This summer, Detroiter, Bonnie Schow shared her family story with Family Pictures USA. Read below to learn more about her incredible family.
“My great-great-grandfather, Julius Bruschitzki came to Detroit in 1881. He had friends who had come to Detroit and he faced consistent economic and political unrest in the Prussian area of Germany, where he used to live.
After he got to Detroit, Julius sent money so that his fiancée Ida could join him along with her twin sister Louise. Julius and Ida were married a week after she arrived. Julius worked at a brickyard near Warren Ave. and Martin on the west side of the city. As he worked and made money, Julius sent for his parents then his siblings. He and Ida and their growing family lived until 1900 near Warren and Wyoming.
In 1900, they moved to a large house on Linzee Street near Livernois and Wyoming. Two of Julius’ sisters also moved to the Linzee Street block. As Ida’s and Julius’ children grew up, married, and started their own families, they moved next door or across the street. From 1900 to 1940, members of the Bruschitzki family lived in or near the Bruschitzki home on Linzee Street.”
“At the peak, there were 25 family members living on the block. When my grandparents got married, their reception was in a Linzee Street house and their first two children, my uncle and my mother, were born in one of the Linzee Street houses. It’s an amazing testimony to me of a family taking care of one another over many years.
Julius and Ida spoke German, and so did their neighbors, so they got along well in Detroit. Besides his work at the brickyard, Julius also bought a small grocery store thinking his daughter Amelia needed a way to make a living. Sadly, in 1917 at 62 years old, Julius got a splinter while repairing the wooden sidewalk in front of the store and died of tetanus three days later. I’m sure that this was one of many times that this large community of family supported each other emotionally and financially.”
“Ida lived until 1936. She was a very conservative lady. She dressed in the style of the 1890s until the day she died. She always liked to wear a fresh, long, white apron as she did in Germany, even when she was dressed up. Her daughters disliked this and thought it was un-American!
For church, she would wear an elaborate black or dark blue hat draped in a fancy design of silk or satin. Ida was about 4’10” and her hat rested like a crown on the top of her head, held fast with long needles. She always took her small hand-sized hymnal to church. She took a bath before Holy Communion and fasted until after receiving Communion. On New Year’s she always baked “Neu-Jahr-chen”, meaning “little New Year’s”. It was something like pie dough, and she made stick figures for each member of the family, the ladder to heaven, a heart, the key to heaven, and other symbols. The children of the family were always fascinated to watch her make them and explain their meanings.”
“Even after Ida’s death, her family lived on Linzee Street. After my mother’s family moved away, they would visit her grandmother, Ida’s and Julius’ daughter Minnie. My mother always considered herself lucky if she could stay the night and sleep with Grandma.
The oil burner outside Grandma’s bedroom door kept them warm and a comforting clock ticked all night on the bedside table. Sometimes my mother would walk with Grandma down to the live poultry market on McGraw Street. When they got home, off came the chicken’s head and around the yard it ran! From headless to chicken dinner, Minnie made it happen. The smell of chocolate cake and chicken in the oven, the clock ticking, the coal truck filling the bin in the big old garage, Mrs. Visco dressed all in black walking down the alley with a clothes basket on her head, the sheeny man coming down the street paying pennies for foil gum wrappers.”
“The Linzee Street neighborhood in the 1940s was full of rich sights and sounds. In the 1960s, an expressway went through that side of Linzee Street. All of those houses are now gone.”
“The Bruschitzki family was not famous. They didn’t do anything to make the front page news. They made the bricks that built the city. They and their whole family were the fabric of this city in the early 20th century. At least four of their 4x great-grandchildren are still living in the city that would not be the same without them.” – Bonnie Schow
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We are pleased to be working on our Detroit Digital Diaspora in partnership with Detroit Historical Museum as part of it’s D67 commemoration project and working with Detroit Public TV and our community partners: Detroit Historical Society, the Horace L. Sheffield, Jr. Center – Detroit Association of Black Organizations, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Arab American National Museum, and Church of the Messiah.