We do not become righteous by doing righteous deed but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds. Martin Luther
I am not a Lutheran. Although I appreciate much of their theology, I attended a Methodist Church growing up. A movement that grew out of the Anglican church and although much removed from its roots – the tree does flow back into the Roman Catholic faith. However, there is no disputing the effect the reformation had on both the faith of my childhood as well as the path my German ancestors took.
In the mid 1860’s my great great grandfather and his brother, left Germany for the United States. The conditions that created the need to leave home were a combination of religious and economic upheaval. This led to a major shift in the social structure of the time. There were some natural climatic cycles that also affected the food supply of the region. A long standing backdrop to all of this was the protestant reformation which began about 350 years prior. At the time my ancestors made their move, the effects of Martin Luther’s actions had all but crumbled the feudal system.
I have no doubt that once in the United States my ancestor clung closely to the German speaking community of immigrants as he made his way west to Kansas. Once settled in Kansas, he became a part of the Methodist church as Lutherans were not a major part of the landscape in northern Kansas. However, this could have been the influence of my great great grandmother as to what church they affiliated with. I get the sense that he was a man of faith, however tending to the land and ensuring his family was fed took priority over religious activities. Still if it had not been for the Reformation, I am not sure what the time line would have looked like for my family.
Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing – Wernher von Braun
In a post about a circa 1907 family reunion on the Rightmeier homestead in Jewell County, Kansas, I mentioned a great great uncle, August, we had lost track of. A friend who has a gift for finding lost family on the Internet decided to poke around for me. I was humbled that she took time to do this.
I had found an 1880 census record of an August G. Rehtmeyer on Ancestry that put him working as a “clerk in a store” in Pocahontas, Bond, Illinois. He was 19.
What We Found On August G Rehtmeier
He voted in 1890 while living at 819 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
On November 24, 1887 he married Catharine Goldenbogen in Chicago, IL. Sir name spelled Rithmeyer on the marriage license.
1900 US Census shows him in Chicago at that same location with a wife, Kate and three children, Neta
(Nettie) (11), Walter (8) and Florence (5) Sir name spelled Rehtmeyr and occupation as a furniture dealer
He and Kate took a ship while cited as being a resident of Chicago and he went to Hamburg, on the Hamburg-Amerika line, a Dampfschiff (steam ship)
1908 He’s married and going from Hamburg through a French port to New York
September 12, 1912 He, Kate and the two girls takes the ship President Grant from Boulogne sur Mer France to New York
1920 Census he and Kate are living in Los Angeles on 3008 West 7th Street in a rental. He is listed as a furniture merchant and employer. The building there today looks about a 1920’s stor
efront. It is probable they lived above the store he ran. Name shown as AG Rehtmeyr
Then I see him going from Hawaii to LA on a ship 1923 and he’s living in LA on Olive St in 1926. He voted in CA as a Republican.
Two places have his death mentioned: Jan 6 1929, Los Angeles, CA at age 67. He’s buried at Forest Lawn Glendale. He was considered American on all the ships manifests.
The thing that interests me most about family history is the gap between the things we think we know about our families and the realities.
– Jeremy Hardy
In a recent post about a circa 1907 family reunion on the Rightmeier homestead in Jewell County, Kansas, I mentioned a great great uncle, August, we had lost track of. He was one of my great great grandfather’s older brothers with whom he stowed away on a ship in order to immigrate to America from northern Germany.
A friend and reader of this BLOG who has a gift for finding information on the Internet decided to poke around for me. I was humbled that she took time to do this. I found an 1880 census record of Uncle August on Ancestry that put him working as a “clerk in a store” in Pocahontas, Bond, Illinois. We currently subscribe to only the US portion of Ancestry, but my friend has the global version.
Avoiding Making Fake News
She found all kinds of neat stuff that opened up all manner of “filling in the blanks”. I wrote a great BLOG about it, even contacted a couple of family members about it. Using my version of Ancestry to find more details, I filled in a few more gaps. Once done, I decided to update my family tree maker in preparation to build a tree on ancestry with all this found information. And then I realized that the August Rehtmeyer that worked as a clerk in a store was not MY uncle August. Opps, that pesky reality, Truth, was about to mess up all my work.
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.
“Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.” Proverbs 24:27 NKJV
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.
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.
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.
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Marcus Garvey
I have been diving into the histories of the families which converged into one and eventually made their home at Maison Steinbüchel, the Kansas Historic Landmark where we have made our home since 1988. I am grateful for the personal history put together in the book “A Living Gravestone” by Elisabeth Wilson Guldner, the daughter of Hermann Joseph Steinbüchel of Cologne, Germany, Marie-Louise’s second husband. In 225 pages she covers, to varying degrees, the family history from the 1100’s up to the death of her mother in 1947.
Stories are Gifts
Elisabeth wrote the book to her grand-children for several reasons:
To compile family documents and record stories as she recalled them. Reading the book is like having a conversation around a fireplace, as you took a walk or even worked on some task in the kitchen or garden, with her.
To honor her son who died in WW II and never found. There is a sense of her processing the last of her loss by preserving his story and the story of his family.
Lastly, a third reason, which I doubt she had any conscious intention of: To provide valuable information on which the basis of an Historic Designation might be granted to a significant property.
As current owners and caretakers of this house, this book provides invaluable information from which to draw on. What a gift. The book is a perfect example of why we all, including you, should record in some way, your stories.
Was ist das Steinbüchel?
Pages 10-20, of the book, are devoted to the Steinbüchel ancestry. At the time of the writing in 1973, the author simply compiled the information at hand, written and oral. It appears to be fairly accurate, as far as it goes.
Googling “steinbüchel” today, a wide variety of things pop up: family names, German businesses, streets, a village and maps, etc. So what is this Steinbüchel? (Was ist das Steinbüchel? – imagine said with a German accent.) It is in fact, both a family and a place – or really, places. Unfortunately there is no Steinbüchel beer…yet.
NOTE: The dates above are from a combination of the book and Bureau of Land Management Records. When dealing with family histories, dates do not always line up. There are no doubt other records that could more precisely validate Herman’s movements, but that effort remains for a future date.
In summer 1988, after moving into Maison Steinbüchel, we tackled a pile of rubbish and sand from under the apple tree beside the garage along the alley. A trumpet vine had taken over the area, growing up into the tree, masquerading what was in store.
Once the vine and rubbish were removed, we discovered a large pile of sand and soil left over from a project the former owners had embarked upon. This was moved to the front corner to form a berm flowerbed.
As we reached ground level, we realized this was the site of an ash pit where decades of trash were burned. What began as a clean-up project was now an archaeological dig.
As we sifted through the dirt, we discovered pieces of china, porcelain, marbles and cute little glass bottles. In reading the book, “A Living Gravestone”, that documented the lives of the family for whom the house is named. In the book the author, one of the daughters, talks about papa’s patent medicines he kept in small bottles in his bedroom closet. We suspect at least some of the bottles we found are from this collection. So what were these patent medicines?
Today we would call them over-the-counter medicines, but these had little or no regulation. The term patent medicine originated in the 17th century in the making and marketing of medical elixirs. When a particular formula found favor with royalty, it was issued a letters patent so that royal endorsement could be used in advertising the potion. When it comes to health, healing and dealing with pain we are all quite vulnerable. If you are like me, I just want to feel good and energetic. This has been the case down through history. People have reached for all kinds of substances to address this basic desire.
History tells us that these formulas ranged from the ineffective to the dangerous. Most were alcohol based (as are some of our common OTC meds today). In the middle were formulations of herbal extractions, essential oils and other natural aids we are rediscovering today. Were folks healthier? My sense is yes, if they survived the flu, typhoid and other diseases that do not succumb to these natural remedies readily.
NOTE: The dates above are from a combination of the book and Bureau of Land Management Records. I do not know what the author based her dates on, as she does not say. When dealing with family histories, dates do not always line up. There are no doubt ships records and census data that could more precisely validate Herman’s movements, but that effort remains for a future date.