Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Gladwin Family Story

I just recently got an email from a past resident of Gladwin, telling me the story of this photo. I thought it was a very interesting story of a small piece of Gladwin History. Enjoy!

As a young boy growing up nearby on Sugar River Rd, I spent a lot of time on this family property on the Meredith Grade. My Great Grandparents, Josef and Helena Slabic, along with my Grandparents, James and Theresa Slabic, settled on this property. They actually cleared the trees and farmed this land. There is a large cleared field North of the house. The area around the house and on the South side of the road was also farmed. There was a barn next to the house. When I lived in the area there was a hand water pump in the front yard. Someone stole that pump years later.

My Great Grandfather, Josef, was born in Austria Hungary in 1866, and died in 1930. My Great Grandmother, Helena, was also born there in 1857, and died in 1944. I vaguely remember Helena. My Grandfather, James, was born in Austria Hungary in 1891, and died in 1951. My Grandmother, Theresa, was born there as well in 1887, and died in 1974. Josef and Helena were married in Trieste Italy in 1895. These people migrated to Cleveland Ohio and then on up to Sherman Township. Exactly when they came to the Meredith Grade property, I am not sure. It would have had to be sometime after 1895 and by 1914 as my mother, Elizabeth Slabic Soehnel, was born in this home in 1914.

Elizabeth Slabic Soehnel, was born in this home in 1914

You mentioned the home where the peacocks were. That is where my Grandma and Grandpa Slabic lived. They moved there from the Grade property. We lived across the road from them. Our home burned down years ago. The owner, Gus Keding, died in the fire. There is some old lumber on that site that is left from our small barn. Our homes basement walls are still there. In fact the laundry tubs, that we sometimes bathed in, is still in that basement. It is sad to see what has happened to my grandparents home. Their barn burned down when I was a young boy going to the country school at the corner of Sugar River Road and Chappel Dam. I went to that school from the first grade through the sixth grade. At that time my parents moved into town. I graduated from GHS in 1959.

Josef and Helena are buried in the Highland Cemetery in the City of Gladwin. Theresa and James are buried in Santa Barbara California.

John Kastellec married a daughter of Josef and Helena’s. Currently that home and the 160 acres belong to John Kastellec’s son, Joseph (deceased), and his wife, Stephanie. Stephanie lives in Ohio. Joseph Kastellec’s ashes are buried by the apple tree next to the house. My family looks after this property and has for many years.

When I lived on our farm, on Sugar River Rd, the Meredith Grade was a private two track road. There were locked gates on both ends and only owners of the property had keys to the locks. In the Spring the road was impassable as it was all mud and flooded in the low areas. Elmo Hoy owned Blue Lake back then. There were no homes on the lake. My dad would take us kids there to swim and fish. He always stopped at Elmo’s home and asked permission to go swimming or fishing. He always gave us permission. There was never anyone there.

My mother died in 2004 at 90 years old. My dad died in 2006 at 95 years old. My dad’s sister is still alive at 96. She lives in the Detroit area.

My Grandparents Adolph and Mary Koshatski owned the home and barn on the corner of Chappel Dam Rd and Sugar River Rd. They both still stand there today. The small white home and red barn were built by my father, Joseph Soehnel. My fathers mothers maiden name was Soehnel. My father changed his last name from Koshatski to Soehnel before I was born.

The man that lived in my grandparents home, and had the peacocks, was Bill Adams. He was born and raised on a farm in the back of our 40 acres, which was at the end of Chappel Dam Rd. As a young boy I worked for Bill and his dad Mike.

My grandparents home, where the peacocks were, originally belonged to a man named Sharkey. That is why our country school was called the Sharkeyville School. I believe he furnished the lumber to build that school. I know the man that owns the school at this time.

Growing up in that area was great, but it also was tough going.

By the way I see you are with Kehoe Realty. I knew Don and Jack Kehoe. They were members of our church. They also were customers at Al Rau’s Shell station, where I worked during my high school years and two years after. If they are still around, tell them I said hello. If they don’t remember me they should remember my family. I had five sisters and three brothers that grew up in Gladwin. I am the oldest boy.

I know I told you way more than I needed to, but once I get going on this I can’t seem to stop. You have my permission to use any of this material that you choose. Thanks for your interest.

Francis Soehnel


June Soehnel said...

Francis, you wrote a great account of the history of our family property and family history.

David Valero-Coggins said...

Francis, I must agree with June. I enjoyed your article.

I want to visit my family in Michigan this year, in the summer. Please pray that it comes to pass this year.

Love, David

msoehnel said...

Uncle Francis, as I said before I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article as I have enjoyed hearing these stories time and time again while growing up and listening to my Dad tell them. I can only imagine how special this time was for all of you who actually got to live it. It is a very special place and will never be forgotten! What a great piece of history. Thank-you for sharing.
Love and prayers always,

Matthew Soehnel

Bob Frei said...

What a great piece of local history. We don't have a lot of stories from the olden days of Sherman Township - most of them start and end with the lumbering era and Meredith. It is great to have something like this. Can we use this in the forthcoming County History book?