Last Friday the 1950 U.S. Census was finally released for viewing, and so I decided to make a trip to Hollandtown, Brown, Wisconsin to visit my in-laws, my husband’s grandparents, and any other family members who happened to be living in this small community in April 1950.
“Heading into town” that morning, I had no idea that I would still be there a few days later. I love how the enumerator, Mrs. Margaret Farrell used St. Francis Catholic church as the departure point for her notes. The homes were unnumbered at this time, so people lived on “County Trunk D 1/2 mile church,” or “1/4 mile church,” and “near church.” She enumerated this community of 1,017 people, living in 231 dwellings between March 31, and April 21st.
What kept me in Hollandtown was the insight into the lives of people I knew, some casually, some very well, all sparking memories of days gone by. Has it really been 36 years since I first stepped foot into Van Abel’s supper club for the 40th wedding celebration of Bernard and Marie Campbell Fassbender?
Speaking of the Van Abel’s, I “ran into” them first. Living a 1/2 mile from the church on County Trunk D, was Nell Van Abel and her son, Wilfred, or Will, as we knew him. Nell had just lost her husband Bill in January, and Will would not marry Anne Duffy until 1954. Nell was enumerated as Keeping House, and Will the Proprietor of a “Tavern-Bolding.”
The 1950 census includes many chances for a person to be part of the “Sample Line,” and Will, enumerated on Line 8, was one such person. Unlike other censuses, no indication is made as to who provided the information, so it is left to our imagination as to why questions 33a-33c were left unanswered. The questions read: “If Male— (Ask each question) Did he ever serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during—World War II, World War I, any other time, including present service.” These questions were simply left unanswered. Will most definitely served during World War II and had also spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. Was the memory just too fresh to even answer with a simple, yes?
Living a 1/4 mile from the church is his brother, and partner in the tavern, Don, who was enumerated with his family, wife Bernice, 3-year-old Patricia, and 2-year-old Sue. He was also enumerated as the Proprietor of a “Tavern-Bolding.” Bolding? I have to believe that Mrs. Farrell had a weak moment, and spelled the word Bowling as Bolding, as bowling lanes had been added to the property a few years before. Both men spent long hours working in the tavern, each stating that the prior week they had worked 84 hours.
Continuing my walk with Mrs. Farrell, I finally arrive at my in-law’s household. I was surprised to see that the street was named Church Road in 1950, and delighted to see that she named their place of business White Clover Dairy rather than the expected generic “cheese factory.”
And here was a moment of Oh My Gosh. On this day, the day of Mrs. Farrell’s visit, 28-year-old Marie was eight months pregnant with her second child; her first child, Dick, was 2 years old. Dick must have been a rambunctious child if the number of photos of him that include bandaids is any indication. Mrs. Farrell asked Marie the question as to how many hours her 37-year-old husband had worked the week prior, Marie answered, 84. 84 hours. That’s a lot of hours alone, and with all chores being much more labor-intensive than they are today – imagine the laundry! Well, I don’t have to, there are pictures.
Moving two doors down to take a look at Butch’s parent’s entry, I found that 70-year-old Henry was still working as a cheesemaker, working 70 hours the week before, and his daughter, 23-year-old Rose Mary, put in 48 working in the office. Rosie would marry Victor Busse in May 1951.
It got me thinking, how many people in this small community worked at White Clover? I found 19, and some even were part of the Sample Line. Four Fassbender family members, and 15 people from the community. A newspaper article dated October 1948 states that at that time the factory employed 14 people above and beyond the Fassbender brothers, so I am fairly confident that I have captured all of the employees.
- Bernard W. Fassbender, age 37, Hours worked last week: 84
- Henry J. Fassbender, age 70. Hours worked last week: 70
- Norbert J. Fassbender, age 38. Hours worked last week: 75
- Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, Income earned from working in own business – $3,000
- Earl Vande Hey, age 23. Hours worked last week: 65
- Sample Line: Worked in Own Business in 1949
- Joseph F. Nies, age 24. Hours worked last week: 77
- Donald J. Hart, age 23. Hours worked last week: 63.
- Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, wages earned $2,181
Occupation: Office Work
- Mike Flynn, age 54. Hours worked last week: 40
- Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, wages earned $1,800.00
- Rose M. Fassbender, age 23. Hours worked last week: 48
Occupation: Factory Helper/Cheese Helper/Helps Make Cheese
- William Verheyen, age 18. Hours worked last week: 65
- Alfred A. Brochtrup, age 21. Hours worked last week: 60
- Clarence R. Kelly, age 43. Hours worked last week: 56
Occupation: Waxing Cheese
- Theresa Van De Loo, age 18. Hours worked last week – not reported
- Noeim Clark, age 20. Hours worked last week: 45
Occupation: Wrapping Cheese
- Ann Van De Loo, age 18. Hours worked last week: 48
- Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 26, wages earned $600.00
- Dolores M. Liebergen, age 20. Hours worked last week: 51
- Eileen M. Penterman, age 20. Hours worked last week: 32
- Estella A. Hagens, age 31. Hours worked last week: 40
- Arlene J. Fink, age 19. Hours worked last week: 54
Occupation: Hauls Milk
- Donald J. Weber, age 25. Hours worked last week: 65
To round up the rest of the Fassbender family I had to travel first to Dundas:
Occupation: Cheese Maker
- Hubert Fassbender, age 31. Hours worked last week: 84
Then to Kaukauna:
- Fassbender, Harold, age 41. Hours worked last week: 65
Occupation: Cheese Wrapper
- Fassbender, Mary, age 42. Hours worked last week: 27
- Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 39, wages earned $1,200.
There were two residents of Hollandtown that worked for South Kaukauna Dairy. Namely, Jerome D. Van Abel, age 38, (brother of Will and Don), who worked 38 hours as a Bookkeeper, and Mary B. Wall, age 23, who packed cheese. She worked 32 hours the previous week, and her Sample Line tells us that she worked 26 hours in 1949 and earned $800.00.
Also working at South Kaukauna Dairy was the husband of Mildred Fassbender, Leroy C. Gerharz, age 41. He had worked the previous week 42 hours as a Traffic Manager.
Now that I have compiled this information, I am comparing it to the company financial statements I have from this period. Also, newspaper articles provide me with additional anecdotal information. So much, that my head is spinning.