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Gustaf Sass and Dorothea Louise Hildebrandt

Dorothy Louise Hildebrandt was born near (or in) Berlin, Germany August 4, 1832 where her father Carl Hildebrandt was a baker. When Louise married Gustaf Sass, her parents were disappointed that she had married a laborer instead of a trained or skilled worker, and rather cast her out. However, the grandparents usually brought a birthday cake for the children on their special day. Eila Brown thought Louise had two sisters in Germany. 

In 1867, the Sass family, now consisting of two daughters and two sons (see Louise obit.) decided to come to America and set sail in a sailing ship. After a few weeks at sea, the ship encountered a storm and began to leak. All men were required to help man the pumps and the ship went to the nearest port in England. There the father and young son Gustaf, died of pneumonia and were buried at Plymouth. The captain of the steamship did not want to bring the Widow Sass and her children to America and tried to persuade her to return to Germany, but she was determined to go on. She threatened to drown herself and the children rather than return to Germany, and the captain finally relented and allowed her to board for a very small sum of money.

After a long hard trip, Mrs. Sass and her children, Auguste, Bertha, and Carl arrived at Mt. Clemens, MI. She probably came to her cousin Carl Ruthenberg, and she found work, keeping house to help support herself and the children. Auguste told stories of her life as a child in Germany. She was one of the village children who tended geese. In America Auguste once worked on a farm a whole year for $10 and got an apron for a Christmas gift. She worked on various farms until she was grown, doing milking and any other work that had to be done. Then she worked on a farm where William Loeschke was also employed and they were soon married. Mrs. Louise Sass married Frederick Devantier, a widower, Oct. 23, 1870. She later had two children, Johanna (Schock) and Albert Devantier. The Devantiers farmed near Mt. Clemens.

Albertine Sass (Bertha) married Albert Kaempfer, moved to eastern Nebraska and raised a family of four sons and five daughters. Albert was a newspaper man, and although he was German, he thought his family should speak English. The Grandparents Devantiers spent the years from 1880 to 1890 at Rising City also, so the Kaempfer children had to speak German to them. The whole family of Devantiers lived there, including Carl Sass. Ella Brown thought Grandpa Devantier farmed there, but part of the time they lived with the Kaempfer family, and Ella could recall knowing them in her early childhood. Then the Devantiers moved back to Michigan, but Carl Sass remained in Neb. The Kaempfer children all learned to help with the newspaper, especially setting type by hand.

William and Auguste Loeschke were married April 22, 1978 [corrected to 1878]. The first two sons, Traugott and William were born in Michigan. Then August Loeschke’s high praise of Nebraska encouraged them to go there in 1880, along with all of Auguste’s family, and they lived at Rising City, Neb. Alma and Edmund were born there. I once asked Grandma why she named her third son Edmund Alexander, and she said there was such a nice druggist by that name in Rising City.

They traveled by wagon to western Nebraska in 1885 to homestead near Big Springs, Neb. They built a sod house 30ft. long and Grandma proudly told us it was larger than most sod homes. They also built outbuildings of sod, such as a barn and a chicken house. They lived near the South Platte River, not far from where the S. Platte joins the N. Platte River. Ogalalla was a larger town not too far northeast. They sometimes went to places near the river to pick chokecherries or sandcherries and to get wood to burn and for posts.

Nearly every year was dry, and the area is irrigated now. Only now and then was there a partial crop. Uncle Fred recalled that some years the corn got only two feet tall and dried up. The children herded the cows. Once Edmund was herding the cows and they got into Mr. Gregor’s wheat shocks. As he was running, trying hard to drive them out of the field, Mr. Gregor, very angry, appeared on the scene. He grabbed the boy and asked, (in German) “Shall I hit you in the neck so you roll around?” Edmund said no, and he was more careful after that.

Grandma and the boys picked up coal along the railroad tracks. Uncle Fred says he always worried when they did this, because his mother stayed on the tracks as long as she dared, to be noticed, and the fireman would throw off a few extra shovelsful of coal to help them. Grandma told us she papered the inside of her sod house with newspaper, which made the walls whiter, so her house was lighter inside. The windows had wide window sills for her to set geraniums on in winter.

With no screens or screendoor, the flies were a problem. At evening Auguste would hang a bushy weed from the ceiling into which the flies would crawl, then she would carefully take it outdoors. Ella Brown recalled that her mother, Bertha Kaempfer and some of her children visited the Loeschkes in western Nebraska, but found conditions so uncomfortable and crowed, she stayed only two days and was soon back on the train for rising city, instead of staying a week as planned.

Rattlesnakes, king snakes, copperheads were all a problem. Auguste once rescued young William, who was trying to stomp a rattlesnake to death, by killing the snake with a hoe. Sometimes cattle died of snakebite. Once Fred and Emma had a snake strike at them and although it didn’t bite them, some venom did strike them and they ran screaming for the house, sure they would die.

Prairie dogs were numerous. Once Traugott and Will caught one and wanted to put a string around its neck so they could tame it for a pet, but it would not co-operate. So they said, “Here, Edmund, you hold it while we put the string around its neck”, and being younger and trusting, he picked up the prairie dog, which bit him on the thumb and left a lifetime scar. He dropped the animal, much to the chagrin of the older boys.

Fred, Emma and Walter were born during the time the Loeschkes lived near Big springs. William delivered his own children, acting as midwife, and Auguste gave her children their first bath, placing them on her chest, and washing them with water and a little soap. Also one little son was stillborn between Edmund and Fred.

Much of the time water had to be hauled from Big Springs. Pa remembered the family went to Big springs for a 4th of July celebration and there was a big wooden barrel of lemonade, the first they had ever tasted.

Some times Will and Auguste would go to town, leaving the children at home, and they warned, “Don’t monkey with the clock!” As soon as the wagon was gone, the kids would start playing with the clock, and their time would be off for several days. Aunt Emma tells that Uncle Fred used a grinding machine (maybe it was for sorghum) to grind cornstalks (or maybe sorghum) for fun while the parents were gone. He stopped to clean it out occasionally, so once when it was clogged she (4 years old) tried to clean it out and hurt her forefinger severely.. The scar showed all her life, as it caused a slightly deformed fingernail. Aunt Emma was only five years old when the family came by covered wagon from Neb. But remembered parts of the trip. Will said he remembered they ran out of sugar and ate lots of oatmeal with milk.

Grandma said in W. Neb. People got so far into debt, some of them packed and left in the night for parts unknown. She was proud to say they left in the daytime with debts paid, but very little money. They begged horse feed when they ran out of it on their long trek to this state.

Grandma told this story. One summer in haying time, they wanted to go on a picnic with neighbors to Ash Hollow, but Grandpa thought the hay should be piled up first. So the evening before, Grandma went out to do some of that by moonlight. She worked for a while, and then suddenly found she had a rattlesnake on her fork. She dropped the hayfork and ran, and Grandpa was surprised to find so much done the next day. He also found the fork and snake, but they had their day at Ash Hollow.

Grandma Auguste always had a garden and even after they lived in town they had a garden and kept a few chickens. She burned corncobs in her cookstove and carefully shelled off every leftover kernel of corn to feed her chickens.


Carl Kuehn says her father knew an older man named Sass who lived at Waldenburg. He may have been a relative that our great grandma could turn to for help when she first came to America. She lived in the Waldenburg area for awhile as the Sass children were confirmed at Waldenburg Church.

Louise and Frederick Devantier are buried in the Clinton Grove Cemetery.

Carl Sass married Lena Schmalt. He lived in Nebraska too, and came to this area about the time the Loeschkes did. They lived near Nassau, in Vernon Twp. On various farms until they moved to Foxhome, MN.


Aunt Emma says when she went on her one trip to Mich. In the 1930’s She and Aunt Alma went to see Anna, who was brought up by the Sass-Devantier family. I have not found out any more about her.

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