Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pranks and Practical Jokes...

Photo by Jim McGuigan 9.6.14
Pomeranian Weddings are filled with merriment including pranking the Bride and Groom.  This can include practical jokes and/or attempts to get the Bride or Groom drunk. Often these pranks can happen days before the celebration or anytime during the 3 day wedding celebration.
The Polterbend was the climax of the pranks.  The day before the wedding friends would gather around the bride’s home making noise and general ruckus while banging on pots, ringing bells, hollering and whistling. Pranks could include stuffing old quilts down smoking chimneys, stole her clothes or removed wheels from the family’s wagon/carriage.

One of the tamer tricks was to wrap a box of broken china in very decoratively. A bridesmaid or friend would present the bride with this gift and as she reached for it, it would drop to the ground shattering. We chose to represent this prank because it was safe in a museum setting BUT I didn’t expect the pomp and circumstance between my brother and sister in presenting me with the gift. ….I began to have doubts as to what was in the box.

Only days earlier, my bridesmaid, Sandy had an unfortunate moment at home.  A shelf in her china cabinet became loose, fell and sent china crashing everywhere.   Although the loss of sentimental china pieces is never a happy moment, it did provide opportunity to fill a box with broken china. I had believed this to be the contents of the box until I stood on the back porch that afternoon and watched my brother and sister dance around and ceremoniously present the gift to me. The thought had seriously crossed my mind that the broken china had been replaced with something much less innocuous. After all, many interesting even nasty things can be found in a farmyard….
I was relieved when I found the gift truly contained broken china!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 6th, 2014 – Our Wedding

Photo by Cara Spoto of the Racine Journal Times
After more than a year of planning, Karl and I stepped into a different chapter in our lives on a gloriously, beautiful early autumn day at Old World Wisconsin!  The sky was as blue as it can be.  The gentlest of breezes blew.  The sun shone as brightly as possible.  Old World Wisconsin provided the perfect 19th century backdrop.   BUT… It was our family, friends and public guests that truly made the day a colorful, festive 1880 Wedding celebration! 
I will let the photos speak for themselves. I have given credit on the photos wherever possible. We only have the photos that friends have sent me or posted on Facebook. I am sure there are more somewhere...
Photo by Julie Peterson
My brother, Jimmy Danko, was incomparable as the Hochzeitsbitter (Wedding Inviter). As my dear friend, Kathleen, stated, "He was born to play the role of the Hochzeitsbitter".
Photo by Erica Laabs
As tradition has it, I arrived to the ceremony by horse drawn carriage... or rather, in Old World Wisconsin tradition, horse-drawn Omnibus accompanied by my Bridesmaids and other dear ladies...

Photo by Becky Bross
I might be biased, but my father looked so dapper walking me down the aisle...
Photo by Kim Shrake

The vows...
Photo by Ashlee Peterson
The Kiss... Okay, soooo this feels a little weird posting this photo myself, but then I remember this whole ceremony was in public with 650+ people. ...and if we did it all over again, we would do it the same way! Thank you Old World Wisconsin and Thank You to everyone who attended. Karl and I hope you enjoyed spending the day with us and at Old World Wisconsin!!

Photo by Sara Kaphengst

Our Families...

Photo by Ashlee Peterson

The Bridal Party...
Photo by Erica Laabs
Wonderful Wishes arrived from all over Old World Wisconsin...

Photo by Michael Cannon
There will be other posts with wedding details in days to come...

Visit Old World Wisconsin, the largest Living History Museum in the United States which focuses on 19th Century rural life....
If you would like to read more:

Mukwonago Chief:


Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Romance of Rural Architecture - The Frederich Koepsell House...

Some couples dream of a magnificent Cathedral with stained glass windows glistening in the sunlight as the backdrop of their wedding ceremony.  Others dream of a sandy beach, lapping waves and the scent of sea air. Our dream is that of a mid-19th century half-timber farm house flanked by hops poles and animal pastures. This dream will come true for Karl and me on September 6, 2014. 

Specifically, it is the front porch of a fachwerk or half-timber house built in the late 1850’s by Friedrich Koepsell.  Mr. Koepsell likely apprenticed in Pomerania as a carpenter prior to emigrating from Pomerania with his wife and children. Upon arriving in Wisconsin, he would establish a farm and continue to build Pomeranian style fachwerk structures for neighbors who desired buildings in this style as opposed to an American style structure.


The skill required for this style of home is learned over the course of years. Apprenticeships would last for typically 7 years.  Afterward a term of journeyman was often required before a level of mastery was reached. The location of the timbers was predetermined prior to the erection of the walls. These timbers were numbered and documented with their appropriate location for each piece. Filling the spaces between the timbers were stucco or the more expensive brick.

A glimpse of the garden...
Think of this beautiful home as a Mr. Koepsell’s model home.   It displayed his skill very well to others in the neighboring areas. It is important to note.  At the time, this would not have been viewed as a stylish home. The architectural style of this home is that of rural Pomerania. It was an anomaly in the United States and overly ordinary in Pomerania in its day.  We, however, are exceptionally fortunate this building was saved, restored and on display for all of us to appreciate.

Visit the house Friedrich Koepsell built at Old World Wisconsin.

Douglass, M., & Perkins, M. (1978). Unpublished Old World Wisconsin Interpretive Plan Koepsell Farm.