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Brantford, Washington Co., Kansas, A Ghost Town

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.

 

BRANTFORD, KANSAS

 

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.

 

Brantford Township, Washington County, KS

 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.

Brantford Creamery
Brantford Creamery

A Creamery

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.

The Frank Seifert Home

McKenzie’s Mill

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

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.

 

 

Brantford school 1966

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.

Brantford school 2019

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

 

Zion Lutheran Church
Brantford Township
Brantford, Washington, Kansas

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.

Lets keep our memories alive!

Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gottfried Henry the first Nutsch Immigrant

Gottfried Nutsch

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.

As Always, Happy Hunting

The Pierce family Historian

The other side: Nutsch

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 Nutsch

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.

Gottfried Nutsch

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.

Robert Seidel Family
Albert, Robert I, Joseph, John, Mariea (Nutsch), Robert II and Emma

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.)

John and Pauline Nutsch

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.

Johanna and children
Johanna and children

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.

A Home of one of the first Nutsch’s 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!

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian

 

ORGANIZING DIGITAL PHOTOS

 

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!

PHOTOS

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.

  1. Step one was to get all the family photo’s into the FAMILY folder.
  2. Step two was to move the photo’s into the appropriate SURNAME folder.
  3. 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.

FILE NAMES

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.

 

 

Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian

 

How It Used To BE

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.

Dirt Poor

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.

Peas Porridge

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.

Trench Mouth

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”.

Upper Crust

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!

As Always!

Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian

OUR HERITAGE; THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY VALUES

 

If you’ve been following along,  by now you can see that our eighth, ninth and tenth great ancestors played a fundamental role in the development of our first colonies in the United States. Some came from Royalty if the lines are  followed back far enough, and yet they were men and women of strength and perseverance, to flee the persecution in their homelands, and to suffer the religious wars of the time.  This group of friends worked together and shared each others hardships and trials and together not only built a legacy for their descendants, built  homes and businesses from little and became the leaders of the communities and states.  These are the men and women from which our DNA has been pasted down for generations, and of that we have much to be proud of. The importance of family values in their daily living is proved to us time and time again as we learn more and more about their lives.

They, being fishermen, farmers, religious advocates, politicians, having little of the means needed to do such, they still persevered.

One can only  imagine, the fatigue and desperation they felt at times. The put their heads together and  they pooled their resources and trudged on. Which reminds me of Grandpa Blum’s theology “ALWAYS FORWARD”. They leaned on each other for answers and though there were disagreements that arose among st them, when push came to shove they stood strong together and stood for what they believed.

Their children grew up in tight knit communities, living, playing, celebrating and worshiping and eventually marrying and prospering.

When new opportunities arose such as the settling of new territories, they moved together. Eventually they migrated from coast to coast leaving behind them a trail of prosperity for all of us to follow.

Together they buried their babies, and loved ones, and endured  hardships that we have never had to know. They truly showed us the value of family, community and friendship.

At one time it was said that of the five thousand  inhabitants of Nantucket, all of them were cousins.

The more searching and information I gain in my research it is reasonable to assume that we are kin to ALL of Smyth Co., West Virginia, Guilford Co., North Carolina, St. Clair., Missouri, and Atchinson Co., Missouri. Heck, I’m starting to think all of Missouri is our KIN! Along the way they dropped off KIN in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and from there every which way to the west coast.

Our ancestors being the first to homestead, clear the land, and plow the ground all a crossed this great country. Somewhere, I read that 60% of our ancestors became farmers. Many well to do and prestigious men took to farming. Much of that of course was out of necessity. It was popular for them to gather as much land as possible. Many of them owning thousands of acres at the end of their lives.

Aside from that they built schools, railroads, roads, and cities for those that laid down roots.  It’s hard to fathom the strength it took these individuals, both emotionally and physically,  to leave behind what they had built..and many times their family and friends…and wander out into the wilderness to break new ground.

Providing for their families was always the highest on the list of priorities and to leave them with something better first and foremost.  There were times when doing just that was next to impossible, yet they struggled forward. Among them were warriors, doctors, lawyers, politicians, plantation owners, slave owner, carpenters merchants, brewers, etc. Trades were past down to new generations as well as large acreages of land..eventually divided into parcels to be left to their heirs.

It’s from all of these we must succumb…as we have so very much reason to hold our head high when we proclaim our Heritage.

I am proud to state…

“I AM A PIERCE”

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian

As always,  thanks for stopping by and if you like what your reading, let me know by leaving a message in the comments. If there is anything about the family that you would like to know about, let me know that also. I love being able to share with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IS BLACK FRIDAY A HOLIDAY TRADITION TODAY

IS BLACK FRIDAY A HOLIDAY TRADITION TODAY

Wow..in no time Thanksgiving will be upon us. My brother and his wife are planning to host the dinner this year and she sent a message to us asking who was going to be there. That got my head churning and remembering all the Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Easters we had with family when we were growing up and the memories we have due to it. Call them traditions…they use to be. I’m not sure families honor traditions like they use to as I can barely get my family all under the same roof without issue, but perhaps some do. Today Black Friday seems to have become a TRADITION.

What family traditions have you carried on when it comes to the hoidays?

What are some of the memories that come to mind when you think of them?

One of the Thanksgivings that stands out to me the most is the time that we all went to Omaha to my Uncle Martin and Aunt Mary Blums. Mom and Dad went somewhere…I think with Uncle Martin, and meanwhile us kids stayed with Aunt Mary as she was getting things ready for dinner. I’m not sure how long they were gone, and kids don’t pay attention much to what grownups do, but apparently Aunt Mary was having a little nip as she was preparing the meal. She got drunk and fell down in the kitchen as she was getting a pot out of the cabinet. I don’t recall thinking of it as anything but an accident. She got up and carried on and dinner went on as planned as far as I remember. But perhaps there was more to the story than I remember, as I recall Herb and Una Jean driving us kids back to Grandmas, and discussing it on the way how deplorable to do such a thing in the presence of all these kids, and I remember Aunt Mary telling Mom and Dad that Marty was mad at her.

We almost always went to families for a holiday dinner back in those days unless Mom and Dad hosted it that year and they came to us…but tradition then was to get together with family, and cousins grew up knowing each other familiarly. I’m curious as to how many families still do that?

I mean it was nothing for someone to drive 8 hours or more to spend the day with the family. Heck, I remember loading my kids up and driving from Colorado to Missouri to spend the holiday at my parents or the family of my husband. It was more or less expected of you.

ONE OF MY WORST THANKS GIVING MEMORIES

One time I took the bus.. seven months pregnant, with my 2 boys, 9 months and 3 years from Dodge City, Kansas, to Springfield, MO.  to have Thanksgiving with the family. That was just one of the most miserable trips ever with my kids. On the way home the bus stopped in Joplin and I bought the boys a hamburger. (my kids, all three of them, had a tendency to get car sick) We barely made it out of Joplin when Joey got sick and puked all over my pregnant stomach, and then Stevan did too! The bus driver scolded me for cussing. I stripped Stevan down to his diaper, but I was stuck wearing my puky clothes until someone on the bus asked the driver if he would stop and let me get a clean top out of the suitcase. Never the less I had to deal with the ick until we got to Witchita.

But my point is…you just did it. You didn’t think about how long the drive was, you just knew that that was what was expected of you for the holiday. Does anyone do that anymore?

As everyones family grew, Mom would plan Thankgiving dinner as our once a year family get together and we were just more or less expected to be there. I remember one time my dad sending me gas money so that I wouldn’t miss it. As the families grew and more and more of the children became parents, the tradition more or less faded away. Mom didn’t expect them to come at Christmas, as she felt the kids should be able to stay home and play with their new toys, and  to be home on that day. However, Thanksgiving was one day a year she wanted her kids together.

Then when the kids kids started having kids, the family seemed to just split up and the only ones that came were the single ones that had no where else to go. I haven’t had a holiday dinner with my three kids and all the grandkids together since 2000. I’m still invited of course to the homes of other family members, but it really isn’t the same, as when the whole dang gang was together and there were kids running around everywhere, hanging out with cousins, and most likely doing something to get in trouble.

BLACK FRIDAY

Now of course,  the tradition is what is called “Black Friday”. Who does that? I did ONCE back in the 80’s and that was once enough for me. Yet there are a lot of people who do it. Heck, I think the last Thanksgiving dinner we had a bunch of them planned ahead to put it on the agenda. So that got me thinking (oh dear watch out when I start thinking) when did all this “Black Friday” start anyway? Have you ever wondered that or have you just got caught up in it? When I lived in Washington, I knew people who would get together with family members and take the train to Oregon for Black Friday because there was no tax in Oregon they figured it paid for the train trip.

So here’s the Scoop

According to wikipedia:

“Related to Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Christmas, Buy Nothing Day
Black Friday is an informal name for the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, the fourth Thursday of November, which has been regarded as the beginning of the country’s Christmas shopping season since 1952, although the term “Black Friday” did not become widely recognised or used until the early 2000s.”

Can you beleive that?

Since 1952…heck that was before I was born!!! I don’t recall it being all that popular until perhaps the late 80’s, but then time flies doesn’t it?

“Most major retailers open very early, as early as overnight hours, and offer promotional sales. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day After Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday.  Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.”

I actually know people who will go the night before or get up at like 3 in the morning to go stand in line or camp out just to be the first one in the door! ARE YOU FOR REAL?! I for one do not want anything that bad!

Black Friday has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States since 2005, although news reports,  have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. Similar stories resurface year upon year at this time, portraying hysteria and shortage of stock, creating a state of positive feedback.”

“In 2014, spending volume on Black Friday fell for the first time since the 2008 recession. $50.9 billion was spent during the 4-day Black Friday weekend, down 11% from the previous year. However, the U.S. economy was not in a recession. Christmas creep (you know where they keep creeping closer and closer to SUMMER!) has been cited as a factor in the diminishing importance of Black Friday, as many retailers now spread out their promotions over the entire months of November and December rather than concentrate them on a single shopping day or weekend.”

It is crazy to see Christmas gearing up before Halloween is even over with. 

I for one HATE shopping with a passion and steer clear of the stores during the holiday season if at all possible. I find people rude and grouchy and pushy and shovey and they don’t act to me like people with the spirit of the holiday in their hearts.

“The earliest evidence of the phrase Black Friday applied to the day after Thanksgiving in a shopping context suggests that the term originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. This usage dates to at least 1961. More than twenty years later, as the phrase became more widespread, a popular explanation became that this day represented the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, thus going from being “in the red” to being “in the black”.” (makes sense right?)

For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Bealls) opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting calls for a walkout among some workers. In 2014, stores such as JCPenney, Best Buy, and Radio Shack opened at 5:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day while stores such as Target, Walmart, Belk, and Sears opened at 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day.Three states, Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts, prohibit large supermarkets, big box stores, and department stores from opening on Thanksgiving, due to what critics refer to as blue laws.

BLACK FRIDAY GOES ONLINE

“There have been reports of violence occurring between shoppers on Black Friday. Since 2006, there have been 10 reported deaths and 111 injuries throughout the United States.It is common for prospective shoppers to camp out over the Thanksgiving holiday in an effort to secure a place in front of the line and thus a better chance at getting desired items. This poses a significant safety risk, such as the use of propane and generators in the most elaborate cases, and in general, the blocking of emergency access and fire lanes, causing at least one city to ban the practice. Since the start of the 21st century, there have been attempts by retailers with origins in the United States to introduce a retail “Black Friday” to other countries around the world.”

With that being said, it’s no wonder many have chosen to steer clear of the stores during this holiday may ham and find a better alternative, that being Cyber Shopping. And notably the online shopping malls are aware of it and  giving the shopper what they want by offering the same savings online without the push shove hustle bustle of going to the physical store, and in some cases you can get next day shipping.

Some of your online shopping stores are opening up deals earlier this year.

Walmart, for instance is opening up “Black Friday” savings on the 21st of NOV at 6 p.m.

Target Black Friday deals will start online on Thanksgiving morning. Time limitations: Doors will open at 5 pm local time on Thanksgiving, but deals will be available online before then.

Best Buy is opening it’s doors online at 5 pm Nov 21 to 1 am Friday the 23.

Amazon is already promoting it’s Black Friday deals as their deals started the 1st of Nov.

If you are like me and want to AVOID the death of BLACK FRIDAY click  here and lets  go shopping! I know this is where I will do mine!

Thanks for sharing a few memories with me! I hope ya enjoyed it and perhaps it stirs up a favorite memory of yours. If it did I would love to hear it! Leave me a story in the comments below and lets have a laugh together!

As Always

Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian

 

Santa Claus is Coming and So is Black Friday

Santa Claus is Coming and So is Black Friday

Christmas is creeping up on us and though there are some that enjoy going to the mall and wrestling with the hustle and bustle of Christmas crowds when the weather is cold and nasty, the majority of people are happy these days to stay home and order their purchases online. Remember the day when you waited impatiently for the Sears and Roebuck Christmas catalog to get there. We would spend hours going through the toy section of the catalog dreaming of what Santa would bring us. Now we browse sites like Amazon and Ebay and dream of what we would like.  That being said I am going to show you a few things that you might consider while shopping for your family genealogist.

Even A Genealogist Needs A Tool Box

One wouldn’t think there was much a genealogist would need but actually we have quite a list. I hope to share some ideas with you that might make the genealogist in your life smile.

Some things to consider:

Three ring notebooks, File Folders, Plastic Sleeves, Scrap booking supplies

One never has enough room for storage of family papers, photos, and records. These things are essentials for the genealogist. You might even want to add some fancy boxes to store pictures and papers in while the work is in process.

Scrap booking supplies could include fancy papers, scrap books, plastic sleeves for finished projects, markers, pens, embellishments, glue, scissors, stamps, stickers. The list is endless.

How about a nicely framed family tree chart that can be filled out and hung on the wall. You can find free printable ones on Pinterest and have it framed at Michel’s or Hobby Lobby. Your genealogist is always trying to find new ways to show off their work.

Journals make nice gifts and genealogist love having them to write things down in. We seldom let any bit of information get past us.

Try filling the Tool box with some of the things your genealogist will use!?

SUBSCRIPTIONS

How about a one year subscription to Ancestry or My Heritage?

Has your genealogist had their DNA done?…if not they would love a test and you can buy them for anyone. (Some are being sold in stores now.) There are several to choose from and they will probably have a special on them with the holiday season coming up. Ancestry, 123 and ME, and My Heritage are the most popular but there are other good ones out there. A simple search of  Amazon will bring up a few to pick from. I will be doing a review of some of the different ones down the road.

Perhaps you have a beginner genealogist that needs some help. There are some great learning tools in the Kindle store to help your genealogist in their search. Aside from that there are tons and tons of books on genealogy and history to choose from. Try Kindle Unlimited! 

Computers, Scanners, and Ipads

One of my favorite tools is the good ole Ipad. It’s invaluable for your traveling genealogist. The camera comes in handy for scanning photos and taking cemetery pictures that can easily be uploaded to the program of your choice.

External hard drive

Back up is always important so  consider an external hard drive. Make sure it has some a good amount of storage on it.

Scanner

A good scanner is also a necessity for the genealogist that collects records and pictures. They can scan their records to files on their computer as well as up load them to their tree on ancestry. I personally would love to have a mobile rechargeable scanner that could be taken with me when I visit other family members in search of old family photos and documents. I especially like the ones you can feed the pages into as it makes the work seem less agonizing! 

Laminator 

This is a fun tool to help in saving papers though I have heard that they are not good for archival papers. That is always something to keep in mind when preserving documents. You might want to check google to see what some of the best methods are. (a little research doesn’t hurt). Personally I use mine most in saving news articles after they have been scanned so that I can put them into a scrapbook. It might not be the best way to save them but it works for me and after it’s been scanned it can always be retrieved. Don’t forget to throw in an extra box of sheets to go with it!

Printer

A good printer is also a necessity for your genealogist, and while your at it don’t forget the ink and paper! We go through a lot of that and the expense adds up so any help you give your special person in that area is always appreciated.

Thumb drives

Thumb drives are a handy tool for all genealogist. They are essential for library visits and backing up your work.

Software programs

Software programs are always a nice add on to the tools of a genealogist. Check out some of the latest family tree software. It might be just the thing.

Computer

A new computer? I personally have my eyes on one with double monitors. Double monitors! That is so handy when moving information from one program to another without having to type it all in. Simply copy and paste! Someone told me that there are new computers with built in scanners!!! WHAT! I would love one of those.

 

I hope this relieves some of the pain of “WHAT DO I GET MY GENEALOGIST” for Christmas and helps you choose something for them they will love! I KNOW I would if you are looking for something for me!

As always, leave me a comment, and if you have ideas to add please do share.

Merry Christmas Shopping!

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Genealogist

 

Monetizing your Passion for Genealogy

Do you have a HUGE Passion for Genealogy?

Have you ever wondered, how could you make a living doing something you love and do everyday anyway? Work is not work when you are doing something you are passionate about.

I know myself I always wondered what I could do to monetize my passion, and get paid for something that I absolutely love to do. Perhaps there is something else that you are passionate about or you would just like to find your passion? Say dogs or animals for instance…have ya ever given thought to the fact that there might just be a way that you can turn that into income?

We’ve all heard the talk about what it cost to open a franchize, or run a brick and mortar type of business. We know that if you really want to do something you will find a way. We know that going to school for four years (or more) to get a degree is the most preferred avenue…but maybe just maybe there is another way?

Perhaps you’ve tried MLM’s or selling at home to make a few extra bucks but just nothing ever worked out. You took the training, you paid for training, you watched the videos and followed the advice of everyone from your upline to the guru’s and nothing worked. The truth is most MLM’s are designed to see you fail and 97 percent of people will.

What if I told you that you don’t have to do it on your own?

What if there was a coaching program out there that will guide you step by step, inch by inch, and that didn’t cost an arm and a leg to participate in?  What if I told you you could do it for FREE? What if there was a community in place that WANTS to see you succeed? What if I told you there are people waiting for you to ask for their help? Would that give you a little more incentive to get started with your own business?

I was like you.

I wanted so badly to find a way to make a few extra bucks at home. I know people are doing it online all the time. I mean every web page you go to will take you to a landing page asking you to sign up for their newsletter. I started taking every training there was available (and could have gone to college for what I’ve spent!) but the frustration of not know how to do what they were training was just total overwhelming! And I was still asking myself “HOW DO THEY DO THAT!”

You have to have a BLOG, you have to have a web page, you have to have a landing page, and a capture page, etc etc etc BUT NO ONE WOULD HELP set it all up!

There was no one to talk to.

There was no one that would show you how. Some said they would help but when you ask a question it would be crickets…or they would re direct you back to a video that didn’t answer your question the first time. I spent hours and hours watching videos and going back through the steps. Heck, half the time I had no idea what they were even talking about.

Eventually I just gave up.

I just didn’t understand enough or know enough to do this. One day I was signing up for a group on facebook that offered help tips for business owners and my world took a different path. There was a link there that said if you wanted help to click here….so I did…and it took me to a page that told me about WA. At the end of the article the guy said that if I would sign up he would HELP me …that I would never be ALONE! For some reason, I believed him.  I sent him a message…not really expecting to hear anything back from him and asked him if he really would help.

I got the most awesome response from him.

DID I MENTION IT WAS FREE!

I joined and was anxious to get started.  I had this “ya,ya…but it’s free only til you want to know something”…playing in the back of my head…”then they are going to make you pay for it!”

This is not the case with WA. They have the most awesome online community in place where all your questions can be answered within minutes…NOT DAYS.

They literally walk you through step by step so the average “no clue” person can make sense out of it. It’s all done in a very laid back manner that is easy to follow, and you can work at your own pace. NO PRESSURE! As a matter a fact they help take the pressure off.

No HYPE get rich schemes here either. They tell it like it is. IT’S GOING TO TAKE TIME, COMMITMENT, AND PERSISTANCE! but if you follow the plan and the steps they lay out…you can do it like the big guys.

That was four months ago

I can’t begin to tell you how my life has changed. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time… that it’s now time for me to give back! I want to see YOU succeed at your passion also. And I will be there to help in each and every way along the journey. All you have to do is ask, right along with the rest of the community cheering you on to success.

Check it out! I’m sure you won’t regret it.

If ya have any questions at all leave them in the comments below and I’ll get right back to you! I so look forward to working with you.

Oh right…Did I mention it was FREE?

I wish you the best of success!

and Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian.

 

Cecil L Pierce: A Shearer of Sheep

Cecil Lon Pierce
1934

Cecil Lon Pierce was born January 24 1928 in Beatrice, Gage County, Nebraska to Venus and Marie (Blum) Pierce, he was also my father and a man that I not only admired but adored. He was my hero and there was no other like him.

He was the third son to be born to Venus and Marie and the first of the children to be born in a hospital. I asked him why he was born in a hospital as the other two had been born at home. He said he didn’t know but maybe they had worry of problems. Grandmother Marie had lost a baby at 5 months prior to her pregnancy with Cecil. She thought it was caused from riding in a buck board wagon.

Growing up on a farm  in rural Nebraska was hard as he lived through the great depression. The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in US history. It began in 1929 and did not abate until the end of the 1930s. The stock market crash of October 1929 signaled the beginning of the Great Depression. By 1933, unemployment was at 25 percent and more than 5,000 banks had gone out of business. This is only part of the story.

Farmers struggled with low prices all through the 1920s, but after 1929 things began to be hard for city workers as well. After the stock market crash, many businesses started to close or to lay off workers. Many families did not have money to buy things, and consumer demand for manufactured goods fell off. Fewer families were buying new cars or household appliances. People learned to do without new clothing. Many families could not pay their rent. Some young men left home by jumping on railroad cars in search of any job they could get. Some wondered if the United States was heading for a revolution.

During World War I, farmers worked hard to produce record crops and livestock. When prices fell they tried to produce even more to pay their debts, taxes and living expenses. In the early 1930s prices dropped so low that many farmers went bankrupt and lost their farms. In some cases, the price of a bushel of corn fell to just eight or ten cents. Some farm families began burning corn rather than coal in their stoves because corn was cheaper. Sometimes the countryside smelled like popcorn from all the corn burning in the kitchen stoves.

Daddy told me that they would collect corn cobs and sticks just to get enough food for the horses in the winter.

In some ways farmers were better off than city and town dwellers. Farmers could produce much of their own food while city residents could not. Almost all farm families raised large gardens with vegetables and canned fruit from their orchards. They had milk and cream from their dairy cattle. Chickens supplied meat and eggs. They bought flour and sugar in 50-pound sacks and baked their own bread. In some families the farm wife made clothing out of the cloth from flour and feed sacks. They learned how to get by with very little money. But they still had to pay their taxes and debts to the bank in cash.

These were tough times on the farms. There was such a surplus in 1933 that the AAA called for the destruction of some crops and livestock. But the following year, nature more than eliminated the surplus. In the plains states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, the lack of rain had dried up much of the topsoil and blow it half way across the continent. All across the Midwest severe heat and drought parched the land. Many families lost all they had and hearing of the riches in the west packed up what they had and went to California, Oregon, and Washington to find a better way. Those that stayed…struggled desperately. There was such a surplus in 1933 that the AAA called for the destruction of some crops and livestock. But the following year, nature more than eliminated the surplus. In the plains states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, the lack of rain had dried up much of the topsoil and blown it half way across the continent. In Iowa severe heat and drought parched the land.

 

Cecil was the Team Manager
Reynolds basketball team

Cecil was raised on a farm near Reynolds, Nebraska and attended country school. I asked him if he walked to school or if Grandpa took him. He told me that he and his younger sister Carol had a white pony that they would ride to school. They would tie it to a tree and somehow the pony always got loose and went home…so they would have to walk home. One day they were on their way home from school and as most horses will do…it was in a hurry to get there. When they got to the drive the pony took a sharp turn into the drive and Cecil and Carol went flying into the culvert. Grandma was so so distraught that she didn’t like the children riding the pony after that.

 

Cecil’s brother Cliff told that as a child, Cecil was a cry baby. I don’t think he ever out grew that. He had a big heart and emotions overtook him at times. When Cecil was just a toddler, Marie was dressing chickens. Back  then  they would boil large pots of water outdoors over a fire, and dunk the chickens into the pot to make the feathers easier to pluck. Cecil got a little too close to the pot and knocked the boiling water over on him. Cliff remembers him crying for days as Marie tried to console him by rocking him. Whatever treatment they used back then must have been good because he was not scarred from the accident.
ROUNDING UP THE RABBITS
Jackrabbit drives in  midwest were viewed as a battle of survival between farmers and the rabbits during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the mid 1930s. The land was plagued with hoards of  Lepus californicus melanotis, black-tailed jackrabbits. These jackrabbits were migratory and ate green plants and their roots. Adults were capable of producing three to eight offspring every 32 days.  Reminiscent of the grasshoppers 60 years earlier, the rabbits ate everything in their path. Thus, the few farmers who eeked out crops had to cope with the rabbits demolishing their livelihood.
In early years the rabbits had been a blessing to people of the Midwest as they provided a meal or two but now they had become a nuisance and the need to diminish the population was vital. They would have hunts where as the farmers would come together and surround a field and round up the rabbits by walking them to the center of the field and clubbing them. Cecil participated in one such hunt, and he said it was the most horrible brutal thing he had ever witnessed. He never did it again. Cecil had a tender heart, and it wasn’t any easy thing for him to kill an animal. We was never a hunter, but did love to fish.

While walking to school Cliff and Cecil decided to stop and check some traps that Cliff had set out. There was a skunk in the trap and they both got sprayed. When they got to school the teacher sent them home as the smell was too bad for anyone to take.

Cecil went to Reynolds High School, in Reynolds, Nebraska and graduated in the 1945-46 school year. He was not able to participate in sports due to the work he was required to do at home on the farm. All he knew growing up was work. They worked hard to keep things going. He never acquired hobbies as some do as his whole life revolved around hard work .His father Venus Vern Pierce died of a stroke in 1948. At that time his brother John came back and took over the farm and Cecil became a laborer on the farm. Even his mother told that it was not right what Johnny did but for some reason nothing was done about it.

I asked Cecil what was the naughtiest thing he ever did as a child? He laughed and then recalled that his mother had a big beautiful rooster on the farm, and though it was a beauty, it was mean and would attack him every time he walked across the yard. He was only about seven or eight years old, and he hated that rooster. One day he picked up a sie and when the rooster came at him he clobbered him with it. He thought he had killed it and he knew his mom was going to tan his hide for it. He picked the dead carcass up and laid it in the manger in the barn and waited to be found out! He said the next morning to his surprise the rooster was alive and well. It had come back from the dead but it never messed with him after that.
Another time he was playing with matches in the out house and started the outhouse on fire. He got a lickin for that one.
He said he had an old pocket watch that didn’t work, and he was playing around the well. He looked down into the well hole and saw all the gears turning in it and he just wondered what would happen if he dropped the watch down in there. So, he let go of it and down it went, getting hung up in the gears of the well, and the pump quit working. He said he never told anyone, and nothing was ever said about it but he was sure he had been the reason for the well needing to be fixed.

When WWII struck the United States, Cecil’s brothers Johnny and Cliff were drafted, and Cecil stayed home and took care of the farm with his father.

Cecil served in the National Guard for twelve years and was a Lance Corporal. He was part of the 353rd Military Police Co., in Fairbury, NE.  The personnel was composed of men from four counties — Jefferson, Thayer, Gage and Nuckolls– with the majority of the members being farmers from Jefferson county. The majority of the members went to Fort Leonard Wood, MO., for two weeks summer training. Company C was organize in 1948 when five officers and four enlisted men met in Fairbury with Major Carl Goering and began organizing a reserve unit in the city.

 

Cecil Pierce 194

On Feb 24, 1949 the first unit was formed, transferring Co. C, 310th Military Police Battalion from Omaha to Fairbury. It was this small group who foresaw an organized company of trained cadre should an emergency ever come.

National Guard
1948

Co. C was organised with Capt. Michael J Schmal named commanding officer. Their first summer field training at Camp McCoy, Wis., was in 1951. On April 19, 1952, when the 319th Battalion was deactivated the Fairbury unit survived the Army reorganization. This was the year the 320th Military Police Co. was transferred to Fairbury.

Following the summer field training at Camp McCoy , Col Hardin Sweeny, chief of the Nebraska Military District, and Col. Harry Baker, Nebraska senior Army instructor visited the local unit. It was then decided by the Nebraska Military District to transfer the 320th MP Co to Omaha and the 353rd MP Co. to Fairbury.

This was done Oct 10 1952–making the Fairbury unit in a class with pay every Wednesday night and a possible strength of six officer and 212 enlisted men. Cecil is among those listed on the 1953 roster. His rank was Lance Corporal.

Cecil met Peggy Nutsch from Haddam, Kansas at a dance, and after Peggy graduated from high school, they were married on the 24th of May, 1953 at the Four Square Church in Fairbury, Nebraska. It was a private ceremony with only their parents in attendance.

Cecil and Peggy Pierce
1953-2015

Peggy was a young 16 years old, a naive little farm girl from Haddam, Kansas. They moved in with Cecil’s mother Marie west and north of Reynolds. Shortly after their marriage, Peggy went with her parents to Wichita for a day. They got back late and Peggy stayed the night at her parents and they took her back to Reynolds the next day. Marie asked Cecil where Peggy was and he said he didn’t know. (He knew.) When Peggy came home Cecil’s brother Johnny came and gave her holey hell about leaving, as Marie (Cecil’s mother) had gone to Johnny and told him that she had left him.

John, Cliff, Marie, Cecil, and Carol

Johnny often bossed Cecil and not in a nice way.  There were times he would come to the house especially early in the mornings and come right into their bedroom and scream at Cecil to get up! Even with all the problems that Cecil dealt with with his brother Johnny, in his late years Cecil made that comment that he had been blessed with the best of brothers.  He never spoke ill of any of his siblings, or anyone else for that matter.

After this incident Cecil and Peggy made the decision that something had to change, and they moved to his brother Cliffs house south of Reynolds, as Cliff and his wife Barb were in California.

The couple went to Blair, Nebraska where Cecil had found work for awhile before they moved to a farm that Cecil bought with money he inherited from his father just north Hubbell, Nebraska, and farmed it for about five years. It was on this farm that Peggy and Cecil begin their family. In 1954 Feb. 22 their first daughter, Charline Lynnette Pierce was born in Hebron, Ne., coincidentally on the birthday of Cecil’s brother Johnny’s birthday. For years we always went to Uncle Johnny’s to celebrate the birthdays together.

Cecil Pierce Shearing

On the farm Cecil and Peggy had sheep and cattle as well as fields of crops and pasture. They found it difficult to find someone to shear when the time came so Cecil bought the equipment needed to do it himself and a new career came from it. He was a very good sheep shearer, self taught. He  traveled all over the mid-west, and was very well known for his talent. He could easily shear 150 head a day. Through out his life time he made most of his living shearing and claimed that it was from that income that he raised his children.

On June 19, 1955 the couple welcomed their first son, Jeffery Daniel Pierce to their family, also born in Hebron, Nebraska.

In 1956, the farm crops looked very good, but nature took it’s toll and all of the crop was lost due to hail and grasshoppers.  They were expecting their third child when they packed up that fall and traveled to Oregon where Peggy’s brother Jack was working. The Land of Milk and Honey!  Cecil obtained work as a welders helper on the ships in Portland, and they lived in an apartment in St. Helens.  In December, the 8th day, the sun was shining brightly when Peggy gave birth to their third child around noon.  When she left the hospital that evening with their new baby daughter, Susan Annette (myself), it was snowing big white flakes. The hospital bill was 98 dollars and it had to be paid before they left.  Joke was that they left Oregon without ever paying the doctor bill for the birth so I was to be on alert for repossession.  Cecil worked out the winter in Oregon, and they then returned to the farm in the spring of 1957 in time for planting. On the moved back to Nebraska they were caught in a snow storm and had to spend a couple of days in the basement of a church.

On  December 13, 1958 a second son was born and was named Henry David.  Cecil then bought a farm on the county line just south of  Narka, Kansas..  They called it the county line farm as it was right on the Republic/Washington Co. lines.  Here he and Peggy raised livestock, had an orchard, and acres of crops and pasture land.  Many times he would go to Haddam and work part time at the elevator, and still continued to shear sheep while Peggy was left alone with the farm work and children to tend. She loved the country life having grown up a farm girl herself.  While on the farm in Narka, Cecil and Peggy had two more children, Angelia Gail, born August 24, 1960 and Clifford Martin, born November 28, 1962.

Cecil and Peggy had a farm auction in December of 1964, sold the farm and moved to Byron, Nebraska early in 1965 where Cecil leased a tavern and ran it for a couple of years. Often during this time Peggy would work the tavern during the day and Cecil would shear sheep or work various other jobs.  A month after their move to Byron, Andrea Rose was born on February 15, 1965.  Cecil bought an empty building on main street in Byron and moved the tavern to that building. He received a liquor license and built a big dance floor and beer garden and had dances about once a month.

Cecil and Charline
1966
Pierce Tavern
Byron, Nebraska

Still while living in Byron, Cecil and Peggy received their last two children, Matthew Lon born June 15, 1966 and Beth Marie born April 26, 1968.

After seven years in Byron, in 1971 Cecil again became restless and they sold the tavern and home and made plans to move to Mankato, Kansas where the couple purchased Dreamliner Motel.Their oldest daughter Charline, married Wayne “Dink” Snyder that year on July 21 in Hebron, Nebraska. He was the son of Kenneth “RED” and Maxine HOLMES Snyder of Superior, Nebraska and was serving as a marine during the Vietnam war and was deployed at the time. They moved the family in the September of that year to the apartment attached to the motel.

The children started the school year in Mankato in August. Jeff and Susan were sophomores in high school. They would get the children up at 3 in the morning and Cecil would drive them to the Lovewell lake where they would meet the bus and ride to school from there. It made for very long days as it would be nearly 6 in the evening before they got home.  Annie (Andrea) was only in the first grade, and would fall asleep on the bus on the way home and Susan would carry her to the car where Cecil would be waiting for the children.

This business venture turned out to be a bad investment and after a long court battle, they bought a large Victorian home in Mankato and Cecil went to work at the Dubuque Packing plant until he opened up the first private club in Jewell County, Kansas and named it the Hideaway.  He did very well here and employed his three oldest daughters, his wife and several others and after three years they sold the club, had an auction where they sold most of their belongings and moved to Missouri. By this time only the three younger children remained at home.

Jeff had started his own mechanic business in Mankato after he graduated high school in 1974, and Susan married  Jack Alcorn son of Doyle and Barbara Alcorn on May 24, 1974 one week after her high school graduation. Henry graduated high school in 1976 and went to Beloit Vo Tech before he married Kimberly Elkins, May 25, 1980. She was the daughter of Bud and Kay Elkins.   Angelia graduated high school in 1978 and married Roger Reiter on May 28, son of Arnold and Pauline Reiter.  Clifford moved to Gordon, Nebraska where he worked putting up irrigation sprinklers.

In 1979 Cecil and what was left of the family at home, moved to Jenkins, Missouri.

Cecil didn’t like it in Missouri and was not happy about anything while they were there. Their youngest son Matt didn’t like Missouri either and moved back to Mankato where he lived with his older brother Jeff and sister Angelia until he was out of high school and able to support himself.   They struggled financially, as the sale of the Hideaway was to be their retirement money, however a few months after the move the Hideaway burned to the ground and they had to fight to recover the money.  During that time Cecil did some shearing and worked a few places, but just was never satisfied.  Peggy however, loved it there and she was able to work at her crafts and have her animals and the peace and quiet of the country. They had a nice home on an acreage in the country south of Aurora, Missouri.  Cecil put the property on the market and it sold right away to their surprise.  This resulted in the decision to move back to Kansas.

He and Peggy returned to the Narka, Kansas area in 1983 and they opened a restaurant/grocery store that they ran for nearly 20 years.   They left Missouri with only their youngest child, Beth remaining.  Andrea chose to stay in Missouri and finish her last year of high school and then married Doug Wilson of Aurora.  Cecil and Peggy operated the store and for a time the gas station.  He served on the city council and even took his turn at being mayor.

Upon reaching the age of retirement, Cecil closed the store, and worked part time in the nursing home in Belleville, Kansas.  He helped out at the elevator in town during the harvest, and mowed the city grass, and did other odd jobs until he just couldn’t do anything anymore. He raised dogs for awhile then phased that out. Peggy however, continued on with dog raising right up to the day of her death in 2017.

 

Cecil passed from this life on a Monday, May 11, 2015 at the Belleville Health Care Center where he had resided for three years,  at the age of 87 years, after suffering for several years from a paralyzed colon, high blood pressure and a series of strokes. He is buried at the Union Cemetery south of Narka, Kansas.

Cecil did various other jobs over the years, but was most proud of his sheep shearing skills. He felt his biggest blessings were his children and grandchildren and was extremely proud of all of them. He could hardly speak of his son’s without tears of pride coming to his eyes. At the time of his death he and Peggy had  28 grandchildren: 42 great grandchildren’ and a number of nieces and nephews.

Cecil Pierce Family
Cecil with Jeff and Charline
1956
Cecil with a few of his Grandchildren

A Poem For Daddy 

August 21, 2010

I looked out my kitchen window
and I saw coming up the road,
an old man in an electric chair
straying not to far from home.
He comes this way most everyday
after making rounds about the town,
to share the news he’s gathered –
he starts spreading it around.
He doesn’t always get his stories straight
and he never stays too long.
He just lets you know what he thinks he heard
and then he travels on.
He’s always in his overalls
with a dirty ole cap upon his head,
and occasionally he’ll be wearing
the jelly from his bread.
Sometimes he brings along advice of
to him what just looks wrong.
Sometimes he’s just been thinking
or has a job for you to do,
or he tells you ’bout his aches and pains
and complains of his age too.
Perhaps something compells him
to share a story now and then
of something he once did
or places that he’s been.
Tears will well up in his eyes
if he speaks about his kids.
Of all the things the years have given him
he hasn’t much to show
‘cept for the son’s and daughter’s,
that’s one thing that he know’s.
Cause, they’ll throw their arms around him,
to them he’s not so bad,
and he knows they really love him
every time they call him “Dad”.

by Susan Holmes

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