Louise Reisenberg: A Leap of Faith (52 Ancestors #17)

I am fortunate to have a family full of storytellers with long memories. What this means for me, though, is that my genealogical research primarily entails proving or disproving these stories. One story, on which I am currently working, is about my great great grandmother, Louise Reisenberg (or Risenburg).

Louise (Reisenberg) Schroeder, circa 1900.

Louise (Reisenberg) Schroeder, circa 1905.

Louise’s story, if I remember right, is as follows. One day, a sixteen year old Louise was working in the field on her family’s farm, she heard God tell her to leave her home and her family and go to America. She went back to the house and told her parents what God had told her to do. Her parents believed that she should do as God commanded and sold a cow to buy her passage to America. Louise didn’t speak a word of English, so she found a German family on the boat who were heading to Toledo, Ohio and she went with them. In Toledo, she got a job to support herself and married Frederick Schroeder.

Proving the story has been difficult, but I do believe that it is true based on what I have found so far.

Louise Reisenberg was born in Germany in November of 1860.1,5,6,8,10,11  She came to America in 1882, and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on the Hermann on April 19th of that year, at the age of 21.1,5,6,8  From Maryland, she went on to Ohio, where she met Frederick Schroeder.  Fred and Louise married on May 8, 1882 in Lucas County, Ohio.2  Louise was a carpet weaver.5  Fred and Louise had six children:  Emma W., born circa 1883; Elizabeth A., born January 1885; Henry F., born circa 1887; Bertha Amelia, born March 30, 1890; John F., born October 1892; and George Herman, born September 21, 1896.3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12

Fred died sometime between 1896 and 1900.3,4,5  By 1900, Louise had been naturalized and could speak English.5  By 1930, she was living with her daughter, Bertha, and her son-in-law, Lloyd Bersticker.  She lived with them until she died in 1955.10,11

Most of the story couldn’t be directly proven with facts, but I feel that the facts support it.  A sixteen year old Louise could have heard God, and her parents could have sold the cow.  It may have taken some few years between the initial voice of God and setting off for America.  It also would have taken about a month for the actual voyage.  It seems likely to me that a non-English speaking young lady would have found a family to travel with that spoke her language.  I also have to wonder if maybe this family had connections to the Schroeders in Toledo.  Louise arrived in Maryland on April 19th and married Fred on May 8th, so maybe the family arranged it or suggested it.  Louise certainly did have a job as a carpet weaver.

Louise Reisenberg Schroeder is one of my ancestors about whom I am dying to know more.  She’s always been a bit of a mystery and I’m glad to have uncovered what I have so far.


1.  Baltimore, Maryland Passenger Lists Index, 1820-1897, FamilySearch.org.

2.  Lucas County, Ohio Marriages, 1789-1997, Vol. 3, p.379, FamilySearch.org.

3.  Ottawa County, Ohio Births, 1841-2003, Vol. 1, p.324, no. 94, FamilySearch.org.

4.  Ottawa County, Ohio Births 1891-1908, Vol. 2, p.245, no. 382, FamilySearch.org.

5.  1900 U.S. Federal Census, Benton, Ottawa, Ohio, p.12B, Ancestry.com.

6.  1910 U.S. Federal Census, Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, p.9A, Ancestry.com.

7.  Genesee County, Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925, Vol. 2, p.335, FamilySearch.org.

8.  1920 U.S. Federal Census, Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, p.4A, Ancestry.com.

9.  Lucas County, Ohio Marriages 1920, Vol. 39, p.483, FamilySearch.org.

10.  1930 U.S. Federal Census, Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, p.12B, Ancestry.com.

11.  1940 U.S. Federal Census, Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, p.7B, Ancestry.com.

12.  The Blade Correspondent (Toledo), 5 October 1964, Obituary, Emma Damschroeder, found a copy in my grandparents’ box not cited.

Dolores Schroeder: A Servant’s Heart (52 Ancestors #04)

Dolores Louise Schroeder, circa 1949.

Dolores Louise Schroeder, circa 1949.

Dolores was my grandmother.  I was born the day after her 52nd birthday.  We both love daffodils and cooking, although, my love of those things is probably because of how much time I spent with her.  My cousins, siblings, and I spent every spare moment at her house.  At Christmas, I helped her bake Springerles and German Sour Cream Twists.  I still bake those every year.  I’m like her in many ways, but I aspire to be more like her.

Dolores Louise Schroeder was born on March 3, 1931 in Toledo, Ohio to parents George Herman and Louise Marie (Von Allmen) Schroeder.1,5  The Schroeders moved to Indiana when Dolores was about seven.  They lived in Lafayette in Floyd County, Indiana and joined Atkins Chapel United Methodist Church.1

Dolores graduated from Indiana Central College with a bachelor’s degree in education, and she received her master’s degree at Indiana University Southeast.  She taught at S. Ellen Jones school from 1954 to 1955.2  In 1955, she was forced to resign.  She would never tell me what happened.  The account I had from my grandpa, Sanford “Bud” Wiseheart, is as follows:

She was teachin’ over at S. Ellen Jones and Peder Espeseth was the principal over there.2,3  Well, he called her in the office one day and said, ‘Miss Schroeder, I’d like for you to resign.’  And she said, ‘Well, Mr. Espeseth, what in the world about?’  And he said, ‘You didn’t seek my counsel and that’s one of the rules in the school system.  Teachers always have to seek the principal’s counsel.’  She never could figure out what was provoking him and she went to see Willie Wilson, superintendent.  He said, ‘Miss Schroeder, unfortunately, in the school system, if you do not resign and he presses it and they fire you, then you can’t teach anywhere in the state of Indiana.  But if you do resign, you are free to go anywhere else in the state and teach.’  She said it hurt her terribly, but she went ahead and resigned to please Espeseth.  So she went back up to where she’d been goin’ to college and got on up there.

Dolores taught in Indianapolis from 1956 to 1958.4  By the summer of 1958, she had gone on some dates with Bud.  That story is also best told from his point of view:

Dolores and I had took in some things together.  We went to James Whitcomb Riley home and things like that.  Finally it came to July one night, I was goin’ home from her house.  We walked out to the car together and she said that it’s gettin’ to that time of the year when she has to let them know at Indianapolis whether she was goin’ to teach that year or not and she’d have to sign a contract.  And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know what to tell you, but,’ I said, ‘if you want to stay down here,’ I said, ‘I’ll sign a contract with you.’  And she said, ‘It sounds good to me.’  I guess that’s a crazy way of proposin’ to somebody.

Dolores Louise Schroeder and Sanford William Wiseheart were married on August 2, 1958 at Atkins Chapel United Methodist Church in Floyd Knobs, Indiana by Reverend Earl W. Reed.  5,6,7Dolores and Bud had four sons and ten grandchildren.9  She devoted her life to her family, her church, and helping others.

Dolores was the treasurer of Atkins Chapel for twenty years.  She was a Sunday school teacher and she was in charge of Vacation Bible School, a program to provide meals for those in need, and the church’s Harvest Homecoming booth.  She was also involved in the church’s quilting group, which made quilts for Home of the Innocents and St. Elizabeth’s Maternity Center; Helping Hands ministry, which paid rent and utility bills for people who couldn’t afford it; women’s missions; fundraising for charities; and other outreach, such as visiting the sick.  In 2006, Dolores received the Gold Leaf Award from Community Foundation for outstanding volunteer service.8,9

Dolores Louise Wiseheart died of leukemia on Sunday, September 10, 2006 at her home in New Albany, Indiana.9

Dolores Louise (Schroeder) Wiseheart, June 2006.  Photo taken by Keith Williams for The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY).

Dolores Louise (Schroeder) Wiseheart, June 2006 at Atkins Chapel United Methodist Church. Photo taken by Keith Williams for The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY).

I wonder if she really didn’t know why Mr. Espeseth wanted her to resign, or if she just didn’t want to say.  I never heard her say a bad word about anyone in her entire life.  Just a few weeks ago, I was down at my grandparents’ house with my dad and my uncles.  We were going through paperwork and came across some of her school records.  This prompted my uncle to tell us what he knew about what had happened with Grandma and Mr. Espeseth.  Dolores had been in charge of a school play and had allowed African American children to be in it (this was during integration).  Mr. Espeseth was upset that she hadn’t consulted him about it and asked her to resign.  I’ve always been proud of my grandma, but hearing this story makes me tremendously proud of her for doing the right thing.


1.  1940 U.S. Federal Census, Lafayette, Floyd County, Indiana, p.1B, FamilySearch

2.  Caron’s New Albany-Jeffersonville (Floyd-Clark Counties, Ind.) City Directory, Vol. 40, 1955, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

3.  New Albany Tribune, 9 Oct 1963, p.1, c.6, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

4.  Polk’s Indianapolis (Marion County, Ind.) City Directory, Vol. 47, 1957, InternetArchive

5.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Vol. 55, p.244, Floyd County Clerk’s Office

6.  New Albany Tribune, Sun 24 Aug 1958, p.6, c.1, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

7.  New Albany Ledger & Tribune, Sun 2 Aug 1998, p.B2, c.3, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room

8.  The Courier-Journal (Louisville), Sat 24 Jun 2006, p.B3, c.2

9.  New Albany Tribune, Tues 12 Sep 2006, p. A3, c.3