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Ancestral Memories: Gottlieb Schmeeckle and Barbara Kunz

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
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Recorded by John S. Schmeeckle, Nov./Dec. 2016, with a few later notes in 2018.

Gottlieb and Barbara are the ancestors of all the Schmeeckles in America. They came to Nebraska in 1885 late in life with their youngest son, following their four elder sons.

  • I began communicating with ancestors at the beginning of November, 2016. At first I made notes after having conversations with various great- and great-great-grandparents. Then I began recording word-for-word, and the earliest notes below are from that initial effort.
  • I discuss communicating with ancestors (the source for these stories) at this G2G thread: Communicating with ancestors.
  • Click here for a five-generation family tree chart showing Gottlieb Schmückle/Schmeeckle and his wife Christina Stark and their ancestors.
  • [to be added soon] the story of their son John Schmeeckle.
  • Click here for the stories shared by Gottlieb's parents Georg Schmückle and Christina Stark (stories to be added soon).
  • The stories of Barbara's parents, Gottlieb Kunz and Margaretha Spörle, will be added eventually.

Barbara and her descendants

(Nov. 20, 2016) Barbara knew that her son John was not a good father to the children of his second wife. Barbara was concerned about these children, and Barbara respectfully attempted to guide her granddaughters. Barbara was able to make a good impression on Sophie, but not on the others. Barbara was not under any illusion that she would be able to continue a family connection after Sophie died, but Barbara was fortunate in receiving the attention of Sophie’s son. Sophie’s son was unable or disinterested in passing on the relationship to his daughters. This was the only great-grandchild that Barbara communicated with. Barbara was able to watch the families of her great-grandchildren, but she wasn’t able to establish communication.

(In answer to my question about how many other great-great-grandchildren Barbara followed): Barbara follows the lives of seven of her great-great-grandchildren. Barbara hopes that one day one of them will communicate with her. Barbara knows that she will be a decent companion for a great-great-granddaughter who respects the family without judging the great-great-grandparents. This is what Barbara hopes for, and Barbara respectfully asks John to help Barbara contact these seven great-great-granddaughters. Barbara had seven children who had children, and Barbara has chosen one great-great-granddaughter from each child.

Gottlieb Schmeeckle’s story

(Nov. 21, 2016) Gottlieb believes that John is interested in writing down some of what Gottlieb experienced before coming to America, and Gottlieb is pleased to share some of his life. Gottlieb had a difficult early life. He was the only son of his father. He knew that he was destined to be a leader in the community, because his father was a church elder. Gottlieb understood that his parents didn’t have relations, and this meant that they didn’t have children. Gottlieb understood that his parents had chosen to not have children, because they didn’t want to be forced to kill babies whom they weren’t able to take care of.

Gottlieb had a younger sister, who was a blessing to the family. Gottlieb was able to think that he wasn’t alone, and his sister was a dutiful and obedient child. Gottlieb knew that his own family would be respected in the community. Gottlieb wanted to be able to have a family that was much bigger than his childhood family, and Gottlieb wanted to be able to have a wife who wanted to have a big family. But Gottlieb knew that there were limitations. Gottlieb understood that, if a family grew too big, then it would be necessary to make sure that later infants died at birth. Gottlieb wanted to avoid this, and managed to avoid this until after he had ten children. After that, he knew that his ability to care for children was unequal to the number, and so he was reluctantly forced to insist that his wife give up three of them. Gottlieb regrets that and believes that this was the greatest failing of his life. Gottlieb wanted to have a family that was known for being righteous, but this was something that people knew had happened, even though nobody talked about it.

Elder in the church

Gottlieb wasn’t able to be a good elder, until he had served in the army. Gottlieb knew that this was a requirement to have a position of respect in the community. Gottlieb served for seven years and was able to leave the army in good health. Gottlieb wanted to make sure that he was able to become an elder, so while in the army, he was careful to not do things that soldiers do when they are away from their families. Gottlieb became an elder seven years after his marriage, as was proper. Gottlieb was one of three elders in the Klienaspach church.

Gottlieb was responsible for collecting taxes for the maintenance of the church, and also responsible for collecting taxes for administration of the local government. In doing this, Gottlieb often had to exhort his fellow community members to do the right thing and pay what they should. Farmers were always inclined to try to hide their harvest, and Gottlieb knew that some of the farmers were unable to support their families without the food that would be used for taxes. Gottlieb didn’t want to take this food, but the need of the community outweighed the needs of the individual families, including his own family. So when Gottlieb was forced to give up three of his own sons, it was known in the community that Gottlieb was a just tax collector. After this, Gottlieb was well-respected by everyone in the community. Actually, the community respected him before, but this was seen as proof that he put the interests of the community ahead of his own.

Gottlieb was able to maintain his position until his emigration. He wasn’t enthusiastic about emigrating, but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to see his grandchildren unless he emigrated. So he took his wife and followed their youngest son, together with his son Christian. Gottlieb wasn’t able to prosper in the new world. He died shortly after arriving in America. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to leave a good living for his widow, but he was confident that she would be well cared for by her sons. Gottlieb hopes that this was indeed the case, and Gottlieb would like to know that she was well cared for.

Barbara and her son Fred

(Nov. 21, 2016) Barbara Kunz Schmeeckle was not in any need after the death of her husband. Barbara lived with her son Fred and spent time with other children. Barbara wasn’t able to live for many years, but she was able to see grandchildren growing up. Barbara knew that she would have many grandchildren, and was able to form relationships with two of her granddaughters. Barbara remembers her husband as a man who was intent on maintaining his dominance, and Barbara was a respectful wife, and was a credit to her husband’s standing in the community. Barbara remembers her husband’s decision to remove the children whom it was decided couldn’t be maintained, and Barbara bitterly regrets that decision. Barbara wants it to be known that she would never have done this on her own. Barbara would have ensured that the babies had enough, even if the older children had to do with less. This is Barbara’s only criticism, although Barbara understands that the community was well-served by the knowledge that her husband wasn’t using his position to maintain a family that would otherwise be unsupportable.

Life in Germany

(Nov/Dec. 2016; date got deleted) Gottlieb Schmeeckle will tell his descendant how he lived in Germany. He had a farm, and the farm was the same land that his father and his father’s father had farmed. He knew that the farm hadn’t been in the family before then, because Gottlieb knew that his further ancestors had lived in a nearby village. Gottlieb knew that his ancestors had been solid, respectable men and had been in the community for many generations. Gottlieb knew that his family was well-established and would continue to be well-established if his sons decided to stay in the community. Gottlieb knew, when Germany was reunified, that young men were very reluctant to serve in the new German army, because it was seen as being the army of a conquering nation. Wurttemberg had resisted joining the German empire, and Prussia had invaded Wurttemberg before the unification had been completed. With this, Gottlieb had to accept that his sons were going to go to America instead of staying in the community. Gottlieb knew that if his family moved to America, then eventually he would have to do the same. Gottlieb knew that he wouldn’t be able to work in America in the same way that he had worked in Germany, as an elder and respected community leader. Gottlieb was regretful about moving to America, but he knew that this was the future of his family and he wanted to see what would become of them. He knew that, if he delayed too long, he would die before arriving, so he decided to leave while he still had the hope of living for another decade. Gottlieb wanted to be able to live long enough to provide enough money for his wife to have a comfortable income. But Gottlieb had the misfortune of dying shortly after arriving, within two years. For this reason, Gottlieb’s wife was unable to live comfortably. Gottlieb doesn’t know if she was able to live well with her children, because he and she haven’t communicated since his death. Gottlieb would be willing, if his descendant wants, to invite his wife Barbara to tell him what became of her.

Barbara speaks

Barbara would like to say very briefly that she was well cared for and that she never had any lack in her widowhood. Barbara lived with her son Fred, and he was able to care well for her, although he wasn’t able to pay much attention to her. Barbara wanted to be able to talk with her son, but he never had time. Fred was always very busy, and had a way of ensuring that he couldn’t talk to his mother. After several years, Barbara was able to establish a good relationship with her granddaughter. Barbara was thankful for this, and it ensured that Barbara was able to communicate with a great-granddaughter. Barbara was unable to have any relationship with her granddaughter’s grandchildren, because Barbara’s great-granddaughter was unable to interest her daughter in communicating with an old ancestor. However, Barbara has the ability to follow her descendants, and Barbara wants her great-great-grandson to know that she has been able to communicate with his sister. Barbara wants her great-great-grandson to understand that he has heard Barbara talk to his sister without his sister being consciously aware of the conversation. This is what Barbara has dealt with among her great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. John has the ability to communicate with words, and this is something that Barbara respects and values. Barbara wants her descendants to know that this type of communication is possible, and Barbara wants her descendants to be able and willing to communicate with their ancestors, including Barbara and Gottlieb. This is all that Barbara will say for now.

(In answer to my question, Barbara’s granddaughter, the daughter of Fred, was named Erma. Erma’s daughter was named Esther. Esther’s daughter is named Ellen. But then Barbara tried to verify that I had heard names correctly, which leads me to suspect that I hadn’t.) [Mar. 2, 2018: Barbara is aware that she may have mis-remembered the names. Barbara thinks that, after the descendants stopped talking, she began to forget. Barbara thinks that, after she re-establishes contact with her granddaughter’s children, she will remember correctly.]

Leaving the family house in Einod

(Mar. 2, 2018) Gottlieb knew, after he decided that he wouldn’t stay in Germany, that he was going to have to rearrange his house. Gottlieb knew, if he was able to give his house to his daughter’s husband, his daughter’s husband would be one of the leaders. Gottlieb didn’t think that he would be able to do this. Gottlieb didn’t think that he was able to convince the leaders to let his daughter’s husband have the house. The house had belonged to the Schmückle family for many generations. Gottlieb didn’t want to give the house to someone who wasn’t part of the family. Gottlieb wanted to make sure that someone who lived in the house was from the family that had lived there. Gottlieb was able to convince the village leaders that he could give the house to his daughter’s husband. This made Gottlieb able to feel that he wasn’t abandoning his daughter. This is all that Gottlieb will say.

(May 30, 2018) Gottlieb wasn’t able to become a leader. He knew, after he was chosen to be a deacon, that he would be able to become the elder. This was a respectable position. Gottlieb understood that, because of his family, he was given a position of respect without much power. Gottlieb understood that, because of the past, he was limited.

Barbara’s marriage

(May 30, 2018) Barbara was the daughter of a man who moved to Kleinaspach. Barbara understood that, because of what her father did, she wouldn’t have a good opportunity to find a husband who was from one of the best families. Barbara understood that her mother was from one of the best families. But Barbara had to be in a new village. Barbara understood that, in the new village, Barbara’s mother was just another new person.

Barbara understood that, when it was time for her to get married, Barbara’s father would talk to other men. Barbara understood, because of her father, she wouldn’t have the opportunity to marry a man from one of the most respectable families. This meant that Barbara had to think about finding a husband on her own. Barbara understood, if she chose to do this, it would risk a situation that would mean that she would never be able to get married. Barbara was fortunate. Barbara was able to attract the attention of Gottlieb. And this led to Gottlieb asking Barbara’s father for permission to get acquainted. And this led to the marriage.

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