We feel pretty good about our magazine’s 10-year anniversary—but that’s nothing compared to the long-wedded relatives many of you can claim. These are a few of the folks who sent touching stories in response to our call for this special anniversary edition of Everything’s Relative:
My husband’s grandparents were married 61½ years before his grandfather died. Joseph Theusch and Mary A. Bauch were married July 2, 1917, and lived in Geneseo, ND, a small rural community. In their later years, after Joseph retired from farming and they moved into town, Joseph took over several household chores because of Mary’s health.
One morning when he’d been hospitalized because of his own health, he walked over to the nursing home ward to speak to his wife. He said that she’d need to do things without his assistance. He died about five hours later.
—Cynthia Theusch, Fort Wayne, Ind.
The longest-wedded couple in my family are my grandparents Thor and Jonelle Madsen, both of whom are still living. Grandpa is 93 and Grandma is 86, and they just celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary. They met in church, and were married Aug. 28 (Grandpa’s birthday), 1940, in the pastor’s home. My grandma had just turned 17 the month before; they had to get permission from the school district to marry. The only wedding gift they received was a toaster that they still have.
Before they were married, Grandpa wanted to impress Grandma so much that he asked his mom to make him a jacket. He also told me that he liked my grandma because she was nice to everyone. Grandma has always said that she married her best friend—I think that’s a factor in their long marriage.
—Judy Caine, Santa Clarita, Calif.
My parents met on an unconventional blind date—one of my mother’s friends had a date and needed someone to go with her. But it was my mother who hit it off with her friend’s date, and they got married on Jan 1, 1927. They were married almost 70 years, and my dad was especially proud of that. Mother would say that if she got mad, she’d just grab her hoe and go work in the garden until she felt better. My father usually referred to her as Sweetie—maybe that’s why things worked out so well. Both of their parents reached 50 years of marriage, as did 18 of their combined siblings. Maybe they all were long-lived because they were long-loved.
—Janice Smith, Milledgeville, Ga.
My great-grandparents were married 74 years. Byron Eaton St. John Jr. and Minnie Tryphena Wade married June 24, 1896, in Fairmont, Minn. They had five children: Vera, Ronald, Celia, R. Stanley and E. Laura.
Junior first had eyes for Minnie’s twin sister, Myrtle, whom he’d take for rides in his red-wheeled buggy. Then one spring day, while helping Minnie pull up carpet tacks in the Wade family home, he realized what a fine wife
Minnie would make. That day, Minnie rode in the buggy.
In their later years, they moved in with their widowed daughter, Vera (my grandmother). On their 70th anniversary, Junior said, “I have lived with two women the past 15 years, and I have concluded that discretion is the better part of valor.”
—Mary Mittelstadt, Montevideo, MN
Lost and Found
I could put in two sentences what I knew about my father’s past. His dad was a teacher in Missouri who died young, leaving his wife to raise four boys. She died when I was 7. My father offered few details about his family, and I never pried.
Not long ago, I googled my grandmother, born Clara Louise Jobb. To my surprise, she turned up on a website about St. John United Church of Christ, founded by German immigrants in Maeystown, Ill., in 1860.
I poked around. Births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials were there not only for Clara, but also her grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. Sibilla. Johann. Margaretha. Catherine.
I e-mailed the webmaster, Buzz Asselmeier: “Hello, do you have more information about the Jobbs?”
I hoped for, but didn’t expect, a response. Hundreds of names were on the site. Why would Buzz know about my Clara?
His e-mail arrived late at night: “Here’s what I’ve got.’’ In a day, I went from knowing nothing to knowing so much I felt jittery, as though I had stumbled upon buried treasure while planting tulips in my backyard.
I learned Clara was the daughter of Jacob Jobb, son of Georg Ludwig Jobb, son of Georg Heinrich Job, who died in 1813 in Bellheim, Rheinpfalz, Bavaria. I learned Georg Ludwig was a weaver and had 900 florin in his pocket when he left with his family from Le Havre, France, in the summer of 1852. I learned the Jobbs settled in southeastern Missouri. Jacob fought for the Union in the Civil War and later moved to Maeystown, nestled in bluffs along the Mississippi River. He changed the spelling of his surname from Job to Jobb, opened a saddle shop and became the town’s first mayor.
Buzz, whose ancestors also lived in Maeystown, sent two photos: Jacob’s limestone house (still standing!) and Jacob as an old man, with a thick, white Van Dyke beard. It was the first photo I ever saw of my great-grandfather.
I badgered the good people of Maeystown and they responded with generosity and pride in their past—now my past, too. I have two copies of Grace in the Past, Faith for the Future, a book about St. John. I have photos of Clara as a girl, an ad for “Jacob Jobb, SADDLER, Buggies, Wagons, Etc.,’’ and Jacob’s 1919 Waterloo Times obituary, headlined “Taps Sounded for Old Soldier.’’
When I visit St. Louis this summer, I’ll drive to Maeystown for the tour promised by David Buzz’s dad and the historical society president. I might drop in on Ruth Stumpf, who called the other night to say she remembers Jacob’s wife, whom I shall now call my great-grandmother Gertrud.
“She played dominoes every night with my grandmother,’’ said 88-year-old Miss Stumpf. “They had an unusual way of scoring. They’d write an x for 10 points and half an x for five points. I’ll never forget that.’’
“What did she look like?’’ I asked.
“She was tall and thin,’’ said Miss Stumpf. “She always wore a shawl.’’
“What color was it?’’ I begged for more.
“Black,’’ replied Miss Stumpf.
I’m sure my dad had reasons for keeping his family history private. Maybe he simply didn’t know. But I intend to proceed with speed and force. Feed me facts; I can’t get enough.
Elizabeth Rau, Providence, RI
From the January 2010 Family Tree Magazine