Caroline Meyer was born in the Kingdom of Prussia on the 24th of March in 1855. (It rather sounds like the beginning of a Fairytale, doesn't it . . . .) We believe that the name of Caroline's father was Ludwig Meyer. She had an older brother by the name of John Meyer, and quite possibly had other siblings. Frederick William IV was the King of Prussia at the time of Caroline's birth.
When Caroline was quite young, her Mother died. Being a Father with young children must have been difficult. It was not long before Ludwig remarried.
The years passed, and when Caroline was about 14 years old, her Father died, leaving her with her Step Mother and Step Siblings. Caroline's Step Mother had her hands quite full with trying to take care of her own children, and must not have had either the resources or possibly the desire to care for a Step Daughter.
And, so it was that Caroline was cast out into the streets on her own at a very tender age. She determined that she would find her older brother John, who lived in a different town.
The weather was cold as she set off on foot to go to her brother. She was found at a crossroads, overcome by tears and chilled to the bone, by a gentle woman of Polish descent.
This lovely woman took my Great Grandmother Caroline home with her, warmed her, fed her and gave her a place to call home for a time.
This woman's kindness greatly impacted Caroline, and throughout her life she sought to touch everyone that she could with a genuine kindness.
Karl Dostal and Caroline Meyer were married in Prussia in 1878. Sadly, I do not know the story of how Caroline and Karl met, or of their "romance."
Their remaining years in Prussia were difficult, as they were not landowners, but rather, worked for a landowner.
Karl and Caroline worked in the fields all day for the landowner. Then, Grandmother Caroline would have to go up to the "Big House," as they called it, and feed the landowner's family. She cooked the food, cleaned up after it was eaten, prepared for the next day and went back to feed her own family and tuck them in. Then she had mending, sewing, food preparations to take care of before she lie down for a few hours rest before the fields and cooking called after her the next day.
Life was hard. Very hard.
Caroline and Karl had 3 young children, Herman, Amelia and Emil, during these years. Many days, Caroline had to have the children, just babies and toddlers, stay in the house by themselves as she and Karl would work in the fields. She worried for the children, for food for them, for clothing them, for their health. (Caroline also lost several babies at or before birth . . . . perhaps due somewhat to the hard work and lack of rest.)
Caroline's older brother John and his family had immigrated to America, to a place called Ludington, Michigan.
Caroline and Karl decided to follow John and immigrate. At that particular time, immigrants needed sponsers in America, and John happily sponsored Caroline, Karl and their 3 young children.
Caroline and Karl Dostal immigrated to America in 1884. The journey by sea took them 3 weeks. The weather had not been good and there was much illness onboard. The small family, as well as other immigrants, were in the "belly" of the ship. The conditions were unsanitary and far from comfortable.
Little did Caroline and Karl realize that some of their most difficult days lie just ahead, in this land of opportunity that they were coming to.
Upon reaching Castle Garden, the port in New York that many
immigrants came into prior to Ellis Island, Caroline, Karl and the
children were rounded up into separate quarantines, the children were
separated from the adults. Caroline was told that 2 of her children
had not lived through this illness (typhoid, cholera and dysentery were
all common). Emil was her only surviving toddler, and Amelia and
Herman were gone. She was never allowed to see their little bodies, or
hold them close one last time.
During this time period, Caroline said that numerous children, especially blond haired, blue-eyed toddlers and babies who came to America with their parents, disappeared . . . were sold into adoption. She felt in her heart that that was the fate of Herman and Amelia. She believed that her "Mother's Heart" would know if they were dead. Her heart would never quit aching for them.
Caroline, Karl and little Emil spent 3 months time in the Castle Garden area, going through all the processing and red tape, as well as their time spent in Quarantine. Caroline spoke both Polish and German, and was able to be of assistance as an interpreter through their stay.
As they finally got on their way to Michigan, Karl and Caroline wondered if coming to America had been a good idea . . . . In such a short time they had endured much pain and loss.
After what must have seemed like eons, Caroline, Karl and Emil arrived in Pere Marquette Township, Mason County, Michigan. Here she was rejoined with her brother John. Family, at last!
Karl went to work at the Stave Mill and the family began to grow.
Emil Dostal was born March 24, 1878 (in Prussia).
Charles William Fain Dostal in May of 1888.
Otto Eugene Dostal was born May 9, 1890.
William Henry Dostal was born March 7, 1894.
Frederick August Dostal (my Grandfather) was born October 13, 1896.
Helen A. Dostal was born January 20, 1899.
Caroline Meyer was recorded in the census in Summit & Pere Marquette townships (excl. Ludington city), Mason, Michigan, USA on 1900.
Also in the household were Karl (now called "Charles"), son Charles, Otto, William, Fred and Helen.
Karl and Caroline worked and saved and purchased a home and land in North Amber Township, Mason County, Michigan. Their own farm!
This photo of Caroline with her rose bush was taken in April 1922.
Both the 1910 and 1920 U. S. Federal Census show Caroline living on their farm at the corner of Stiles and Hansen Roads in Amber Township.
In 1909, Caroline and Karl lost another of their children, Charles died of "Bright's Disease." (An outdated term for Nephritis, a kidney condition.) He had gotten caught in a very cold rainstorm and never quite recovered.
Then in 1914, Caroline lost Karl. He was working in the field, and went down. He was taken back to the house, but did not recover.
Caroline lived on their farm until her death in 1928.
The last 4 years of her life, she lived there with her son Fred and his wife, Evelyn (my Grandparents). Evelyn's Father, Will Gaffney also lived with them part time.
Evelyn was known to say often throughout the rest of her life, if she could only show one portion of the kindness that Caroline had, she would be ever grateful.
Caroline Meyer died in Amber Township, Mason County, Michigan on the 10th of February, 1928.
This is the first page of the transcribed Obituary for Caroline Meyer Dostal that ran in the Ludington Daily News.
Caroline's Obituary, continued.
The legacy of love that Caroline Meyer Dostal left lives on through her children, her grandchildren and now her great and great-great grandchildren.
She lived a life that was full of kindness, and she had a great love and concern for children, all children. She frequently took in people who were in need of a warm place to stay and a warm meal.