I took piano lessons in Evansville from Anna Dahl from age
11-14; she then married the banker, Alfred Lofgren, and moved
to Hoffman. The piano lessons were 35 cents and sheet music was
a dime. The Dahl's had a grocery store where we traded our 15
dozen of eggs for groceries. Before giving me a lesson, the Dahl's
usually treated me to a fancy lunch-something I was unaccustomed
to at the time. A little dainty sandwich, a cookie, a piece of
cake and coffee. If the weather was very cold, Anna would heat
up water and pour it into a large white bowl and I could warm
my hands so I could play better.
Anna Dahl gave a piano recital of her pupils and I won first
prize. Mrs. Wahien gave a reception at her house for all of Anna's
pupils. As I was the winner, I was asked to lead the rest around
the buffet table. Carl Linnard won the speaking contest at this
Some of the businesses located in town were: Bristol's Harness
Shop, Dahl's and Schwantz's grocery stores, Ostrom Hardware, two
banks, Cowden Drug and Hilda Johnson's hat store where ma and
I bought some of our hats too. The Mathieson brothers lived in
Evansville. One was an excellent M. D. and the other a dentist
who filled my teeth. He married an actress and after leaving Evansville,
they located in Chicago and practiced there.
Helen Kuhn Lane (sisters Julia, Mary and Frances), the wife
of Alden Lane and a cousin to Emma (Kuhn) Roers operated a restaurant
and above the restaurant sleeping rooms for railroad men. She
was a bundle of energy, always laughing and joking with her customers.
She would get up at four a. m. to bake eight pies, dish pans full
of donuts, cookies and very tender cakes to be served during the
day. At night, when we attended a dance there, at eleven p. m.
she would set out huge platters of sandwiches and cake for 25
cents per person and would still be full of the dickens. Up again
at four the next morning.
One scary happening I had during my many trips to Evansville
with ma's Dewey. When I got into town near the railroad tracks,
there was a coal shoot high up in the air where coal was elevated
into the train's coal car to fire the engine. As I approached
this area, a coal bucket was going up in the air and Dewey saw
this and panicked. He reared up on his hind legs and kept pawing
the air. I didn't know what to do! Luckily, a Mrs. Klien, wife
of the blacksmith, saw what had happened and she grabbed Dewey's
bridle to pull him down and got him quieted.
On another occasion, as I was driving home, I was singing one
of the popular songs of the day "When we two were Maying"
as loudly as I could. I was just passing a tall field of corn
and an Ellingson man jumped out of the corn, hands behind his
back and with wild eyes looked me over. I got so frightened and
I whipped Dewey to trot faster, but he refused to obey me. He
would trot for ma because he liked her and he knew I was a kid
and nothing had to obey a kid. Needless to say, that was the last
time I sang while traveling to Evansville.
A brief word about "my home town" of Millerville
and its environment. Tony Lorsung sold groceries and dry goods.
Ma bought Annie's wedding dishes from him. We also traded our
eggs for groceries too. So Aunt Emma Kotschevar would ask me every
time she saw me, "Lagen die henner gut?" Implying, if
they did, that we would buy more groceries from Tony because he
was Aunt Emma's son-in-law. I was getting fed up with this question,
so I finally answered, "Die lagen alle zwe's eier. "
That was the last time she asked, so she got the message. Peter
Lorsung had a harness shop and also sold shoes. Another Lorsung
(Dicka) operated a saloon and butcher shop. Matt Stariha had the
dance hall and saloon. Another saloon keeper was Valentine Thoennes.
Frank Buscher owned the bank (father of George in Alexandria)
and Jacob Thoennes was the blacksmith.
It was at Millerville where we attended church and where our relatives are buried. It was at this town's Catholic Church that I was baptized and received my catechism instructions. My parents spoke mainly English, but enough of the German language remained with my older brothers and sisters. However, German was the only language spoken in church and I was admonished to learn the prayers in German, namely the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Apostles' Creed. I refused to learn the catechism in German, so Father Wippich labeled me "sauer kraut Yankee. " I got orders from ma to learn the Apostles' Creed in German and OH it didn't make any sense. I would try to go as far as I could "Ich glaube im Gott der Vater, die allmechligist schiffels Himmel und die Erde" and then I'd get stuck. I didn't want to let on to ma that I was still having difficulty, so I'd go into the next room and beckon
Carrie by wiggling my finger for her to come and help me out.
"How does it go again?" I finally got it tight, but
have long forgotten the words or the meaning.
Another silly incident I remember from Catechism. We were sitting
at our desks. Ahead of me sat Annie Gluba and she always turned
around and looked at me. She kept repeating this for an extended
period of time and I had enough of this nonsense. So I said to
her, "Du bist verruckt" meaning you are crazy and she
began to cry. Father Wippich calls out "Gluba, was ist verkehrt"
(what's wrong) and she replied in Polish which I couldn't understand.
He said, "Sauer kraut Yankee, kumm raus. " I got a patsch,
patsch on each cheek! Then I said "Well, she keeps turning
around and looking at me!!!" So it was "Gluba, kumm
raus" and she too got a patsch, patsch on each cheek. This
was the first equal opportunity program.
When I was fourteen or so, ma sent me with a supply of food
to Skiles. Balthazar Wagner and Andrew Brozek were to build our
barn there and I was to cook for them. Well, after the initial
bottom frame had been secured, Balthazar said he needed someone
to help raise the rafters. I didn't have any means by which to
drive home seven miles for help, so I was involuntarily drafted.
The sill from which we had to work was fifteen feet in the air,
so somehow I had to clamp one arm over this sill to keep from
falling to the ground below. Andrew Brozek was on the opposite
side of the barn. The two of us had to hoist the rafters so Balthazar
could nail them in place. What a job for a young girl! When I
wasn't needed as a carpenter's helper and cooking, I did fancy
work (crocheting and embroidering) and have the dresser scarf
to this day (1994). The barn stood for many years on the open
prairie, withstanding many storms, so we must have done a sound
"School days, School days, oh those golden rule days .
. . " The main thing I remember about my school days at District
#72 was that I loved to sleep in the morning. In fact, I remained
in bed until the very last minute. I didn't have time to eat breakfast.
All I had time for was to wash, dress and fill my lunch pail (a
syrup pail) full of sandwiches, a dill pickle, cake, donuts and,
in season, an apple. Then I would run full speed, making those
long legs go as fast as possible towards the school 2 1/ 2 miles
away. Most of my older nieces and nephews should remember this
route. From our farm place west to where Walter Wilken later lived,
northwest through this yard and woods, north to the Johnson woods
and then again west to the school yard. Sometimes I would hear
a lone wolf howl, it sounded so eerie, but they never bothered
Then at lunch time, I would be starved, so I stuffed down as
much as I could without anything to drink. On this particular
day, I was stuffing myself as usual as fast as I could, but I
also wished to play "pum-pum-pol-o-way" a game where
the students line up and race to the road and back again to the
school to see who'd be the winner. The rest of the gang had finished
their lunch and I was still chewing away. Well, what to do? I
still hadn't eaten a piece of rhubarb pie from my lunch pail,
so what did I do? Iran outside, took the rhubarb pie and threw
it against the school wall above the door. To my embarrassment,
the pie clung to the wall, the evidence remained for a long time
Mike Korkowski and I were good at playing ball and also at
running bases. The bat we used was a wide board with a hand-chiseled
tapered end to grip. We also played "anti-i-over". The
teachers I remember having were: John Kelly, Amanda Rosengren,
Anna Lund and my sister Della.
Learning was quite easy for me. I like language, spelling and
physiology. I hated history! What did I care who had lived, what
date they had done this or that and what their names were. Arithmetic
did prove to be a challenge at times. We had a White's Arithmetic
book and it contained many difficult problems to solve. If I got
stuck, I'd ask Rosalia Korkowski to help me out and she'd zip,
zip it down for me. The answer often consumed a whole page! I
enjoyed problems that dealt with yards of cloth or bushels of
grain-that made everyday sense, but not numbers which covered
an entire page.
On the way home from school, I suggested to the Frank Korkowski
girls, Katie and Rose, if we could exchange sandwiches left over
from noon lunch-to see how each other's choke-cherry jelly tasted.
Etta, my cousin (who later married Dr. Victor Eastman, a dentist),
and I would pick choke cherries, wild plums and even sumac to
eat playfully on the way home too. We weren't in any rush to get
I also walked to school whenever I stayed at my sister Annie's
home. One morning it was raining heavily and Albin Beckman was
taking my teacher, Amanda Rosengren, to school with a single buggy
with a top. He picked me up and she put me on her lap. This surprised
me because one day in school, I felt something crawling behind
my ear. I reached for it. It was a wood tick and I was deathly
scared of anything that crawled, so l left Out a horrifying scream!
She grabbed me and shook me so hard that she tore my blouse.
I graduated from this school by passing the County Board tests which all students were required to pass if they wished to continue their education. I'm including my report card for you to see the difference between then and now.
Barbara Bitzan (Bobbi) was my friend from the Millerville area,
I was at their farm place many times and she and her brother would
come to our place too. They lived northwest of Lake Moses "in
the hills" and very stony soil, but the family was exceedingly
warm and friendly. They all loved to giggle a lot. One time I
stayed overnight and Mrs. Bitzan was in the process of making
"shtick cases". As the very dry cottage cheese ripens,
it smells terribly awful. So thinking I didn't know anything about
the making of this type of cheese, Mrs. Bitzan tried to hide it
so I wouldn't smell it. First, they hid it in the bedroom under
the bed. Then when they discovered I was to stay overnight, she
had to retrieve it again and store it somewhere else. In the morning
she mentioned to me what she was doing, and I said "Oh, I
know all about it, my mother makes it too. " And they laughed
and told me how they tried to hide it around the house, attempting
to conceal its odor so I wouldn't think it was their house that
Their house was always spotless and Mrs. Bitzan always placed
oodles of food on the table. Behind the house was a huge garden
surrounded with cut grass. There were rows of strawberries, raspberries,
gooseberry plants, a high-bush cranberry grove and of course apples
and a patch of melons. If I had already taken one kind of sauce,
she'd say in German, "Maybe you'd like some gooseberry sauce?",
or if I was eating a melon, "If it isn't sweet enough, put
some sugar on it. " Always smiling. always good-natured.
Bobbi was an exceptional self-taught artist. She painted many
beautiful pictures of which I have one hanging in our house. It's
an oil painting about 2 feet x 1 foot in size of a pine tree against
the lake with the sun setting in soft dark shades of green and
black with touches of gold for the setting sun.
Bobbi and Tony came to see me one Sunday afternoon with the
intention of teaching me how to drive a car. I got behind the
wheel of their car. The route chosen was around the block-a four
mile trip down the mile stretch, passed where Math Hockert's lived,
passed Carl's farm, Pete Wagner's and home again. Well, I started
out not knowing the first thing about steering a car. I would
turn the steering wheel too much and I would then head for one
edge of the road, then to compensate, I'd overturn to the opposite
direction and head for that edge (thank goodness there were no
steep ditches). The two Bitzan's would giggle and laugh at each
mistake and the more they giggled, the worse I drove. Even passed
Carl's farm, I was still going edge to edge. But we made it home
and I did learn to drive. My dad never learned nor did he show
any interest in learning, so I became the principle driver to
church, visiting relatives and taking the cream and eggs to town.
Our first car was a little Buick that my brother Willie "hung"
on to my dad. It was an awful excuse for a car. All it had was
two seats and an engine. No door or windows. In later years we
had an Overland, and a Paige. Both cars didn't have much power
and needed to be shifted for any incline. However, in the early
years of our marriage, we had a blue 1929 Pontiac. One night my
dad and I drove to Carrie's farm to celebrate Blanche's birthday
(April 1). We left for home at one a. m. and this car just zipped
up Landa's hill so effortlessly. The ride and the feel of this
car was so exhilarating. I could have driven all night.
One more of my driving experiences. I had taken my folks to
Annie's and Carrie and John Hopfner were there too. John had recently
bought a model "T" Ford and the urge hit me if only
I could take it for a spin. So I asked John and, he being a good
sport, said, "Sure, but be careful!" I took off and
drove to Bobbi Bitzan's and visited for a bit and then started
back again to Annie's. As I was driving past a Meissner farm,
they were herding cattle in the field. It was the practice of
farmers to run cattle in the fall to glean young grain shoots
left from the harvest or to graze along the road. However, as
I was approaching this area, this herd of cattle saw me and they,
not being accustomed to seeing a "hors-less carriage",
made a mad rush towards me. I thought, if I "step-on-it",
the car would outrun the cattle. But the car didn't have any pep
and a young steer ran underneath the Model "T" and held
it up so I couldn't move. Well, what's a young girl to do? I tried
to get the car to move, but the wheels were off the ground and
the more I tried, the more the young calf wiggled beneath the
car. So I sat there, stunned as to the predicament I found myself
in. Luckily, Bobbi and her dad came along and they helped lift
the car off the calf. When the poor calf was finally freed, it
gave out a loud bellow, and with its tail in the air, ran for
dear-might to catch up and to the safety of the rest of the herd
who were standing a short distance away observing this commotion.
I returned to Annie's. John could see something had transpired
since he last saw his car. I never did confess to any happening,
so this may be the first time any of you hear about it fresh from
Cattle seemed to be my youthful nemesis. When I was much younger,
I stayed by Annie's a lot. Instead of walking the long way on
the road, I'd take the shorter path through a neighbor's pasture.
When their cattle would see me, they'd come charging full speed.
I would run for all I was worth to the fence line, throw myself
on the ground to crawl under the barbed wire. Sometimes it was
nip and tuck that I made it.
We had company almost every Sunday afternoon. My brothers and
sisters would often stop after church services to visit their
parents and to play cards, usually "500". My dad could
play all day long, especially if he got the Joker frequently.
Then they'd pound the table so hard, the whole house would shake.
Ma insisted on using a white linen table cloth that fit our table
setting for twelve. Then she'd wash the cloth and it was my duty
to iron it, starting at age 12. Ironing in those days was a real
backbreaking job. The irons were heated on the cook stove and
with a wooden handle and a metal plate below, I'd slip this into
the iron and carry it to the ironing board. You could iron with
it until it cooled off. Then you reached for another one. If the
irons were too hot, the cloth would scorch; if too cool, the wrinkles
wouldn't come out. This table cloth was also very long and awkward
to handle and I would wrestle with it until "it had to be
perfectly smooth", only to be dirtied up again the following
week. The company didn't help with the dishes, leaving after the
5 o'clock meal. So I wasn't enthused about having company every
In later years, we had company and ma, at this time was no
longer able to help with the housework. I was busy most of the
afternoon getting food ready and they also left me with a stack
of dishes. I thought, "the heck with it," I'm just going
to leave them until morning because I'm tired. I had barely relaxed
when it went bump, bump, bump on the door. It was my cousin Barbara
with her trademark, giggling. All the cake had been eaten by the
afternoon's company, so I whipped up a cream cake for lunch. They
stayed, laughed and visited till three the next morning.
Before I continue to other subjects, here are a few bits and
pieces on the food that I liked or disliked. I hated "poten"
(hog hocks). Dad did an excellent job of scraping the skin void
of any hair bristles, but we each got one huge "potion"
with the skin and all. And it looked ugly! But I got orders to
eat it. I also had a deep dislike of chicken noodle soup. To make
the eating more exciting, I decided to slurp the noodles into
my mouth with the ends slapping against my nose. This, too, came
to quick stop. But I loved donuts. One day while helping ma in
the old summer kitchen, I fried while she rolled out the dough
and cut them ready for frying. I ate seven right from the hot
fat. I would put cream on ginger snaps and because they disappeared
so fast, ma put them high above the cupboard. Now, I had to climb
up and stand on the work shelf to reach them. Ma made the best
Chow-chow in a small black stone jar and I would help myself during
the day. Shtink kaess was my favorite food, and Johnny's too.
After the dry cottage cheese finishes fermenting and has turned
transparent, it is cooked with cream to make a very smooth textured
body. None of the original odor is left; just a soft creamy spread.
I'd cut several pieces of bread and slap on generous amounts of
the kaess and eat to my heart's content. No wonder I was seldom
hungry at mealtime.
Perhaps the main reason we traded in Brandon was because no
one was going to get the best of my mother financially. We had
taken our cream to the Millerville creamery first and the price
was good. After a month or so, the price kept going down. So ma
said, "Take it to Evansville. " In Evansville, the same
scenario, so to Brandon where we got a good price and it didn't
change. We stayed with the creamery, as did my husband and son
Jimmie until we no longer had a dairy herd.
Some of the businesses located in Brandon during my youth were:
Annie and Kappy Pehan's restaurant. Annie was a good cook and
baker and they had a successful business. Repeelius' had a dry
goods and excellent grocery store. Here ma bought fresh peaches.
Peaches and cream were a new and popular dessert at this time.
Bill Meissner was the grain buyer and later Joe Lorsung. Dr. Meckstroth,
MD saved many pregnant ladies during the flu outbreak, but he
couldn't save Mrs. Tony Lorsung (Ann Kotschevar) and Mrs. Ferdinand
Dobmeyer (Adelaide Roers' mother) because of a fierce snowstorm.
He didn't have the means to travel to their homes. In these harsh
times of poor roads and cold temperatures, doctors made house
calls all hours of the day or night, either on foot or by horse
and buggy, before the event of the automobile. My cousin, Fr.
Renner, was the pastor of St. Ann's in 1910. Also Emily Seidlinger
married George Drexler (brother of Joe at Millerville) a banker,
and she a teacher. She later became the postmistress at the Post
Office. Young George chummed with Bill and Phil Hopfner while
they lived on the farm.
During the summer months, whenever I took the cream into town,
I would stop off on my way home for a swim in Little Chip. The
road then followed the western shoreline and this was the original
site of Old Brandon. My dad pulled an old elevator building from
Old Brandon home to the farm where it became our chicken house.
The outside walls were made of 2x6's laid flat and with long spikes
(12 inches) driven into the boards. It also had a second floor
for storage. Anyway, this spot was also the gathering place for
Sunday afternoon picnics. My relatives would get together here;
the men would catch a mess of fish, clean them. The women would
fry the fish; some brought bread, cake etc. And we went up to
Lund's for coffee water because the Lund cattle also used the
lake for their natural habits.
John Hopfner's had moved into Brandon during the early 1920's and they lived in the house that Irvin Meissner and still later Ted Olson owned. Anyway, John became seriously ill with a large boil on his neck. Carrie had been caring for him day and night, so she asked me to help her out I went into town with my brother Johnny and a wagon load of wheat. The weather was cold and windy, the road being frozen, added to our discomfort. I got to Carrie's house and she asked me to take the train to Alexandria to see Dr. Haskell. Doctors office was above the drug store. He asked me how the boil looked, the coloring and if there was a pus head forming. He thought my report over and said, "Good! Now I know what to do. I think I'll wait two days before it's ripe enough to lance. If I lance it too early, he could die from the poison spreading into his body. " He waited two days, then took the train to Brandon and did the operation in the house. The house was so cold, Carrie got up several times during the night to keep the stove burning. John's bed was in the living room close to the stove so he'd be a bit warmer because of his infection and fever. Our headboard was next to the window and Carrie and I froze like puppies. In two days, after Dr. Haskell lanced the boil, John was walking the street!!!