Church: Meyer, Caroline--Greenwood Zion Organist
Contact: Joyce Meyer 

Meyer, Caroline (Soefker)--Greenwood Zion Organist, 1910-1953

Surnames: MEYER ABEL SOEFKER VARNEY SCHOFIELD HOEHNE WESSEL BUSCH SPEICH


(Greenwood Gleaner Staff Correspondent--1953)
GREENWOOD--A Bible and a bouquet of roses and a cake with a musical scale frosted in pink were Zion Evangelical and Reformed congregation's gifts to Mrs. Adolph Meyer (Caroline) in recognition of her 43 years of continuous service to the church as organist and Sunday School teacher.
The gifts, a complete surprise to Mrs. Meyer, were presented at a recent special meeting of the congregation.
It was about this time of the year back in 1910 when Mrs. Meyer, then the mother of three small sons, began as organist and Sunday school teacher at Zion Church. A year earlier she had taken over the office of treasurer of the Sunday school and the Zion Ladies Aid Society.
In those days the father worked in the woods a great deal of the time and it often became necessary for Mrs. Meyer to combine church duties and motherhood responsibilities. Her youngsters sometimes slept in the front pew of the church where she could peek at them from around or over the top of the organ. As the lads grew older they adhered firmly to mother's lessons in church decorum.

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Music came naturally to Mrs. Meyer, she said. When she was 16, then Caroline Soefker, she learned the fundamentals of organ playing from a younger sister, Mary, a student of Edith Varney, accomplished-Greenwood musician. There was no organ in the household so she practiced in the nearby Henry Thielen home. At times I would practice finger exercises on the kitchen table, Mrs. Meyer said.
The Soefker family lived in the town of Warner, about 7- miles northwest of Greenwood. When she was 17, Mrs. Meyer began employment at the Schofield home in Greenwood. Mrs. Schofield, recognizing her talents, gave her lessons and encouraged her to practice on the organ and piano in the Schofield home. The first two months I worked for my lessons, then I got 1.25 a week besides, Mrs. Meyer remarked.
She worked in the Schofield home for a year and a half and continued to advance in musical knowledge and skill. At 19 she returned to Warner to marry Adolph Meyer, in 1899. The couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in May, 1949. Mr. Meyer died the following year. While still a resident of Warner Mrs. Meyer occasionally played the organ in the West Side Immanuel Evangelical and Reformed Church there.

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In 1903, the family moved to Greenwood. Mrs. Meyer still occupies the original homestead. A son, Gilbert, also makes his home in Greenwood. Other sons are Orland, who lives in Cameron, and Elmer, Chicago.

Mrs. Meyer became active in the work of Zion Church immediately after it was organized. She and the late Mrs. C. C. Hoehne formed the first Sunday School and the Zion Ladies Aid Society.

Her treasured possessions include a small book with meticulous accounts of aid society finances and attendance dating back to 1909. "I ran out of pages in 1926 and had to buy a new book," she commented humorously.

She withdrew as treasurer of the aid society after serving more than a quarter of a century in that office, but the Sunday School accounts still are in her keeping.

Joyce Meyer, granddaughter and Greenwood high school senior, now helps her grandmother with Sunday School classes, and Mrs. Adolph Wessel and Miss Jeanette Busch have taken over as organists, but when the occasion demands, Mrs. Meyer is available for the duties she handled so loyally and so conscientiously.


 

HARRY SPEICH'S MEMORIES OF THE ADOLPH MEYER FAMILY
April 8, 1950
Mrs. Adolph Meyer,
Greenwood, Wisconsin


Dear Mrs. Meyer,

 

It is with a sense of deep and sincere sympathy to you and your family that I noted the passing of your husband and my friend, Adolph Meyer. But of course I realize that this and the many expressions of sympathy you have received heretofore will do little to alleviate the loss. Accordingly I an sure that you will accept this in the spirit of thoughtful sympathy and understanding that it is not intended to burden you additionally.

 

But this letter would be Incomplete without at least a brief statement of my appreciation for you, your husband and your family through the years. As a matter of recollection, it seems that your family and particularly your sons were among the first people to be associated clearly with my childhood. No doubt you recall that all of your boys at some time in their youth resided at our farm home and as I think back I am particularly grateful to them for the consideration shown me as a youngster in treating me as their equal. Then we moved to Greenwood we moved into your neighborhood and I remember the first evenings we were there that spring very well. I can still see your son, Orlando, calling across that ravine asking me if I wished to play One-O'Cat-Bat. To a little boy this was indeed a privilege to play ball with the big boys. As I trace that through, in my mind's eye, I remember that Elmer and Gilbert taught me all they knew about catching and gave me the courage and confidence to get behind the bat. That was a singular accomplishment for a boy. Next, I remember the fishing expeditions and particularly how my parents were always happy to permit me to go fishing so long as Orlando, Gilbert, or Elmer took charge of the party. As a matter of fact, I must credit Elmer with teaching me the wholesome love for fishing. You probably remember our early morning jaunts and the preparations you went through in preparing the lunch for the day. You may rest assured that there was much trading of food on those fishing expeditions because we usually took enough to feed an army but none of it was ever wasted in that healthful outdoor sport. But it must be added that we caught some fish. In fact, many more than I've ever caught since.

 

While I knew you and your husband as members of the Church we all attended from my days on the farm, yet you were not well known to me until we moved to town and your place became the headquarters for we little kids of the neighborhood. Perhaps you remember our evening at Flinch, Rook, or Caroms and particularly how your boys made cues with which to play the game of Caroms in pool fashion because you know, the pool room was forbidden to us little kids and the game looked so very interesting. As I recall it now, I can still see you and Mr. Meyer watching us and being totally amused at us. Probably you should have put muzzles on us to reduce the noise but you never scolded us. It might have been suggested that we be a little more mannerly but we were always encouraged to return. I suppose this confession shouldn?t be made, but I think we boys tried smoking too. In fact, I remember Mr. Meyer catching us and suggesting that probably we were a little young. Nothing more. I am sure the effect was just as impressive as a severe scolding.

 

Then I remember too that we broke windows playing ball and it was accepted as just simply the natural result of boys playing. None of us wanted to break those windows but the amazing thing was that that was understood.

Of course I am sure you will recall the days that all of your boys worked on the freight wagon and it was a rare privilege to be well enough acquainted with the Meyer boys to be permitted to ride on it, to be around the depot, and to be part of the adult world. Even feeding the horses became a great calling. One of the greatest thrills I ever remember is being permitted to ride on the box rack with Adolph. Those things all form a part of our passing parade.

And, Mrs. Meyer, I also remember the Ladies? Aid at your house. I am sure you can recall how we kids used to load away those pressed chicken sandwiches, baked beans, and potato salad?at no profit to the aid. It was a great event and I have often remarked that I?d like to get back some time just to partake of that festival.

 

But to stop there would be to omit an even greater experience because the Meyer family was always actively associated with that little church that is most significant to me today. I am sure that along with this you remember the Sunday School, its Christmas programs, and generally how bad we boys may have been. And you, Mrs. Meyer, are particularly clear in my memory as a part of that total Sunday School program. But that Sunday School program might not have been there if the Meyer?s family hadn?t been so interested and served it in so many ways.

 

You undoubtedly have heard people say when their ears burn that someone is talking about them. Well, if this old legend is true, Mrs. Meyer, your ears should have burned many times because I have used an experience out of one of your Sunday School classes many times as a living illustration of what life means. You will remember that after we were confirmed, and I am of course referring to the group of kids my age, you took over that confirmed group. I am sure we were a hard group to handle but that never seemed to daunt you. You may have forgotten this, but one Sunday morning you attempted to convince us that we ought to be serviceable to the church as well as our fellowman. As I recall it now, you gave a testimony on your own life and went on to point out that in being devoted to serving others, it all come back to you. Someone then wondered how that could be and that if we were going to help or serve anyone, we ought to help or serve those who had been kind to us. You used this significant illustration. You pointed out that none of us would ever have the opportunity of teaching you in Sunday School because by the time we were able to do it, you would be certainly past Sunday School age. Therefore the only avenue left was to serve those who came after you and in that way one might repay the debt to those who had served you. You closed by stating that you hoped that when anyone of us were called upon to teach a Sunday School class, we would step front and center and serve willingly. Mrs. Meyer, I have never forgotten that illustration end I can add that I taught Sunday School for a long stretch of time but I got lazy and quit. But your words came back to haunt me so I'm back again teaching Sunday School. But that Illustration or example doesn't apply to just church. It applies to every avenue of living and is truly a great insight into the great Christian concept of living.

Mrs. Meyer, we've had a lot of good years when we look back over them and I believe I can add that I am sure Adolph has also enjoyed his portion. That must be our consolation and applying that great Christian principal you impressed me with to the situation at hand can only lead you to find your source of solace in this hour as well as the inspiration for the next in clinging fast to the source of it, those great Christian truths. And I am sure that Adolph understands all that even better than we do now. Me and mine would invoke God?s blessing on you and yours.


Very sincerely,


Harry A. Speich

 

 


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