Luxury Car- A Family Story

Heinrich Enns and his wife Gertrude

In 1912 my husband’s maternal grandfather Heinrich Enns bought a new car.  It was a German made Opel. The average car at the time was priced at around $700.  The Opel’s price tag was double that at $1,500 which gives you some idea of the wealth of Enns family.

Heinrich and Gertrude Enns lived on his family’s  large estate in Kowalicha, near the Schoenfeld Mennonite settlement in Ukraine.

My husband’s grandfather and his family on the lake in front of their estate 

The Opel Heinrich bought was an open touring car and was a deep red color.

A car exactly like Heinrich’s is in the Museum Sinsheim in Germany- Photos of the Opel by Kai Gruszczynski.

When the family went driving through their home village of Kowalicha or went down the road to neighbouring Schoenfeld, where they attended church and where their children went to school, Heinrich sat behind the wheel in a full driving costume complete with goggles. 

This map of the Schoenfeld settlement was made by Henry B. Wiens in 1912. Kowalicha where the Enns family lived is marked by a star. 

Beside Heinrich in the front seat of the Opel were his two older sons Peter and Henry.   In the back seat was his wife Gertrude and his two younger sons Johann and Diedrich as well as the boys’ nanny.  

Dave’s grandmother Gertrude Enns with her four sons outside their house in Kowalicha. Their nanny is behind the fence.

If rain threatened a canvas was pulled over the top of the car and fastened down with buttons. People in the village would come out to see the beautiful automobile. The village dogs were especially intrigued  by the car. They would run behind it barking and howling. It must have made quite a picture!

The car as well as all the family’s wealth was lost during the Communist Revolution in Russia.  After Heinrich’s family immigrated to Canada they were beset by a series of financial, agricultural and health difficulties that meant they were never able to afford another luxury car like that magnificent red Opel. 

Other posts………

Family Blueprints

Who Owns Family Stories? 

Dave’s Christmas Present

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