ANNA & EDWARD
Anna Koenig [my mother’s father’s mother] was born in 1872 in St. Nazianz (Manitowoc County), Wisconsin. Of her childhood, I know nothing. By 1890, however, at the age of 17, she is listed as being a servant in the household at 301 Benson Avenue in Evanston, Illinois.
Was her family very poor and could no longer afford to keep her? Even if that were the case, surely there would have been plenty of domestic jobs available near her home or at least within the state of Wisconsin? What would prompt a young girl to leave her family at such a tender age to seek menial employment in another state? That was quite a journey in those days! Did she aspire to work for a wealthy family in a grand home, and those were scarce in that area during that time? Or maybe she’d had a falling out with her family, or some scandal sent her far away?
These are questions to which I may never know the answers. What I do know, however, is that in that same year, 1890, Edward Lugg was working as a coachman for a family at 714 Greenwood Blvd. in Evanston, Illinois.
Now, maybe I watch too much Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, but I imagine my great grandfather Edward driving some member of his employer’s family to the home of my great grandmother Anna’s employer. As would have been the custom, while the family members were visiting upstairs, the coachman would have been sent downstairs to the servant’s hall to entertain himself while he waited for his summons to drive his employer back home. This is where I imagine he met Anna.
Would she have been swept off her feet by his Dorsetshire English accent and his rather recent arrival in America? He had just immigrated in 1886, after all.
What had prompted Edward to leave his homeland and family? Was it poverty, and America promised a better way of life? He is listed in the 1881 England census at age 20, living with his parents and five siblings, with an occupation of “farmer’s son.” Had he tired of farm life in the intervening five years and become a coachman back in England for a wealthy family? Perhaps an American family visited the family he worked for and offered him a job across the pond? There was no war going on in England or civil unrest in Dorsetshire at the time; what drove him to America?
Whatever their reasons, both Edward Lugg and Anna Koenig left their homes far behind and began a new life in Evanston, Illinois. They married in 1900.
Eleven years later, Edward was dead of pneumonia, leaving behind a young wife and their three young children. In 1920, Anna is shown on the census as back living in Manitowoc County (Liberty Township). Presumably she was receiving help with child rearing and living expenses from her family.
Anna never re-married. Her granddaughter (my aunt Joan) remembers her:
My Dad’s Mother, Anna Lugg lived with her daughter Alice Schroeder and her husband and 6 children. They lived about one block away from my house, Grandma Lugg was chief cook and bottle washer for Aunt Alice’s family. She was always in the kitchen, baking bread, coffee cake or anything else, She always had an apron on. She was also an excellent seamstress, and made matching dresses for my sister, Donna and I.
She made the best coleslaw and could cut the cabbage finer than angel hair. I can still see her with a big sharp knife cutting cabbage. It seemed as she did everything for them. She would come and cook for our family sometimes when my mom was in the hospital.
Anna and Art [my dad] would often speak German to each other, which irritated my Mother [Ruth Lugg] because she thought they were talking about her. Anna didn’t really approve of their marriage, because she was Catholic and Ruth was Lutheran. Art was ex-communicated because he agreed to let my mom [Ruth] raise us children as Lutherans.
One day when we went to see Grandma, we weren’t allowed to see her ever again. I believe she died soon after that.. She was 82 when she died.
ELNORA & GEORGE
Elnora Schrader [my mother’s mother’s mother] was born in 1890 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I actually knew her; she was alive until I was a teen, and we knew her as “Nanna.” She lived in Milwaukee at that time, in an apartment, and had outlived both of her children. Daughter Ruth died accidentally after being given a drug to which she was allergic [See Generation Three, Maternal: Arthur & Ruth]. Son George was murdered while taking the day’s money from his gas station till to the bank. I hope I never have to find out, but I understand outliving your children is one of life’s greater traumas. She was one tough old broad, living well into her 90s and beating off inner city muggers with her cane.
I don’t know if Elnora passed a happy childhood, but by the time she married George Clish in 1910, her life had definitely taken a turn onto a hard road.
A little over three years and two children into the marriage, she filed for divorce. The reasons for the divorce are cited in the Winnebago County case file #2656, Eleanor Clish vs. George Clish:
At the city of Sheboygan, where they resided immediately after their marriage, and in their home thereat, defendant at a time (the exact date of which she is unable to specify), when no one was present competent to testify thereto, choked, pounded, beat and kicked plaintiff, drawing blood and causing her intense suffering and pain;
that thereafter and at the city of Milwaukee, a few months before the birth of her older child which birth was on August 9th, 1911, defendant, when no one was present to testify thereto, in a furious temper, committed a wilful assault upon plaintiff and struck her repeatedly in the face and body, knocking her on the floor, and threw her on the bed whereby she was rendered sick, sore and lame and was ill for some time thereafter, and that at said time and place he called her a “whore” and a “sport” and other abusive names;
that thereafter and in the fall of 1912, at the city of New London, in the State of Wisconsin, defendant, while they were visiting his parents, assaulted plaintiff and struck her several times with a folded newspaper and ordered her out of the house and told her to go back to her parents in Sheboygan; that at another time in the year 1912, (the exact time of which she is unable to specify) at his mother’s home defendant, when no one was present competent to testify thereto, threw plaintiff on the bed and choked her almost to death, and struck and beat her;
that during the year 1913, defendant was employed in the barber shop of the Athearn Hotel in the city of Oshkosh, when plaintiff would come to the shop to go home with him he would come out on the street and at divers and sundry times during that year, has assaulted plaintiff on the street and struck her and choked her and whipped her and has called her such names as “son-of-a-bitch” and “whore” and “sport” and that these attacks took place, when no one was present competent to testify thereto;
that in the year 1913 in a house on Jefferson Avenue, in the city of Oshkosh, defendant became very angry with plaintiff while he was under the influence of liquor, pounded, beat and kicked her in a bedroom and threw her with great force on the bed, frightening her very badly and injuring her and when she protested and cried he renewed his attack and whipped and beat her, then and there calling her vile, indecent and vulgar names; that during the year 1914, he repeatedly perpetrated under like circumstances and conditions acts of the character hereinbefore set forth;
that thereafter and at his barber shop on the 28th day of January 1915, plaintiff caught defendant in the act of adultery with one Elsie Steifl and thereupon defendant attacked plaintiff and struck her and kicked her and grabbed her by a leg which he raised in the air, thereafter throwing her to the floor and wrenched and bruised and injured her.
For unknown reasons, Elnora dropped the suit, but re-filed for divorce four years later. At that time, she averred that:
Some five or six years ago, the defendant left the plaintiff for parts unknown and a warrant was sworn out and he was brought back from the state of Minnesota to the State of Wisconsin for trial, said trial was had in Municipal Court for the City of Oshkosh and Winnebago County, Wisconsin. That said defendant plead guilty for the charge of non-support and desertion. That he was placed upon parole and went back to live with the plaintiff and did live with the plaintiff for a short time when he again absconded in August 1917 and has not contributed any money with which the plaintiff might support herself and said minor children.
That she did not hear from him nor did he communicate with her nor did he contribute any money since August 1917 for the support of said plaintiff or their said children.
The defendant was arrested in April in Chicago upon a warrant sworn out in the Municipal Court and is now in the Winnebago County Jail awaiting trial for non-support.
While George awaited trial in jail, he wrote his wife an admonishing letter:
May 20, 1919
Mrs. Elenor Clish,
You shall perhaps think it queer for me to write you again. But, I really cannot understand you. I do hope you are not under the impression that I could go back and live with you again as that would be impossible for me to do. I am willing to do anything but that. I agreed to pay $20.00 a month for the children’s support and pay for the divorce that you started, and I cannot see what else there is to do…as long as I am in this place you cannot receive anything as I am not working in here only lying around, and that sure does not help you any. I wish you could see this as I or anyone else does. You certainly ought to know that by this time that has been 10 weeks last Friday that I have been here…now I think that would be a lot better to have me at work then to have me here, don’t you think so. I hope you will reason to this. And please bring Ruth and Geo down so I can see them. I also have some Navy clothes that you can make over for Geo if you care for them. They are in pretty good shape. Let me know what you think about this. And for God’s sake get me out of this place. I have been here long enough. Geo
Less than a month later, the divorce was granted. Elnora was awarded full custody of the children (Ruth, then 8, and George, then 5). George was ordered to pay her $20 a month for support.
Whether or not that happened, or whether George got himself into some other trouble, is unknown. By the following year, the 1920 census listed him as a convict at the Wisconsin State Prison at Waupun. By 1925 he was remarried but living at the Disabled Veteran’s Home in Milwaukee with a stomach ulcer, and by 1930 the census lists him and his second wife living in Colorado with a 7 year-old daughter.
As for Elnora, she also remarried. Her second husband, Ed Fenninger, adopted Ruth and George Jr. So George Sr. must have given up all claim to them.
I have often speculated that the mental illness on my mother’s side of the family originated with George. Based on the court records, he had a problem with alcohol, his temper, and controlling his impulses (anger and sex). Could he have been suffering from manic depression? Or, like my grandfather William Otto, was he shell-shocked from World War I? According to his military records, he enlisted in the Navy as a Seaman in October of 1917, a year away from the end of the Great War. Where did he sail? Did he fight in battle? What horrors did he see?