Facts about Otto and Amelia
By Greg, Markus, and Theresa
Below are the facts collected by Greg, Markus, and Theresa about Otto Klein and Amelia Klein Phillips. We have separated the facts into several time frames from 1881 to 1918. We believe the facts to be correct, but caution any reader there may be errors. At the end of each time frame, the cousins make interpretative comments of their own.
Otto Klein, 1881-1896 (age 0-15)
* Otto was born July 18, 1881, in Webenheim to Jakob Klein and Jakobine Bender. One older brother, Friedrich, was born 1878. Jakob was a farmer.
*Otto's mother, Jakobine, died June 10, 1882. Cause unknown. Jakobine's mother, Susanna Schwartz, died January 31, 1885. This means both Otto's mother and maternal grandmother died before he turned 5.
* Luise Hock, Otto's paternal grandmother, raised both of her grandsons. Her husband, Otto's paternal grandfather, Jakob Klein, died January 20, 1893. Otto would have been 11 years old and his brother 15 years old when their grandfather died.
We have a picture of the house where Otto lived his entire life except during the war times of 1914-1918 and the two evacuations during WWII. Otto's older brother moved out of this house. Otto paid him for his share, and also helped Friedrich build his new house in 1911. Otto's house was in the flood plain of the Blies River and probably was flooded several times during Otto's residence there.
Amelia Klein Phillips, 1881-1896 (age 0-15)
* Amelia Margaret was born April 25, 1881, probably at home, on Section 22, Pike Township, Livingston Co., Illinois. She was born to John Klein and Margaretha Moschel Klein. Amelia had six older siblings. They were: Katherine (1865); Caroline (1866); Anna (1871); John Daniel (1873); Matilda, called Tillie (1876); and August Carl (1878).
* Amelia's father, John Klein, was a farmer.
* In 1893 we know John Klein had 240 acres in section 22 in Pike Township, Livingston Co., Illinois (about 4 miles from Chenoa, Illinois). There were 2 schools within one mile of their house. They lived near several Moschels and Sandmeyers.
* We assume Amelia went to school because her older sisters did by the 1880 census. The 1890 U.S. census is the only census that has been lost, thus we will not know by census records whether Amelia was in school in 1890. We know Amelia's future husband went through 6thgrade by his daughter Bernice's memory.
* We know Amelia played the mandolin later in life, and can only assume she played it early in life.
* As far as church, we don't know if the family went to church weekly at this time. We do know Amelia's father was instrumental in having the Trinity Lutheran Church built in Chenoa in 1902. There is one church marked on the 1893 Plat map in Section 22 of Pike Township, but we don't know the denomination of the church. There is the story in the Chenoa Centennial Book of people going to church on Sundays in Chenoa and changing their clothes at the Balback grocery store.
* We don't know how Amelia met her future husband Ralph Waldo Emerson Phillips. A county sketch says John T. Phillips, father of Ralph, purchased land in Section 10, Pike Township, Livingston County, in 1885. John T. Phillips's father-in-law, William Munro, owned land in Section 10 and it is possible that John T. Phillips farmed part of his father-in-law's land. By these facts, we can assume that Amelia and her future husband lived within a couple of miles of each other growing up. It is possible they attended the same school, or if not the same school, an adjoining country school.
Commentary by the Cousins Three of the period 1881-1896
Greg says..In Amelia's early years she probably heard German spoken as much as English. Her parents conversed in German and the children spoke in that language to them and each other at home. At shcool and in public they talked in English. Amelia had to walk about a mile to school and most likely attended eight years of grade school after which her education was completed.
says...Amelia and Otto were both born to German parents, both had
an agricultural background and both probably had the same educational
level. But there are also differences! Amelia was taught music. We know
her father played the organ and Amelia was able to play at least one instrument.
We think Amelia was raised in a fairly religious family. Amelia's father
played an important role in building the Trinity church. In short, Amelia's
childhood must have been richer in intellectual things than Otto's early
Theresa says...It appears that Otto's early life was challenging without a mother and maternal grandmother. His family life would have quite different than Amelia who had a mother and father and six siblings. It is also interesting to note that through this project we have usually been able to find early pictures if the family member lived in the United States, but their early housing is long gone. For our German family we do not have early pictures of people, but we have pictures of their housing which often still stands.
Otto 1896-1903 (age 15-22)
* At the early part of this era Otto was probably still going to Sunday school.
* During this time he was member of the choral society and possibly the gymnastic club.
* At age 16 Otto went to his first dance sponsored by the choral club. Otto's grandmother insisted that Otto take a neighborhood girl who was not popular, but grandmother insisted the girl should be treated well and taken to the dance. Otto complied.
* No doubt during all of this time Otto's father, Jakob, was a member of the Widower's Table at his brother's pub in Webenheim. Otto's father never remarried.
* Nautical things were in fashion during this era because of Kaiser Wilhelm's influence. Most large towns started Marine Comradeships at this time. Children were dressed in sailor suits and people spent holidays at the coast. We can only speculate if this affected Otto and his father, brother, and grandmother.
* In 1902 Otto was eligible for the draft. He was an infantry soldier for two years in the 22nd Infantry Regiment in Zweibrücken. There is one story remembered about Otto coming to Webenheim for a celebration, but had to be back at the barracks at 10 p.m. He evidently lost track of time and had to run the entire distance back to make it in time. The footpath is quite arduous and, no doubt, Otto was very tired when he got to the barracks.
* In 1902 Otto's brother, Friedrich, married on March 1, 1902. There were two witnesses for the wedding: Otto Bender and Hermann Scherer (Charlotte Moschel's grandson). We don't know Otto's role at the wedding. Otto Bender was a first cousin and his mother was a sister to the deceased Jakobine Bender Klein, mother of the groom.
* Otto became an uncle in this time period. His brother, Friedrich, had two girls, one about 1903 and another about 1906.
Amelia 1896-1903 (age 15-22)
* We know that Amelia's father was very involved in starting the Trinity Lutheran church in Chenoa in 1902. Thus, we can only assume that the family were participating in church-related activities at this time.
* Amelia was seeing her siblings marry at this time. Here are the facts:
* By the end of 1903, Amelia had eight nieces and nephews and has three siblings married and three others siblings are still single.
* We do not know what kind of contact Amelia had with her future husband, Ralph, at this time. Were they engaged? Engaged to be engaged?
Commentary by the Cousins Three of the period of 1896-1903
Greg says...Amelia's teenage and young adult years would be considered dull by today's standards. Her everyday routine would have revolved around the grind of household chores. Since she had so many sisters to share the workload, it's unlikely that she would have been overworked. At harvest time she probably also helped in the fields. Diversions were few, consisting of church on Sundays, occasional shopping trips to Chenoa and visits to nearby relatives and other neighbors. If she contemplated her future, she didn't have to resort to her imagination but only needed to observe her four older sisters. Two were married, farmer's wives with young children, and two were beyond the usual marrying age and still living at home. No doubt she did not want to follow the example of her sisters Anna and Tillie and hoped that a young man would come along and take an interest in her.
Markus says...During this time Amelia and Otto are spending their days as young adults; that is, there is going to dances, military service, having their first dates, and watching siblings marry. In short, they are beginning to plan their own adult lives.
Theresa says...it is a delight that we have actual family stories passed down to tell in this time period in the case of Otto. I have marveled at our oral family historians, Elfreide and Otto Jr., Markus's grandparents for the last 3 years. They have brought our family history project alive!!
Otto 1904-1910 (age 23-29)
* During most of this time Otto was living with his father and paternal grandmother, Luise, and was farming. Otto was up at 3 a.m. in the summer and 6 a.m. in the winter.
* Otto continued as a member of the choral society and maybe was in the gymnastics club.
* Otto had a second niece in 1906. We don't know how involved he was as an uncle.
* Anna Jakobina Schunck, Otto's future wife, was age 17 in 1904 and 23 in 1910.
* We know Anna, Otto's future wife, took a cooking course in 1906 because the book she used for the class still exists.
* Otto and Anna were married on February 5, 1910.
* Markus speculated how the wedding would have been celebrated in an email. "It was common to celebrate in the wife's parental house. In Otto's case the party went on in the house of Anna's parents. The house is still existing. Anna's father was Christian Schunck. Christian was a blacksmith as well as a farmer, and thus had more income, which made Anna a good catch. It was common that the bridegroom went to the bride's house and meet her there. Then the couple and all the guests went in a long procession to the church for the ceremony. After the wedding Anna moved into Otto's parental house."
* Otto and Anna's first child, Anna, was born, we assume at home, on May 31, 1910.
* Amelia and Ralph were married on October 5, 1904. Amelia was 23, and Ralph was 22. Amelia and Ralph married in Pontiac, Illinois, at the home of Maude and Clay Parker with a Chenoa Methodist pastor officiating.
* Amelia's brother, August Carl, was married on October 12, 1904, one week after his sister. We speculate this close proximity of two family marriages was so out-of-town guests could attend both weddings.
* John and Margaret Klein, Amelia's parents, moved from Pike Township, Livingston County to Chenoa (about 4 miles from country into town) in 1904.
* John Phillips, Amelia's father-in-law, died on July 13, 1906. Elizabeth Smart Munroe Phillips, Amelia's new mother-in-law was then a widow.
* We know Amelia and Ralph traveled with the Moschel relatives to Beatrice, Nebraska, in 1907. Picture exists. It would have been a fairly long trip to undertake. Amelia was pregnant with her first child, Blanche, for this travel.
* Blanche Margaret Phillips was born to Amelia and Ralph on January 20, 1908 in Pike Township, Livingston Co., Illinois. We assume this birth was at home.
* Bernice Elizabeth Phillips was born on August 24, 1910, at home by her own written memories.
* During this time Amelia's husband, Ralph, was a farmer. He farmed in Section 10, Pike Township, Livingston County, probably all or part of 160 acres.
* The 1910 census had John Klein, his wife Margaret, and daughter Matilda living in Chenoa. In 1910 their daughter Anna lived and worked in Pontiac.
Commentary of the Cousins Three of the period 1904-1910
Markus says...My great grandparents, Otto and Anna, married in the same Webenheim Martin Luther church in which I married my wife, Christine, in July 2003! It is a pity that there is no wedding picture of them. We do know, though, that Anna had her myrtle wedding head piece preserved in a velvet-encased frame that hung over their bed.
Theresa says...the real mystery of this period from my point of view is why Amelia and Ralph did not marry in the Lutheran Church, instead they are married by a Methodist minister in the home of Amelia's future sister-in-law. It appears that the Lutheran religion that Amelia was raised in was now put aside for another Christian tradition. This speculation led to a lot of emails back and forth between myself and Greg trying to figure out all the religions in our family and how they changed when a marriage occurred. All this is very interesting to me to try to understand how religion changes in various family units.
Otto 1911- 1914 (age 30-33)
* Prior to the WWI there were two social/political groups represented in Webenheim. They were called the "reds" and the "blacks". The divisions were represented by the two choral societies in town. Evidently the dissension ran much deeper than the choral societies. The town council was divided into "reds" and "blacks". The town's division by "red" and "black" even ruled who married whom. Pertinent to our current story, Otto was a "red", but Anna was a "black." We can only speculate how much turmoil this caused between the two families.
* Otto's brother Friedrich built a new home on main street in 1911. Otto helped him build the house and Otto also bought his brother's share of his father's house.
* As far as daily life, Markus reported his great grandparents, Otto and Anna, got fresh water from a pump; had an outhouse by the garden; Anna sun bleached clothes; Otto went to bed early and rose early to go to distant fields; and Anna spent evenings with other Webenheim woman doing sewing and sharing the day's events. The term for these meetings were Maie gehen. The term makes it clear that the verbal sharing was the most important part of the gathering.
* Otto's paternal grandmother, Luise, died on April 17, 1911. She was 91. Funeral ritual would dictate the body be kept in the house for two days after death and neighbors came to express their sympathy. The casket was then carried by six men to the church where there was a service and singing. A horse-drawn carriage then took the casket to the cemetery where the bereaved placed laurel twigs on the casket in the open grave.
* After Luise's death, there was more space in Jakob's house. The three bedrooms were then used for father Jakob, Otto and Anna, and a children's room.
* Otto and Anna produced all their own food: potatoes, milk, flour, and vegetables. For big purchases Anna's aunt lent them money.
* At this time Otto was still a member of the choral group and we know one of his habits was chewing tobacco.
* Markus describes harvest time in Webenheim. Markus contrasted it with Bernice Phillips Rhoda's memories of Illinois which described hiring itinerant workers. We speculate no outside help was ever hired in Webenheim, and it was an entirely family/neighbor effort. The threshing started very early and ended late with the farm owner serving sausage, bread, and beer.
Amelia 1911-1914 (age 30-34)
* The 1911 map of Pike Township, Livingston Co., Illinois lists Elizabeth S. Phillips, mother-in- law to Amelia, as having 160 acres in the SW corner of section 10. This had previously been owned by her father, William Munro. By the end of this period, we assume this is where Amelia and Ralph and their three children lived. Amelia and her growing family lived next door to Elizabeth and her daughter, Isabelle.
*Amelia's father, John Klein, died October 3, 1912.
* It's possible after John Klein died his wife, Margaret, and daughter Tillie moved to Pontiac to live with daughter Anna (author of the Moschel Record) for a while and then moved back to Chenoa. Anna stayed single for a long time and worked in Pontiac as a sales clerk.
* Dorothy Estelle Phillips was born to Amelia and Ralph on January 30, 1913, and we assume this was a home birth.
* From Bernice's written memories, we know in 1913 Bernice was bit by a rabid dog which necessitated that she, Amelia, and Dorothy all go to Chicago for 2 weeks for shots. That would have left Ralph home with his oldest child, Blanche.
* We assume both Ralph and Amelia brought lots of music and poetry into the house during this time.
Commentary by Cousins Three of the Period 1911-1914
Greg says...Again, I am struck about how much more is known about Otto's life during this time period than Amelia's.
says...Personal losses characterize this period for both Otto and
Amelia. In 1911 Otto lost his grandmother who cared for him since his
mother died when he was a baby. Amelia lost her beloved father one year
later. One can only imagine what this meant to both of them.
Theresa says...I am struck by the fact that Amelia was living next door to her mother-in-law and sister-in-law and this was probably her main adult female social group. Anna, on the other hand, appears to have more female social outlets available in Webenheim.
Otto 1914-1918 (age 33-37)
* No history of Otto during this time is complete without a history of the 22nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment. When the great war began, the regiment belonged to the 5th Bavarian Infantry Brigade; this brigade belonged to the 3rd Bavarian Infantry Division; this division to the II. Bavarian Army corps which was integrated into the 6th Bavarian Army. A footnote: the 3rd Bavarian Infantry Division was called the Pfalzer Division because it consisted of troops that were from the Bavarian Rheinpfalz area.
Below is the history of the 22nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment during the war as summarized by Markus.
* On August 1, 1914 the general mobilization was announced. The reservists arrived in Zweibrücken by train. Six days later on August, 7 the regiment was complete. On August 8 the whole regiment took part in a open-air religious service, held by an army chaplain on the barrack- yard.
* The first
engagement against the French was near Mörchingen (Alsace) on August
19. The next day, August 20, the regiment attacked the enemy, captured
600 french soldiers and won 5 miles of territory. This first victory was
paid with 69 dead, 11 missing, and 249 wounded. After that, the regiment
fought on the Somme and in Belgium (Ypern ). Until March 1915 the regiment
fought in northern France (Douai).
* In September 1915 the 22nd Bavarian Regiment went to Serbia.
* At the end of 1915 the regiment went back to Belgium, near Antwerp.
* At the beginning of March 1916 the 22nd Bavarian Regiment took part in the battle of Verdun (Forest of Avocourt). During this engagement Otto Klein was wounded.
* In June 1916 the regiment went back to the Russian front. Because of injuries, Otto was not a part of this.
* In October 1916 until beginning of 1917 the 22nd Bavarian Regiment went to Romania, pushing forward to Bucharest. During these engagements part of the regiment was captured for 18 months.
* In April 1917 the 22nd Bavarian Regiment was once again transferred back to the Western Front. There was trench warfare in Alsace for 4 ½ months.
* In October 1917 the 22nd Bavarian Regiment was in Belgium (near Ypern). In winter 1917 and spring 1918 the regiment was in France (southeast of Verdun).
* In April 1918 the 22nd Bavarian Regiment was in Belgium (near Ypern), and in May/June they were in France.
* On July 18, 1918 the 22nd Bavarian Regiment was almost obliterated. In September 1918 the remainder of the regiment were in battles between Ghent and Langemarck (Belgium).
* For the 22nd Bavarian Regiment the war ended in Belgium.
* We know the 22nd Bavarian Regiment started with 3000 men, Otto among them. By war's end 18,315 men were listed as dead, wounded, missing, or imprisoned. Clearly Otto had to know many of these men. We can only BEGIN to imagine how this affected him as well as all the battle engagements and trench warfare of which he was part day in and day out for years.
* Otto was injured in either the Forest of Avocourt (March 20-23, 1916) or at the battle of Hill 304 (May 3-7, 1916). We are not sure which. A bullet came from the front. Unfortunately, it hit a metal stud of his combat pack and the bullet turned across and entered his body crosswise short of his heart. The bullet's ricochet caused a very big hole in Otto's back when it left his body.
* Otto did not return to combat after his recovery. We are uncertain of the length of his recovery, but after he was deemed well enough to work, he became a driver of a horse-drawn wagon. His job was to drive the veterinarian. We speculate his injuries were significant, and he was not eligible for front-line duty. Otto received two medals for his service. The first medal was probably one every soldier received who was in the 22nd regiment. The second medal received was the Iron Cross, 2nd class. This medal was presented for military valor.
* Otto's son, Otto Wilhelm, was born June 5, 1916, just 3 months or 1 month after Otto received his battle wounds. This means Otto's wife, Anna, was very pregnant with her second child when her husband was wounded.
* The flu epidemic hit Webenheim in 1918.
* Anna Klein, sister to Amelia , married George Moschel on December 2, 1916. This was in the middle of the war, but before U.S. was in the war. Anna and George later wrote and published the Moschel Record.
* Amelia had two miscarriages between daughter, Dorothy, born in 1913 and son, Donald, born 1918.
* In 1916 or so Amelia's oldest daughter, Blanche, was very sick and there was an operation performed on the kitchen table.
* Amelia's oldest daughter, Blanche, evidently had a second illness around the same time (1916 or so). She had pneumonia and was kept out of school for a year and second daughter, Bernice, was kept out of first grade as well. Blanche enjoyed reading, but Bernice enjoyed playing outdoors.
* Amelia's husband, Ralph, was the first in the "countryside" to get a car. It was a Kissel and it was probably around 1916. Ralph was also the first in the area to get a tractor, date unknown. It was an Avery tractor. Ralph went to Peoria to get the tractor and then took 3 days to get it back to Pike township.
* U.S. declared war on Germany April 2, 1917. We don't know of any immediate relatives in WWI.
* Amelia's sister-in-law, Isabelle, died of cancer in 1918. Amelia and her husband, Ralph, and family lived next door to Isabelle and her mother, Elizabeth. Upon the death of Isabelle, Ralph, Amelia and family moved in with Amelia's mother-in-law, Elizabeth. The house was in section 10 of Pike Township, Livingston Co., Illinois.
* Donald (not shortened to Don) Emerson Phillips was born August 1, 1918. We don't know if he was born in his grandmother's house or the house next door which they had lived in for a few years. We assume it was a home birth.
* In Bernice's written memories, she describes the flu epidemic of 1918 and how it affected she, Blanche, Dorothy, and Amelia.
* We have a sense of the household from Bernice's writing. Her memories are probably from 1918 on, but given that we can assume much of the same was true during the war. This would include her father's neat shop, ordering food and other things from a catalog, eating corn muffins, living in a small house with 2 bedrooms on 80 acres that was labeled the Phillips Wetlands, and Ralph clearly heading the family and being fairly strict.
says...While Otto is trying to stay alive day-by-day, Amelia and Ralph
are buying a tractor and a car! The picture is more than cynical. While
Europe goes to the devil and people are slaughtering themselves and the
only progress is in mass destruction, America invests in industrial mechanization.
Theresa says...here is where the lives of Amelia and Otto are worlds apart. Amelia is raising babies and having miscarriages and Otto (and his wife) are concerned about living through a war. The contrast could not be more stark. I personally wonder if my grandmother felt any discrimination or prejudice by her 100% German ancestry before and during the war.
I also was fascinated to learn that my grandfather was "the first on his block" to get both a car and a tractor. He must have been a forward-looking man, or very interested in technology. I wonder if he would like this website. I hope so!
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