In 2017 one of the last of the Steinbüchels to live in our home passed on. The post about the passing of his ancestor, Herr von Bernard Karl Steinbüchel, was one of the most visited posts this year. I am pleased that in this time of loss, we were able to reconnect with several of the living family members. Below is a partial repost. The original post may be seen here.
Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life. – Anne Roiphe
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 The Passing Of A Loved One
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.
Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. – Johnny Carson
The day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel day of the year. This true of all modes of transportation, but none more filled with tension than air travel. During my years in air traffic I worked many of these days. From the inside, it was serious business. I arrived to take my position at the radar in the Los Angeles Center with coffee at hand, my mind focused and with a bit of apprehension for the task at hand. It was fun and awesome at the same time.
Those days were also days of honor, where I could serve the travelers of this nation, even the world, so they could get home to be with family and loved ones. I was aware of what was at stake:
hugs and tears of welcome
reminiscence with family and friends
reminders of those no longer with us
grandparents seeing grandchildren, perhaps for the first time
And even some reluctant endurance of bad memories
Whatever awaited at the end of each passenger’s voyage, we did our best (really) to not add to the stress of the travel.
Sending Thanksgiving Peace
Today, I have to admit, I don’t miss the tension and stress. Yet, neither do I regret having served in this way. As I said, it was and honor.
The video above is sent to provide you a moment of peace, respite or even escape, if needed. The Music is from David Cullen – not the one I am married to.
So from Maison Steinbuchel we sent our warmest prayers for a day filled with peace, good food, and fellowship, wherever you may be. For those serving our country in the military, public safety, air traffic or any other civil service, we send our thanks.
If you are serving in some way away from friends and family, please let me know in the comments below. I want to thank you personally. If not, where will you spend your Thanksgiving this year?
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ― Epicurus
I am writing this several weeks before it will post. It has been a gloomy few days and even though I hate to admit it, my grumpy level goes up when the sun hides. This tends to press my gratitude level down. I would not do well in Alaska in winter.
So I decided to go ahead and do a Thanksgiving post. Thanksgiving was our extended maternal family’s reunion gathering as a child. We usually went to the farm where all the traditional comfort food converged from a eight county area onto one table. If there were strained relationships they were set aside for the day as far as I could tell.
This breaking of bread among family served us well. I only remember the laughter, the stories (that got bigger each year) and the fellowship. It was expressed gratitude that we had family. I know it was far from perfect, but even in that, I learned gratitude in the face of the imperfect. I learned that one does not depend on the other.
So today I am revving up my gratitude meter. This year, we are gathering the extended family at my aunt and uncle’s home. Not on the farm this time, but the family will be there. Things are far from perfect. In fact, there are some real challenges many of us are facing, but we still have much much to be thankful for.
Here is a start. I apologize up front if my list seems superficial to some who may read this in much worse situations, but here I go. I am grateful for:
hot and cold running water
several modes of reliable transportation
heat, gas and electricity
a warm, clean bed
a washer and dryer and clean clothes
for a loving husband of almost 40 years
for a loving church family and friends in several languages around the globe
hopes, dreams and plans that my Lord superintends on my behalf
Now, it’s your turn. In the comments put one (or more) thing you are grateful for. Let’s see how far this can go.
“As the years pass, I keep thinking that our greatest lack today is attics. Modern homes never have them, with the result that young people live only in their own generation, feeling no intimate connection with the past. Their roots will go deeper if their homes have attics?”
When we were house hunting in anticipation of our move from California to Kansas, I made a list of features I wanted in a house. One of those was amble space for a proper library for my husband’s bibliophile habit. We also wanted a home with some history and character. We were weary of So Cal subdivisions, one story, no basement, no character houses. It was all so, well, boring!
Our time in Europe had awakened my Kansas need for the character and history of an older home. Our Realtor understood, and scoped out homes in the older “classic” neighborhoods of Wichita. She did find it curious that before the kitchen and bath decor or number of bedrooms we headed for the basement and/or attic. We needed serious space for this library.
Early Attic Dreams
The house I grew up was a two story frame with the second story almost attics like.
It had a real attic but it was not usable for anything other than getting to the flat part of the roof. I was only up there once or twice since it had to be accessed with a ladder from the upstairs hallway, but sleeping among the gables in my second story bedroom brings back cozy memories.
The vision of a proper third floor library, a retreat among books drew us in. When we first looked at the historic home we eventually purchased, it was the attic that clinched the deal. My husband’s books still rest in boxes up there, patiently waiting for the home they have been promised. We have a vision, and even plans drawn up, but other necessary steps seem to extend the path as we travel toward that dream library in the sky.
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.
Recently while my husband was blowing off our sidewalks, he spotted a gentleman looking over our house from the curb. This is not an uncommon occurrence, since the house, even in its current “need for a redo state”, is quite striking. A conversation was begun that lasted, again not uncommonly, for a while. Chance encounters making connections.
It turns out this man had known Dorothy Elisabeth Steinbuchel Wilson Gouldner in her later years as a neighbor. He was currently reading her book, A Living Gravestone, about the family and the house. We do not have a house number – this would not have been a part of its original decor – so he wanted to ensure he had the right location.
We shared stories and information and told him of the research I was doing to update and even validate the information in the book. The Foundations pillar of this BLOG is devoted primarily to that endeavor along with a place to share progress on the historic restoration when it begins in earnest.
Encounters With New Details
The visitor said Elisabeth was very proud of that book. In addition, he mentioned that Olive Ann Beech’s daughter helped her to get it to publication. Hummmm, a detail I was unaware of before, since there is no mention of this in the book by way of acknowledgment. I am aware, however, from the book The Barnstormer and the Lady, that Elisabeth’s brother-in-law, Rene Goulnder was Walter Beech’s personal physician. His signature is on Mr. Beech’s death certificate. Thus the probable connection.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
“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.