Esther Paustian & Claus Stoltenberg

Claus & Esther Stoltenberg & Family 1912

Before we start posting our Reher family memories, let me post a little story about our Great-Grandparents... Esther Paustian & Claus Stoltenberg. Even though there is no on left who might have actual memories of them, sometimes we are very lucky to find their story in a history book or old newspaper. Such is the case with Esther & Claus Stoltenberg. . .

Imagine my surprise & delight when I found the following article...
I was at the Grand Island Public Library searching through rolls of microfilm, looking for an obituary of someone not even connected with our own family genealogy when I came across this article which took up almost half the page.

The above group picture was taken at Claus & Esther's 50th anniversary celebration which was held in 1912. Their actual anniversary was in December, but looking at the photo, I would think that the family celebrated in late summer or early fall. The trees still have their leaves, my father Barney Reher is the baby towards the right and was born in March of 1912, and the other baby is Hazel Hitchler, the child of Dora Tagge & Frank Hitchler, who was born in January of 1912.

The following article is copied from The Grand Island Independent
December 7, 1912 edition.
(notes in parentheses added by myself)

Mr. and Mrs. Stoltenberg Married Fifty Years Yesterday

Mr. Stoltenberg Was First White Settler on Island
--- Came Here in 1859 ---
Lived Continuously for Half Century on One Farm

A memorable event in the history of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Claus Stoltenberg of the Island was the celebration of the fiftieth or golden wedding anniversary of this honored couple, held yesterday with over a hundred relatives and friends in attendance. Few couples are gifted with fifty years of happy wedded life, such as this couple experienced, from the pioneer days of Grand Island and Hall County up to the present time. The Stoltenberg family is one of the oldest and largest in the county, evidenced by a recent family group (picture) taken, showing the venerable couple surrounded by sons and daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren, who numbered over half a hundred. Mr. Stoltenberg was the very first white man to settle on what is known as the Island, the stretch of ground between (the) Wood River and the Platte, extending southeast of Wood River Station to where the rivers join near Chapman, and from which the town originally received its name of Grand Island.

For fifty years Mr. and Mrs. Stoltenberg lived continually on the place a mile and a half south of Sand Krog and their toiling on this lace for half a century earned the success, justly deserved. Here they brought up a large family of which they may well feel proud and from the "Roosevelt" families of the sons and daughters of this esteemed couple, all of whom live in the county, it is safe to say that the name of Stoltenberg will be more prevalent than ever in coming generations. Mr. and Mrs. Stoltenberg, though enfeebled with age are both still quite active and participated in yesterday's festivities to the fullest extent.

Claus Stoltenberg was born September 2, 1832, in Brodersdorf, Probstei, by Keil, Germany. He was brought up in the Fatherland and like his father followed farming, and up to the year 1856 worked as a farm hand in the old country. In that year, in the month of March, he came to America and worked for a year and a half in Wisconsin. In November, he started farther west and landed in Omaha; Peter Stelk, brother of Marx Stelk, one of the very first settlers in Hall County was the companion of Mr. Stoltenberg in those days and it was through the senior Stelk, after living a year and a half at Omaha, that Mr. Stoltenberg and a few others emigrated to the then wilderness here, in the spring of 1859. Mr. and Mrs. Hans Arp, parents of the Stelk brothers, were in the party who came with Mr. Stoltenberg also, the Stelks being step children of Mr. Arp. Mr. Stoltenberg and Peter Stelk worked together and in the spring of 1860 they located in the vicinity of where the Stoltenberg farm is now located, the very first white men to locate on the Island. Buffalo and other game roamed on the prairies which now are well dotted with farms and beautiful homes.

Mrs. Stoltenberg's maiden name was Esther Paustian. Like her husband, she was born in the year 1832, on October 6, and she was brought up in the Fatherland and worked there until the year 1862, when she was a member of a party who came to America. Able Wrage and Henry Stoltenberg, other pioneers here, were also in this set of emigrants who landed in New York on July 4, during the troublous times of the Civil War. They came direct to Omaha where Mr. Stoltenberg and another pioneer met them. They traveled to Omaha by the ox team route, it taking fourteen days to make the round trip. Here Mr. Stoltenberg first met his bride of fifty years ago. Miss Paustian at that time walked most of the distance from Omaha to the Hall County settlement. Strong and sturdy as she was, she invariably headed the party on the jaunt to the West from the metropolis; traveling by ox team was too slow for her. At one time when she was quite a distance ahead, she was accosted by Indians and harm would certainly have come to her had other members of the party not followed up closely. After this experience she remained with the ox team outfit. They arrived at the settlement on August 10.

The acquaintance of the then debonair couple soon waxed into love and on December 6, 1862, Claus Stoltenberg was united in marriage to Miss Paustian. John Wallichs, Grand Island's first mayor and then Justice of the Peace, performed the ceremony, one of the first few matrimonial knots to be tied here. Those were great days and if space would permit, columns could be written of life at that time. Mr. and Mrs. Stoltenberg took up work on the land where he had settled and have lived on the place ever since. There were no surveys at the time and those who were located had first claim to the land. In 1866, the Union Pacific Railroad was built through and the land was surveyed. For twenty miles on each side, every other section became government or railroad property. Mr. Stoltenberg's location happened to be in a government section and he obtained some land by first preemption and bought more at $1.25 per acre. Other relatives acquired land and Mr. Stoltenberg's farm interests soon amounted to 375 acres.

Like all the other settlers, the couple went through many troublous times of the early days and endured the hardships which were finally crowned with success. The settlers were constantly in danger to Indian outrages. Mr. Stoltenberg remembers well when a whole tribe surrounded his place and they threatened to shoot his watch dog, who stood between the red men and his master. Mr. Stoltenberg indicated that he would shoot them if they shot the dog when the chief intercepted and ordered his warriors on.

Though very attentive to his farm work, Mr. Stoltenberg found some time to give to public affairs. He superintended school work in years past, was treasurer of his locality, road overseer, represented his community as supervisor and filled other offices, which his work on the farm permitted. Though still active, the venerable couple have lived more of a retired life for about nineteen years and their son, Ferdinand, farmed on the home place. Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Stoltenberg, all of who still live except Mrs. Claus Tagge (Alvina), who departed this earth some years ago. The others are Edward Stoltenberg of Prairie Creek, Ferdinand Stoltenberg of the Island, Mrs. Bernard Wiese (Cecilia) of Prairie Creek, Mrs. Ernest Reher (Wilhelmina) of the Island and Carl Stoltenberg of this city. There are 34 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, born to Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hitchler.

Mr. Stoltenberg held to the customs observed in the Fatherland. There, if a farmer sold his land, he was either considered bankrupt or not a good man to work. A man who held to his farm and who transferred it to his children from one generation to the other was considered more successful and such is the case in this instance.

Surrounded by over a hundred relatives and friends, today's festivities in celebration of the golden wedding of Mr. and Mr. Stoltenberg were certainly greatly enjoyed. There was feasting and merry making on every hand which commenced with the morning hours and lasted until night. Many gifts were received by the honored couple, all excellent tokens of the occasion and these showed well the esteem with which they were held. The Independent joins the host of friends in wishing Mr. and Mrs. Stoltenberg many more years of happy wedded life.

(End of article)

This picture was taken the same day as the large family group picture. It is a 5 generation picture showing Claus & Esther seated in front of their son-in-law Claus Tagge and his daughter Dora Tagge Hitchler who is holding her daughter Hazel. Claus & Esther's daughter Alvina Stoltenberg married Claus Tagge but passed away in 1897.

This is an earlier picture of Esther Paustian Stoltenberg. I'm sorry but I don't know when it was taken or her age in it. I have no other photos of Claus although there was one included with the newspaper article above, it didn't copy well at the time I found it.


Matty G said...

That's a really interesting article - how cool to have found that story! It's fascinating to read about the land back then - and how they talked about the various areas (the Island, and this city, etc.).

I bet a 50th anniversary was really rare at the time - it's pretty rare now even! So it is a Rare story indeed!

Toast said...

Loved it. We come from hardy folk. Gives me heart that we can survive 24 hr./day baby wails.

Pamela said...

do you have more information on the tagge family? I would like to find out what part of germany they came from. It is my mothers maiden name

Jodi said...

I do have a some info on the Tagge's (very little but would be happy to help you in your search). E-mail me by clicking on the link under "Are you a Rare Rambler" in the blog... (I need your e-mail address)