Henrietta Elise Eggerichs was born in Neustadt Godens, Hanover Province, Germany on December 17, 1844. She was the daughter of Frederick W.G.T. Eggerichs and Himke Margaret Janssen. Henrietta Elise had two full-blooded brothers: Louis, who married Adeline Lawson, and Anthony, who died at the age of eight or nine.
Frederick Eggerichs married twice. He had a son, Frederick (called “Fritz,”) during his first marriage. The elder Frederick was a secretary or some kind of official for a wealthy landowner, a Graf. ‘Graf’ was a title of German nobility, similar to an English ‘Earl.’ Frederick took care of the rentals and other miscellaneous responsibilities for the Graf.
When Frederick died, the Graf had Frederick’s son Fritz educated and sent to higher schools to take Frederick’s position. Fritz married and had four children (two boys, two girls). The oldest son, also Fritz, came to America in 1909. He married here. The second son, a lieutenant in World War I, died in a hospital from tuberculosis. He worked in banking before the war. One of Fritz’s daughters was a nurse. The other was a cook. One of the daughter’s names was Tonia.
After Frederick Eggerichs died, his second wife (Henrietta’s mother) married a Mr. Janssen. From this union came two daughters: Marie, who married Bernard Harms, and Meta, who married Abram Ketman. Meta came to America as a young woman and lived with the Henry Walvoord family before her marriage.
Henrietta Eggerichs’s parents both were sick at the same time. Her mother died first and her stepfather, Mr. Janssen, a few days later. They had one funeral. In Germany, the barn was part of the house, with a hall in between them. Their bodies were in the barn at the time of the funeral. Because Henrietta’s mother died first, the youngest two children got most of the property. Had her stepfather died first, she would have received most of the inheritance. Henrietta received five hundred dollars and none of the personal property. She was fifteen-years-old at the time and the relatives took complete charge and divided the property.
Later Henrietta wrote for a remembrance and her aunt sent her a silver spoon. Marie and Meta (then three-years-old) lived with an aunt and uncle who had no children. That family had money. Henrietta lived with relatives for a while. She worked for a farmer afterwards.
Henrietta attended a parochial Lutheran school in Germany. She was the best writer in her school room. Because of this, she received a special seat in the room.
At the age of twenty, in May 1865, Henrietta came alone to America and went to live with Aunt and Uncle Janssen who lived in Sheboygan County near Gibbsville. She sailed from Bremen to New York.
Later she did housework near Cedar Grove. She was considered the best-dressed woman around. Everything in America at the time was in the pioneer stage. Woman wore cotton dresses and wooden shoes when going to church or parties. Men wore overalls. People wore homespun clothes and home-tailored suits. People knit their own stockings and mittens.
Henrietta didn’t fall in love with Henry Walvoord when she first saw him. But she married him on December 5, 1866. She was twenty-one-years-old at the time.
She learned to speak Dutch and usually spoke a mixture of Dutch and some German. She never learned to speak English fluently. The church services were in Dutch and the Dutch language was supreme in the early days. In her later years, she attended English church services. The older children in the family learned some Dutch but the younger ones knew very little Dutch.
Henrietta learned a recipe for bread dumplings from her mother:
2 cups bread (white or whole wheat); 1 1/2 cups water; 1/4 tsp. nutmeg; 1/2 tsp. salt; 3 tbs. flour. Take wheat bread (dry or fresh). Pour boiling water on it to soak and boil until fine. Then sift in wheat flour and stir until thick. Put in salt and nutmeg to taste. Take off stove and when cold stir in beaten egg. Drop into boiling soup by spoonfuls and let boil until done. Do not look at dumplings until done—leave cover on. Takes about 12 to 15 minutes.
On Sunday, March 11, 1928, Louise and her mother Henrietta made the dumplings together. Henrietta Elise Walvoord died on February 5, 1929 at the age of eighty-four.