Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stearns County Museum and Granite Industry

detail from Rockville page of the 1896 Stearns County plat book
Still in pursuit of Michael and Elizabeth Schotl's farm, we decided to check out Pleasant Lake and took the short drive to the 400 Supper Club that  spreads out along the lakefront. 
From the front room you can see most of the lake and activity which was of pontoon boating, water skiing, and rubber rafting.  The lake was clean with a large bed of lily pads just out front.

The beer list lacked much in the way of locally brewed choices but the food was good.  The service was slow and more attention should have been paid to cleaning up vacated tables, but we were willing to indulge for the sake of the genealogy quest.  After dinner we browsed the bulletin board and found this history among the many photos, match book covers, and other memorabilia.

So, no mention of any Schotls .  Maybe this is because the dance hall/pavilion creations and expansions all took place on the other side of the section line.  Some of the Schotls may have put their dollars down and enjoyed club membership.  They may have walked down the spiral staircase "to sit on the porch and enjoy the cool lake breezes" but unless we find the original membership list we won't know for sure. 

We spent most of the next day at the  Stearns County History Museum and Research Center, checking the gift shop for relevant books, touring the exhibits and working in the research center.  We were looking for plat maps, information on Hanson's dance hall  and wanted to copy Schotl listings out of the Polk directories.
Soon after settling into the research center, an older gentleman came over, sat down and started looking through our files and the files that had been pulled for us. No introduction, no way of knowing who he was.  It was a bit disconcerting.  It soon became apparent that he knew his way around the archive.  He said he had grown up in the area, his relatives had owned businesses in Rockville and he was now volunteering at the museum.  He said he was there 7 days a week and that it "sure beat a rocking-chair".
A few days later, after we were home and I was searching the web for items about Rockville and St. Cloud granite quarries, I discovered who the volunteer was when I found his obituary on the St. Cloud "facebook" page.  His name was Robert J. Lummel, known locally as "Bicycle Bob".  He had passed on four days after our visit and his contributions to our story.  I won't go into any more detail here but will link to his obit page for anyone who knew him or is interested in his story.
Before we started our research, we toured the Museum exhibits.  We were particularly fascinated by the granite quarry display.  In the small theatre we watched a video of the granite industry. 

The WPA mural, "Construction-St. Cloud ", originally done in 1937,  by David Granahan for the local post office has been relocated to the museum.  It is featured near the granite display.

There is good reason for St. Cloud being known as the "Granite City".  The first granite quarry was opened in the St. Cloud area in 1868 with many more starting operations in subsequent years. Today there are still numerous quarries in the area: supplying granite for monuments, buildings, counter tops, etc.  
For the many times that I have driven by and admired the Minnesota State Capitol and the St. Paul Cathedral, I never made the connection that  granite from the Rockville area was used in their construction.  The Cathedral was Archbishop John Ireland's last pet project for which he chose the architect, raised the funds, and almost daily supervised the construction.  All good Catholics, regardless of their meager wage, were asked to contribute.  Although James J. Hill had contributed to other Catholic building projects, his name is conspicuous by its absence from this donor list. 

Even before they moved off the farm some of Michael and Elizabeth Schotl's sons worked in the granite industry.  Those that left the farm often settled in the St. Cloud  area either living with siblings or spouses.  They are listed  in St. Cloud Polk Directories as quarrymen, drillers, sawyers, helpers and humpers.   

Hoisting a slab of granite at Diamond Pink quarry, near Rockville, Minnesota

Of interest to our family is the fact that many of the cranes and derricks used in the industry were made by the American Hoist and Derrick Co. of St. Paul.  My father, Reynold Glaeve, was employed by the company as a machinist after his stint in the CCC's. 
At one point he and I  spent time going over an old company catalog.  He was able to tell me about machine parts on which he had worked.  

 I know he would have enjoyed seeing photos of  this heavy equipment in the granite quarries.   



Minnesota's granite industry remains on display at a former quarry in St. Cloud near the Mississippi at Quarry Park Scientific & Natural Area.


 So much learned but still much to discover. Next time we need to get to the courthouse and research the property records. 



Monday, July 22, 2013

Schotls in Rockville


I wrote about Great Uncle Michael Schotl and his wife Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl in an earlier blog.  In July of 2013, Shan and I traveled to Stearns County to  gather information about their lives in Rockville Township and their farm on Pleasant Lake.
In 1921, Michael and Elizabeth sold their Washington County farm and bought a large farm in Stearns County.  In the 1925  Farmer's Plat Book above, we found a  farm  in Rockville Township consisting of 248 acres in Section 2 along the NW shore of Pleasant Lake.  A 40 acre farm in the NE corner of this section was owned  by G. and J. Hoffman, who we think are Elizabeth's brothers George and Joseph.

In the 1930 Federal Census Michael and Elizabeth are living on a farm in Rockville Township with 10 of their 15 children.  The farmhouse may be the old Cooper-Searle House.

In 1933, Michael Schotl died after dancing with his wife at Harry Hanson's Pavilion near Rockville.  He was only 56.  In his obituary it states that he owned 640 acres.  We didn't know where the additional land was located until we found The Farmer's Directory of Stearns County for 1931.  Michael and Elizabeth are listed in Rockville Township as owning 288 acres in Section 2, but also owning 40 in Section 35 and 320 acres in Section 36 of St. Joseph Township--the adjacent township to the north.  We also found Elizabeth's brothers George and Joseph owning an additional 120 acres in St. Joseph's Township. 
After his death, Michael Schotl's wife, Elizabeth, inherited the farm.  She continued farming with the help of some of her children.  Other children,  many of whom were already employed in the granite industry, resided in St. Cloud or nearby communities. A few of the girls moved on to California.
In 1940, The Village of Pleasant Lake was comprised of three families: the Elizabeth Schotl's, John and LaVerne Saatzen's, (he was a granite cutter) and Donald and Fannie Hague. (Donald was a night club manager)
Today Pleasant Lake is a neighborhood of the city of Rockville in Stearns County, Minnesota. The population was 504 at the 2000 census.  On 1 June 2002, the city of Pleasant Lake and Rockville Township were merged into the city of Rockville.
During their time in Rockville both Michael and Elizabeth were active members of the parish of Mary of the Immaculate Conception



Both Michael and Elizabeth are buried in the church's cemetery so we went into the village of Rockville to look for their headstones.  As we drove around looking for the cemetery we came upon the Rockville School.  We so impressed we had to find out more about it.  


As we stood admiring the school we met two men who were setting up for a celebration called "Rock-Fest" on the school grounds.  It is a  yearly celebration featuring a town tour, parade, softball tournament, milking contest, music and much more.  We asked for directions to the cemetery and were told to take Chestnut Street across Broadway.
We drove into the well-maintained grounds of Calvary Cemetery which holds an impressive display of monuments of local granite.  We spotted the Schotl markers almost immediately.  Sons Michael J., Paul,  Frank, John and Anton M. are buried close by. 
At the base of the Michael and Elizabeth marker is an inscription in German which translates:   "What you are now, I also have been and you also will become.  Leave me rest in peace.  Amen  Please pray for us." 



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grandpa Frank Schotl from Mönchhof, Hungary to Minnesota

Up until 2011, I knew little about my maternal grandfather, Frank Schotl.   He died February 22, 1941, a month before I was born.  My mother and grandmother had a few photos of him and he was mentioned at family gatherings but I had no idea of his birth-place, residences, occupation or where he was buried.  About all I knew was that my mother was born  in Forest Lake.  I do not remember trips to the Forest Lake area to locate relatives or visit cemeteries.  This was in direct contrast to the times we would spend visiting old neighborhoods and cemeteries where my father's relatives had lived and where they were buried.

In 2011, Shan did an ancestry search for Shotls in Minnesota.  In the 1910 Federal Census, she found records for a Franz "Frank" Schotl in Anoka County.  Frank was listed as a cook on the Wire Grass Farm #4 in Linwood Township. 

 In 2012, we made a trip to the Anoka County Genealogical Society housed in the Anoka County Historical Society, looking for information on the Schotls and the Kunshiers and trying to find some information about the wire grass farms. 

The Historical Society had recently received a collection of photos of workers on the wire grass farms from Mr. Ken Dufresne.  Among the photos in that collection was a picture of Frank in his cook's uniform. The name penned on the photo bottom was "Frank Schotl."  It was a nice surprise.   (more on the wire grass farms and products, and the family connection in a later blog)

I continued the research and found Grandpa Frank's WWI Draft Registration.  The birth date he gave was September 29, 1887 and his place of birth was given as Mönchhof, Hungary.  The following is a short summary of what I found.

About 800 years ago Cistercian monks lived in the area of present day Mönchhof.  They drained ​​the swamp and cultivated the land.  In 1217, King Andrew II of Hungary bestowed on them the whole area that, up to then, had been known as Petschenegengut Leginthov.  The deed of donation from 1217 was the first documentary evidence of Mönchhof which in English means monk's house. 

In the late 19th century when the Hungarian Crown insisted on the use of Hungarian rather than German names,  the village was known as Barátfalu, or Barátudvar.

After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Europe’s borders drastically changed. Among those changes, the western-most part of Hungary, previously known as "German Western Hungary," was given to Austria. The idea was for parts of the Moson, Sopron and Vas counties (in German Wieselburg, Ödenburg, and Eisenburg) to be incorporated into Austria. Hence, ‘Burgenland’ was established as an official state of the new Republic of Austria in November 1921.  Some of this history, and more info is available through the Burgenland Bunch site linked a little further along in the blog. 

So, it was in Hungary where Frank's family was living when they decided to emigrate. Today Mönchhof  is a municipality in the district of Neusiedl in Burgenland, Austria.   It is the oldest wine-growing town in Austria. 

We  have yet to sample a bottle of Mönchhof wine but Shan was able to find a bottle of Riesling from Rust on the other side of the Neusiedlersee.  She gives it a hearty endorsement but, due to the price, will have to limit this find to special occasions.  

We did find at least one possible Schotl connection with one of the vineyards.   Magdelana Leona Schotl, born in 1829 in Austria, married a Pöckl but more research needs to be done on this.  At present there is a Pöckl winery in Mönchhof.

The S.S. Frankfurt

                     We discovered Frank's emigration dates from a ship's manifest.  The ship was the Frankfurt, and on board were his father, mother, and siblings Johan and Maria.  Frank was 14.   They  left Bremen, Germany on May 2nd, 1902.  They arrived in Baltimore on May 22nd of the same year.

An article in one of the 2012 newsletters of the Burgenland Bunch deals with The Hungarian Emigration Law of 1903The Hungarian Parliament passed what was then considered to be the most restrictive emigration law in the world.  No citizen could leave without government permission and all aspects of the emigration were placed under governmental control. Word about the pending restrictions may have filtered to the Schotl family and it may have prompted their 1902 departure. 

According to the manifest the tickets for the ship were purchased by Frank's father.  They had enough money to sustain their journey and they had a destination - Bancroft, Iowa.  This is where Frank's older brother, Michael, was living.  There is a good chance that Michael had earned money during his Iowa years to send some to the family.  I have written about Michael in an earlier blog.

They didn't stay long in Iowa for in 1905, according to the Minnesota Census, the family, with the exception of Frank and Mary, were living in Columbus Township, Anoka County.  In the same year Mary was found working as a "domestic" and living in Wyoming Township, Chisago County.  We are not sure where Frank was during the years 1902 -1910. He may have been living with one of his brothers.   In 1911 he courted and married my Grandma Rose Kunshier who was living on a nearby farm. More on this in a later blog.