Twenty years ago we were in the final countdown to the 1996 Fassbender Family Reunion.
My husband and I planned and held a family reunion back in the early days of home computers, before home internet was common, and “You’ve Got Mail” was the welcome message. Using Creative Writer, a program our children used, and whatever word processing program we were using at the time, I started creating reunion documents.
Never having planned a party of this magnitude, and having no idea how large the task was that we were taking on, Gary and I jumped enthusiastically into planning. The reunion was to celebrate the children, grand-children, great-grandchildren, etc., of Henry and Ida Fassbender. 51 letters were sent out to the families descending from this couple and their eight children: Harold (Fat) b. 1907, Laurine (Ena) b. 1909, Norbert (Red) b. 1911, Bernard (Butch) b. 1912, Mildred (Hunce) b. 1914, Hubert (Cub) b. 1917, Ann (Hank) b. 1921, and Rosemary (Rosie/Foos) b. 1926. 21 responses were returned, and with that, the date was set: July 20, 1996. With the date selected I got busy creating a cute “reunion t-shirt” note using a Creative Writer template, and developing a survey to be included in the mailing. What was asked in the survey? I sadly do not have a copy. But my mother-in-law thankfully saved the t-shirt page.
With the date set, we reserved the Hollandtown Community Park and pavilion, a photographer was asked to take group pictures, we finalized the activities for the kids, the tour of White Clover Dairy, the place to share photos and memories of past reunions, and the dinner which was catered from Van Abels. Chicken, ham, German potato salad and rolls. The family was then broken up into two categories, one group was to bring dessert, the other a snack/munchie of their choice. As the surveys and reservations came in, I diligently worked on compiling the information that I received, into a family directory, preparing to have a copy available for every attendee. Looking back, I am amazed that my curiosity about family, and desire for a sense of order were apparent even then. I color coded the name tags by family, seven different colors adorned the tags, and helped cousins who in some cases had not seen each other in years, quickly identify, and recognize old friends.
As the event drew closer, Butch and Marie, Cub and Dolores, Hank (Ann), and Hunce, the four remaining siblings, and Stella, the widow of Red, began to make their plans. Cub and Hank were coming from out of town, and would stay for the weekend; making it a true reunion, and allowing lots of time for chats and memories. And a bit of cheese and crackers with their evening beer.
We planned the best we could, but sometimes the “best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” On July 5th Butch not feeling well, went into the hospital, and it was discovered he needed surgery. The surgery was successful, but his tolerance for the morphine they gave him for pain was not. He ended up falling out of bed and breaking his arm. This set his homecoming back a few days. His younger sister, Hank, who had been battling cancer for many years, still was planning on driving up for the reunion. Sadly, she passed away, Saturday, July 13th. Her funeral was held July 16.
The date was set, the planning complete, and these events rocked our world a bit, but we moved forward towards reunion day.
The day was a perfect July day. While we only had 21 people respond with an opinion as to the choice of a date, we had almost a 100% RSVP a response of “yes, we are coming!” The day went off without a hitch, and Butch, just home from the hospital, was able to attend for a short period of time. A good time was had by all. For that I am thankful, because I am not sure I would do it again. But I do have to say, looking at the materials that were saved, we did an amazing job. 20 years later, we surprise ourselves.
Some might say that this post is a day late, but I believe it is right on time. Yesterday my in-laws, Bernard (Butch) and Marie (Campbell) Fassbender would have celebrated 70 years of marriage. I had the privilege to help them to celebrate, party-style, their 40th and their 50th, plus many more quiet celebrations in between.
Why is this post right on time? Because tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate 29 years of marriage. And today is Mother’s Day. Many years we honored these events on one day or another. One particular anniversary stands out, and it just happens that it was our first, and B & M’s 42nd. We got all dressed up – as you did in those days – and we celebrated our anniversaries together with reservations at Remington’s in Neenah. I remember how relaxed we all were, how the conversation flowed, and how we all enjoyed the added “floor show” of young people all dressed up for prom, and a few giggles at their expense, as some were experiencing fine dining for the very first time.
Many years though, this day in between, was spent celebrating Mom. Mother’s Day.
Marie raised four boys, tragically lost one, and was the grandmother to nine. Her house was a revolving door for her grandchildren and their friends. The draw? A full sized pool table in the basement, and fresh baked cookies in the kitchen to grab as you headed downstairs. Not a cookie baking day? No problem. Everyone knew where the candy drawer was located. Or her hidden stash in the broom closet.
Butch and Marie set the bar high when it comes to setting an example of a good marriage. As their granddaughter posted on Facebook yesterday: “…Their marriage was filled with love, faith, joy, and strength. A beautiful model of what it means to spend life with another regardless of what the journey brings.”
They started their journey together seventy years ago, we started this same journey of life together 29 years ago. I can only hope that in 2057 (!!) we will be remembered as fondly, and our lives remembered as having made as big a difference.
Yesterday was National Grilled Cheese Day – who thinks of these things? So I am bit behind with a cheese story, it’s a big one! And the Fassbender family was involved.
Quoted from A Snapshot: Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender “…in 1911, plans were well under way for Nicholas Simon of Appleton to attempt to beat his own record for creating a giant cheese. In 1910 he had built a 4,000 pound cheese for the National Dairy Show in Chicago. For the 1911 National Dairy Show, to be held October 26-November 4, he was awarded the contract by the National Dairy Show Association to build a 12,000 lb. Wisconsin white cheese [cheddar]. The cheese was not to be made as a money-making proposition, but for educational purposes. On July 26, 1911, preliminary work began on the construction of the hoop and platform to hold the cheese. The giant hoop of galvanized iron was eight feet in diameter, and five feet high. ‘Twelve heavy steel bands, 24 feet long, were placed around the hoop to make it withstand the enormous pressure obtained by the immense jack-screws placed on the ends, or “followers,” and pressing agains the frame. Four heavy oak timbers below the hoop and as many above, bound together by twenty heavy steel bolts five feet long, formed the frame that was built upon the lines of the old style upright screw press. The “followers” or ends, were four thicknesses of two-inch oak boards, or eight inches thick. The hoop alone weighed 3,000 pounds.” 
Both Hubert [Fassbender] and Henry [Fassbender] played a role in creating this cheese, which occurred on Tuesday, August 15, 1911. Henry was one of the 18 expert cheesemakers, who with the assistance of 22 experienced helpers manufactured the cheese, and Hubert is credited with being one of the dairies supplying the milk. ‘…All the milk from over 8,000 cows for one day, and furnished by over 1,300 farmers of Outagamie county, went into the giant cheese. The curd was furnished by thirty-two of the most up-to-date and sanitary cheese factories…it took over 1,600 meant to do the milking, and 144,100 pounds of milk, over seventy-two tons or over 18,000 gallons of the richest and purest milk obtainable from the finest registered Holstein, Guernsey and other breed cows in the country, was put into the cheese or was required to produce the curd.’ ‘In addition…it took over 480 pounds of Wyandotte salt and thirty-one pounds of Marschall rennet extract to produce the curd, but not an ounce of coloring was placed in the cheese.’  The 8,000 cows all ‘had to be milked at the same hour. The milk had to be cooled at the same temperature, and the…factories which manufactured the curd had to follow the same process to make the curd uniform.’ 
On October 30, 1911, President William Howard Taft attended the National Dairy Show where he gave a ‘pleasant speech’ and toured the exhibits. Upon reaching the ‘immense cheese which [was] a feature of the show he was given a huge knife and invited to have a slice. He accepted laughingly, cut off a sample of the cheese and at it with relish.’  After tasting the cheese he said ‘I would like to meet the man who made it.’ Upon being introduced to Nicholas Simon, he complimented him by saying he had never tasted better cream cheese. The giant cheese which cost an estimated $5,0000-$6,000 to produce, was sold to the Fair Store in Chicago, where it was sold at retail, Nicholas Simon receiving thirty cents per pound, or $3,7089.10.  Ten pounds of the cheese was shipped to President Taft, arriving in time for Thanksgiving dinner, a gift from Nicholas Simon.” 
The November 1911 issue of Popular Mechanics, p. 650-651, had this to say about the cheese:
“No building in Appleton was large enough for the manufacture and care of the cheese and it was made in the open air. The hoop was placed on a platform in front of six big vats, 15 feet long, 4 1/2 feet wide and 22 1/2 feet deep, in which the curd was washed and mixed.
Under the supervision of the State Dairy and Food Commissioner, 2 3/4 pounds of salt were used to each 100 pounds of curd, and when the salt was thoroughly mixed with the curd it was carried in pails to the form or hoop, where it was packed with heavy iron tampers, which were wrapped with [40 yards of] cheesecloth.
It took five hours to manufacture the cheese after the curd was delivered, and so solidly had it been packed that it pressed down but a few inches under the enormous pressure. Two days later the cheese was trimmed, the bandage of heavy cotton cheese cloth, which fitted the form like a glove was carried over the top and the gigantic cheese was moved into a warehouse by a house mover…it was impossible to find a cold-storage plant…in which it could be stored to ‘cure,’ and itwas necessary to build a special refrigerator, 12 by 15 feet, about [the cheese.] A specially equipped flat car was provided to ship it to Chicago.”
This was not the last giant cheese that Nicholas Simon produced, but it is his most famous.
Susan C. Fassbender, A Snapshot: Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender (Appleton, WI: self published, 2007): 26-28.
Popular Mechanics, “Giant Cheese Weighs Over Five Tons,” November 1911, 650-651.
The Kaukauna Times, Kaukauna, Wisconsin, “A Mammoth Cheese. Seventy Tons of Milk Used in Making a 12,000 Pounder.” 18 August 1911.
The Kaukauna Times, ” caption: “The Worlds Largest Cheese,” 20 October 1911, front page.
The Evening Telegram, Elyria, Ohio, “President Visits Dairy Show, Makes a Speech, Cuts Big Cheese, and Afterward Lays Cornerstone of Hamilton Club.” 30 October 1911, 2.
Appleton Evening Crescent, Appleton, Wisconsin, “Extra: ‘This Cheese is Great,’ says Taft.” 30 October 1911.
The Kaukauna Times, “Cheese for Dinner.” 1 December 1911.
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 Legacydatabase, 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 preferredfaith” 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 itout.
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 thefounding 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…
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 are 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.