August 25, 2018, is the 179th birth anniversary of my great-grandmother Marie Auguste (“Augusta”) Joram Riedel. she was born in 1839 in Marieney, Saxony, Germany.
She, her husband, and four of her children (including my grandfather, Louis Hermann Riedel) were part of the Colonia Saxonia, a group of immigrants that came to the United States in 1873.
I have collected only a few snippets about her life:
- My mother was named Nettie Augusta for a friend of her mother’s and her paternal grandmother. My mother hated it, but it apparently pleased Augusta to be so honored.
- The family story says that Augusta donated land for one of the Lutheran churches in Forestville, Michigan. It would have been unusual for a woman of her era to own land.
- She outlived her husband by almost 20 years. It was the opposite with my mother’s maternal grandparents: he outlived his wife by many years. When my mother was little, she asked, “Why don’t Grandma and Grandpa live together?”
- Two of her children committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid.
I do have a number of pictures of her, and two painted by one of her Joram relatives, my cousin Hans, whose daughter lived with my family in California for about a year.