Going back 102 years to 18 October 1915

Most days of most lives are “ordinary.” But, our ordinary is likely very different than the ordinary of our ancestors. Though, in some ways things are probably similar. So, this is the first of a series of what will become regular blog posts in which we will go back in time to explore what our ancestors may have been doing on a certain date. This idea was inspired by Roberta Estes’ blog post, On This Day – What Were Your Ancestors Doing? – 52 Ancestors #170. She picked a day and went back 100 years. I’m putting a slightly different spin on my posts. Using a random number generator, I will be going back a random number of years with each post. We’ll see which ancestors were living, where they lived, the basics of what was going on in their lives, and what was going on in the world around them.

18 October 2017 – Wednesday

Here in the modern world as fall is arriving with changing leaves, crisper temperatures, mums and pumpkins, there is already excitement for the upcoming holidays. Today, we are celebrating the birthday of a Krueger cousin through Facebook posts. We’ve got to get Halloween candy purchased for the trick-or-treaters who will soon be ringing our bell. Christianson family lefse making is on the calendar and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new baby to add to that family tree. We’re switching to dark beer and have enjoyed our first growler of Ugly Pumpkin beer of the year. Several bags of apples have been purchased from the local orchard,with plans to turn them into pies and applesauce. We’ve also stopped at the cemetery and survived the 27th anniversary of Philip‘s birth. Despite gloriously beautiful weather this week, fall is in the air!

Weather forecast, 18 Oct 2017. The Weather Channel, https://weather.com/maps/tendayforecast.

The headlines for today include:

  • Tom Marino, Trump’s Pick As Drug Czar, Withdraws After Damaging Opioid Report
  • Federal Judge In Hawaii Blocks Trump’s Third Attempt At Travel Ban
  • John McCain blasts Nationalism when accepting Liberty Medal
  • Harvey Weinstein Resigns From His Company Following Scandal, Source Says
  • U.S. Backed Forces Reclaim Raqqa from ISIS
  • Trump’s Net Worth Plummets on Forbes Richest List
  • A Third of California’s Fire Evacuees Still Waiting to Go Home

The world has had a number of devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires in recent months. About half of Americans are at risk of identity theft due to Equifax, a credit monitoring service, being hacked. Race tensions are high. Football players are silently protesting racial inequality by taking a knee or locking arms during the playing of the National Anthem. Some days it is hard to want to pay attention to the news.

Sports consume the free time of many. Several in the family have kids participating in soccer, football, or swimming this time of year. We even have a family member who is doing well in competitive cubing, one who competes in autocross, and another who is going to take part in a learn to curl event next month. The Minnesota Linx just won the championship in the WNBA. As I’ve written before, I’m not very sports-minded, but in the fall you can even find me cheering for our beloved Gopher and Viking football teams. Not everyone in the family cheers for these teams, but they should. The World Series will start in a week, with either the Yankees or Astros representing the ALCS and the Dodgers or Cubs representing the NLCS. Some people will pay a lot of attention to the World Series games (but probably not me).

 

18 October 1915 – Monday

On Monday, October 18, 1915, fall was also in the air. With all 38 of our living ancestors located in the Midwest, they too were experiencing the changing season. Leaves on their trees were colorful and the weather was getting colder.

Of the 38 living ancestors, the youngest, Norman Krueger was ten-years old and the oldest, George Miller, was 85. The average age was 49.

Name Age Residence
Krueger, Norman Arthur August 10 Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin
Aschbrenner, Selma Cornelia 11 Berlin, Marathon, Wisconsin
Aldahl, Margaret Olga 13 Lansing, Mower, Minnesota
Fawcett, Lona Iona 13 Jackson, Sac, Iowa
Christianson, Bennett Nils 13 Newry, Freeborn, Minnesota
Miller, Leona Catherine 16 Sandwich, DeKalb, Illinois
Estes, Thomas Leland 19 Castana, Monona, Iowa
Phillips, Floyd Boyce 23 Sugar Grove, De Kane, Illinois
Meyer, Barbara Mary 34 Jackson, Sac, Iowa
Lemke, Frieda H 34 Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin
Fehlhaber, Alice Rosalie 35 Berlin, Marathon, Wisconsin
Stemson, Bertha H. 38 Newry, Freeborn, Minnesota
Krueger, Bernhard Richard R 41 Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin
Aschbrenner, Frederick A Helmut 41 Berlin, Marathon, Wisconsin
Miller, Frank Palmer 41 Sandwich, DeKalb, Illinois
Christianson, Christian Bennett 41 Newry, Freeborn, Minnesota
Fawcett, Harry Allen Lawrence 43 Jackson, Sac, Iowa
Phillips, Guy Allison 49 Sugar Grove, De Kane, Illinois
Boyce, Gertrude Lovin 50 Sugar Grove, De Kane, Illinois
Hilson, Caroline 52 Lansing, Mower, Minnesota
Freese, Clara Christine Elsabe 56 Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin
Aldahl, Lars Olson 58 Lansing, Mower, Minnesota
Estes, John Thomas 59 Castana, Monona, Iowa
Baldwin, Helen Lucina 60 Grinnell, Poweshiek, Iowa
Cornell, Jane Elizabeth 62 Big Rock, Kane, Illinois
Torset, Barebo Engebretsdtr 67 Udolpho, Mower, Minnesota
Fawcett, James W Huleress 67 Grinnell, Poweshiek, Iowa
Kluender, Bertha Auguste Henriette 67 Stratford, Marathon, Wisconsin
Fehlhaber, Carl F. 70 Berlin, Marathon, Wisconsin
Brace, Amelia A. 71 Aurora, Kane, Illinois
Rukke, Björn Christianson 73 Udolpho, Mower, Minnesota
Phillips, Albert Aveldo 73 Aurora, Kane, Illinois
Aschbrenner, Frederick Wilhelm 76 Stratford, Marathon, Wisconsin
Stemson, Halvor 80 Newry, Freeborn, Minnesota
McCall, Samual Christopher 82 Auxvasse, Callaway, Missouri
Miller, George Leifheite 85 Big Rock, Kane, Illinois

Where did they live?

The ancestors were all residing in the Midwestern United States in October 1915. The following map shows their locations.

Locations of the Christianson, Estes, Krueger and Phillips ancestors.

What was happening in the World and the Nation?

Since all of these ancestors were living in the United States, they surely shared some of the same experiences. News traveled more slowly then. They didn’t have the internet or smart phones. They didn’t have television. They didn’t even necessarily have daily newspapers. Bigger cities, like Chicago and Minneapolis had daily papers, but the smaller communities often had weekly papers. The news sometimes traveled by word of mouth quicker than by any official reporting. Though, some people did have radios and according to an article in the De Kalb Chronicle, “In this wondrous day of wire and wireless we learn, half across the world, the events of the day almost instantaneously, and the very elements carry abroad the news.

Even if they got the news slowly, our ancestors would surely be aware and concerned about the growing World War. The United States had not entered the war yet, but the war had been going on in Europe for over a year. On 5 Oct 1915, Bulgaria entered the World War as one of the Central Powers. A day later, Serbia was invaded by the Central Powers Troops. Made up of troops from Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria, that army crossed the Danube River and captured Belgrade. The Serbian soldiers and their families retreated through snow and mountains to the Albanian border. On 9 Oct, Belgrade, Serbia surrendered. On the Western Front, the Battle of Loos, which had stared on 25 Sep, ended with a German victory. German forces had been able contain a British attack. There were 85,000 casualties. Then, on 12 Oct 1915, a British nursing instructor named Edith Cavell, who worked with the Red Cross, was shot by the Germans. They accused her of being a spy and helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium. On 16 Oct 1915, Great Britian declared war on Bulgaria. Things were not good in Europe!

Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) 18 Oct 1915, page 2, https://www.newspapers.com/image/28772598.

Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 18 Oct 1915, p. 9.

At home in the United States, a 7.8 earthquake had shook Pleasant Valley, Nevada on 3 Oct. Luckily, it was a remote area, so there was little damage.

Woodrow Wilson was President. He was in the second year of his two-term presidency and was engaged to marry. He was the first Southerner elected president since before the Civil War. Sadly, some cabinet heads appointed by Wilson re-segregated restrooms and cafeterias in government buildings. The 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation, was the first motion picture to be screened in the White House. The film glorified the Ku Klux Klan and portrayed blacks as uncivilized. During his term, segregation was ordered in the Washington offices of the Navy, Treasury, and Postmaster General. When implemented at the Post Office, many blacks were demoted or fired. Half a century after the Civil War, civil rights were certainly not progressing under Wilson’s leadership.

But, Wilson was also the first sitting president to throw out the first ball at a World Series game. He did so in 1915. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series on 13 Oct 1915, beating the Philadelphia Phillies four games to one. A day after the World Series had been decided, our relatives in Iowa got to read about the second of the five games. News did not travel quickly back then.

Report on game two of the World Series (Odebolt, Iowa: The Chronicle, 14 Oct 1915)

Families

Christianson (Aldahl and Christianson)

The ancestors who provided descendants to build our Christianson family all lived within two counties in Southern Minnesota. All attended Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church.

Aldahl

Name Age Residence
Aldahl, Lars Olson 58 Lansing, Mower, Minnesota
Aldahl, Margaret Olga 13 Lansing, Mower, Minnesota
Hilson, Caroline 52 Lansing, Mower, Minnesota

 

 

Aldahl pedigree.

Margaret Olga Aldahl already knew Bennett Nils Christianson who would someday be her husband, but in 1915, she was just 13-years old and a young teenager. She lived with her parents, and ten siblings, but had no living grandparents. She was a school girl, speaking English at school and Norwegian at home.

Once a year, Beloit College publishes a “mindset list” to give us a look at the things to understand about incoming Freshman. The list for the Class of 2021, for example, reminds us that they are the first generation for whom a phone has always primarily been a video game, research library, etc. and that these young adults were never able to use a Montgomery Ward catalog as a booster seat. In October 1915, the newspaper published an article with a somewhat similar list, letting readers know that Grandfather had never heard of things like movies and submarines. It seems that there have always been attempts to understand the generational gaps. It is interesting though, that many of the things that Grandfather never heard of are things that I’ve never heard of either. Like, what is cream of hops?

“Grandfather Never Heard of These,” 13 Oct 1915, Mower County Transcript-Republican.

Caroline,  Margaret’s mother, who was born in a nearby county, had moved with her husband to a farm they purchased in 1891. So, they had been living in Lansing Township, Mower County, Minnesota for about 24-years by October 1915.

Lars, Margaret’s father and Caroline’s husband, who had immigrated from Norway 37-years earlier, was a farmer. According to an article in the Mower County Transcript-Republican, he was lucky to be farming in Mower County.

“Fertile Soil of Mower County,” 13 Oct 1915, Mower County Transcript-Republican.

Christianson / Stemson

Name Age Residence
Christianson, Bennett Nils 13 Newry, Freeborn, Minnesota
Christianson, Christian Bennett 41 Newry, Freeborn, Minnesota
Rukke, Björn Christianson 73 Udolpho, Mower, Minnesota
Stemson, Bertha H. 38 Newry, Freeborn, Minnesota
Stemson, Halvor 80 Newry, Freeborn, Minnesota
Torset, Barebo Engebretsdtr 67 Udolpho, Mower, Minnesota

Christianson pedigree.

Like his future wife, Bennett Nils Christianson was a teenager. He had just celebrated his 13th birthday on 14 October. He lived with his parents, Bertha and Christian (“C.B.”) and six siblings in Newry Township, Freeborn County, Minnesota. Both paternal grandparents and his maternal grandfather were alive and living nearby. He was surrounded by aunts and uncles and lots of cousins.

Wrigley’s gum ad, 13 Oct 1915, Freeborn County Standard.

While the C.B. and Bertha Christianson family and Bertha’s dad, Halvor Stemson, were living across the county line in Freeborn County, C.B.’s parents, Bjørn and Barebo were living in Udolpho, Mower, Minnesota. Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church was right on the county line road. Most of Bennett’s extended family attended Red Oak Grove Lutheran church. Lars Aldahl and family were also involved in Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church. Lars served as the secretary of Red Oak Grove for about 30-years.

According to the minister’s notes, there were a lot of things going on at church in October 1915. Confirmation classes were held on Fridays and on Tuesday the 26th. There were religious services every other Sunday (“gudstjeneste”) and there were two weddings, one on Wednesday the 6th and another on Thursday the 14th.

Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church, October 1915.

Since we have a Certain-Teed employee in our Christianson family, it was interesting to find a 1915 advertisement for the company.

Certain-teed ad, 13 Oct 1915, Freeborn County Standard.

Estes

The ancestors who provided descendants to build our Estes family where spread out across Iowa and Missouri.

Estes / McCall

Name Age Residence
Estes, John Thomas 59 Castana, Monona, Iowa
Estes, Thomas Leland 19 Castana, Monona, Iowa
McCall, Samual Christopher 82 Auxvasse, Callaway, Missouri

Estes pedigree.

Tom Estes was a 19-year old in 1915. He was living in Castana, Monona County, Iowa. His dad, John, lived there too. His Grandpa McCall was living in Auxvasse Township, Callaway County, Missouri.

By 1915, Tom was probably doing farm work for someone in the neighborhood. According to the 1915 Iowa State Census, he didn’t have any income the previous year and his occupation then had just been listed as with father. John was a farm laborer too. He earned $500 in 1914. Using a historical standard of living value, that income would be equivalent to about $12,400.00 in 2016. They did not own a home or farm.

J.T. Estes, 1915 Iowa Census.

T.L. Estes, 1915 Iowa Census.

Tom’s Grandpa Sam McCall was 82-years old and was no doubt living with family in Callaway County, Missouri on 18 October 1915. In 1910, he lived with his son, Sam McCall, Jr. We don’t know exactly when he moved, but Sam Junior had moved to Monona County, Iowa by 1918. In 1920, Sam Senior lived with Delilia Cartmill Lindsley Harland and her husband Thomas H. Harland. Sam was related to the couple two different ways. First, he was Thomas’ uncle. Second, he was Delilia’s step-dad.  Sam didn’t have a home of his own, so lived with others. We don’t know exactly who he was staying with on 18 October 1915, but he was in Callaway County, Missouri.

Fawcett

Name Age Residence
Baldwin, Helen Lucina 60 Grinnell, Poweshiek, Iowa
Fawcett, Harry Allen Lawrence 43 Jackson, Sac, Iowa
Fawcett, James W Huleress 67 Grinnell, Poweshiek, Iowa
Fawcett, Lona Iona 13 Jackson, Sac, Iowa
Meyer, Barbara Mary 34 Jackson, Sac, Iowa

Fawcett pedigree.

Lona Iona Fawcett was a 13-year old only-child, living with her parents Barbara and Harry in Jackson Township, Sac County, Iowa. When the Iowa census was taken earlier in 1915, it reported that Lona had attended school for eight months the previous year. Harry was a farmer, but his income was only $400 for 1915. Using a historical standard of living value, that income would be equivalent to about $9,910.00 in 2016.He didn’t own a home or a farm, so must have rented his farmland. We can tell from the census that they were Methodist.

Barbara Fawcett, , 1915 Iowa Census.

Lona Fawcett, 1915 Iowa Census

Harry Fawcett, , 1915 Iowa Census.

We know that it may have been a sad week for the Fawcett family because Harry and Barbara had to attend a funeral. It seems that Sadie Jones was a family friend, or given her year of birth, maybe the mother of a family friend.

Odebolt Chronicle, 14 Oct 1915, page 4.

Funeral of Sadie Jones, Odebolt Chronicle, 14 October 1915, page 1.

Lona’s paternal grandparents, Hugh and Helen Fawcett were still living. They were living in Iowa, but many counties away at Grinnell, Poweshiek County, Iowa. Today, it would be about a three-hour drive across Iowa. In 1915, it would have taken longer. We know that Harry had a car by then, but the roads then were not as good as they are today so travel, even with an automobile, was more difficult. It’s not known whether or not the grandparents had a car too. So, we don’t know how frequently Lona got to see her grandparents. Hugh was listed as a laborer. He was unemployed a couple months the previous year and only had 1914 earnings of $250. Using a historical standard of living value, that income would be equivalent to about $6,190.00 in 2016. He did own a home though that was worth $1,000.

Helen Fawcett, 1915 Iowa Census.

Hugh Fawcett, 1915 Iowa Census.

 

Krueger

The ancestors who provided descendants to build our Krueger family were all of German descent and all lived in Marathon County, Wisconsin.

Aschbrenner / Fehlhaber

Name Age Residence
Aschbrenner, Frederick A Helmut 41 Berlin, Marathon, Wisconsin
Aschbrenner, Frederick Wilhelm 76 Stratford, Marathon, Wisconsin
Aschbrenner, Selma Cornelia 11 Berlin, Marathon, Wisconsin
Fehlhaber, Alice Rosalie 35 Berlin, Marathon, Wisconsin
Fehlhaber, Carl F. 70 Berlin, Marathon, Wisconsin
Kluender, Bertha Auguste Henriette 67 Stratford, Marathon, Wisconsin

Aschbrenner pedigree.

“Sally” Selma Cornelia Aschbrenner was 11-years old and living at the Town of Berlin, Marathon County, Wisconsin on 18 October 1915. She lived on the farm with her parents, Frederick and Alice, and her brother, Freddy. Her maternal grandfather, Carl F. Fehlhaber, was also living at the Town of Berlin. But, her paternal grandparents, Bertha Auguste Henriette Kluender and Frederick Wilhelm Aschbrenner had moved to nearby Stratford, Marathon County, Wisconsin. Sally attended country school and her father farmed.

Cartoon, Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 18 Oct 1915, page 2.

Krueger / Lemke

Name Age Residence
Freese, Clara Christine Elsabe 56 Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin
Krueger, Bernhard Richard R 41 Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin
Krueger, Norman Arthur August 10 Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin
Lemke, Frieda H 34 Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin

Krueger pedigree.

Norman Krueger was only 10-years old on 18 October 1915. He may have been looking forward to his 11th birthday which was just a month away. He lived in Wausau, Marathon County, Wisconsin with his siblings, and parents, Frieda Lemke and Bernhard Krueger. Norman’s grandma, Clara Freese Lemke Boettcher was living in Wausau as well. She was living with her second husband and the son that they had together. Clara worked as a midwife.

Norman was a school boy and his mother was a homemaker. If she read the Wausau paper, she may have used some of their household tips. Please note that in 1915 in this WISCONSIN paper, they did not say SODA, they said POP.

Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 18 Oct 1915, p. 10.

Phillips

The ancestors who provided descendants to build our Phillips family all lived in two counties in Illinois, namely Kane and De Kalb counties.

Miller

Name Age Residence
Cornell, Jane Elizabeth 62 Big Rock, Kane, Illinois
Miller, Frank Palmer 41 Sandwich, DeKalb, Illinois
Miller, George Leifheite 85 Big Rock, Kane, Illinois
Miller, Leona Catherine 16 Sandwich, DeKalb, Illinois

 

Miller pedigree.

Leona Catherine Phillips was a 16-year old teenager, living in rural Sandwich, De Kalb County, Illinois with her widowed father, Frank. Her mother had passed away just a few months earlier. Her Miller grandparents, Jane Elizabeth Cornell and George Leifheite Miller lived nearby in Big Rock, Kane County, Illinois. Of all the ancestors who were living on 18 October 1915, Leona left us the best clues. She kept a journal. Following are her entries for the week:

Leona Catherine Miller, journal, October 13-16, 1915.

Leona Catherine Miller, journal, October 17-21, 1915.

 

Weather, Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) 18 Oct 1915.

Phillips

Name Age Residence
Boyce, Gertrude Lovin 50 Sugar Grove, De Kane, Illinois
Brace, Amelia A. 71 Aurora, Kane, Illinois
Phillips, Albert Aveldo 73 Aurora, Kane, Illinois
Phillips, Floyd Boyce 23 Sugar Grove, De Kane, Illinois
Phillips, Guy Allison 49 Sugar Grove, De Kane, Illinois

Phillips pedigree.

Floyd Boyce Phillips was 23-years old in October 1915. Immigration records show that he went to Canada in the spring of 1915, but he may have been back in Illinois by the 18th of October. He spent several summers farming in Canada, but did not stay the winter. His parents, Gertrude Lovin Boyce and Guy Allison Phillips remained in Illinois. In October 1915, they were still living in Sugar Grove, Kane, Illinois. Guy’s parents (Floyd’s grandparents), Amelia “Millie” Brace and Albert “Tom” Phillips were alive too. They had moved to Aurora, Kane, Illinois.

The De Kalb Chronicle, 18 Oct 1915, p. 6.

Union Suit ad, Dekalb Chronicle, 18 Oct 1915, p. 4.

Hopefully you found this interesting. I did. I do plan to make this a regular series of posts. But, I did learn a couple lessons going through this exercise. The main one is that I should give myself more time to put it together. Once I started crawling through archives and old newspapers, the hours (…and days…) went by quickly. The deadline I had given myself was hard to meet. Next time, I’ll give myself more time and will probably do a better job.

Sources

“Battle of Loos,” Wikipedia, Web, 15 Oct 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Loos.

“D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation,” PBS, Web, 17 Oct 2017, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_birth.html.

“Fertile Soil of Mower County,” Mower County Transcript-Republican, 13 Oct 1915, page 1, Web, 18 Oct 2017 http://newspapers1.mnhs.org/web/mhsnews/web/imu.php?request=multimedia&irn=10721536&format=pdf&kind=supplementary.

“Grandfather Never Heard of These,” Mower County Transcript-Republican, 13 Oct 1915, page 1, Web, 18 Oct 2017 http://newspapers1.mnhs.org/web/mhsnews/web/imu.php?request=multimedia&irn=10721536&format=pdf&kind=supplementary.

“Guess if they’re married,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 18 Oct 1915, page 2, Web, 18 Oct 2017, https://www.newspapers.com/image/272412465/.

“Interactive WWI Timeline,” National World War I Museum and Memorial, Web, 15 Oct 2017, https://www.theworldwar.org/explore/interactive-wwi-timeline. By the way, if you are ever in Kansas City, Missouri, we highly recommend a visit to this museum. We spent the better part of a day there during our vacation in September 2017. If you like history, this museum should be on your “must visit list.” The museum is top notch!

“Munsing Union Suits,” Dekalb Chronicle, 18 Oct 1915, p. 4, Web, 18 Oct 2017, https://www.newspapers.com/image/126454445/.

“Oct 1915,” On This Day, Web, 15 Oct 2017, http://www.onthisday.com/events/date/1915/october.

Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,” MeasuringWorth, 2017, www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/.

“Scoop the Cub Reporter,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 18 Oct 1915, page 9, Web, 18 Oct 2017, https://www.newspapers.com/image/272412699/.

“Second Clash of Series Goes to Red Sox, 2 to 1,” The Odebolt Chronicle, Odebolt, Iowa, 14 Oct 1915, Web, http://odebolt.advantage-preservation.com/Viewer/?psi=https://www.newspapers.com/image/272412699/1707&pci=1700&pbd=10/08/1915-10/18/1915&lnsm=between&fn=the_chronicle_usa_iowa_odebolt_19151014_english_3&df=1&dt=10&tc=20&cnt=United%20States%20of%20America&sn=Iowa&cn=Odebolt&pn=The%20Chronicle.

“The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2021,” Beloit College, 2017, Web, 18 Oct 2017, https://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2021/.

“The Birth of a Nation,” Wikipedia, Web, 17 Oct 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_a_Nation.

“Woodrow Wilson,” Wikipedia, Web, 17 Oct 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodrow_Wilson.

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