Ancestors II

Eugenie (Jenny) Voetter  1876 – 1936

1899. She was 23, a concert pianist and a soprano, when she sat for
her portrait in Munich. In a year. she would have her firstborn child,
on a forlorn island in the Pacific where she had followed the man with
whom she had fallen in love. And where a dark-skinned native asked her
to “fightem bockes belong cry”, his definition of a piano. Before the
year was out, she and her infant son crossed the great ocean to join
her brother on the American continent where a foreign country called
United States became her home and where she bore her husband three
more children.

Elise Appel Voetter 1841-1927

Here I am, 80 odd years old, toasting you with a glass of wine, framed
by my beautifully embroidered handkerchiefs, my copybooks in perfect
Kurrit script, French – Don Carlos,  German – the months, all relics
of my education in Nurnberg as a girl in the 1850s as the daughter of
a well-to-do technical instructor. No one then would have guessed what
my future life would be like.

In 1899 when I was almost 60, my future son-in-law went to Ponape, an
island in the Pacific, where he was to build roads and bridges for
this German colony. He persuaded my younger daughter Jenni (his
fiancée) to go with him and of course her older sister, Linchen, and I
could not let her go alone. I still don’t know how he talked us all
into it. When we arrived after a seemingly endless journey, we first
lived in the governor’s house and then in a smaller straw-thatched one
where my grandson was born. I was certainly not used to seeing the
natives going around practically naked. Once there was a revolt and
Linchen kept watch at night with a rifle cocked under her arm. There
were great cockroaches and little geckos that had the habit of falling
from the ceiling into one’s soup. The climate did not agree with my
daughter, and in 1900 we once more boarded a steamship and from
Australia went to San Francisco. A three-day trip by rail then took us
to Brooklyn where my son Max had already set up a business. We were
finally back in civilization! Once more a new beginning, this time in
the United States. Nameless faces.

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