by Marguerite (Koop) Künning

EDITOR’S NOTE: Marguerite Koop was born March 12, 1901 to Cornelius & Emma (Huenke) Koop. From the age of 6 weeks, upon the death of her mother, Marguerite was reared in the home of Dr. Henry J. & Alice (Huenke) Schmidt – her aunt & uncle. She had two sisters – Gladys Walsh and Bernice Koop. She married Richard Künning on June 9, 1928 and they had a daughter, Molly.

Marguerite was a graduate of Miami University of Ohio and had been a school teacher in the Toledo school system. She and her husband retired and resided for some years in South Pines, SC. She died in the Avery Heights Nursing Home in Hartford, CT on April 17, 1997.

Marguerite wrote many of her reminiscences in the 1980s to be published in The Towpath.   In 1983, she wrote: My husband’s father was Gustav Künning. His father was Cort Henry Künning (known in the business community as C.H.). C.H. Künning built the large brick townhouse at 19 North Main Street and reared his family of seven daughters and two sons there. Later, his granddaughter, Lola Patterson, lived there in a small cottage she built in the back yard - until her death in 1968.

Shall we start with the late spring day when, on my way home from school, I saw that Hoffman's (the drug store) was polishing up their soda fountain. How beautiful I thought the ornate marble fixtures and the tall cut-glass soda straw holders were. When all was in order, one could anticipate that long awaited chocolate soda on the next Saturday evening.

Mr. J.L. Hoffman, the druggist, was a kindly, comfortable man who knew just what one needed and was sometimes singing hymns to himself in the back room as he prepared it. He was also available if one should have gotten a bug in one's eye while roller skating.

Around the corner, going south on Washington Street was Mrs. Haines's millinery store. Here I felt very much at home, for her daughter was my best friend, and Mrs. Haines always made one feel welcome, whether to "try on hats" in her store or to go upstairs to their living quarters where potted hyacinths bloomed on her windowsills, even in winter.

Across the Monroe Street lift bridge going west, on the south side of the street about a block, was a picture book shop, resembling those I saw in Germany many years later, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Fritz. In September the tiny, triangular display window had nice new pencils, white or yellow lined tablets and bright red erasers. That was all one needed to be educated. The school furnished the books and the good teachers.

At Christmas there were beautiful postcards from Germany to send to one's friends. In February there were the unbelievably lovely valentines.

Inside the shop were shiny glass cases filled with sparkling glass dishes of candies. One looked and looked and asked, "How many of these do you get for a penny?" Mrs. Fritz, in her white starched apron, was never impatient. Both she and Mr. Fritz must have liked and understood children, tho' they had none of their own, or I would not still remember their ready smiles and unending patience.

Directly across the street was the fine store Henry Schwaberow had built. It was a large store which had lovely living quarters for them upstairs. I was sometimes taken there for afternoon visits,and I recall the pleasure of looking out of the large windows and seeing the busy street from there. This store also had a candy counter. Mr. Schwaberow had built a step-up in front of it for the younger of us to better see his candies and to ask the same question about the penny purchase. They, too, were a child-less couple, and it seemed that everybody's children were their children. These two stores got all of my "trade" for candy.

Schwaberow's also carried groceries. However, the china and glassware department was one of a kind. Mrs. Schwaberow was from Cincinnati and her excellent taste for quality, combined with beauty, was evident in this department. My parents shopped there.

Across the street, again going west toward school, one passed the First City Bank. This was out of my shopping category, but in the fall one could stop and look at a row of very shiny, perfect apples of different varieties which Mr. G.A. (Gustav) Künning sometimes lined up along a narrow window ledge. This was just one of his many outside interests while he took care of the "banking business" for many people in his friendly, competent way. He would sometimes wave to us as he saw us looking at his beautiful apples.

Next to the bank was a wrought-iron gate at the east end of a wrought-iron fence along a brick sidewalk. This fence closed in the side yard of the CharlesBoesel IIhome. It no longer was a home at my time of remembrance, but the building still had the large porch on its side which overlooked what had been the Boesel house side yard. That was still beautiful, tho' rather unkempt. The two large crabapple trees kept blooming each spring for all of us to enjoy, and there were two rather weatherworn statues also - one a large dog and the other an Indian brave. The gate and yard were not for public use, even in my day, and I only used it when it was necessary to cut down the distance to school so I could make it there before that tardy bell.

This was a time in New Bremen when individuals depended on themselves and each other. The dependence on corporate stability, which I now note, makes my hometown more and more unfamiliar to me.

Marguerite (Koop) Künning – May 1986

A Christmas time remembrance – 1909

The first feeling that the long awaited pleasures of Christmas were growing near came when at school on an early December day I heard that “the toys are out at the Arcade”. This would be a display in the department called "the bazaar”. Ordinarily it sold tools, kitchenware and dishes, but in December the toys were brought out.

Many of them had been displayed other years, and one of these was a black iron toy kitchen stove. I always looked for that first and felt happy that it was still there. Then there were the dolls. They covered one wall, all hung on wire netting. They were beautifully made German dolls. Most had fine kid bodies and dark and blonde wigs of natural hair. They were not clothed - our mothers did that part - underwear, dress, coatand hat - sewn in secret for the Christmas morning joy. My "MARVEL” is still a part of my antique family doll collection. Some time ago, I read in The Towpath that there was a black iron toy cook stove on display at the Historical Museum. Is it possible that it might be the "Arcade Christmas Stove?"   What an appropriate resting place that would be for it!

Marguerite Koop Künning – 4/1987


When winter came we waited for the word to go around school that the ice on the canal was "safe”. Our skates were ready and waiting. They were the kind that clamped and strapped on our high shoes and were usually hand-me-downs. If they fit right, you were lucky! The swing bridge down from the lock, going south, was the gathering place. Here there was a wooden platform to get onto the ice and to sit on to put on your skates. A short piece up the canal south there was a large pond on the left known as Rabe’s pond. Here the boys had their hockey games with a tin can for a puck and home-made sticks. All of the skating was done between the swing bridge and the Amsterdam bridge. Some of the older finer skaters would go as far as Minster. On winter evenings the boys would build a bon-fire on the west bank for light and occasional warming up.   What wonderful winter fun the old canal provided for us year after year.           

Marguerite Koop Künning – 1/1988


Henry Schwaberow had a small grocery counter along the west wall of his store on West Monroe & Water Streets and carried a small line of “on-the-shelf” groceries. The main stock of the store, however, was china, glassware and ornamental pieces and his wife was in charge of this department.   Her father was a business man in Cincinnati and no doubt helped her in purchasing. The glassware was a collection of bowls, lemonade pitchers, wine goblets, beer mugs and vases. There was also fine china, including dinnerware, large platters and serving bowls. The moustache cups always attracted me, for my sister bought one for our uncle who had a handle-bar moustache.

On the east wall was a large case with glass doors filled with large and small Dresden figurines which were used on mantels. I can remember a large beautiful pair, a boy and a girl, that stood on the mantel upstairs in the Schwaberow living room. The Schwaberow Store did not carry toys.

Marguerite Koop Künning-4/1988

I Remember the 4:30 P.M. Church Bells

In New Bremen you could set your clock by the church bells that rang every Saturday afternoon at 4:30. There were three Lutheran churches and the custodian of each was always on time. By then everyone was supposed to have their duties of the week taken care of. The bells said that tomorrow was Sunday, the day to go to church. This custom was still in practice in 1928, and since Marguerite Koop and Richard Künning were married at 4:30 P.M. on Saturday, June 9, 1928, they became our wedding bells.

In 1971 we were spending some time in Germany with our daughter and our two grandchildren. One Saturday we were walking about in the village of Landstuhl when all the church bells began to ring. We checked the time and it was 4:30.   At that moment we were “young” again and back in New Bremen.

Marguerite Koop Künning – 1/1989

Tri-County Fair - 1906

I remember the Tri-County Fair.   One of my early recollections is a day at the Tri-County Fair which was held each year at the Fair Grounds one mile east of New Bremen. The day I remember was about 1906 and it was the day of the big Sulky Race. I particularly recall being a part of a large group of relatives sitting in a grandstand, all of whom were standing to cheer for Papa Schmidt (Dr. H.J. Schmidt, D.V.M.) who was driving his own pacer, “John McLean”, in the sulky race and winning first place.

Another building nearby is where we went to look at all the hand-work entries. This is where Mama Schmidt would get first prize for her afghan and her Battenburg doilies. Nearby was a building for serving food. This concession was run by my aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Huenke.   They were just starting the milk delivery project from their farm home at the west end of town, and no doubt were trying to raise extra funds to see it continue. It did! It became the White Mountain Creamery Co., which is now (1989) Beatrice Foods.   No government assistance in those days.

The trip home was almost as exciting as the harness race. It was made in the Schmidt children’s pony-cart, driven by Leonard Schmidt, (later Dr. L.H. Schmidt, D.V.M.). At the time, he was about fifteen years of age. After the pony, Lark, had been tied to a tree for hours, he wanted to head for the barn. He was allowed to pass all buggies, even if it meant cutting the ditch now and then.

If one was fortunate there might be several other days at the week-long fair, but none of them were eventful enough for one to remember.

Marguerite Koop Künning – 3/1989

Dr. H. J. Schmidt’s Office and Barn – ca. 1909

Where North Walnut Street ends, there was about an acre of land owned and used for Dr. Henry J. Schmidt Jr.’s Veterinary Hospital and Office, known to most as Dr. Schmidt’s Office and Barn.   I liked to go there in the summertime to play with other children who somehow seemed to gather there. There was always much coming and going, and interesting things to watch, like horses getting their teeth filed.

“Doc Schmidt”, as young and old called him, liked children, but if there were important operations to take place, we were all sent to the office rooms and ordered to stay there, in no uncertain terms. This was interesting too, for the medicine room was lined with shelves of beautiful colored bottles of various drugs, used when Dr. Schmidt so skillfully prepared medicine for waiting farmers to take home with them. In the front office, where the captain chairs were lined along the wall, there was a shelf filled with preserved oddities, such as the embryo of a two-headed calf.

The barn was very large, made up of many standing-stalls, three large box-stalls and “up a wall” ladder to a huge haymow.

In the fenced off area, north of the barn, where chickens, geese, ducks and guinea fowls roamed, there were fruit trees of apples and green-gage plums for all to enjoy. Is it any wonder that Doc Schmidt’s office and barn attracted both young and old?

After Dr. H.J. Schmidt Jr.’s lifetime was over (1934) the same genial spirit and accommodations went on under the practice of his son, Dr. Leonard H. Schmidt, D.V.M. who was the third generation to practice veterinary medicine in New Bremen since the founding of the town in 1833.

Marguerite Koop Künning – 2/1989