Happy New Year to all!
I was fortunate this New Year’s Eve to spend the evening creating art and catching up with one of my oldest friends, Stacey, who is the author of a very inspiring blog called gotta tri. We grew up in the same hometown and attended school together from first grade until we graduated from high school, and have remained close in the years since. I brought along my ABC’s of Alice journal and completed two new pages, the first of which is entitled, “E is for Ernst.”
Ernst John Marten was Grandma Alice’s father. He was born in 1876 in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, one of ten children in a farming family. He was the namesake of his grandfather, Ernst Marten, who had chosen to remain in Germany when his children emigrated to the United States. Ernst married his wife Mary in 1905, and a short time later they purchased a farm located a few miles east of Waldo, Wisconsin. They had three daughters, and for much of the girls’ childhood, German was the only language spoken in their home. The family attended a tiny German Lutheran Church just down the road, which still exists today.
Ernst’s farm was small, like most in eastern Wisconsin at that time. He only owned 7-9 cows and one bull, a few pigs, and a pair of workhorses. Evidently he was quite reluctant to embrace modern technology; he continued to rely on the horses to plow his fields well into the 1950’s.
Like so many men of his generation in the Midwest, Ernst would be the last in his line to be a farmer. The men his daughters married were employed as factory laborers and consequently they chose to raise their children in cities, and as the years passed, life on the Marten farm would fade into our family’s collective memory.
My father had a good relationship with his grandfather, and he and his sister were fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time on the farm as kids. Dad, who is now in his seventies, closely resembles Ernst at that age. My sister and I also take after Ernst’s side of the family, as we’d had the same white-blond hair he and his brothers were known to have had as kids.
This page was created on a background of black gesso and stamped white acrylic paint, and features items such as patterned paper, a page from an old German religious book, a vintage shop receipt from the 1880’s, a burlap doily, a piece of frayed canvas fabric, Washi tape, a Tim Holtz Flashcard, a date stamp, pigment ink, rub-ons, a sticker, and text typed on a vintage typewriter.
Here’s to celebrating the past and our ancestors–and to a happy and creative 2016!