Monday, August 21, 2017

Grandpa Lange's Life in Winnipeg and Michigan

We don't know when Grandpa left Essen for Liverpool, or how long he had to stay at a hostel near the docks waiting to board his ship to Canada, but we do know he left England on 12 August 1911 and arrived at Port Huron, Michigan, on the Grand Trunk Railway on 20 August. Assuming 50 to 60 hours for the train ride to Winnipeg, he probably arrived on 22 or 23 August. It's entirely possible he may have been traveling for nearly a month.

The first record I have found for Grandpa in Winnipeg is his and Grandma's Official Certificate of Marriage. Grandpa was a 27 year-old bachelor, who worked as a store keeper, and was a Baptist. His place of birth and parents' name were listed and his father's profession was farming. At the time of his marriage he lived with his maternal uncle, Gustav Ludwig. Grandma was a 21 year-old spinster. (Don't you just love the terminology. Never mind she'd been working since she was 9 years old, no profession was typically listed for women.) She was born in Leduc, Alberta. Her parents' names were also listed.

Gustav and Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange on their wedding day; personal collection

They were married on 9 April 1915 by C. H. Edinger, a Baptist minister, at the home of Grandpa's uncle at 386 Thames Avenue in Winnipeg. The witness to their marriage was Uncle Gustav. Mom always said Grandma and Grandpa met in Winnipeg or Edmonton when Grandma was there with a family for which she worked. After she and the family returned to Alberta, Grandpa sent her a letter, asking her to marry him and enclosed a train ticket. Not knowing what to do, Grandma asked her boss what he thought. He replied, "Minnie, he sent a ticket. He mean's business. Go."

Current photograph of 386 Thames Avenue, Winnipeg, Canada;
courtesy of Google Maps

In order to track the rapidly growing population of the western provinces, the Canadian government ordered special census of the prairie provinces to begin in 1906. These census were in addition to the nationwide census conducted every ten years on the first year of each decade (example 1911). This practice continued until 1956. Because of this special census we know that Gustav and his young family lived at 400 Thames Avenue just a few doors down the street from Uncle Ludwig. He worked as a general laborer. Grandpa's brother, Traugott (known as Fred), had immigrated to Canada and lived with Uncle Gustav and his family. Aunt Ruth was five months old so the census was likely conducted in July.

Grandpa Lange left Winnipeg in February 1917 and traveled by train to Detroit, Michigan. When he crossed the border on 24 February, he hold immigration officials his destination was 1073 Montclair Avenue, the home of his friend, Dan Stroscheim. Grandma undertook the same train trip with her baby daughter and arrived in Detroit on 30 April 1917.  Her destination was 1090 Holcombe Avenue, where Grandpa now lived.

These delightful photographs of Aunt Ruth were taken at studio in Detroit;
personal collection

On 5 June 1917 Grandpa registered for the World War I draft in Sanilac County, Michigan. He worked as a farm hand for Bert E. Mortimer, who coincidently was also the draft registrar for the county. Mom told me many times Grandma and Grandpa worked on a sugar beet farm, saving money to buy their own farm. Grandpa claimed an exemption from the draft because he was married with dependents. His appearance was described as medium height, medium weight, brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Sanilac County township map and land ownership map; courtesy of and, respectively

Uncle Walter was born in December of 1917 and Uncle Arnold was born in October 1919. When he was three weeks old, Gustav and his family were traveling once again to a farm Grandpa bought sight unseen in southern Maryland.


Grandpa Lange's Trip from Essen to Winnipeg
Grandpa Lange's Life in Essen

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