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.
I was wrong. I thought that because I had been researching this topic since 1998, that it would be a SNAP to write the story up to oh, say 1918. I was wrong, because even during these early years there is this strange entwining of names, and the question of which man is this story referring to? But to continue the tale.
Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender was born and raised in Oedekoven, Rhine Province, Germany. In 1856 at the age of 18, he emigrated to Wisconsin, settling with his mother and step-father in Granville, Milwaukee Co., Wisconsin. In 1862 he married the “girl next door” Elizabeth Nettekoven, the Nettekoven’s having settled on the land adjacent to Peter’s family. During their first year of marriage, Peter and Elizabeth lived on a rented farm in the Milwaukee area before packing their ox-cart and making their way north to Outagamie County. When I first read about their five day journey, I had what I thought was an insane image of them walking up Highway 41, but looking at this David Rumsey map of Wisconsin dated 1855, I see I was not too far off.
They made the decision to settle in the town of Ellington, Outagamie County, and on November 12, 1863, Peter purchased a sixty acre plat for $950.00 in Section 25.  Peter worked hard cultivating the land so that it would be in good condition for his crops. In 1868 he added an adjoining 40 acres of Section 26 to the original 60, and in 1883 purchased an additional 40 acres in Section 24, creating a total of 140 acres of good rich farm land. 
Peter and Elizabeth were blessed with nine children. Anna born in 1865, John Mathias 1866, Joseph Peter 1868, Conrad Henry 1869, Mary Francis 1871, Hubert 1875, Elizabeth Mary 1877, Henry John 1880, and Maggie, who was born in 1882. Six lived to adulthood as they lost Conrad in 1869, Mary Francis in 1871, and their youngest daughter, Maggie, the summer of 1900.
As Peter decided to add cheese manufacturing to his mix of business, he enlisted all four of his surviving sons to work with him in the factory, and this allowed him to expand until he was running three factories as part of his family business. His eldest son, John, began working at age 16 as a laborer for cheese factories in the area. He returned home in 1887 when his father built his first factory, remaining with him till 1890 when he “embarked on the business himself, conducting a factory for five years.” In 1895 John married and soon moved to Appleton “where the next five years were spent in various occupations” until 1902 when he returned to farming, purchasing land in Black Creek, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin.  While John lived in Appleton for those five years, I believe he must have retained ownership of the factory, as I find him listed as “John Fastbinder” in the Biennial Report of the Dairy and Food Commissioner of Wisconsin, as owning and operating an unnamed cheese factory in Greenville, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin in 1899. 
Peter’s second son, Joseph’s first love was for the land, and although he spent time working in the factories, he soon returned to farming. He “always remained on the home place, of which he took charge at the age of thirty years, and three years later he bought the land.”  He married in 1902, and remained on the family farm for the remainder of his life.
Peter’s youngest sons were Hubert and Henry John. Funny, I have yet to find a middle name for Hubert, although I have found reference to the letter “F” being used. Hubert and Henry literally grew up with their father making cheese in addition to farming, and the cheese industry became their chosen profession, both men owning and operating successful factories in the Fox River Valley. This is their story.
“Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22093-43526-77?cc=1463639 : accessed 01 Apr 2014), Land and Property > Deed record, 1863-1864, vol. 16 > image 416 of 609; citing Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
Thomas H. Ryan, History of Outagamie County Wisconsin (Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911), 767.
Thomas H. Ryan, History of Outagamie County Wisconsin. (Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911), 764-765.
Wisconsin. Dairy and Food Commission, Biennial Report of the Dairy and Food Commissioner of Wisconsin. (Michigan: University of Michigan, 1899) www.books.google.com : accessed 26 Mar. 2014.
I first started researching this topic in 1998 at the request of my father-in-law who wished to know more about his grandparents. It still saddens me that he did not live to enjoy my findings, but even more so, that I was unable to discuss the stories, and to ask what he remembered about the events that I was uncovering. The prompt to blog this history is the fact that these stories are disappearing. That the successful cheese factories that were built by the Fassbender men and later sold to large corporations, have had the story of their origin either altered or deleted from the company’s history. I can’t let that happen.
Peter Joseph Hubert Fassbender had been residing in Ellington Township, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin for approximately 23 years when he decided to enter the cheese and butter manufacturing business. He chose a site across the road from the family home to build his first factory. The factory began operation in 1887 and had a capacity of 11,000 pounds of milk per day, which Peter obtained by purchasing milk from his farming neighbors, and from 24 of his own cows. Peter’s eldest son, John, returned home to work along side his father. As a 20 year old, he was an experienced cheesemaker, having worked in various cheese factories since the age of 16.  Peter also enlisted the help of 19 year old Joseph, and two years later in 1889, 14 year old Hubertjoined the family business.  Showing remarkable skill and interest in the making of cheese, Hubert would be in “full charge of the factory” by the time he turned 16 in 1891.  It was at this time that John left his father’s factory and “embarked on the business himself, conducting a factory for five years.”  The youngest son, Henry, just seven years old when his father began making cheese and butter, literally grew up in the factory and would follow in his elder brothers footsteps, and in time become a cheesemaker in his own right.
Thomas H. Ryan, History of Outagamie County Wisconsin (Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911), 764.
Ryan, History of Outagamie County, 958.
The Appleton Post-Crescent, “Rotary Club Hears Talk On Creamery Business.” 18 April 1929.