This weekend was jammed-packed with lots of family time thanks to two parties in the Delaware Schellhardt branch of the family tree! On Saturday, we celebrated the November nuptials of Joan’s oldest son Eric and his wife Whitney at a seafood/crab feast at their home in Maryland. On Sunday, we headed west to West Virginia to celebrate Mary’s son’s graduation from high school. All total, I put 250 miles on my dad’s car but it was well worth it!
At the party on Saturday, Eric said a few words that have stayed with me all weekend and it was the perfect set-up for Memory Monday. Eric told us how when he was a young Marine, a chaplain described heaven to him as being your very best memories replayed over and over again. I think that’s probably one of the most beautiful descriptions of heaven that I’ve ever heard. It sure beats my vision of heaven where there’s an all you can eat baked potato bar.
For Eric, and I’d wager for most of the Delaware Schellhardts, some of the best memories were of summer days swimming and eating crabs at Nan and Pop’s (Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill to the rest of us!) I figure there’s going to be a lot of Schellhardts eating crabs in heaven one day!
Now, this picky eater wasn’t much of a crab eater when I was a kid – nor did I ever really master the art of picking crabs – but some of my best memories of going to Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill’s were when the big kitchen table was cleared off, covered with newspaper, and piled high with crabs that Uncle Bill caught that day!
Since today is the unofficial kick-off to summer, I can’t think of a better memory (or pictures) to share!
A few weeks ago, we looked at the 1910 Census. Today, we’ll jump ahead 10 years to 1920 to look at the 13th Census of the United States. But let’s consider the world of the 1910s.
In 1910, the world didn’t have Oreo cookies, crossword puzzles, Boy – or Girl – Scouts, Pulitzer Prizes, parachutes, assembly lines, traffic lights, or daylight savings time. People had to hand-crank their automobiles to get them started. Women did not have the right to vote. America only had 46 states. Monarchies ruled a Europe that hadn’t yet been torn apart by a world war.
By 1920, that had all changed. People were enjoying their Oreos and crossword puzzles in a post-war world where they had to remember to turn their clocks back every fall…or whatever. Women had the right to vote but no one had the right to drink. Ahh, progress is sweet indeed! Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, folks!
We don’t know much about how Mathilda Wissmann and her children spent the decade between 1910 and 1920. Or even if they ever ate Oreos. We do know that - probably early in the decade – the recently widowed Mathilda put her children in St. Vincent’s Home for Children while she attempted to find work to support her family – a common occurrence during this time period.
But by 1920, the family was back together under one roof at 1514 North Leithgow Street, the same neighborhood where they lived in 1910. They no longer lived with family (Alfred probably married and Edmond returned to Germany at some point) or boarders. The house itself was located a few blocks northeast of their former lodgings on North Fifth Street and a few blocks away from St. Peter’s Church where Anna Wissmann herself stated that she attended school. According to zillow.com, the row-home at 1514 North Leithgow was built in 1920 so it is highly likely that the Wissmanns were the first residents of the house.
46 year old Mathilda, a widow for over 10 years at this point, rented the home and lived there with her 18 year old son Alfred, 16 year old son Alphonse, and 12 year old daughter Anna. Having left the cigar business behind at some point, Mathilda listed her occupation as that of housekeeper. Oldest son Alfred, perhaps following in his father’s footsteps, listed his occupation as a cabinet worker. Alphonse was listed as a student. Anna’s occupation was listed as bookbinder. For years, I thought this was a mistake – that it was Anna who was the student and Alphonse who was the bookbinder. But then Aunt Helen told me that Anna (Nanny) quit school in the middle of 8th grade – she got a good mark in arithmetic so she figured she’d quit while she was ahead. So, I guess the information on the census form is correct! Nanny was a 12 year old bookbinder!
Unfortunately, there is very little information known about the Wissmanns from 1910 to the late 1920s so the 1920 Census is a nice little glimpse into their lives during this time. While we don’t know much about this time period, we know that by 1930, everything will be completely different.
See you on the next Censusational Sunday!
*Why is it so hard to find the Wissmanns on the 1920 Census. Blame it on the people who indexed the records. “Wissmann” isn’t clearly written…it almost looks like “Kissmann”. So, if you’re searching on ancestry.com, take things like this into account!
The Wissmann family circa 1920
On this day in 1953, Helen Schellhardt married Bill Knuttel!
The new Mr. and Mrs. William Knuttel, May 9, 1953
The experienced Mr. and Mrs. William Knuttel, 2013
60 years is quite the accomplishment! Congrats to Aunt Helen and Uncle Bill on this momentous occasion!
I hemmed and I hawed. I dillied and I dallied. I was almost a no show but then I figured better late than never, right?
I mean, that’s how #32 rolls.
He’s always late. He’s always been late. He was due on May 3rd. He was born on May 6th. And they had to use forceps to get him out (Ed – there’s an idea to get him to work on time!) They say our destiny is written before we’re even born…true ‘dat.
I was born at lunch time. I love lunch. #32 was born at 7:30-ish in the A.M. He doesn’t love mornings. He's always marched to the beat of his own drummer.
He’s been my big brother my entire life. Just the two of us. Like the Will Smith song.
He’s always made life interesting – especially his senior year of high school. He’s talented, brilliant, irritating, agitating, and sometimes throws rams. Always with the rams.
His first five years were quiet. That has been a revelation for me as I go through many of these old pictures. He probably never said “cheese” because he didn’t hear it. I get sad about that. But he will tell you that those were the most peaceful five years of his life. Let’s face it – our mother is loud.
Happy Birthday Michael! We’re so glad that you’re a part of our family! And I’m so glad that you’re my big brother!
#32 - Michael Joseph Henderson, 1 year old 1977
Big brother Michael holding little sister Denise ca. March 1979
$@!& Ed! I forgot to call in!
Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about Max's naturalization
? Well, here are the official records - his declaration of intention, his certificate of arrival, his petition for citizenship, and his oath of allegiance (bye-bye German Reich, hello America!)
There's no narrative or witty banter in today's post because sometimes you just need to let the records tell their own story!
Did you learn anything new about Max? I know I did!
A huge thanks to my colleagues at the National Archives in Philadelphia! Now...who wants to do me a favor ('cause I used up all mine) and request Mathilda's records?!