of Johannes Christian Buchele and Life With Charles John and Bessie
Mable Fisher Buchele
Charles "Charley" John Buchele 1873-1931 son of Christian John (Johannes) Buchele 1828-1913 and Creszenzia Singer 1831-1923, was born March 4, 1873 in Napoleon, Ohio. His mother and father, were said to have know each other in Germany even though the the lived more than 50 miles apart. Christian Johannes was from Hattenhofen 25 miles east of Stuttgart and Creszenzia Grace was from Altheim west of Stuttgart. They immigrated to the USA on separate ships as young adults. At the age of 21 Christian arrived July 21,1852 from Liverpool, England on the ship "Orleans" in Baltimore (marked GROW on the ship's manifest). He was listed as a servant and made his way to Ohio. At the age of 22 Crezenzia arrived May 20. 1854 on the ship "Advance" in New York City. Her occupation is listed as "not known". She arrived from Harve France with her 21 year old brother Martin Singer with whom she proceeded to the Napoleon area of Ohio.
Creszenzia Singer's family lived in the small village of Altheim which is southwest of Stuttgart and a few miles northwest of Horb. Christian Johnnes Buchele's family lived in the small village of Hattenhofen which was more thirty miles southeast of Stuttgart. The nearest city to Hattenhofen is Goppingen and is about eight miles southwest of Goppingen. Both our antecedents villages are located in southwest Germany in an area called Schwabia, more specifically Baden-Wuttenberg District of South West Germany. I visited both villages in the summer of 1951 before I began working for the Inter-Cooperative Council in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
On the way to Altheim, which I visited first, I had several strokes of good luck. I arrived in Horb by train and walked from the station to stores nearby trying to find a shop to buy a map of the area. Almost by a miracle I saw a shop across the street with a sign reading, "Singer Pharmacy." I walked into the shop and luckily the store keeper was not only a Singer but spoke English. He informed me that he might be a distant relative, but my side of the family lived in Altheim. He told me I would have to walk to Altheim, a few miles north and east. So. carrying my two suitcases, I walked about a mile and half to Altheim. The soil was pebbly and in the fields on both sides of the road grew diversified crops of wheat, oats, garden vegetables, and corn with several rows of poppies blooming in each field. Walking into Altheim to the middle of town I saw the "Gasthaus Singer" and announced, "Mine Gross Mutter, Creszenzia Singer vas in Altheim geboren." Immediately the proprietor pointed to a framed "Stammbaum Families Singer' on the far side of the guest house dinning room which turned out to be the Singer family tree starting about the time of the crusades. On it, I saw written in a box, "Creszenzia Singer, geboren July 7, 1832, Nach America," I pointed out my grandmothers name to the inn keeper. With a big smile on his face, he pointed up the street, and said, "Unser Gross Mutter's haus." I walked across the street elated at my success!
The living quarters were on second floor above the cattle stable. I knocked on the door and in my bad college German explained who I was. A young girl was hurried out the door and quickly returned with an ex-German soldier who had been in a prison camp in the United states during part of World War II and who spoke good English.
Living now in the house where Grandmother Creszenzia Singer was born were second cousin Alfred Singer 1887-?, his wife Bertha and his daughter Berta1932-?. Their reaction to me during the first hours of my visit was as if I had ridden up on a white horse in a knight's armor. They kept exclaiming over and over again, "As America, sigh, as America, sigh, as America!" Through the translator, they asked why our family hadn't written for some 30 years for which I had no answer (Crezenzia died in 1921 just after the conclusion of World War I). During the visit, I was asked about my religion; knowing they wouldn't understand Unitarianism, I said, "Protestant". The old cousins immediately began clicking their teeth in despair and exclaimed, "Night Catholic, Night Catholic?" They then asked about Cousin Crezenzia's faith. I said I thought that she had converted to Lutheranism (It surprised me that the Singers were Catholics since after the wars following the Reformation, Schwabia was one area in Germany that remained half Protestant since most other German speaking countries of Europe returned to the Catholic faith).
I stayed at the Gasthaus Singer (now Rosle) for the evening and called again the next morning to say good-by. I was surprised to see a crowd milling around the street in front of the Singer house. My worst fear was that they might be Germans still angry at "Americans" for winning the war. This suspicions was reinforced by the fact that I had just purchased a Gasthaus post card with a picture of the dinning room on it. In the picture, a portrait of Adolf Hitler hung from the wall in the dinning room from the very same nail the Singer Genealogy was now hanging!
Cousin Alfred Singer mingled with the crowd and I waved good-by. I concluded that they were just curious to see this "American cousin", who had emerged suddenly from the distant past. Anyway, no rocks were thrown at me! I walked back to Horb and took and auto bus to Goppingen and a then a second bus to Hattenhofen. Note: We understand the old Singer residence burned and was rebuilt before our return visit in 1994. We met Alfred Singer's son of Joseph Singer and his 20 year old son Peter and we were ushered into the second floor apartment. The first floor no longer housed a stable. They told me that Berta Singer lived nearby and was a work. Joseph was a Housing Inspector for Altheim. They brought out apfelsaft and cookies and a copy of the Singer genealogical chart this time decorated with colorful flowers.
On inquiry in Hattenhofen about the Buchele family residence, I was directed to Barbara Anna Haller Buchele 1895-1955, Haupstrasse 171. I later learned that her husband Friedrich Buchele's 1874-1947 father Frederick 1832-1894 was a brother of my Grandfather Christian Johanas Buchele 1828-1895. It was near dusk when I knocked on the door of the Buchele Hattenhofen home. An old women opened the door. In my faulty college German I tried to explain my presence. By this time she had sat down and was a silhouetted in front of a window lit by the setting sun. The scene reminded me of van Gogh's painting, "The Potato Eaters" which showed peasants in a dark room in rustic dress eating roasted potatoes with their gnarled hands. She offered me brown bread and soup. As I could not communicate with her, she sent for her daughter Anna Buchele Siller born 1917 (still living in 1984 and in a nursing home).
I was taken to her daughter Anna Sillers home. Her husband, Karl Siller 1914-?, was Burgermeister of Hattenhofen. At the time I visited Karl and Anna Buchele Siller they were three young children in their family (two by Karl's former wife and one by Anna, Lore Siller 1949-?. We haltingly visited and they served me "apfelsaft" (hard cider) and cake.
Later, my twin Brother Wesley 1920-? and wife Mary visited the Atheim Singers and the Hattenhofen Buchele's as did Julian 1915-1981 and Vergie who were escorted by Barbara Anne Buchele 1952-? and her husband Deitmar Georg. Dietmar was a German National who met Barbara when they were students at Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas. Wesley has pictures of Buchele gravestones in Hattenhofen.
It turned out that Anna Buchele Siller's half brother, Georg Johan Georg Buchele 1901-1979, prepared the Buchele Germany genealogy in the latter days of his life. Our copy was obtained by Deitmar from Georg Johan Buchele's son, Theodor Christian Jorg Buchele 1936-? of Ergenzingen. Joan, Libbie, Heidi and I visited Ergenzingen in 1994 and met Georg Johan Buchele's wife, Erna Frick Buchele as well as her son Theordor and her grand-sons Jurgin Erwin 1968-?, Jochen Georg 1970-? and Bernd Alexander 1977-? and an Uncle, Werner Freidrich Buchele 1939-?.
Being a Kansas farm boy, I was interested in observing the local farming practices. In both Altheim and Hattenhofen most of the families lived on the second story of the house; the cattle and horses were stabled on first floor. Each morning the night's accumulation of manure and soiled straw bedding from the animals was tossed out the stable door and piled neatly on the curb. When the farmers went to their farms, they loaded the manure onto their wagon to spread as fertilizer on the land. The smell of the manure wasn't unpleasant and the body heat given off the animals in stable keep the family rooms above warm. The plot of land each family farmed was small and terrain rolling. There was no evidence of mechanized farm machinery. Gerhard Buchele (December 1994) told us that after World War II Friederich Buchele 1874-1947 purchased a tractor.
The Buchele-Singer area of Germany is known as Schwabia with Stuttgart at its center and radiates outward in all directions 50 miles. Schwabia is included in the Baden-Wurttemberg District of Southwestern Germany. Swabians are noted the world over for their industry, hard work, and beer and wine drinking. I have several articles about Swabia which were given to me by George Weilan (note #1), a Swab from Ann Arbor. One article describes the personality of Schwabian's as shrewd, thrifty, inventive, conservative and initially skeptical of all things foreign.
The Cedar Vale Buchele's sketchy oral history of the Germanic Buchele history included several stories about economic and social conditions in Germany in the middle 1850's. One story related that our Great Grandfather, Christoph Buchele was recruited by force into the Germany army. He was assigned to be a guard in the Kaiser's Hohenzollern Castle about fifteen miles southwest of Altheim. We were told that Great Grandfather Christoph Buchele and his wife Anna Maria Holzer Buchele wanted their children to be free from being snatched into the army and encouraged our Grandfather Christian Johannes to immigrate to America (I have no record to prove it). If this was so, only Christian Johannes 1828-1805 took the advice as none of his brothers or step brothers are labeled in the genealogical chart as an "asgwandert."
The condition of the impoverished peasantry also motivated Scwabian's to seek new lands elsewhere. The primary reason for the impoverished was the inheritance practices of the Schwabian's (see note #1) For centuries their practice emphasized equal division of the land among their children. With each generation the size of the inheritance grew smaller and smaller. In contrast to the Schwaben practice, Germans to the north and to the east tried to pass on the whole farm to one child--the other children had to learn a craft, migrate to the city, become an ausgwndert maybe become a hired hand.
We were also told that Crezenzia Singer while still in Germany said she didn't want any children she might have in the future exposed to the drunkenness rampant among the population which ruined the lives of countless families in Germany. My father told a sad story of one of our relatives in Germany who had a drinking problem. In my mind there lurks a dark image of his drunken body found in the town's gutter. Undoubtedly the despair felt by the Schwabian's motivated them to immigrate to America resulting from all the factors cited above.
Creszenzia Singer and Johan Christian Buchele were married 1854 in Ohio. To this union ten children were born; six boys and three girls in the following birth order and the date of death if known: Frederic William Buchele 1855-d. in Kansas or Colorado?, Mary Creszenzia Buchele 1857-1881 d.in Ohio, Sophie Elizabeth Buchele Aley 1859-1923 d.In Cedar Vale, KS, Christian Buchele 1861-1920-d.in OK?, George Buchele 1863-? d.?, Katherine " Kate" Eve Buchele Rothrock 1865-1950 d. in Cedar Vale, KS, Martin Luther Buchele 1867-1953 in Marionn, OH, Henry Michael Buchele 7/28/1870-?, Charles John Buchele 1873-1931 d, in Cedar Vale KS, and Laura Buchele Treece 1879-1962 in Bellefountain, OH. Creszenzia Grace Singer and Johannes Christian were farmers, They Ohio are buried in the Ohio Rushsylvania Cemetery between Bellefountain and Marion, Ohio. Johan Christian died March 18, 1895 at the age of 66 y 9 mo and Crezenzia died in 1923; her tombstone is inscribed, "Grace."
My understanding of Charley's early adulthood is that he settled in Liberty Center, Ohio a small town east of Napoleon and operated a flour mill near the Maumee River.
A surprising bit of history was discovered by James Paul Buchele Jr 1913-1992 when he visited the Salt Lake City Mormon Library in 1982. Charley was enumerated in the 1900 census as being recently married to Edith Halter, daughter of John L. Halter (she was born in 1874 and died 1914 and buried in the Glenwood Cemetary, Napoleon Ohio). I don't think that me mother, Bessie Fisher Buchele, had ever heard of this marriage; however Robert and Ned may have been aware of it since they were born in Ohio and had more family roots in the area.
He next married Myrtle Ritenaur, April 28, 1903, at Liberty Center, Ohio. She died in 1909. To this union two sons were born, Robert Leroy 1904-1986 and Charles Ned 1906-2000. By this time, he either managed or owned the flour mill, for there is a photo taken around 1907 of Robert at age two or three standing in a paper flour bag entitled, "Buchele's Best Flour." Myrtle the wife and mother died of T B. in Liberty Center, in 1909.
I have a business calling card that advertises Charles. J. Buchele's Flour, Feed, and Grain Business in Indiana with a daily capacity of 225 barrels. There were two mills: Planet Mills and Elevator in Lafayette and the Excelsior Mill and Elevator in Blufton. The card advertises two brands of flour: "Buchele's Gilt Edge" and "Buchele's Golden Wedding." There is no date on the card. The flour mill apparently went broke, and Charley became a traveling salesman, selling kitchen china and glassware.
The Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM) has no record of any existing mills in Lafayette or Blufton Indiana. He first took Robert and Ned to McMinnville, Tennessee to be cared for by his brother Henry and wife, Minnie Buchele. Later his sisters Katherine "Kate" Rothrock and Sophie Buchele Aley who lived in Cedar Vale, Kansas traveled to Ohio to bring the boys to raise in Kansas. Sophie Buchele was married to James H. Aley September 27, 1905 in Belle fountain, Ohio. Their only daughter, Nora Creszenzia Aley married my mother Bessie Buchele's brother, John Moody Fisher. Charley's sister(s) Sophie Aley and/or Kate Rothrock must have recommended Bessie as a possible wife and to find a home for Robert and Ned. I was told by Ned that Bessie Fisher was their Sunday School teacher at the Methodist church in Cedar Vale. Here is a story of Charley and Bessie meeting, "One afternoon while caring for his horses at the livery stable across the street from the Methodist Church on Main Street, Charley saw Bessie walking home after teaching school. He jumped out of the 2nd story of the barn and asked her if he might walk her home." She lived down by the Cedar Vale water pumping station near Caney River which was about seven blocks from the livery stable.
Charley was a debonair, tall, handsome, and dark haired blade with swarthy complexion. To top it off, he had numerous gold crowns on his teeth which flashed when he smiled. He was a good singer; I can still hear him singing in tune and on time "The Holy City" in a lyric tenor voice that made you want to weep. He always joked that his ability to sing was natural because his mother's family name was "Singer."
To this union were born five boys: James Paul 1913, Julian Milton 1915, Matthew John 1917, Luther Holroyd and Wesley Fisher (Twins) 1920 all born in or near Cedar Vale, Kansas.
Schools and learning were Bessie's paramount interests. After graduation from Cedar Vale High School in 1896. She attended Kansas State Normal School at Emporia, Kansas for two years. Licensed to teach, she taught elementary classes several years each at the Spring Branch and Bethel Districts and six years in the grades at Cedar Vale--the second, fourth, and fifth grades. Two of her most prized possessions bought from her "hard earned" teacher's pay were an Ivers and Pound piano (made in Boston) and a set of the "International Encyclopedia" nearly five feet long. Even though published in 1913, all of us boys depended on it during grade and high school for reference and writing papers sometimes regurgitating out-of-date text.
With some inheritance from Grandfather Fisher and her schoolmarm's salary, Bessie was fairly well off--owning the Spring Branch farm and her home in town later owned by Charlie Cable. I understand she bought from Grandfather Fisher after she moved to Cedar Vale to teach in the public schools.
Their marriage took place November 27, 1912 at the Methodist Church among many friends, gifts and well wishers. In her own words, she once wrote, "I started a school of my own!" Robert and Ned moved into the home and Ernest Leonard (Bessie's nephew) lived part time with them while attending high school.
Bessie was eleven years old when her mother died. Under the circumstances she was forced to assume the role of mother-housekeeper for her father, two brothers Ed age 16 and John 13, four sisters, Lucretia 9, Mary Maude 5, Grace 3, and Lillie l.
Bessie spoke very little to us Buchele boys about how they managed as a family. She said that Grandfather Fisher took Grace and Lillie to the fields when he cultivated the corn. He put the two babies in a children's wagon and pulled it behind his horse drawn cultivator down the furrows between the corn rows. The picture in my mind of this brazen baby sitting solution makes me understand the desperate situation of my mother's teen age years and rough nature of pioneer life. In my mind's picture I can see the dusty air stirred up by the cultivator, the sharp course leaves hitting the babies in the face, the bumping and banging of the wagon as it was pulled over the rough furrows and the never ending rows of corn ahead.
Charley, Bessie, Robert and Ned moved moved from Cedar Vale to Spring Branch farm after Paul was born August 5, 1913 in order to be closer to the farm. They started a dairy to deliver botled milk into Cedar Vale. The Spring Branch farm was three miles east of Cedar Vale west on Highway #166. If you consider that they delived milk by horse and wagon. they spent many hours on the road. Julian was born June 22, 1915 and Matthew September 17, 1917. As the older boys became of high school age the family needed to be closer to Cedar Vale. They decided to buy mother's sister Lillie Fisher Glockner's one-half share (Grace owned the other half) of the Caney River Farm (later Golden Acres Farm) and borrowed about $5,000 from the Grandfather Fisher trust fund to pay for it. The Fund was administrated by Edgar and John Fisher. Wesley and I were born March 18, 1920 shortly after the family moved closer to town. Charley had a large sign painted in large letters on front of the red barn built by Grandfather Fisher: CHARLES J. BUCHELE, GOLDEN ACRES FARM which could be seen from Cedar Vale two miles away.
I was six years old when Grandfather Fisher died October 1,1926 in Arcadia, Florida. Lillie Fisher Glockner shipped his body to Cedar Vale for the funeral. He was laid "laid in state" at John and Nora Fisher's home where the Cedar Vale Hospital is now located. It was there I witnessed something weird, the undertaker, in full view of the mourners was applying tan make-up to grandfather's face with something that looked like a wooden tongue depressor. I was told that his body was turning black because of the long trip from Florida.
Grandfather Fisher (1840-1926) was a Civil War veteran from Star City, Indiana who nearly starved to death in a prison camp (note #3 near Tyler, Texas. Bessie wrote a short history entitled, "In Retrospect" about her father in the book, "A History of Cedar Vale, Kansas" published in 1975 during the town's 105th anniversary. She wrote, "My father, James L. Fisher, would never tell his children about the battles of the Civil War. It seemed that they were so terrible that he couldn't talk about them. He was imprisoned until he escaped and made his way back to Star City, Indiana to his parent's home. On arrival home he was so emaciated that his mother and sisters did not recognize him. For food in prison they ground up whole ears of corn that rats and mice had run over. To escape from prison, the prisoners dug a tunnel with kitchen implements, spoons, etc., and used their coats to carry away the dirt."
With the close of the war, grandfather traveled to Galena, Cherokee County, Kansas in search of cheap land to homestead. Here he met Reverend Stephen Holroyd and his family. The Holroyd family had arrived in Cherokee County, Kansas extremely sick (probably malaria) and by luck came across our grandfather Fisher who had been a nurse in the Civil War. Grandfather Fisher nursed them back to health and found a wife--our Grandmother Mary Ann Holroyd See paper entitled, "Memories of Grandfather James Leonard Fisher and Anna Marila Fisher Leonard".
The only time I remember seeing Grandfather Fisher alive was when Uncle George brought him back from Florida for a visit. He slept in our old back parlor on a day bed. I remember he was extremely feeble and not very lucid. He had a long shaggy white beard, sneezed a lot and his hands shook uncontrollably. Wesley, Matthew, and I disgraced the family one afternoon when our parents were away. In the parlor where Grandfather was sitting on the bed, we wildly shucked off our clothes and danced, shouted and screamed like bhanges as we wiggled our butts at him like a modern Elvis. In later years, when flashes of this shameful escapade come back to me, I'm reminded of the musical production, "Flaming Creatures" I saw in Ann Arbor more than 45 years ago. During that performance the police arrested the nude dancers for exposing themselves.
This was the time of the often retold "Salt on a Chicken Tail" story. I can still hear the raucous laughter of the family.
Here is one story a neighbor, Linnes Duggan, told me one afternoon about Grandfather Fisher. Duggan was the road construction foreman for Chautauqua County and on this day he and some workers were repairing the mailbox culvert north of the farm house. He said to me, "You know my working so near to the last farm that Jim Fisher bought in this area (1900) and my seeing the big red barn he built against the hill, I'm reminded to tell you a story I once heard that tells something about your grandpa's character. Mr. Fisher hired several men who owed him money to dig a well. One day, when the men were down in the well working, he threatened to drop rocks on them if they didn't pay their debts!"
Notes on sources of text:
Correspondence from our neighbor George Wieland, Ann Arbor, Michigan,
February 9, 1988.