Family history documents and stories to supplement the genealogical information at

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Detour to the Prairie

I hate to create a break in the middle of Tena's letters, but a tweet from a fellow garden blogger got me thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. I read and reread those books many times when I was young, and even though I'm no longer young I still love them.

I recalled that Laura's parents, Charles Ingalls and Caroline Quiner, were married in Concord, Jefferson County, Wisconsin, near where my Beilke ancestors settled. (That's the connection to my genealogy, however tenuous.)
Image of the Ingalls family Bible, from Laura Ingalls Wilder Country by William Anderson

I got all excited when I first learned that, thinking that Little House in the Big Woods must have been nearby. Well, no, the Ingalls family had moved on by then and the Little House in the Big Woods was far to the northwest in Pepin, Wisconsin.

My great-great-grandfather, Franz Beilke, and family immigrated from Germany in 1867 (the year of Laura Ingalls birth) and eventually bought a farm in the next township west of Concord.
Franz Beilke house in Jefferson County Wisconsin

While I was searching online for info about the Ingalls family, I can across something that I hadn't heard before. Charles Ingalls, as a boy, lived in Kane County Illinois, just east of where I lived in DeKalb County. So I have a double connection to the Ingalls family, even though both are very tangential. But even more surprising (to me) is the volume of Little House material online. There are fan sites, blogs, and even Twitterers. A whole universe that I didn't know existed.

::: A few links for you to get lost in :::

Blogs & Fan Sites:
Pioneer Girl, fact and fiction of Laura Ingalls Wilder
from laura ingalls wilder to cyberbessie (this blog is part of the site above)
Beyond Little House
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl

Buy a CD of Pa's fiddle music:
Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder from CD Baby or from Pa's Fiddle

Or download for $0.89 per song

Follow Little House fans on Twitter:

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Beyond Little House
Laura Ingalls Wilder (HalfPintIngalls)

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tena to Katie, 1 May 1898

Canal Dover, May 1st

Dear sister Katie and family,

I will answer your kind letter and let you know we are getting along. Will and the children are well and I am about the same.

Will is working on the railroad.

Father was to see us, I think you know it. I would liked to have him stay longer with us.

Katie was ten years old last Wednesday, April 27. She goes to school every day.

How are you all getting along, how is Elnora? I suppose she enjoys these brite sunny days like Albert. He can hardly find enough time to eat. To day is a very warm day and it is just lovely out doors. The grass is so green and the trees are all in blossom, the air is just fragrant.

I suppose your school has let out, here it will last all this month yet children will be glad when it lets out; it seems hard for them to sit in school when it is so warm.

Well sister Rosa has got back to the old homestead. I suppose she finds enough work to do. It is now over four months since our dear mother died. Peacefull be her slumber.

Now I will close writing, hoping these few lines will find you all enjoying good health.

Your sister,
Christena Weinsz

Regards to all, write soon.

Notes: I'm with Tena and Albert. Nice spring days are too good to spend indoors. I had this letter typed up and ready to post several days before May 1 and then forgot all about it while I was busy in the garden.

Johann Georg Roth and Anna Margarethe Zuelch
Anna Margarethe Zülch Roth passed away on Christmas Day 1897. According to the records of St. Peter's Evangelical church in Amherst, Ohio, she was born in Germany on February 2, 1834 to Conrad Heinrich Zülch and Elizabetha Brand. She met and married Johann Georg (J. George) Roth in Lorain Co. Ohio, where both their families settled. They had at least five children, but only three daughters survived to adulthood - Christena (Tena), the author of these letters; Katie, the recipient of these letters, and Rosa, the sister who moved back home to keep house for her father.

Map of Roth property in Lorain County Ohio
The Roth "homestead" was a farm in Black River Township, Lorain County, on Oberlin Road (now Oberlin Aveune). This is currently within the city of Lorain.
Roth farmhouse in Lorain County Ohio

Housekeeping was a full-time skilled occupation in the late 1800s. Just consider laundry, for example. The instructions in Buckeye Cookery, and Practical Housekeeping take up almost 11 pages, although several of those are stain-removal recipes. When Tena writes that she supposes Rosa "finds enough work to do", I don't think she meant that Rosa was looking for ways to occupy her time, but instead that there was too much that needed attention.

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