This is the First Part
of the story -
Click to go to Part 2, or Part 3 , or Part 4
For some time I have been planning to write a story to go with my legacy, which is a little German book, "Pilgrim's Progress", which was given to my grandfather, Christian Hartman, was born in Brunswick (Braunschweig?), Germany, August 26, 1803. As today is August 26, 1931, the one hundredth and twenty-eighth anniversary of his birth, I have decided to celebrate his honorable birthday by beginning to write about him such doings as I have heard from his daughter, Wilhelmina Hartman, who was my mother, Wilhelmina Moeller.
Of his boyhood days there is not much we know, except that he had a good German schooling and was very clever and bright. He learned three trades, upholstering furniture, tanning hides and skins, and making saddles and harness. In Germany men of trades had to pay a tax on each of their trades even though wages very low.
When he finished learning his trades he located in Hanover (Hannover?) and set up a workshop of his own. Much of his idle time was spent in the Hertz Mountains as he was a lover of nature, he loved the birds, the flowers, the trees, as well as the mountains and streams, so he took many long walks, drinking in the beauty of creation around him.
He was a very attractive young man. His broad shoulders and straight, tall form moved with the grace and ease of a fleet footed Cavalier from his work shop in Othfrassen (Oesingen) out to the large farms where he would be employed at mending or making new harness or building furniture, as the case might be.
Christian also had the idea of inventing gadgets. At one time when he felt a need to have some way to carry about his tools, to use when he had to go some distance to do a big job of work on a large farm, he found his tools and equipment very heavy to carry, and he began to study on how it would be easier to take them. He made a sort of three-wheeled tricycle, making a box to cover the entire space between the three wheels. He made a seat to sit on and pedals to propel it with. It was the first of its kind known of. In this, he could carry everything he needed. Had he lived in the U.S.A. he could have taken out a patent on it and his invention would have been used to help mankind, but in Germany, common citizens could not do anything like that; as all inventions were taken over by the Government, and the inventor was ignored. No wonder that country did not progress when everything was government controlled.
To fully appreciate his doings we must consider the times in which he lived, as well as the social, political, and religious conditions existing in Germany at that time.
Also it is important to consider his nature, as he was very steady and of deep emotions. His motto seemed to be "Be sure you are right, then go ahead at any cost, never give up, unless it is thoroughly proven otherwise." Also he was alert, always observing his surroundings carefully.
We of this modern age of inventions and improvements can scarcely imagine the hardships of those days, say, one hundred years ago, when all kinds of work seemed to have been done the hardest way. We who live in the U.S. with all its liberties, freedom of speech and press, and all are allowed to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience, can scarcely imagine what the people of that country underwent at that time.
While I am not an author, I will endeavor to write some of the facts as they have been told to me in hopes it may be of interest to my posterity, and especially to the one who falls heir to my legacy, "Pilgrim's Progress", a little book written in German by John Bunyan.
At the time of Christian Hartman's early life the country seemed to be in a continual unrest. History tells us that at that time they were changing rulers often and war was either going on or just over and yet not far ahead in the future.
Schooling was compelled, so all of the people had the advantage of knowing how to read, write, and figure. People did not travel very great distances as they walked mostly and distance seemed to be measured by time, as I often heard my parents say how many hours walk it was from one city to another, but seldom how many miles it was from place to place.
There are many legends connected with that country. One of
them always has interested me, it being the way Brunswick (Braunschweig)
was named. It runs thus: Intending to name a state and a capital
city the same, as seems to have been the custom, a group of men
assembled. One suggested one name and another a different one
and they could not agree, so after some they agreed to all keep
silent for a time and not speak unless there arose need of speech,
then the first word or words
spoken should be the name of the city and state.
As the men were all nobles or of the royalty, they had come thither on horseback. One of them rode a brown horse and so called it "Brown". Now in the quiet assembly each wondering who would be the one to name the town, but fearing to speak until occasion arose, they were disturbed by the continual tramping and neighing of the brown horse. So in impatience the owner of the brown horse called out, "Brown, be still!" or rather "Brunswick" Braunschweig), so this name was adopted.
Another town with the name of Salts Githorn (Gifhorn?) was named thus when a herd of pigs was feeding over a piece of pasture land. One of them in rooting in the ground opened up a spring of very salty water, which was afterwards developed into a great salt works and refinery. This spring was piped up about twenty feet and allowed to slowly trickle down over a wall built of hedges of locust with long thorns to collect the salt and it hung in crystals from these thorns, then taken off and laid to dry and afterwards broken up into small bits and sold, being a very pure and strong salt. These salt works could not belong to the owner of the pigs or to the herder, but must be turned over to the government, as well, as such utilities are government owned.
In Hanover, (Hannover) there lived a maiden, Caroline Dameier, the only child of a widow. She was born October 3, 1806. Her parents were of the well-to-do people until the war with Napoleon, at this time, however, they sustained loss of property, and not only did they lose their wealth, but Mr. Dameier being a soldier, Colonel Officer, left home to go to battle on his own horse, which later came home with only the lower part of his master's body in the saddle and stood at the gate of the farm yard, while the upper half of his body lay on the battle field. He had been cut in two by a sword.
Caroline, at this time was only one year old. Sad, very sad, was their plight when shortly after his death their administration announced that their property had been confiscated, yet, in some manner they lived on and in time adjusted themselves to their circumstances.
(It has been said that Mr. Dameier was a Frenchman, but this I do not accept, as I feel sure that our Mother would have told us if we had any French blood in us and she never told any of her children about it. The word comes from our relatives in Australia. Besides our Mother always had a bitter feeling toward the French, much the same as has existed between the North and South in the earlier generations since the Civil War. The name Dameier is also a German sounding name, and they were fighting against Napoleon, the French Chief of German soil. But let that be as it may, it need not make a difference to us or this story.)
It may be interesting to know the names of our Grandmothers as far back as I have been able to get them. Elanora, the first we have heard of, was a lover of music and sang most of the time, while she knit or spun. She kept a happy heart by singing hymns, as she was also very religious.
The family had a dog whose name was Hustic (which being interpreted means "Swift".) Now as she sat at work with the doors open the dog would come in and lay at her feet. Then she would stop her song just long enough to say, "Hustic, gerouse!" or "Swift, go out!" and pick up her song where she had broken off and go right on singing.
The next ones name was Agnes, of whom we do not recall anything that has been told, except that she had three daughters, all of these young ladies were very beautiful, and at that time considered the three most beautiful young ladies in all of Hanover (Hannover).
One of these, whose name was Catherine, became Mrs. Dameier, the wife of Colonel Dameier, of whom you have just read, and the mother of Caroline Dameier.
We do not know just how the meeting came about of Caroline Dameier and Christian Hartman; it may have been they met at some social gathering or perhaps Christian may have been employed by some relative or neighbor, and Caroline visiting at the same place, but as they were both staunch Christians it is quite likely they met at church.
In time Catherine Dameier married again a man by the name of Bussa, whom I believe was a Frenchman, and they lived on a small farm.
It seems to me one of the characteristics of those old Germans in those days was to oppose courtship, at least it was so in the case of Caroline Dameier and Christian Hartman. Caroline's stepfather, Mr. Bussa, was very much opposed to their courtship, but being very fond of each other they would arrange to meet when they did not expect interference and perhaps when her stepfather was away. On one occasion when Christian called and they felt they were safe for a little chat, Bussa, came suddenly upon them, thus caused a hasty departure. Caroline being very fearful ran to the hayloft and crept in under the hay. Bussa, in a rage, because of their disobedience to his orders, followed Caroline, grabbing up a pitchfork as he went. He mounted the hay and began jabbing the fork into the hay, walking over and over it, trying to pierce Caroline with the fork, but of no avail. He did not touch her and went back to the house. Caroline waited till his rage was past before she met him again, her mother shielding her as a mother will.
Christian now decided he must do something to win Bussa over to his side, so he thought he would make him a present, but scarcely knew what would be accepted. After some reminiscence he decided to make a chair out of cow horns. Carefully selecting suitable horns he went to work polishing and fitting the horns with brass mountings and trimmings. This was slow work, as it must be done all by hand. The more he worked the stronger grew his love for Caroline. His only anxiety was to gain the stepfather's good will. Though he must work at his trade all day, when at last the long hours of toil were over he renewed his efforts on the cow horns which now took on the resemblance to a chair.
At last it was finished in a most perfect manner. Christian's heart swelled with pride as he looked on it, a thing of rare beauty and the only one of its kind. Though it represented many hours of toil, how gladly would he give it to Bussa, but the question arose, how would he accept it? And how would he present it? But he would try; he would risk it or do anything to win the good will of this stern man.
Now he performed an elaborate toilet. His young grey eyes beamed with excitement as he shaved, combed his wavy locks, shined his shoes, and put on his best clothes. He picked up the chair and carried it several miles to Bussa's house, his heart thumping with excitement. (As I close my eyes I think I can see this stalwart youth, so immaculate in appearance, striding down the paved road, his grey eyes ablaze with excitement and a smile on his lips. As he neared the large house with its glistening windows and thatched roof, is head erect, listening, looking, longing for just a glimpse of Caroline, and fearful to know what his reception would be.)
As faint heart never won fair lady, he determined to go through with his plans, so he bravely rapped at the door, and in a very clever manner presented his gift, the cow horn chair. Bussa was delighted, and won over at once, and he exclaimed, "My son, for that you may have my daughter, Caroline." Can you imagine how the great heart of young Christian leaped and bounded at those words? After all his anxiety, his heart surely must have been light. Perhaps he swallowed hard several times to keep it out of his mouth.
He knew that Caroline, too, was as happy as he, for now they might visit together, even stroll through the great beautiful woods, gather flowers, watch the squirrels gathering their winter supply of beech and other kinds of nuts, hear the birds calling to each other and watch them fly from bough to bough as they too talked of love's young dream, and laid plans for their future, not far away now. As he went home that night exultant, he surely said to himself "how wonderful it all is, the chair was a big task, but it was worth it for she is mine! She is mine! Now I will begin our furniture."
Caroline, no doubt took a new interest in her work, also perhaps knitted faster, as each girl was supposed to have at least a churn full of stockings hand knitted, for there were no knitting machines those days. A churn held about five gallons, so it took quite a few pairs of stockings to fill it. The first thing to do was to get the wool as it came from the sheep's back, wash it, spin it into yarn and then knit it into stockings, gloves, mittens, shawls, and bonnets. Also, no doubt, she spun later than usual, as every girl must have a chest full of linens, no cotton being used, as it had to be imported. Hope chests in those days contained much linen made into all sorts of wearing apparel as well as sheets, pillow cases and featherbed slips, and she must at least have two featherbeds, one to sleep on and one to cover with. As they used no quilts or comforters and few blankets. Then too, there were no sewing machines so it must, of necessity, all be done by hand. Think of her trousseau, all hand made of either linen or woollen material. She surely had plenty of work ahead to do.
Each farm raised their own flax. They thrashed it carefully so as not to break the straw, then laid the straw bundles in a pond of water till the fiber would separate from the pulp, then beat it with flails till only fiber remained. This they spun into fine thread, sent to the weavers and had it woven into whatever sort of cloth it was desired for the needs, then cut and sew the garments all by hand.
How different from our days and yet we think we have much work, and the most of our clothing and household goods can be bought all made up, ready for immediate use, and if we choose to our own, scarcely a home but what has a sewing machine. We would think it was an endless job to make a man's suit or a woman's dress by hand. Truly there have been great inventions in the last one hundred years.
I do not have the exact date of their marriage, but as near as I can tell, it must have been between 1828 and 1830. They lived in Oathfrasen (Oesingen?), a little village in the state of Hanover, (Hannover) Germany. Their home was a two-story house with Christian's workshop upstairs. How queer the furnishing of that home would seem to us. All chairs were straight chairs, no rocking chairs. Some no doubt were upholstered and hand carved, no rugs on the floors, but all kept scrubbed clean and white. Cupboards and tables were there, also bedsteads with their rope bottoms or springs as the case might be, as Christian made springs. No doubt they had springs on their bed and quite likely a straw tick, as they were called, with feather beds on it, everything hand made.
No home was complete without a chest to be filled with new linens as in those days laundry was only done twice a year, in the spring and in the autumn, as we will describe later.
As there were no cook stoves of any kind the cooking must be done over an open fire. Not a fireplace as we know them, but a square block built up of stone and mud like a blacksmith's forge with a depression in the center to contain the fire, and a funnel shaped flue above it to carry off the smoke. This cooking place had the advantage of being built high enough so it required no stooping to get a meal. Also there were two or more erect pieces of iron with a cross piece between them on which hooks of various lengths were slipped to handle the various kettles, as near to, or as far from the fire as desired. This kept the kettles always upright. They could not tip over when the fire burned low. Also an open grate on which to place frying pans, flat irons, or food to be slowly cooked, such as rice which was cooked in a crock in pure milk sweetened and spiced, a much used dessert. It seemed most of the time some foods were rationed there, especially meats and fats.
There were no bake ovens in the home. They mixed the bread, which was always yeast bread, as no leavening powder was available. The bread was cared for until nearly ready to be made into loaves, then the dough was taken to a baker, who had a large oven. He portioned out the loaves and stamped a brand on each one, giving the one who brought in the dough a receipt for the proper number of loaves with the brand they bore, and the time they might call for their finished bread. The one who brought the dough must stay and wait till the baker had given him this receipt or lose his bread's identification, which meant no bread.
Cakes were made from yeast dough, or by using many eggs beaten very light which would raise the cake sufficiently and were a very special delicacy. In fact, a housewife seldom served cake or pie, as they must be bought from the baker, who had the only oven in the village. And he was also the one who had white flour, as the common home made breads were made of dark flour, some wheat and some rye, or a mixture of barley, rye, and wheat, which was called Pumpernickel. Most people thought white bread a real treat, and rolls a delicacy, which were occasionally served as dessert, or for a Sunday morning breakfast.
All fires were kindled by using a piece of flint rock, striking it with a piece of steel, which caused a spark. That fell on scorched linen, which was blown until it was strong enough to ignite paper or some fragile material like dry bark. Then thin wood shavings and small pieces of wood so it took patience and perseverance even to kindle a fire, which was seldom allowed to go completely out, but was preserved by covering live coals with ashes till they were needed. There was no coal oil or kerosene in those days. Tallow candles or grease lights were used for lighting, and sometimes an open hearth or fireplace furnished the light for the evening.
Laundry was quite an ordeal. The preparations for the task took some time, as a leach was set up, which I will endeavor to describe. A wood barrel was set up high enough from the ground allow a drip kettle or pan to be placed under it at the proper time. Several small holes or one about an inch in diameter was made in one side of the barrel, then a few twigs were placed about the opening to keep the drain free. Each day the ashes from wood, that contained potash, was emptied into the barrel. When the barrel was nearly filled with ashes, the weather being favorable, a great kettle was brought out and set up on a rock foundation and nearly filled with water. The water was then poured on the ashes in the barrel, which, when it drained down through the ashes became an amber color and very bitey. This was lye. If the water in the great kettle was hard, a portion of lye liquid was added, and tubs or large troughs set in order. Also, a battling bench with smooth paddles; clothes were soaked and rubbed with the hands, or beaten on the battling bench with smooth paddles. After being first well saturated with the homemade soap. In this manner the worst soil was loosened and away, then more lye was added to the great kettle of water and white clothes dropped in to boil, being lifted and stirred. As soon as they appeared clean they were again returned to tubs and rinsed to remove all soap and lye, and laid on the green grass or hung upon lines to dry.
I was told that each week the soiled clothes were pre-washed to remove the perspiration and anything else that would be apt to attract mice or crickets, but then dried and laid aside to await the great wash.
Soap was made by boiling any kind of grease scraps in strong lye, which all girls must learn to make, which made what was known as soft soap. If hard soap was desired a portion of salt was added to the boiling soft soap and left to stand in the great kettle over night. This salt separated the soap from the lye. The soap was then cut in proper sized pieces and laid to dry. It was quite white if it turned out well. The lye, then a brown liquid was of no further use, as it contained salt, which made water hard.
Time passed swiftly by for this happy young couple, and in due course a little girl was born to them. I do not have a date of her birth, nor do I recall what her name was. I only know the next child that was born to them was on January 3, 1833, and her name was Wilhelmina, and she loved her older sister very dearly. About the time that Wilhelmina was two and a half or three years old the older sister died, which grieved Wilhelmina so deeply that she refused to be comforted or even take food, constantly calling, "Nuna, Nuna," and crying until her parents feared for her life, also. Little by little they finally persuaded Wilhelmina to again take nourishment and very gradually she was brought back to health and normalcy.
She told me her parents had made a sad mistake in taking her to the burial of her beloved sister, as she had seen the burial and did not understand about death. She, herself, was always very careful that no young children were permitted to attend funerals, not until they really understood about death.
Years passed by. The Hartman family increased, as I have a list of those that lived to maturity. I will now insert it, beginning with the parents birth dates.
Christian Hartman----August 26, 1803----Brunswick, (Braunschweig) Germany
Carlena (Caroline) Dameier----October 3, 1806----Hanover, Hannover) Germany
Wilhelmina Hartman----January 3, 1833----Hanover, (Hannover) Germany
Herman Hartman----April 10, 1835----Hanover, (Hannover) Germany
Caroline Hartman----June 2, 1840----Hanover, (Hannover) Germany
August Hartman----October 29, 1845----Hanover,(Hannover) Germany
These all lived to be quite old people and all left Germany to make their homes in foreign lands. There was one more child I have not mentioned, as I do not have the date of his birth. His name was Carl Hartman. I shall give facts about him later.
Years passed swiftly by and Carlena (Caroline) being a fragile person soon taught Wilhelmina to help her in every possible way. As the younger children came on she was taught to knit for them as well as for herself. She said she and other girls of their village were taught to care for their younger brothers and sisters out in shady nooks, while some would have sheep or geese to care for and carry their knitting with them to make use of every moment. They made games of it, racing to see who would do the most in a given time. They also soon learned to do simple cooking and dishwashing.
School was not neglected, and in the short winter days they
carried lanterns to see their way to and from school. The Bible
was one of their textbooks being studied daily. Their teacher
was also their preacher, and received his salary from the government.
At this time the state religion of Germany was
Lutheran, and no one was supposed to teach, preach, or attend any other denomination, and were severely punished if they did.
Christian and a number of his friends were really concerned about their religion. They decided to worship the way they thought right, and according to the way they all understood the Scriptures, which was according to the Calvinist Doctrine. Soon they were discovered and arrested and taken to jail, but undaunted, as soon as they were free again they continued in the secret worship. Thus Christian was sent to prison three times, and had sentences of from two to six weeks. His wife was also imprisoned for one week and fined heavily. I have information lately that the time both Christian and his wife were imprisoned they were taken to Leibenburg near Oathfrasen.
At one time household furnishings were auctioned off to pay a fine, and as their furnishings did not bring sufficient money to pay the fine, the officers of the law brought out Christian's work tools intending to sell them also, when he spoke up saying, "If you sell my tools how shall I support my family? I have no other means of making a living for them!" After some conversation among themselves, the officers decided to let him keep his tools.
When I inquired how they lived when all their household articles were sold, my mother told me an aunt who was able to loan them the money, bid them all in and Christian paid her back as soon as possible. The officers did not know she was a relative of theirs.
One of the times that Christian was imprisoned, the longest term was when Wilhelmina was eight years old. As the prisoner's food must be brought them from home it fell to Wilhelmina to carry food to him. Times at home were very hard, food supplies were running low, then the good wife made articles of clothing and novelties which Wilhelmina sold about the village, and thus did what they could to be self-supporting till Christian would be released. They were not permitted to speak with him or even see him. No communications were allowed. After a time some very important decisions had to be made. Carlena was puzzled and felt she must have her husband's advice. That day she cooked green beans and new potatoes for his dinner, and took a raw potato, cut it in half after peeling it, hollowed it out to be a thin shell. In this she placed a piece of plain paper and a stub of a lead pencil, also a note explaining her situation, then with a piece of fine white thread she tied the two halves so tightly together they would not leak. The note also instructed him to use a bit of his bread to make a paste, and stick his note under the bottom of the pail. When Wilhelmina arrived at the jail the warden took the pail and with a large spoon stirred the food about, but seeing nothing unusual he put the cover on and passed it through the window.
Christian took the pail, and eating, discovered the raw potato, which he cautiously opened quickly and answered the note, following instructions as to hiding it under the pail, then passed it out to the warden again, who opened the pail, inspected the inside of it and gave it back to Wilhelmina. She hastened to get around the corner out of sight of the jailer, then as she had been instructed, carefully removed the note to the safety of her pocket, hurrying home as fast as she could. When her mother, after anxiously awaiting her coming, received the note, she was glad all had gone well.
Now word of what was taking place there in the little village of Oathfrasen was so unusual that even though the way of communication was so slow, it spread abroad, and finally reached as far as England, coming to the attention of Queen Victoria. She made a trip to Germany, visiting the then three imprisoned men, one of who was Christian Hartman. After talking with them for awhile she presented each of them with five dollars in gold, a clock, and two small books written in German. One contains a Scripture verse for each day in the year, which is still in existence in Canada. The other one was "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. All of these Christian and his entire family cherished very much, and after his death the two small books were sent to Wilhelmina. She gave the one with the Scripture verses to her daughter, Lydia Clark, who in turn left it to her daughter, Edith Hollowell, of Shell Brook, Sask., Canada.
Pilgrim's Progress was left to me and I expect to leave it to my daughter. As this is a legacy and history of my mother and her people, and I think it should be carried on down, especially through the daughters, though I hope each of my sons will also see to getting a copy of this to hand down to their children, if for any reason I cannot give them a copy.
As Wilhelmina Hartman was born January 3, 1833, and was 8 years old at the time of these experiences of her father and family, the year must have been 1841.
Queen Victoria was then a very young queen. She began her reign at the age of 18 and reigned over England many years. This one act, which I have mentioned here, is proof of her kindness and sympathy, and no doubt her influence had its weight with the rulers of other lands in many ways. Perhaps she helped to get the German government to release their strict state or government religion, as they did in a few years, allowing other denominations to evangelize, which was successfully done.
From what I was told the German Lutheran Church at that time was not much like the Lutheran churches of our country, but in any other country where government and church are one the government holds the upper hand over the churches. They cannot be free to do as in free countries like ours.
Christian was a lover of music, he played a flute, and for his daughter Wilhelmina, he bought a big harp. He enjoyed his family very much and Wilhelmina was taught to play the harp and accompany him with his flute. Often in the evening he would carry her harp for her and they would go out serenading. Many of the houses were built as double houses with a hall between apartments where they would find the proper spot to do their entertaining, with playing and singing.
Christian also took pleasure in taking his children on long walks of sight seeing and tried to teach them to be alert. Teaching them to notice even the things along the way. One of the places he took them that I recall hearing about was a big cave or cavern of stone, on whose walls a legend was inscribed in word and picture. It was about a hunter, one of royal family, who on a Christmas Eve decided he wanted venison. His elders tried to dissuade him, but he would not hear them, as they said, Surely you would not kill an animal today! Why this is Christmas Eve!" His reply was "I go hunting and will kill the first deer I see even if it has a cross between it's horns!" He went out. After a short hunt he came back with a fine big buck, and on it's forehead was a cross of white hair.
Oh, how I loved to listen to the experiences Mother would tell, along the way of her life. They were so varied, so interesting, but after so many years I cannot recall many of them clear enough to try to pass them on.
When Wilhelmina was about 12 years old her grandparents, being quite old, needed someone to help them to take care of their cows. To herd them and do the milking and help about the house, and Wilhelmina went to help them, living with them several years. While she took the cows out to feed on the green grass she carried a bag that contained her knitting to help her pass the time more profitably, and made many pairs of sox, stockings, gloves and mittens, which also helped her mother and those at home.
As there were many wars and governmental disturbances, it happened that soldiers were sent to their village to guard the highways. As she came home one evening, driving the cows ahead of her, she saw a group of soldiers which somehow she must pass with the cows. Those men seeing a young girl driving cows along, decided to tease her and give her all the trouble they could, lined themselves across the road. Knowing the nature of the cows she was not a bit worried or detained. She went up to one of the cows that she knew would help her, taking hold of her horns and leaning heavily on her neck spoke to the cow. The cow at once started forward shaking her head and jumping. Then Wilhelmina stepped aside and watched. The cow tossed the men into the barpit on either side of the road, making a clear way for the rest of the cows and their keeper to follow, which they quickly did. The men were not injured, but got up quickly, laughing at each other and brushing off the dust from their uniforms.
Grandmother Bussa sold milk and butter and when she received the money for it she examined each piece of coin. If the stamp on it was of a horse she took it out of her purse and hid it away. This procedure Wilhelmina noticed and each time her Grandmother would go upstairs she would hear something being pulled a short distance on the floor, and in a few minutes slid back into place again. It did not take long for Wilhelmina to know that her Grandmother must be hiding these coins in a large laundry basket that had some clothes in it, under Grandmother's bed, but she had no intentions of taking out any of it.
Then one day her mother came to call on her Grandmother, for she needed some money very badly. She told Grandmother Bussa all about their circumstances, and asked to borrow a small amount, for a short time, but Grandmother Bussa refused to loan her any and no amount of persuasion could make her change her mind. Even though she had plenty to spare she would not loan any to her daughter. Wilhelmina, having heard all the conversation was deeply moved. When her mother started home she asked leave to walk a ways with her. As soon as they were out of hearing distance she told her mother all about the hidden coins and said, "If you wish me to, I will get what you need, if you will be sure to return it real soon and all bearing the certain stamp." Her mother hesitated for a few minutes as she said, "I don't want you to steal for us, but the necessity being as it is, I will accept your offer, but what if Grandmother should discover it is gone?". Wilhelmina knew only yesterday Grandmother had taken her coins to hide them and usually she did not collect more for about two weeks. Arrangements were made where they would meet, and Wilhelmina brought the coins and before Grandmother had any more to put away every coin was put back in the hiding place. Her grandmother never knew anything about it.
Grandfather Bussa sold a cow and had to deliver her to a city several miles away. As the cow did not want to leave the others and her home she was very hard for him to lead. Wilhelmina must go with him and drive the cow while he led her. After he received the money for the cow he decided to stop at a tavern, which vexed his young granddaughter, and after waiting outside for him some time she went on home alone, though it was quite a distance. Her Grandmother scolded her for leaving him, as well she knew he would be intoxicated before he arrived home; and that was the very reason she ran on home and left him, as she felt the disgrace and shame to travel in company of a drunken man, even if it was her Grandfather. Not long after that he took sick with a very bad stomach trouble and died after a long illness. Then Grandmother Bussa sold her possessions and went to live with her daughter Carlena (Caroline) Hartman.
Wilhelmina now soon decided to find a job at housework. Help was hired by the year there, as low as $12 a year the first year, and after that one must have a reference book to show if wanted a different job. As she gained more experience, her wages increased very slowly.
Pardon me, as I have gotten a bit ahead of my story, which makes it necessary for me to step back a few years. Though I do not have any dates on these events, yet I remember very clearly as Wilhelmina recounted them to me. At one time her mother, Carlena, took very ill. Doctor's care and all that could be done for her, availed nothing. She became so seriously ill that her life was despaired of. She became unconscious, the family were all summoned to her bedside, expecting her death momentarily. Wilhelmina, then only a child, had learned to have faith in God to supply all human needs. As the family and friends stood by the bedside, Wilhelmina looked around on all of them and asked quietly, "Will you all please leave the room? I want to be alone with my mother." This seemed a strange request for a child to make, but her father said, "Come, let us grant the child's request." When all had left the room, Wilhelmina closed the door softly, then kneeling at the bedside of her mother, she poured out her heart to her God in humble prayer, asking him to heal her mother and give her back to her family of small children, that needed her care and her guidance so very badly. And claiming the healing power of Jesus, she prayed on in faith knowing that God hears the prayers of those who ask and doubt not, and before she had finished her prayer she heard the faint voice of her mother saying, "Mena, give me a drink of water, please!" How these words thrilled her, for now she knew her prayer was being answered. Quickly, she arose from her knees. A grateful smile now wreathed the tear stained face of this humble girl as she said, "Thank you, God, for hearing the cry of thy child." She opened the door softly and quickly brought the water. From that moment her mother began to recover and before long was restored to perfect health and strength. As Wilhelmina stepped out of her mother's room the eyes of all who had shortly before stepped out of there at her request, were upon her, and could scarcely believe the good tidings she bore. But as they looked on the child's serenely happy face, they too caught the spirit of faith and all rejoiced that the crisis was past.
Another incident in the Hartman house occurred when little Karl (the brother whose birth date I do not have) took seriously ill, though the family did not realize the sickness was serious. Neither did the doctor. He seemed to have a heart ailment, and while his limbs were somewhat swollen he was not bedfast, though was kept quiet and resting on a bed as much as possible. When one day immediately after eating his dinner he said, "I feel so full and uncomfortable, won't you come and lie down on the bed and let me lie across you? I think that will make me feel better." His mother did as he asked, the little boy placed himself in a comfortable position, then drew one deep breath, which was his last breath. He was gone. The shock was great and hard to bear. Christian could not believe the child was really dead. After trying every way then known to medical science to restore breathing and life to this little boy whom all loved so dearly, he was prepared for burial. Neatly dressed, his blue eyes closed, his yellow curly hair neatly combed and placed. He was laid in a cool room of their own home. Christian would not consent to his burial as he looked so natural, as he had so often seen him when asleep. Thus the funeral was postponed. Each day Christian examined the body of his child to see if there were any discoloring, which would be proof to him that he was really dead. This procedure went on for several weeks, then one morning he said to his family with much grief, "I give up, there are now some signs of discoloration. We must bury him."
While this is a very unusual occurrence, the real reason for relating it is that you may better understand the real nature of Christian Hartman, a man hard to convince, but one who was fearful of making mistakes. When he was once convinced of a truth he knew no fear of any contrary opinion or punishment.
The event of little Karl's death took place while Wilhelmina was living with Grandmother Bussa. After his death she had been home for a short visit and had viewed the body of her brother Karl, noticing every detail as to his clothing. She then returned to help Grandmother. She was deeply grieved and when alone wept much. For some reason she did not attend the burial. One day as she came out of a room into the long hall she said she saw Karl some little distance ahead of her, standing near a door looking at her. She stopped in her duties, looking at him. His facial features were very plain, even his long curls, but his clothing was not the same she had seen the body clad in. Then as she stepped close to him he disappeared from sight. She felt much consoled after that and when next she went home related in detail the whole incident to her mother. She was told that after she had viewed Karl's body and just before burial they decided his clothes looked too mussed up by so many examinations, and had changed the suit he had on for a fresh one, the one she described.
Wilhelmina was a good student and took much interest in school. She was especially good in mental or oral arithmetic, geography, spelling, writing and Scripture. She received high marks in examinations in each of these studies. Reading aloud was her poorest subject. I believe that came from being self- conscious. I have often wished her aptitude for arithmetic, geography, and especially Scripture could have been handed down to me. In one of her tests in writing, as she was busily engaged, the teacher came up to her side very quietly and seeing her writing exclaimed, "Is it possible!" That exclamation was spoken in English and as Wilhelmina did not understand any language but German at that time she was very much worried and did not know what to expect, and though she had tried hard, feared she had failed. But when she received her report card it said, "Writing excellent", and now her worries on that score were over, and there was cause for rejoicing.
Now we will take again her life after school days were over. I have stated how very little wages were paid in those days. Of course, food and living quarters were furnished also, and all clothing that one had to buy was also cheap. When shoes were needed one must go to a shoemaker and have them made to order. In her childhood days when she went to have her foot measured she would say, "Put a penny's worth of squeak in them so people will know I have new shoes." But now that she was growing up she said "Please, sir, don't let them squeak." The price would be around one dollar a pair.
Between jobs Wilhelmina would go home and help out there, and rest up till another job could be found. At one time she worked for a man's family who was called a Forester. We would call him a Game Warden. There she learned to cook all sorts of wild meats. The mistress of this house, the Game Warden's wife, was a very exacting, cross woman, and while the family ate fine foods the help had very poor plain food.
On one occasion when she had goose to roast and it would not
brown, she knew well she would be reprimanded for not having it
a lovely brown, she then slipped off her shoes and made her way
up to a third story where a more experienced lady was doing the
cooking for another family and asked her what to do about the
goose that would not brown, and was told to dissolve some chicory
in water and baste the goose with it. Chicory was a sort of browned
vegetable used to add to coffee to make it have a stronger appearance,
so it was harmless. This she did and soon goose was the desired
shade of brown and her worries were over. No scolding that meal.
They made noodles once in a week or two, and dried them, storing
them until they were wanted. Often a salad was ordered in which
nuts were used as a garnish and must be carefully cracked so they
would be in perfect halves. The mistress knew how many halves
there should be in the amount bought, and when the salad was brought
in for her to serve she would count the nuts; if one was lacking
she demanded to know
what had become of it.
This was not a pleasant life and naturally Wilhelmina looked for something better. Then she went home and took up sewing. Even though her wages had been small while cooking they were higher than at the first places she worked. Clothing, being mostly made of sturdy materials did not wear out soon. One pair of shoes would last at least a year by being repaired. Linen and woollen cloth was mostly used for all sorts of clothing. Therefore, Wilhelmina had saved enough money to pay for a course in dressmaking, which was done at the home of the employer who also furnished food. If the job was short and the employee could live at home the noon meal was supplied. But if a longer job and some distance from home then board and lodging were given.
In those days sewing was quite complicated, as all the equipment for her trade was scissors, needles, thimbles, and a few pins. Not even a tape measure was to be had, much less a sewing machine. Each dressmaker or seamstress would get a length of paper about one inch wide and long enough for the longest measure needed. In the paper strip were cut notches to indicate different measures, or in some instances, a diamond was cut in the middle of the strip.
I have often seen my mother take the edge of a newspaper and cut a paper tape, and measure me, then cut a pattern from newspaper and fit it to me and proceed to cut out the material. When finished she would have a good fitting garment, no matter if it was a dress or coat. She made my brother's clothes in like manner, his underwear, shirts, pants, and suits, till he was grown and ready-to-wear clothing was available.
Property owners, or Lords as they were called, were often hauled into court and prosecuted for insufficiently feeding their help, and also for the poor quality of food.
At one of the places where Wilhelmina sewed, soup made of pig's head was served. She noticed some small white things floating in her soup; at examination she found they were maggots, so she had only a small amount of bread and home-make cheese for her dinner, and with the contents of the soup in mind did not enjoy foods served there.
On one occasion when the judge of the court questioned a landowner
about what he fed his help he evaded the question by saying, "I
eat white cabbage and mutton every day. Isn't that a dish fit
for Lords?" The judge replied, "Yes, but what do you
give your help?" Then when he admitted he did not provide
the same for his help, but gave them dark bread, cheese, coffee,
and perhaps potatoes in their jackets, but no meat, he was fined
and ordered to provide much better food and also a sufficient
quantity for all his help.
At one time when she was sewing for a lady, the husband came in and being of a friendly sort began to inquire as to what sewing was to be done. He was shown materials and told what each was to be. He said, "That is fine, and when you make her wrap that will be nice, too, only don't make it a Mantlekin. Anything else will be alright." Wilhelmina replied, "Don't you like Mantlekins? Well, this is a new sort of a wrap I shall make for her and you will like it, I am sure. It shall be very becoming to her." She was finished and the wife put it on. He was delighted with it, never suspecting it was the wrap called a Mantlekin. It seems he was just prejudiced to the name, and really did not know what it implied.
Quite some time had passed since the times when Christian had been imprisoned for worshiping secretly. He and his colleagues still held to their Calvinistic faith. It may have been ten years that they had so continued. The German Government had become more lenient, and now had permitted Evangelists of different faiths to work and preach. As newspapers were very scarce in those days, the news could not be obtained from papers, but an elderly woman made the rounds to the homes and for a small price as her salary related all the news she had gleaned. Her more generous patrons would also give her a sip of coffee and a bit of lunch, which she devoured while relating everything she had heard and in turn getting all the information she could from each one. A few newspapers might have been found in the large cities, but the little village of Oathfrasen was far too small to boast such a luxury.
On one of these visits the topic of most importance was that Baptist missionaries and evangelists had come to this little village, and were holding services. The public was invited. Many young people attended, among whom was Wilhelmina. Each day she related to her parents and all the family what the evangelist had preached about. On one of these occasions her father said, "You may go with the young folks and attend these meetings if you wish, but I forbid you ever to join with this denomination." She was pleased to have his permission to attend. She enjoyed the singing and also the preaching very much, having studied the Bible in school and knew what the preacher said was true. She soon began to ponder on the words so sternly spoken by her father, "I forbid you ever to join with this denomination." She also remembered that the Bible said, "We ought to obey God rather than man." and "He that loveth Father or Mother more than me is not worthy of me." Many more quotations came to her mind. It seemed plain to her that this denomination followed out the Bible teachings more than any other she knew anything about; being very serious in her reasoning she decided to do what she felt in her own heart was right. Regardless of her father's stern command, not to join them, at one of the meetings when the opportunity was given, she went forward. In due time she was immersed and became a full member of the Baptist Church. She knew her father would not be pleased, but could not know how fierce his wrath would be. On learning Wilhelmina had done what she felt was right, and had not regarded his command, his wrath was kindled against her, and on returning from work that evening she found all her belongings thrown out of their home. In his rage he said, "There are all your belongings. Take them away from here and never enter my house again."
This was more than she had expected, but immediately she went in search of a room in which to live, which she found in the home of a friend. Renting the room she moved all her things in and soon felt she had established her own home. Her heart was sad when she thought of her father's fierce anger, and she prayed for some way to be shown her in which he might be brought to forgive her for her disobedience to him.
Now she took up sewing lady's kid gloves in order to make her own living. There were no large factories in those days, but in a larger town than Oathfrasen there was a place where all sorts of gloves were cut out and those who cared for the work could go there, obtain a package of the cut-out gloves and the necessary equipment, take them home to sew them, deliver the finished work and obtain a fresh supply each week. The equipment consisted of strong fine thread, needles, scissors and a clamp on which were fastened two notched bars. The glove material was carefully placed between the bars and then clamped tightly together to hold the leather in place. The notches in the bars similar to comb teeth. They were stitch gauges which kept the stitches neat and even. The stitches were rotated over the edge to the leather, the length of the seam and then crossed back to the beginning of the seam. This made a double sewing on the outside that was strong and neat.
Her long walks to deliver her finished work took her through great woods which she tried to accomplish before dark, as the night prowling animals and birds that screamed in the dark at each other did not make for a pleasant walk for a lone young lady. The price for sewing gloves was small and by working long hours she was able to have the bare necessities of life, but no luxuries.
I do not know how long this condition existed, but the way I remember her relating it to us it must have been quite some time. Then one day some one told Wilhelmina that her father was very ill and suffering greatly; he could not leave his bed. She had long been wishing she might go home just for a little visit, but she always remembered his words, "Never come back." And as long as he was well and about she thought he might even strike her if she did go back, but now she felt she must go and see if she could do anything to help him.
On entering the home her mother said "Oh! Child, what are you doing here? Your father's wrath has not abated. He is very sick, not able to be up, but if he could get up and knew you were here he would throw you out." Wilhelmina answered, "Yes, Mother, I heard he is very ill and that is why I have come, to ask if there is anything I can do for him. I am so very sorry to know he is so ill and suffering." With much persuasion her mother was finally coaxed to carry her message to the very sick man. He scarcely heard the message through when he vehemently objected to her being there and said, "No, she can do nothing for me. Tell her to get out and stay out."
Her mother brought back the message he had sent, and tremblingly, she said, "You better go now!" With sad heart and tears in her eyes Wilhelmina returned to her humble apartment, praying that her father might somehow be healed and also forgive her for disobeying him. The next day she returned again to inquire as to her father's health, and again persuaded her mother bear the same message to him, which her mother reluctantly did. This time the reply was still no, but he had suffered so much his reply was not quite so vehement as it was the day before. Again Wilhelmina mingled her tears with her prayers. His answer being somewhat less furious than before, she felt encouraged. Then the third day she repeated the same message of the two previous days, hoping with all her heart her father would soon accept her offer to do something for him.
This time her mother came from his room saying, "He has and is suffering greatly. He is no better, but seems much worse and weaker. His message to you is "Yes, there is one thing she can do for me, if her religion will permit. She may go to the doctor who lives in (and he named a town whose name I do not recall. It was 25 miles away). There she may obtain a gallon of medicine which the doctor will compound for me, which she can bring to me. It will help me." This was a large task to walk 25 miles, carry a jug, stay all night, and return the next day with a full gallon jug, and Wilhelmina fully realized what it meant, but her heart was leaping for joy, for now at last she was permitted to do something for the parent she loved so dearly. She said, "Tell him I will gladly do it for him."
Early the next morning she set out on her long journey. Many wagons came along the highway, but all came meeting her. Not one went the direction she was going. The way was long and wearisome, but she was so glad to be permitted to do it she did not notice her weariness. Soon the doctor's house was found and her mission stated. Leaving the jug in his care, she obtained some food and a room and bed to spend the night. The doctor had promised to compound the medicine at once so as to have it ready for her to take early in the morning. No doubt she slept soundly after so long a walk and a good evening meal. Rising very early the next morning she again began the long journey home. The jug was much heavier now and again not a vehicle went her way. There was not a chance to ride and rest, not even a little ways.
On reaching home the medicine was gladly and gratefully received and with the good wife and mother's careful nursing Christian began to recover. Now he had known suffering which had its effect in softening his heart. There was also plenty of time for heart searching, meditation, and repentance, also gratitude. Fully realizing his daughter's sincerity, in faith and love had brought, to offer and render the service she had to him. Wilhelmina returned to the home daily to inquire if there was anything more she could do and as to his recovery. Each day her mother bore the messages to and from her dear ones to each other. On one occasion Christian said, "Tell her to come in, I want to see her and also tell her to come back home and live with us again. Let our home be her home also; and as she has demonstrated such true religion I want to know more about it, for that is the religion I want, too."
Needless to say Wilhelmina returned to her apartment with a glad heart, not forgetting to thank God for all his goodness and mercy in reuniting them in a true bond of Christian love that would never end. The next day found her moved back, living with her dearly loved family, in the old home. Now she taught her sister Lena, who was younger than she, the dress making trade, which she had learned and followed for some time. The two worked along together.
Then smallpox broke out and their home was again a house of sickness. All but Wilhelmina had it very light. Her mother only had a very few. Also Lena had it very light; neither one of them were sick enough to go to bed. I do not remember the brothers and fathers, but none were seriously ill except Wilhelmina. She was isolated in a room by herself with a raging fever. All her body ached and broke out in the small boils. For several days she was delirious and when the fever subsided, the little boils were so painful to touch, she being completely covered with them. To lie in bed was a real torture, neither was there any relief in trying to sit or stand. After a time the boils began to dry up and itched terribly. Her face being a solid mass of them, her mother applied oil of lily to heal and loosen the scabs. She bound her hands in bandages so she could not scratch, and in this way the scabs all healed and filled out, not leaving a single pit. The first time she was permitted to wash her own face, taking up water in her hands and applying it, the whole form of her face came off like a mask. Health and strength gradually returned and she again went to work.
For some time the family had been dissatisfied with conditions in their native land, and began to plan ways and means to leave Germany. There was compulsory military training that Herman must take, which Christian was opposed to. Taxation was also very heavy. Though communications were very slow and crossing the great ocean was done in sailing ships, there were some who ventured to make these long voyages, returning with news of more freedom in better and more prosperous countries. The topic of conversation in the Hartman home was often about going to some foreign land to make a new beginning and obtain greater liberties and better conditions. Where the harsh words, "You must!" were not so freely used by the Government.
The entire family agreed to save all they possibly could of
their meager earnings in order to accomplish their desire of finding
a new home in a new country. Thus, each one denied many luxuries
and worked willingly with the one great goal in view. Now word
was received, that some friends of the Hartman family, by the
name of Sanders, had decided to go to America as soon as they
could arrange for their passports and transportation. This family
consisted of a young man, his wife a small child, perhaps a year
old or less. Wilhelmina counted her savings, as it could be arranged
that she could share their cabin on the ship and in this way lessens
the expense of the trip for all. She found her little bank did
not contain enough, as she must not only pay her transportation
on the ship but also have a stated amount of cash with her when
she arrived in America. There remained still some time before
the ship would sail. She labored longer hours and sewed faster
than she ever. She, as a last resort, decided to put on a sale,
selling everything she could spare, which included many yards
of linen material for which she had spun the flax into threads
herself and then taking it to the weaver it was woven into cloth
for various uses. Her clothing also was carefully sorted over
and various trinkets as well as bedding. In this manner she reduced
her belongings to what one large chest and a trunk could accommodate.
(First Part of the Story from the writings of Elizabeth Griffith, daughter of Wilhelmina & Charles MOELLER, entitled "From Then Till Now")
Typed by Sharron (Wetmore) Dexter
I would be interested to hear from anyone who has any information or photographs on any of these families. You can write to me at <jvbryant at halenet dot com dot au>. .
Back to the top