chance meeting

Wedding of Carl and Albertine SchumacherMy great grandfather, Carl Ludwig Theodor Schumacher, was born in the Province of Pommern in northern Germany, on May 23, 1859. He was one of the twelve children of Johann Freidrich Theodor Schumacher and Maria Maehling. He came to America after taking care of a wealthy landowners driving horses for several years beginning when he was 15. It was a job he loved very much, because he really loved horses. By the spring of 1884, he had saved enough money to pay for passage to America, with the plan of moving to Minnesota, where he had cousins.

Henriette Albertine Johanne Hensel was born in Schönwalde in the southern part of the Province of Pommern, in northern Germany on December 11, 1860. At the time she lived there all this land was part of the Prussian Empire. She was the second youngest of nine children of Carl Hensel and Henriette Tonn. Her father died before her younger brother was born in 1865. About that time, Henriette was sent to her older sister’s home to tend the 5 cows and 52 sheep she had. As time went on, she grew up and had a boyfriend…she was happy and content. Then everything changed for her. Her sister’s husband wanted to immigrate to America, and since Henriette was not married, her mother wanted her to go with them to help her with her two small daughters. She didn’t want to go, but she did go. The voyage was long, and the family spent much of it quite ill. Her sister’s husband never really recuperated fully, and he died just a few years later.

One Sunday a friend of Carl Schumacher’s asked him to sponsor at a baptism in his stead. At the baptism celebration, Carl met the mother of the baby, and her sister Henriette Hensel, who had both just recently come to America from Germany. For Carl, it was love at first sight, and he married the young lady just a year later in Belchester, Minnesota on November 12, 1886. Their marriage was blessed with seven children, Anna Louise (who became my grandmother), Albert August, Maria (who died at just three years of age), Mina Albertine, Frederick Carl, Bertha Emilie, and Elsa Ernestine.

About a year after Elsa was born, the family moved to a farm 12 miles from Lisbon, North Dakota. It was so different from Minnesota, and Albert, who was 15 at the time, fell in love with the wild country. In Minnesota he fished, but there was not much to hunt. Here there was lots to hunt, and guns quickly became Albert’s lifelong hobby. It was here, in 1910, that the family purchased their first surrey. It was a surrey with a fringed top. Anna married my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, then Albert married Christine Ida Froemke, and Mina was away at college in Fargo, finishing her high school. The neighbors started getting the new Model T car, and Albert had to have one, but Carl loved his horses, so he kept his surrey. Albert spent all of his spare time studying mechanics. Mina hated the farm, so Henriette wanted to make sure that her daughter received an education. In 1917, Henriette and Fred were both in bed with arthritis, but Henriette didn’t want Bertha to miss her senior year of high school, so she left her bed to care for Fred. After a few family meetings, they decided to leave Fred, who was feeling better now, to run the farm and the rest of the family moved to Fargo, North Dakota, where Carl and Henriette would spend the rest of their lives. Bertha graduated from Secretarial School and Elsa from high school. Mina married John Clark Spencer Schumacher Family cover photo2Spare. Bertha married Arthur C Hallgren and Elsa married Frank Lawrence. Bertha and Elsa would not have children of their own, but would “adopt” their niece, Pauline Spare Holmberg’s children, Lisa, John, Kristen, and Julie. Between the four remaining children, Carl and Henriette would receive twenty one grandchildren, and a growing number of great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, and these days, great great great grandchildren. All this from a chance meeting when Carl stood in the stead of a sponsor who was unable to be there for a baptism…wow!!

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