While on vacation earlier this month, I saw that I had received an email from my German acquaintance Friederike. She wrote to let me know that maybe she could explain how Frederick Isserstedt and Wilhelmine Sachs could have possibly met when they lived so far apart in Germany.
She also sent me this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journeyman_years <–GO READ THIS FIRST!
Journeyman — The tradition of setting out on travel for several years after completing apprenticeship as a craftsman.
There was a short time in the Isserstedt’s lives when they decided to open a shoe repair shop in downtown Plymouth, Wisconsin. This foray into retail didn’t last long though and they went back to farming full-time, no doubt because there wasn’t much money to be made in shoe repair. (Shoe forms and anvils were passed down in our family.)
In 1866 the Isserstedts sold lots in downtown Plymouth as seen below. Before this would most likely be where and when they would have opened their shop.
This Indenture made the first day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty six between Frederick Isserstedt and Wilhelmnie Isserstedt his wife parties of the first part and Peter Lesch party of the second part all of the county of Sheboygan and State of Wisconsin.
…in consideration of the sum of three hundred dollars to them in hand paid…[for] the following described piece, tract and parcel of land situated lying and being in the County of Sheboygan and State of Wisconsin to wit:
The South eighty four and one half (84 1/2) feet of lots no. one (1) and two (2) and the North eighty four and one half (84 1/2) feed of lots no. seven (7) and eight (8) in Block no. ten (10) of the Village of Plymouth.1
In order to have opened a shoe shop, Fred would have had to know how to make, or even repair, shoes. This skill would have been learned in Germany. So it is possible that Fred apprenticed as a shoemaker, and then went on to his journeyman training. This would have required that he travel all over the country finding masters that would teach him the skills he would need to make a living, and eventually to be accepted as a master shoemaker himself. So the story goes — Fred traveled as far north as Dömitz, met a girl, fell in love, and married her, as soon as he was done with his travels. (And how could he not fall in love, she had such a cute smile.)
Of course Fred’s possible journeyman’s travels are purely speculative on my part, but, it would explain a lot.
Thanks Friederike for the heads up! I knew nothing of this tradition until now.
Sheboygan County Wisconsin, Register of Deeds; Deeds (1839-1886) and index to deeds (1839-1888); Deeds, v. 22 (p. 312-end) 1866-1867 Warranty deeds, v. 23-24 (p. 313) 1866-1867 – FHL film #1,392,898 – vol. 24, page 13 [image 1211].
After reading the title of this post I can hear my relatives asking, “Colonel Who?” A perfectly legitimate question too. But, in order to answer it I will need to go back a few years to give you a frame of reference.
The story starts with Laura, the youngest daughter of FW John and Johanna Deadrich, my great great grandparents. The second youngest of 6 children to survive to adulthood, she was born August 27, 1866 in Gillett, Oconto County, Wisconsin. (Laura was six years older than the youngest child, my great-grandfather, Victor.)
When Laura John was 19 years old she married her first husband, Charles Edward Pahl. A marriage which lasted for 10 years. Here are some notes from the divorce case:
“…That shortly after the said marriage the plaintiff [sic: defendant Charles] commenced a system of cruel and inhuman treatment towards the plaintiff by calling the plaintiff base, vile and abusive names, by threatening to strike, shoot and kill the plaintiff ….. conduct of the defendant became so cruel and inhuman towards the plaintiff and the said child [Victor] that the plaintiff was forced to and did leave …. That during the time the plaintiff and defendant lived together the defendant was ever jealous of every body who spoke to the plaintiff even of the plaintiff’s brothers …would abuse the plaintiff by the use of vile epithets…talking about shooting and killing the plaintiff.
…the defendant had a mania for whipping and punishing the said Victor Pahl … when the plaintiff remonstrated and attempted to prevent the defendant from so whipping and punishing said child the defendant would grossly and outrageously abuse the plaintiff by use of abusive words…
That the defendant frequently took up a stick or wood and threatened to strike and beat the plaintiff. That about six weeks before the plaintiff left the defendant…because she protested against the punishment of the said Victor Pahl by the defendant, the defendant violently assaulted the plaintiff and pinched and bruised her arm with such force as to take the skin off of her arm.
That shortly before the plaintiff left the defendant as aforesaid he told the plaintiff that if his style did not suit her she might leave and the sooner she left the better, that in consequence of said abuse and the great fear the plaintiff had of the defendant she left him as aforesaid.” 1
Laura had three children with Charles: Louis, who died at about a year old, Harold and Victor Pahl. She retained custody of Victor in the divorce proceedings. (It appears that their son Harold might have also died by the time of the divorce as he is not mentioned in the records).
Laura married again in 1899 to Edward Naylor.
Married Last Saturday morning, at Gillett, Oconto County, this state, Dr. E. S. Naylor to Miss Laura Johns, Justice Riordan officiating. The bride is one of the most popular young ladies of Gillett, and a sister of our obliging station agent at this place, and the groom is well know veterinary surgeon formerly of Ripon, but now in the employ of the Rusch Lumber Company here. They arrived here on the evening train Monday and were duly serenaded by the village band, after which a social ball was given in their honor at the Exchange Hotel, where they are at present staying. The Advertiser joins their many friends in wishing them a happy and prosperous journey through life. 2
This marriage didn’t last long either, and there were no living children of this marriage when divorce was granted in 1904. Laura supported herself by working as a cook in lumber camps, and boarding houses. Skills she most likely learned from her mother, who was acclaimed as a great cook by locals and visitors alike.
Victor was born in 1891. It is possibly because Laura was working in lumber camps, a place that would be dangerous for a young child, that he is found in the 1900 census living with his grandparents, FW and Johanna John. He appears to have had a complicated, rough and confusing childhood, because we find him a few years later at the State School for Boys, in Waukesha, at the age of 14. I don’t know what his incarceration was for, or for how long he was a guest of the facility.
In 1916 when war started in Europe, Victor was working in Ontario as an ironworker. It appears that he was so eager to join in the fight, that he didn’t want to wait for the United States to get involved.
Oconto Boy in the War Victor Pahl, son of Charles Pahl of Oconto, has enlisted in a Canadian company and will participate in the European war on the side of the allies. Victor was born and brought up in Oconto. 3
He was in the Canadian Navy. When the United States finally join in the cause, he signed up for the draft there.
Victor died in 1951 in Florida. Leaving three children from his first wife: Irving, Martha and Laura. From the little that I have found, I am quite sure that there is much more that could be written about Victor, but this post is really about Irving, my Dad’s second cousin.
Here is a picture of Victor from a Brazilian Passport4 from 1943. He would be about 52:
Like his father, Irving C. Pahl was born in Wisconsin. His mother however, was a Romanian immigrant.
Irving’s father moved the family around a lot, probably because of his job (I believe he was a sailor, or worked around boats), so the family wasn’t actually in Wisconsin very long before they left on the first of many moves. It was in Connecticut that the family settled for a short while, and Irving started his formal education.
But he can tell you all about that in his interview.
One of the great things about the internet is how it makes it so much easier to find gems, that you wouldn’t otherwise know about. In researching Irving online, I ran across an interview with him, recorded by the Winthrop University, for their oral history program. The main focus of his interview is the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviets, because he and his family were there when the hammer came down.
Finding the interview, seeing his involvement in Czechoslovakia, and his rank when he retired from the Army, I thought that he might have been an interesting cousin to know about, so I did a little more digging. What follows are newspaper clippings that I found regarding Irving’s life in the military. And I was right, it was pretty interesting.
This first newspaper article is from 1953 and gives a good overview of his accomplishments and involvement in the service from 1939 up to that time. The rest of the articles are chronologically organized.
Those are the highlights of what appears to be quite an interesting life for himself, and his family. And when Irving retired in Columbia, South Carolina he didn’t actually ‘retire’. He was still very much involved with the community, volunteering and writing letters to the editor.
Irving passed way in 1996, leaving a son and a daughter to carry on his legacy.
The interview which I mentioned above can be downloaded from the University’s website, and listened to at your leisure, it is about 50 minutes long. I have also transcribed the interview as best I can. The transcript (a link to it is below in .pdf format) is the best I could get from listening to it on my iPhone. Some bits were too garbled for me to hear clearly, and I indicate such, on occasion he is speaking Czech (or German), or using Czech names and places, and I can’t quite tell what he is saying. A few times several people were talking at once, (I believe his wife was present at the time, interjecting a comment on occasion, which I couldn’t quite hear).
As each new generation is born, it is only natural that family starts drifting farther apart. So I am glad when I can find and share these stories of cousins we never knew. I hope you enjoy them too.
Sources: 1. Divorce of Laura Pahl (plaintiff) from Charles E. Pahl (defendant) December 24, 1895 (filed January 8, 1896) Oconto County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Case #4044, Area Research Center, UW Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisconsin. June 23, 2005.
2. Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison WHS micro PH 73-1888) January 26, 1899 c5 (weekly Thursday paper). 3. The Union Farmer Herald, Vol. 5, Issue 42, March 24, 1916, page 1, col. 1.
4. Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965, FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records. Image 145-146 of 201 (pulled from Ancestry.com).
It was pure chance that I was preparing this post for this week, and Veteran’s Day is Saturday. Brilliant. To all the veterans in my family, past and present, thank you for your service.
In 1904 the Wisconsin State Legislature enacted Chapter 434.
“In the event of all or part of the Wisconsin National Guard being called into the service of the United States, the governor is hereby authorized to organize and equip a temporary military force equal in size and organization to that called from the state, provided, that upon the return to the state of the troops called into the service of the United States the temporary military force shall be disbanded.”
Both my grandfather Clarence Fredrick John and his uncle Milton Cain were members of the Wisconsin State Guard (or in Clarence’s case it was the State Guard Reserve). Milton went on to fight in France with the Rainbow Division. My grandfather, on the other hand, never stepped foot in Europe, or Africa for that matter, during this war. He did not turn 21 until October 29, 1919 and the war was over a little more than a week later.
The State Guard was organized after the Wisconsin National Guard went overseas to join in the war effort in July of 1917. The first units of the State Guard that were organized were in Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Green Bay. The men recruited were all volunteers who were too old or too young for the draft.
Its first encampment was at Camp Douglas in July of 1918. It was comprised of four regiments of infantry and a State Guard Reserve. In total about 5,500 officers and men.
The Guard was paid an allowance by the state for: armory rent, upkeep of clothing, and the expenses connected with their training. However, the men in the Guard were all volunteers so received no wages or pay. And if you were in the State Guard Reserve, you paid for your own equipment and uniform.
The camp was commanded by BG Charles King, a retired officer of the Wisconsin National Guard. He trained the men as if they were regular army, and their competence after a few days of intensive training, along with their own drills at home, was impressive. In his report to the adjutant general Gen. King complimented them highly.
It was understood that joining the State Guard did not exempt the men from the draft. Those who were too young to join at that time would be eligible for active service when they reached the age of 21. The older men could be called up if they ran out of young blood.
The Wisconsin State Guard was needed 3 times during the World War I:
1. Sept. 16-18, 1918 Clark County; to assist in search for draft dodgers.
2. Aug. 20-24, 1919 As guards during the Cudahy riots.
3. Sept. 9-12, 1919 Troops were assembled in the armory at Manitowoc, for use in strike riots at Two Rivers, but they were not used.
The State Guard was incrementally disbanded starting on May 5, 1920, as the National Guard was slowly reactivated in full, a process which was completed in 1921.
Clarence was with the 26th Separate Company of Crandon.5 He sure does look cute in his duds. He apparently liked to say that his ship was turned around at sea because the war was over, so he never got to fight. It makes for a nice story, but I am doubtful that that was the case, as he wouldn’t have had time to be on a ship heading overseas, less than two weeks after he was of age. He might, however, have had his bags all packed and been raring to go.
Sources: 1. http://www.b-1-105.us/history/wsg.html. 2. Email from: Horton, Russell <Russell.Horton@dva.state.wi.us. 3. “State Guard to Camp Douglas”, The Farmer-Herald, Oconto Falls, Wis., Friday, June 28, 1918. Page 4 Column 2. 4. “Wisconsin in the World War,” by R. B. Pixley. Milwaukee, The Wisconsin War History Company, 1919. Copyright 1919:S.E. Tate Printing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. Google Books digitized. p285
5. “…found a Clarence F. John in the State Guard Reserve microfilm. It appears he with the 26th Separate Company, which seems to be based out of Crandon” — email from Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 30 West Mifflin Street, Madison, WI 53703.
I found another article regarding the fire that burned down Bert and Flo Cain’s tavern, it has a few more details and does confirm that the young lady living with them was Flo’s daughter from a previous relationship.
The following newspaper clippings tell me the story of a court case that never really came to be. And, if it wasn’t for the local reporting on the matter, I never would have known about it at all. (From what I have seen it appears that Joseph Pinkerton might have been the go-to carpenter in Gillett.)
1878-1-26, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 7, issue 13, page 3, col. 2: It is reported that Jos. Pinkerton has instituted proceedings against Wm. Johns of Gillett for slander, laying his damages at $8,000.
1878-11-02 Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 1, page 3, col. 2: The slander libel suit pending between Joseph Pinkerton and F. W. Johns has been amicably settled, and dropped from the court calendar. It would be better if more law suits could be disposed of in the same way.
1878-11-16, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 3; page ? col 2: Court Proceedings. The following is a summary of the court business disposed of since our last report:
J. Pinkerton vs F. W. John, Settled
So it appears that hot tempers cooled and better natures prevailed. Good thing for William, otherwise that would have been an expensive bit of slander if he had lost the case.
Mina was born in Dömitz, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany on the 28th of June in 1820 and was baptized two days later.1 Her parents were Johann Christoph Wilhelm Sachs and Ursula Margaretha Sophia Schult. In her picture on the right, she looks exactly like I would want a great grandmother to look, including that impish little smile.
Recently I have been able to search the indexed church records of Dömitz and expand Mina’s tree a few generations. So here it is now.
We have some pretty interesting German surnames to add to our family: Lütken / Lüthgen / Lütdan (apparently no one knows how to spell it), Schlein, and Schult. Schult has been on the surname list for a while, but these recent finds in the church records, make me more certain that the name is not Schultz, although I did see it in one record as Schulten.
Mina lost both of her grandmothers before she was even born. Of her grandfathers I have been unable to ascertain when they died. And, unfortunately for Mina, both of her parents were dead by the time she was almost 16 years of age, her father dying about 2 months before her birthday in 1836. She did have two sisters and one brother all older than her, the youngest of her siblings was 19 when they became orphans.
As none of her siblings were married when the last of their parent’s died, I am assuming that they were taken in by relatives until they were. Her sister Johanna married the next year to Christian George Heinrich Strempel.
In 1820 Mecklenburg abolished serfdom. While it is a good thing that this happened, it had unintended side affects now that land owners were no longer responsible for the people who lived on their land. They reduced the amount of housing that was available, so the former serfs no longer had a place to live, land was not available for them to buy and farm for themselves, and work became much harder to find. About 250,000 people left Mecklenburg in several different waves of immigration. Many went to the United States, the rest went to other cities within Germany itself. The conditions at home left them very little choice. “Almost every third person from Mecklenburg left their home country, almost 90 % of them came from rural places.”2
Dömitz on the Elbe.
Castle in Dömitz.
Of great interest to me, is finding the answer to the question of how Mina and Friedrich Karl Isserstedt, who was born in Hessleben, Sömmerda, Thuringia, Germany, met. They were married somewhere in Germany, and came to America with 3 of their children who were born in Thuringia (where Hessleben is located).
Was Friederick in the military and somehow ended up in Dömitz? Did Mina leave home because of the conditions in Mecklenburg and end up in Fred’s neck of the woods? I am hoping I can find the answer to these question with more digging. I would especially love to find out where they married as there is no record in Dömitz of their marriage. It doesn’t mean they weren’t married there, just that I can find no record if it.
In 1855 the Isserstedt family left their residence in Wandersleben3 and made the long trip to America. Sailing from Hamburg to the port of New York. Eventually ending up in Plymouth, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, where together they carved out a new home from the wilderness and prospered.
OBITUARY Mrs. Wilhelmine Isserstedt nee Sachs, one of the oldest settlers in this area, died on Friday in the home of her daughter, Mrs. Emilie Hamm, near Medford, at the age of over 70 years. Her husband, Mr. Friedrich Isserstedt, died about a year ago. She was born in Doemitz, Mecklenburg-Schwerin on 26 July 1820, and came to America in 1855 with her husband. At first they lived on a farm in the Town of Sheboygan Falls. Later they lived in the city for a time where Mr. Isserstedt has a shoemaker business. Then they again moved on a farm in the northeastern part of the Town of Plymouth. They lived there many years when they moved on the farm formerly owned by the deceased Chr. Komen where they lived until Mr. Isserstedt’s death. She is survived by a son, Mr. Fred. Isserstedt, in the northeastern part of Town Plymouth; three daughters, Mrs. Henriette Hoppe and Mrs. Emilie Hamm, Medford, and Mrs. Minna Kaestner, Town Plymouth. Another daughter, Mrs. Amanda Hoffmann, died several years ago. The funeral was held in Town Rhine on Sunday.4[died 13 Aug 1899]
1. Sophia Catharina Willhelmina Sachs baptism, Taufen, Hieraten, Toter, Konf. 1835-1852 vol. 2, entry ?3, (1820) page 12, Stadtkirche Kirchenbuecher Church Records Evangelical Lutheran, Doemitz, Mecklenburgische, Sippenkanzlei, Mecklenburg-Schwerin: FHL Film #69078, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
3. According to the passport records from Hamburg. Wandersleben is near Gotha, which is also in Thuringia, where their only son was said to have been born. Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008. 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 00. 4. Wilhelmine Sachs obituary, The Plymouth Post, Plymouth, Wisconsin; [reprinted in ‘From Here and There’, 17 August 1899, page 1??, Historical Research Center, Inc., Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin].
My father remembers being told, when he was younger, that his parents had met when Clarence was injured in a train accident and Myrtle was taking care of him at a hospital in Marshfield where she was working as a nurse.
He didn’t have any more details than that. So for the past 15+ years I have waited patiently to find the newspaper article that would mention this accident and give me more details. Thankfully, the Oconto County Historical Society is currently making great efforts to digitize the Oconto County newspapers, and I have found some great articles in the past. A recent check of their progress gave me the answer I have been seeking:
The article certainly confirms that Clarence was in a train accident, and he was sent to the Marshfield hospital, where Mrytle would have been working at the time, (she had graduated from nursing school in May of that same year.)
It is believed that Clarence received a pretty hefty settlement from the railroad and this is probably the money he used to start his own business. A bowling alley.
Here is a matchbook saved by the family from the bowling alley.
It is said that because Clarence’s venture started not long before the crash of 1929 and folks no longer had extra money to spend on luxury outings, such as bowling, the business didn’t last very long. But, I have no proof of that yet. I guess I will have to dig a little deeper.
In 1931, a little over 3 years after they met, Clarence and Myrtle ran away to Illinois and were married at the court house. Was it love at first sight? Only they know, and they aren’t talking.
Birthday Party A surprise party was tendered Mrs. John Cain Thursday evening in honor of her birthday anniversary [67 years old]. Bunco was played, the prize going to Mrs. Surprise and Mrs. William Trepanier.1
Carried probably had a very good time at her party, as long as there was music playing, because she loved to dance.
1 Oconto County Reporter Enterprise-Enquirer; v54issue28, 1925-04-23
This was such a sad and touching story that I had to share it.
George Dennis Cain born in Oconto, Wisconsin in 1882, was the fourth child born to John and Carrie Cain. His middle name appears to be in honor of his great grandfather Dennis Connelly. Like the rest of his siblings he grew up in the City of Oconto. And when he was old enough he married a young women by the name of Estella ___ . Sometime about 1900 he moved his family to Forest County, Wisconsin (Leona / Soperton). Estella and George had at least three children together: Milton, Marion (Mae) and Pat, (This was apparently not Estella’s first marriage though, as she had an 8 year old son Thaddeus who lived with them in 1920.)
Unfortunately for George he inherited that CAIN family bad luck, which appeared when he developed stomach cancer in 1925 and by the end of the year it killed him. He was only 42 when he died, another young death for the CAIN line.
His daughter Mae took his death very hard:
NOTE: I don’t know if the above article has the surviving child incorrect, or if it his obituary that is wrong, but something is amiss regarding the matter. In the 1920 census a child Thaddeus is listed as a stepson and Milton is the only child listed as George and Stella’s, so Marion and Pat must have been infants, 4-1 years of age, in 1925. I don’t know who George, jr. is.
We are lucky in our family to have lots of bits and pieces from our John and Hamm families. One of the pretty cool items that was found in this treasure trove is this article:
I have been unable to track down exactly when this event happened, as it is most likely that the newspaper this article appeared in hasn’t been digitized yet. I am guessing that Clarence was in his late teens to about 2oish, as he is talked about as the son of Mrs. and Mr. V. H. John, which tends to make me think he is still a young man and not on his own yet.
Kelly Lake was, and still is, a hot spot for folks vacationing in Oconto County. The size of the lake makes it a great place to boat, fish, swim, all those summer activities that you think of when you hear someone saying they are ‘going up north.’
I am glad that my grandfather was there that day to be a hero. As, I am sure, was the lady in distress.