It’s Family Reunion Time

Miller Reunion, c1956.

It is the middle of summer and time for family reunions. Both sides of my family have family gatherings that we regularly attend. Although both reunions focus on relatives gathering together (and good food), there are differences between the Miller and Schumm reunions.

The Miller reunion is held every year on the fourth Sunday in July, which this year is the 22nd. This gathering is for the descendants of Carl and Gertrude (Brewster) Miller, my grandparents. At the reunion are my aunts and uncles and cousins.

I am not sure when the first Miller reunion was held but I think we started getting together when I was small and my grandparents were still living. One of the earliest reunions that I remember was held at my Aunt Kate and Uncle Paul’s. We gathered for a photo in front of their house. Usually about 50 Miller relatives attend the reunion on Sunday afternoon but many of us celebrate all weekend long.

Miller Reunion Weekend begins on Friday evening when about 20 of us get together for dinner, often in Decatur, Indiana. After that we usually go to Uncle Vernie’s to visit, reminisce, look at old photos and enjoy one of Aunt Martha’s delicious desserts. On Saturday several of us go to Celina to browse the sidewalk sales and crafts at Celina Lake Festival. This year that won’t happen because Lake Festival is the following weekend. Saturday evening usually finds us at the Chatt Family Restaurant, aka the Chatt Bar. The big decision there is whether to order breaded tenderloin, deep fried pizza or regular pizza. For me that decision is easy. I always order the breaded tenderloin and deep fried dill pickles.

The actual Miller reunion is on Sunday afternoon at the park in Willshire, Ohio. There is always plenty of good food, catching up on the latest news and looking at more photos. For many years we had the reunion at the park in Berne, Indiana, but changed the location to Willshire a couple years ago. They have a nice shelter house at Willshire and there is usually a nice breeze from the west. Except for last year when it was very humid with no breeze. I refer to that reunion as “The Hot One.” The Miller reunion is all about visiting, looking at family photos, seeing how much the little ones have grown and eating.

The Schumm reunion is held every two years on the first Sunday in August. This year the reunion will be held on 5 August. The first Schumm reunion was held in 1924 at the Schumm homestead, northwest of the church. I remember for several years it was held on the Ned Alspaugh property. Recently it has been held at the pavilion just south of the church.

The Schumm reunion is for the descendants of John George Schumm and his five children that immigrated to America with him in 1833. It is a much larger reunion than the Miller reunion and is a little more structured. In fact, they elect officers. There are many, many Schumm relatives and we wear name tags at this reunion. Name tags also indicate from which of John George’s children we descend. Years ago the average attendance at this reunion was 450. Today about 150 attend.

The above photo was taken at that first Schumm reunion in 1924. Everyone was dressed up in their Sunday best, wearing their hats and ties. The photo was taken in front of the Schumm homestead barn, which is no longer standing. [note by kmb: The above photo is 17 1/2 inches long and I scanned it with my Magic Wand scanner.]

Schumm reunion day begins with the 10:00 church service at Zion Lutheran, Schumm. This year they will dedicate John George Schumm’s Bible during the church service. The Bible was donated by the W.J. Schumm family. A carry-in meal commences after church in the pavilion just south of the church. There is a lot of very good food at this reunion, too. I am fortunate to descend from a line of very good cooks on both sides of my family. I’m afraid the line broke when it got to me. I just don’t have that love of cooking.

The afternoon portions of the Schumm reunion is more structured than the Miller reunion. They conduct a business meeting that begins the afternoon program at 2:00. There is an agenda and the meeting includes reports from the secretary and treasurer as well as the discussion of new and old business. Entertainment follows the business meeting. The past few years a singer/comedian from Fort Wayne has performed. The program concludes with the Schumm chorus singing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” The Schumms enjoy music and many are talented singers and musicians. Of course people stay and visit after the program is over.

I helped compile and update the Schumm history and genealogy that was made available in 2010. This year I have asked that people bring old Schumm photos. I will take my Flip Pal and Magic Wand scanner and scan photos all afternoon. I plan to make the photos available as a slide show on CD or a thumb drive for the 2014 Schumm reunion. Hopefully most individuals will be identified in the photos but I will have an unidentified section for the unknowns. Maybe sometime someone will be able to identify them.

My grandfather, Cornelius L Schumm (1896-1986), 1924 Schumm reunion. Back row, far left of above photo..

There is another reunion that I could [and should] attend. The Brewster reunion is held yearly, usually on the Sunday after the Miller reunion. I hate to admit it, but I rarely attend this reunion. There is just not time to do everything, but I think I will go this year. I have an ulterior motive. I want to take my DNA kit over and get a DNA sample to see if we descend from the Mayflower Brewsters. I’ll see if I can get someone to volunteer to donate a few cheek cells for the test. And, Brian, if you are reading this, I will bring some new “old” Brewster photos for you. Hopefully you plan to attend.

Now I need to sit down and look through my recipe books and decide what to make for the upcoming reunions.


Tombstone Tuesday–Lewis and Margaretha Brandt

Lewis & Margaretha Brandt, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Lewis and Margaretha Brandt, located in row 3 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed: BRANDT, Lewis Brandt, Born Nov 30, 1839, Died Jan 31, 1905, aged 65 y, 2 m; Margaretha Haffner, Born  Dec 9. 1846, Married to Lewis Brandt Jun 10, 1866, Died Jun 21, 1889, aged 42 y, 6 m, 12 d.

Louis’ inscription is on the south side of the stone and Margaretha’s inscription is on the north side. The front [west] side of the stone is inscribed:
A precious one from us has gone
A voice we loved is stilled.
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled.

According to Zion Lutheran’s records, Ludwig Brandt was born in Dietzhausen,  Kingdom of Prussia, on 30 November 1839 to Johannes “John” and Anna Catherine (Geisenhoner ) Brandt. He was baptized and confirmed in Prussia. The family immigrated to America in 1855 and settled in Mercer County, Ohio. “Lewis” Brandt died of consumption on 31 January 1905, aged 65 years and 2 months.  He was buried on 3 February. Survivors included his widow, 10 children and 6 grandchildren. Lewis’ parents, John and Anna Brandt were the subjects of last week’s Tombstone Tuesday blog.

Lewis Brandt married Margaretha Haffner on 10 Jun 1866 at Lutheran Zion in Chattanooga. He was 27 years of age, a native of Dietzhausen, Kingdom of Prussia. She was 20 years of age, a native of Mercer County, Ohio.  Witnesses to the marriage were Catherine Beyer and Barbara Leistner.

Margaretha was the first child born to Conrad and Anna Margaretha Carolina (Müller) Haffner. She was born 9 December 1846 in Mercer County and confirmed there on 26 June 1859. The church records do not indicate when or where she was baptized. Margaretha Brand [Brandt] died 21 June 1889 at the age of 42 years, 6 months and 12 days.  Her funeral was performed by Pastor J. Oelkers in Liberty Township, Mercer County.

Louis Brandt (1839-1905). South side of monument.

Margaretha (Haffner) Brandt (1846-1889). North side of monument.













Ludwig and Margaretha (Haffner) Brandt had the following children:

Mathilda Henrietta Brandt, born 9 Mar 1867 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, baptized 13 May 1867. Sponsors were Casper Beyer and Mathilda Haffner.

Gustav Adolph Brandt, born 23 September 1868 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, baptized  25 October 1868. Sponsors were Conrad Haffner and his wife.

Friedrich Wilhelm Brandt, born 30 July 1872 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, baptized 31 August 1872. Sponsors were his parents. Friedrich Wilhelm died 25 August 1872, aged 26 days.  He was buried on the 26th. His funeral text was Mark 10:14. [note by KMB: The church records do indeed state that Friedrich Wilhelm was baptized six days after his death. His baptismal date was probably entered incorrectly because it is not the Lutheran tradition to baptize after death. He may have been baptized on 31 July or 3 August.]

Otto Arthur Brandt, born 3 February 1874 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, baptized 8 April 1874. The sponsors were the parents.

Heinrich Romeo, born 10 April 1876 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, baptized by Rev. Hugo Willert on 25 June 1876. Sponsors were Georg Haffner and Carolina Haffner. He died Mar. 31, 1894. Romeo was the subject of 24 June 2012’s Tombstone Tuesday blog and his tombstone is just south of his parents’ marker.

Benjamin Franklin Brandt, born 12 June 1878, baptized 28 July 1878. Sponsors were Wilhelm Wirwill and wife. “Frank” Brandt became a minister.

Anna Maria Louisa Brandt, born 12 April 1881, confirmed 6 June 1897 by Rev. Affeld. [This information is from her confirmation record. There was no information about her baptism.]

Samuel Clarence Brandt, born 11 June 1883, baptized 22 July 1883. Sponsors were Sixtus Samuel Wick and wife Katharina, born Kugel [Gugel].

Carl Rudolph Walter Brandt, born 8 August 1888, baptized 28 September 1888. Sponsor was August Haffner.

Louis’ wife Margaretha (Haffner) Brandt died 21 June 1889 and Louis remarried to Mary Schultz. Louis and Mary had the following children:

Louis Ernst James Brandt, born 22 Apr 1898, baptized 5 Jun 1898. Sponsors were Pastor Ernst Schulz and James Stogdill.

Emil Friedrich Brandt, born 1 May 1900, baptized 3 June 1900. Sponsors were Friedrich Kuhn Jr. and Maria Kuhn.

Martha Margaretha Brandt, born 2 June 1901, baptized 14 July 1901. The sponsor was the grandmother, Maria Schulz.

Mary (Schultz) Brandt, the second wife of Louis Brandt, died of paralysis on 11 October 1928 and was buried on the 14th.  Survivors included 2 sons and 1 daughter. The church records note that Mrs. Brandt died while on a visit to Minnesota and was buried there.

The above information was from the records of Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga. What great records the ministers kept at Zion! Most of the birth/baptismal records listed above also indicated where the parents were born.

Brain Freeze

Clipart from,

It hits you right between the eyes, smack in the middle of your forehead. At our house we call it brain freeze. I am not referring to the inability to think clearly or about having a senior moment. I am talking about the dreaded ice cream headache.

This malady even has a scientific name, sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, or nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion. Studies have been done on brain freeze and the condition has even been the subject of research articles published in the British Medical Journal and Scientific American.

According to Wikipedia, brain freeze is a brief headache associated with the consumption—most often the quick consumption—of very cold beverages or foods such as ice cream or ice pops. There are several theories as to the cause of brain freeze. There is the anterior cerebral artery theory, the nerve response theory, and the sinus capillary theory.

It doesn’t matter which theory you subscribe to, it still hurts! Brain freeze usually lasts about 20 seconds and sometimes as long as a minute. It lasts long enough to keep you from eating ice cream for a few moments.

I think some people are more susceptible to brain freeze than others. Joe rarely gets brain freeze. I usually get it when I eat ice cream. So did my dad. I suppose it has a lot to do with the speed at which the ice cream is consumed. Guilty!

Ice cream was my dad’s favorite dessert. It didn’t matter what flavor ice cream was in the freezer, he would put a scoop on the side of any piece of pie or cake. Many times I saw him eating vanilla-chocolate swirl ice cream on blueberry pie. The flavor didn’t matter as long as it was ice cream.

My dad once told me that he got his love of ice cream when he was serving in the Army during WWII. He volunteered for the draft when he was only 18 years old, not old enough to drink beer. Instead he ate ice cream. He had a real fondness for ice cream after that.

I have come up with a several unconventional toppings to enhance my ice cream eating experience.  Dry Cocoa Puffs cereal folded into soft vanilla ice cream is delicious. Another is to spread peanut butter over vanilla ice cream and top that with orange marmalade. My dad often poured chocolate syrup over that. This was our personal favorite snack. Instant coffee granules sprinkled on and mixed with vanilla or chocolate ice cream is quite tasty. My favorite ice cream treat this hot summer is a chocolate ice cream sundae with marshmallow topping. The Tastee Treat at Rockford makes the best!

Free image courtesy of,

We had an electric ice cream maker at home when I was young, although we didn’t use it often. I know I was an impatient child but it seemed to take forever to make ice cream. It must have taken an eternity to hand crank ice cream in the pre-electric days.

There was also quite a bit of preparation on my mom’s part. There was a recipe to follow and special ingredients to purchase. Junket tablets were involved, whatever they were for. I remember my parents putting lots of rock salt in with the ice as the machine churned. They experimented a little with flavors back then. We made butter pecan flavor once but vanilla was always the best. The ice cream right out of that freezer was very cold and was my first experience of brain freeze.

A neighbor or ours had a novel method of making ice cream at car shows. He jacked up the rear end of his Austin and took one of the lug nuts off a rear wheel. Then he connected the crank of his ice cream freezer to the wheel and turned on the car motor. What a clever way to make and share ice cream.

I will probably continue to eat my ice cream too quickly and continue to get brain freeze. If you have the same problem, here are some tips to help relieve the pain of brain freeze. Press your tongue against the roof of the mouth to warm the area. Tilt your head back for about 10 seconds. Drink a liquid that is warmer than what caused the ice cream headache. Slowly breathe in warm air through your nose. Eventually the pain will subside and you can resume eating ice cream.

And that is just what we want to do.


Tombstone Tuesday–John and Anna C. Brandt

John & Anna C. Brandt, Duck Creek Cemetery, Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of John and Anna C. Brandt, located in row 8 of Duck Creek Cemetery, Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed [south side]: John Brandt Died Mar. 12, 1868, Aged  57 ys, 9 mo, 13 ds. [north side]: Anna C., Wife of John Brandt Died Apr. 22, 1878, Aged 66 ys, 3mo, 10 ds.

Anna’s death is recorded in records of Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga, but John’s death is not.

According to the Familienbuch portion of the records of Zion, Johannes Brandt was born to [father’s name not entered] and Maria Brandt on 19 May 1810 in Dietzhausen by Suhl, District Schleusingen, Kingdom of Prussia, Europe. He was baptized and confirmed there. When he was 22 years old he married Anna Catharina Geisenhoner, the daughter of Matthaus and Sophia Geisenhoner.  She was born 12 January 1812 in Schmeheim, County Court Roenfeld, Dukedom Meiningen. She was baptized and confirmed there. The couple traveled to North America in 1855 and settled down in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio.

John and Anna Brandt had the following children:

Johann Casper, born 26 August 1833 in Dietzhausen (the birthplace of his father), where he was baptized and confirmed.

Maria Catharina, born 5 March 1836 in Dietzhausen, where she was baptized and confirmed.

Ludwig, born 30 November 1839 in Dietzhausen, where he was baptized and confirmed.

Maria Louisa, born 10 April 1843 in Dietzhausen, where she was baptized. She was confirmed in St. Marys, Auglaize County, Ohio, by J. Bundenthal, the Evangelical Lutheral pastor.

John and Anna’s daughter Maria Catherina married Wilhelm August. Son Ludwig Brandt married Margaretha Haffner on 10 June 1866 at Zion. Ludwig & Margaretha’s son Romeo Brandt was featured in last week’s Tombstone Tuesday. Daughter Louisa Brandt married William Wirwille on 30 November 1865 at Zion.

John Brandt (1810-1868). South side of marker.

Anna C. Brandt (1812-1878). North side of marker.


Theodore C. Ellis, Son of Albert G. & Eliza (Breuninger) Ellis

Sadly, one of the all too common realities of family life in the 19th century was dealing with the illness and impending death of a family member. Too often that family member was a child or sibling.

The letter that follows gives us a glimpse of the feelings of the family at such a time–the worry, the sadness, and the hope and faith that sustained them through their time of sorrow.

This letter is from The Breuninger Collection and was written by Lora Ellis, a daughter of Albert G. and Eliza (Breuninger) Ellis, to her aunt Charlotte Kitchen, her mother’s sister. The letter gives the condition of Lora’s brother Theodore and tells of his final days. Theodore passed away five days after the letter was written.

Stevens Point, Wisconsin
January 18th 1871

My Dear Aunt Charlotte,

You will undoubtedly be very much grieved to learn that Theodore is no better. I would have told you sooner the true state of his illness, had I not been looking for a change for the better. I have always been very much pained about writing to you or anyone else about him, dreading to be obliged to think of him in so alarming a condition. I had been thinking his health better and improving until yesterday and last night. He did not leave his bed at all yesterday and today he is worse. He was in the parlor this morning, but now he is in bed again. 

Mother told me to write and tell you about him. She says she does not think he will live many days longer. He is so weak and his breath is so very short, but none “God” his “maker” can tell and He willing Theodore will get better. There is a time set for us all, we cannot tell when we will be summoned to go. I think Theodore has suffered a great deal in his sickness. We are all very much afflicted[?], but I think father and mother are more than the rest. 

Theodore is a true believer in his redeemer.  A week ago last Sunday he received the Lord’s supper and often since he has asked father if he would let him have a class in Sunday School. Yesterday, when mother was lifting him and he saw the tears which she could not keep back, he said, “Mother why do you cry? Why don’t you let me die?” He does not desire life in this world any longer, only to help his dear old father, mother and take care of us girls, he says. 

We must all folly and we hope through our blessed savior “Jesus Christ” to meet again in the better world where there is no pain, no sin, no trouble and no parting. [???]  realize his sickness and the way his form has changed and that my playmate and only brother will not be with us long, but the will of God is mysterious and just. He knows best. Perhaps it is not best for Theodore to stay any longer. God only knows what is best for us.

Truly it is said, “Man proposes and God disposes. But be of good cheer fiends! We must do the will of God and do the work he has intended us to do and he will give us rest. We shall meet again when all our trials are ended, our work faithfully performed.” Then will he say “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

We are all as well as can be expected in our circumstances. Father and Mother are not so well. Write soon and I hope you are all well by this time.

Love to all from your affectionate niece
Lora R. Ellis
(Original letter in possession of blog author, part of The Breuninger Collection.)

Theodore’s obituary is on Rootsweb, (unnamed newspaper, accessed 27 Jun 2012):

Theodore Conkey Ellis
Died, in this city, on Monday the 23d inst., Theodore Conkey, son of A. G. & E. C. J. Ellis, aged 21 years.—He bore a lingering and painful disease with christian fortitude, and may truly be said to have “fallen asleep in Jesus.” His funeral will be attended from the Episcopal Church, on Wednesday morning at 10 1-2 o’clock.

[31 Jan] Died, in this city, Jan’y 23d, 1871, of consumption, Theodore C. Ellis, aged 21 years, son of Gen’l A. G. Ellis

The deceased was a member of one of the oldest and most respected families in our city. He was an estimable and accomplished young man and a Christian gentleman. A long and painful illness he bore with Christian resignation and fortitude; and when death came it found him prepared. His premature death has made a void in the family circle that can never be filled, and has taken from the community a valuable and honored member. His demise created a profound sensation in our midst—for Theodore was universally esteemed and loved. His modesty and dignity of demeanor, his kindness of heart and faithfulness won all with whom he had intercourse. “None knew him but to love him.” Possessed of talents of a high order, and a liberal education, a bright future was before him and a noble success within his grasp. Although but a youth, his musical performances and compositions were excellent; and had he been spared would have won high encomiums on account of his fine abilities in that direction. Positions of honor and trust he had most acceptably filled in our midst. In social and in business life he was ever obliging and deferential and the true gentleman. His genial presence will be long and painfully missed by those who knew him. Had he been spared his would have been a life of much greater usefulness and honor. The remembrance of Theodore will ever be freshest in the hearts of those who knew him most.

The burial services were had on Wednesday morning last at the Church of the Intercession (Episcopal) of which the deceased was a member. A very large concourse were in attendance.—The funeral sermon was preached on Sunday evening, by Rev. Mr. Davenport, Pastor of the deceased, from the text “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” No services were had in the evening in the several other churches in the city, the members thereof all attending at the Church of the Intercession to testify their high regard for the deceased and for the family.

A photograph of Theodore’s tombstone is on Find A

The History of Northern Wisconsin has a short biography about Theodore: THEODORE C. ELLIS, son of Gen. A.G. Ellis. Was a promising and genial young man who had been well educated and had a special talent for music. He died Jan. 23, 1871, aged twenty-one years. (source: [Anonymous], History of Northern Wisconsin (Chicago: Western Historical Co., 1881) 748. On-line digital book, Heritage Quest Online via Columbus Metropolitan Library,, accessed 27 June 2012.)