Family Stories:  Enjoy these recollections from descendants of Deutschbentschekers.  Contact Jane Moore to have your family stories added to this page.


The barber who gave John Dillinger his last shave and haircut...
My dad, Michael Schmidt II (The Barber), gave John Dillinger (Public Enemy #1) his last shave and haircut and identified his body at the Cook County Morgue.  At the time of the Dillinger killing by the FBI on Sunday evening, July 22, 1934, I was nearly 5 years old.  We lived on North Burling Street in a basement flat near my dad's barber shop and the Biograph Theatre where John Dillinger was shot....
... Click on business card to
     read the entire story.

Dad's barber shop on left

Biograph Theatre
Memories of Michael Schmidt III
Son of Michael Schmidt II, born Deutschbentschek 1902

Photos courtesy of Michael Schmidt III

The Deutschbentschek – Purdue connection...                                                   
In 1931, our father, John Ehardt Jr., rode his bicycle 125 miles from his family’s home in Chicago to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and signed up for classes.  Two-and-one-half years later, Dad and his Chicago friend Henry Becker, both first-generation Americans with Bentschek-born parents, received engineering degrees from Purdue.

Thus began a long Purdue tradition among the Chicago descendants of Bentschekers, a tradition that so far includes 21 people and spans four generations.

Henry Becker and John Ehardt Jr.
Chicago ca. 1926

... Click on Purdue Alumni logo to read the entire story.

Memories of John Ehardt III, Thomas Ehardt, and Jane (Ehardt) Moore
Grandchildren of Agatha (Scheirich) Ehardt, born Deutschbentschek 1886

Photo courtesy of Jane Moore.

Additional contributions to the complete story by Deutschbentscheker descendants Marilyn Becker, Roy Becker, Jennifer (Zimmermann) Poehler, author Richard Schicht, author Michael Schmidt III, and Devon Ehardt Shelton.

Returning to the Old Country to find a bride in 1929 and building a bridge in New Jersey in the 1950s...

My grandfather, William Koenig, came to the US in 1922.  He became a citizen in June of 1929, and then went back and found and married my grandmother.  (She was just 15 at the time, and Grandma said people were already looking at her like she was an old maid!)  They were married on September 12, 1929, but my grandmother didn’t count that one, because it was civil.  The religious ceremony was October 12, 1929.  My grandfather wasn’t religious, and he used to enjoy telling people his wedding anniversary was September 12, and his wife’s was October 12.

Years later, in the 1950s, my grandfather worked on the Parkway bridge that spans the Raritan River and Bay in New Jersey.  My mother said that was the only bridge she wasn’t afraid to drive over, since she knew my grandfather helped build it (he was a carpenter) and he was a perfectionist!

Memories of Linda Koenig
Granddaughter of William Koenig, born Deutschbentschek 1902


Deciding on a place to live in America in the early 1900s...

My grandmother and her parents (Franz Andor of Deutschbentschek and Barbara Eberstein of Neuhoff) sailed from Fiume in 1907 on the Cunard ship Ultonia....  They were going to join other Andor relatives in St. Louis.

My Great-Grandfather Franz Andor stayed in St. Louis until he and his wife had  learned English.  He was an electrician at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and Great-Grandma washed bottles to make extra money.  They next moved to Freeport, Illinois, where Great-Grandpa was an electrician again.  Then they bought a farm in Upper Michigan, not realizing how cold it gets there and how short the planting  season was.  Great-Grandma told me that the frost came with the potatoes still in the ground and the corn on the stalks.  They had to salvage what they could, digging the potatoes out of the ground with difficulty....  Two years of that was enough, and Great-Grandpa unloaded the farm and moved to Chicago.

Memories of Charles Rice
Great-Grandson of Franz Andor, born Deutschbentschek 1869



Chicago Bentschekers in the 1930s and 1940s...

In 1934, my father and my mother purchased a small farm in rural Kane County, about 50 miles west of Chicago.  I should mention it was a chicken and egg farm.  My father established an egg route in Chicago that included many of the Bentschekers. 

I started to help my father on the egg route on Saturdays in 1946 when I was sophomore in high school.  Part of the routine was a visit to Aunt Eva in the morning for coffee and toast (with lots of butter).  This is where my father got his news of the Chicago Bentschekers.

I think the Bentschekers got together almost every Saturday night.  There was usually a pinochle game, at which my father excelled, and lots of good food.  The women spent much of the time gossiping.  So being the youngest by far at these gatherings, I would either watch the card game or listen to the gossip.

Memories of Richard Schicht
Son of John Schicht, born Deutschbentschek 1891



Sausage making in Chicago in the 1930s...

There was a big sausage making gathering every year.  There were four families involved—both relatives and friends from Bentschek—and it was always at our home. The families purchased four pigs from someone who raised pigs, and they were delivered (dead) on the big day.  Everyone helped with the butchering and sausage making, and some was kept fresh and some smoked in the smokehouse (which looked like an outhouse).  In addition to the sausage, they made head cheese, which smelled terrible (just thinking about it almost makes me sick).  At the end of the day, the others took their share of the meats and went home.

Memories of Helen Hays
Daughter of Agatha Scheirich Ehardt, born Deutschbentschek 1886

Story contributed by Helen Hays and Susan Nemchick; photo of sausage maker courtesy of  John Ehardt III.

© 2004-2019 Jane Moore, unless otherwise noted
Report broken links

Last updated: March 05, 2019