Friday, November 12, 2010

I Recall
by Marie Pierce

I remember the day Mother was raking hay and the horses run away and she came with hair hanging down clothes all ragged.  Had been drug behind the rake sometime before she got loose.  Was barefoot. Lost her shoes.  Was all black and blue and how scared we were and cried.

Also remember the prairie fires.  How Dad would have to plow furrow guards.  No wonder I have nightmares.

Grandma Mossinger

This is what stands out in my mind most of all.  We were getting dinner.  Had put a big granite pan of potatoes on the stove to cook.  It was one of those which was smaller at the bottom then and big around at the top, and didn't set on the stove very good as we always took off the lid and set them down next to it so to get done faster.  She no doubt went to check to see if they were done and the kettle tipped and hot water poured out onto her leg.  Don't remember if both legs or just one and she was bedfast for some time.  It just didn't heal so someone said lamb manure poultice should be good.  Talbotts had lambs so we got some manure from them and tried it, but she then had a stroke and was sometime before she passed away.

Ida postponed her wedding until after she passed away.  It seems Ernest was home.  Maybe he was going to Taxidermist School in Omaha then and was just home a few days.  It seems it was he who told of her being delirious trying to climb the walls.

I just don't seem to remember much about her prior to that.  Have been trying to bring something back.  That was such a tragic thing.  I would have been 10 years old.

We were bed pals.

Ich bin klein
Mein Herz ist rein
Soll Niemand darin wohnen
Als Jesus allein Amen
I am small or little
my heart is clean or pure
shall none therin dwell or live
Save Jesus Alone

And we always said the Lord's Prayer in German and I still do to this day.

Notes on the above:
White Lake, South Dakota circa 1895-1900.  Marie Blum Pierce was approximately 3 to 5 years of age.

From this time period, Marie also remember sheep shearing.  She recalls "great big long sacks", each filled with approximately 100 lbs. of wool, being "placed in a shed."  Her job was to walk out to where the men were working and to "call them for dinner."

In 1900 Marie's family moved form White Lake, South Dakota to a homestead near South Bend, Nebraska.  She remembers taking the train to Nebraska with her father, Andrew Blum.  Marie, and impressionable 5 yr. old at the time, enjoyed the popcorn and peanuts which her father generously bought for her from the train's porters.

The Nebraska homestead near South Bend was purchased from the Sweeney family who was related to Minnie Mossinger Huber's husband.  Minnie was Marie's Aunt.  When the Sweeneys left the South Bend homestead for California, they were unable to take their two large dogs with them.  Until the Sweeny family sent for the dogs, the pets occupied the small frame house on the homestead along with the entire Blum family.

Marie remembers that the 4 room house had and "all occasion-dining room",  a parlor with "green wall paper with big white figures", a 'built-on kitchen with a cupboard between the kitchen and dining room", and one big sleeping room.  Marie recalls, "We all slept in one room."  She remembers "a porch facing the east", and a fenced yard with flowers and a "big garden."

A rock house was also on the property.  It was larger than the frame house and in need of repairs.  Some time later, after repairs were completed, the Blum family moved into the rock house.

Marie says, "My Dad moved to Nebraska because of the spring and the pond on the homestead.  In South Dakota we didn't have a spring." The South Bend Homestead spring had a "ramp that pumped the water into the tank." From the tank it was "pushed into pipes" to water various areas of the homestead.

A variety of fruit trees grew on the 80 acre homestead near South Bend.  Marie recalls peach, pear, and apple trees.  Later her father also planted 5 acres of grapes.  She also remember timothy grass growing on the property.  This was a "tall grass with a solid stem like foxtail."

Prior to the birth of the youngest child, Martin Blum on March 8, 1905: the Blum Homestead was occupied by Marie's Grandma, Caroline Mossinger: Marie's mother and father, Louise and Andrew Blum; and 7 children including Ida, Ernest, Albert, Louise, Marie, Bill and Andrew.

By this time, the Blum family had moved into the larger rock house on their homestead.  This house was built into the ground with a large living room and kitchen accommodation on the basement level with an entrance from the south.  The south wall was fully exposed. The west wall was partially exposed to the outside while the north wall had dirt all around it.  The east wall was the ground level for the second floor.  There was a large stone fireplace in the southeast corner of the building which extended to the second story.  The living room-kitchen accommodation was approximately 12'x16'.  From the living room, there was and entrance to a full length pantry, approximately 6'x16', which was filled with canned and fresh vegetables.  At the back of the pantry was and entrance which led to the cellar containing fruit, potatoes and wine stored in barrels.  In the winter, a cake of salted herring was kept in the kitchen accommodation because it was one of Andrew Blum Sr.'s favorite foods.  A sharply angled staircase led to the second story of the house.  Three bedrooms were found on this floor.  Marie and her Grandma shared the small bedroom immediately to the right at the top of the stairs.  The bedroom to the left of the stairs was a large room with a fireplace and an exit to the outside.

The stove burned wood or cobs.  The burner-lid on the stove was removed so that the pan could be placed directly on the burning cobs or wood.

Grandma Mossinger's accident occurred several months before the birth of Martin on  March 8, 1905.

Caroline Mossinger, Marie's Grandma, passed away June 4, 1905.

Marie remembers her Grandma teaching her this prayer.

Translation by Martin Blum

*A stirring memento of pioneer days to a generation blessed with affluence and to unmindful of our responsibilities to succeeding generations, love of God, and neighbor.  Martin Blum

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Writings of Lawrence Duerr

Lawrenc Duerr was the husband of Elda Thieman, daughter of Herman and Ida (Blum) Thieman. The following is from his writings.  I'm going to  change it a little so that it is more easily understoond, but the basic information is as written by him in 1991.

Lawrence Duerr was the grandson of Christian Duerr.  Christian Duerr was born 5-7-1841 in Wittenburg, Germany. Christian had two brothers and one sister that we are sure of.  He came to America, landing at Boston, October 12, 1864.  From there he went to Dayton, Ohio, where a brother, Gottleib lived.  No one seemed to know if any more of the family came to the United States or not.

Lawrence's Grandmother, Mary Huber Duerr, was born Feb.2, 1846 at Greenville, Ohio.  She married Christian Duerr in 1866.  They migrated to Nebraska in 1869 arriving in Plattsmouth April 9, 1869. They settled a mile south of where the town of Louisville, Nebraska is situated, where Mary's uncle, Captain Hoover, lived.  He came out here from Ohio in 1862.  He was the first Postmaster at Louisville. Mary's father and Captain Hoover were brothers.  Her father was Jacob Huber, but his brother's name was Hoover.  Hoover is the English version of Huber.  Jacob kept the German-Huber.

The two old gents, owned the land where Louisville is now and when the B&O Railroad came along, they gave the railroad 1/3 of the town lots to lay out a town and establish a station there. 

Jacob Huber's family consisted of two sons George and Phillip, and four daughters, Mary, Kate, Caroline and Christina.

Christian Duerr and Mary Duerr had four children, George, who was born in Ohio, November 22, 1868 (Lawrence's father), Philip, Lucy and Anna-all born at Louisville.

 Philip married Anna Bell Leddy of South Bend.  They had 3 children, John, Stella, and Charles.

Anna married John Leddy, also of South Bend.  They had one daughter, Della.  They later divorced.

Lucy married Martin Zaar of South Bend and had one adopted daughter, Florence.

George married Roseanna Hartman of Chapman, Nebraska. They had two children Lawrence and Ruth.

In 1934 Lawrence married Elsie Stulken of Selby, South Dakota.  She was a Canadian, born Feb 2 1911. at Gleichen, Alberta, Canada, and taught school in Dakota and later in Nebraska.  They raised three pretty nice children, Marie Anne, Marlene, and son, Gail.  Marie Anne lives at North Bend, Oregon, Marlene lives at Java, South Dakota, and Gail lives in Leon, Iowa.

Roseann Hartman (Lawrence's mother) was born at Chapman, Nebraska, October 1, 1885.  Roseann mother was Elizabeth Hudnall, and she is buried in the Chapman Cemetery.  Her father is supposedly buried at Whiteside, MO., where he was killed in a lumbering accident.  There were 5 more in the family besides Roseann.  Four boys, Lou, Arthur, John, and George, and one girl, Bessie.

Lawrence's wife Elsie (Stulken) had 5 brothers and one sister.  She was the only one born one Canada.  Her father took a homestead 40 miles from a town called Hannah.  His father in law used to tell of life in Canada, fifty below zero temperature. By the time the wheat was ripe, the ground would be frozen and riding the grain binder was quite jarring.  When Elsie was five years old they moved back to the States.  She was the only one with dual citizenship.  Born of American parents made her an American, but she was also a Canadian citizen by right of birth, however, she never knew it until about ten years before she passed away.

Lawrence later remarried to Elda Thieman, a lady he had known for 60 years.  (Elda will be 103 in Feb. of 2011).

Lawrence says:
My early recollections of Louisville (Nebraska) are pretty fair, but not guaranteed one hundred percent.  On the East side of Main street, the Drake Hotel, the Currier Newspaper print shop, Wm. Keecklow's Blacksmith Shop, next, a small building (probably a cram station).  Ben Hoover's Jewelry and Watch Repair.  Another building housed a shoe repair shop.  A restaurant, Wm. Diers General Store and Blakes Drugstor.  Across the street going north was Krafts Store, a Saloon, Pankonin's Implement Store, Edgar Pankonin's Repair Shop, and other building that housed a sort of variety store, Frank Buckmans Bakery and Mob McCarty's home.

The west side of Main Street going south isn't as clear.  One building called the Ontario House, must have been a Boarding House.  It stood where the Laundromat stands today.  Then there were 2 more buildings.  that I don't know what was in them.  The the old Joyland Theater, then a row of small frame buildings.  next a building that housed the Post Office after 1914, next was Ossenkop's General Store and then the Bank of Commerce.  Across the street north was a hardware store ran by a man named Dorsey.  He also was Postmaster in 1913 and maybe 1914.  Next was Stander and Stander Hardware and Furniture Store.  Frank Nichol's General Store, Frank Johnson's Restaurant, Bob McCarty's Saloon, Ed Twiss Meat Market, then the Telephone Office. Metz Saloon, I have no recollection of the next 2 buildings, Dr. Worthman's office was on the corner, across the street south was the Star Liver Barn.  Stander and Stander sold gasoline, at first it was kept in a barrel in the back yard.  It was carried out and poured in your car from a can and funnel.  Later they installed the first gas pump in town.  A bowser ratchet pump that put out a gallon at a stroke.  Gas pumps increased fast in town.  At one time there were 8 pumps in town.  There were 7 left in 1950, now I guess one can't even get a tire repaired in town.

The folks would go to town about once a week to get the mail and some groceries, such as flour, sugar, coffee, etc. At those times a farm was almost self sufficient.  They produced their own meat, canned vegetables, fruit, milk and butter.

Louisville at that time had three general merchandise stores that sold groceries, dry goods and clothing.  there was a meat market also, that sold meat and meat products.  In those times, many people in town kept a milk cow.  Some boys had the chore of taking the cows to pasture every morning and bringing them in again a night.  More affluent folks kept a driving horse and buggy.  Sometimes father and mother would go to Omaha to shop. We would drive the horse and buggy to the livery barn where they would take care of the horse, and take us to the train depot.  When the train came back in late afternoon, the livery rig would be there to pick us up.  When we got up town, the horse was hitched up and ready to go, all for about a dollar and sometimes less.  A livery rig could also be rented by the hour or day.

Life was simpler in those times.  Everyone wasn't running madly hither and yonl Oh yes, there were busy times, like harvest time, when getting the harvest done, like getting wheat and other small grain in the shock and then threshing time where a few hectic days; but people helped one another, if it took a day or so longer at one place, the crew finished it up, no one thought of overtime or extra pay!

The farm ladies of the neighborhood all tried to out do one another feeding the crew.  The usual crew was 15 or 20 men.  As soon as I was big enough to spit over my bib, it seems I had my little chores to do, such as feeding and watering chickens and bringing in corn cobs and wood for Mom's cook stove.  Didn't seem to hurt me.  At that time we were to start to school at seven years, but we had whooping cough that summer and the school board decided i was to stay home as I might give it to the other kids.  father bought me some books.  Although I was already able to read and write, on stormy days my father would come in the house and he and mom would talk and I listened.  He got a slate and pencil and taught me arithmetic and writing so by the time I was five years old, I could read and write.  The first year I went to school, i took 3 grades and i took the 5th and 6th grades in one year, so I didn't spend a lot of time in school-8 grades in 5 years.  In those days a high school education wasn't considered necessary to farm, but who in the hell said I wanted to farm~  That's all water over the dam now.  I fooled them all, I think that I got myself a fair education.

I have lived in a time of great change.  I remember when an automobile was considered to be a well to do man's toy.  There were few roads fit to drive them on and the fabric tires of that time were not too good.    A thousand miles was considered good.  after WWI they started to improve roads and the cord tire appeared.  Also anti freeze was unknown before 1927.  The first gravel was put on roads in this area in 1924.  I can remember the special election to vote on Bonds to gravel the road out each way from Louisville to the precinct line.  A hue and cry went up that it wouldn't work and wasn't worth the price.  The bond issue carried and it wasn't so bad after all, and more roads were graded and gravelled.  By 1932 or 1933 most main roads were graveled.  Before 1914 not everyone had a telephone.  It took years to get lines extended.  The first electric lights appeared in Louisville in 1915.  Before that, kerosene lamps were the source of light, except a few gasoline lighting systems and a few carbide gas plants - really they were acetylene gas lights.  By 1920, gasoline engine powered generators were beginning to appear.  The generators kept a bank of large batteries charged, usually 32 volts.  they furnished electricity for lights and motors to run washers and pump water.  We even had a 32 volt iron.  We would charge batteries at least once a week.  i acquired a plant about 1937 and used it until the high line came about, thanks to R.E.A.

Radio came into general use in the 1920's Some of the first ones were crystal sets.  We listened with ear phones and had one that worked real well.  They cost nothing to operate.  By 1926 I had a 5 tube super- hetrodyne set with a loud speaker.  Television became the thin in the 1950's.  The early sets were quite cantankerous.  Horse and mule power powered agriculture until the late thirties when the row crop tractors attained a degree of efficiency.  For cultivating row crops, up until the 1920's steam traction engines were used mostly for powering threshers, corn sheller, etc.  They were too ungainly for most field work.  The first gas and oil burning tractors were awkward but they were improved rapidly, lighter and faster.  i had a 1924 McCormick Deering 15-30 and a three bottom plow.  I plowed several thousand acres with it as there weren't many around.  With a team and one row cultivator, one could cultivate 5 or 6 acres of corn a day.  With the farm all row crop and 2 row cultivator, one could cultivate 20 or more acres a day.

When I got to be 21 years old, I got elected to the District 86 School board and served continuous for 21 years.  Then in 1946 I was elected Justice of the Peace for one  term.  That's where the nickname "Judge" came from. 

My father told of the grasshopper plague of the 1880's-- when they came it was like a cloud.  When they left, they had eaten everything that was green and how everything had to be hauled from Plattsmouth before the railroad was built.  When they got the first reaper, then they could raise more than 5 acres of grain.  before that, it was cut with a cradle.  I don't remember how long it took to cut an acre of grain with a cradle, but I bet it took more than one day.  After the reaper came the binder that tied the grain into bundles with twine. The first ones gave a lot of trouble.  My father made an improvement on the Knotter that hasn't been changed today.  Knotters are still used on hay balers.  International Harvester paid him 25 dollars for the idea.  The corn was picked by hand and a good husker could pick 100 bushels a day and some could pick more.  But I couldn't do it.  Seventy 5 bushels was my limit.  As the corn picker was developed, a tractor mounted picker could pick 600 bushels a day.  Now with the combine, they can harvest 600 bushels in an hour.  However, they grind up the corn cobs.

Back to myself -- by and large, I had an enjoyable childhood.  Even dangerous sometimes.. for instance, when I was six and a half years old I poured kerosene on a bed of live coals and blew up the stove and got fried GOOD!  I out grew 99% of the scars but I still have a few.  My father had a box of about a dozen new door locks.  I got into them and took them apart..of course.. i couldn't put them back together again!  Father told mother 'That kid is like a grasshopper--into everything!"  I was always a curious brat, very few things escaped my attention.  Like all boys, I wanted a gun, but no dice!  Finally when I was old enough, father said "there's a shot gun, go hunting."  I shot once.  It kicked like a mule. I went back home and never took it again!

When I was three years old, my father bought a Model T Ford car. It was some treat to ride in an automobile.  That one, like most cars of its time, had aceteylene gas head lamps. Two carriage style lamps mounted on the cowl, burned kerosene, as did the tail lamp.  When winter came, autos of that era were usually jacked up, partly because to drive in cold weather boiling water was poured into the radiator to help in starting.  On arrival of where ever you were going, the water was drained until you were ready to go home.  Anti freeze didn't come on the market until the late twenties and that was alcohol based and evaporated badly.  Some tried glycerin in the radiators before but it would seep out and also turned the consistency of spaghetti.  Father kept that car until 1922.  An old gentleman, Noah Stafford always wanted to buy it.  He finally must have made an offer that Pop couldn't turn down, as the man's son- in-law came home from town with us and took the car back.  By that time we had a telephone and father called the Ford dealer at Weeping Water and told him to bring a new car over.  Needless to say, he was there in less than an hour.  It was possibly one of the easiest sales ever made.  That was a good car and an uptown job, electric light, electric started, demountable rims and a spare tire.

In 1913 father also traded his Edison Cylinder Record Phonograph on a new Victrola.  I still have it and it plays as good as ever.  Seventy seven years is a long time for something like that to last!

We had an eight acre orchard--  mostly summer apples. Once in awhile father would ship a carload, but usually there wasn't too much of a market for summer apples.  Wind falls that fell in deep grass were given away and picked off the tree, 10 cents per bushel.  We had a large cider mill.  People would come and make cider by the jug full.  One neighbor would come every summer with the whole family and make 2 barrels of cider for vinegar.  As i got older, I wondered at the amount of vinegar they used.  I imagine some of it ended up as hard cider with a kick like a mule.

When I got big enough to run a walking plow, Pop didn't hire a man for fall plowing.  I thought, "Oh Boy, i'm a man now!" Running a plow isn't hard work, just walking and having a hand on the handles.  We had 60 acres to plow every fall with two sixteen inch plows!  In later years I figured how far one walks to plow one acre with a sixteen inch plow--about seven and a half miles!  To give the horses a rest, we would stop and put up prairie hay, fill the hay mow in the barn and make a couple of big stacks outside.  Then came wheat seeding time and then corn picking.  I never had to pick much corn.  Everyone tried to get through by Thanksgiving.  Also when I went to school, all of the big boys and some girls got at least 2 weeks off to pick corn.  Wouldn't that cause a consternation now?!

At Thanksgiving time a program of music, song and maybe a stage play was put on at the school house.  In those days the school house was more or less the center of social activity for the neighborhood. Sometimes we had a box supper at the shool house.  Ladies and girls would fix up a pretty box with lunch for two and they were auctioned off.  Some of the fellows would pay a good price to get to eat with his girl.  Then there were house parties once in a while, or maybe a dance.  I played for dances but never learned to dance.  Life was simpler then and entertainment was a lot cheaper too.

The late teens and early twenties was an era of good times.  Sporty roadsters with rumble seats, girls bobbed their hair, put on lots of make up and wore short skirts--it was called the Flapper Era.  The general conduct was called scandalous by the more prim members of society, but everyone seemed to survive and most turned out as pretty good people.

On September 23, 1923, a flood hit Louisville and drowned 13 people.  One was never found. Water was counter deep in the stores, damage was extensive.  Surprisingly, a few people seemed to know about it.  I have a set of pictures of the flood. 

October 1929 herald the start of the Great Depression.  Panic on Wall Street, bank failures, millions were out of work, farm prices dropped and in 1930 and 31, the depression deepened.  Some turned their pockets inside out and called them Hoover flags.  To make matters worse, the drought of the 1930's set in- with dust storms-sometimes we lit lamps at noon.  The sky was dark with dust.  In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt was elected President.  he instituted some reforms - WPA, to make work.  The pay wasn't much but it helped people to retain some dignity.  Prices remained low on what crops escaped the drought.  The Kellogg Co. was offering 13 cents a bushel for corn.  Hogs sold for as little as 2 cents per pound.  I sold 400 pound hogs for eight dollars each.  Twenty five dollars would buy a good milk cow, if you had twenty five dollars.  After 1936 it started raining again and conditions got better.  Corn got to 45 cents then WWII came along and there were plenty of things to fret about-food and gasoline rationing along with tire rationing!  They imposed a 35 MPH speed limit.  It was enforced.  If you were caught speeding you could lose your 3 gallon per week, gas or your tires, or both!  The war put thousands back to work making planes and munitions.  Of course, after the war, there was great demand for goods of all kinds.

By 1947, i was repairing things for others anyway, so went at it full time and stayed at it for 40 years.  I worked for Pankonin's Implement Co. for five years and worked nights and weekends at home.  I still do some, but prefer wood work.

Just for old times sake, I have a Grocery ad of June 10, 1939. 
Sugar 10# cloth bag...........49 cents
Four 49# bag....................98 cents
peaches 2 1/2# can..two for 25 cents
corn flakes ..2 large boxes ..19 cents
pork chops ........................10 cents per #
Candy bars.....................3 for 10 cents
Coffee.............................17 cents

About that time we would take a case of eggs to town--12 cents a dozen.  Another thing I forgot to mention was early refrigerators and the winter ice harvest.  Jim Hoover had an ice house that supposedly held 100 tons.  He would peddle ice in town all summer.  father made an ice house and put up ice.  It usually lasted most of the summer.  An ice box as they were called, didn't keep it too cold; about 40 degrees at best.  Folks that had a dug well would hang cream and butter down in the well.  Then there were iceless coolers for sale.  A hole was dug 8 to 10 feet deep and this metal tube was set in it.  Containers were lowered into it with a rope on a crank.  We had a large refrigerator that held 100 pounds of ice and had a water cooler built in.

To beat the summer heat, some folks built summer kitchens to cook in and then carried the food into the house. 

Those were the good old days that are talked about!  Some were not so good but people survived.  The only thing that can be said for them is that life was a lot simpler and probably people were just as happy then as they are now.  Would I live them over?  Sure thing, only I would want a few changes; although I can't think of what they would be.  I have enjoyed life immensely.  While I am at it, I might as well mention that I did go to music school.  That is the only thing that I have the papers to prove that I learned!
Lawrence Duerr