Emmaus Blog

IAmEmmaus: JoAnn Tiedemann

Emmaus Homes - Friday, November 23, 2018

JoAnn Tiedemann, a retired librarian from the state of Wisconsin, has been working with local historian Cathie Schoppenhorst on our Emmaus Homes Heritage Project, made possible by the Reitz Family Endowment Fund. When we learned that JoAnn’s interest in this project “came about genetically”, we reached out to learn more about her family’s history with Emmaus.

“In 1907, my great-grandfather, Rev. Justus Wilhelm Frankenfeld, became the fifth superintendent of the St. Charles Emmaus institution. Before he was asked to become Superintendent, Rev. Frankenfeld was on the Board of Directors, the first ‘new generation’ after the Founding group. I believe he ended up taking on all the jobs that none of the others wanted to do anymore. Other Frankenfeld relatives were also involved with Emmaus in different ways. His family lived on-site; his oldest child, Frieda, eventually worked in the office. In 1921 she married Theophil Stoerker; they met when he had served at the facility during his seminary studies. After Rev. Frankenfeld sadly passed away from the stress and overexertion in 1929, Rev. Stoerker was called to be Superintendent.

My grandparents, Rev. Theo and Frieda Stoerker, led the St. Charles campus through 35 years of changes in language (German to English), funding, church and government policy, and medical advances (treatment and care of the medical and social needs of the residents), etc. until their retirement in 1964.

Rev. Stoerker not only volunteered as an Eden Seminarian (those were not the days of paid internships!), but, like most of the staff, he also voluntarily took a 50% pay cut during the Depression. As the provider for his family, this was quite a sacrifice. Frieda Stoerker worked much of her 35 years for free, in every position on the site.

My grandmother and siblings were not the only family I had involved with Emmaus, but also my mother and her siblings (including her younger sister, ‘Toosie,’ who volunteered in the summer -- Camp Mo-Val, Katy Trail, swimming, field trips, recorder class, etc. -- in more recent years), grew up as part of the Emmaus St. Charles community. My cousins and I fondly remember returning there annually for "Christmas at the grandparents'" until they retired.

In 2013, Toosie recommended that I, a librarian, come and help with organizing documents and records as an archive, which I first did after I retired in 2014. Since then I have returned five more times, most recently in August 2018 to assist local historian and archivist, Cathie Schoppenhorst, who is completing work with the materials currently available.” – JoAnn Tiedemann
Today JoAnn continues to work with Cathie on the Emmaus Homes Heritage Project. JoAnn also volunteers for the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies in Madison, Wis., which examines and documents German-speaking immigrant influences on United States history and culture, including the establishment of Emmaus Homes.


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