Tag Archives: germany

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.

Continue reading Grosspapa’s Passing – A Lesson In Loss and Life

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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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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Was ist das Steinbüchel? (What is this Steinbuchel?)

A peoSteinbuchelple 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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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A Blended Family: The Steinbüchels and Stackmans

“Sometimes love isn’t fireworks, sometimes love just comes softly.”
― Janette OkeLove Comes Softly
Maison Steinbüchel, a Kansas State Historic Landmark, our home, is named for the family of Herman Frederick Steinbüchel , the second husband of Marie-Louise Hahn.  I have been digging into the details of the three family lines that blended into one and lived in this landmark.  The life of this blended family is told in the book “A Living Gravestone” by Elisabeth Guldner, Herman’s daughter.  Other posts have outlined Marie’s marriage to Peter Stackman, their journey to Wichita as well as Herman Steinbüchel ‘s parallel journey to the area.
The time-line of Herman’s journey to Kansas where he met Marie-Louise
1867 – Left Cologne, Germany and traveled to New York with his brother and sister, Karl and Josephine
1867 – Worked on a farm and in a Syrup factory in New Jersey
1870 – Moved to Kansas
1874 – Became a Citizen of the United States – applied for a Land Grant in Kansas
1876 – Became the agent for the German-American Life Insurance Company for the state of Kansas
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. 

Continue reading A Blended Family: The Steinbüchels and Stackmans

Patent Medicines and Home Remedies in the Steinbüchel Home

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.
patent
Patent Medicine Bottles and Marbles

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?
Patent Medicines Yesterday and Today
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.

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A Story of a Blended Family : Marie-Louise Hahn Stackman and Herman Steinbüchel

A Story.  My father used to say that stories are part of the most precious heritage of mankind.  — Tahir ShahIn Arabian Nights

Maison Steinbüchel, a Kansas State Historic Landmark, our home, is named for the family of Herman Frederick Steinbüchel , the second husband of Marie-Louise Hahn.  I have been digging into the details of the three families that converged to live in this landmark as told in the book “A Living Gravestone” by Elisabeth Guldner, Herman’s daughter.  Other posts have outlined Marie’s marriage to Peter Stackman, their journey to Wichita as well as Herman Steinbüchel ‘s parallel journey to the area.
The time-line of Herman’s journey to Kansas where he met Marie-Louise
1867 – Left Cologne, Germany and traveled to New York with his brother and sister, Karl and Josephine
1867 – Worked on a farm and in a Syrup factory in New Jersey
1870 – Moved to Kansas
1874 – Became a Citizen of the United States – applied for a Land Grant in Kansas
1876 – Became the agent for the German-American Life Insurance Company for the state of Kansas
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. 

Continue reading A Story of a Blended Family : Marie-Louise Hahn Stackman and Herman Steinbüchel

Why Maison Steinbüchel?

.Maison“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:

“Marie-Louise Steinbüchel, wife of prominent Wichita real estate man, Herman Steinbüchel, was born in Strasbourg, France in the 1860s and came to Wichita as the bride of Peter Stackman, another famous Wichitan. The unique combination of Richardsonian and Victorian architecture of their residence as well as the position of the family in the community, led to the designation of 1905 Park Place as a local Historic Landmark in 1977. The residence was placed on the local Historic Register in 1978 and named a Kansas State Historic Landmark in 1992.”

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.

Continue reading Why Maison Steinbüchel?

How History Makes a Difference – Three Families of Maison Steinbuchel

We live in a designated Kansas State Historic Landmark, The Steinbuchel House.  I am re-reading a book that tells the story of how three families converged to become the household that occupied this property.  From 1912 to the late 1940s, this clan shaped

Masion Steinbuchel

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.

Three Families
Peter Stackman
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.

Marie-Louise Hahn

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
families
Masion 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.
German-American Families
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.  

Circles and Intersections – Part III

Circles.  In order to share this circle, I need to provide a bit of my family’s German history.  Specifically my maternal grandfather’s.  It all centers around a small village in the northern District of Lippe Germany:  Varenholtz.  When we visited Varenholtz in 1998, we found a landmark never mentioned in any of the oral (where

Circles
Schloss Varenholtz

most of our information came from) or written (which was not abundant) history of our family:  Schloss (Castle) Varenholz.

This castle was the seat of the knights de turns, (of Varenholtz, under Heinrich the Lion (1323). 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 count 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 the area was a mix of Lutheran and Calvinistic influence.  

Circles:  Regetmeir to Righmeier

My maternal great great  grand-father, Frederic Rightmeier,  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.  He was a descendant of Simon VI.

The usual arrangements were , they worked a portion of the land for a place to live, food and some small share of the crops they grew.  During the time of my ancestors 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 the young Frederic and his brother August  to make the voyage.

Continue reading Circles and Intersections – Part III