Sunday, February 08, 2009

Meadow Springs

The pictures above were taken in Jefferson City in Wisconsin in 1930. They were sent to me by my Aunt Vera at my request shortly before she died a year or so ago at the age of 90. Vera is the girl at the left in the upper right picture. The girl to her left is her sister, Eileen, and the three year old driving the toy car is my father.

I would guess their mother, Elda, was the photographer, but it could just as easily have been their father, my grandfather. He was a minister for seventeen years and Jefferson City was the last pastorate where he was able to perform his duties. He suffered a respiratory collapse later that year and remained an invalid until his death in 1932. The house in the lower right picture appears to be the parsonage where the family lived at that time.

A few days ago I was looking on at the 1930 Census for Jefferson City and I noticed something I hadn't seen before. The thing I had noticed previously was that the family's surname, Lubach, had been misspelled as Laubach, a perfectly understandable error on the part of the enumerator.

Frank Laubach had been a famous minister in that era, best known for his missionary work in the Philippines, where he had devised a system for teaching adult literacy. When the Spaniards ruled the Philippines as a colony, education had been a priority for only a few wealthy, elite families. The American colonial regime placed a strong emphasis on literacy and made sweeping changes to the educational curriculum, eliminating Spanish and replacing it with written English. School children in the Philippines were far more likely to progress rapidly in acquiring the English language if their illiterate parents didn't feel threatened by their children's proficiency with the colonizer's language. So adult literacy programs were the order of the day and that, along with unrestricted emigration to the U.S., made American colonizers and their exceptional military commitment to the Philippines very popular.

While I'm not certain if it's really a compliment to be confused by the government with someone famous, I did make a point of informing that this family listed in Jefferson City in the census really is my father's family and the enumerator really did misspell the family surname. Searches on now produce the same record in response to requests with either spelling.

That's what I noticed the first time I found the record, and believe me, the enumerator's spelling error, whether intentional or not, did not make finding the record any easier. The thing I noticed this time, though, is that the enumerator noted the name of the street for the households recorded in a vertical column along the far left margin of the page. So it's clear that the first four listings on the page were on the west side of Wilson Avenue, which ends where East Linden Street turns into East Linden Drive. The enumerator made a right turn at Linden Street and the remaining households on that page are all listed in the margin as located on that street. My guess is that all of the houses on East Linden were on the north side of the street because the Google map makes it clear that everything south of East Linden Street is on the Meadow Springs Country Club golf course, within easy walking distance of the clubhouse and the circular drive that provides access to the clubhouse.

In the pictures above there are some houses in the background. My guess is that the pictures were taken on or from the premises of the Meadow Springs Country Club. I did some Googling and determined that the course was built in 1920 and redesigned and remodeled around 1970. I also found a catalog of all of the architectural designs drawn up by Frank Lloyd Wright that were ever built. The catalog includes nearly 500 buildings, most of them private residential homes. One of them was built on East Linden Drive in 1950 on property opposite Meadow Springs Country Club.

I don't know if the parsonage on East Linden Street where my father and his family lived from 1928 until 1930 is still standing and in use. But I'm fairly sure the Frank Lloyd Wright house on that street is still there. I visited Jefferson City four years ago with my mother-in-law who is now 87 and still living in Milwaukee in the house that her husband built in 1950. I'll be visiting her again a few weeks from now as I understand she's starting to have some problems with her memory. The last time I visited Jefferson City with my mother-in-law we saw some churches and a few older homes that looked like they might have housed ministers. This time I'll know exactly where to look.


Anonymous said...

There is no such place as "Jefferson City" Wisconsin. Do you mean Jefferson in Jefferson County, Wisconsin?

Craig said...

You're correct. It is Jefferson. But I prefer to think of it as Jefferson City, to distinguish it from Jefferson County if nothing else. Thanks for your comment.