The Bullitt County History Museum

The Bleemels

The following article by Charles Hartley was published on 4 Dec 2016, and updated two years later.

Matt and Wava, circa 1920

When Matt and Wava posed for this wonderful picture about the time they were married in 1920, little could they know that fifty years later they would find themselves pictured again, this time with ten of their twelve children and their spouses.

Matt was a son of Pete and Lizzie Bleemel; Wava was Joe and Rosetta Dickey's daughter. Like most folks in Bullitt County at the time, both were farm families. But before Pete Bleemel moved to near the Bethel area, he worked as a carpenter and cabinetmaker in Louisville beginning around 1890, and continued to commute there for many years, apparently to at least 1908.

At the same time, the family farm grew as Pete raised whatever would turn a profit. For example, in early 1911, the local paper reported, "Mr. Bleemel, of near Bethel, has been hauling quite a lot of potatoes to Shepherdsville. His 'Irish Cobblers' are extra fine."

Pete likely inherited his work ethic from his father, Martin Bleemel, or as they spelled it early on, Bluemel. Martin was born in Baden, Germany in 1820, and made his way to America sometime before the Civil War. He married Kunegunda Schneider in 1860 in Louisville, but spent much of his later years living near Jasper, Indiana.

When he died in 1893, the Jasper paper wrote "Mr. Bluemel was a hard working man, a gardener by profession and not withstanding his age active and working until his last sickness." In fact, the paper wrote that Martin was recovering from pneumonia "when he worked all evening in his garden, and next day suffered a relapse which proved fatal."

Martin and Kunegunda had six children, three sons followed by three daughters. Of the three daughters, Josephine married George Boemker, Rose married Henry Spitznagel, and Elizabeth Caroline Bleemel never married.

Martin's first son Mathias (aka Matthew) married Theresa Hanser in 1890, and they operated a grocery at Campbell and Chestnut Streets in Louisville until his death in 1912. They had four daughters, Anna, Mary, Josephine, and Theresa, and a son, Matthew Jr.

Mathias' brother John lived his life in Dubois County, Indiana where he acquired the unofficial title of "Wheat King of Dubois county" while operating over a thousand acres of land. He married Catherine Brang in 1891. They would have nine children before she died in 1907.

And that brings us back to Pete. Peter Willham Bleemel married Lizzie Boemker in Louisville in 1892, and they would have nine children. Their first, Rosa May died young in 1905. Next was William John "Bill" Bleemel who married Claribel Jones. They spent much of their lives in Bardstown. Elennora Bleemel was next. She married Arthur Newman and they had three children before her death in 1929.

Matthew Peter Bleemel was next, followed by Bertha Elizabeth who married Mike Schreck, Frank Joseph who married Ina Fern Gentry, Edward Martin (Eck) who married Myrtle Tichenor, Frederick Charles (Freddie) who married Helen Lloyd, and Leo Andrew who married Virginia Inez Eldridge.

Each of these folks lived good lives. We note in particular, Leo Bleemel who served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for nearly four terms before his untimely death.

At one time or another, it seems like a Bleemel was farming a lot of the land along Highway 44 from Bogard Lane to Bleemel Lane. Today you will find hundreds of homes dotting former Bleemel farmland.

We know from brief newspaper reports that both Pete and Matt Bleemel raised tobacco, hogs, cattle, and whatever else would turn a profit. Six of Matt and Wava's first seven children were boys who learned quickly their value on the farm. And this was also true of the girls as well.

By the time Pete died in 1941, Matt's family had grown to ten children including Jack, Bill, Bernie, Joe, Earl, Theresa, Ralph, Sug, Doris, and Wyota. Linda was next, born shortly after her grandfather's death. The final sibling was Douglas MacArthur Bleemel who unfortunately died not long after his sixth birthday.

There's not enough room here to mention the accomplishments of all these folks, but I will share that Jack Bleemel was Bullitt County sheriff for a time, and Ralph was a magistrate and county jailer too.

Matt and Wava Bleemel at 50th wedding anniversary, with children and their spouses, 1970

Matt Bleemel lived four years after this 50th anniversary picture was taken, dying in 1974. Wava lived until 1993, happy in the bosom of her children and grandchildren.

When this article was first written, Joe Bleemel was the last of Matt Bleemel's boys remaining, but true to his heritage, he was seldom still, and was often found on one piece of equipment or another, doing what needs to be done.

Joe died in July 2018 at the age of 91, and I expect that somewhere in heaven he's found a tractor to suit him, and a wide expanse of beautiful bluegrass that needs mowing.

All of the Bleemel descendants represent the heritage of hard-working farm families whose achievements deserve our respect and admiration.

Copyright 2018 by Charles Hartley, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday appointments are available by calling 502-921-0161 during our regular weekday hours. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 13 Jan 2024 . Page URL: