Sunday, September 22, 2013

How Grandpa Wetterau Learned Woodcarving

I never knew my paternal grandfather; Grandpa Wetterau died just a couple of months before I was born. He and Grandma Minnie were married in 1912, when she was just twenty-two, and he was 37 years old.

Grandpa Wetterau carving
William Henry Wetterau had come to America as a young teenager around the turn of the 20th century.
As a German immigrant, he must have gravitated toward an enterprise in the village of Fort Plain that was owned an operated by another German immigrant family, the Hix Furniture Company. The company was already well-established when Grandpa arrived in town. Franz Hix had come to Fort Plain in 1852, and after working as a cabinet maker for another individual, Hix set up his own company in 1859. According to Fort Plain - Nelliston History, by Nelson Greene, this company was the first large village industry, and it was an important company for 70 years.

Grandpa Wetterau not only learned a trade while working at the Hix establishment, he became an accomplished cabinet maker in his own right, fashioning many beautiful pieces of furniture with carved armrests or feet, and also crafting a number of monographed bookends, and trays inlaid with Masonic emblems. These pieces are now in the possession of a number of Grandpa's descendants, who cherish them for their meticulous handwork and their connection with the grandfather they never knew.

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