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Lendon Murrell

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European Germanic Immigrant History V

The Missouri Synod Lutheran church in which your Grandma Wenzel was raised was actually started by a few Germans who wanted to establish a church. They traveled from the east coast of the United States and settled in Missouri. That branch of Lutheran church was born there and then expanded over time.  The Lutherans, like most religious groups have differences of opinion about their faith, how they should live, how the Bible was to be interpreted and so on. As a result there are many groups of Lutherans in the United States. The Missouri group with its German heritage wanted to maintain its German roots. It is still a quite formal form of the Lutheran faith.  As Alice and James Wenzel raised their children they attended the Immanuel Lutheran church in Crosby. Your Aunt Valerie Vervoort played organ there, Valerie and Kit went through confirmation..Lori will have to comment on her experience as I don’t remember but Confirmation was schooling you attended to become an adult member of the church. You learned about the Bible, the organization of the church, baptism, church calendar of yearly celebrations etc.  As myself, My mother helped me study the catechism at home and I talked over lessons with her at bedtime when she tucked me in for the night. The family nightly ritual was kissing mom and dad goodnight and as you got older you went to bed yourself but while I was younger mom listened to my nighttime prayer before I went to sleep every night.

I loved God early in life and as a child I would watch the Bible story movies on television and dream about being God’s servant. So one Easter after watching

Clint Mills has asked about military references related to James Keith Wenzel military service so I will list here the books I wrote down that were in our family book library at the farm. I believe those are with the Mills family now and it sounds like Clint will be a great person to maintain that history with his interest in the subject. So he will be your contact when you have questions about that part of family history.

James Keith Wenzel military books and Officers guide


John J. Hibbits, 2nd Lt. Army Air Force, Copy Right  1943, Published by Whittlesey House


9th Edition. , Military Service Publishing, Harrisburg Pennsylvania, Copy Right 1943   A ready reference of customs and correct procedure to commissioned officers. Remember your grandpa was a Captain of a Bomber Squadron and was responsible to all the planes and the men in those planes for every mission. They called him “Pappy”

The Plainsman of Class of 43-K

Basic flying school, Garden City Kansas    Inside James Wenzel is listed as “BIG SWEDE” from Little Pine Route, Aitkin MN.

The Plane Wrangler  43-K

Stamford Flying School


Alice Florence Ruschmeyer and James Keith Wenzel were married on Nov. 10, 1942. Alice lived with her parents on their farm while Keith went to Duluth looking for work. In 1929 the United States experienced a market crash that resulted in the Great Depression. Alice and Keith grew up during the decade after the crash so their everyday youth was during a time of being very poor. There were few jobs and Dad had memories of eating the same thing over and over such as cabbage. Some of these food he never could eat again as he got so tired of them during those years. It would not be surprising then that he had to travel to find a job. Duluth MN was on the larger cities in northern Minnesota. It was on the shore of Lake Superior so it was a center for ships that hauled iron ore, timber, and other products up and down the lakes to locations like New York, Chicago, Detroit and many others. As a result Duluth probably had one of the stronger economies at the time. He found a rooming house and rented a room. He did get a job in the steel mill and rode a bus back and forth to his job. During that time he worked to save money to move Alice to Duluth to be with him. He found an apartment to rent on 4th street and 7th Ave east in Duluth. Dad went back to Crosby and borrowed Alices’ brother Sonnys’ model A for a week and drove back and forth from Crosby to Duluth moving their belongings to the apartment.  Dad stated  they had next to nothing for furniture so he went with mom to a general store on 3rd avenue and loaded the model T full of all household items. He listed: pots, pans, and food. The bill was $35.00 which was a lot in those days. Dad knew more about keeping house than Mom so he helped her and the both of them learned together to set up their household. They lived in that apartment from November 1942 to February 1943.



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