Plate Charger

Thanksgiving 2012

Charger is a word used for many things. A charger can be:

  • A San Diego football player
  • A Dodge car
  • A battery charger
  • The fictional Transformer named Charger
  • A Prototype light attack and observation aircraft (Convair Charger)
  • An Australian rugby team (Gold Coast Chargers)
  • A medieval war horse
  • A  British term for a clip used in reloading firearms
  • A character in the Left 4 Dead 2 game
  • Me, when I’m shopping with my credit card!
  • Or the large decorative plate supporting the dinner plate that our son Jeff wanted to heap with Thanksgiving Day food.

Wikipedia defines a plate charger as a decorative plate used to fancify a place setting, used for special events. Thanksgiving Day was a special event but I use chargers with my table settings most of the time.

After our Thanksgiving dinner our son wondered why we hadn’t eaten from the nice large plate on the bottom of the place setting. I told him that it was just for decoration and that it was called a charger. He had never heard of a plate called a charger before. I guess I must have started using chargers under my dinner plates after he left home.

The above photo is what my table looked like for last week’s Thanksgiving Day dinner. I keep both of our tables set at all times and I change the place settings with the seasons. This works for us because we hardly ever eat at the table, but usually eat at our breakfast counter instead.

Besides having nice looking tables there is another reason I keep both our tables set, appearing as though we are ready for company at all times.

Both our dinette and dining room tables used to attract stuff. A lot of stuff. Mail, my purse, magazines, books, papers and a lot of other clutter used to pile up on those tables. They were a mess all the time and I just could not keep things from piling up.

Then I got the brilliant idea to keep the tables set at all time. If the tables are set I don’t put stuff on them. Both tables are completely set with chargers, salad and regular plates, silverware, glasses and a centerpiece. The tables no longer provide horizontal storage for our stuff and they look great. It is also fun to collect decorative plates and change them with the seasons.

Christmas 2012 with charger.

Charger plates, sometimes called underplates or chop plates, have been around since the 1800s but became popular again in the 1990s. They are strictly decorative and not meant to eat food from. My Thanksgiving chargers had a label on the back that cautioned against eating from them. That was what caught our son’s eye and made him wonder why such a nice large plate was on the table, yet could not be used to eat off of.

The word charger comes from the 13th century word chargeur, something whose role is to load. Chargers were once large platters or shallow plates for liquids. They were also used to protect the hands and tablecloth from a hot plate. One would hold the charger instead of the hot plate.

Chargers now come in a variety of materials, colors and prices. Most of my chargers are plastic but they are also available in wood, metal, glass, leather, wicker and other materials. Chargers can be made from toxic substances since food is not eaten from them.

The charger plate should complement the dinner plate and is usually 2-3 inches larger than the dinner plate. I like the layered look that I get by using a charger.

Charger etiquette says that chargers should be on the table when guests are seated. The chargers can remain on the table throughout all the courses, as a base for the various bowls and plates used for each course. But the charger should be removed for the dessert course.

My bad. I did not realize that on Thanksgiving Day and put the pumpkin pie plate directly on the charger. I’ll know better than to do that ever again.

This blog post, telling the history of the plate charger, is for you, Jeff. Now you know what a plate charger is and how it got its name.

This year’s Thanksgiving dinner was special because it included our future daughter-in-law. Jeff and Erin will be married tomorrow. I wish the best for both of you.


Source of information:


Tombstone Tuesday–Margra E. & John Kallenberger

Margra & John Kallenberger, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of John and Margra Kallenberger, located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Margra E.

According to the records of Zion Lutheran Church, Chattanooga, Johann Andres Kallenberger was born 5 October 1910 to Michael and Maggie (Rueck Miller) Kallenberger. He was baptized 6 November 1910 and his sponsors were his maternal aunt and uncle, Johann and Carolina Müller/Miller. He was confirmed at Zion on 5 April 1925 by Rev. J.E. Albrecht.

John married Margra Esther Burkhart at Zion on 25 August 1936 with Clara Fern Caffee and Paul Eugene Caffee as witnesses. Their marriage record states that John was from Willshire and Margra was from Monroe, Indiana. Note that the church records give a different marriage date than John’s obituary. John died 18 May 1995 and Margra died 8 May 1983.

John Kallenberger confirmation, 1925.


Willshire Woman Dies
Margra E. Kallenberger, 73, R. 1, Willshire, died Sunday morning at Bradley Memorial Hospital, Cleveland, Tenn.

She was born March 18, 1910, in Adams County, Ind., the daughter of Edward and Georgie (Martin) Burkhart. She was married to John Kallenberger, who survives.

Also surviving are three sons, Leon A., Vancouver, Wash., Waldo, Cincinnati, and Jerome L., R. 1, Willshire; a daughter, Mrs. Paul (Anna Louise) Smeltzer, Cleveland, Tenn.; a sister, Mrs. Bessie Myers, R. 2, Ohio City; a brother, Donald Burkhart, Geneva, Ind.; and 14 grandchildren.

Three sisters and four brothers are deceased.

Mrs. Kallenberger at one time had been employed at the former Smith Nursing Home, Rockford. She was a member of St. John Lutheran Church, Hopewell Township.

Services will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Zwick-Boltz & John Funeral Home, Decatur, Ind. The Rev. Robert Carter will officiate and burial will be in Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga.

Friends may call at the funeral home after 2 p.m. Tuesday.  All aforementioned times are Indiana time. [1]

John Kallenberger
John A. Kallenberger, 84, Willshire, died at 1:20 p.m. Thursday at Van Wert Manor Nursing Home, where he had been a patient for two weeks.

He was born Oct. 5, 1910, in Mercer County, to Michael J. and Margaret (Miller) Kallenberger. On Aug. 11, 1975, [sic] [should be 1936] he married Margra E. Burkhart, who died May 8, 1983.

Survivors are a daughter, Anna Louise Smeltzer, Cleveland, Tenn.; three sons, Leon A., Vancouver, Wash., Waldo, Cincinnati, and Jerome L., Mendon; 14 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Deceased are a brother and a sister.

Mr. Kallenberger retired in 1936 [sic] [should be 1975] after working 22 years at Central Soya. He was a member of St. John Lutheran Church in Hopewell Township.

Private family services will be held at a later date.

Zwick-Sefton & Jahn Funeral Home, Decatur, Ind., is handling arrangements. [2] 


[1] The Daily Standard, Celina, Ohio, 9 May 1983, p.3.
[2] The Daily Standard, Celina, Ohio, 19 May 1995, p. 5A.


My Genealogy Wish List

I hope all of you had a nice Thanksgiving Day with your families. We have so much to be thankful for.

We had a nice dinner with my mom, our son and his very soon-to-be bride. It was our first Thanksgiving without my dad and we miss him.

The Bennett Thanksgiving dinner will be tomorrow. They combine the Thanksgiving feast with Ohio State football and tomorrow’s game with Michigan is probably the biggest game of the season. Go Bucks!

According to the big stack of store ads that came with Wednesday’s newspaper, we have now moved to next phase of the holiday season–Black Friday Christmas shopping. This year several stores started their sales early, on Thanksgiving Day.

We went shopping on Black Friday twice, as Joe would say–the first and last time. There usually isn’t anything we want bad enough to fight the crowds and this year is no exception. We are staying home to work around the house and prepare for tomorrow’s family dinner.

But I have been thinking about my Christmas shopping. I have already started asking family members for gift ideas and wish lists.

I have my own ongoing wish list. This list isn’t a Christmas list and it doesn’t involve acquiring things. It centers around discovering certain facts about my family history. It is My Genealogy Wish List. The list really hasn’t changed much over the years and I don’t know if I will ever get all answers.

On My Genealogy Wish List I would like to discover:

  • When Isaac Huey died and where he is buried.
  • Who were Jackson and Mary Ann (Martin) Brewster’s parents.
  • Who were Nicholas Headington’s parents.
  • When did Louis Breuninger immigrate.
  • Why did Louis Breuninger move to Atlanta for a couple years right after the Civil War.
  • Who were Maria Sekel’s parents.
  • When did the Ruecks immigrate.

I could make the list longer, but these are the questions for which I would most like to find answers. I’ll keep plugging away and maybe someday the questions on My Genealogy Wish List will be answered.



Tombstone Tuesday–Magdalene and Henry Schumm

Henry & Magdalene Schumm, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Ohio

This is the tombstone of Magdalene and Henry Schumm, located in row 11 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:


Henry Schumm was known as “River Henry” to people in the Willshire area because his farm bordered the St. Marys River east of Willshire. Schumm researchers today still refer to him by that name. He was born in Van Wert County on 2 November 1844 to Ludwig and Barbara (Pflueger) Schumm and died in Van Wert County on 16 February 1922.

River Henry is my second great-granduncle and my great-granduncle. Our common ancestor is Henry’s father Louis Schumm (1817-1855), who is my second and third great-grandfather.

Anna Magdalene “Lena” Geisler and her twin sister Catharine Elisabeth were born in Van Wert County on 30 April 1868 to George and Rosina (Hoffman) Geisler. Magdalene died 2 March 1946 in Van Wert County and was Henry’s second wife. Henry and Magdalena had three children: Louis Fredrick (1892-1974); Herman Andrew (1893-1984); and Theodore Gottlieb (1898-1967). Their son Louis was a carpenter and with the help of Bill Baker built my parents’ home in 1957.

Henry’s lengthy obituary:

Pioneer Resident Called to Great Beyond
One century and six years ago, being in the year, 1817, there was born in Wuertenberg [sic], Germany, a son, who was christened Martin Louis Schumm. When 16 years of age his parents, as did a good many other inhabitants of that country at that time, decided to emigrate to America. Upon their arrival they settled in Holmes county, Ohio, where many of our earlier immigrants had settled. This was during the year, 1833. In 1839 he sought his better half in Anna Barbara, nee Pflueger, and about one year later moved to Van Wert county, and decided to locate in the woodland near where Schumm station is now located. Here he built a log hut on a 160 acre farm. Several years later he erected one of the first farm houses in this vicinity. Here were born to them nine children, of whom Henry, the subject of this mention, was the third child, and the oldest son. But amid their hardships and toils in the year 1855, the husband and father was summoned to the Great Beyond, leaving a widow with nine children to take care of themselves when tillable soil was yet very scarce.

The venerable Henry Schumm was born in Willshire township, Nov. 2, 1844. Here he grew to manhood under hard labor, helping his mother to support the family. Later, however, he decided to have a home which he might call his own, and on the 10th day of October, 1872, as married to Anna Rosina, daughter of the well-remembered Frederick Schinnerer. Nov. 9, of the same year, they moved into what was then considered a fairly good dwelling, a log hut, on a farm one mile east of Willshire, on the banks of the St. Marys river. This union was blessed with 10 children: John of Willshire, Ohio; Gustav, William, Mrs. Chas. Merkle and Mrs. E.T. Merkle of Willshire township; Mrs. Mart. Hofmann of Pleasant township; Mrs. Geo. Merkel of Liberty township; Joe of Toledo, Ohio; two sons, Edward and Carl, deceased.

However, God in his omnipotency, demanded that this union should be dissolved, and Jan. 15, 1890, called away the wife and mother of this family.

Jan. 29, 1891, he was united in marriage with Anna Magdalena, nee, Geisler. To this union were born four children, 3 sons and one daughter, the latter being taken away in infancy. The sons are: Louis of Willshire, Ohio; Hermann now in Newark, N.Y., and Theodore, yet at home.

Through industry and proper management Mr. Schumm progressed to the ownership of a 170-acre farm. Having continuously lived on this farm since 1872, a period of over 49 years, he cleared much of the farm and brought it under cultivation, and at the time of his demise left a farm in improvements surpassing many in its vicinity.

Having joined the Lutheran church at Schumm in his boyhood, he had continued a faithful member of that organization until death. In his last years he always delighted in conversing with some other pioneer about their earlier days, and could relate to the younger generation many an interesting story. Throughout his life he was rigidly honest, a credit to his pioneer ancestry.

Mr. Schumm enjoyed exceptionally good health throughout his life up to a few years ago when he began to complain with bladder trouble. This disease, however, was of no serious effect until a few months ago, when it became apparent that some relief must be sought. Jan 12 of this year, he underwent a minor surgical operation, performed by Dr. Rayl of Decatur, who expected to relieve him by making an insertion and drain the bladder by means of a tube, but this gave him little or no relief. Later his physician decided to undertake a more serious operation to determine the real cause of his ailment. This operation was performed Feb. 6, which disclosed the fact that cancer had so successfully undermined the foundation of his life that all hopes for any recovery had vanished. He died Thursday morning, Feb. 16, 1922, at 2 o’clock rather unexpectedly, as he had continued in the same condition for about a week, at the age of 77 years, three months and 14 days.

He leaves to mourn their loss, the sorrow stricken widow, eleven children, two brothers, one sister, one half-brother, one half-sister and one step-brother, thirty grandchildren and a number of other relatives and friends.

Gone, but not forgotten. Our loss is his gain.

Funeral services for the deceased were held Saturday afternoon at the Schumm church, conducted by the pastor, Rev. R. O Bienert. Interment was made in the Schumm cemetery.

Card of Thanks
Through these columns we desire to express our sincere thanks to all our neighbors and others who so kindly assisted us and for their sympathy during the hours of our bereavement.

Mrs. Lena Schumm and Children. [1]

“River Henry” Schumm (1844-1922).

Magdalene (Geisler) Schumm’s obituary:

Well-Known Local Woman Found Dead
Death, which is believed to have occurred Saturday claimed Mrs. Magdalena Schumm, 77, well-known lifelong resident of this community, who was found dead in the yard at her home at 1 o’clock Sunday afternoon. Death had occurred some 12 to 16 hours prior to the finding of the body, according to the County Coroner Dr. E. H. Alspaugh. He gave myocarditis as the cause of death

It was thought that the deceased had gone out to the yard for coal when she was stricken with the heart attack. The body lay from view between the coal pile and a building.

She was born in Willshire township April 30, 1868, the daughter of George and Rosina Hoffman Geisler. She was a member of the Zion Lutheran church at Schumm.

Her husband, Henry Schumm, died in 1922.

Surviving are three sons, Louis F. and Theodore G. Schumm, both of Willshire, and Herman A. Schumm of Port Gibson, N.Y.; four stepsons, John M. and William J. Schumm, both of Willshire; Gustave J. Schumm of Van Wert, and Joe H. Schumm of Kansas, O.; two stepdaughters, Mrs. Martin Hoffman and Mrs. E.T. Merkle, both of Ohio City; 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. One daughter, four stepchildren, two sisters and a half-brother are deceased.

Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the home and at 2:30 o’clock at the Zion Lutheran church at Schumm, with the Rev. Alfred Moeller officiating. Burial was in the church cemetery. The body was removed from the Zwick funeral home to the Louis F. Schumm residence in Willshire Monday afternoon. [2]

Henry & Magdalene (Geisler) Schumm.

[1] The Willshire Herald, Willshire, Ohio, 23 February 1922, p.1.
The Willshire Herald, Willshire, Ohio, 7 March 1946, p.1.



1918 Letter from Regina to Christine Rueck Miller

Jacob and Regina (Rueck) Rueck. Regina wrote the letter below in 1918.

One of the best things about blogging about family and local history is being contacted by distant relatives, old  acquaintances, former area inhabitants and others researching the same surnames.

Recently I was contacted by another Rueck researcher, Onno Rueck, from Switzerland. Onno seems to have an extensive database of Ruecks from all around the world but we have not determined if our Rueck families connect somewhere down the line.

I am afraid that I was not much help to him but he was a great help to me. Onno can read old German Script! After reading in one of my blog posts that I have many Rueck letters written in the old script, he kindly offered to translate one for me. I was amazed at how quickly Onno was able to translate the letter.

The collection of letters I have is from the Ruecks that moved to Oregon and were written to my great-grandmother Christine (Rueck) Miller. My great-great-grandparents, Jacob and Regina (Gross) Rueck, as well as several of their children moved to Oregon in the late 1800s. Their children that accompanied them to Oregon were George, Jacob, Catherina, David, Regina and Carl.

Two of Jacob and Regina’s children did not go to Oregon with the rest of the family. My great-grandmother Christine (Rueck) Miller stayed in Ohio and Frederick Ruck moved to Oklahoma.

Christine (Rueck) Miller, sister of Regina.

The letter I sent to Onno to translate was one of the oldest letters I have from Oregon. I could tell from the 1918 postmark that it was probably a letter telling of the death of the father, Jacob Rueck, who died on 23 January 1918. Jacob’s wife Regina passed away in 1889.The letter was written by Regina (Rueck) Rueck, sister of my great-grandmother  Christine (Rueck) Miller. Regina married her first cousin, Jacob Rueck.

Letter from Regina to her sister Christine (Rueck) Miller, 1918.

Below is the translation and transcription of the letter, which Onno translated literally. I took the liberty of making the sentences sound more like today’s English since German sentences usually have the subject, object and verb in a different order than we are used to. For example the first sentence literally reads, “Your kind letter have we last Wednesday received.” There were a couple sentences that I did not quite know what was meant and so I left them in the literal translation.

Aurora, Ore., Jan. 27, 1918
Dear Sister, Brother-in-law and Children,

We received your kind letter last Wednesday. Unfortunately our dear father could no more read himself. He was still alive this evening. At ¾ to nine [his] soul died at age 89 years and 1 month. He was in bed the last 6 days although he was still up almost constantly the whole day. He also had bladder problems almost the whole winter. We had to take the water part of the nights most of the time. He died of weakness of old age, so to say. His powers and his strength became obviously weaker the whole winter. God be praised that he did not have much pain or suffering. 

Dear Sister, it was very hard to lose him. He has however left behind the good power. He is by mother in heaven. He prayed very much all the time and said his goodbyes to us. Taken you will surely his goodbyes send and you falls [?] him to forgive that his unjust was done and he was complete ready to leave us. We have seen David once again. He was here 3 weeks in November on a visit.

Dear sister, it was a very burdened and troublesome winter for us. On 10 November Karl became ill and on the 13th we brought him to the hospital in Portland where he was operated on that same day. There was a tumor and appendicitis. He was in the hospital 4 weeks. Already since the start of December every night we stayed awake by father as Karl was away. It was rather hard for Jake. He and us alone in the morning with father were constantly afraid he would not see Karl again. He has come out of the hospital 2 weeks before. He is still really weak. I did not want to write you all earlier and worries make me write you now. Sister Katja has enough worries, too. Her oldest does not have his papers yet for moving. She day by day

We had an unusually mild winter. I…a plucked a few flowers off father’s grave. The grave was completely covered with beautiful flowers. The pastor had a very beautiful burial service and corpse [burial] text.  Now will I close.

Dear sister, May you have a solemn heart and find the peace/rest. [maybe dear little sister/pet name?] greets you all wholeheartedly. Sister, Brothers, Brother-in-law, Children


Many thanks to Onno for translating this letter for me.