“Burn, baby burn . . .”–Leroy Green & Ron Kersey; “Disco Inferno”

Christoph Jacob Meintzer and Wilhelmina (Minnie) Carolina Christina Moeller married on 27 July 1913.² They are my maternal grandparents. You’ve seen their wedding photo, and you’ve read their courtship postcards, and one sent after marriage. My mom once told me a story about her parents’ marriage certificate—the one they got from the church, not the “legal” one.

Shermerville** in the early 1900s—like many other small towns—didn’t really have trash pickup. At least, that’s what my mom remembered from her childhood. It had a town dump (there’s another story about that, for another day), and everyone had a container in the backyard to burn much of the rest of their trash. I’m not sure if that included things like chicken bones, vegetable scraps, etc., but my mom definitely remembered having a backyard burn pile.

Apparently one day, Minnie was outside with a stack of papers to burn. I don’t know exactly when this was, and I don’t know if my mom remembered seeing it, or just remembered hearing the story from her dad. So I can’t put any kind of date it—not even a ballpark date.

At any rate, Minnie was outside, feeding items into the fire. Christ (remember, short “i,” silent “t”) walks over to see what she’s burning. In the stack was their marriage certificate! Yes, seriously. He was not pleased. She wasn’t mad at him. It was not an indication of how their marriage was going—they ended up being married for almost 45 years when she died. It was just there with the old newspapers, letters, shopping lists, and who knows what else.

Full view of a color copy of the marriage certificate. “Trauschein das Christoph Meintzer aus Deerfield, und Frl. [fraulein] Minnie Moeller aus Shermerville, Ill. am 27 Sept. 191? in Shermerville in Gegenwart der Zeugen Karl Mau, Lillie Moeller; Ehelich verbunden; worden und wird hierdurch glaubwürdig bezeugt; Shermerville den 2te Juli 1915.” Translation: “Marriage Certificate; that Christoph Meintzer from Deerfield, Illinois and Miss Minnie Moeller from Shermerville, Ill; on 27 Sept. 191? In the presence of the witnesses Karl Mau, Lillie Moeller; Married and is hereby credibly attested, Shermerville, the 2nd July 1915; F. Schaer, Pastor.

When he asked her why she was going to burn it, Minnie’s explanation was along the lines of, “Everyone knows we are married—we don’t need to keep this.” Maybe she was doing a spring or fall cleaning, and it just seemed like clutter to her. She wanted it out of whatever drawer it was in.

Arguably, she was correct. Shermerville was a small town, and they had no need to “prove” they were married. That was beside the point. Alas, the marriage certificate has no burn or scorch marks on it. There was no dramatic “saving it from the flames with a stick,” to make the story more exciting. I think Christ told her to keep it anyway. She obviously did, and presumably it never came up as an issue, again.

If you zoom in a bit, you might notice the lines left by the fold marks—even through the foil seal at the bottom. I count at least 6 horizontally. I’m not quite sure how it was stored to end up creased like that. Maybe it had been rolled, but then had stuff on top of it to make looser creases, instead of firm folds? The original was elsewhere, and wasn’t at my disposal when I made these images. It certainly could have suffered a far worse fate, so I’ll settle for a few creases/fold lines!

Closeup of the section with their information. Transcription and translation are under image above. The full certificate measures 10 3/4″ x 15″ .

As I pulled out my photocopy (stored flat!) to take the photo, I noticed the bottom date was 2 July 1915. Say what?? Further inspection of the date above that (the marriage date) showed the last digit of the year clearly had issues! It looked like a “5” that had been doctored/corrected. Obviously Christ & Minnie did not receive this certificate at the time they married! All the other records we have for their marriage used the 27 September 1913 date:

  • St. Peter’s church registers¹ [which I viewed in person, but don’t have an image of]
  • Cook County marriage index²
  • Minnie’s wedding ring (below)
Minnie Moeller Meintzer’s 18K gold wedding ring. The full inscription reads, “C. J. M to M. C. M 9-27-13.”

So, what happened in 1915, triggering a delayed creation of this certificate? I have no idea. They must have needed a copy of it for some reason, but it’s a mystery. St. Peter’s Church was the German Evangelical church Minnie attended with her family, but the church was undergoing changes in the 1910s. According to Northbrook, Illinois: The Fabric of Our History,

“The congregation remained independent until 1912, when it joined the Evangelical Synod of North America, a denomination with a German background which attempted to bring together the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. Services were conducted in German until 1920.”

Gerry and Janet Souter, Northbrook, Illinois: The Fabric of our History (Northbrook, Illinois: The Northbrook Historical Society and the Northbrook Centennial 2001 Committee, 2000), p. 86.

My mom only remembered attending services at the Presbyterian church, not St. Peter’s. Did Christ and Minnie switch over to the Presbyterian church in July 1915, and need to bring their new pastor proof of their marriage? Did they need the document for some other reason? It must have been copied from the parish register 2 July 1915, and it seems the pastor (or clerk) mistakenly wrote the current year instead of the marriage year for the marriage date—and then tried to correct it. That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me.

Of course, that got me curious about the pastor who signed it: F. Schaer. Was he leading that congregation when they got married (1913), or had he arrived later? I couldn’t locate him at all in 1910—not even with a page-by-page search of the township. His previous church was in Wisconsin, so he may have been there. He and his family were in Shermerville in 19205 (and obviously 1915!). He (Frederick) and his wife, Julia, are buried in Saint Peter Cemetery (Old), according to Find-a-Grave. His memorial is fairly basic, but hers³ included a transcription from a church memorium.

It said Rev. Schaer was pastor at St. Peter’s for twelve years, retiring to Oregon after that. The specific year range wasn’t included, nor was his retirement date. He and his wife both died in Oregon, but had their remains returned to Northbrook (formerly Shermerville) for burial.

Unable to nail down dates using other sources, I turned to looking for mentions of Rev. Schaer. There were always local church news columns! I found blurbs annoucing their post-retirement visits back to the area. Two sons remained in Northbrook, so that made sense. When I focused on 1913-1915, I found him mentioned at the top of the 3 October 1913 “Shermerville” column, which also mentioned my grandparents’ marriage the previous Saturday (below):4

Minnie’s surname was misspelled: it should be MOELLER. There was a Mueller family in town—in fact, her sister was married to one! This doesn’t mention which church or pastor.

A week after he married them, Rev. Schaer headed off on a “land excursion to Arizona.” I also found newspaper articles referring to him in early 1912, so I feel confident he was serving that congregation when Christ & Minnie got married. To confirm he officiated, I’ll need to acquire their Cook County Marriage License, with the “return” section filled in, or see if I can view the St. Peter’s register and get a copy this time. The church recently merged with another nearby congregation, so tracking down that register (and getting access to it) may be difficult. But it seems likely Rev. Schaer was the one to marry them and finally provide a church certificate documenting that, two years later.

Why did I bother tracking Rev. Schaer? He played only a small role in my grandparents’ story.

  • a good portion of this blog had been created for a previous prompt, but then deferred until later (now!).
  • I had more time available than I sometimes do (Thank you, COVID-19!).
  • I had reinstated my Ancestry subscription, so had additional resources

I hoped rooting around Rev. Schaer’s time in Shermerville might shed a light on why my grandparents’ church marriage certficate was created late. It didn’t, unfortunately. It might have, though, and if I didn’t look, I’d never know. One side effect of this type of scavenger hunt (calling it a “rabbit hole” or “Bright Shiny Object” isn’t really accurate), is taking the time to recheck facts. Sometimes it turns up information I’d forgotten about, or that didn’t make sense at the time I first came across it.

Oftentimes information doesn’t have meaning because we don’t know enough to understand how it fits in. In this case, I spent time in the Northbrook Centennial book, confirming names, dates, and places. In doing so, I stumbled across a section of an 1875 plat map I’d never noticed. A surname caught my eye: Jonas. Minnie’s mother’s maiden name was Elfrieda Jonas. I don’t have information about other relatives Elfrieda may have had outside of Germany, but it seems too coincidental to find one in this area ten years before Elfrieda shows up. That’s a lead I should probably follow up on, to see if that landowner is related to Elfrieda. Maybe it’s nothing, but I won’t know until I check. And I think I need to actually sit down with that book and read it cover-to-cover. I think it has more information than I realized.

Sometimes while researching we turn up grubs and pill bugs, sometimes we unearth truffles. We never know which it’s going to be!

**Remember, the town was called Shermerville from 18 November 1901 until 1 February 1923, and Northbrook after that. I used the name appropriate to the time period being talked about, so you will see both names, throughout. Please don’t be confused!


¹St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church records (1879-1920), St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Willow Road, Northbrook, Cook, Illinois, p. 38.

²”Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920″, database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch Record Search (, accessed 29 March 2019, citing Chicago, Cook, Illinois, reference 642445, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,030,556. Christoph MEINTZER (25) and Minnie MOELLER (20).

³Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave ( accessed 11 April 2020, memorial 25480803, Julia SCHAER, (1858-1944), Saint Peter Cemetery (Old), Northbrook, Cook, Illinois, photo credit L Winslow.

4“Shermerville,” 3 October 1913, accessed 11 April 2020, record number: n.g.; citing original p. 1 col. 5 para. 15, entry for Mr. Christ MEINTZER, Miss Minnie MUELLER [MOELLER], The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois, online archive (

51920 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Northfield, e.d. 137; Page 15A; dwelling number 296; family number 296; line 11; Fred SCHAER household; accessed 11 April 2020. Fred SCHAER, age 68; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 358; digital image, (

At Worship

“But my family ALWAYS went to ______________ church!”

There’s a tendency to stay locked onto which church our families attended. It probably ranks up there with our inflexibility with names: what they were, and how they were spelled, etc. Like it or not, though, religion was oftentimes more flexible than we realize—or maybe feel comfortable with!

As a young genealogist, I remember my mom telling the story about one of her grandfathers and an incident at a Sunday service. Unfortunately, she didn’t remember which grandfather it was—Carl Moeller (Youngest and Challenge) or Christian Meintzer (Colorful and My Favorite Photo)—or which church was involved.

Both families were affiliated with a Lutheran/German Evangelical church of some sort, though not necessarily the same one. The way the story goes, the grandfather (great grandfather to me) in question arrived at Sunday service after an absence of some length. The minister apparently commented on his presence—something along the lines of, “Glad to see you could make it this week.”

I don’t know if the comment was made in front of the entire congregation, or said to him more privately. Regardless, it didn’t sit well with that great grandfather, so he left and never returned.

So, which great grandpa was it, Carl or Christian? I really don’t know, but my money is on Christian, for several reasons.

Carl and Elfrieda had a long history with St. Peter’s Church, and the church had a long history in Shermerville/Northbrook. In Northbrook, Illinois: the Fabric of Our History,¹ we learn on page 86 that in 1863, the church was built on Shermer Road, south of Willow Road. Through the years it had several different buildings, and moved location slightly, but it was a solid fixture in the community.

Glass paperweight from St. Peter’s Church, in my mom’s possession. Date undetermined.

The Moeller children were christened in that church, and page 38 (same book)¹ informs us, “The church activities included a school where children were taught the German language.” My grandmother, Minnie, attended “German school” in addition to the public school, so it was likely there. Also, the youngest Moeller daughter, Annie, died at age 8 in 1908 and was buried in the church cemetery. The minister from St. Peter’s married Minnie and Christoph in 1913.

Carl was not a farmer—he worked in the local brick yard, and the family lived in town. The church was relatively close to them, reachable on probably fairly decent roads.

Christian, on the other hand, was a farmer, living in the “Riverwoods” area. That was west of Deerfield, in Vernon Township, considerably farther from any town. If they attended St. Peter’s, it was a longer trip, probably involving more dirt, fewer paved, roads. If they attended another church in a different town, the same questionable road conditions would still have had an impact.

What exactly might have kept Christian away from whatever church he attended?

  • Heavy Chicago snows could cause problems, even for a sleigh.

  • Spring thaws (or summer rains) on dirt roads would make modern day potholed roads look wonderful by comparison!

  • Did farm work keep him away? If it’s time to harvest and the choice is attend church or lose the crop, it might not be a difficult choice!

I don’t know which church they changed to, but I do know my mom grew up attending the Presbyterian church in Northbrook (within walking distance), and Minnie was buried from there. Was that the church Christoph’s father switched to? Or was it a convenient compromise for Chris and Minnie? I don’t really know.

So while I don’t know positively which great grandpa the story is about (I’m still betting on Christian—

he always seemed feistier), or which church was involved, I don’t doubt its truth. That may sound strange coming from Miss “Footnote-the-daylights-out-of-her-blog,” but the story seems plausible enough. I can’t fathom a reason anyone would have made up a story like that to tell my mom. It would serve no purpose. Nothing we know about her two grandfathers requires us to suspend disbelief, either. No extraordinary leaps of faith are needed. (unintended pun—sorry!)

One thing I do know is that, “We’ve always been _____________,” has plenty of exceptions!


¹Souter, Gerry, and Janet Souter. Northbrook, Illinois: the Fabric of Our History. Northbrook Historical Society, 2000.

So Far Away

“Doesn’t anybody stay in one place, anymore?”—Carole King

Well, apparently not my grandfather, Christoph Jacob Meintzer. At least temporarily. While sorting through the photo postcards for Storms I came across this one. It didn’t fit what I needed for that post, but I found it interesting, and saved it for today. Unfortunately, it raises more questions than it answers:

  • date? No postmark, but after 13 September 1913, since he refers to Minnie as “Wife.” Possibly before 1922, since he’s not asking about the baby/child. Or maybe later but there wasn’t enough space?
  • place? Arkansas. It’s a “staged” booth, but doesn’t really provide other clues
  • why? It seems he was there for work, since he mentions trying to get a cashier’s check to send money home to Minnie.

Christoph Jacob Meintzer (top left) and two unknown men, after 27 September 1913

1913-14 postcard back_Arkansas 0001
“Dear Wife, Have not received an answer for my last letter, only got a postal from you but expect a letter tomorrow, we could not get a money order last night, the place quit selling them so we will have to find a new office so will send you as quick as possible. [upside down part] All the offices close at 6 o’clock now, so we will have to lay of[f] to get a money order if I don’t send you any this week will send you more next week. Love Christ XXXOOXX   Will write a letter as soon as I get yours” The stamp corner places the postcard production between 1910 and 1930, though the photo could have been printed on later than that.
 I showed the images to my 92-year old uncle and 96-year old mom, hoping they might remember hearing something about this. Christoph was easily identified on the left, but not the other two. Mom thought the man on the right “might” be Uncle Emil Mueller, but her brother wasn’t sure. Neither knew anything about their dad working out of state. My uncle did remember hearing as a kid about Siloam Springs, Arkansas, as well as “Shoals” and fishing trips in Arkansas. Maybe Christoph fished on the weekends?

Off to Google! There’s a Bull Shoals Lake near the Missouri state line, though the dam to create it didn’t start until 1947, completed in 1951. So while he may have fished there in the 1950s or 60s, I doubt he was there when he was still fairly newly married. Siloam Springs is father west, and was “around” in the early 1900s, but I have no idea what might have taken him there. I moved on to eBay, hoping to find similar photos with a location.

My search for “Arkansas postcards” netted 11,126 photos! I scrolled through pages of them (115 at 50 per page–stopping at that point), looking for a similar background. Nothing matched, though I saw many “old-timey” photos taken at an amusement park in Hot Springs called “Happy Hollow.” That got me thinking, Christoph didn’t have a car at that time. I assumed he shared the trip with the other men, with one of them driving. Then I remembered our tour of Hot Springs National Park, learning that trains came in regularly with patients for “the baths.” Train travel would have been much more reliable–and probably cheaper–then. Maybe my car assumption was wrong? If that’s the case, then they were certainly somewhere reachable by train.

I ditched eBay and went back to Google, now searching for images with phrases from the photo. Still no image matches, though I found a 1914 Irving Berlin song, “When It’s Night Time Down in Dixie Land.” Could that be the inspiration for one sign? Maybe so.

I didn’t feel any closer to an answer, though, after several days of searching. Where did that leave me?

  • date? I think I’ve narrowed it down to 1914-1917. Why? The song’s copyright date (after their marriage), and his WWI draft registration, when he was employed at the Illinois Brick Company.¹ In 1910,² he was the last child living at the farmhouse with his parents. His occupation was “day laborer, odd jobs,” but his father (age 80) still farmed. I presume Christoph was working with him, doing odd jobs on the side. Minnie and he got married twenty days after his mother died (did they intentionally wait?), and they lived with her parents, while his father eventually moved into his oldest daughter’s house. With no kids, I can see that 3-year window being a time when Christoph could have gone for work out of state.
  • place? Still not narrowed down, though I’m more seriously considering Hot Springs. Little Rock would also have train service from Chicago, but searches for similar types of photo ops there came up dry.
  • why? My guess is he didn’t find steady work immediately after he got married, so took advantage of a temporary opportunity. He was clearly in Arkansas for a while–at least enough time to send a letter (presumably with a cashier’s check), anticipate one in return, and was going to be gone long enough to “send more next week” if he couldn’t arrange sending the money that week. If he was leaving soon, the money would just come with him. That’s a month, minimum, by my reckoning. He worked at the Shermerville brickyard at least 1917-1920. Two years later, my mom was born. It seems unlikely he would have taken work out of state after that.

What next? I can hope a 2nd or 3rd cousin reads this and remembers hearing a story that might help nail down more details. More images could appear online at some point, assuming I find time to wade through them. I could contact the Northbrook Historical Society to see if they recognize either of the two gentlemen. Maybe they are aware of ads circulating the area between 1914 and 1917, offering employment in Arkansas. Or I could send a query to a Rootsweb mailing list in Arkansas, to see if there was a large project in that window that would have pulled in workers from out of state.

Does it matter if I ever figure this out? Maybe not. It’s just a small piece of my grandparents’ history that’s mostly undocumented. But it tells us a bit about their lives, and the choices they had to make. It would be nice to iron out the details to have a better understanding of it–and them.


¹”U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918″, The National Archives (, Christoph Jake MEINTZER, serial no. 1167, order no. 106, Draft Board 1, Cook County, Illinois; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1,504,100; accessed 3 June 2018. Registered 5 June 1917.

²1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Lake, Vernon Township, e.d. 108; sheet 5A; dwelling number 86; family number 87; line 15; Christ MENTZER household; accessed 3 June 2018. Christ MENTZER age 22 [name MEINTZER incorrectly enumerated]; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 301; digital image, (


So many to choose from!

The remains of my family are scattered throughout the Midwest. Big cemeteries (Ridgewood in Des Plaines, IL, or Ascension in Libertyville, IL), little cemeteries (Columbus, in St. Clair County, MI), and everything in between. One of my favorites, though is Sacred Heart Cemetery, in Northbrook, IL. It’s not the smallest one, but still very quiet and quaint. It’s on Lee Road, just north of Dundee. The I-94 Edens Spur turned Lee Road into a dead-end road (irony!), keeping it quiet. A single drive takes you inside, with a keyhole loop at the end, so you can turn around.

While Catholic Cemeteries manages all the Cook County, IL, cemeteries currently, originally each church kept up its own. This cemetery was attached Sacred Heart Church in Winnetka. Sacred Heart was a spin-off from St. Joseph’s Church in Wilmette. St. Joseph’s parish had grown, requiring another church to take care of the parishioners further north. St. Joseph’s Cemetery was also filling up, so it made sense for the new parish to start its own cemetery. At that time, Northbrook (which was really Shermerville) was out in the boondocks, so presumably land was cheap and available. It made sense to put the cemetery out there.

My great-grandparents, Ignatz Schweiger and Dorothea Harry (Invite to Dinner, Valentine, The Maiden Aunt) purchased Lot 2, Block 6, Section 2 in the cemetery. They were among the original families to start up the new parish, so I don’t know if they simply got in on the ground floor, or purchased it after they had a need. My earliest memory of it was when my grandpa, Edward, was buried. I was only seven, and don’t recall much, but I think it was a drizzly–or at least overcast–day. Fitting for a funeral.

Sacred Heart cemetery_0003
In Loving Memory of Iganatz Schweiger, born May 13, 1859; died Aug. 15, 1921. Dorothea Schweiger, born Mar. 26, 1858; died Oct. 29, 1932.

Sacred Heart cemetery_0002
In Loving Memory of Anthony G. Schweiger, born Jan. 17, 1891; died Sept. 28, 1914. Paul J. Haws, born Nov. 24, 1914; died March 3. 1915.

Towards the center of the plot, Ignatz & Dorothea installed a tall monument. The family name is arched at the bottom of the front side, with Igantz and Dorothea inscribed above. On an adjacent side are listed Anthony G. Schweiger (my grandmother’s brother) and Paul J. Haws (my father’s oldest brother). Prior to starting on the family tree, I hadn’t heard of either person.

Fortunately, my dad was with me on that trip to Sacred Heart, and could fill me in. Anthony died age 23, after being kicked in the head by a horse. He graduated from Sacred Heart’s grade school, and when we find him in the 1910 census¹, he’s a driver for a grocery. Sometimes we find him as “Anton” in records. Other than these small snippets of his life, we don’t know much, so it’s nice he has such a solid remembrance.

Paul J. Haws is the oldest brother of my dad. He was born 24 November 1914, and died 3 1/2 months later, on 3 March 1915. Victoria laid him in the crib the night before, and when she went to get him up the next morning, he was cold. There was no hint of illness prior. Some time before she died in 1955, as SIDS was first being recognized, she mentioned to my mom that what happened with Paul seemed to be the same thing.

The other sides of the monument are not carved–flush to the ground headstones were placed for the others. Buried there are my dad (and Mom–at some point), his brother, Henry (along with his wife, Mary), and sister Marie. Their other brother, George, is in Wheeling Cemetery (despite the notation below. He decided he didn’t want to use those graves. Marie’s daughter, Pattie, is there, instead. My grandparents, Victoria and Edward are there, as well as Victoria’s unmarried brother, Iggy (Ignatz).

Sacred Heart cemetery_0004
Plot card from some time after 1988, when Uncle George still was thinking about using 2 of the plots. He later changed his mind and is in Wheeling Cemetery. Uncle Henry and Aunt Mary’s cremains share the plot next to my dad. My cousin Pattie is in one of the others–I think next to her mom.

Besides baby Paul, Aunt Marie’s first daughter, Marilyn Victoria, is buried here. According to the plot card above, she and Paul were both buried in the southeast corner, so I guess they are in the same plot with Henry and his wife, Mary. With cremation urns, it’s not a big deal, I guess, and it’s nice they have company. I may see if the card can be updated, though, to include her name, as there is no marker. I’ve told my children, and some nieces and nephews, but they may not remember, and I don’t want her forgotten.

The family’s Sacred Heart plot is almost full of people, and certainly full of memories. The plot card reminds us that not everyone has a marker, so asking for the plot card information can be important. It sometimes has information not available from the cemetery websites.


¹1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 57; sheet 9A; dwelling number 168; family number 169; line 25; Ignaty[z] SCHWEIGER household; accessed 29 April 2018. Anton SCHWEIGER, age 19; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 239; digital image, (


Before The Weather Channel or Facebook, there was . . . the postcard . . .

Some people find storms to be romantic, but most don’t. I don’t know that my grandparents, Christoph J. Meintzer and Minnie Moeller, (Invite to Dinner) particularly thought they were, but storms and the weather certainly impacted their courtship. They lived about 5.5 miles apart: she in Shermerville (now Northbrook), he in the Riverwoods (west of Deerfield). I don’t know if either (or neither) of them had a telephone, but we DO have a collection of postcards sent by one or the other while they dated. The picture on the reverse was sometimes one or both of them, but often it was just a picture of something around town–train station, ice cream shop, etc.

We see that sometimes the weather put a potential monkey wrench into their plans;

1911 04 07 Christ cowboy back
[Friday] 7 April 1911 5PM “Dearest Hon, I’ll have to send you one off [of] these postals, Hon, if the weather is too bad Sat. night then I ain’t coming up. I shot two ducks today. am Going to shoot some Sun. morning so you know what that means.” Upside down, left corner: “With Love As B 4 Christ”
Sometimes it was simply the topic of discussion from the previous date . . . And what was Grandma doing up until 3:30AM? Did the storm keep her awake? I’m not sure.

1911 09 09 postcard back_0001
[Tuesday] 19 September 1911 7AM “Dear Hon – How did you get home in that storm Sun. night? I didn’t sleep until 3:30. It is pretty near time for me to hike for my train. Be sure and come up Wed. night. So long – Your Minnie XXXXXXXXXXX” Upside down, upper left “This is the old school house that I went to XXXX MM”
 Weather/storms was a topic for them more than once! Christ (short “i” mostly silent “t”) seemed to need reminders about when their next date was. And that is an awful lot of “Xs” (kisses) for the world to see on the way from Shermerville to Deerfield!

1911  09 16 Shermerville station back
?? September 1911 7PM “Dear Hon: – Rec’d your card last night. Wasn’t it fierce outside last night. Be sure & come up Sat. I must go to work now. It is 6:30 – So long. Yours Minnie XXXXXXXXXX

Sometimes the 5.5 miles were just muddy from the weather. Was he walking or riding between houses? I’m not sure. Other post cards mention him being in a “cutter” so riding is a possibility. There are those kisses, again! (I think I counted right)

1912 07 03 Minnie & Chris back
[Wednesday] 3 July 1912 5PM “Hello There, Got home fine Sun. night, but the roads were muddy. notice how this little girl looks: she looks awful mad at that fellow, don’t she? I wonder what’s the matter with her. it is just 6:15 and I’m going to bed now so Good bye. With Love Christ. Will be up Wed. night if can. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX” [photo of the two of them on reverse]
Several postcards mention him coming to visit on Wednesday, others mention Saturday, and a few seem to have been written Monday, implying a Sunday visit. The postcards don’t tell us what they did on those dates, though. Numerous postcards have photos of the two of them taken with a commercial backdrop–a suspended moon, in a “jalopy,” and assorted others. Were they spending the afternoon and/or evening at Riverview? Forest Park? Lincoln Park? Those amusement parks would have been the nearest, I think. Or were they going to the beer garden behind Bartelme’s restaurant, right there in Shermerville? Minnie didn’t really have a taste for beer until she had cancer (and she could ask for a glass of it in the hospital room), but Bartelme’s was still probably the place to hang out, locally.

Shermerville depot Oct 1911 side 2 for 4x6
?? October 1911 7PM “Dear Hon – Did you get home alright last night? Wasn’t it terrible windy? Be sure and come down Wed. night. I have something to show you, it will make you laugh. I done more laughing than I did for the last 2 weeks. I am almost ready to hike to bed. XXXXXXXX Yours forever, Minnie” Upside down, top left corner: “I love my mutz, but Oh! you Peck. Do you remember?”                 I have no clue what that might mean!

Several times Minnie mentions catching the train to work. My mom didn’t know what job that was (clearly not cooking at Bartelme’s!), so I looked in the 1910 census. Seventeen-year-old Minnie is working as a bill clerk at a furniture house.¹ It’s likely she was still working the same job over the next couple years, while they dated.

Christ & Minnie certainly talked about the weather during their courtship. With the lack of privacy on a post card, maybe it was a safe topic when everyone from the postmaster, to their parents and siblings, could read what they wrote? Without our modern communication options, the penny postcard was the least expensive way for them to stay connected between dates. Clearly it worked!


¹1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Shermerville, e.d. 64; sheet 4A; dwelling number 55; family number 57; line 44; Karl Moeller household; accessed 13 April 2018. Wilhellmine MOELLER, age 17; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 238; digital image, (