PART 10 – COUNTRY LOVE – A LONG, TOUGH COURTSHIP, A BRIEF WONDERFUL LIFE, A CHILD IS BORN IN A TERRIBLE LABOR AND THE MOTHER DIES

Barn raising in 1923 resulted in two weddings.  Edgar courted his girlfriend, Alice, for eight years with her obsessive brother in the back seat or following on every date.  Then, marriage and happiness, expecting a baby, 60 hours in labor, Kaiserschnitt (Cesarean section) & a funeral.

Contents©2016 by Harold Pfohl

PART 10 – COUNTRY LOVE

GUIDE TO THE LUEDER FAMILY

wm & augusta fam illus.XLS

LOCATION OF THE FARM

Click on the map image to enlarge it

ROMANCE, CAR & TELEPHONE

Falling in love with someone a considerable distance from home, e.g., ten miles, was helped greatly by the development of the primitive automobile.  Use of the telephone for long distance calls of ten miles was expensive, so young lovers were seldom able to spend much time on the phone.

Then as now, couples met in an infinite variety of ways.  Then, however, mobility and communication were much more difficult.

ONE NEW BARN RESULTS IN TWO WEDDINGS

001_029_GRWG UP 0096b Barn Raising June 8 1923_027 crp1.jpg

Source – family photo

Lueder’s barn burned in the fall of 1922 (See: Unserer scheune ist abgebrannt!).  A new barn was built in 1923.  Robert Krause, the master carpenter overseeing the project, was married to a woman named Frieda Heckendorf, and one of the carpenters on his crew was Frieda’s brother Erich.  Erich was much enamored by William and Augusta’s eldest daughter, Renata, and they began seeing each other steadily.

Mother Heckendorf was a widow with thirteen children on a farm south of Jackson (near Cedarburg).  She was no doubt greatly pleased when any of her vast brood found a good partner in life.

04 CEDAR ERICH RENATA  CRP1 IMG2518.jpg

Source – Renata Lueder negatives, mid 1920s?  Erich and Renata in the center.

hp 04-23-2013 19 - Copy sepia copy.jpeg

Source – family photo, L-R: Renata Lueder, Erich Heckendorf, Albert Graese, Elda Lueder.

A further consequence was that William and Augusta’s eldest son, Edgar, met and was smitten by Frieda and Erich’s younger sister, Alice Heckendorf.  Edgar was not quite 23, and Alice was 19.

hp 04-23-2013 27 - Copy working sepia copy crp1.jpg

Source – family photo, photo likely taken by Erwin Graese, L-R: Gertrude Graese (sister to Erwin and to Albert in previous photo), Gerald Lueder, Viola Lueder, Edgar Lueder and Alice Heckendorf.  Perhaps at the State Fair in Milwaukee?

DON’T RUSH – AFTER DATING FOR FOUR YEARS, ERICH AND RENATA ARE MARRIED IN 1927

fig-124-e

Source – family photo, L-R: Edgar Lueder, Alice Heckendorf, Erich Heckendorf, Renata Lueder, Elda Lueder, Hugo Heckendorf

DAUGHTER, CORDELIA, WAS NEXT TO TAKE THE MARRIAGE VOWS, OCTOBER 15, 1930

hp fam negs 02282013 1b copy sepia.jpeg

Source – family photo, L-R: Erwin Graese, Martha Pfohl, John Pfohl, Cordelia Lueder, Viola Lueder, Louis Pfohl

Cordelia and John set the all-time speed record for Lueder courtship – one year from first date to the wedding.

THEN DAUGHTER VIOLA – AUGUST 27, 1931, TO ERWIN GRAESE

Reading Cordelia’s meticulous diaries from 1927 she records many visits from Erwin Graese to the Lueder farm.  It was common for him to be over at the Lueder farm several times per week.  That eventually resulted in marriage to their daughter, Viola.

hp 04 15 2013 3-d2 sepia crp1.jpg

Source – family photo, Erwin Graese second from left, then Cordelia, then the bride, Viola.  Erwin was brother to Albert and Gertrude Graese seen in previous photos.

SURROGATE GRANDPARENTS – AN OLD VETERAN OF THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR

hp 04-23-2013 8 copy sepia crp1.jpg

Source – family photo, Mr & Mrs. Buelow on the left with the Bride, Viola, and her new husband, Erwin Graese.

The Buelows had a connection with Augusta’s Nieman family.  He had worked as a cooper (barrel maker) for one of the breweries in Milwaukee.  He was also a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war (July 1870 – May 1871), “only killed one Frenchman” (a cavalryman who tried to kill him – Mr. Buelow then shot him).  He hand rolled cigars that he sold to the Lueders.  The couple came out to Lueder’s farm for a week or two of vacation each year and were warmly welcomed – the family was very fond of them.

EDGAR AND ALICE TOOK FOREVER – EIGHT YEARS – A WEIRD, DIFFICULT COURTSHIP

The courtship of Edgar and Alice went on for eight years and had a most peculiar facet.  On every single date in that eight-year period, Alice’s brother, Arthur, was either following them or in the back seat.

elda-3-ring-bndr-img058_edited-1

Source – family photo, Sunday, July 26, 1931, the photo was taken on the day of Edgar’s sister’s (Viola) wedding shower.

PHYSICAL & MENTAL ABUSE – FEAR – A LETTER FROM ALICE TO HER SWEETHEART EDGAR

Note: the letter below with its idiosyncrasies was written by an unusually intelligent young woman who almost never engaged in writing of any sort and who hardly ever wrote a letter.  It was also written in a state of exhaustion and after trauma.

0116a ltr alice to edg 1_resize.jpg

Dearest Edgar,

Received your letter today and will be prompt in answering it right away. Yes, my dear, that was the worst Sunday night I had in my life, that was something terrible, and I with my hopes, hoping that it would get better with him. 

Now I will tell you the whole story.  Art {the obsessed brother of Alice} was home before Reinhold {another brother} when Reinhold drove in the shed he {Art} was standing there, he {Reinhold} asked why he was still outside, so he {Art} said he was waiting for us to give us a scolding, and so Reinhold woke Harvey {another brother} and so he got dressed.  I think they knew about what he was after. They sure were there in time, good luck for us yet. 

He started to hit me, but he didn’t have a chance as Harvey took a hold of him.

Then I had lost my bracelet. I took the flashlight and looked and looked until I found it, at last I found it, sure was glad of it. Yes Reinhold and Harvey got him in but was he mad.

Everybody was out of bed. You can’t imagine how I felt – was shaking over my whole body, that all wouldn’t have been just because one is that way. Yes, he ought to shame himself.

(over)

 0116b ltr alice to edg 2_resize.jpg

I didn’t sleep the whole night. Then I always thought why must I suffer like this, why must this all be.

And on Monday it was so hot we got in four loads of hay, {with no sleep} I felt as though I couldn’t no more but I’m still living. Today we hoed potatoes, tomorrow we have to get in hay again.  Agnes is by Edwin this week.  Harvey was by Edwin today, Art by Herbert to help by the hay so you see there we girls were alone again with Mother.  Martha is to the program tonight. {Agnes, Harvey, Art, and Martha were siblings}

 Now about the picnic Sunday. I think it will be all right if you call for me, if you are here by one thirty or any time that suits you best.  I think that will be early enough. 

But I hope I don’t have to go through that again what I went through Sunday. Yes if a person would know what was coming. If I had known that last Sunday I wouldn’t have gone to the party at all. I would’ve stayed right at home. Reinhold said to me I just wonder how Edgar felt, when you had seen all this going on.  Ja in was fuer angst habe ich schon aft gelebt. {I have never been so afraid in my life} I am so tired now, and will go to bed and rest. I’ll be waiting for you Sunday afternoon. So good night Schatzie

With love Alice

PS please excuse scribbling and mistakes as I haven’t got pep to do better writing.

########################################

Alice’s German closing “Schatze” is German for sweetheart.

What a courtship…life in the country was not idyllic.  Brother Arthur objected violently to Alice dating Edgar.  The occasion Alice writes of in her letter thoroughly unnerved her.  Brother Erich, a carpenter, quipped that he must have dropped a hammer on Arthur’s head when Arthur was little.  It is hard to imagine how Edgar kept his temper.  Arthur was very strange.

Alice’s father, Albert, died in 1922 leaving his wife, Mathilda, to tend to their farm and thirteen children.  They were an exceptionally fine family with very high values and exacting standards for their work and their conduct.  Arthur was an aberration.

FINALLY, MARRIAGE AND PEACE  – ALICE JOINS THE LUEDER HOUSEHOLD

Alice and Edgar were married in Heckendorf’s church in the township of Jackson on Saturday, September 19, 1931, three weeks after Viola’s wedding to Erwin Graese.

hp 01 15 2014 16 crp1.jpg

Source – author’s photo, Edgar in very old age seated by the deconsecrated church where he and Alice had wed.

Arthur had to be restrained by his brothers at home during the wedding ceremony.  Thereafter, he never troubled Edgar and Alice again and lived the balance of his life as a fine member of his community.

Ollie 3 ring bndr img077.jpg

Source – family –photo, Alice and Edgar’s wedding, photo taken at the Heckendorf farm at the reception.

hp 04-23-2013 1 copy sepia crp2 .jpg

Source – family photo, Edgar and Alice – wedding reception at the Heckendorf home

All of these family nuptials in the Great Depression must have given William and Augusta’s Lueder’s meager bank account a considerable beating.

DEPRESSION ERA HONEYMOON – DOUBLE UP AND SHARE THE COSTS

Ollie 3 ring bndr img110_edited-1.jpg

Source – family photo, L-R: Erwin, Viola, Alice, Edgar

The two couples honeymooned together.  Their destination was the home of a sister of Erwin who was married to a Lutheran minister living in Minnesota.

Ollie 3 ring bndr img108 crp2.jpg

Source – family photo

Picnic enroute.  Erwin’s sister, Gertrude, on the right, went along to visit her sister.

hp 04-23-2013 26 copy.jpg

Source – family photo, Alice and Edgar

Crossing the Mississippi?  Horse and wagon were still common in the 1930s.

A FEW YEARS OF HAPPINESS

Glenrose Infant hi res0018 copy 03.jpg

Source – family photo

Edgar and Alice had a happy time for several years.  There was genuine love in the marriage.  Above is a family gathering at Renata’s home in Cedarburg. Alice is in the front left of the photo

Ollie 3 ring bndr img094 crp1.jpg

Source – family photo, Alice on the right – a member of a very sociable family

THEN A BABY IS ON THE WAY

On Monday evening, February 19, 1935, at 10:00 Alice went into labor, with their firstborn.  She expected to give birth at home with the assistance of a nurse or midwife.

Finally, at 9:00 on Tuesday evening, 23 hours later, the pains became severe and Edgar called for their nurse.

AFTER SIXTY HOURS OF LABOR – “KAISERSCHNITT”

On Wednesday morning at 10:00 there was still no baby.  The nurse called the family’s Cedarburg physician, Dr. Hurth, and he sent them to the hospital, Milwaukee General.  She was in severe pain all night and at 10:30 the next morning, Thursday, Dr. Hurth concluded that he needed help.  He consulted with 70-year-old Dr. Hipke who said that a “Kaiserschnitt” (caesarian section) was needed immediately.

On Thursday just before 12:00 noon the baby was delivered.  Poor Alice had been in labor for sixty hours without giving birth.  Edgar was traumatized, immensely relieved at the success of the operation, and excited at the birth of his baby girl.  Alice was resting, feeling fine, and free of pain.  After all of that, she must have been overjoyed to hold her infant.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1935 – LETTER, EDGAR LUEDER TO HIS SISTER CORDELIA

Edgar reported Alice’s ordeal to his 25-year-old sister, Cordelia, living in Sauk County, married to a Lutheran minister, John Pfohl.  He asked her to be the baptismal sponsor (Godmother) to the baby girl.

0117a ltr ed to john & cor 1_resize.jpg

Dear John and Cor.

My little Alice had to suffer severely for a long time before she had her little girl. Labor pains started in Monday evening at 10 o’clock and continued every half hour until Tuesday night when they became very severe and came every 3 to 4 minutes.

At 9 o’clock I got the nurse – she got everything ready and said in two or three hours it would be there. But it got Wednesday morning and still there was nothing, so at about 10 o’clock the nurse called the doctor and he said we have to take you to the hospital. She did not want to (go) but she had (to). So I took her down.

The doctor said there is only an opening of 2 inches after all that labor.

We got in the hospital at 11:00. I stayed there till in the afternoon. In the evening I went back to the hospital and stayed overnight which was a night I shall never forget. To see a loved one suffer so much and if you could see that it was progressing it would be all right yet but it did not, she suffered another 24 hours.

Then Thursday morning at 10:30 Dr. Hurth came in and examined her carefully and told me this. He said the opening is open but the child won’t come down he said either the child is big or it is tight…

0117b ltr ed to john & cor 2_resize.jpg

… behind the hip bone. He said he thought he could bring it the way he thought but would ask Dr. Hipke the 70-year-old Dr. about it. He went over and examined her and said this {Rough translation of the German “Girl, you’ve done your part, I think we’ll take over now} and the two doctors went away and when they came back they told me they had decided to give her “Kaiserschnitt” {Cesarean Section}. I asked Alice and she was glad that she could go.

It took them only 15 minutes to get ready and that went even too slow for her yet. At 11:20 they took her to the operating room after 60 hours of suffering. Dr. Hurth said to the nurses in her room “Here you see a lady that has been laboring for 60 hours and is still standing on both feet. She is a strong woman.” The doctor and nurses call her “The brave little girl.”

At 20 minutes to 12 they started operating on her and 10 minutes later the nurse came down with the baby already and told me you got a baby girl. At 20 minutes to 1:00 they came down with her after one hour.

She is feeling fine now. I’m writing this at her bedside in the hospital Friday evening. Dr. Hurth told me that we should let them operate because he said the other way I must let her go till tonight yet and then start to work on her and see that I could not make it anyhow, and then we would have to cut anyhow and chances are you would have a dead baby.

Since the operation she has had no pains. She is resting and feeling fine.

Say Cordelia, I have a job for you – we want you to be sponsor {Godparent}. Let us know if you will take it. March 10 will be the day if nothing happens. I want to go home now.

Good night

##################################

While Edgar dealt daily with the business of farming, he almost never wrote letters.  It is likely that years passed without written communication from his hand.  The idiosyncrasies of this letter reflect this.  He was in fact an unusually intelligent and meditative man who loved to read.  The length of Edgar’s letter reflects his trauma over the agony experienced by his loved one.  One could be around Edgar for days and not have a conversation equal in length to this letter.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 1935 – LETTER, CORDELIA TO HER BROTHER EDGAR

Edgar’s younger sister, Cordelia, loved children, had a two year old of her own, and was very excited by the new arrival.  She wrote back to him promptly with enthusiastic congratulations, and in the upper left corner sent birthday congratulations to her father, William, whose 64th birthday was the next day, and her brother-in-law, Erwin Graese, whose 27th birthday was on the 24th.

0118a ltr cordelia to edg & alice 1_resize.jpg

Congratulations to Dad on his                                                        Feb. 24, 1935

64th birthday.  The same for Erwin.

 Dear folks & especially the new daddy and mama.  Heartiest congratulations to you, and we are glad to hear that everything is all right now.  Well, such is life, but I guess like all the rest of you I expected a boy, why I don’t know.  For my part I think a girl is just as good.  The nite before I received your letter, I dreamed that Alice had an eleven lb. boy and that is not the first time I dreamed about it.  Even Verone dreamed about it.  Write us some more details, such as looks, hair, eyes, etc.  I am glad she has it over with.  It will be quite a change for you folks having a tiny baby around all the time.  I hope she does not cry as much as mine did.

0118d ltr cordeila to edg & alice 4_resize.jpg

{from page 4, closing the letter}

…I would be too lonesome, alone all day.  After conference, at five o’clock john has an appointment at the dentist.

How much are you folks paying for butter at present?  We are paying 39¢ at Mielke’s {a general store in Cordelia’s village}, first class butter too.  Times sure are picking up.  The farmers around here are so happy that hogs have such a good price.  And I am glad too.  Even though we have not had a check this year yet.  We get along just the same.

Daddy {husband John} is clicking away on the typewriter, Toots {toddler daughter Ruth age 2} and the birdie {their canary} are sleeping, so I guess I will retire.

Heartiest Greetings to all, and greetings to Alice when you see her, from

Cordelia, Ruth, and John

Don’t work too hard Elda.  Wish I was there to help you.  Let the boys do the chores.  What have you got them there for?

##################################

Father, William, was not at all well.  The arrival of the first-born child to his own first-born child and son was particularly satisfying.

PERITONITIS – SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 1935:  TELEGRAM – CORDELIA AND JOHN TO HER BROTHER EDGAR

For Alice and Edgar, courtship was uncommonly difficult, followed by three wonderful years of love and companionship and then, deepest tragedy – peritonitis.

When Edgar and Alice left for the hospital, twelve long days before, Alice stopped, went back into the house, walked into their bedroom to look around, and then left.  Edgar felt that Alice had a premonition.  Dr. Hipke, who had recommended the caesarian, told Edgar he was called in for consultation too late.

Edgar had come home from the hospital for supper earlier on this Sunday evening.  Alice’s mother, Mathilda, came over to the Lueder farmhouse and insisted that he return to the hospital.  So his brother Gerald drove him back and his sister Elda went along.  At home brother, Harold, and sister, Viola, sat in the bedroom with their parents, William and Augusta.  None were able to sleep.

Fig 131 Cordelia & John to Edgar.jpg

Alice received several blood transfusions from her brothers and from a sister.

She died while receiving a blood transfusion from her brother Erich.  Her last words were “I’m full, I can’t take anymore.”  Reflecting on this in later years, Erich always feared that his blood might have been the wrong type.

After bringing new life into the world, Alice died of peritonitis.  She was 31.  It was a rainy, foggy Monday, March 4, not long after midnight, and fifteen days after her agony had commenced.

Edgar, Gerald and Elda came home from the hospital.  Edgar threw Alice’s clothes on the table said, “This is all I have left,” went into his bedroom, closed the door and said nothing else.   When father, William, heard the news, he broke down and wept. It was the only time the Lueder children had ever seen their Dad cry.  Two months later on May 4th he too died, worn out by a lifelong brutal combination of migraine headaches and hard labor.

* * * * *

Long distance (100 miles) phone calls were very expensive and difficult.  They involved the assistance of numerous operators to make the various electronic connections and took quite a long time to place.  In this instance, Edgar was at a large hospital, which had a central switchboard.  It would have been a rare luxury for a room to have its own telephone, and while the caller was waiting and paying for the time on hold, a search would have to be made for Edgar.  Cordelia and John had very little money to spare and the phone call to Milwaukee General was over 100 miles from their home in Sauk County, a very expensive call to make.  Brother Gerald had telephoned them and told them that Alice’s heart was giving out and she was dying.  A telegram was their surest way within their limited means of reaching Edgar quickly to express their love and concern.

THE FUNERAL

Fig 132 cordelia's diary alice funeral_resize.jpg

Source – Cordelia’s diary, March 6th and 7th, 1935

MARCH 6 – Wed

Cloudy, nasty, cold east wind.  Afternoon undertaker Zeitler brought Alice.  She has a pink coffin & pink dress.  She looks lovely.  The whole parlor is filled with flowers.  Edgar’s & Mrs. Heckendorf’s bouquet consisted of Calla Lilies & carnations.  Neighbors, relatives & friends called in evening.  Rev. & Mrs. Milius & family also called.

MARCH 7 – Thurs. – Funeral

Snowing all day.  Alice’s funeral.  Very large crowd.  Heckendorf family stayed for supper.  Mrs. Buyck stayed with Mother, Sylvia, & Glenrose.  Songs sung were “Christus der ist mein Leben,” and “Jesus meines Lebens leben.”  Psalm 73 – Verise – 25 & 26-was the text.  Pallbearers were Ed Nieman, Arn Nieman, Arn Lueders, Erwin Mueller, Ed. Marth, & Otto Krause.  Ladies choir sang “Ach Bleit bei mir.”

############################

Alice died on Monday.  Her wake was in the Lueder home on Wednesday, and the funeral was in Immanuel Lutheran Church in Cedarburg the next day.

Fig 133b Poor Alice End of the Country Love Story.jpg

Source – family photo, Alice, lying in state in the parlor of their farm home.  This was common practice; it was the norm, not the exception.

* * * * *

Excerpt from her obituary, which was read at her funeral service and from their Pastor Behren’s words to the mourners:

“O Lord do Thou not leave me,

When I this world must leave,

But Thy support do give me,

When my last sigh I heave;

When soul and body languish

In death’s last agony,

Then take away mine anguish

By thine on Calvary

 Thus prayed the departed with believing heart as two weeks ago she underwent a dangerous operation…the operation had saved her life and also that of her baby girl and with happy hearts we could include them the following Sunday in a Thanksgiving prayer during the church service for mother and child…Truly none of us would have thought that we would so soon stand before the coffin of our sister in Christ…Now rest in peace until we meet again.  Amen.”

* * * * * *

Alice’s tragic fate mirrored the hazard of childbirth for all women of her time.  This was especially true prior to the mid 1800’s when the bacterial nature of infection was first discovered.  Women died as a direct result of attending physicians/midwives not bothering to sterilize their hands prior to examination.  Although the need for sterile procedures was well understood by Alice’s time, infection was a far more terrible threat than it is today since the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics.

* * * * * *

Edgar Marcella may 35b.jpg

Source – family photos

Edgar never remarried.

In the years that followed, his sister Viola never heard Edgar mention Alice’s name.  In 1988 he died in his lifelong home lying in his bed last shared with his beloved wife more than half a century before.   Surrounded by loved ones, he lingered through a long evening, into the dark morning hours.  As he made his way into eternity, the last word heard from him was… “Alice.”

* * * * *

Viola Graese, Edgar’s sister, translated the German obituary in 1994.  She noted the circumstances in the farm home after the funeral: “…Even now I wonder how Elda and I kept our heads on straight.  After Alice was gone, we had a very ill father, a crippled mother, 3 unmarried brothers, a motherless baby, Erwin and Sylvia {Viola’s husband and daughter} to take care of.  Unless you have gone thru something like that you can’t imagine it.  But Elda and I managed to work together like a well-matched team.  Perhaps it may have been that she was the boss.  But we worked things out…”

To read the birth and death statistics of long ago is dry, lifeless stuff.  Perhaps these few letters and pictures dealing with the love of Alice and Edgar can resurrect a fraction of the human emotion desiccated by time into mere dates on a tombstone, family tree, or in a church record.

NEXT – EPILOGUE

The Epilogue will be followed by a post of photos of the farm which will conclude the tale.

 

Advertisements

One thought on “PART 10 – COUNTRY LOVE – A LONG, TOUGH COURTSHIP, A BRIEF WONDERFUL LIFE, A CHILD IS BORN IN A TERRIBLE LABOR AND THE MOTHER DIES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s