Alvina Mueller Burmester

Honored by:Irma Winslow, Kenneth D. Wille, Sr., June Wille Remec and T. Michael Remec, Lois Wille Kerr, Verda Alvina Wille, Ora Jean Wille Rokay, and Donald Wille
Brick location:H:4  map

We are grateful for this opportunity to honor our mother, Ida Burmester Wille, and our grandmothers, Alvina Mueller Burmester and Wilhelmina Mueller.

Our first thought was to use the memorial for our mother, but when thinking about it, we decided we should include her mother and grandmother as well, for it was their influences which made her the unique person she was.

Great grandparents Henry and Wilhelmina Mueller immigrated from Offenhausen, Germany to the United States sometime in the latter half of the 1800's, settling in northern Illinois where they operated a farm in DeKalb County. They spent their last years with their daughter and her husband William and Alvina Burmester (our grandparents). Their granddaughters had a close relationship with their grandmother and would delight in stopping in her room at bedtime to talk to her and listen to her stories. Her husband preceded her in death, leaving her penniless. When families in the area would have a baby, she would go to their homes to care for the mother and baby. For this she was paid small amounts of money or an apron or other small gifts. An aunt once saw her standing in front of her late husband's picture shaking a clenched fist at him and scolding his for leaving her penniless. The last few years of her life were spent with her younger daughter, Anna Kahle.

Alvina Mueller was born in Germany and came to the United States in advance of her parents' immigration. When they arrived, she joined them on the farm in DeKalb County. In 1883, at age 18, she married William Burmester, a widower with six children who had immigrated from Germany. They purchased a farm near Waterman, Illinois where they lived until 1913. Alvina assumed the responsibility of raising six step-children and seven children born to her. As was the norm in those days there was no electricity, running water, or heat in the house and water for laundry, and baths had to be brought from a well outside the house and heated on a wood-burning stove. As her mother before her, Alvina had to work hard all her adult years and the years of labor did not produce wealth. She and her husband retired from the farm and moved to Waterman, Illinois in 1913. Her husband died in 1918 and she died in her home in Waterman in 1948.

Ida Burmester was born in 1893 while her parents were farming. She, her sister, and a brother were not permitted to attend school beyond their confirmation into the Lutheran Church, usually at 13 years of age. When they no longer attended school they were required to work inside the home and do chores on the farm. They worked beside the men in the family, caring for the animals and helping in the fields and with the harvesting. It was very hard work for a woman and instilled in Ida the working ethics she carried throughout her life. When she was 19 years old Ida married Henry Wille, also a farmer, and they settled on a farm located about 15 miles west of Chicago, Illinois in Elk Grove Township where they raised small vegetables to be sold in Chicago. This move did not relieve her of her hard life because in addition to raising eight children, she had to cook meals for 3 to 15 workers hired to help with the crops during the summer and the harvest in the fall. She had to maintain a home for her children and for other young children in the family who stayed on the farm in the summer.

In 1933 Henry and Ida lost their farm and moved to Elmhurst, Illinois, a small town close to the farm. At this time there were still seven children at home. At age 40, it was the first time in her life that Ida lived in a house with electricity, running water, inside bathroom facilities, and a gas stove to cook on. Henry was unable to find steady employment until 1941 and during this period Ida helped to maintain her family by taking in laundry and ironing, cleaning other peoples' houses, and baby sitting. Between this labor, church activities, and taking care of her family, she seldom slept more than three or four hours a night. She continued this work until 1946.

From the time she moved into town until she was quite elderly, Ida was active in activities at the Lutheran church she attended, serving in various capacities in the women’s group and as a chauffeur for those women who, because they couldn't drive or were in ill health, had difficulty getting to the meetings. When she was able to concentrate on her family, one of Ida's greatest joys was her grandchildren. Even now, when her grandchildren have their own grandchildren, they enjoy reminiscing about their grandmother. Always fiercely independent, Ida took great delight in driving an automobile until she was 80 years old at which time she voluntarily relinquished her driver's license. It gave her great satisfaction that she could do her own shopping.

Ida Wille was the backbone of her family. She was the mother of eight children, grandmother of 24, and the count on great grandchildren is not yet finished. Her influence even after her death in 1987 at age 94, is probably felt every day of our lives.

Ida was always "there" for her children, willing to sacrifice her own comfort and economic well-being for them.

We think she would be very pleased to know the number of times her daughters have said, "I want to be like Mom."

Paver Inscription:

Alvina Mueller
Ida Burmester Wille"