Stories and Silverware
When it comes to hearing stories about my ancestors, the one that I grew up hearing most often (the one that I wanted to hear my mother tell over and over), was the story of how my 2nd great grandfather, Charles Franklin Babbel, came to America. He seemed so adventurous and brave! I loved to hear how this German lad hid himself in an apple barrel on a ship bound for America! (I later learned that he didn’t want to be forced into compulsory German military training.) When the ship was far enough out into the ocean he made himself known, and worked his passage to America, arriving in 1875. In New York he met up with a friend and began his journey to the Midwest. There he married Minnie Mary Margaret Leisenberg in 1885 and they homesteaded in Elkhorn, Nebraska, plowing the farmland with a horse and handheld plow until two days before he died in 1946. It was here that my mother would go with her family to Sunday dinner where the large family of 4 generations would gather. At the head of the large table was Grandpa Babbel, or Papa, as he was known to his children, and no one took a bite of food until he had started eating, always with his knife. Anyone older than 12 could sit at this table graced with white linens, china, and Community Plate silverware, and the younger children sat in the kitchen. My mother, as a child, loved to sit at his knees and listen to him tell the story about living in Germany and coming to America. At 15 years old, she was in his room when he died.
My mother gave me the silverware the Babbel family used at those Sunday dinners. When I hold it in my hands and think that this was actually used by my 2nd great grandparents, I am humbled that I have this connection to them 5 generations later. The picture below shows Charles Franklin Babbel and Minnie Mary Margaret Leisenberg at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration framed by their silverware.