Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fearless Females: Marriage

March is Women's History month and the Accidental Genealogist has 31 blogging prompts for the month to celebrate. I'm not sure I'll participate in every prompt but I will today. The prompt is: Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo if you have one.

Wilhelmina "Minnie" Schalin was the first child to be born to Wilhelm Schalin and Auguste Fabriske after they immigrated from the Volhynia region of Russia (now Ukraine) to Alberta, Canada. Her mother died when she was four years old and her father soon remarried. Wilhelmina's step-mother was young, inexperienced and didn't much care for her step children. That dislike seemed focused on my grandmother. Wilhelm started taking Minnie into the fields with him to spare her some of the abuse. When she was nine she was sent out of the home to work for others.

Gustav "Gust" Lange was born in Lutske, Russia, also in the Volhynia area. He was the oldest child and his father died when he was young. He left home and worked in the Ruhr valley of Germany for five years, saving up for passage to Canada. I don't really know how Gust and Minnie met, but they did. He wrote her later, asked to marry her, and sent the train fare for her to come to Winnipeg where he was living. Minnie didn't know what to do. She showed the letter to her employer and asked his advice. He said, "Minnie, if he sent you the money, I guess he means business." So she went to Winnipeg.

Marriage Certificate for Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin

When she arrived, she stayed at the YWCA until they married on 9 April 1915 at Gust's home in Winnipeg. The house is still standing and I was able to find a photo on Google Earth.

386 Thomas Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; the home where Gustav and Wilhelmina were married

They later moved to Sanilac County, Michigan, and worked as migrant workers on a beet farm, while they saved enough money to buy their own farm. By 1920 they were living in Brandywine, Maryland, and farming land they purchased.

After their children -- nine in all -- were married, Gust told Minnie he would like to move to Peru! She told him he'd have to go without her.

Wilhelmina Schalin and Gustav Lange on their wedding day


  1. Really interesting story and very nice wedding picture. What happened, did Gust leave for Peru?

  2. Thank you. Gust stayed. My grandmother, Minnie, died in 1960 when I was two years old so I never really knew her. My grandfather, Gust, came to live with us afterwards. I thought the sun rose and set on him. He died in 1963 two days before Christmas. Of their 9 children, only the youngest two are still living -- my mother and Uncle Philip. I have such fond memories of my aunts and uncles and am in touch or close to most of my cousins. So Gust and Minnie certainly taught us the value of family.