Monthly Archives: January 2014

Meyer Family

L-R back John Meyer, George Meyer standing behind Rose Uelmen Meyer, Arno Myer in back of Mary Meyer wife of John Meyer holding Gert Meyer, Camilla Meyer standing next to husband Frank Charles Meyer. The little boy in front is Rose and George’s son John Meyer as is the baby girl named Gert in her Gandmother Meyer’s arms.

In Search of Johannes-

(Johannes Meyer b. 1816, father of John Meyer b. abt. 1842, father of George H. Meyer b.1888)

Sometimes all it takes is the right piece for a puzzle to fall into place, genealogy is often works the same way. And the right piece to solve the Johannes puzzle was alluding me.

In the previous post I had said that John Meyer’s marriage certificate stated Johannes Meyer was his father and in the 1880 census John was living in Cascade, Sheboygan county, Wisconsin. But my search to find Johannes living in the same area had come up blank. Had he died? Did he live somewhere else? If so where? His Meyer name was far too common to hope to find without some concrete clues.

My Mom and aunts suggested I contact their cousin Margaret Meyer. She was happy to hear from me but couldn’t add more than I already knew. She did say though that her parents had been good friends with Pierre and Edith Meyer. They had vacationed together, yearly, in Florida.She thought she remembered something about her father being named for their father which would mean John had a brother named Charles. She didn’t know where they had lived in NY and without a way to narrow my search I stayed stuck.

Then one day my Mom called me all excited. She’d been cleaning cupboards and found a pamphlet about a De Spyster family in New York and the Meyer and Roosevelt’s were named. My body tingled as she read about the De Spyster history going back into the Colonial times. Then had her reread it. Yes, a Charles Meyer was mentioned but he was married to a De Spyster. No one in the interesting history she’d read were related to us. Once I got past my initial disappointment I realized though it still contained an important clue. The Charles Meyer had children and they were named Pierre and Edith. Better yet it said they had all lived in Lewis County, New York. I had a place to look.

Time to go back to the census. I found a record for a Johannes Meyer in Lewis county in 1855 and 1860 plus a naturalization record. But I didn’t know enough about him to be sure he was the right one. I decided to send a letter to the Lewis county Historian to see if she could shed some light on the man.

I wasn’t expecting much after all if my Johannes had lived there it was a long time ago. I certainly wasn’t expecting to find a letter from the past residing in my mailbox a few weeks later. Who had written it is a rather long story so I will save it for my next post.

Why Cascade?


(Home of John and Mary Meyer in Cascade abt. 1912)

Growing up my family never celebrated old customs or made traditional foods the way many of my friendsdid. We were American, that was good enough.  And it was – except I wanted to know more.

My paternal grandfather told me his family had come from the south. He thought they might have owned a plantation and had moved North because of slavery. But he had no idea where or when they had originally came here.

My mother, on the other hand, knew her grandparents had come to the U.S. as children. She thought they’d come from Prussia to avoid it’s warring ways. Why they’d chosen to live in Wisconsin or if they’d ever lived elsewhere in the U.S she couldn’t say.

She’d heard the Meyer’s were somehow connected to the Roosevelt’s of NY and her Dad had two cousins who lived in upper NY by the name of Edith and Pierre. She thought they might be rich as they wintered in Florida. Later she remembered that her grandpa Meyer had come from Alsace Lorraine and his wife from Denmark. And there had a been some kind of remarriage in the family with a his, hers and ours sort of family. She thought it was probably John’s parents and that one of them had returned to live in Europe. Two things she was sure of, her grandfather had been a shoemaker and he and his wife, Mary Thomsen had raised their family in Cascade.

While she didn’t know much about her grandparents my mother did know lot more about her Meyer uncles. She knew the oldest had been born inn 1883 and a still older son had died as an infant.That meant John Meyer would have had to have married no later than 1880-81. My first search was to see if I could find him in the 1880 census.

Today I could pull up the record quickly using my computer but In the 1990’s I had to find both the Wisconsin 1880 census and it’s index in a library. Lucky for me my local branch had both. Scrolling through the microfilm I found a John Meyer,living in Cascade, single, age 35, boarding with a August Hafemeister. Both men were shoemakers and John had been born in France. Since Alsace was part of France, he sounded like my man. Better yet, a few entries down was a Mary Thomsen, age 20, a servant for the hotel keeper. Schleswig, a part of southern Denmark, was listed as her place of birth. Chances were she was soon to marry the shoemaker.     

I felt sure I had the right people but I needed more proof. Plus, I still wanted to know when had they come to Cascade and who were their parents? Had they come alone as teens or with families?  I decided to write to the Sheboygan county genealogy society and see if someone could find their marriage record.

(The below photo if beside in the yard of John Meyer. He is the gentleman on the far right)


While I waited for an answer I shared the information I’d found with my mother.  She in turn unearthed a scrapbook her mother had kept. It was a mish mash of stuff, most having nothing to do with the family, but in the very back she had written down the names of the Thomsen side of the family. Now I had Mary’s parents and siblings names and birthdates. No town name was given but she did say they had come from Schleswig a part of Denmark.

Meanwhile I went back to the 1880 census for Cascade and found Mary’s parents Thomas and Anna Thomsen. He was a wheelwright. Not long afterwards I received the marriage record in the mail. A John Meyer, son of Johannes Meyer and Marguerite Sontag, had married an Anna Mary Thomsen of Cascade. John’s birthplace was listed as Airshiem, Alsace. Also enclosed was a newspaper clipping from their 25th wedding anniversary and an ad for John’s shoe shop.

The 1890 census had been lost in a fire so the next census I could consult was 1900. It would, if I could find them, tell me how long they’d lived in this country. I found John and Mary still in Cascade along with their three sons. John’s arrival was listed as 1848 and Mary, or Anna M. as the census listed her, as coming in 1874. Both had their place of origination shown as Germany but since both Alsace and Schleswig were under German jurisdiction in 1900 it wasn’t unexpected. Neither the 1880 census or the 1900 census had any indication of John’s family living nearby. If he had arrived in 1848 he’d only have been 4 or 5 years old. Where was his family? What had happened to them?  And how did the two NY cousins fit in? To learn I was going to have to dig farther back into time.  The question was where?

Life in Ladysmith

Prior to marriage Rose had worked for several years as a teacher.  George had worked as a farm hand and a grocery clerk before becoming a cheese maker and buying a cheese factory near Cascade, WI.  About this time he also met my grandmother, Rosalia Anna Uelmen at a dance at one of the nearby lakes.  When he asked her to marry, she agreed but informed him she would not live in a house that was an annex to a cheese factory. He had a childhood friend who had bought a farm in Ladysmith, WI a few years earlier. Hearing it was good place to farm, George sold his cheese factory and bought a farm in Ladysmith, WI, some 250 miles away.

Religion was another obstacle to the marriage. But George didn’t see much difference between his Lutheran religion and Rose’s Catholic religion, so he willingly converted. His mother a staunch Lutheran wasn’t happy  and because of this friction their wedding was small and quiet.  They did, however, take a two week wedding trip to New York City and Niagara Falls. They told the family about this trip many times.  George in particular loved to tell about seeing the Flat Iron building, one of few skyscrapers in the city at that time.

After the trip they picked up their household goods and wedding presents and headed for their new life in Ladysmith. At that time cars still didn’t travel well over large distances, so they went by train. George must have taken his horses and wagons up in an earlier trip.

Imagine my grandmother’s dismay when she gazed upon her first home and found it in a state of total disrepair.  This was probably their first big argument.  Why did he think she would move her precious household goods into such a place?  And to top it off she’d found bedbugs in the bedding already there.  He didn’t think she was going to bring her lovely new down pillows into a place like that did he?

All of my Grandpa’s promises to fix the place up fell on deaf ears.  She wasn’t moving in.  He ended up taking his bride to his married friend’s home where they stayed until the house was fixed up enough for Rose. Still, by Dec. of 1915 they had decided the Ladysmith wasn’t  for them, sold the farm and moved back to Cascade.

Over the years this story was told over and over. Evidently they had great fun while staying with the friends and with each retelling of the story they laughed all the more. Time had allowed them to see the humor in what must have been a bitter disappointment to the start of their marriage.


This photo is of the wood being hauled on their property in Ladysmith.


Another photo from Ladysmith.

Marriage of George Meyer and Rose Uelmen as reported by the Sheboygan Press

                                                 Ullman-Meyer Wedding 

At 9 0’clock Monday morning the marriage of Miss Rose Ullman and George Meyer was solemnized at the Catholic Church in New Prospect. After the ceremony the bridal party repaired to the home of the bride near New Prospect where a fine dinner was served to immediate relatives of the contracting parties.  The table was prettily decorated with cut flowers of smilax.

Mr. and Mrs. George Meyer left on the afternoon train for Chicago and the will go to New York City for and extended wedding trip.  On their return they will be “at home on a farm near Ladysmith which the groom recently purchased.

The bride is an attractive young lady and has many friends here.  The groom was born and raised in the village of Cascade and is the son of John Meyer and Mrs. John Meyer.  Hosts of friends in the community join in wishing Mr. and Mrs. George H. Meyer abundant happiness and prosperity.

The House That Peter Built

I thought I’d make my first post about the house featured in my header. Yes, I know a house is not an ancestor but it was home to 3 generations of my maternal line. It deserves its own post.

The House Peter BuiltThe House Peter Built

Built around 1900 this house was home to my maternal great grandparents, maternal grandparents, my mother and her siblings and a source of fond memories for many members of the fourth generation.

Built around 1900, it was of the square design popular in that era. It sat down a dead-end lane almost a mile from the village of New Prospect, Wisconsin. Out past the front yard, across the neighbors field, ran a branch of the Milwaukee River.  On the first floor was a large living room, dining room, kitchen and wash room.  The wash room contained a sink and a hand pump in which water was drawn from a cistern.  A bedroom tucked behind the living room completed the first floor.  Upstairs were five more bedrooms and a large hallway.

Peter and his wife Maria needed all those bedrooms. By 1901 they had 13 children.  The oldest two may have already left home by the time the house was finished but there was still plenty of family to fill those upstairs bedrooms. The children’s ages  ranged from 0-22. My Grandma Rose was their eighth child and would have been 9 or 10 years old when they moved into this house.

Peter and Maria stayed in the house until 1915.  When their daughter Rose and new son-in-law, George Herbert Meyer returned from their ill-fated adventure as farm owners in Ladysmith, WI. Peter negotiated a deal with my Grandfather to buy the 200 acre farm for 12,000 dollars. I am sure my Grandfather was anxious to provide a new home for his bride and soon to arrive first baby when he made this purchase.  Unfortunately I’m told he didn’t consult Rose first.  I can imagine the words exchanged the day he came home with the deed to the farm and learned she had no desire to live in her childhood home.

Despite her misgivings  about the purchase they would live there for the next 60 years, The house sheltered them through the Great Depression, WWII and so much more.

Along the way they added long enclosed front porch where the family enjoyed cool breezes coming through the screened windows on hot summer evenings.  A summer kitchen with a kerosene stove was added off the wash room for cooking and canning in the hot summer heat.  Still later a bathroom was added off the dining room to replace the little house out back.

The land this house sat on had been shaped by glaciers long ago in Fond Du Lac county, Wisconsin.  When the state wanted to buy the farm for a future ice age  park my Grandfather sold it with the stipulation they could remain living there until they either died or wanted to leave.  When they made the decision to move into town in the 1970’s the house itself was sold and moved. Hopefully it is still standing providing a new generations of children and their parents a  happy sheltering place to live as it did during the first century oThe House Peter Builtf its life.

The House Peter Built