The saddest story in the history of the country is that of the witch craze at Salem, Massachusetts, brought about by a negro woman and company of girls. The negress, Tituba, was a slave, whom Rev Samuel Parris, one of the ministers of Salem, had purchased in Barbados. We may think of Tituba as seated in the old kitchen of Mr. Parris’s house during the long winter evening, telling witch stories to the minister’s niece, Elizabeth, who was nine years old. She draws a circle in the ashes on the hearth, burns a lock of hair, and mutters some gibberish. They are incantations to call up the devil and his imps. The girls of the village gather in the old kitchen to hear Tituba’s stories, and to mutter words that have no meanings. The girls were Abigail Williams, who was eleven, Anne Putnam who was twelve, Mary Walcot,and Mary Lewis who were seventeen, Elizabeth Hubbard, Elizabeth Booth, and SusannahSheldon, eighteen, and two servant girls, Mary Warren and Sarah Churchill. Tituba taught them to bark like dogs, mew like cats, grunt like hogs, and to creep through chairs and under tables on their hands and feet, and to pretend to have spasms.
Mr. Parris had read the books and pamphlets published in England, how persons bewitched acted like animals, and went into spasms, and he came to the conclusion that they were bewitched. He sent for Doctor Griggs, who said that the girls were not sick, and without doubt were bewitched.
THE TOWN WAS ON FIRE!
People came to see the girls, who delighted with the success of their play, crept about all the more like cats and dogs, barking, mewing, and uttering piercing screams.
Sunday came, and when the congregation had finished singing, Abigail Williams said to Mr. Parris, “Now stand up and name your text.”
The minister and everybody else was amazed, but he read his text.
“It is a long one,” said Abigail.
The minister went on with his preaching.
“There, we have had enough of that,” shouted another girl.
“There is a yellow bird on the minister’s hat,” cried Anne Putnam.
The parents of the girls stood aghast, and Mr. Parris, believing that they were assaulted by the devil, invited the ministers of the other parishes to come and hold a day of fasting and prayer. The ministers assembled, saw the girls go into fits, rolling their eyes, holding their breath, muttering gibberish, peeping like frogs, barking like dogs, and devoutly believed that they were bewitched. They prayed solemnly and fervently, recalling the saying of Jesus Christ, “This kind goeth not out except by fasting and prayer.”
The news spread quickly, and the people came in crowds to see the girls.
“Who bewitched you?’ they asked.
“Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn, and Tituba,” the girls answered.
Sarah Good was a poor old woman, who begged her bread from door to door. Sarah Osburn was old, wrinkled, and sickly.
What a scene was around the meeting house, March 1st, 1692!
All of Salem was there, for the women who were accused of being witches were to be examined by the justices.
Sheriff and constable escorted the justices, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, from Thomas Beadle’s tavern to the meeting house and gave them seats in front of the pulpit. Rev. Parris prayed that God would direct them. The girls were there, and Sarah Good was brought in by the sheriff.
“Have you made a contract with the devil?” asked Justice Hathorne. “NO.”
“Children, is this the person who hurt you?”
“Yes, she is sticking pins into me!” the girls screeched.
“Why do you torment the children?”
“I do not.”
The girls went on with their screeching, and the justice and all the people were so deluded, and were such firm believers in witchcraft, that they accepted all that the girls said as truth, and the denials of the wrinkled old women as lies.
“Sara Osburn, have you made a contract with the devil? Asked the justice.
“I never saw the devil.”
“Why do you hurt the children?”
“I do not hurt them.”
“SHE DOES! She Does!” said the girls, and the people decided in their minds against her.
“Tituba, why do you hurt the children?”
“I do not.”
“Who is it, then?”
“The devil, for aught I know.”
“Did you see the devil?”
“Yes, he came to me and bid me serve him. Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn wanted me to hurt the children, but I would not.”
“How does the devil appear when he comes to you?”
“Sometimes like a hog, and sometimes like a great black dog.”
“What else have you seen?”
“Two cats, one red, and the other black. I saw them last night, and they said “Serve me, but I would not.”
“What did they want you to do?”
“Hurt the children.”
“Did you not pinch Elizabeth Hubbard?”
“Yes, they made me pinch her, and wanted me to kill her with a knife.”
“How do you ride when you go to meet the devil?”
“On a stick. I ride in front, and Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn behind me. We go up over trees, and in a short time are in Boston or anywhere else.”
Tituba had a great many other things to tell…that the devil sometimes wore a tall black hat, that one of his imps was about three feet high, hairy all over, and had a long nose, and that the imp came into Mr. Parris’s house and stood by the fire.
The people believed her. Would she be likely to admit that she was a witch if she were not one?
The girls accused her of pinching them and she acknowledged that she did so. Therefore, the girls were telling the truth and Sarah Osburn and Sarah Good, were liars. So the justice and the people reasoned, and the sheriff took them to Ipawich jail which was about 10 miles away, and the people went home to talk over the event.
The ministers of Salem, Boston, and the surrounding towns met to consult over the situation. Among them was the learned Cotton Mather who accepted the terrible accounts as truth which had reached him from England. Few if any doubted that the girls were bewitched, and the girls were loving the attention so went on with their creeping, barking, mewing, and falling into convulsions, and crying that someone was sticking pins in them. They accused Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse, two women who were kind to the poor, and very religious, but so credulous were Rev. Parris and Rev. Noyes and everyone else, that they were arrested. When they were examined before the justice, the girls all cried out that the women were tormenting them. “I am as innocent as a child unborn,” said Mrs. Nurse: but the people, the ministers, and the justices, all lost their heads, and the women were committed to prison
. Mrs. Good had a little girl, Dorcas who was five years old, and the girls said that Dorcas helped her mother in tormenting them. “She bites me!” they cried, and showed the prints of teeth on their arms. The sheriff arrested Dorcas and put her in prison, where she was chained with her mother. It was believed that unless the witches were chained they would fly out through the keyhole. Sara Cloyse and Elizabeth Proctor were the next accused. The judges met sometimes at Thomas Beadle’s tavern and sometimes in the meeting house.
The news spread quickly. No one doubted that the devil had come in great wrath to afflict the good people of Salem. Rev Lawson, Rev Parris, Rev Noyes, and other ministers preached sermons against witchcraft, making it clear that these manifestations were without a doubt produced by the devil. The whole colony was up in arms, and Lieutenant -Governor Danforth and his councillors, which consisted of six hundred men, went to Salem to sit in judgement at the trial of Sarah and Elizabeth. Abigail Williams brought a horrible accusation.
“I saw a company of witches at the Rev Parris’s house,” she said; “there were forty of them. They had a sacrament, and Sarah Cloyse and Sarah Good were their deacons, and the witches drank blood.”
Sarah Cloyse fainted at the terrible accusation, and the girls went into convulsions. John, a negro of Mr Parris, rolled and tumbled upon the floor, and all cried out that the witches were tormenting them.
Governor Danforth and his councillors were amazed. The prisoners had no one to help them. There were few lawyers in America at that time. The governor and the judges asked them questions, having already made up his mind that they were witches, and poor women, friendless and alone, had nothing to say except “We are innocent.”
No one believed them but took the word of the girls as the truth. The poor women were thrown into prison.
Instead of there being fewer witches, there were more, and in a short time the jails were filled with men and women. Among those arrested was Rev. George Burroughs, who had once preached in Salem, but who was living in Maine. The sheriff made a long journey to arrest him.
Not only the girls and Tituba, but others accused those arrested of being witches. If a man had anything against his neighbor, it was easy for him to take revenge by accusing him of exercising witchcraft. Samuel Shattuck who dyed clothes for a living, had trouble with Bridget Bishop. John the negro also had a grievance against her, and testified that she was a witch. “I saw her go through a hole no larger than my hand, “ said John. The judges believe him.
Samuel Shattuck’s child had fits. “I believe it is the work of Bridget,” he said.
WHAT COULD THE JUDGES DO?
They condemned them to be hung. The Bible commanded that witches should not live. For one hundred and fifty years the laws of England had been in force against witches. Thirty thousand had been executed in England. Parliament had appointed a witch finder. King James had written a book against them. Archbishop Jewell had begged Queen Elizabeth to burn them. Rev Richard Baxter, whose name was reverenced all over, had written against the witches. In all lands they were seen as the enemies of God and man as they were conspiring with the Evil One against the livelihood of the community. The great and good Lord Chief justice of England, Mathew Hale had condemned those to death who were not near so diabolical as the accused, and had written a book referring from the Bible that witches were in cahoots with the devil!
Besides the people of Salem, the friends and neighbors all believed that the accused were witches, and ought to be put to death. They were magistrates, appointed by God, as they believed, to administer the laws faithfully and impartially. They had seen the girls go into fits and convulsions, and heard them cry when the witches pinched them. With the rest of the world, the judges lost their minds, and condemned the poor people accused to death.
TO THE HILL THEY GO!
Gallows were erected on a hill overlooking the village. Through the streets of Salem rattled the cart that bore them to their place of execution. They climbed the ladder with the halter around their necks, men and women, the minister, and those who had listened to his preaching.
People gazed in horror as their old friends and neighbors, swang in the air struggling at the throes of death. When life was gone from them, the bodies were thrown into holes, and piled with dirt. They trampled it down, and thought of them as suffering the torments of the devil.
If we were living in those days would we too have lost our judgement, reason, and common sense?
The wisest and best of men in 1692 fell for it, under the terrible delusion, wild foundation, and lamentable ignorance of the period.
Nineteen men and women were hung.
Giles Corey, who would neither say “Guilty” or “Not Guilty, “ had rocks piled upon him til he was crushed to death.
One hundred and fifty men and women were thrown into prison before the people came to their senses!
The wife of Rev. Hale, of Beverly, was accused. There was not a woman in Massachusetts more beloved, honored and respected. The people were amazed. They could not believe that such a godly woman would join with the devil. They began to see, what they had not thought of before, was that perhaps the girls were lying about the witches tormenting them. The judges had not questioned the girls, …only the accused. The denials had been disregarded . Why would young girls lie?
THE SPELL WAS BROKEN
People saw that they had been under a delusion. Samuel Sewall, one of the judges, humbly confessed on Sunday in the old South Church in Boston, with tears rolling down his cheeks, and ever after, so long as he lived, kept a day of fasting and repentance once a year to manifest his sorrow to the world.
“Touching and sad a tale is told,
Like a penitent hymn of the Psalmist old,
Of the fast which the good man life long kept,
With a haunting sorrow that never slept.
As the circling years brought round the time
Of an error that left the sting of crime.”
IT’S OVER NOW
SET THEM FREE
The sheriff threw open the prison doors and the prisoners accused of being witches were released. The girls, having no one to believe their accusations, had no more stories to tell of being tormented. The great wave of superstition that had sent hundreds of thousands to an untimely grave in Europe, died out in the village of Salem.
Though fully and humbly confessing for their actions found little happiness in life. Forever before their eyes were the swinging forms of those who had died upon the gibbet due to their childish pranks and the terrible tragedy they had mustered.
I cannot begin to imagine the guilt they must have carried with them throughout their lives.
I hope you enjoyed this episode for the Salem Witch Trials. Stay tuned for upcoming post as I will reveal to you how The Pierce Family has connections to some of those involved. If you liked this post please leave me a comment in the comment section and STAY tuned for the next post. My source of information here was mostly from the book Old Times in the Colonies by Charles Carleton Coffin as well as most of the pictures. No copyright infringement was intended.
The Salem Witch trials took place from FEB 1892 and continued to May of 1893 before the people finally realized that something was wrong here. But to truly understand the panic of the people, we must go back a bit further in time. When trying to decide how to share the information that connects us to this history I was undecided. I have decided to do this as a series in order to get all the information together. So follow along as I lay out a map of events.
Back in the day EVERYONE believed in witches. They believed that men and women alike could make a bargain with the devil who gave them power to torment whoever they pleased. Everyone believed that the devil was very much like a man, except that he had wings like a bat, a tail, cloven feet, and horns, and that he was able to empower witches, enabling them to conjure up storms, sink ships, afflict children with fits, kill cattle, set chairs and tables to dance, and that they had the power to make themselves invisible and creep through keyholes,ride on broomsticks and delighted in holding orgies in the thunderstorms. To doubt the existence of witches was to reject the teachings of the Bible.
In 1488, four years before Columbus sailed in search of the New World, a storm swept over Constance, in Switzerland, which destroyed the corn and grapes and the people accused Anne and Agnes Mindelen of having raised it. They confessed that the devil put them up to it and they were burned to death. Two years before this in 1486, Pope Innocent VIII issued a bill directing that witches should be burnt, so we know they were in belief even before this.
When the wicked and cruel Alexander VI was in the papal chair, he set the Inquisitors to work to rid the world of witches. They burned six hundred poor old women in the bishoprie of Bamberg in Germany. By the shore of Lake Geneva, in 1515, during three months more than five hundred were burned to death. Can you even imagine? Innocent women were accused of horrible crimes by their neighbors and best friends and were led out by the shore, chained to stakes, wood piled around them and their bodies were smeared with pitch so that the fire might take better hold upon the bodies.
In 1549 the good Archbishop Cranmer gave these directions to the bishops: “You shall inquire whether any one makes use of charms, sorcery, enchantments, witchcraft, soothsayings, or any like craft invented by the devil.”
Countess of Lennox, who conspired against Queen Elizabeth was one who consulted witches.
In 1591 Archbishop Spotswood spent nearly all his time examining witches. All throughout Spain, France, Germany, and Holland during this time, thousands of men and women were burned. In the village of Lindheim Germany which at the time contained only six hundred inhabitants, thirty were put to death in one year. Overall more than one hundred thousand were burnt at the stake.
In 1618 seventeen witches were condemned to death in Lancashire; sixteen in Yarmouth and fifteen in Chelmsford.
JUST THROW THEM IN THE POND
When a woman was accused of being a witch, her hands were tied to her feet, and she was thrown into a pond. If she didn’t sink, it was considered proof that she was a witch and the devil had given her the power to float. If she did indeed sink and went to the bottom she was supposed to be innocent. Very few floated and nearly all the poor creatures were drowned while being proved innocent.
Matthew Hopkins was appointed witch finder. He travelled through England, his expenses being paid, and a fat fee besides. He would examine their bodies for witch marks and arrested whoever he pleased. If a pimple, wart, or wen were discovered, it was an indication that a person was in conjunction with bad spirits! (OH MY! We are all witches! ) These were considered devil marks. The accused were subjected to terrible torture to get them to confess. It wasn’t long before more than one hundred persons were hung through Hopkin’s efforts. He was aided by some of the best men in England. One of those who suffered death at his hands was a good old minister who was 88 years of age and had preached over half a century. Hopkins threw him into a pond, and as he did not sink, it was a sure sign that he had sold himself to the devil. The good man died declaring to his last breath that he was innocent.
Hopkins was highly thought of by the people as he was thought to be of superior wisdom. However, he was soon accused also and as we know, paybacks are hell, right? His thumbs were tied to his big toes and he was thrown into the pond. However he managed to swim and insisted that he was not a witch and saved his neck from the noose.
SIR MATTHEW HALE
Sir Matthew Hale was lord of chief justice and was revered a good man, an upright judge, and presided at many of the witches trials. Amy Duny and Rose Cuflender were accused by Margaret Arnold of bewitching her little girl who was afflicted by fits.
“One day a bee flew into the face of my child, and a few minutes later she vomited up a two penny nail. At another time my little girl caught an invisible mouse which she threw into the fire, and it instantly flashed like gunpowder.” she said.
Nearly all the accusations were as silly as this.
Sir Matthew called upon Thomas Brown who was considered a great and learned physician at the time, to give his opinion. Mr. Brown felt that the fits were natural but that they had been heightened by the devil cooperating with the witches.
Sir Matthew was a tender hearted man but with the testimony of the greatest physician in England ruled that the devil and two old women were making the child sick. The Bible commanded that he put them to death and he ordered them executed.
Later Sir Matthew wrote a book about witchcraft. Soon Rev. Richard Baxter, a learned and godly minister, wrote another. Shortly after Rev. Perkins published a third book, all three telling of the horrible crimes and incantations of the witches. The Printers of London kept their presses busy, printing pamphlets about witches. No one doubted the stories told by the accusers, especially when so many of the accused confess that they were in a league with the devil. I think it was a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. I mean what are you going to do?
GOSSIP SPREADS LIKE FIRE
Now every vessel crossing the Atlantic brought news of the doings of the witches in England, as well ast books and pamphlets to the settlers’ homes all over New England and Virginia. Governors, judges, ministers and people alike read them, and believed what the good men like Chief justice Hale and Richard Baxter had written. When anything out of the norm happened that they couldn’t account for, of course the witch did it. If the butter would not come in churning, the cream was bewitched. And the way to get the witch out was to heat a horseshoe red hot and drop it into the churn. This would so scorch the hag that she would leave in a twinkling. A horseshoe nailed over a door would prevent witches from entering it. (and we thought it was for good luck right? )
Ministered preached about witches and warned their listeners that the Prince of the Power of the Air was all around them, going up and down the earth looking for who he might devour. By the wide mouthed fireplaces in the old kitchens stories were told of what the witches were doing. Listeners felt their flesh creep and their hair stand on end while the stories were told. Timid people were afraid to go outside after dark, sure that they might encounter a ghost or hobgoblin. Boys and girls, if sent to the cellar for a mug of cider or for apples, were terrified of seeing a shadow on the wall. When they climbed the stairs to bed it was with a quick and nervous step (you know the kind…we’ve all done it!!) for there was no telling what was behind the boxes and barrels in the garret. When lightning flashed or rain beat hard against the windows, they thought of the witches that were flying through the air on broomsticks or holding a revel in the forest. The dim pale light that they sometimes saw along the marshes was will-o-the wisp or the devil’s wish…ready to lure them into some snare. The devil was ever around them and the witches would do his bidding.
MARGARET AND THOMAS JONES
Now about the time that Matthew Hopkins was tossing women into the ponds and hanging them, the people of Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1648, accused Margaret Jones of being a witch. She was a doctor and used roots and herbs for healing. The idea was that she had a “malignant touch;” that if she laid her hands on a person in anger they would become blind, deaf, or in some way afflicted. She was imprisoned, and the man who guarded her said that he saw a little child with her, which instantly vanished.
She naturally declared her innocence but the people protested that she was in league with the devil, and she was executed.
John Winthrop who kept a diary said “the day and hour she was executed there was a very great tempest in Connecticut, which blew down trees, and did much damage” . The superstitious people firmly believed that the devil was taking vengeance upon the country.
Margaret’s husband Thomas, had a sorry time of it after she was hung. People pointed their fingers at him, and made life so miserable that he went on board a ship bound for Barbadoes. It was a small vessel, and there were eight horses on the deck, which made it top heavy. While at anchor in the harbor the craft started to roll fearfully, and the superstitious sailors said that Thomas Jones was the cause of it and hustled him on shore and into prison as a witch.
People were such firm believers in witchcraft, and so credulous, that it was easy to create a suspicion against a person, and many women were accused of being witches by their jealous and envious neighbors. One of the settlers of Springfield, Massachusetts, Hugh Parsons, sawed boards and planks for a living. He worked hard during the day and filed his saws at night, and made money faster than some of his neighbors, who through jealousy, perhaps, accused him of being a witch. He was arrested and Hannah Lankton and her husband testified that one day they had boiled pudding for dinner, and when they took it out of the bag it was cut open lengthwise, as if with a knife. They did not know what to make of it, and said it was bewitched. They threw a piece of it into the fire, and soon after Mr. Parsons came to the door, which convinced them that he had bewitched it. A neighbor could not get a tap out of a beer barrel, but Mr. Parsons pulled it out without any difficulty, which was sure proof that he was a witch.
Mrs. Parsons was sick and became insane, and the people said that she had sold herself to the devil. Her little child died, and they said that she and her husband had poisoned it. They were put in prison, and the neighbors testified against them.
One man saw snakes in his room at night. A woman saw a light flickering around her petticoat, a cow would not give milk, a woman had a pain in her breast, a little girl said that she saw a dog, though no one else could see it. Others saw things that they could not account for, which made them think that their neighbor Parsons was a witch. Although he and his wife were cast into prison, the judges did not think they were witches and they were not put to death. In nearly every town there were men and women who were suspected of being witches.
Hampton, New Hampshire had a witch, General Moulton, who made money so fast that his superstitious neighbors said that the devil helped him. One day his house caught fire and the people said that the Evil One had done it because the General had fooled him. He had bargained with Satan to fill one of his boots every night with gold. The devil came to fill it, and was amazed to find that it took several cart loads. Wondering how so small a boot could hold so much, he made an examination, and discovered that the General had cut a hole in the sole and another in the floor, and the gold had run through it, and he had filled the cellar. Infuriated he blew a flame from his mouth and set the house on fire!
I will stop here for now and prepare another post. Stay tuned for the next post. Hope you have enjoyed my series to this point. If so please leave me a comment in the comment section and I look forward to bringing you more in the coming days. My source for this infomation was basically from the book Old Times in the Colonies by Charles Carleton Coffin, copyright 1908 by Sallie R. Coffin. No copyright infringement intended.
The Global celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is March 17. It is a day of remembrance of St. Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, who ministered Christianity in Ireland in the fifth century and has become a global celebration for any one with Irish decent.
Saint Patrick is the most well-known of all of Ireland’s patron saints, but guess what!?, he wasn’t Irish. He was actually born in Great Britain,and was kidnapped from his home by pirates at the age of 16. He was forced into slavery in Ireland, where he looked after animals. At the age of 22, Saint Patrick was able to escape and return to his home in Great Britain. He decided to become a cleric and then eventually a bishop.
While still in Great Britain, Saint Patrick claimed to have had a vision of the people of Ireland calling out to him in one unified voice, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.” At this time, the Irish people were polytheistic pagans, meaning they worshiped more than one different Gods and deities. Inspired by his vision, Saint Patrick returned to Ireland with the goal to bring Christianity to the people.
One of the most popular legends involving Saint Patrick involves him driving all of the snakes out of Ireland. However, Ireland is surrounded by icy waters which would make it impossible for snakes to migrate to the Emerald Isle in the first place. It’s far more likely that the snakes in the legend refer to the paganism that Saint Patrick set out to change. The Christian faith often used snakes or serpents as symbols for evil.
St. Patrick’s Day first started to honor Saint Patrick on the anniversary of his death. The Christian people held a great feast for which Lenten food and alcohol restrictions were temporarily removed, which is why drinking has become synonymous with the holiday. Today, that tradition remains, as some Catholic people choose to cast aside Lent restrictions just for St. Patrick’s Day.
Throughout the years St. Patrick’s Day became less about the man and more about general Irish traditions, culture and history. In the 1840s, the tradition reached America when thousands upon thousands of Irish people who had emigrated to America to escape the potato famine of the time held a massive St. Patrick’s Day parade. Since then, the American people have embraced the holiday, continuing to add their own ever-evolving traditions.
GET YOUR GREEN ON
If you attend any St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you can expect to see the majority of revelers decked out in their finest green outfits. While some may think the green is simply a reference to Ireland’s famous rolling green hills, the color actually stems from another iconic St. Patrick’s Day symbol—the shamrock. According to legend, Saint Patrick used three-leaf clovers as a teaching tool to illustrate Christianity’s Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Celebrators would wear shamrocks on their clothing in honor of Saint Patrick, and eventually that tradition evolved into wearing green as well.
DON’T FORGET TO KISS THE BLARNEY STONE!
What is the Blarney stone?
The Blarney Stone is a block of Carboniferous limestone. Carboniferous being a geologic period and system that spans 600 million years from the end of the Devonian Period 358 million years ago to the beginning of the Permian Period. This limestone is built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, about 8 kilometres from Cork, Ireland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of eloquence or as we might say today the gift of gab. The definition of eloquence means that the speaker is able to express themselves clearly and powerfully and though it generally describes oral speech it can also be used to describe powerful writing. Basically, it means being able to use words well, with smooth clear, powerful and interesting speaking, The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446.
For over 200 years, world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have joined the millions of pilgrims climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate.
Traditionally, one was to be held upside down by their ankles and lowered head first over the battlements to kiss the Blarney stone in order to receive the “blessing”. Today, due to caution and safety there is an iron railing to assist the visitors. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence.
What are battlements you ask? Battlements is the wall or the “fort” as we call it that surrounds the castle. They were built chest or head high with with rectangular cut outs at intervals so stones or arrows could be launched in the need of defense. Basically it was a wall to hide behind for protection in case of an attack.
Some say the Blarney stone was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it became the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone’, used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for kings. It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Legend says it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny.
When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic Stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and it was returned to Ireland.
Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel’ behind which David hid on Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.
Whatever the truth of its origin, we believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys.
WATCH OUT FOR LEPRECHAUNS
According to folklore, you get pinched on St. Patrick’s day for not wearing green because green makes you invisible to leprechauns, and leprechauns like to pinch people (because they can!) The tradition is tied to folklore that says wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, which like to pinch anyone they can see. Some people also think sporting the color will bring good luck, and others wear it to honor their Irish ancestry.
According to Irish legends, people lucky enough to find a leprechaun and capture him (or, in some stories, steal his magical ring, coin or amulet) can barter his freedom for his treasure. Leprechauns are usually said to be able to grant the person three wishes. But dealing with leprechauns can be a tricky proposition.
St. Patrick’s Day is an opportunity to spend time having some fun with the people in your life you care about most and make some memories that you won’t forget.
Once Gottfried Nutsch made his way to Washington county and got settled nicely his family begin to follow him over. The next Nutsch sibling to come to Kansas was his sister Johanna and her husband Frank Sohofsky. Johanna’s family must have kept to themselves a bit more than the others and I have had to do quite a bit of searching in order to find the little information that I have found on her, but none the less…this is a link to our tree. Johanna and Frank Sohofsky make their way from Prussia to Kansas, and reunited with her brother Gottfried June 1884 .
Prussia History Lesson
To properly direct any genealogical information, you must know more about the country and specific location your ancestors came from. Prussia includes much of a large mass of the territory on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. Between 1668 and 1817 the country that is now called Germany was more than 300 independent states, city states, bishoprics, duchies, and more, some are very small regions with the exceptions in size, places like Bavaria.
There was no central government. Residents “belonged” to their little countries, which in some cases had two or more areas separated by other “countries”. They received orders to populate an area and were sent to start new towns, usually along a border, to ward off invasions. Much like the colonies when they were first started here in the United States.
To support the governments of such small properties, the merchants had to pay taxes in every little independent country they went through, whether by land or river, while traveling across the land to deliver goods, making goods almost impossible to afford.
Religion of an area was often designated by the royal leader of the time, and changed as leaders did. Churches were the primary keepers of family and individual information starting in the 1500’s. Most people worked in agriculture, for larger land owners as tenants. The lucky ones had small private farms that would barely sustain a family , and at the age of 10 years, children began to work alongside their parents to supplement family income.
Napoleon’s invasion ca. 1805 resulted in a reduction of the number of independent Germanic “nations” to 36. This remained the status until Prussia “united” those states and today’s Germany was formed in 1871.
Prussia, also “Preussen” and “Borussia” in old records, also claimed parts of Poland, Romania, Ruthvenia, and other formerly independent countries. Today, there is no Prussia on maps. Prussia is a name that has been applied to almost 60% of the German Empire at one time or another. Prussia includes much of a large mass of the territory on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea from approximately 1850 to World War I.
From 1701, the Kingdom was ruled by the Hohenzollerns and Berlin was the capitol. There were more than three dozen duchy’s under Germanic control, including the following: Brandenburg Electoral Hesse Hesse-Nassau Mecklenburg Poland–portions of Pomerania Posen Rhineland–portions of Saxony Schleswig-Holstein Silesia Thuringia Westphalia and the Duchies of Burg, Cleve, Crossen, Engern, Geldern, Juelich, Magdeburg, Stettin and Wenden and Cassubia and others that were smaller in size.
Smaller than a Duchy are the church district, which often encompassed several villages. It is helpful to become familiar with German terms like state church, serf and elector, perhaps more. A German dictionary and/or the German language list in the LDS Guide to German Research are important tools. Church district is Kirchenkreis. Stadt, means town, as in BrombergStadt, the city, in the County of Bromberg and the administrative district of Bromberg, similar to the Posen, Posen, Posen. The kirchenkreis (commonly mis-named “Kreis-Stadt”) was the most important because that is how records were kept in the early 1800s. 1817 was the year that Friedrich Wilhelm III combined the Lutheran and Reformed denominations into Evangelisch.
It helps when doing German research to have an understanding of Prussian history, and what was happening during the critical emigration years of 1850-75, and that Prussia only officially controlled western Germany after 1871 as the First Reich. Those emigrating before 1850 had mostly two motivations: economic disaster as the Irish Potato famine spread, and religious freedom issues, the Prussian Union church vs the several centuries-old state supported “Old Lutherans” (Evangelische), and the conservative factions squeezed by the mandated mergers of the current kaiser.
Brandenburg was ruled by the Hohenzollern family in the Teutonic knights since after the crusades, although they also held smaller ancestral territories in West Germany. At the invitation of Polish knights they helped to subdue “native peoples” of Latvian type called Prussi, and were given control over that land. They built castles and colonized the land. Unrest led to expulsion of the Teutons, but a treaty in 1460 left them with what is called East Prussia, thus Brandenburg-Prussia was born. It evolved into a Duchy under Albert of Hohenzollern who also disbanded the knights who became the land holders in both areas.
Albert of Hohenzollern also declared Brandenburg-Prussia to be Lutheran, since the head of state designated a state church. That didn’t please the Catholics. John Sigismund, a Hohenzollern and good administrator came to power in 1618, and his grandson Frederick William, elector of Brandenburg, secured ducal Prussia’s independence of Poland in 1660. By this time there was a system of seven “electors”, a higher title than duke but short of “king” who were responsible for naming the “Holy Roman Emperor” to whom all were to be militarily supportive. Frederick-I enticed the Pope to agree to his being called King in Prussia in 1701, and he shortly changed that to King “of” Prussia. That was another “milestone” of the rise of Prussia as a military power. Creation of the Prussian Union church from the previous Reformed (which the kaiser was) and the “Old Lutherans” (which his wife was) became a religious freedom and doctrinal issue that resulted in emigration of many “Old Lutherans” in the 1830-40s. Prussia’s state church had been “Old Lutheran” since the reformation, but the heads of state had turned Reformed. This mandated consolidation into the Prussian Union that forced emigration was a major factor in creation of the two most conservative Lutheran groups in America, the Missouri synod and Wisconsin synods. All because he wanted to go to communion with his “Old Lutheran” wife in her church and the “Old Lutherans” refused it.
They didn’t practice altar and pulpit fellowship with the Reformed or anyone else, including the kaiser if he didn’t qualify. It didn’t help that the Kaiser enforced the merger by force of police, something his successor backed away from, but it was too late then. The timing coincided with the opening of America where the kaiser didn’t tell you how to worship and you could buy as much land as you could afford, a huge step forward from being able to even buy a little land at all. So the “Old Lutherans” gave him a salute and many left.
Wisconsin immigrants prior to 1860 numbered many “Old Lutherans” among them, and they were responsible for organizing the eastern Marquette County axis of Lutheran churches besides filling in from Milwaukee northward. Prussia was also exceedingly militaristic, from their Crusader roots, from about 1250 AD onward.
It took about 600 years to achieve control of the German states–Denmark in 1864 to secure two NW provinces, Austria in 1866, France in 1870, all of those to demonstrate to the other states that Prussia was ‘the best leader’. The frequent wars that were part of Prussia’s rise to prominence over the previous 200 years, andthe taxes that were enforced, were another major cause of emigration. Germans had formerly sought “Lebensraum” (living space) by Germans moving into Poland and Russia for more room, but the system of war and taxes to pay for the military unceasing and ever increasing. By 1850 emigration was beginning to replace the colonization of the former years.
Our ancestors chose to leave everything familiar and to come to America for a variety of reasons, the most common being a combination of over-crowding, high taxes, nearly continual war, some crop failures and the potato famine spreading through Europe, religious matters, and to allow their children to avoid the new compulsory military service. We are told that the most compelling reason for our Nutsch family to leave was to get away from the military and to find a more stable way of life.
Johanna the oldest child of Johann Nutsch
Some of the information provided here comes from the book “Reedy, Schuessler, Nutsch, and Koch of Washington, Kansas” by Phyllis Reedy James 1993 and I have added what I have found along the way.
Johanna Nutsch, oldest child of Johann I and Marie (Mueller) Nutsch, was born 1840 in Ohlau, Schlesien, Prussia and married in Prussia, to Frank Sohofsky who was born 7 Oct 1833 in Prussia. Johanna died 1920 in KS and was buried in St. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Washington Co., Ks. Frank died 27 Oct 1893 just south of the Nebraska line in Ks and was buried in St. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Washington Co., Kansas.
Johanna and Frank spent the first years of their married life in Germany and all their children were born there. The family, Johanna, Frank, August, Paul and Bertha, came to America on the ship Lessing sailed by Captian Voss. They departed Hamburg, Germany 22 June 1884 and arrived in New York, 7 July 1884. Their twin boys were 19 and their daughter Bertha was 16. After their arrival in New York they ventured on to Washington Co., Kansas probably by train. It is believed they lived with Johann’as brother Gottfried, until they could find a place of their own.
The farm where Johanna and Frank made their home was in Lowe Township, Washington Co., Kansas which was then located on what is now HWY 15 just south of Fairbury, Nebraska. Their house was constructed of limestone, which was a major construction material for most of the settlers and quarried locally. Frank died a shortly after arriving in America. Johanna and her two sons were left to continue farming their homestead . . Some records show Frank died 27 Oct 1883. St. Peter and Paul Cemetery records show his death as 2 Oct 1898.
Life was not easy for Johanna she struggled the many hardships of the time. She farmed the next few years with a team of oxen with the help of her two sons and daughter. She had no automobile, as some families did, and she would haul all her supplies by wagon, however this was the norm at that time so my guess is she barely thought much about it. It was no simple chore since the family lived several miles from the nearest town. Some relatives remember the family raising 800 lb. hogs. I don’t recall Grandpa speaking much of Johanna so it could be that they did not spend as much time with the family as the others but we do know that she was a member of the St. Peter and Paul church as were all the other Nutsches so they probably gathered there to socialize. Realizing that her husband died shortly after arriving in America, you know that life had to be extremely hard for her and I’m sure there were times that she felt overwhelmed. However, her children were adults so she very possibly had their help to keep things going on the farm.
Paul and August Sohofsky
Fourteen years after Frank died, a tragedy struck when Johanna’s son, August, was mowing, and his horses became frightened. During the runaway, August was thrown into the mower and both legs were severely damaged. Though the doctors did everything that was possible at the time, his one leg had to be amputated and August died a short time later, July 20, 1907.
Paul and August twins born 1 Sep. 1864 in Germany never married. I found census records that states that Paul was living with his sister Bertha in Lincoln County at the time of his death August 4, 1941.
In 1908 he transferred land to Frank Koch (a brother to our great grandmother Creszencia and our great uncle.)
Bertha “Beillia” Sahofsky
Bertha was born in Prussia 19 August 1876 and came to America with her parents. The 1910 census shows her as widowed and living with her brother in law and his family, August May, and the occupation listed is “servant”. She secondly married Andrew J Hahn and they had one daughter, Anastasia (Anna) Hahn. The 1930 census shows her living Nowell, Lincoln, Nebraska, with Anna and is widowed and occupation listed as “farmerette” . The 1940 Census also shows her as widowed and living with Anna Hahn , and Sahofsky Hahn. Sahofsky is listed as her brother. This could possibly be Paul. To this point I have been unable to find any other information on her. She is listed on Find a grave as having died 25 December 1959 and is buried in North Platte, Lincoln County, Nebraska.
Anastasia Anna Hahn
Anastasia the only daughter of Andrew and Bertha Hahn was born 9 Oct 1915 in Hershey, Lincoln, Nebraska and died 30 June 1990, North Platte, Lincoln,Nebraska.
She married Carl Thompson and they had three daughters , Loretta, Kathleen, and Anita. Kathleen and Anita are said to have died young. I’m still searching for more information on them and have found little on Loretta. Loretta was born 1945 in Nebraska.
If you have any information on this family that you would be willing to share I’d love to hear from you.
I love driving the country sides searching for Ghost Towns. It’s difficult to imagine that an empty field of corn once housed and entire community but I like the challenge. This last week I spent the day in Washington County Kansas with a friend. She had to the key and permission to the Brantford school house where she thought we might find some history. We stopped and talked to 98 year old Dean Seifert who lived next door and he gave me as much history on the town as he could remember and pointed us to a few other places where there were communities long gone.
Grandma Alta and her family grew up in the Brantford area and her father, mother, and brothers are all buried in the cemetery there, so I was curious as to what the Brantford community was like while she was growing up. Mr. Seifert didn’t know or remember the McCollums but he recalled older folks speaking of them and he wasn’t sure but believe they may have lived north of town in a rock house. He too had grown up east of Brantford in a big rock house, which is now in the Clifton address, and I was allowed to take a tour of it.
THE TOWN OF BRANTFORD
Brantford was homesteaded mostly in the years from 1869 to 1871. The pioneers took timber claims under the Government Act. Some that took homesteads got discouraged and gave up their claim and went back to their former homes. Those that stayed endured many hardships, such as grasshopperas that ate their crops, wind and dust storms, drought and prairie fires.
Part of the State was covered with very tall blue stem grass. It was said that when this dry grass caught fire it spread rapidly under a high wind. (wind in Kansas?) At one time the fire jumped the Republican River, which is 11 miles south of the Brantford Township. Although it was difficult many stayed and reared their families here. Some lived in dugouts, and some in log houses, and some in one room frame houses. The blue stem sod was broken up with breaking plows drawn by horses and oxen. After this soil was broken up it proved to be very fertile soil and would grow a diversity of crops. Cattle and hogs also have taken their place around the community.
The township has five very well kept cemeteries. For many years it housed five country churches. The pioneers didn’t forget their God. Worship service was conducted in private homes and in school houses until they were able to build churches.
In the earlier days there was a family on almost every quarter section, sometimes on 80 acres, but today one can drive several miles and not see a farmstead. Many have moved away and death has taken it’s toll. The farms have gotten much larger. This has been a setback to many of the churches and schools. There are no longer country schools as children are today bused to the larger communities.
Dean Seifert remembered when Brantford was a busy little community. He talked about the two grocery stores and the creamery north of town. On Friday and Saturday nights he said the main street would be lined with horses and buggies with people bringing their eggs and cream to the store to “trade” The people would bring their instruments and would put together a band and they would have dances in the store. He told of the children playing in the school yard and the service station on the corner which now has fallen to a pile of brick.
It’s not known how Brantford got it’s name but it came into being around 1869. The first Post Office was run by Henry Brown who received a large sum of 16 dollars a month, which was considered a fortune at that time. Mr. Brown sold a few drug and groceries in his place of business. One of his daughters became the wife of John Campbell.
Before the rail road came to the area, mail was brought to Washington and then by pony express to Enosdale, Throop, Strawberry, Brantford and Clyde. Washington and Clyde are the only of these communities still incorporated. The others are now merely a memorial marker along side of the road with a cemetery nearby.
The mail was brought once a week. People would walk to get the mail. Later the mail was brought out from Clyde several times a week. Some time later there was an RFD from Clyde, Kansas by vehicles drawn by horses. When the auto came into use around the 1900’s things sped up a bit.
Later there was a man by the name of Mr. Lydell who ran the store for a time.
Bill Jurey remembered that the first store building was a large frame one and was known as the Bradley Store. The Bradley Store was built quite high off the ground with a front porch. The merchandise was hauled from Clyde and Agenda, the nearest railroads then, by team and wagon. This high porch was where the wagons were backed in and unloaded. Steve Bradley, SR. operated the store. It was a general store that stocked dry goods, shoes, groceries, etc. They had large rolls of cheese about 12 to 14 inches in diameter which were cut much like we cut round cakes today. There was a large tobacco knife with a long handle used to cut the plugs of tobacco. Also there were old fashioned butter kegs and all the other things that went with an early day store.
The William Campbell family from Clifton moved to a farm one fourth mile west of town in 1884. At that time Steve Bradley, Sr., who had migrated from England, ran the General Store. Later he moved to Agenda and built a store there. His brother, Charles took over the Brantford Store and continued to operate it for a number of years. He too later moved to Agenda.
Mr. Lacey and his family continued to operate the store. Then he sold it to Mr. Robinson. This building later had a shoe shop and harness shop operated by Art Leiszler, F. Ocar Peters and Bill Erickson sold implements and repairs. Gust Hammar then started a grocery store again. Later M.E. Hammar, Glen Anderson, and Ernie Lahodny each owned the store in succession.
Another General Store Comes to Brantford
Around 1900, Mr. Albert Anderson and his brother, Henry built a large store building a block west of the former store. Some of the operators were Albert Anderson , Steve Bradley JR. , John Smith, Henry Trybom, Victor Hendrickson, JA Peterson and Glen Anderson. Albert Anderson and his borther also sold implements while in the store. Both stores did a good business for a number of years. There were many more people living in and around the community at that time.
Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Lahodny purchased the Calderhead Store building in the 1930’s and moved it to Brantford. This was a nice large building with a living quarters in it and besides the store they had a locker plant. They enjoyed a good business for several years. This was the only store in town at this time as the two old stores were torn down.
Telephones come to Brantford
Mr. Tom Dolan was the first to bring telephones to the town around 1900. He was a brother in law of Wm Campbell and lived in Clifton where he had a telephone exchange.
The Brantford Telephone Company, as it was known, had a number of farmaer owned lines with a Central Office located in Brantford. Some of the operators throught the years were AJ Anderson, Mrs. Oliva Day, George Hyland, John Shea, Mrs. Bertha Huncovsky, Mrs. Vira Hanshaw, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Anderson, Mr and Mrs. Arnold Andrewson, and Mary Lahodny. This Exchange was sold to the Cuba Exchange in 1960.
The creamery was built a short distance north of the road intersection, now only a pile of rubble marks it’s spot. Mr. Armstong of Clyde and Mr. Skinner were the operators. Cream and milk was picked up by a team and wagon or spring wagon. The cream was churned into butter and shipped out. Later they ceased to churn butter and the plant was used to separate milk and cream. The only coolers the farmers had in those days was the stock tank into which they put the cream cans to cool.
Some people had dug wells that were 3 1/2 to 4 feet across. They would tie a small rope to the can and lower it into the well several feet where it would stay really cool. Sometime the rope would unwind or break and the can would fall down into the well. The the water wouldn’t be good to drink for some time. They used this method for cooling butter also.
Bank Idea Failed
In the early 1900’s there was talk of starting a bank in town but this never came to pass. For many years thousands of bushels of grain was hauled through this little town to Agenda by team and wagon. Agenda was the nearest railroad. People were hoping that the Rock Island would build a spur to Brantford. The United Brethern Parsonage was located in Brantford for a number of years. The Brantford Cemetery is one half mile south west where many of the old pioneers are laid to rest. This is where you will find our great grandfather Francis Marion McCollum and his two wives, and several of his children. His father Enos McCollum is also buried here.
Black Smith Shop
There was a black smith shop in Brantford. During it’s existence it was operated by Nels Holmberg, Dick Osborn, Art Weckworth, and Mr. Nailer.
To the east one-fourth mile across Dry Creek at the top of the hill on the south side of the road on the McKenzies farm stood a large grist mill. This was a round structure built of native stone. I was about 20 ft in diameter and about 35 to 40 ft hight. On the top was a wind propeller something like an old Dutch Windmill. It had a large wheel probably 24 ft across and this would be turned to the wind to power the mill. In early days people would bring grain of all kinds to have it ground into meal and flour. The structure was taken down in later years. It is too bad it was destroyed as it would have been a real land mark and monument to the past.
Clarence Erickson built a large time garage on the south side of the road. He did a large repair business and employed extra help . His health deteriorated and he hand his family moved to California. Some of the later operators were Wendel Clack, Kenneth Shultz, Nyle Sarff, and Ed Chapla. Now only a pile of tile brick remains with a hint that a garage may have stood.
There was a time that Richard Hammar ran a shoe and harness shop. Albert Miller had a grist mill powered by a large gas engine. He made corn meal and breakfast foods. In the early days there was Dr. Burk that lived in Brantford. There were three gas pumps in town and at least 10 families. Today there is but one house which is were Dean Seifert now lives.
The LAST BUSINESS
Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Lahodny closed the last place of business in the dying little town in 1962. Ernie took a job with the State Highway at Belleville, and they sold the contents of the store thru an auction sale that lasted several days. The day that one could shop for almost anything in Brantford had ended.
The names of some of the older people who made their homes in the area in the earlier days are as follows: The Bradleys, John McCullough, Aldrich, Simpson, Templton, Olson, John Anderson, Carl Anderson, Perkins, Brown, Otto Nelson, Nels Holmberg, Oscar Ahlstead, Greenwood, Dr. Burk, John Carmichaels, Archie Grahm, Chas. Johnson, Alfred Erickson, Gut Magnus, Dave Lindahl, Emil Anderson, Little Anderson, McKenzies, AV Erickson, Albert Miller, A Youngbloom, Bob Peterson, AJ Anderson, Henry Anderson, Oscar Phil, Press, Tom Roe, Wm. Campbell, Carl Noren, Joh Larson, F. Oscar Peterson, Godfred Fredrickson, Alfred Swanson, John ampbell, Justine Holberg, Bill Meyer, Mr Fagerber, Mrs. Erickson, Gust Hammar, Richard Hammer, Frank Seifert, to just name a few.
Eric Erickson and his family came from Sweden and settled in Junction City where he worked as a stone mason before he came by covered wagon to homestead a farm just east of the Lutheran Cemetery. Here he and his family lived in a dug out while his home was being built of limestone rock on a 160 acre farm. The remains of this dugout may set be seen just east of the east fence of the cemetery. His children born in Sweden were Andrew, and John. William was born in the dugout. Later three daughters, Mattilda, Josephine and Emma were born.
After the rock house was built, church services were held there until the lutheran church was built. It was an exciting life, especiall when the long horn cattle came in droves from Texas and ran around the dugout. Rattlesnakes were a bothersome problem of the time.
THE SEIFERT SCHOOL
The Seifert school district was formed in 1875 with the first director being Andrew Seifert, first clerk being Frank Seifert, and the first treasurer was Gustaf Nelson. A bond of $150 was posted in February 1875 with an addition one of 300 in August of the same year.
In 1878 the tax levy for school purposes was 2 mills.
The land description of the Seifert district was starting at the NW corner of section 4 township 4 south range 1 east, then east to the NE corner of section 3, then east to the center of section 2 then south to the center of the south line of section 11 then west to the SW corner of section 9 then north to the place of beginning all in township 4 south range 1 east. In 1963 there were 5 children in the area, compared with 44 enrolled in the school in 1898.
It’s my assumption that this is the school most likely that Grandma Alta attended as the McCollum name was among the children enrolled there between 1920 and 1930. We know the McCollums left Missouri in the fall 1912 when Grandma was just a baby.
According to records the first school house was built in 1875 of native stone with a sod roof, stove, blackboard, books, etc., were purchased and installed and the first teacher was Ellen Hutchinson, who was hired and started the school with 17 pupils enrolled.
In 1884, the stone school house was raised and a one room wooden structure was erected. The school house was partitioned into 2 rooms and in 1918 that was the extent of modernization.
In the 1890’s and early 1900’s names of pupils included Hammers, Nelsons, Naults, Seiferts, Westlings, Johnsons, Sheas, Bohms, Ericksons, Hendersons, Rasmusons, Urbans, Andersons, Burts, Carlsons, Corbetts, and Nixons. Students of all ages came to school to learn to read and write, some to learn English. School was a hit or miss affair in those days, being held as long as money held out to pay a teacher and as long as a student could be spared from the farm long enough to attend. Students could go as long as desired and as long as they could learn something new. Nine years of schooling wasn’t unusual as it was not possible for many to go to high school so they went to the little grade school to get all the education possible. School wasn’t as necessary then as it is today so many didn’t go very many years of very regularly.
Subjects in the early days were referred to as the three R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic) but studies were very thorough. In the first grade writing was done on slates. Reading, writing, and language and spelling for instance, were so interwoven as to be included in one lesson. General lessons included ethics, talks on the human body, animals, etc, and object and color lessons.
Second grade work included reading long and short vowels, spelling phonetically and by letter and pronunciation and to write each word in sentences until various meanings are learned. Number work included drill in rapid combinations of all digits adding single and double columns, subtraction and learning the complete multiplications tables. Reading and writing numbers to s places and learning Roman numbers to C. General lessons continued much as first grade. Ethics was taught by continuing to find occasion to lead children onto higher and purer thoughts, to eradicate selfishness and to cultivate generosity. (Something we could use more of today!) Teachers were to relate anecdotes, citing noble deeds of great men. Physical training was emphasized by hold 2 minute calisthenics in the fresh air.
All this was in the first 2 years. We talk about busy teachers today, perhaps a good look at our past school teachers would be in order now to further the progressive education.
Geography was taught by acquainting the pupils with familiar places, the school yard, neighborhood, township, county, and state, leading to study of the globe and the earth as a whole-form, size, land and water forms and motion of the earth causing day and night.
Before passing into another grade, a pupil had to pass a satisfactory examination.
The “old country school” had a system almost identical to the brainstorm of the modern educators of ungraded advancement according to ability. For instance a child may be classified in the 5th year but doing 7th year arithmetic. In other words a child progressed according to ability and was alled to progress at his won rate with special emphasis on weaker subjects. The only thing required for advancement as rapidly as each subject was mastered was the stated exam. This information of subject studied and progam of advancement was obtained from an 1898 teachers classification register.
One of the most outstanding memories of one of the pupils was the great sense of wonder at the sound of a recorded human voice. The first these people had an opportunity to do so was provided when the teacher, E.W. Burt brought a gramaphone to school in 1897.
Names of students in the years from 1910 to 1920 included, Seifert, Johnson, Peterson, Erickson, Hammer, Gieber, Nutter, Burt, Brichat, Shea, West, Anderson, Phelps and Hart. In the years from 1920 to 1930 were Peterson, Johnson, West, Grahm, Noren, Steel, Hammar, Hendrickson, McCollum, Merritt and Miller. From 1936 to 1941 families were Sorell, Seifert, Nelson, Trybom, West and Anderson.
The Seifert school house closed it’s doors for the last time at the end of 1940-41 school year. The last teacher was Russell Hammer and the 7 students continued their grade school education at the Graham school located 3 miles south and 1/2 west of the Seifert school. Nothing remains of the old school building except a small pile of stones and cement as the building was sold and moved away. It’s history only remains as a time in which our ancestors lived, and memories that have been told and handed down.
History of the teachers that served.
1876-1877 Ellen Hutchinson (salary $17) , 1878 W.S. Hutchinson ($28), 1879 Ivaloo Winder ($23), 1880 C.W. Flaiz ($28), 1881 Hattie Perkins ($28), 1882 Lucie Seven ($28), 1883 -1884 Frank Skipton ($40) 1885 William O. Linton ($35) 1886 W.E. Jenkins ($25) . This year school started in Dec. and lasted 2 mo. and 2 days. 1887-1888 W.E. Jenkins, 1889 Elwood Lower ($35). there is no record for 1890. 1891-1892 Bell McConnell ($25) , 1893 Alice Howley ($28), 1896 Olive Paul ($22),1897 E.W.Burt ($25), 1898 Abbie Dingman ($30) 44 students aged 4 to 21. , 1899 Marion A. Hyland $(26), 1900 Seth Sandy ($30 ), 1901-1902 Effie Driskell ($30), 1903 Laura Campbell, 1904 Laura Campbell ($30), 1904 Viola Burk ($35), 1905 Ethel Burk ($35), 1906 Mollie Meyer (35), 1907 Esther Nelson ($37.50), 1908 Norma Williams ($37.50), 1909 Ester Nelson ($40), 1910 K. Mae Nutter ($45), 1912, Grayce Stewart ($50), 1913- 1915 G. Anna Brooks ($45-$50), 1916 Jessie R Sprague (42.50), 1917 there was no school, 1918 Gertrude Danielson ($60) with only 5 students. 1919 Melina Gieber ($55) with 10 students.
The Brantford School
The country schools were a common thing in the 1800’s located throughout the countrysides. The children would walk sometimes up to three miles to get to school. Sometime in the 1870″s the first school in the Brantfort area was built. Will Howley, an old time resident of Brantford, first started school in 1880 and there were 70 children in the classes. The school was so full that they had to sit 3 to a desk in a double desk. One teacher would teach all the classes and when it was the turn for a certain class they would sit on benches in the front of the class room. Some of the classes were so large it would take 3 rows of benches in front of the school room. In 1880 the Brantford school was enlarged to accommodate the growing number of students.
There were no telephones and the country was wide open. The teachers were strict and many of them had a whip up in the corner above the blackboard. Children were taught respect and the whip was used if the teacher felt the need to keep order.
Will recalled that they had a teacher by the name of J. A. Baird who changed spelling words on them one time. The students would line up on each side of the room according to their height and they would take turns spelling just one word which was usually the word where they stood. They got by for awhile just learning the one word, but one day Mr. Baird got the wrong paper and everybody missed his word. That was the beginning of having to learn all the words. The best speller at that time was Jim Hyland of the boys and Alice Howley of the girls.
Jim Lowers from Clyde, Kansas was the arithmetic teacher during that time, and a writing teacher would come in once a week to teach them writing.
Not unlike today, kids were kids. When they had a meeting in the school house, a board member would stand in the back of the room to keep the order. One night one of the boys put a chunk of coal on a ruler and aimed it at the board member’s nose, and made a direct hit. It caused such a riot the meeting had to be closed.
Christmas Eve in the school house hosted a program. One year the tree, decorated with candles, caught fire and there were a few people pretty badly burned trying to put it out. Once a year they would have a box supper and some would sell for a large sum of money.
In 1885 the boys had a ball team. They played different teams from towns around and they were one of the best. On Saturday afternoons they would race horses north of the school house. The winner would get two or three dollars. People would come for miles away to race their horses.
The school was used by the community for more than just school during the week. It was also used as a church and funerals were also held there as were town meetings. In 1890, Rev Baker from Haddam came down and held revival meeting for several days.
There was no well on the school grounds and water was carried from the the Campbell place a quarter mile west of the school. The teacher would send the boys out to get the water which was a welcomed chore among them as it gave them a ftime out of class.
The students brought their own lunches to school. It mostly consisted of cornbread and molasses. Some of the molasses was so thick that it would drip from the bread to the fingers as it was eaten. In the thirty’s when times were so hard it wasn’t uncommon for kids to bring lard sandwiches to school for lunch.
In 1888 there was a terrible snow storm with a combination of bitter cold weather. The pupils left the school house to go to the drug store east of the school. The storm was so terrible they held hands to get to the store. Will’s father came to get him and his brothers and sisters. They lived one mile north of the school. It was so bad he decided to leave the children at the store and headed back to the farm alone. Before he left he bought a whip to keep his horse going north against the strong wind. Several times his horse would turn around, but he pressed on and finally made it home. His fingers were frozen around the whip so he could not get them loose and when he got into the house he couldn’t talk due to the cold wind in his lungs. Wills’s mother was quite alarmed about the children because he could not talk and tell her where they were.
Many cattle and horses were lost during the storm. Most of the quail froze to death and for several years there were very few quail in the area.
In the early 1900’s a Salvation Army group camped on the school ground and set up a large tent and had a series of meetings. Many people from far and near came to the services. There was music, made with tambourines and a small portable organ. Some of the people brought their own instruments and played special numbers. The seats in the tent were made of board planks and were without backs.
Sunday School was conducted in the school house on Sunday afternoons. Some of the nearby ministers would speak. Rev. Walter Nelson and Rev. White and a friend held special meeting in the school for several weeks. A large number of people would attend.
The present school house was built in 1900 to replace the former one. It was a nice large building with a full basement. Later a storm cellar was constructed in the basement and a propane furnace was installed. A new well was dug and at the present time it has running water and inside rest rooms.
When the new school house was opened in 1911 the Board Members were A.J. Anderson, Otto Nelson and C.A. Olson. Ester Nelson, was the first teacher in the new building. She had 52 students in 1911 and 58 in 1912. Her salary was 60.00 a month.
Listed are the teachers through the years as follows:
A.A. Harris 1889-1890, J.A. Baird 1891, Eire Anderson 1892, P.G. Sione 1893-1894, Fammy Hakes 1895, Emma Cunningham 1896, Luseua Beffe 1897, Effie Howard 1898, Mary Patterson 1899, H.L. Allen 1900, Stella Johnson 1901, Alice Howley 1902, Eva McCracken 1903, Ara Damon 1904-1905, Laren Misner 1906, Cora Simpson 1907, Josephine Olson 1908, Hilda Nelson 1909, Berth Campbell 1910, Ester Nelson 1911-1912, Ara McCracken 1913, Verlin Bonar 1914, Ada Haukenberry 1916-1917, Ester Nelson 1918, Netta Sterba 1919, Della McCracken, 1920-1922, John N. Holmberg 1923, Florence E. Henderson 1924-1925, Melvin M. Smart 1926-1928, Hazel Pickard 1929-1930, Raymond A. Olson 1931-1932, Merle Pickard 1933-1934, Laurene Anderson 1935-1936, El Vera Peterson 1927-1938, Irene Johnson 1939-1941, Mrs. Mabel Schulz 1943, Muriel Flear and Mable Schulz 1943, Opal Jurey 1944-1946, Mable Schulz 1947-1948, Anna Belle Back 1949, Flossie Olson 1950-1952, Mable Schulz 1953-1954, Dick Payeur 1955-1956, Vernus Lange 1957-1958, Mrs. V. Lange and Mrs. M Kunc 1959, Mary Kunc 1960.
No records were kept before 1889.
Beginning in 1945 the Grahm School closed and sent it’s students to Brantford. In 1951 part of the Weaver district consolidated with Brantford. In 1952 a school bus was purchased and in 1950 Marcotte district consolidated with Brantford. In 1961 the Brantford District was closed and consolidated with Cuba, Clifton, Clyde, Agenda and Haddam, with Clifton receiving the larger part of the district.
The Brantford Township bought the school house, and it is now used as a polling place and a community center. The Brantford Lucky 4-H and H.D.U. also use the building to hold meetings.
Nancy Wilkinson and Harvey Lundquist were the last two students to graduate from Brantford. The last board members were Roloand Lundquist, Nyle Sarff and James Kalivoda. The job of closing the school was not an easy one, but with fewer and fewer students every year there was no choice. The building now stands in good condition, as a landmark of the past.
Brantford’s Zion Lutheran Church
A short distance south east of the old Brantford Store in Washington County, Brantford township, stand a beautiful stucco covered stone church, with a tall steeple pointing heavenward. In 2018 it was sold for a dollar to a private party.
The early settlers who helped to build this “Place of Worship” have long ago answered the final summons, but the surrounding farms are tilled by their children’s children, who are carrying on the work as they believe their ancestors would have wished them to do.
This community was settled by these immigrants who came from Sweden in 1868. Many others followed and joined this group in the next few years. They took homestead claims and established homes, dugouts, and sod houses, or small structures made from stone. Life was lonely and strenuous, for it took many hours to build necessary shelter and with only crude tools and little or no money.
Their spiritual needs, as well as their physical needs, must be planned, so a meeting was called on May 12, 1874, for the purpose of organizing a Swedish Lutheran Church. This first meeting was most likely held in one of the homes.
Rev. Chillen of the Swedesburg Lutheran Church was elected chairman of this meeting and was asked to preach one Sunday a month. Each family was to pay 5 dollars a year towards his salary. The following signed their names indicating their desire for an organized congregation: Johannes Peterson, Niles P. Carlson, Charles Linn, Carl Anderson, AE Dahl, Erick Erickson, John Westling, Andrew Nelson, Gust Nelson, Adolf Carlson, SN Almquist, PN Almquist, Charley Nelson, and AM Larson.
In February 8 1875, a committee was appointed to select a location for a church and cemetery. A two acre plot was donated for a cemetery within a short distance of the church site by Eric Erickson, grandfather of the late Walter A Erickson.
The church building was to be made of native stone, dimensions to be 30 ft by 45 ft, and AM Larson was to supervise the building. The work was free labor, done by the members of the congregation.
Quarrying and hauling rock from the limestone hills in the north was a tremendous job and the actual building did not get under way that year. The furnishing in the beginning were very primitive. A small table was used as an Altar and Pulpit with pews made of 12 inch boards laid on bricks.
Singing was done without accompaniment until 1895 when a reed organ was purchased. In 1892, chairs were purchased. A pulpit, altar table, and railing was built by Rev. J. Holcomb and ready for the Christmas Matins Service.
In 1893 a belfry and steeple were built. In 1898 the church was stuccoed, and in 1899 new pews were purchased. In 1906 the present bell was hung in the belfry. In 1909 the parsonage and other buildings were added and Rev. August A Norden and family moved in that following summer.
In 1911 a new altar was built and a furnace added. A piano was given by the Luther League, and in 1916 a new organ was purchased.
The 50th Anniversary was celebrated November 9, 1924. Rev. CO Nordell was pastor. A new furnace was installed and in 1946 the front of the church interior was also improved by adding three Gothic arches.
The Parish Hall was added in 1948. JA Peterson was the builder and Gus Noren was the general supervisor. In 1949 a new tile floor was laid and other improvements were made. Natural gas was piped to the church and Parish Hall. A “Multiples” which holds confirmation pictures was added at this time.
As memorials, the altar rail and kneeler were added by LG Noren in memory of his son, Walter, who lost his life in WWII. An altar by Luther Leaguers, cross and candle sticks were given by S. Anderson and family in memory of Mrs. Anderson. An individual communion set for Holy Communion was given by P. August Peterson and family in memory of Mr. Peterson.
The electric organ was installed in 1958 and purchased through “In Memorium Gifts” for Albert Carlson and Anna West.
Other memorials: Offering plates and Altar vases given in memory of Selma Peterson by her family; a “guest register stand” in memory of the AV Erickson family and guest book in memory of Walter A. Erickson: a Baptismal fount given by Mr. Fred Peterson, Miss Beda Peterson and Mr and Mrs. Norman Birkman, and a Bulletin Board by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Peterson.
The 90th Anniversary of the Zion Lutheran Church was celebrated September 13, 1964 with the Rev. Carl Schneider as guest speaker.
I will conclude this post for now as it seems to have gotten a bit long. I hope you enjoyed going back into history with me and if you have anything that you might add to what I have shared thus far please let me know so I can add it. It’s my hope to give a little more insight to some of our other lost communities in Washington county in post to come as this was the HOME of our Nutsch/McCollum families.
No copyright infringement intended. Most of my sources here came from the little pamplet I found at a garage sale years ago LEST WE FORGET Memories of Brantford Township 1868 to 1966.
Gottfried or Henry as he called himself was the first of our Nutsch immigrant family to leave Germany in search of a better life. People knew him as “Old Henry” not to be confused with his son, Henry Hannah, who was known as “Young Henry” and “Rooks Co. Hank”. When you realize the history of his native country and those that his family endured during the first years in this new world you must conclude that life in Germany had to have been pretty horrific if this was considered better.
Gottfried was born 5 Sep 1844 and raised in Ohlau, Schlesien, Prussia. Prussia has become a byword for Germany. It was first developed on the southeastern Baltic shore distinct from the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire hence many of our German ancestors were Roman Catholic. Prussia’s association with central Europe comes from the Hohenzollern dynasty, which came to rule both it and most of north Germany and helped forged areas into a major European power.
Culture in Germany at the time was rigid. As previously discussed, the young men were all required to have a trade and Gottfried was a Furrier. My Grandfather Henry Nutsch told that they were always at war over something and they were always building an army. At a young age boys were made into soldiers with no other choice. The soldiers were treated very badly and with unreasonable requirements. According to oral history passed down through the generations, one day Gottfried saw a group of soldiers ordered to walk out into the water (supposedly to teach them to swim). These soldiers were ordered to continue walking into deep water. Those that could not swim and attempted to return to shallow water were shot or shot at. As Grandpa told it that once they had a good army, like a well oiled machine…they would have to go out and test it. Gottfried, knowing that he was of draft age, and due to be drafted at anytime, made the decision to leave Germany and start a new life in America.
In the middle half of the nineteenth century, more than one-half of the population of IRELAND emigrated to the United States. So did an equal number of GERMANS. Most of them came because of civil unrest, severe unemployment or almost inconceivable hardships at home. From 1820 to 1870, over seven and a half million immigrants came to the United States — more than the entire population of the country in 1810. Nearly all of them came from northern and western Europe — about a third from Ireland and almost a third from Germany.
IN the decade from 1845 to 1855, more than a million Germans fled to the United States to escape economic hardship. They also sought to escape the political unrest caused by riots, rebellion and eventually a revolution in 1848. The Germans had little choice as only the United States and few others allowed German immigration. Unlike the Irish, the Germans generally had enough money to journey to the Midwest in search of farmland and work. The largest settlements of Germans were in New York City, Baltimore, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Milwaukee. German immigrants became known a reputation for being hardworking, thrifty, and law-abiding people. The Germans made numerous contributions to American culture, including inventions, traditions, sports and food. The flooding of German immigrants to America was the result of long-term social, religious, and economic changes occurring throughout the German states and news of the conditions in the US seemed much more favorable. .
With the vast numbers of German and Irish coming to America, hostility to them erupted. Partly because of religion with most being of the Roman Catholic faith, and parltly because of the political opposition. Most immigrants living in cities became Democrats because the party focused on the needs of commoners. Americans in low-paying jobs were threatened and sometimes replaced by groups willing to work for almost nothing in order to survive. Signs that read NINA — “NO IRISH NEED APPLY” — sprang up throughout the country.
The Know Nothing Party’s platform included the repeal of all naturalization laws and a prohibition on immigrants from holding public office.
Ethnic and ANTI-CATHOLIC RIOTING occurred in many northern cites, the largest occurring in Philadelphia in 1844 during a period of economic depression. Protestants, Catholics and local militia fought in the streets. Sixteen were killed, dozens were injured and over 40 buildings were demolished. “NATIVIST” political parties sprang up. The most influential of these parties, the KNOW NOTHINGS, was anti-Catholic and wanted to extend the amount of time it took immigrants to become citizens and voters. They also wanted to prevent foreign-born people from ever holding public office.
Though we have always referred to ourselves as coming from German ancestry. We are actually Prussian as Germany didn’t actually exist before 1871 but this area later became Poland, so it’s probably better for us to claim Euopean as our derivative. According to the information published by Phyllis Reedy in the Reedy, Schuessler, Nutsch and Kochs of Washington Co. , Kansas. Gottfried arrived in New York on April 13, 1866, aboard the Athena, under Captain Shilling. The Breman records were destroyed by fire, so no departing German manifest have been found from the Bremen port. Oral history, in reference to this part of Gottfried’s life, has two versions. One is that he was a stowaway and the other is that he worked his passage way to America. Most likely both are true. Either way he was listed on the arriving list in New York as: Gottfried Nutsch, age 21, male, occupation: Tailor (furrier), Destination: USA. Gottfried arrived in his new country penniless, could not speak English, and knew no one in this strange land. The first year he spent in New York he almost starved. The next year he went to Wisconsin and worked in the lumber business, and barely survived the winter. This does not coincide with the information I have found as you will see below.
In the mid 1800’s there were “Immigrant trains” organized for the western movement. The government gave the immigrants land grants to homestead, for the purpose of populating and building the nation. This opportunity was offered to other immigrants as the railroads expanded further west. It is believed that Gottfried came west on one of those trains. He received a land grant from the Concordia Land Office on May 20, 1862.(note the above date of his arrival) The description of this grant is as follows: north west quarter of section eighteen in township three south of range one west in the district of lands subject to sale at Concordia Kansas, containing one hundred and fifty acres and eleven hundredths of an acre. Gotfried Nutsch Land grant
Gottfried’s first homestead was 150 acres in Republic Co., Kansas near Cuba. He had a neighbor close by on another 160 acre homestead, Louis Stulle, who had married Barbara Rychtarik on April 11, 1873 in Republic Co., Kansas. According to their marriage license, Louis was age 29 and Barbara was 17. This marriage was short lived as soon after their marriage there was a prairie fire and Louis died as a result of fighting that fire. Barbara stayed on their 160 acre homestead and on November 30, 1873, Barbara and Gottfried were married. Their marriage license reads: GH Nutsch, of Republic Co., age 26 years, and Barbara Stulle of Republic Co., age 18, were married November 30, 1873. There is conflicting information regarding Barbara’s date of birth. Inscribed on Barbara and Gottfried’s tombstone is Gottfried H Nutsch Sept. 5 1844 – January 14,1928. And Barbara Rychtarik January 1 1847 – August 20, 1944.
In the Washington Co. records listing the people that came into the county each year, G. H. Nutsch is shown to have arrived in Washington County in 1873. He is also listed in another book of records as first arriving in Washington Co., in 1879. Regardless of the exact date, the family did move from Republic Co., to Washington Co. Their new home was in Lowe Township, near Morrowville. They built a two room dug out on the land and started their life as Kansas farmers.
There has been some mention through family ties that Gottfried was a boot legger during the prohibition. One of my favorite stories that has been passed down was that Gottfried, as you can see from his pictures, always wore a long beard. During one of his episodes of over indulgence he ticked Barbara off royally with some shinanigan. After he went to sleep or passed out whichever the case may be, she cut one side of his beard off really short. When he awoke and saw what she had done he simply said ” if she likes it that way that’s the way I will wear it” .
In 1877 Gottfried applied for naturalization papers. This was important in order to be able to help the rest of his family come to America. The first to arrive on May 26, 1880 was his sister and her family, Robert and Marie (Nutsch) Seidel, with one daughter that was eleven months old. In succeeding years, all of Gottfried’s siblings with the exception of his sister Rose, arrived in America. At least three, possibly more, came to his and Barbara’s two room dug out home.
Gottfried and Barbara became large land owners in Kansas. It has been said they owned over 4,000 acres. This also included the land in Rooks Co., Kansas, however that is oral history. The records show Barbara’s name on most of the land in Washington Co.,
Although Gottfried was a furrier by trade in Germany, he became a cattleman and farmer in America. In later years Gottfried and Barbara built a larger house and a barn. They were also among the families that built the St. Peter and Paul Catholic church in 1886-1887.
Gottfried and Barbara’s Children
Joseph Nutsch who married Marry Elizabeth Coufal
Katherine “Katie” Nutsch married John Keperta
Marylee “Marlinka’ who died as an infant.
Henry Hannah Nutsch “young Henry” or ” Rooks Co. Henry” married Eleanor Rea
Benjamin Franklin Nutsch married Christina Killover and Bessie King.
Adolph Edward never married and died in an automoblile accident.
Mary Barbara Nutsch married Frank Henry Weir
Arena “Annie” Lillian Nutsch married Frank Matthew Burke
Maude Agnes Nutsch married Frank Joseph Zach
Wilhelmina “Minnie” Nutsch married to William M. Burnham
I personally photographed all the graves at the St. Peter and Paul Cemetery near Morrowville, Ks. for find a grave and for my own personal records and I found only two graves in the cemetery that were NOT related to our Nutschs. In saying that I might add that I was not able to find a relationship. One in particular was a Mueller…which I suspect could be a cousin to our family but I have not found the link as of yet.
I hope you enjoyed the read. If so leave me a comment below or share a story if you have one.
The NUTSCH name is fairly rare in the United States. According to Google there are only 533 people in the United States with that surname. I find that a bit hard to believe but Google knows everything! When doing a google search for the name very little comes up. “OUR” Nutschs in the United States mostly started out in Washington, County, Kansas. Let’s take a leap to the other side and talk about our Nutsch family a bit.
Johann and Marie (Mueller which is sometimes changed to Miller) lived in Ohlau, Schlesien, Prssia, near the rest of the Nutsch Clan on the Oder River. This area today lies within the boundaries of Poland. Does that make us Polish? Most will say no…we are German.
The research and documentation of cousin Phyllis Reedy James gives us some insight on our Nutsch family back to Germany.
“Before 1740 Schlesien belonged to Austria, after 1740 this area belonged to Prussia. Prussia was very militant and there were many wars, most of them religious. The men were forced to serve in the military, and the soldiers were treated very badly. Beatings, confinement and unreasonable requirements were the norm. Generation after generation of these conditions caused many young men to leave their homeland in search for better conditions. Some were fortunate enough to be able to bring their families with them, while others fled for safety and sent for their families later. These people were willing to endure the hardships and difficulties of a strange land, with a strange language, rather than remain in their homeland under those conditions. Some immigrants made their choices to leave based on personal survival, while other’s choices were based on protecting their sons from the military draft and the hope of providing a better opportunity for their sons and daughters.
These were difficult decisions to make, leaving everything behind and starting over in a a new land with little or nothing. The passenger list of our ancestors show that they all came”Steerage” in the mid to late 1800’s, “Steerage”meant: literally the lowest decks of a vessel above the actual bilges. The following description was taken from a report to a congressional committee by the demoralizing… hunger, lack of privacy, and generally uncomfortable and unsanitary conditions…Sleeping quarters are compartments accommodating as many as 300 or more persons each…The berths are in two tiers and consist of iron frame work containing a mattress, more often a life preserver as a substitute and a blanket”.
This berth, “6 feet long and 2 feet wide”, had to accommodate the traveler and all his or her luggage, as well as provide sleeping facilities for a voyage of some seven to seventeen days. (Our ancestors were fourteen days aboard their vessels.) No place was provided for eating utensils, which most passengers had to provide for themselves. Wash basins were too few and the rooms too small to accommodate the number of basins. The only water available for general use was cold salt water, with perhaps only one warm-water faucet. “The food was usually spoiled by being wretchedly prepared, and all too often the food was old leavings (leftover) from the first and second galleys.” The conditions endured by passengers had improved very little since 1820.
In April 1866, at the age of 21, Gottfried Henry Nutsch was the first of Johann and Maria’s children to leave Germany. During the next fourteen years he survived many hardships, married and built a small dug out home for his family on his homestead in Kansas. Gottfried applied for U.S. Citizenship in 1877. This was necessary in order to help his brothers and sisters come to America.
May of 1880, Gottfried’s sister Mariea, and her husband Robert Seidel I, arrived at Gottfried’s home with their 11 moth old daughter, Emma. Gottfried and his wife Barbara had three children under six years old, and the eight of them were living in this dug out home. The winters in Kansas were cold, the dug out was damp, and out on the prairie, medical facilities were non existent. Mariea and Robert’s daughter, age 1, died of pneumonia in November (found in their bible records.) Gottfried and Barbara’s one year old daughter also died that winter. (Her exact date of death is un known.)
December of that winter (1880), Gottfried’s brother John Frank II and his wife Pauline arrived, bringing four children, ages 9 and under , with them. Gottfried’s brother Paul, Age 15, also came with John and Pauline. They all lived with Gottfried and Barbara that winter. There was also a man by the name of Joseph Hellman that came on the same ship with John II and Pauline. Oral history, tells us that he could possibly have been a cousin to John Nutsch. Joseph Hellman remained in New York, married and later moved to Washington County, Kansas.
There were 14 or 15 people living in that two room dug out. These four Nutsch children were united for Christmas that year for the first time. No records have been found confirming John Nutsch’s II middle name was Frank, but his grandchildren believe this to be correct. In the spring of 1881 the Seidels and the John Frank Nutsch II family moved to another farm.
Gottfried’s sister Anna and her husband Michael Karl arrived at their home in April of 1881. It is not known how long Anna and Michael stayed with Gottfried and Barbara before they moved to their own home.
February 1882, their brother Frank and his wife Bertha arrived with a one year old daughter. Frank and Bertha went to the home of John and Pauline.
It wasn’t until June of 1884 that Johanna and her husband Franz Sohofsky and their three children arrived in Kansas.
Seven of Johann and Maria’s eight children made it to America. Their daughter Rose, married to a military officer, Johann Weinert, remained in Germany. Five of these seven came over on the ship Lessing. Anna and Michael came on the Wieland and Gottfried came on the Athena. All seven settled in Washington County, Kansas.
Some of them eventually learned to speak English and some never did. Their first homes were one or two room dug outs. . These first dug out homes were constructed by digging back into a hill, always facing east, with bracing’s made of timber to support the walls. The roof was covered with sod, and the dirt pushed back up to the side walls. The two rooms, consisted of one area in the front for eating and dining and a separate area, further back into the hill, used as the bedroom.
Prairie fires were common during those times, and several stories have been told, of placing the oxen on top of the dug out’s sod roof (no grass) to protect them from the fire. This area was sparsely settled, and it was a long distance to town for supplies and to attend church. Some went to Fairbury (about 15 or 20 miles) and others went to Hanover or Lanham, (Kansas/Nebraska) Lanham is a town that is located on the state line, with Main street on the state line. The Catholic church is on the Nebraska side. Those born on the south side of Main street were recorded in Kansas records. The summer of 1885 some property was donated for the purpose of building a church and cemetery. In 1886 and 1887 a group of families built a church on that property. The name given this church was St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. All seven of these Nutsch brothers and sisters are buried in the St. Peter and Paul Cemetery. Since this was centrally located, the church and cemetery have withstood the test of time and are still being used today.”
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to our Nutsch Family! Stay tuned …there is more to come.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
As genealogist we tend to collect gobs of pictures and other paper documentation and organization is something that takes time, planning and skill. We’ve all had those ah ha moments when we wish we had done it differently. I have taken the suggestions of other genealogist and things they have learned from their mistakes and put them together to help you get organized, whether you are just starting, or if you have been at it for awhile, there are some super suggestions here that might help you in in organizing digital photos. Getting organized is something that is paramount as a genealogist.
GET started now, because a pile of papers that are not organized may just go in the trash after we die. Get it organized and give it to a library or other repository as well as any family that are interested!
WHERE DO YOU START
First and foremost…get all your pictures in one place. I recently watched a youtube video that gave some good suggestions as to how to do this. You have your originals, plus you have all those on your computer that could be scattered all over the place.
I started with my online photos first so I will talk about online methods in this post and we will talk about what to do with all those boxes and boxes full in another post.
There are all kinds of different ideas and methods out there and the BEST one is the one that WORKS best for you. If you have a good method already and you understand it and feel comfortable with it there is no need to change. If you are just starting out and you are overwhelmed and frustrated with your system, you might want to try some of these ideas. I recently had to get a new computer and found myself very frustrated with learning Windows 10. I couldn’t find any of my pictures. I was so frustrated and spent way too much time trying to locate pictures that I knew I had. The new computer wouldn’t accept some of my files, and I couldn’t use my old software. This caused me to look for a better way.
WHAT I DID
FOR FILES ALREADY ON THE COMPUTER
What I finally ended up doing is to get all my pictures in one place. Though I had organized most of my family pictures into files by name they were still a bit mixed up. All the family pictures go into a folder named FAMILY. I have main folders with the SURNAME, for instance in my case, PIERCE, NUTSCH, BLUM, MCCOLLUM….Sort of like you are building a tree. Then I made a file folder for each individual and couple within the main folder. PIERCE…Starting with my DAD, CECIL…then his children CHARLINE, JEFF, SUSAN, then their children… etc… I then made a folder for my grandfather, VENUS PIERCE, and a folder for each of his children and so on. JOHN, CLIFF, CAROL, CECIL would go into his fathers folder. Cecil’s children, would go into CECIL’s folder and so on. Then I sorted all the pictures into their individual files.
Step one was to get all the family photo’s into the FAMILY folder.
Step two was to move the photo’s into the appropriate SURNAME folder.
I would then go back and divide them into their INDIVIDUAL family folder and so on.
So ALL of CECIL’s pictures, his children, his grandchildren, and great grandchildren would go into CECIL’s folder to start with. I would then go to Cecil’s file and move all of CHARLINE”s children, grandchildren, etc, into her folder. Then I would go back and move the children’s pictures into their individual folder…VENUS, SOAN. Then I would move the grandchildren into their individual folder. (ARE YOU WITH ME?) Basically you are using your pedigree for guidance. If there were pictures with more than one person in it I would include a “Cecil’s Family” or CECIL and PEGGY family so as long as you know what family they belong in you will be able to find them
Group them by 4 ancestral lines: your maternal & paternal grandparents (I guess 8 if you have hubby’s too) Then group within that by the direct ancestor. You could make a real or digital scrapbook page with a story or caption, or a PowerPoint slideshow if you wanted to do something off line.
The only real problem I have had with this system is that you have to click through a lot of folders to get to the one you want, but you could split them up so that wasn’t a problem if you wanted.
One member suggest that you put the names of people who are in the photos in the filename. Also, be consistent about maiden names even after they are married to avoid duplication.
Use a consistent method of naming files in all your directories and devices in order to access them easily.
Except for hyphens and underscores avoid punctuation such as commas as these can mess up some file manager programs and the files will go bad.
A good practice is to name them with the SURNAME of the primary person in the photo, followed by others in the photo. This helps make sorting easier.
Put the surnames in ALL CAPS to make for easier browsing.
Underscore the separate pieces of info that are different subjects.
example: PIERCE John and wife JOHNSON Alice_wedding photo_date
OH THE DUPLICATES
We often end up with duplicates. Some say delete duplicates, some say don’t. I rename the photo with a number behind it. Often times you will find it helpful to add a duplicate to another folder so it is easier to access. For instance a family photo that has a group of people in it can be added to each individual’s file folder. If I have group photo’s I mostly just leave them in the most appropriate family folder. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, NAME your photo so that anyone can recognize it!! Someday you will be gone and you want people to know who that photo is of.
PAPER OR DIGITAL
Lots of people say that they don’t want to save paper anymore. I have thoughts on that, naturally, but I do both. I have extensive paper files, but, everything I have is duplicated in my digital files. I have seen many a computer thrown in the trash by relatives of a genealogist because they didn’t know how to get into it or because they didn’t really know that it was loaded with years of research. I want my research in lots of different places so that my appointed people must trip over it as well as seek it out on my computer which, hopefully, has a an updated format. Each of us has to decide for themselves how they want to maintain their research but I suggest that you keep it in many, different places and formats and also designate who can get to it after you die and give them the passwords.
One of my biggest fears is that my kids, who aren’t really interested in the history, will throw out my 50 years of research as “junk” because they don’t want it. My niece, promised me that she wouldn’t let them! I asked her if she wanted it and she said no…but I won’t let them throw it out! I have left instructions with my kids that if no one wants it to donate the BLUM family history to the Plankinton, SD Historical Society. The NUTSCH family is to go to the Washington Co., Kansas society. I have yet to conclude as to what to do with the PIERCE and McCOLLUM family as they were EVERYWHERE. However, the Pierce family beginnings were mostly from Smyth CO, Virginia and the McCollums from Randolph, NC. so they could possibly go there. The point I’m getting out is to have a plan so someone doesn’t load up your years of hard work and take it to the river which is what happened to a lot of my grandmother’s things.
THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN
Having scanned thousands of family photos, I can offer a few things that I wish I’d known before I started!
1. If there is writing on the back, make a copy (not a scan) of that, then scan it along with the photo, as close to the photo as possible so you can crop it as part of the photo, then you won’t have to try to figure out which back goes with which photo, if they get separated as many of mine did when my photo program decided to shuffle them like a deck of cards!
2. If your scanner allows you to name them, do that as you scan.
3. If you’re going to remove photos from an album to scan or to move them into archival albums, either scan or take a photo of each page, then you can put them back in the same order, someone put them in that order for a reason!
4. Last, an easy way to share them with family is to start a Facebook page just for family and invite everyone who’s part of that family, then ask them to invite other family members that you may not know. By doing that, I’ve gotten many unidentified photos identified, have gotten a lot of great family stories about the people in the picture, and met cousins I didn’t know before!
Remember, your files and scrapbooks, or boxes of photos will not be just for you. Someday, someone will have to go through them. If your filenames don’t make sense or don’t clearly tell who is in them, future family members might just delete them, or throw them out thinking they are the usual junk photos that people nowadays accumulate on their devices. With NAMES in the filename people are more prone to notice and save the files.
So let’s get organized starting with what you have on your computer now. In my next post I will give you some tips on scanning and organizing those pictures in the old family albums and boxes. If you enjoyed this post or have some ideas that you would like to share, please leave me a comment below and let us hear from you.
Louisville, Nebraska was founded by Captain J T A Hoover in 1857. Our Blum Family settled in and around the Louisville area so I think it only fitting that I give a little insight on the area. Lawrence Duerr shared his recollections of early Louisville and much of what I share here is from his memories. He was 80 years old when he wrote down his memories and shared them with family.
A Bit of the Family Tree
Lawrence Duerr was the grandson of Christian Duerr and Mary Ann Huber. His grandmother Mary Ann was the daughter of Jacob Huber , and the sister of George John Huber the husband of Great Aunt Minnie Moessinger, our great grandmother Louise’s sister. George and Mary Ann Huber were children of Jacob and Mary M Huber.
Christian Duerr was born May 7, 1841 in Wittenburg, Germany and came to America October 12, 1864. From there he went to Dayton, Ohio where his brother Gottleib lived. Mary Ann was born Feb 2, 1846 in Greenville, Ohio and she married Christian in 1866. They migrated to Nebraska in 1869 arriving at Plattsmouth April 9, 1869. They settled a mile south of where the town of Louisville is situated. It was in the vicinity of where our Blum family eventually settled. As a mater of fact, Aunt Minnie was the one that told Grandpa Andrew about the land he eventually bought and settled on. Next door lived Mary Ann’s uncle Captain J T A Hoover. Captain Hoover moved from Ohio to Nebraska around 1857 with an account of $325.
Jacob Huber and Captain Hoover were brothers, Jacob keeping the German spelling and Captain Hoover taking on the English spelling. Jacob and Captian Hoover owned the land where Louisville now sits. Captain Hoover played an instrumental role in bringing the B &O Railroad to the area and they gave the railroad 1/3 of the town lots to lay out a town and establish a station there. Captain Hoover built the first house in the city of Louisville, Nebraska.
Jacob Huber’s family consisted of two sons, George and Phillip, and four daughters, Mary Ann, Kate, Caroline, and Christina.
Christian and Mary Ann had four children, George born in Ohio, Philip, Lucy, and Anna, the latter three born in Louisville, Nebraska.
Philip married Anna Bell Leddy of South Bend. they had three children, John, Stella, and Charles.
Anna Duerr married John Leddy also of South Bend and they had one daughter, Della. They later divorced.
Lucy married Martin Zaar of South Bend and they had one adopted daughter, Florence. Florence was the first wife of our Great Uncle Martin Blum (grandmother Marie’s brother).
George Duerr married Rosanna Hartman of Chapman, Nebraska and they had two children, Lawrence and Ruth.
Lawrence Duerr first married Elsie Stulken of Selby, South Dakota. Elsie Frances Stulken (2nd cousin 1x removed) was born Feb 2, 1911 in Gleichen, Alberta, Canada to Henry and Anna Marie Huber (1st cousin 2x removed) . Anna Marie was the daughter of our Great Aunt Minnie Moesinger and husband George Huber. ( Are you confused yet? ) After Elsie’s death Lawrence married Elda Thieman (1st cousin 1x removed.) Elda was the daughter of Ida Blum (sister to Grandmother Marie) and Herman Thieman.
Lawrence and Elsie had three children (third cousins), Marie Anne, Marlene, and Gail.
MEMORIES of LAWRENCE DUERR
BIRTH15 OCT 1910•Louisville, Cass, Nebraska, United States
DEATH16 JUL 1997•Riverview Cemetery, Cass Co, Louisville, NE
written in 1991
“My early recollections of Louisville 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 cream station). Ben Hoover’s Jewelry and Watch Repair. Another building housed a shoe repair shop, a restaurant, Wm. Dier’s General Store and Blake’s Drugstore. Across the street going North was Kraft’s Store, a Saloon, Pankonin’s Implement Store, Edgar Pankonin’s Repair Shop, another building that housed a sort of variety store, Frank Buckman’s Bakery and Bob 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. There were 2 more building that I don’t know what was in them. The the old Joyland Theater, then a row of small frame building. 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, and the telephone office, and Metz Saloon. I have no recollection of the next 2 building, Dr. Worthman’s office was on the corner. Across the street south was the Star Livery Barn.
Stander and Stander sold gasoline. It first 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 pumped 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 vegetable, fruit, milk and butter.
Louisville at that time had 3 general merchandise stores that sold groceries and 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 mild cow. Some boys had the chore of taking the cows to pasture every morning and bringing them in again at night. More affluent fold 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 right could also be rented by the hour or day.
Life was simpler in those times. Everyone wasn’t running madly hither and yon. 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 were a 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 bring 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 the roads and the cord tire appeared. Also anti freeze was unknown before 1927. the first gravel was put on the 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 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 graveled. 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 for 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 thing 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 any 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 Dist. 86 School Board and served continuous for 21 years.Then in 1946 I was elected Justice of the Peace for 1 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 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 five bushels was my limit. As the corn picker was developed, a tractor mounted picker could pick 600 bushels an hour. However, they grind up the corn cobs.
Back to myself again…by and large, I had an enjoyable childhood. Even dangerous sometimes…for instance when when I was 6 1/2 years old I poured kerosene on a bed of live coals and blew up the stove and got fried GOOD! I out grew 995 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 the shot gun, go hunting”. I shot once, it kicked like a mule, I went back home and never took it again!
When I was 3 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 it’s time, had acetylene 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 the 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 that evaporated badly. Some tried glycerin in the radiators before but it would seep out and also turn the consistency of spaghetti. Father kept that car until 1922-an old gentleman, Noah Stafford always wanted to buy it. He finally must have mad 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 lights, electric starter, demountable rims and a spare tire.
In 1913 Father also traded his Edison Cylinder Record Phonograph on a new 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 la
We had an eight acre orchard. Mostly summer apples. Once in a while father would ship a carload, but usually there wasn’t too much 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, O Boy, I’m a man now! Running a walking plow isn’t hard work. Just walking and having a hold on the handles. We had 60 acres or so to plow every fall. With 2, 16 inch plows! In later years I figured how far one walks to plow 1 acres with a 16 inc plow-about 7 1/2 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 mabe a stage play ws 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 school house. Ladies and girls would fix up a pretty box with lunch for two and they were auctioned off. Some of the fellow 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 and era of good times. Sporty roadsters with rumble seats, girls bobbed their hair, put on lots of make up and work 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
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 ice-less 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!”
Special thank you to Lawrence for keeping us informed on what “history” really was. I hope you enjoyed todays read and if so, please leave me a comment at the bottom of the page. If you have memories you would like to share…I’d love to hear it.
Ah it’s been a difficult winter hasn’t it? Here in Kansas we had tons of snow and then rain. Nebraska is flooding. People are complaining.
When things get difficult I often reflect on how things were for our ancestors. We are so spoiled if we stop to think how things were for them. They had no air conditioning or central air to keep them comfortable, no heated cars to jump into only a horse to cuddle up to to keep warm. They struggled every day to survive. Here are some interesting facts from England in the 1500’s and how it use to be. Next time you start to feel frustrated with your situation…stop and reflex on what your ancestors coped with.
Marriage in June
Most people got married in June because they too their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hid the body odor.
Want a bath?
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water. All of the other sons and men in the house were next. Finally the women and then the children. Last was all of the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
Raining Cat’s and Dogs
Houses had thatched roofs, thick with straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm with the weather was cold, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals such as mice, and bugs, lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. From this we get the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs!”
A Canopy Bed
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. The was a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could make a mess on your nice clean bed. People would make beds with big posts and hang a sheet over the top to give a bit of protection from the falling debris. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was made of dirt. Only the very wealthy had something other than a dirt floor and therefore those with dirt floors were “dirt poor” . The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they would spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they could continue to add more straw or thresh as it was called, until it would start slipping outside when the door was pushed open. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance and so the term “threshold” was born.
How many of you remember the rhyme “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old”?
In the old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that would hang over the fire. Every day they would light the fire and add things to the pot. They mostly ate vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it and it had been there for quite awhile, hence the rhyme.
Chewing the Fat
Occasionally they were able to obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors would come, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man “could bring home the bacon” They would cut off a little to share with guest and would all sit around and “chew the fat”.
Tomatoes were Poisonous
People with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content would cause some of the lead to leach onto the food and cause lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were consider poisonous.
Most people did not have pewter plates but rather trenchers, which was a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Often trenchers were made from stale bread that was so old and hard they could be used for quite some time. Trenchers were never washed and would and mold got into the wood and old bread. After eating of wormy, moldy trenchers one would get what they called “trench mouth”.
Bread was divided according to status. Workers would get the burnt bottom of the loaf, and the family got the middle. Guest would get the top or the “upper crust” .
I hope you’ve enjoyed a little trip back in time. Next time you want to complain stop and think how it “could be” or how it “was”. It’s amazing so many survived to leave a heritage. If you’ve enjoyed this or know of where an old time saying originated…please share with us in the comments!