Fred Eggers is the author of today’s story. Fred has published several posts on our blog, and they are always well-received. Today’s story comes while we are in the midst of a baseball season. East Perry County is an area which is part of a larger region sometimes referred to as Cardinal Nation. With the Cardinals enjoying an eight game winning streak, baseball is once again on people’s minds around here. Fred shares today some of the baseball history from Perry County. We hope you enjoy this post. Thanks, Fred.
Many of you over the age of 35 will remember this response from the Pace Picante Sauce commercials from the 1980’s and 90’s where the cook for the cowboys around the campfire had switched brands on the picante sauce and gave them some made in New York City. For those younger I have included this video of one of those commercials.
On August 16, 1925 the “New York City‽‽‽” response was likely heard from the bench of the Cape Red Sox baseball team and the spectators at the game at the Point Rest Picnic. It may have been also exclaimed in Wittenberg, Altenburg, Frohna, or Brazeau in the week preceding the game. Sunday, August 16, 1925 was the date of the “Big Picnic” held in the Bois Brule river bottoms to benefit the Lutheran Church at Point Rest. The advertisement for the picnic in the Perry County Republican included a scheduled baseball game between the East Perry team and the Farrar Ramblers.
My father told many stories about the baseball teams of his nearly twenty years as the manager of the Farrar teams and one that I still remember is that they loaded the team on the Eggers & Company General Store truck and drove them to the game at the Point Rest Picnic and purchased the players’ meals. The store apparently was the “de facto” sponsor of the Ramblers. The 1925 Ford truck in this photo was likely the first truck owned by the store and the one that took the team to that game.
More on this baseball game later, but first I need to give some background on how and why I learned about this game. I am in the process of updating the history of Salem Lutheran Congregation and writing a history of the town and community of Farrar. In studying the history of baseball in my community, I became intrigued by how the Pastors, Teachers, and students at Lutheran Colleges and Seminaries were interwoven into the history of baseball in the Farrar community. I will be doing a presentation on this subject at the 5th Biennial Immigration History Conference at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum in October. As part of my research, I studied the microfilm copies of the newspapers in the archives at the Perry County Historical Society in Perryville. I had gone through the papers from the early 1900’s into the 1920’s when I came across this story which is too good not to share and far too extensive to include in my presentation.
After finding the advertisement for the picnic, I then found an article on a previous game between East Perry and Farrar that East Perry had won 9 to 1. The writer seemed to be “talking smack” by pointing out that Farrar had strengthened its team with several players from other towns. After researching other games from that year, I found that Prevallet was the only player that did not play with them the entire season, and he may have been Wilbert Prevallet who married Lydia Bergmann at Peace, Friedenberg in January, 1925 and lived in that area in both the 1920 and 1930 census. Sadler, the pitcher, was likely a member of a family that lived between Friedenberg and Farrar in an area around the Dry Bone Creek that was known as Tarpleywick. He replaced Teacher Henry Krahn who had pitched for the Ramblers in prior years but for some reason was not on the team in 1925. In addition, Hadler and Magwitz had grown up in Farrar and Hoehn was likely from nearby Friedenberg, where Rev. Rook of Salem had served from 1920 to early 1925. On the other hand, the East Perry team included players from several towns. Sittner the catcher was probably Bill Sittner who operated the general store in Brazeau. The center fielder was possibly Walter Vogel, the son of Pastor Adolph Vogel of Trinity, Altenburg. The pitcher was likely Martin Gemeinhardt of Wittenberg who would have been a student at the Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois at the time. The shortstop was likely Edwin “Ebts” Weinhold who was also from Wittenberg, worked in the family mill, and was something of a baseball legend. The third baseman Goehring could have been a son of the family that ran a store in Frohna, which was where the West End Tavern & Grocery is now located. The first baseman Fiehler was probably Ben, a farmer from Frohna, who in another article is listed as the manager of the team. The right fielder Fritsche was probably from Altenburg and the two Fischers could have been from Altenburg or Frohna and may have also been involved in families that operated stores.
And until I read all of this, I thought the rivalry between Farrar and the southern East Perry area started with the “Play Day” held on May 1, 1959. This was a track and field meet and softball tournament held at Grace Lutheran School in Uniontown. I was in the eighth grade at Salem Lutheran School at the time and can still remember how the Farrar students dominated most of the events held that day. One exception that sticks in my mind is that Bob Chandler of the Wittenberg Public School totally smoked all of the upper grade boys in the high jump competition. I was told that a few years later they quit keeping team scores for the event because Salem had so large a point margin.
By sheer coincidence, I was asking my brother Carl about this and he told me that he had recently been telling some of his fellow members of Immanuel Lutheran in Perryville that they needed to forfeit many games from their softball playing days because the Immanuel team had a Catholic man on the team. One of them, who had grown up in Altenburg, countered that Salem was going to have to give back all of the “Play Day” trophies because they cheated in the three-legged race. Such was the rivalry that existed in those days.
Now, back to the baseball story. I was anticipating an interesting account of the game at Point Rest, but I was surprised to find in the next edition of the paper that the Harrig Aces of Cape had shut out the East Perry team 6 to 0. The writer, who continued his “smack talking” stated that the team “could afford to lose one after nine straight victories” and “there is certainly no disgrace in losing to such a fast-fielding team”.
Next, I found the summary and box score of the Ramblers game at Point Rest with the Cape Red Sox, which Farrar won 11 to 0. The players for the Ramblers were all familiar Farrar names with the exception of the pitcher, Cholcher, who struck out 21 batters and allowing only four hits and helping the offense with two hits and two runs. Who was Cholcher? I had never seen or heard that name until I read this article.
Then I found more information in the “Farrar Items” in the same newspaper. “M. H. Meyer of Brooklyn, N. Y. and E. A. Cholcher of Fort Wadsworth, N. Y., who are spending their vacation with relatives at Friedenberg, visited here Friday with Rev. R. A. Rook and family.” Then came the time for the writer to do a little “smack talking” of his own, “We are sorry that the members of the East Perry team found it necessary to cancel last Sunday’s engagement with the Ramblers. We feel confident that Mr. Cholcher’s pitching would have brought defeat to the East Perry nine and are therefore sorry that the game could not be played.
I can only imagine the Red Sox players and the spectators asking, “Where did Farrar find this pitcher?” Someone who knew would answer “New York City” to which the reply must have been
New York City‽‽‽
I suspect that the word must have leaked out to the players on the East Perry team that Farrar was bringing in a pitcher especially for them. I am curious how, but am not surprised that this information leaked out. I can only imagine that Pastor Rook may have said a little too much to Rev. Vogel and he spread the word. Both of the ministers were likely big baseball fans. Rook’s son Waldemar aka “Bubby” was pitching for the Ramblers in 1930 at the age of 16. In 1932, at age 18 his record was 8-2 and permitted 36 runs in 91 innings. Rook was a “switch-pitcher” and pitched both right and left handed in games. He reportedly pitched batting practice for the St. Louis Cardinals when he was a student at and the pitcher for Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. I learned that Rev. Vogel was a member of the group that put up the funds to purchase the Altenburg ball field and his son Curt played second base for the Missouri Tigers in the 1930’s.
The news of a pitcher from “New York City” likely spread like wildfire through the businesses of East Perry County and the players decided that “discretion is the better part of valor” and chose not to play the Ramblers at Point Rest.
So before we do more study of who Cholcher was, I will discuss what I found about “M. H. Meyer of Brooklyn, N. Y.” Martin Herman Meyer was born in Friedenberg on June 3, 1901. He was a son of John F. and Clara Guemmer Meyer and was baptized and confirmed at Peace Lutheran Church. Some of you are probably more familiar with his brothers, Elmer and Albert Meyer who farmed in the Friedenberg area. Martin graduated from the “Lehrerseminaren” (Teachers Seminary) at River Forest in 1923. This paragraph from Der Lutheraner dated June 26, 1923 documents that he was assigned to Brooklyn, New York. Meyer taught for several years at Lutheran schools and remained in New York for the remainder of his life.
Now, back to our mystery pitcher Cholcher. Earnest August Ferdinand Cholcher was born on September 3, 1895 in Deshler, Thayer County, Nebraska. He was the son of Rev. Wilhelm Heinrich Ferdinand and Martha Thiemann Cholcher, who served as the Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Deshler from 1889 to 1938. Earnest was one of eleven children, nine of which lived to adulthood. Here is a brief summary of the Cholcher children:
- Stillborn Son (1891)
- Ida Marie (1892-1979) became a Nurse, Married Rivers Coffman.
- Albert (1894-1979) was a Lutheran Minister in Nebraska.
- Ernest (1895-1962) was a Lutheran Teacher and the subject of this blog.
- Carl “Chas & Charles” (1896-1966) worked in banking in Los Angeles.
- Arthur (1898-1986) worked in real estate in Cleveland.
- Otto “Polly” (1901-1997) worked as a Pharmacist in Nebraska, then in the aircraft industry in Los Angeles. He was a catcher for two years in minor league baseball in Lincoln, Nebraska.
- William “Bill” (1903-1965) was a Lutheran Teacher in Chicago.
- Herman “Possum” (1905-1995) studied at St. John’s College in Winfield, Kansas and probably at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He played minor league and semi-pro baseball for over fifteen years in Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- Friedora “Dora” (1910-1997) married Ervin Hornbostel.
- Twin Sister (1910) died when 4 days old.
This is a photograph of the Cholcher family including six spouses or other relatives in 1914.
Cholcher was a student at the teachers college in Seward, Nebraska from 1912 to 1920, doing student teaching in 1917 and 1918. At this point I need to thank our research colleagues at the Concordia Historical Institute for some assistance with Cholcher’s education and vocational history. On his June 1917 draft registration his occupation is student in Seward, Nebraska, but his address is recorded as Canton, Kansas where he was likely student teaching.
Ernest then served in the military during World War I from May 27, 1918 to December 14, 1918 but I was unable to find any documentation except the Veterans Affairs Death File.
He likely played baseball while a student at Seward. I could not find a photo of him as a student or as a baseball player, but I did find a photo of some baseball players at the “Luth. Sem.” from 1925.
Cholcher graduated from the “Lehrerseminaren” (Teachers Seminary) at Seward, Nebraska as shown by this listing from Der Lutheraner dated July 13, 1920 and documents that he was assigned to the Bethlehem Waisenhaus (Orphanage) in New York. This graduating class also included Edwin E Hellwege who was a descendent of a Perry County family, George Schlichting who was born and raised in Farrar, and a Teacher Schröder who was assigned to New Wells.
[A comment from Warren Schmidt: At the bottom of the first column, you will see the name Kersten going to Tacoma, WA. This is the Walter Kersten with whom Clarence Gemeinhardt lived in the 1930 census shown in yesterday’s blog post.]
Here is a brief history of the Bethlehem institution:
In 1886, 11 Lutheran congregations in the metropolitan New York area created the Bethlehem Orphan and Half-Orphan Asylum, to take care of children who were orphaned primarily due to a severe outbreak of influenza within the German communities of New York City. Dedicated on May 30, 1888, the asylum’s mission was to care for and educate orphans and half-orphans to be Christians and useful members of society. Thus began the Lutheran presence in what would become, over time, an organized effort to address child welfare in New York, and would result in the creation of Lutheran Social Services of New York.
The first permanent Bethlehem “Asylum” was in College Point, Queens. For more than 25 years, orphans were reared and educated in a rather strict, but loving, German institutional system. When the program outgrew the Queens home, the children moved to a spacious new building on a hillside in Staten Island overlooking what would become the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. There the home flourished and began to welcome children from a range of ethnic backgrounds. In 1944, the name was changed to Bethlehem Lutheran Children’s Home to better reflect its full American character and expanding ethnic diversity.
I also found a photo of an entrance to the orphanage and a map of its location.
I have also included a current map of the former location of the Bethlehem Orphanage to show how close it was to where the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is located. Brooklyn is less than ten miles north of this so it is no wonder that two Lutheran teachers from the country in the Midwest would have become friends.
The 1925 New York State Census lists Cholcher as an Officer and Teacher at the Bethlehem Orphanage and Half Orphanage. The superintendent at the institution, Martin Holls, was a Lutheran minister. The census lists around 100 students between the ages of four and sixteen there at that time.
In 1926 Cholcher accepted a call to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wakefield, Nebraska where he served until 1929. In about 1927 he married Maria Vetter who came from the area of Crete, Nebraska which is about 25 miles southwest of Lincoln.
He then accepted a call to Zion Lutheran Church in Fairmont, Oklahoma where he taught until he resigned in 1937. He and Marie had two daughters, Naomi Ruth and Martha Marie that were born while they lived in Fairmont.
This photo of Cholcher family was likely taken when Wilhelm Cholcher resigned from the ministry in 1938 or at his 50th anniversary as a Pastor in 1939. I have outlined who I believe to be Earnest and Maria and their daughters since they are the only couple in the photo with two daughters.
Following his resignation from teaching Cholcher held a variety of jobs. In the 1940 census he was working in state road work, he was working in a music store in Enid, Oklahoma in 1946 and 1948 city directories, and later held advertising and maintenance jobs in Enid. He did enlist in the United State Marine Corps Reserve during World War II and served from March 26, 1942 to May 21, 1943. This muster roll shows him stationed at the Naval Air Station in Melbourne, Florida in April, 1943.
Earnest Cholcher died on December 28, 1962 in Houston, Texas. His death certificate lists his occupation as coach and teacher. He was buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. Surprisingly, I was not able to find any other records of him playing or coaching baseball in all of my searching. If nothing else, we do know that he had his “fifteen minutes of fame” on August 16, 1925, when he pitched for the Farrar Ramblers and it is likely that everyone knew by the end of the game that he was from “New York City”.