Category: Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender

The Ice House is Ready!

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 8 Feb 2013.

On November 21, 1905 Henry John Fassbender took the plunge, and purchased the White Clover Dairy Company in Hollandtown, Brown Co., Wisconsin. Not a young man, as he would soon turn 26-years-old, he knew what it would take to keep a factory of this size running. He would have help, as on January 17, 1906, he would marry the love of his life, Ida Emma Schultz.

Henry had been working in cheese factories all of his life, as in 1887 his father had built one of the first cheese factories in Outagamie County, Wisconsin, not far from the family farm in Ellington. One factory grew to two, and these family factories were now being run by his elder brother, Hubert; their parents, Peter and Elizabeth, had retired to Appleton, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin, in 1901.

One of the tasks of a cheesemaker was to harvest enough ice to last the summer. Harvesting began as soon as the ice was thick enough, usually by mid January, and continued until the house was full. That first year it was reported in the Kaukauna Times on February 9, 1906 that: “Our hustling cheesemaker Henry Faustbender [sic] is harvesting his next summer’s ice.” A couple of years later on January 31, 1908, the entry in the Kaukauna Times reported: “The ice harvest has begun in earnest and our cheesemaker and others who store ice are busy putting up next summer’s supply.”

Reporting on January 13, 1913, the Kaukauna Times stated: “Mrs. E. Van Abel, H. J. Fassbender and Matt Becker were harvesting their ice supply.” Matt Becker was a friend, and business associate of Henry’s, and Mrs. E. Van Abel is the former Ellen Wassenberg, the 71-year-old widow of Martin Van Abel, and grandmother of Wilfred and Don Van Abel. She was harvesting ice for her “Hotel.”

As we move further into the 20th Century, gasoline motors become more readily available, making harvesting ice a much quicker and easier process.

Why am I writing this post about ice? What does it have to do with food? Many years ago I had the good fortune to sit down with Henry’s daughter Mildred (Hunce), and she told me many wonderful stories about growing up in Hollandtown. Two centered around Henry’s ice house. 

Always the humanitarian looking out for the people of his community, each year Henry would open up his ice house to the people of Hollandtown. Anyone who had a need for cold storage larger than what would fit into their household ice box, could carve out a niche in the ice house as their own. As Hunce remembered it, many people took advantage of this offer, coming and going throughout the summer. 

The second story occurred on Monday, May 22, 1922, when at approximately 10:30 p.m. a boiler exploded at the factory. Hunce remembered hearing her father fly out of his bedroom on the first floor, and out the side door of the house. This door led straight to the factory. Eighty years later she could still hear the shower of sparks and debris hitting the tin roof of the house. An article published in the Appleton Post-Crescent on May 23rd states: “…the farmers were powerless to do much more than prevent flying sparks from communicating with nearby dwelling houses. At one time the sparks had started a blaze on the roof of a stucco house [Henry’s] about 200 yards away, but it was quickly extinguished…” There was nothing that could be done to save the factory, the papers reported the loss at $20,000, only “partly recovered by insurance.” One can only imagine Ida’s fear as she stood helplessly by watching the factory burn to the ground, and as she tried to comfort and protect her children. At the time of the fire Harold (Fat) was 14, Laurine (Ena) was 12, Red 11, Butch 9, Hunce 7, Cub 4, and Ann (Hank) was just eight months old.

Hunce also told me that day of her memory of the ice that was left after the ice house burned to the ground. She had a clear and distinct memory of how tall the remaining ice was, and how long it took for it to melt. Her memory, again corroborated by the newspaper article: “The ice house adjoining the factory also burned to the ground leaving a tower of ice about 35 feet high.”

Work began to rebuild White Clover Dairy began that very summer. 

St. Mary’s Hilbert Cookbook, 1970s, p. 163 – This

It Takes a Village. And a Family

Appleton Weekly Post ~ April 18, 1901

It was an exciting and optimistic day 115 years ago, April 16, 1901, when Hubert Fassbender, Anna Schwamer, Peter Ellenbecker, Elizabeth Fassbender, family and friends, gathered at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Appleton, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin, to witness the marriages of the two couples. The newspaper marked the event as a “double marriage,” but the vital records tell us that they each had their own set of attendants. As with all newly married couples, I am sure they looked towards their future as being bright, happy, and long-lived. From my perspective 115 years later, I am glad they could enjoy the day, and not worry about the years ahead. 

April 16, 1901. Appleton, Wisconsin. L-R: Maggie Ellenbecker, Peter Ellenbecker, Henry Fassbender, Elizabeth Fassbender, John Ellenbecker, Anna Fassbender. Arthur Ellenbecker Family Archives.

While Hubert and Anna’s lives were peppered with success and also great sadness, this post is about Peter and Elizabeth. Peter Ellenbecker and Elizabeth Fassbender chose as their attendants, Peter’s brother and sister; Maggie and John Ellenbecker, and Elizabeth’s sister Anna, and brother Henry.

Shortly after their wedding day, the couple settled into the Town of Bovina, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin, farming the land that Peter had purchased in November 1899. The homestead sat on 36.40 acres of land, with an additional 80 acres ready for cultivation. 

On February 5, 1902, Peter and Elizabeth welcomed a healthy baby boy into their family, naming him Wilbert. Life was good. As the growing season was coming to an end in 1902, tragedy struck this small family. On October 15, 1902, Peter’s appendix burst, and he died eight days later on October 24th. [1]

I wonder how Elizabeth sent the news to her family? Or were her mother and father already there to help her during those long days and nights of Peter’s illness?

St. Mary’s Greenville Cemetery

Elizabeth’s father, Peter, helped to arrange and pay for the funeral, which was held on October 27th. The receipts entered for probate do not give a clue as to where the funeral was held, but I do know that he is buried in the cemetery at St. Mary’s in Greenville, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin. The receipt states that Peter paid $3.00 for the service of the pastor (neither church nor pastor were named), Heid & Groth, Dr. Livery and Boarding Stable provided the Hack and Hearse, which was $16.00, and the casket and box was purchased from Frank Schreiter, Furniture and Undertaking. Baby Carriages &c for $34.25. Miscellaneous other expenses brought the total for the funeral to $92.05.

The couple had only been married for a year and a half before Peter so tragically passed away, leaving her with a nine month old, and another baby on the way, as Arthur would be born January 10/11, 1903. Peter died intestate with a mortgage remaining on the property he purchased, debts to various merchants, and a small amount of personal estate.

Why is this story important for me to noodle through? Because it plays a very large role in the “Appleton” chapter of my revision for the Fassbender book. The Fassbender siblings were married April 16, 1901, Peter purchased the house on State Street the next day, April 17th. At age 63 he had plans to retire and “take life easy,” allowing time to become involved in his church, play cards with friends, and not be tied to the tasks of running a large farm, and cheese factories. Upon the death of his son-in-law, all of this would change.

Peter Fassbender, 1905 ca

While this is just speculation, I can feel fairly confident to say that Peter and Elizabeth packed up their daughter and grandson, and moved them into the house on State Street. Almost immediately they appeared in the county court in Appleton to start the probate process. By the first of November, the personal estate of the household in Bovina had been inventoried, totaling $246.35, with Elizabeth having the right to choose certain household goods to keep, such as beds, kitchen table etc. On November 5, 1902, Elizabeth appeared before the judge to request that her father be appointed administrator to the estate, and the next day the estate was entered into probate. The estate would not be closed for nine long years, during which time Peter and Elizabeth were in and out of court. To help me better understand the sequence of events, I needed to create a timeline spreadsheet using the 111 pages included in the probate file as the source.

It is heartbreaking to read the transcription of Elizabeth’s testimony on December 9, 1902, declaring that her husband had died at home intestate, leaving her with a nine month old, and $1,000 mortgage. She was again in court on January 16, 1903, stating that her husband was the father of a son born January 11, 1903, and asking for the money that had been received from the sale of the personal estate to be used for the “maintenance” of the family during the progress of the settlement. She begrudgingly received a single payment of $75.00, as total claims against the estate amounted to $1,075.23.

Through all of this time her family was there to help her out, both financially, and I am sure emotionally. Her brother Hubert paid the interest on her mortgage in 1910, and payment for one-year loans made by family members to Peter Ellenbecker in 1901, were put on hold for nine years. Throughout this time she continued to reside with her sons in her parents home, assisting her sister Anna in her dressmaking business.

What is puzzling to me, is that the land was not sold through this long period of probate. If other property could be sold to pay off the debt, why not the land? Peter as administrator continued to pay the property taxes each year, some of the land was leased out, but the estate was closed December 12, 1911 showing a deficit of $1,258.23.

There are 111 pages included in this probate file. The story that this file tells is a chapter of its own. Fascinating to see the farm inventory, and the inventory of animals they were raising. Great detail, but too much detail to continue to move the book chapter forward. Seeing the detail on spreadsheet helps pinpoint the major events over the nine years. Hopefully I can relay the tragedy, but not drown the reader in too much detail.

Elizabeth would marry again on September 23, 1913, to Peter C. Tatro Jr. She would have two children with Peter, Ann born in 1915, and Henry born in 1916. They lived together in a home on South Elm Street, not far from her parents home. The reason this is important? Her son Arthur, who was born in the house on State Street, was eleven years old when she remarried, and he was given the opportunity to choose to move with her to Elm Street, or remain with his grandparents on State. Arthur chose to remain with his grandparents, and he lived with them till they passed away, and he continued to live and own the house till his own death in 2003. 

It takes a family. My husband likes the quote: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Peter and Elizabeth planned on retiring to Appleton, having sold the farm to their son Joseph, the cheese factories to their son Hubert, John and Anna were already living and working in Appleton, and Henry was working as a cheesemaker in Little Chute. The family was settled, it was time to “take it easy.” But God had other plans.


  1. Wisconsin, Wills and Probate Records, 1800-1987 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2015. Original data: Wisconsin County, District and Probate Courts. Peter Ellenbecker; accessed 16 Apr 2016.

A Closer Look at the Map

1872 John Stephens Map of Appleton. Block 35, Lot 5

Writing two posts in a row that referenced the John Stephens 1872 Map of the City of Appleton, I found myself surprised at how different the city looked over the span of the few blocks between the addresses that I was studying. Looking at the map of the first address, the Jacob Harrison Cook home on Drew Street, the neighborhood looks much as it does today, recognizable at least. And this would make sense as it was located close to Lawrence University, which was founded in 1847, just as the city was being settled. Appleton would not incorporate as a village until 1853, and as a city until 1857. The biggest change that would occur near Jacob’s home  in Block 35, Lot 5, is that the University Grounds would be broken up, streets would run through it, and City Park would be established in 1882. But this neighborhood 144 years later, is recognizable. A few blocks to the west, the view of the city is very different, still wild, and not heavily inhabited. Lot 14 in Section 26 of the John Stephens 1872 map changed greatly over the years. And I find it fascinating, and frustrating. I realized that in order to truly understand the property as it changed from 1872 till 1901, I needed to start with the basics, the plat map showing the Township and Range, in this case the SW 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Township 21 and Range 17, Section 26. See the map below with all my red markings.

Section 26, showing Lot 14

On September 25, 1882, a Sheriff’s Certificate was filed in Outagamie County, for the sale of the above named land to Gustave Zuehlke. I have been unable to locate the actual deed in the records online at, but it is referenced in the Quit Claim Deed filed December 9, 1882, when he sold the land to Christina Gross for $128.00. [1] A Quit Claim Deed is usually filed between family members, yet a quick search on for Christina Gross, only told me that she was 53 years old in 1880, and lived on Packard Street, which is the street that runs below Lot 14. I am not sure if she is related to Gustave Zuehlke.

1872 John Stephens Map including Lot 14

Continuing my search for the next sale, I was surprised to discover a Warranty Deed for Lot 14 with an earlier date, March 13, 1882. [2]  In this sale, Christina, along with her husband Mathias sold to Lewis Albrecht the North 246 feet of the lot, for $600.00. With this sale, the large lot that measured 162 feet fronting Packard, and 495 feet along State Street, was starting to be divided and developed.

Crop of an 1889 Map of Appleton

Two years later, State Street had continued north along the edge of Lot 14, and so the lot was reduced by approximately 38 feet, leaving a depth of 123.19 feet. It was at this time that Lewis, his wife Christine, Christina Gross and her husband Mathias, sold the North 60 feet of the South 180 feet of the lot. The purchaser, J. W. Corter, paid $350.00 for this small piece of land. The description of the sale makes me feel that I have missed a sale somewhere, as the numbers don’t add up, but this cropped image from an 1889 map, clearly shows the land that the Albrecht’s owned, and the smaller parcel that belonged to Corter. Time to get confused again, as on May 29, 1893, Mathias and his wife Christina Gross sold ALL of Lot 14 excepting the South 240 feet, and the parcel dedicated to State Street to B. W. Robeling for $500.00. [3]  Robeling in turn sold the North 60 feet of the South 300 feet to Peter Miller on September 18, 1893 for $475.00. [4] He in turn sold this exact land description, including a house to Peter Fassbinder [sic] on April 17, 1901, for $1,600.00. [5]  The block would continue to change in appearance over the next few years, but has now become recognizable as we see it in 2016. These two maps, Assessor Maps, one from 1900 and the other dated 1907 show the final changes. By 1907 Peter’s lot was known as Number 5, and the current description of this lot today reads: “FIFTH WARD PLAT 5WD N7FT OF LOT 4 AND ALL OF LOT 5 BLK 17” Peter’s grandson, Arthur Ellenbecker, and owner of his grandfather’s home until his death in 2003,

NW-1907 Assessor Plat
1907 Assessor Map
1900 Assessor Map

explained that his aunt, Anna Fassbender, had purchased the home on Lot 4 to use for her dressmaking business. When Peter decided to build a garage, he took this small parcel so as to make a proper driveway, and a better placement for the freestanding garage. produces nice maps of neighborhoods, and includes interesting facts about the homes here in Appleton. This is how the block looks today, in 2016. On this map it is very easy to see how the garage sits right on the property line. According to this site, the home has once again been converted back into a single family home, from the duplex that it was in 1999 when I took this picture, and when I first visited with Arthur.

1999 StateStreet2
SCFassbender Photo ~ August 1999
Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 3.06.04 PM, accessed 14 Mar 2016

I am still amazed at how complicated buying and selling city property was in the late 1800s. I know that I am missing some of the buying and selling of Lot 14. The numbers just don’t add up. So in reality a stop at the courthouse is in order. But I don’t regret the exercise that I tasked myself with, of using the un-indexed records found on to learn more about the land and home that would shelter Fassbenders for over 100 years, from 1901 until 2003.


  1. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1882-1886, vol. 56; image 56 of 644; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  2. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,”images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1881-1882, vol. 53; image 277 of 646; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  3. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1893, vol. 83; image 280 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  4. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1893, vol. 83; image 587 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  5. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1900-1901, vol. 103; image 586 of 663; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.

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John Stephens 1872 Map of Appleton

769 State Street (now 529 North State Street) 1925 ca

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. [1]  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. [2] 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. [3]

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.

A crop of John Stephens 1872 Map of Appleton
2016-03-12 Google Map

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.


  1. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1900-1901, vol. 103 > image 586 of 663; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  2. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1893, vol. 83 > image 587 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  3. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 March 2016), Land and Property > Deed record, 1893, vol. 83 > image 280 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.

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Schafkopf in the Afternoon

When Peter Fassbender at age 62 moved to Appleton in 1901 to “take life easy,” [1] 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.” [2]

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.” [3]

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.” [4]

Appleton Post-Crescent, 9 Aug 1921

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.” [5]

Gottfried died March 28, 1925, and is buried next to his wife Mathilda in the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in King, Waupaca Co., Wisconsin.


  1. “Old Timers,” (AppletonAppleton Review, 10 Oct 1930, p. 2, col. 1-2. Cit. Date: 23 Oct 1998.
  2. ibid.
  3. “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 ( : accessed 6 Apr 2013.
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid.


A Trip Home

REVISED 31 Jul 2023

This post was first written and published on 8 Jan 2016. I have learned so much more since that time and rather than write a new post, I have decided to revise the existing one. 

Kaiser Wilhelm der Große

In late 1898 60-year-old Peter Fassbender returned to Oedekoven, Germany for a visit, traveling with his friend and neighbor, Joseph Tennie. We know his approximate time of departure as it was reported in the newspaper upon his return that “Mr. Fassbender, who has been visiting relatives in Germany since the first of Jan…”1 It must have been hard for Elisabeth to see him go, although she had only been six years old when her family left Oedekoven for America in 1846.

This was his first visit home since emigrating in 1856. It had been 43 years since he had stepped foot in his native land, had much had changed. A fire in 1864 had changed the appearance of his former home, Tempelhof, as the farmyard was gone, and the damaged chapel and been decommissioned. [Blog Post: The Chapel on the Hill]. I wonder if one of his first stops was to the Oedekoven Chapel, St. Mary’s Marriage, to look at the altar and statue of Mary that had once been sheltered in the Tempelhof Chapel?

All that we do know about this trip is that Peter was gone for two months. He traveled from Oedekoven to Bremen to board the Kaiser Wilhelm der Große on February 28, 1899.2  The top-heavy ship known as “Rolling Billy” by her regular passengers could hold 332 First Class passengers, 343 Second Class passengers, and 1.074 in Steerage. 

 The return trip home started in Bremen, Germany. I believe that Peter and Joseph were traveling 2nd class, as they were not manifested with the 3rd or steerage class passengers who needed to be cleared by a physician who stated that he had “…made a personal examination of each of the passengers named,” before they were allowed to board. The passenger list does not designate the classes, and it appears to me that the even-numbered pages are missing. What would they have paid for this ticket? All I know is that shortly after their return it was announced that the minimum rates for steamships bound for Southampton and Bremen had been reduced by $10.00 to $25.00. First-class cabin rates were reduced $25.00 to $75.00 from April 2 to May 9th, and between Jun 6 to July 7th, the rate was set at $100.00.3 Which is $3,676.01 in today’s [2023] money.4

Traveling from Bremen they stopped on March 1st in Southampton, England, picking up 2 passengers, before heading to Cherbourg, France, and then to New York. I do believe that there are missing pages to this passenger list, which makes me realize how lucky we are that we do have a record of Peter and Joseph’s return trip. The Chicago Daily reported on March 8th on the return of J. P. Morgan “from London on the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse,”5 yet his name does not appear on the passenger list, and he most likely boarded in Southampton. 

The trip was made in record time, the Baltimore Sun reported that they had made “the run of 3,148 knots to Sandy Hook light ship [Sandy Hook, New Jersey Lighthouse] in 5 days 21 hours and 8 minutes, at an average speed of 22.33 knots per hour, lowering her best previous record from Cherbourg by 1 hour and 12 minutes. The trip is remarkable from the fact that it was made in the month of March, in winter weather…”6

I wonder what Peter thought as he sailed into New York Harbor on March 7th. Much had changed since that day 43 years before when, after a trip of one month, two days the Ship Chimborazo entered the harbor. The skyline of New York City was different, much larger. This time the Statue of Liberty was there to greet him, having been dedicated just 12 years earlier. Beyond the statue stood Ellis Island, open for just seven years, he would not be passing through Castle Garden on this trip. And certainly, there was a sense of comfort in knowing that, unlike the passengers who were newly immigrating, he could freely walk off the ship, enter the city, and travel home to his family in Wisconsin.

The passenger list was manifested at Ellis Island. 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 $30.00.7 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, that could not be hidden.

His exact date of arrival home to the farm in the Town of Ellington is not known. A notice in the  Appleton Evening Crescent dated Tuesday, March 21st stated that he had “returned a week ago…” So, it is safe to say he arrived home sometime before March 14th. 

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  Norddeutscher 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, representing size and safety for the next decade. 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.

In 1913 the ship was rebuilt to carry only 3rd class passengers, and when the First World War broke out, she was requisitioned and turned into an armed cruiser. The Kaiser was sunk on August 26, 1914, off of Rio de Oro, Africa.


  1. “Bungert and Wittlin,” Appleton Evening Crescent, 17 Mar 1899, Friday, p. 4, col. 5; digital images, ( : accessed 2 Sep 2018).
  2. National Archives, “New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” database and images, Operations, Inc. 2010, ( : accessed October 2002). Microfilm serial: T715, 1899, Kaiser Wilhelm der Große, p. 9, line 15, Peter Fassbender; citing The National Archives at Washington, D.C.
  3. “North German Lloyd’s Cut,” Naugatuck Daily News, 7 Mar 1899, Tuesday, p. 1, col. 4; digital images,, ( : accessed 1 Jan 2007).
  5. “Coal Interests in Great Pool,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 8 Mar 1899, Wednesday, p. 1, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 7 Sep 2018).
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