Sunday, September 18, 2011

Robert Was a Quiet Man, Rarely Angry or Excited


Robert DeLang (1857-1931)

A son of immigrants Leberecht Delang and Bitha Nickle.

He was my father’s grandfather.


Robert DeLang, at age 18

Robert DeLang, family man, farmer and shopkeeper



Robert Delang was the son of Leberecht Delang and Bitha Nickle, immigrants from Prussia in 1856. They settled in Lee County, Iowa, near the town of Denmark which is where Robert was born on 30 July 1857, just a few months after their arrival in this country.



Robert was only 12 or 13 when his mother died, sometime in 1870. His older siblings, Mary and Karl were able to get along on their own. But Robert and his almost 2-year-old sister both needed a family to care for them. Lena was reared by a family named Goody. I found her with them in a census in which the census-taker spelled her surname DAY LONG which is the way my grandfather always pronounced it. Robert went to live with friends of his father, Gottfried and Auguste Altmann, who owned a farm close to the Melcher Pottery where his own father worked as a potter.



In the summer of 1872, Robert worked with Gottfried Altmann to build a new house on the Altmann  farm-place, located in Henry County, Iowa, close to the DesMoines County line. The house had four rooms downstairs and two large rooms upstairs, with the house’s second floor extending over a porch that went along the entire east end of the house, eight feet wide.  A huge ban was probably built about the same time, and over time, still more farm buildings were constructed. All the lumber and stone for the buildings came from the farm, hand cut and hauled and assembled by a crew of men who had learned building skills by trial and error or observing older workers. From these men, Robert learned about construction along with farm operations and put those skills to work for the rest of his life.



At the age of 14 or 15, Robert started to work at Melcher’s Pottery Shop and was employed there six years, walking the two miles from home daily.   Part of the time, he drove the Melcher delivery wagon, taking pottery to market, often into Burlington, then buying supplies and returning home--a full day.  One winter day on the homeward trip as dusk came early, he was attacked by wolves.  They could smell the fresh meat he had purchased.  He fought them off, tossing them various things from the wagon, finally his jacket and at last the meat.  He had forced the horses to go at a fast trot, trying to outdistance them and was nearly home with nothing left for the wolves.  His dog heard him coming and came out barking and scared off the wolves. Gottfried was skilled in older farming methods—mowing hay with a scythe, cradling wheat and oats. Much later, after Robert became his son-in-law and farmed with him on increased acreage, Robert persuaded Gottfried to try some of the newer inventions.



Robert DeLang and Paulena Altman were married March 5, 1879. They were nearly the same age, both born in 1857, he on July 30, and she on October 24, and they had lived in the same house from the time they were 12 years old. All their children were born in the house Gottfried and Robert built.




Robert DeLang Family, 1891
The two older children are Laura and Ernest; the baby is Louis.



               Below is a listing of all the children born to Robert and Pauline:


             Laura Augusta, Feb. 1, 1880 - Aug. 21, 1918.

             Ernest Gottfried Leberecht, Jan. 21, 1882 - Dec. 27, 1967.

             Henriette, Dec. 10, 1885 - Sept. 5, 1886.

             Mildred Augusta, Dec. 4, 1887 - Dec. 17, 1887.

             Louis LeRoy, Sept. 5, 1890 - Feb. 11, 1963.

             Myrtle Rose, Nov. 8, 1897 -  Jan.  5, 1990

             Marion Julius, June 4, 1899 - July 10, 1844.





Robert DeLang Family, 1902
Louis is in the back. Myrtle and Julius are in front.




In 1903, Robert DeLang and the family moved to nearby Lowell, where they operated a general store in the east part of the village for about three years.  He bought a house with a couple of acres on the west edge of the village. The house had three rooms in a row, and each one had a front door. He added to the house for a total of nine rooms. The east room of the original three was Grandpa Gottfried Altman’s room; it had both a front and a back door.



Robert’s wife Pauline died in Lowell on 18 February 1908 after having measles. Gottfried Altman died less than a year later, on January 20, 1909. Two years after Pauline’s death, Robert married Sue Gill, 12 April, 1910. She had kept house for the family part of the time after Pauline DeLang’s death. Born in 1870, she was almost 40, had never been married. She was a good cook, a neat housekeeper, and was kind to the step children she had acquired.  



Robert, called Bob by his Lowell neighbors, had a small farm operation at his Lowell home. He had a barn in which to keep his horse, King, a few pigs and one or two cows. He had a chicken yard and a big garden, bordered by grapes trained on a trellis.



From 1903 until 1916, Robert rented the farm to s series of renters. Then in 1916, his son Louis moved back from living in Arkansas to farm it. Robert would often go out from Lowell to help out. He would drive out to the farm every day in the busy season, always arriving at 9:00 A.M. and leaving for home at 4:00 P.M., knowing almost exactly what time it was, day or night, without looking at a clock, never carrying a watch. He was always punctual, wanted his meals on time, and always got up at 5:30 A.M., summer or winter, without an alarm clock.



On his 60thbirthday, Robert’s children gave him a Morris chair, a forerunner of today’s recliner, which he greatly enjoyed in his quiet way. Aunt Ruth told us that Grandpa DeLang was temperate in all ways, his only vice being smoking one cigar a week on Sunday afternoon while sitting in that chair.



Robert DeLang died 13 Apr 1931 in Lowell, Henry County, Iowa, and his widow Sue remained in the house there. I remember going with my dad frequently to visit “Grandma Sue,” and among my possessions is a small celluloid doll which she gave to me, which I promptly named Sue. The doll’s dress was a brilliant pink fabric to match the pink bow in her hair.





--genieBev (genealogy Beverly)
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Pauline’s Treasured Photo Album


Pauline Altman, daughter of Gottfried Altmann

and wife of Robert Delang. 

She was my father’s grandmother.





Pauline Elizabeth Altman (1857-1908)



 I’ve already written about Pauline’s parents and made references to her husband, Robert Delang about whom I will write more in my next blog. In this entry, I’ve decided to write about Lena’s treasured possession, a photo album, which came to me just a few years ago.



In the front of the album is transcribed: "Presented to Lena Altmann for Christmas present. Lowell, Iowa. A date appears which looks like 1889, but since Lena and Robert DeLang married in 1879; perhaps it is 1869.   I hadn't realized she was called Lena. I wonder if Robert called her Pauline or Lena since he had a sister Lena, whose given name was also Pauline. My father and grandfather said her name was pronounced in the German way as if it was spelled Paulina.



My grandfather, Louis LeRoy DeLong, remembered that his mother enjoyed music and played a concertina (a small version of an accordian). Louis was only 17 years old and away at school (Howe’s Academy in Mount Pleasant, Iowa) when his mother died in a measles epidemic. He was devastated by the loss and cherished her memory. Years later, among the poems he wrote was this one, beautifully describing the album and its significance to its owner and to her son as well.





MY MOTHER'S ALBUMby Louis LeRoy DeLong



I have a little album, queer,

A remnant of the long ago;

It was my mother's treasure dear,

The friends and faces she loved so.



A book of plush with neat design,

Of color gilt, and gold and gray;

White studs, and gilded hasp, so fine,

A gift of beauty in its day.



The quaint tin-types beneath its band,

Depict a garb of ancient lay;

The relics of a foreign land

Were once the glory of their day.



And as I turn to faces there,

That knew my mother's fondest gaze,

Their features now are still as fair

As they were in those long-gone days.



I thrill to think that as I look

Upon these objects of her love,

That there reflects from this small book,

Her thots and features, from above.



My mother's gift, oh, gift divine!

Its sacred histories came to me

Across the fleeting years of time;

Thru lives that I shall never see.



Unfaded still, the rose of youth,

Beyond the toll of stealing years

Is there displayed in honest truth

'Mid mem'ries that my thot reveres.



The mem'ries that thru life shall last,

Dear is their ancient history;

The ties that link us to the past

Are still as sweet as yesterday.






--genieBev (genealogy Beverly)
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Auguste Was Orphaned, Raised by Relatives

Auguste Werner [Pohl], wife of Gottfried Altman  

She was my father’s great grandmother.



Auguste Werner [Pohl] 1822-1886


Auguste was born to German-Polish parents and orphaned at an early age.  Because she was raised by relatives of her mother named Pohl, her name is sometimes seen as Auguste Werner Pohl or simply Auguste Pohl. In America, the name Auguste was usually spelled Augusta to preserve the German pronunciation. Although she lived much of her adult life in Iowa, German was always spoken in her home, and she never learned to speak fluent English.



In the German LDS IGI records, I found:

   Augustine Pauline Werner

   Christening 27 Oct 1822

   Sankt Nikolai, Prenzlau, Brandenburg, Preussen

   Father: Adolf WERNER

The date is close, as is the location.  



This LDS record is an "extracted birth and/or christening record for St. Nikolai, Prenzlau, Brandenburg County, Preussen, usually arranged chronologically by the birth/christening date."    [Note: My grandfather Louis DeLong gave us Auguste's birth date as 5 November 1822. Could the October date be the date of birth and 5 November be the date of christening?  Observation: Auguste Werner Altman named a daughter Pauline.]



Iowa census gave Auguste’s birthplace as Prussia. Originally I had recorded her birthplace as Posen, Poland; I later learned that at the time of her birth Posen was in Prussia, but soon became part of Poland, now Poznan, Poland. It was about 100 miles NE of Bunzlau, which was the birthplace of the man who became her husband, Johann Gottfried Altmann. They married in the town of Breslau which became Wroclaw in Poland.



Auguste was a small, fragile woman, dark-haired, shy, and with no formal education. In contrast, her blond husband stood 6’2” and was quite out-going, university educated, and had been an officer in an elite Cavalry unit.





Auguste and Gottfried in America


Before leaving Germany, Auguste and Gottfried had two children according to the Passenger List of the sailing ship Rudolph upon which they made their journey from Hamburg to New York, arriving at Castle Gardens on June 23, 1856. The ship’s passenger list showed two sons-- August, age 5 and Wilhelm, age 6 months, also recording that the infant Wilhelm had died during the voyage, on May 29, 1859. Since the older son August never appears in Iowa census, one concludes that he must also have died in childhood. In the 1860 census, there is a daughter, age 3, named Elizabeth which the family believes to have been Pauline’s middle name; Pauline appears at age 12 in the 1870 census along with another female child, an infant of 8/12, named Augt. C., for whom no other references are ever found. Pauline’s children seemed to have been unaware of any of these siblings except for knowing that Willie had died at sea.



Auguste’s foster sister had married a man named Rachaw, and they lived at Franklin, Iowa.  When daughter Pauline was old enough, she went to Franklin to attend an academy operated by the German Lutheran Church. The Rachaw family lived near, but Pauline boarded at the school. Later, the Rachaws moved to Nebraska.



Raised an orphan herself, it isn’t surprising that Auguste was willing to take in a young lad of about 12 or 13 when his mother died. This was Robert Delang, coming into the family at nearly the same age as Pauline. Robert was born 30 Jul 1857 in Lee County, Iowa. Pauline was born 24 Oct 1857 on the other side of the Skunk River, in Henry County, Iowa. They married on 5 March 1879.   As my Aunt Ruth pondered, “Was it romance, or did the parents suggest, encourage and arrange the marriage of the two?” All seven of their children were born in the house where both had lived since it was built by Gottfried and young Robert in 1872.



In Iowa, in support of a proper German pronunciation and matching spelling, records show an increasing habit of using the names Gottfried and Augusta Altman, dropping the extra n in the surname. Augusta lived long enough to see three of her grandchildren—Laura, Ernest and Henriette. Augusta died 18 Mar 1886, and Henriette died the following September, followed in 1887 by the death of a grandchild named after her—Mildred Augusta.  Augusta Altman and her two baby grandchildren Henriette and Mildred were buried first in the Badley Cemetery beside the Skunk River, a site now inside Geode State Park.  When the river began washing the cemetery so that coffins were exposed, the family moved the three coffins to Lowell Cemetery, where they are now, beside other family members.



I have a fork, a teaspoon, and a sugar spoon which belonged to Auguste, brought here from Germany. The fork has a wooden handle. I also have their set of glass salt and pepper shakers which I often use with my holiday family table settings -- the salt shaker is clear glass; the pepper is royal blue glass. 





--genieBev (genealogy Beverly)
For ideas about how to do Family History, visit:


Thursday, September 8, 2011

He Was A Prussian Cavalryman, and Tired of War



(Johann) Gottfried Altmann
He was my father’s great grandfather.



(Johann) Gottfried Altmann  (1818-1909)



Johann Gottfried Altmann was born in the village of Bunzlau near the larger city of Breslau in Silesia, which was then a part of Prussia, on October 17, 1818. Of his ancestry, we know only that his father’s name was Johann, born at Friedeburg in Silesia.  



Altmann is German for “old man.” Since Gottfried’s father’s name was also Johann (the German equivalent of John), the son used Gottfried (which is German for “peace of God”). The final “n” in his surname was sometimes used, sometimes dropped when he signed it. On 5 March 1861, in District Court in Des Moines County, Burlington, Iowa, he signed as Gottfried Altmann his intention to become a citizen. He became an American citizen in 1863.



In the 1879 History of Henry County, both his printed sketch and his signature in the front of the book are “Gottfried Altman.” Added to the signature in his book is this bit of information: “Gottfried Altman aus (from) Siegersdorf Kr. (Kreis = district) Bunslau, Prussia 16/2/1879 (probably the date he received his copy of the book, February 16, 1879.)  On page 640 of this book, a sketch of his life is printed: “Altman, Gottfried, farmer, Sec. 35 (Baltimore Township, Henry County, Iowa); P.O. Lowell; born Oct. 17, 1818, in Prussia; in 1856, came to Henry Co.; owns 140 acres of land. Married Augusta Pohl in 1854; she was born Nov. 5, 1822, in Prussia; have one child—Paulina. He is School Treasurer and Director. Republican; Lutheran Church.” He prepared his will in 1807 using the full name “John Gottfried Altmann” and then signed it G. Altmann.”


 
In Prussia, Gottfried’s parents were farmers who owned quite a bit of land for people of that time. They lived in a village and each day went out to their farms. Moderately well-to-do, the parents were considered to be “minor nobility” and were able to provide Gottfried with an excellent education at a Prussian university. He was well versed in astronomy, history, religion, philosophy and other subjects he would not have received in the common schools.


Gottfried served in the Prussian cavalry from the age of 21 until he was 34, and advanced to the rank of a minor officer. He belonged to an elite unit of cavalrymen, where every man was at least six feet tall. At 6’2”, he was unusually tall for that era. When Gottfried chose to resign from his unit, his parents thought his decision was foolish. But he was very weary of fighting. And he apparently wanted a family life. He had known Auguste for about ten years before their marriage by which time they were both in their 30s.  They had lived not far apart in the Goerlitz-Bunzlau neighborhood and were married in 1854 at Breslau, a town equivalent to an American county seat. Breslau later became Wroclaw, in Poland. When two years after their marriage, they made a decision to go to America, one reason was that they now had sons whom they wanted to avoid having to face compulsory military duty. Sadly, their son Willie died aboard the ship upon which they traveled to America, and he was buried at sea.




Early in the spring of 1856, the Altmanns left their home at Bunzlau. They went down the Elbe River to the harbor at Hamburg, where they boarded the sailing ship Rudolph. It was a rough trip, taking seven weeks. Years later, my grandfather spoke of his grandfather’s elation that summer morning when he looked out at New York harbor, and saw the great sight of “a steamer”—a steam ship. The difficult, unhappy sea trip was over.


 
At New York, the Passenger List shows the ship’s arrival date as 23 June 1856. This list shows that about a month before arrival, Wilhelm Altmann, age 6 months, died at sea on 29 May 1856. On the line above that of Wilhelm, and just below the names of Gottfr. Altmann and Auguste, is the name of another boy, August, age 5. This child never appears in Iowa census nor in family records. An infant female child, Augt. C. Altmann (age 8/12) appears only in the 1860 census, and the family has no record about her either. The 1860 census also shows a daughter, age 3, named Elizabeth. Her descendants remember her as Pauline, and it is with that name that she appears in the 1870 census at age 12.



Processing took place at Castle Garden on the southern tip of Manhattan, where immigrants were landed from 1855 until 1892. After being there about three days, they took a train west until the railroad tracks ended at the Mississippi River opposite Burlington, Iowa. They crossed the Mississippi by ferry. This was in the year 1856 which marked the peak year of immigration into Iowa when some 20,000 people were ferried across the Mississippi.



Southeast Iowa Counties-- Lee in green, bordered by
Henry County in orange and Des Moines County in gold.
The Altmans lived near where the three counties met, close to Lowell. 

Gottfried left Auguste in Burlington, rented a horse, and rode out to look at prairie land available at $1.25 an acre, north of New London, Henry County, Iowa. He was disappointed with the land which at that time was swamp and flat as a floor, with prairie grass as high as his horse’s shoulders, and almost no trees. He turned south, and on July 4, 1856, he was in the village of Lowell, then a promising town on the Skunk River with a sizable population, a dam supplying power for mills, stores, a blacksmith shop, a school and two hotels where men could spend the night while waiting their turn to have their grain ground at the mill. Inquiry in Lowell led him to a farm which the owner wanted to sell, two miles east of the town. This appealed to him because it looked like the land he knew in Germany, with hills and woods; he bought it.

 

An 1870 map of Baltimore Township in Henry County, Iowa shows that Gottfried  owned three tracts there; one in Section 35 was the 20 acres upon which he replaced an old house with a German-style house, probably during the summer of 1872, during which time the family lived in the granary. The new house originally had four rooms downstairs and two large rooms upstairs, with a gambrel roof to give more usable space than a gable. [I remember the house, viewing it only from the outside, prior to it being torn down in 1982. But it was home to four generations of the Altman-Delang family; it  was my father’s home during much of his childhood. Both of his sisters were born there, and most of what I’ve learned about the Altman and Delang families comes from journals written by one of them -- my Aunt Ruth.]



Gottfried built a number of farm buildings, including a large barn with horse stalls on the west side, cattle stalls on the east, a corn crib, two box stalls and hay mows above both horse and cattle stalls, leaving a central plank-floored space which was probably used as a threshing floor. The second tract of land (also in Section 35) was 20 acres across the road to the south; a third was southwest of that, 35 acres of Skunk River bottom land and the bluffs above it, in Section 34. Then between 1870 and 1879, he bought 20 more acres from J. Ward and 40+ acres from Mrs. Dixon, later turning the Dixon place over to his son-in-law, Robert Delang.



Like most farmers, the Altmans planted an orchard. They raised grain and hay for livestock and grain to supply the family with flour, buckwheat flour, oatmeal and cornmeal; they had a garden patch to provide vegetables in season and to store for winter. They kept cows to supply milk and beef, pigs for pork and lard, and a flock of chickens for eggs and meat. There were fish in the river and game in the woods; there were nuts, wild berries, plums and mushrooms for the gathering.


Auguste and Gottfried Altman in Iowa


The Altmans had good friends among the German-speaking families in their neighborhood. There was a schoolhouse a quarter mile east of their home. Two miles away was the thriving village of Lowell. When weather permitted, the family traveled about fifteen miles to St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in West Burlington, Iowa, where services were in German.



Gottfried and Auguste’s daughter, Pauline Elizabeth, was born October 24, 1857, a little more than a year after they came to America. Then in 1870, 12-year-old Robert Delang came to live with them after his mother died, and the Altmans treated him like a son. Probably both Pauline and Robert attended the country school near their home. When Pauline was older, she attended an academy at Franklin, Iowa, operated by the German Lutheran Church. A school record with Pauline Altman’s name, noted that Gottfried Altman had paid her tuition with money and food for the school kitchen—potatoes, apples, meat, and so forth. At the age of 14 or 15, Robert started to work at Melcher’s Pottery Shop, walking the two miles from home daily; he was employed there for six years  Robert and Pauline  married on 5 March 1879.



Gottfried was a fine horseman and in his 80s he could still place one hand on his horse's back and mount without using a stirrup, a skill he had learned in the Cavalry when sometimes a soldier needed to get into the saddle fast.  He was a student of astronomy and music, a good speaker, an artistic penman, loved to read, gave lectures at school.  He learned to speak good English but preferred the familiar German; so the family spoke only German at home.  He had been "high German" and retained some accent. 



Gottfried’s grandchildren enjoyed hearing him talk about ancient history, politics, geography, astronomy, religion, philosophy and the things he had experienced. In turn, his grandson, my grandfather Louis DeLong carried on the tradition with his own children and grandchildren, adding his own love of music, nature, language, literature and poetry. Yet, both were practical men who labored hard. My grandfather described Gottfried as a jolly, friendly person who enjoyed life intensely.



In 1903, Gottfried’s daughter Pauline and son-in-law Robert DeLang and their family moved into Lowell where they operated a general store for three years. Robert bought a house and a couple of acres at the west edge of the village. It had three rooms in a row, west to east, each room having a front door. Robert added to the house for a total of nine rooms. Each of the six ground floor rooms had an outside door, and the east room of the original three had both a front and a back door—Gottfried Altman’s room. He died there on January 20, 1909, less than a year after his daughter Pauline died in a measles epidemic.




--genieBev (genealogy Beverly)
For ideas about how to do Family History, visit:



Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bitha Nickle became Beate Nichols Delang






Bitha Nickle (1826-1870), wife of Leberecht Delang

She was my father’s great grandmother.


To the best of my knowledge, no photograph of Beate exists today. Very little is known about her birth, life or death. A family Bible gives her name as Bitha Nickle. Bitha would be pronounced in German almost the same as Beate in English. It is Beate on her tombstone, so when she came to America, she probably Anglicized the spelling. My grandfather suggested that the name was used by some as a shortened version of Beatrice.



Family notes state that Beate was of the Amish faith. She was born in Prussia in 1826 and died in Iowa in 1870 at about the age of 44. Her death is said to have been caused by an “inflammation of the bowels” which is an old name for appendicitis. At least three of her grandchildren and one great grandchild had difficult appendectomies; her granddaughter Laura died after her surgery.


Beate shares a tombstone at Williamson Cemetery in Lee County, Iowa, with her husband Leberecht Delang whom she married before 1850, back in Prussia.



The family Bible shows the names of three of Beate’s children who died very young. A daughter Rose was born in 1854 and died the same year, in Prussia. The name Louise was inserted into the family Bible between two sons who survived—Charles (Carl/Karl) and Robert. Some family notes suggest that Carl might have been a twin, suggesting Louise as the twin. However, I  recently found the passenger records for when the family arrived in New York (April 15, 1857, on the ship Borussia). The ship’s manifest lists Louise as an infant, 4 months old. A son Gustave was born in Lee County, Iowa in 1860 but died prior to the Iowa state census taken in 1863. Daughter Maria (age 6) and son Carl (age 4) came to America with their parents.   A few months after the family’s arrival in America, my great-grandfather Robert was born, July 30, 1857, in Lee County, Iowa.  



  
The four surviving Delang children were:

Mary (Maria)                 1850-1930            married Charles Rothe

Charles (Carl/Karl)       1852-1934            married Sarah Foster

Robert                             1857-1931             married Pauline Altman

Pauline                           1868-1936            married Asa (Esop/Ace) Donnolly


I have a fork, a teaspoon, and a sugar spoon which belonged to Beate and Leberecht Delang, brought here from Germany. The fork has a wooden handle. I also have their set of glass salt and pepper shakers which I often use with my holiday family table settings -- the salt shaker is clear glass; the pepper is royal blue glass. 



--genieBev (genealogy Beverly)

For ideas about how to do Family History, visit: