John Rettinger, shown in Figure 1 and patriarch of the Rettinger family, was born in April 1853 and grew up in the town of Wachenheim Germany, which is near Strasburg, Germany. We know this because he listed his parents on his marriage license as Matthius and Magdalena Haus Rettinger and his place of origin as Wachenheim. John immigrated to the United States in 1882. In that year, 250,000 other Germans also came to the US and 1882 turned out to be the peak, but by no means the end, of German immigration to the United States.
John probably didn’t realize it at the time but in that same year Congress had passed two bills making it more difficult to immigrate to the United States. One was the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese laborers from entering the US for ten years because of race riots in California and the other was an act barring entry into the US of "undesirables" such as convicts, paupers, and the insane. Fortunately, John did not fall into either category and was accepted into the country.We will probably never know exactly what motivated John to want to come to the United States, but in 1882 the trip was not particularly dangerous due to improvements in transportation technology.
The political situation was relatively stable in Germany in the late nineteenth century and there was very little resistance by the German government to anybody who wanted to leave. Money to pay for transportation and a willingness to leave friends, family, and everything one had ever known, behind, was all that was required.Life was not easy in Germany at that time and there was little chance of being any more than what your father was. But life was hard everywhere. The difference was that the United States had the reputation of being the "Land of Opportunity". In the book titled "Eagle in the New World", there is discussion as to why so many Germans immigrated to America at various times during the history of America.Many Germans went to America as adventurers who hoped to become rich without much effort. Around the middle of the nineteenth century not a few Germans left for California, touched by the gold fever.
Of a very different nature were industrial workers who left toward the end of the century to find jobs in American industrial plants. At that time there were also many young women looking for jobs as servants or salesclerks—or looking for husbands. In addition there were those who left the country because they could not cope with the society and its demands and regulations: draft evaders, young boys or girls who wanted to marry without the consent of their parents, and transatlantic vagabonds of all kinds.
The German immigration to America in the nineteenth century — comparable to other migratory movements from European countries to the New World — is often interpreted as an escape from imminent poverty or from unbearable living conditions. Different motives were intermingled: religious, political, social, economic, and psychological personally oriented ones. There are many studies about motives, and we are well aware of the various push-and-pull factors behind the mobility. Generally speaking, emigration was a result of tensions between the emigrant and a complex of forces impossible to cope with and from which escape offered the easiest solution.
Technological innovations and the Industrial Revolution changed traffic conditions considerably during the nineteenth century. Steam navigation on rivers and the construction of the railway system improved transportation from the old homes to the seaports in Germany and from the landing places in America to the new homes. The introduction of packet lines with fixed routes and timetables for departures and arrivals made ocean transportation easier: it particularly shortened the waiting time in the ports. Ocean steamers, which replaced sailing vessels after the middle of the nineteenth century, meant greater comfort and faster traveling. Instead of seven weeks immigrants could reach this side of the Atlantic in two weeks.
Of no little importance were pull factors working from the country of destination. Every emigrant expects something better than conditions at home. A specific image of the new country develops that, whether right or wrong, lures the emigrant away. What was the German image of North America and the United States? What were the attractive features? In 1903 the German banker Ludwig Max Goldherger published a book whose title immediately became a standard phrase: Das Land der unbegrenzten Moglichkeiten (The Land of Unlimited Opportunities).
It is true that Germans always cherished the idea that, to a certain degree, America was paradise, that it offered happiness and wealth to everybody. …… During the late nineteenth century it was the country of unlimited progress, of the "self-made man," of upward mobility from ditchdiggers to wealthy industrialists.
Such a venture could be undertaken only because emigration had become an accepted fact. German state authorities did not do much to protect emigration, but there were no longer any obstacles from their side. It is safe to say that from the middle of the nineteenth century, every German who had sufficient financial means to go away and settle in a distant country was free to do so, provided he had fulfilled his obligation toward the home society and the home country. He had to pay his debts before leaving, and he was not allowed to evade military service.
John Rettinger served in the Kaiser's army for a time period which could easily have been as long as ten years and then at age 29 traveled to the United States. In order to enter the US he needed a sponsor and his sponsor was William "Billy" Breitweiser. It is not known what the relationship between Billy Breitweiser and John Rettinger was prior to John’s entry into the US. Possibly they were friends in the old country and Breitweiser had arrived earlier. One of Breitweiser's responsibilities as sponsor for John Rettinger was to find him a job before he arrived. The job he found for John was with the Illinois Central Railroad in Centralia. So upon entering the US in New York, John moved quickly to Centralia, IL, where he went to work as a machinist for the Illinois Central in one of their railroad shops.
We know from history passed down through the Rettinger family that John Rettinger had at least one brother named Phillip and three sisters named Mary, Elizabeth, and unknown. Mary and Elizabeth immigrated to America together and Elizabeth is said to have died shortly after in New York of "Homesickness". Although what the real cause was, we do not know. It is possible that either Elizabeth or Mary were married at the time. The unknown sister remained in Germany and married a Mr. Mueler. Later on Apr 24, 1887 Mary Rettinger, formerly of Centralia, and William Breitweiser of Chicago were married in Chicago. In 1917 at Billy Breitweiser drove down from Chicago and attended the funeral of John Rettinger.
John quickly became a member of the German community of Centralia, Illinois. This "Little Germany", as they were sometimes called, provided a haven to the new member of the group, a place where John could become acclimated the new society. Therefore, it would have been fairly easy for John to quickly become an accepted member of the community, even as a newcomer.
German-Americans, like members of other ethnic groups, had to solve the problem of adjustment, that is, the coexistence of the heritage of their native land and the life-style of their new environment. American society did not usually put direct pressure on them to adjust. Acculturation was something they had to accomplish by themselves. But if they wanted to he successful in their lives, they had to pick up the language, the customs, and the life-style of Americans.
Germans were famous for their love of beer. Perhaps they still are. but Little Germanys consisted of more than theaters and beer gardens. There were German shops in which German food and other German goods were sold. The German language could be heard everywhere. German churches and schools existed here, as well as German libraries and clubs of all kinds. Mutual-aid societies, voluntary fire and police organizations, and German institutions for various other purposes were also typical of the Little Germanys. There was a Bohne-Viertel in Brooklyn, a quarter called Over the-Rhine in Cincinnati, the North Side in Milwaukee, and a Little Saxony in New Orleans. These German enclaves in American cities helped preserve the German heritage. Nativists sometimes criticized them because of their foreignness.
The role of the Little Germanys was not, however, limited to the conservation of traditions. Such neighborhoods and homogeneous German quarters provided protection and support for members of a minority group during the time of their adjustment. There they could learn how to cope with the problems of a strange environment, learn the English language, and prepare themselves for the future. The German quarters functioned like buffers or "decompression chambers."
Within a year John had earned enough money to ask Raymond Woehl for the hand of his oldest daughter, 19 year old Anna Virginia Woehl, in marriage. Either John was a fast worker or it is also possible that Breitweiser could have introduced John to the Woehl's who were already second-generation immigrants.John died on Nov 10, 1917 as a result of an injury he received at Illinois Central Shops which resulted in his leg being amputated. Complications led to gangrene which eventually led to his death.
The marriage of John and Anna Rettinger produced four children. They were Raymond John Rettinger, Anna Virginia Rettinger, Cora Phyllis Rettinger, and Freda Louise Rettinger.Raymond John RettingerRay (Raymond) Rettinger worked for railroads in Illinois and Ohio for 50 years. His railroad career began in 1900 when he started out as an office boy in Centralia for the Illinois Central Railroad. In 1902 he moved up to machinist's apprentice and in 1906 to machinist. Ray then moved, with his family, to Villa Grove, IL and worked as a machinist for the C-D & I railroad and was appointed roundhouse foreman in 1912. Ray then worked at Stoney Island until its shops closed in 1931. He then obtained a job as roundhouse foreman for the Nickel Plate Road in Conneaut, Ohio where he worked until his retirement in 1951.
Raymond John Rettinger married another Centralia native, Carolena Hoffman on October 14, 1908. Lena Hoffman was the daughter of Lawrence and Mary Droll Hoffman. Raymond and Lena grew up living not more than a few blocks from each other in the small town of Centralia and they also attended the same German ME church and probably the same school. They could possibly have been childhood sweethearts or at least known each other as children.Lena Rettinger was a strong willed woman who played the traditional role of the times of mother and homemaker. Because of her strong will she was often in trouble with other members of her family. There is an old family story, which goes as follows. Raymond had built a model working steam engine in his spare time in the Nickel Plate shops. It apparently was a work of art.
About 9 inches high, it burned alcohol and produced real steam. It had only one problem and that was that the steam condensed and turned back to water before it could get to the pistons. And so it did not run. But Ray didn't have time to work on it and fix the problem, so it sat around for a few months or possibly years. One day the junk man came around and Lena told him to take the model engine and get rid of it, which he did. This engine was never seen again. Certain family members were of course shocked to say the least. Nobody seems to know how Ray felt about this situation. He might have been glad that this reminder of a failed project was out of sight or he might have been upset. But Ray was an easy going kind of guy and if he was upset it probably wouldn’t have shown. Lena died early in 1971 and Raymond died later that same year.Ray and Lena had three children, Lawrence, Marian, and Anna V., who was lucky enough to carry on the much loved Anna Virginia family name.
Lawrence married Virginia Pickett, and they had three children Lawrence Jr., Mary Sue, and Mildred Ann. Mildred was given the honor of carrying on the much-loved Pickett family name of Milley. Marian married Russell Drews and they had two children, Edward and Carol. Anna V married Jack Fillinger and they had one adopted child named Jon.Lawrence John Rettinger Sr.Lawrence Sr. attended the University of Illinois and graduated in 1933 with a BS Degree in Electrical Engineering. However, because jobs were hard to find at this time, Lawrence ended up in Ottumwa, IA working for Swift and Co. doing something other than engineering work. It was here that he met and married Virginia Harriet Pickett daughter of Clyde and Mildred Pickett. Lawrence and Virginia were married in Ottumwa on Oct 14, 1939 which was the same date Lawrence's parents were married 31 years earlier.Not long after marriage, Lawrence was offered an engineering position with the Western Electric Co in Chicago, IL.
To a small town girl like Virginia, this was rather traumatic. She had never been out of Iowa and now to have to leave all her friends and go live in the big city of Chicago was going to be tough. But she knew it was necessary for Lawrence's career so she cried a few tears and left without a fight.On Sep 6, 1940 Lawrence and Virginia's first child Lawrence Jr. (Larry) was born. About a year latter they moved into a house at 3729 W 65th St. Then two years later on Dec 14, 1943 Mary Sue was born and three years after that on Aug 2, 1946 Mildred Ann came along. The Rettinger's lived in Chicago until Jun 1954 at which time Lawrence asked for and was transferred by Western Electric to Winston Salem, NC. So the family pulled up stakes and made the move to the South. Kind of traumatic at the time but in retrospect it was a good move for all concerned. So it was in Winston-Salem that Lawrence and Virginia lived out their lives. Virginia died in 1983 and Lawrence in 1991.
Lawrence Rettinger Jr. attended North Carolina State University with a break in between in the US Army for three years. Upon leaving the Army he finished his education at NCSU and graduated. Upon graduating Larry went to work for IBM in Huntsville, AL and married Linda Louise Greene all in the same week. Larry and Linda had two children named Joseph Brett born Jan 8, 1969 and Carissa Dawn born Sep 10, 1971. Linda and Larry moved from Huntsville, AL to Austin, TX when IBM closed down its Huntsville location in 1977. Linda and Larry were divorced in 1985 and Larry married Suzanne Glazbrook Garrett on June 17, 1995. Larry retired from IBM in 1995 and has since worked at several part time jobs.Mary Sue Rettinger attended nursing school at UNC in Raleigh, NC and graduated and became a Registered Nurse. She worked at this profession until her marriage to James Mulholland on Jul 27, 1968 in San Diego, CA.
This marriage produced two children named Jennifer Lynn and David Dickinson. They lived in Houston, TX for a while but now live in Denver, CO. Jim worked for Exxon as a geologist in Houston and in Denver, but when Exxon wanted them to move back to Houston, they chose to quit rather than move. Mary now works as a nurse in a doctor’s office and Jim is presently doing contract work as a geologist.Mildred Ann Rettinger attended Kings Business College in Charlotte, NC. She married Don Jefferson on Mar 22, 1969 and they had two children, Kimberly Ann and Kevin Gray. They were married and have lived in Winston Salem, NC all their adult lives. Mildred works for R J Reynolds in Winston-Salem and Don has worked with several construction companies there.Marian Louise Rettinger Marian Louise Rettinger was born August 11, 1913 in Villa Grove, Illinois. After a rather long courtship, she married Russell Drews on April 28, 1934.
At the time they were married, Marian was living in Chicago with her parents Ray and Lena. When Ray took a job in Conneaut, Ohio and was going to have to move there, Marian had to either move to Conneaut with them or get married and stay in Chicago. She chose the latter. Russell worked for International Harvester Co in Chicago until his death on November 6, 1958. Shortly after Russell’s death, Marian and her children moved to California to start a new life and have lived there ever since.Russell and Marian had two children, Edward Raymond Drews born Feb 2, 1942 and Carol Lynn Drews born October 16, 1944. Edward married Ailene Odegaard on June 5, 1965 and Carol Lynn married Jay Chavez on April 6, 1969 and divorced him on October 10, 1975. She then married Quinn Mizer on January 2, 1980. Quinn died on September 22, 1981.
On May 10, 1986 Carol married Robert DeLillo. Carol presently works as hospital administrator in San Marcos, California.Anna Virginia Rettinger (daughter of Raymond Rettinger)Anna Virginia Rettinger was born on May 19, 1919 in Chicago, Illinois and married Jack Bayard Fillinger on September 15, 1945. Jack and Anna V, as she prefers to be called, both attended Conneaut High School. Jack entered the Army in 1942 and served in the Railroad Battalion in Africa, Italy and France until the end of World War II. Jack worked for the Nickel Plate Railroad before and after his military service. Anna V and Jack had no children of their own so in October of 1955 they adopted a boy and named him Jon Raymond Fillinger.
Jon was born on October 14, 1955. Jack died of cancer on August 2, 1971.Jon married Barbara Donathan on December 26, 1980 and they had one son named Michael David Fillinger born March 1, 1980. Jon and Barbara were divorced in 1990 and Jon married Becky Smith and they have a daughter named Shannon Marie Fillinger born November 27, 1994. Jon and Becky presently live in Panama City, Florida where Jon serves as the Emergency Management Planner of Bay County, Florida. Jon had previously served for 20 years in US Air Force which included an assignment as Noncommissioned Officer in charge of Contingency Systems at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
For his outstanding military service, Jon received two Meritorious Service Medals before his retirement in 1994.Anna Virginia Rettinger (daughter of John Rettinger)Anna Virginia Rettinger married Fred A. Wright who was born Jun 7, 1888 and died Feb 24, 1970. They had one daughter named Malinda Jane Wright. Malinda married Jack Waggoner.Cora Phyllis RettingerCora Phyllis Rettinger married Ray G Sisson who was born in 1892 and died in 1936. Cora and Ray did not have any children. After Ray’s death she later married Lee J Dornan who had been previously married and had 4 children by his first wife.
Freda Louise Rettinger married Lorin H. (Butch) Smith who was born Feb. 23, 1899. Butch was an engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad. This marriage produced two children, Shirley Mae Smith and Phyllis Ann Smith. The marriage ended in divorce and Freda married a man named (Big) Earl Sanders.Phyliss Ann SmithPhyliss Ann Smith married Robert Dean (Red) Hatfield on November 25, 1948. Red worked for the Telephone Company and died in 1987. Phyliss and Red had three children.
Stephen Rettinger Hat field born October 18, 1950, Jane Lee Hatfield born February 18, 1953, and Cary Ann Hatfield born May 11, 1955. None of these children are married at present.Shirley Mae SmithShirley Mae Smith married Darrell D. Phelps on November 25, 1955. Darrell worked for the Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America as a "pipeline right of way buyer" and Shirley worked for Illinois Bell Telephone Co. They had three children, Malinda Ann Phelps born Mar 21, 1957, Melissa Lu Phelps born Mar 28, 1958, and Mary Jane Phelps born Feb 22, 1962.Malinda Ann Phelps married Lamont Miller and they had two children, Zachary Dwight Miller born Oct 13, 1984 and Meredith Linsey Miller born May 11, 1987. Malinda and Lamont later divorced and Malinda married Mark Claybourn. Melissa Lu Phelps married Gary Don Jarrett and they had two children, Matthew Phelps Jarrett born April 5, 1981 and Michael Don Jarrett born May 20, 1983.
Melissa and Gary later divorced and Melissa married Tim Dugan. Mary Jane Phelps married Donnie Wyatt and they had two children, Landon Phelps Wyatt born May 2, 1988 and Cameron Chase Wyatt born Feb 14, 1990.
Quelle: Homepage John Rettinger http://www.larrett.com/