Tag Archives: america

Neptuna Carnival in Peoria, Summer of 1916

My grandfather wrote in his diary in the summer of 1916 that he had worked for the Neptuna Carnival in Peoria.  My dad’s recent research into this Neptuna Carnival revealed the following article from The Peoria Transcript, Sunday July 2, 1916:

Neptuna Carnival Begins Tonight

The Neptuna Carnival will open tonight with a concert program given by the famous Liberati band of fifty musicians and company of opera singers. This concert will be given from the Island Beautiful in the river directly in front of the grandstand. There are over 10,000 seats in the grandstand. at 25 cents each. The concert will begin at 8:00 and according to the advanced sale of seats will have a really remarkable attendance. The ballet, which is to present a marvelous spectacular ballet on the Island Beautiful on the night of the Fourth in honor of the coming of Neptuna.

The entrance of the Court of Honor, which has been erected on lower Main Street near Adams and on the parking lots of the river front, is a sight of majestic splendor and pure architecture, with its columns gleaming white. It frames a vista with the sparkling blue of the river and the green hills as a background. When the thousands of incandescent monster lights, which have been placed for the illumination, are at last alight, the Court will present a vision of beauty not soon to be forgotten.  The river front will present a decidedly festive and carnivalesque appearance with many booths and tents having sprung up during the day.

Ten thousand seats on the riverfront?!?!  Wow!  Sounds like a great time, doesn’t it?  I hope someone has photos of this 1916 spectacle that they can share on the Internet.

You can read my grandfather’s entire journal by clicking below.  It’s quite interesting!  Of course, I’m biased!   🙂

http://www.leucht.com/history/My_Journey_To_America-Journal_of_Kurt_William_Leucht-1914_to_1920.pdf

Thanks for your interest!
Kurt

My Journey To America: August 10, 1914

Exactly 100 years ago today, my 18 year old grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, wrote the following entry into his journal:

 I realized that I was on the last ship to come over to America from Germany, for on August 1st World War I broke out in Europe.  I still had good fortune.  I didn’t know that there was a war going on, since I couldn’t read or understand English yet.

According to Wikipedia, the SS Vaterland had made only a few trips when she arrived at New York City in late July 1914 just as World War I broke out. A safe return to Germany was rendered virtually impossible by British dominance of the seas, so the ship was laid up at her Hoboken, NJ, terminal and remained immobile for nearly three years. She was seized by the United States Shipping Board in April 1917 and turned over to the custody of the U.S. Navy in June 1917.

As a direct descendant of Kurt, I can’t help but imagine how different my life would be if his trip to America had not occurred exactly when it did.

That’s all the journal entries from his initial introduction to America, but there’s a lot more to read.  He continued to journal for several years on topics such as living and working in Peoria, the war from the perspective of a German immigrant, the terrible winter of 1917-1918, getting the Spanish Flu, finding love in America, and much more.

You can read my grandfather’s entire journal by clicking below.  It’s quite interesting!  Of course, I’m biased!   🙂

http://www.leucht.com/history/My_Journey_To_America-Journal_of_Kurt_William_Leucht-1914_to_1920.pdf

Thanks for your interest!
Kurt

My Journey To America: August 1, 1914

Exactly 100 years ago today, my 18 year old grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, wrote the following entry into his journal:

 At 1:45am, we finally arrived in Chicago. Those of us who were to continue on received a piece of paper, which was pinned on.  At the train station, buses were waiting.  Everyone was placed on the appropriate bus.  Now, I was all alone.  The bus I was on went to another train station.  I had a four and a half hour layover before my train left for Peoria.  While waiting, I ventured out to look at the city of Chicago for a little bit.

At 9:00am, the train left.  I arrived in Peoria just before 2:00pm.

I took a taxi to my Uncle Gustav [Degenkolb’s] home, according to the address on my paper [822 Griswold Street near Humboldt].  When I got there, I rang the doorbell; but no one was home.  It wasn’t long before my Aunt [Alice] came.  My uncle was out of town and was to be back home on Tuesday.  My aunt and I spoke German with each other.  She could not speak much, but it was sufficient.  I washed myself thoroughly and laid down for awhile, since I was quite tired from the trip.

[On this very day, Germany was declaring war against Russia.  Kurt had no idea this was even happening.]

“Uncle” Gustav is not an uncle, nephew, nor cousin to Kurt even though he referred to him as Uncle Gustav throughout his journal. According to genealogical research Kurt’s father, Julius, had a sister named Alma who married a Degenkolb. This Degenkolb, Julius’ brother-in-law, had a brother named Gustav who came to America. So “Uncle” Gustav is related only by marriage to Kurt’s Aunt Alma.

Reverend Gustav J Degenkolb was born in the province of Saxony, Germany in 1876. He was twenty years older than Kurt. He came to the United States in 1896. He married his wife, Alice, in America. He was the first minister, from 1911-1915, of Grace Evangelical Church, located on the NW corner of 605 Stanley Street at Humboldt in Peoria.

Kurt and Verna were married in this church in 1920. The church built a new building diagonally across the street in 1925 which still stands there today. Kurt’s third son, Bill, married Gail in the 1925 building in 1966. It became Grace Evangelcal United Brethren Church in 1946, then Grace United Methodist Church in 1968 ending its affiliation in 2002 and was sold.

You can read my grandfather’s entire journal and see vintage photos of Chicago and Peoria by clicking below.  It’s quite interesting!  Of course, I’m biased!   🙂

http://www.leucht.com/history/My_Journey_To_America-Journal_of_Kurt_William_Leucht-1914_to_1920.pdf

Thanks for your interest!
Kurt

My Journey To America: July 31, 1914

Exactly 100 years ago today, my 18 year old grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, wrote the following entry into his journal:

 At 5:00am, the train stopped in Hornell, NY, where we had a twenty minute layover.  We had breakfast.  We continued on the whole day and night.  During daylight hours, I was able to enjoy the wonderful landscape.  Occasionally there was a village or small city where the train stopped.

You can read my grandfather’s entire journal by clicking below.  It’s quite interesting!  Of course, I’m biased!   🙂

http://www.leucht.com/history/My_Journey_To_America-Journal_of_Kurt_William_Leucht-1914_to_1920.pdf

Thanks for your interest!
Kurt

My Journey To America: July 30, 1914

Exactly 100 years ago today, my 18 year old grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, wrote the following entry into his journal:

 I got up at 5:00am.  At 7:00, we had to go to the luggage hall where the suitcases were managed.  From there, we were quickly transported to Ellis Island [via ferry] where we were examined.  We came into a large hall where everyone was shown to a specific location.

Since I had given the address of my uncle, I was directed to go to an area for Peoria, Illinois [Peoria is 170 miles SW of Chicago].  Then I came to the luggage room, where I had to find my things.  I got my ticket to Peoria, which cost $18, and that was that.  We had to wait until 3:00pm to get on a ship which left at 5:00 for the train station.  [This was likely a ferry from Ellis Island to the mainland.]  Everyone was decorated with a large piece of paper.  We didn’t have to ask, every employee knew where we belonged.

We stayed in the train station until 7:00, then we were led to the ready trains.  Shortly before 7:30, the train began to move.  There were twelve Germans in my section of the train and we made ourselves comfortable.  There was no difference between First and Fourth Class.  Every section of the train was the same and was furnished something like our Second Class.  Now the train was moving thru New York City, beyond and to the West [towards the city of Chicago].  Night came and we laid down to sleep as good as possible.

You can read my grandfather’s entire journal and see photos of Ellis Island from the early 1900’s by clicking below.  It’s quite interesting!  Of course, I’m biased!   🙂

http://www.leucht.com/history/My_Journey_To_America-Journal_of_Kurt_William_Leucht-1914_to_1920.pdf

Thanks for your interest!
Kurt