Monday, November 21, 2016


Not every picture found portrays someone from our immediate family. There are quite a few that show some distant kin that most of us never knew, and about which only a few know anything at all. What follows is one of those. In fact, the story didn’t start with a picture. It started with a name – a middle name. Even if you don’t know him – and even if this story is not about someone from your branch of the tree - I encourage you to read on. I thought it was interesting. It was fun to discover. And without a doubt, it is (in my humble opinion) the most descriptive name in the family tome.

His name was John Manthey. He is the Great Great Uncle of my wife, Carol (“Tootie” around these parts. There’s gotta be a story in that name too!)  John Manthey’s middle initial in all the records I have found is simply S.  BUT … and here’s the story – what did that S stand for? In the hand-written family tree written by Granny Schultz and Mom (Schultz) Mateske, I found my answer.
His complete name was:

How’s that for a handle! Here’s a picture, and then I’ll tell you the story behind the unusual name.

The John/Minnie Manthey Children
(sitting) Charles and Emilie (our Great Gramma who married a Schultz)
(Standing at each end) Emma and Gustav
Standing center is JOHN SCHMERSENREICH
Obviously, schmersenreich is a German word – actually two words. Schmersen means “grief, sadness, heartache” and “reich” (with a small “s”) means something like “extreme, great, deep” - so, “extreme grief or deep heartache.”  

Wow, I thought. Who would name their child “Deep Heartache” – and what does that mean? I had to find out who this guy was, and why he caused so much grief (and had to carry it around his whole life – not to mention write it down whenever a middle name was required.)

Dates tell the story. John Schmersenreich Manthey was BORN on May 3, 1872. Okay. Then I noticed that his father, also named John Manthey DIED on May 1, 1872. So Mrs. Manthey (Wilhelmine or “Minnie”) gave birth to her son while at the same time burying her husband. So it wasn’t John Jr. who caused the grief, but his Dad, John Sr.! But his name was going to ever remind everyone of what must have been an unbelievably difficult time – a time of schmersenreich  = “extreme grief and sorrow” and “deep heartache.”

Interesting, isn’t it?? (I love this stuff!)

 (one of my favorites and worthy of a story all by itself)

This picture is LOADED, but that’s John SCHMERSENREICH Manthey,
the man standing farthest right.
BTW, this silo can still be seen from Hwy 23 as you drive by just west of the road that leads to the Mecan church.


  1. I'd like to hear you say his middle name :)

  2. Haha, Katie. Me too!
    That's some good detective work and inference-making, dad! Well done!
    Can't wait to see a the new silo picture with the old one.