German Family Structure
Karl Geheb, a God fearing man, Master Blacksmith and farmer, guided the German family. They lived and worked in the small village of Schmirma for centuries. The property consisted of a house, a forge and a barn with a courtyard in between all of it. Karl’s father was a skilled tradesman as was his father’s father. For centuries this German family followed the custom of the eldest son taking over the business and property. Karl and Fredriecke had eight children between 1892 and 1912. Willy Geheb was the fourth child. Their lives are typical in German history.
German Rural Life
There was never running water or any plumbing at the Geheb complex. The pump in the courtyard supplied water needs. The family regularly carried water into the house for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. Therefore due to the work involved heating water and filling the tub, full baths were infrequent. Coal-burning ceramic stoves heated the buildings. This lifestyle was common for many German families during the early 20th century.
WWI in Germany
Karl, a Master Blacksmith, had the right to train apprentices. They would live at the complex and sleep in the upper barn with farm animals kept in the lower barn. The whole family farmed several acres that were located just outside the village and used the produce for their family needs. All the children (and their ancestors) were christened at the church across the street, built in 1640. Horses were used for field work and transportation. The Gehebs never owned a car. This story brings German history to life.
Education in Germany
As was typical of rural German families, the children started school at first grade when six years old and finished with eighth grade at the age of fourteen. As a result, the boys were apprenticed into a trade for three years after which they began work in the trade. Also, the girls would either stay at home to help or go to work helping another household. Most noteworthy, although the children acquired only an elementary school education, they were fully prepared to continue with their lives. Due to the quality of education throughout Germany, they had math, history, reading, and writing skills that equaled those of an average United States high school graduate today.
As the children married and left Schmirma, they settled near their family home. They lived from two to eighteen miles away. Willy Geheb, the fourth child, was the only one to leave the family. He traveled to Brazil and Mexico before settling permanently in Chicago, Illinois. Willy remained in close contact with his German family until the end of his life. He also continued to assist his family by sending money and packages.
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