By Ted Waddell
YOUNGSVILLE February 3, 2004 As the reigning matriarch of the Ellmauer Family, Alice Ellmauer celebrated her 100th birthday in grand style.
She was born in the family farmhouse on January 29, 1904, at a time when Theodore Roosevelt was the rough-riding 26th President of the United States.
During her time, Ellmauer has watched the comings and goings of 18 presidents in the White House.
In the year of her birth, several notable and not-so notable events were recorded on the stage of history: a woman was arrested in NYC for smoking a cigarette in an open car on Fifth Avenue, construction of the Panama Canal began, iced tea was served for the first time at the St. Louis Worlds Fair and Helen Keller became the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college.
But in a sense, these events swirled around the Ellmauers as they spent their time raising a family and working a local farm.
On Saturday afternoon, an estimated 150 to 200 members of her family, friends and folks from around town turned out to wish her a Happy Birthday at the Youngsville Firehouse.
Whos to say you cant have two birthday celebrations in the same year? Not the folks at the Sullivan County Adult Home, thats for sure.
On Wednesday, Ellmauer had the first of her two birthday galas at the Sullivan County Adult Care facility, a place shes called home since a couple of years ago when she moved from her familys 140-year old farmhouse up on Menges Road in Youngsville.
It was the farmhouse her grandparents built on the site of a log cabin, a house constructed by calloused hands, sweat of the brow and a steadfast determination of the spirit to forge a new life in a growing land.
One of the first birthday cards the newly minted centenarian received was from President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
The presidential birthday greetings took center stage with Ellmauers family tree that she lovingly displays in her nursing home room.
For many years, she operated the family farm with her beloved husband William.
As horse-drawn wagons gave way to the automobile and trucks, so did kerosene lamps to the electric light as progress pushed back the old ways into a new dawn.
On the farm, Ellmauer raised her family.
Most Saturday nights, they put the farm to bed for a little while and traveled to Jeffersonville to watch the flicks at first silent films and then the talkies at the Maple Theatre.
In her life devoted to family and farm, Ellmauer raised six children and rejoiced in the birth of 12 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and the recent arrival of her first great-great-granddaughter, 11-month-old Jessica Rose Horton.
At the hometown ceremony in the local firehouse, she was surrounded by her six children, Mary Ardizzone, Alice Elberth, Lee Ellmauer, Leo Ellmauer, Sally Eronimous and Lillian Hanslmaier.
Her grandchildren, Bobby Ardizzone, Wayne Elberth, Jr., Wendy Elberth, Carl Lee Ellmauer, Lee Carl Ellmauer, Jr., Timmy Eronimous, Tina Gorr, Dina Hanslmaier, George Hanslmaier, Mary Head, Susan Schmidt and Debbie Theyson were there as well.
The roll of great-grandchildren includes: Laura Jean Elberth, William Elberth, Alexander Ellmauer, Amanda Ellmauer, Andrew Lee Ellmauer, Justin Ellmauer, Marissa Ellmauer, Lee Carl Ellmauer III, Crystal Gorr, Brett Hanslmaier, Jared Hanslmaier, Joey Head, Emily Schmidt, Johnathon Schmidt, Heather Theyson and Kristine Theyson.
At the firehouse celebration, photos capturing cherished vignettes of her life were displayed for all to see and everyone was encouraged to sign a guestbook, thus recording the event for future generations.
Agnes Spielmann, 91, of Youngsville was one of the first people to get on line to wish her lifelong friend best wishes on her 100th birthday.
Shes very kindhearted, and I always go to see Alice in the nursing home, said Spielmann. Ive always admired her because she appreciates everything . . . she was always there for the Ladies Aides of the Youngsville Reformed Church, added the Sullivan County Democrat correspondent from Youngsville.
They had a farm, and worked the hard way, said Spielmann. She is a very good mother and a hard worker.
Harold VanAken of Walden created a one-of-a-kind birthday card on his computer titled Happy Birthday 100 Years Young.
It featured photos from her youth and days on the family farm.
She was always there for us, always working hard, said Ellmauers oldest child, 72-year old Mary Ardizzone of Kohlertown.
She keeps me on my toes all the time, let me tell ya!, added Ardizzone.
Not to be outdone, the honored matriarchs youngest child talked about her mother.
She was there for us in the good times, and the bad, said 59-year old Sally Eronimous of Swan Lake. She worries about all her children all the time.
Mike Ellmauer, a biology and chemistry teacher at the new Sullivan West High School, said his great-aunt always remembers everybodys birthday.
She has a sharp, sharp mind and is a very patient lady, he added fondly.
And the next generation wasnt to be outdone either.
Shes a wonderful, and I just love her, chimed in Ellmauers granddaughter, Mary Head of Hortonville. She has a lot of spunk, and I think I take after her because Im spunky too!
Dina Hanslmaier of New Berlin is proud to be one of Ellmauers granddaughters. And she had a funny tale to tell.
When Ellmauer saw all the people in the firehouse, her granddaughter asked her if she was surprised.
Hanslmaier said to her grandmother, Didnt you realize they shut down all of Youngsville for you today, to which Ellmauer replied, They did?.
Ellmauers reaction to her birthday bash?
It was great, it was a big surprise, she said.