THE CHRISTEN FAMILY
Johann Christen, was born in Burgdork, Bern, Switzerland, Oct. 9, 1832. I have no information from that time until Feb. 23, 1853 when he was 21 years of age and he arrived in this country. I do not know if he came with his family or traveled alone, quite an adventure even if he was 21. Somehow he made his way to Troy Township, Wood County, Ohio. There he met and married Anna Marie Jacob, born in Troy Township June 10, 1843. Her parents were John and Barbara Jacob from Switzerland. From this union seven children were born, two of them still-born.
Grandfather was a farmer all his adult life, first living on the farm where I was born then moving to a farm one mile south where they lived out there days. Grandfather died June 22, 1917. Grandmother died July 6, 1924. Both are buried in Troy Township Cemetery.
Sofia – Their eldest daughter was born Aug. 17, 1861. She married Fred Rothenbuhler, born 1851. They had
three children, Edna, Frank and Mable. Sofia died Jan. 10, 1901, Fred died 1932.
John Fredrich (Jr.) – born Jan. 22, 1864 married Louisa Anderegg Asmus born Jan. 4, 1872. Their children
were Matilda born in 1897, Myra born 1898, Ira born 1900, Floyd born 1903 [our author] and Cora born
They [John Fredich, Jr. and family (including our author)] moved into the original Christen home on Garling Road. This house was built of logs with a frame extention added to it, which was the dining room, a lean-to kitchen and a partly submerged cellar off the dining room. The log part of the house was two-story with two bedrooms upstairs. The children had the upstairs rooms. T’was mighty cold up there in the winter. The only heat came through an opening in the floor from a base burner hard coal stove below. We had no indoor plumbing, just a three holer out back. We carried all our water in from the well or a cistern under the floor of the back porch. We farmed 60 acres of land with one team of horses and a few simple farm tools. When dad died in the spring of 1907. Mother had to carry the burden of making a living for us all. As the children grew older they had to assume more of the work load.
There is very little that I remember about my Father as I was only four years old when he died. I do remember mother telling that a horse bit off the tip of his nose, leaving him with a pug nose from then on.
Mother had the responsibility of being mother and father to the children. In those days farm work was mostly hand labor. When we killed weeds it was with a hoe, none of these fancy chemicals that killed the weeds before they got started in the spring, no tractors, no tractor drawn combines. A good man could plow an acre of ground in a day.
On special occasions during harvest time, lemonaide would be prepared and brought out to the field. How good that was. And on very special occasions mother would buy a case of “moxie.” Something like root beer, but only when one of the relatives was helping us.
Then came late August or September after the wheat and oats had been cut and shocked in the fields and later hauled into the barn. What a job that was. Anyway the great day came at last. Herman Jacobs came down the road with his huge threshing machine, a steam driven tractor (Engine we called it) pulling he grain separator. The children would climb the fence or on some other vantage point to catch an early glimpse. There she came belching huge plumes of steam and black smoke. When he saw us watching he would blow the whistle. What excitement, I think you could hear it for miles and miles. Sometimes if we were fortunate they came late in the day. The man would bank the fire in the boiler and prepare the machine for the next days work. My brother and I thought it was great sport to pull the whistle cord once in a while, until the steam was gone.
Next morning after an early breakfast at our house Mr. Jacobs or whoever was responsible would fire up the boiler again, ready for the days work. By that time the help began to come for it took quite a few people to do the work.
And in the house all was hustle and bustle, mother, the girls and maybe an aunt or two would be preparing a feast or I mean the dinner because these fellows would be mighty hungry come noon. Roast beef, pounds and pounds of it, boiled potatoes, about a peck, and pies! All home made seems as though there wee dozens of them.
We boys always had to wait until the men were finished eating, Oh, what agony that was. The hunger pains were something fierce.
At last the great day came to a close. The grain bins were full hopefully and a huge stack of bright yellow straw was in the barnyard, enough bedding for the livestock for a year. Inn the house the last dish was washed and the rooms cleaned up. The helpers were leaving with a promise of help from mother when their turn came. No one was hired, no payment of money made. In the fall when school started we still had work to do in the fields, maybe an hour or more in the mornings and then in the evening until dark. Then the chores, feed the cows and horses, milk the cows, take care of the pigs, gather the eggs, feed the chickens, and on and on. What a drudgery we thought, winter and summer it never let up.
Then came Saturday night, the social event of the week. Mother would put the eggs and a roll or two of butter all golden yellow in a market basket and we would head for town. If we were lucky each one of us kids would have a nickel to spend any way we wanted to. A box of Cracker Jacks, a package of Blackjack or Sen Sen gum or candy. Mr. Goetz, he owned the Drug Store, was a very patient man while we decided how we would invest our money.
Meanwhile mother was in the grocery store and Mr. Myer’s would weight the butter and count the eggs. Of course, Mother knew how many eggs she brought and a pretty good idea what the butter weighed before she left home. Mr. Myer’s would say how much credit she had and they went from trading eggs and butter for sugar, salt, cheese, and whatever was needed.
After everything was done, our money was spent, the candy or ice cream cones (in summer only), were eaten, and mother had visited with friends and relatives, we returned home.
There were weekly baths awaiting us in the kitchen by the stove in a galvanized washtub. After being duly soaped and scrubbed, off to bed we went for tomorrow was Sunday and that was another day.
Sunday morning bright and early come rain or shine, we went through that same ordeal only first our hands and face, scrub scrub behind the ears, in the ears, are your finger nails clean, recheck our hands and elbows. I think if she thought we needed another complete bath, we would go the complete route.
Then we put on our Sunday best although they were hand me downs, patched and worn and sometimes did not fit too good, they certainly were clean. So with our shiny faces and our hair neatly combed and a penny in our pocket off we went to church with Old Duke and Nell hitched to the surrey and all of us jammed in, off we went to Sunday School and Church with Mother in charge. If we went to church in the morning it wasn’t so bad because everything was in English. There was one period of time in our lives when the services were in German on alternate Sundays. Those services were held on Sunday afternoons because Paster Ludwig could not make it in the mornings. One reason is he had to come from Toledo on the Toledo, Fostoria, Findlay Interurban Lines.
We children always considered those times a total disaster because we could not understand a word of German. None the lest we went regularly.
At Christmas we always had a program on Christmas Eve. What with all the preparations, learning our pieces, setting up the tree, a 10 or 12 footer all beautiful in paper chains, strings of popcorn, and real candles which were lit just before the program started. What a beautiful sight it was, with sacks of candy and peanuts and real oranges at the base. The only oranges we had from year to year were then. I shutter even now to think what would happen if one of those candles had set the tree a fire. Somehow we always escaped that tragedy.
Mother very seldom became angry. I can remember on two different occasions that she did. My brother Ira and I were the guilty ones both times. One time after we had just threshed our grain and the new straw stack was just like a tinder box, she caught Ira lighting matches near the stack and the other occasion my brother and I were playing on the road. It was the mummer time and the day was hot and the dust was deep on the road. We were filling our straw hats with dust and pouring it over each others heads and haveing a wonderful time. Mother saw us and the fun stopped! She didn’t wait until she got to the wood shed. The time of reckoning was right then and there. She said later that she had just cleaned us up before that and that she felt guilty about paddling so hard because of her anger. Yes, we were given our just punishment many times and it wasn’t always in the old woodshed that we got it.
Mother’s life was filled with grief. She was a widow at 20 years of age and with child. Frank Asmus Sr., her first husband died June 30, 1892. He was 30 years old at the time of death. He was a farmer in Middleton Township, farming 80 acres of land.
The story is told that in order to prevent the body from being stolen, they buried him in the front yard of their farm home north of Haskins, Ohio where Nellie Asmus lives at present [16332 King Rd., northwest of Haskins, OH]. I do not know if there is any truth to this story. Later on he was buried in Wakeman Cemetery in Waterville, Ohio in the Asmus family plot.
John F. Christen, Jr., her second husband, married 1896 died April 14, 1907. I found this written in the old German Family Bible – John Fredrick Christen died 14 April 1907 at 10 AM of Ersipelas, 43 years old. Scripture test Revelations 14th Chapter 13th Verse: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth Yea saith the spirit that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them. German Sermon by J. Zackman, English Sermon by J. A. Atkinson
Despite all her sorrows, heartaches and worries she kept a steadfast faith in her Lord. Mother died Jan 14, 1951. She is buried in the family plot in Troy Township Cemetery with Dad and my brother and sisters. Mother was 79 years old when she died.
Joseph – infant son, died 1872.
Mary Christen Shaefer – born Feb. 4, 1874, died 1919, married Gotlieb Schaefer born 1873, died 1957. They
were blessed with five children, three girls, and two boys.
Many happy times I spent at their house on Route # 582 by the Hocking Valley Railroad, now part of the C & O system, and just across the tracks from Granddad’s home. I remember the old house with the long porch on the east side, and how we would watch the trains pass by with their huge locomotives and long string of coal cars headed for the docks in Toledo. Uncle Gotlieb was a farmer also. They too are buried in Troy Township Cemetery.
This completes the story about the aunts and uncles on the Christen side of the family. I have sort of written myself into a hole. I don’t quite know how to proceed from here. There are about 22 cousins total. I think I will take them in bunches like grapes. First the Rothenbuhler’s; Edna, Frank and Mable;
These are Sophia’s [Sophia Christen Rothenbuhler] children.
Edna married Ed Fahle. I remember going to barn raising there. After the frame work was put together by the carpenter, the neighbors would gather on the appointed day and amid much shouting and horseplay they would raise the frame in place and pin it together. Then they grabbed Ed, set him astride a timber and carry him around to each corner of the barn and bump the corner posts just to prove that it was strong and well made. This was the customary thing to do. There was always plenty to eat and drink at these events.
Frank married Anna Obermyer. They resided on the home farm located on Dowling Road in Troy Township. They farmed this until he retired and moved to Dowling Road in Troy Township. They farmed this until he retired and moved to Pemberville, Ohio. He died in 1971 at the age of 82.
Mable Rothenbuhler married Ed Samson and moved to a farm on Samson Road [2701 Joseph Rd.] east of Luckey, Ohio.
I will deal with the Schaefers next. There were five of them, three girls and two boys. The girls were the older, Clara, Alice, Edith and then Albert and George.
Clara married a farmer, Johmn Gross and resided just west of Luckey [20690 McCutcheonville Rd.] where they reared a family. Clara born 1899, died 1974, John Gross born 1898, died 1977.
Alice and Edith never married. They made a home for their father until he died. Later they built a new home for themselves where they reside today on route #582 [3957 Middleton Pike] just west of the home place. [3550 Middleton Pike]
Albert married Irma Giesbuhler and they resided east of Luckey. [20906 Lemoyne Rd.] Albert worked for the Luckey Farmers Elevator for years until he retired. Irma born 1905, died 1976. They have no children.
George married Carmen Adams, a farm girl from Haskins, Ohio. They have one daughter. George is retired from Ohio State Civil Service, and Carmen is retired from Bowling Green University. They reside on Route #582 near his brother and sisters. [3844 Middleton Pike] He owns a small acreage and keeps horses as a hobby.
Now the Godfrey Christen children are next. There are eight of them, one boy and seven girls.
Lester – was born Sept. 13, 1903. He never married. He has worked the home farm [3420 Middleton Pike] all his life having purchased it from his father when he retired. His sister Hazel and her husband Fred make there home there too and Lester lives with them.
Luella – born June 9, 1906 married Harvey Helm. They have four children, two boys and two girls. Luella and Harvey reside in Luckey, Ohio [235 Adams St.] Harvey was the teller at the Luckey Exchange bank for many years. Now he is an insurance broker and a tax consultant with an office in Luckey. He is 77 years old and still going strong. He was clerk of the local school board for a long time. More about Harvey later.
Verna – born Dec. 24, 1908. Married John “Jack” Swartz, a painter and decorator. They reside on the east edge of Luckey on Krotzer Ave. [539 Krotzer], near the Evangelical Church, now the United Methodist Church. They have two sons and a daughter. David and Daniel live at home and daughter Ann who is married lives in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Hazel – born Dec. 28, 1911, married Fred Kanke who retired from the J. J. Heinze Tomato Processing Plant in Bowling Green, Ohio. They have two sons. [Dr. Fred Kanke & Ten Kanke]
Marie – born Oct. 27, 1915, married Merle Walter, an employee of the local telephone company. Her husband died of a heart attack shortly after their marriage. Marie is presently employed as a clerk in the Wood Couty Courthouse. She resides in a home they had built on the home place. [3326 Middleton Pike] She has no Children. [Marie had a son Fred, born 1946 or 47, Marie married Alton Mollguard Aug. 18, 1979]
Della – born Aug. 19, 1917, operated a beauty parlor in Bowling Green and perhaps still does. She married a brother of Marie’s husband. [David Walter] They have no children. [had two children, Douglas and Beth Ann]
Gertrude – born Nov. 4, 1919, married Lloyd A. Winslow and they reside in Hutchinson, Kansas. If I am not mistaken, they have two children.
Margaret – born Oct. 8, 1923, married and lives in Racine, Wisconsin. I am sure there are children, how many, I do not know.
The information on the above named people is rather sketchy I admit. This will give you knowledge that they do exist and where they live.
The last group to be dealt with will be the John Christen family of whom we are vitally concerned. I am including Frank F. Asmus Jr. because he is a son of the first marriage [of Louisa “Lizzie” Anderegg and Frank Asmus, Sr. who died June 30, 1892.]
Frank F. – born Sept. 15, 1892. He lived at home with his mother [Lizzie Anderegg Asmus] until he married. He was a big help to her doing much of the work on the farm. When he married Elsie Burkholder they moved to the farm he inherited from his father’s people near Haskins, Ohio. They had one child, Lila Mae, born Oct. 11, 1917. Elsie died in 1920. Frank married Nellie Browne. Three children were born to this union. A girl stillborn Nov. 7, 1923 and two sons, James, who is an engineer and lives near Bellfontaine, Ohio and Rodger who is also an engineer and works for the International Harvester Co., near Chicago, Illinois. Frank died Oct. 6, 1962. His wife lives on the farm at Haskins, Ohio.
Mathilda – born Feb. 4, 1897. She got her high school education in Perrysburg, Ohio and eventually became a teacher. She taught grade school in a one room school in Perrysburg Township. The building has been replaced with a larger brick building located at route #795 and Lime City Road. Her two granddaughters attended school there in latter years. Mathilda married Carl Brossia, a local farm boy on May 25th, 1918. They had one child, Eleanor, who was born in the old log house on the home farm at Luckey. Mathilda became sick with consumption, (tuberculosis) as it was known. Mathilda, Carl and their small daughter [Eleanor] moved to Pueblo, Colorado in 1922 hoping that the dry climate would improve her health, but it was no to be. She became steadly worse and died out there on May 6, 1923. She was returned to Ohio and buried in the family plot in Troy Township Cemetery. Carl returned to his job on the Santa Fe Railroad and Eleanor was reared by her Grandmother Brossia.
Myra – born July 8, 1898, married Elmer F. Layman, born 1894, a painter working for his Uncle John Helm who is Harvey’s father. They were married Oct. 30, 1919. Soon after moving to there home at 903 Stillman St. In East Toledo, Ohio, Myra became ill with consumption. They too went to Colorado hoping that the climate would cure her ailment, but to no avail. She died at Las Animas, Colorado at the home of Uncle Sam Anderegg on June 29, 1922. She was not quite 24 years old. They had no children. Elmer continued working for Rathbun – Jones Co. as a draftsman, until he retired. We always considered him as our brother-in-law even after he married Mabel Miller. We remained the best of friends. They have one daughter, Louann. Elmer passed away April 4, 1975.
Ira – born Aug. 5, 1900. He never married. He became ill with consumption and died March 12, 1922, age 22 years.
Frances Cora – born Dec. 24, 1904. She contracted the dreaded disease tee, being quite sickly the last several years. She died Jan. 25, 1920 at the age of 15 years, one month.
They all were buried in the family plot in Troy Township Cemetery. We never did get a satisfactory explanation of how this could happen. Some thought it could have been an infected cow since we drank raw milk in those times. This may be true. You can imagine the condition of your grandmother by this time, the loss of four children and a daughter-in-law in less than four years. Her faith indeed was great. We have a picture of her when she was about 18 years of age in her quaint old fashion dress. She was beautiful. The physical beauty faded with the years but that inner beauty did not. That is your grandmother as I knew her and loved her.
Floyd E. – born Jan. 12, 1903. I have been told that it was a cold bitter day. The roads were drifted with snow. My father went for help but I was there before he got back with the help. The fact that I was born was turned in by the Tax Assessor about one week later so the records show. I imagine the story went something like this “George”, that’s the tax assessor, went to the courthouse that morning, stuck his head in the recorders office and said, Hey Joe! I got something for you. Now where did I put that? Had it written on the back of an envelope. Oh Yes, here it is. John Christen’s had a baby boy on the 12th, called him Floyd. Who are the John Christens Joe asks. Beats me says George, all I know is they live on a muddy road north of Luckey. Well, anyway that marked the beginning of my life in this old world.
My formal education began at Troy Township District #5, a one room Red Brick School. One teacher, eight grades. I suppose we would average about 45 pupils per year. Those were the days, no bussing, no integration, no hot school lunches, just a 15 minute recess mid morning and mid afternoon with an hour lunch period at noon. They we opened our lunch pails and eat our sandwiches and apples or pears and drank some cold coffee ant that was it. When we graduated from the eighth grade, we took a Boxwell test and if we passed that we were ready to face the world of higher learning. I remember the year I graduated, the ceremony was held in the Methodist Church in Stony Ridge, Ohio. There were three of us from good old #5, Alice and Edith Shaefer and myself.
At that event is where I had my first contact with this new fangled contraption called an automobile. A humpmobile I believe. One of the more affluent members of the community owned it. When it came time to go home he had to light the carbide gas headlights and the coal oil because the State of Ohio said so. Well, after that was done he cranked her up and away they went down the pike, much to the wonderment of a few small boys.
Halloween was always a big event in our lives, and no self-respecting American boy would pass up the chance to go out that night and do his bit. Outhouses were always a fair target, or disassembling farm wagons and reassemble them in some inaccessible place, or borrow someone’s jersey cow and tie her up by a neighbor’s front step. Next morning we liked to tour the neighborhood just to see what devilment had been done. We could tell who the culprits were by the tricks they played. I remember a small garage owner in Lemoyne had a set up his outhouse every year. One year he set up a little surprise for the pranksters by putting a small explosive charge in the pit and connected it to an electrical circuit that was triggered to explode when the building was tipped. Next day he found that his scheme had worked very well. It is said he had no more problems from then on. Today all this activity would be considered vandalism, then it was just good sport. Oh well, boys will be boys, and everything was forgotten until next year.
Friendships: some are formed early and last a lifetime, such was the case with Harvey Helm and I. Harvey was a tall skinny tow headed kid. His sleeves and pant legs were always too short. He had nothing but cast off clothing to wear. He had no home of his won so he lived with relatives and worked on their farm for his keep. Harvey and I were bosom buddies always together on our spare time, we shared everything even having a crush on the same girl, Ada Brown for instance who lived north of Lemoyne. We would ride our bikes past her house hoping to catch a glimpse of her as we rode by. She was older than we and little did we know that she couldn’t stand the sight of either one of us. After grade school Harvey and I worked at the Electric Auto Light Co. On Champlain St. in Toledo for a short time. Then Harvey went back to Luckey got a job in the Exchange Bank, married Luella Christen bought a house and has lived in Luckey to this day. We have kept in touch thru the years, and still enjoy a warm friendship.
Now began a series of tragic events that made a profound change in my live, first my sister Cora became sick and died after a long period of suffering. She passed away Jan. 25, 1920. And the same year Elsie Asmus died leaving Frank with a young daughter Lila. Frank and Elsie were married on April 8, 1916. Mother [Louisa “Lizzie” Anderegg, Asmus, Christen] went to Haskins to keep house for Frank. By this time Ira [Lizzie’s son] was very ill so he went to Haskins OH with her. First she sold everything at public auction; household goods, farm tools everything. Ira died in Frank Asmus’ home March 13, 1922.
Myra [ Lizzie’s daughter] died June 29, 1922. In the fall of that year, about October of 1922, Mother and I went out to Pueblo Colorado to be with Carl [Brossia] and Mathilda [Lizzie’s daughter] because she [Mathilda] was getting worse and could not look after Eleanor [Mathilda’s daughter]. I remember they lived in Fairmont Apartments across the street from Fairmont Park. Carl got a job for me in the roundhouse on the Sante Fe Railroad. We lived there until the spring of 1923 when Mathilda died May 6, 1923. We came back to Ohio thr the kindness and generosity of the Sante Fe Railroad, free passes for all of us. After the funeral Carl did return to Pueblo. He married again and lived there until he died April 26, 1960.
After mother went to the farm in Haskins I became a frequent visitor there. It was only natural that got aquainted with the neighbors, Wenig was the name. I went over to see Merle and Clifton [Wenig]. Well, they had a kid sister name of Anna. This is the first that we met. She was 14 years old at the time. While I was in Pueblo we wrote to each other.
This is as far as dad got with our family story. We wish he could have had the chance to finish it because he was getting to the most important part. Us! Dad died Aug. 28, 1983.
Johann Christen Sr. BP Burgdork Bern Switzerland B 9 Oct 1832 D 22 Jun 1917
Immigrated to US Feb 23, 1853
+ Anna Marie “Mary” Jacob B 10 Jun 1843 D 6 Jul 1924 [father Johanes Jacob 1801 – 1882, mother Anna Barbara Willi 1810 – 1895]
Children of Johann and Mary
1. Sofia B 17 Aug 1861 D 10 Jan 1901
+ Fred Rothenbuhler B 1850 or 51 D 1932
Children of Sofia and Frank
1. Edna Rothenbuhler B 1881 D 1963
+ Edward Fahle B 1882 D 1968
2. Frank John Rothenbuhler B 1889 D 1971
+ Anna Obermyer
3. Mable Sophena Rothenbuhler B 1896 D 1986
+ William F. Samson B 1892
2. John Fredrich Christen Jr. B 22 Jan 1864 D 14 Apr 1907 of erysipelas (infection from horse bite)
+ Louisa Anderegg Asmus [first husband Frank Asmus died June 30, 1892 from trichinosis] B 4 Jan 1870
D 14 Jan 1951 [Frank died when Lizzie was with child, that being Frank F. Asmus Jr. Frank lived with his
mother until he married]
Children of John Jr. And Louisa
- Matilda Christen B 4 Feb 1897 – 6 May 1923 died of TB
+ Carl Brossia married 25 May 1918
Children of Matilda and Carl
1. Eleanor Brossia (reared by her grandmother Brossia)
- Myra Christen B 8 Jul 1898 – 29 Jun 1922 died of TB
+ Elmer F. Layman B 1894 married Oct 30, 1919
- Ira [male] B 5 Aug 1900 – 13 Mar 1922 died of TB
- Floyd E. Christen B 12 Jan 1903 – Aug 1983 [our author]
+ Anna Wenig B Mar 1907 D Dec 2007
Children of Floyd and Anna
- David Christen
- Richard Christen
- Linda Christen
- Tom Christen
- Cora B 24 Dec 1904 – 25 Jan 1920 of TB
3. Franklin J. Christen B 1866 D 1951
+Mae Hauri B 19 Jun 1886 D 8 Nov 1976
4. Carolina Christen B 4 Jan 1870 (stillborn)
5. Godfrey Christen B 2 Feb 1871 D 5 Nov 1966
+ Anna Jurgens B 8 Aug 1880 D 4 Jul 1943
Children of Godfrey and Anna
1. Lester Christen B 13 Sep 1903
2. Luella Christen B 9 Jun 1906
+ Harvey Helm [son of John & Emma Rothenbuhler Juergens ]
3. Verna Christen B 24 Dec 1908
+ John “Jack” Swartz
4. Hazel Christen B 28 Dec 1911
+ Frank Kanke
5. Marie Christen B 27 Oct 1915
+ Merle Walter
+ Alton Mollgaard
6. Della Christen B 19 Aug 1917
+ David Walter (Merle’s brother)
7. Gertrude Christen B 4 Nov 1919
+Lloyd A. Winslow
8. Margaret Christen B 8 Oct 1923
6. Joseph Christen B 1872 (died in infancy)
7. Mary Christen B 4 Feb 1874 D 1919
+ Gotlieb Schaefer Born 1873 D 1957
Children of Mary and Gotlieb
- Clara Schaefer B 1899 D 1974
+ John Gross B 1898 D 1977
- Alice Schaefer
- Edith Schaefer
- Albert Schaefer
+ Irma Guiesbuhler B 1905 D 1976
- George Schaefer
+ Carmen Adams