Category Archives: Family

Does a Female Finance Minister Make a Difference?

Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland

This is what you get when Canada appoints its first female finance minister-a proposal for a national system of high-quality early learning and childcare, that is great for kids, pays for itself in long term benefits to society, creates jobs, reduces poverty, assists parents in unprecedented ways and helps women remain in the work force. 

Last week, at the Liberal Party policy convention Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that a nationwide early learning and childcare system will be a key piece in the Liberal government’s COVID-19 recovery plan. 

The pandemic has made it difficult for women to continue working while providing childcare

Ms. Freeland pointed out that the pandemic has caused a frightening decline in female workforce participation. Literally hundreds of thousands of Canadian mothers left their jobs to look after children when schools and daycares closed.

Prior to the pandemic women were providing 40% of household income. They were vital to their families’ financial security and the nation’s economic health. Experts agree it is not possible, for Canada to have a successful economic recovery post-pandemic without women going back to work. A universal daycare system in Canada will be a huge incentive and support as women seek to return to their jobs.

A national plan to provide quality early childhood education and daycare almost became a reality in 2005. The Liberals had crafted a ground -breaking agreement for universal childcare in Canada that had been officially agreed to by every province.  Unfortunately, in 2006 Stephen Harper was elected and dismantled the plan. Since then, political expediency has stood in the way of bringing it back. 

Ms. Freeland says the pandemic has created a childcare crisis for women and this gives our country a window of opportunity to finally provide federally funded affordable quality universal childcare to every Canadian family that needs and wants it. 

Leah Gazan NDP Critic for Children, Families, and Social Development

I know the New Democratic Party will be behind the plan because last summer my New Democratic Member of Parliament Leah Gazan was circulating a petition calling for a universal childcare and early learning program in Canada. I not only signed her petition but agreed to make regular donations to help Ms. Gazan in her quest. 

Conservative Members of Parliament that are anti-abortion as identified by Campaign for Life

 I hope the Conservative Party will lend support as well.  The Toronto Star has reported that more than 40 members of the current Conservative caucus are publicly anti-abortion supporters. Ms. Freeland’s proposal is their chance to put their money where their mouth is.

Research repeatedly shows that two of the most frequently cited reasons women give for having abortions are financial concerns and the impact the pregnancy could have on their careers. It makes sense that the availability of quality childcare would help ease those concerns and could conceivably further lower our country’s abortion rate which is already at its lowest point in more than a decade. 

I am only speculating that one of the reasons the Liberal government is making a federally funded childcare program a priority is because we have our first female finance minister. But I am sure it didn’t hurt. Ms. Freeland spoke for thirty minutes at the recent Liberal policy convention and spent almost the entire time talking about childcare. Our Deputy Prime Minister is the mother of three and well knows the challenges of managing both parenting and a career. When she was negotiating Canada’s NAFTA deal, she told a reporter that sometimes figuring out childcare arrangements for her three kids was almost as tricky as figuring out a trade agreement. 

I will be thrilled if the Liberal party goes through with their plan for an affordable national childcare and early education plan.  It will be good for kids, good for women, good for families and good for our country. 

Other posts………….

Politics is Tough

Paternity Leave- A Winning Scenario

Pro-Choice and Pro-Life- What Might We Have in Common?

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Don’t Speak German

“My father told us never to speak German when we were in town and to tell people we were from Holland.”

My Mom with her family around 1940

I was interviewing my mother for a story I wrote about her life. I was surprised when she said during World War II her Dad warned them not to talk German when they went into the nearby town of Drake, Saskatchewan, even though they routinely spoke German to their grandmother at home. If anyone asked them where their family was from they were to answer Holland.

Mom’s Mennonite grandparents had not come from Holland. They had immigrated to Kansas from Russia and Poland respectively in 1875 and then in the early 1900s they immigrated once again this time to Saskatchewan where the government was offering new settlers free 160 acre homesteads.

Through both migrations they maintained their mother tongue of German. But during World War II that became a liability since Canada was at war with Germany.

The Kansas School in Drake Saskatchewan

Mom told me that most of the Mennonite children in the Drake area went to the Kansas School, named after the state of Kansas where the Mennonite families had lived before immigrating to Canada. According to Mom children from a neighbouring school vandalized the Kansas School during the war because there was real antagonism towards the German speaking Mennonites.

Last week I was looking up something about my Mennonite family from Drake Saskatchewan and found an old newspaper article in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix that corroborated Mom’s feeling there had been ill will towards the German speaking Mennonites in Drake.

The story said that a group of men from Drake called the Canadian Corps had paid a surprise visit to the Kansas School which claimed to be holding Bible classes after school hours. The classes were being taught by a young man from Rosthern Saskatchewan. When the Canadian Corp entered the school they found many of the books being used for the Bible class were in German and there was German writing on the blackboard. The children were sent home and the teacher escorted to the train station where the local men bought him a ticket to go back to Rosthern. They sang O Canada as the Bible teacher’s train pulled out.

Mom was definitely right when she said her family had been treated suspiciously during the war. I wonder if this happened in other small Canadian communities with German speaking Mennonite populations.

Other posts………

Blueprints of My Grandparent’s House

My Grandmother’s Shoes

My Aunt’s Autograph Book

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Celebrating My Siblings

It seems that every year I am a day late to celebrate siblings day which was April 10th. Perhaps that is because I don’t need a special day to celebrate my siblings. I appreciate them every day. A day rarely goes by when I am not in touch with at least one of my brothers or my sister.

My mother to the far right and her siblings

I am very grateful to my parents who were terrific role models. They both had very strong and supportive relationships with their siblings.

My sister and I enjoying margaritas after swimming in a cenote in Mexico

My sister Kaaren and I are only sixteen months apart and during our teen years we had our differences, but as adults she is one of the people I count on most. She has a clear head and can see situations in a pragmatic way even when I can’t. Kaaren and her husband Ken have been our traveling companions on adventures in Iceland, Germany, Croatia, Mexico, Arizona, Vietnam and Fiji. My sister was an administrator in the health care field before she retired and now she lends her expertise to various boards and committees.

With my brother Ken in Kunming, China

My brother Ken moved to Victoria almost a year ago but we are in regular contact and I can hardly wait for COVID to be over so I can head out to the west coast to visit him and his partner Harvey in their new home just a short walk from the ocean. Ken says they have already planned many things we are going to do together. Ken has been one of my biggest cheerleaders when it comes to my writing career and is my first reader on many of my writing pieces. He is a retired teacher who reads voraciously, writes music, meditates, travels extensively and practices yoga daily.

With my brother Mark on a boat ride at Moose Lake

My brother Mark is an optimist. Right now we are on a pretty tough journey as we deal with our Dad’s health care needs. I can count on my brother Mark to see the humour in things and to offer practical help and support. Mark and his wife Kathy have bought the cottage at Moose Lake that has been in our family for three generations and they take wonderful care of it. Mark has a degree in agriculture and is the Sales and Marketing Manager for a large innovative company that researches, develops and manufactures feed technology

I am deeply grateful for my siblings and the way they enrich my life.

Other posts……….

Siblings That Get Along

Early Morning Walk At Moose Lake

Siblings -More Important As You Grow Older

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A Lose-Lose Situation

My nephew did an interesting story for City News last Friday.

My nephew Mark Neufeld is a reporter for City News. He did a story last week about a new Ipsos poll. It reported that across 28 countries 82% of parents feel there are routinely being judged because of their children. Here in Canada, 73% said they often feel judged either because of the way their children behave or the way they as parents manage their child’s behaviour

When my children were young I sometimes felt judged as a parent

I think anyone who is a parent knows what the poll is talking about. When my children were young and they did something that embarrassed me like failing to listen to their teacher at school or forgetting to be polite and respectful to an older relative or mischievously turning off all the lights in a gymnasium during a basketball game, as my one son did when he was about four years old, I felt like people were judging me. Like they were thinking, “What kind of parent is she anyway if her child behaves like that?”

My first year of teaching after I became a mother. Being a parent myself made me a lot less judgemental of my students’ parents.

And according to the poll parents aren’t delusional when they say they feel judged because 81% of people in the 28 countries surveyed admitted they do judge parents based on the way their children behave. I know I certainly did that during my first five years of teaching when I wasn’t a parent myself. If a student was ill-tempered or thoughtless or irresponsible I would tend to judge their parents thinking they must not have taught or role-modelled acceptable behaviour. Of course, when I became a parent myself that all changed. I had a whole new empathy for my students’ parents after I began raising a child of my own.

People are better parents if they don’t feel judged

Child Development Specialist Claire Lerner tells people who are judgemental of parents that if you want to love and support kids you have to love and support their parents because the way you treat them impacts the way they treat their children. If you are empathetic to parents they are more likely to be loving with their children. If you criticize them they may feel incompetent and react harshly to their children, leading to their kids feeling bad and quite probably leading to more negative behaviour.

Lerner tells parents not to let judgmental people influence the way they respond to their children. She says to reject the power of judgers, tuning them out and focusing on your child instead.

My nephew’s news report was a good reminder that judging parents is a lose-lose scenario for both parents and children. All of us can play a positive role in the raising of the current generation by supporting rather than judging their parents.

Other posts……….

Grateful for My Mom’s Support

Far From the Tree

Back Porch News

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Filed under Childhood, Family

My Mennonite Great Grandmother Was Born in A Hebrew Colony

One of my pandemic projects has been working on a genealogy that traces my family and my husband’s family back for five generations. As I do my research I am discovering all kinds of interesting things.

My great grandmother Margaretha Schellenberg Sawatzky (1873-1943) and her husband Franz Sawatsky (1869-1936)

One thing I’ve learned is that my great grandmother Margaretha Schellenberg Sawatsky was born in a village in Ukraine called Kamenka. It is referenced as being a Judenplan village. I was curious what that was.

According to the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Judenplan was a name the Mennonites gave to a project the Russian government initiated in Ukraine. Mennonite farmers were sent to Jewish settlements to provide training in agriculture. Six Mennonite villages were established for this purpose and one was Kamenka.

Margaretha’s parents, my great-great-grandparents Johann Schellenberg (1836-1914) and Helena Andreas (1835-1904)- photo source Mary Fransen

I found a map of Kamenka online and could clearly see the property that once belonged to my great-great-grandparents Johann and Helena Andreas Schellenberg. It appears the Mennonites lived at one end of the village and the Jewish families at the other end. The Mennonites had a school (Schule) and a cemetery(Friedhof) and a wood lot (wald) but there appears to be no school or cemetery or wood lot on the Jewish side of the village. The Mennonite homesteads all look much bigger than the homes of the Jewish families.

Source of MapChortitzu website

According to the encyclopedia article, the Jewish farmers were inexperienced in agriculture and the master farmers from the Mennonite colonies were tasked with teaching them how to cultivate their land, plant trees and properly pasture their cattle. I found a couple of articles online that made it seem like the Mennonite master farmers were well-received and benevolent. I find it hard to believe that there weren’t some problems with this plan. Weren’t the Jewish farmers resentful of being told their agriculture skills were inadequate? Would the Mennonite farmers not have appeared patronizing? I wonder if the program was successful in the long run?

I found a reference to the autobiography of Joseph Epp who apparently lived in what is called the “Hebrew Colonies” from 1860-1880 as a model farmer and advisor. He was in charge of Jewish-Mennonite relations.

The Epp autobiography is still in print and in his review of it Tim Fleming says of the Judenplan  “Epp lived in the Judenplan where the Mennonites were to live as examples and model colonists to their Jewish neighbors. The Jewish settlers resented this greatly and relationships were often very difficult with fault on both sides.”

I find it interesting that my Mennonite great grandmother was born in what has been referred to as a Hebrew Colony. I wish I knew more of her family’s story there.

I have already written a story about my great grandmother Margaretha’s Sawatsky’s death which was unusual but it seems her birth and early childhood home were unique as well.

Other posts………

Marc Chagall and The Fiddler on the Roof

Hyphenated Lives

De Ja Vu At The United Nations

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Filed under Family, History, Ukraine

Mom Comes To Hong Kong

In January of 2004, my parents came to visit us in Hong Kong. We had been living there for a little over a year at the time. I had forgotten that my mother had kept a journal during their visit. When we cleaned out my father’s apartment after his last move my sister found it. It was so interesting to re-live my parents’ visit through Mom’s eyes. Here is her Hong Kong experience in her own words.

It was a beautiful morning and we went to the Cultural Centre for a Tai Chi class. Our teachers were William and Pandora. They were dressed in traditional Chinese clothes. After giving us a brief history of Tai Chi and its importance the class tried to follow the moves they demonstrated. It was great fun trying to keep up and stay graceful. We had some pretty hilarious moments trying to imitate our instructors. The whole thing was really one hour of fun.”

We went to an authentic Chinese tea house and met the tea master. She was a woman and she showed us exactly how to brew tea. We drank from these very tiny cups. Making tea the right way is an “art” for the Chinese people. The tea house had endless varieties of teas and hundreds of teapots. Paul told me later for him the tea ceremony was “much ado about nothing.”

“On the island of Macau, we went to a church that had been destroyed by fire three times. After the third time, it wasn’t rebuilt but the front part of the temple has remained. We climbed many steps to the top and I was very tired.”

“We went to a Buddhist Temple today. It was built more than a century ago. There were scads of people there burning incense. A guide demonstrated how numbered bamboo sticks are placed in a can. You shake the can until one stick falls out and that stick predicts your future. There were fortune tellers at the temple who for a fee could help interpret your future.”

MaryLou took us for dim sum. It was a very busy place just teeming with people. We had to wait for about 15 minutes to get a table which we shared with two other men. The food was interesting and quite good. The whole experience was unique to say the least.”

“At the flower market, there were so many fresh flowers. We were especially impressed with the many kinds of orchids. The place was truly very beautiful!”

Mom and Dad in the Stanley Market area

Although I have no photos of it I think the highlight of the visit for my Mom was going to the concert hall at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre to see Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin perform with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Okko Kamu. My Mom was a gifted pianist who spent the last days of her life trying to play the pieces she loved on an imaginary keyboard on the blankets of her hospital bed. About the concert in Hong Kong, she wrote………

“We got to the concert hall in plenty of time. What a magnificent building! We had seats behind the orchestra on a high level which was just a great place to be because we had such an excellent view of each orchestra musician and it was also the ideal spot to see the guest artist. Hamelin is originally from Quebec. He played two selections – one by Paganini and then Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 3. It was just “superb!!!”

Mom also writes about how she spent time reorganizing our kitchen cupboards, cleaning out our fridge, sweeping and dusting our apartment, doing our laundry and halfway through the visit she writes that she thinks we are taking them out to eat too often so she and Dad have started going to the market on their own while we are at work and buying stuff to make our suppers each night.

Although it can be cold in Hong Kong in January there were many warm days too which Mom throughly enjoyed.

In her last entry, Mom writes about how sad she is to leave because they have had two such interesting weeks with us and she thinks there is still much about Hong Kong she would like to explore. She hopes they can return some time. Sadly this was not to be because Mom experienced kidney failure a little more than a year later and would be on dialysis three times a week for the rest of her life.

I am so glad Mom and Dad came to Hong Kong and so glad to have her diary which brought back some wonderful memories of their visit.

Other posts……..

My Mom

Dorothy Marie Peters

A Walk in My Old Neighborhood

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Filed under Family, Hong Kong

What Does Grandma Smell Like?

Because of the pandemic, it has been a long time since I’ve seen my grandchildren in Saskatoon. Whenever we visit I collect memories in my journal and with my camera. On my last visit, I jotted down an exchange between my two grandsons. I have re-read it often when I am missing them.

Our family is walking to a nearby playground. My four-year-old grandson is holding my hand. Every few minutes he puts my hand up to his face.

Eight year old grandson: Are you kissing Grandma’s hand?

Four year old grandson: No, I’m smelling it.

Eight year old grandson: What does Grandma’s hand smell like?

Four year old grandson: It smells like love.

Other posts……….

On My Grandparents’ Farm

Pandemic Grandparenting

A Grandmother’s Heart

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He Would Have Been 100

If my father-in-law Cornelius Driedger were still alive he would have turned 100 today.

Dad was born February 26, 1921 in Tiege, Ukraine. His parents fled there after bandits led by Nestor Machno, repeatedly entered their Schoenfeld home and threatened to kill Dad’s father Abram Driedger.

The Marientaubstummenschule was a School For the Deaf with an excellent reputation established by Mennonites in Ukraine in 1890

In Tiege they stayed in the Mennonite School for The Deaf closed to students because of the revolution. Several other families also took refuge there. Abram worked for some local farmers. Cornelius was born there just a month after his one and half year old sister Kaethe died of pneumonia.

My husband Dave stands on the porch of his father’s birthplace in 2011 on a visit to Ukraine

Cornelius was a sickly baby. Worried she would lose another child his mother took him outside the School for the Deaf and held him up to God. She vowed if God spared her child she would dedicate him to the work of the church. Perhaps hearing his mother tell this story is one reason Cornelius became a pastor later in his life.

A famine began shortly after Cornelius was born so his parents spent a few years living in the village of Petersagen with his maternal grandparents Cornelius and Agatha Friesen. His younger sister Agatha was born there.

Cornelius, his sister Agatha and their parents. This photo is from their immigration papers.

On June 23, 1924 about 1000 Mennonites including Cornelius, his parents and sister crowded into box cars at the Lichtenau train station in southern Ukraine.

My husband stands on the railway tracks at the Lichtenau Train Station in Ukraine where his father’s family began their long journey to Canada

They traveled to Latvia where they took a ship to Antwerp Belgium. From there they boarded the steamer the Minnedosa which took them to Quebec City landing July 19, 1924.

Cornelius’ family in the late 1930s Cornie is in the middle back row with his sister Margaret on his left and sister Agatha on his right. His brother Abe is on the far right and his youngest brother John stands between his parents.

When they first arrived in Canada Cornelius’ family stayed with Mennonite families in Welesley and Zurich Ontario. In 1925 they moved to Newton Siding Manitoba and also lived in Glenlea Manitoba for a time. In 1929 his parents decided they should move to Pelee Island, Ontario to join his father’s relatives living there. Cornie quit school at age 13 to help out on the farm.

In April of 1937 Cornie’s family left Pelee Island for the mainland and lived on a farm where they worked as sharecroppers. Cornie hired himself out to other farmers to earn extra money and also worked in a tobacco factory.

Dad was baptized in 1941. He is third from the left in the back row and his future wife Anne is fifth from the right in the middle row. They were baptized by Cornie’s uncle N. N. Driedger in the Essex County United Mennonite Church.

Cornie married Anne Enns on September 26, 1942 in the Oak Street Mennonite Church in Leamington, Ontario.

Dad is the worker in the middle of this photo.

They had only been married a few months when Cornie had to leave to work in a logging camp in Montreal River. He had been drafted and since he was a Mennonite and a conscientious objector, he did this alternate service.

Dad working in the family greenhouse.

After working on the Hadley and Marsh Wigle farms for nearly a decade in 1956 Anne and Cornie bought their own farm on Highway 77 in Leamington.

They had five sons Robert, John, Paul, David and William.

Dad with his friends and fellow ballplayers. Dad is to the far left in the back row.

Although their family worked incredibly hard on the farm there was still time to indulge in their passion for baseball. Dad played and so did all of his sons.

Mom and Dad on the right at Dad’s ordination

Over the years Cornie took on many roles in his church including Sunday School Superintendent and pulpit assistant. He was ordained to the ministry in 1970. In 1974 when his brother-in-law Jacob Neufeld who had served as the pastor of North Leamington United Church died Dad became a full-time pastor. He and Mom rented out their farmland.

Mom and Dad celebrating their 50th anniversary

Cornie and Anne’s five sons all married but sadly their oldest son Robert died of cancer in 1974. Cornie and Anne were blessed with ten grandchildren.

Dad with other staff members at the Leamington Mennonite Home

Dad retired from his job as a pastor in 1989 and he and Mom sold their farm to their son Bill and his wife Julie and moved into a townhouse in Leamington. In 1984 Dad took a job as a chaplain at the Leamington Mennonite Home and served in that role till 2008.

Anne died on October 14, 2011, and after living in the Leamington Mennonite Home for several years Cornie passed away June 6, 2016.

At his funeral, many people spoke to the family about all the ways Dad had cared for them in his pastoral role. In a tribute, his sons Dave and Bill thanked their Dad for teaching them to work hard and for sharing his passion for the game of baseball with them. They noted that the role their father seemed to have enjoyed most in life was that of a grandfather.

My father-in-law Cornelius Driedger would have been 100 years old today.

Other posts………..

Anne Driedger

Remembering Rudy York

Baseball Legacy



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Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Putting on my blue garter belt as I am getting ready for our wedding

I know the title of this blog post is a phrase associated with weddings. Traditionally in order to ensure a happy future a bride was supposed to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Doing a little reading on wedding websites I found out there are reasons behind each of those directives and I think they can apply to everyday life, not just weddings. I thought of examples in my own life this week.

Something old connects us to our past and provides continuity between past and future generations. I received something old this week in the mail. This leather case belonged to my grandfather Peter Martin Schmidt the man whose story inspired my soon to be published novel.

When my grandfather was killed in a car accident in 1961 my grandmother gave it to her niece’s husband who happened to have the same initials as my grandfather’s which are embossed onto the case. Now that man’s daughter returned it to me. I am guessing the case was maybe used to keep cufflinks and tie clips. I want to find a use for it too, so it won’t just be a decorative item. Any suggestions?

Something new suggests hope for a new future. We got a new sink yesterday. Our old ceramic sink was badly stained, its faucet cracked and its rim allowing water to leak into the cupboard below. Our kitchen is often the focal point of our entertaining.

Chatting with members of my writing group in our kitchen

People sit on the stools at our counter to visit. I spend lots of time in front of the sink after we have hosted parties and social events cleaning things up. I have photos of my grandchildren on display on the shelf just above my sink so I can look at them often. My new sink reminds me that in the future we will once again be able to fill our kitchen with friends and family and my new sink will get lots of use.

Something borrowed is a reference to good luck. If you borrow something from people who are happy you will be happy too. We just borrowed this puzzle from a couple from our church who have been happily married for a long time. We haven’t had a chance to start it yet, but it is a reminder that we have lots of great friends in many different areas of our lives and that is certainly a lucky thing. We have borrowed many puzzles from friends and family during the pandemic.

Using my new mitts for a walk in the forest near Whittier Park

Something blue is in the rhyme because the colour represents loyalty and faithfulness. This week my husband Dave bought new beautiful blue mitts for me to wear on our winter walks together. Dave and I have been faithfully married for over forty-seven years now and during the current pandemic, I have been very glad for his loyal presence during what would have a very lonely time without him.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, not just for weddings, but for all of us as we navigate our way through life, remembering our past, hoping for the future, and cherishing our positive human relationships.

Other posts………

Learning a New Word

A Writing Inheritance From Two Grandparents

The Blueberries Slowed Him Down

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Family

Getting To Know My Great Grandfather

A second cousin of mine recently sent me this photo of my great grandfather Peter H. Jantz who was born in 1850. Doesn’t he look like a dashing young man? Notice his suitcase and coat on the floor behind him? I see the pocket watch tucked into his vest.

I think this photo was taken in Illinois shortly after Peter arrived in America from Poland. He had sailed on the S.S. Westphalia on May 6. 1874 when he was 24 years old. He landed in New York and then made his way to Illinois. He lived in Illinois for three years before moving to Kansas.

Peter was the youngest of five children. He was born in the village of Czosnow. His mother Eva Nickel had died in 1869 before Peter left Poland and notes about his family on the Grandma Online website suggest two of his three older sisters may have preceded their mother in death.

Peter’s oldest sister Maria came to America with her husband Heinrich Frantz in 1876 two years after her younger brother had immigrated. She and her husband and family of eight children lived in Kansas as well for time before moving to Oregon in 1893. I think Peter’s father and older brother Gerhardt stayed in Poland since there is no record of their deaths in America. So my great grandfather was a bit of a bold adventurer leaving his whole family behind in 1874 and sailing to America on his own.

On March 11 in 1879, when he was 29, Peter married my great grandmother Maria Gerbrandt, whose family was from the town of Hillsboro in Marion County. Her family had immigrated to Kansas from Swiniary Prussia in 1875 on the S.S. Paris. Swiniary is now part of Poland. In the photo above you can see Peter with his wife Maria and their eight children- Anna (Annie), Marie, Edward, Johan, Matilda (Tilly), Heinrich(Henry), Valentine and Ben. Shortly after his marriage Peter bought 80 acres of land from his father-in-law for $800 and he and Maria established their own family farm.

My grandmother Annie is the youngest and she was born in 1892 so I assume this photo was taken around 1893 when Peter was in his forties and had been married for around fourteen years. He has aged considerably since his coming to America photo was taken. Besides the eight children in the photo, Maria and Peter had a ninth, a boy named after his dad. Peter was their second child and he only lived for a year.

I believe this photo was taken around 1904 since that is the year when Peter’s oldest son Ben got married and his wife is not included in this family photo. Peter is now in his mid-fifties and in 1906 he decides to immigrate with his family and settle in Drake, Saskatchewan. His five sons were all interested in farming and there was more land to be had in Saskatchewan than in Kansas. In 1904 Peter made an exploratory trip to Saskatchewan with some other men and a decision was made to move.

Just as Peter made a bold immigration move at age 24, at age 56 he makes another one and in 1906 he leaves America for Canada. The family started a homestead two miles west of Drake Saskatchewan and eventually four of Peter and Maria’s sons as well as their daughter Annie and her husband had homesteads nearby. Peter died of respiratory problems just four years after immigrating in 1910. He was 60 years old. Sadly his daughter Tilly died one year later and his son Johan three years later both of tuberculosis.

This is on the back of Peter’s coming to America photo so we know he had his picture taken in Lebanon, Illinois at the McKendree Art Gallery by a photographer named J. Lupton. I looked him up and indeed there is a John Lupton who lived from 1833-1897 and who died in Lebanon Illinois. He was an art professor and professional photographer. My great grandfather lived in Summerfield Illinois which is only 3.5 miles from Lebanon where the photo was taken. From the German writing on the back, it looks like my great grandfather sent this photo to someone, perhaps his sister Maria in Poland who followed him to America?

The McKendree Art Gallery in Lebanon, Illinois where Great Grandpa Peter had his photo taken, is still in existence today. It is part of McKendree University which opened its doors to students in 1828. If we can ever travel again someday, I’d like to go and visit the gallery.

A big thank you to Elisabeth Reimer, my second cousin, from Saskatoon who supplied me with the wonderful photo of our Great Grandpa Peter.

Other posts…………

When My Grandmother Was Twelve Years Old

Family Blueprints

Birthday Books- A Hundred Years Old

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