The photograph is very poignant. A frail man, sitting in the afternoon sun on the front porch steps. He looks haggard and tired, maybe ill. This image is the last known photograph taken of Karl Frederick Christian Hanneman, who was known around Wisconsin Rapids as Charles or “Chas” Hanneman. The photo likely dates to 1931 or 1932, when he suffered from prostate cancer that eventually took his life.
Charles Hanneman came to America in late November 1882 with his parents, Christian and Amanda Hanneman. He was just 15 when the family made its way from Stettin, Pomerania to Portage County, Wisconsin. Charles, his three brothers and two sisters settled on a 105-acre farm in the northwest corner of the Town of Grant, near the tiny hamlet of Kellner.
Charles worked on the Hanneman farm for a time. His brothers would stay in farming (maps from that period show many Hanneman farms in Portage County), but eventually Charles left farming and found work in one of the area’s many sawmills.
At some point in his early 20s, Charles made the acquaintance of Rosine Ostermann, the eldest daughter of John and Mina Ostermann of the Town of Grand Rapids. They had many things in common. Both grew up on the family farm. Rosie’s parents were from Germany (Saxony and Prussia), and his were from Pomerania. Rosie’s grandfather George Ostermann was one of the pioneers of Portage County, listed on the earliest tax roll of the Town of Grant in 1864.
On April 2, 1891, Charles and Rosie were married at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kellner in a divine service performed by A.G. Grimm. The witnesses were Charles’ father, Christian, and his brother, William. The bride’s attendants were her sister, Elsie Ostermann, and Emma Pribbernow. The groomsmen were cousins August Saeger and Herman Hanneman.
The young couple came to know heartache early in their marriage. Their firstborn, referred in the records only as “C.H. Hanneman,” died in infancy in 1892. They went on to have four sons: Arthur John (1893), Frank Herman Albert (1895), Wilbert George (1899), and our own Carl Henry Frank (1901).
Work in the sawmill must have been erratic, or Charles left that occupation for a time. In 1900, U.S. Census records show the family living and working on the farm of Charles’ brother, William Hanneman.
By 1905, Charles moved his family to the second ward in the city of Grand Rapids. He initially did manual labor for the city of Grand Rapids,possibly working on construction of the water and sewer works. The financial statements for the city in December 1907 show Charles worked 135 hours that month and earned 17.5 cents per hour for a paycheck of $23.63.
By 1910 the family was living at 1774 Baker Street in Grand Rapids. The U.S. Census that year lists Charles as a laborer at a box factory. That may have referred to Consolidated Water, Power & Paper Co., where he later worked until his retirement, or the nearby Badger Box company.
On March 31, 1918, tragedy struck the Hanneman home when Rosine died suddenly at age 48. Her death notice, which ran on page 1 of the Daily Leader, said she was fine during the day but fell ill and died at 11 p.m. We know that she had diabetes, and that may have contributed to her death. Carl was 16 when his mother died.
Charles remarried in August 1919 and lived out his remaining years in his home at 1751 Baker Street. He became ill with prostate cancer in 1931 and was hospitalized numerous times in Wausau for surgery and treatments. He died at home on Oct. 11, 1932. He was 65. His death made front-page news in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.
FAMILY LINE: Karl Frederick Christian Hanneman >> Carl F. Hanneman >> Donn, David & Lavonne Hanneman
©2015 The Hanneman Archive