Things were quite different in the 1800s, as most of you know, but sometimes I wonder if we really understand how different they were. In about 1876 or so, my great grandmother, Henriette Schumacher, a girl of about 16 years, was sent by her widowed mother, with her sister to America. Her sister’s husband wanted to immigrate there, and since they had two little daughters, and Great Grandma’s mother was worried about her daughter going so far without help, she decided that since Henriette was not married she should go too. For their mother, there seemed to be safety in numbers, so it had to be better to send two girls instead of just one. I really can’t imagine the heartache she must have felt at that time. When my own daughter, Amy Royce moved to Washington state, I thought my heart would break…and yet I knew I would see her again, and that communication for us would be fairly easy. For my 2nd great grandmother, things were different. She didn’t know if she would see her daughters again, and I have no way to confirm that she did.
Still, many people were leaving the old country, in search of a dream life somewhere else. In that way, not much has changed at all. People still move from place to place, and sometimes country to country in search of some exciting new dream life. Some find what they are looking for, and others find out that what they were searching for was right there in front of them all along, so they return to their home. For my great grandmother, there didn’t seem to be much of a dream life waiting for her. She had a boyfriend back home, but things weren’t serous I suppose, because he didn’t follow her, and they never married. I think that for Great Grandma, Germany was comfortable. It was her home, and all she really knew. She didn’t have the wanderlust that her brother-in-law had. She couldn’t see that a life in America would be any better than the one she had in Germany, close to her family and friends. Nevertheless, go she must, so she said goodbye to all she knew, and headed off with her sister’s family to America.
In the end, she would find that her destiny was in America. It was there that she met my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher, who had immigrated a few years earlier. Their chance meeting when he stepped in for a baptismal sponsor who was unable to attend the baptism of Henriette’s sister’s daughter, brought Carl he woman he would fall so completely in love with, that they would marry just a year later. I’m sure at that point, Henriette thought back to her prior boyfriend, and decided that their romance was a silly schoolgirl crush. Whoever he was, he could never have measured up to the man Carl was. Henriette wasn’t the same either. She was a world traveler now. She had lived in a wild new country. She had left home, grown up quickly, and had a degree of independence that her old beau would not have understood. Her world was different…things were different…she was different. He would never have been her choice now. Sometimes that is just how it goes. Our lives take turns that we didn’t plan on, and suddenly things are different. Then we have to live our life in the new reality that we live in. I’m sure that is how her mother felt too.