Saturday, February 24, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 8

This week’s writing prompt, Heirloom, is one that I am really excited about. In my husband’s family is a dresser that has been passed from generation to generation. It is known to have been in the family since at least 1891. That is a lot of history!

It was first owned by Johann August Determan and his wife, Mary (Luchtel) Determan, my husband’s great-grandparents. Johann was born 11 September 1867 in Clinton County, Iowa to Bernhard Clemens Determan and Marie Anna (Sander) Determan. Bernhard and Marie Anna had emigrated to the United States from Germany, arriving in New Orleans on 7 January 1845. Six members of the Determan clan were aboard the Ship Leontine, which had departed from Bremen, Germany. These families farmed in Clinton County, Iowa.

Mary Luchtel was born 17 June 1873 in Dyersville, Iowa to Herman Bernard Luchtel and Sophia (Grote) Luchtel, both of whom were born in the United States. Mary and Johann married in Breda, Iowa on 27 January 1891 when Mary was just 17 years old. Johann was 23 at the time. The couple went on to have 10 children. In the 1900 census, taken in April of that year, the family was living in Kniest Township, Carroll County, Iowa. By then they had been married 9 years and had 6 children: Caroline, Mary, Frank, Laura, Elizabeth and Edward (who died in September of 1900). They were living on a farm that they owned. Four additional children, Clement, Theresa (my husband’s grandmother), Martha and Joseph, were born in Iowa between 1901 and 1907.

In 1908, when Theresa was 5, the family decided to homestead in the Butte area of Nebraska. They traveled by train with their possessions, including the above-referenced dresser along with some farm machinery and animals. They completed the distance of about 300 miles in one day. But Johann died on 18 March 1910 in Butte at the age of 42, leaving Mary alone with their children. She continued to work the farm with her sons and hired help until 1918, and then she moved back to Iowa. The 5 oldest children married in Butte, and they remained in Nebraska with son Frank working the farm. Mary left with the 4 youngest ones, bringing the dresser and her other possessions back to Iowa.

In the meantime, Johann’s sister Maria Elizabeth died in Breda, Iowa in 1913. She had been married to Bernard Clemens Schulte, and they had 12 children. Sometime between 1918 and the beginning of 1920, Bernard married Mary (Lutchel) Determan. They were together by the 1920 Iowa census, along with 3 of Bernard’s children and 4 of Mary’s children.

Mary Determan Schulte
and Theresa Wolterman
When Mary died in 1955, the dresser went to her daughter Theresa (Determan) Wolterman, and from her to Theresa’s daughter Jeanette (Wolterman) Krebs. Jeanette was the mother of twins and only had one chest of drawers. Jeanette then passed the chest to her daughter Kay (Krebs) Bailey as she had two boys and could use it for them.

In 2011 Kay offered to bring the chest from Illinois to a family reunion as she no longer had a need for it. Interested family members put their names in a hat, with the understanding that the lucky winner had a vehicle large enough to take it home with them. We were fortunate to end up with the dresser, and we in turn gave it to my father-in-law as he had expressed an interest in it but was unable to attend the reunion.

Determan dresser
He refinished the piece, repairing some parts that had been damaged over the years, and gave the dresser back to us to be given to our son and his wife in Springfield, Virginia. The dresser has seen a lot of miles, and no doubt would have a lot of stories to tell. It is great to have a tangible item that connects 5 generations over more than 127 years!

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