Showing posts with label Wetchens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wetchens. Show all posts

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sepia Saturday 56 The Model Ts and Horse Drawn

Charlie Behrndt driving horse team in La Crescent
Appx 1920's
This is my response to the horse drawn photo on the Sepia site, from the Library of Congress.   I'm back to sorting photos from Jerry's side, ones we rescued from his 93 year old mother's stacks when we moved her into the nursing home in September.  Among our many frustrations with her is the big unanswered question, "why  didn't she share any of this stash earlier so the family might have been able to identify people and events, when folks  were alive and around when there could have been discussions?."  Such is the theme song of her life, self centered, poor decisions with little care about others as I have written about before but this is not about her only as  she is the source of these photos....  Jerry has most fond  memories of his maternal Grandpa Charlie Behrndt and knows that Grandpa Charlie did not  like to drive instead leaving the driving to Grandma Esther a diffferent attitude for that time. Charlie preferred his horses, so when we found this old photo where Aunt Marie had written across the back, "Pa, moving rail road debris"  it brought a laugh.  Unfortunately it was not dated, so we can guess it is likely the  1920's and easily identified as winter or spring thaw.    We have a very old photo, mounted on a splintered wooden board, nailed into a frame, of a rail road wreck  that came from Aunt Marie; it shows the old steamer train well off the track in the snow.  Jerry has it hanging near his evening chair downstairs; it won't scan as is and I have not been able to get a good photo of it to share here, but we think it is the same event.  We recall Aunt Marie saying that Pa (Charlie) picked up extra money when there was something to be hauled.  Notice the  gentleman standing off to the  left side  dressed with hat, that same man and others dressed like that are present in the train wreck photo.   He appears to be some sort of official overseeing the process. 

Charlie Behrndt beside the Model T appx 1923
 This photo shows Charlie dressed up beside the family auto, Model T. Reportedly the family  was not at all wealthy, but for  farmers of this time to have an auto seems somewhat on the prosperous end of things to me.  There is some speculation that the auto may have been a gift to Charlie when he and Esther married a dowry from her parents, the Wetchens.  The back of the photo and the suit Charlie is wearing (seen in other photos of the same day)  indicate it was taken at his parent's  50th anniversary,  in  1923. There's someone taking the photo, whose shadow appears in the left.  Jerry loves this photo and wants to have it enlarged and framed to hang in the relatives' gallery downstairs.

One last auto photo for this post shows Charlie's in laws, or Esther's parents, Dietrick and Louisa Wetchen coming or going in their automobile.  Aunt Marie's writing  on the top; they lived in the city--La Crosse and had come out to the farm to visit Esther and the girls.  Guessing again that this is in the 1920's but no later than 1925 because Dietrick died  August 1925.  None of the color selections that  abound now for vehicles  were available back then and really the designs show little variation, although the pair of greats  are going  top down!

This is my first Sepia Saturday post of 2011; to see  others' contributions to our international community, click on the title to this post above. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sepia Saturday "Week 41 Grandparents of the other half

After  an absence dealing with all sorts of family company and issues, I can return to Sepia Saturday posts.  Jerry's cousin just sent us a succinct family history written by her mother, Aunt Ruth, when she was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer.  It tells of the early settler days, their family of pioneers who made it across the Atlantic Ocean from Prussia aka Germany in 1850, with infants, how they journeyed across rugged country through New York, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa  and  ultimately bought land along the Mississippi in Minnesota, land that they would farm after they cleared the trees and harvested and sold lumber.  It has been so interesting to tie the individuals to census records and recorded deeds and amass the data in one place. I marvel considering their  rugged hard lives, building log cabins for shelter in the wilderness against the harsh winters, living away from all civilization, frightened of Indians in new territory, man and wife and  four small children.  I wonder how they did that, I who bundle up securely and live with all modern conveniences in winter.  I wonder who had the hardest lives, my Polish coal mining ancestors or these rugged Prussian/Germans.  We are learning more about Jerry's maternal ancestors than he ever knew, whatever else we may learn they were hearty brave individuals. 

This  first photo which his cousin sent is Jerry's maternal grandmother, Esther Wetchen Behrndt (1883-1950); my last sepia post showed her with her "brood" of grandkids on the farm.  He had never before seen this photo so it was a treat.  We know this photo was taken before she married Jerry's grandpa Charlie Behrndt May, 1908.  There is some scandal attached to her younger years before she met Charlie because "she gave birth out of wedlock to her first daughter, Myrtle Louise in 1906."  That's what Aunt Ruth wrote . Charlie raised Myrtle as his own daughter and he and Esther had  four more girls, Jerry's mother being the  last and youngest. It is likely that Esther was so concerned about Jerry and Diane when their mother divorced their father and that was why she took such good care of those two children who lived with her and Charlie; that would have been  1938, still a time when single mothers were not in favor.    Esther died in 1950 at 66 years of age, which is young for this family marked by rugged individuals most of whom lived well into their 80's and 90's back then.  The hardships seemed to make them all stronger.  By 1949, the family had moved from the farm on the hill to town. Jerry tells that his sister, Diane, 12, could not wake up Grandma one morning and then awakened Jerry who was 13 and who determined that Grandma was dead.  With no one else at home, the two children went to find their Grandfather who was also at work in town and then their mother.   Grandma Esther was the literate half of the partnership, as her husband Charlie could only sign his name.  She also was the one who drove their vehicle, as Jerry recalls and Grandpa Charlie handled  the horses, wagons and later a tractor.

This photo, another Jerry did not recall,   is of Esther's parents, Dietrich Wetchen (1856-1925)and Louisa Leidel (1857-1943), and Jerry's great grandparents.  This is one of the smallest families as they had only two children.   We were surprised to see how much Jerry resembles this great grandfather, except as he has said, he wished he'd  inherited Dietrich's hair, and Jerry has no moustache.  The  printing is what the cousin had on the copy of the photo.    As we looked over the Wetchen and Leidel photos we decided that they brought the good looks into the lineage.  Louisa's  parents Henry Leidel (he's a  distinguished pioneer of this area)  and Johanna Guenther  left Prussia with a  one year old and a  four year old in 1849.  I found it interesting that they sailed  from Hamburg Germany as did some of  my ancestors

Charlie Gustof Behrndt, (1884-1964) Esther's husband, and Jerry's grandfather was the 7th child of 9  born to Adelbert (Albert) Behrndt and Sophia Roth.  Adelbert immigrated from  Germany as did Sophia's parents. Sophia's parents Jacob Roth and Maria Mary Frei married in Germany but he came to America first; she followed  several months later.  They settled first in New York,  and eventually worked their way across the wilderness of the country settling in Minnesota, however when they were 50 and 49 years old, they moved  to homestead sections of land in South Dakota, living there until their late 80's.   Jerry said this is the only photo he has ever seen of his grandfather dressed up; that all he can remember is Grandpa wearing his  bib coveralls.  It is a good thing this cousin had a few photos as many were not taken in this family and now there are some of these younger images to preserve along with their stories.  Jerry absolutely idolized his Grandpa Charlie.  Charlie was a farmer and a hard worker, after moving into town, Charlie worked at the lakes and skinned fish that were commercially caught; he also hauled lumber and cut and sold firewood.  Jerry says he was a short guy, maybe  5' 3" tall but strong as three horses and that  Grandma Esther towered over him.  He smoked a pipe all his life. 

Behrndt's farm house on the ridge of La Crescent
This was the family farmhouse which no longer stands today.  Jerry slept upstairs in the bedroom which shows to the right.  The last Sepia Saturday I posted had the grandchildren gathered with Charlie and Esther for their anniversary.  In 1949 Aunt Marie and Uncle Tommy took over the farming and Charlie and Esther moved to town sharing a  house with Aunt Myrtle and then Uncle Joe.  As I have shared, Jerry, his sister and his mother lived with them, first on the farm and then in town until they left for CA. 

Adelbert (Albert) and Sophia Behrndt

One last photo shows Jerry's Behrndt great grandparents, Albert (1841-1928)and Sophia (1851-1941).  Notice that Albert is small and Sophia is large, so it must have seemed natural to Charlie to marry a woman bigger than him, as that's the way his parents were.  Albert also smoked a pipe all his life.  This is the couple who ended up moving even farther west to South Dakota and continuing to live a hard lifestyle up until they died.  Jerry faintly recalls going to South Dakota to visit some of Grandpa Charlie's family on the land that had been homesteaded. 

To see  others Sepia posts click on the title to this to get to the main Sepia host blog, then select any and all.