Ernest Taeuffer, son of John

John and Mae Congleton Taeuffer started their married life on March 2, 1902. They set up housekeeping on the Magnolia Drive ranch located south of Healdsburg where John had grown up and where his father, Ernest Taeuffer, still farmed. The couple’s first child was a son, born November 11, 1902. They named him Ernest Louis Taeuffer, after both his grandfather and his late uncle.

THE COUSINS

 

1 Cousins resized
Ernest Taeuffer standing, Dorothy Taeuffer, Claude Congleton and Helen Wilson, seated.

When Ernest was just seven months old, his grandmother, Agnes Call Congleton Wilson, gave birth to his aunt, Helen Wilson. A year later, in 1904, his sister, Dorothy Agnes Taeuffer was born. And a year after that, in 1905, his Aunt Birdie Hoar Congleton, gave birth to his cousin, Claude Congleton. These four children who were a mixture of siblings, cousins, and an aunt would spend much of their formative years together as a group.

 

 

 

In the early 20th Century, the first eight years of education were lumped together under an umbrella called Grammar School. Children were grouped according to their progress rather than strictly by age. In 1911, Ernest, Dorothy, and Helen, despite having an age range from 7 to 9 years old, were all in the same “High First Grade” class at Healdsburg Grammar School. As the years went by, Ernest and Helen pulled ahead of Dorothy, as would be expected due to their being older. Claude followed along just a grade or two behind his older cousins. In 1817, at fourteen, Ernest would graduate from Grammar School and head for High School.

Birthday parties for the little ones was a popular pastime in the early 1910s. In June of 1912 the group of four attended not one, but two fancy parties with ice cream, cake, and “dainty little favors” or “souvenirs” to commemorate first Dorothy Taeuffer’s eighth birthday on Magnolia Drive and two weeks later Helen Wilson’s ninth birthday on Bailhache Avenue. Ernest attended a similar birthday party in February 1913 honoring one of this classmates, Miss Leota Van Devere in Dry Creek.

2 Whist_marker 2 resizedBut birthdays were not the only excuse for a party. The extended family and neighbors took pretty much every opportunity to have a gathering. The party may have been for a special occasion, such as John and Mae Taeuffer’s tenth wedding anniversary in 1912 or simply a gathering to play progressive whist (a card game similar to bridge). And the little ones were always included. Many evenings spent playing progressive whist at the Taeuffer’s, the Wilson’s, and various neighbors of both families were reported in the local newspapers. In all cases, the evening would last until refreshments were served around the midnight hour. For the most part these events took place on Saturday nights. But not on school nights.

THE WORLD CHANGES

3 Liberty Loan posterIn 1917 a new type of story began receiving high visibility in the local newspapers – the bond drives organized to finance the United States entry into the Great War. Both Ernest L. and his sister Dorothy were listed as bond subscribers for the four drives held in June 1917, October 1917, April 1918, and October 1918. These official U.S. “Liberty Loan” bond drives were augmented by the YMCA Drive in December 1917 and the United War Work Campaign in November 1918. Ernest Taeuffer’s donations to both of these drives conducted at Healdsburg High School were also documented in the local press.

HEALDSBURG HIGH SCHOOL

Attending High School in Healdsburg in 1918 was an exciting adventure. In September the Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar reported that the entire faculty was engaged in registering pupils to begin school in the newly constructed high school on Grant Street which would open on September 30th. They reported that “as the floors of the new high school building were hardly ready for the tread of many feet, the work of enrollment was performed at the old building on Fitch street.” The total enrollment would be 172; 4 Specials, 25 Seniors, 32 Juniors, 45 Sophomores (including Ernest), and 66 Freshmen.

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High School provided the opportunity for Ernest to participate in several extracurricular 5 HHS Band 1919activities. As a Junior in 1919, he played in the newly formed band led by Professor Numberger. The band entertained their fellow students at lunchtime, playing music at noon, however, as Principal Morehead announced at the February assembly, “NO dancing would be allowed as the health authorities will not allow it.” It was, after all, the time of the influenza pandemic.

That same year right fielder Ernest Taeuffer was unanimously elected captain of the 6 HHS Baseball 1919 editedbaseball team. That baseball team, however, only won one out of the four games played. They did, however, beat the prior year’s record, when the local team lost every game. They could be forgiven, of course, since in 1918 there had not even been a diamond at the new high school for them to practice on!

But Ernest did not allow his extracurricular activities to deter him from his studies. In December 1917 he was listed in the Honor Roll category “None below C” and in February 1918 in the category “One below B.” In March 1919 they dispensed with the categories and he was simply listed as having made the Honor Roll as a Sophomore. His scholastic efforts were rewarded when he was able to complete his High School education in just three years to graduate with the Class of 1920.

In the 1920 Ye Sotoyome Yearbook, Ernest’s Class Horoscope indicated that his nickname was “Earney,” his favorite expression “Yep!” his hobby “Selling stocks,” his ambition 7 HHS Baseball 1920“Broker,” and his destiny “Lawyer.” He was once again captain of the baseball team, still paying right field. The team did not have a good winning record, but they did have “a swell new outfit of suits.” The yearbook also made note that “Influenza visited our town this year and gave us several weeks vacation not saying how much hard work we had to make up. We can consider ourselves lucky that we did not have to wear those horrid masks this year.”

Ernest graduated Healdsburg High School in June 1920 with 33 other scholars, one of the 8 Ernest Taeuffer 1920 resizedlargest graduating classes in the history of the school. The ceremony was held in the auditorium and was celebrated with a program including musical numbers and an address by Professor C.E. Rough of the University of California. A reception for the graduates along with their parents and friends followed the program.

After high school, Ernest spent his time working with his father and grandfather on the Magnolia Drive ranch. But farm work was not enough to keep him completely out of mischief. In March 1923 Game Warden Henry Lencioni arrested him for illegally fishing for steelhead trout out of season on Dry Creek. The fine imposed by the justice court in Santa Rosa was $25. A pretty high price for some admittedly delicious trout.

LOVE ENTERS THE PICTURE

9 Mae Garrett 1923 resizedIn 1921, Bird and Virgie Garrett relocated from Ukiah to upper Dry Creek with their four sons and four daughters. Their eldest daughter, pretty and vivacious seventeen year old Mae Garrett immediately caught Ernest Taeuffer’s eye. In August 1922 Ernest and his sister Dorothy attended a “forfeit” party thrown by Mae Garrett and in that same month all attended a birthday party for one of Mae’s Dry Creek neighbors. Still in August, Mae joined Ernest and Dorothy, their little brother Norman, parents John and Mae Taeuffer, and Dorothy’s sweetheart George Harris on a hunting trip. The two families became close very quickly with the three Taeuffer siblings visiting the Garretts’ home in Dry Creek and two of Mae’s brothers, Walter and Harry, even spending the summer on the Taeuffer ranch.

Meanwhile, a tall, lanky stranger who had come to town to work on the bridge construction turned out to be too charming for Dorothy Taeuffer to resist, so after completing just two years of high school, she married George Harris in October 1922. Ernest Taeuffer and Mae Garrett served as their best man and bridesmaid. Everyone assumed they would be the next couple to be joined in holy matrimony.

The parties continued into 1923 when, in April, the Taeuffer, Harris, and Garrett families all attended a multi-generational masquerade party in Dry Creek. Two months later Mae Garrett graduated from Healdsburg High School. That November, Ernest celebrated his 21st birthday. He received a handsome pocket watch to mark his having reached adulthood.

OUTBREAK

Tragedy struck a month before Ernest’s 22nd birthday. In September 1924, Ernest’s fifteen month old nephew Bobby Harris was suffering with a bout of the dreaded poliomyelitis virus. Bobby would survive his illness with only one unusually small foot to show for it. In children, paralysis would occur for only about one out of every thousand afflicted. The rate in adults, on the other hand, was one in seventy-five. The virus lives in the throat and intestines and is spread through waste, or sneezes and coughs. The contagious period lasts about 7 to 10 days from onset and the incubation period is anywhere from one to three weeks. Family members could act as unwitting carriers. Caring for an infant with the virus was a hazardous undertaking, indeed.

It was not long before Ernest fell ill with what initially seemed like a bout of the flu which, in those times, was not a trivial ailment in itself. The October 7 edition of the Healdsburg Tribune reported that Ernest was at home suffering from an attack of influenza. Two days later the Tribune reported that he was in critical condition.

Quickly, the diagnosis would take a more serious turn. Like his tiny nephew, Ernest had contracted polio, specifically bulbar polio which attacks the medulla oblongata (brain stem). Within three days of onset patients will exhibit difficulty swallowing, speaking and breathing. This was the case with Ernest and it was only a few days before he became paralyzed. Just before dawn on October 10th, Ernest Taeuffer perished.

There was an outpouring of grief from the town. The October 10 Tribune reported “Just attaining to man’s estate, Ernest Taeuffer counted among his scores of friends not only those of this own age, but his elders as well. He was a carefree young man of amiable disposition, with a smiling greeting for all that had made him widely loved in the community where he made his home.”

The funeral service was held from the Fred Young parlors with Rev. D.J. Donnan officiating. It was “attended by scores of relatives and close friends of the deceased and his family, and a great offering of flowers was made it tribute to the memory of the youth.” Ernest was laid to rest in Healdsburg’s Oak Mound Cemetery.Ernest Memorial 4 resized

As the October 16 Healdsburg Enterprise stated “Ernest Taeuffer… was called by the Angel of Death Friday morning, after an illness of but a few days. Apparently in the best of health, the young man was suddenly stricken with infantile paralysis and all that medical science could do was of no avail.” Indeed, even in the 21st Century there is no cure for polio. The treatment is still just bed rest, pain relievers, portable ventilators, and a nutritious diet. It would be 31 years after Ernest’s death before the first polio vaccine would become available and mothers could cease their annual worry.

EPILOGUE

Ernest’s death may have prevented Mae Garrett from becoming an official Taeuffer, but she would be known within the family as “Aunt Mae” for the rest of her life. In 1926 she served as Helen Wilson Frey’s maid of honor at her marriage to Redding Peterson. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s she would attend many of the celebrations and parties held on Magnolia Drive, and even traveled on vacations with the Taeuffer family.

After high school, Mae had started working as secretary for Principal Morehead of the Healdsburg High School. In 1927, he took a job as Vice Principal at the larger high school in Monterey, California. When he was promoted to Principal two years later, Mae moved to Monterey to take a position as secretary and stenographer for her former boss.

Mae continued in that role for many years. But she did not forget her “family” in Healdsburg. In December 1944 Mae brought San Franciscan Don McKillop to Healdsburg for a visit with Dorothy Taeuffer Harris. The couple would soon be married. They adopted a son, Ronald, in the late 1940s and relocated to Diamond Springs, California where Don started a roofing business. Years later they returned to Monterey. The visits to and from Healdsburg continued until 1973 when Mae Garrett McKillop passed away due to complications of a life-long heart condition at 68 years of age.

 

 

Sources:
Healdsburg Enterprise: 17 June 1911, 16 March 1912, 28 June 1913, 6 February 1915, 1 May 1915, 13 May 1915, 19 June 1915, 24 June 1916, 23 June 1917, 27 October 1917, 8 December 1917, 20 April 1918. 12 October 1918, 22 December 1917, 9 February 1918, 1 February 1919, 15 March 1919, 26 June 1920, 16 October 1924, 9 June 1927
Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar: 4 July 1912, 10 July 1913, 18 March 1915, 6 May 1915, 15 May 1915, 14 June 1917, 1 November 1917, 18 April 1918, 19 September 1918, 28 November 1918, 31 August 1922, 19 October 1922, 22 March 1923, 1 December 1944, 14 June 1951
Healdsburg Tribune: 22 June 1920, 23 June 1920, 25 June 1920, 11 August 1922, 28 August 1922, 2 April 1923, 7 October 1924, 9 October 1924, 10 October 1924, 14 October 1924, 10 June 1929
Ye Sotoyoman Yearbook 1919
Ye Sotoyoman Yearbook 1920
Ye Sotoyoman Yearbook 1923
1920 Census
1930 Census
1940 Census
Library of Congress
Taeuffer Family Lore

Aden C. Congleton, Late Bloomer

Aden C. Congleton was born around 1809 in New York State. Details about his early life are as yet undiscovered, but it is known that in 1849 he heard the siren call of the California Gold Rush.

Miner Image

As all California elementary school children know, on January 24, 1848 James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill on the American River near the settlement of Coloma. Word soon got out and fortune seekers from California, Oregon and other nearby areas swarmed into the area. San Francisco was immediately drained of men. On August 19, 1848 the discovery was reported in a major East Coast paper for the first time by the New York Herald and the floodgates really opened up.

GETTING THERE

Aden Congleton, most frequently referred to as A.C., was living in Michigan where he joined with twenty-five other eager 49ers to form the Albion Company wagon train. They headed west in early 1849, immediately after the spring thaw. On April 25 they were traveling on the steam boat Dakota on the Platte River with about 35 other California emigrants when the boat wrecked about 18 miles below Fort Kearney, Nebraska.

The survivors of the shipwreck all retreated eastward. A group of around twenty families wrote to the Kanesville, Iowa newspaper from the confluence of the Missouri and Nishnabotna Rivers about 50 miles south of Omaha requesting rescue.

But the all-male Albion Company wagon train had lost most of the mining equipment they had brought with them in the shipwreck and they retreated even further east, almost halfway back to their starting point in Michigan. On May 16, 1849 they were reported to be in Danville, Iowa near Burlington on the Mississippi River. It is lost to history as to whether or not the entire group was able to recover from this setback, but intrepid A.C. Congleton did make it to the gold fields.

Wagon Train map

THE WILD WEST

When A.C. arrived in Nevada County, California it was pretty much a lawless area. Still part of Mexico, but far removed from the government in Mexico City, there was no system of maintaining order in place. Miners would “stake a claim” literally placing stakes around the area they thought might have potential. That would establish their right to work the claim, as long as they were actively mining it. If they left the claim alone too long, another miner could come along and “jump the claim” by simply starting to work it. Before California statehood in 1850 there simply were no property rights and no deeds were being recorded. Disputes were often settled in the saloon with fisticuffs or side arms.

The prevailing sentiment of the early miners was that they were there to get rich and get out. Eastern standards of conduct were abandoned “for the duration” and the men convinced themselves that those standards could always be readopted once they returned home. Consequently, California became a wild and wooly environment. It even became acceptable in some instances for women to work!

A.C. would stake his claim outside the settlement of Rough and Ready. The 1856 Brown & Dallison’s City Directory described April 1850 Rough & Ready as “a few scattered cabins” which tripled in size by that October. However, a lack of water then stalled and even reversed the growth. Californians have been arguing about water ever since.

In response to concerns about the inaccuracy of the data from the 1850 US Census in California, a State Census was taken in 1852. Much of the information from that census has been destroyed, but A.C. Congleton can be found enumerated on a tattered page listing Nevada County residents.

1852 Census resized1852 Census Close up resized

That same year, his younger brother, John E. Congleton arrived in California with his wife Almira Almy Congleton and their seven surviving children, William, Gordon, Sara Ann, Amelia Jane, Hannah Augusta, Eliza Columbia, and Martha Malinda, the youngest having been born on the trip West, plus his 26 year-old spinster sister-in-law Cynthia Almy. It is said that upon hearing that the family was approaching Rough and Ready Township, A.C. rode out to meet them carrying a gold nugget worth $1,000.

ESTABLISHING SOCIAL NORMS

Masonic Badge 2On March 6, 1854, a dispensation was granted by the Grand Lodge of California Free and Accepted Masons to twenty men at Rough and Ready. And on May 3, 1854 a charter was issued to Rough and Ready Lodge No. 52. Aden Congleton was not among the original twenty, but he and his brother, John E. did join up the next year, in 1855. Aden continued his membership, serving as Junior Deacon in 1857, Junior Warden in 1862, Steward in 1863, and Junior Deacon in 1864 and 1865. It was that year that the Lodge “surrendered its charter owing to the failure of the mines in that locality.”

The towns of Nevada County remained segregated throughout the 1850s and 1860s, with Chinese, African Americans, and foreign-born (especially the Irish) the groups most typically to be isolated. Nevertheless, in 1860, 49 year-old A.C. was sharing living quarters with two 30 year-old Chinese men in Rough & Ready Township. All three were miners and there is no indication that any of them owned property, real or personal. While the 1860 Census does list some households of men with European surnames living near households of men born in China, it was not typical for whites to cohabitate with the Chinese, who were viewed as the “most alien” of the foreign-born new-comers.

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS

Due to repeated courthouse fires, records before 1863 are scanty or nonexistent. But a deed from November 1863 documents that A.C. Congleton purchased the 200 acre “Thomson’s Ranch” on Yankee Flat, two miles NE of Rough & Ready, bounded on the North by Deer Creek from Alexander Thomson. The purchase also included water rights and two buildings. The tax assessor record from 1864 valued the land at $100 and the 6 cows, 2 oxen, and 7 tons of hay at $200. The tax that year came to $8.10.

Thomson Ranch map
Approximate location of A.C. Congleton’s ranch known as “Thomson’s Ranch.”

Aden was not particularly interested in becoming a dairyman, as evidenced by the tax assessor record from 1865, which indicates he was down to 1 cow and 2 oxen; no hay mentioned. The value of the land had increased to $150, but the personal property had fallen to $105 and his tax totaled $6.25.

In November 1865 he sold a 100-ft. portion of Constitution Ledge, a gold and silver bearing quartz ledge located 200 yards from his house for $20. The same month he purchased a water ditch and tunnel located about ½ mile north of the Old Randolph Exchange Hotel in Rough & Ready for $20. Water, apparently, being more useful than gold.

Meanwhile, in the spring of 1862, one James Lynch did abandon his family leaving his wife, Mahala Hanks Lynch and their four children in “destitute circumstances.” At some point, Mahala and A.C. Congleton noticed each other and eventually set up housekeeping. In 1866, their daughter, Adrian Ada, was born.

Perhaps having become a father around the time that he lost the social support of his Mason Lodge helped convince Aden that his future may not lay in the pursuit of mining nor in the increasingly economically depressed Rough and Ready Township. So in 1866 he began divesting himself of mining assets. In March he sold his remaining interest in the Constitution Ledge for $30 and in October 1866 his interest in the mining claim on Kentucky Ravine including a cabin, a water ditch, and various tools, for $100. Mining was no profession for a family man.

The 1866 assessor’s record for Aden’s ranch listed the same 1 cow and 2 oxen, but added 2 horses and 1 male dog (which would have been taxed at a different rate than a female dog). This personal property was valued at $270. The value of the land held steady at $150 but the tax had risen to $8.19. By this time his commitment to Rough and Ready was broken and in October 1866 Aden sold the “Thomson Ranch” with improvements (two water ditches, farm equipment, and various oxen, chicken, and one heifer) on Yankee Flat for a cool $1,400.

On April 22, 1867, Mahala was granted a divorce from James Lynch on grounds of desertion in Nevada County. He was served a subpoena, but did not choose to put in an appearance. Two weeks later, on May 11, 1867, A.C. Congleton and Mahala Lynch were married in Butte County, California. The break with Nevada County was not complete though, for in 1868 Aden registered to vote in Nevada City and listed his occupation as farmer.

STARTING OVER

The family was enumerated twice in the 1870 Census; in Nevada City, where Aden was listed as a Miner, and in Navarro, Mendocino County, where he was listed as a Teamster. The family listed included 48 year-old wife Mahala, 22 year old step-son James (Miner in Nevada City, Laborer in Navarro), 13 year-old step-son George (attending school), 8 year old step-daughter Maria J. (attending school), and 4 year old daughter Ada.

Aden shows up again in the Nevada City Directory in 1871 as a Miner, along with his step-son James who is using the surname Congleton at this time. In 1873 he is again listed in the Nevada City Directory as a Wood Rancher. It seems he kept one foot in Nevada County and the other in Mendocino County.

In 1875, step-son James Lynch/Congleton married and moved across the country to set up housekeeping in Florida where he spent the next twenty years as a Log Sawyer. By now it would appear that logging had become the family business.

Abel Lodge

In 1876 Aden returned to the Masonic Lodge, joining Abel Lodge No. 146 in Ukiah, Mendocino County. He endeavored to make another go with farming, but things did not work out too well there for old Aden. In March 1876 he suffered a significant loss when he “had his house and furniture, smoke house, granary and contents destroyed by fire…during his absence at church.” So by 1879 he had relocated once again, this time to Davis Creek, Modoc County where he registered to vote listing his occupation again as Farmer. Meanwhile, Abel Lodge in Ukiah suspended his membership due to nonpayment of dues.

MODOC COUNTY

In 1880, the family had settled at Goose Lake, Modoc County, California and Aden was working as a laborer. By this time he was 68 years old and only his youngest step-daughter, 19 year-old Maria Lynch and his daughter, 14 year-old Adrian/Ada Congleton were living with he and wife Mahala. But Aden’s step-daughter Louisa and her husband, William Washburn, lived nearby. William was working as an engineer in a local saw mill, further establishing the family’s connection to the lumber industry.

Aden’s step-daughter Maria was married in late 1880 and things were beginning to look better for the family, only to have them go terribly wrong when new bride Maria died a few months later in March of 1881.

The fall of 1884 found Aden lying ill in the County Hospital in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County located over 350 miles away from his home in Goose Lake, presumably due to the lack of hospital services in remote Modoc County. On September 16, 1884, Aden C. Congleton died at the County Hospital in Santa Rosa and his remains were interred the next day in the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity of Santa Rosa.

AdenCongletonGravePhoto resized
Aden C. Congleton’s unkempt gravesite in the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery circa 1970.

 

document

 

 

Sources:
California Wagon Train Lists, Vol. 1, April 5, 1849 to October 20, 1852 by Louis J. Rasmussen
After the Gold Rush by Ralph Marin
1856 Brown & Dallison’s Nevada, Grass Valley and Rough & Ready Directory
Deeds, Nevada County, California
Judgement Book 4, Nevada County Court Records
Fifty Years of Masonry in California, Volume 1 Compiled and edited by Edwin A. Sherman 33⁰
Free and Accepted Mason Records of the State of California; 1854 – 1884
Nevada County Tax Assessors Records: 1864, 1865, 1866
Nevada City Poll List, 1868
Rand McNally Road Atlas
1852 California Census
1860 US Census
1870 US Census
1880 US Census
Wikipedia
GoogleEarth
Mapquest.com
Sonoma Democrat: 4 March 1876, 20 September 1884
Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, 15 April 1940

 

 

HATS!!!

George Eastman pretty much created amateur photography when, in 1888, he introduced the Kodak #1 camera to the world. This camera was sold pre-loaded with a roll of film.  Once film had been exposed, the entire camera was returned to the factory in Rochester to be processed. The camera would be refilled with new film and returned to the owner while they waited for their prints. But when the economical “Brownie” camera came out at the turn of the 20th Century, the hobby exploded in popularity.

Hats were also all the rage at the turn of the century. And the ladies of Healdsburg were more than delighted to use the new photographic technology to document their fine plumage. Mae Congleton Taeuffer, Maggie Pauli Fischer, and Katherine Pauli Grabner are featured in the top row. Sophie Scheuer Taeuffer is at the bottom right of this grouping.

But the ladies were not the only ones wearing and photographing hats. Babies, children, and basically the whole family got into the act. The young man in the middle is Fritz Grabner. The family grouping includes Mae and John Taeuffer, Maggie and Alvin Fischer, and the youthful siblings Fritz and Katie Grabner all sitting on the back porch of the Taeuffer house on Magnolia Drive.

And, of course, getting silly with hats became a part of it as well. As, apparently, did the phenomenon that would come to be known as “hat hair.” So far the identities of these ladies remain blessedly anonymous.

 

 

John and Mary Call

John McCall was born in Scotland on June 20, 1822. Four years later, on August 10, 1826, the woman who would become his wife, Mary Fulton was born, also in Scotland. While still a young girl, Mary immigrated to Canada with her parents. In 1844, the Fultons then immigrated to Rhode Island, where Mary and John met. They were married October 25, 1846 in Providence and later moved to Savoy, Massachusetts. Two years later, on February 24, 1846, a boy was born nearby. Later in his life, he would be described as a “lame” boy, but whether his disability was due to an accident or a birth defect is unknown. When that boy was orphaned, the McCalls adopted him and named him Finley.

In January 1849, a bill was introduced to Congress proposing the creation of the Minnesota Territory in what was then the Iowa Territory. The McCalls left Savoy on February 1, 1849 and headed to that region despite the prevailing belief that the people living there were only semi-civilized. In March of that year, the measure passed and the Minnesota Territory was established. In 1855, Freeborn County, Minnesota was created. In 1859, John McCall purchased a plot of land in that region and began to farm. He became a naturalized citizen in May of 1860 in the 3rd District Court.

In July 1860, the family was living in Red Rock Township, Mower County, Minnesota where young Findley attended school. By now they had dropped the “Mc” to make their surname “Call.” Living next door were James and Eliza Stokes, possibly brother and sister-in-law to Clarinda Stokes Vanderwalker who lived several miles away on the other side of Austin, Minnesota.

On February 14, 1861 in Moscow, Mower County, Minnesota, Clarinda Vanderwalker gave birth to a baby girl, who she named Agnes. Sadly, Clarinda did not survive the childbirth leaving her husband Isaac with four daughters and one son under the age of thirteen in addition to the new baby. Isaac did not own a cow and had no way to feed his new infant daughter. The nearest neighbors who did own a cow were the Calls, who lived 16 miles away on the other side of the main market town of Austin. As Isaac traveled the 16 miles through the drifted snow from the Call’s farm to his own on horseback with the milk for little Agnes, the jostling would cause the milk to be churned into butter. This situation was clearly not working out and the solution quickly became obvious: the Calls would take in the baby. A few months later, Isaac Vanderwalker left Minnesota to fight for the Union in the Civil War. By the time he returned, Agnes had become a permanent member of the Call family.

Mower County Transcript 29 July 1869In 1868, the Calls moved from the Red Rock farm to the nearby settlement of Lansing, Minnesota where John established a shoe store. He placed an ad in the Mower County Register in 1869 advertising “Boots and Shoes at the lowest possible rates.” The family became active in the local Methodist Episcopal Church. In January 1868, Mary and John served on the Committee of Arrangements for a fund raising event to benefit the Reverend Canfield and his family. In 1869, the Mower County Register published a “Sketch of Lansing” that listed John’s store as the only outlet for footwear in town. But as pleasant as life in Lansing may have been, it would not be long before an opportunity to the West beckoned to the Call family.

The trans-continental railroad was completed when the golden stake was driven at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869 providing rail service west to Sacramento, California. The connecting lines extending service to Santa Rosa in Sonoma County were completed in 1870. In that same year, the Calls decided to relocate to the West. John, Mary, and little Agnes boarded the train and told their friends they were headed for Santa Rosa, California, leaving 24 year old Findley on his own in Minnesota. As they were headed across the plains in the train, they were reportedly waylaid by a band of American Indians. Mary Call was afraid that the Indians who boarded the train would steal little nine-year old Agnes so she stuffed her under the seat and covered her with a pillowcase. The crisis passed without further incident and they were soon on their way again.

In 1870, the population of Healdsburg, California was around 1,750 people. The plannedRussian River Flag 10 November 1870 clean railroad extension that would reach the town the next year promised to bring an expansion of the agricultural industry as well as many tourists to the increasingly prosperous town. By the summer of 1870, the Calls were living in Healdsburg and John had set up his shop “next door north to Hertel’s store” on the west side of the Plaza. The following October John moved his shoe store into the new building on the Odd Follows Russian River Flag 31 October 1872 cleanlot on the South side of the Plaza next door to Lockwood & VanSlyke’s book store. The Russian River Flag reported that the shoe store cost $200 to build, while the bookstore cost $225. John continued to ply his trade there on the Plaza for some years. Meanwhile, Mary kept house and little Agnes attended school.

John had been a Master Mason in Minnesota and in 1871 he joined the Free and Accepted Mason Sotoyome Lodge No. 123. He took his turn as an officer of that organization, serving as Tyler (the guy who guards the door during the lodge meetings) from 1875 through 1880.

Lodge life must have agreed with him, because he was also a member in good standing of the Healdsburg Lodge No. 64, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.). In 1874 he served as Vice Grand (second in command) and in 1875, he served as Noble Grand (presiding officer) for that lodge.

At fifty years old, John Call had the first indication of what would become a debilitating vision problem later in his life. Just after New Year’s Day 1873 he traveled to San Francisco to consult with an oculist who determined that he was developing cataracts in both his eyes. This was not something that a shoemaker could live with and so he underwent what was in those days a dangerous surgery to have them removed.

The following year John made two major real estate transactions. In January 1874 he purchased lot 1 of the Sotoyome Rancho from John N. Bailhache for $750. His descendants would hold that land for the next 100 years. In February 1874 he sold the south half of lots 76 and 91 in Healdsburg to Mrs. Louisa J. Vaughn for $850.

Meanwhile, in 1878, daughter Agnes had married George Washington Congleton and the couple had moved in with George’s twice widowed mother, Almira Almy Congleton Burgess in her Healdsburg home on Sherman Street.

In 1881, son Findley left Minnesota and joined the rest of the family in Healdsburg. By 1882, John Call had “retired” to his farm on Bailhache Avenue and was focusing solely onhops farming, while his son, Finley, took over the shoemaking business. The main crops in Healdsburg in the 1880s were grapes, lumber, and hops. While the Call ranch focused on hops, they dabbled in plums as well. In an article debating the virtues of various plums Three plums with leaves on white background.and prunes, the August 11, 1881 Russian River Flag reported “John Call, of Bailhache’s addition, thinks that the Livey plum, propagated by him, is the best variety for this section.”

In 1887, daughter Agnes obtained a divorce from George Washington Congleton and, along with her two young children, Lulu Mae and Claude, moved back in with John and Mary Call in their Bailhache Avenue home. John’s health had begun to decline by that point and in 1889 he even withdrew from the Masons.

In his final years, John lost most of his sight and became dependent on his wife and daughter. Agnes married Albert A. Wilson in 1890 and the couple took over management of the ranch. John Call died at his home on Bailhache Avenue on October 24, 1892 and was buried in Oak Mound Cemetery. His obituary mentioned that the funeral had been conducted under the auspices of the Masonic lodge and that it had been largely attended.

In March 1893, John and Mary’s son Finley Call, died at only 47 years of age and was buried near his father in Oak Mound Cemetery. Three months later, Mary gained a small modicum of notoriety when she joined with a few of her neighbors to petition the Board of Supervisors to have their area removed from Russian River township and annexed to Mendocino Township. The grievances noted included the facts that the Russian River Township police officers located in Windsor were not able to respond in a timely manner to the “drunken tramps and Indians who congregate in the vicinity of our homes,” that since they were living in the suburbs of Healdsburg (in Mendocino Township) they did most of their business in that place, and that because they were living so far from their voting district they were “sometimes deprived of our votes on important election matters.” After some of the original petitioners had second thoughts and asked to have their names removed from the document, it was voted down summarily.

Mary once again expressed her resolve and independence publicly when, in 1899 afterpeaches attending a fruit growers meeting held in Truitt’s Theater, she signed an agreement with other “prominent” peach growers. The document affirmed that these growers, representing about 2,000 tons, would refuse to accept payment of less than $25 per ton for freestone nor less than $30 per ton for cling peaches.

Mary Call continued living with Agnes and Albert Wilson on the Bailhache Avenue ranch. In July 1902 she was an honored guest of the Old Folks Society annual dinner. The next month a party was thrown for her 76th birthday. The Healdsburg Tribune reported that “Mrs. Call is as hale and hearty as ever, and those present expressed the wish that she might see many more such pleasant birthdays.”

Mary continued to do well for several more years, but in later years began to suffer from dementia. In 1908 she signed ownership of the Bailhache Avenue ranch over to her daughter, Agnes Wilson in a gift transaction. Agnes continued to care for her until her death on May 20, 1911. Mary’s obituary stated “Gramma Call, as she was reverently referred to by all her friends,…was an interesting talker and it was a pleasure to listen to her narrate the early day experiences and the changes that have been made during her long life.” She was laid to rest next to her husband in Oak Mound Cemetery.

 

Sources:
Wikipedia
Minnesota Territorial Pioneers website
Freeborn County, Minnesota deeds
Clarinda Vanderwalker grave marker
1800 U.S. Census
1860 U.S. Census
1870 Census
Mower County Transcript; 9 January 1868, 15 July 1869, 29 July 1869,
Russian River Flag; 25 August 1870, 3 November 1870, 10 November 1870, 19 January 1871, 16 March, 1871, 25 May 1871, 13 July 1871, 14 September 1871, 2 November 1871, 28 March 1872, 24 October 1872, 31 October 1872, 9 January 1873, 7 January 1875, 14 January 1875, 12 December 1878, 16 June 1881, 11 August 1881
Sonoma County Tribune; 28 December 1876, October 18 1890, 27 October 1892
Sonoma Democrat; 24 January 1874, 7 February 1874, 11 July 1874, 8 January 1876, 4 July 1902
Healdsburg Enterprise; August 1897, 21 December 1878, 2 January 1879
Healdsburg Tribune; 14 August 1902, 31 May 1911
Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar; 15 June 1893, 13 July 1899
Free and Accepted Mason Records of the State of California; 1871 – 1889
Great Register of Sonoma County 1875
Great Register of Sonoma County 1882
Healdsburg History, Healdsburg Museum website
OurHealdsburg.com
Agnes Congleton vs. George Congleton court transcript
Oak Mound Cemetery index cards, Healdsburg Museum
Helen Wilson Peterson’s personal remembrances shared with Marie Taeuffer

 

Taeuffers in Frohmuhl 1700 – 1900

The Taeuffer family roots extend deep into the Bas-Rhin (Lower Rhine) region of France and can be traced back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. The family was, for many generations, a fixture in the small farming community of Frohmuhl. The village is located about 60 kilometers (around 40 miles) northwest of Strasbourg, in the canton de la Petite Pierre in the Vosges forest, in Alsace.


POLITICAL BACKGROUND

The region known as Alsace has seen a steady stream of political changes since the Holy Roman Empire. This desirable area has cycled back and forth between French and German rule a number of times. Alsace officially became part of France at the end of the 30 Years War in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia. Interestingly, the treaty stated that, although the King of France was the sovereign, all existing rights and customs of the locals would be left in place, thus setting a precedence that holds true up to current times.

The Franco-Prussian War which resulted in the 1871 unification of Germany saw Alsace and neighboring province Lorraine returned to German control. Particularly galling to the locales must have been the fact that Alsace was not even allowed local governance like other German member states. Rather, it was placed under the authority of the Kaiser and administered directly from Berlin.

The First World War saw Alsace liberated from German rule in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles. Interestingly, this treaty included dispensation for Alsace from the French laws that had been implemented between 1871 and 1919 while Alsace was in German hands.

All went well until Hitler’s army invaded France in 1940, seizing Alsace and Lorraine as German territory. The area was again returned to French rule (for the final time) when the Allies liberated France in 1945. Again, the local rights and customs of the people of Alsace were protected with the implementation of “local law” provisions.

The latest change was in 2016 when Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine were consolidated into a single administrative region called Grand Est with Strasbourg as its capital.

RELIGIOUS HISTORY

The way religion was established in the area vs. the rest of France also reflects an independent spirit. During the 16th century Protestant Reformation, Strasbourg (in 1523) choose to become Protestant. Subsequent efforts by the Roman Catholic Hapsburgs to eliminate this “heresy” eventually resulted in a patchwork of Protestant and Catholic territories throughout Alsace with each village making its own choice.

Another example of the independence of the region is that the 1685 Edict of Fontainebleau which suppressed French Protestantism throughout the country was not applied to Alsace.

Yet another local law concerning religion is Alsace’s dispensation from the 1905 French law separating church and state. Consequently, unlike the rest of France, public subsidies to Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist churches, as well as Jewish synagogues are allowed in Alsace. And in fact some religious instruction is required in Alsatian schools.

LANGUAGE

The language known as Alsatian is generally recognized as a dialect of Low Alemannic German. Use of the language is fading in modern times, although it is now being offered as an optional course in many of the schools. The modern people of Alsace consider themselves more Alsatian than French and certainly not German.


TÄUFER, TÄUFFER, TAEUFFER

The original spelling of the family name was Täufer, the German word for Baptist, Mennonite, or one who performs baptisms. Whether or not that was an indication that the family was historically Protestant, like many of the people of Alsace, the family eventually became members of the Catholic faith. It is evident from the Germanic-sounding given names of family members in the early 1700s that the Täufers, although officially French citizens, identified culturally as Alsatian.

Nicol TäuferNicol Taeuffer Pedigree

Nicol (also spelled Nickel) Täufer was born December 15, 1752 in the Baptist village of Weislingen, just a few kilometers from Catholic Frohmuhl. His father, Frederic, was the son of Joannis Täufer and Marie Dinell. Nicol married a woman by the name of Anna Marie Macart who was of French ethnicity. It was likely she (along with the French revolution) that began the strong French influence on the family. In 1786 the couple had a son. His name, documentPierre, reflected the influence of the ongoing French Revolution. At the same time, Nicol began using the French spelling of his name, Nicolas in official records. He and Anna Marie also had a daughter, named Magdelena. Unfortunately, she died in 1811 while still a young woman.

In 1804, Nicolas and Anna Marie built a roadside inn in Frohmuhl, where weary travelers might find food, shelter, andkeystone hospitality. To welcome guests, a carved block of the locally quarried sandstone was set as the keystone above the door. It read “1804 / Nicolaus Taeuffer / Anna Maria Macart”. Spelling consistency of his first name was apparently not a high priority. Soon after establishing the successful business, Nicolaus started the family tradition of public service when he became mayor of Frohmuhl in 1814.

Pierre Taeuffer

Like many of his neighbors in Frohmuhl, Nicolaus’ son Pierre made his living as a farmer. In 1810 He married Catherine Keile. (As a testament to the ambiguity of the region’s national identity, the records of the Pierre and Catherine’s family throughout the first half of the nineteenth century reflect both French and German spellings of the name Täuffer/Taeuffer interchangeably.)

The couple was blessed with a daughter, Anna Marie named after her grandmother, in document1811. In 1814 they had a second daughter, Catherine. On May 22, 1844 Catherine married Auguste Noetinger. Unfortunately, the bride’s mother did not live to see her daughter married. The newlywed couple soon left Frohmuhl to settle in Strasbourg. On April 1, 1851 the Noetingers had a daughter, Anne Marie, followed by two sisters, Marthe and Elizabeth, and a brother, Alexander.

In 1821, Pierre and Catherine had a third daughter, Barbe. Unfortunately, she died on May 7, 1845 unmarried and only 24 years of age. Pierre and Catherine’s youngest child, and only son, Jacques, was born in 1825.

In 1828 Pierre took over from his father, Nicolas, as mayor of Frohmuhl. He served in that capacity off and on until his death on May 28, 1850.

Jacques Taeuffer

Pierre’s son, Jacques, married Sophie Winter, born in 1828, on September 26, 1848. Their documentfirst son, Georges, was born on December 1, 1849. Georges went on to earn his living in Frohmuhl as a wheelwright. He also managed the family inn built by his grandfather. Following the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, he continued the family tradition of public service by serving as “civil records officer,” a position similar to county clerk. He went on to marry Catherine Wintcerith on June 15, 1875.

 

Jacques’ son Georges Taeuffer had five children:document

  • Their first born, Ernst, was born March 21, 1876 and died May 26, 1942 in Tieffenbach.
  • Their second son, George, was born April 16, 1878. He married Marie Wintzenrith and lived until 1933. They had a son, Eugene, born 1915 and a daughter, Lucie, born 1917, who married Marcel Dann.
  • On March 1, 1880 they had a daughter, Maria Josephina, who lived a long life, being finally laid to rest on April 23, 1976 in Strasbourg.
  • Their second daughter, Marie was born in 1883 and married Oscar Grandadam. Oscar died on October 12, 1914 defending France in World War 1. Marie died in Frohmuhl in 1960.
  • Lastly, came son Victorine, born March 27, 1886. Victorine died on March 7, 1962 in Haguenau.

document

Jacques and Sophie’s second son, Jacques, was born in 1851. He was also a farmer, and married local girl, Magdelena Dinkle. They had three children:

  • Daughter, Sophia, on March 25, 1881, followed by three sons;
  • Ludwig in 1882, Victorinne in 1887, and
  • Louis Joseph in 1899.

document

In 1852, after his father, Pierre, died Jacques took over duties as mayor of Frohmuhl. The next year, he and Sophie had their third child, a daughter named Catherine. In 1854 she was joined by another brother, Ernest who would eventually go on to seek his fortune in America.

 

 

Sophie Taeuffer 1863 - 1892
Sophie Taeuffer   1863 – 1892

 

The next addition to the family was a son, Louis, born in 1858. The sixth and final sibling was Sophie, born 1863. This youngest child was much beloved and the family was devastated when she died in 1892 at only 28 years of age, possibly from appendicitis. Her husband, Eugene Kieffer, was so bereft that he left Frohmuhl and did not maintain further contact with the family. Her photograph, a copy of which Ernest Taeuffer kept in America, hung on the wall of the family restaurant for many years after, well into the 20th century.

 

In 1871, as a result of the Franco-Prussian War, Frohmuhl once again became a German possession. Jacques Taeuffer went suddenly from serving as mayor, to serving as Burgermeister. At the same time, he was compelled to change the spelling of his name to Jakob Täuffer. It is very likely that this transformation was a bitter pill to swallow for the young, headstrong, and self-proclaimed Frenchman, Ernest Taeuffer. In addition, as a German citizen, Ernest would have been subject to mandatory conscription into the Kaiser’s army when he turned 20 years old. In order to avoid that indignity, in 1873, nineteen year old Ernest Taeuffer left Frohmuhl for America, never to return.

 

 

 

 

Sources:
Wikipedia
“The Germanic French – Researching Alsatian and Lorrainian Families” 2016 webinar by John Philip Colletta
Civil Records of departement du Bas-Rhin
Family lore from Lucie Dann as told to Bernadette Dann

 

 

 

Westward Expansion

The 1800s saw a massive westward expansion across the territory owned by the United States. My family participated in this movement along with the millions of others.

Slide1

 

Isaac Vanderwalker was born in Saratoga, Saratoga County, New York in 1819. As a young man, he moved with his parents to Jay, Essex County, New York where the family established a saw mill. There Isaac married Clarinda Stokes in 1845. They, along with several of Isaac’s siblings, then relocated to Marquette, Michigan in the early 1850s to dabble in the mining industry. That must not have worked out too well, because in 1856 the Vanderwalkers had moved to Austin, Mower County, Minnesota. Isaac spent the next several years in Moscow, Mower County farming the land. There, daughter Agnes was born in February of 1861. Unfortunately, Clarinda died in childbirth, leaving the infant and her five older siblings motherless. When the Civil War broke out a few months later, Isaac left Minnesota trusting Agnes to neighbors John and Mary Call and leaving the older children to fend for themselves with the help of other nearby relatives. Upon his return in 1865, he married Carrie Smith. In 1878 he made his final move to Alta Vista in Lincoln County, Minnesota to farm.

John Call was born in 1822 in Scotland and immigrated to the United States as a young man. In 1844 he married Mary Fulton in Providence, Rhode Island. They too were drawn to the West and by 1857 were living in Mower County, Minnesota. In 1861 he and Mary took in tiny Agnes Vanderwalker and gave her their surname. Opportunity soon called when the transcontinental railroad was built and the branch to Santa Rosa, California was completed in 1870. That year John uprooted his family and moved to Mendocino Township, Sonoma County, California where he established his shoemaking business.

John E. Congleton was born in Chautauqua, New York in 1816. He joined the U.S. Army in 1834 and soon found himself at Fort Jesup, Louisiana. In 1836 he married Almira Almy in Natchitoches, Louisiana, about 20 miles from the Fort. They then proceed to relocate to Arkansas in 1839, Missouri in 1842, Tennessee in 1845, and back to Missouri in 1950 (presumably with the Army) before joining his ‘49er brother, Aden C. Congleton, in Rough and Ready, California in 1852. The saw mill that John then established in Gold Rush country apparently did not work out, so in 1858 he relocated with his family to Petaluma, California where he made his living as a drayman.

Taeuffer Baseball

The Mendocino Township Nine


In April of 1895 the newly formed baseball team, the Mendocino Township Nine, began playing on a recently built diamond located “just across the railroad track in Heald’s addition.” George “Monk” Taeuffer played center field while his brother John Taeuffer held down left field. The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar stated that “John Taeuffer…is referred to as the coming ‘phenom.’” In April 1896, George was starting pitcher in the first game of the season against Windsor. By 1898, John was playing first base and George was covering third.

Healdsburg Grammar School

Norman Taeuffer circa 1930
John Taeuffer’s son, Norman played on the grammar school team beginning in 1930. He started playing first base, then moved to second base. By the time 1932 rolled around he was the team’s pitcher. In May 1932 the Healdsburg Tribune reported “Taeuffer for Healdsburg pitched an airtight game, allowing only three hits.”

Practice on Magnolia Drive

Bobby Harris and Norman Taeuffer circa 1931
Living next door to each other provided plenty of time for Norman Taeuffer and his nephew Bobby Harris to hone their batting and fielding skills.

Healdsburg High School

Norman Taeuffer circa 1934
Norman Taeuffer’s career in high school baseball began as a freshman playing first base in 1933. On May 4th the Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar reported his season-to-date stats were a batting average of .500 (16 at bats) and a fielding average of 1000 (35 outs). It was a championship year for Healdsburg when, on May 25th they clinched the North Bay League northern division title. By then, Norman’s batting average had slipped to .384 (29 at bats) which was the second best on the team. Unfortunately, the squad was prevented from taking the overall North Bay League title when, on May 26th they were bested by the team from Tamalpais High School.

Norman Taeuffer Injury
Norman began his sophomore at center field. But his baseball exploits were cut short during the first league game of the year when, on April 4, 1934 he broke his leg sliding into second base. The article detailing his injury was featured on the front page of the April 5th edition of the Healdsburg Tribune. He would spend the rest of that school year on crutches.

The 1935 season started in April with Norman at first base, but by the end of May he was playing right field. The team ended that season in second place in the league, their dreams of a championship once again thwarted by the superior playing of the Tamalpais nine.

Most of the 1935 team graduated that year, so the 1936 team consisted of mostly new members, with only five on-going players anchoring the squad. Norman started his senior year at center field, but was soon doing service out on the mound. The local papers described him as the “big right-hander” and “probably the strongest chucker the locals have.” The team played several practice games against Santa Rosa Junior College that year, in addition to their league games against other high schools. Norman ended his high school career with the fifth highest batting average on the team of .333 with 42 at bats.

I.O.O.F Team


In April 1941, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) team from Healdsburg held try-outs. Among the new comers was Norman Taeuffer who earned a spot on the pitching staff. Before long, his nephew Bob Harris (no longer Bobby) joined the team. Soon Bob was outshining all others from the mound, his pitching described by the Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar June 16, 1941 edition as the “brilliant hurling of youthful Bob Harris.” And this while he was holding down similar responsibilities on the Healdsburg High School baseball team. The Odd Fellows just missed the first place spot that year when they were bested by the Sonoma Athletic Club on August 31, 1941 in a ten-inning game.

 

Sources:  Healdsburg Tribune; 25 April 1895, 11 May 1930, 23 March 1933, 4 May 1933, 11 May 1933, 25 May 1933, 3 May 1935, 12 March 1936, 19 March 1936, 26 April 1936, 28 May 1936
Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar; 27 June 1895, 22 May 1930, 23 March 1933, 4 May 1933, 11 May 1933, 24 May 1933, 25 April 1935, 23 May 1935, 7 May 1936, 21 May 1936, 17 April 1941, 16 June 1941, 29 August 1941, 4 September 1941
Sotoyome Scimitar – 29 May 1930, 9 March 1933, 23 May 1933, 29 August, 1941
Press Democrat; 30 March 1898

 

I want to give a special shout out of thanks to the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society, without whose project to digitize their collection of historic newspapers this story could not have been written.

American Legion Auxiliary Sotoyome Post 111 – 1957 & 1958

In the 1950s, the American Legion Auxiliary was the women’s branch of the “men only” American Legion. It was a service organization comprised of wives and mothers of American Legion members and was focused primarily on veterans’ affairs and promoting patriotism, as well as other worthy causes.

On July 11, 1957, officers for the 1957 – 1958 term were installed during the general meeting held at the Villa Chanticleer. Later that same month, the projects and goals for the 12-month term were planned and mapped out at the initial meeting of the officers, executive board and committee chairmen held at the home of the new president, Mrs. Norman (Maria) Taeuffer. The activities and accomplishments of this group of ladies are described below.

 

Legion Auxiliary Officers 1957

Front row, left to right: Mrs. Don (Margaret) Cadd, Mrs. R.J. (Ruth) Albini, Mrs. Norman (Marie) Taeuffer, Mrs. Laurel (Florence) Musselman, Mrs. Hazel Kolb. Back row, left to right: Mrs. J. Chittenden, Mrs. Chester (Elsie) Leard, Mrs. Thomas Alexander, Mrs. Harold (Lucille) Hoskins, Mrs. Jirah (Margaret) Luce.

 

 

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

The group enjoyed many social activities including monthly birthday teas, which were held at St. Paul’s Parish Hall. Refreshments were enjoyed and cards were played. Responsibility for arranging the teas rotated between ladies each month. Anita Larrieu, Margaret Cadd, Elsie Leard, Mildred Gagliardo, Mrs. Roy Gannow, Mrs. Edward Beeson, Margaret Luce, and Miriam Tingstrom each took their turn. Also, monthly meetings of the Past Presidents were held. These gatherings rotated amongst the homes of various participants and featured refreshments and Canasta tournaments.

 

Lois Day Life Member

Mrs. Lois Day and Anita Larrieu

 

 

At the December general meeting of the Legion and Auxiliary held at the Villa Chanticleer, Mrs. George (Lois) Day, resident of Healdsburg since 1895, was honored for her 30 years of service with a Gold Life Membership award. Anita Larrieu prepared one of her famous cakes for the occasion, decorated to resemble a Life Membership card. Elmer Sandborn sang “If I Had My Way.”

 

But the Auxiliary was more than just a social club for local ladies.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

In the late 1950s, polio was a major concern throughout this country. The Auxiliary spearheaded several activities during the January 1958 March of Dimes fund raising drive. Ladies of Post 111 made and sold “Blue Crutches” in front of local businesses and raised $180. This initiative had originated with the Healdsburg group the prior year and by 1958 had spread to other communities. Also, a “Dimes Dance” was held in coordination with the Legion at the Villa. Admission to the dance was $1, but additional funds were surely collected “at the Villa’s beautiful cocktail lounge” bringing the total for the night to “over $500.” Later in the month, the ladies also participated in the “Porch Light” collection drive. The town and surrounding area was divided into sections which were assigned to the various volunteers. The details were published in the papers. On the prescribed evening, those interested in making a donation were instructed to illuminate their porch light so the ladies would know to knock on the door to collect.

In addition to the work done with the March of Dimes, the Auxiliary made donations to numerous local groups. These included monies given to the Healdsburg Elementary School for school lunches, to Healdsburg Junior High for underprivileged children, toward the cost of dinner for the 6th Army Band during the Future Farmers of America Fair parade, and to the Camp Fire Girls.

At the March 1958 general meeting, the Auxiliary presented the Sotoyome Post with two signs reading “Welcome to Healdsburg, Please drive carefully” in honor of the Legion’s 39th anniversary. These signs were posted at the North and South ends of Healdsburg for many years.

Jim Foppiano and Mildred Gagliardo

Mrs. Anita Larrieu again provided an elaborately decorated cake for the birthday celebration. This cake was designed as a replica of the “Welcome to Healdsburg” signs.

VETERAN SUPPORT

The Auxiliary also upheld a strong commitment to supporting the country’s veterans. They worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the residents of the Veterans’ Home in Yountville.

In October 1957 “Legion Day” festivities were held at the Home. The Auxiliary provided a picnic lunch for the Legion color guard and the former Healdsburgers living at the Yountville facility. Those veterans listed in the Tribune were Gidon McCord, William Allan, A.V.A. Johnson, and Fred Leoni. Also in October, Margaret Cadd, Mrs. Ray Ganow, and Anita Larrieu represented the Auxiliary at the annual bingo party in the women’s quarters housing 54 ladies ranging in age from 64 to 86 years.

In preparation for the Christmas festivities, in November a basket was placed in Biasotti’s Market to collect scraps of foil, lace, etc. to be used by the Junior Auxiliary members to make ornaments for the veterans’ trees. On December 14, 1957 a Christmas party was held for the mostly World War I Veterans. Participants from Healdsburg included Gracie Stewart, Margaret Cadd, Hazel Kolb, and Anita Larrieu. The morning began with each of the 2,000 veterans in residence being presented with a stocking filled with fruit and cigarettes while other ladies trimmed the trees. Later on, a “Christmas Review” consisting of singing and dancing by Florence Berning’s group of 50 youngsters ranging from 4 to 20 years was presented. The day concluded with cake and coffee in the evening.

An important activity each year was the making and selling of poppies for Memorial

Poppy Making

Margaret Cadd, Hazel Kolb, and Lucille Hoskins with two enthusiastic veterans

 

Day. The poppies, made in 80 veterans’ homes across the nation, represent those seen growing in Flanders Fields, France in 1919 (immortalized in John McCae’s poem). The poppy is also the official flower of the American Legion and Auxiliary. The first Poppy Day was held in Milwaukee, WI in 1920. Hazel Young began the tradition in Healdsburg in 1925. In 1958, the Auxiliary provided the supplies for the Veterans to make the poppies. Volunteers traveled to Yountville twice a week for six weeks in the winter to assist the veterans in making the poppies. Veterans were paid a standard amount for each poppy they made. The balance of the proceeds from selling the poppies in May was placed in a special fund used towards projects for veterans and their families. Lucille Hoskins (1957 Poppy Chairman for Post 111), Margaret Cadd, Anita Larrieu, Mildred Gagliardo, Gracie Stewart, Marie Foppiano, Mrs. Ray Ganow, Ruth Albini, and Hazel Kolb participated in the twice weekly visits. As Memorial Day approached, the Auxiliary then began selling the poppies on the streets of Healdsburg for donations.

 

PATRIOTISM

Promoting patriotism was important to the Auxiliary. An Americanism essay contest was held each year. Students submitted written essays describing their views on the topic. First prize winner in 1958 was Cyd Stockman, sixth grader. Marylyn Smith and Doris Pedroni took second and third.

In addition, Girls’ and Boys’ State conventions were held in Sacramento. Boys’ State was

Girl and Boy State Delegates

Jim Foppiano (Post 111 Commander), Loretta Wright, Marie Taeuffer (Auxiliary President), and Pete Peterson

 

begun in 1937 and Girls’ State in 1943 for the purpose of “educat(ing) our youth in the duties, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship.” High School students were chosen to attend this event where they participated in mock elections and legislative activities at the county, city and state levels. In 1957 the auxiliary sponsored Loretta Wright while the Legion sponsored Pete Peterson. Loretta was appointed councilman of her city and Pete was appointed Supreme Court judge. Delegates for the 1958 Girls’ and Boys’ State were Sarah Ann Higbee and Steve Harrington.

 

Another example of youth outreach in 1957 was the formation of the Junior Auxiliary. All girls who were members of an Auxiliary or Legion Post family were eligible to join.

Between the Auxiliary, Legion, VFW, and War Mothers, numerous flags were donated throughout 1958 to local groups including the St. John’s Boy Scout troop, the Alexander Valley 4-H, and to Sonoma County for use at the Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach.

MEMORIAL DAY

Of course, Memorial Day was an important event for the organization. Preparations began well in advance. In 1958, calls went out in local newspapers beginning two weeks ahead for donations of floral arrangements. Most local merchants closed their shops for

Memorial Day

American Legion Sotoyome Post 111 Color Guard

 

the day. The festivities began with a morning parade. In addition to the Legion and Auxiliary color guard, the VFW, the Marine Reserves of Santa Rosa, War Mothers, Boy Scouts, 4-H, Camp Fire Girls and High School band participated. The parade began at the Healdsburg Shopping Center and concluded at the Oak Mound Cemetery. A solemn ceremony was then held, which consisted of speeches, laying of a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier, recitation of the poem “Flanders Field,” and a 21-gun salute followed by four trumpeters, led by George Izzett, sounding Taps. After completion of the ceremony at Oak Mound, the Legion and Auxiliary conducted additional ceremonies at Shiloh Cemetery in Windsor and Olive Hill Cemetery in Geyserville. After the long day, the participants retired to the Taeuffer ranch, South of Healdsburg, where Norman and Maria Taeuffer hosted a huge barbeque.

 

 

Memorial Day BBQ

Gracie Stewart, Guerdon Miller, Walter Gagliardo, Mildred Gagliardo, Lois Miller and Frank DeCarlo

 

CONCLUSION

When in July 1958 a new roster of Officers were installed for Sotoyome Post 111 Auxiliary, the outgoing officers of 1957 – 1958 could rest assured that they had successfully promoted their cause by caring for the old, nurturing the young, and supporting the community, while enjoying fellowship and good times.

 

 

Sources:
Santa Rosa Press Democrat: 14 August 1957, 18 August 1957, 3 October 1957, 13 October 1957, 18 November 1957, 22 December 1957, 30 December 1957, 16 January 1958, 12 March 1958, 27 April 1958, 28 April 1958.
Healdsburg Tribune: 15 August 1957, 19 September 1957, 3 October 1957, 17 October 1957, 24 October 1957, 26 November 1957, 19 December 1957, 26 December 1957, 16 January 1958, 23 January 1958, 30 January 1958, 5 February 1958, 20 February 1958, 6 March 1958, 20 March 1958, 24 April 1958, 1 May 1958, 8 May 1958, 15 May 1958, 22 May 1958, 29 May 1958, 5 June 1958, 12 June 1958, 19 June 1958, 3 July 1958.
Veterans’ Home of California Observation Post: 20 December 1957, 14 February 1958, 14 March 1958.

John Congleton’s Saw Mill

Several years ago, during a visit to my hometown of Healdsburg, California in Sonoma County, a dear cousin of mine shared with me an old scrapbook she had come across while clearing out her recently departed Mother’s home. In it was a newspaper article, written in the 1930s, that relayed some stories about our shared ancestor, John E. Congleton, who had arrived in California during the Gold Rush. The article quoted his Congleton Newspaper Articledaughter, Amelia Jane (Jenny) Congleton Smith Cook, as having stated (among other things) that her father “was not so much interested in gold mining as he was in the lumber business, for he [had] established a sawmill at ‘Rough and Ready.’” I had never heard about the family owning a saw mill in my prior twenty years of researching this family. I vowed then and there that someday I would make an attempt to verify this for myself…

Just Poking Around…

In October 2016 I traveled back to Healdsburg to attend my High School reunion. I decided to extend the trip to include stops at several of the Northern California repositories I had been wanting to visit since beginning my family research in 1994. My first stop was the California Genealogical Society Library in Oakland. There I found John Kitts Index at CGS LibraryCongleton’s name in a microfiche of “Kitt’s Index to Records in the Nevada County Recorder’s Office for July 21, 1856 to January 26, 1922.” It was not abundantly clear what the notations following his name indicated, but it sure looked like it was the location of a land record to me. Unfortunately, a quick search of the Nevada County Recorder’s Office website confirmed that they no longer were in possession of records of this vintage. Bummer.

I Wonder What I Will Find Over Here…

Proceeding with the confidence in my family historian ability to find stuff out and armed with the cryptic notation, I proceeded to the Doris Foley Library in Nevada City, California. I asked the helpful volunteer there if he was familiar with Kitt’s Index. And he responded, “Of course. And we have the original records on microfilm if you would like to see them.” After a short happy dance, I found myself looking at the record of my great great grandparents, John E. and Almira Congleton, selling their property, which included their residence and their one third interest in the “Newtown Sawmill,” to Porter Gilman in 1857 for $800. The description of the property indicated it was located at the bridge on Deer Creek on the East side of the Newtown Road Bridge. Now we were getting somewhere!

Hot on the Trail…

My new best friend at the Foley Library encouraged me to head over to the Searls Historical Library, also in Nevada City, to look for additional details. Once there, the friendly volunteer informed me that, sadly, the assessor’s records went back only to 1862 because earlier ones had been destroyed in a series of courthouse fires. However, she did bring me the original book “Kitt’s Index…” In it I was able to find later transactions by the individuals named in my ancestor’s deed. Using this information I was able to locate the assessor’s record of a portion of the property in the 40-lb. Assessors Book of 1862 that the volunteer was barely able to wrangle off of the shelf. At that time the 160 acres of land improved with “house, barn, fencing, fixtures, five cows, two horses, and two mules” was valued at $450 real estate and $250 personal property. The tax assessed that year was $9.61. This was pretty cool, but I wanted to see the land for myself.

Don’t Answer Yet, You Also Get…

My next stop was on Google Maps to look for the intersection of Newtown Road and Deer Creek. Unfortunately, it showed that the current Newtown Road ends at Bitney Springs Road just a few yards before it would cross Deer Creek. Rats. Undeterred, I headed out in the pouring rain to see what I could find. The GPS on my phone guided me onto Newtown Road and I followed it as it wound around for several miles before it turned and began running parallel to Deer Creek. As I approached the end of the road I pulled my car to the side and took off on foot with camera and umbrella. As I gazed across Bitney Spring Road I suddenly realized that I was looking at the abandoned continuation of Newtown Road and the decrepit old bridge across Deer Creek! This was the place!!Newton Road Bridge over Deer Creek

After another happy dance, I ambled over and found myself standing on the land that my ancestors had owned 160 years earlier. “I found you, Grandpa,” I whispered to the wind. This is why we research genealogy. For these moments of connection with our family from the past. And it all started two weeks earlier with an obtuse microfiche at the CGS Library in Oakland.

Moral of the Story

Look everywhere. At everything. And remember, those volunteers are out there just waiting to help you solve your mysteries.