.“And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise of the age-old foundations; you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.” Isaiah 58:12
I am putting together a group of posts about how the families, for whom our historic home is named, converged into a single story. The reason we call the house Maison Steinbuchel as well as our very personal connection to this house had been expounded in the past. I thought this was in a BLOG posted early last year, but when I looked for it, it was missing! Realizing the information had been posted on a site that was deleted, now is a good time to recapture that information.
Maison Steinbüchel or The Steinbüchel house?
How did we get drawn into the Maison Steinbüchel story-line? Aside from simply purchasing the property, why is it so personal? Pausing from their history, and there is a lot of it, let’s put the house into a contemporary context. Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook see some version of the following on my profile:
The registers show the designation simply as The Steinbüchel House. We began calling it Maison Steinbüchel, not to be pretentious, but rather to bring to the forefront Marie-Louise Hahn Stackman Steinbüchel’s French Alsatian roots. These roots are quite precious to us and are how our paths converged even before we were aware of it.
Our Journey into the Story
In the late 70’s when my husband began the process of deciding which University he would attend to study for a Doctorate. His mentor suggested he consider the University of Strasbourg, France. It was, to say the least, an idea that took our breath away. He had attended a couple of summer courses in Strasbourg in the early 80’s as a part of of his Masters in Apologetics from the Simon Greenleaf School of Law. However, the thought of moving over in order to complete a doctorate was stunning.
However, one step at a time, the idea became a reality. In 1987 he received the degree of “doctorate de la troiseme cycle” in Protestant Theology. During the 1983-84 time frame while we were in residence, I received a degree in French from the University of Strasbourg. Of course, in the course of living and studying abroad, we learned much and fell in love with the Alsace region of France. Note to self: I must write a book, soon, to capture all the story behind this season of our lives.
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” – Henry David Thoreau
In re-reading an out-of-print book “A Living Gravestone” written by Elisabeth Guldner, containing the history of the family for whom our Historic Landmark House in named, I am reminded of how the choices and movements of people impact life. Recently I explored nearby and familiar locations where a little known early Wichita entrepreneur, Peter Stackman, lived, worked and invested.
In a previous BLOG post I shared how the convergence of three German immigrant families formed the basis for a significant contribution to the formation of Wichita, Kansas. I also shared about how Peter Stackman and Marie-Louise Hahn met, married and traveled from Strasbourg, France to Wichita, Kansas where Mr. Stackman had a thriving tailoring business. He owned a significant amount of land in and near the core area of Wichita.
Stackman – an Early Entrepreneur
Prior to a return journey to Europe in 1885 where he met Marie, Peter had built or acquired the following:
150 and 154 Main Street where he built two three story brick buildings
a row of wooden buildings on the 4th block of North Main Street
His tailoring shop employing eight people at 204 and 206 North Main Street
A Livery at 1st and Water Street
Property in the First Block of Lawrence (Broadway)
He had built a farmhouse and barn on the eastern portion of the 80 acres overlooking the Arkansas River.
Marie-Louise and Peter had three children:
Bertha born, August 5, 1888
Matild followed a year later but died of whopping cough at six weeks of age
Frederick Charles was born February 28, 1890
About the same time as the birth of their son, Peter Stackman contracted the flu and died on Good Friday, 1890 at 47 years of age. He is buried next to his infant daughter in Maple Grove Cemetery, in Wichita.
Stackman Properties Today
In the short 13 years Mr. Stackman invested much into the growth and commerce of Wichita. A street is named after him along the river near where his farmstead was located. Part of the street named for him was converted to Museum Drive in the 2000’s at the suggestion of an outside consulting firm who were unaware of the significance of Mr. Stackman’s contribution. Marie-Louise continued to own land in this area at least until the 1940s. The Stackman Court Apartments built by Frederick Stackman, Peter’s son, in 1928 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since all of these properties are within a mile of our home, I took a drive and looked at the addresses. I drive by these spots several times a week but looking at them now more aware of the specifics, was enlightening. Of course I know the Museum area as we frequent these wonderful Wichita sites regularly.
The addresses in the downtown area are all either city owned or commercial hearkening to their beginnings.
Three of the four corners at 1st and Water street are parking lots and the other an office building. One of these corners was where the livery Peter owned resided. SInce parking lots are today’s version of a livery, it seems appropriate.
An Unrecognized Legacy
In looking at all of these locations, it is noteworthy that a large portion of his properties are now occupied with some city or county enterprise. The museums, are non-profit assets to the community, with the remainder housing commercial offices, banks and businesses. Well done Mr. Stackman. Well done.
Are there locations you pass by daily having a heritage worth giving voice to?
the story of this home. The book is currently an out-of-print volume entitled “A Living Gravestone” by Elisabeth Guldner Wilson. She was the daughter of Marie-Louise Hahn Stackman Steinbuchel who was the central figure in this convergence. We were given a copy of the book when we purchased the house and have since acquired several copies including an autographed one. You can find copies here and there, but at the moment are they are limited. I read the book when we first bought the house and have referred to it from time to time since. After almost 30 years in the house, this read through is even more meaningful.
First appears in Wichita in 1872 having traveled from St. Louis recovering from a failed business. He was a tailor by trade and during his first visit decided Wichita was not yet ready for his services, so he moved to Topeka. While there, he applied and received a grant of 160 acres on the Arkansas River west of downtown Wichita. This land, in part, is now where the Wichita water plant, Cowtown Museum, the Wichita Art Museum and Botanica are located.
After establishing a tailoring business which employed eight tailors, building a house with a barn on the eastern portion of the granted land, a livery stable and several other buildings in the area, in 1885 he took a trip back to Europe. Some friends gave him the name of a family in Strasbourg to stay with.
While passing through a yard, Peter spotted Marie-Louise, just 20 years of age, and was smitten. He was quite a bit older and living in America, and on this basis, Marie-Louise’s mother opposed the marriage. He returned to America, but began a correspondence with Marie-Louise.
After the death the mother, Peter returned to Strasbourg. Following a time of courtship and preparation, they were married June 14, 1887 at St. Thomas Church in Strasbourg. After only three years of marriage, living in Wichita and six weeks after the birth of their third child, a son, Peter Stackman contracted the flu and died on Good Friday, 1890.
Herman Joseph Steinbuchel
arrived in the United States around 1869 at the age of 24. He worked on a farm in New Jersey and became a citizen on July 21, 1874. In 1872, He applied for and received a land grant of 160 acres in St. Marks, Kansas about 20 miles west of downtown Wichita. Realizing quickly he was not suited for farming, he became the insurance agent of the German-American Life Insurance Company of San Francisco for the State of Kansas. He opened offices in Wichita and eventually became the agent for Mr. and Mrs. Peter Stackman.
Marie-Louise and Herman had met once in passing while Peter was living. The Stackman’s, traveling in their buggy, met Herman as he passed by on horseback. He was introduced to Marie as the family’s insurance agent. It appears in the process of settling the Stackman estate, Marie and Herman became better acquainted. She attempted to set Mr. Steinbuchel up with the governess, but he had his eyes on Marie. Eighteen months later, on September 6, 1892 they married. She was then 26 years of age.
Families and Providence
So the three family convergence was complete. It is a very German-American story. This was one of the eras when Strasbourg, France was a part of Germany. This was also a time when a large number of Germans were immigrating to Kansas, lured with the prospect of becoming land owners via the homesteading process while escaping the unstable economic and political conditions in Europe.
This three way convergence would have been highly unlikely within a European context. The Hahn-Stackman union might have occurred as they were of equal economical social class, but had Peter remained in eastern Germany, geography would have made their meeting unlikely. The Steinbuchel union, however, would have been unthinkable as they were from an aristocratic titled lineage in Cologne Germany. This and geography would have, no doubt, prevented Marie-Louise and Herman from ever crossing paths. But for Wichita, Kansas, America.
My own maternal ancestors immigrated and made their way to northern Kansas during this same time period. They came as farmers and remained farmers. The German, French and Eastern European immigration to America during this time had a profound impact on the cultural, economic and political landscape of Kansas, my beloved state. I sit in awe at how the choices people make when opportunities opened up impacts for decades. As I sit in the upper parlor, where Marie-Louise retreated to, writing this series on the families who lived here, I am in awe of the juxtaposition of those choices and providence.
As the Psalmist says, SELAH – pause and think about that.
We all have “what ifs” that have shaped the very moment we are in. Can you recall one? Please share one in the comments below.
While attending a monthly meeting of my local chapter of Women in Aviation, I was introduced to a gentleman who works for Flight Safety international. I recognized his name and asked him if he was related to a certain person with whom I had attended high school. It turned out he is her brother! Random, “by chance” events, or are they?
As it goes in small town scenarios, I identified myself as the oldest daughter of Paul Hancock which caused a thousand pieces of history to snap into place between us without explanation. The gentleman then told me it was my father who had given him his first airplane ride as a boy. That ride took place from the small grass airstrip, just outside our hometown of Plainville, KS, in the very airplane I fly today, Aircoupe, N3052G. It was there he got his first taste of aviation. He went onto fly P-3s for the US Navy, followed by several civilian positions flight instructing before joining Flight Safety International. Wow, what a small world.
The Value of The Random
In my BLOG post, Becoming a Lover of History, I alluded to “intersections and circles of history” that form a backdrop to our lives. This backdrop not only occurs in the grand scheme of things, but also in very personal ways. They are there. Yes they are. Yet, honing our vision to not only recognize their presence, but then to discern their significance for today can serve to strengthen the purpose and vision of the personal Stonebridge upon which we walk. So when these happenstances occur, what do we do?
What to do with the Random – some possibilities:
Enjoy the wonder of the moment. As a person of faith, I inwardly acknowledge the providence of God in the matter and give thanks.
Ask with intention, what does this mean? It is a wonderful “God Wink” moment to enjoy, or is there more to it?
How does this change me? my perspective? my actions?
Is there an action I need to or want to take as a result of this moment?