This week’s #52Ancestors will complete my tribute to my four grandparents

Flora Alice Nantz

Flora Alice Nantz

Last but not least is my paternal grandmother Flora A. Nantz Frueh. I’ve mentioned before that all my grandparents had passed while I was still very young. So my memories are few and hazy but I have none at all for Flora. None of us do.

My grandmother died when she was only 44 years old. My dad was her second oldest child. He was 21 and not married at the time. He had one older sibling and seven younger. Flora’s death left a huge void in the family’s life.

I remember one unusually revealing moment when my dad mentioned how old (young actually) he was when his mom died and how it was something he’d never forget. His few words and soft tone spoke of the great loss he still felt and he was well into his 60s at the time.

So who is this woman my dad remembered with a child’s love? The woman I call Grandma Frueh? Her name was Flora Alice Nantz and she was born 23 May 1888 in Van Wert County, Ohio.

Her parents were Irene Louisa Waller and William Albert Nantz. Flora was the oldest of the four Nantz children and was only four when her two younger sisters, Rosa and Flosey died within a week of each other. Rosa was just 2-1/2 years old and Flosey was 3 weeks old. What pain that household must have endured with their deaths.

So Flora grew up with her younger brother, Ira. Some of her youth was spent in Van Wert County but by 1900 at 12 years old, she and her family were living in Hardin County, Ohio. Her father was farming.

On 28 April 1909, a 21 year old Flora married Camillus V. Frueh. I wish I knew more details about their meeting, their courtship and marriage. Flora and Cam were opposites. He was a fiery immigrant who spoke German in his home and among his extended family and friends. Flora’s family reaches back to colonial Virginia. She seems to be the quiet to Cam’s boisterousness.

William Nantz, Irene Waller Nantz, Flora and brother Ira Nantz

William Nantz, Irene Waller Nantz, Flora and brother Ira Nantz

Cam and Flora have nine children over 21 years. As I mentioned my dad is the second oldest of the five boys and four girls. Flora’s death on 18 October 1932 sent a deep sadness through this family that I felt growing up. Each of her children seemed to guard their precious memories of Flora. It wasn’t often my aunts or uncles shared a tidbit about her. Of course the younger ones were so small when she died their memories were few.

Yet I do have a treasure. My genea-buddy sister wrote one of our aunts (approx. 1990) and asked about her mother Flora. This is an excerpt of how she described her mom:

“She was a loving mother, a fantastic cook, good sewer but not a very good housekeeper.

Each child had a special birthday dinner, cooked in his or her honor, mostly fried chicken or sometimes stewing chicken (to get rid of the old hens) which made delicious chicken and noodles!

For Margie and Mill with birthdays on the same day, she made two three layer cakes, one 2 pink layers with a white layer between, one two white layers with a pink layer between. Also we have [had] five gallon crocks which Mom kept filled with ginger cookies or sometimes sugar cookies or donuts.

She did lots of canning and preserving – all kinds of pickles, sauer kraut and stuffed green peppers w/cabbage (in brine to sour). We had no tossed salads in those days, but along with wilted lettuce or endive, cole slaw and sliced tomatoes, the pickles or stuffed green peppers were the salads.

Mom used to make snow ice cream or get a chunk of ice from the pond and make real ice cream in winter time. One July it hailed so hard, we gathered the hail and Mom made real ice cream! (In those days we kept food cool in basement or in an ice box.)

At Christmas time since there was little to no money to buy presents, Mom made candy – fudge, divinity and chocolate drops. Sometimes Adolph and John [my dad] would go out in the woods and gather a tree limb, which was decorated with home made ornaments, sometimes with pop corn which we strung.

Camillus, Flora, Adolph and John Frueh

Camillus, Flora, Adolph and John Frueh

Mom had an erect carriage – stately might be an adjective to describe her. She had dark blonde hair (light brown) which she wore long until the early 1920’s when she had it cut short. She was loving, when one of us came crying to her, she would hug us and everything was OK.

She was a convert to Catholicism, was baptized and made her first communion around 1919. Her favorite flower was a yellow rose, and she had a yellow rose bush. And she loved the yellow plums and we had a yellow plum tree. She never learned to drive a car but did drive a horse & carriage.”

Isn’t that a wonderful peek into my grandmother’s life? I’d forgotten I had a copy of this letter and hung on every word as I reread it. How thankful I am that my sister wrote my aunt and she responded. Those opportunities are gone now.

So this week I remember my paternal grandmother Flora Alice Nantz Frueh and understand better her children’s enduring love for her.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Albert Nantz in Van Wert County. Now this is where things get a little sticky. My records show my grandmother Flora, their oldest daughter was born 23 May 1888. Five months before Irene married William. Hmmm . . . […]

  2. […] here that this Facebook group consists of first cousins. All of our parents were children of Flora Nantz and Cameron Frueh. So I posted lots of pics to the Facebook page, some without any kind of […]

  3. […] Louisa Waller in Van Wert County, Ohio. They were the parents of four children, my grandmother Flora Alice being their oldest. The next two children were daughters as well. Rosa Ellen was born 17 April […]

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