The children had remained silent
|The Peters-Mindling farm about 1920|
during their father's often-heard tale of the family's journey to America. It was a warm spring day, and they may have dozed a bit as the wagon slowly made its way up and down and around the hills of Ohio. The dusty road was overhung with hickory, black and white oak, and walnut trees, and a bright blue sky pierced through gaps in the cover of green leaves passing slowly by overhead. But when papa's tale told with his strong German accent paused for a moment, Anna Maria, who loved the stories, said, "Tell us more, Papa - please?"
|The Jacob Peters clock. The works|
were brought to America in 1833.
The case was built by Jacob and
his son Carl on the homestead farm
in Washington County, Ohio. It
resided on the farm for many years,
then in the home of my Dad's Aunt
Anna and her husband Will Jones
in Beverly Ohio. On her death she
had the clock shipped to my Dad in
Novato, California. Grandma Hilda
and I have been caretakers since
But is was grandpa Jacob and grandma Katharina who picked up the tale later that evening, as they sat around the fire in a cozy room warmly lit by a kerosene lamp. They told how 27 years earlier they had chosen about 100 acres, balancing their savings against the quality of land they could afford. With help from neighbors and relatives, Jacob and the children's father Carl, who was then 16, turned the land into a farm. Trees were felled to open up fields for cultivation, while retaining a sizeable "woodlot". A home, barns, and a workshop were built, and a good well located near the house which was soon overhung with a grape arbor. A forge was set up in the workshop to repair the metal parts of farm equipment, and even used to manufacture parts on occasion.
With the family settled in, and some time available, one of the first projects Jacob and his son Carl undertook in the workshop was to build a case to house the works for a clock which had been brought all the way from Germany. Since the clock was run by a pair of weights, it had to be tall to allow the weights room enough to drop, allowing the clock to run for eight days before re-winding. The weights were made of tin, curved and soldered into a cylinder, and filled with scraps of metal from the forge. Apparently at first the weights were not heavy enough to keep the clock running and turn the chiming mechanism, as an additional few inches were added to each one, together with more rusted nuts and bolts and odd bits of metal.
Zea, you will remember helping me to wind that clock a couple of years ago. Why do you suppose the clock was so treasured that it was carried all the way to America and the lovely case then hand crafted with such great patience and effort? My theory is that in a way it was as important a tool for connecting with the world outside the home then as our smart phones, tablets, and computers are today. Time was how you knew when you had to leave to get to church on time, when the train would arrive bringing visitors of farm supplies and equipment, when friends were expected to call. Plus, it was very cool - an imposing sign that your home was settled and comfortable.
Soon it was time for the children to go to bed
|Drawing of a German officer, by Jacob Peters.|
From the Peters family we get much of our urge to learn, make art,
and make music. Jacob and his son Carl were both avid readers, musicians,
and craftsmen. The care and skill that Jacob and Carl put into
crafting the case for the clock carried from Germany is one example.
The family maintained a library, and several books have from it
have survived to be handed down in our care. Jacob was also a
musician, and we have a clarinet he once played, together with
some beautifully drawn sheet music. Carl was well known in his
community for the children's toys he made in his woodshop, and
elegantly hand lettered aphorisms. NOTE - find Carl's paintings
, but Anna Maria and her sister Elizabeth lay awake for some time, listening to and comforted by the muted voices of their parents and grandparents as they continued to talk about "the old days". There may have been tales about Carl's courtship with Anna Mary Henry, their marriage 13 years earlier in 1847, the births of their children, and the expected birth of another child.
But life was a bit harsh then - medical care was scarce, and drugs to treat infections not as available - and childhood mortality was high. Their first child, a daughter, Anna Catherine, had lived only three years. And as the family enjoyed their cozy Sunday evening in the spring of 1860, they could not know that Anna Maria's mother would die while delivering her fifth child, Margaret, in August of that year.
But despite the tragedies, the family lived a full and rich life, far from simply scratching out a living on hilly farmland. The family enjoyed music and books, and was known in the community for being among the early pioneers and for assisting their neighbors when needed. Carl remarried a second wife, Elizabeth Meister, in 1861. Unfortunately Elizabeth also died, in 1874, and Carl remarried a third time a year later. Working a farm required a partnership of a man and a woman, as well as the support of many children.
Now we continue to move
|Carl Peters and his then wife, Anna (Starlin) with their|
horse and buggy in 1896
on from that Sunday afternoon and evening in 1860 with the Carl Peters family. In 1870 Anna Maria's sister, Elizabeth, married a young man, Nicholas, from the neighboring Mindling farm. The Mindlings had also emigrated from Germany, but that's a whole 'nother story
. And then in 1875 Anna Maria and Nicholas' brother, Jacob, are married. I love this part of the story - it reminds me of the great old movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - a favorite of your grandma Jean's/
Anna Maria and Jacob Mindling remained on the farm to help with the labor and management, and in 1877 when Carl turned 60 he deeded the farm to them. Part of the arrangement was that Carl and his then wife, Anna Starlin, would continue to live on the farm and be provided with a horse and buggy. In his long retirement Carl Peters continued with his music and reading, and enjoyed making elegantly drawn mottos and wooden toys for his grandchildren.
|Anna Maria's grandfather, Carl Peters, in|
1896. Zea's GGGgrandfather.
When Carl Frederick Peters was born on
September 8, 1817, in Bad Durkheim, Rhineland-Palatinate,
Germany, his father Johan (Jacob) was 33 and his mother,
Katharina, was 25. Carl was marrried three times, and
had one son and five daughters between 1848and 1860.
He died on July 23, 1907, in Watertown, Ohio, having
lived a long life of 89 years.
And there were quite a few grandchildren. My dad told me about them many years when my mom and dad sold ago their home so that they could travel in their trailer. That was when dad passed the Peters clock into my care. So I sat turned on a tape recorder and asked him to tell me the story of the clock. . In telling the story of where the clock came from and how he had come into possession of it, he also told me about all of the children who were born to Anna Maria and Jacob Mindling on that farm in Ohio. There were three girls and three boys, including my grandfather, and your Ggrandfather, John Mindling.