My mother came from a large family. She was third eldest of her mother's 11 children... though there were two fathers. (Another three children died in infancy, all the children of her first husband. So my grandmother Olga actually bore 14!)
My mother was two years old when her father, Theodore Guhl, died of typhus. A year later her father's cousin, Hugo Bartz, came to help out on the farm - and ended up marrying Olga. Their first child was named Theodore, in memory of her first husband.
Here is the only family photo that shows them all. It was taken in the early 1940's when the five older children had jobs, so life was easier than it had been a decade before. My mother, second from the right in the back row, was already married when this picture was taken, as was her sister Lydia, second from the left in the back row.
The five oldest, in the center of the back row, are all gone now. My mother's older sister, Lydia, died in her mid-80's, just before my mother moved to Ottawa. Erhardt, standing next to Lydia on the right, died four years ago, at the age of 98. Ted, in the center back, died while still in his early 30's, from diabetes complications. Herb, between Ted and my mother, died of lung cancer when he was in his 80's, only four months after Erhardt passed away. Their mother, seated in the front row, only lived to her early 70's, dying after having a stroke. But Hugo, remained healthy and strong, living to be 100!
The family was close and kept in touch all their lives... I enjoyed family get-togethers. There was always a lot of laughter!
It would be a lot of fun to have a large family, I remember thinking before I had any children. But later, with three young ones running around, I wondered how my grandmother had done it! She did love babies, and often babysat her grandchildren.
Large families are not as common these days - though I do know a few families with more than six children. But few parents have the stamina needed! It is a lot of work.
Interestingly, in this family of 11 Guhl-Bartz children, there were only 20 grandchildren.