There is so much that can be discussed around Europe during the time our families started to think about leaving for the United States. Let’s go back to the German village of Neckarhausen. Neckar refers to the Neckar river which runs through the village and Hous or housen are the homes on the river. For our young family members think about a time before cars, phones, stereos, radios, electric lights, or gas furnaces. Your source of information was word of mouth coming from villagers and travelers from other villages. Your day to day knowledge was primarily related to your family, your animals and your village. Information about wars, or taxes would be delivered by hand by a person probably on horseback. The village leaders would let you know about laws and changes in village life. News would be about births, deaths, marriages, crop or weather issues. Leaving home for careers was very uncommon but would occur if someone became a shoe maker or blacksmith. Travel for work didn’t occur until the eighteen hundreds when manufacturing was starting and higher demands for construction workers for housing occurred etc. It makes me think about how much we stayed home as kids and going just a short distance to Aitkin just 18 miles was a big deal.
It was very common for a person to live from birth to death on the peasant farm of their village. There was no such thing as vacation or family outings. I am sure most outings were to visit other village friends or go to church. The death rate for births was almost fifty percent so women would have supported each other in loss. There were supports in the village for families who were having arguments over family or land issues. Village leaders would hold a type of court to hear the families’ issue and help to solve it. I cannot imagine fighting with my brother over inheritance and then having to live with them the rest of my life. The family would have had to work very hard for peace and support in the difficult environment. I feel that was reflective in our family when I saw the strong reluctance to speak ill of another person. If you caused a rift it could last for years and be very stressful. There were recordings of alcoholism, physical abuse, and other issues we see today.
Imagine one day your village learning about a revolutionary war that was occurring across the atlantic ocean. People were hearing about a fight for freedom of religion, having your independence to live and farm or work as you wanted. It must have sounded like the golden city. I am sure it also took more courage than all of us combined to walk away from your village and take the chance on traveling to a new country. The change would have been felt for that person and the family left behind. The population of neckarhausen was large in the seventeen hundreds. Then wars deleted the population. Then more people left for the new world. It was only after world war two that the population was returning to the level of the seventeen hundreds. The death rates for world war two were so high and the bombings of Germany left many areas destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans died in war times and had to rebuild. Its a misnomer to think of Europe as a place of privileged people who left to start a new life in the United States. Many left because of starvation, disease, and the destruction of their homes.
Travel to the United States from Europe by ship brought many Germans to the New York or Pennsylvania areas. Hence you hear about the Pennsylvania Dutch who are actually Germans who settled in Pennsylvania. There was a strong desire to keep traditions and language alive where they settled. Your Grandma Wenzel and her parents Elsie and Alfred Ruschmeyer went to church in the Missouri synod Lutheran church of Iron Hub. The church is still located west of Deerwood MN on highway 210 and then north of 210. I believe there is a sign to designate the church services. It’s a tiny country church and behind it you will find a cemetary that is very important for our family. You will find the graves of your great great grandparents, your Ruschmeyer grandparents, Your great uncle Robert, your great great aunt and uncle William and Helen Ruschmeyer. Helens’ infant son Chester, and others that just don’t come to mind right now. If you ever travel there remember it is tradition to visit the graves but also make sure they are clean and tidy. Flowers or plants can be left too. The church mows the grass but the stones are not polished except by family. The services even during your Grandmothers youth were held in German. There were bibles in German and they spoke in German and English at home.
The other two cemetaries are just as you arrive in Aitkin Minnesota on the south side of highway 210. The Aitkin cemetery has the great great grand parents, and grandparent Wenzels. Those would be harder to find but follow the road left from the cemetery gate entrance and midway on the south side of the cemetery they are on a rise to your right. Gustave Wenzel was born 1864 and Mary in 1865. For the young people that was in the heat of the Civil War. They are the Great great grandparents.
Your grandma Alice Wenzel, Grandpa James Keith Wenzel are in the township cemetery east of the farm on highway 12 towards Deerwood. You will turn left onto the cemetery road north. This has no sign but you can see the cemetery from highway 12 about 1.5 miles east from the tower road to the farm. The military provided the headstones for all of our family veterans. This is no cost to veterans which is often why our family chose that as their stone besides the acknowledgment of military service.
Irondale Cemetery, Ironton MN, web site HISTOPOLIS geneology I found the cemetary but no grave listings, If you click on the Map view it shows it clearly. Alice and James Keith Wenzel are in the middle of the oldest section. They chose to be buried there as it was only $100.00 and you qualified by having been a long term resident of Irondale township. Mom was not active in Iron Hub church otherwise I am sure she would have liked to be near family.
The Aitkin cemetery: Lakeview, http://www.findagrave.com, Aitkin MN, enter Wenzel for search name and relatives will be listed with birth and death.
The Iron Hub Cemetery: Google: Iron Hub Cemetery, MN then click on Geneology register cemeteries, Minnesota, then you will see Immanuel Lutheran church Iron hub so open that and look at the Ruschmeyer family in the alphabetical list. Most of the names in the cemetery register were spoken of by Alice Wenzel as family and friends. She was very much aware of all the families and cousins etc.
Family such as myself with no children. I am registered to be buried in the Union Grove Wisconsin military cemetery. Perpetual care at no cost.