This page was last updated 26 June 2011 -- rak.

Reserved for her photo

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My grandmother, Elizabeth Christine (Beltz) was born 27 Jan 1885 to Christina (Schlegel) and Heinrich Jacob Beltz in a German village just east of the Volga river -- Kutter, Balzer Kanton, Saratov Province, Russia. She grew to be about 4' 11", slight, liked bright colors and dressed much like a teen-ager into her 90s! Although very intelligent, she never had a chance to go to school and these days would not even be considered literate. Her life, until well into her 50s, was continual work, work, work. Nevertheless, she was a most pleasant and engaging lady! A very good friend to me.

Aunt Lizzie, as she was called by her friends and relatives, did not like to talk about the past. So a great deal of what I know (including her real birth date!), I know from records in Russia or here in the US, or from Aunt Lotte, one of her elder sisters.

When she was seven her parents decided to move the family to the US. Their destination was Marion County where one of her Beltz uncles had been living for some time. However, the were soon stopped by a cholora outbreak at Gobina or Gobineau or Korno [wherever that was and however it was spelled -- I never found anyone who was sure of spelling or location]. In order to keep body and soul together, according to Aunt Lotte, all the older members of the family had to work in Engelman's brewery there. According to Lizzie, she would be locked all day in their one-room residence to care for her younger siblings all day while the older siblings and parents worked. This went on for almost 8 years. Her eldest sister married the local doctor and stayed there -- grandmother does not think they ever heard from her again.

By the time they were free to go, they no longer had much travel money. So in 1897 the two eldest sibiling were sent ahead to Marion County, to first earn the money the uncle had loaned them for travel fare and then to earn enough more so that along with another loan from the uncle the rest of the family could come to the US. Grandmother at age 15 arrived in Marion County with them in March 1900.

Grandmother knew no English, so an older cousin, Conrad Frick, was assigned the task of teaching her some English. After a couple of weeks, their minister came for Sunday dinner. Lizzie was brought out in her best clothes to show the pastor how adept she was at learning English. The family had been taking Conrad's word that she was making excellent progress. So there was little Lizzie dressed in her Sunday best, to demonstrate her newly learned language in front of the pastor and the extended family. She stood up straight and enthusiastically said "Go to Hell"!! Grandmother and cousin Conrad never did get on well after that.

Lizzie and an older brother spent their first American summer hoeing, then husking, a 40 acre corn field to pay for their share of the borrowed passage money. In those days farmers' only defence against weeds was to pull them, and virtually everyone in recent emigrant families had to work. Thus it was that Grandmother and one of her brother's routinely hired out as weed-pullers. In her eighties, she could still impress you with the big biceps she developed weeding wheat fields!

Later on she graduated to working as a seamstress, and continued to be so employed right up to the time of her wedding.

Grandmother quilted. Sometimes other women worked with her, sometimes she worked alone. Her quilts were magnificent creations. Everyone who has one of hers is continually blessed by her life, her art and her competence!

Grandma died 20 Feb 1984 in South Hutchinson, Reno County, Kansas at 99 years of age.

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