While going through a box of materials about my maternal grandmother’s extended family, I came across seven pages of a draft of Rev. Herman Emil Studier’s autobiography. Rev. Studier was the brother-in-law of Dorothea (Bohnsack) Studier, twin sister of Carl Herman Bohnsack, my grandmother’s paternal grandfather.
Over the next few posts, I’ll share what Rev. Studier wrote. I found it fascinating to read what his childhood was like in Germany, and what brought the family to America.
Overview of Rev. Studier’s life
- Rev. H.E. Studier was born 11 January 1859 in Angermuende, Germany, to Frederick Wilhelm Studier and Auguste Henrietta Freier.
- He emigrated to the U.S. in 1869 with his mother and most of his siblings (his father preceded them) and the family settled in Galena, Jo Daviess county, Illinois.
- He married Maria Barbara Niedermeyer, daughter of Gottlieb Niedermeyer and Barbara Link, on 28 April 1881.
- They had ten children: Elizabeth, Sophia, August, Amiel, John, Anna, Helena, Rosa, Frederick, and Herman.
- Rev. Studier died 10 October 1947 in Lincoln, Lancaster county, Nebraska.
- He and his wife are buried at Lincoln Memorial Park in Lincoln.
- Square brackets [ ] denote handwritten additions made in the draft.
- Draft of “The Story of My Life” by Rev. H.E. Studier is available. (PDF, 2.5MB)
The Story of My Life (Part 1)
by Rev. H.E. Studier
About forty miles northeast of Berlin there is a lake, perhaps two miles wide and four miles long, called the Muendesee. Eight miles northeast on the river Oder is the nearest large town, Schwedt. On the south side of the lake is situated the county seat, Angermuende, in the county of the same name.
East of this town, outside the old city wall, there is a large dwelling house several stories high. This was our home, here we lived, here also stood the loom where father carried on his weaving, as he was a Masterweaver. Between our house and the lake there was a meadow used as bleaching grounds. Here the gray linen goods was spread over the ground so that the rain, sun, wind and air could bleach it a pure white. Along the shore there were bathing-houses, where the people of the city came to bathe, and this was all our property. Near the house there was an orchard. I remember one pear tree in it that was as tall as a big cotton tree and had grafted branches, bearing three kinds of beautiful large table-pears. Some of the apples in the orchard were as big as a child’s head.
At the east end of the lake we could see the village called Doberzien. On the west end, looking across to the north Kerkow could be seen. The main street of Angermuende ended right in the lake. In case of fire, or when the fire department was practicing, the men drove into the lake for their water supply. The two-wheeled carts drawn, each by one horse were turned around in the lake and when the water tanks were automatically filled with water, the drivers would rush back up town again with their loads. Thus went a string of carts, I do not know how many.
In the lake were many kinds of fish of all sizes and eals and crabs, and fisher-women would sell these, along with all kinds of smoked fish, in the public market places. From one side of the street a platform was built into the lake. Here the women of the town came to rinse their clothes in the clear water of the lake. In the summer you could see gondolas and boats on the lake, while in the winter the people from town would indulge in all kinds of sports on the smooth ice.
Places along the shore would look blue in the summer-time because of the many forget-me-nots in bloom. The storks would wade around in the grass and the shallow water with their long red legs and pierce to the right and left with their long red bills for frogs and snakes. [Along the shore & on the meadow I played and picked blue forget-me-nots, white & red daisies & various yellow flowers.]
To the east of town there was a long wide level stretch of sand back of which was a steep bank about fifty feet high. On Wednesday and Saturday afternoons boys of school age (six to fourteen years) met at the school house and stood in military formation. Then their band started to play and the Standard Bearer and two assistants hurried into the school house and returned with the gymnastic banner. Each section of boys had a teacher [gymnastic instructor] who marched at the left side, carrying a flag of the Prussian colors and occasionally these flags were used to keep the formation straight. [The little boys, I among them, tripped after.]
Then they all began to march to the sand-hill, keeping time to the [fife & drum] music, having their banner flying in the breeze. On this [beautiful] banner [of white & red] there were four letters F forming a big golden cross in the center. The four F’s stand for the gymnastic motto: Frisch, meaning full of pep; Fromm, meaning pious, God-fearing; Froh, meaning gay, happy; Frei, meaning free.
At the sand hill there were all kinds of gymnastic poles where the boys were taught, during the school hours from one to three, to do the different gymnastic exercises.
On Easter morning the boys and girls went to the sand hill where some of the boys climbed up the steep bank and sat on the hill while others would take hold of their legs and pull down them down the banks to make a bath for roll[in] their Easter eggs down the bank.
Every fall the sharp-shooters had a festival, a contest to find out who was the best shot. This man was then decorated [best shot of the sharpshooters club, was marched back to town and through the streets. This rifle-match was generally a big affair for the whole town. While the shooting was going on they had a fair on the sand plain.] The sand plain served as a shooting-ground while the steep bank for catching stray bullets. In the old wall to the south there was a round tower, perhaps fifty feet high or more. It was built of big brick and on the narrow top there was fastened a wagon-wheel where the storks had their nest.
West of town there were manoeuvre grounds where every fall the soldiers demonstrated their accomplishments [the 64th regiment was quartered in Angermuende.] The King would come from Berlin, riding horseback over land. With him came the General staff and high political officers, Molke, Roon, Bismark, and the princes. On this day there was no school and we
all [schoolchildren] went to the grounds to see the performances [soldiers manoeuvering.]
We must have [lived] a long time at the shore of the lake, as all we children were born there. My father was married three times. His first wife died soon after they were married and his second wife was mother of Karl and Emilie, twins born on February 15, 1847 at Pasewalk, Pommern. The children of his third wife were: Bertha, died March 3, 1855, Aguste, born Dec. 21, 1850, Ottilie Antonie, born Jan 2, 1852, died April 21, 1874, Wilhelm Albert, born August 10, 1853, Ferdinand August and Otto Albert, twins born Oct. 19, 1855, Hermann Emil, born Jan 11, 1859, Richard Emil, born March 18, 1863, died of measles June 12, 1863. I remember when he was buried.