Grosspapa’s Passing – A Lesson In Loss and Life

grosspapa'sGrief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life. – Anne Roiphe
Maison Steinbüchel, a Kansas State Historic Landmark and our home, is named for the family of Herman Frederick Steinbüchel , the second husband of Marie-Louise Hahn.
We recently learned of the passing of Mark Joseph Steinbüchel.  He was one of  house’s last namesake to have lived here and was one of the grandson’s of Marie-Louise and Herman.  We met he and his brothers Max and Mike when they dropped by a few times.  If I have the family lines correct, there remain three siblings who lived in this house.
Dealing With Death
I am not fond of dwelling on death.  My Christian faith and world view regard it as simply a departure.  Yet once we walk this earth, no matter how visible or widely known that life is or is not, it matters.  It made an impression.  In fact, as I look into the Steinbüchel and my own family’s history, the more I realize the impact one single life makes.  It is for this reason, I take time to piece together the footprints left by those who have gone before.  To uncover the lost or buried stories and retell them.
For the Marie-Louise Hahn-Stackman-Steinbuchel story, my go-to guide is an out-of-print book by Dorothy Elisabeth Steinbüchel-Wilson-Gouldner, A Living Gravestone.  She was the daughter of Herman and Marie-Louise.  On page 66 of the book, there is a section, “Grandpapa’s Passing”.  Sometime in 1900 Bernard Steinbüchel became bed-ridden.  She describes his last days and the times she sat with him.  He lived with his two daughters at a house at 11th and Main next to where Elisabeth and her family lived at the time.

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Butterflies at Maison Steinbuchel – Monet in Kansas

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. Rabindranath Tagore
Every September I am enamored with the convergence of all matter of butterflies on Maison Steinbuchel.  The flurry of peaceful activity brings out the child in me as i stand right in the middle of my flower bed and let the joy of these flying flowers surround me.  It lifts my soul and cleanses any drudgery the day may have brought.
The season begins in May and June when the bleuet or cornflowers,  whose original seed I purchased at Monet’s garden in Giverny France. begin to bloom.  By July 4th these have faded and multicolored zinnias, who also originated from M. Monet’s garden, begin their season.  I do not plant these each year as seeds from the previous year emerge on their own.  I simply carefully remove spent flowers, unwanted weeds and grass.  Among side the zinnias, rouge lemon basil also grows.  This combination seems to appeal to butterflies, since they come in droves.
Of course there are bees and even birds, all enjoying each other’s company while keeping my nearby veggie garden pollinated and reasonably pest free.
Butterflies and Purple Things
There is also a walkway, made up of 4 inch thick limestone slabs.  It’s plantings include:
  • purple mums brought from our California garden when we moved here in 1988
  • sweet potato vines from the Flower Ranch
  • Texas sized coleus from the Flower Ranch
  • creeping thyme step-ables from local garden centers
  • native phlox – a gift from a neighbor
  • zinnias that self sowed
  • rose moss that self sowed
The butterflies also enjoy this area, and our cats sit for hours entertained by the flying flowers.
As summer winds down and autumn begins to show herself, the butterflies represent, that although a winter rest is coming, spring will again come forth from the seeds being sown. They too will return.  For now, I sit and enjoy their beauty.
The music in the video can be found on iTunes.  Search for Into the Street by Chris Christiansen
If you want to enjoy this little bit of heaven on earth make a plan now to create your own garden next spring.  To learn how to make your own butterfly garden you don’t have to get seeds from France.  I suggest P. Allen Smith as a resource.  Once established, it takes minimal effort to maintain.
Please comment below on your impressions of this “impressionist” garden!

Regetmeier Reunion On The Homestead

My mother’s paternal great grandfather Frederick Konrad Regetmeier,  immigrated from northern Germany in the mid 1860’s.  He ended up in Jewell County, Kansas, a journey that took a decade.  The legs of his trip followed the model of many of his country men at the time:
  • 1863 – left Germany as a stowaway with his brother, August.  They were discovered en route and made to work for their passage.  Arriving in New York with no papers, they were held to be returned to Germany, but instead jumped ship during the night and escaped.
  • 1871 – Frederick became a naturalized citizen in Freeport, IL.
  • 1874 – March, received a land grant in Buffalo Township, Jewell County, KS.
  • 1874 – May, married Malinda Elizabeth Miller, the 17 year old daughter of His neighbors a mile or so north.
They lived the first five years of married life faming the homestead living in a dugout.  Around 1880 they built their dream home on the homestead.  By 1886 they had seven children, four boys and three girls. Another girl was born some years later, with two infant deaths in between.  They also took in an young orphaned boy who died at the age of eight.  With a farm to tend to and household of nine or more to feed, clothe and educate, it is not hard to fill in the story with daily life.  There were no doubt community, some church and other social gatherings.  Births, birthdays, holidays, romance and at some point weddings cam about to celebrate.

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easels

How To Turn A TV Stand Into Wooden Easels

Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage. – Julia Cameron
I have been working on my vision boards.  I keep them simple using foam core boards from the Dollar Store.  However, I grew tired of them sitting on the floor in the corner and falling over.  I decided I needed a couple of easels to put them on, so I consulted my go to idea place, Pinterest.
All I needed were three boards, a hinge and something to rest the pictures on.  I was pretty sure I had all I needed in my stash of reclaimed materials and hardware.  As I was letting the idea percolate, I spotted an old TV stand that had belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  We  used it for a number of years as a TV stand, but those days were gone.  The stand was was collecting dust looking for a new life.
Easels Made Easy
As I looked it over, I realized it had all of the elements I needed to make two nice wood easels.  No cutting needed.  I used every part of the stand except the shelf that was below where the TV sat.  The shelf will no doubt find a new home in another project.

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dream-Home

Dream-home On A Kansas Homestead

 If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.  Gaston Bachelard
 During one of my extended family’s visit to the Rightmeier homestead in Buffalo Township, Jewell County, KS, an aunt found a doorknob near the sight where the house had stood. We do not know if it is off of the homestead house or another structure from the farm.  Since there has been no construction on the property since the house was demolished, there is little doubt it that it is from the homestead.  The style is right for the era.
It was about five years after Frederick and Malinda Rightmeier had married in 1876,  that it was decided they had “lived in a hole”, a dugout, long enough.  It was time to build a house.  Since Malinda had moved to the area with her parents three years before marrying Frederic, and had no doubt lived in a dugout with her parents for a time,  I am sure she was more than ready for a proper house.  By this time they had four children born about a year apart.  Two adults and four little ones in a dugout would have been cramped no matter how comfy they may have managed to make it.
Dream-home Building Materials
Information on the acquisition of the materials for the house came from an oral history done from an interview of my grandfather, Lyman, Frederic’s grandson by my younger sister.  He said that Fred made several wagon trips 50 east miles to Blue Rapids, KS on the Blue Ridge River to acquire the raw lumber as the quality was much better there.  It may have been walnut he was after.  Another account stated that the raw lumber was than milled in Randall just a few miles east and south.  It was quite a process but was a nice house by the standards of the day.

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around

What Goes Around…..Look For It

…Comes around, or so they say.   My maternal grandfather’s roots,  Lyman Burdette Rightmeier,  centers around a small village in the northern District of Lippe Germany:  Varenholtz.   During the time his grandfather, Frederick Konrad Regetmeier, lifed there, the region was governed bu Count  Simon VI, the son of  the staunch Catholic Count Bernhard VIII, who ruled the region and fiercely resisted the Protestant movements in the area.

When the elder Count died, the care of Simon VI, his son, was left to count Phillip of Hessen.  Although Count Bernhard gave strict orders that his son be educated in the Catholic faith, Phillip did not adhere to this request and Simon was educated as a Lutheran, and later studied “at a reformed school in Strasbourg” where he became a follower of John Calvin (1503 – 1564).   and so northern Germany became a mix of Lutheran and Calvinistic influence.

Regetmeir to Rightmeier

My maternal great great grand-father, Frederic,  immigrated to the United States in 1864 at the age of 14.  I say immigrated, but in reality he and his brother were stowaways on a ship to New York.  It is said they jumped ship in New York harbor and swam ashore , but that is another story.  The reason for this desperate trip is that my ancestors were tenant farmers for the local land owner, a descendant of Simon VI.

The usual arrangements were working a portion of the land for a place to live, food and some share of the crops they grew.  During this period there was a long-term drought and the land was simply not producing.  In addition, the political and religious climate was unsettled.  In other words the feudal system was breaking down, and the life they knew did not appear sustainable.  Word of the opportunities in America sparked by desperation, drove young Frederic and his brother August  to make the voyage.

At the same time, the family name made a journey.  It left Germany as Regetmeier, was recorded as Rightmeier on Frederick’s naturalization papers, took a slight turn to Righmeyer on the Kansas land Grant papers, but in most other records has remained Rightmeier since arriving in the United States.

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How A Dugout House Demonstrated Wisdom

“Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.”  ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭24:27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
The view north on the homestead. Somewhere on this vista was the location of the dugout.

My mother’s paternal great grandfather, Frederick Konrad Regetmeyer, immigrated from northern Germany in the mid 1860’s.  How that came about is told in a series on circles.  After he was naturalized as a US Citizen, through the network of German immigrants, he became aware of land grant opportunities in Kansas.  In the midst of dreams, he no doubt knew from others that living in a hole in the ground, a dugout, was part of the journey.

The German Immigrant Network
History tells us the German immigrants were anti-slavery and wanted Kansas established firmly as a free state.  There was a period of time in my fair state, when this was quite unsettled.  Rather than protest and fight wars, this community of folks quietly recruited their fellow immigrant countryman to come to Kansas and homestead.  This would, in principle, bring like-minded voters to the state and therefore tip the scales toward the anti-slavery side.
I do not know how altruistic my great great grandfather was on the anti-slavery issue.  However, I do know that from where he had come from in Northern Germany, the Hanover area, the possibility of owning a section of land just for the cost of making basic improvements was a dream come true.  Bureau of Land Management records indicate that the southwest section, 160 acres, of Washington Township was deeded on March 10, 1874 to Frederick Rightmeyer.  In May of that year he married Malinda Elizabeth Miller in Jewell County, KS.  She was the daughter of the neighbor a mile north, who was  born in Mercer County, IL but had come with her family in 1872 to the Kansas prairies.
Newlywed Life And A Dugout
How they went about setting up housekeeping is still being pieced together.  By far the most valuable information we have is from an interview my sister did with my grandfather, Lyman Rightmeier the grandson of Frederick Konrad.  She had done this as a term paper in 1977, for Mrs. Friends Senior Advanced Advanced Composition Class at Plainville High School.  It has provided leads from which to research, not the least of which was my husband and I traveling to Varenholz Germany.   

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Maggie – Another Cullen Cat At Maison Steinbuchel

When my cats aren’t happy, I’m not happy. Not because I care about their mood but because I know they’re just sitting there thinking up ways to get even. – Percy Bysshe Shelley

Maggie came to us seven years ago in September.  She wore a green flea collar so when I saw her “Halloween Cat” a PT Cruiser to a full stop in the street, I assumed she belonged to someone.

We had just lost our fifteen year old Fluffy and were down to a herd of five kitties.  We were not looking for another.  Still, what do you do?  Here is a small five week old kitten, obviously lost, that needs help.  I put up posters around the neighborhood, posted her on facebook, etc. figuring someone would claim her.  I refused to name her so as not to get attached.  Yea right….
Fur-baby Sitting Maggie

After a week, when there were no claims, my sister said she wanted her. She WAS adorable.  Sis named her Maggie.  I agreed to keep her until she got settled in

maggie
Where’s Maggie?

to a new place, then under construction.  That took a bit longer than planned, so Maggie and I became friends.  I kept my sis in mind as I trained and loved on “The Maggs”, but was secretly glad that I would have visitation rights after she left my care.

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Flaps – A Cullen Cat at Maison Steinbuchel

A man is like a cat; chase him and he will run – sit still and ignore him and he’ll come purring at your feet. – Helen Rowland

We are cat people.  This was not always the case with me.  Oh, I had pets growing up but they were always outside pets, mostly dogs.  The attachment fell far short of what I know today.  This had to do with the fact that:

  • We were a farming community and my mother was raised on a farm;
  • Animals served a practical role and were somewhat transitory so we were not encouraged to get too attached;

If I had any real attachment to animals growing up it was to horses on my grand parents farm and to the iconic TV animals like Flicka, Lassie and Trigger. I out-grew all that when boys became more than someone to just climb trees with, but that is another subject.

Married To A Cat Person

I became a cat person when I married. My husband is a true cat whisperer and could give Jackson Galaxy some serious competition. He has an amazing way of bringing out the unique personality of any cat, of restoring cats who are damaged and to actually get them to mind! Well, mind in that “I’m a cat” sort of way. We have a lot of fun with our kitty tribe. No, we are not crazy cat people, but I have learned to truly love, appreciate and even train these furry soul-mates.

Aviation Cats

cat

The oldest of our tribe right now is Flaps. Yes, Flaps, like the control surface on an airplane. He is the fifth in a series of aviation named cats. The first three were Pitch, Roll, and Yaw. There were also Stick and Rudder.  They are gone now, but Flaps, now six-teen years old, remains.

We started the series when we acquired an airplane hangar with an apartment. The cat’s job, besides keeping us company and entertained, were to keep rodents under control in the hangar. Rodents can be very damaging to aircraft and this was our way of dealing with them. Our version of barn cats.

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picnic

A Family Summer Picnic, A Castle And Providence

This weekend I will be joining my mother, her brother and members of three of the seven branches of my maternal grandfather’s siblings for a family picnic near Boise Idaho.  Sometime in the 40s or 50s three of  my grandfather’s six siblings moved from Kansas to this area so I only knew them by name.  A large reunion of the Rightmeier clan in Kansas in 2005 and the advent of Facebook reinstated relationships  geography had eroded.

This picnic gathering has me thinking about this branch of my family tree’s German roots.  It centers around a small village in the northern District of Lippe Germany:   Varenholtz.

A Castle

When my husband and I had an opportunity to visit Varenholtz in 1998, we found a landmark never mentioned in any of the family stories:  Schloss (Castle) Varenholz.  The castle location was the seat of a family of Knights , under Heinrich the Lion. Built to its current size in 1596 by Simon VI, the son of a staunch Catholic Count, who ruled the region and fiercely resisted the Protestant movements in the area.

When the elder Count died, the care of Simon VI, his son, was left to Phillip of Hessen.  Although the Count gave strict orders that his son be educated in the Catholic faith, Phillip did not adhere to this request and Simon was educated as a Lutheran, and later studied “at a reformed school in Strasbourg” where he became a follower of John Calvin (1503 – 1564).  It was in this way that Lippe became a mix of Lutheran and Calvinistic influence.

Regetmeir to Rightmeier

My maternal great great  grand-father, Frederic Regetmeier,  immigrated to the United States in 1864 at the age of 14. During this period, a long-term drought, along with political and religious unrest made living conditions in Lippe quite desperate.  In other words the feudal system was breaking down.

The life they knew was disappearing.  Word of the opportunities in America sparked by desperation, drove young Frederic and his brother August  to make the voyage.   In reality the brothers were stowaways on a ship to New York.  It is said they jumped ship in New York harbor and swam ashore.

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