October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!


Since Halloween is all about stirring up old spirits, here are some "ghosts" from Halloweens past:

 1980 - Raggedy Ann & Andy...Ann is a bit nervous about her hair and makeup.

1983 - Three years later, Raggedy Andy becomes Raggedy Ann, 
Ann1 becomes Minnie and a Milwaukee Brewer has joined the team.

1984 - Ah yes, the year of the garbage bag costumes. 
Before you judge, this was pre-internet and Pinterest! 

1985 - Sorting and trading the loot.





1990 - The Grim Reaper stands alone. 

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2013

Why Wisconsin?


My visit to Newton Township the other week is still fresh in my mind and stirring up curious thoughts about my immigrating ancestors. I've often wondered (usually in February) why this family chose Wisconsin (Marquette County) to settle in after leaving their homeland of Germany in 1868.

The Germans in Wisconsin website pretty much solves the mystery for me. As the site explains, many Germans came to America seeking religious, political and personal freedoms they didn't have in their own country. By the 1850's much of the land in the eastern US had been settled and people were pushing west. The land and climate of Wisconsin were similar and familiar to the Germans and there was a heavy influx of Germans to the state between 1840 and 1900. Many of them, including my Hallmann ancestors, brought with them their farming skills and established farms in the state.

So ultimately, the answer to my question, "Why Wisconsin?" and more specifically "Why Marquette County?," is shown in the map below...

Map from Germans in Wisconsin website.  

and is the same reason, I suppose, that many immigrants today choose a particular spot in the United States to settle...familiarity. They're attracted to a place where they can use their skills to support their family and build a new life. Where they know how to handle the weather. Where there are people who speak their language, understand their ways, and can help them acclimate and establish themselves into the new culture and place they want to call "home." 

Photo of Hallmann "Homeplace," October, 2013

The main house and perhaps some of the other buildings in the photo were built by my great-great grandfather August Hallmann around 1871. Seeing this, I take comfort in the idea that they must have been able to live mostly in peace here because of the rural surroundings they chose and their being able to be self-sufficient from the land. The fact they were further surrounded by people of their homeland most likely spared them from many of the hassles and prejudices that many immigrants face when attempting to settle within an already established population. Still...I'm thinking it couldn't have been easy out here in the 1870's!

The children of my immigrant ancestors, August and Albertine Hallmann, c.1906. 
I suspect this photo may have been taken just after August (their father) died, as they appear to be in mourning attire from that era. The two standing in the back row on the far right were born in Germany. The man is great-grandpa Herman Hallmann, who was 3-1/2 years old when he immigrated with his parents to the US and the woman next to him is his sister, Bertha, who was one year old at the time they emigrated. The remaining siblings were born in Marquette County, Wisconsin.

The family church where August and Albertine raised their family, when the services
were spoken, sung and read in German.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Newton
My Hallmann ancestors helped establish this church in their new homeland.

My dad told me that for a time, my great-aunt Aurelia, August Hallmann's granddaughter, was the organist at the little St. Paul's Lutheran Church. I can't help but imagine Aurelia sitting on the organist's bench, leading the congregation in song. I feel connected to them all.

                   Aurelia Louisa Hallmann Zabel                              Interior, St. Paul's Lutheran Church
                                    1906-1956
             (died of complications from breast cancer)
                                  photo c. 1927


Rest in Peace August & Albertine.


Happy Belated Constitution Day and Citizenship Day!
September 17, 2013

October 28, 2013

Trick or Treat!

This year was a first for us...we weren't home to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. I love seeing the costumes and sharing the kids' excitement of the day and I felt bad I'd be missing it. I was determined not to leave the goblins, superheroes and princesses unrewarded for their efforts...

 So we left them some chocolate and Cheetos,
a little encouragement to take some treats...

Plus, a not-so-spooky cemetery to entertain them on the way out.

All, so we could see a certain pink kitty make her trick or treat debut...
Happy Halloween!

October 25, 2013

Fridays with Maia

The thermometer read a cool 46 degrees but it felt like 36 in the shade and 56 in the sunshine! The occasional gusts of wind made it 5 degrees cooler. So our goal for today was: "Stay in the sun and out of the wind!" Not a bad motto for the day, or for life for that matter.

With that in mind, we explored Lime Kiln Park in Grafton. Each time Maia had passed by the park with her parents, she saw the playground and hoped to stop but they were always on their way to somewhere else and never made it inside. So at her dad's recommendation, we decided to investigate today this park that holds so much allure for Maia.


The park entrance welcomes with a sign and lovely park pavilion building. Around the corner, you're immediately struck by the massive and beautiful limestone kilns.


On closer inspection, a sign explains how the kilns worked and what their purpose was:
"This park was once part of a limestone quarry operated the Milwaukee Falls Limestone Company, incorporated in 1890. Five vertical kilns were built for burning limestone from the quarry on the site to make quicklime. The kilns were built of stone lined with firebrick. The fasteners on the timbers are nuts threaded onto long steel rods through the structures to reinforce them.
The kilns were fueled with cordwood, creating temperatures from 1,400 to 2,000 degrees Farenheit, converting calcium carbonate to calcium oxide or lime, which when mixed with water, was widely used in construction and tanning hides.
Mules pulled the trams of limestone from the quarries to the crusher, and then cables pulled them on tracks atop the kilns which were stoked with cordwood in the fireboxes below. When the limestone was dehydrated, it was pounded into a fine powder which was used for plaster, mortar, fertilizer and whitewash. A spur line carried the processed lime to the main line of the old Wisconsin Central Railway for shipments to Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit. By the spring of 1901, the Milwaukee Falls Lime Co. employed 50 men and shipped 5-6 train car loads of lime per day. The kilns stopped operating in the 1920's.
The three remaining kilns were restored many years ago, and serve as monumental reminders of Grafton's industrial activity and related history during the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

As we stood at the back side of the kilns, we could hear water rushing and geese honking...so we followed the sounds down a small hill to find the Milwaukee River in its fall glory...

And finally, after our little history lesson and brush with nature, Maia was at last able 
to connect with the object of her affections. 

October 20, 2013

Over the River and Through the Woods


For too many years now, I've been meaning to reacquaint myself with the place where my dad's family first settled after arriving to Wisconsin in 1868 from their homeland of Posen, Germany. Today, the stars and planets finally lined up so I hit the road at 6:45 a.m. and headed north to Newton (population 550 per the 2000 census). The foggy morning added a bit of melancholy to the ride, but these bits of whimsy on County Road J neutralized the effect...

(If you're looking for a creative way to repurpose all those extra bowling balls 
you've got laying around the house, here it is!)


Further on, cows enjoy their breakfast at this busy farm...


while, down the road, retired farm buildings rest peacefully.


My arrival to Newton is marked by a colony of egrets 
who squawk as I pass them wading in the marshy pond.


And the sweet little country church that my ancestors helped 
establish waits for this Sunday's morning service to start...


while Great and Great-Great Grandparents rest peacefully in the church yard.