"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."

Apr20th2021

Blums & Beckers of New Bilten, Wisconsin

by  Phyllis Zeck

My paternal grandmother Grace Norder descends from the Blum and Becker families of Bilten, Glarus Switzerland. Click here to view my great grandfather’s Pedigree Chart for Edward C Norder. This chart shows the connection between the Blum and Becker family which began with my 6th great grandparents Rudolf Blum and Elisabeth Becker. The Blum’s and Becker’s were part of the first adventurers to settle the Bilten Valley. Following is a link to a site that has an depth history of Bilten www.glarusfamilytree.com  

I find it so interesting that my paternal ancestors from Switzerland desired a quiet, spacious living environment by farming in Wisconsin. This is the opposite of my maternal ancestors from Italy who settled in Chicago. My Italian grandfather’s numerous brothers raised their families within a few blocks of each other and sometimes had apartments in the same building as each other. When I see photos of my great grandparents birth town of Pescasseroli the buildings are built side by side without any space for a front or back yard.

I’ve previously written about my correspondence with Bob Elmer, a historian who has studied the families who settled in New Glarus Wisconsin.  Bob co-authored a very informative document which paints a great picture of how the New Bilten settlement was born which is titled The Planting of New Bilten. This settlement was located between New Glarus and Monticello. Monroe is 11 south of Monticello and is the town my grandmother Grace was born in. Bilten never developed into a village, just farms. The first large block of the town was 40 acres and purchased in 1850 by brothers Mathias and Jacob Marty. Jacob’s in-laws built the first store in the village. Mathias and Jacob built the first hotel in 1851. 

New Glarus approx 1915

As Bob explains in The Planting of New Bilten, there were no families from the town of Bilten Switzerland with the first group of immigrants who came to settle the New Glarus community in Wisconsin. In March of 1847 sixteen families, about 70 people left for America.  Bob wrote “The group left Bilten on March 27, taking a flat boat down the Linth Canal to Lake Zurich (the Zuricksee), a steamer to Basel, wagons to Paris, and then a boat down the Seine River to the French port city of LeHavre. From there they left Europe on April 24 on the ship Columbia (Salmen died enroute). Johann Melchior Blum, (my 4th great grandfather) who at age 65 was the oldest in the group, also died that first year – either after their arrival or possibly enroute from New York. The entire trip from Bilten to New Glams lasted about 100 days.” An additional description of the families arrival in America was found at Google in the biography of Fred Bloom on page 460 of the Illustrated Album of Biography of Southwestern Minnesota, Occidental Publishing Co., Chicago, 1889.  “After 48 days at sea they landed in New York, thence up the Hudson River to Albany, thence by canal to Buffalo, thence by steamer via the lakes to Milwaukee, where they landed July 4th; thence on lumber wagons one hundred miles to the town of Washington, Green county, Wisconsin”.

The photo above is courtesy of the University of Wisconsin. The caption reads “New Glarus Hotel A large crowd of people outside of the New Glarus Hotel. The people appear to be dressed up and some of them are hurrying toward the hotel. The occasion is unknown, but the time is estimated to be before 1915.

Click this PDF Bilten Pioneers Cleared Timberland  which is an interesting article from the University of Wisconsin describing life as the first New Bilten settlers readied their land for farming.

My 4th great grandparents were Johann Melchior Blum and Sophia Kundert. Sophia died in 1835. Johann immigrated to America with his third wife Anna Elisabeth Pfandler on the ship Columbia. The ship docked in New York on 09 Jun 1847. Sadly, Johann died at the age of 65 on 02 Jul 1847. 

My 3rd great grandparents Johann Rudolf Blum (he traveled to America with his father) and Verena Luchsinger had two plots of land (19 & 20) in New Bilten. The following are excepts from pages 34 and 35 from Bob’s essay.

Johann Melchior Blum, 65, and Anna Elisabeth Pfandler, 50. He died in 1847, possibly even before the group arrived here. An 1852 listing of the plots notes that his widow held a right to Plot 20 but the Emigration Society controlled the land. They were the parents of Johann Rudolf Blum.

Johann Rudolf Blum, 38, and Verena Luchsinger, 29. They received Plot 19 and in 1855 they purchased that and the 20 acres to the east, which had been assigned to his parents (today it’s the southeast comer of the intersection of Washington Rd. and Burr Oak Ln.) By 1860 they were cultivating 70 acres (raising more com than most) and had a team of oxen and six 6 cows. Johann Rudolf was married three times and Verena was his second wife and mother of his children. They immigrated with two children: Johann Melchior 7, and Elizabeth.  Johann Melchior died in the Civil War in 1863. Another daughter, Verena, married Dietrich Norder. In 1900 Johann Rudolf was living with the Norders in Monroe, where he died a year later. Click here to read a page of Last Will John Rudolph Blum 08 Mar1895.

 
 
 

Feb6th2021

Norders Move to Monroe, Wisconsin

by  Phyllis Zeck

In the 1860 census my 3rd great grandparents Leonhard and Magdalene moved their large family from New Glarus to the town of Sylvester which is 16 miles south. Leonhard was a farmer. In the 1870 census Leonard and Magdalena were living with their younger children Mathias, Leonard, Gustave and Emma. Sons Fridolin, Leonard and Gustave remained in the area to raise their families. My ancestors were successful farmers in Sylvester. There was no shortage of cheese factories in the town.  The photo above is courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society and notes “taken looking towards the east side of the square in Monroe. Truckenbrod’s (the photographer) Rexall Pharmacy is in the middle of the picture. It appears that J. Karlen Sr. is the man sitting in the coach. He was an early cheese maker in Monroe. The occasion is the 1915 Cheese Day parade held on October 12.” (click to enlarge)

The first settlement of Sylvester was made by William Woodle in 1836. The town was laid out in part by my 3rd great grand uncle Jacob Norder (Leonhard’s brother). He was living in Sylvester in 1850. The following in an excerpt from the Wisconsin Histrorical Society: “The Evangelical Cemetery Association was formed in 1860. They bought one-half acre of land of Jacob Stauffacher on section 5. In 1872 it was platted into lots. It contains twenty- eight lots, 18×34 feet in size. It was laid out by Jacob Norder, Henry Baebler, Dietrich Stauffacher and Jacob Stauffacher. Among the first burials here were those of the remains of John Rhiner and Michael North. The present directors are Dietrich Stauffacher and Henry Stauffacher. The treasurer is John Elmer.”

By the 1880 census my 2nd great grandfather Dietrich Richard who was 34 and a teamster had moved his family 8 miles south west making Monroe their home. Fanny’s father Rudolph Blum was 91 and lived with them.  In the 1910 census Richard and Fannie owned their home at 1024 East Street in Monroe and Richard was still a laborer for the teamsters. Richard died in 1915, Fanny in 1943.

The following in an excerpt from the Wisconsin Historical Society: The first move toward settlement, in what is now the town of Monroe, was made in 1830. John B. Skinner came here that year, for the purpose of mining. He erected a log cabin and smelting furnace. In the spring of 1834 Nicholas Cornelius visited the place and found four vacant log cabin and a log building for a smelting furnace. One of these cabins was on arise of ground, and there were port holes in every side of it, showing that they were prepared to defend themselves in case of attack. In 1835 operations were again begun here by Nicholas Cornelius, Hiram Rust, Richard Palmer and Joab Enos.  Mr. Enos left in the fall of 1835 while the others remained until the fall of 1836. They sold their ore to William S. Hamilton, a son of Alexander Hamilton, of National fame. He had a smelting furnace at Wiota, WI.”

I found the following article about Richard’s brother Leonard (my 2nd great grand uncle) in the Monroe Times. The Inter Ocean was a Chicago paper.

BADGER BATTLES PUP – Twenty-Five Pounder Gives Stiff Flight when Cornered. Special Dispatch to The Inter Ocean.  MONROE. Wis., Oct. 18 1907.

“Leonard Norder, residing seven miles northeast of town, killed a twenty-five pound badger last Sunday. The animal was “nosed out” by Mr. Norder’s dog and  in front of his domicile turned and gave the pup battle. Being driven into the hole by the arrival or Mr. Norder the badger proceeded to get real busy with his digging trots, and would doubtless have made a getaway, but that he ran Into the rocks and could get no further. A spade diligently wielded soon brought him to light and dog and badger immediately went to the mat again. There, are few dogs that can “hold their own” with a full grown badger and several shots from a revolver saved Mr. Norder’s valuable canine from a bad licking. The trophy of the chase was brought to town Monday, and as badgers are rather scarce hereabouts, many viewed the dead animal with interest.”

My great grandparents Edward C Norder and Matilda Tillie Frey lived in Monroe all of their lives as did their children with the exception of my grandmother Grace who would move to Chicago in her late teens.  

The photo to the left is from the Green County Historical Society (click to enlarge). New Glarus, Sylvester and Monroe are all in Green County. The following is the text below the photo: “Company H of Monroe, Wisconsin. April 28, 1898 was the entrance of Badger troops into the Spanish-American War.  Company H is shown in their brand-new uniforms gathered in the original Turner Hall before they left for duty.  They went to Milwaukee where the three infantry regiments were mobilized.  The Third regiment was the first to be mustered into the Federal service and the first to get away to active service at the “front” at Tampa, Florida.  Col. S.P. Schadel of Monroe commanded the First Wisconsin and Capt. F. F. West commanded Company H.   M.C. Durst and Fred Buehler were lieutenants of the company.” (Edward Norder’s name appears in the list of soldiers. If my great grandfather served, he would have been 17 years old. I’m unable to confirm Edward noted in this photo was my great grandfather). 

The company returned to this city the early part of September 1898.  The war lasted 105 days and cost the U.S. $140,500,000 according to the Wood County Reporter in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin.
 

 

 
 

Dec21st2020

’Twas The Week Before Christmas

by  Phyllis Zeck

When all through the towns
Snow fall was happening by leaps and by bounds.
Our family was nested all snug in our beds,
The weatherman predicted a light snow fall ahead,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
but mountains of snow, all our autos unclear. 
A wink of my eye and a twist of my head,
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
Starting my snow blower up with a smirk,
I sent that snow flying with spunk and with perk.
I knew in a moment St. Nick could land safely,
and fill up our stockings with treasures so gaily.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

My mother’s sister Phyllis married Richard and they settled in New England to raise their family. My five cousins and I were only able to see each other briefly throughout the years but we had a close bond that remains to this day. Grandpa was so happy when all of his grandchildren were together.

My cousin Rick lives in New Hampshire. In the photo to the left, my brother Tom is kneeling (striped shirt) and Rick is in front of him.

This summer Rick restored a 150 year old barn on his property. He hired a crew to lift and straighten the barn then he excavated and laid a cement foundation. The siding went back on, some original and some new, and Rick built a new door. The photo below is Rick and grandson Ollie on his tracker. How much fun Ollie must have with all these big noisy machines! Rick’s restoration is incredibly impressive. Grandpa would be proud and also jealous of the storage and work space. Poor grandpa only had a very small section of the basement for his table saw and work bench.

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This weekend’s snow forecast for New Hampshire was 6 to 12 inches.  Rick was taken by surprise when he woke up to find almost 40 inches of snow fall. Click this Youtube link to see Rick operating his super duper snow blower. I think about how much grandpa loved his Sears push snow blower for those harsh Chicago winters. It would not have made a dent in the New Hampshire blizzard of 2020.

 
 

Dec1st2020

Norders of New Glarus, Wisconsin

by  Phyllis Zeck

courtesy univ of WI, New Glarus WI early 1900

I haven’t done much research into the family of my paternal grandmother Grace Norder.  Grace’s ancestors had very deep roots in Engi, Canton Glarus, Switzerland.  Other ancestors such as Blum, Luchsinger & Stauffacher immigrated from the villages of Matt, Glarus and Bilten in Switzerland. They settled in or near the town of New Glarus (Dutch Hallow) in Wisconsin.

This summer I began corresponding with Bob Elmer. He came across this website by chance and recognized some of my ancestors names. He has studied and documented the history of the families who settled in New Glarus area and who immigrated from the Canton of Glarus in Switzerland. Bob explained that Glarus is a state (or canton) in Switzerland. A Glarner is a person from Canton Glarus or a person with Canton Glarus ancestry.

Bob shared with me names and dates of births, marriages and deaths for four generations of Grace’s family tree. I updated my Ancestry account kicking off an abundance of hints which included records of birth, death, marriages, war service and census. Each time I clicked on a leaf hint I was taken to a new generation of Norders. I kept getting sucked in deeper and deeper. Thank you to our Swiss record keepers for your excellent recording skills. Click the image below for my family tree.

My Ancestry.com DNA Ethnicity graph now lists my DNA at 39% Germanic Europe. I wondered why my Switzerland DNA percentage was so high. I see now that the Norder line extends quite far back in Engi and my Blum line has deep roots in Bilten.
New Glarus was founded in 1845 by about 135 immigrants from Glarus who were fleeing an economic crisis. Click here to read the historical societies timeline of the town. Click here to read a fascinating diary account from the New Glarus Historical Society. Mathias Durst chronicles the first group of settler’s courageous journey.

My 3rd great grandparents Leonhard Norder (his parents Fridolin Norder and Anna Giger were married in 1807 in Engi, Switzerland) and Magdalena (Stauffacher) Norder arrived in New York one year after the first immigrants. The Argo docked on 06 Nov 1846 most likely at Castle Garden immigration center in Battery Park. Leonard was 36 and Magdalena was 34. With them was their son Fridolin age 1.  My 2nd great grandfather Dietrich (Richard) Norder was born 03 Mar 1847 in New York and I can only assume they made the smart choice to stick out the winter in New York. 

leonard norderThe 1850 census shows Leonhard was a farmer in Sylvester, a town south of New Glarus. Leonard and Magdalena Stauffacher had at least six children. Fridolin (1844), Dietrich (1847), Mathias (1852), Leonard (1855), Gustave (1857), and Emma (1859). The 1860 census records their home at lot # 2049 and post office was Sylvester. The Norder’s real estate value was $600.00 and personal estate value was $400.00. The photo to the left is Leonard Jr (upper right) and possibly two of his brothers. I’d love to find out if one of the gentlemen was my 2nd great grandfather Dietrich.

 
 

Oct31st2020

2020, Why Are You Testing Us?

by  Phyllis Zeck

 As if 2020 has not been traumatic enough, fire danger was thrown in to test our resilience. In September wildfires erupted and 40 mile an hour winds spread the Riverside fire dangerously close to our Clackamas County communities. This was historically the worst fire season Oregon has had on record. Towns to our south were being evacuated to Level 3-Go as our home was elevated to Level 1-Be Ready. The little purple houses on the map to the left shows my home as well as my family members. I had never been alerted that my residence was in danger of a wildfire and like many people was oblivious to what the threat actually meant to me. The first time the emergency warning went off on my phone I realized the severity of the danger we were in. Now I had to consider that my home may actually catch on fire, thoughts I was conveniently avoiding thinking about. 

Being ready meant we should video record our belongings in each of the rooms of our home as well as the outside the house. We gathered our most valuable papers and treasures. Well that was a heart stopper.  Where do I start? Of course I scooped up my precious ancestral treasures; Uncle Hank’s 100+ year old prayer book, grandpa Gilbert’s eye glasses and address book, mom’s Bible and Rosary, treasures purchased during my visit to Italy and albums of photos that had not yet been scanned. Lori and I also packed a few clothes. I thought I’d wait to pull papers out of my safe. When we stood back to look at the table I was stunned by the small amount I’d set aside as my most valuable and irreplaceable treasures. I reasoned that if we moved to level 2 surely I would be adding more items to the table. I’m so grateful to say that we did not progress above level 1. The first night brought a fitful rest and the next day I felt a little more relaxed. The smoke was too heavy for us to go outside but the winds had died down. By the following day we seemed to be out of danger and we said a prayer of thanks.

My great grandparents Pietro and Elvira would live on W Harrison St just a few miles from the fire 20 years later. The photo above is a post card of the corner of State and Madison streets (Chicago History Museum) after the Oct fire. Reading some of the articles from the Chicago Tribune is heart wrenching. The fire killed 300 people and destroyed more than 17,000 buildings spanning an area 4 miles long. October had been hot and dry and fires had been popping up throughout the city in the days leading up to the October 8th fire. The city’s waterworks burned on Oct 9th, cutting off that supply of water. 100,000 people were left homeless. Click to view a clipping showing a map of the area from The Philadelphia Inquirer 10_Oct_1871. You can enlarge the clipping to read the text.

On a happy note, Christmas is around the corner. I remember when I was a kid and the Sears toy catalog arrived my siblings and I would get out the scissors, paste and paper to start our wish list which was mailed to Santa Claus. Times have changed. My grandson Kingston and sister Lori are reading the Amazon Wish Book. All Kingston needs is a cell phone so he can text the QR code to Santa!