More than 60 years after it was first used to ward off mosquitoes and other pests in central Wisconsin, the lavender and citronella scent of Carl F. Hanneman’s Stay-Off bug repellent still lingers across time. The Mauston pharmacist invented his own blend of essential oils that provided a natural defense against biting pests, and he sold the product across the area for years.
Carl Hanneman’s inspiration for his product came from his need for extra income, and his knowledge of chemistry and pharmacology. Even in the depths of World War II, when rationing made it difficult to obtain raw materials, Carl found a way to make Stay-Off and sell it at taverns, bait shops and resorts all over the area. Due to an abundance of lakes and rivers, Central Wisconsin is known for proliferation of mosquitoes and other flying pests during tourist season.
“His being a pharmacist allowed him access to some of the compounds needed to make this stuff,” recalled Carl’s son, David D. Hanneman. The topical elixir, which used an olive oil base and a secret recipe of lavender, citronella and other essential oils, was often mixed on the back porch of the Hanneman home in Mauston, Wis. “It was kind of comical,” David Hanneman said.
Aside from providing access to the needed ingredients, Carl’s role as pharmacist at the Mauston Drug Store had other benefits that helped him sell Stay-Off on his own time. “Because he was his own dispensary, he was able to upgrade his gas card,” David Hanneman said. “So we weren’t restricted and limited in traveling. We could go back on up north and go fishing or do whatever over weekends. And we’d drop off a dozen bottles here, and a dozen bottles at that bar, a dozen bottles over at that other fishery house.”
Carl wrote his own marketing copy to help sell the 4-ounce bottles of Stay-Off. “Stay-Off is not only an excellent insect repellent, but has that cool, soothing and refreshing feeling on hot summer days,” he wrote. “It is highly recommended for women and children’s skin, producing a soft tenderness due to the semi-olive oil base.” The lotion soothes existing bug bites and provides protection against strong sun rays, he wrote.
David Hanneman said selling Stay-Off was a nice side business for the family. “It gave us nice added income,” he said, although “we never got rich off the stuff.”
The recipe for Stay-Off called for making the mixture in 1 gallon batches. A half-gallon of Stay-Off and several 4-ounce bottles survive to this day. All of the ingredients are still commercially available. So even 60 years after it was first mixed, it would be possible to make more Stay-Off using Carl’s old recipe.
This was a day I’d long dreaded. I knew it was coming, and prepared for it the best I could. But I feared it still, because I did not have an answer for the question it posed. How do I — how could I — say goodbye to our family home?
I walked through the now nearly empty house and I still had no answer. So much had happened during the nearly 14 years we lived here. Our third child joined us here. They all grew up here. Our oldest went off to college from here. I started a home-based business here; a business that failed during the long recession. That’s what eventually brought me to this day, just a short time before foreclosure would take it all away.
I stood in the front entryway and listened. Nothing. The quiet was almost deafening. A few boxes and odds and ends were scattered about, but very little remained of the home I loved. This is not how a home is supposed to look. I’m struck by how cold and empty it is. No pictures on the walls. No dogs running to the window to bark at the mailman. No children watching a favorite movie. No charcoal grill cooking steaks out on the deck. No carefully decorated Christmas tree in the corner of the family room, sending out a warm glow into the night. No family saying grace at the dinner table. This is not how I want to remember our home.
I start to walk the house. Almost like a projected movie, the memories flowed, right before my eyes.
I peered outside the small window to the left of the front door. I can almost see my late father coming up the sidewalk with a broad smile and saying, “Hello, Jofus” (that was his little word play on my given name after St. Joseph). September 15, 2006. That was the last time he was here. The sun glints off his silver hair, he waves, and is gone.
I turn and start to head up the stairs to the second floor. The paint color is darker on a large section of the wall. For most of the time we lived here, a giant quilt hung on the wall, embroidered with the saying, “In a House with Love, All things are Possible.” The carpeting on a section of the landing looked new where a small cherry bookcase sat. The case had belonged to my Grandpa Carl. On top of the case I had a shrine with candles, a large crucifix and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On many nights those candles burned in prayer for a dying relative, a sick friend or some special intention. I used to get angry at our son for dipping his fingers into the hot wax and either making fingerprints on the wood, or rolling little marble-size balls of warm wax that he left along the edge of the bookcase. What a silly thing to get upset about. How I wish I could put the case back and have those wax fingerprints again.
At the top of the stairs, I paused. This was the site of one of the most frightening events in family history. Samantha, then 4, was playing with a magic kit. It had a small polystyrene ball and a black tube. Her little eyes turned to a look of terror when she realized the ball had become lodged in her throat. My wife tried the Heimlich maneuver and smacking Samantha between the shoulders. It didn’t work. In desperation, she picked little Samantha up by the ankles and held her upside down. Pop! Out it came. The tears of relief flowed.
I turned left and entered the master bedroom. The heart of the house was now nearly empty. In the corner still stood a chest of drawers. I opened the top drawer and saw an envelope and more than a dozen plastic baggies. Each bag contained a tiny tooth, snatched from under a child’s pillow and replaced with a gift. It was good of the Tooth Fairy to leave them. I kept them all. I picked up the letter, which was addressed to Santa Claus, North Pole. It even had a stamp on it. I gathered the bags and the letter into my pockets. Precious memories need to be kept.
I walked down the hallway toward the children’s bedrooms. On the wall I could see the outlines where our wedding photos used to hang. How young we all looked on that Saturday, December 1, 1990, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. I still had hair and was 40 pounds lighter. What a blessed day that was. Such a contrast to the sadness of today.
As I approach the first bedroom, I see a large hole near the bottom of the wooden door. I remember the day in 2002 I rushed home from work because our then 10-year-old son Stevie had kicked a hole in the door in a fit of anger. As I walked inside the room, I could almost see my son’s battery-operated pteradactyl, flying in circles, anchored to the ceiling by fishing line. The wooden dressers that once sat along the western wall for years had glass aquariums on top — home to hermit crabs, green anole lizards and frogs. The anoles had a diet of live crickets, which were as likely to escape into the carpet as end up in a lizard’s stomach.
Across the hall, I was impressed by the cheery green paint of another child’s bedroom. There were glow-in-the-dark stars pressed all over the ceiling. Pet nets hung in the corners, once home to dozens of stuffed animals. They are empty now. This room had changed hands several times over the years. It started out with white walls as a nursery. The white steel crib sat against the far wall, waiting for its new resident. She came home on a July 4 during our first summer here. It was 104 degrees outside. Little Ruby spent a week in intensive care with a hole in her lung. She was our third baby. We worried so much about her. Every peep on the baby monitor sent us scurrying down the hall. But all was well. How many times I sat in the oak rocking chair in this room, feeding Ruby a bottle. There’s no feeling in the world like rocking a newborn in the still of the night. I thank God for the experience, and the memories.
There was one last bedroom on my tour. Over the years it was painted blue, white, pink and yellow. Today I saw a toddler bed tucked in the corner. I was reading a book to a curly hair redhead. It was a classic Dr. Seuss tome, Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?It was a favorite of all three children for its memorable, rhythmic lines. “Dibble dibble dop dop, cock-a-doodle-doo! Mr. Brown can do it. How about you?” Once the book was done, we started a nightly ritual to see how long I’d sit by her bed as she fell asleep. I started the bidding. “I’ll stay THESE minutes,” I said, holding up two fingers. “No, THESE minutes,” Samantha shot back, holding up five fingers on each hand. After a few rounds of this, she usually won. Now I wish I had these minutes back again. As I turned to leave the room, I saw both daughters asleep in their beds. A small lamp threw off just enough to illumine the room. In my head I could hear a favorite Nat King Cole song:
Lights out, sweetheart / One more perfect day is through
Lights out, sweetheart / One more perfect dream come true
We’ve reached the hour of parting / So kiss me tenderly
Lights out, sweetheart / Close your eyes and dream of me
Close your eyes and dream … of me
Back down the stairs, I stood in the foyer again. My grandmother’s 1899 Singer sewing machine had been the centerpiece for years as the staging place for all sorts of family displays. I saw the children gathered around the Advent wreath, taking turns lighting the purple and rose candles. Or placing Baby Jesus into the Nativity creche on Christmas Eve. Most of the year it was covered with framed family photos, from the kids’ sports and school pictures to the large wooden-framed antique photo of my Grandma Ruby Hanneman (1904-1977).
I walked into the kitchen and was overwhelmed with memories of family meals, birthday parties, family meetings and prayer time. I recall our weekly ritual of doing a “blessing cup” ceremony, where each of us would take the blessing cup and talk about something we are thankful for. Ruby, who was very young when we started the tradition, always said the same thing: “I’m sankable (thankful) for my skoowa (school).” It never got old. Today, the table is gone and the blessing cup is packed away. I am still most thankful for it all.
I looked out the sliding glass door to the deck. Suddenly the gas grill was fired up and I was cooking steaks, vegetable kabobs and hot dogs. On the corner of the deck, a fire pit crackled with warmth in the fall night, with our children and the neighbors gathered around, toasting marshmallows. A group of children and adults sat in chairs on the deck, watching me light fireworks for July 4th. “Ooh, pretty! Light the big one now, Daddy.” I looked up at the second-story windows and saw the low flickering light from a television playing a favorite Disney movie, Aladdin.
I walked around the front of the house and the snow was suddenly 3 feet deep. On the porch was my Dad’s handmade wooden Nativity scene, which daughter Samantha had repainted and restored. It glowed a welcoming gold, red and green in the cold darkness. I walked toward the garage and all three kids came running down the driveway with their fishing poles and a tackle box in tow. “Wait for me!” one yelled, as they ran towards the neighborhood pond. How I miss those fishing days now.
I walked back inside and stood at the foot of the stairway. I listened, but heard nothing. Heavy silence. Nobody home anymore. My heart was so heavy, it felt like stone. I never wanted this day, but now it was here, and at an end. “Thank you so much,” I said out loud, almost expecting the house to answer me. “I’m sorry I failed you. Thank you for sheltering us for so long. I will never forget.” There was one more word I thought I should speak, but the lump in my throat kept it from coming out. I just couldn’t say it.
I pulled out of the driveway for the last time and started to drive away. I stopped and looked out the window. More than a decade of memories were visible to me all at once. They swirled around the house like fairy dust. In the upper window, my oldest daughter laid on her bed, reading a book. On the front lawn, our preschool children splashed in a pool. Relatives filed in the front door with armloads of Christmas presents. Our son sat in a lawn chair on the porch, studying for exams. All three children romped during a nighttime snowstorm. “Dadda, it’s snowing!”A petting zoo was set up in the front yard for a birthday party, with children taking turns riding a pony around the block. A tent was set up for a summertime sleepover. The smell of steaks wafted from the backyard grill. My Dad got out of his blue sedan and walked up the driveway with a wave. Voices rang out from the children’s rooms:“I had a bad dream.” “Santa came!” “I got all As!” “I love you, too.” “I’m really proud of you.”
I rolled down the window and took it all in. I waved and bid all of the memories to come with me. And so they followed. Some things are just too precious to leave behind. ♦
When the Johann Adam Treutel family emigrated to America from Darmstadt, Germany, they spread out across Eastern Wisconsin. Young Philipp Treutel and his wife settled in rural Waukesha County and became neighbors of some of the area’s best known pioneers. The young blacksmith set up shop in the heart of the village of Mukwonago, former Potawatomi Indian lands on the banks of what was then called Mill Pond.
According to the 1860 U.S. Census, Philipp, Henrietta and baby Adeline Treutel lived in the same area as Sewall Andrews, the founder of Mukwonago and a major Wisconsin land owner. Andrews built a general store in 1837 that became a major trade center for the county. He built his own red brick house at the village center in 1842. The brick house still stands today along Main Street in Mukwonago and now houses the local museum. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Treutel residence is listed as No. 379 made during census visits in Mukwonago. The Andrews’ home was No. 372. Other nearby residents included Samuel Worthman, the village cooper (barrel maker); Martin Field, who owned the saw mill; Hezekiah Job, the tailor; and Melvin Gibson, who ran the livery stable. Field was also an attorney who became town justice of the peace and later a Waukesha County judge. The village park is named in his honor.
The 1870 plat map for Waukesha County shows Philipp Treutel’s blacksmith shop and residence mere blocks from Andrews’ famous red brick home. The Treutel shop was near the intersection of Fox and Mill streets, close to the office of H.A. Youmans M.D., the town’s physician and surgeon. Nearby was Mukwonago House, the hotel run by Adolph Platner. Just to the south were the E.H. Kellogg saw mill and grist mill on the banks of the Mukwonago River.
We know the Treutel family moved from Mukwonago to the crossroads village of North Prairie, since obituaries and other newspaper accounts referred to the family homestead at North Prairie. However, the family name is not shown on the 1891 plat map for North Prairie. It is possible they had a homestead on some of the property owned by the Carlin family.
The family included Adeline Barbara (1859-1928), Lisetta (1861-1931), Henry Adam (1864-1962), Charles (1869-1958), Oscar (1874-1967), Emma (1877-1962) and Walter (1879-1948).
After Philipp Treutel died in June 1891, his widow moved the family north to tiny Vesper, in Wood County. Her sons worked as blacksmiths, retail merchants and a U.S. Postal Service carrier. Emma Treutel Carlin served as postmistress of Vesper in the early 1900s. Henrietta Treutel died in 1908. Philipp and Henrietta are buried at North Prairie Cemetery.
It might not have been the Hatfields and McCoys, but thesimmering feud between the John Hinz and William Moody families of Wood County, Wis., almost turned fatal in February 1902.
The Moody and Hinz farms sat just across the road from one another in the Town of Arpin, about a mile north of Vesper, Wis. On Monday, Feb. 3, trouble started when the two family dogs got into a fight. Members of both families then got into a roadside meleethat ended with William Moody being shot in the chest by 22-year-old Frank Hinz.
Newspaper accounts of the donnybrook varied wildly. The Marshfield Times said Moody was “probably fatally wounded”by the “young criminal” Hinz, whom the paper said has a “sneaky and guilty look about him.” The Grand Rapids Tribune called Hinz a “poor shot,” noting that he missed once and actually shot his own father in the wrist with another of his bullets.Lena (Treutel) Moody, aunt of Ruby Treutel of Vesper, swung an axe handle at Frank Hinz during the fracas.
The Tribune said neither man was seriously wounded, although three surgeons responded to the scene. Hinz was arrested by Wood County Sheriff James McLaughlin and charged with assault with attempt to kill Moody.
According to newspaper accounts, the dispute between the families involved pets, children and parents. A few months before the shooting, Martha Hinz reportedly threw pepper in the face of one of the Moody children. The dogs would fight whenever they came into contact.
On the day of the shooting, Lena Moody and John Hinz got into a shouting match in the road after the most recent dog fight. When William Moody came upon the scene, he got into fisticuffs with the elder Hinz. Young Frank Hinz retrieved a revolver from the farmhouse and fired several shots at close range.
At his trial in May 1902, the prosecution called numerous witnesses, including William Moody, Lena Moody, daughters Esther and Anna, and Lisetta (Treutel) Moody, another aunt of Ruby Treutel. Each witness for the state was paid $2.28 for their appearance in court. Hinz was found guilty of a reduced charge of simple assault and fined $50 plus court costs by Justice of the Peace T.J. Cooper. With costs the total levied against Hinz was about $200, in lieu of a six-month jail term.
It would be hard not to respect a man who worked diligently at his job six days a week for 30 years. For Walter Treutel, the job record was even more impressive. His career as a rural letter carrier took him on a nearly 240,000-mile journey making sure the people of Vesper, Wisconsin received their mail and packages from 1904 to 1934.
“The new rural mail carriers who will begin carrying mail on the 10 new routes on December 1st received their appointment from Washington last week,” the local Grand Rapids, Wis., newspaper announced in November 1904. “These carriers all took the competitive examination in this city four weeks ago and those fortunate to receive an appointment will now only have to file their bond for the faithful performance of their duty.” Walter’s first day as a letter carrier was Dec. 1, 1904. He was just two years married to the former Mary Ladick, and their firstborn child, Ruby, was just six months old.
His first trip over Rural Route 1 was made in an open buggy pulled by two ponies. He and his sister, Emma Carlin, rode that first 26.5-mile run together to deliver just 35 pieces of mail. At the time, the Vesper postal station was located inside the Treutel Bros. store, run by Walter’s brothers, Charles and Henry Treutel. Walter’s official postal substitute was his wife, Mary.
The dirt roads were rough and filled with chuckholes. The buggy rode over corduroy — soft or swampy sections that were shored up by placing logs across the path. Roads were so punishing in those early days that horses typically lasted only two years in service.
The first open postal buggy was eventually replaced by a covered postal wagon. Walter used a dozen horses on his route over the years. One of the toughest, “Old Baldy,”served for seven years in all sorts of weather. His first automobile, a two-cylinder Buick roadster, was nicknamed “The Little Red Devil.” Three other postal vehicles served on the route during his tenure.
He served under five postmasters during his 30 years, including his sister Emma Carlin, who was Vesper postmistress for nine years starting in 1906. In November 1934, Walter took his overdue two-week vacation, then returned for one final route on Dec. 1 — thirty years to the day after his first day on the job.
Walter was born July 23, 1879 in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, the son of Philipp and Henrietta (Krosch) Treutel. Walter’s wife, the former Mary Helen Ladick, died in 1925 after suffering a post-operative infection. She was just 41. They had five children, four of whom (Ruby, Nina, Marvin and Elaine) survived into adulthood. Walter died Feb. 15, 1948 of lingering heart disease. He was 68.
FAMILY LINE:Johann Adam Treutel >> Philipp Treutel >> Walter Treutel >> Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman >> Donn, David and Lavonne Hanneman.
Before embarking on his long sales career, David D. Hanneman (1933-2007) briefly owned and operated a Standard Oil gasoline station at the corner of Union and State streets in Mauston, Wisconsin. Newly discovered color slides show Hanneman working at the Standard station, most likely in the summer of 1951 after his graduation from Mauston High School.
The photos show a dapper young attendant (think Clark Kent) posed outside the station, leaning on the soda cooler. Another image shows him cleaning the windshield of a customer’s auto, part of the “full service” treatment that disappeared long ago. The station featured the classic pumps that delivered Red Crown regular and White Crown premium gasoline.
During the 1950s, Standard Oil was the dominant domestic oil company in the United States. Its torch-and-oval logo was instantly recognizable to millions of Americans (even after Standard became Amoco). The Mauston Standard station stood at the busiest intersection in the city. A Kwik Trip station occupies the land today.
After owning and managing the station, Hanneman realized the job was not for him. He went on to take classes at La Crosse State (now called University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) and worked as a salesman at Dahl Motors in La Crosse, before his career in pharmaceutical and veterinary medical sales.
It was the fire of the century in the tiny city of Mauston, Wisconsin. Life may have started normally on Friday, Jan. 5, 1945, but before 9 a.m. a massive fire broke out that threatened to wipe out the city’s downtown. The man called on to document the blaze for local law enforcement was Carl F. Hanneman, the druggist at the Mauston Drug Store. It may have been the most prominent collection of photos he shot, but was just one among many accidents, fires and crime scenes he photographed over the years.
Carl would have been readying himself for the trip to the pharmacy downtown when the fire broke out that January morning. About 8:30 a.m. the fire started in the rear of the Gamble Stores building along the north side of State Street. Within 30 minutes it had spread to four downtown buildings and threatened the entire business district.
As firefighters from Mauston tried in vain to control the blaze in subzero temperatures, reinforcements from fire departments in Lyndon, New Lisbon and Wisconsin Dells raced to help. Carl stood just behind the line of rescue workers and took photos.
It took five hours to control the huge blaze, which destroyed Gamble’s, Mauston Press Club dry cleaners, Samisch Bakery, the Fred Denzien barber shop and the All-Star restaurant. At one point during the blaze, the brick facade of the All-Star fell onto the street. Nearby businesses, including Vorlo Drug and Coast to Coast, were badly burned. Damage exceeded $80,000 – equivalent to more than $1 million in 2014 dollars. Mauston Fire Chief John Smith said calm winds kept the fire from sweeping through the entire downtown.
Carl’s efforts that day earned him a page 1 photo in the Wisconsin State Journal, and two additional photos on page 11. He served as a Mauston correspondent for The State Journal for many years, garnering numerous front-page stories and photographs.
Carl documented many local emergencies in Mauston and surrounding areas. He captured the moment when a semi-trailer plowed into the front of the Tourist Hotel, knocking down the sign and collapsing the awning. Many of these photographs have a custom “CF Hanneman” imprint on the back, so it’s obvious Carl shot a fair number of news photos. Some photos from the 1945 fire have even shown up on Ebay.
Another newly discovered photograph from 1905 shows the Chas. Hanneman family of Grand Rapids, Wisconsin. It is the earliest known photo of this family, and the only clear photograph we have of mother Rosine Bertha Henrietta (Osterman) Hanneman.
This photo is a real treasure for its clarity and detail. Often prints this old have many flaws and defects, but this is one of the best in the Hanneman Archive collection. We received it courtesy of Tom Hanneman of Minneapolis. It was originally from the photo collection of one of the boys in the photo, Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982).
It is also one of perhaps three photos we have that show Rosine “Rosie” Hanneman. This mother of five (her firstborn died in 1891) died on Easter Sunday 1918 of diabetes. She was just 47 years old. She lived in the days before availability of insulin.
The father of the family, Carl Frederick Christian (“Chas”) Hanneman (1866-1932) worked many jobs in central Wisconsin. He was initially a farmer after emigrating to Wisconsin from Meesow, Kreis Regenwalde, Pomerania, in November 1882. He worked in the timber industry before moving his family to the city of Grand Rapids (now called Wisconsin Rapids). There he worked as a laborer (17 cents per hour) digging and installing the city’s new sewer system in the early part of the 20th Century. Eventually, Chas took on work in a paper mill. He died of prostate cancer shortly after retiring from the mill.
One of Chas’ grandchildren, Donn G. Hanneman, recalled sitting on the hospital bed when Chas was being treated for his cancer. “I’m going to heaven soon,” Chas told the 6-year-old. “I’d like it if you would put flowers on my grave.”
Back in the days when horses were the main mode of transportation, many homes across America had carriage stones near the street to assist those stepping down from horse-drawn carriages.
A fine example of the carriage stone stands in front of the old Hanneman home on Morris Street in Mauston, Wis. The carriage stone no doubt served its time as a platform to access horse-drawn transportation. But for many more decades the large granite stone was a family gathering place for photos and a launch pad for dozens of children at play.
More than 70 years of photographs held by The Hanneman Archive provide ample testimony to the importance of the old carriage stone. The earliest photographic records we have is from 1937, although the stone was likely original equipment when the home was built in the early 1890s. Brewmaster Charles Miller built the home at 22 Morris Street with the finest materials, so it’s no surprise he would have a carriage stone out front.
One photograph from about 1942 shows five people sitting on the stone for a photograph, including Ruby V. Hanneman and children Lavonne M. Hanneman, and David D. Hanneman. Another image from about 1957 shows Donn G. Hanneman, wife Elaine and children Diane, Caroline, Tom, Jane and Mary Ellen. The photo above shows Carl F. Hanneman and grandson David Carl Hanneman, taken circa 1965.
For the 15 grandchildren of Carl and Ruby Hanneman, the carriage stone was much more than a cool novelty. Just standing on the stone seemed to give a great vantage to the yard, even though the stone was just 18 inches high. It was always a race to see who would get first dibs on the stone.
For many of those old photos, family members sat or stood at the carriage stone in the shade of towering elm trees. The old trees are long gone now, but the stone remains, looking just the same as it did in the 1930s.
In several visits in years prior to his death in 2007, David D. Hanneman stopped at the house and asked the current owners if he could take the carriage stone. Initially they agreed, but later changed their minds. Seems the lady of the house had become attached to the old stone, as evidenced by the flowers lovingly planted around its edge. That’s understandable. Just another generation of folks who’ve come to care for that old carriage stone.
For decades, the records of St. John Lutheran Cemetery in Kellner, Wis., did not include a location for the grave of one of the church’s old settlers, Matthias Hannemann. His funeral and burial in May 1879 were recorded in the church register, but with no indication of burial location.
This more than century old mystery has been solved, however, and we now know where this early Hanneman forebear is laid to rest. As part of a research project for a forthcoming Hanneman history book, we found the grave location at the cemetery just southeast of Wisconsin Rapids.
Matthias Hannemann (1794-1879) is the earliest known ancestor of the Hanneman families of Wood and Portage counties of Wisconsin. He was the great-grandfather of Carl F. Hanneman of Mauston, Wis. Matthias came to America before June 1870 from Meesow, county Regenwalde, Pomerania, to settle with his children in north central Wisconsin.
During a site visit to St. John cemetery in July 2009, we determined that the earliest burials at the cemetery were physically arranged by date of death. Based on that, we determined Matthias would have been buried between August and Augusta Knoll (April 1878) and Carl Schmidt (October 1878). There was an unmarked grave in this spot, with a small portion of headstone poking above the grass.
We pulled back the overgrown grass and weeds and a light layer of sand to reveal a 1 foot square remnant of headstone. Some hints of lettering were visible on the badly weathered and corroded stone face. We photographed the stone and applied a variety of filters and effects to the photo file, but could not make out a name.
We asked Sue Alft, head of the St. John Cemetery committee, to visit the site. She agreed that the plot was the burial place of Matthias and his second wife, Caroline (Steffen) Hannemann. Coincidentally, Alft is descended from Matthias Hannemann through his daughter, Friedericke (Hannemann) Kruger (1825-1918).