This photo from 1926 or 1927 has always intrigued me. At first glance, it looks like the man passing before the camera was the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. For years, I could not figure out who was in the photo or where it was taken.
One day I opened the digital file in Adobe Photoshop and zoomed in on the details. There, hidden to the left of the man’s suit lapel, was my grandmother, Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman. Now the photo made some sense. No doubt my grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, was taking a picture of his lovely bride when someone pulled the 1920s equivalent of a photobomb. Wearing a hat and fur coat, Ruby is facing the camera, but looking to her right. The photo intruder’s identity remains a mystery.
I concluded the photo was most likely taken on the streets of Janesville, Wisconsin in 1926. At the time, Carl was a pharmacist for the McCue & Buss Drug Co., 14 S. Main Street, Janesville. Ruby was wearing her Sunday best, so perhaps the couple were going to lunch after Mass. The other possible location for the photo is Fond du Lac, where Carl once worked as a druggist for the Staeben Drug Co.
It seems natural that Carl and Ruby were pioneers of the photobomb (or at least early victims of it). As we wrote on these pages in 2014, they took “selfies” on their honeymoon in July 1925, generations before invention of the iPhone or the selfie stick. “Photobombing” is a somewhat recent term referring to the practice of inserting oneself into a photo scene, usually to play a joke on the photographer.
Carl was an avid photographer. His photo collection includes a number of Janesville street scenes from the mid-1920s (see samples below). Early in his career, he had short stints working in Janesville and Fond du Lac before returning to his hometown, Wisconsin Rapids. In 1936, he moved his young family to Mauston, where the couple spent the rest of their lives. He was a pharmacist for more than 50 years.
As I found out today, the college graduation of our firstborn son brought out great parental pride but also just a tinge of sadness at the quick passage of time. As I watched my son, Stephen Patrick, stride across the stage at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside to receive his diploma, my mind wandered to times long ago.
As Stevie shook the hands of the chancellor, the dean and the provost, I could see him climbing over my back as a toddler, wearing a rugby shirt and little blue jeans. I saw him in his flannel shirt and baseball cap at the pumpkin farm, riding in a wheelbarrow full of carefully selected pumpkins. I saw him, the proud big brother, holding his newborn sister,Samantha. I could hear echoes of Christmas 1996, with a new baby in the house. “You know what my favorite Christmas present is, Dad?” he asked eagerly. “Samantha,” he replied, beaming at his new sister. I saw him a few years later, pick up his baby sister, Ruby, and help us give her a bath.
My mind wandered, but was brought back to the present for a moment. “Stephen Hanneman, bachelor of science,” professor Gregory Mayer called out over the public address system. Stevie, the young man, took his diploma cover from Chancellor Deborah Ford and strode back to his seat, the white tassel on his mortarboard dancing the whole way. How did this day arrive, watching my 24-year-old achieve one of the biggest of life’s milestones? How did he get here, one of 509 graduates in the Class of 2016? I realized that the golden-voiced soap-opera actor, Macdonald Carey, was right when he said: “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”
Reminiscing might be one sure sign of aging, but graduations are good times to indulge in memories. Stevie overcame huge obstacles in his life to reach this day. We watched him pull his high school career from the clutches and turn things around. He killed it on the American College Test (ACT) and suddenly, a great future opened up. He put himself through school with student loans, working various jobs, and the unwavering help of his dear girlfriend, Maggie. How I wished I’d been able to provide more help and be there more during those years. But at the same time, how proud I am that he made it happen for himself.
Standing at the graduation reception in Wyllie Hall, I gave Stevie a big hug of congratulations. I knew, like the pumpkin farm and the bicycle rides and soccer games, memories of this day would be etched forever in my mind. I realized anew that as a parent, you do your very best, pray a lot, and then let them go.
Happy graduation, son. Your Dad is so very proud of you.
It seems the story of Charles Grinolds and his new bride, Margaret, got noticed across the pond in Great Britain. The former Margaret Eley was native to England. We’ll let Carl F. Hanneman of the Wisconsin State Journal tell the story from the June 30, 1946 issue:
Journal Story on Mauston Welcome to GI Bride Moves British Paper to Congratulatory Ending
MAUSTON, Wis. — Mrs. Charles Grinolds, British war bride, and The Wisconsin State Journal’s account of her welcome at Mauston last winter, received considerable attention in the British press. The comment of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Express, published May 16, follows:
“In pondering Mr. Churchill’s suggestions that America and Britain should think about setting up house together in the political sphere, it is not entirely impertinent to think of the tens of thousands of British girls and American boys who have had the same idea in the domestic realm.
They and their relatives must be more than a little tired of the jokes on this topic and while it is true that an international marriage has special problems, it must be remembered that two out of every 10 all-British marriages are now providing work for the matrimonial courts, divorce courts or solicitors’ offices, and there is no evidence that the proportion of unsuccessful British-American marriages is as high as that.
The great majority which turn out most happily do not usually make news, so we are pleased to mention the happy welcome which was given to Mrs. Charles Grinolds (nee Margaret Eley), only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. V. Eley of Ashwell, when she arrived at her new home at Mauston, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
With her husband, former Staff Sgt. C. Grinolds, and Charles Victor Jr., who was born after his father left England last July, Mrs. Grinolds arrived at her new hometown at 4 a.m. but found crowds and (Wisconsin State Journal) photographers awaiting to welcome her, a repeat performance of what had already happened at Chicago.
It was at Chicago that Margaret had a big surprise. While she was following the military policeman assigned to her at the railroad station, a civilian came up and took the baby from her arms. She was frightened at first, but then realized that the young man was no stranger. It was her husband, whom she had not expected would meet her at Chicago and whom she had never before seen in civilian clothes.
Bigger surprises were to come.
This is what happened to Margaret at Mauston, according to the Wisconsin State Journal:
‘Thrilled with a surprise house new and completely furnished, Mrs. Grinolds found it furnished even to pictures and books, and in the basement were 187 quarts of fruit, 30 quarts of canned chicken and other canned goods. On the table in a modernistic kitchen was a large angel food cake with the inscription ‘Welcome,’ while the percolator was sputtering its tune upon a recently installed new electric range.
‘Nice work, Margaret.’ ”
After publishing the original blog post on this subject in 2015, I received correspondence from Nigel Reed, a nephew of the couple from the Eley side of the family. Nigel supplied a digital copy of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Express with the May 1946 Grinolds story. That, in turn, led me to discover two additional articles written by my grandfather Carl in 1946. The first is detailed above. The other appeared in The Wisconsin State Journal February 18, 1946, the day before Mrs. Grinolds reached Mauston and saw her new home:
Furnished Bungalow Awaits English Bride of Area Man
By Carl F. Hanneman
State Journal Correspondent
MAUSTON — A completely furnished five-room modern bungalow is waiting in Mauston for Mrs. Helen Margaret Grinolds as a surprise for the English war bride, wife of Staff Sgt. Charles Grinolds, Mauston.
Mrs. Grinolds was among the hundreds of war brides scheduled to arrive in New York last weekend on the Santa Paula, and was to come directly to Mauston with their son, Charles Victor, who was born July 29, 1945, after his father left England for home.
She was to arrive in Mauston late today.
Sgt. Grinolds entered service in February 1942 and left for England in September 1942. He was stationed in England for 33 months and returned home in July 1945. He was discharged that September.
The couple was married in St. Mary’s church at Ashwell, England, and theirs was the first Anglo-American wedding performed in Ashwell during the war. Mrs. Grinolds is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.V. (Harold Victor) Eley, Ashwell, and she has one brother, Antone, 16. •
My original post had details on Charles, his military history and his untimely death in 1950. But with the help of Mr. Reed and some additional digging, we can put more details to this heartwarming love story.
Charles Dockstader Grinolds died on Sunday, July 30, 1950 at his Mauston home of a heart ailment. He was just 36. By that time, he and Margaret had three sons: Charles Victor, who had celebrated his 5th birthday the day before his father’s death; Anthony Basil, 3; and Stephen McClellan, 1. After suffering such a devastating loss, Mrs. Grinolds took her sons and returned to England and the support of her family. They came back to the United States in August 1951 aboard the ship Queen Mary.
Mrs. Grinolds married William Osborne in Mauston on March 30, 1952. The couple moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1965. She died September 5, 1972 in Colorado Springs.
The three sons of Charles and Margaret Grinolds all had military careers like their father. Charles V. Grinolds served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and in Iraq. He died on June 10, 2006. Stephen M. Grinolds served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1967-1972. He died on December 23, 2005. Anthony B. Grinolds served in the U.S. Air Force in England. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Work on the grain threshing stopped just long enough for the farm laborers to pose for a photograph taken by Solomon D. Butcher. The caption reads: “Threshing crew on farm of E.F. Hanneman, Watertown, Buffalo County, Nebraska.” The year was 1903. The image was submitted to the Library of Congress by the Nebraska State Historical Society.
The glass-plate negative photo is interesting for several reasons. One is the hand-drawn accents, such as the smoke coming from the steam engine and the straw pouring from the chute of the thresher. In the age of Adobe Photoshop and digital photo manipulation, these details might cause a chuckle. The “smoke” hardly looks real. But these details are charming nonetheless, a look at how photographers created detail and motion in photographs of that era.
The photo is not only of a Hanneman family farm, but it also has ties to Wisconsin. The “E.F. Hanneman” mentioned in the caption refers to Edward F. Hanneman, who lived much of his life in Buffalo County, Nebraska. Edward was born in Wisconsin in October 1880, presumably in Columbia County north of Madison. His family lived there for a time before moving west to Nebraska.
Edward’s father, Ernest Ludwig Friedrich Hanneman, was born in Pomerania in 1843. He came to America in 1861. Ernest’s parents, Dietrich and Maria Hanneman, settled in Columbia County, but had both died by 1880. Dietrich and Maria are buried in Hillside Cemetery in Columbus, Wis. By the time of the 1900 U.S. Census, the Ernest Hanneman family had settled in Amanda Township in Buffalo County, Nebraska.
We’ve noted on these pages before that Columbia County, Wisconsin, was one of the Wisconsin Hanneman enclaves in the late 1800s. There were others in Dane, Fond du Lac, Dodge, Marathon, Wood, Portage, Racine, Winnebago and Outagamie counties. My Hanneman line settled in Portage and Wood counties, starting in 1861. There could be a connection between the Dietrich Hanneman line and my line (Matthias Hanneman, 1794-1879). More research is needed.
Many, if not most, of the Hannemans who settled the U.S. Midwest in the 1800s came from the Duchy of Pomerania, a long-ago Baltic state which is now part of Poland and Germany. My family line goes back to at least 1550 in Kreis (county) Regenwalde, Pomerania. Some of the Marathon County Hannemans moved west and settled in Lake County, South Dakota. Some Hannemans who emigrated to Wisconsin later settled in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska.
The American Memory project was one of the Library of Congress’ early efforts to digitize some 5 million images from its trove of priceless photographs. It invited submissions from libraries and historical societies around the nation. The Edward F. Hanneman farm photo was part of the collection “Prairie Settlement: Nebraska Photographs and Family Letters.”