More About Those Lueders Portraits

Previously, I posted about the pictures that hung in my Grandma & Grandpa Lueders’ living room and how I was able to identify who they were.  According to Grandma, they were Keith’s (and my) Gr-Gr-Gr Grandparents and they were buried in Germany.  But that was all they knew.  I learned, among other things, that their names were Heinrich and Caroline Lüders and they lived in Mecklenburg near the Schwerin Sea in northern Germany.

This time, I would like to talk about the portraits themselves.

I began this adventure by trying to determine a date for the pictures based on the style of clothing the subjects were wearing.  I contacted Liza Shade at Washington County Museum.  I knew she had curated an exhibit in Hillsboro on the history of lady’s fashion and had some knowledge on the subject.  She, in turn, forwarded my email to two expert seamstresses that had helped her in the past. They all agreed that the clothing worn in the portraits was: 

“definitely mid to late 1820’s because the waist on the black dress is not as high up as in earlier periods. However, the neckline and sleeves, along with her hairstyle are very much 1820s.”

That was exactly what I was hoping to hear!  I knew from church records that Heinrich and Caroline were married on Oct. 13, 1826.  The portraits could well have been made at the time of their wedding.  They may be the only portraits ever made of them.  Remember, this was before Smart Phones; before Instamatics; before Brownies; before Daguerreotypes even.  If you wanted a picture, you hired an artist.

So how did these pictures get from Mecklenburg to Oregon?  Here’s my theory.  Heinrich and Caroline both died before 1854, when their son, P.A. Lueders, emigrated to America.  It makes sense to me that he, as the eldest son, would have brought the pictures of his parents with him.  I assume that he, in turn, left them to his eldest son, August Lueders, who left them to his only son John Lueders (Grandpa had 5 sisters, no brothers).  My grandparents were from Milwaukee, WI but later moved to California which is where I grew up seeing the portraits hanging in their living room.

Now for the physical condition of the artwork.  First of all, they are not oil paintings as I previously assumed.  They are pastel on paper.  Very thin, very fragile paper.  As soon I opened one of the frames I realized that I was going to need the services of an expert paper conservator.  After a brief search I made an appointment for a consultation with Elizabeth Chambers.  She works out of an upstairs studio in SE Portland and is a delightful person with a wealth of experience dealing with anything made of paper. 

Once out of the frames, we found that Heinrich’s portrait had the beginning of another face sketched on the back.  Perhaps the artist did not like the way it was going so he turned the page over and started anew.  The paper is so thin that the finished pastel image on the front can be seen in reverse from the back.

The edges of the paper are glued to what we assume is the original matte which had a rectangular opening.  That is a problem because the paper is not free to move with changes in temperature and humidity.  Furthermore, the matte and backing are not acid free or archival material.  Unfortunately, being so fragile, Chambers thought it unwise to attempt to separate them.  The oval matte that was used when Grandma & Grandpa had them re-framed in the 1950’s is not much better as it has also left its mark.

At some time, probably also in the 1950’s, someone attempted to fix a small tear by gluing it down to the cardboard backing.  The technique looked OK for 60+ years but it resulted in an even larger tear when disassembled.  That is the big gaping hole you see above.  Fortunately, the entire fragment survived intact.

In spite of all this, the color and brightness of the pastel images is very good.

The two images appear to have been drawn by different artists and they were, in fact, done on different materials.  The paper for Caroline’s portrait is noticeably thicker and stronger than Heinrich’s.  Some people, including me, have described the portrait of Caroline as “amateurish” because the proportions are not right.  Others, who know more about art that I do, say that it is the more interesting of the two because, they say, some artist today are trying to emulate the look and feel of these older portraits.  If that’s the  case, we have the real deal; an authentic, old, portrait of someone who also happens to be a relative..

The artwork stayed with Chambers for a few weeks while she removed as much of the harmful materials as possible, de-acidified everything, and replaced the backing with archival materials.  She also put the fragment back in place and did some very minor re-touching.

While she was doing that, I brought the frames home, built them up to make room for thicker matte and backing material, and refinished them.

The next step, when I got the portraits back from Chambers, was to have some good quality photographs taken while they were still out in the open.

Finally, I took everything to Framing Resources for reassembly.  The existing mattes with the oval holes were discolored but could not be removed so we opted to place a new matte over them with a slightly larger hole.  This provides a clean surface and also adds another step and more space between artwork and glass.

I also chose to use “Museum Glass” which offers UV protection and is so clear and non-reflective that you want to poke it to see if it is even there.

 

So here is Heinrich and Caroline hanging on the wall again.  For now, they are on my wall.  The treatment plan I have implemented would not be adequate for, say, the Declaration of Independence.  But hopefully, it will keep our treasured family heirlooms safe and secure for another 190 years.   

Its About Time!

One of my family history goals is to ensure that all of our relatives are properly memorialized on findagrave.com.  For those not familiar with the site, it is well worth exploring.  Assuming you are not too spooked out by wandering through cemeteries.

Findagrave contains a lot of good information about our loved ones and how they were connected with others.  But, it is all done by volunteers so it is only as accurate as the contributors.  I try to make sure everything is right.  

A few months ago, I was checking and updating the memorial for my grandparents, John and Barbara Lueders.  I was there in Montebello, CA many many years ago when they were buried.  But I did not have a picture of their grave marker and there also wasn’t one on findagrave.com.  So I put in a request for a volunteer that could go out to the cemetery and take a picture for me.

A few days later I received an email notification that that my request had been fulfilled.  However, when I went online to see the picture this is what I found.

There was no grave marker!  How could that possibly be?  I knew for a fact that Grandma and Grandpa had planned out every detail of their funerals and burials down to, an including, the clothes they would be wearing.  How could they have not included a grave marker in all that planning?

First thing the next morning, I was on the phone calling Resurrection Cemetery in Montebello to find out what had happened.  After a couple days of investigation they called back and informed me that Yes! Grandma & Grandpa had picked out a grave marker. And, Yes! Sister Elizabeth Hurley had come in, after their passing, and made the final payment on said grave marker.  But, NO! the order had not been place with the company that should have made and installed the marker.  Apparently the order was still on file somewhere because they told me all about it was supposed to look like.  Fortunately, it was, in fact, paid for in full.  

So, I was told they would place the order right away and since it normally takes 8-10 weeks to get a marker, they would ask the company to expedite it!  After 32 years I should hope so.

Just in case, I waited 12 weeks before requesting another photo and today I received notification that my request had been fulfilled.  But this time, it was fulfilled.   As you can see, Grandpa & Grandma can finally rest in peace under their shiny new grave marker.

      

More About Barbara Lauer

I have talked about Barbara Lauer before.  She was my Grandpa Lueders’ mother.  But now I am ready to talk about her parents and siblings.  Turns out, she came from a very large family that had a long and full life in Germany before coming to America.

Her parents were Johann Lauer and Catharina Kuhn.  Catharina was born in Weierweiler, which is a small village in southwest Germany; about  20 miles from the French border.  In fact, when I finally found Catharina’s birth record it was in French!  How could that be?  I have always said I was half German because all eight of my gr-gr-grandparents on my mother’s side came from Germany around 1850.  But here it was, instead of Johann Peter Kuhn, as I expected, her father’s name was recorded as Jean Pierre.   But, not to fear, I am still half German.  If I had stayed awake in history class I would have remembered something about Napoleon and the French occupying parts of Germany after the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire.  Well, that occurred right around the time when Catharina Kuhn was born in 1808.  Earlier and later records are in German; but her birth record is in French and much easier to read. 

In 1826, Johann and Catharina were married, also in Weierweiler, and over the next 25 years, they lived in that community and had 11 or more children.  Several of them died young, but still, they were a large family and I believe there was extended family in the area as well.

For whatever reason, in 1851 Johann, Catharina, and 6 of their children, ages 3 to 23, left their little village and made their way some 200 miles to Antwerp where they boarded the passenger ship Atlantic and set sail for America.  They landed in New York on May 5, 1851.  Upon arrival they most likely took a river boat up the Hudson River and through the Erie Canal to Buffalo, NY.  From there they would have boarded a steamer ship that made its way through the Great Lakes to Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, the New World did not treat them as well as they had hoped.  In July of 1852, a year or so after arriving, 17 year old Maria Lauer died of cholera.  Less than a week after that, 4 year old Wilhelm Lauer died;  also of cholera.

Milwaukee was hit very hard by cholera from 1849-1854;  and in the midst of that epidemic, Catharina was about to have another child.  Barbara Lauer, my Great Grandmother, was born in September of 1852.  Weeks later, Catharina Lauer also died.

So Barbara Lauer never knew her mother.  She only knew 2 or 3 of her siblings.  And Johann, her father, died when she was a 13.  As far as I know, she never went to Germany, so she knew little of her family’s previous life.  She was born into a large family, but she was never really part of it.

Barbara Lauer Lueders

Forty years ago, I had the foresight to ask my Grandma & Grandpa Lueders to write down what they remembered about their ancestors.  They complied, and the handwritten letter that Grandma sent me is a real treasure.  Most of what she wrote I have since confirmed, and expanded upon, from other source documents. But due to their recollections, I feel a more personal connection to real people. She included some little known anecdotes and often referred to people by the nicknames that they actually went by.

But some elements of the story are still a bit sketchy and mysterious.  Take, for example, Grandpa’s Mother.  They didn’t tell me much; only that her maiden name was Barbara Lauer; her mother died in childbirth; her father’s name was Johann; and he died when she was 12.

Of that, the only thing I have been able to confirm is her name. I have seen it many times in the birth and marriage records of her children.  But the coolest occurrence of her name is on the inside cover of a Prayer and Devotional Book (in German) which was found among my Grandparents’ things.  The year 1864 would suggest that it was given to Barbara Lauer when she was 12 years old which would be about right for a Confirmation gift.  How I wish I knew who wrote her name in that book.

For the first 30+  years of Barbara Lauer’s life, I can only form a dim picture from a few entries in city directories and census records.  Before I go on, I must point out that the Lueders had roots in both Milwaukee and Chicago and so it is quite possible that Barbara may have move back and forth between those two cities.

In the 1860 census we find this Lauer family living in Milwaukee, WI
Johann, 49, laborer
Maria,, 48
Johann, 17, mechanic
Barbara, 7, in school

Looks like the ideal family: dad, mom, two kids, one boy, one girl.  Their ages a little spread out, perhaps.  Johann is the right name for her father.  But her mother had supposedly died well before this.  Plus, Barbara Lauer went on to have five daughters of her own and didn’t name any of them Maria.  Barbara is the right age and I think this is my Gr-Grandmother but I am not convinced Maria is her mother.

The next time we see Barbara Lauer she is 10 years older and had apparently entered into servant’s work.

In the 1870 Chicago census there is a Barbara Lauer, aged 18, servant, living with a family named Sterling.

In the 1872 Milwaukee City Directory there is a Barbara Lauer (she would be 20), a servant, living at the same address as Herman Mack.  Herman was the “H” in H. & S. Mack & Co., which was a notable clothing firm in Milwaukee.

In the 1875 Milwaukee City Directory there is a Barbara Lauer (she would be 23), a servant, living at the same address as Mrs. Felbow and at least one other servant.

In the 1880 Milwaukee census there is a Barbara Lauer age 27 living with her brother Peter Lauer age 39.  Peter is widowed with two daughters aged 16 and 8.  Barbara’s occupation is “keeping house”.

This takes us up to within 3 years of the time that Barbara Lauer and August Lueders were married and starting their family.  But, apparently, before that happened, there was another turn of events in Barbara Lauer’s life.  I have not been able to find a marriage record for a Barbara Lauer anywhere.  But I did find this marriage record for August Lueders and Mrs. Barbara Chorengel.

April 9, 1883; August is 28; Barbara is 30; it takes place in Chicago.  Everything is right! I really think this is my Grandpa’s parents.  But who is Mr. Chorengel and what happened to him.   I assumed, of course, that he died.  But I could find no record of that.  In fact, “Chorengel” is a very unusual name that rarely shows up anywhere.  And, as I said, there is no record of a Barbara Lauer ever getting married.

Then I found this item in the Chicago Daily Tribune for April 10, 1883

So Barbara was not a widow.  She was divorced from August W. Chorengel for desertion.  And if you do the math, the divorce was finalized on April 9, 1883; the very same day that August Lueders and Mrs. Barbara Chorengel got married.  So it looks to me like they had to wait until the divorce was final and then they immediately walked down the hallway to the Justice of the Peace and got hitched.

Barbara Lauer Lueders and August Lueders

One final note of interest:

I did eventually find August W. Chorengel – Barbara’s deserting ex-husband.   Ten years after the divorce, he is mentioned in his father’s Last Will & Testament.  Gerd F. Chorengel, his father, willed that after he and his wife were both gone everything was to be split equally among their four children.  Simple as that!  But then he threw in this final clause regarding only this one son.

“I hereby however order and direct that my son August Wilhelm Chorengel is to receive his share only on the express condition that he uses his full name August Wilhelm Chorengel otherwise his share shall be equally distributed among his brothers and sister.”

A rebel to the end.  I’m thinking maybe he changed his name and went on the road as a jazz musician.  But then I could be wrong.

Barbara & August Lueders Six kids and many years later

About those portraits hanging on Grandpa’s Wall

This is my Grandma and Grandpa Lueders sitting in their living room on Walnut Grove Ave. in Rosemead, CA.

Notice the picture on the wall behind Grandma.  I believe it is an oil portrait and there was another one of a woman on the other side of the window to the left.  They were always there when I was growing up and they are hanging in my brother Keith’s house in Umatilla now.

We were always told that the folks in the pictures were Grandpa’s Great-Grandparents; and they were buried somewhere in Germany.  But that was all we knew about them.  Until now……

I learned that their son, Paul August Lueders, was born in Mecklenburg Germany and had emigrated  to Milwaukee in 1852.

This is his business card.  The fine print says “CONFECTIONERY, FRUITS, CIGARS AND TOBACCO.”  Apparently he ran an ice cream and cigar store.  I know all about his kids and grandkids all the way down to my own kids but nothing about the folks in the portraits that were buried in Germany. 

Recently though I re-read P. A.’s  Last Will & Testament and noticed he signed.   He had a FULL name

“August Theodore Paul Diedrich Lueders”.   No wonder he went by “P.A.”  But that’s a name I can work with.

As soon as I searched for his full name and date and place of birth I got a hit from Ancestry.com.  A Baptismal record from the Lutheran Church in Retgendorf, Mecklenberg, Deutchland with the full name and the right date.  His father was Heinrich Lüders.  His mother was Caroline Juilane Charlotte Lüders. A little more digging revealed that they were married Oct 13, 1826 in Retgendorf and the had at least four other children.  So here there are.  One more mystery solved!

Heinrich Lüders (1779 – 1838)

Caroline Juliane Charlotte Lüders (1779 – ????)