Pages

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Henry Sehmel (1857-1938)

Every time we walk up to the Harbor History Museum, we see the name Sehmel.  Many, but not all visitors to the museum, know some member of the Sehmel family.  

Don Sehmel, (8/14/25-9/6/2013), a grandson, married Mary Ellen Olson (10/14/25-4/25/2015) in 1946 following his discharge from the US Marine Corps at the end of WWII.  Don was involved in many activities during his lifetime:  raising cattle, hunting, fishing, building and running a drugstore (where Brix 25 is currently located) on Pioneer Way and then after closing the drugstore, selling real estate.  

Mary Ellen had worked for the Red Cross during WWII, and following her marriage to Don, besides raising their children was involved in the Peninsula Historical Society, bowling, gardening, bottle collecting, and stained glass work.

This 1975 Biography written by both Don Sehmel and Mary Ellen Olson Sehmel and is entitled Henry Sehmel 

W. L. C. (William Louis Christian) Henry Sehmel was born in Germany in 1857.  Mr. Sehmel came to America in 1881, at the age of 24 years.  He stayed a few months in New York, working at his trade of blacksmith, then went to Chicago and later to Arizona where he was foreman in the blacksmith shop of a large mining company.  The wanderlust still in his veins he left for California and remained there until 1883 when the Puget Sound fever struck him and he took passage on a steamer plying between San Francisco and Puget Sound.  Finding employment at the Fox Island brick works he remained until 1884 when he located a homestead at Rosedale, where he lived out his life.

He married Dora Gummert of Celle, Germany, in 1887.  They were introduced by mail by the young wife of his brother Carl, Johanna Sehmel, who also came to homestead in Rosedale.  Dora was a bookkeeper in her homeland and wrote Henry he could recognize her at the end of her long journey in Tacoma because she would have his last letter in her hand.  They were a very handsome couple and lived to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1937.  (November 15th)

Of this marriage four children were born.  Karl and Adolph, who made their homes in Rosedale, Ernest who drowned in the well at 2 years and Elsa (Mrs. Birger Nilsen - son Lester Adolf “Les”) of Tacoma and Rosedale.
Far Right:  Elsa, Karl, and Adolph
Besides farming his homestead and engaging in the logging industry, Mr. Sehmel worked on the roads in the area and was supervisor for 15 years.  He was very active in all civic affairs and a prominent pioneer in the development of Rosedale and the surrounding country.

Mrs. Sehmel was also active in the community and social life.  She served as midwife among the neighbors for many years, and boarded the teachers of Booster school, among them Verna Zimmerman of Puyallup, who later married her son Adolph.  For many years she made a trip to Tacoma each Saturday by horse and buggy to sell her eggs and farm produce and visit old friends.

Henry Sehmel passed away in 1938 at the age of 81 of a heart attack and Dora followed in 1949 of old age at 89.  Karl never married and took care of his mother until his death in 1948, also of a heart attack.  In his diary he tells of her canning pears, stacking wood and other chores (cutting in woods) in her 85th year.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Sehmel are buried in Rosedale Cemetery.

Bill, Anni, Emil, Marie, Albert, Carl (CHarles), Johanna

Carl & Johanna with children




*******************************************************************************************************************
Attached to the piece written by Don and Mary Ellen Sehmel were the notices of death for both Verna Zimmerman Sehmel and Henry Sehmel.  They read as follows:

August 23, 1938
Henry (William Louis Christian Henry) Sehmel, 81, a prominent pioneer of Rosedale died suddenly at his home Tuesday morning.  Born in Germany, Mr. Sehmel came to America in 1881, stopping a few months in New York, he worked at his trade of blacksmith then went to Chicago and later to Arizona where he was foreman in the blacksmith shop of a large mining co.  The wanderlust still in his veins he left for California and remained there until 1883 when the Puget Sound fever struck him and he took passage on a steamer plying between San Francisco and Puget Sound.  Finding employment at the Fox Island brick works, he remained until 1884 when he located a homestead at Rosedale, where he has since made his home.  He was road supervisor for 15 years and active in all civic affairs having a part in the development of Rosedale and the surrounding country.  His wife, Dora survives him, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last No. 15.  He is also survived by two sons, Carl and Adolph of Rosedale, one daughter Mrs. Elsa Nilson of Tacoma and six grandchildren.  Burial in Rosedale Cemetery.

*******************************************************************************************************************

Sept. 20, 1937


Mrs. Verna Sehmel, 42, died at a Puyallup hospital Monday afternoon following a short illness and funeral services will be at Perkins, with burial in Woodbine Cemetery, Puyallup.  Mrs. Sehmel came to Puyallup in 1909 from South Dakota and moved to Rosedale in 1920.  She was a member of the First Christian Church of Puyallup and past matron of Waconda Chapter No. 217, O.E.S. of Gig Harbor.  Surviving are her widower, Adolph, two daughters, Doris Marie and Elva Mae, one sone Donald Adolph, a brother Ray Zimmerman, and three sisters, Mrs. Harriet Botsford, Mrs. Elva Yazzilino and Mrs. Ruby Goelzer, all of Puyallup.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment