Category Archives: 52 ancestors in 52 weeks

The Old Star Quilt

Family history writing prompt 4 – Choose and artifact that once belonged to one of your ancestors. Write as though you are that object, tell about who owned it and what history the artifact might have witnessed.

It was the star quilt given to me by my Aunt Iva I chose to write about. As I mentioned in writing prompt 1, Margaret Ragsdale Caple called three women mother. The quilt pictured above was made by one of those women. I have been told the quilt could date back to as far as the 1850’s so for this piece I am going to assume it was made  by Margaret’s birth mother.

 

IF I COULD TALK

 

Go ahead take a close look at me. Yes, I am worn and faded. It’s a wonder I’m still around after all I am 160 years old. I was expertly stitched together by the 5th great-grandmother of the child in photo above. Examine me closely  and you will see I’m made of many small diamonds. It wasn’t easy to stitch those and keep my star laying flat. Back then my colors were vibrant and I was given a place of honor on the bed of little girl named Margaret.

I covered her bed when this nation, torn apart by slavery, fought a civil war. Bushwhackers roamed the countryside of Missouri where she lived so her family sought safety elsewhere. But other dangers lurked, soon smallpox robbed Margaret of her adopted mother and sister.

I went with the little girl and her grieving adopted father back to their home in Brookline, Missouri after the war. There I kept her warm at night and watched. Soon her father remarried and once again the house was filled with laughter and children.

I was there when a handsome, dark-haired, blue-eyed widower stole her heart, and they moved with his two children to a farm in Osborn County, Kansas. I graced their bed the night their first-born son, named Samuel after his handsome Papa, was born and when more children followed.

And oh the stories I could tell of the wild west in and around Dodge City, in the 1880’s. But it was the  winter of 1887 and 1888 that was the hardest. I had to work extra hard to keep the little ones warm. It was so cold, come spring the family decided to move west.

At 30, I was already considered old and worn, still Margaret found me good enough to keep her little boys warm as they camped beside the Oregon trail. It was along this trail her little boy, Roy, fell in love with my bright, big star. Sometimes he make a wish upon me before he fell asleep.

I was covering him the night he first lost someone he loved and was with the family when they buried his big sister Ida, somewhere along the trail.

I traveled with the family, always keeping him warm, as they moved from place to place in Eastern and Western Washington and Oregon, no place good enough, until 1894 they decided to join family in Beaver county, Oklahoma.

Goodness the tales I could tell of living in a tiny, dusty sod house with a family of 7. I heard the muffled sobs beneath my star the night Samuel Jr. was carried home after drowning in a flash flood. Such a loss, just as he was on the brink of adulthood.

Times were changing, a new century arrived. Within a couple of years the family sold their Oklahoma ranch and headed back to Washington.This time I rode in style inside a train.

I was in the wagon the day Margaret put her foot down and told Sam she was not moving again – Puyallup was as good as any place. Soon I resided in a fine house, one I would stay in for more than 20 years.

Life for Margaret was changing, too. The children were growing up, her husband traded in his horse-drawn delivery wagon for a new motorized truck.

I watched as the boys reached manhood and began to make their own way in the world. I heard the worries over a coming war and the fears that loved ones would be lost. I listened to  arguments for and against prohibition.I was there to huddle under when the father of the household passed away.

In time Margaret relocated in Orting, Washington. It made me happy she chose to take me along. She kept me on her big feather bed. My best days were when the grandchildren visited and snuggled with her beneath my star.

I was there the sad day she awoke babbling nonsense. I watched as her frightened grandchildren called for help. Soon Margaret was moved to the GAR home in Puyallup and I was left all alone.

The little boy named Roy, all grown up now, arrived to close up the house. He was going to throw me out.

“Too worn to be of any use,” he said.

But memories of our trip along the Oregon Trail and the wishes made beneath my star changed his mind. He took me home to cover furniture stored in his attic.

I still heard the family stories. I knew how hard Roy struggled to provide for his family during the great depression. I heard his wife on the days she coughed and wheezed and couldn’t catch her breath. And oh I how I longed to wrap myself around Roy’s shoulders the day he lost his beloved wife.

I watched as his little boy and girl became adults and left for work in Bremerton. Another war was coming, soon Roy left, too.   .

And I was left in the attic without my family near. From from time to time Roy would come for a stay. Sometimes he’d come to the attic and smile when he touched me, remembering our days together along the Oregon trail, until one day he was gone forever,too.

The daughter knew her father loved me, so she took me to live in a drawer in her attic. A new century arrived.

Another Margaret came to visit, a great grand-daughter of Margaret. The daughter took her to the attic and pulled me out of the drawer. She told the story of how I had kept her Grandpa Roy warm on the Oregon trail.

“Would you like to have it now?” she asked.

The new Margaret said she loved old quilts like me. She took me to her house. No longer do I sit in an attic.

It’s been a long, long time since the loving hands that stitched me together left this earth.  The little girl whose bed I graced, her little boy who slept under me on the trail and his little girl are all gone, too. But their memories live on in the threads that bind me to them and future generations.

 

 

 

 

The Life Peter Uelmen

Johann Uelmen-(1806-1860) —Peter Uelmen 1852-1926 —Rosalia Uelmen Meyer 1891-1975

Peter Uelmen

Peter was not quite five years old when his family left their ancestral  village of Strohn, Germany and made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. He  was accompanied by his parents Johann Adam and,Margaretha Lenertz Uelmen, his older sister Catherine, 16 and brothers Johann Adam, 11 and Nicholas, 9.

New York ship passage records show the family traveled in steerage,  They arrived aboard the ship “York” on July 2, 1857.  Family and friends already in Wisconsin no doubt had advised them of the necessary arrangements to get them from New York to Wisconsin.  Had selling their land in Germany given them enough money to make the journey or did the family in Wisconsin help out?

Family lore states that the family settled in St. Michaels, Kewaskum, Washington county, WI. Johann was said to have been a farmer who brought and planted grape vines upon settling.  Apparently the wine was either not any good or couldn’t be sold and the idea was abandoned.  Today the area they immigrated from is dotted with wineries.

1858 records indicate that his father had begun the process of applying for naturalization.  In April of  1860, at the age of 53, his father would die. Peter was left fatherless at the early age of seven. The cause of his death is unknown. I wonder if his death caused the family to regret their decision to move?

I have been unable to locate the family in the 1860 census records. Their name is probably misspelled and lost in the records. Did  they attempt to farm on their own?  Peter’s sister would have been 18, his brother’s 13 and 11 or perhaps they started living with another family member. His obituary does mention that he attended the New Prospect school as a young boy indicating the family probably lived in that area. The records do show his sister Catherine married John Meeth in1862, at St. Michael’s Catholic church in Kewaskum.  His brother John Adam married Margaret Siimon in 1868  at St. Mathais church in Auburn township, Wisconsin. I’ve found nothing else about the family until 1870. i

In  1870 the census shows Peter’s mother, Magaretha, living with his older brother  Johan Adam and his wife, at Armstrong’s Corner, Auburn  township, Wisconsin.  Margaretha’s brother-in-law Mathias Uelmen is also  living in the same area with his son, Adam Uelmen (Johann Adam).

The 1870 census shows Peter living  in  Menominee, Menominee county, Michigan. He is working in a sawmill and living in a boarding house.  His age is listed as 17.  Where his brother Nick was is unknown but he married Margaret Theusch at St. Michael’s church in 1872.

In 1871 Peter had moved just over the Michigan border to Marinette, Wisconsin.  He was working for the Stevenson Lumber Company.  Marinettes’ proximity to both the Menominee River and Green Bay  created a bustling timber industry.  Most likely Peter had gone  there to take advantage of the jobs available in the timber industry.

All during the months of 1871 this area lacked for rain. The dry conditions were  made worse by frequent sporadic fires.  The residents of Marinette took to walking around town with clothes covering their faces as dust filled air became a way of life.  Fevers and lung problems were commmon. Even so no one was prepared for the firestorm that would sweep through the area on the evening of Oct. 8th, 1871.

I don’t know exactly where or what Peter was doing that evening. I do know that my Mother use to have a copy of an interview, the Kewaskum Statesman newspaper printed, of his experience.  Apparetly a reporter overheard him talking about it while in a Kewascusm store on the anniversary of the fire and interviewed him. ( note to self I need to look this)

The town of Marinette did not experience the wholescale carnage the town of Peshtigo suffered.  But the fire encompassed a wide area not just Peshitigo.  Marinette was within the bounds of the fire storm.  Even if Peter didn’t experience the fury of the fire firsthand he was most likely called upon to help with the carnage left in the fire’s wake.

Today it is still the worst forest fire recorded in North American history taking between 1200-2400 lives. Another fire occurred the same night in Chicago, perhaps because of a famous song about a cow kicking a lantern over, it is this fire history remembers but the one that raged across the lake was far worse. If you would like to know more about this fire  you can consult one of the many good web pages dedicated to it.

In 1868 a family by the name of Schleis immigrated from Bohemia and settled in nearby Carlton township, Kewaunee county, WI.  They came with 5 children one of them a young girl by the name of Maria. In 1877, at the age of 20, she married Peter in Menominee Falls, MI. How they met or why they married in Menominee instead of her family church in Carlton is unknown.  Perhaps Maria had gone to work in one of the logging camps.

Peter by this time must have saved enough money to purchase his own farm back where his family lived. The 1880 census shows Peter and Maria living on a farm in the town of Auburn with two children, John age 2 and Barbara 11 months.  Both children were born in Wisconsin. Peter’s mother is living with his sister Catherine in Kewaskum.

Over the next two decades the family continued to grow.  By  July of 1900 they had 12 children ranging in ages of 22 to newborn.  It was also around this time that Peter built his family a fine new American style farm house.  It was this house and farm that later became the Meyer farm in New Prospect.

His children are as follows:   John b. 1878, Barbara, 1879, Anna b. 1881, Joseph P. b. 1883, Nicholas E b. 1885, Katherine b. 1887, Henry b.1889 (he was the only child to die young at age 4) , Rosalia b. 1891, Marie b.1893, Henry E. b 1894, Leo J. b. 1895, and  Norbert b.1900.

2014-07-23 17.17.04

In the winter of 1915 he sold this farm to my Grandfather George Meyer and moved his wife and youngest children to Campbellsport, WI.

In 1918 the Uelmen family received the alarming news that their son Leo had been seriously injured by a machine gun somewhere in France during WWI.  I can imagine the worry and fret the  family must have gone through while waiting for word on his recovery.

EXTRA
PRIVATE UELMEN INJURED

  Mr. and Mrs. Peter Uelmen received a message from Washington this morning, stating that their son Leo had been seriously wounded by a Machine Gun on March 22nd, “Somewhere in France.” The message does not give any further details.
News from Fond du Lac this morning states that 46 Fond du Lac county boys were suffering from wounds, among them being Sergt. John Mohr, a brother of Mrs. L. H. Beiersdorf of this village.

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(Scan courtesy Alan Krueger)

Peter was still living in Campbellsport  when he suffered a stroke.  He died 3 weeks later in July of 1926 at the age of 73.  His obituary states that he had served as the assessor of Auburn township for 13 years and the assessor for Campbellsport for 6 years. He was survived by his widow and 10 children. He is buried in St. Matthews Catholic cemetery, Campbellsport, Wisconsin.