Term Paper Written by Martin Blum
while preparing to become a school teacher
Origin of Thanksgiving
Has Thanksgiving Day always fallen on the last Thursday of November? Has the custom prevailed since 1621? To these questions, many of us might erroneously answer yes.
It is time we owe the custom to those devout Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation. We might even profit by considering the circumstances under which they celebrated their first Thanksgiving. William Bradford tells us of their first year in America in his ‘History of Plymouth Plantation’ – “In 2 or 3 months time half their company died ---wanting houses and other comforts, in the time of most distress there was but 6 or 7 sound persons to care for the sick and dying. The Mayflower landed in November, and in the following May only four women survived of eighteen who landed. Yet the steadfast colony would not go back that spring for they had resolved all must be “enterprised and overcome with answerable courage”. Of their first harvest Winslow writes in a letter “We set the last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn and sowed some six acres of barley and peas. God be praised we had good increase of Indian corn and of our barley indifferent good but our peas not worth the gathering.” Yet in that fall of 1621 upon the proclamation of Governor Bradford the entire band celebrated the first thanksgiving to which they invited some four score friendly Indians, who brought as their share of the festival wild turkey and venison from the forest. Great preparations were made by women and children. The entire group assembled about outdoor tables in one large family group. They spent the day in prayers and songs of praise and sermons. The Indians remained three days and men ceased from their toil.
The custom spread from the Puritans until it was prevalent among all the original colonies upon the proclamation of their respective governors.
The first national Thanksgiving was celebrated Thursday, November 26, 1789 in the first year of our republic upon the proclamation of President Washington.
Thereupon days of prayer, humiliation and thanksgiving were proclaimed only in times of peril and stress. Among those dates were Thursday, February 19, 1795, Thursday, April 25, 1799 and Wednesday, May 9, 1798 and frequently during the War of 1812.
Lincoln during the Civil War frequently proclaimed days of Thanksgiving upon important Union victories, but to him we owe the permanent establishment of the present customary date. He called upon the people to celebrate the last Thursday in November in the years of 1863 and 1864. However, Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale through her individual efforts was largely responsible for the establishment of the prevailing custom and hence earned the distinction “Mother of Thanksgiving”.
Andrew Johnson in 1867 was the first to recognize the established custom by these words in his proclamation of that year, “In conformity with recent custom that may now be regarded as established on national consent and approval”………
However, U.S. Grant two years later set aside Thursday, November 18. Since that time we have always commemorated the last Thursday of November.
Grover Cleveland reminds us “The American people have always abundant cause to be thankful to Almighty God whose watchful care and guiding hand have been manifested in every stage of their national life, guarding and protecting them in time of peril and safely leading them in the hour of darkness and of danger.”
Benjamin Harrison suggested “Among the appropriate observances of the day are rest from toil, worship in the public congregation, the renewal of family ties about our American firesides and thoughtful helpfulness toward those who suffer lack of the body or of the soul.”
Thanksgiving is a distinct American holiday. The English Harvest Festival may have influenced the earlier Thanksgiving holidays but we embrace more than a harvest festival. We give thanks to the Lord and Ruler of Nations for our precious national heritage of freedom and democracy, for His every good of gift in natural abundance, and for the preservation of our national life.
West American Democracy concerning first Thanksgiving
Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents’ for proclamations.
Please return manuscript, if you can’t use it, in enclosed envelope.
Edited and typed by Carol Pellett, July 1998
My Dear Mary and Martin:
Your letter was read today and will answer it right away. In answer to your questions about Paula and Axel.
In 1948 my father received from Germany a letter from your brother William. It was written by Elizabeth Messinger asking for help as they had lost every thing in the war. As I recall it was addressed to your father, as that seemed to be the only Blum name and address they had and William sent it on to my father.
My father was so thrilled about hearing from family in Germany he asked me to help get some things together and we did. The box was ready to be mailed when my father had his coronary and passed away on June 13, 1948. I then took it upon myself to get it off, and had letters from Elizabeth Messinger up to her death and then Paula began writing.
As to the relationship of Paula to Elizabeth I’m not quite sure, but as I remember Paula’s husband was a nephew of Elizabeth’s and she had made her home with them.
When Alice Eads and her husband Bob were stationed in Europe (England) Alice went to visit her Aunt Gertrude in Freiburg, she was her fathers sister, and so when I wrote to her in England, I told her when she visited her aunt maybe she could look up Paula and Elizabeth who also lived in Frieburg - so she did and found they lived not too far from each other. So after that whenever Alice visited her aunt she would also go to see Elizabeth.
I had never heard from Axel or Eve until this past summer - after all those years, until I decided to write Axel, I wondered who translated my letters to Paula & thus the first letter from Axel came.
I hope I have given you the answers you were looking for.
I am just sick to think I was not able to contact Paula as Axel was with her at the time.
I wish I could hide in one of your bags and go along with you. Time is coming soon and I do hope you will be able to make the trip. One never knows.
On my trip west there was a man who had half a lung removed and heart problems, he made it, at times he was tired, but got along ok.
I hope that you will get all the information we all have been wondering about.
I surely had a lovely trip. Went all alone too.
If you go give all my deepest love to them all and will keep you in my prayers Martin, so you can have your wish.
Much love to you all. God Bless.
June 2, 1984
Dear Christine and Bill,
I have just finished talking to Rudolf Engler on the phone. He sends greetings to you and Vicki. He will be reporting back to Ohnemus and Blums.
Finally we can piece the facts about the church. 120 years old. They began renovating only 1 year and a half ago according to Rudolf. I couldn’t think of German ‘floor’. Apparently the floor had to be removed for a new heating system. “It does get cold there”.
I called a Mildred Engler in Wayzata. The phone number and name had been enclosed in the letter. Lacking fluency in German, talked first to Mildred. (Her obvious printed return address didn’t reveal Miss, Mrs. or Ms. simply Mildred Engler. Wayzatta is 12 miles from Minneapolis. Rudolf is visiting northern Minnesota. Bemudji, etc. He will then leave for Detroit, from there San Diego. Do you remember that Wednesday night we entertained our surprise guest Rudolf that Vicki sat by for the duration. Why? She was bemusing herself recording all on tape, without any of us aware of it. And someone swiped that tape after she left Kondringen.
Did Martina write you an identical letter? Helen has a copy of mine. Martina cleared up a bit about the villages. We slept in Kondringen. Across the ‘main street’ thoroughfare lived the Blums in the village of Tenningen. VIP’s in Hondringen must have been Mössingers in Tenningen Blums. In Landeck Lehmann. Albert was born there to Aunt Caroline Blum Lehman.
The brief church record from Reverend Ohnemus, Carl William Blum our grandfather born 10-2-1824. His father was Andrew Blum and mother was Anne Marie Mossinger. Do you know your German will enough to spell out that 3rd letter as written by the pastor?
Think of it, our great grandmother was Mosinger (‘s?). Mosinger the maiden name of our mother, of our Aunt Caroline (Carrie) and of Fritz mother Kathrina (not a sister). The stone in the wall of the cemetery has to be that for our great grandfather, Andrew Blum, who was born in 1782.
All the enclosed material is a version of the last 60 hours in Kondringen. The visit to the parsonage, with Vicki to the cemetery, the meeting with Emmi and her sister Hildegard, seeing the inside of the Rebstock, the picture session arranged by Eric. I am in a dither to put those events in exact order. Not to overlook the luncheon or really dinner with Emmi, Fritz and Alfred and that delicious spinach. You’ll note I have copies of all the material.
Dear Christine and Bill,
Christine, did you get your wheel chair? That should help a lot. My only trouble is nerves, but it effects my muscles and about everything. I am trying hard to fight but at 84 you don’t have much zip. Christine, you never should be shut too. Martin just can’t see too good to drive but Lena takes us. Between Lena and Helen we will make it.
Love, Mary K
November 13, 1983
Dearest Mary K and Martin,
I can not thank you enough for your wonderful resume of the trip. I have read everything at least 3 times. I can just picture you folks getting together with the relatives, and the beautiful days you spent at the various places, the drives thru the Schwarzwald to visit Albert Lehmann, and to see Uwe in Wiel---the days in Kondringen, even the hectic rides on the Autoban, which you didn’t mention. I loved hearing your impressions also.
So many things I did not know that I thought I did know---like I thought Paula was Axel’s mother. No matter, and it certainly would have been logical that you would bring out the sheets from Herb to get the facts on the family tree. I always had wondered how the Walters were related. They all sound like lovely people. I think you are very perceptive and probably there was some discord between Axel’s mother and Paula. Glad you got to meet them all and know they were so glad to meet you folks. Can see also why you would have been in a hurry to get to Kondringen too, and you couldn’t just spend too much time in Karlsruhe, pleasant as it was. Martin, I can see why you would have been too tired to go on the sight seeing tour of Freiburg and preferred to rest at Paula’s. Sometimes those tours just last too long. At least you could understand German, when we visited Paula she was quite a talker and Bob could not understand a word. A lovely lady though.
Thank you for the picture of Emil Mössinger. Remember the picture. Remember the picture postcard you sent me that had the note in my mother’s handwriting that said, “we sent the money to Kempton?” You asked what I knew about Kempton, which was nothing. Evidently from this picture you got from Adolphine, Kempton must be where some of the relatives had lived. The picture was made “in Kempten on der Promenade.” I remember old pictures that mother had of relatives in Germany---prior World War II, I think. I left those pictures for dad among other old pictures and I don’t know what became of them. Seems to me (of course, my memory isn’t that great) I have seen this same picture of Emil Mössinger. Also, I especially remember a picture of some of mom’s German relatives---very well dressed with a French poodle sitting beside them. Imagine those pictures had belonged to Grandma Blum and that is why mother had them.
I loved reading all about Fritz Blum and the family. They must work very hard, yet they know how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
I have also read and re-read the previous copies you had sent me---would it not be possible for your mother’s father to have been killed in the short war between Austria and Prussia (June 1866 to August 1866) when Baden fought on the Austrian side? Since the Pastor had written that he died in July 1866. Know you would remember correctly from your mother saying the Rebstock had been commandeered by the Prussians but for how long a time? This must have happened during that Seven weeks War??? And it was sometime during that war that Grandpa Mössinger was killed in the war or fled to Switzerland or America? I really do think it is highly likely that he was killed in that war or come to a fateful ending at the hands of the Prussian soldiers. At any rate, I agree he was a brave man fighting for a cause he believed in. I have to admit I am such a Pollyanna that I would prefer to think he was killed in the war than that he just disappeared and never was heard from again.
I started this letter a couple weeks ago and did not get it finished. I asked my friend to translate that paragraph (Seite 312 – 7). She reads that when the property was sold the government took advantage by claiming it had the right to use the room on the 2nd floor next to the dance hall for legal meetings at any time. “Also the use of the saloon area for community meetings, and the dance hall on the 2nd floor in peace or war times for military quarters.”
Now Thanksgiving has come and gone. We had a nice day. I expect that you were together with brothers and sisters. My cousin, Bob Tagtow and wife came over for dinner. He is Gertrud Wetterer Tagtow’s son.
The weekend before Thanksgiving Bob and I drove down to San Antonio. Our first visit there. We only stayed one night. Went to see Leta who is visiting Reg for a few weeks.
You have gone to so much trouble to keep us informed of the details of your trip and I do so appreciate it. Vicki and Nancy and husband must have had an enjoyable time in Germany too, right? It is wonderful that they went with you and that you had so many loving relatives who prodded you to keep on with your plans for the trip. You certainly do have a lovely wife, who was the first one to start the ball rolling. So glad your doctor encourage you not to give it up. I hope that your health is better. Can imagine it was discouraging at times wondering whether or not to take the trip. But it all turned out beautifully and I’ll bet you felt very good in the lovely mountain air in the Schwarzwald. It was nice to have church services at the Frankfurt airport before your flight home. Think I would enjoy the flight more after that. Not afraid to fly but am always happy when the wheels touch down and the plant comes to a stop at its’ destination.
From the reports, it sounds like you have had some snow and cold up your way. It is cloudy and looks like snow here—but the temp is only 55, actually rather humid. We had some much needed rain last week and then sunshine and beautiful weather again.
You mentioned why is the ancient Landmark, the church, a mere shell and to notice the bell tower---do you mean the church and bell tower in the picture on the postcard that you enclosed in your letter? That must be the Rebstock in the foreground near the church, right?
I have so much enjoyed your letters. You have such a gift of expressing yourself on paper. Thank you for the descriptions and your impressions of everything.
I didn’t intend to be so slow in getting this letter finished. Seems like the last three months of the year always just fly. Brother Al and wife are in Sun City, Arizona since late October and will fly home Dec. 7 to spend Christmas and New Years and then back to Arizona. I bet they will really feel the cold after 5 weeks in warm Arizona.
(Translation by Minnie Klemm))
Dear Blum Family:
Many thanks for your lines. I am happy that it goes well health-wise for you and that I have heard from you after some length of time.
Axel told me on the telephone (he lives 150 kilometers away from me in Karlsruhe) that he has a message from you, that you are coming to Germany, and wanted to know what your scheduled plans are. Are you coming with a tour group or private? It is too bad I couldn’t see Leta during her European trip. It would be nice if we now could now get to know each other. Perhaps it could become possible to go with you to Kondringer. Kondringer is 50 kilo from Freiburg. There you could see where your ancestors were born.
I am 76 years old and have lived in Freiburg 35 years. My husband was employed here but has passed away. Alice Eads has visited me here. Her father’s sister also lived in Freiburg but she had died. According to your letter you are arriving at Frankfurt September 19. It’s too bad it’s so far from there (350 kilos) and I don’t have an auto and can’t drive. Please let me know how me may meet.
June 2, 1984
Dear Christine and Bill,
I have just finished talking to Rudolf Engler on the phone. He sends greeting to you and Vicki. He will be reporting back to Pastor Ohnemus and all the Blum’s in Kondringen Germany.
Finally we can piece together the facts about the church, it is 120 years old. They began renovating only one and one half years ago according to Rudolf. I could not think of the name Floor in German, apparently the floor had to be removed for a new heating system, it does get cold there.
I called a Mildred Engler in Wayzata, Minnesota. The phone number and name had been enclosed in the letter. Since I lacking fluency in German, talked first to Mildred. Her obvious printed return address did not reveal Miss. Mrs., or MS. simply Mildred Engler.
Wayzata is 12 miles from Minneapolis. Rudolf is visiting northern Minnesota – Bemidgi, etc. He will then leave for Detroit from there to San Diego.
Do you remember that Wednesday night we entertained our surprise guest Rudolf that Vicki sat by for the duration. Why? She was bemusing herself recording on tape all that was said, without any of us aware of it and someone swiped the tape after she left Kondringen.
Did Martina write you an identical letter? Helen has a copy of mine, Martina cleared up a bit about villages. We slept in Kondringen across the “Main street” thoroughfare lived the Blums in the village of Teningen V.I.P’s in Kondringen. Must have been Moessinger’s.
In Teningen the Blum’s in Landeck, the Lehman’s Albert Lehman was born there. His mother was Aunt Caroline Blum Lehman.
The brief church record from Reverend Ohnemus/ Carl William Blum our grandfather born 10-2-1824, his father was Andrew Blum and mother was Anne Marie Mossinger. Do you know your German well enough to spell out that 3rd letter as written by the pastor?
Think of it, our great grandmother was Mossinger (s?) Mosinger, the maiden name of our mother, of our Aunt Caroline (Carrie), and of Fritz Blum’s mother Kathrina (not a sister).
The stone in the wall of the cemetery has to be that of our great grandfather Andrew Blum who was born in 1782. All the enclosed material is a rerun of the last 60 hours in Kondringer, the visit to the parsonage, with Vicki to the cemetery, the meeting with Emmi and her sister Hildegard. Seeing the inside of the Rebstock, the picture session arranged by Erika, I am in a dither to put those events in the exact order, not to overlook the luncheon or really dinner with Emmi, Fritz, and Alfred and that delicious spinach. You will note I have copies of all of that material!
From German Letter Translation
Köndringen the 15th of May 1983
Finally I will write. Thanks for your letter which Martina Blum translated into German for me, my grandson also studies English in school, but he still is not able to do it well he is not able to get the meaning.
I have just written William and Christine Blum, the way William writes you will be making the trip to Germany, I am pleased to learn that you will soon be coming Albert too will be pleased.
I am the daughter of Alberts brother Carl, I had three brothers, these three all died in the war in Russia, which was a heavy burden on my partents. My father and mother have both died (1892-1958) (1892-1977). Albert was the youngest son born 1900 of Caroline Blum (Lehman) who died in 1941.
As to the Blum family I know not much. Albert was with us on April 17th. We had confirmation for the oldest grandson. I inquired of Albert, but he too, knows nothing of the Blum family.
He is anyhow badly forgetful, he is not well. He has ulcers, which cause dizzyness and it seems to come and go.
We always have much work. We have 70 head of cattle including 30 cows. We plant wheat, oats, corn and we have grapes. But to the present we have had bad weather. Since May 7th it has been continually raining. The March is still with us in Baden. We are in good health. I am 64 years old. My husband is 70 years old. We are both able to work.
Many loving greetings and good health wish.
Marie and family.
Bel Emmendingen - Ramstahof
by Martin Blum
What happened to "Grampa" Mossinger? I have agonized and searched for this answer for 66 plus years. My mother did tell me tha "Grampa" participated in the Baden Rebellion of 1848. Or call it if you will, the Baden Uprising. Realistically, I think Baden Uprising is more appropriate. Mother told me that Carl Schurz visited the Kondringen Rebstock, According to her mother. Pastor Ohnemus searching the church records looked up at me as I recalled that and wrote into my notebook boldly the following "Carl Schurz- Rebstock in Kondringen?" Carl Schurz name is now orchestrated to the German people as a great Civil War General, I have learned. Until my visit to Germany I only knew favorable of Carl Schurz German born American politician, orator, reformer Senator from Missouri, Secretary of Interior under Hayes and no great praise for him as a General. I can't recall the exact words, but I remember reading once of a personal exchange of barbs between Schurz and Abe Lincoln whom Schurz supported for the presidency by actively campaigning for Lincoln. Schurz wrote the president something to the effect that you are losing public support and Abe, if you please, retorted something like your rating by the public as a general is not very high!
Charl Schurz was Prussian and organizer of the 1848-1849 uprising in Germany. My Grampa from Baden only 22 years old, bitter about the oppression by the Grand Duke of Baden, a Lieutenant according to Mother, was an early volunteer ready to fight for freedom and democracy in his beloved homeland. After a quick rout of the rebels by well organized Prussian hordes, Schurz fled to America to become famous here. Grampa Mossinger, as I have chosen to intimately call him, simply returned home to the Rebstock in Kondringen, Baden. As late as May 1, 1854 a letter from Ohio, U.S.A. states the following: "also my greetings to the Rebstock Innkeeper and his wife and the children, Adolf, Student" (Adolf about six years old and an uncle of mine.) "Mine" (my Aunt Minnie" and the little Karolina" (my aunt Caroline). My mother, Louise Mossinger Blum, was born in 1860. The three latter migrated to U.S.A. from Baden, Germany. Even up to and including my first week of visiting in Germany with descendants of Grampa, I heard repeated again that he had fled to America, in this later instance it was said South America.
For confirmation of Schurz's presence at Rebstock (Vine) in Kondringen in reply to the pastor, I could only recall that Schurz in his voluminous writings that I have been able to find, merely stated that he went from inn to inn to gain volunteers.
The Rebstock built in 1550, the birthplace of my mother is a prominent landmark. It's large hand hewn oak corner post have been mortised to repair deterioration. It presently offers no guest rooms. The two large upstairs rooms afford musical entertainment for young people on Saturday nights. It still offers food and drink in one room on the first floor. Another room down offers novelties and etc. The rebstock is on a busy auto traffic corner. Autos have the right of way; pedestrian have to cross a street at their own risk.
On my last two of eight days at Kondringen I learned the shocking, startling, stunning truth or at least part of the truth. Grampa Mossinger was buried July 8, 1866. My first reaction, was that's impossible or some words to that effect. The Reverend Dieter Ohnemus patiently restated everything that he had cited earlier. Even my great grandfather had been Rebstock innkeeper andA Master butcher. My grandfather, Grampa, was born the 2nd day of March 1826. The pastor wrote it out clearly in my notes repeating the 1826 a second time.
Quote: "Can there be more than one Kondringen Rebstock Innkeeper at one time?" the pastor asked. On Friday the last day of my search for the truth, two from Germany collaborating, presented me with documents from the Court House. The two collaboators were my cousin-in-law, dear dear Emmi Blum and her sister. After I scanned the document the inherent truths were obvious to the two sweet dear ladies who had made a cherished though saddening contribution. As if in one voice, it matter not and I know not who said this, "The War of 1866, neighboring province Wurttemberg, joined with Austria to wage war against Prussia."
One last thought on the subject, I recall mother saying and one word is still vivid "Kommandeered" qoute "commandeered in English"--"The Rebstock was commandeered by the Prussians." I have always been inclined to think that Grandmother and the small children were hostages of the Prussian authorities who had commandeered the Rebstock. We always felt that Grampa had escaped.
MY GRAMPA GAVE UP HIS LIFE FOR THOSE 'INALIENABLE RIGHT' WHICH WE INCLINE TO TAKE FOR GRANTED: 'THAT AMONG THESE ARE LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.'
Miller Blum Reunion
June 20 and 21, 1981
By Martin Blum
This is the second Miller-Blum Reunion. Of our generation, I am reminded of a least two significant reunions of another generation.
One hundred years ago a twenty-one year old fraulein, traveling alone made the long journey from Kondringen, Baden Germany to Council Bluffs, Iowa. There she was reunited with her sister Carrie, her brother-in-law William Blum, her niece, Mary and two nephews, Fred and Carl. The niece Mary is still known to all of us. She is the late Mary Blum Miller, at the time six years old. Hence the folklike affinity that ties the Millers' and Blums' together is explained.
The above mentioned reunion took place at a residence at the Northwest corner of Pierce and Nicholas in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Please note the address has no complex two, three or more digit house number. Also shown to reside at that same address was a maltster employed by Geise's Brewery ( pronounced Guy's sie). The librarian assisting me made the brilliant observation these people must have been living together.
The maltster, Andrew Blum and the fraulein, Louise were married June 27, 1881. --note June 27, 1881.
The very next year Andrew and Louise were homesteading near White Lake, South Dakota.
In 1884 Andrew was boarding at the European Hotel in Omaha. He was employed as a maltster with Metz Brewery. Obviously the pioneering submarginal subsistence family of homesteaders on the plains of South Dakota were having money problems and decided to do something about that problem. In 1885 we note the presence of yet another Blum brother -- Martin. He gave his occupation as a brewer employed by Storz Brewery and living in Omaha.
In 1886 near White Lake my sister Elisa was baptized. She was the third child of my parents Andrew and Louise Blum. Present for the occasion was still another Blum brother, Gustav. Carrie, William and their children were there. Minnie Huber, a recent arrival, as was Gustav, attended from Louisville, Nebraska. That surely meant that my Grandmother must have been among them. It is common knowledge that she immigrated to America with Minnie. "Gramma" Mossinger is the mother of Carrie, Minnie, and Louise. She passed away at our home near South Bend, Nebraska three months after I was born.
Summarizing, this occasion appears to mark the Centennial Anniversary of our first reunion in America. It also is the 95th anniversary of the first reunion in South Dakota.
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