Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Trees and Christmas Cousins: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

The prompt for December 1 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories is The Christmas Tree:
Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

I've addressed the first three questions in my post for this date last year.  As for the fourth question, this might be a Pape family Christmas tree circa 1913-1917:
I call this the "Christmas Cousins" picture, taken (I believe) between Christmas 1913 and Christmas 1917 inclusive.  I believe that this is a photograph of the seven children of John and Gertrude Kramer Pape, my great-grandparents, and the six children of John's brother Lorenz (or Laurenz) and his first wife Maria Henrietta Kamp Pape.  It was probably taken at John's home at 1043 Sherman Avenue in Evanston, Illinois, as this is where Lorenz' family first went when they immigrated.  By June 5, 1917, according to World War I draft registration cards, Lorenz and his family were living at 1622 Forest Avenue in nearby Wilmette, so the photo might have been taken there.  Or, it could have been taken in a professional photographer's studio.

So how did I get this picture?

Here's an e-mail I got from a third cousin named Mary Kay, after she and her sister viewed my posts in this blog about architect Ewald Pape and our mutual great-great grandparents, Jacob and Elizabeth Gierse Pape:
My sister was doing some family research and found your information about the Pape family. Our Grandmother was Maria (Mary) of Ewald’s sisters. I may be able to fill in a few holes in the family tree.  I recall meeting Ewald, Alma and Bert years ago when they visited my Grandmother in Nekoosa, Wisconsin where she lived. I also have a small painting Ewald did of a locomotive. (dated 1914). We were thrilled to see the picture of our mutual great-great grandparents. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Mary Kay and I have exchanged a number of e-mails, information, and photographs, including this "Christmas Cousins" photo, and one I used in a later post about Ewald.

Here's who I think is who (based on some input from Mary Kay, her 85-year-old mother, and my 82-year-old father):

Top row: Ewald*, Walter, Clara, Dick, Nellie*
Middle row: Maria*, Paul, Rhea, Karl*, Lee
Bottom row: Joseph*, Martha, August*

*children of Lorenz

My dad and I are absolutely positive about Clara, Paul, Rhea, and Lee.  Mary Kay and her mom are absolutely positive about Nellie and Maria.  Martha is the only girl left, so we are pretty sure that is her in front, but its underexposure makes it hard to be sure.  We're kind of guessing on the rest of the guys based on their relative ages.

The photo would have to been taken in 1913 or later, because 1913 is the year Lorenz and his kids by his first wife immigrated from Germany to the United States.  Here is how old everyone would have been at Christmas 1913 (so these would be the minimum ages for the cousins in the photo - they could have been older if it was taken in a later year):

Karl and Clara: 24
Martha: 23
Joseph: 22
Rhea and Maria: 21
Lee and August: 20
Ewald: 19
Paul and Nellie: 17
Dick: 15
Walter: 13

My mother thought that perhaps they assembled all the children (John's and Lorenz's) together for a photo one Christmas to send back to the family in Germany.  In fact, I have sent a copy of this photo to a German Pape cousin (descendant of John and Lorenz' brother Joseph) to see if anyone there has a copy.

I am guessing the photo was taken before 1918, as that is when the first cousin got married (Joseph in April).  It may have been taken before Clara moved to Sioux City (she is listed in their 1915 directory), although I suppose she could have come home for Christmas.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. What a great photo of cousins and with a Christmas tree right there too.