Saturday, June 9, 2012

Seifermann Family Reunion

Today I attended the Seifermann family reunion in Lake Henry, MN.  Population 103.  The reunion attendees alone doubled that number today.  It was so fun to go to since the Seifermanns are my Grandpa Roman's family.  Roman passed away in 1991 at the age of sixty-three from a brain tumor, I was eight and have only a few memories of him that I hold very dear.  I actually researched the Seifermann family tree about six months ago and it was an incredibly easy undertaking since Roman and his siblings were second-generation American.

The get-together had your typical LOLs.  Like, Ambrose, an elderly relative with a familiar name who is now in need of a walker.  On his walker was a colorful sign with the words "Ambrose!  Don't Forget Your Walker!" in large, bold, black type taped securely onto his walker.  I'm sure that sign is useful, but only if Ambrose is standing directly in front of his walker, in which case, you would think he wouldn't forget to take it with him...paradox.  And my mom's cousins referring to each other as "old hag" which is something they used to do when I was a kid, the quick German spoke between each other than I am pretty sure isn't real German, more of a slang created by the immigrants to speak among themselves.  I would attempt to type what the words sounded like, but it would just end up looking like this: "Kuuuttglickkitz" or some variation of.

But the best, best part was seeing my Grandpa's siblings.  They all look like each other!  My Grandpa's parents, Martin and Anna Seifermann, had ten children.  Loretta, the eldest girl, died when she was 15.  She died, no joke, from a piece of corn husk getting stuck in her ear.  Apparently they couldn't remove all of it and an infection occurred and she died from it.  Something my sister Cori remarked today as, "something really preventable."  But they were dirt poor German immigrants living on a farm, they did what they could.  So, out of the nine remaining, who would be Theresa, Sylvester, Margaret, Roman, Herb, Celestine, Martin Jr, Joseph and Alois, only Celestine, Martin Jr, Joesph and Alois remain.  Martin Jr. stopped me today as I was making my way back to the food table, "Are you Roxanne?"  "Yes I am!"  I said.  He then told me a story about how he used to come and visit "Roman and Lillian" (my Grandparents) all the time and he remembers me and the time we went to claim a lottery ticket no one else wanted to cash in on.  I don't recall this AT ALL, but I enjoyed hearing about it.  He then told me how he was tired because he missed his afternoon nap.  I hear ya, man.  His wife, Louise, then walked by me, smiled, grabbed me by the shoulder and said, "You little turd."  Aww...I must have made an impression as a child.

I didn't want this moment with Martin Jr. to slip away so before I left today I asked him if he would take a picture with me, he obliged.

In the background sitting is Joseph, another one of my Grandpa's remaining siblings.

Someone also but together a beautiful scrapbook of the Seifermann family tree.  My sister Cori and I were looking over it and she was snapping pictures of the photos with her iPhone so we too could have a copy of them when we were suddenly surrounded by a swarm of elderly relative looking over our shoulders and pointing themselves out in the book:

That arm in front of me is my Grandma Lillian's sister Jane's.  Lillian and Jane married bothers, Roman and Herb, respectably.  Jane is now covered in tattoos, marking each time she has beaten a bout of cancer.  I asked her why she decided to get tattoos.  She told me, "I told my kids, 'I have never done anything unusual. So what the heck?'"  Right one, old lady.

Those pictures in that book where remarkable.  My mom gave me a photo book she had with a lot of the way back relatives in it, but these are some pictures I have never seen before!  Like this guy!

Cori and I dubbed him There Will Be Blood since he looks just like Daniel Day-Lewis from that movie.  I believe this is my grandpa's grandpa.  So, great great?

Then there was this photo of all the Seifermann children after Loretta died.  

Cori also had the smarts to take a photo of who's who:

Looking through this book made me want to dive back into the history I discovered about my family only a few months earlier.  I don't really know much about record keeping at the time the big push of immigration from Europe happened, but if I'm not wrong people of English, Scottish and Irish heritage have an easier time tracing their ancestors since those countries were so diligent with record-keeping.  I don't know why some countries like Germany weren't, but I feared I would be a little overwhelmed when I went to trace the Seifermann's route to the United States.  I was pleasantly surprised!

Without getting into too much tedious detail, (I won't tell you the name of the ship they came over in or anything.  It was the Zeeland.  There, I told you.)  But that family's origin is in Buehlertal Baden, Germany, which is located in the Black Forest region of Germany (where the ham comes from) that is most famous for its cuckoo clocks (and ham).

It all started with Christian and Gertrude, in Germany:

My God, that's a handsome couple.  Why aren't wedding pictures staged like that anymore.  No touching, look like strangers, with no real affection for each other.

These two happy folks came to the United States on the Zeeland and settled into Spring Hill, MN in 1880.  They had two kids, Martin and Agnes.  Martin went on to marry Anna Eichers, a good girl from Cold Spring, MN and they had the boatload of aforementioned kids.  Here are Anna's parents, Paul and Appollonia, on their what I'm sure was incredibly romantic wedding day:

Can I just lay claim to the name Appollonia right here and now?  Take that, Prince.

One of my favorite pictures I have in my possession is the one of Christian Seifermann and his family in Germany:

  If that isn't a grim snapshot of life in Europe in the 1800's, I don't know what is.  From my understanding (I could be wrong) I believe Christian's parents, Agnes and Ignatius (Ignatz) later came to the United States once their son was established.  Like I said, I could be wrong, but I remember hearing the name Ignatz a lot when I was younger (that's not a name easily forgotten) and I think my relative spoke of his as if he were here.  I would check with my mom on this but I'm pretty sure she's in bed by now.

I did attempt to trace the family tree of my Grandma Lillian's family, but her last name is much more common (Klausen) and her family history isn't as easily traceable as the Seifermann clan was.  I will one day divulge into the Klausens as best I can, but until then, I still have this picture of my Grandma and her sisters at their First Communion:

The Klausen's are another pair that had a bajillion kids and one or two died under unfortunate circumstances.

Overall, the reunion was a blast, and there was this cool car there!  My husband informed me it was a Model T.

The best part of the reunion though, aside from all the funny incidents and silly stories and seeing old relatives was telling people I was Roman's Granddaughter.

Love you, Grandpa.

**UPDATE**  My aunt Carla just called me and informed me that Loretta indeed did not die from a piece of corn getting stuck in her ear.  She, along with my mom and just about everyone else, was under the same impression that that was what happened, when in fact Loretta had some sort of sore in her nose that she was picking at while the kids were working out in the cornfield and THAT is what became infected.  No mysterious monster corn chunk got jammed in her ear or anything, it's something much less unusual, but none the less sad.  Thanks Carla!

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