Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A Way with Children

March is Women's History month and in celebration I've been writing occasional posts about my maternal grandmother, Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange on my blog, Tangled Roots and Trees. I was named after her, which I consider quite an honor. She was the first child born in Alberta, Canada, to Wilhelm Schalin and Auguste Fabriske after they emigrated from the Volhynia region of what was then Russia in 1893. She raised nine children, who all thought they were her favorite and loved her very much their entire lives long after she died.

Wilhelmina "Minnie" Schalin as a young woman

Wilhelmina and her husband, Gust Lange, owned a farm in Prince George's County, Maryland, where six of their nine children were born. Three of their sons bought land from them, built homes, married and raised their families. One of my cousins would walk up the gravel road to visit Grandma Lange almost everyday as there was sure to be fresh baked cookies coming out of the old wood-burning stove.

One day he went to Grandma and Grandpa's house and no one was home. I have no idea what got into the little tyke but he proceeded to trash the kitchen quite thoroughly. There were fresh eggs in a pail by the back door, which he tossed all around the kitchen. Then he got into the oats and sprinkled them liberally throughout the kitchen. Next, he found the flour and coated the mess he made. Honey may have also been involved. Once he was finished, he walked home.

The perpetrator is standing in the back row far right
(I am in the middle row second from the right)

A few days later this same cousin walked back to Grandma's house. The kitchen was clean and Grandma had cookies for him like always. They sat around the kitchen table, eating cookies and drinking milk from the dairy cows. Grandma asked my cousin if he had been to visit earlier in the week but she wasn't home. His eyes got very big but he shook his head and said, "No, Grandma."

Later, they went to take a nap. This was always a favorite part of any visit to Grandma's. She would lay down with you in her big bed and tell you the most wonderful stories before you fell asleep for nap. I once claimed I could only nap at Grandma's; these stories were so special.

As Grandma and my cousin laid down to take a nap, Grandma started to tell a story about a little boy, who came to visit his grandmother but she wasn't home and he wasn't happy because he was missing the cookies to which he so looked forward. So the little boy threw eggs, oats, flour and honey all around the kitchen having the most wonderful time.  My cousin, bounced up in bed, clapped his hands together and exclaimed, "Grandma, it was me!"

And that's how Grandma Lange got my cousin to confess to destroying her kitchen.

NOTE: This story is as told to me by my mother, who I've been interviewing since January based on all the suggestions all my Worldwide Genealogy collaborators provided after my first post. She is also writing a Book of Me!

Wilhelmina Schalin was born on 23 May 1894 at Leduc, Alberta, Canada, to Wilhelm Schalin and Auguste Fabriske. Her parents and siblings had emigrated from the Volhynia region of what was then Russia (now Ukraine) for religious reasons the year before. She married Gustav Lange on 9 April 1915 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, at his home on 386 Thames Avenue. Their first child, Ruth Hedwig Lange was born at Winnipeg. On 30 December 1916, the family crossed the Canadian-U.S. border into Detroit. They were on their way to Sanilac County, Michigan, where they worked as sharecroppers on a beet farm. Two sons were born there. By 1920 they had moved to Brandywine, Prince George's, Maryland, and bought a farm. Their next six children were born in Maryland. Wilhelmina died on 27 November 1960 while hospitalized at the Southern Maryland Hospital Center at Clinton, Prince George's, Maryland, after learning her daughter (my mother) had safely delivered her second child (my brother, shown in the photo above sitting on the sofa). She is buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens at Waldorf, Charles, Maryland. Her husband, died three years later and is buried beside her.


  1. Lovely story, and beautiful photo, thank you for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful story! I know we would have all loved her!

  3. Enjoyed reading about your special grandmother. Thanks for sharing her with us.


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