Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Great Uncle Michael Schotl and his brood



Up until this point, these blogs have been pretty linear. Not that I didn't mess up and get some stuff out of order. I did do some back-tracking, correcting and revising.   Well, from here on, NOT SO MUCH.  I am finding it harder to keep things chronological and flowing at the same time.   I will present what Shan and I have been able to nail down, add a heavy dose of visuals, and fill in the blanks as we continue to search for the details.  Remember there are some links with more information.  They are marked in blue.

Great Uncle Michael, the brother of my Grandfather Frank, was one of five children born to Mathias Schotl Sr. and Theresia "Therese" Kornfield. He was born in Hungary during May of 1873.  There are discrepancies in his emigration dates, but he arrives sometime between 1895 and 1897.

In 1900, we find him residing in Columbus Township, Anoka County, Minnesota and living on a farm with John Koch.  His age now is 27.   He is married to Elizabeth Hoffman.  

In 1905, according to the Minnesota Census, he is still residing in Columbus Township, Anoka, Minn. with a Forest Lake PO number.

In 1910, according to the Federal Census,  he is living on Schotl Road, working on his own farm in Columbus Township, Anoka County, Minn.

Four of Michael's children; Joe, Mary, Grace, and Kate are pictured in the photo below from ca. 1910 at Oneka School, dist # 75, in Washington County.  His WWI draft registration of 1917 was filled out in Forest Lake township, Washington County.  He is listed as being employed on his farm. 

So, if the school dates are correct, the family left Anoka County and settled in Washington County circa 1910.

According to his obituary the family moved to Stearns County in 1921.  Michael purchased the 640 acre farm then in the possesion of the Hodgeson Estate.  The farm was originally owned by Dolson Bush Searle, a pioneer in the Stearns County area.  D.B., a Civil War veteran, was a lawyer and later a judge. 

         The 1930 Federal Census lists Michael and Elizabeth as residing in Rockville, Stearns County. The family had grown to fifteen with ten of the children still living on the farm, two of these boys were employed off the farm.
       The other five had moved to the nearby cities of St. Cloud and St. Paul. Paul married Laura M. Dietman and was living with his wife and his brother, Math (28) at 142 18th Ave.  They were both working for the Melrose Granite Co. 
        Elizabeth and Katherine were single and lodgers in the home of Louis and Josephine Wurganger, 80 E. 9th St., Ward  4, St. Paul MN.  They were
    waitressing in downtown St Paul. 
    Grace married Gregor Dullinger. He was
    employed as a granite stone-cutter and they
    lived in Rockville Township with his parents.

    The St. Cloud area is known for it's granite quarries.  At one time stone was shipped to a 30 state area with many architects and designers seeking out their unique product.  The St. Paul Cathedral was one of the first large projects.  The exterior was created from Rockville Granite that arrived from the Clark Quarry just outside of St. Cloud, Minnesota.
    Melrose Granite Company showroom

    Two important authors/ personalities were raised in this area
    The Sinclair Lewis' novel Main Street, was required reading for many of us.  "As a native of a prairie community in Stearns County he was intimately aware not only of the rural area around him but also of the settlers. The German and Scandinavian farmers of the region figure prominently in most of his early stories..."  In many instances the Germans or German speakers play the buffoon, the Sunday drunk, or the un-washed others.  In Main Street, on the train ride back to Gopher Prairie, Doc. Kennicott remarks about a prosperous German farmer he spots through the window.  "He's a dumm old Dutchman and probably the priest can twist him around his finger, but when it comes to picking good farming land, he's a regular wiz!" - Main Street   more info available on Sinclair Lewis and the Sinclair Lewis Society.

    A few of my favorite Sinclair Lewis quotes:

    "To understand America, it is merely necessary to understand Minnesota"
    - Sinclair Lewis

    “The greatest mystery about a human being is not his reaction to sex or praise, but the manner in which he contrives to put in twenty-four hours a day.”   Main Street

    “Thus Carol hit upon the tragedy of old age, which is not that it is less vigorous than youth, but that it is not needed by youth...”  Main Street 
    “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”  ― Sinclair Lewis

The other is, Garrison Keillor of Lake Wobegon and Prairie Home Companion fame. There is a trail from Sauk Centre to St. Josephs named the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail.  It runs from Sauk Centre, the original home of Sinclair Lewis, to St. Joseph through the town of Melrose where some of the Schotl's and friends had worked in the quarries.

    Keillor's first radio gig was with  MPR at KSJR on the campus of St. John's University in Collegeville.  He formed most of his ideas for Lake Wobegon from the town of Avon where he lived, and local towns such as Albany, Freeport, Cold Spring, Richmond, Rockville, St. Joseph, St. Stephen, St. Wendell and Holdingford.
    At that time Stearns County was predominantly German and next to New Orleans, the second most Catholic county in the USA.   In order to balance the religious and ethnic demographics of the physical location in Stearns County with the rest of Minnesota, Keillor 'imported' the Lutheran and Scandinavian elements into the mythical town, making it more identifiable and therefore more interesting to the rest of the state."
    [some of the above info obtained from wikipedia]

    The first on-stage presentation of A Prairie Home Companion was performed before a live audience on July 6, 1974. It was an old-style variety show that featured guest musicians and a cadre cast doing musical numbers and comic skits replete with elaborate live sound effects, much like today’s A Prairie Home Companion.
    Keillor quotes:

    "In general, the rules for marriage are similar to the rules for being in a lifeboat on the open ocean: don't crowd each other, no sudden moves, and keep all disastrous thoughts to yourself."

    "I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it."

    “One day Donald Trump will discover that he is owned by Lutheran Brotherhood and must re-negotiate his debt load with a committee of silent Norwegians who don't understand why anyone would pay more than $120.00 for a suit.

    "When you wage war on the public schools, you're attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You're not a conservative, you're a vandal."



Garrison was born and raised in Anoka Minnesota.  He graduated from Anoka High School in 1960.  He married and raised his family in the area.  He went on to school at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.  That would be the town on the other side of the river from my home town. But he finally got it right and moved to St. Paul and now calls an address on Summit Avenue home.  And that would be if he isn't inhabiting his flat in Manhattan or on the road with his show. 

My relatives, the Schotls and Kunshiers, had worked on the wire-grass farms and in the potato fields in the general vicinity of Anoka.  Some also moved on to St. Paul to work in the factories and the bakeries and bars.  They settled in the North End, blue collar area, and were known as Rice Streeter's.  They may have glanced up Summit Avenue as they rode the Dale Selby street-car through the Selby tunnel to downtown. They certainly never were invited to the James J. Hill mansion or the University Club, both Summit Street landmarks.


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