Fifty two years ago today was Holy Thursday. This is always a day of remembering, this year made harder by the fact that we had a spring snowstorm on Holy Thursday that was large enough to close schools, and cancel activities. I am re-posting an Aroma of Bread post from last year, as I sit here on Holy Saturday looking out at a yard full of snow. (Which would have been welcome Christmas Eve…) Here is the link: “Fifty One Years Ago Today.”
I like to challenge myself in new ways of looking at the genealogy search, and the tools that are at hand, most often these days, the tools available to me from the comfort of my own home and computer. As I pondered how I wanted to expand on the information about Peter’s house on State Street to include in my book about the Fassbenders, I wondered how far back I could trace the property. Now I know that I could have jumped into the car and driven the ten minutes downtown to the courthouse, walked in, and asked for all they had on 529 North State Street, but that would have been almost too easy, and kinda rude. And because it was early on a Sunday morning and I was still in my robe, it wasn’t going to happen. So I did the next best thing, and turned to FamilySearch. As I have mentioned before they have in their collection, available for browsing, a large segment of the early deeds for Outagamie County. I started in 1901 and moved backwards.
Peter Fassbinder (sic) purchased the home from Peter Miller on April 17, 1901.  The purchase price was $1,600.00. Moving in to town after having lived almost 40 years on acreage, and wide open spaces, he now lived on a lot 60 X 123, “more or less.” This had to be quite the adjustment, and a huge change in the way that they lived. What caught my eye on this Warranty Deed was the phrase: “…according to John Stephens map of the City of Appleton, published in the year 1872.” John Stephens had mapped this parcel as Lot 14, in Section 26. The piece that Peter purchased was the North 60 feet, of the South 300 feet of Lot 14. So, it would appear that Lot 14 had been divided into two parcels of land by 1901.
According to the City of Appleton, a home was built on this lot in 1894. (Still kicking myself that I had not noticed that this home sadly went into foreclosure in August 2012. It would have been so much fun to make this house special again.) Knowing the year the house was built, I was pretty confident that Peter Miller was the owner who had built the home – just seven years old when Peter and Elizabeth purchased it, and moved to Appleton.
Moving backwards, I discovered that Peter Miller had purchased the lot from B. W. Robeling on September 18, 1893, paying $475.00 for this unimproved piece of land.  Looking at the City Directory for 1893, I found no listing for Peter Miller, but found William B. Robeling residing in Brigg’s House. My next step was to discover how long W. B. Robeling had owned the property.
B. W. Robeling (As I type Robeling, I can’t help but think rambling. Which I hope I am not doing). B. W. Robeling purchased ALL of Lot 14, excepting the south 240 feet, from Mathias and Christina Gross on May 29, 1893, for $500.00. The lot size listed was 123.19 from State Street more or less, and 123 more or less in depth. 
It was time to search for the John Stephens map of 1872. I was pleasantly surprised that I could view this map in my robe, and without a drive to the library. It was online! This section of Appleton in 1872 looked very different than it does today, a side by side comparison with Google was needed.
It is now apparent just how large this original parcel of land was. Lot 14 is just above the “T” at the bottom of the original map. The road that would eventually cut through this parcel, and is just visible below the “T” is unnamed on this map.
I think that I will stop this post with the Robeling purchase, stop my rambling, and continue with another post soon. Unless I have lost you all together.
- “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-50055-67?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1900-1901, vol. 103 > image 586 of 663; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
- “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-31835-88?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1893, vol. 83 > image 587 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
- “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-30335-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1893, vol. 83 > image 280 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
This past week not only brought the biggest snow of the season here to Wisconsin, but it also sent a new cousin. And because of the weather, a bit slower week allowing time to collaborate. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post called “Choices in Life,” in which I pondered the way that a family firmly rooted in the Lutheran faith, did not allow their daughter’s decision in 1906 to convert to Catholicism, ruin their love and relationship with both her, and her new husband.
This post caught the eye of this new cousin, who contacted me with additional thoughts and news regarding the post. I have to be honest, it usually takes a prompting such as her email, to force me to look more closely at some of the peripheral families in my Fassbender database. I know. Big mistake. One such family is the Schwamer family. Looking into my Legacy database, I realized that I had not “worked” on this family since 2001.
Who are the Schwamers? Carl and Charlotte Schwamer owned land in Section 19 in Center Township until their retirement in about 1900, when they moved to Ellington Township. The couple had five children live to adulthood: John, August, Caroline, Mary and Anna. Mary, the ancestor of my new-found cousin, married Jacob Loos, and Anna became the wife of Hubert Fassbender. The fascinating part? The Schwamers were Lutheran. Just as the Schultz/Steffen family, they were Lutheran as far back as could be traced. So, just like Ida would a few years later, 20 year old Anna Schwamer, “converted her preferred faith” some time before her marriage to Hubert on April 16, 1901, which took place at St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Appleton, Wisconsin. In the previous post I asked the question as to who might Ida’s sponsor, “Agnes Fassbender” have been, Annie Fassbender, sister of Henry, or Anna Fassbender, wife of Hubert. At this point, I am leaning toward Anna Schwamer Fassbender, what better sponsor and advocate than a future sister-in-law, who had “Been there, Done That?”
The other burning question asked in that blog post, centered around what church might the Schultzs have attended. Looking at the map and reading the obituaries, I knew that there was a church in Stephensville, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, where 20th century funerals had taken place, but there was also this much older German Lutheran church, Trinity Lutheran, located kitty-corner from the Fassbender property in Ellington Township. This beautiful old church has a graveyard located next to it, but the Schultz, Steffen and Lemke family were all buried in Ellington Union Cemetery, not in the church graveyard. With the help of my new cousin, we noodled through it, and between the two of us we figured it out.
Neither church has a web presence, and adding to this the fact that Wisconsin loves to create havoc with how it assigns post offices to small communities, it took a bit of sleuthing. Just like the mailing address for anyone residing or working in Hollandtown, Brown Co., Wisconsin is actually Kaukauna, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin; Ellington Township’s mailing address is Stephensville. At least both of these communities are in Outagamie County. The clue was the pastor, Rev. Emil Redlin, and the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.  The census was taken just a few months after the death of Ida Schultz Fassbender’s mother.  Her obituary states that her funeral was held at the “Lutheran church at Stephensville with the Rev. Emil Redlin in charge.” Heading to the 1930 census, I found Rev. Redlin living directly across the street from Trinity Lutheran Church on Cty O, Ellington Township. The same Trinity Lutheran Church that now bears the mailing address of Cty O, Stephensville. Digging a bit further, I found this article announcing the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the founding of St. Paul Lutheran Church, located in Stephensville proper, with the Rev. Emil Redlin, pastor.  This also is a German Lutheran church, as indicated by the fact that they announced an “English sermon,” which was given by former pastor, Rev. William Kansler, the minister who officiated when Ida’s brother, August, married Mary Hartsworm on October 12, 1904. So this church, dedicated in 1900, was indeed the church that my Schultz/Steffen family attended, the Lutheran church in Stephensville. At least after 1900…
Now I just need to take a drive over to Ellington Township to see first-hand these churches that were such an important part of everyday life for the Schwamers, Schultzs, Steffens and Lemkes. In the meantime, Find A Grave gives us a look at Trinity Lutheran, and Google Maps allows us a glimpse at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran church in Stephensville (now with the mailing address of Hortonville, as it is a small unincorporated community, located entirely within the town of Ellington.)
Now I need a nap.
14 Feb 2014, MORE TO THE STORY:
I did some digging this weekend, and learned a bit more about Trinity Lutheran’s history. According to this Appleton Post-Crescent newspaper article, published September 14, 1923, the congregation was formed in 1874 with just eleven people. For the first two years they held services in the home of a founding member, Carl Herrmann. In 1876 a frame building was built on the site of the present church, and the brick building was erected in 1898.
Looking at family history. According to this article, Rev. Mr. August Volbrecht served the congregation from 1887 to 1896. As Ida’s father passed away July 5, 1888, it is most likely that his funeral was held in the first frame church, Rev Volbrecht in charge of the service. When Ida’s mother Mathilda, married William Steffen, on June 14, 1890, they would have been married in the frame church, and I know from their vital record that in fact Rev. Vobrecht did officiate at their wedding.
A few more mysteries solved.
- 1930 U.S. census, Outagamie, Wisconsin, population schedule, Ellington Township, enumeration district (ED) 44-25, sheet 2, p. 92A, dwelling 28, family 28, Joesph P. Fassbender household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 Jul 2002); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 2603.
- “DEATHS. Matilda L Steffen,” (Appleton) The Appleton Post-Crescent, 9 Nov 1929, Saturday Evening, p. 4, col. 2. Cit. Date: 29 May 2001.
- “Celebrate Jubilee of Church Dedication,” (Appleton) The Appleton Post-Crescent, 11 Jun 1925, p. 7, col. 3. Cit. Date: 4 Jan 2016.
We were all born with Free Will. We can make choices in our life that will affect how we live, and how we relate to others. The decision is ours. These decisions are made in our work lives, and in our family lives. Many times based purely on emotion, not allowing the facts to even play a role in our decision. Jobs are lost, and families torn apart. Sometimes irreparably.
One such family that did not allow this to happen was the Schultz/Steffen family of Ellington, Outagamie County, Wisconsin. As a young family they had experienced much tragedy. Married sometime between 1876-1877, Mathilda Lemke and Albert Schultz set up household in Ellington as a farm family. Over the next seven years they would have five children, losing one as an infant. Edward was born in 1877, the unnamed infant in 1879, Albert in 1880, Ida in 1882, and Emma in 1884. Tragically July 5, 1888, as Albert would pass away. There is no death record recorded in the Outagamie County Courthouse, but we know the date from his tombstone. He was buried in Ellington Union Cemetery, which is located in Stephensville, Ellington Township, he was just 35 years old. Two years later on June 14, 1890, thirty-year-old Mathilda married William Steffen in Ellington, their marriage overseen by a Lutheran minister. Unfortunately it has not been easy trying to identify exactly where they attended church, I know from obituaries that in later years they all attended St. Paul Lutheran Church in Stephensville.
Just as the Fassbenders have been Roman Catholic for “as far back as can be traced,”  I believe that the Schultz, Lemke and Steffen families professed the Lutheran faith as far back as can be traced.
These strong ties to both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran faith must have been a big topic of conversation between Henry Fassbender and Ida Schultz as they met, began dating, and ultimately decided to get married. What was that conversation like, when Henry and Ida sat down with Ida’s mother and step-father to inform them first, that they were getting married, and second, that Ida was going to convert to Catholicism?
Ida studied her newly professed Catholic faith at St. Joseph’s parish in Appleton, and “converted her preferred faith” on January 4, 1906. Her sponsor was Agnes Fassbender. I don’t have an Agnes Fassbender in my database! This mystery continues. Is it Henry’s older sister Anna? Or could it be Hubert’s wife, Anna? Or is it Elizabeth Ellenbecker who would be Ida’s witness when she married Henry at St. Joseph’s, on January 17, 1906. Following their marriage they set up housekeeping in Hollandtown, Brown County, Wisconsin, where just two months earlier Henry had purchased the White Clover Co-op.
The fact that Ida made the decision to convert to Catholicism had to have been difficult for the Schultz/Steffen family to comprehend. In some families this would have torn the family in two, the couple to move on, and not be a part of the family from that point forward. But this did not happen. Over the next decades, the Appleton and Kaukauna newspapers were full of society tidbits telling of the visiting habits of the two families. Not a month went by where one side or the other was traveling, and staying weeks at a time, to visit. When Mathilda died in 1929, her grandsons, Harold, Norbert and Bernard Fassbender were pallbearers. A family united until the end.
We should all aspire to understand, to listen, and to learn. Emotion should not play a “forever” role in our relationships with others, especially with family.
- Commemorative Biographical Record of the Fox River Valley Counties of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago. (Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers. 1895), 571.
When Peter Fassbender at age 62 moved to Appleton in 1901 to “take life easy,”  he did anything but that. After the sudden death of his son-in-law, Peter Ellenbecker later that year, he welcomed his daughter Elizabeth, and her son Wilbert into his home. A few months later, he welcomed a new grandson, Arthur, as Elizabeth was pregnant with her second child at the time of her husband’s death. In addition to the hustle and bustle of a young family, his eldest daughter, Anna, was taking in sewing, and her clients were coming and going on a regular basis.
By 1921, as he reached 82 years of age, I imagine that he did slow down a bit, and “take life easy.” Daily Schafkopf/Schafskopf (today more commonly known as Sheephead/Sheepshead, and no, I don’t know how to play) sessions were now part of his routine. He stated in an interview in 1930, that he played daily “at the service building on the fair grounds, where he meets a number of his old cronies and shows them how to play that grand old game.” 
While he was playing this “grand old game” at the fair grounds in 1930, in August of 1921, the daily matches were held at Fire Station No. 2, which was located on the corner of State and Eighth Street, a block north of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and a few blocks from Peter’s home further north on State Street. That is, until the common council made the decision to close No. 2, and join it with the main station “uptown,” testing the plan of a centralized station. The headline and subheading clearly states how the men felt about this decision: “Closing Of Third Ward Engine Station Robbed Pionneers [sic] Of ‘Clubroom.’ Aged Men of Third Ward Resent Loss of Forum for Discussion of Public Questions Over Friendly Games of Skat and Schafkopf.” 
This “band of disconsolate old men” were “cherishing a bitterness” over the loss of this space, where they had gathered for nearly half a century, to “heatedly discuss” “questions of national importance” based on “information obtained from assiduous newspaper reading, backed up by well developed imaginations and ripe experience.” 
The article interviewed several of the men who were regulars at the station house, and they all mourned the loss of this place where a game of cards could be started at any hour, where the latest news was heard and given, and “profanity and vulgar talk” was never heard.
One of the men interviewed was Gottfried (Fred) Siegert, the father of Anna Siegert, who was the wife of Peter’s eldest son, John. It gives a wonderful look into his life.
“Gottfried Siegert, 444 Cherry-st., another veteran of the civil war, was a frequent afternoon visitor, his favorite game being Schafkopf. Mr. Siegert is 85 years old, and is as active and erect as a man of 60. He lost one eye in military service and has only partial use of the other, but even with this handicap of sight and age he holds his own in a game of ‘sheephead.’ Mr. Siegert came to Outagamie-co. in 1858 and lived the greater part of his life on a farm a short distance from Appleton which he cleared. He said he missed the engine house and his old associates.” 
Gottfried died March 28, 1925, and is buried next to his wife Mathilda in the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in King, Waupaca Co., Wisconsin.
- “Old Timers,” (Appleton) Appleton Review, 10 Oct 1930, p. 2, col. 1-2. Cit. Date: 23 Oct 1998.
- “Closing of Third Ward Engine Station Robeed Pionneers Of ‘Clubroom,'” Appleton Post-Crescent, 9 Aug 1921, Tuesday, p. Three, col. 2-3; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE (www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 6 Apr 2013.
In late 1898 or early 1899, 60-year-old Peter Fassbender returned to Oedekoven for a visit. He made the trip with his friend and neighbor, Joseph Tennie. Not much is known about this trip, but what we do know is gleaned from the return trip passenger list, manifested on Ellis Island, March 7, 1899. For the manifest Peter states that he is a naturalized citizen, he had been in the U.S. for 43 years, he was in possession of a ticket all the way back to Appleton, Wisconsin, he had paid for his own passage, and that he was currently in possession of more than $30.00.  All of this is true, having been verified by other sources, but the passenger list goes on to ask the following questions: Ever in Prison or Almshouse or supported by Charity: No, Whether a Polygamist: No, Condition of Health, Mental and Physical: Good, Deformed or Crippled, Nature and Cause: No. While I believe his statement of “No” to all of these questions was a true answer, would anyone actually answer these questions with a “Yes?” Well, other than if there was an obvious deformity, as that could not be hidden.
What I find most fascinating about this trip, is the ship that he chose to return home on the Kaiser Wilhelm der Große. The ship was built for Norddeutshcer Lloyd by AG Vulcan Shipyards. The ship, named for his grandfather, was launched by Kaiser Wilhelm I, on May 4, 1897. It was the first ship to have a four funnel design, which for the next decade represented size and safety. It consumed 560 tons of coal per day.
In 1898, traveling at 22.5 knots, it was the fastest merchant ship in the world, carrying 24% of the First Class passenger revenue on the North Atlantic to New York.
The ship which was top-heavy, was known as “Rolling Billy” by her regular passengers. She could hold 332 First Class passengers, 343 Second Class passengers, and 1.074 in Steerage.
In 1913 the ship was rebuilt to carry Third Class passengers only, and when the First World War broke out, she was requisitioned and turned into an armed cruiser. The Kaiser was sunk August 26, 1914 off of Rio de Oro, Africa.
What I find confusing about this passenger list, is that it seems to go on forever with no organization. I cannot tell (yet) what class of passenger he traveled as. I cannot believe that he would have traveled steerage, but there is not clear statement of class of passenger noted on each page. More work will need to be done to figure this out, but in the meantime I found this really cool YouTube video with many images of the ship. Enjoy.
- Ancestry.com, Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957 (Digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com), from National Archives microfilm T715), Peter Fassbender entry; Kaiser Wilhelm der Große Passenger Manifest, 7 Mar 1899, page 9 line 15, T715; roll 50. Cit. Date. Oct. 2002.