The story of Caroline Meyer Dostal's life that I know
has been handed down to me through
my Grandparents (her youngest son and his
wife) and my Father and my Aunt.
I am going to pass along her story, as it has been
told to us. Much of it has no formal
documentation, but it is her story, nonetheless.
|This painting of Caroline was done from a photo of her.|
Caroline Meyer was born in what she called "Western Prussia" (now Germany)
on March 24, 1855. It is believed her parents were
Ludwig Meyer and Anna Gustina. Caroline had at least
one sibling, an older brother, by the name of John.
Caroline's life was jolted by tragedy as a child. Her mother
died when she was quite young. Her father
remarried, however Caroline's step mother did
not give love and acceptance to Caroline.
Caroline's young world was about to suffer an even greater
loss. She was an adolescent when her father
died, leaving her an orphan in the eyes of her step mother.
Caroline was sent out into the world to make her
own way in the world by her step mother.
Caroline's brother John had already left home and was on
his own, so she decided to set out to find him.
Caroline was found in tears by a kind Polish woman.
This lovely woman took our Great Grandmother home with
her, bringing her into her own family. Caroline
became part of the family, learning to speak Polish while there.
|Caroline Meyer Dostal, circa 1922, with one of her rose bushes.|
Eventually, Caroline met and married Karl Dostal,
our Great Grandfather.
(They would have married circa 1876-1878.)
Together they worked very hard to build a life for themselves and
Caroline and Karl worked for wealthy land owners, I believe for
most, if not all, of the time that they were in Prussia.
Caroline worked in what she called the "Big House."
She cooked and did cleaning for the land owners.
Her days were long and filled with hard physical labor, just as
Karl's were, out in the fields.
Caroline spoke of making dinner for the family in the Big House,
then coming home and fixing dinner for her own family,
locking the children in the house for safety and
going back up to the House to clean up and get the
next days' food begun.
Caroline and Karl had contact with Caroline's brother John. He had
immigrated to America, to a place called Ludington,
Michigan. Caroline and Karl decided to immigrate as well,
hoping for a better life and future for their children.
Caroline said that John sponsored them, and they
immigrated in 1884.
|Caroline and Karl Dostal (seated), their daughter Helen (between them), and their son Fred (our Grandfather)|
on their farm in Amber Township, Mason County, Michigan.
They entered America at the Port of New York, it was before Ellis Island, and so must
have been Castle Gardens.
Once again, Caroline had deep sorrow come into her life.
When Caroline and Karl left Germany, they had three
children, who were, of course, traveling with them, Emil, Herman and Amelia.
The travel in the ship had many difficulties to deal with,
not the least of which, was illness.
Upon arrival, many were quarantined, Caroline said the children were
separated from the adults. She was separated from her children
at some point before she left the ship.
Caroline was told that two of her children had died, Herman and
Amelia. She asked to see them, to hold their little
bodies. She was denied any access to them. Emil was
reunited with his parents, without his brother and sister.
Caroline was in a panicked state, as I can only imagine---to be told
of the loss of two children, and not to have the opportunity to hold them once again.
Caroline told how the rumor was that many young children
who came into port with immigrating parents were taken and sold
to people who wanted to adopt children, especially those
children with blue eyes and blonde hair. She said that she felt deep in her
heart that is what happened to her babies. . . . . that her mother's heart
would know if they had died.
|Great Grandma Caroline bringing milk up to the house---my Father said he walked that path many, many times.|
Caroline said that they spent about three months waiting for the
quarantine. While there, Caroline actually was
able to help with some of the immigrants coming in, as not only did she speak
German, but she also spoke Polish.
They made their way to Ludington, Michigan, reuniting with Caroline's brother
John and his family. How wonderful the reunion . . . .
According to the 1900 census, Caroline said that she had had thirteen children,
yet in 1900, only five were living. The children that we know of were:
Amelia, Herman, Emil, Otto, Charles (died in Michigan of Bright's Disease),
William, Frederick and Helen.
|From the left: Caroline and her children: Helen, Fred, William, Otto and Emil. circa 1923.|
Caroline and Karl eventually were able to purchase their own
land and farm the land, having their own livestock and home. My
Grandmother Evelyn Dostal loved to tell of the great kindnesses that Grandma
Caroline showed, and how she loved children, going out of her way
to be especially kind to them. (She had personal knowledge of that importance. . . . .)
|Grandma Caroline feeding the chickens . . . . .|
Caroline wanted all of her children to be able to have a life that was easier than
the ones that she and Karl had lived through.
This is an excerpt from her obituary,
"She was richly content, declaring that her life had yielded her richer blessings
than she ever expected. She had lived to see her wish fulfilled for
her children, all of them educated for ?? life work, happily married, and
prosperous. She declared that, though she would be happy to remain longer with
them she felt that life for her was finished and was content to go."
Above excerpt from The Ludington Daily News, February 12, 1928,
Page 1, Column 7 and Page 8, Column 3.
|Caroline (front and center), her son Otto to her right and his wife, Frieda Schudlich on the left. To Frieda's left, we believe is her sister.|
Caroline Meyer Dostal passed away on the 10th of February in 1928.
She died just six hours after the birth of a little granddaughter, Jean Dostal. Caroline was too
ill to be able to receive the information.
Caroline Dostal is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Ludington, Michigan, across the
street from Lake Michigan. She is buried next to her husband, Karl, and
is surrounded there by her family.
The love and kindness, not to mention strength, that Caroline showed
lives on through her descendants, keeping her legacy alive.
|This is a photo of Caroline Meyer Dostal (Grandpa Fred Dostal's Mother) and|
William H. Gaffney (Grandma Evelyn Gaffney Dostal's Father). Both
Caroline and Will lived with our Grandpa and Grandma Dostal on the Dostal Farm in Amber.