The Family of Floyd Zahler and Wilhelmina "Minnie" Merlau
Floyd and Minnie Zahler
Floyd Zahler was born in Big Rapids,
Michigan, but moved back to western New York with his mother after the death of his
father.  There he met and married Wilhelmina "Minnie"
Merlau.  Initially they lived in Strykersville, New York, but soon moved to
Sardina, were they lived for the remainder of their lives.  Floyd and Minnie had three
The children of Floyd and Minnie Zahler are:
Leigh Merlau Zahler
||Leigh was born on January 22,
190318, and he died on February 17,
199318.  Leigh remained un married.
Earl Floyd Zahler
||Earl was born on August
190719, and he died on April 12,
Lyle Herbert Zahler
||Lyle was born on July 23,
191318, and he died on January 7,
199718.  Lyle married Ethel
The Zahler Family - about 1918
Floyd Eugene Zahler was born July 24,
187311, in Big Rapids,
Michigan, the only child of Fred Zehler and Alice E.
Perry.  When Floyd was four years old, his father died and he moved
back to New York with his mother, to live with his grandparents.  According to family
lore, the change of Floyd's name from Zehler to Zahler occurred after his mother returned to
New York.  She was apparently afraid that his Zehler relatives would take Floyd away
from her and thought the change would help protect him.
| Floyd - 1879|
Soon Floyd's life was altered again when his mother remarried in 1879 to Martin
Tharnish.  Initially, Martin and his new family migrated west to Audubon County, Iowa,
with the intent of settling there.  Floyd's mother, however, became homesick and the
family returned to Western New York.
Typical of a farm boy at the time, Floyd began work young.  At the age of 14, he was
working for a blind farmer in Batavaia, plowing and drilling about seven acres of
land22.  He also
worked at the Harvester farm machinery plant in Batavia22, bicycling to
and from work.  In 1897, he began farming in earnest by renting a farm in Stykersville,
paying with a share of the crops20.  It was
during this time that he met Minnie Merlau, who lived nearby.  They were married on
February 14, 1900, Valentine's Day.  The newly weds continued to live on the Stykersville
farm, where their first son was born.  In 1906, they decided to move to
Sardina20, where they
purchased a farm on Savage Rd., not far from the junction with Matteson Corners Rd.
Their move was prompted, in part, to improve their livelihood -- share cropping was not
particularly favorable -- and, in part, to be close to his step-father whom Floyd greatly admired.
The Zahler farm consisted of 50 acres and was primarily devoted to dairy farming.
Approximately 20 cows occupied the ground floor of the barn or roamed the pasture and wood
lot on the back half of the farm.  Much of the remaining land was devoted to fields of
alfalfa hay, oats, and corn needed to feed the cows over winter.  Typical of the times,
farming included other activities designed to increase income.  One or two acres near the
house were used to grow potatoes and pickles, in the spring, maple syrup was produced from the
wood lot and a chicken house near the barn was a source of eggs.  A stand near the road
offered produce to friends a neighbors, however, most of the farm's production was hauled to
Buffalo for sale in the market.
| Floyd and Minnie on|
Farm work, of course, was a family affair.  sons Leigh, who never married, and Lyle
shored in field work and milking, while Minnie, in addition to cooking, tended chickens and the
produce stand  Winter time, however, was time for a break.  Beginning about 1945,
Floyd, Minnie and Leigh spent winter months in Florida, while a hired hand tended the
animals.  At least in later years, they would leave shortly after Christmas and return after
Easter.  There habit was to stay in Daytona Beach with easy access to the beach, fishing
piers and orchards.  Floyd's favorite activity was fishing of the pier at Flagler Beach, and
each year he would ship a basket of hand selected fruit to family and friends.  These
southern excursions continued into the 1960's, when Floyd was well into his 80's.
In his mid-eighties, Floyd had to "retire" from farming after rheumatism sapped his
strength.  Even then, however, he kept a team of horses and a few cows.  Finally, as
he approached 90, Floyd began to lose his mental facilities.  His last two years were spent
in the care of his wife, Minnie and son, Leigh.  Floyd died on April 4,
196618,22, and is buried
the Strykersville cemetery.
Wilhelmine Merlau was born January 9,
188222, in Wales
Erie County, New York, the third child of Charles Frederick Merlau and Mary Elizabeth
Kopp.  She was known ad Minnie throughout her life and family legend has it that
she was not given a middle name because her first name was so
was born on a farm rented by her parents and located on Schang Rd.  The property
straddled the boundary between the Towns of Wales in Erie County and Sheldon in Wyoming
County, with the house in Sheldon and the barn, with most of the farm land, in Wales.
Consequently, taxes were paid to Wyoming County, however, Minnie's birth was recorded
|A Young Minnie
While Minnie was still young, her family moved first to Wales Hollow and then finally to
Sheldon, where Charles purchased his first farm20.  Both
the Merlau farm and that of Floyd Zahler were near Strydersville and it is likely she met him
frequently.  As Minnie became a young adult, there friendship turned into romance and on
Vatentine's Day 1900, they were married.  Over the next thirteen years, Floyd and Minnie
had three sons:  Leigh, born in 1903; Earl, born in 1907, and Lyle, born in 1913.
At the age twenty months, Earl struck by ileocolitis, an sever inflamation of the intestines,
accompanied by a high fever.  Every effort was made to treat his condition, including
soaking in a cool bath to reduce the fever.  However, Earl died on April 12,
190919, and is buried
Strydersville cemetery, next to his parents and older brother.
Minnie was an active partner on the Zahler farms.  In addition to cooking, keeping house
and raising their children, she participated in farm work, helping in the vegetable garden and
tending the chickens.  Her first love, however was cooking, whether it be everyday farm
meals or special occasions for family and friends.  Among family favorites was her bread,.
which she baked in her wood burning stove every weekend.  And she delighted in
preparing poached eggs on toast for her grandchildren when they visited..
Minnie with her mother|
Following the death of her husband of 66 years, Minnie living on the farm with her son
Leigh.  Lyle added a picture window ot the front room of the farm house, giving Minnie
the pleasure of a scenic view.  Unfortunately, a chimney fire destroyed the house soon
after.  Subsequently, Minnie and Leigh lived in a trailer on the site of the old house.
Minnie lived for almost three years following Floyd's death.  She died on January 27,
196921, and is buried
the Strykersville cemetery.
These pages are our initial attempt to capture the history and genealogy of the Zehler
family.  If you have comments or additional information which would add to this story,
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