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.

 Grosspapa’s Final Days
Grosspapa, German for grandpa, and his two daughters, the “tantas,” (aunts) were neighbors to Elisabeth from the time she was two until his passing.  He was a part of her daily life as a young child.  He only spoke and understood German so the language of the house was German.
“Grandpa lay in a huge wooden bed, two large pillows under his head,  He had lace all around his collar, with more on the lower edge of the cuffs on his long-sleeved and very white night shirt.  He looked comfortable”.   She said on one occasion, he smiled, took her hand and said “You see what happens to people when they grow old”.  She would have been seven years old.

Grosspapa’ Funeral
Herr von Bernard Karl Steinbüchel died on October 4, 1900.  He was not taken from the home but prepared for viewing and burial by his son Louie’s father-in-law who owned Dunbar Undertaking.  Viewing was in the front parlor of the home.  How much preparation was done is unclear but the book states that he was placed in a gray casket with the braids of his wife Helena, who had died in Germany, beside him.  Ground coffee was placed all over the house by the “Tantas” to deal with the “smell of death.
The funeral, given the times, was probably the next day.  There are several paragraphs about the funeral in the book providing a picture of the traditions of the day:
“On the morning of the funeral, the hearse, drawn by two beautifully groomed black horses, and several horse-drawn black hacks stood lined up in the dirt street in from of Tanta’s house waiting for our Grandpa to be brought out.  Mr. Dunbar and the driver in stovepipe hats, dressed in tails sat on the high seat at the front end of the hearse.  …the well-trained horses were conscious of the reins, held loosely in the driver’s hands as Mr. Dunbar climbed down to go into the house.  The black, thin, glossy whip. with its delicate tassel, rested in its iron holder at the end of the dashboard.  The sides and ends of the black, highly-polished hearse were plate glass, these were set in ornately carved frames; inside, held up at the corners by the heavy tasseled cords, were the black-fringed heavy drapes that swooped down gracefully in the centers to hide some of the starkness of the occasion, and still permit a glimpse of the elegant casket inside.”
The Procession
This occasion left an impression on a seven year old girl.  She recounted the occasion some 70 years later for the book in stunning detail.  She goes on to describe the funeral procession naming the pal bearers carrying Grandpa to the hearse:
  • Uncle Max
  • Uncle Karl
  • Uncle Louie
  • Uncle Leopold
  • Uncle John (Aunt Lizzie’s husband)
  • Papa – Herman Steinbüchel
 These were followed by the ladies and children:
  • Aunt Julia
  • Aunt Johanna
  • Aunt Lizzie (Elise or Elisabeth)
  • Aunt Frances (Uncle Leopold’s wife)
  • Aunt Emma (Uncle Karl’s wife)
  • and Mama, Marie-Louise
The men wore black crepe arm bands and the ladies wore black dresses and hats, draped with heavy wide bordered veils to cover their faces.  The only color were the white with black bordered handkerchiefs they carried in black-gloved hands.
Grosspapa’s Final Resting Place
The procession carried Herr Steinbüchel to the red brick Catholic Cathedral  at Second and St. Francis for a funeral mass.  He was then transported to Maple Grove Cemetery and placed in the center of a Catholic-blessed plot of ten graves.  The ten plots now hold:
  • Bernard Karl Steinbüchel – father (see above Image)
Max Steinbuchel – Son
Julia Steinbüchel- daughter
Leopold and Frances Steinbüchel – son and daughter-in-law


Johanna Steinbüchel- daughter
Lenore Gorges
Otto Gorges – son of John and Elise
John and Elise Steinbüchel Gorges -daughter and son-in-law





These plots were blessed and set aside for those adhering to the Catholic faith, so those family members are located here.  There are other plots nearby for the Stackman and Steinbüchels who passed after the original ten were taken.

Personal Grief – Corporate Grief
The reality of death is that when you are gone, you leave behind stuff to take care of. The first is this body we live in.  We combine tending to that necessary task with processing our own sense of loss, mortality and purpose.  In the case of Grosspapa, the viewing, procession, funeral mass, and burial all served as a way for each to bring their personal processing into a corporate setting, then return to their own pace of moving on.
The ladies continued to wear black and the men their arm bands for one year.  This was first to honor the one who had passed and also to let those they came into contact that person and/or family was processing a tender place.  It sent a message without words.
 Grosspapa’s Great Great Grandson, Mark Joseph
Four generations later and other has departed.  Rest In Peace.
“Mark Joseph Steinbuchel was born in Wichita, Kansas on October 2nd, 1949. Mark showed an early passion for community involvement and giving back to others, and focused on safety engineering at Wichita State University. While obtaining his degree, he served as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army reserves and joined The Shriners International. Mark moved to Alabama in 1985 with Boeing to establish the health and safety program at their Huntsville plant where he was excited to contribute in a small way to the future space station. Mark also served as a volunteer CPR instructor and received the National Certified Merit Award from the American Red Cross in 1988. He continued to volunteer as a clown and offered comic relief for sick children through the local Shriners lodge, and he started the Klown Klub at Huntsville Hospital. Mark also enjoyed hot air ballooning and travelling with his 3 daughters. Mark is survived by his three daughters, Carla Lara Davis-Steinbuchel, Cara Nicole Steinbuchel, and Haley Elisabeth Steinbuchel as well as his grandchildren Nathan Wayne Davis and Adia Larah Davis and his great grandchild Ivie Alesana Davis, brother Michael Steinbuchel, sister Sandy Gray, and sister Candy Honn. He is preceeded in death by Father, Maximillian Hubert Steinbuchel, Mother, Zara Louise Manley Steinbuchel, as well as brother, Max SteinbucheI, late wife, Mary Elizabeth Steinbuchel, and grandchild, Mark Gabriel Wear McLain, sister Patricia Steinbuchel Vukic and aunt Elizabeth Steinbuchel. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, October 8th at 11am at the Grateful Life Community Church at 207 Oakwood Ave. NW Huntsville, AL 35811. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the not-for-profit Rocket City Clown Alley (part of the World Clown Association), Attn: President Sue Morgan, 136 South View Dr. Huntsville, AL 35806 or to Grateful Life Community Church Attn: Rev. Cheryl Birney. Berryhill Funeral Home is assisting the family.”

6 thoughts on “Grosspapa’s Passing – A Lesson In Loss and Life

  1. Beautifully written. I used to have tea at my Great Aunt Elisabeth’s (Dorothy Elisabeth Steinbüchel-Wilson-Gouldner) with my father Mark Joseph Steinbuchel and my mother Carla Steinbuchel when I was a child and she would tell us tales of family history and elaborate on the details of her book. I need to compare some notes from my own family history I researched in High School as it contains some of the old Steinbuchel personal stories that may elaborate on some of the details and history you have already brought to life through your preservation of the old family Maison. I believe we met a couple of times briefly when I was young, I have always appreciated all that you do to keep my beloved family history alive. Thank you and God bless. Carla Lara Davis- Steinbuchel, Mark Joseph Steinbuchel’s oldest daughter.

    1. Thank you Carla – we appreciate anything the family can share. Scanned notes, letters, photos or even your own notes, like this one are precious. We endeavor to be sensitive to family privacy and avoid using names of living people without express permission. We also endeavor to always give credit for published items as we respect the copyrights and intellectual property laws. Our goal is to simply share the stories that occurred in and around this historic home.

  2. Thank you for this lovely reminder of Mark’s rich family history. I remember vividly our visits with Aunt Elisabeth. She lived such an amazing life. Her legacy for our family was multifaceted, however, one of the most important stories was the one she shared about being a suffragette in the fight for womens’ voting rights. I still share this story with my daughters and granddaughter each voting season to remind them of the importance of carrying on Aunt Elisabeth’s legacy by exercising their hard earned right to voice their opinions at the polls. Unfortunately, our copy of The Living Gravestone was destroyed in a basement flood. For that reason, I am even more appreciative of your sharing of information and stories for our family.

    1. You are welcome! I did know that about her being a suffragette but it would have made sense given the times she lived in AND her well-known (by many) tenancy to speak her mind! I may have to do some checking around to see where her name pops up in the suffragette world. The book she wrote is a treasure. Every family in every generation needs at least one scribe to write things down. While I am doing supplemental work about your family, I am also putting together my own family story. This book is an inspiration to do so. Thanks for posting

  3. Are you interested in photos of the family farm est 1600s, if I remember correctly, in the town of Steinbuchel, Germany just outside of Köln. We visited it in 1981?

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