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.
Fourth Part of the story
Click to go to Part 1 , Part 2 or Part 3
Sometime after Fred Holtz's death Wilhelmina met Charles John Moeller, a young German who was born Sept. 18, 1837 at Neukloster, Mecklenberg, Germany. He had come to America with his parents and family, landing at New York in 1855 at the age of seventeen. His family, like the Hartman's, had grown weary of conditions as they were in their native land, and the entire family came together, to a new and wonderful country. They all made their homes here, never to return or even desire to go back to their native land. Before leaving their homeland Charles had, in his early boyhood days, attended school in Neukloster, Mecklenburg, as that was the village in which they lived. His father was a weaver by trade and wove linen and wool material of the household quality, in which young Charles could be a helper. He passed the shuttle that contained the wool or filler to his father, thus saving him many steps and much time. All work was poorly paid, while living was not too high, yet, with so small an income it seemed always to be a struggle for the family to have the bare necessities. Living in the northern part of Germany and not too far from the sea, fishermen brought many fish to sell at small prices, which with potatoes and dark bread seemed to be the main food for the working people. Before he left Germany, and while the entire family was doing everything possible to earn and save enough money to make the contemplated trip to the U.S.A., Charles worked on the highway, as a new road was then being built near Neukloster. I often heard him tell about this job, how at the age of sixteen, he earned about 35 cents a day. No wonder the family felt the need of leaving such a country and searching for better conditions, and also, that they were content in America, not even desiring to return for a visit.
His mother died when he was quite young and his father married again. His stepmother was kind and treated him well as I never heard a single complaint of the way she treated him. He had two brothers and one half-sister. If there were more children in that family I cannot be positive about it. I never saw any of my father's family as his youngest brother died at least three years before I saw the light of day.
Charles first settled in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Afterward he lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from there he worked on a canal boat hauling freight, as there were not many railroads built in the U.S.A. at that time, and waterways were used wherever possible. He also lived at Toledo, Ohio, employed on a fishing boat, when a mighty storm arose, wrecking the boat. As I remember him telling about it, there were several other men on board, at least five of whom clung to the floating wreckage of masts and sails while the storm beat furiously all night through. The wind was cold and the waves had completely drenched them. Two or three of his companions could not endure it and as they were so numbed with cold, could cling no longer, dropping into the lake and were drowned in it's depths. In the morning life boats and guards came out in search of the missing fishing boat and crew and he was rescued, though he was so cold and numb he could scarcely cling to the mast he had straddled. Food, warmth, and rest soon revived him and the remaining crew members. Later he went to Muscatine, Iowa, and worked in a big sawmill. His family, as much as I remember, went to Cincinnati and remained there. While living there he was converted and baptized and became a member of the German Baptist Church, carrying his membership first to Muscatine, then to Shell Creek Church near Platte Center Nebraska, and then on to the English Baptist Church in Walsenburg, Colorado where he kept his membership as long as he lived.
Some time after coming to Muscatine he met and courted Wilhelmina Holtz. They were married September 18, 1864. This brought a little change to the heretofore Holtz cottage. Grandfather Holtz now went to live with his son John, who with his wife and family lived on a farm, but the old man did not find a welcome there and was so badly treated, especially by his son John's wife, that he found it unbearable. When Charles and Wilhelmina went there to visit, after a year or two of this disagreeable life, Grandfather told them the existing conditions. They felt so sorry for him that Charles, and also Wilhelmina, asked the aged man to come back to their home and live with them, where he spent the remainder of his days in a much more pleasant atmosphere, being contented and cared for as best they could till he passed away. This incident to me is quite an uncommon one, for no other occasion have I heard of a second husband taking care of the first husband's father, as he did one of his own children, without compensation, as Charles Moeller cared for Grandfather Holtz.
Up to this time they were still residing in the little cottage in Muscatine. Charles worked wherever he could find employment. Wages were low, but so was everything else, and people managed to live as their income permitted. It so happened that Charles had a job away from Muscatine, leaving his family in their home, and came home weekends. During the week a letter came from his brother, John, who lived in Cincinnati. Wilhelmina was not in the habit of opening anyone's mail, not even her husband's, and she knew it was from John and supposed it to be a family letter of no great importance, and laid it aside carefully in his dresser drawer to await his return at the end of the week, but what a surprise she had when in a few days his brother John and his entire family came to visit them. They had written to tell that they were coming and when they would arrive in hopes Charles would meet them and take them to their home, but when they arrived in Muscatine there was no one to greet them or show the way. In some way, making inquiries, they did find the home and said, "Did you not get our letter? Why did not Charles or someone come to meet us?" Then they explained that cholera was very bad in Cincinnati, many people were dying with it. They had come to try to escape it, and thought to stay until the plague of the dreaded disease was over. There were John, his wife, Kate, and either two or three small children. One of the girls was Anna, of whom I shall tell more later. This visit proved to be a very pleasant one, both families enjoying it a lot. The Bible had often been discussed and both families had felt they had been greatly benefited by exchanging views and studying it together. The visit continued for six weeks. Then John received information that the cholera was abating. There were now very few cases of it in the city and the family made plans to return to their own home. They soon packed up their belongings and were off, regretting they lived so far apart, but glad for the fine understanding of deeper family ties that had grown between the two families.
Soon after returning home John contacted the disease he had tried to escape by going to Muscatine, which proved fatal to him. Then one night after Charles' family had been asleep for sometime Wilhelmina was awakened and felt someone was present in the room. As she opened her eyes she saw John standing in the middle of the room dressed in a flowing white garment with a girdle about his waist. His face radiant, he spoke, saying, "Mena are you awake?" She answered, "Yes, John." "Then wake your husband." This she endeavored to do, but to no avail, and then John said, "I came to tell you that our faith and belief in the Scriptures is correct as we have communicated about it together, but the hymn we sing at the grave which says that while we stand here weeping the soul departed is with God before his throne, that is not so. We go to Paradise to await the resurrection." Then he made a deep reverent bow and went out of the door, which Wilhelmina had securely locked before she went to bed.
She had a feeling she would like to have gone with him, and sprang out of bed, lighted the coal oil lamp that stood on the dresser. This awakened Charles who inquired, "What's the matter?" She looked at the clock; it was exactly twelve midnight. She tried the door, opening it readily, for it was now unlocked. Then she related the whole incident to her husband. They both wondered how this could be. Sleep fled from them for the remainder of that night. In the morning a telegram came saying John had died that night of cholera, at 11:50. I fully realize that to some who read this the thing may seem to be untrue, but as for me I believe it, for I never in all my life had the least reason to doubt anything my mother ever told me, and I heard her tell this incident several times and Father also said it was all true as far a he knew, and what she had seen and heard that he had not but also believed what she had told him. There are some things that come to all of us we just cannot explain. They are the mysteries of life.
Time went on. Aunt Kate often wrote to mother. One day she wrote, "Do you remember when we were with you, I said I could not understand how any woman could marry the second time? Now I want to apologize for saying that. I did not understand and could not know how very lonely one could be for companionship after losing her husband. True, I have my children as you had yours, but they do not give the consolation I need. They do no understand life's problems. I am truly sorry for what I said." She went on, "I have met a man who wants to marry me and help me raise my family. I have begun to care for him also. We shall continue our acquaintance awhile longer and, if after knowing each other better, our minds are the same, we will be married." Needless to say her apology was heartily accepted, and a letter of congratulations and best wishes for their future life was quickly sent to the sister-in-law.
After a few years, I cannot say how many, Henry Moeller, Charles' youngest brother, came to make his home with Charles and family in Muscatine. He was still quite a young man and unmarried. The entire family became very fond of him, for they all told me how fine he was, so pleasant. They always rejoiced when he came home between jobs or on weekends. I do not know how long he had been there. He was working for a farmer, and had been plowing corn all day. The weather was very warm and the work dusty. He and the man he was working for had just finished cultivating a field of corn. His employer said, "Let us go down to Cedar Creek and take a swim." Henry said, "I cannot swim, but I need a bath, so I will go with you and while you swim I will wash off some of the dust and be clean." They went as they planned. Henry enjoying his bath, ventured too far and was sucked down in a whirlpool. His employer tried frantically to rescue him, but in vain, he was drowned. A party of friends and farmers brought the lifeless body out of the bottom of that terrible whirlpool. He was laid to rest in a cemetery near Wilton, Iowa. His parents had passed away sometime earlier.
Charles was now the only one of the Moeller family, that came from Germany, that remained as far as I know. To Charles and Wilhelmina Moeller were born six children whose birth record I shall now give: This record I am taking from my father's and mother's Bible, where Mother had written them in her own German hand, beginning with their own birth dates.
Charles John Moeller----September 18, 1837----Neukloster, Mechlenburg, Germany
Wilhelmina Hartman----January 3, 1833----Oathfrasen, Hanover, Germany
Martha M. Moeller----August 9, 1865----Muscatine, Iowa
Margaret E. Moeller----December 3, 1867----Muscatine, Iowa
Lydia R. Moeller----September 4, 1870----Muscatine, Iowa----died June 29, 1944.
Harmena L. Moeller----September 4, 1870----Muscatine, Iowa---- died at 6 weeks of age
Charles Emanual Moeller----November 5, 1873----Muscatine, Iowa--- -died September 19, 1893----buried at Rosita, Custer, Colorado Cemetery
Elizabeth Laureta Moeller----May 26, 1876----Muscatine,
(Fourth 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 photgraphs on any of these families. You can write to me at <jvbryant at halenet dot com dot au> .
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