Last Friday was a red-letter day for mail at my house. I received not only one, but two handwritten notes, in the mail last Friday. A red-letter day. NO other mail, just real letters. There is so much to miss about real letters.
Of course, one was a thank-you note from my niece, but it was personal, the other was about the book, "Women Behind the Plow."
It was from Clayton Schaeffer, a pastor from Buchanan, who saw a Gottlieb Kaseman's obituary in the Jamestown Sun. He connected a few dots and found my address and wrote a lovely two-page letter about how he read the book and recalled the family from Wishek back in the day.
Weirdly enough, someone contacted me recently through Facebook about that book. It was shortly before my Uncle Howard died. This message said this woman, Lisa, was at a birthday party and one of her sisters, Kim, saw her maiden name on someone’s phone… (I hope I got that part of the story correct.)
So they asked, “Why is my name on your phone?" The person said, “It’s not your name, that’s my sister-in-law from Jamestown.”
“Well, that’s my maiden name, also” she said.
Then, the connections began.
It seems that the person contacted me on Facebook because we were both Kasemans. Her sister works with my brother Curt’s wife, Kim’s, brother’s wife. Follow that one home. The person who contacted me was I believe Kim Kaseman's sister, Lisa (Kaseman) Klatt, who is one of four Kaseman girls born to Lenis Kaseman. Len just happens to be the son of Gottlieb Kaseman, the person that Clayton wrote to me about.
And, yes, Gottlieb was my Grandfather Edward’s brother. He frequently attended family dinners at the holidays at my Grandparents home in Wishek. As a young girl, I was fascinated and slightly afraid of this one-eared old man. Gray hair grew out of the hole in the side of his head. We never saw that side of his head in photos of Gottlieb because he always turned slightly away from the camera.
There were many rumors about how that happened, none the least that frightened my mother so much that we were warned continually to “stay away from the pig pen. Don’t climb on the fence, don’t fall in, stay away.”
I had the opportunity to talk to Len, who I would have never known if not for the message from Lisa about the fact we were both Kasemans who had a common connection with the Sturmas.
So I asked Len to clear up the story about my Great Uncle Gottlieb.
When Gottlieb was a young boy, he was either napping or just playing the yard when the pigs got out of the pen. They would have been Bernard Kaseman’s pigs, Gottleib's father, my grandfather’s father, and father of the Kaseman family near Wishek. As one passed by the young boy, it chomped off the ear. For the rest of his life he had to live with this disability. There were never any complaints or negative comments made… it was just a fact of life.
Some days my heart aches for those times. Hard times I suppose for those homesteading families, but think about what had to take place for the connection to be made between Lisa (Kaseman) Klatt and myself. A serious of fortunate events and a chance glance at a cell phone. Then with technology, Lisa found me; while with a handwritten vintage way of communication, Clayton found me. So two things. I had the chance to visit with one of my dad’s cousins at the funeral of my Uncle Howard and maybe I will get the opportunity to join Clayton in the German Advent service he conducts in Bismarck. Another fond memory that will soon be extinct in this world.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.