I wish I had more stories for you from my great-grandparents. Here is the final installment of “Stories from the Past”!
Note: The following stories were written by a Kelm family member who was close to Julius and Martha. They were both interviewed and their stories retold revealing insights into their personal lives, marriages, births, and deaths. The stories were transcribed by Phyllis Kelm Reakes with permission to share from the original author.
Stories from the Past: To Marry or Not to Marry (Part 5)
Julia, who was worried that Martha, at age 29, would be an old maid, however exerted pressure. She told Martha that it was time she got married, that Julius was a hard worker and an honest man and his children needed a mother. Martha in later years talked about how she struggled over the decision about whether or not to marry Julius. She confided in Dr. Pete at the hospital and asked for his advice. He told her not to get married as she had a good job and didn’t need to get married. Finally, after a lot of pressure from Julia and others, Martha relented. She later said that she agreed to marry Julius because she felt sorry for his children. When she met them they were very dirty and full of lice. Finally, Martha agreed to marry Julius and when the wedding day arrived she changed her mind. This caused quite a scandal. Pressure was again put on Martha to reconsider. She finally gave in but this time Julius insisted that she put down $20 as a promissory note. If she again refused to marry him she would forfeit the $20. Julius was extremely upset about losing a days pay and having to cover the expenses of the wedding that didn’t happen and he wasn’t taking any chances that he would be caught again in a similar situation. This time Martha was true to her word. Martha and Julius married at the McDermott Baptist Church at 821 McDermott Avenue. The year was 1910 and Martha was 29 years old and Julius was 30 years old.
Julius married Martha a few months after his wife, Serafina, had passed away. He said that he had no shame that he married so quickly after his wife’s death, as he needed a mother for his children. Serafina had died in the month of February 1910. Graves were dug by hand so she could not be buried until the spring thaw. Martha took the children to their mother’s burial before her marriage to Julius. Julius did not attend the burial. It was not known why but it was thought that he didn’t want to take the day off work and lose a days wages.
After Martha and Julius married, they moved with Bill and Olga to a house on Dorothy Street in Winnipeg. Martha had to quit her job at the hospital to care for Bill and Olga. Julius left his employ with August Remple and found a job with the City of Winnipeg digging sewers. The early years of the marriage were happy. Julius was making more money and Martha liked living in their own home. The oldest child Edward was born while the family was living on Dorothy Street. Julius and Martha had applied to the government to rent land for farming. They received about 160 acres. The land was situated near Dog Lake, Manitoba, the closest town being Camper. It was a terrible piece of land, unsuited for farming. There were about 20 German families living in the area around Camper and the Kelms seem to have the worst land.
Poor Martha – a story as old as time…at least it seems she had some happiness, but still.