Tag Archives: Lutz

The Royal Neighbors of America

When Melanie (Lutz) Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa became a member of her local chapter of the Royal Neighbors of America as a newlywed in 1906,1 she could not have known how much her role as a Neighbor, as members called themselves, would define her adult life.

Founded in 1888 as a social organization, the Royal Neighbors of America incorporated as a fraternal benefit society in 1895 and became known as one of the nation’s first insurers of women.2 Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Royal Neighbors of America developed a disaster aid program,3 and perhaps it was hearing about these worthy efforts that encouraged twenty-two year old Melanie to join later that year.

Melanie (Lutz) Adam, in hat with dark sash seated center left, on a local outing with the Royal Neighbors of America, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, 1916; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2017.

Melanie was first a member of the Evening Star Camp before transferring to Sioux City’s Twilight Camp #6674.4 In 1922, she began her first term as oracle (leader) of the Twilight Camp, a position she held for nine years, and in 1925 began work as a field representative.5 She traveled frequently throughout northwestern Iowa as a life insurance agent, which provided a welcome source of income—particularly when her husband was unable to find steady work as a carpenter and after his death in 1944.6 Melanie retired as District Deputy in 1959, having served a total of fifty-three years with the Royal Neighbors of America.7 Upon the occasion of her retirement, she was honored with a speech, special guests, and the presentation of a scrapbook, “This is Your Life,” assembled by her colleagues.8

Melanie (Lutz) Adam at Royal Neighbors of America retirement, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, 1959; digital image 2017, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2017.

From her earliest years with the organization, Melanie found a strong circle of female friends among her fellow Neighbors, and photographs showcase countless gatherings, both formal and informal. Called “Mala” by those closest to her,9 notes in her retirement scrapbook call up a number of lighthearted memories within the organization as well as glowing praise for her work:

“You are to be congratulated […] for having accomplished, in good measure, what every person who does much thinking so very much wants: That is, to be remembered for something good they have done. Could you ask for more than – At the end of a cold, snowy day of driving in Monona County, as you drove home late and tired, to know that it had been you who had guided and influenced a young family in the start of a plan that has materially helped to educate their fine children? […] And perhaps that same cold day you had been responsible for the protection that later was the means of keeping together in the home a young mother with her children; because you had urged the young father that night to protect his family with Royal Neighbor insurance.
“We could look into many homes in Sioux City and the counties around, where you find Neighbors to bless you for the little extra you urged them to save. This little, now added to their Social Security, makes the difference between a bare existence and many of the good things of life.
“Perhaps many remember the good times at meetings and conventions and Royal Neighbor trips together. All that has been enjoyable and a happy way of life. And when you can add to it the sure knowledge that you can be remembered in so many places for something truly good, that you have done, you can say with certainty that yours has been a most worthwhile life as a Royal Neighbor Deputy.”10 

The Royal Neighbors of America remains an organization with a rich tradition, and in addition to the scrapbook received upon her retirement, Melanie tucked away a number of other mementos of her time with the organization. One, a book, Rituals for Local Camps, details the many ceremonial aspects of the organization and also notes the tenets of faith, endurance, courage, modesty, and unselfishness upheld by its members.11 As a champion for women and children, the Royals Neighbors of America was known also for their support of the suffragette movement, and Melanie may well have taken part in local efforts to secure the right of women to vote.12

Although enrollment has dwindled in Sioux City, the Royal Neighbors of America remains active nationwide today, a fact that would certainly have pleased Melanie who had a profound appreciation for the friendships, leadership experience, and career opportunities she enjoyed during more than half a century as a Neighbor.

Copyright © 2017 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.
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A Visit to an Alsatian Village

I can never forget the moment when I knocked at the door of a home in a small French village, a copy of my family tree chart in my hands as I stammered the phrase, “Bonjour. L’histoire de ma famille! to the startled teenage girl who answered. Thankfully, before long, with our fathers by our side—her father just so happened to be the mayor of Sondersdorf, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France—we managed to reach a mutual understanding of the fact that my father and I had ancestral roots in this village and would love to take a peek at the old records.

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Sondersdorf, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France photograph, 2006; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2016.

This was ten years ago, when I first traveled to Europe. Along with a few days spent in Paris and the ancestral village of my mother’s German grandfather, we also paid a visit to the charming Alsace region of northeastern France where my father’s great-great-grandfather had lived and served in the Franco-Prussian War.

Joseph Lutz, the son of Francois Joseph Lutz and Switzerland-native Marguerite Meister, was born 31 May 1844 in Sondersdorf, Haut Rhin, Alsace, France.1 In his mid-twenties when the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 broke out, family lore states that Joseph served and was injured.2 Following the war and its German victory, the residents of the newly annexed region of Alsace were informed that they could remain French citizens by removing to France by the fall of 1872, or they could stay in their homes and default to German citizenship.3 Joseph’s parents, who were over seventy by this time, apparently opted to stay in Sondersdorf; a move to French territory may well have proven to have been a great hardship, no matter if they would have preferred to remain French.4 In any case, it was said that Joseph did not wish to live under German rule.5 Thus, at the age of twenty-eight, he left Sondersdorf for America, where he settled in Faribault County, Minnesota, near other relatives.6

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Sondersdorf, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France photograph, 2006; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2016.

It was a treat to see Sondersdorf, although it was not quite the rugged and rocky village that my father had long envisioned. Although in a mountainous area with the snow-capped Alps within view, Sondersdorf boasted a tidy village situated among rolling green fields. We enjoyed exploring a beautiful old cemetery, where the Lutz surname was prominent, and paid a visit to the village church. If I recall correctly, it was a local who called down an inquisitive greeting from a shutter-framed window who directed us to the mayor’s home for our genealogical questions. After becoming acquainted with the mayor and his daughter in a mix of broken English, French, and German, we made plans to meet the next day to see the old vital records held in the local school building.

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Ferrette, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France photograph, 2006; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2016.

We were treated equally well by the people of Ferrette, a larger village nearby, where we stayed the night. Hearty Alsatian meals and investigating the crumbling castle ruins on its picturesque hillside kept us well entertained until it was time to return to Sondersdorf. There, we met again with the mayor, who allowed us to page through the centuries-old record books, brown ink faded on the pages. Although we didn’t conduct in-depth research, not wanting to take advantage of the mayor’s time, it was incredible to see so many family names recorded in their original form. Upon our departure, the mayor kindly presented me with a book about the history of the churches of the region, in which he inscribed the date and the place—much as Joseph Lutz had inscribed his prayerbook upon his departure from Sondersdorf, long ago.

Copyright © 2016 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.
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A Paper Moon

When I began researching the topic of paper moon photography, I was surprised to find that these crescent moon photo booth props are making a comeback by way of trendy, vintage-style wedding decor. In case you didn’t know, flappers are big these days, and the popularity of this era has influenced a new generation to pose for classic shots with a smiling man in the moon. However, paper moon photo booths got their start even before the days of Gatsby, likely around the turn of the twentieth century.1

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Melanie (Lutz) and son Gerald Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, ca. 1912; digital image 2014, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2015. Collection courtesy of David Adam.

This particular paper moon photograph was printed on a real photo postcard circa 1912. The moon backdrop itself is not one of the more elaborate, with an obvious break in the night sky for seating purposes. In fact, what looks like a wheel to roll the seat into place is also visible, and a small “magic carpet” conceals the primary seating area. The crescent moon smiles, and the stars, as is typical among paper moon photography, are present even within the crescent – where, realistically, they would be blocked by the moon in shadow. A shooting star can be spotted at the upper tip of the crescent, and a planet appears below the moon.

The mother and son posed here are Melanie (Lutz) and Gerald “Jerry” Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa. Both are dressed in long fur coats, Melanie’s of a fashionable collared design while Jerry’s is fastened simply with three large buttons. A glimpse of Melanie’s leather gloves is visible, and a stylish plumed hat is atop her head. Jerry wears a practical stocking cap and high button boots. His curls are long, to his shoulders, which was not atypical among young boys of the era.

Given their attire, it is obvious that this photograph was taken on a cold winter’s day. Perhaps the paper moon photo booth was set up outdoors or in an unheated (or under-heated) space as a temporary attraction; this mother and son may have simply stumbled upon it and decided to surprise Jerry’s father with their fun souvenir. As Jerry was born in the summer of 1908,2 it seems most likely that this photograph dates to the winter of 1911-1912, or, at the latest, the winter of 1912-1913. January 1912 in particular was a cold month, with Sioux City registering a record low of −35°F on 12 January.3 However, even beyond such extremes, Sioux City was no stranger to weather that would have required one’s warmest winter coats for a visit to the moon!

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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A Prayer Book from Home

Before Joseph Lutz left his home village, he carefully inscribed his name inside a leather-bound prayer book, small enough to be tucked inside a coat pocket. “This book belongs to me, Joseph Lutz of Sondersdorf,” he penned in French. The book, however, was printed in German; Joseph spoke both languages, having grown up in an area that was the subject of dispute between France and Germany.1

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Joseph Lutz prayer book, Adam Family Collection; privately held by Brian Adam (personal information withheld), 2014.

Joseph Lutz of Sondersdorf, Haut Rhin, Alsace, France, the son of François Joseph and Marguerite (Meister) Lutz, was baptized on 31 May 1844.2 He left his homeland following  the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. It was said that he had been injured during his time of service, which may have limited his opportunities for occupation, and, furthermore, he did not wish to live under Prussian rule.3 Thus, like many of his relatives, he set his sights on Minnesota.

Once settled, Joseph may have read from his prayer book with his wife, a Polish immigrant who also spoke German, as they began their life together.4 Perhaps it inspired his generosity during his career as a butcher, when he was said to have provided gifts of meat to struggling immigrants. When he later became a saloon keeper, it may have given him the strength to avoid the temptation of alcohol, a quality appreciated by his wife.5 Perhaps the prayer book brought him peace as he suffered from tuberculosis, an illness that claimed his life on 3 May 1887 when he was forty-two years old.6

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Joseph Lutz prayer book, Adam Family Collection; privately held by Brian Adam (personal information withheld), 2014.

Joseph was said to have been buried in Danville, Blue Earth County, Minnesota, and though a wooden cross once marked his grave, it is no more.7 His well-worn prayer book was passed down to his daughters, who kept his tintype – his only known photograph – tucked inside to ensure its safety. These items may have been their sole mementos of their father, a slim man with a handlebar mustache, a Catholic, a veteran, and a businessman who hailed from the border of France and Switzerland.

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A New Year’s Eve Party?

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Henry and Melanie (Lutz) Adam, ca. 1910, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

Happy New Year! …or at least, I think that’s what might have been said when this photograph was taken about a century ago. Featured are Henry and Melanie (Lutz) Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, with Henry seated at lower right and Melanie in white above his raised hand.

Could this photograph have been taken at a New Year’s Eve party? The curtains are drawn in the living room or parlor where the photograph was taken, which suggests to me that it could be after dark. Furthermore, it’s clear that the alcohol is flowing. One man can be seen taking a drink, while several others clutch glasses and bottles. (Alas, I can’t make out the labels.) Nearly everyone wears some sort of silly hat made of cloth or paper, and only three older children are present in the photograph – no little ones.

Note that three of the men in front, including Henry, make a gesture with their thumbs to the sides of their noses and their fingers extended flat, pressed together. They aren’t quite thumbing their noses in the way that I have seen, so I wonder what this gesture might have meant.

Of the nineteen people gathered here, only Henry seems to be ready for the camera. Most, including Melanie, look to the side, perhaps at another photographer, or are caught in the midst of conversation. Whether this gathering was for New Year’s Eve or not, one can easily imagine the chaotic scene as an attempt was made to corral this lively group of friends for a memorable photograph. Cheers!

Tombstone Tuesday: Hedwig Cichos

“She was a good old German,” recalled one of the grandchildren of Hedwig “Hattie” (Cichos) Lutz Rindfleisch of Minnesota Lake, Faribault County, Minnesota.1 Raised in what is now Poland, Hattie came to America in 1873 at the age of eighteen.2 Although she married twice, neither of her husbands was buried at her side.

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Grave of Hedwig (Cichos) Lutz Rindfleisch (1855-1944), Saint John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery, Blue Earth County, Minnesota; image date unknown, privately held by A.S. [personal information withheld], 2013.

Hattie’s first husband, Joseph Lutz,3 died of tuberculosis in 1887.4 According to family lore, a wooden cross once marked his grave, but it has long since disappeared.5 Hattie was still a young woman at this time, however, and with four children at home, she made what was no doubt a practical decision to remarry less than a year after his death.6 Unfortunately, Albert Rindfleisch, with whom she had five more children, was said to have struggled with alcoholism.7 By 1900, he had left his family, and he allegedly made his way to Milwaukee.8 Records indicate that he may have wound up at the Milwaukee County Infirmary, formerly known as the Milwaukee County Almshouse and Poor Farm.9

In his absence, Hattie supported her family as a seamstress, and, with three acres of land, proved to be remarkably self-sufficient. She kept a milk cow and chickens, saving the egg money for groceries, and she also raised pigs. She prepared her own ham, bacon, sausage, braunschweiger, and pickled pigs feet. Hattie surely also grew her own vegetables; one of her grandchildren remembers her making sauerkraut for what must have been hearty, home-cooked meals.10

Hattie was eighty-nine years old when she passed away on 10 November 1944. She is buried at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery on the border of Blue Earth County and Faribault County, Minnesota.11



SOURCES
1 William “Bill” Catlin, conversation with the author, September 2002; notes in author’s files. The late Mr. Catlin was the grandson of Hedwig (Cichos) Lutz Rindfleisch and was acquainted with her until her death, at which time he was thirty years old.
2 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 December 2013), manifest, S.S. Hansa, Bremen to New York, arriving 13 November 1873, Hedwig Cluchas [Cichos]; citing National Archives microfilm M237, roll 384.
3 “Minnesota, Marriages, 1849-1950,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 9 Dec 2013), Joseph Lutz and Hedwig Joice or Tchrichor [Cichos], 19 April 1875.
4 “Mr. Joseph Lutze,” Wells (Minnesota) Advocate, 5 May 1887.
5 William “Bill” Catlin, conversation with the author, 2002.
6 “Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 9 Dec 2013), Albert Rindfleisch and Hedwig Lutz, 29 December 1887.
7 William “Bill” Catlin, conversation with the author, 2002.
8 1900 U.S. census, Faribault County, Minnesota, population schedule, Minnesota Lake, Enumeration District (ED) 92, sheet 10-B, p. 4834 (handwritten), dwelling 178, family 178, Hattie Rindfleisch; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 December 2013), citing National Archives microfilm T623, roll 763.
9 1930 U.S. census, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Wauwatosa, Enumeration District (ED) 40-385, sheet 7-B, p. 5401 (handwritten), Milwaukee County Infirmary, Albert Rindfleisch; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 December 2013), citing National Archives microfilm T623, roll 763.
10 William “Bill” Catlin, conversation with the author, 2002.
11 Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 9 December 2013), photograph, Hedwig B. Rindfleisch (1855-1944), Memorial No. 23967168, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery, Blue Earth County, Minnesota; photograph by judyvv.

The Lutz Sisters

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Sisters Hedwig, Julia, Anna, and Melanie Lutz, ca. 1900, Minnesota; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

Julia, Anna Marie, Hedwig “Hattie” Eulalie, and Melanie Veronica Lutz were the daughters of French and Polish immigrants, respectively Joseph and Hedwig (Cichos) Lutz of Minnesota Lake, Faribault County, Minnesota.1 By the time that this photograph was taken, circa 1900, Joseph had passed away, and Hedwig had remarried and given birth to five additional children.2 Her eldest daughters must have been close, however, as they chose to have a photograph taken of just the four of them.

Standing with her arms protectively behind her seated sisters is Hattie, who would have turned nineteen in the year 1900.3 Although her position suggests that she was the eldest, she was not; it’s possible that she may have been the tallest, however, if the photographer were to have posed the sisters based on height. She is also the only sister wearing a dress with a white collar, offering contrast; the other sisters seem to be wearing their good black dresses. None of the dresses, however, are alike, each having unique decorative pleats, panels, and/or bows. The collars are extremely high, perhaps an example of what would have been known as “officer’s” collars.4

Julia is seated at right, her dark eyes serious. She would have turned twenty-four in 1900, and was the eldest of the sisters.5 Seated at the center is Anna, who would have turned twenty-two that year.6 Melanie, the youngest, is at left; she would have celebrated her sixteenth birthday in 1900.7

At this time, all four sisters had left their mother’s household.8 Julia was married with two young children at home; she and her husband kept a hotel,9 and Anna was employed as a servant there.10 Hattie lived with her elderly maternal grandparents.11 As Melanie cannot be located in the 1900 U.S. census, she may have been away at school, where she trained to become a teacher. Later in life, Julia, Anna, Hattie, and Melanie made their homes in four different communities across three different states, but their sisterly bond is apparent in this photograph of them as young women.



SOURCES
1 “Minnesota, Marriages, 1849-1950,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 15 Nov 2013), Joseph Lutz and Hedwig Joice, 19 April 1875. Cichos was likely transcribed incorrectly as Joice.
2 1900 U.S. census, Faribault County, Minnesota, population schedule, Minnesota Lake, enumeration district (ED) 92, sheet 10-B, p. 4834 (penned), dwelling 178, family 178, Hattie Rendfleisch; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 November 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 763. Rendfleisch was a variation of Rindfleisch.
3 “Minnesota, Births and Christenings, 1840-1980,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 15 Nov 2013), Hedwig Lutz, 06 September 1881.
4 Joan Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1995), 526.
5 “Minnesota, Births and Christenings, 1840-1980,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 15 Nov 2013), Julia Lutz, 13 December 1876.
6 “Minnesota, Births and Christenings, 1840-1980,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 15 Nov 2013), Anna Lutz, 12 May 1878.
7 “Minnesota, Births and Christenings, 1840-1980,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 15 Nov 2013), Melanie Veronica Lutz, 28 May 1884.
8 1900 U.S. census, Faribault Co., Minn., pop. sch., Minnesota Lake, ED 92, sheet 10-B, p. 4834, dwell. 178, fam. 178, Hattie Rendfleisch.
9 1900 U.S. census, Nobles County, Minnesota, population schedule, Adrian, enumeration district (ED) 209, sheet 2-B, p. 43 (penned), dwelling 29, family 29, Julia McColm; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 November 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 778.
10 1900 U.S. census, Nobles County, Minnesota, population schedule, Adrian, enumeration district (ED) 209, sheet 2-B, p. 43 (penned), dwelling 29, family 29, Anna M. Lutz; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 November 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 778.
11 1900 U.S. census, Faribault County, Minnesota, population schedule, Minnesota Lake, enumeration district (ED) 92, sheet 5-A, p. 4719 (penned), dwelling 73, family 73, Hattie Lutz; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 November 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 763.