family history, History

Week 8: Courting


It’s week 8 of 52 for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge. This week we are exploring the theme of “Courting” in a romantic sense.

I have always wondered how my Great-Grandparents Arthur and Ella (Zillmer) Frederick met–today being their 110th wedding anniversary has me thinking about it even more. Arthur lived in Sugar Island, Dodge County, Wisconsin, and Ella lived near Cataract, Monroe County, Wisconsin–about 120ish miles or so separated them. How on earth did these two meet one another?! Well, there are some theories floating around.

I asked one of my cousins, who has been doing family history a lot longer than I, and she thinks that Arthur may have met Ella while working on a threshing crew out in Monroe County. Back in those days farmers would either go in on a threshing machine together, or a guy made a business out of it–my Grand Uncle Vivan did! They would go farm to farm and thresh the crops.

While totally plausible that he met her by chance doing that, what made him go out that far to do threshing? Maybe he saw an ad in a newspaper or a family member or friend roped him into a job? I believe it is more than likely a mutual friend or family member brought them together.

I started digging into this a little more, and I found some connections between Sugar Island and Cataract. Arthur may have met Ella through his sister-in-law Ida (Wittnebel) Frederick who lived in Cataract, married his baby brother, Ernst, and moved to Sugar Island. But it might have been Ida’s oldest sister, Emma (Wittnebel) Otto, who lived in Hustisford, Dodge County, Wisconsin, who brought them all together! Confused?! Yeah, my eyes crossed a little.

Ida Wittnebel came to America when she was 4 years old. She arrived in America in May 1895 with her father, August, and 2 older sisters, Emma and Anna. I presume their mother, Wilhelmine (Kehl), was deceased when they left Prussia because she was not on the passenger list. The next record I find of Ida is in 1900. She is listed on the 1900 census living in Cataract with her father and stepmother, Auguste (Voigt), and Anna. I could not find Emma at all in the area. However, I found that she married William Otto in Dodge County, Wisconsin, in 1900 and lived in Hustisford. I still have more searching to do to figure out why Emma where she did, but that is where I believe the connection begins.

I believe Ida may run into Ernst Frederick, Arthur’s brother, while visiting her sister, Emma. Ida and Ernst both stood up in the Henry and Anna (Gendrich) Frederick wedding in 1909–another brother to Arthur and Ernst. Then on May 25,1911, Ida and Ernst were married in Cataract. Guess who was standing up at the wedding– Arthur and Ella! Then on February 22, 1912, 110-years-ago today, my great-grandparents were married in Cataract, Wisconsin.

It’s too bad I don’t know more about them meeting, but through my research of names and places, this theory looks more probable. There is a family story that Great-Grandma Ella had an old boyfriend back in Cataract that Great-Grandpa Arthur didn’t like very much, or so the story goes. It’s a fun journey to uncover this information, and I am so thankful that these two met.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s