Sunday, July 19, 2015

52 Ancestors #29: Grandpa's Bands

Ancestor: Gustav "Gust" Lange (1888-1963)

I have very few memories of my maternal grandfather, Gustav Lange. I was five years old when he died of a heart attack while living with us. Most of what I know of him came from my mother. Researching his family is one of my main genealogy goals as my mother only knew the names of his parents and nothing about any earlier generations.

Gustav Lange went by the nickname Gust. He was born in what is now Zamosty, Volyn', Ukraine. At the time of his birth that area of Europe was part of the Russian Empire ruled by Alexander III. His birth certificate listed 31 January 1888 as his date of birth:

Gustav Lange's birth certificate. While the form is in some version of
Cyrillic, the handwriting is German; personal collection.

Russia still used the Julian calendar at the time of Gust's birth. When he moved to Essen, Germany, which used the Gregorian calendar, he converted his date of birth to 12 February 1888. His parents were Carl August and Karoline (Ludwig) Lange and Gust was their oldest child. His father died when he was still quite young. It was why Gust moved to Essen -- better opportunities to find work and send money home to his mother.

This photograph was taken right before Gust left Russia for Essen. He is
standing to the right of his mother, holding a book; personal collection

Five years after moving to Germany, he boarded the White Star Line's S/S Teutonic in Liverpool and arrived in Quebec on 20 August 1911. Then traveled on a Canadian Pacific Railway's train to Winnipeg where he settled, renting a house at 386 Thames Avenue. Sometime or another he met Wilhelmina Schalin, who was visiting a sister in Winnipeg. After she returned to Alberta, he sent her a letter, asking her to marry him. The letter also included her train fare back to Winnipeg. Wilhelmina, who went by Minnie, asked her employer what to do. He said, "Minnie, the man sent your train fare. He means business." So Minnie went to Winnipeg and married Gust on 9 April 1915.

They had their oldest child in Winnipeg before immigrating to the United States. They worked in Sanilac, Michigan, for a short time as sharecroppers on a sugar beet farm. Two children were born there. In 1919 they moved to Prince George's County, Maryland, and bought a farm. Their next six children, including my Mom, were born in Maryland. Every one of their children had very special memories of their childhood, growing up on that farm.

Gust, or Grandpa Lange, was the musician in the family and entertained his children with music after the evening meal when all the farm chores were done. He played a violin and a trumpet, and perhaps more instruments. My Uncle Herbert got his violin and Aunt Iva framed it and it hung in a place of honor in their living for many years. I do not know where his trumpet is. I have the pitch pipes he used to keep his instruments in tune.

According to my cousin, Steve, Grandpa played in a theater orchestra in Washington, DC, before films had sound. He loved the opportunity to do so that he felt wouldn't have been provided to him in Russia. He also played in a marching band. Mom said he enjoyed dressing up in his band uniform -- the more gold braid, the better. So I leave you with two photographs of Grandpa's bands:

Gust Lange is third man from the left in the middle row 

Gust Lange is in the second row (not counting the women kneeling),
seventh from the left (there is a man out of uniform with glasses just
over his shoulder)

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Musical.

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