I was named Dorothea Linda at birth. Dorothea, my first, and I always thought my very formal name, was after my great-grandmother, Catharina Dorothea Elisabeth Schultz Lindgren. You’ll find out where the Linda came from on another post.The names tell the story ~ her maiden name is Schultz and she was born in Germany and her married name Lindgren, a Swedish name. He had come from Sweden and was a field hand on her father’s farm. She was the farmer’s daughter and who Ola Lindgren picked for his bride. According to family legend, land in Germany was only passed to the sons at that time, and with no land of their own, Ola and Catherine decided to immigrate to America, a decision the couple never regretted according to copies of letters in my possession.
On 18 April 1887 they arrived in New York with their 7 year old daughter, Anna Dorothea Louisa, and their 2 year old son, Heinrich August William and life in America began for the family. The first stop on their journey was Big Rapids, Michigan where they added to their family with a daughter, Elsie Laura Vera, and lost Anna, who is memorialized with her mother. They didn’t stay there long because they were in Sacramento by the early 1890′s, and blended into the immigrant population.
Ola and his son (my grandfather, Henry) worked together as Boilermakers for the Railroad, and Catharina charged her son “rent” each payday. Unknown to Henry his mother was setting his “rent” aside and saving it for his son’s future. When the time was right, according to my mother, the money was given to him, and with it he built a home. According to a letter she wrote to her niece in Germany:
“Henry, as a carpenter, so they call them here, build a house and now he has already started the third house. He has already sold two. He got 2650 dollars for the first one and 3000 for the second one. He has 16 more lots here in Oak Park, everything here has built up and gotten more expensive. Where one paid $100 gets $1000 for it. . . I can hardly believe what I am writing . You will think we are bragging. It is very good here. We have everything we want when dear God only gives us our good health. When I and my husband don’t have to work any longer, we can live from our earnings.”
Catharina loved her new country, and yes, she bragged about it in letters home. She continued being frugal, teaching her son the habits that would follow him throughout life. She left this earthly life on December 28, 1925 and is buried in Sacramento’s Masonic Cemetery with two of her children, her husband and her daughter-in-law.
My great-grandmother appreciated the life she had in America, but took nothing for granted. She kept the values she had in the old country and instilled them in her son. Because of those things (and because I am her namesake!) Catharina is my pick for
Linda’s Headstone of the Week, Week #12.