Saturday, February 11, 2006

Great Grandma Meinen

I need another sampler to work on this year about as much as I need a 6th toe, but the creative juices got going and I just had to get this done. It has been floating around in my brain for a long time now and suddenly, it was just like labor pains. I just had to give it birth. You can double click on the picture to get a larger size and then click in the bottom right to get it big enough to see my wierd animals. I just was looking at a sampler book and they followed me home.

This is the story of my Great Grandmother, Anna Marie Stoffel. She was born August 24, 1873 in Tilden, WI. Her father was born in Barnich, Belgium and her mother was born in Toernich, Belgium, but both of those towns are now in Luxembourg. They immigrated to Wisconsin in 1868. It was a rough land then. While I was doing the genealogy, I realized that Grandma's mother had made that long voyage with 6 children ages 2 to 12. She got off the ship on August 10, 1868 and took a train to Eau Claire, WI and then made the 30 or so miles to Tilden by wagon. Twenty-five days later, she gave birth to her 7th child!

Grandma Meinen came from strong stock and she would need it. Her husband, Peter Meinen died March 13, 1918 at the age of 47. Grandma was 44 and her youngest child was 6. Her only son, Gib, was 11. We don't think much about whether we have sons or daughters, but for a farming family it was critical. Fathers looked at each son as potential helper on the family farm. Land was cheap, but a successful farm took a lot of work. Daughters could help some, but not the way strong sturdy sons could. There were six daughters in the family before a son came along and Peter died before Uncle Gib was ready to take over. It all fell to Grandma Meinen, her older daughters and a hired man.

Just to work the farm was difficult, but in the late twenties, things began to get hard for the farmers. Rains didn't come when needed and prices skyrocketed. Things began to get out of control and then came the Black Friday when the bottom fell out. A lot of farmers had borrowed money when the crops were bad and they couldn't grow enough feed for their cattle. Their ancestors had cleared the land and poured their lives into it, but many of their descendants couldn't hold on. Many men lost their farms or sold out for a fraction of the value.

How did a woman with 7 daughters and 1 son make it on that farm? I don't know, but I am sure that it wasn't easy. It took determination and hard work. My mother told me about her story when I was doing some genealogy and I kept thinking that the story shouldn't die. I remember Grandma Meinen, but I was 9 when she died at the age of 80, so I didn't know her well. She raised a family who loved and supported each other and they were always close. They all raised fine families or their own. What a legacy!

I wanted to make this sampler to celebrate her life. I used a border I found in a French sampler book to represent her French Belgian ancestry. The scene at the bottom is a combination of French & German as was her family. I listed all her children, one of whom, Henrietta, is still alive and well at 93. The house looks like the houses found in the Belgian countryside and the animals don't look like anything I've ever seen, but they are charming. I couldn't find a nice flying bird, so I perched a blue bird on the chimney. He is way too big, but I couldn't seem to get him to leave.

I'm not sure I am finished with this sampler yet, so if anyone has any great ideas, feel free to speak up. I'll probably change it when I start to stitch. I am toying with the idea of doing it on 32 ct. Dirty Linen, but I'll have to see how it looks. The original idea was from a sampler made in 1905 in Wisconsin or Michigan, but I have changed it so much only the skeleton of the idea survives.

There are so many people in my ancestry that I'd like to celebrate. Someday I hope to have my sampler wall full of them...along with my 6 Permin Dutch/German samplers, And they Sinned, Dutch Beauty, all the samplers I have marked in Fine Lines and SANQ and about 50 more! If there was only enough time.


Louise said...

Thanks for sharing that story. I also am into genealogy, but don't know a lot of details of how my ancestors arrived in the States.

I am also enjoying following your progress on your sampler that you are designing.

Anne Hawn said...

Thanks, Louise, I didn't know if anyone would be interested in the process. I just hoped that people would read it and realize that it isn't that hard and that they could so something to honor their own ancestors. It's been fun.

woolwoman said...

Anne - what a wonderful tribute to Grandma Meinen - I'm sure she is smiling down upon you now! I loved hearing her story at our sampler guild weekend in January 06. You know you will found your soul sisters in our guild - we are all in the same boat with our desire to live to be 110 and stitch 1000 more samplers! Thanks for sharing your beautiful work - Your friend Melody

Louise said...

Hi Anne,

Me again. I meant to ask you if you use software to chart out your samplers. Or are you designing 'on the fabric'. In either case, your results are beautiful!

2miaou said...

Hello Ann, thank you to visit my blog!
I find this Story of your "Oma" fabelous and georgeous that you can follow all steps to come so a long time behind you!

Anne said...

Thank you for sharing your story, how would we survive today if we had to endure such hardship. Gee, we complain if we have to wash the dishes, never mind taking care of soooo many children and a farm. I bet Oma is smiling with you. Cannot wait to see the finised sampler. Happy Stitchin Anne L

Anne Hawn said...

Louise, I use PCStitch Pro, but if you haven't used the regular PCStitch, don't get the Pro version. They are still working on the help files and you will be really frustrated. I started using PCStitch back when it was a DOS program on a 5-1/2" floppy. I've upgraded through the years to PCStitch 7. I think it is a great program and the pro version is even better if you know how to do things in the earlier versions.