Contents © 2016 Harold Pfohl
For location, see: Farm of Wm & Augusta – 1915 plat map
PART 1 – THE WILLIAM AND AUGUSTA – THE CHILDREN
Augusta and William planned to have two children. That didn’t work.
OCTOBER 20, 1927 – DAUGHTER RENATA’S WEDDING DAY
Left to right: Augusta, age 53; William, 56; Edgar, 27; Renata, 25; Elda, 23; Viola, 18; Cordelia, 17; Gerald, 15; and Harold, 11.
All of Augusta’s babies were born at home.
Having children was much more hazardous than it is now. Both Augusta Lueder and her sister, in Northern Michigan, Alvina Pipkorn, had fine families, but childhood illnesses were a mortal threat and mothers sometimes died giving birth. William and Augusta had nine children of which seven reached maturity with no childbirth problems for Augusta except for one miscarriage. For this the couple was profoundly grateful.
Their good fortune failed them thirty years later. More on that in a future post. The practice and science of medicine was nothing like as sophisticated and capable as it is now.
TODDLERS AND PREGNANCIES
At the old home where William grew up. L-R: William Lueder and little Edgar, Augusta Lueder, brother Otto Lueders and his baby Linda, Otto’s wife Anna Lueders, Minnie Mintzlaff Nieman, and in the background, Tom “the Irishman” Mitchell (neighbor immediately to the west) – William & Augusta eventually purchased 40 acres of his land.
Both Anna and Minnie were expecting at the time. Little Edgar, and later his sisters, Renata and Elda, were told that “Old Doc” Hurth brought the baby in his satchel. Edgar was also told that cows got their calves by scratching in the straw by the cow stanchions, and that chickens had a hole under their wing where the eggs came out.
Irish Tom and German William were best of friends and sometimes shared a trip to town to relieve the boredom. Going three miles to Cedarburg with a team of horses and wagon could be tedious, taking an hour each way. Tom and William often shared a wagon and had a good time. Tom would arrive at Lueder’s farm greeting William with “Hey you damned Dutchman” which would be met with a grin and “Hey you damned Irishman.” William, smoking a pipe, and Tom, chewing tobacco, climbed into a wagon and drove off puffing, spitting, and laughing.
CHILDREN’S STUDIO PORTRAITS
The first studio portrait – Edgar and Renata, about 1903.
Copies of this would be sent to various family members and friends. Going to the time, trouble and expense of a studio portrait was manifest evidence of the great pride that William and Augusta had in their two children.
The second and last children’s studio portrait. L – R: Renata, Edgar, and Elda,
Viola (Ollie), born in 1908, was to have been included in the photo, but objected violently to having her picture taken and in a state of tears remained off camera.
The studio portrait was a solemn and formal occasion! However, more children kept coming and they gave up on studio portraits. The novelty had worn off. Enough already. There are no other family studio portraits.
NOPE – The families made their own baby food.
Rural mothers did not have the option of going to a grocery store or supermarket in order to buy baby food, assuming that Gerber’s or some equivalent was making it back then. The solution was simple. Augusta (and we can safely assume Alvina as well) chewed the food first and then fed the chewed food to the infant – for nine infants. Perhaps William helped? If so, maybe with a little cigar or pipe tobacco taste in the chewed up beans? Maybe not.
“…the practice appears to confer certain nutritional and immunological benefits to the infant, provided that the caretaker is in good health and not infected by pathogens.” (Source: Wiki)
Source – 1902 Sears catalogue – Bounty Books
A food chopper likely helped in making baby food. This device was an immensely utilitarian kitchen tool and would have helped to provide crushed material to feed to an infant or very small child. One fed the meat or fruit or whatever into the top, the handle turned an auger which forced the material through the grate of choice resulting in hamburger, crushed fruit, potatoes, etc. It was a most utilitarian precursor to blenders and Cuisinarts, and was used for many decades well past mid-century.
Augusta, a skilled seamstress, made the children’s clothes. Shoes and underwear came from Sears, whose catalogue was an invaluable resource for all rural people. Commuting to and from town with horse and wagon was such a slow process that casual shopping was impractical. Anything ordered from Sears either came by mail or, if large and cumbersome, was delivered by horse and wagon to the purchaser’s farm.
HOW COULD AUGUSTA POSSIBLY HAVE MANAGED?
The answer is simple. The older girls helped out with raising the little ones, and the boys helped with chores for Ma, and later as they grew stronger with chores for Pa. One strong memory of the younger girls, Viola and Cordelia, was of their older sister Elda “potching” them, i.e., slapping them on the head. Nothing serious, just a warning that nonsense would not be tolerated.
William never spanked his children. Somehow, both parents earned the respect and love of the children, and discipline was never a serious problem.
SISTER ALVINA PIPKORN IN HERMANSVILLE, MI., ANNOUNCES THE BIRTH OF LESTER – OCTOBER 17, 1907
Telephones were not yet available in rural Cedarburg and Hermansville, Michigan. Even if phones were in use in Alvina’s home, long distance calls at that time were very expensive and were rarely made by people with limited means. Telegrams were also expensive and neither Alvina nor Augusta could spare the money. As a result, Alvina sent a postcard to her sister.
Note the various languages used on the postcard heading. Perhaps it was emblematic of the immigrants in the US from all over Northern Europe. It is also interesting to see from the postmarks that it took only one day to get from the post office in Michigan to Cedarburg. The USPS was excellent although it certainly helped that both Hermansville, and Cedarburg were well served by rail.
Alvina’s children: baby Lester on the left, big brother Elmer on the right. About 1908 – Elmer was five years old.
POSTCARD FROM ALVINA CONGRATULATING AUGUSTA ON THE BIRTH OF A DAUGHTER, CORDELIA – JANUARY 1910
Augusta did not get a phone until 1912. Somehow, Alvina way up in Hermansville quickly received word of Augusta’s new baby and promptly sent congratulations. Alvina missed her Cedarburg family a great deal, and the longing lasted for decades.
OCTOBER, 1911 – LESTER PIPKORN
Alvina’s Lester died of spinal meningitis at the age of four. She brought her little boy home to Cedarburg where he lay in state in the home of her brother, John Nieman. It was commonplace for the body of a family member to lie in state in the family home. This was the case with Lester’s first cousin, Hortensia Lueder (below) as well. The custom prevailed into the 1940’s among some families.
NOVEMBER, 1911 – HORTENSIA LUEDER
William and Augusta’s baby Hortensia (b. April 29, 1911, d. November 7, 1911) died of whooping cough.
Augusta, William and children went to a party at brother Otto Lueders, and Baby Hortensia was placed on a bed to nap. Another woman arrived with her child, sick with whooping cough, and placed it next to Hortensia, who caught the disease and died. When the time came for the funeral and burial, William and Augusta were driven in a carriage to Cedarburg, holding the tiny casket on their laps.
William and Augusta almost lost Renata when she was born prematurely on June 23, 1902. Charlie Nieman and Minnie Mintzlaff were rushed to the Lueders on their wedding night to act as baptismal sponsors (Godparents) for Renata since it was thought that she would not live.
A few years later the Lueders almost lost Viola (b. 1908) as an infant to diphtheria. “Old Doc” (Oscar J.) Hurth said that he had one medicine left, and if that didn’t work, the baby would die. Viola (Ollie) outlived all of her siblings, passing away in 2007 at the age of 99.
MARCH 10, 1914 – RAYMOND STARVED TO DEATH
A precious one from us has gone
A voice we loved is stilled
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled
God in his wisdom has recalled
The boon his love had given
And though the body slumbers here
The soul is safe in heaven
Augusta’s baby Raymond (b. November 6, 1913, d. March 10, 1914) starved to death. He apparently had a malformed esophagus and could not take in enough food to live. The anesthesia, antibiotics, and surgical skills necessary to alleviate the malformation did not exist.
Infant mortality was brutally high. Even so, the records at this time were much improved over a century earlier, when Augusta’s grandfather Joachim Niemann, born in 1818, was the sole child of five to survive to adulthood.
A CHILD’S PLEADING EYES
Many years, later, Augusta told her adult daughters that the hardest thing she had ever experienced was looking into her baby’s eyes which were pleading for help–which she was utterly unable to give.
THE LAST ONE – “OUR LITTLE BAREFOOT BOY”
The photo is from a postcard sent by Augusta to her sister Alvina in 1918. “This is our little barefoot boy, the pet of the family. This was taken last fall threshing time Harold then being 21 months of age.”
Photo postcards of a family snapshot were available from the film processors and were in frequent use.
A FEW YEARS LATER – SEVEN MADE IT THROUGH EARLY CHILDHOOD
About 1923-24. L-R: Gerald, Viola, Harold, Elda, Edgar, Cordelia, Renata
Seven of William and Augusta’s nine children survived childhood hazards.
FAMILY AT THE FARM
Toddler Harold in front, brother Gerald in back, and cousin, son of Willie and Martha (Lueder) Mueller – Martha was William’s sister. The cousins grew up with a very close relationship.
Children on the farm with a cousin and a friend.
Front L-R: Viola, Cordelia, Gerald and Renata, Top L-R: a friend, Elda with her hands on Harold, and a Lueder cousin.
Harold (left) and a friend with a lamb
Harold, Elda, and Viola with a sheep and a lamb.
L-R: Harold, Cordelia, Viola, Gerald, and Rover.
PROUD FATHER, PROUD SON – WILLIAM AND EDGAR
A note on the photo indicates a date of 1919, but that is hard to believe given that Edgar would have been 19 years old. Several members of the family experienced deferred adolescence which is a genetic trait that has been passed down. Perhaps it was around 1916? Sixteen years of age? William would have been 45 then.
MA LUEDER WITH HER BOYS AND THE EVER PRESENT ROVER
L-R: Harold, Gerald, “Ma,” Edgar
Around 1924 – L-R: Gerald, Renata, Cordelia, William, Viola, Harold, Augusta, Edgar, Elda
The farm was a great place to grow up. The land provided endless room for children to play, to interact with nature, to contribute to the work of seeding, growing, and harvesting, and to build relationships with and understand animals – horses, cattle, chickens, sheep, and especially their boon companion, the dog Rover. The siblings were very close to each other and also had a great relationship with their nearby cousins. Relatives, friends, and their children were constantly coming and going to and from the Lueder household. Growing up on the farm was a treasured memory among the siblings in their later years.