And we are back! I hope y’all did not miss us too much, but another blog is coming your way. As with other blogs, we are looking towards Frankenmuth and the surrounding area’s history. Today we are taking a look at Hedwig “Aunt Hattie” Hubinger, a general store owner, gardener, cheese maker, and everyone’s “Aunt.
To begin our story, we are going to look back all the way back to 1846, the year after Frankenmuth’s founding. Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Hubinger (Hedwig’s grandparents) came from Germany to Michigan in 1846, a process that took probably over 20 weeks. In the early 1850’s they opened up “Hubinger’s Grocery Store.” The location of this store is at 113 E. Tuscola street (this building is on the corner of Tuscola and Main St). J. M. Hubinger owned the store until 1880, when Gottfriend Hubinger (His son/Hedwig’s Dad) took over as owner. Hedwig then came along on January 23rd, 1887 after his father married Maria Riedel.
Hedwig loved to help out in her dad’s store, she always saw herself working in his store for the rest of her life. So much so that she stopped studying history and geography when she attended public school because she didn’t see a use to what she was studying anymore. She was one of eight kids who attended the first public school in Frankenmuth. Before then, it was primarily Lutheran-based schools such as St. Lorenz Lutheran School.
By the age of 12, she began working in the store. By the age of 15 (1902) she also worked in the back of the store, working as a telephone operator for Frankenmuth’s telephone Company. She would go on to work for that company up to 1937 or possibly later.
In 1903 the store (also being the house of the Hubingers) burnt down after being struck by lightning. The family only has $2.47 and the clothes on their backs after that fire. However, the community rallied around the family and helped them rebuild their buildings and get back to business soon after the disaster. After this, Hattie became a clerk at the store.
In 1937 her father, Gottfried Hubinger, passed away. With that, Hedwig became the owner of Hubinger Grocery Store. At this point the store began to be called the “General Store” as she (Hedwig) began to change the store to be more personalized to herself.
Some of these personalized changes include; showcasing her african violet collection (over 300 varieties), displaying war medals and memorabilia during World War 2, letting kids pet bunnies during easter, giving away free samples of her popular variety of cheese, and selling penny candy to the local children (and probably adults).
Other than the store, she was known for many things. She loved to crochet, she helped organize relief packages for the soldiers during world war II, she absolutely adored children, and she had some of the best cheese in town.
Unfortunately, she passed away in 1971, just a week after her 84th birthday. She never stopped working, having put in over 60 years of work into that building. Her legacy lived on as “Aunt Hattie’s Corner” opened up in the same building in the late 70’s. While the shop closed down a few years after it opened, her memory still lives on in Frankenmuth.
Chad is a Collections Assistant at the Frankenmuth Historical Association.
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