Alma Runke Schmiling 1881-1962

Over the course of 21 years, Alma Runke and her husband Carl Schmiling, had 10 children.  Alma and Carl were direct ancestors of my son-in-law and were his Great Grandparents.  The photo of Carl below is from a family collection of my son-in-law.

Carl Schmiling

Alma was born in Wisconsin in 1881 to Heinrich “Henry” Runke, Sr. (sometimes spelled Ruhnke) who was of Prussian birth and Wilhelmina “Minnie” Bruemmer.  Alma’s father is recorded as being a pioneer in the raising of alfalfa crops and helped to develop agriculture in Northeast Wisconsin.

Henry and Wilhelmina Minnie Bruemmer

Alma’s birth and death dates are available from several sources including this “Find a Grave” website link:   She was born on 20 July 1881 and died at the age of 81 on 13 December 1962. She is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Algoma, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin.

Alma was only 18 years old at the time of her marriage to 24 year old Carl Schmiling on 20 February 1900.  They were married at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Their first child, Beatrice Schmiling, was born only 7 months after the marriage when Alma was a mere 19 years old. In the 1900 census (the year of the marriage and Beatrice’s birth) Carl and Alma were living with Carl’s parents and family.  In this census, Alma is listed as daughter-in-law to the head of the household, Albert Schmiling.  At that same time, 4 of Carl’s siblings were also a part of the household. Carl was employed as a farm laborer on his parent’s farm.

Alma had three sons and seven daughters with her husband, Carl Schmiling between 1900 and 1922. Yes, a span of 22 years from the oldest to the youngest of the children.

By the time of the 1910 census, Alma was 28 years old and Carl was 34 and they now lived in their own household (Although, I do not know at what point during those 10 years that the move to their own household had occurred).  Now, they had their own home to live in and in the 10 years of marriage they already had 5 children.

It was interesting to me that even though Alma’s marriage to Carl Schmiling would eventually end in divorce, they are still laid to rest together under a single headstone at Evergreen Cemetery in Algoma, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Alma was 45 years old at the time of the divorce in 1926.

divorce granted

The next photograph shows a later property dispute in 9 Nov. 1939:

Alma and Carl Schmiling court hearing from 9 Nov. 1939 Green Bay Press.JPG

As a young girl, Alma was one of 16 children in the Runke family!  I have been able to do hours of research into the lives of each of her siblings and have collected various family photographs and life stories.

In the 1920 and 1930 census the name Schmiling has now become Schmeling without explanation. I do not know the reason for this spelling change, but it is interesting to note that Carl’s obituary states his name as Carl Schmeling.  In the 1940 census (after the divorce) Alma is now living with son Gordon and also lists her name as Alma Schmeling.

death of Carl Schmiling 18 Jan 1969 Green Bay Press

One of the “finds” I made on Ancestry was this message board It describes Alma’s father’s relationship to his daughters, “The Ruhnke daughters were quite outspoken. They resented that their father only sent sons to college, and they bristled under his very strict discipline.”  Make sure to visit the message thread!

The photographs below are from the family collections of my son-in-law.

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