High Ups Sheepshead Club

Growing up in the 1950’s, I remember my Dad, Grandpa, and Great Uncles playing Sheepshead at family gatherings. I was most impressed by the loud snapping noise that my two Uncles could make when it came their turn and they threw a card down in play.  I never knew for sure whether they were gloating in victory or agonizing in defeat but their explosive displays were truly remarkable.

Sheepshead is derived from Bavaria’s national game Schakhopf, and it is still very popular in Wisconsin.  In fact, in 1983 it was declared the official card game of the City of Milwaukee.  I don’t think we have an official card game here in Aloha.  I looked up the rules recently and found them fairly complicated with cards having different strength based on denomination and suit and…  well I gave up trying to remember it all.

Among the photographs and other treasures I have from my Aunt Ann’s estate is a Ledger Book containing records for the “High Ups Sheepshead Club organized Jan. 17th, 1911”. 

Among the dozen or so members, I recognize several relatives:

John Lueders (Grandfather)
George Rauch (Great-Grandfather)
Paul Knatzke (Great-Aunt Lizzie’s husband)
John Steffel (Great-Aunt Ann’s first husband)
John Rauch (Great-Uncle)

Most of the others are cousins or in-laws of some sort, but their relationship are too complicated or distant to explain here.

The first pages of the book contain the “Constitution of The High Ups Sheepshead Club”.  Neatly hand written in eight rules are standards and practices for membership, attendance, game rules and etiquette, dues, the schedule for weekly games and monthly membership meetings, and the election of officers.

The lucky winners of the first election were:

Wm Kuether – President
Andrew Hopf – Treasure
John Steffel  – Secretary.  Again, this was Aunt Ann’s first husband and as befitting for the club’s Secretary, he had beautiful handwriting.

Detailed accounting was maintained of who attended each Wednesday night game and how much they won or lost. (usually 15 cents or less).  No-shows were fined 5 cents; but according to the Constitution they could be excused for sickness or work.

But the High Ups Sheepshead Club did more than just play cards and drink beer.  They planned and hosted picnics, at the club’s expense; where they also drank beer.  For example, the minutes from a meeting in 1914 reports “A motion was made and second to have a 1/4 barrel of beer and not to tap the same until we are at the picnic grounds.”  Probably sound advice to not start imbibing too early.

Notice that this was referred to as a “Buss Picnic” and the most expensive item was the “Buss”.  Also, they allowed John Hodel 60 cents to make arrangements with the park.  What’s with all that?

Deer Brown Park, 300+ acres of athletic fields, trails, and a golf course, touts itself today as being only minutes from downtown Milwaukee.  But in 1912, assuming that none of my relatives yet owned automobiles, it would have been a long 12 miles trek from the neighborhood where the High Ups’ lived.  Apparently, the solution was to hire a bus to transport all the people and supplies to the park.   In 1922 they held another picnic at Lake Denoon, which is twice as far away, and they went via “Auto Truck”.

Another time they chose to hold a “May Ball”. A dance.

As seen, the dance was to be held at “Rauch’s Hall”.  I found some dance halls in Milwaukee at that time but not one named Rauch’s.  If any of my family had a dance hall it is still news to me.  But they intended to print 500 tickets (admission 15 cents), and the rental fee for the hall itself was $30, so it had to be more than just someone’s living room.

The May Ball went off as planned on May 20, 1911.  The Income & Expense Report presented after the dance is hard to decipher and I am not sure if they made or lost money but I can say this: In 1912 when the subject came up again, they decided to pass.

The following picture was also found in Aunt Ann’s estate, unfortunately, this is one of the few that she did not write any names on.  The guy scratching his head, second from left resembles other pictures I have of John Steffel, her husband.  And, the portly guy on the far left could be her Father, my Gr-Grandpa Rauch; although he usually had a mustache. If either of those are right, then it would explain why Aunt Ann kept the picture.  Whoever they are, the smoking, drinking, and card playing look exactly as I would have imagined a Wednesday night meeting of the High Ups Sheepshead Club in old  Milwaukee.

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.


Tintypes of Roth Sisters

I went looking for a particular picture of my wife’s grandmother today.  I did’t find it but I did run across a couple of neat old tintypes.

Tintypes were an early form of photograph made by creating a direct positive image on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the  photographic emulsion.  Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century.

My tintypes are 2 1/2″ X 3 1/2″ and .010″ thick.  I believe they were made around 1890 and they look pretty good for being 127 years old

I sometime see old pictures like these in antique malls and I think it’s a shame because they were probably discarded just because no one knew who the subjects were.  Fortunately, someone taped a label to the back of one of mine identifying the subjects (the handwriting looks like Aunt Ann’s).Roth 006

Roth 006 back

So apparently, the two ladies are my Gr-Gr-Aunts Barbara Roth Hopf and Mary Roth Fleischman.  I never knew either of them.  But the little child is my Gr-Aunt Elizabeth Rauch, better know to me and Keith as “Aunt Lizzy”.  We saw a lot of her when we were growing up in California, of course, she looked a lot older then.  She was also one of the little girls sitting in front of the wagon at the Rauch Family Picnic which I posted about earlier.

Unkn 002

The second picture falls more towards the unknown category.  I can make a good guess about one of the gentlemen though.
If you look at the background carefully it is easy to assume that the two pictures were taken on the same day in the same place.
If we also assume that all of the subjects are related, then two of the men are probably the ladies’ husbands, Andrew Hopf and Bernhard Fleischman.  The third man would be George Rauch, the little girl’s father.
By comparing this to other pictures I have of George Rauch, including the one from the Rauch Family Picnic, I am ready to say that the man in the middle is George Rauch (1860-1932).  He was Aunt Lizzy’s father and my Gr-Gr-Grandfather.

Rauch Family Picnic

This photograph was found among my Grandma Lueders’ things and I’ve always thought it was a real treasure.  The three little girls are:
my Grandmother, Barbara Rauch Lueders
my Great-Aunt, Anna Rauch Matthewson
my Great-Aunt, Elizabeth Rauch Knatzke
missing is my Great-Uncle John Rauch
I believe the folks on the right are there parents:
Elizabeth Roth Rauch and George W. Rauch
I don’t know who the others; probably the girls’ aunts & uncles.

Assuming the girls are 5, 9, and 10 years old then this picture was taken about 1898.  They lived in Milwaukee, WI and I have always liked to think that they loaded up the wagon and drove out into the country for a family picnic.   But the more I study the setting and all the other junk around the wagon it looks more like it may have been parked there for a while.  Wish I knew who played the accordion.