Friday, October 31, 2014

Interview with Bette Loose nee Kunshier

Bette was born in Columbus Township, Anoka County, Minnesota on October 27, 1924. She was the only girl and the youngest child of Charles Kunshier and Mary nee Dahm Kunshier. She said she was the apple of my Dad's eye and got away with a lot. She was 22 years younger than her oldest brother, Clifford.

She was the only child born in a hospital. This happened because Mary Catherine, concerned about her age at the time of Bette's birth (she was 43), thought she might be in danger of complications. Her mother went to Ancker Hospital in St Paul. Bette described the hospital as “a real pit.”

Sometime before 1920, Charles and Mary purchased a farm in Columbus Township, just north of the Joseph Kunshier, Sr. and Marie Tiller Kunshier family farm. In the 1920 Federal Census, they are listed as farming their own place. Betty told us that the soil was peat and they were able to raise cabbage and root vegetables which they trucked to, and sold at the St. Paul City Market.  (I have written about Charles and Mary in an earlier blog about the Kunshiers). see that here  Bette told us that while Charles was a truck farmer, the St. Paul paper ran an article on Charles having the largest Russet Potatoes at the City Market.  

 When Bette was 15 , her father, Charles, died of stomach cancer on the operating table at University Hospital in Minneapolis.  He had symptoms for several months. He told his wife Mary Catherine to stop making “all that good German food,” because he couldn’t digest it. Charles thought his condition might be related to an injury earlier in the year when he was struck in abdomen by a fence post on the game farm.  

Because they had no insurance, University Hospital was the only place they could go.   Charles thought he would not survive an operation and said his goodbyes to the family.  Bette said he died later that day. (The Minnesota Death Index gives the death date as September 30, 1940) He was buried in Oak Park Cemetery in Columbus Township.

 Their farm had been purchased by the Carlos Avery Game Farm and used as a tree and shrub nursery.  The family continued to live in the farm house until Charles died.  Three of the sons married and left home.  Royale continued to live with them and worked on the Game Farm.

Later photo of the Carlos Avery Game Farm

Bette and her mother Mary moved into a  “cottage” on the Carlos Avery Preserve (later known as Carlos Avery Game Farm see more here)  Mary was hired as a cook for the employees. Bette worked before and after school as a mother’s helper, and also for a time on a dairy farm.  She said she was too tired to do her homework but some how managed to graduate from Forest Lake High School with the class of 1942.  

Forest Lake High School ca 1942

Miller Hospital 
Mary Dahm Kunschier 
After graduation, Bette wanted to go to St. Paul and get a job. Her mother said "not without me", so they moved together to an apartment in one of the brown-stone row houses on Cedar Ave, Saint Paul. (now demolished).   Mary applied and was hired as a cook on the second shift at Miller Hospital. 

One of Bette's jobs was at Taystee Bakery.  She told us she put the marshmallow frosting on the Snowball cupcakes.  She got really sick of them because "you could eat all you wanted".  She also worked on the bread line removing defective bread packages.  She still likes Taystee bread and once in a while a Snowball cupcake. 

Bette met Norman Loose in St. Paul and fell in love.  Norm was originally from New Ulm, Minnesota.  When they met, Norm was "working  on airplanes at Holman Field on Plato Street." (Boulevard)  He was ten years older than Bette.

 Norm was soon drafted for the armed forces in World War II.  Bette went with him to California where he served in the Coast Guard.  They were married in California on February 14, 1943. 

Betty and Norm's wedding reception
A card in Bette's collection states that the reception was held at the Paramount Ballroom on Hollywood and Vine with eight other couples, and Tommy Dorsey's band providing the music. My research indicates that the reception was most likely held at the Palladium on Sunset Boulevard. (the Palladium was built on the former Paramount lot in 1940 and featured the Tommy Dorsey Band with little known vocalist Frank Sinatra) more on the Palladium here

After their marriage in 1943, Norm and Bette stayed in California, living in San Diego and San Francisco. Their daughter Mary Jean was born on April 9, 1944 in Los Angeles.

But, Bette missed her family and requested they move back to Minnesota.  Norm agreed and they bought a farm on County Road E near the village of White Bear Lake.  They repaired the house and buildings,  and started a commercial nursery. 

A son,  Mark Allen Loose was born to them on March 17, 1956 and died a couple of days later.  They had no more children.  

In 1973 they sold the farm to a real estate developer with the right to stay in house for five years.  Norm found a house in the St. Paul Newspaper want ads. The owners needed cash and he quickly closed the deal.  Norm had the house ready for their occupancy within one year.  It had been a two flat but he changed it back to a single family dwelling.  Norm wanted  to start a clock repair business in part of the structure.  

Daughter Mary married James W. Hayes on May 2, 1970 in Ramsey County, Minnesota.   A daughter, Holly Hayes was born to them in 1977.  

Norm died on October 17, 1986.  He was 72 years of age. 

Holly Hayes is married and lives in Portland, Oregon.   Her husband David is a real estate photographer.  Mary is 70 years old and lives nearby.  

Holly received her undergraduate degree at George Fox University. She furthered her education at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and then Oxford University, England. She spent two years at Oxford and completed the Master of Philosophy Degree.  Her present career is as a professional web publisher and photographer.

Holly Hayes with her camera at Oxford College.
Holly is the founder, designer, and photographer for the following websites:                                   

  In 2008 Holly made a trip to the Czech Republic looking for anything about the Kunshier family.  We are hoping to meet Holly and share family information. 

Shan and I had the opportunity to visit with Bette on the day before her 90th birthday.  She is sharp, witty and a bundle of energy.  She still drives a big Cadillac.  The morning of our visit she had been helping at her church's noon potluck. Norm had been raised a Lutheran and when she married, she converted to Lutheranism, although her parents had both been "strict Catholics".  

We asked Bette to remember some of her father's siblings.

She fondly remembered Katherine “Katie” Kunshier Schmidt as a kind and generous Aunt. Her husband John Schmidt "was stern but indulgent".   Katie would come to Columbus Township to pick up Bette and bring her back to St. Paul, where Katie and John would buy her a complete new outfit – right down to the undergarments. Bette and other family members thought of Katie and John as wealthy. Their home was 
on Thomas Street, north of Calvary Cemetery.  Bette said it was a Victorian house with gingerbread trim.   John Schmidt worked for the railroad.  Their sons were policemen.

"Aunt Emma Kunshier Strecker was also lovely and kind but her husband George Strecker was a tyrant."  Bette remembers that visitors were allowed in the kitchen, but never in the parlor.  (Iris Kunshier Baran remembers no one was even allowed in the house.) 

Bette has vivid memories of Joseph Kunshier Jr's wife, Theresia “Theresa” Groess Kunshier.  “Boy could she swear"   Bette reiterated a story told by Iris about a priest singling out Theresa and her daughters who had arrived at church without head coverings.  Theresa walked out of church and never went back.

“Theresa was a wild-cat, Joseph (Jr.) was a pussycat,” Bette said.  She remembers hearing the story of Joseph going to bed in protest over Theresa's temper, leaving her to do all the chores.  Joseph Jr and Theresa retired to a little house across the street (on the old Anderson farm.)  Joseph Jr's son Ed and his wife Margaret lived on the original Kunshier farmstead.  Bette said she agrees with Iris, that the farmhouse was in bad condition and she doesn't think it was ever painted.  

Bette Loose is interviewed by Shan Thomas, a day before her 90th birthday 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The family of Andreas Irber and Anna Irber nee Kumschier

In the last blog, I wrote about the connection between the Michael Kumsher family in Iowa and the Charles Kundshier's in St. Paul, Minnesota. (see that blog here)  Last year, Iris Kunshier Baran told us that Great Grandfather Joseph had two sisters who also came to America.   We now think that it was Joseph's sister, Anna Kumschier, who blazed the trail for the family.  This blog is about Anna, her husband Andreas (Andrew) Irber, and their family. 

It is interesting that in the old country  Anna, Andreas, and other members of their family were rural folk.  But, in America the family quickly settled into an urban life and urban occupations.  Andreas became a storekeeper while the children were employed in department stores, shoe factories, railway and newspaper offices etc.  They embraced a new life- style in a new land, and made successful lives for themselves.  

Anna Irber nee Kumschier was born and baptized on November 17, 1843 in Neubäuhütten (Novosedelské Hutě) a village in the parish of Wassersuppen (Nemanice) and the Diocese of Taus (Domažlice).  Her parents were George-Michael Kumschier and Anna Marie Resnitscheck.  They lived in Neubäuhütten house #8 (Anna Marie's parent's house.)   

The Catholic Church registers have been preserved in the Czech Republic National Archives and the Pilsen (Plzen) Region.  All of these records have been digitized. The State Regional Archives in Plzen covers western Bohemia, districts Cheb, Domazlice, Karlovy Vary, Klatovy, Plzen (town), Plzen-south, Plzen-north, Rokycany, Sokolov and Tachov.) To see records for Western Bohemia go (here)

Anna grew up in Neubäuhütten and probably met Andreas Irber in Wassersuppen.  Andreas was born October 28, 1841 in Haselbach (now Lísková) south of Wassersuppen.  His father was Thomas Irber and mother Margaretha nee Stoffel who lived in house #4 in Haselbach.  

 Haselbach (now Lísková) in lower right, map is 2014 

Very little remains of Haselbach today.  It was one of the unfortunate border villages destroyed by the Soviets in the 1950's. While there were 76 house numbers early in the 20th century, today only 3 or 4 buildings exist. 

Anna was 19 years old when she and Andreas were married in 1862, probably in the Catholic Church in Wassersuppen. Their first child Johann was born on November 23, 1863, but he died on February 20th, 1864. They were living with Anna's brother, Joseph Kumschier, his wife Marie Tiller and many of Anna's siblings in House #8, their parents' home.  (Catholic Church Records, Czech National Archives).

Anna and Andreas had four more children, three while living in House #8.  For some reason, by the time of the birth of their fifth child, Josef (Joseph Andrew) on February 6, 1873, they have moved and are living with Anna's brother, Johann Kumschier and his wife Elisabeth Riess in House #13.  

S. S. Hansa 
It was about this time that they decided to emigrate to  America.  They boarded the S.S. Hansa in Bremen, and on May 14, 1874, Anna and Andreas arrived in the port of New York. The passenger list (which has been digitized) shows Andreas and Anna and their four surviving children; John, Margaret, Marie, and Josef, as steerage passengers #99 -104.   Anna's sister Theresia and the young man she was to marry, Andreas Wiedl,  were #97 and 98.

We do not have any documentation of Anna and Andreas for the first 10 years they were living in America.  In the 1885 Minnesota State Census, we find the family living in St. Paul's Ward 5. Four more children had been born in America and now eight children are listed as living with them. 

In 1886, Andreas applied for a building permit for a 2 story frame dwelling on the corner of Case Street and Greenbrier Ave. This was noted in the St. Paul Daily Globe for Oct. 20, 1886.

In 1893  St. Paul Polk Directory listing for grocers, Andrew is listed as a grocer at 697 Case Street.  In later City Directories he is also listed as a grocer or a merchant residing at the same address as the store.   We assume that the grocery store was on street level with the family occupying the 2nd floor.  It is in this structure where Anna and Andreas lived for most of their remaining years.  

The green arrow in the map points to the intersection of Case Street and Greenbrier Avenue.  It was one of the poorest areas in St. Paul. The people living there were squatters, living in a collection of shanties with few amenities and no city services. 
At that time, the residents were mainly Swedish, hence the name "Swede Hollow".  We can only speculate why Anna and Andreas chose this area and did not settle among other Catholics or German speakers in the Rice Street or Frogtown areas.  The closest Catholic Church serving German speakers was Assumption which was located in downtown St. Paul, over two miles away.

At the time of the 1900 Federal Census, the next available,  Anna and Andreas had settled into 697 Case Street. Two of their sons resided with them.  They have been married for 36 years.  In this census and one other, their name is spelled Erber. 

Case Street at corner of Greenbriar, Map is from 2014
In the 1910 Federal Census, they continued to live at 697 Case Street.  Their daughter, Marie/Mary and  son-in-law, Herman Treseler, and their four granddaughters are living with them.  Andreas is listed as a grocer and Herman as a cigar maker.  
 Once again, at the time of the 1920 Federal Census, they are at the same location.  Now they shared their house with a Swedish couple, Edward and Tessie Anderson, and that couple's daughter.  Andrew is listed as running a candy store.
Anna is 76 and Andreas is  78 years old. 

Anna died of a heart attack on April 9 of 1922.  She was either visiting or residing at her son, Andrew's home at 1133 Hyacinth Street. She was 78 years old.


Anna was buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery, St. Paul. Six years later in 1928, Andreas was buried next to her.  

Children of Anna Kumschier and Andreas Irber

John Henry Irber was born on October 19, 1865, in Neubäuhütten, Wassersuppen, Bohemia.  He died on July 20, 1942, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 76.

Margaret Irber was born on December 11, 1867 in Neubäuhütten, Wassersuppen, Bohemia.  She died on November 15, 1952, in San Diego, California, at the age of 84.

Marie Irber Treseler was born in September 1870 in Neubäuhütten, Wassersuppen, Bohemia. She died on March 20, 1946, in Hennepin County, Minnesota, at the age of 75.

Joseph Andrew Irber was born on February 2, 1873, in Neubäuhütten, Wassersuppen, Bohemia.  He died on December 5, 1937, in St Paul, Minnesota, at the age of 64.

Rose Irber Munch was born on December 9, 1875, in St. Paul. She died on July 27, 1951, in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, at the age of 75.

Andrew Irber Jr. was born on December 3, 1876, in St Paul. He died on September 17, 1962, in his hometown, at the age of 85.

Henry Conrad Irber was born on November 16, 1878, in St Paul, Minnesota. He died on September 21, 1947, in San Francisco, California, at the age of 68.

Annie Irber  was born on March 10, 1880, in St Paul, Minnesota. She died as a child in 1885 in her hometown. 

Ernest Joseph Irber was born on January 23, 1885, in St Paul, Minnesota. He died on April 26, 1959, in San Diego, California, at the age of 74.

In the next blog we will give more information on Anna and Andreas Irber's children.