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Gertrude Lanette Schaal

From the research of the late Nadine Korotev
Contributed by her descendants.

She was born in Gillett, Oconto County, Wisconsin, November 8, 1882, the sixth child of  Ernest and Hanna Volk Schaal. Gertrude Schaal had nine brothers and one sister.

The Schaal family had originally lived in Wuschewier, Prussia, now northern Germany near Berlin. They came to the United States in 1848 when her father was not yet one year old. Gertrude's grandfather Godrey Schaal owned a hardware store in Prussia and later in Mayville, Wisconsin. He had first married Louisa Caroline Frank who died shortly after the marriage. Godfrey then married his first wife's sister Caroline Wilhelmina Frank (Minnie) in 1839 and over the next 12 years they worked together and raised their family. Only three years after arriving in America with his wife Wilhelmina Frank and his children born in Prussia, both Godfrey and Wilhelmna had died within weeks of each other. Somehow their 12 children survived, left to be scattered among neighbors or on their own at very young ages. Ernest was left an orphan at age 4. Several siblings later wrote of hard working childhoods in touching memoirs. Each of their independent life's journeys began in 1851.

Ernest Schaal came to Gillett at the age of 17, to clear and settle land in 1865.  In 1871 he married Hanna Volk. Religion, education and music were held in high esteem in the Schaal family. Daughter Gertrude was the first pupil to receive a 12 grade county certificate in Spring Valley school. It was at this time that she had to make the choice between an offer of marriage and continuing her education. She chose education and attended Valparioso University, majoring in piano and graduated in 1909. 

She returned to the family home in Gillett and was an instructor in piano there until 1917 when she enrolled in Chicago Training School for three years. There she majored in Religious Education, graduating in June of 1920.  Her long career and vocation as a Methodist Church Deaconess offered her the opportunity to travel widely, experiencing life among both large and small communities. She was employed at Methodist congregations in many places, offering her a rich and varied life.  Gertrude Schaal worked in positions that oversaw religious education, and performed at services.. These positions included Community Church in Chicago; Waggoner Memorial Church in St. Louis, Missouri; First Church, East St. Louis, Illinois; First Church Des Moines, Iowa; Mountain View Church, Butte, Montana; First Church, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, First Church, Long Island, New York; Grace Methodist, South Bend, Indiana; First Church, Kenosha, Wisconsin; Immanuel Methodist, Kenosha, Wisconsin; Ingleside Methodist Church, Chicago, Illinois; Woodlawn Methodist, Chicago, Illinois. She was active in her profession as a religious educator for 32 years; rising to the position of Assistant Minister.

She retired to the Methodist Nursing Home in Chicago and passed away in 1980. She was 98 years of age and is buried in the Volk Family Cemetery in Oconto County, Wisconsin.