Welte Family History Research

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For over 40 years, I have been researching my family history. Now that I'm retired, I can devote more time and effort into more research, compilation, and organization of that work! Over the past 12 years, I have been very fortunate in teaching genealogy classes, along with my computer experience, at Blackhawk Technical College. I've also created a business - "Field of Genes" - a "Ride-N-Seek" experience to help other families find their own ancestors.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: #10 Three Different Ways of Getting Around - The Welte Way

It’s great to know how our ancestors traveled from one place to another, and I know that this is the case for all generations. In the first example, family gatherings brought everyone together and before cars and trucks, there was “horsepower.” The next example is that having a nice car said much about how successful a man was in order to provide for his family and to be respected in the community. Lastly, it was not always about getting to a destination that mattered, but the interesting story about “who was driving what” that made for a good laugh.

My grandfather, William Welte, was an early homesteader in the northern Minnesota area of Bigfork. Here is a picture of the William Welte Rivernook Farm and the house in the middle of the picture where my dad grew up. In 1913, it looks like there was a family gathering or a holiday that brought everyone to the farm. The horses in the picture were, of course, one of the ways to get from Point A to Point B in the early days. I tell my grandchildren that there were no cars and that horses were very important to each family. The horses are covered with "fly covers" because with the northern Minnesota heat and humidity, the horses needed extra protection against big deer flies, horse flies, and mosquitos. Their eyes opened wide when I told them how big those insects get and that they really bite!

The next picture is William’s 1923 Willys Overland touring car. My uncle, Harold, pictured here as the eldest of William’s boys, sitting on the running board, had written on the border of the photo that this car was a “Red Bird” touring car with “maroon buff top Red wheels, 4 cyl” and the car was a Model 92 which boasted a “…rich Mandalay maroon finish, khaki top, nickel trimmings…” according to an old postcard[1]. His dad, William, who was a very influential person in the Bigfork, Minnesota area, died about six years later.

The Welte bus, driven by William, was another example of how important each vehicle was to transport children to the area schoolhouses in and around the Bigfork area. It even looks like him in the driver’s seat! But William was not the only one who drove that old bus. My own dad, Irving, had a frightening experience according to the story that his mother told me. My dad had turned up missing and she couldn’t find him anywhere. There was a river behind the Rivernook Farm and a wooden pile bridge that connected one piece of farm land to another. She pointed to the remaining pilings in the river of where the bridge used to be located and she said the next thing she knew, she saw the bus coming across the bridge. She knew that it wasn’t her husband, William, because he was in the house. She saw the bus slowly and gingerly cross the bridge at a slow speed, and she had a suspicious feeling that she knew who was driving the vehicle. It was my dad! He was about 7 years old and she figured out very quickly that he had to have a little help with reaching all of the controls. He had put a wooden block on the accelerator pedal so that he could push it down and drive the bus over the bridge. He did quite well, but he did get into trouble for it and he never did it again!

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