Wordy Wednesday - Minnie

Great Grandma's House


The City Directory of Ottawa, Illinois for the year 1895 lists this building as being occupied by Minnie Lohman, widow of Henry Lohman, and her two sons; Louis, my Grandfather and Carl, his younger brother. Louis' occupation was given as 'Sawyer' at the piano factory that existed there at that time. There was no occupation listed for Carl. The house was listed as a 'Boarding House', with Minnie Lohman as proprietor. Capacity - 4 boarders.

On the surface, all well and good. Until you know a little of the story.

In the early 1860's, Henri Lohman came to this country and settled in Wheeling, W.Va., to work in the fledgling glass industry growing there. The Civil War started, he went to work for the South, working in the glass trade, was captured by Northern forces early on, and sent to a prison camp in New York. while there, he enlisted in the Cavalry and served two enlistments in the Northern Army. Sometime during the war, Wilhelmina Hintz arrived in New york with two year old Albert in hand. I guess Great Grandfather's parting shot as he was leaving Germany was accurate, if nothing else. They were married on Christmas Day, 1866, in Wheeling. Albert's name became Albert Lohman - in violation of the Lohman family tradition of naming the first born son Louis. He was, after all, born outside the family. Two sisters later, my Grandfather was born in 1879, in Wheeling. The trail grows cold there, until we find Wilhelmina (Minnie) in Ottawa, Illinois in 1895. No Albert, no Augusta, no Lena. Where were they? She is listed as the Widow of Henri - but Henry, at this time, was actually in the Old Soldier's Home in Marshalltown, Iowa. They were divorced!

So - given her time, and what was expected of women in that time, she was a remarkable person. She had a child out of wedlock and then traveled across the ocean, with that child, to find and marry her man. She was a business woman, when women rarely were allowed to own property. She divorced her husband, at a time when divorce 'just wasn't done'. She was amazing - and she is someone I would like to have known.



NicoleB said...

Amazing that you can trace back your family history!
And what a great story and strong woman to go along with it!
I loved to read this!

Jientje said...

Your grandmother clearly was a tough cookie!

Shadow said...

that's your family right?!?! i can see where your upstanding qualities come from...

moneythoughts said...

Great story Lou. I enjoyed reading it.

I think the idea that women did not do much in the commercial field in the old days is false. My mother's mother, came to this country and opened her own clothing store in downtown Cincinnati before WWI. When my grandfather wanted to quit Baldwin Piano Company where he worked and work in her store, she told him to open his own store. He did and it was a seafood & kosher poultry shop. That same grandmother also was arrested by the police for protesting the high price of kosher meat in downtown Cincinnati too. While women did not have the right to vote, some of them were not doubt a handful.

Cat said...

I like to think of my grandmother as a piece of me because of the DNA thing - and I am sure you have some of Minnie in you as well - she sounds remarkable and for a woman of that time to have done all that she did, someone to be proud of!

warriorwitch said...

Interesting family history and amazing that you can trace it back Lou.

Joyce-Anne said...

Cat is right. Minnie was a remarkable woman.

Patsy said...

Wonderful heritage you have. Minnie was a strong woman -- her own woman one might say.
I think I came from pretty good stock too. Those earlly settlers had to be strong to survive --- we should follow their lead and not be sheep me thinks.

witchypoo said...

Loved reading this! Hope you have more.

Tara R. said...

I love it when people can trace their family heritage. I was lucky in that my grandfather was a wonderful genealogist. He traced our family to 990 AD.

I'm sure Minnie would be proud of her great grandson.

Momisodes said...

Wow. She certainly sounds like strong, intelligent woman.

This is such an amazing trace back of family history. I wish I could do the same with mine.

LceeL said...

NicoleB: Grannie and I have been working on the family tree since 1991.

Jientje: Yes, Jientje, like most of the women I know and love, she was.

Shadow: Thank you, Shadow. I am flattered.

Moneythoughts: She must have been, if nothing else, a handful.

Cat: She was that - someone to be proud of.

Warriorwitch: We've been working on it for years - and the information comes slowly.

Joyce-Anne: Yes, she was, Joyce-Anne. Much like you are.

Patsy: Absolutely correct. No being sheep.

Witchypoo: I do have more.

Tara R: Interesting that. 44 generations (averaging 4 generations every hundred years) equals a number of direct ancestors greater than the current population of the earth. there must have been a lot of folding over of family lines. I guess what it means is we are all rednecks and there are levels where our family trees don't fork.

Momisodes: We have family lines that go much further back than that. It gives you a real feeling of being connected.