Tag Archives: Germany

Tombstone Tuesday: Fred and Emma (Stübe) Wiese

Fred and Emma (Stübe) Wiese were German immigrants who lived out their adult lives in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. Although both were born in the late 1860s in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, an area of present-day Germany located along the Baltic Sea, they left their homeland as infants. Fred – or Fritz – was the son of Joachim and Sophia (Cammin) Wiese and is believed to have been born near Wendisch-Baggendorf;1 Emma was the daughter of Ernst and Friederike (Wagner) Stübe and was born in Friedrichshof in Ritteramt Gnoien.2 These rural communities were not far in terms of distance, but separated by the Trebel River, the Wieses were residents of Pomerania and the Stübes were residents of Mecklenburg.

Both Fred and Emma arrived in America before 1870.3 While the Wiese family settled immediately in Chicago,4 Emma spent her childhood in rural Huntley, McHenry County, Illinois before moving to the city after her father’s death.5 It’s possible that Fred and Emma crossed paths as early as 1880; by that time, Emma’s presumed uncle, Carl Stübe, lived in the same building as Fred’s presumed uncle, Carl Wiese.6 They may also have become acquainted as members of the Missouri Synod First Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Chicago, located in a neighborhood that saw much of its growth in the years following the Great Chicago Fire.7

It was there that the couple married on 19 February 1887.8 They would have five children together, the first born that summer: George Charles Wilhelm Wiese (1887-1975), Lillie Johanna Josephine Wiese (1889-1897), Rosa Minna Emma Bertha Wiese (1892-1918), Oliver William Charles Wiese (1896-1969), and Leonard John Christian Wiese (1900-1947). The early years of their marriage were spent in Chicago’s Fourteenth Ward, near their parish in Wicker Park.9 Tragedy touched their lives when their oldest daughter succumbed to cerebral meningitis at the age of eight;10 a few years prior, weeks before the opening of the Chicago World’s Fair, Emma had tended to her sixteen-year-old sister as she died of the same illness.11

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Grave of Fred Wiese (1866-1914), Elmwood Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; 2006, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2015. 

In 1902, seeking a fresh start, the family moved west from Wicker Park to a large home in the Montclare neighborhood. Their two-story Victorian home, which still stands today, was located on a corner lot and undoubtedly provided more space for the couple and their four surviving children.12 Fred supported his family as a cigar maker until his death from cirrhosis of the liver on 14 October 1914 when he was forty-eight years old. He was buried at Chicago’s Elmwood Cemetery.13

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Grave of Emma Wiese (1867-1937), Elmwood Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; 2006, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2015.

Emma remained in their home for more than two decades, crocheting “fancywork” as a modest means of support. She kept chickens, a garden, and was by all accounts a formidable housekeeper who used a rod to smooth the bed coverings to ensure that no wrinkles remained. In her later years, she had a German Shepherd, Sally, and her home was the gathering place for the weekly Saturday meal that she prepared for her children and their families. While her grandchildren considered her to be strict, she was also kind, offering them dimes for the movies and pennies for the organ grinder’s monkey.14 After Emma’s death from a stroke at the age of seventy on 6 November 1937, she, too, was buried at Elmwood Cemetery.15

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Wedding Wednesday: Puffed Sleeves

On a late September day in 1896, Elizabeth Hoffman of North Washington, Chickasaw County, Iowa affixed a gauzy, floor-length veil to her hair. It may have been crowned with flowers, although the faded photograph does not make this clear. Flowers or foliage of some kind – perhaps even autumn leaves? – were indeed attached to the front of her dress, although she wore no white gown. Her best dress was likely black or another dark color and fashionably made with a gathered bodice, narrow waist, and sleeves generously puffed to the elbow. (Anne Shirley would have been envious.)

Elizabeth’s attire is evidence that, at this time, even recent immigrants living in rural areas of the United States were aware of the latest fashion trends. Corsets were not worn by all women in the 1890s, and Elizabeth, already slim, was not dramatically corseted if she was at all.1 The gathered bodice was of a style worn throughout the decade, and while the care of these full leg o’ mutton sleeves was time-consuming, they were at the height of popularity in the middle of the decade.2

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Mathias Noehl and Elizabeth Hoffman, wedding, North Washington, Iowa, 1896; digital image 2001, original held by J.H., 2015.

At the age of twenty-seven – her birthday had been just the week before – Elizabeth was to marry a fellow immigrant, Mathias Noehl.3 As it so happened, he hailed from the village of Holsthum, Bitburg-Prum, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, which neighbored her own home village of Prümzurlay.4 By all accounts, however, their first meeting took place in northeastern Iowa, where Mathias encountered Elizabeth, whom he called Lizzie, at the Immaculate Conception Church in North Washington. She lived there as the housekeeper of Father Probst and the Sisters of Charity.5 The couple was married there on 22 September 1896 and may have celebrated with Elizabeth’s mother and siblings, who had also made Chickasaw County their home.6

A copy of Mathias and Elizabeth’s wedding portrait was shared with me by a relative; I suspect the original is a cabinet card photograph, popular at the turn of the century. I can’t make out much of the setting (is it grass or a rug at their feet?), but Mathias sits in a wicker chair while Elizabeth stands to the side, her right hand on his shoulder. In her left hand is clutched a small book, perhaps a prayerbook. As was typical of the time, neither of the newlyweds smile, and their faces are so faded in the copy that it’s difficult to see the direction of their gazes. Mathias has short hair; in his memoirs, he wrote that that, upon meeting Elizabeth, his blond hair was “unkempt like dried up flowers of the cemetery,” so a haircut may have been in order!7 He has a tidy mustache and wears a wool suit and white shirt. At twenty-eight, having recovered from an earlier heartbreak during his first years in America, he was prepared to settle down and start a family.8 Mathias and Elizabeth would go on to raise nine children on their farm.

This wedding portrait is one of several photographs that I have in my digital collection of the family of Mathias and Elizabeth (Hoffman) Noehl, both immigrants who came to Iowa from Germany in the late nineteenth century. For more photographs of the family of Mathias Noehl (1868-1950) and Elizabeth Hoffman (1869-1957), check out my new Noehl Family Album

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Pomeranians: Identifying a Family Photo

If you’d asked me about this photograph a few years ago, I might said that Joachim and Sophia were, in fact, Ernst and Friederike. That is, I might never have identified the couple in this cabinet card photograph if it weren’t for a few subtle clues that pointed me conclusively in the direction of one immigrant couple over another.

My grandmother’s paternal grandparents both came to America as infants, the son and daughter of Pomeranians from the region now known as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. The first couple to reach America, Joachim and Sophia (Cammin) Wiese, traveled from Hamburg in 1868.1 The second couple, Ernst and Friederike (Wagner) Stübe, traveled from Hamburg in 1869.2 Both couples settled initially in Chicago, although within a few years, Ernst and Friederike would move to a rural community outside the city. The couples were born within several years of each other, and no other identified photographs of either couple existed in my collection in order to aid in their identification. Based on the provenance of this photograph in a family collection, I knew that it must show one of these two couples.

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Joachim and Sophia (Cammin) Wiese, ca. 1885-1890, Chicago, Cook, Illinois; digital image ca. 2000.

The man and woman in this photograph are perhaps in their mid-fifties, give or take a decade. The photograph itself, taken by an unidentified Hansen of Chicago, is a cabinet card, a style that became popular after the Civil War.3 This, of course, fits the time period in which the Wieses and Stübes would have lived in Chicago. However, as both couples were only around thirty years of age in 1870, this photograph was more likely taken at some point between 1880 and 1900.

The woman in the photograph wears her hair parted in the middle and pulled back snugly, a no-nonsense style that is not specific to any era. Her ears are pierced and she wears what appears to be a dark wool suit with a fitted basque jacket featuring a high ruffled collar, a single row of buttons, and cuffed sleeves. Notable is the double row of boxed pleats on her underskirt; this style was popular in the latter half of the 1880s, as was the style of her jacket.4

The man is clean-shaven except for a trimmed neckbeard, and his hair is brushed away from his face. He has light-colored eyes – blue or green – and wears a typical three-piece suit. The age of the couple in this photograph as well as their style of dress suggest that, if this photograph was taken to mark a particular occasion, it may have been to commemorate an event such as their twenty-fifth anniversary.

Joachim and Sophia would have celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary circa 1890, a date calculated based on their ages and the birthdate of their eldest known child.5 Ernst and Friederike, however, did not reach such a milestone; Ernst died in 1879 at the age of forty.6 As the woman’s clothing in particular is markedly different from the styles of the 1870s, this photograph could not have been taken before 1879, and thus cannot be a photograph of Ernst and Friederike (Wagner) Stübe.

A final clue comes from the notation penned at the bottom of the cabinet card by a descendant: “Fatte + Matte?”7 A letter written by the granddaughter-in-law of Joachim and Sophia noted that his grandsons could not recall their names, but had called them “Fatta” and “Mota.”8 Coincidence? I don’t think so. My hunch is that these are phonetic spellings of perhaps an old dialect-based variation of the German words for father and mother, Vater and Mutter. This is how Joachim and Sophia (Cammin) Wiese were remembered by their children and grandchildren.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Tombstone Tuesday: Mathias and Elizabeth (Hoffman) Noehl

At the tail end of the nineteenth century, two German immigrants made the decision to forge their lives together in America. Mathias Noehl was born to Michel and Magdelena (Hoffman) Noehl on 22 April 1868 in the village of Holsthum, Germany,1 and Elizabeth Hoffman was born to Mathias and Anna (Marbach) Hoffman on 16 September 1869 in the neighboring village of Prümzurlay.2 They never met as children, and both made their own ways to America, Mathias in 1886 and Elizabeth in 1890.3

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Grave of Mathias Noehl (1868-1950) and Elizabeth Noehl (1869-1957), St. Aloysius Cemetery, Calmar, Winneshiek County, Iowa; digital image date unknown, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

Elizabeth soon found a place for herself in North Washington, Chickasaw, Iowa, where she kept house for a local priest, Father Probst. According to her husband’s memoirs, it was during this time that Mathias, who had recently made his way from unfruitful ventures in Minnesota in search for new opportunities in Iowa, happened to pass by Elizabeth’s home. He wrote:

“I was in a neglected condition: My suit of clothes appeared to have seen better days. A hailstorm seemed to have come over my hat. My blond hair lay around my temples unkempt like dried up flowers of the cemetery. When she heard that I had come from her neighborhood village, Holsthum, she said to herself, ‘That is a disgrace to the whole valley of Prüm. He must be hidden from the streets of North Washington, even if I have to marry him.'”4

Marry they did on 22 September 1896, by the same Father Probst who had been Elizabeth’s employer.5 Mathias later wrote of the “joyless” early years of their marriage, during which time the couple struggled to make a living in Alberta and Minnesota before finally returning, poverty stricken, to Iowa. He wrote, “Although children are not always a blessing for parents, they help to lead many a marriage through the inevitable storms between two persons, whose different characters must be adjusted to each other.”6 Whether his statements were sincere or tongue-in-cheek is unknown, but the couple would, indeed, go on to celebrate the births of nine children: Leo, Helen, Kathryn, Elinor, John, Aloysius, Francis “Frank,” Frances, and Joseph Noehl.

Although Mathias once dreamed of relocating with his family to Oregon, in the end they farmed for many years near New Hampton, Chickasaw, Iowa. In 1946, a year after their retirement from farm life, Mathias and Elizabeth celebrated fifty years of marriage surrounded by their children and grandchildren.7 Mathias died in Calmar, Winnishiek, Iowa, on 31 January 1950; Elizabeth died seven years later on 9 February 1957. Both are buried at St. Aloysius Cemetery in Calmar.8

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Tombstone Tuesday: Joachim and Sophia (Cammin) Wiese

It can often feel like a lost cause to submit Find A Grave Photo Requests for graves that are situated in enormous, urban cemeteries, but as I learned last week, when an anonymous contributor answered my plea for two photographs from Concordia Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois, it is possible to get lucky.

Joachim Wiese Grave

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 13 July 2014), photograph, Joachim Wiese (1841-1915), Memorial No. 123360232, Concordia Cemetery, Forest Park, Cook, Illinois; photograph by Anonymous, 2014. Note: The German script reads, “Hier ruhet in Gott” [Here rests in God].

Joachim and Sophia (Cammin) Wiese were Pomeranian immigrants who spent most of their adult lives in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. On 1 November 1868, accompanied by their young son, Frederick “Fritz” Wiese, and a host of other relatives, they boarded the Electric in the great port of Hamburg.1 Their voyage lasted nearly two months; they arrived in New York the day after Christmas, 1868.2

Apparently without further ado, the family made their way to the Midwest. 1870 found them living in the urban center of Chicago, where Joachim was employed as a day laborer.3 The Chicago Fire of 1871 must have had an impact on their early years in the city; the family belonged to the predominantly German First Bethlehem Lutheran Church,4 established in an area that was developed in the years following the fire.5 By 1880, Joachim Wiese was employed as a tailor,6 a trade he continued at least for the next two decades.7 Perhaps Sophia was able to assist her husband with his work, in addition to raising their children.

Sophia Wiese Grave

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 13 July 2014), photograph, Sophia Wiese (1843-1907), Memorial No. 123360289, Concordia Cemetery, Forest Park, Cook, Illinois; photograph by Anonymous, 2014. Note: The German script reads, “Hier ruhet in Gott” [Here rests in God].

In all, six children were born to the Wiese family: Frederick (1866-1914),8 Mary (1870),9 John C. (1873-1943),10 Minna (1876-1945),11 William (1879-1882),12 and Arthur Louis (1886-1932).13 Five children survived to adulthood; sadly, William died of diphtheria at the age of two.14

Sophia (Cammin) Wiese died of pneumonia at their home on Marion Place on 26 May 1907, at which time she was said to be sixty-four years of age.15 Joachim Wiese died at home on 2 June 1915 at seventy-four years of age.16 Their funeral services were held at the First Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and they are buried beside their son at Concordia Cemetery in Forest Park, Cook County, Illinois.

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An Iowa Teacher’s Report to Parents, 1925

The first of June 1925 was an important day for Frances Marie Noehl of Deerfield, Chickasaw County, Iowa. She completed the eighth grade in District No. 11 with flying colors, even rallying over the course of the year to bring up her lagging grade in conduct.1 However, although she was a successful student, with high average marks equivalent to straight A’s, she would not go on to graduate from high school.2

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Frances Noehl, Teacher’s Report to Parents, 1925, Deerfield, Iowa; digital image 2003, privately held by V. P. [personal information withheld], 2014.

Frances was the eighth of nine children born to Matthias and Elizabeth (Hoffman) Noehl, German immigrants who farmed in northeastern Iowa.3 Once her schooling was completed, Frances was needed at home, although her father did prize education. In his memoirs, he wrote of his schooldays in Germany, “I entered into the arena, and took it up not only with the alphabet, but with all my classmates. As at that time there was no special talent in our school of eighty-four pupils, I succeeded in taking the first place among all the boys.”4 His education concluded at the age of fourteen, but he was pleased to be allowed to keep his books, writing tablet, slate, and pencil.5 Perhaps he had once dreamed that his children would be fortunate enough to further their educations, but, at least in the case of his youngest daughter, that dream was unfulfilled.

During the course of her eighth grade year, Frances was instructed by Miss Beatrice Joebgen, a local teacher who was still a teenager herself.6 Frances was graded in Reading, Writing, Spelling, Arithmetic, Grammar, U.S. History, Music, Civics, Drawing, and Conduct, with all of her marks falling between 90 and 100 and her averages between 93 and 98. Her father’s signature was recorded on her report card at the end of each term.7

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Frances Noehl, Teacher’s Report to Parents, 1925, Deerfield, Iowa; digital image 2003, privately held by V. P. [personal information withheld], 2014.

Attendance rules for the time indicate that Frances would not have been required to complete additional schooling, as she had fulfilled the educational qualifications of an eighth grade pupil. Other reasons for exemption from public schooling included being mentally or physically unfit, living more than two miles from the school house by the nearest traveled road, or attending a private or parochial school, receiving instruction from a competent teacher, court order, religious instruction, or regular employment for one over the age of fourteen.8

Although Frances may have liked very much to have had the opportunity to graduate from high school, duty to her family, it seems, kept her at home.

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His Last Trip to Germany, Part II

Read “His Last Trip to Germany, Part I” here.

In the summer of 1938, Mathias Noehl of Holsthum, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, who had immigrated to America as a young man in 1886,1 returned for a final visit to the place that he considered to be the paradise of his youth. He wrote of his experiences in his memoirs, excerpted here.2

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Holsthum, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany photograph, 2009; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

When Mathias reached the town of Trier, near his home village, he exclaimed, “Oh joy without end! Is it a reality, or only a dream? After forty-four years, back to Trier.” Mathias entered a restaurant, and wrote, “I was served a good meal by a girl from the Mosel, who looks very much like my wife, when fifty years ago she offered her garden products for sale in the market place of Trier. The drinks were also good, but when I made known to her that I came from America, the friendly features of her face froze up and all my hopes to be treated kindly vanished.”3

Although his spirits were dampened by the encounter, Mathias continued, “As I was desirous to reach as quickly as possible my native village, which was five miles distant to the west, I went to an auto-livery. They brought me over the hills of the forefront of the Eifel, to Holsthum.” He reunited with his relatives, and was disheartened to note the absence of those who were lost in the World War:

“The sadness written on their faces gave me to understand how much they had suffered from the shortness of provisions after the World War. Our creator will judge severely those nations who let mountains of foodstuff spoil rather than to help their fellow man, especially the children.”4

Mathias’ return to Holsthum was wrought with emotion. He wrote, “God has helped me to find the way to my old home, but the hour of meeting my relatives again was full of sorrow. Reaching hands, shaking hands, tears of joy running to the earth, I asked myself, ‘Has God spared me no suffering?’ Oh, if only I had remained hidden in my exile in North America.”5

He continued, “Through the lines of the living I hurried to the cemetery, more than one thousand years old, to the kingdom of the dead, to the graves of my parents and brothers. In our house at home, I found all the pieces of furniture […]. There was the old kitchen range in its old place, on which my mother had prepared so many good meals for her seven boys, and shed also many a drop of sweat, and wept tears for her children who were scattered now in all parts of the world.”6 Mathias also visited the Shankweiler Klause, a church located in the forest, for a religious holiday:

“It was very beautiful, especially the singing, which could be heard from the heights of the rock, in all the adjoining valleys. It was so good that I had the privilege to sing with my comrades for the last time in that memorable church. May the echo of our singing be heard from that rocky height for many generations, till the end of time.”7

However, Mathias noted, “The mood of the people was not as joyful among the visitors as in my childhood days. The many baskets of cherries, which on that occasion were formerly sold there, were not there. A late frost had killed all the fruit blossoms, a hard blow for all the Rhineland. Of the many tents, where formerly toys were sold, there was only one left. But the thirst was well taken care of; there was plenty of beer to be had. Though the fruit harvest was a failure, the wheat crop was so much better due to the artificial fertilizer, which was not known formerly in my younger days. They now produced a double crop.”8

Mathias wrote of his time in Holsthum with a sense of wistful melancholy, stating, “I knew well that my stay could not be of long duration, so I made use of every hour to view once more the paradise of my youth, with all the objects of interest that had remained.” He described the two rivers, the beautiful forests, and the fruit trees which he had helped to plant decades before. At one point, Mathias settled down for a nap beneath those trees, admiring the fields before him.9

He wrote, “Awaking from sleep, I did not remember right away where I was […]. The river, flowing close by, threw off its disguise, and proved to be the Enz, and a shout addressed to me from the hill, ‘Heil Hitler,’ recalled me from my condition of drowsiness, into normal consciousness.” Mathias revived himself with coffee, and, “After that, being out of tobacco, I went to the store to buy the much-coveted tobacco, but tobacco is so loaded with taxes that it has to go up in smoke mixed with many herbs and leaves.10

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St. Rochus, Holsthum, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany photograph, 2009; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

“Next day I paid a visit to the chapel of St. Rochus. It was clean, in good repair in spite of its age of 500 years; Christ’s chapel built on a lovely road. May yet many pilgrims enter into thy roof to seek and find consolation. Then I visited the fields which were once the property of my parents and grandparents, and were now divided among brothers and cousins.”

“At last I came to the most beautiful valley of our district. To hear once more the echo, I sang, I called, I shouted, all in vain. The inhabitants of the mountain opposite remained silent, and Theresa Miller, the dairymaid of the same age as myself, whom I saw sixty years ago tending the cows, was not to be seen. Only an eagle flying over a high rock pierced the quiet landscape with its pitiful cries, as though complaining to the misfortune of the Fatherland.”11

Mathias paused to reminisce at a mighty walnut tree under which he recalled his elderly grandfather would enjoy his afternoon naps. Then, “Saying farewell to the paradise of my grandfather, I turned towards the village and suddenly found myself face to face with my old dairymaid, Theresa.” This was a bittersweet reunion, as they exchanged news of long-lost friends.12

Mathias attempted to visit his godmother in Allsdorf, a village four miles away, but he faced difficulties: “The road to this place had been changed during my absence […], and so I lost my way in the beautiful forest. For three hours I ran over roads that were prohibited […] on account of army maneuvers, trying to find my way out.” Mathias happened upon the ruins of the Castle Prümzurlay, where, in the eighteenth century, his grandfather had conducted an orchestra to entertain the noble inhabitants.13

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Prümerburg and Prümzurlay, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany photograph, 2009; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

The next day, Mathias was able to find his way to Allsdorf, and he was pleased to find his relatives well. However, upon his return, he had to avoid the army maneuvers that were taking place in the river valley by cutting through the forest:

“I saw trees freshly cut, to widen the road lying over the way, without seeing any woodcutters. I also saw a red and white flag, diagonal across the road, which frightened me more than any object I had seen in the forests of America or the plains of Canada. Halting for a few moments, I dared to cross the road, and ran as fast as I could towards the valley below.”14

It is evident that although Mathias was deeply sympathetic to the plight of his homeland following the World War, he looked upon Germany’s new direction with suspicion. Indeed, despite his feelings of goodwill towards his kin, he faced intense scrutiny as an American in a land that he could no longer call his own. However, Mathias was determined to make the most of his time there, and although his relatives warned him against it, he made up his mind that he would cross the border into Luxembourg:

“I came at the border of Echternacherbrück into the dreaded crossfire of the German customs official. I showed my traveling papers as well as the sum of money I carried with me, which, according to the customs regulations, was too large to be taken across the border. As a consequence, I was bombarded with questions as never before, since our field watchman had caught me sitting in our neighbor’s apple tree!

“All the money I carried with me, except ten marks, I had to leave behind in the hotel. Then I received permission to cross the frontier. In Echternach, Luxembourg, I found the people very much depressed, on account of the prohibition of the people on the German side to do any trading in their border city of some six thousand inhabitants. In the beautiful marketplace, I thought I saw grass growing between the pavement stones.”15

Finally, Mathias was able to visit his relatives in the village of Bastendorf, with whom he had an emotional reunion. Before Mass with his relatives the following morning, he strolled through the village to collect his thoughts:

“My parents, brothers, and other relatives had promised me everything that was necessary to establish myself as an independent man. But no, as though driven by an invisible power, I stumbled along the steep street as if I was going to a funeral. And now, on the 12th day of July, 1938, I am standing once more at the same crossroad and feel compelled to leave once more the beautiful woods and meadows to return to the land of the dollar.”16

After parting, Mathias wrote that he felt, “Lost in my dream, half this side and half the other side of the Atlantic.” At the border, he gave his remaining 4 Francs to the Luxembourg customs official, in order to ease his crossing, and reported, “I was fairly well treated by the custodians of the law.” He retrieved his money from the hotel and treated five laborers to beer and cigars, “for which they thanked, but they did not enter into any conversation.” Finally, Mathias wrote, “After I had worked myself through all the red tape at Echternacherbrück and received a moral lesson out of the proceedings, I took the stagecoach and arrived at Holsthum.”17

Mathias’ memoirs ended abruptly as he described visiting an abandoned Franciscan hermitage the following day. We know that he returned to northeastern Iowa, where he and his wife had raised nine children. He surely shuddered as he followed the news of World War II in the years to follow, and likely realized how fortunate he had been to return to his childhood home while he still had the chance. However, his memoirs were left incomplete. Mathias passed away on 31 January 1950 at the age of eighty-one.18

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