Henrietta Brushel Timmermann was born to Samuel and Tressie Brushel. She said her mom’s name was Tressie Quinney, but when she was young, the school teachers told her that her name was Theresa. Henrietta was one of seven children. Rosanah, Baby Samuel (who did not survive more than a few days), Frances, Samuel Henry, Nancy Ione, and Baby Embler Joseph were her siblings. She spoke often of her brother Embler. He died when she was eight years old. She said his death was a tremendous emotional blow to her entire family and it contributed to the death of her father a year later. Henrietta says he died of "a broken heart."
Henrietta has nine children, Theresa (Pat), Conrad (Connie), Linda, Francine, Joseph, Price, Alan, Howard (Rocky), and Olive. She has 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. Her grandchildren are, Leonard, Debra, Geraldine, Gregory, Renee, John, Pamela, Cheryl, Valerie, Cassandra, Eric, Marilyn, and Tarisha. Henrietta’s great grandchildren are; Sarah, Jacob, Brian, Jessica, John Jr., Lindsey, Max K., Steven, Emily, Trevor, Anthony, Joshua, Max R., Patrick, Tess, Ambur, Kristy, Brianne, Jak, Taliyah, Madeline, Gianni, and Sabrina.
Henrietta said she was raised in the Morgan area until she was in the second grade when her father died. Her mom put her and her siblings into the Lutheran Mission School till she got on her feet (she went to Milwaukee to look for work). "Mom would come home on the weekends in the summertime and we would all run away on Friday to get her to stay. They were good to us at the mission school, but we were still always homesick. My brothers and sisters all got out after a short time, but because I didn’t do as well in school due to my hearing problem, I had to stay. I always failed on Civics, but now I vote every year," said Henrietta.
She said she always enjoyed sports, but they always put her in the outfield when she played baseball. "I remember I nearly broke my hand once, catching a ball," she explained. Henrietta said she also loved to roller-skate.
Henrietta said she met her husband, Howard, after she had moved down to Milwaukee with her family. She said she and her sister, Frances used to walk up Wisconsin Avenue and there was this guy she knew, Fred Timmermann, who worked at a gas station. Fred’s brother, Howard, would walk behind them and call out to Henrietta. "We became attracted to each other, we walked everywhere. He asked me to marry him and I told him to either carry me or buy me one black beret (I needed a hat for church), well he carried me – it was the depression people didn’t have much money. We wanted to get married, so we went down to the Safety Building to get a license for fifty cents. Fred got his father and mother and we went down to Waukegan to get married. We borrowed a friends car to drive down there," Henrietta recalled.
At age 17 Henrietta helped a lady doing housework. She had seven children and needed the help. "I washed and ironed and took care of the kids, but I quit, it was too hard to get seven children dressed and ready all the time," Henrietta admitted. She also worked in a hospital with her mother. "I would put the breakfast trays on the dumbwaiter – but mostly, my mom looked after me," Henrietta said.
Henrietta has had the opportunity to travel with her children to several places.Some of the places she’s been are: New York, New Orleans, and Las Vegas. She said she liked Las Vegas the best because that’s where she saw Tony Bennett.
The advice she gives to the youth in the community is, "Talk to your parents, don’t make any excuses and don’t wait till you get caught. Just talk, don’t wait for problems."