Emma Oltman

Mrs. William Oltman, nee Emma Bierlein, of Rock Island (The Bill Oltman farm--where she lived, was adjoining the present Illiniwek Forest Preserve -- facing the Mississippi. At that time the "river road" passed between the Oltman farm buildings and the river. All those buildings have now (1951) been removed. )

"We lived there next to Happy Hollow (located roughly in Sections 10 and 15, north of the public highway, back of what is now a beautiful woods, with evidences of houses, etc.). We lived there ten years. I tried to get Mrs. Lockry - through her you could get dates--the years. We could too, of course.

"We were married in 1875 and lived there ten years. Happy Hollow had been there quite a few years before that. Uncle Dedrick Oltman moved down to Hampton (now 1951, Illiniwek Forest Preserve), and we moved into Uncle Dedrick's house.

"Did youhear(sic) that Dedrick Oltman, my nephew, died yesterday--at Kingsley, Iowa--A banker there? I should say they did get lots of money from the coal. I've heard lots of money, $1200.00 to $l500.00 a month for three years--about-- and then it slackened up and they didn't get so much, and he had no expense--all royalty. No, he didn't spend much. They were just as saving as could be. 'Ve mot den 5 cent kniepen' said my sister-in-law, in low German ('Must pinch nickels).

"You know where Roll Letsch built, east of the N. & S. Watertown road. That's where Mrs. Lockry lives. Her husband was engineer at Williams' bank on Cook's farm--Happy Hollow. Morris Heagy (of Rock Island) ought to remember. She could tell you about the strikes. They had so many strikes and she could tell you about a detective who worked as a 'buddy' to a man who killed someone. He worked beside him for a year and then arrested him for murder and there was big excitement. We could hear them away out at our house--fearful loud-and payday! One time Uncle John Oltman came and asked'what's the matter with Bill'?

"One lady fought a man and she won the fight. She knocked him down--on Saturday night, pay day, and her side won the beer. It was right over the hill from us and Uncle John thought it was at our house.

"We made lots of cider and let it lay for vinegar. Some kept saloon in Happy Hollow and got five and ten gallons of cider from us at a time and let it get hard. When people found out about our barrel of vinegar they began to come up, lots of them. Father said,'this isn't fit to drink, it's vinegar'. They said 'We'll use it for vinegar'. We had a big dog. One night we'd gone to bed and were in our first sleep and the dog was making lots of noise. We woke up. The dog was under a tree and two men in the tree, and we saw some men running across the hog pasture. They had cone to buy cider. The barrel was in our cellar.

"'Heagy's Patch', 'Durfees Patch', 'Williams Patch', 'Peases Patch' were different parts of the town. The last-named and Heagy's were near us. Heagy's had eighty-five families, so father said. It was built up from our place to the Lutheran Church; next south of the church was 'Durfee's Patch'. There would be a built-up place and then a vacant place in the woods.

"I don't know about Cox's opposite the church. They were digging coal there, too, but not so much.

"Uncle Dedrick's, I guess, was about the best of the mines.

"My folks (Beierlein's) were real intimate friends of the Denkmann's and Weyerhaeuser's. Mr. Weyerhaeuser and his wife came to see us quite often. Mr. Denkmann was not used to going out very much. He was more of a home man. John Beierlein was my father-a cooper by trade. Our cooper shop is still standing on Fourth Avenue, on the north side of the avenue, just east of Seventeenth Street. We had twenty-seven acres on 18th Avenue and 29th Street, Rock Island; and the doctor thought we'd ought to live there on account of mother's health.

"The outside of the old cooper shop is the same. He started there in 1848; I think that date was on the house. My mother said there wasn't any sidewalks in Rock Island when they came. He used to do work for the Buford's who must have been pork packers. "Da kommt de D(T) an"-- Father couldn't speak plain English. Tom Buford and his brother were young men then.

"Father came from Bavaria. Mother came from Wurzburg, a summer resort now--Bad Anstalt, a three-story stone house, now used as a bath resort. This was my mother's home. Her father made 'Kachel ofen'--porcelain stoves--which burn peat?) This grandfather had a pretty big business there. Old. Rev. Mennicke & Sauermann (a harnessmaker) were there and in Germany/visited the place. Mother's home was in a large place but father's was a "Dorf" --a village.

"Mother's father made pure white and blue precelain stoves -- pretty in appearance. He was traveling nearly all the time selling stoves. They made dishes and crockery,also.

"My folks, Ben Harper's, Bufords', Darts', Father's books, now burned, were shown to have had lots of business with them. All these big Americans, they didn't care whether he could talk English well or not. They were his friends. Your father, M. D. Hauberg, ought to know the older big businessmen. My mother used to say your folks and Frels were at our house (The 'Wayside Inn' My sister and I called our place) because we had a good-sized yard and farmers would unhitch and feed their teams in our yard; and if it rained they'd come inside, but mother did not keep any boarders.

"Of course father bought staves and wood from the farmers so they all knew him--all the way from Edgington and Hampton, they'd put up their horses and do shopping. Fuhrs' , Hauck or Haupt, Shisler's; Fuhrs' and Dorres all from Edgington (Mrs. D. is a daughter of old ing man Mueller of the old board/house on theeast(sic) side of Spencer Square -(We Hauberg's used to put up there-J.H.H.) - They were older than my father and mother. Your grandfather Mr. Frels, Wenks, Oltmans' Camps who afterwards moved to Nebraska; Mr. Thomas moved to Nebraska, too.

"Elise and John Weyerhaeuser were older then I in school,but I went to school with Lonie and Fred Denkmann. Lonie was in my class in German School. After Lonie was confirmed she went to public school.

"Teacher Moeller who just passed away in the last year or two, was our teacher. He was later the assessor. Old Mr. Selle was our first pastor. He was called to Addison, Illinois--their teacher's college; he would come back on vacation to visit after he moved there. Old Rev. Mennicke was well read and educated. The Addison College is now an orphan's home. The buildings are condemned --a 'Kinderheim', not wholly orphans. They get lots of children from the Juvenile courts. My daughter Clara has no family of her own so puts in all her time in the 'Kinderheim'. She was corresponding secretary, eight years, of the Executive Committee of the Womens Auxiliary. Clara's husband's name is Fred Seuel (or Soil). He works for Commonwealth-Edison Company. (They call him 'Sool'). His mother was a Wenke of Hampton Bluffs. The college was moved to River Forest near Chicago.

"Father's barrels were used for flour, pork and whiskey kegs. Great big barrels for breweries, awful big, used to cover whole sidewalk. Old man Dart used to handle whiskey, I think. Father made lots of kegs for Dart and for Peter Fries, and also 'Bier fassen'--beer hogsheads for Humber's, and must have been for Gilmore's and Buford's for their pork barrels and when they were filled father would go there nights and put covers in them. I don't know where they used flour barrels, but he'd have a load like a load of hay delivering barrels. I think there was Warner & Lee flour mill where the Masonic Temple is now. time "Father employed twelve hands--men, in summer and winter--all the/except Saturday afternoon.

"The Catholic Church's first services were held in our cooper shop. Father was a strict Lutheran, but the priest said all the houses are too small, so father said: 'We don't work Saturday afternoons, and the priest would have his men come and clean the shop and get it ready for their services next day. They worshipped in our cooper shop until they built the rock church. The priest, 'Father Alleman', thought the-world and all of father. (See also Pg. 750, 1885 His. R.I. Co.). He was the same priest that built the rock church--all of rock from the Mormon Temple at Nauvoo. It is not standing now. They tore it down and built the other on Fifth Avenue, where St. Mary's now stands. I think they were mostly German Catholics. (Note: The R.I.Co. Fist. says Irish, German and French).

"When the priest left he came to father and said 'You're such a strong Lutheran and yet you let our Catholics worship in your shop and I couldn't leave without coming to say goodbye to you'."

(Sept. 16th, 1925)

NOTE -- Mrs. Oltman says they were married 1875. I had understood that they attended the wedding of Mr. & Mrs. M.D. Hauberg. I have a very good interview with Mr. William Oltman, her husband. They lived beside the Mississippi adjoining Dedrick Oltman's. One time Bill Oltman came to my law office in Rock Island and said: "We don't want to sell our farm UNLESS you and Mrs. Hauberg would like to buy it. We'd sell it to you". (We did not buy it).

For questions or comments please contact specialcollections@augustana.edu