Monday, January 30, 2012

Early Ratzburg History - 1804 And Beyond

By Delores Miller

208 years ago Christian Ratzburg (1804-1895) was born in the small village of Zerrenthin, near Stettin, Poland, Prussia, province of Brandenburg.  He  married Christina Plarge in Germany and (as far as we know) had three children, William the first (1837-1910), Caroline Schultz (1834-1911) and John the first (1830-1912).     Times were tough  in Germany, wars with  neighboring countries.  Military service was mandatory, a life sentence.  William the first served with the Army during the Danish War in 1864 when he was 27 years old, and already married.  Later he was called to the Austrian 1866 clash, and the Franco Prussian 1871-1872 conflict.    Because Wisconsin was a fairly new state, land agents wrote to German churches and newspapers, promising a land of riches.
Caroline Ratzburg (1834-1911) married Carl Schultz and had six children, all born in Germany, Wilhelmine, Wilhelm, Carl, John, Bertha, and Maria.   Someone sent emigrant tickets for Caroline, her husband, six children and her Father, Christian Ratzburg who by that time was 78 years old.  They arrived on April 12, 1882.  Settled at Fremont and because they brought their Lutheran Religion from Germany, were some of the first members of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, and eventually made their way to the church cemetery.  Christian Ratzburg lived another 17 years in the promised land of America and died at 91.
Early in the 1870s the first wave of immigrants came to Wisconsin, including John Ratzburg the first in 1874.  Settled near Fremont, and it is surmised he sent an emigrant ticket for his brother William the first to come in 1880.    By this time he was 43 years old and came with his wife, the former Dorothy Maria Malwitz (1840-1903) and four children, Wilhelminia Buss, William the second, Ida Schmidt, Anna Schwan and nine months after the boat landed another son John (1882-1932) was born.
Names were very expensive in those days, and the Ratzburg family had to keep reusing and repeating names like John and William.
Shortly after arriving in American, William Ratzburg the first  and his wife Dorothy came to Dupont, a land covered with trees, maple, beech, hemlock and oak. Boulders, cobblestones, fieldstones, pebbles,  rocks.  Built a log house, hewed out of a dense forest,  almost a hovel, and a log barn.   Dorothy died  in  May 1903 after an accident involving runaway horses pulling a wagon.  She had survived life in Germany as a peasant with her husband in the military, the boat ride to America, crossing the United States to Wisconsin and then die in a horse and wagon accident.  What was she doing in the field?  Picking stones?
Dupont  neighbors in 1889 were Dell Spaulding, Nichols and Corwin, from Ireland, Ranke, Krueger and Carey.  Later associates were Diecks, Laufler, Poppe, Mielke, Hangartner, Arndt, Seibold.   They were members of St. John's Lutheran Church, Marion.
This was a happy time, hunting, fishing, trapping muskrats.  Large heater for warmth, kitchen wood stove.  Cut trees with crosscut saw, split wood.  Women picked wild berries  on the hill in back of the barn, hickory nuts, large garden.  Baking bread, cookies, cakes, biscuits.  Knitted mittens, socks, scarves, sewed clothing.  Butchered pigs, cured the hams and bacon, fried out the lard.  Cooking maple syrup.  Raised and bred trotting horses.
Visiting neighbors, relatives and friends, horse and buggy in summer, sleigh in winter.  Christmas was an event looked forward too, filled the sleigh with hay and all the family went to church.  Picnics in summer, food in great abundance, fried chicken and pies.  House parties for birthdays and anniversaries, dances.  Someone always had a fiddle and concertina.  Kerosene lamps, wash board and brush for clothes and then a hand operated washing machine.  Home made soap, water from a cistern pump.  Toting well water.  Outhouse, chamber pots.  Chickens, ducks, pigs, huge garden and potato patch.  A self-sustaining farm.
William the second  of Dupont who was 17 years older than his wife  Hulda produced 12 children, three who died in infancy:  Fritz, (1902), Louie, (1903-1978), Herman (1904-1987), August, (1907), Ella Lampe (1908-1990), Dora Sheldorf, (1910-1974), Ren, (1912-1996), Nicholas, (1915-1940), William the Third, (1918-2011), Arthur, (1920), Lester, (1922-2009), and Margaret Baerenwald, (1924-1990).   In her 22 years of childbearing, Hulda had 12 children so she was pregnant for 108 months.  Pictures show Hulda always a smile on her face,  dressed in a cotton house dress, long apron, brown cotton stockings, and her thin long hair, piled in a pug on top of her head.   All the children walked west the two miles to Maple Valley grade school.
John Ratzburg of Dupont (1882-1932) married Anna and had Henry, John, Walter, Rose and Ed.  Farmed west of his brother in Dupont, later at Tigerton and finally Oshkosh.  When he died in 1932, his remains were brought back to Roseland Cemetery.
Early in 1900 William Ratzburg and his brother-in-law Carl Schwan ran a saw mill on the Pigeon River.  The railroad arrived in Marion (Perry's Mill) in 1879.    Probably to saw timber and lumber to build a new house in 1906 to furnish enough bedrooms for his growing family.  Windmill for water power, grew tobacco to dry in the corn crib.    Milk cows, canned milk, hoisted to the Maple Valley Cheese Factory.
William the second of Dupont  married Hulda Ehlert of Pella.  Siblings of Hulda included Emma who married John Ratzburg, Louisa, Mrs Fred Radtke, Mary, Mrs Gust Wege, and Anna, Mrs John Moericke.  Between the Ratzburg and Ehlert families, they were related to most everyone in three counties.
Along came the depression of the 1930s, low prices for farm products and Franklin Roosevelt's WPA programs.  Because Ratzburgs lived on the ridge, and the road over the hill was crooked, one of the WPA programs was to straighten the road.  Farmers were paid a dollar a day to dig dirt and rocks, and a stone wall was cemented in to the embankment, and the date - 1935 chisled into a large central  boulder, still standing 75 years later in 2012.
John the first  of Fremont (1830-1912) had a son, John the second (1860-1925), came to America when he was 14 years old in 1874,  married Anna Pagel in 1885 and lived in East Bloomfield, Waushara County and had eleven children:  Emma, Albert, Alma, Louise Hauk, William the first of that branch, Elsie, Edwin, Walter, Adolph, Alvin and Margareta.  Were members of St. Johns Lutheran Church, Bloomfield and many are buried at the adjoining cemetery awaiting eternity.  William the first of this branch  drifted to Hortonville,  married  Miss Radichel and had five children, Marie, Myrna, Antoninette, William the second of this branch and Janice.
Eventually after almost one hundred years, the Dupont Ratzburg Farm was sold to Tim Nolan and the Ratzburg family drifted away from Marion and Dupont and only the ghosts linger and rest at Roseland Cemetery.  But that big hill south of Marion on the way to Big Falls is still known as Ratzburg Hill.
And now they are probably glad
They didn't know the way it would all end,
The way it would go.
Lives are better left to chance,
They could have missed the pain,
But would have missed
The fun at the dance.
Over two centuries ago, Christian Ratzburg was born in a small Polish village and now in 2012 he has uncountable desendants in America and beyond.
Information furnished by Mary Rahr, research analyst and genealogist, census and cemetery records,  Richard Dixon, verbal interviews, the Ratzburg Family Archives, and the Standard History of Waupaca County Wisconsin, edited by John M. Ware, 1917.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Sell Family and Marion High School, 1943-1945

By Delores Miller
Victor Sell (1928-1973) was the youngest child of Ernst (1885-1962) and Anna  (1893-1985) Sell of Dupont.  Siblings included Goldabelle Fischer (1913-1981), Alice Marchini Hauser (1914-2010). Rozan Flink (1917-1987), Pearl Schewe (1919-2008), and Elvira Graper (1923-1982).  Ernst Sell was born in Brandenburg, Germany and immigrated with his family in 1891.  A son Clifford died on the boat and is buried at sea.   The 1910 census for the township of Fairbanks in Shawano County lists August and Augusta Sell with their children Ernst, August, Gustav, Frank, Augusta, Alfred and Irwin.  Another son was Charlie and daughter Louise.  Three other babies died young, making a family of  12 children.  In 2011 there are uncountable descendants.     At some time the name was spelled 'ZELL'.   The Ernst Sell family rented a dairy farm on Horn Road in Dupont, moving to Quarterline Road about 1946.
In the fall of 1941, shortly before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Vic Sell began a 4 year stint at Marion High School.  Because gasoline, tires and automobiles were rationed, Vic Sell, Butch Conradt and Bucky Hintz rode horses to school.  During the day the horses were boarded in Bill Ziehm's cattle barns. 
Surviving these last  years are Marion High School year books, the Mario.  The class of 1942 dedicated the book to Miss Edna Schmidt.  L. K. Forrest and T. K. Hocking were the principal and superintendent.  Other teachers were Lloyd Meiners, Michael Foley, Marjorie Baeseman, Delos Kobs, Ruth Nygaard, Mary Gordon, Jeanette Schielke, Earl Clausen and Dorothy Roth.  What happend to them all?  Doris Krueger and Vergene Ruehmling were editors of the year book.    47 seniors graduated.   About 200 students in high school.   These were the years when Big Falls and Leopolis had two years of high school before students transfered to the big school at Marion.    Tom Meyer, Jean Lau,Darold Brockhaus, Bonnie Babcock and Ken Halpop were Presidents of their respective classes.  On a sad note, Tom Meyer (1925-1945) was killed in action on April 15, 1945 while in the U. S. Army, Blackhawk 86th Division, World War II in Germany.
Extra activities included Thespians, Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Pep Club, Cheerleaders, Girls Athletic Association, Chorus, Glee Clubs, (complete with gowns), Band (with uniforms), Office Girls, Librarians, Boxing, Football, Baseball, and Track. 
 All the grade school children had a group picture in the yearbook.  They   performed in an Operetta called 'Station Cloudville'.   
Darhl Jantz and Norman Draeger were the 1941 Football Homecoming King and Queen.  Betty Behling and Clarence Bork were the 1942 Prom King and Queen.  Doris Krueger and William Ehlert were the 1941 Prom King and Queen.
Vic Sell was vertically challenged, and the autographs written by class mates in his yearbook, were almost on the edge of harrassing this short person. From the sounds of some of the writings, Vic had lots of fun (and girlfriends).
1945 was the year Vic graduated from Marion High School.  The yearbook was dedicated to Dr. Frank Mulvaney (1875-1944) who had recently passed away.  Members of the school board were L. R. Noack, Lucille Schultz, Forest Schafer, Rexford Michaelis and William E. Wulk.  J. F. Holms was Superintendent, Hilman Kittelson, Malcolm Anderson (his first year), Maxine Davidson, Dorothy Heicalis, Fay Lavold, Robert Kunitz, Norman Aderhold, Rosann Kopjar, Carol Ross Fuchs and Frederick Schultze were teachers.
Young men left during the school year to serve in the armed forces, Oryn Blashe in the Air Corps, sadly he was killed in action  October 23, 1945. Howard May, Lloyd Schilling,  Russel Hopkins in the Marine Corps, and Arthur Scherbarth.
Other activties included Debate, Forensics, French and German Club, Hi Crier, Commercial Club, Science Club,
After graduation, and the end of the war,  Vic  and Kenny Erdman bought  a Texaco Service Station (now Kleins) in Clintonville . Later Vic owned his Standard Oil delivery truck.  On August 11, 1948 Victor Sell and LaVerne Krueger were married and lived happily ever after until his untimely death on August 28, 1973.   Two daughters Debbie and Mary.   Vic was a happy-go-lucky fellow who enjoyed life.  He was 45 years old.
Information furnished by LaVerne Sell, Mary Rahr, Genealogist and Carol Gruetzmacher

Sunday, January 15, 2012

World War One and The Local Boys

By Delores Miller
On June 28, 1914 the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Serbia and his wife were assassinated.  Little did the local folks know what a long-lasting effect this was going to have on this area.  War began over there with Germany  and Kaiser Wilhelm II conquering all Europe.  President Woodrow Wilson promised in campaign speeches in 1916  to keep America out of the war,  and remain neutral, but in April 1917 declared war on Germany.  This was to be 'The War to End all Wars, The Great War, The war to make the World safe for Democracy', all names given to World War One.    Another embellished and gaudy  name was 'La Guerre du Droit' or the War for Justice.   (Little did they know what the future held for more wars.)   Liberty Bonds were sold to provide financing for the war. 
Local boys were required to register for the draft.  Pressured by propaganda, publicity, proselytism, ballyhoo and enthusiasm  to become soldiers, mercenaries, and sharpshooters. They  left  by train in high spirits.   They returned home two years later, broken and bent in vitality  but when they left, were    sent  off with  the high school bands from the train station.    Most of the population were only one generation removed from immigrating from Germany.  The food sauerkraut was changed to Liberty Cabbage.  People named Schmidt changed their names to Smith to disassociate themselves from German roots.  Some  Dupont young men were straight off the farm and never been further than Marion, too busy milking cows.
One young man from Marion, William Bertram (1890--1918)  was the son of Charles Bertram (1856-1940) and his wife Louisa Rigby (1866-1943).   His draft registration lists his birthdate as December 5, 1892 in South Dakota and his employment as a painter.    William was a Private in Company H, 127th Infantry, 32nd Division and  lost his life in battle  at the age of 28 on August 27, 1918 and is resting for all eternity at Roseland Cemetery.  94 years ago he died.  A life cut too short by a terrible and needless war.
 Dr. Frank Mulvaney, a Marion physician was in the Spanish American War in 1898, in the Panama Zone where he contracted malaria and could not serve in World War One.
One such infantry training  facility was constructed, and called Camp Grant, and christened  and named after the Civil War General and later President Ulysses S. Grant.  Located near Rockford Illinois in Winnebago County.  Quarters were built for housing, drill grounds, rifle ranges for 43,000 men of this new National Army.  180 barracks each holding 200 men was ready for the reception of the first draftee  contingent of selected men.    61 buildings  comprised the base hospital unit.  A remount depot had a capacity of 5000 animals, mostly horses and mules and had to include a school for blacksmiths.    Classes were held in French and German.  Activities included boxing, wrestling, football and mandatory attendance at Chapel.  This was the 86th Black Hawk.
After a training period of several weeks, off they went by train and shipped to France, Belgium and Germany and into the sand-bagged trenches.  Often filled with 2 feet  water, which provided a gratuitous bath.  Hand to hand combat, warfare with grenades, poison mustard gas, masks.  New and improved weapons gave each side more efficient machines to kill the  enemy.   (how wasteful!)  Mechanized vehicles, tanks, trucks, automobiles, motorcycles and for the first time airplanes.  Submarines torpedoed merchant ships.  Stench of rotting flesh.  Soup kitchens and rations, all in the name of fighting the Huns.  Most infantry men were in the Army, although the Marines served among other places at Belleau Wood, on the Marne River, just outside Paris, France, Chateau-Thierrey.  Hard winter weather, and were forced when not in the fox holes to sleep in the snow.  Few had tents or other protection.  Came home shell-shocked and deaf.   Some received a small disability pension. This was a world war, with soldiers, sailors from many countries.  They still bled and died.
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo!
No more on life's parade shall meet
The brave and fallen few.
Their silent tents are spread
And glory guards with solemn round
The Bivouac of the dead.
By the time the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 more than  three million Allied servicemen had died from wounds, disease and other causes.  Then came the Spanish Influenza which is another story for another time.
In 1919 the American Legion was formed in Marion.   A canon used in the war was brought to Marion and a park was built  near the plywood factory especially to house this historic artifact.   Wives, daughters and other interested females organized the Auxiliary which every year sell poppies in honor and tradition of the World Wars.
In Flanders fields, the red poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The birds, still bravely singing,  fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved and now we lie dead
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Remembrance Day November 11 and the poppies still grow in abundance and profusion, in the disturbed earth of battlefields and cemeteries where war casulities are buried.  In Marion, still the high school band marches down Main  Street with a program and ceremony.  A moment of silence  marking the end of the war, the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 a.m. in 1918.
And then the Veterans came back to Marion to live uneventful lives, seldom talking about their experiences in World War One. 
Old soldiers never die;
They just fade away.
Their memories remain.
Bibliography:  Zillmer, Lembke and Miller family archives, World Book Encyclopedia, the History of Marion, The Early Years.

Friday, January 13, 2012

First Snowfall

by Delores Miller

So we got our first snow storm of the year here in Wisconsin after temperatures that were above freezing.  4 inches of snow with lots of wind so Russell fired up the new International tractor to plow some snow out of the yard.  If you can open these pictures it shows Russ plowing snow a year ago with his old Case Loader tractor in front of our old 4-stall garage.  Then it is 2012 with a new 5-stall garage.  Same place but oh, what a lot of water, wind and tornado went down the road in 12 months.