It is said that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”.[i] I think this is particularly true with families. My German ancestors brought their Catholic faith with them and remained strong in their faith. My grandmother Henrietta Burbach held her beliefs close to her heart. Her Viking prince, Adolph Hansen was of the Lutheran religion. Somehow she managed to have both her prince and her religion. I don’t begin to understand it but on 30 October 1907 Henrietta and Adolph were married at a Nuptial Mass in Gesu Church in Milwaukee, WI. This was very unusual since at that time the church did not allow non-catholics to approach the altar. In fact mixed marriages were definitely not encouraged.
In 1908 Henrietta and Adolph are back in Milwaukee for the baptism of Henrietta’s nephew Herman Adolph at St Joseph parish on 4 April 1908. They were the godparents of the baby who was named after his grandfather. Again this was just not allowed by the church at that time. According to church rules both godparents were required to be Catholic. Adolph and Henrietta’s daughter Dorothy would be baptized in Chicago later in the year.
After his death in 1946, Adolph was buried in Mt Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. Again at the time only Catholics were buried in Catholic cemeteries.
Was this the original “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? Or was there another reason that these exceptions were made? I have asked the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to check the records of Gesu Church to see if Adolph became a Catholic there in preparation for the wedding. Another route would be to find Adolph’s address in Chicago in 1907 and see if he was baptized in a Chicago parish.
Will I find the answers?
1 From a poem (1865) by William Ross Wallace