Row, Row, Row Your Boat

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes a picture is worth a few questions. Like, who are these two people in the little rowboat? Where was this? And why?

Herb & Karen, c1965

In case you don’t recognize us, that is my dad and me, sometime in the early-mid 1960s, floating on Grandpa Schumm’s farm pond east of Willshire.

I have no idea why my dad and I were in this little boat. Neither one of us could swim. It wasn’t my idea and as I recall, my dad had to do a lot of talking to get me out onto the water.

And who was I waving at? Probably the person taking the photo, likely my mom.

I don’t know if my dad or Grandpa Schumm ever used the boat for fishing, but that little rowboat survived all these years and was passed down in our family. We have it now.

Boat, 2021.

These boats are sometimes called Jon boats. I don’t know about the newer models but this one is pretty unstable. I would not trust it in deep water.

I am not terribly afraid of water but I do have a healthy respect for it. If I venture out on water I like to be in a much larger, stable boat. Sometimes I wear a life-jacket.

My husband Joe proved just how unstable this boat really is. A couple years ago Joe decided to build a new deck on the edge our pond. His plan was to use this boat to carry materials out to the portion of the deck that extends over the water. The water is about waist deep there and Joe could have just waded out there to place and anchor the boards and frame the deck. But he decided to use the boat instead, hoping to stay dry.

Thinking back on the project, a little old rowboat like this one is probably not the right thing to transport parts for an aquatic construction job. And trying to balance that long, heavy piece of lumber in that little boat probably wasn’t a good idea.

Yes, the little boat became unbalanced, tipped from side to side, and started taking on water. In fact, it took on water very quickly. All of a sudden Joe started throwing tools and other items from the boat onto the banks of the pond. Yikes! My first thought was that he was really angry since he was throwing things like that. I backed away a little and was ready to retreat into the house.

Joe had to abandon ship but I wasn’t too worried about his safety. Joe can swim and after all, he was in waist-deep water.

However, I soon learned that he was not angry at all. I knew this when he started laughing. He was simply trying to save his power tools and anything else he could before the boat capsized and sank. We had a rope tied to it and we were able to drag it back onto the shore.

Joe did lose a few tools that day. And he did get wet. To finish the project he just waded out into the water to place and secure the boards, as he probably should have done in the first place.

Deck, 2021

In the end, we had a good laugh and Joe finished constructing the deck in a few days.

The little Schumm boat is back in its spot, permanently docked under some trees, now a lawn decoration near the pond.  

Tombstone Tuesday-Curtain Symbol

A curtain on a tombstone symbolizes the passage from one life to the next, the passage from one existence to another. Curtains conceal and block the view of something and they also provide protection. A curtain is sometimes referred to as a veil. 

Curtain symbol, Riverside Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio.

The inscription on this tombstone is a good example of a curtain. The curtain, which is pulled back, indicates that the pathway to the next life has been revealed and is open. The unbroken column on the left indicates that the persons lived full and complete lives.

Curtains and veils are of great Biblical significance and are mentioned several times in the Bible. A curtain or veil covered the Ark of the Covenant. It symbolized the entrance to the presence of God and protected mortals from the Ark’s radiance. The temple curtain was torn in two after Christ’s crucifixion, signifying that Christians had a pathway into the presence of God.  

Memories of Zion Chatt’s Choir

Today, an old photo of the choir at Zion Lutheran, Chatt, taken sometime between 1947-1960. I apologize for the quality of the photo. It is a copy of a copy but I think you can still make out the people. The nice thing is that nearly everyone is identified, thanks to my mom.  

Choir, Zion Lutheran, Chatt, 1947-1960.

Left to right in the photo: Fern (Caffee) Stetler, Marcella Schroeder, Dale Caffee, Norma Lee (Smith) Luginbill, Don Caffee, Maxine (Smith) Caffee, Ralph Bollenbacher, Mrs. Elsie Byers, Dale DeArmond, Donna (Johns) Caffee, Vernon Caffee, and Florence (Reynolds) Wilson. The last person, a man, is not identified.

I do not know the exact year the photo was taken but Mrs. Byers is among the choir members and her husband, Rev. Waldo Byers, was Zion Chatt’s minister from 1947-1960. Rev. Byers is the first minister that I remember.

There were many talented singers in our congregation and Zion Chatt had a very good choir. Several were soloists. That was years ago and we have not had a choir for quite a few years.

I was in the Zion’s choir during my teen years, when Marcella Schroeder, and later Connie Brigner, directed the choir. My two favorite songs to sing were Whispering Hope and The Holy City. We often still play The Holy City, as a piano/organ duet, on Palm Sunday and we even have a Whispering Hope duet.

As I recall, the choir sang from the balcony. I also remember these black choir robes with the white collar, which were stored up in the balcony years later. 

Before this choir, Zion Chatt had a quartet in the 1930s. The quartet consisted of Howard Caffee, Stubby Bollenbacher, Rev. Carl Yahl, and Paul McGough. Paul’s twin sister Pauline (McGough) DeArmond was the pianist. Pauline was also Zion’s organist for many years. Rev. Yahl was Zion’s minister from 1931-1942, which helps to date this photo.

Quartet at Zion Lutheran, Chatt

These photos bring back good memories of dedicated church members, now gone, who served and helped shape our congregation.   

Tombstone Tuesday-Henry F. & Abalonia (Gunther) Hoppe Freese

Henry F & Abalonia (Gunther) Hoppe Freese, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Henry F. and Abalonia Freese, located in row 8 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Henry F
His Wife

Abalonia “Abby” (Gunther) was born 7 March 1836 in Bavaria, according to Zion Schumm’s records, and immigrated December 1854. [1]

Abby Guenther married John F. Hoppe 10 June 1859 in Fulton County, Indiana. [2] John Hoppe (1835-1864) was also a German immigrant. 

Their first child, Henrietta Wilhelmina “Minnie” Hoppe, was born in Rochester, Fulton County, Indiana, on 26 April 1860. Minnie Hoppe would eventually marry Henry M. Schumm.

The John Hoppe family in 1860, living in Rochester, Indiana: John F Hoppe, 25; Abby Hoppe, 22; Minnie Hoppe, 3 months; Frederick Runker, 33; Frederick Froman, 23. John Hoppe was a grocer and Runker and Froman were clerks. [3] John and Abby had 2 other children, born in 1862 and 1863, but both died the same year they were born. [4]

John Hoppe died in Rochester, Indiana, 11 August 1864 and is buried in Rochester IOOF Cemetery with his two infant children. [5]

Widow Abby (Gunther) Hoppe married Henry F. Freese in Cass County, Indiana, 15 July 1869. [6]

Henry F. Freese was born 22 January 1837 in Krummendeich, Hannover, Germany, according to Zion Schumm’s records.  

In 1870 Henry (34) and Abby (32) Freese, and Henry’s step-daughter Minnie Hoppe (10), lived in Logansport, Cass County, Indiana. Henry worked as a car inspector. [7] Since this was 1870, I assume car meant a railroad car.

The Henry Freese family in 1880, living in Rochester, Indiana: Henry, 44; Abby, 43; and Minnie, 20, stepdaughter. Henry’s occupation was farmer. [8]

Daughter Minnie (Hoppe) married Henry M. Schumm in Fulton County, Indiana, on 5 May 1887 and they moved to near Schumm by 1900. Henry and Abby Freese lived with Henry M. and Minnie Schumm and their family in 1900. The Henry M. Schumm family in 1900: Henry M Schumm, 39; Wilhelmina H Schumm, 40; Agnes Schumm, 12; Alma, 10 Emanuel, 9; Emil, 6; Edna, 4; Clara, 3; Alfred, 2 months; Henry Freese, 63, father-in-law; and Abalonia, 61, mother-in-law. [9]

Henry F. Freese died of exhaustion on 26 February 1902, at the age of 65 years, 1 month, and 4 days. He was buried on the 28th.

In 1910 and 1920 widow Abby Freese lived very near, if not next door to her daughter Minnie Schumm. [10] [11]   

Abalonia “Abby” (Gunther) Hoppe Freese died in Schumm on 5 March 1923, at the age of 86 years, 11 months, and 28 days. She was buried on the 8th.

[1] 1854, Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden & Ellis Island), New York, New York, 1820-1957, List no. 1729, ship Suwa, Ablouia Gunther, 27 Dec 1854; digital image,, viewed 9 Jan 2022.

[2] U.S., Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993, Fulton County, Indiana, Vol A, p.621, John F. Hoppe & Abby Genther, 10 Jun 1859;   

[3] 1860 U.S. Census, Rochester, Fulton, Indiana, p.669, dwelling 1074, family 1076, John F Hoppee; digital image,, viewed 9 Jan 2022.

[4] Find a, Hoppe memorial no. 42623407 & no. 42623454, Rochester IOOF Cemetery, Rochester, Fulton County, Indiana.

[5] Find a, John F. Hoppe memorial no. 42623244, Rochester IOOF Cemetery, Rochester, Fulton County, Indiana.

[6] U.S., Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993, Cass County, Indiana, p.586, Henry Freese & Appolonia Happe, 15 Jul 1869;

[7] 1870 U.S. Census, Logansport, Cass, Indiana, p.190B, dwelling 628, family 618, Henry Freese; digital image,, viewed 9 Jan 2022.  

[8] 1880 U.S. Census, Rochester, Fulton, Indiana, ED 41, p.63D, dwelling, family, Henry Freese; digital image,, viewed 18 Dec. 2021.

[9] 1900 U. S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 97, dwelling 183, family 196, p.9, Henry M Schumm; digital image,, viewed 6 Dec 2021.

[10] 1910 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 114, p.2B, dwelling & family 38, Abbie Fruge; digital image,, viewed 9 Jan 2022.

[11] 1920 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 146, p.3A, dwelling & family 49, Abalonia Freese Schumm; digital image,, viewed 6 Dec 2021.

1896-A Good Year

1896 was a very good year in my family’s history. Three of my four grandparents were born in 1896. Carl Miller, his wife Gertrude (Brewster) Miller, and Cornelius Schumm were all born in 1896. Grandma Hilda (Scaer) Schumm was born in 1895.

Carl and Gertrude (Brewster) Miller

Hilda (Scaer) & Cornelius Schumm.

This got me thinking about my grandparents, noting some of their similarities, differences, interesting facts, and coincidental things about them and how their lives paralleled each other. Here are some of my observations.

My two grandmothers were the first-born children in their family. Grandma Gertrude Miller was the first of eight children and Grandma Hilda Schumm was the first of five children.

Grandpa Cornelius Schumm was the second of three children and Grandpa Carl Miller was seventh of nine children, counting his step-siblings. Carl was the first child born in the newly-built Miller house on Sipe Road.

All four of my grandparents were born in different counties. Carl Miller in Mercer County, Ohio; Gertrude (Brewster) in Adams County, Indiana; Cornelius Schumm in Van Wert County, Ohio; and Hilda (Scaer) in Allen County, Indiana. Two born in Indiana, two born in Ohio.

My two grandfathers lived their whole lives in the county in which they were born. In fact, they lived their whole lives on the farms on which they were born. Those two Century Farms are still in my family.

Grandpa Schumm spent his life working on his farm, farming, running his threshing machine, and operating his sawmill.

Grandpa Miller farmed but also worked at Central Soya in Decatur.

Both of my grandmothers gardened, which was pretty much the norm back then. They were both excellent cooks and bakers.

Grandma Schumm liked to quilt and she made many quilts.

Grandma Miller was not into quilting or sewing. She probably made her bib aprons that she always wore, but I never saw her sew much, although she probably made her children’s clothing years before.   

Neither of my grandmothers drove a car.

Neither of my grandfathers served in WWI.

Carl Miller was born in February 1896 and died in November 1973. His wife Gertrude (Brewster) was born in November 1896 and died in February 1973.

The minister who conducted the Miller funerals also married Joe and I.

Three of my grandparents were raised Lutheran. Grandma Gertrude (Brewster) attended Mount Carmel EUB as a girl but joined Zion Chatt after she married Carl Miller.

Both grandparent couples were married in a Zion Lutheran Church. The Millers married at Zion Chatt, and the Schumms at Zion Schumm.

I do not have a wedding photo of either my Miller or Schumm grandparents.

Grandpa Carl Miller was a first generation-born American.

Grandpa and Grandma Schumm were both second generation-born Americans.

Grandma Gertrude Miller’s family was in America much longer. In fact, at least one branch of her family goes back to the American Revolution. I don’t know who first immigrated in her family.

I have a photo of myself with all my grandparents, but not very many photos. I could find only one photo with both Grandpa Miller and myself and I was not even a year old at the time. In this 1952 Christmas photo with Grandpa and Grandma Miller and my cousins, I am on the sofa, center, back, behind my crying cousin. These were all of my Miller cousins at that time.

Miller Christmas 1952.

The 4-generation Schumm-Miller-Bennett photo below was taken after our son Jeff’s birth in 1982.

Grandpa & Grandma Schumm, my mom Florence, me holding our son Jeff, 1982.

Three of my grandparents had rather serious personalities. Grandma Miller was the exception. She was just plain ornery and loved to kid around and play practical jokes on family members. She was a real clown. I spent many summer afternoons playing cards with Grandma and Grandpa Miller. Great memories!

Gertrude (Brewster) Miller with funny glasses, nose.

Beside my family, here are some famous 1896 births:

George Burns (1896-1996), actor/comedian
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), author
Mamie (Doud) Eisenhower (1896-1979), first lady
Ira Gershwin (1896-1983), lyricist
And my personal favorite: Percy Spencer (1896-1969), inventor of the microwave oven

Some other happenings around the world in 1896:

German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen discovered x-rays
Utah became the 45th state
The Tootsie Roll was invented
First radio signal transmission was made
First edition of the Dow Jones Industrial Average was published
Henry Ford completed his first gasoline-powered automobile, the quadricycle
The City of Miami, Florida, was incorporated
The shortest war in history was fought: the Anglo-Zanzibar War, lasting 45 minutes
John Philip Sousa composed the “The Stars and Stripes Forever”

Yes, 1896 was a special year.