pleased with how the day came together. Rest in peace mom.