THE ADAM PINNECKER FAMILY
|My earliest memory of this
family dates back to the early 1930's when a relative visited us, and we
took the relative to visit the Pinneckers. I knew that the Pinneckers were
cousins of Mollie Dahmer, the wife of my Uncle Fred Schafer. Until 1982 I
did not meet any of the family again.
I learned in 1982 that the Fresno Pinnecker family had corne to America in 1926. Being extremely interested in developing a map of the village of Wiesenmuller, Russia, I telephoned Mrs.
Lydia Pinnecker Schmidt, one of the daughters of Adam Pinnecker, Jr. She kindly invited my mother (Molly Schafer Miley) and me to visit her. A lovely friendship began.
Lydia is very soft of voice and beautiful in appearance. There is only a trace of the German accent in her speech. She and her husband, Fred, still use the language occasionally.
After a brief amount of conversation I brought forth a large piece of paper with the objective of Lydia starting a map of the village as she remembers it. She stated that she felt insecure about drawing a map, so I began by drawing a square and asking if there was a "town square." She immediately answered that it was more like a circle with an iron fence around it and with shrubs all along the fence. She said that at the time she thought it was very beautiful.
She continued with additional ideas. The church was in the middle of the circle. Then nearby was a store (Lafka) which was owned by her father's uncle (possibly Conrad Pinnecker) whose son, Victor Pinnecker, was a teacher in the village school. When asked what she remembered about the contents of the store, she replied that she was never inside, but had the idea that yardage was sold there.
Near the store was the schoolhouse. It was quite large, built of brick, and with a huge central room which was used for recreation in the wintertime. It had eight or ten rooms surrounding the large room. The only teacher she remembers vividly was victor Pinnecker. At a later visit Lydia's younger sister, Theresa Lehman, said that the main reason she attended school was to obtain a daily ration of bread which she usually took horne to her younger sister and brother.
Lydia remembers that there were about two streets running parallel to the Jeruslan River between the church yard and the riverbank. Along the river was a beautiful, white sand beach. Often in the summertime the mothers would take their washing to the river for an outing. The children would play in the sand or swim near the bank. But they were admonished never to cross the river "because the Russians" lived on the other side. Of course they feared being caught by the Russians! She stated that there must have been a bridge to the other side, but she cannot recall where it was located. The bathing attire was a long, tube-like garment which trailed behind the wearer in the water in a comical fashion.
Continuing in the description of the village, Lydia remembered that the more well-to-do families lived nearest the church. They had very high fences while toward the edge of the village the fences were shorter. The families at the outskirts were the poorest. Lydia remarked with a chuckle that her family did not live near the center, but not at the very edge either!
Out some way from the last house and toward the steppe lived the family of Winter which owned a mill. The Pinneckers went there to have their wheat ground. Nearby was a threshing yard. Once, when leaving the Winter's mill, Theresa was bitten by their dog. Near the mill was one of the two village orchards. We think it must have been near the river judging from Henry Diel's description. The Pinneckers had three rows of fruit trees and a large space for flowers and vegetables.
Lydia remembers two rows of houses on the east side of the dorf. The directions were determined when she remembered which way the sun came up on Easter Morning. The children climbed up on their barn to watch the sun as it rose. Their house faced north and the barn, granary, chicken house, summerhouse and outhouse were to the south of it.
Some other memories of Lydia's childhood in Wiesenmuller were mentioned that day. A childless Aunt Knauss lived in Kratzke (possibly Ahrenfeld) who was a favorite of Lydia. She stayed with this aunt for several months. This aunt did not come to America.
When oil was extracted from sunflower seeds for family use the bulk of the seeds was brought home to the horses. They really loved the taste of it!
The kitchen of the home had a large oven which extended out into the room. The parents had a new bed which was kept behind the stove. Another bed could be pushed under their bed.
Once the father made a trip to Seelman in the wintertime. The weather was bitterly cold. By the time he returned home his ears and nose were frozen. He lost the tips to the frostbite.
In answer to questions concerning the Revolution Lydia does not remember that her family "went hungry." She stated, however, that the last winter in Russia (1921), the family dug up old potatoes which were powdery, and made a kind of gravy from them. There were people in the village who were starving. Their stomachs were swollen. None were relatives as far as she knows.
The oldest sister, Natalie, was the wife of Frederick Stobbel. She had two children. Natalie and one of the children had smallpox. All three died before the family came to America. Emma, the baby sister, had smallpox also. The doctor came aroundperiodically. Emma and the child who died had not been born when he had last vaccinated the village youngsters, so they were not immune. Emma also had the disease.
An older brother, Jacob, was married and had several children. He was away in the army when the family left in 1921. They last heard from him in the 1930's. Lydia and her family heard that when Jacob came home from the war the house was boarded up and empty. He leaned against the wall and cried.
The family of Victor Pinnecker, the schoolmaster, did not come to America. They moved into the Adam Pinnecker home when Lydia's family left. Memories are dim about the old grandfather, Adam Pinnecker, Sr. Another cousin, Molly Schwartzkopt, lived in the house also. What happened to all of them no one knows.
At the later visit with Theresa present she remembered a time when several Red Soldiers galloped into the village demanding food. The Pinneckers' shelves were bare but they had a large kitchen table. The soldiers scrounged around and found food in some of the other homes which they brought back to eat on the large table. Theresa kept hoping as they ate that they would drop a crumb or two for her to eat.
At one time the mother had their coats ready and the children primed to scoot out the back door as a troop of soldiers entered the village. The children peeked out the shutters and all were greatly relieved when they realized that the men were from the White Army. They were singing, "Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott," plainly Christians!
A Manweiler family lived across the street from the Pinneckers. When the descision was finally made to leave, the Manweilers begged them to reconsider. They were fearful that their friends would be caught, brought back, and the father killed. This had happened to others.