Friday, December 23, 2011

Family Recipe Friday - Ribbon Cookies

My great grandmother, Lulu (Robideau) Elsner used to make these cookies every Christmas.  I don't know what newspaper she got the recipe from, but just like it says on the recipe, they are "lovely to look at - delicious to taste"!

1 cup butter or shortening
1/4 cup each of candied cherries and broken pecan nuts
1 ounce milk chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons poppy seed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  "First sift flour, measure and sift twice with the baking powder and salt, then cream sugar and shortening until light, add egg and beat until smooth and fluffy, add flour mixture a little at a time and mix thoroughly.  Divide dough into three portions, add chopped cherries to one part, nut and chocolate to the second part and the poppy seed to the third.
  "Line a small bread pan with heavy waxed paper, pack the chocolate and nut mixture in the bottom as evenly as possible, over this pack the cherry dough and top it with the poppy seed mixture, cover with waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator overnight.  When ready to bake, turn out of pan and slice very thin, place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in hot oven (400 degrees) about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  "This dough may be stored in the refrigerator for days and baked as desired.  Makes about 8 dozen thin cookies."

  Tips:  1.  Don't forget to add the vanilla!  The recipe lists it as an ingredient but never tells you to add it.  I add it when I cream the sugar and shortening.  2.  The poppy seeds are optional.  They add a very nice flavor and I love them, but I leave them out because nowadays people are subject to random drug tests and poppy seeds can give a false reading.  3.  I always add a couple drops of red food coloring to the cherry mixture.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happenings in Greenbush, Minnesota on December 7, 1911

The following was printed in The Princeton Union on Thursday, December 7, 1911 on Page 7.  It was under the heading of "The Farm Fireside. Gleanings by our Country Correspondents......" under the Greenbush section.

The Princeton Union, Thursday, Dec. 7, 1911, pg. 7
  The school children of district 5 are
preparing for a Christmas program.
  Frank Grow was among the crowd
who attended the dance in Santiago
on Thursday.
  Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Grow and
son, Leland, of Foley were here visiting
with relatives a few days.
   Quite a number of young people of
this vicinity attended the dance at
Santiago last Thursday evening.
  Mr. and Mrs. Nels Robideau and
Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Grow were welcome
callers at Mr. and Mrs. John
Odegard's on Sunday.
  A dance will be given at the residence
of Nels Robideau on Friday,
December 15. Supper will be served
and a good time is assured. Everyone
is invited.
  Mr. and Mrs. Rant Ross, Mr. and
Mrs. Sidney Grow, Mr. and Mrs.
Clyde Ross, Miss Conroy and Miss
Davis called on Mr. and Mrs. Thomas
Grow on Sunday.
  Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Ross and
daughter, Orpha, and Mr. and Mrs.
Sidney Grow and son, Leland, visited
with Mr. and Mrs. John Grow and
family on Sunday.

  Most of the people in this article are my relatives!  I'll try to explain who they are, and later on, in a different posting, I will give you more information on each one of them.
  First, Mr. & Mrs. Nels Robideau are my great great grandparents.  Nels and Annie (Grow) Robideau are my great grandmother Lulu (Robideau) Elsner's parents.
  Five of Annie Grow's siblings are mentioned: John Grow, Sidney Grow, Thomas Grow, Alma Grow (Mrs. John Odegard), and Frank Grow.
  At the time this was written, Frank Grow was single and 20 years old;  Sidney Grow, 34, was married to Nellie (Ross), 29, and their son Leland was 6; John Odegard, abt 29, was married to Alma (Grow), 26; Thomas Grow, 27, was married to Ella (Taylor), 22; John Grow, 40, was married to Mary (Burke), 41.
  I wonder how many people attended the dinner and dance at the Robideau home?!  At the time, Nels, 45, and Annie, 38, had 11 children and one on the way.  My great grandmother, Lulu was 15 yrs old.  So there were already a lot of people in attendance!

Newspaper is from the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper site:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Zilla Gawehn

This obituary is for Zilla (Richter) Gawehn.  It was published in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on Sunday, March 14, 1954, pg. 12A.

  The Rev. Mrs. Zilla Gawehn, 90, died at 7 p.m. yesterday in her home, 513 East Suttenfield St., where she had been ill a week with pneumonia.
  She was born in East Prussia, Germany, and came here in 1890.  She was a member of the First Spiritualist Church.
  Surviving are two sons, George and Erich J. Gawehn, Fort Wayne; and two daughters, the Misses Betty and Luella Gawehn, also Fort Wayne.
  The body was taken to the C. M. Sloan & Sons Funeral Home, where friends may call after 7 p.m. today.


  Zilla was Lydia (Richter) Elsner's sister.  Zilla was born Oct. 26, 1863 in Germany and married August F. Gawehn in about 1885.  She immigrated to America in 1890 along with her husband and two children, George and Elizabeth.  They settled in Fort Wayne, Indiana and they had  two more children, Luella and Erich.
  Zilla's husband August died October 20, 1929.  Her sister Lydia died April 7, 1936 leaving behind her husband of more than 50 years, Albert Elsner. 
  Zilla married Albert Elsner on Dec. 28, 1936 just 8 months after her sister died.  Zilla and Albert were married for 11 years before he passed away on July 5, 1947.

  The only new information that this obituary provides is that Zilla was a Reverend.  I was hoping there would be a mention of other Richter family members that were either surviving or had passed before her.  Oh well, I'll just have to keep looking!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Remembering my dad

Me and Dad, Sept. 1962

                                   Steven LeGrande Warner
                         December 7, 1940 - September 3, 2002

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Albert John Elsner

This obituary for Albert Elsner was printed in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on Thursday, July 3, 1947, Pg. 10.
  Funeral services will be conducted Saturday for Albert John Elsner, 89, who died at 2:40 a.m. Wednesday of a heart ailment at his home, 2540 Thompson Avenue.
  Services will be held at 3 p.m. in the Harry Wilson Funeral Home, Dr. B. F. Clark, of Indianapolis, officiating.  Burial will be in Lindenwood Cemetery.
  Mr. Elsner was a retired farmer.  He was born in West Prussia, Germany, and came to the United States in 1890.  He had been in failing health for several months.
  Survivors include the wife, Mrs. Zella Elsner; four children, Mrs. Elizabeth Kettelhodt, Princeton, Minn., Otto Elsner, Minnesota, Fred Elsner, Chicago, and Eric Elsner, Los Angeles; four stepchildren, George, Luella, Elizabeth and Erich Gawehn, all of Fort Wayne; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
  Friends may view the body at the funeral home after 7 p.m. today.
I believe that Zilla is probably the one that gave the information for this obituary to the newspaper.  I was hoping to find out if Albert had any siblings.  I'm not sure if the information is accurate about him being born in West Prussia as I have only ever seen or heard Germany as his place of birth.  So I will check into that and see what I can find out about it.  Also, he did not immigrate in 1890, it was 1887.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Erich and Ida Richter

Erich J.B. Richter and Ida Caroline Hilgendorff were married on December 12, 1882 in Henry County, Ohio.

On the marriage record for Erich and Ida, it looks like someone wrote "Bamns" in the left column.  I tried to look this up and I think that the word is actually "Banns".
The definition for banns is: 1. the public declaration of an intended marriage, usually formally announced on three successive Sundays in the parish churches of both the betrothed. 2. any public announcement of a proposed marriage, either verbal or written and made in a church or by church officials.

I did a little more research on banns and found that "banns" or "banns of marriage" were associated with the Church of England and other denominations whose traditions are similar.  Banns are announced or published in the church of the bride and of the groom for three consecutive weeks.  It they intend to marry at a different church from the one they normally attend, the banns have to be announced in that church as well.  So the banns could be read in three churches in some cases.

The banns are read so that the congregation knows of the upcoming marriage and can voice any objections that they have.  Such as, the couple are too closely related, or one of them is already married.  If there are no objections, then they are allowed to marry.

There is no marriage license required when banns are published.  The marriage is recorded in the church records and maybe the Family Bible, but it is not required to be reported to any civil authorities.  So it is possible to find banns of marriage, but not be able to find an actual marriage record.  Also, just because the banns were announced does not necessarily mean that the marriage took place.  So in the case of Erich and Ida's marriage, it is really lucky for us that Rev. L. Dulitz went down to the courthouse and recorded their marriage.  

Rev. L. Dulitz

Rev. L. Dulitz, was the pastor of the St. Paul Lutheran Church of Napoleon, Ohio from June 2, 1872 until August, 1884.  During his pastorate he baptized 213 children, confirmed 132, solemnized 72 marriages, and buried 60 persons.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

E. J. Richter, Napoleon, O.

This is what I have so far on E. J. Richter, the older brother of Lydia and Zilla Richter.
Erich J. B. Richter
b. 8 Jan 1854 in Germany...immigrated to USA about 1880 or 1881
d. 24 Apr 1939 in Napoleon, Henry, Ohio
m. 12 Dec 1882 in Henry County, Ohio to Ida Caroline Hilgendorff

Ida Caroline Hilgendorff
b. 30 May 1861 in Napoleon, Henry, Ohio
d. 20 Aug 1947 in Napoleon, Henry, Ohio

Erich and Ida's children:
Bertha M. (1888-1978)
Walter Edwin (1891-1986)
Meta C. (1894-?)
Eda Lydia (1897-1974)

According to the 1900 US Census, Erich and Ida had 6 children but only 4 were living at that time.  They lived in Napoleon, Ohio and Erich's occupation is sign painter.

At the time of the 1910 US Census they are still living in Napoleon, Ohio with three of their children, Walter (18), Meta (16), and Eda (12).  Bertha was married so she was living with her husband at that time.

The 1920 US Census still shows Erich and Ida are living in Napoleon, Ohio and only Eda (21) is living with them.  Walter and Meta were each married and on their own by then.  Erich's occupation is sign painter.  His daughter Eda is a bookkeeper.

The 1920 US Census has a column titled "Whether able to speak English."  This column is marked "yes" all the way down except for three people.  It was blank for a baby and one older person, and when it gets to Erich, there is an "X".  I would think that he did speak English after living in the US all these years, but I guess it is possible that he did not.  If it is true that he did not speak English, Ida probably spoke German as a second language, as her father was a German immigrant.  But it could just be that Erich had a very heavy German accent and the census taker was having a hard time understanding him.

Erich's death certificate shows that the principal cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage and arteriosclerosis.  It lists his occupation as painter.

Erich and Ida are buried at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Napoleon, Ohio.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Lydia Elsner

This obituary for Lydia Elsner was in the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette on Wednesday, April 8, 1936, pg.6.



                                               Mrs.  Zilla Gawehn, 1309 Sheridan
                                          court,  this  city,  received  word of the
                                          death of her sister, Mrs. Lydia  Elsner,
                                          80,  of  Princeton, Minn., Tuesday aft-
                                          ernoon  at  her  home.   Surviving  are
                                          four   children;   one   brother,    E.   J.
                                          Richter,  Napoleon, O.,  and her sister.
                                          Funeral services will be held Thursday
                                          afternoon at  Princeton.   She formerly
                                          resided in this city many years ago.

It looks like the information for this obituary was provided by Zilla Gawehn who resided in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It gives us another confirmation that Zilla and Lydia were sisters.  Zilla mentions Lydia's 4 children, but not Lydia's husband Albert, of Princeton, Minn., who is probably the one who notified her of her sister's passing!

The most exciting thing to find in this obituary is that Lydia and Zilla have a brother!  E. J. Richter of Napoleon, Ohio!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner

This ad was in The Princeton Union on November 30, 1911.

From the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers site:

F. T. Kettelhodt was the father of William F. Kettelhodt.  William Kettelhodt and Elizabeth Elsner married Sept. 22, 1913.

Frederick T. Kettelhodt
b. 7 Apr 1851 in Germany...came to USA in 1878
d. 19 Jul 1930 in Kanabec County, MN
m. abt 1882 to Ottilie J. Kriesel
Ottilie J. Kriesel
b. Sep 1863 in Germany...came to USA in 1880
d. 5 Jan 1920 in Mille Lacs County, MN

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spending Thanksgiving with Relatives

I love reading the old Princeton Union newspapers and learning things about the town and the people that lived there. I especially love finding names that I recognize! 
I wondered what was going on in Princeton 100 years ago on Thanksgiving Day so I looked at The Princeton Union dated November 30, 1911.  I hoped to find something interesting. And that, I did!

On page 5 under the column "Items Of Interest from various sources" where they list all kinds of things like who visited who, advertisements, announcements, and such, I came across a couple of familiar names!

First I saw this add:

"Fred Elsner started on Monday for Red Wing to spend Thanksgiving with relatives."

and about 4 items later I saw this one:

"Miss Rena Winsor of Wyanett departed on Monday for Zumbrota to spend Thanksgiving with relatives."

Fred Elsner of course is Albert & Lydia's son and he and Miss Rena Winsor would marry 2 years later on April 30, 1913.

There are a couple of interesting things about these two small statements. First, who are the relatives in Red Wing that Fred went to visit? This is the fist I've heard that we had relatives in Red Wing, MN. So this is a new clue that I will investigate. I will let you know later what I find out about that.

Second, when I looked up Red Wing and Zumbrota, I found both cities are south of Princeton. Red Wing is 102 miles south, and Zumbrota is 112 miles south.  And Red Wing and Zumbrota are about 22 miles apart.

This leads me to wonder if Fred and Rena rode together since they were going in the same direction to visit relatives.  Fred and Rena had already been dating for about a year at the time of this trip.  Or was it just a coincidence that they both left on Monday?

I think Fred would have picked up Rena at her home in Wyanett and taken her to Zumbrota.  After he dropped her off, he then would have headed to Red Wing to visit his relatives. 

Maybe I'll find something about their return to Princeton in The Princeton Union after Thanksgiving!  I'll let you know if I find anything.

The Princeton Union Newspaper information is from the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper site:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book recommendation

If you are interested in a firsthand account of what steerage was like, you should read Eliza Putnam Heaton's book: The Steerage: A Sham Immigrant's Voyage to New York in 1888.  She was an American author who wanted to find out for herself what it was like to immigrate to America in steerage.  She went to Liverpool and bought a steerage ticket back to New York so she could write about her experience.  I really liked it!  It is only 45 pages long, so it doesn't take long to read. 
You can read it on this website:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crossing the Atlantic as a Steerage Passenger

When Albert, Lydia, and Fred Elsner immigrated to America from Germany in 1887, Albert was 30, Lydia was 32 (and 7 1/2 months pregnant), and Fred was 1 1/2. They left from Rotterdam as steerage passengers on the SS Rotterdam on February 15, 1887 and arrived at the Port of New York, 2 weeks later on March 1, 1887. They passed through Castle Gardens and most likely took a train to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I wondered what the voyage to America was like for passengers that traveled in steerage so I have done a lot of research about it. The following is some of what I learned and what they might have experienced.

Preparing to emigrate to America was no small task. Many families had to scrimp and save for years in order to put aside enough money to pay for the fare. It often cost the equivalent of over one-third a laborer's annual income to bring an average-sized family to America. The cost was about $18 for steerage on a sailing ship, however, from the 1870's on, the price for steerage on a steamship rose to about $30.

They had to decide what to bring with them. There was limited space available on their voyage, and there was only room for the bare necessities. This often consisted of clothes, tools (if the family's livelihood came from a skilled trade), a family Bible or other family heirlooms, and basic provisions for the trip. Albert Elsner and his family took 2 trunks and 2 beds with them.

Before heading to the designated port of departure, emigrants bid farewell to their families and friends. This was hard because they knew they would probably never see them again.

The next step was getting from their home to a major port. This was often done on foot, but many traveled by cart, train, or river boat. Emigrants traveling by river boat could take the Rhine river to Rotterdam, the Elbe to Hamburg, or the Wesser to Bremen/Bremerhaven. Albert and his family left from Rotterdam, so it is very possible that they took a river boat down the Rhine river.

Once they reached the port of departure, they may have to wait several days, weeks, months, or even years before actually boarding a ship to America.

They had to pass a medical inspection before boarding the ship to ensure a certain level of health. This was to prevent the spread of disease while on board as well as to prevent diseases from being carried to the destination country. Physical exams and eye exams (to make sure they did not have trachoma, a chronic conjunctivitis) sometimes held up emigrants for days or even an entire week.

Up until the 1850's, most emigrants came by sailing ships, with an average voyage lasting 43 days. Steamships, which made sailing ships obsolete by the end of the 1870's, shortened the voyage to 12-14 days. Steamships began replacing sailing ships as early as 1850, although some emigrants continued to choose sailing ships for nearly thirty years because of the cheaper fare.

The majority of immigrants traveled in steerage because it was the cheapest way to travel. Steerage was originally the deck immediately below the main deck of a sailing ship. The name "steerage" came from the fact that the control lines of the rudder ran on this level of the ship. The "steerage", or between-deck, was often shortened to "tween-deck". The German term is "zwischendeck". On steamships, the term "steerage" was used for any part of a ship allotted to those passengers who traveled at the cheapest rate, usually the lower decks of the ship. Around the turn of the century it became more common to use the term "3rd class" for the low price accommodation, and some ships even had "4th class".

In the early days of emigration, the ships used to transport the emigrants were originally built for carrying cargo. So in reality, these passengers were placed in the cargo hold. To get down to the "tween-deck", the passengers often had to use ladders, and the passageway down between the hatches could be both narrow and steep. (Think about Lydia being about 7 1/2 months pregnant climbing down that ladder!)

Living conditions in steerage were often primitive. Space and privacy were both hard to come by. The ceiling height was usually 6-8 feet. The passengers slept in narrow, closely packed bunks set up along both sides of the ship and larger ships had bunks down the middle as well. There was only a small corridor between the bunks. The bunks were usually double-deck beds about 18 inches wide and 6 feet long. Sometimes, they were up to four rows high! The mattress in the bunk (if there was a mattress) was usually very thin and filled with straw or seaweed. Often times, the emigrant would bring their own mattress. The ship sometimes provided a blanket which was much like a horse blanket. There were no pillows, but a life preserver was on each bunk and sometimes the emigrant would use it as a pillow. There was one toilet for every 100 passengers and it was usually located above deck. The steerage passengers were divided into 3 different categories and accommodated 3 separate compartments. The front compartment was usually reserved for single men, the middle for married couples and families, and the single women were in a compartment as far away from the single men as possible. There were long tables located in the common space in each compartment where meals were usually served.

Food on board did not contain a great deal of variety. The crew would feed them lukewarm soup, boiled potatoes, and stringy beef. As the century progressed, various countries began regulating food on ships more closely. The British Passenger Act set some minimum requirements for food on board ships that included items such as biscuits, wheat flour, oatmeal, rice, tea, sugar, and molasses. The captain had to ensure that each passenger received three quarts of water daily. Passengers could bring additional provisions, and many did. The passengers had to bring their own bowls and utensils as these were usually not provided by the ship.

Seasickness was a constant companion for many travelers. Although some people adjusted to the constant rocking and bouncing of the ship, others spent the entire trip nearly bedridden with nausea.

Ventilation in steerage could be a problem, especially during bad weather. Most sailing ships were only ventilated through vents or portholes. During bad weather, the vents or portholes had to be closed to prevent the ship from taking on water. On many ships, these vents were also the only source of light, so if they were closed, it would be pitch-black down there. Because of the fire hazard, oil lamps could not be used during bad weather. Chamber pots were used because the toilets were above deck and could not be reached during a storm. And it did not help that most people got seasick in bad weather. Those who were not seasick were made sick from the stench of vomit and unemptied chamber pots. The stench in the "tween-deck" was so bad that the crew-members did not want to go there. To purify the air, the first mate would dip a red-hot iron into a pail of tar and the smoke and steam from the bubbling tar helped to deaden the worst stench. On some ships, air was cleansed with the steam from chlorine and vinegar.

Life was not all drudgery though. Reasons for celebration such as marriages and births occurred on board. In addition, travelers found time for fun, sometimes dancing on deck, writing letters home, or playing games. Despite the difficulties, many were excited by the adventure and the approach of their new home.

More than mundane food and cramped sleeping quarters were the life-threatening dangers encountered at sea. The most obvious was the possibility of shipwreck. Due to poor ship construction, shipwrecks were a very real threat, particularly in the early 1800's. In 1834, for example, 17 ships were lost at sea. By the middle and end of the century though, ships had become larger and safer, partly due to increased government regulations.

In reality, disease killed many more emigrants at sea than shipwrecks did. Illnesses often spread throughout the ships in epidemic proportions due to the crowded and unsanitary conditions. Typhys, cholera, and dysentery were some of the biggest threats.

However, for emigrants, the voyage to America was an important and memorable experience. It was not only the changes that arrival in America brought to their lives, but the very trip itself that made a lasting impression on their lives.

Once the ship reached New York Harbor, it was subject to quarantine inspections. Incoming ships were anchored near Staten Island. Passengers were examined and if any were found sick, they were sent to the quarantine hospital on Staten Island. If there was an epidemic problem on board, the whole ship could be quarantined.

After clearing quarantine, the ship would move forward into New York Harbor where first class passengers were let off at a pier and then to Castle Gardens where the steerage passengers disembarked. The steerage passengers were offloaded onto a barge that carried them to shore.

The complex that made up the Castle Gardens immigration center included outbuildings, a hospital, and offices and was enclosed by a large wooden fence. It was located across from the Statue of Liberty on an island off the southwest tip of Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886. So Albert, Lydia, and Fred would have seen her when they arrived in America on March 1, 1887.

At Castle Gardens, the immigrants reported their names and destinations which were checked against the ship manifest and they passed through customs. They could purchase train tickets, exchange money, seek out directions, learn about employment opportunities, and use other services. There was a telegraph office and mail service. Many immigrants had letters waiting for them containing money for the next step of their journey. There were two wash rooms, one for men and one for women. There was hot water, soap, and towels. There were no sleeping quarters, but the immigrants were permitted to sleep on the floor for a couple of nights until they got their bearings. Sometimes as many as 3,000 spent the night. These services were provided partly in an effort to shield them from the thieves and opportunists who hung around the harbor waiting to prey upon the ill-informed and sometimes desperate people that flowed into the country. Also, exams given at Castle Gardens served as a way to screen people and prevent those with contagious diseases from entering the country.

Many immigrants stopped in New York City, making this their home.  However, many more would make their way to the trains and boats headed westward.  No trains to the west terminated in Manhattan. They would have to get from Castle Garden to the train stations in New Jersey where Jersey City and Hoboken were the terminals for the trains headed west, northwest, and south. Eventually, there was a barge transfer from Castle Garden directly to Jersey City and Hoboken to the Erie Railway.  Albert and his family most likely went by train to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

SS Rotterdam II

SS Rotterdam II
Photographer: John S. Johnston; Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

This is a photograph of the SS Rotterdam II that Albert, Lydia, and Fred Elsner came to America on in 1887.  She was built in 1878 by Harland & Wolff, Ltd., in Belfast, Ireland.  She had an iron hull, weighed 3,329 tons and was 389' long and 37' wide.  With a single-screw driven by compound engines, she was capable of 13 knots.  She had four masts and one funnel, and was originally designed as a freighter for British Shipowners Company and named British Empire.  She was later converted to a passenger carrier, able to carry 70 first class and 850 third class passengers.  In 1886 she was sold to Holland America Line and renamed Rotterdam (II).  Her first voyage from Rotterdam to New York was on November 6, 1886.  In 1895 she was renamed Edam (III).  She was scrapped in 1899 in Genoa, Italy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

1887 Passenger List

I have always wanted to know more about Albert and Lydia's voyage to the United States. I had been searching for the passenger list that brought them to America for a long time. So I was very excited when I finally found it in September of this year.

It's a very delicate looking document. It looks like it had been folded up and forgotten! But now that it has been found, anyone with ancestors that came to America on this ship will be happy to see it!

Here is what this passenger list tells us: Albert, Lydia, and Fred set sail from Rotterdam, Netherlands. They arrived at the Port of New York on March 1, 1887. The captain's name was Vis and the ship's name was the SS Rotterdam.  They are listed on lines 36, 37, and 38 as Albert (age 31), Ludia (age 30), and Fritz (age 1 1/2) Elssner.  Albert's occupation is laborer, their country of origin was Germany and their destination was U.S of America.  They had 2 trunks and 2 beds with them.

The column with 'f compartment' in it refers to what section of steerage they were in. At the time of this voyage, steerage passengers were divided into 3 different categories and accommodated 3 separate compartments. The front compartment was usually reserved for single men, the middle for married couples and families, while the single women were in a compartment further aft (as far away from the single men as possible). On this list, I only see 'm' and 'f' so I'm not sure exactly what it means. I'm assuming that 'm' was for single males and 'f' may be for families and females? (I'll keep looking into this and let you know what I find later.)

This list did not give the date that the ship sailed from Rotterdam and I was curious to know how long this voyage took.  New York newspapers used to give details about the ship arrivals and departures so I decided to see what I could find in the newspaper. Since they arrived on March 1, 1887, I started with that date. The Shipping news in the New York Daily Tribune, dated Tuesday, March 1, 1887 lists the Incoming Steamers for that day and the Rotterdam, from Rotterdam, is listed as one of the ships expected to arrive. And on Wednesday, March 2, 1887 the shipping news listed the ships that arrived at the Port of New York on March 1, 1887 and the Rotterdam is of course listed. Here is what it says: "Steamer Rotterdam (Dtch) , Vis, Rotterdam 14 days, with mdse, 48 cabin and 332 steerage passengers to Funch, Edye & Co. Arrived at the Bay at 6:30 a.m."
So they must have departed about February 15th from Rotterdam.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here are a couple of items that were in The Princeton Union newspaper, Thursday, November 2, 1922

Image(s) courtesy

Mr. and Mrs. Gamradt Entertain.
On Wednesday evening of last week
a delightful Halloween party was
given by Mr. and Mrs. Max Gamradt.
Those present were Mr. and Mrs. Cal-
vin Olson, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Manke,
Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jesmer, Mr. and
Mrs. Louis Stolle, Mr. and Mrs. Eph-
riam Anderson, Mrs. Weeks and the
Misses Weeks, Edith Erickson, Ena
and Anna Mattson and Margaret Al-
brecht. The evening was spent in
playing Five Hundred. Mrs. Fred
Manke was champion player while
Mrs. Jesmer carried home the booby
I believe that the Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jesmer mentioned above are Louis E. Jesmer and his wife Rose (Malotte) Jesmer.  I am related to the Jesmer's through the Robideau line.  Louis would be my 1st cousin 4x removed. 
I wonder what the booby prize was?!

Image(s) courtesy
Halloween Party at Heitman Home.
A Halloween party was given by
Lilly Heitman at her home Monday
evening. The guests were met by a
ghost as they drove into the yard.
The evening was spent with music,
games and fortune telling. At mid-
night a delicious luncheon was served.
All the guests thoroughly enjoyed the


From the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper Site:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - William and Elizabeth Kettelhodt

The Princeton Union, Thursday, September 25, 1913, Front Page.

William F. Kettelhodt and Elizabeth
Elsner  United in Marriage at
Bride's Parents' Home.

                                                            A quiet wedding took place on
                                                        Monday, September 22, at 2 p.m.
                                                        at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A.
                                                        Elsner in Greenbush, when their
                                                       daughter, Elizabeth, was united in
                                                       marriage to William F. Kettelhodt.
                                                       Rev. E. Ahl performed the marriage
                                                       ceremony in the presence of the im-
                                                       mediate relatives of the contracting
                                                       parties, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Elsner
                                                       acting as groomsman and brides-
                                                          A pretty gown of lace with trim-
                                                       mings of messaline and crystal beads
                                                       was worn by the bride and she car-
                                                       ried, white roses.  The bridesmaid
                                                       wore a dress of white chiffon and
                                                       carried pink carnations.  The house
                                                       decorations were of ferns and roses.
                                                          A bounteous wedding dinner was
                                                       served after the ceremony and the
                                                       happy couple departed at 4:30 by
                                                       auto for St. Cloud, where they took
                                                       the evening train for the cities to
                                                       spend a few days.
                                                         Both young people are well and
                                                       favorably known in Princeton and
                                                       vicinity and have many friends who
                                                       wish them a long and prosperous life
                                                       together.  They will be at home to
                                                       their friends in Princeton after
                                                       November 1.

From the Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers site:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Albert & Lydia - 1920's & 30's

When the 1920 census was taken, Albert & Lydia were still living on the farm in Greenbush, MN. All their children had married and moved to their own places. The farm was owned free and clear and Albert who was 62 years old was still working the dairy farm. Lydia was 64. They were grandparents too. Fred and his wife Lorena were living in nearby Princeton, Mille Lacs, MN with their son Virgil. Fred was working in the office of a garage and Elizabeth and her husband William Kettelhodt were living on their own farm in Livonia Township, Sherburne County, MN.

I couldn't find Otto or Erick in the 1920 Census. (I tried again today using my new trick, but I still can't find them.) I'm pretty sure they were both still somewhere in Minnesota because I know that Erick & Lulu had their son Darrell (my grandfather) in Minneapolis March 10, 1920. And Otto and Betty had a son in July 1921 in Minnesota, so I'm pretty sure they were still in Minnesota in 1920 as well.

In 1930 Albert, 72, and Lydia, 74, were still living on the farm in Greenbush Township, MN. Six years later Lydia, who was 80 years old, died on April 7, 1936.

Lydia's death certificate is interesting to me because it does not have her name on it, just "Mrs. Albert Elsner". Albert was the informant so I wonder why he didn't give them her name? He gave her parents names as Fredrick Richter and Otellia Phillapowski. She was buried in Princeton, MN but it does not name the Cemetery.

I have done many searches for Fredrick Richter and Otellia Phillapowski, but haven't found anything yet. I couple years ago, I found a marriage record for Albert Elsner and Zilla Gawehn who married in Allen County, Indiana on Dec 28, 1936. It is the 2nd marriage for the bride and the groom. The brides parents names are Fredrick Richter and Johanna B Philepofski. That would make Zilla's maiden name Richter! And her parents names look an awful lot like Lydia's parents names! Is Zilla her sister? Or is this just a coincidence? Maybe this is a different Albert Elsner (there are many out there). The record shows the groom's father is Carl Elsner and his mother is Fredricka Berowfski. But at that time I didn't know what Albert's parents names were. Could Albert have moved to Indiana after Lydia died and married her sister? To find out if this is our Albert, I researched the names on the marriage record and I also researched Zilla Gawehn to see if she is Lydia's sister.

I couldn't find anything on Carl and Fredricka Elsner nor Fredrick Richter and Johanna Philepofski. So I turned my attention to Zilla Gawehn and I found a passenger list for August and Zilla Gawehn and their children Elizabeth and George. They were all born in Germany and arrived in New York on Dec 7, 1889 on the ship Polaria. I found Census information from 1900-1930 for them in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But I couldn't find anything going back to connect Zilla to Lydia. I kept trying to find something, any little clue, but at that point I was stuck. I had hit a brick wall.

In March of this year, I decided to try to contact a descendant of my great grandfather's brother Otto.  I explained who I was and that I was looking for more information about Albert & Lydia Elsner. I was hoping he might have some information that would help me get passed this brick wall. I waited anxiously for an answer. In the letter, I had included my return address, my email address, and my phone number. But I wasn't even sure I had sent the letter to a valid address. Then, a few days later, there it was! A message in my email inbox from a long lost relative! He knew who Albert & Lydia were and had heard about my great grandfather! He was happy to help! He sent me scans from his Aunt Elizabeth's family bible. She had written down all of her family's names, birth dates, dates of death, and children's names. I was able to validate my research and now I also knew what Albert and Lydia's parents names were! Elizabeth's bible shows that her paternal grandparents are Carl Elsner, 1831-1907, and Fredericka Barowski, 1826-1910. And her maternal grandparents were Friedrich Richter, Oct 14, 1812- July 14, 1889 and Caroline Phillippowska 1823-Dec 9, 1860. These names look a lot like the names on the marriage record I found for Albert & Zilla and on Lydia's death certificate! So this brought back my question about Zilla Gawehn. So I told my new cousin about the marriage record I had found and asked him if he had ever heard anything about this. He had indeed heard about this! He said that it caused his Aunt Elizabeth some consternation. He was a young adolesent at the time he overheard his father and Aunt Elizabeth discussing it. His mother explained to him that it is not common for a man to marry his deceased wife's sister but was known to occur among some Germans because of loneliness.

So the marriage record I had found for Albert and Zilla was for our Albert after all. Lydia died on April 7, 1936 and Albert moved to Indiana and married Zilla on Dec. 28, 1936. Zilla had been widowed since 1929. At the time they married, Albert was 79 and Zilla was 73.  They were married almost 11 years when Albert died on July 5, 1947 at 89 years old.  Zilla died in 1954 at the age of 90.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fred and Elizabeth

Yesterday I realized that I did not have the 1910 Census information for Fred and Elizabeth. So last night, I tried searching for them again. I start my search the way I always do, spelling Elsner correctly, and when that doesn't bring up the results I'm looking for, I usually try to think of ways that Elsner might be misread when trying to decipher handwriting and search for those names. (Once I found it spelled "Ebner"!) I use the soundex sometimes, but it usually has way too many results. But last night I tried something I just learned about called a wild card. A wild card is a * or ? used in place of one or more letters. So I did different combinations of that such as "E?ner" and "E?er". And it worked! I found them! A lot of different names came up, but the one that caught my eye was for a Fred Elmer and his sister Elizabeth I. I didn't expect to find them together, but this looked promising so I opened it up to take a look. It turned out to be them! 

You can see how it does look like "Elmer".  Elizabeth's middle initial should be 'N' but everything else looks right.  The ages for both of them and the place of birth and where the parents were born are all correct. 

As you can see, the 1910 census for Elizabeth shows her place of birth as Indiana and a few days ago, I showed you that the 1900 census has her place of birth as Illinois. Elizabeth was born in Indiana. I know this because of her birth records. Sometimes, some of the information on these old records is incorrect, but you have to look at the rest of the information and add it to what you already know, and if it makes sense, then you know you are looking at the right thing. 

So in 1910 Fred and Elizabeth were both single and renting a place in Princeton Township, MN. Fred was working as a salesman in a hardware store and Elizabeth was working as a saleslady in a general store.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1910 Census and Marriages

Looking at the 1910 US Census I find that Albert has moved his family to Greenbush Twp (township), Mille Lacs County, Minnesota. He is now a farmer. I also notice that there are only 2 children listed, Otto and Erick. It still shows that Lydia has 6 children, 4 living. So where are Fred and Elizabeth? Fred would be about 25 and Elizabeth would be about 23 in 1910, so maybe they are married and living in their own homes.

First I looked for Elizabeth and Fred in the 1910 Census but was unable to find them. So I looked for marriage licenses because if Elizabeth married before 1910, I will need her married name in order to find her.

I found that Fred, Elizabeth, Otto, and Erick were all married after 1910. So where are Fred and Elizabeth for the 1910 Census? There are a lot of possibilities. One possibility is that since many of the census takers had such bad handwriting, it is hard for the transcribers to make out what the name is. So it could be that it is just indexed in such a weird way, that I haven't found them yet. But I will try looking for them again tonight. (I don't give up easily!)

Here is the marriage information:

Frederick W. Elsner married Lorena Winsor on Apr. 30, 1913 in Mille Lacs County, MN

Elizabeth Elsner married William F Kettelhodt on Sep. 22, 1913 in Mille Lacs County, MN

Erick John Elsner married Lulu Martha Robideau Nov. 15, 1917 in Princeton, Mille Lacs, MN

Otto Richard Elsner married Betty Hedin Nov. 25, 1919 in Princeton, Mille Lacs, MN

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anna and Paul

I learned from the 1900 Census that Lydia had 6 children, but I only knew about 4 of them. So I decided to search for the 2 children to see what happened to them.

First I wanted to look for the birth certificates. (I really hate looking for death certificates for children! It's too depressing!)

I was only able to find one birth certificate. It was for Anna Elsner, born Jan. 17, 1891 in Cook County, Illinois. It shows that Anna was the 4th child of Albert and Lydia Elsner, Lydia's maiden name is Richter and it also has Albert's occupation. It says Albert was a Milk Dealer! So in 1891, Albert was a milk dealer and by 1900 he was a saloon keeper. Very interesting!

Next, I started looking for the death certificate for Anna. I found Anna's certificate in Cook County, Illinois. She was 2 years, 10 months when she died on Dec. 7, 1893 at 7pm. She had been ill for 3 days when she died of
membranous croup. She was buried at Concordia Cemetery.

I also found another death certificate in Cook County, Illinois. This one is for the child that I couldn't find the birth certificate for.   His name is Paul Elsner and he was born in Chicago, Illinois.  He was 4 years, 5 months, 3 days old when he died on December 19, 1893 at 7pm. (So that would make his birth date, July 16, 1889.)   He was ill for about 1 week before he died of laryngeal diphtheria. He was buried at Concordia Cemetery.

I can't imagine how devastating this must have been for Albert and Lydia to loose two little children in less than 2 weeks of each other.

The Beginning of my search for Albert & Lydia

When I first started researching Albert & Lydia Elsner, I knew very little.  What I knew from my Great Grandmother Lulu (Robideau) Elsner was:

1. Albert, Lydia, and Fred were born in Germany
2. Lydia's maiden name was Richter
3. They immigrated to the United States through New York
4. They lived in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Minnesota
5. They had a daughter named Elizabeth
6. They had 3 sons: Fred, Otto, and Erick
7. Erick (my ggrandpa) was born in Chicago
Added to that was some information that my Uncle had found when he did some research many years ago:
1. Albert Elsner's date of birth - Oct 1857, Germany
2. Lydia Richter's date of birth - Aug 1855, Germany
3. Fredrick Elsner's date of birth - Apr 1885, Germany
4. Elizabeth Elsner's date of birth - Apr 1887, Illinois
5. Otto Elsner's date of birth - Oct 1894, Illinois
6. Erick John Elsner's date of birth - 13 Oct 1896, Huron, Cook, Illinois
7. Erick's birth certificate was a belated certificate filed by Fred W. on Aug 2 or 5 in 1941.
8. Albert & Lydia married about 1884 in Germany
9. Erick & Lulu married 15 Nov 1917 in Princeton, Mille Lacs, Minnesota

I put all this information together and started my research. First I looked at the 1900 Census and found them living in Chicago, Ill.  It lists their names, relationship, race, sex, birth month and year, age, marital status, and number of years married. Albert & Lydia have been married 16 years. The next two numbers - 6/4 indicate that Lydia has had six children, four of whom are living.  This is something new!  I didn't know that Lydia had 6 children.

The next three columns indicate where each person was born, their father's birth place, then their mother's birth place. The next column is the year they immigrated - 1887. The last column is the occupation. I am always curious about the occupations of my ancestors and I see that Albert was a Saloon Keeper!  How exciting!  I wish I could have asked my grandpa about that.  He was too young to remember anything, but maybe his family talked about it now and then and he could have had some stories from those times.
So the 1900 Census has a lot of good information, but also brought up a new question for me.  What happened to the other two children?  I see that there is an age gap between Elizabeth and Otto.  Could one or both of the children have been born between 1887 and 1894?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Jaunt Down Memory Lane with Grandma Elsner

When I was 7 years old, my parents divorced and Mom moved with my sister and I to an apartment in Culver City, California. It was in the same complex that Grandpa and Grandma Elsner lived. (They were my great grandparents) I used to go to their apartment just about every day. I spent most of the time indoors with Grandma while Grandpa was usually outside in the carport "tinkering".

Grandma would play cards with me and we would sing songs and she would teach me things. She had a straight stitch sewing machine that she would help me sew very simple things on. Usually it was just a square or rectangle of fabric sewn together on three sides. Kind of like a pocket. And I thought I was really making something great! I would proudly take them home and put Barbie things in them.

She used to let me help her cook too. I got to stand on a stool next to the stove and stir things and shake the pan when we made popcorn! I would help her fix lunch for grandpa too.

After lunch was over and we had cleaned the kitchen, Grandma would want to take a nap. So we would go lay on her bed and she would close her eyes and I would ask her to tell me a story. So with her eyes closed, she would tell me the story of Goldilocks, or Jack and the Beanstalk, or sometimes she would recite children's poems like Little Miss Muffet. And sometimes, she would tell me about her family "back east". She had 14 brothers and sisters and I liked to ask her their names just so she would recite all their names for me. She would tell me about the farm and how having that many kids around was good help on the farm. Since she was the eldest daughter, she helped care for the young ones. Her parents names were Annie and Nels Robideau. Annie's maiden name was Grow. She told me that when she would get mad at her mother, she would take something her mother used a lot like a pair of scissors or her thimble and hide it! Her favorite place to hide things was in the wall. There was a loose board on the house and she would hide things in there. She said that if anyone ever knocked the house down to build something else, they were going to find a lot of her mother's "missing" things!

Sometimes she would tell me about Grandpa's family. About how they came to live on a farm in Minnesota not far from where she lived. She told me about how Grandpa's father, mother, and eldest brother came from Germany to the United States through New York. Their names were Albert, Lydia, and Fred. She said that Albert & Lydia lived in Chicago before they moved to Minnesota and that Grandpa Erick was born in Chicago. She told me that Lydia's maiden name was Richter and Grandpa had a sister named Elizabeth and two brothers, Fred and Otto.

There are many more memories I have with my great grandparents that I will write about later. After all, this is a blog, not a book!

I hope you enjoyed this jaunt down memory lane.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Erick and Lulu Elsner at Knox Berry Farm.

This is a picture of my great grandparents, Erick and Lulu Elsner.  Erick was born Oct. 13, 1896 in Chicago, Illinois and died April 20, 1975 in Los Angeles, California.  His parents, Albert and Lydia, and his eldest brother, Fred, immigrated from Germany in 1887.  He grew up on a farm in Minnesota with three siblings, Fred, Elizabeth, and Otto.  He married Lulu Robideau in 1917 and they moved to Minneapolis where they had a son, Darrell (my grandfather) in 1920.  At some point, they moved to Arizona.  Grandma Lulu told me that they moved away from Minnesota because she had bad allergies and the doctor told them to move to a drier climate.  Eventually they would move again and settle in Los Angeles, California.