Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Karl Lodholz, Sr.


By Martha DeClue
The Lead Belt News, Flat River, Missouri, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1964

The wedding anniversary coming up next week on Sept. 11 will be the sixty-second for Mr. and Mrs. Karl Lodholz, Sr., of Bonne Terre. Mr. Lodholz will be 86 in November and his wife was 84 in March. Many of their friends and former neighbors are gone and their children are all settled in their homes. So it is a quiet period, but not a lonely one, for the man and woman who take pleasure in sharing memories and keeping up with present day affairs. Each has a delightful sense of humor and animation that belies their years.

Karl Lodholz was born in Wolfenweiler, Germany in 1878 and Selina Bram was born in 1880 at Zurich, Switzerland. It was not in either of these neighboring countries of the Old World, however, that the couple met. They became acquainted after both had come to the United States and settled in the Bonne Terre community. German was the native tongue of Karl and Selina and at different stages of their lives they had to learn the English language. Since Mrs. Lodholz was a mature person before she came here, her speech retains some accent of her native tongue although her vocabulary is excellent.

Karl was one of the five children who remained with their mother in Germany, when his father, John Lodholz, came to the United States in 1884 and first found employment in the iron mines at Pilot Knob, Mo. Some four or five years later, after finding work and settling in the Lead Belt, Mr. Lodholz was joined by his family. Although he was over eleven years old at this time, Karl was enrolled in the first grade at Bonne Terre since he could not read, write or understand English.

Bonne Terre at this time was a young mining town laid out with several rough dirt roads. There was, however, a small company hospital built by the St. Joseph Lead Company and located on the wedge of what is now the east end of School Street. Karl recalls that his older brother, Gus Lodholz, found his niche in Bonne Terre at this hospital where medical care was provided for St. Joe men. There was no kitchen in the hospital and Gus carted food to the patients from the home of a Mrs. Nannie Scott. The food was carried in a square bucket (forerunner, no doubt, of the modern Lazy Susan) fitted with partitions which separated the menu offerings. For several years Gus was the sole hospital attendant and one man nursing staff until the company hired the hospital's first trained nurse. She was Miss Laura Pearce, who later became Mrs. Hans Schantl. After the Bonne Terre Hospital was built, Gus was asked to continue his services there as attendant but he did not stay very long in the new hospital set-up. 

Karl's first work was on the company's dairy farm. Next, he had a horse-drawn milk delivery route. There were no refrigeration facilities and Karl delivered one batch of water cooled milk and then replenished his supply for the remainder of the route. Exchange bottles and cartons were not in usage and the milk man dipped out or poured milk from his cans into containers provided by the customers. 

It was not long before Karl was employed by the lead company. He worked for over 52 years in the mill and mines before his retirement in 1948. For the last 30 years of his continuous service he worked in the Bonne Terre mines and has been honored on several occasions as St. Joe veterans have been singled out for recognition.

His working activities are now confined to the care of his lovely yard and garden. The fact that Mr. Lodholz appears unusually fit for a man of his age may be attributed to the fact that he never owned an automobile and always did a great deal of walking. He still walks to and from town daily, the distance comprising a respectable hike. 

Selina Bram was 21 years old when she left Switzerland to come to the United States. Travel costs of about $100 covered her expenses from Zurich to her destination at Hazel Run, Mo., and the trip took 16 days. She had secured second class passage on an ocean steamer and, despite the language barrier, she had no trouble in traveling across the United States by train until she came almost to the end of her long journey. Selina's destination was the railroad depot at Bonne Terre where she was to be met by her uncle and aunt, a Mr. and Mrs. Schirch who had a farm in the Hazel Run community. It was to be a storybook type of rendezvous between relatives looking for pre-arranged identification of one another. Uncle was there -- but the train whizzed by. It seems that in St. Louis the railroad conductor gave Selina a wrong ticket and since she could not read it, the mistake was not discovered until the train had gone past Bonne Terre to the Doe Run junction below Farmington. Here, the young lady was befriended by kind strangers who arranged to transport her by buggy back to Bonne Terre.

Having mutual acquaintances and similar background it was a natural development that Karl and Selina should become friends. Being able to converse in German enabled Karl to out-rank other suitors of the lovely Swiss maiden. So it was that Selina Bram, who arrived in this country in 1901, was married the following year to Karl. The Schirch family urged the couple to set the wedding date in September when the bounty of the harvest would be available for the big marriage feast. Supplies were plentiful and the festivities lasted for the better part of three days and nights.

Karl and Selina moved into their first home in 1903. They still live there. Additions have been made and remodeling has been done until the present place at 236 Church Street bears little resemblance to the original structure. It is a neat and attractive home with a big screened front porch generously equipped with comfortable furniture. Mrs. Lodholz is an accomplished seamstress and excellent cook. Throughout the home one may see many lovely pieces of needlework reflecting her skill. 

The lives and times of Karl and Selina Lodholz have been marked with the joys and disappointments that come to us all. Eight children were born to the couple and one of the number, a little girl, died at the age of two. Succeeding generations include 19 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. The children are: Helen White, Whittier, Calif.; Hans Lodholz, Ferguson; Selina Cash, Bonne Terre Route Two; Karl Lodholz, Jr., Bonne Terre; Louise (Mrs. David) Jones, St. Louis; Bill Lodholz, Ferguson; and Frieda McFadden, Kirkwood.

Mr. and Mrs. Lodholz have made several trips to California by automobile, train and plane. The children and their families keep in close touch and their attentiveness and accomplishments provide pleasure and pride to the elderly couple.

      After concluding our interview with Mr. and Mrs. Lodholz -- and remembering his wide smile and easy laugh and her quick, teasing wit -- we thought of the poetic words "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."