Gertrude...An Immigrant's Story

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A story of my great grandmother and her immigration to the United States

Submitted: August 26, 2018

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Submitted: August 26, 2018

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My name is Gertrude Rosenwirth (Jarnig), and this writing is about my family and my life as we know it.  My story is established by genealogical information gathered from about 1980 to 2000 by Virginia Steffen (Rosenwirth), records kept by family and passed down to the next generations, word of mouth passed down by various family members. A special thank you goes to my granddaughter Violet Lorenz for her sound memory and patience in answering questions and verifying stories, historical research and my voice in telling this story provided by my great granddaughter Jill Steffen, and a special thank you to my great granddaughter Shirley Leinonen (Rosenwirth) who said to her cousin Jill "hey, can you write some of these stories down for me"?  Here they are with love.  There naturally are gaps in my story, things not yet unveiled, and it is my hope that future generations will be able to pick up where this story left off.

WHERE WE CAME FROM

I was born Gertrude Jarnig (pronounced yarn ick) on February 17, 1878 in Gortschach Austria.  My father was Johan Jarnig and my mother was Barbara Jarnig (Schumi).  I had siblings in the old country, but the only ones so far recorded was my sister Barbara (nicknamed Weddie), and my brother Fritz who came to America after I did. You will find various pictures of me enclosed, and in them I am wearing our traditional costume (trachten).  The Trachten I wore is called a Dirndl which consists of a pleated skirt covered with a brightly printed apron. We wore a white laced blouse and a form fitted bodice over the top. In an earlier picture taken in Villach I am posed on your left and I am likely pictured with family members of my brother Fritz and likely my mother. 

My husband Mathias Rosenwirth was born 9 years earlier on February 24, 1869 in Draschitz Austria. You have a recorded history of the Rosenwirth's that dates back to the 1700's of all the men born in Draschitz, and the following is all that is known thus far:  Mathias' father was Andreas Rosenwirth and he was born on November 25, 1840.  We do not have any information regarding Mathias' mother.  Andreas' parents were Paul and Maria (maiden name Kracker), and Paul's parents were Johann and Maria (maiden name Morautschnigg)

 

You also know a little about the history of the name Rosenwirth which was originally spelled Rosenwurth. The family has a coat of arms that is described as being red and gold with three roses on it.Also recorded are some of the more "famous" Rosenwirth men and their professions which included Peter Rosenwirth who was a Judge in the 16th century; Johann Rosenwirth who was a well-known historian, and Fredrick Rosenwirth who was a philosopher, theologian, and historian. You should be proud of your scholarly family roots, and thankful for the contributions they made in history.  Now that you are sitting up a little taller, I will return to what is known about our old country.

 Mathias and I came from the region of Karnten later known as the federal state of Carinthia in southern Austria.  As I mentioned above, I came from the area of Gortschach and Mathias came from the area of Draschitz.  I have included a map showing how close our homes were.  Although we grew up roughly 6 miles apart, we did not know each other before meeting in America.  I lived on a farm outside of Gortschach, and I shared many stories with family about this time in my life.  At the age of 8 years old my family had me working cleaning houses in Gortschach for extra money as times were tight.  I grew up understanding the meaning of work and how to make do with what you had.  These lessons would serve me well during my life.  There also would be food that I never would later eat from memories of my childhood farm, including tomatoes and corn on the cob. That was food we fed to the pigs.

Austria as you know it today is a country of about 32,000 square miles which could compare to the modern-day size of Maine.  Two thirds of her land is located in the alpine region with peaks going up to 12,000 feet. She has breath taking scenery of majestic mountains and lush valleys. This land has a long-winded history of shall we say "visitors" who came through her area, stayed a spell, and left an influence on her culture.  We know the Romans came for a while years back and we have them to thank for the wonderful grapes they brought and planted.  We are still famous for the wines that come from our region.  We also had several tribes that came through after the Romans, including the Bavarians from the west and the Mongolians from the east.  Because of the flux of foreigners in and out of our lands we were known as a more cosmopolitan region and our language was an unusual version of German. As we would find out later, many German immigrants in America could not understand our version of their language, and it was often called "Austrianism". 

When Mathias and I lived in the old country, Austria was not yet an established country. The region was ruled by the house of Habsburg that covered a large portion of Europe including Hungry, Poland, Spain, and the Netherlands.  For various reasons, including political, religious, and financial, many families chose to leave their homes in Europe and venture to America.

THE JOURNEY TO AMERICA

Between 1815 and 1915 over 30 million Europeans arrived in the United States, and we were among them.  The journey was oftentimes unpleasant, and many folks would not talk about this time in their life. We were fortunate to have traveled during a period when the railroad system across Europe was well established, and our ships were powered with steam allowing much faster speeds than those prior.  For families coming before us their journey across the Atlantic would have taken several weeks.  Fortunately for us, the journey would take less time.

Much preparation would have gone into getting a family member ready to come to America. Oftentimes numerous family members would have to work and save to scrape enough for one family member to leave.  We know around 1900 the standard price of a 3rd class ticket would equal roughly $30.00 in American currency. Usually families would save for several months before they had enough to purchase one 3rd class ticket from a freelance ticket agent in Europe. Once the ticket was purchased and the departure date approximately known, as ships were not exact on their arrival date, we would prepare the details of the journey.  Many family and friends would give us advice on what they heard about others who went over, what to watch for and stay away from.  Not everyone was good and honest in America, and there is much recorded history of the swindlers who would be around the ports in America waiting for the new arrivals.  We came through the largest port in America, New York, and she was well known for its mayhem.

In the days leading up to departure from our homes we would have packed what little we could bring with us to the new country, including the bare necessities of clothing, a few family heirlooms, and some food for the travel.  We would have to say good-bye to our family and friends knowing that we would likely never see them again.  One can only imagine the sadness, fear, and hopes we carried in our hearts. On the day of leaving, we would ride from our village to the nearest railway station located in Villach.  After boarding the train, we would travel roughly 680 miles from Villach to the port of Antwerp in Belgium.  We likely traveled on the Imperial Royal Austrian State Railway which was the main rail system across Europe.

Once arriving in Antwerp, we would stay in the port anywhere up to a few days waiting for our ship to arrive.  Traveling by boat was not an exact science, and the arrivals of the ships could be affected by the weather that was encountered crossing the ocean or delays in leaving America back to the European port.  The port of Antwerp back then was considered "modern" and was also involved with intercontinental trade with areas including Africa and Asia.  We likely saw people of very different origins and heard languages unknown to us. 

In preparing to board our ship, we would be given a medical exam by the ship staff. The carrier was responsible for transporting healthy immigrants to America, and the shipping company would be fined for each passenger rejected by US Immigration.  We know by 1907 the fine was $100.00 per person.  The staff would also do an eye exam to check for the prominent European eye disease called Trachoma.  Once the exams were completed, we would be given a disinfectant bath and our baggage would be fumigated by steam to cut down on germs. Once examined and cleaned, we were ready to board our ship and begin crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the port of New York and Ellis Island.

Mathias' departure from Antwerp was on March 20, 1896 and he came on the vessel Noordland.  The ship was built for the Red Star line in 1883 and she weighed in at 5,212 tons.  She was 400 feet long by 47 feet wide with 4 masts and speeds up to 13 knots.  The Noordland held 63 first class passengers, 53 second class passengers, and 500 in the third class.  Mathias arrived at the port of New York on April 2, 1896 after a 14-day journey. 

We know from the manifest sheets of the ship that Mathias was in 3rd class.  He was listed as carrying 1 piece of baggage and he was assigned to the aft of the ship.  This assignment would have put Mathias in the bottom of the boat and in the far back giving him the most movement from the ship. We also know that during the dates of travel over the Atlantic there were two cyclones recorded which would have caused high winds and huge waves. On the day of arrival at the port of New York the weather was recorded as gusting winds, hail and sleet. 

Mathias had a tough journey over as many did.  He was 26 years old, he was in the Port of New York, and he made it!  The sober reality is that not everyone on his ship could have said that.  On the manifest sheets the farthest right column was labeled date of death/cause of death.  On Mathias' ship there were recorded 48 people who had two sets of numbers on that column.  We do not know the cause of their deaths, but history will tell you the main culprits then were the contagious diseases of typhus, cholera and dysentery.  We know their journey was cold and stormy which would also play a factor in the passengers becoming very ill.  Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of those on his ship and all the others who perished while coming over to America.

My journey to America occurred about 4 years later. I left the port in Antwerp on July 24, 1900 and I boarded the vessel Rotterdam III. She was a much larger ship than the Noordland, and the Rotterdam ships were known for being more luxurious in design and accommodations.  She weighed in at 8,000 tons, was 469 feet long by 53 feet wide. The ship held 200 first class passengers, 250 second class passengers, and 2000 third class passengers.  The Rotterdam III was one of the first vessels to go without sails and this was quite controversial in its time.  The ship had an artificial cooling chamber to allow storage of perishable items so we can assume that the food assortment was better given this capacity.  The ship was also known to not transport livestock as other ships did, so this would have allowed for more sanitary conditions and comfort. 

You have not yet found the manifest for my journey. We know from the few stories I shared on Ellis Island that I would have traveled 3rd class.  Records show that the weather was calm over the Atlantic during my 10 days at sea so that would have helped.  We also know when I arrived in New York on August 12, 1900 at the age of 22 that it was during a heat wave with record temperatures in the upper 90's. 

ELLIS ISLAND

Once arriving at the Port of New York, passengers who traveled first or second class had brief inspections while they were still on the ship.  The passengers would have swiftly been cleared, and allowed to be on their way to their destination.  For the rest of us, we were taken by barge or ferry over to Ellis Island for a much more detailed inspection.  One could expect to spend about 5 hours on average on the island if all went well.  If not, you were either detained for further information, quarantined if ill, or deported back home. I am relieved to say Mathias and I passed all tests with no delays.  Mathias came through Ellis Island while it still had the old building made of pine wood.  This original building burned to the ground on June 14, 1897.  When I was on Ellis Island the newer building made of brick was not yet finished and she would roll out on December 17, 1900 roughly 4 months after I was there. 

Inspection on Ellis Island included medical, mental, and legal inspections.  The Island processed up to 10,000 immigrants daily, so we were moved along as best as could be expected.  A few historical pictures are included to give you an idea of how things looked, and what we faced.  We would stand in line for many hours until it was our turn.  The medical exams were nicknamed the six second exam and doctors would quickly size you up for signs of disease or lameness.They also observed passengers regarding their intelligence and if you were given an X on your clothing you were sent to a different room for mental testing which would include the ability to read, write, add, and subtract.  After the medical exam, we were given a legal review to determine if we had committed any crimes in our country. They also looked to see if we would be "liable to become a public charge" as the country would deny entry if we did not show ability to support ourselves and not become a burden to society. 

I shared a story to family of my stay on Ellis Island when I went to the dining area.  Pictures will show you how we ate at long tables with benches.  I was eating and a man I did not know came up to me and asked if I wanted his banana.  I had no idea what a banana was, (we never had that kind of fruit in Europe), and so I did not know what the stranger was asking me.  After all I had been through I incorrectly assumed he was making an indecent proposal to me.The poor man was just trying to share his food with me.

Once all our tests were completed, we would go to the currency exchange counter and receive American money.  We would next purchase a train ticket and be on our way.Mathias and I both took exactly 3 days to arrive in Milwaukee from the Port of New York.  We know that travel from the port of New York to Milwaukee was a 2-day journey, so at best Mathias and I spent one day on Ellis Island and our travel by train should not have been delayed. 

 

 

 

BEGINNING OUR FAMILY

Shortly after my arrival in Milwaukee I met Mathias. We do not have an exact story of how we met, but folks back then would typically gather at local dance halls and find others like themselves who shared the same or similar language and upbringing.  Mathias and I would have had a lot in common as we came from basically the same area, spoke the same language, and we were both Catholic.  In those days, you stuck with people of your origin and your religion.  You can assume we had an immediate attraction as within two months of my arrival in Milwaukee I was "in a family way" with Mathias' child. There was no form of birth control in those days, we were young, we were in love, and these things happened.  I would lovingly spend the rest of my life with Mathias and I have never had any regrets for having met him.  He was a fine young man who had been in the country already 3 years, had a job, had dancing blue/gray eyes, and a handsome mustache he would maintain during his entire life.  I was a tall strong young lady who literally just got off the boat from the old country.  Mathias stood roughly 5'6" and I would match his height.  I had thick dark hair that Mother Nature wound into tight curls and hair that would remain thick, dark and tightly curled to my dying day.  I also had light colored eyes, full lips, and a soft kind face and disposition.  Mother Nature took care of the rest.

We wed on January 12, 1901 and a copy of our wedding paper is included.  You will notice the fancy paperwork and the words were written in German.  The wedding was performed by J. L. Haack, an Evangelical Pastor and not a Catholic Priest.

On a hot day on July 8, 1901 I went into labor with my first child.  In those days, there was no air conditioning, and possibly not even an electric fan for relief.  We labored and delivered our babies at our home.  I was 21 years old, and I, like many young immigrant women then, went through my pregnancy and delivery without the help of my mother, my aunts, or older sisters who would have had babies already.  I would have seen births of our farm animals back home, likely heard stories of births, maybe have seen or heard of other births, but I would not have had the comfort of family to help me. As all mothers who look back on their first pregnancy and delivery will tell you, it is a time of uncertainty and fear.  We had to be brave and hope for the best.  I would not have known the percentage of women who did not make it, but I knew that the mother and/or the baby could die.  Reviews of statistics show that at the turn of the century in America 6-7 women out of 100 would die during childbirth.  I would go into labor with my Catholic faith, which included the story of Eve and original sin and how from that day we would suffer in labor. From there, I would have to rely on my wits, my determination, and my superstitions from the old country to get me by.  I was fortunate enough to have with me the doctor's wife, Mrs. H. Kuehnel MD, to assist me.  Between the two of us we would bring into the world my first born, a healthy baby boy who we named Walter Mathias Rosenwirth born at our house on 1807 Cherry Street in Milwaukee. 

Born also in early July 1901 was another of Mathias' sons named Isadore Fillafer who later was nicknamed Izzie.  Although Mathias did not marry Isadore's mother, we supported Izzie until adulthood.  I have many memories of Izzie and his family, and every month I personally delivered an envelope with money to help them.  Mathias and I had a strong bond with his other son, and later he would help us when we were in need. Our son Walter would go through life not wanting anything to do with his half-brother.  Walter refused to talk about him or ever meet him.  That was how he felt and you cannot force these things.  This would be one of many times we would accept our children's decisions despite our differing views. Mathias also fathered a daughter prior to the birth of his son's and that mother and child moved to the south and we did not have any ongoing communication with them.

After the birth of our first son other children were born with little time in between.  In total, we had 6 children and 4 would live to adulthood.  We lost a full-term son who died in my womb due to my getting diphtheria.  I became violently ill and ran a dangerously high fever. The illness killed our son.  We also lost our daughter baby Gertrude at the age of 3.  Gertrude was born blue in color, what we phrased a blue baby, as she had something wrong with her heart.  There were no surgeries then for babies to help things like this.  Our children who survived into adulthood were:  Walter who was born July 8, 1901, Katherine born October 29, 1902, Mathias (Sonny) born June 16, 1907, and Ella born April 4, 1910.

 

 

After several of our children were born, we moved from Cherry Street to 3164 N 34th Street in Milwaukee.I gave birth to my last child Ella in this new house. I have enclosed a current map showing where the two houses would have been and the distance between the houses would have been roughly 2.5 miles.Mathias and I would spend the remainder of our lives at our house on 34th street. 

MILWAUKEE AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY

When we began our family in Milwaukee at the turn of the century the city was already quite a bustling place.  The city was divided into pockets of ethnicity where you would have gathered the Irish, Polish, Italians, and Germans.  Of all the pockets, German would be the main ethnicity. By 1880 Germans made up 27% of Milwaukee's population, the highest concentration of a single group in any American city, and that number would continue to climb.

Milwaukee was divided into neighborhoods by the time Mathias arrived, including Whitefish Bay, South Milwaukee, Wauwatosa and Cudahy.  Shortly after my arrival Milwaukee would add the neighborhoods of Shorewood, West Allis and West Milwaukee.  Ethnic pockets at that time would set up their own little communities that included their own churches, grocery stores, social clubs and newspapers.  The Germans stayed mainly west of the Milwaukee River, the Irish clustered around the Third Ward between Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River and a smaller pocket of Irish formed around the Tory Hill area where later Marquette University would be build.  The Polish gathered in South Milwaukee and the Italians around the Bay View area and later go into the Third Ward.  Folks stayed in their ethnic pockets and they were tight knit communities.  You kept to your kind and did not cross boundaries.

Work in Milwaukee in the early 1900's could be found in various areas, but the main industries were manufacturing companies, tanneries, and breweries. Companies such as the Milwaukee Iron Company and the Allis Company (later called Allis-Chamber) took on many employees in manufacturing.  The tanneries were dominated by Pfister, Vogel and Gallun. And, last but not least, we had many breweries.  The big four that made Milwaukee known as the "Beer Capitol of the World" were Blatz, Pabst, Miller, and Schlitz. We loved our beer and in the early 1900's we had a tavern on almost every street corner.  It was claimed there was one tavern for every 30 people who lived here. 

Mathias worked many years in Milwaukee, first as a carpenter and later as an iron worker.  We were not considered rich, but we could own a house, raise our family and proudly sponsor two family members who came to America from Austria.  One member was Phillip who was Mathias' brother's son and the other was my sister Barbara.  I have enclosed a picture of Barbara and I after she arrived to America.  I am the young lady seated and Barbara is standing next to me.  Phillip and Barbara would live with us until they married. We had a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and our family was together.  Mathias became a member of the Austrian Edelweiss club where he would remain a member for over 50 years.  Mathias also belonged to a bicycle club.  He would ride his bicycle for many years and never owned a car.  The first bicycle he had was the one with the big wheel in front, and later he would ride a bicycle that looks more like the ones of your time. My sister and I would go out dancing every chance we could get and I would be known for my good cooking and prepared foods for many local weddings.  I was not one who would ever be remembered as complaining or feeling sorry for my lot in life.  Family would remember me instead as a caring person, a giving person, a loving person, and a jovial soul.

BECOMING CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES

Mathias and I proudly became citizens of the United States of America.  This was our home, where our family was, and we along with many other immigrants would claim our allegiance to this land.

One began the process of being granted citizenship to foreign-born residents by first filing a Declaration of Intention.  In the declaration, it stated our "intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to the republic of Austria" that we were a subject to.  We also had to state we were not anarchists, polygamists, or a believer in the practice of polygamy, and it was our "intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of America and permanently reside therein So Help me God".  There next would be a required waiting period of anywhere from 1-3 years after filing the Declaration of Intention before we could file the petition for Naturalization.  We ended up waiting just shy of three years.

 

In the Petition for Naturalization we would again have to state were still not polygamists or a believer in this practice, and state that we were "not a believer in or opposed to organized government or a member of or affiliated with any organization or body of persons teaching disbelief in or opposed to organized government".  We would one last time state that we renounced absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to the republic of Austria.We would take an Oath of Allegiance and be sworn in as citizens of the United States and granted the right to vote and hold office. As you can see this was a long process and not something you rushed into.  We would be in the United States for over 30 years before we took this big step. 

Mathias declared his intention of citizenship on May 21, 1923 at the age of 54.  He petitioned for naturalization on November 13, 1923 and took his oath of allegiance to the United States on April 15, 1926 at the age of 57.  I also declared my intention of citizenship around 1923, petitioned for naturalization on June 26, 1926, and gave my oath of allegiance to the United States on September 26, 1926 at the age of 48.

OUR CHILDREN AS ADULTS

The first child to leave our home was our eldest son Walter. After WWI ended he joined the Navy and off he went.  I have enclosed a picture of our family and Walter in his Navy uniform during the time of his service.  There is a story behind Walter being accepted into the Navy, and naturally it had to involve bananas.  Walter was too thin to get into the Navy and back then recruits were screened to make sure they were not underweight and therefore likely not be able to endure the physical demands of training. Walter had to figure out a way to quickly gain weight.  He and his friends decided to purchase several pounds of bananas for Walter to eat hoping this would cause him to gain weight and pass the screening.  Walter ate several pounds of bananas the day before so he was able to just pass the required weight.  He was 5 feet 6 inches and obtained the minimum weight requirement of 114 pounds. I have enclosed a copy of the Army chart from 1917 which would be the standard chart used for the various branches so you can get an idea of their requirements.

 

Walter would complete his enlistment in the Navy and would later share many stories of his adventures and travels during this time.  Walter returned to Milwaukee, and began working for the Koehring Company where he would remain until he retired. 

On St Patrick's Day in 1923 Walter was out driving during a terrible snow storm.  He saw a young lady walking, and pulled over to offer her a ride.  Walter would say "where are you going little one" to her.  This young lady was Clara Zeunert and she was walking home after seeing a movie at the theatre.  That night, Walter wrote in his journal he kept that he met Clara Zeunert, the woman he would marry.  During our son's brief courtship with Clara our second child Katherine would meet Clara's brother Robert and begin a courtship with him.  Within 4 months we would have two weddings.  Robert Zeunert asked for our daughter's hand in marriage and we gave permission.  Our son Walter would ask Clara's parents for their daughter's hand in marriage and they would grant permission.  We were approving a marriage crossing culture and religion. The Zeunerts were German and Lutheran.  I have included wedding pictures of Walter and Katherine. 

Next to marry would be our son Mathias (Sonny) He would marry a young lady named Lilly. This would leave us with one child at home, our youngest daughter Ella.  During all these marriages and times spent with the Zeunerts their youngest son Ferdinand would fall in love with Ella and ask for her hand in marriage.  We said no.  I felt there had been enough of our children married to Zeunerts. This would be a decision I would regret for the remainder of my life.

Ella would have another man ask for her hand in marriage, William Zaraznik, and we granted permission.  Ella wanted a "modern" wedding of a white wedding dress and head veil.  Before this time, brides did not usually wear a special wedding dress made for only one day. We made a fancier style dress, but it was in standard darker colors and after the wedding you could use it for other occasions.  It was practical and made sense.  This business of spending all this time and money for an outfit for one day sounded crazy to us, but it was our last child to wed and we already denied her previous betrothal.  So, a white wedding Ella had.  It was 1928, and times were changing. After Ella married she would remain living with us.  We had a house that was divided into two levels, so she and her family lived downstairs and Mathias and I lived upstairs. 

Our children were all married, and grand children were coming quickly.In total, we would have 10 grandchildren as follows:  Our son Walter and his wife Clara would have the children Virginia, Walter, and Richard; Our daughter Katherine and her husband Robert would have the children Edyth, Robert, Norbert and Kenneth; Our son Mathias and his wife Lilly would have the children Irwin and Russell; and our daughter Ella and her husband William would have their daughter Violet. Our grandchildren would giggle at us and say we talked funny.  We would learn some English, but we kept a thick accent.  We would continue to speak our native language when we were among each other, especially if we did not want our children or grandchildren to know what we were saying.  Little did we know that the grandchildren would learn words, especially those we used when we would curse.  The grandchildren would also love to touch my dresses that I wore made of silk.  I would be remembered as wearing fancy shiny dresses and always wearing my hair up and looking nice.  It was who I was.

Roughly three years after our daughter Ella married, she contracted Tuberculosis and would become fatally ill.  What little we knew and could provide for treatment was tried, but it would not cure her.  During her illness, Ella would make future clothing for her daughter as she would age, but she never would live to see them worn.  Ella died at the age of 23. 

Our 4-year-old granddaughter Violet would live with us after Ella passed, and she stayed in our home until William remarried a woman named Ann roughly a year later.  After the marriage, William and his family moved away from us and we would see little of them for many years. He left to raise his own family.

 Roughly 7 years later, I would receive a phone call at our neighbor's house as we did not own a phone.  The call was from someone we did not know and said they were calling about Violet and we needed to come right over.

During the days and weeks to follow we would begin to understand that Violets school, and in specific the God sent woman there named Mrs. Holmes, were watching her.  Mrs. Holmes would have meetings with Violet and ask if she was doing ok, and if there was anything she wanted to tell her or talk to her about.  Mrs. Holmes was trying to get Violets confidence in her to talk.  They knew something was not right.  Violet confided in Mrs. Holmes what was happening to her at home.  Mrs. Holmes asked if there was someone Violet could call and live with, and she said call my Grandmother.

There would be a court date and the judge would legally remove Violet from her father and step-mother and grant us legal custody of our 12-year-old granddaughter.  Because we were old by then, I was 64 and Mathias was 73, the judge ruled that our son Walter and his wife Clara would be second in line should we not live till Violet became an adult. The court set a dollar amount that Violets father would pay us monthly to aid in the cost of raising his daughter.  Violet returned to our care, and she would blossom once again.

During this time and many years to follow family would whisper to each other, not talk about this time in front of their children, and certainly not share what happened outside of the family.  These matters were private and I will not go into the details of what happened.  You can rest assure that any stories you might have heard about this time will unfortunately be true.  I am proud to say that Violet would grow into a beautiful lady and loving mother.  She would never forget, but she forgave. 

MY PASSING FROM THIS WORLD

After returning to live with us, Violet would be a great help to me in my remaining 3 years of life.  From early on I had uncontrollable high blood pressure and circulation problems especially in my legs.  I also had rheumatoid arthritis fairly early on, and this would also progress.  Unfortunately, several of my children and their children to follow would inherit these health issues.  I had the diagnoses of chronic nephritis and chronic myocarditis secondary to my high blood pressure.  My kidneys were not working well and thus my feet and legs would swell and give me problems.  My heart would also be significantly affected because of my blood pressure and would become enlarged and not work right. I would slow down, not be able to physically do things I once did and my loving granddaughter and other family would help with the household chores as I became less and less able to do so.

During the last 2 weeks of my life I would go into left ventricular failure as my heart just could not work anymore.  I died in my beloved house on 34th street on August 5, 1945 at the age of 67 with my family at my side.

We know that I had a very nice funeral from the records kept.  The funeral services were held at Pertzborn Funeral home on 2336 W. Cherry Street not far from where we first lived.  My service included a soloist, a casket and outer case, the use of their facilities and equipment, and the use of a service vehicle to take my body to its grave.  The complete cost of all this was $310.00 which was a lot of money then.  I was buried at Wanderers Rest in Milwaukee.  Mathias afterwards had a beautiful headstone made by Architectural Carving Company on North 33rd street in Milwaukee.  The stone was ordered on June 20, 1946 and had both our names on it. The total cost of the headstone was $120.00. 

THE REMAINDER OF MATHIAS' LIFE

On September 19, 1945, roughly a month after I passed, Mathias sold our house on 34th street to his son Walter.  There was a family agreement that Walter and Clara could have the house for $1.00 if they swore to care for Mathias till he passed, would not place him in a nursing home, and would allow him to die at home.  The agreement was made and it was kept.  Mathias and Violet would live in one level of the house, and Walter and his family in the other. 

Mathias did a fine job of finishing raising our granddaughter from age 15 until she wed. I have enclosed pictures of Mathias on Violets wedding day and you can see the smile on his face.  Violet was a beautiful young lady and a stunning bride.  Many brides during this time wore suits with padded shoulders which was a style from WWII and afterwards.  It was the thing to wear, but Violet was her mother's daughter and so she also wore a fancy white wedding dress and veil. 

After Violet married, Mathias remained living on 34th street for many more years.  He would enjoy the company of his family and often stayed with Walter and Clara during weekends when the weather was nice at their lake cottage on Big Cedar Lake. He continued to be a member of the Edelweiss club well into his 80's.

Mathias' health began to fail, and we have records from hospitalizations with the last date being in August of 1957.  That winter of 1957 Mathias would pass in his beloved home on 34th street.  Until his passing, he was under the faithful and loving care of his daughter-in-law Clara.  She would cook for him and clean for him.  As his health worsened, Clara would faithfully bath and dress Mathias, and in the end Clara woud hand feed my bedridden husband. Mathias died at home with his loving family at his side.  He was just shy of turning 89 years old.

 


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