Our Pioneer Ancestor

Our Pioneer Ancestor Johanna Pauline Bettermann Schulz

   Johanna Pauline Bettermann was born June 20, 1908, the second daughter. She had dark blue eyes and wavy brown hair. Serious and strong willed, she was a child with a vast curiosity and intellect. Her sisters, Elizabeth, the oldest, Marta, just younger, and brother Walter were her playmates.  

   She was born in Rehau, Bavaria, Germany. Her father. a blacksmith, had a position there. Her parents were Silesian and were in Bavaria to get work after WWI. Paul Emil Bettermann was from a blacksmith family in Rabishau, in the Isergebirge, and Anna Lindner Bettermann was from Mühlrädlitz, Kreis Lüben. They met when Paul apprenticed with her father. 

      Anna was a strict mother but she had a great love for her brood. Some of the support for the family economically came from sewing she took in for others. Paul did not always bring home all his paycheck. Some was spent in the pubs after work where men drowned their frustrations and sorrows.

  He was a good father who enjoyed hiking in the woods with his family and teaching them the names of flora and fauna. Food was scarse because of WWI. Not having enough bread, sugar, or butter was normal during these years. The locked bread box and the word "hunger" were understood by all children. Nonetheless the Bettermann children remembered their children as a pleasant experience.
  Johanna learned easily and in school she did very well. She loved to read and was often found reading instead of doing her chores. The family was Lutheran and the church held many opportunities for development. Memorizing and singing were her favorite activities. She learned to sing alto in the choir and often sang with her sisters.
   In November of 1918, at the end of WWI, the family moved back to Silesia to her father's birthplace, Rabishau, Kreis Löwenberg. Johanna was 10 years old. The move from Bavaria to Rabishau was approximately 500 km, which for the children, seemed like a trip around the world. They went by train and they traveled without their father who had left earlier. In Rabishau, the house they lived in was by the railroad tracks and soon after their arrival their furniture came by rail. The children often watched the train through their window. Ironically, she lived by the train tracks in Salt Lake City and I sat and watched the train as a child, too.
Johanna and her sisters went to the local Volkschule. There she was the Kantor's favorite and became his main support in the choir, singing the second voice. Most girls were not given the opportunity to continue schooling past the Volksschule, or elementary school, so Johanna left school at 14 and worked as a nanny for a wealthy family. 
   Being a nanny was a common job for a young girl and this work was not without it's dangers. Many young girls were molested by their employers and had little recourse since their family needed their income. Johanna became shrewd in maneuvering out of compromising situations.

     Having learned to sew from her motherr, she desired to apprentice with a professional seamstress. Tante Lina, her mother's sister, lived in Leignitz, a larger town north of Hirschberg. She was a seamstress and Johanna worked for her for several years and took her examination there. 
While living in Leignitz, Tante Linna approached her one day with a special request.
    "Hanchen, will you go with me to a religious meeting tonight? I want someone to walk with me so I am not alone in the dark if the meeting runs late."
    "What kind of meeting are you talking about?"
    "It is a cottage meeting of the Mormon church taught by missionaries."
     "I don't think I'd be interested in attending a meeting like that."
     "Please Hannchen. I'd like someone to go with me."
    Johanna did go, reluctantly, and what she found there changed her whole life. She heard the message the missionaries taught and knew at once that it was true. Her family did not embrace her new-found beliefs and discouraged her desire to be baptized.  She was ridiculed for believing in an American religion where it's founder Joseph Smith claimed to have seen God and Jesus Christ. Yet she was steadfast and traveled alone to many meetings to be with other members of the church. Finally, at age 19, her father gave permission his permission so that she could be baptized. In 1927, on the same day, she and her aunt Pauline, (Lina), Lindner became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Liegnitz . She changed some of her  habits as her religion did not allow smoking or drinking and became doggedly determined to live a life centered in Christ.
  About 1830, she left Liegnitz to take a position as a seamstress in Bolkenhain. She was living a single life and enjoying meeting young men, one of which was Kurt Titze, who showed signs of liking her sister, Marta. Several men pursued her but what stood in the way of marriage was her desire to share her religion. Marrying a Mormon was not easy since there were very few eligible candidates. Johanna's sisters did marry and started families.

  Elizabeth, (Liesel), married Eduard Bula in 1932 and moved to Lauban, northwest of Hirschberg. Eduard worked in a shoe factory. They had two children, Ruth and Norbert. 
  Marta,(Martel), married Kurt Titze in 1933, in Hirscberg, and made their home there as Kurt developed his gravestone business. 

  While in Bolkenhain, Johanna, (Hanni), worked as a nanny to a wealthy family.

 She always took pride in the three girls she watched over and gave them all her affection and love.
  In 1937 Hanni's father died of tuberculosis at Eastertide. It started with a bad cough and cold and he was eventually hospitalized. he died before his reitirement age so Anna Bettermann was left without an income except for the little she made sewing for others. Hanni decided to move in with her mother in Hirschberg. They lived on Linke Strasse not far from Marta and Kurt. She got a job at the Shiller Department store. in the material and draperies section. She paid for rent and utilities and helped her mother keep her life together. 
  As the years went by she witnessed the birth of her sister's children. Ruth, Goetz, Peter, Norbert and Ingo. All of them were beloved children to her. 

She would take her weekly bath at the Bober Strasse house where Martel lived, because the house where she and her mother lived had only outhouse toilets. The boys loved to go to Tante Hanni and Oma because there were many wonderful things to play with and many things to read and discuss. Hanni loved books and music. Little Goetz learned to recognize major opera arias as Tante Hanni introduced him to her favorites.
       Times seemed peaceful for the Betterman family but in the outside world danger was brewing. Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and Germany was again at war. There is a saying that in every Schlesiens's closet hangs a uniform. Europe had come through one Great War already and now the unfinished business of that war was to push Europe into war again.
     The first tragedy happened in 1940 when Elizabeth's husband, Eduard, died in the campaign to invade Belgium. That left a bereaved widow with two young children.

 Walter Betterman and Kurt Titze were both drafted in 1941 and Walter worked for the army close to home while Kurt was assigned to the Russian front.

      The war years were an anxious time because so many men were at war far away from Hirschberg, but the town itself felt the war only through food shortages and constant propaganda. The Bettermann women were all in different situations. Elizabeth was a widow with young children, Johanna was unmarried and taking care of her widowed mother, and Marta was alone with three young children while her husband was far away in Russia. they all cared for each other, held together with a strong faith in God.

Marta's three young sons.
       In 1943, Kurt was injued in Russia and transfered to a hospital where he recovered from a shattered knee. As the knee never completely healed he was released and sent home, to the joy of his family.

   The war continued but it became apparent that Germany was losing. In 1945 many Germans just went home, risking being shot but thoroughly sick of the devastation. As the news came that the Russians were pushing west every able man was expected to go to the front to hold the enemy back. Fear spread as Eastern Germany confronted the eventuality that the Russians would invade their towns. Everyone knew of the brutality extended the Russians by the German soldiers and it was not hard to guess what would happen when the chance for revenge came. Hirschberg was left untouched by bombs or combat but then in May of 1945, German soldiers streamed through the streets of Hirschberg in retreat, beaten down and devastated. the hospitals and schools of the town were filled with wounded and then quite suddenly there appeared signs that the Red Army was taking control of the town. Sirens sounded warning citizens to stay out of the streets. Jeeps, troops on foot, armored tanks, wagons drawn by horses, all came rumbling through the town. the Russians were shouting and entering houses looking for food and valuables, looting as they saw fit. German families hid in cellars praying that they would not be discovered. All kinds of atrocities were inflicted there in Hirschberg and somehow the Betterman family stayed alive.

    Elizabeth left Lauban just before the Russians came, going with a party of refugees led by Herr Dietrich. They slowly moved west staying in small villages along the way until they ended up in in the Republic of Czech. The families were dispersed to different farms and Elizabeth spent almost a year there. This group was finally allowed to go back to Germany and settled in Madgeburg. East Germany, unwanted, but housed and fed.
    Before the Russians reached Hirschberg, Kurt stocked a heavy wagon with bedding and food and in the middle of the night, loaded his family aboard. They went to pick up Hanni and Oma Betterman. The boys sat atop the wagon and Oma pushed a carriage with Ingo in it. The first night they got as far as Petersdorf and slept on a floor beside other refugees. that same night the Russians came through Hirschberg. The next morning as the family started on they encountered Russians along the road and were told to go back to the town. They stayed another night in the countryside sleeping on hay in a barn. After a few days Kurt walked back to Hirschberg to see what was happening. He was told that most of the looting and raping had stopped. The family went back to their homes, hoping that some order would be established. Thus began a daily struggle for food. He visited former customers of his gravestone business to barter for nourishment. They lived in Hirschberg for another year in their apartment with a Polish man who was kind enough to let them stay even though he could have claimed the apartment for himself.

  Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin
 In the Potsdam agreement between the Allies, most of Silesia was given to the Polish. After the Russian invasion, the Polish came to construct their own government replacing German employees with their own people. At this time Walter Bettermann was still not home from the war. he finally made his way back, coming not to Hirschberg but to Jelenia Gora. On a Saturday afternoon he found himself looking down on the valley and he noticed the Polish eagle flying on the flag above the courthouse. Walking into town he stopped first at Marta's and then at his mother's home, and then he made it to Klare, where he found his youngest son playing on the sidewalk. The four and 1/2 year old recognized him immediately.

Klare, Walter's Wife, Renate and Ullrich
     Walter and his family went to East Germany to stay with a business associate, Dr. Grim. They settled there to see what the Polish would do in Silesia.
   Meanwhile, Johanna and her mother, and Marta's family decided that things were not going to get better in Silesia. They made plans to leave with other refugees. The refugee problem was handled by both Russians and Americans. Silesians were boarded onto trains with very few possessions and sent to the west. They were further separated and sent to farms all over West Germany. The Germans resented the forced occupation but these were consequences of losing the war. Johanna and her mother were re-located in Lockum, outside of Hannover on a farm. Marta and Kurt went to Eveking, outside of Werdohl.

The valley in Werdohl
       Elizabeth stayed in Scharsleben, by Magdeburg in the east. Walter was content to stay in Mühlhausen in the east, giving his family some security. Unfortunately Stalin's plan for postwar Europe was simple: hold on to what the red Army had conquered in eastern Europe. that included eastern Germany. Elizabeth and children were stranded in the east as well as Walter. Hanni wanted to help her siblings get to the west so she found them and encourage them to petition for removal to the west. She crossed the communist border illegally to vi visit Elizabeth and her children. While on that visit she taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ and told them about the help the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints could give them. They tried to cross the border into the west twice. The first time they were made it to Lockum where Hanni lived but were forced to go back by authorities.
   Determined to try again, they left Norbert, age 7 behind in Lockum with Oma Bettermann and went back to the east. The second time they went to Wüpperfürth to a refugee center to get permission. It was miserable there and Ruth was forced to go alone, with strangers to Düsseldorf, while Elizabeth was allowed to go to Lockum. Now, unfortunately, there were too many on the farm so Hanni arranged to go to work in Stuttgart as a seamstress sewing fur onto coats.
   After arriving in Stuttgart, Hanni contacted the LDS church and found the Relief Society President. the city was full of refugees and she was given a contact some 14 kilometers away in Esslingen. As she knocked on the door she was greeted by a young woman named Gretel, who let her in immediately. She called for her mother and introduced Hanni to Sister Fingerle. "Every room is occupied here but I can offer you the couch." The couch was more than sufficient, so Hanni lived with this family and commuted to Stuttgart.
    Sister Fingerle was a widow with five children whose home was offered to the LDS church for meetings. Sacrament meetings were held in the living room and Sunday School was in a back bedroom.
    Gretel talked to Hanni about a man in America who was looking for a German wife. He was from Esslingen and emigrated to America in 1925. She pestered her to write to Albert Schulz in Salt Lake City, Utah. She finally did write a letter and that started a long distance courtship.
   Albert and his sister Emma had a difficult childhood. in her teen years Emma befriended Sister Barbara Fingerle and sought her help with personal problems. Barbara suggested she seek hekp from God and told her about her belief in the LDS church. Emma found comfort there and shared her beliefs with her brother, Albert. They both joined the church on January 9, 1921. Sometime in the 1920's, Max Zimmer, a district president, taught his congregation that law of polygamy had not been rightfully rescinded. He taught that the church was pressured by the government to end the practice and that God still intended the faithful to live by that law. Many saints were swayed by these teachings, among them Emma and Albert.
   Some of Barbara Fingerle's stepchildren had immigrated to America as early as 1910. Germany was devastated by WW1 so Emma and Albert took their chances and left Germany. They went as far as Chicago where they both found work. Emma was in contact with German friends from Stuttgart and sought to connect with the Mormon church. She made a connection to a group in Salt Lake City who called themselves "fundamentalist mormons". In time she became the second wife of a Brother Sturm. Albert stayed in Chicago and worked as a baker. He did not feel he had the means to marry nor did he find a suitable wife. Some years later he too went to Utah.
   Letters went back and forth from Albert to Hanni. Albert wrote about his convictions and belief in living the laws of Polygamy and the United Order. Hanni was not put off by these declarations. In time he proposed marriage and sent her money to emigrate. She was only the first of her family to come to America.
  She arrived in New York in June of 1947 and Albert met her there. They traveled to Chicago by train where they were married on the 29th of June. Johanna Pauline Betterman, age 39, became the first and only wife of Albert Schulz, age 54.