Tag Archives: Minnesota

Two Brothers from Sondersdorf

When immigrant Joseph Lutz died in 1887 the age of forty-two, only one line in a Minnesota newspaper made note of his death. His brother Paul, however, survived him by more than fifty years, and when he died in 1939 he was ninety-three years old. A lengthy obituary in a Minnesota newspaper documented his death, but what is more, his birthday several years prior had warranted an informative and colorful tribute to his life both in his native Sondersdorf, a village in eastern France, and in southern Minnesota. As Joseph and Paul, only two years apart in age, both served in the Franco-Prussian War and then immigrated to America, many of Paul’s recollections relate what must have been shared experiences.

The brothers were born to François Joseph Lutz (1801-1881) and Marguerite Meister (1801-1876), Joseph on 31 May 1844 and Paul on 07 August 1846, both in what is now Sondersdorf, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France. Their father was a farmer, and this was his second marriage; their mother was a native of the nearby border village of Roggenburg, Switzerland. Joseph and Paul were raised to work hard, although they also had the opportunity to attend school, as related in the Blue Earth County Enterprise in 1935:

“Alsace Lorraine at that time belonged to France, as it does now, although for many years between it was Germany’s. And so young Paul was born a French citizen. His father was a farmer and when Paul was still very young he was put to work. How young? Well, he says, laughing, that he thinks he began to work before he was born. He worked in the field, in the town, anywhere where there was work to be had.

“French was taught in the schools, but his family, like many others in Alsace, spoke German at home. So he grew up with a knowledge of both tongues. However, today and for many years since, it is German that he speaks fluently. There are, he says, no Frenchmen around to give him practice in that language.”

In 1866, Joseph and Paul, by then twenty-two and twenty years of age, appeared in a census in a household in Sondersdorf with their parents and younger sister, Philomene. Just a few years later, the brothers served in the Franco-Prussian War, which broke out in the summer of 1870:

“Like every other French citizen, [Paul] entered military training when old enough. His memories of that period are clear and vivid, for while he was still in the army, the Franco-Prussian war broke out. That was in 1870 and one of the causes of the bitter enmity between France and Prussia was that same Alsace Lorraine where he was born, a strip of territory at the eastern edge of France coveted by both nations and snatched first by one, then the other. When Prussia whipped France in that war of 1870, she took Alsace Lorraine as one of the indemnities and from then on France never rested until the World War brought it back again to the French.

“There wasn’t so much to the war so far as he was concerned, says Mr. Lutz, except horse meat to eat and being taken prisoner at the battle of Metz. Asked how that happened, he drolly repied [sic] that the Germans took the whole army prisoner so of course he went along. Speaking of horse meat, Mr. Lutz remarked that it wouldn’t have been so bad had they been given some beer, or at least enough water to wash it down with. But there was none of the first and little enough of the second. To make it worse he says it was tough meat with no pepper or salt. You stuck two sticks up on each side of a fire and hung the meat on a third stick laid across. After it had toasted a bit, you ate it – if possible.

“Because Germany considered Alsace her own, and to gain the good will of its people, she released the French prisoners from Alsace earlier than others. That was in 1871. Between horse meat, fighting and being a prisoner, Mr. Lutz says he’d had enough […] and straightaway came to America.”

Although comparatively little is known about Joseph Lutz’s experiences, his grandson once related that after serving in the Franco-Prussian War and coming out on the losing side, Joseph immigrated to America because he wouldn’t live under Prussian rule. It seems the brothers were allied in their feelings after having fought and been imprisoned by the Prussians—and having been forced to survive on horse meat during the Siege of Metz, which has been documented. A passenger list has been located that may indicate that the brothers immigrated together, arriving in New York aboard the Nevada in May 1871, mere months after the war’s end.

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Joseph Lutz (1844-1887), circa 1875-1885; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2021.

Although the Blue Earth County Enterprise recorded in 1935 that Paul and his wife Josephine Lutz married in Sondersdorf and immigrated together, settling first near Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa before making the move to Minnesota, records indicate that the couple actually married in Des Moines County, Iowa, in 1872. “Asked if they came by train to Burlington, Mr. Lutz chuckled and said, ‘Well, you needn’t think I walked.'” Perhaps the plan all along had been that Paul and Josephine would reunite and marry once in America and free of the strife of their homeland. Joseph, it seems, had not made any such promises to any young women from their home village; he instead married a Silesian immigrant, Hedwig Cichos, in Faribault County, Minnesota, in 1875. 

The brothers’ paths diverged to a degree in Minnesota; Paul farmed, as their father had before him, whereas Joseph lived in town, making a living first as a butcher and then as a saloon keeper. Of farm life, the Blue Earth County Enterprise shared that Paul owned one hundred and twenty acres “two miles west of Bass Lake,” and noted, “Memories of early days in southern Minnesota come to [Paul] as he talks. He tells of hauling grain to Delavan and Easton in the winter, using oxen-drawn sleds. Many a time, he says, blizzards would spring up and there was nothing for it but to give the oxen their heads and trust them to find the way home. They never failed.” Of Joseph, the newspaper shared, “Joe Lutz, early Mapleton butcher, was [Paul’s] brother. His shop was on Second Street just back of where the Wiedman drug store stands today. The frame building that housed it is the same one that stands there still, says Mr. Lutz.”

Joseph was indeed known to have been a butcher in Mapleton in the early 1880s; in the 1870s, however, he had operated a one-story frame butcher shop in Minnesota Lake, behind which were rooms where his family lived. After his stint as a butcher in Mapleton, he returned to Minnesota Lake but this time kept a saloon. Family lore notes that Joseph was a generous-hearted man who was known to give away cuts of meat to new immigrants in his community—to the occasional dismay of his wife, who chided him that these newcomers would not even have a pot with which to cook the meat!

Joseph would succumb to tuberculosis not quite sixteen years after his arrival in America; it seems especially tragic that he was stricken with this disease as he might otherwise have enjoyed as many years as his brother. At the time of Paul’s eighty-ninth birthday, the Blue Earth County Enterprise wrote, “Paul Lutz feels much younger than his years. His mind is far keener toward what is going on in this world than that of many a younger man. Age has as yet brought little failing to his senses. His speech is filled with humor that indicates his cheery optimism and enjoyment of life. His hearing is good. He walks up town every day. He administrates for himself the affairs of the farm he owns near Bass Lake. Paul Lutz has enjoyed and is still enjoying a full life with a clear memory that is truly remarkable.”

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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A Silesian Family in Minnesota

Johann and Maria (Kulot) Cichos and their children were not alone in leaving their home village of what is now Nowa Wieś Książęca, Poland, located in a region known as Lower Silesia, to settle in a small farming community in south-central Minnesota. Many of their neighbors had made and would make the same journey, all playing their parts in a story of chain-migration repeated across other Silesian communities and terminating in Minnesota’s Faribault and Blue Earth counties, where farmland was both more plentiful and more arable than in the old country.

Nowa Wieś Książęca (formerly Fürstlich Neudorf) is located approximately forty-five miles east of Wrocław (formerly Breslau), the historical capital of Silesia and Lower Silesia. The older population is said to speak a Lower Silesian dialect to this day, and the nineteenth-century Church of the Holy Trinity still stands near the center of the village. However, it was in the neighboring village of Trębaczów (formerly Trembatschau), at the eighteenth-century Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that Johann Cichos and Maria Kulot were married on 20 January 1852. They had five children in Nowa Wieś Książęca: Elizabeth, Hedwig, Johanna, Franz, and an unnamed son, their first child, who was stillborn. It seems that only Hedwig and Franz were living at the time that the Cichos family emigrated from Poland.

Johann and daughter Hedwig, who was then eighteen years old, left Poland first. In November 1873, they traveled together from Bremen to New York aboard the Hansa. Six months later, Maria and nine-year-old son Franz followed; they were in the company of numerous others from their home village who were also bound for Minnesota. They departed from Hamburg, rather than Bremen, and arrived in New York aboard the aptly-named Silesia in May 1874.

Little is known about the lives of Johann and Maria in America. No oral history nor photographs remain. They settled in Minnesota Lake, Faribault County, Minnesota in 1874, and census records indicate that they were farmers. Their daughter Hedwig married in Minnesota Lake in 1875; between her first and second marriages, she had ten children, nine surviving, all of whom would have had the opportunity to know their grandparents. Sadly, however, Johann and Maria’s son Franz died in 1881 at the age of eighteen after contracting spinal meningitis.

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Declaration of Intention of Johann Cichos, 19 May 1890. Faribault County, Minnesota, District Court, Naturalization Records, John Cichos, naturalized 13 July 1897; Iron Range Research Center, Chisholm, Minnesota.

At the time of the 1900 census, a teenage granddaughter resided with Johann and Maria; both were by then seventy years of age. It was noted in the census that Maria could not speak English, a fact that is not altogether unsurprising. Although she had at that point lived in America for more than twenty-five years, as Minnesota Lake had a strong Polish presence, there would not have been a shortage of opportunities to hear and speak her native language or languages, which very likely included German as well. Johann, however, did speak at least some English, and had in fact received American citizenship, renouncing the Emperor of Prussia, in 1897.

Maria died in 1902 and Johann in 1907, both in Minnesota Lake, the only home they had known in America. At the time of Johann’s death, he owned forty acres of farmland, valued at that time at about $2,000; his daughter Hedwig was his sole heir. Both Johann and Maria (Kulot) Cichos were buried at St. John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery in Minnesota Lake.

Copyright © 2021 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Hedwig

It has been said that Hedwig had “fiery red hair.”1

However, by the time color photographs became mainstream, her hair was white.

And, in fact, no color photographs are known to exist of Hedwig at all.

Hedwig (Cichos) Lutz Rindfleisch was born in 1855 in what is now Nowa Wieś Książęca, Poland, but what at the time was the village of Neudorf in Silesia.2 She immigrated to the United States at the age of eighteen,3 settling in southern Minnesota, and at nineteen, she married fellow immigrant Joseph Lutz.4 They had five children together, although the eldest did not survive childhood.5 After Joseph’s death, Hedwig remarried to Albert Rindfleisch and gave birth to five more children.6 She raised her nine surviving children in Minnesota Lake, Faribault County, Minnesota, and spent many years as a single mother, supporting her children as a seamstress and tending her small farmstead where she processed and preserved much of their own food.7

There are no widely known family stories about Hedwig having a stereotypical temper to match her red hair, although she was said to have been stern. A tale that perhaps comes the closest suggests that when her first husband, a butcher, would give generous gifts of meat to new immigrants in their community, she would chide him and say that the newcomers would not even have a pot to cook with.8

Back: Anna (Lutz) Catlin, Melanie (Lutz) Adam, Elsie (Rindfleisch) Beyer, Edward Rindfleisch, and Front: Keith Beyer, Hedwig (Cichos) Lutz Rindfleisch, and Albert Rindfleisch, Danville, Blue Earth County, Minnesota, circa 1937-39; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2019.

Two of the three known photographs of Hedwig were taken on the same summer day at her daughter’s farm in Danville, Blue Earth County, Minnesota. The year is uncertain, but based on the presumed ages of the children in the photograph, was likely circa 1937-39. Although this gathering may not have included all of her surviving children and grandchildren, four of her children and three of her grandchildren are pictured.

Back: Anna (Lutz) Catlin, Permelia Adam, Melanie (Lutz) Adam, Adelheid (Brandt) Rindfleisch, Elsie (Rindfleisch) Beyer, Mary (Grover) Rindfleisch, Alfred Beyer, Helen (?) Catlin, Vance Catlin, Edward Rindfleisch, Henry Adam, and Front: Keith Beyer, Hedwig (Cichos) Lutz Rindfleisch, and Albert Rindfleisch, Danville, Blue Earth County, Minnesota, circa 1937-39; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2019.

Surrounded by family, Hedwig, who had celebrated her eightieth birthday in 1936, looks relaxed and content, with a wisp of hair blowing in the breeze and her mouth pressed into a smile. She wears a printed dress in a light color, suitable for a summer day, and squints in the sun.

Hedwig (Cichos) Lutz Rindfleisch, Minnesota, circa 1940; digital image 2019, from a photocopy courtesy of Armond Sonnek, 2002. Provenance of the original unknown.

The only other known photograph of Hedwig shows her seated at the kitchen table in the home she shared with her eldest son and his family during her later years. Wearing a loose patterned house dress, her hair pulled back, she clasps the fingers of one hand in the other as she appears to gaze peacefully towards a window.

It was at this table that she was said to have sat to churn butter and clean vegetables, an industrious soul still determined to contribute to the household as much as possible.9

Copyright © 2019 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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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.