Peter Theisen Comes to America

Peter Theisen 1828 – 1913

My second great-grandfather, Peter Theisen, was born March 19, 1828, in Bertrange, a small town about 4 miles west of Luxembourg City.  He was the sixth child and fourth son of Peter and Anna Wirth Theysen.  His father, age 33, was a farmer. Peter was baptized as Pierre (French for Peter) the day he was born.

Registres de l’état civil de Bertrange (Luxembourg), 1796-1923 accessed at

The next record I found for Peter was the 1843 census of Bertrange when he was 14 years old.   His father was still a farmer and there were eight living children in the family.

Bertrange street scene about 1910.  These typical buildings would have been standing while Peter Theisen lived in Bertrange.  

Peter’s father, also Peter Theisen (Theysen) who was born at Aspelt on May 1, 1794, died at Bertrange on October 5, 1846, when Peter was 18 years old.  No cause of death is given in the record.

The December 1846 census of Everlange, Useldange (about 14 miles northwest of Bertrange) lists a Pierre Theisen, born 1826 at Bertrange, occupation domestic, in the household of Julien Drohm, a farmer.  Despite the age difference, this could be our Peter.  He does not appear on the Bertrange 1846 census with his family.  His older brother Joseph was a farmer probably on the land his father had farmed.

The December 1855 census of Bertrange does not list Pierre Theisen.  His widowed mother with his siblings Nicholas, Anne, Susanne, and Joseph and Joseph’s wife and children were all living in the Theisen house.

Peter Theisen and Maria (Mary Ann)  Lux were married on October 16, 1856, at Holy Trinity Church in Dubuque.  Their witnesses were Nicolaus Theisen–Peter’s younger brother, and Elisabeth Lux–Mary’s younger sister.

Holy Trinity Church, Dubuque, Iowa

When did Peter come to America?  Both the 1900 and 1910 U.S. censuses list his immigration year as 1855.  On the 1900 census, Peter’s younger brother, Nicholas who settled near Dubuque, Iowa, indicated he immigrated in 1855.  However, Nicholas is listed on the December 1855 census of Bertrange.  They were both present in October 1856 when Peter was married in Dubuque.  I searched ship passenger indexes and searched some 1855 months person by person and have not found Peter Theisen or his brother Nicholas on any passenger list.

A brief history of Luxembourg during the early 1800s will shed some light on why Peter immigrated.

In 1815 European powers met at the Congress of Vienna and decided that Luxembourg would be a duchy ruled by King William I of the Netherlands as grand duke.  William levied heavy taxes and treated Luxembourg like his personal property.   In 1830, Luxembourgers helped Belgium revolt; after that, both King William and Belgium claimed Luxembourg.  In 1839 Luxembourg was split with the western French-speaking part becoming Luxembourg Provence in Belgium. What remained still belonged to the Netherlands but had more independence.  Educational standards were raised, good roads were built, and agricultural methods were improved.

However, the country was still dependent on agriculture and wine production.  There was little work and times were hard.  Harvests in 1851, 1852, and 1853 were barely adequate.  In 1854 the region along the Belgium border suffered a crop failure.  The harvest in 1855 and 1856 was far below average.

The poor economy resulted in the emigration of young people searching for opportunities.  Twenty residents of Bertrange immigrated to the USA in 1852, and from Jan thru March 1854, 77 persons left the town.  On April 12, 1855, 414 persons left Luxembourg for America. These numbers came from “Luxmbourgers in the New World”  Vol. 1 by Nicholas Gonner, published in 1889.

An emigration record may exist in Luxembourg, but unfortunately, those are not available online.




The Norris Skunk Farm Juniata, Nebraska


The majority of early 20th-century Adams County residents were farmers, but while searching for postcards of Juniata, Nebraska I found two cards showing the Norris Skunk Farm.  That piqued my interest so I decided to see what I could learn about Mr. Norris and skunk farming in the area.

Osea D. Norris was born in December 1868 in Illinois to Ira M. and Laura A. (Adams) Norris.  The family moved to a farm in Juniata Township, Adams County in 1880.  Osea married Laura Belle Lancaster in 1893.  She died in 1907 and is buried beside her parents in the Juniata Cemetery.  They had no children.  He died May 6, 1949, and is buried beside his parents in the Juniata Cemetery.

The Hastings Daily Republican of January 17, 1914, carried the following story on the front page.

Race of Odorless, Domesticated Skunks Developed by Local Farmer

   “Osea Norris, Adams county farmer residing near this city, has bred a race of odorless skunks with which he is developing an industry which promises him a fortune.  The domesticated mephitis mephitica as they are technically known are docile and affectionate making pets which children of the household play with the same as the ordinary cat or dog.  The animals are omnivorous but will fatten on food on which dogs or cats would starve to death rather than eat.  In the fall of the year, regardless of scanty food supply, they will lay on fat which together with their skins make them most valuable.

  Starting with a pair of thoroughbred skunks Mr. Norris removed the small sacs containing the objectionable fluid with which Mr. Skunk makes life in the immediate atmosphere unbearable, and after repeated experiments has succeeded in developing a race free from odor.

   Last fall he butchered those not wanted for breeding purposes, removing the pelts and frying out the oils.  Disposing of the pelts readily at $5 each and the oil at $4.00 per gallon, Mr. Norris has left a net profit of several hundred percent.

   Though the pure food laws may possibly object to the sale of the meat for food purposes, there is another possible source of revenue on an article of food said to be quite as delicious as young chicken.

   It requires but little capital, the business grows rapidly and of course, I have as yet no competition.  The pelts according to their size, color and stripe, vary in price from $3 to $6.  I raised over seventy this year and this is only my second season.

   Drouths or wet seasons are said to have no effect on the new industry on which Mr. Norris realized more profit last season than from his entire farming operation.  He said the longer hair of the furs was sought by hat manufacturers and that the fur itself was highly prized by fur manufacturers who dispose of their goods to the discriminating society women under popular names.”

I wonder if the “discriminating society women” knew that their hats and furs were made from skunks.

On January 2, 1915, the Hastings Daily Republican reported that Art Beard, a young farmer living southwest of Hastings, had imported some “star-faced breed” skunks from Spencer, Indiana.  Evidently the skins “commanded $8 on the fur market.”  He reportedly had been in the skunk-raising business since “last year” when he caught a couple of skunks along Elm Creek.  He fed his skunks dead poultry which he got from the Hastings poultry businesses. Skunk raising must not have been as profitable as anticipated as the James Arthur Beard family disappeared from Adams County in 1917.   He died in May 1959 at Spokane, Washington, and is buried in Greenwood Memorial Terrace

Matt Works For The Railroad


The oldest child in a large family, Matt Trausch began farm work at a young age.  In mid-1891 when Matt was 13-years-old his father Thomas broke his leg and Matt took over the farming operation. (1)  Later in the 1890s, Matt worked for Henry Hagemann a carpenter who constructed many buildings in the Holstein and Roseland area.  It was Hagemann who taught him the carpenter trade.  However, the area still hadn’t recovered from the devastating mid-decade depression and drought, and there wasn’t much demand for new buildings. (2)

Matt Trausch about 1902

Matt was in his early 20s and needed dependable work. His father had a large family to support and didn’t pay Matt wages for his farm work which helped support the family.  The  Adams County Democrat  carried the following news on April 28, 1899:  “Frank Hennigan received word to put on five section men Tuesday and now Ben Coday, Matt Trausch, John Linen, and Geo Hennigan besides foreman Hennigan are at work.”   (3)

During 1887 the Kansas City & Omaha Railroad was built across southern Adams County establishing the towns of Pauline, LeRoy, Roseland, and Holstein.  Matt began his railroad career working as a section hand on that line.  Section hands maintained a section of track in the years before the work was done by machines.

How Matt learned about the jobs available at the Burlington Railroad’s  Aurora, Illinois repair shops is unknown.  It may have been through correspondence with his relatives in Aurora.  In 1857 the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CB & Q) built a large roundhouse and repair shops in Aurora. Over the years the facilities were expanded and large brick buildings were constructed.  For a history of the Aurora shops and roundhouse see

The shop where Matt worked repairing and building railroad cars. 1898 photo of shops (10)

In January 1900 Matt and his friend Peter Konen made a “pleasure trip” to Aurora. (4)  Matt remained there and on June 8th the census taker found him living with the John and Katherine Burscheid family.  Katherine Trausch Burscheid, born April 7, 1865, in Stolzembourg, Luxembourg was Matt’s first cousin.  Also in the household were four Burscheid children and Margaret Pauls Trausch, Katherine’s mother. (5)  Matt paid room and board to Katherine. In later years Matt would not eat cooked cabbage because it was served to him nearly every day for two years.

   Information about Matt’s time in Aurora came from family interviews.  “Then Matt went to Illinois to work in the railroad shops.  He sent every cent home and they got the farm debt paid.  Matt always figured he was going to be an engineer on the railroad.  Then they had that terrible wreck and men and cows were killed.  Matt had enough, he wrote home for his Dad to buy him a farm.” (6)

“He worked in the railroad shops in Aurora, Illinois. They repaired railroad cars in the shops. If they needed more cars they even built them.  There was a crew on each corner working in teams. When there was an accident the crews were called out to help.” (7)

In February 1901 the Adams County Democrat reported that “Matt and John Trausch have gone to Aurora, Illinois to work.  Matt has been there for the past year but had been home on a visit and his brother John went along expecting to find work.”  (8)

The 1902 Aurora City Directory lists John, Matt, and Margaret Trausch (their aunt) all living at 494 Kane Street, the Burscheid family residence.  John and Matt are both listed as carpenters for the “Q”—the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.  (9)

In November 1901 a CB & Q stock train collided with a freight train near Walnut, Illinois.  Matt was sent out to help clear the wreck.  That experience had a profound effect on him.  “There was a whole trainload of cattle. The cattle were all killed and injured. Dad had to go out and work on the cleanup. Cattle were bellowing and hollering. People were crowding around to see. Dad said they would throw pieces of cow livers to make the people leave. Some people were killed in the wreck too. Then the train caught fire and some cattle burned. That wreck went against him so, that was one reason he quit the railroad.” (11)

The Chicago Tribune
Thursday, Nov 21, 1901

After the train wreck, Matt wrote to his father asking him to buy a farm so he could come home.  While working in Aurora, Matt and John had saved the money used to purchase the farm.  In January 1902 Thomas Trausch purchased the NE ¼ of Section 10, T6, R11 (Roseland Township) for the sum of $6,400 or $40 an acre.

“When Matt and John came home from Illinois, on the way out, they bought a binder in Hastings before they ever got to the farm.  The wheat was ready to harvest when they got here.  Their Dad, Thomas, had hired someone to plant the wheat for them in the spring, and they kept working to make a little more money.  Then when their folks wrote that the wheat was about ready, they quit their jobs and came home to harvest it.”  (12)

A McCormick binder similar to the one Matt purchased.

“ That was a self-tying binder they bought. It tied bundles then when five or six bundles were on the carrier, there was a foot trip, you tripped the bundles off in windrows. Then you came along and shocked them by hand. That was a great improvement. You didn’t have to carry the bundles along until you got enough for a shock. The first binders didn’t do that. The shocks were all in a row and when you threshed you drove along with a hay rack, the team (of horses) would go by themselves, and you stood there and pitched them on the rack, say git-up to the team, and go to the next shock.” (13)

The farm Thomas purchased for his sons was located two miles east of Assumption which was the center of the German-speaking Catholic community.  Eventually, John sold his share of the farm to Matt.  Matt lived on the farm that his railroad wages helped purchase until his death in 1958.


  1.  Juniata Herald June 24, 1891  “Roseland Reporter”
  2.  Ed Trausch  October 26, 1982, interviewed by Catherine Trausch Renschler
  3.  Adams County Democrat  April 28, 1899 pg 2 “Roseland Items”
  4.  Adams County Democrat  January 19, 1900, page 7 “The South Side”
  5.  1900 Census taken June 8, 1900, Aurora Ward 6, Kane County, ILL  house 494 Kane St.  pg 138A
  6. Catherine Kaiser Trausch June 1972, interviewed by Catherine Trausch Renschler
  7.  Ed Trausch  October 26, 1982, interviewed by Catherine Trausch Renschler
  8.  Adams County Democrat February 8, 1901, page 6, “The South Side”
  9. Aurora, Illinois City Directory 1902, page 484
  10. 1898 photo of repair shops
  11. Bert Trausch Octtober 26, 1982, interviewed by Catherine Trausch Renschler
  12. Edna Kline Trausch September 1984, interviewed by Catherine Trausch Renschler
  13. Bert Trausch September 1984, interviewed by Catherine Trausch Renschler

Thomas Trausch a Pioneer from Luxembourg

My great Grandfather, Thomas Trausch, was born 179 years ago on May 5, 1844, in the small village of Stolzembourg, Luxembourg located on the Our River which separates Luxembourg from Germany. His father, also named Thomas Trausch, operated the grist mill in Stolzembourg and Thomas was born in the attached residence.  His mother Marguerite Weiler, aged 36, was a native of the nearby village of Putscheid, Luxembourg.  Thomas was their tenth child, but four of his older siblings had died in infancy.

Thomas was baptized on May 6th.  His godparents were Thomas Weiler, his uncle, a farmer of Putsheid, and Magdalena Trausch, his sister age 12, of Stolzembourg.  Thomas was almost five years old when his father died in April 1849.  His mother remarried in March 1852 to Anton Scheiffen a farmer of Stolzembourg.

Very little is known about Thomas’s life in Luxembourg.  His stepfather continued the mill operation.  Sylvester Trausch, the youngest son of Thomas, told that his father’s job was to pick up grain and to deliver flour to surrounding areas.  Thomas hid a bottle of Schnaps under the sacks.  The best customers always got a “schluck” out of the bottle.

The mill at Stolzembourg.  The original of this photocopy belonged to Father Anthony Trausch.

In July 1870 war broke out between France and Prussia which controlled Luxembourg.  Thomas age 26 and unmarried left Luxembourg to escape conscription into the Prussian army.   He sailed from Liverpool, England on the Red Star Line in September and landed in New York City on October 14, 1870.  He then went to Aurora, Illinois which had a large Luxembourg settlement.

At least two families from Stolzembourg were living in Aurora in 1870.  The John Bausch family who are buried at Assumption and the Nick Rausch family whose daughter Elizabeth married Nick Konen and is buried at Assumption.  Thomas declared his intention to become a US citizen in October 1872 at Aurora.

The Peter Schifferns family was living in Naperville, DuPage County, Illinois in 1870.  Naperville is about 10 miles east of Aurora.  Apparently, Thomas moved to Naperville sometime after October 1872 as on his March 31, 1876 application to buy land from the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad he stated he had just arrived in Nebraska and his last residence was Naperville.

Thomas signed a contract to purchase the northwest quarter of section 17, township 6, range 11W (now Roseland Township) from the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad for $5.00 an acre, a total of $800 on ten years credit.  He paid $48 down, which included his railroad fare.  He requested that his contract be sent to John Bush at the Juniata post office.  The CB&Q  Railroad deed to Thomas is dated March 2, 1885.  He had paid a total of $1015.13 for the farm.   According to Thomas’s daughter, Mary Trausch Williams, he worked for Peter Schifferns his first year in Nebraska.

On October 29, 1876, Thomas married Anna Marie Schifferns, the oldest daughter of Peter and Susanna (Pauli) Schifferns.  She was 18 and Thomas was 32 years old.  They were married by Father Lechleitner from Crete in the Busch school house which was located one mile west of Assumption.  In 1876 Assumption church and village had not been established.  There are no known photographs of Thomas and Anna as a young couple.

After their marriage, Thomas and Anna set up housekeeping in a dugout that was excavated in the west slope of a draw near the northeast corner of the farm. Their oldest son, my grandfather Mathias, was born in the dugout on September 29, 1877.  He was baptized in Juniata by Father Lechleitner as the church hadn’t been built.   Between 1877 and 1905 thirteen children, eleven sons and two daughters were born to Anna and Thomas.  Their fourth child, a son Peter, was born and died in 1883 and is buried in the Assumption Cemetery in an unmarked grave.  Two other sons, Edward 1888 – 1896 and Anton 1898 – 1907 died in tragic accidents which is another story.

The 1880 Adams County assessment record gives us a glimpse of the Trausch farm operation.  Thomas had 130 acres under cultivation, 80 acres in wheat, 25 acres in corn, 11 acres in oats, and 2.4 acres in potatoes.  Inexplicably the Trausch farm is missing from the Federal 1880 and State 1885 Adams County Agricultural Censuses.  Roseland Township’s 1895 Assessment Book lists the following for Thomas: 6 horses, 4 cattle, 14 hogs, 2 carriages or wagons, and 1 sewing machine.

The newly constructed Assumption Church located in the southwest corner of Section 4, Roseland Township.

Finally in 1883 the Catholic farmers in northern Cottonwood (now Roseland) Township scrapped together the money and settled their differences about on which side of the lagoon to build their church.  It must have been a blessing for Thomas and Anna to have their church just one mile north and one mile east of their home.

On November 2, 1889, Henrietta and Abraham Loeb deeded the southwest quarter of Section 17 to Anna Trausch for $2,000.  That same day she and Thomas mortgaged the land for $1,000 apparently having paid half in cash.    The 1880s had been good years for Adams County farmers, rainfall was adequate and grain prices were profitable.  In 1889 wheat was around .40 and corn .18 a bushel.  Hogs were about $3.00 a hundredweight, and chickens were .07 a pound.

In 1886 the village of Roseland was established just two miles south and one and a half east of the Thomas Trausch farmstead.   Many of Thomas and Anna’s descendants have lived in and near Roseland ever since.

On 24 June 1891,  The Juniata Herald newspaper copied the following from The Roseland Reporter:  “Thomas Trausch who lives three miles northwest of town, met with a serious accident yesterday afternoon.  While digging a cellar under his house, the wall caved in and broke his leg in two places above the knee and upper third of the thigh.  Dr. Bacon of this place and Dr. Ackley of Juniata reduced the fracture.”  Later, his crutch slipped on a potato peel on the kitchen floor, and he fell and broke the leg again.  Complications from the break disabled Thomas for several years.  While he was incapacitated, Matt age 14, and John age 12 did the farming.  That is also a story for another day.

Rather than Gay Nineties, the term Grim Nineties better describes the decade in Adams County.  The financial panic of 1893 was caused by speculation, silver from new mines flooding the market, and the failure of large banks causing runs on smaller banks.  The price of corn dropped so much that it was cheaper to burn corn rather than coal for fuel.  Then the devastating drought of 1894 struck.  Almost no crops were raised in Adams County, farmers couldn’t pay their mortgages, and local banks failed.   Those who could left going either back east or to the west coast.    My ancestors didn’t leave.  The Trausch and Schifferns families had no one back east to take them in and they didn’t have the money nor the desire to return to Europe.  The Kaiser and Kline families didn’t want to give up their homes and managed to scrape by paying only the interest on their mortgages.

This photo was taken in the fall of 1897 or spring of 1898. Back left to right: John, Matt, Will. Front: Joseph, Thomas, Anna holding Maggie, and Mary.  The view was taken looking northeast.  The one-story section of the house was built first and contained two rooms.  The dugout was about 20 rods east of the house.

By 1900 the economy was turning around.  In January 1902 Thomas purchased the Oscar Wood quarter section two miles east of Assumption for his sons Matt and John who were working in the Burlington railroad shops in Aurora, Illinois.  The boys came home, repaid their father for the land, and went into farming.  In March 1902 Thomas sold 2,000 bushels of wheat to J. H. Pope in Roseland.  The market price was about  .60 a bushel.  In early 1904 Thomas built a large addition to his farmhouse, then painted it green, and in December he surprised his children with an organ.  In 1905 Thomas and Anna took a trip to Canada to see the country and visit her brother Matt Schifferns who had moved to  Windthorst, Saskatchewan.  Their last child, Sylvester, was born in November 1905.  Anna was 47 and Thomas was 61 years old.

The 1904 addition to the farmhouse is on the left of this 1962 photo taken shortly before the house was demolished.

The Roseland Brickyard was established by Thomas’s sons John, George, Peter, and Will. In November 1911 Thomas bought lots in block 10, of Roseland for $500.   In January 1912 Thomas retired from farming and sold his livestock and machinery at an auction.

Sale bill that appeared in the Adams County Democrat newspaper on January 19, 1912.

In March 1912 the construction of a new house for Thomas and Anna was begun using brick from their sons’ brickyard.  In June the Roseland correspondent to the Adams County Democrat called it the “most beautiful residence in town.”

The Thomas Trausch house built in Roseland in 1912 is still standing. The brick was manufactured at the Roseland Brickyard.

A disastrous fire in August 1913 destroyed a block of business buildings on the west side of main street.   Thomas and Anna’s brick house was west across the alley and they were afraid it would catch fire.  Their sons threw water on the roof and hung wet blankets over the large east window to keep it from breaking.

In May 1914 Thomas and Anna traveled by train to Aurora, Illinois where they spent several weeks visiting friends and relatives.

The U.S. entered World War I in April 1917.  The war was devastating for older people like Thomas and Anna who did not speak English well.  There was a lot of anti-german sentiment and their thick accents made their nationality obvious. Speaking German in church, school, or over the telephone was outlawed.  Additionally, they worried about their son Joe who was drafted and about the sons of relatives and friends.

Thomas and Anna sit surrounded by their children and grandchildren. My father, Bert Trausch, sits directly below his grandfather. The photo was taken in the fall of 1915.

On August 24, 1921, after 45 years of marriage, Anna Schifferns Trausch, aged 63, died at her home in Roseland.  The cause of her death was colon cancer.  Thomas continued to live in the Roseland house with his sons Joe and Sylvester and daughter Margaret.

Thomas died at his home in Roseland on February 19, 1926, at the age of 82.  The body was prepared by the undertaker, then laid out in the parlor for the wake which traditionally involved family and friends keeping watch over the body of the dead person.  His funeral was held in the Roseland Sacred Heart Church and he was buried in the Assumption cemetery beside his wife and children.

As was the custom at the time, Thomas was “laid out” in his parlor for the wake. Friends and family came to express condolences, keep watch over the body, and to pray for the deceased.

During several interviews with my Uncle Ed Trausch, Thomas’s oldest grandson, and my father Bert Trausch we talked about their grandparents.  These are their memories of their “Grosspa” Trausch.

What do you remember about your Grandpa Trausch?

Ed:  “He was short, I’d say about 5 feet, 7 inches. We got our height from the Schifferens. He grew a beard. He liked kids. He was quiet and friendly, but not aggressive in carrying on a conversation. You ask him a question; he’d answer it. But he wouldn’t take the initiative. Grandma talked more.

Bert:  He lit his pipe in the morning and it was red hot until he went to bed.  He smoked from morning to night.”

Ed:  “I remember Grandpa telling that he had lived in Illinois for a little while, then he came to Juniata and traveled, I don’t know how out to Schifferens farm.  He worked for old Peter Schifferens the first year. I remember Grandpa telling that when they first came here food was so scarce they made a trap to catch snowbirds to eat. They set up a board, put seed under it, then when the birds came to eat, they pulled the string and caught the birds. The first winter they lived on birds and rabbits. They lived in a dugout when they were first married.  Later they built a frame house. After the house was built Grandpa dug a basement under the house. That’s when he broke his leg. Then Dad had to do the farming while Grandpa was laid up.”

Did your Grandparents talk to you in German or English?

Ed.  “Grandpa Trausch couldn’t talk English until during the first world war some time.  When he was forced to talk English he would stagger through it.  At home he talked German.  We did too for a long time.”

Bert.  “I remember Grandma Trausch would call us and Mom wasn’t in the house and I’d talk German to her on the phone.  They always talked German, they didn’t understand English very well.  We talked German at home too.  When Grandma talked on the phone I’d say “Nicht Verstehen” (I don’t understand).  She didn’t talk loud enough.”

What did your Grandpa Trausch say when he cussed?

Bert.  “I never heard him cuss.”

Ed.  “He would say “verdammen.”

Could he read and write?

Ed: “Ya, in German. In Luxembourg, he worked in the family flour mill, carried sacks of grain, and dumped them in the mill. He came to America to stay out of the German army.”

Thomas’ German script signature from his 1872 declaration of intention to become a citizen indicates he had some education.

Did your Grandparents go to Hastings much?

Bert.  “Not that I know of, everything was in Roseland then, grocery store, shoe store, doctor, everything.”

 Were there dances around the community?

Ed:  “Oh yes, In the early days there were barn dances. I remember going to Grandpa Trausch’s to a square dance.  John Pittz did the calling.”

Did your Grandma and Grandpa Trausch have a car?

Bert.  “No, Grandpa used to come over to our house driving Daisy.  He had a pretty good buggy.  Grandpa Trausch never owned a car.  Pete and George and Joe had cars over there, but not Grandpa.”

Do you remember when they built their house in Roseland?

Bert  “Ya, don’t remember the year, it was bricks from the Roseland brickyard. The kitchen was on the south side, dining room in the northwest corner, living room on the northeast. I think the stairway was enclosed. They had a bathroom; I don’t remember where it was. They had a well and a pump jack. Aunt Maggie lived at home until she married Frank Kaiser. She was older when she got married, it was after her mother had died. Pete’s first wife died and Maggie raised Marcella. Vet, Maggie and Joe lived there with Grandpa. Vet was only fifteen when his mother died.”

You were old enough by World War I to be aware of politics. What did your grandparents say about the war?

Ed: “They were for America. In fact, Grandpa left Luxembourg to stay out of the German army. They never mentioned being concerned about fighting their relatives in Europe. My uncles on both sides went to World War I, both Trausch and Kaiser.”

Did they ever mention the bad feelings against them because they were German?

Ed:  “Oh, ya. Mostly the Ku Klux Klan. They were active here. They had meetings in the Kendall draw that runs through south of the Schiffler place. [One mile south of the Matt Trausch farmstead.] There was a lot of persecution against the Germans, mostly Catholics. They never attacked us physically, just through pamphlets and publicity. They burned the Kaiser in effigy around here. We weren’t permitted to speak German. We had to quit having German services in church and German grammar in school. The old folks who couldn’t talk English had to have their children do their trading for them. All German newspapers were banned. It was difficult for the folks. They felt persecuted.”

Bert:  “The old folks were scared to go to town. If they spoke German they got beat up. Grandpa couldn’t speak English until the First World War when he was forced to stagger through it. You know when Grandpa Trausch got here, he could have picked out level ground, but he picked out draws and hills because of the water in them. The poorest farm ground was settled first on that account.”

What did your Grandpa Trausch die from?

Bert.  “I don’t know, he was old. I remember going to the wake at the house in Roseland.  The funeral was in the Roseland church then they brought him to Assumption to bury him. The hearse was an auto one.”

Do you remember your Grandparents’ funerals?

 Bert:  “What I remember is that Williams took pictures of them in their coffin.  Years ago when they took a picture they set off about a pound of powder to make a flash.  I remember the doors even puffed out on that room from the flash.  Williams, my uncle took that picture; he was a photographer

A Juniata Murder Trial

A murder trial in the sleepy little town of Juniata?  You’re probably asking “How did that happen?”   Well, Juniata was the county seat of Adams County from 1871 to 1878.  In 1872 a small frame courthouse, 16 by 20 feet, was built on Juniata Avenue.  In that small building, the trials of the county and district court were held.

On September 17, 1875, at Kearney Junction (original name of Kearney), Milton Collins was murdered by Jordan P. Smith a Texas cowboy. Smith and several other cowboys in charge of a herd of horses, rode to the Kearney Junction saloon on the 16th where they spent the day and night drinking.  The herd of horses was left to shift for themselves, and in the night the horses helped themselves to  Collins’ cornfield south of Kearney Junction.  The next morning Collins corralled the horses and intended to collect damages before releasing them.

Milton Collins, age 24, was born in Johnson County, Iowa.  The family was well-known pioneers in Buffalo County, his father, Rev. Asbury Collins having been the Buffalo County probate judge.  Collins had a young wife and an infant son.

When Collins told Smith he wanted $20 for the damage to his corn crop, Smith, who was still drunk, drew his gun and ordered Collins to open the corral gate.  As Collins dismounted his horse, Smith shot him fatally.  The murder was witnessed by Collins’ wife and his father as well as neighbors named Scholes.  Judge Collins carried his son into the house, but he immediately expired.

Smith and the other cowboys drove the horses south across the Platte River bridge and west along the river, dispersing into the sandhills.  Judge Collins rode into Kearney and rounded up a well-armed posse who began pursuit.  Another posse started east led by Deputy U.S. Marshall D. B. Ball from Dawson County who had been telegraphed.  The cowboys were eventually surrounded and eleven of them were captured.  But Smith and one other man escaped.  Kearney Junction had previously suffered so much destruction at the hands of drunken cowboys that a number of the posse determined to lynch the captives.  But cooler heads prevailed.  The following day, Smith and one companion were captured on an island in the Platte near Plum Creek.

Smith was bound over to Buffalo County District Court and because of lynching threats, he was sent to the jail at Fremont for safekeeping.  The district court at Kearney Junction convened on December 13, 1875, with Judge Samuel Maxwell presiding.  Smith’s attorney’s request for a change of venue was denied.  On December 17th the jury returned a verdict of “guilty of murder in the first degree.” Judge Maxwell sentenced Smith to be “hanged by the neck until you are dead on April 7, 1876”.    The defense attorneys filed an appeal which was heard by the Nebraska Supreme Court in January 1876.  The verdict was reversed on technicalities concerning the lack of a change of venue, jury selection, and jury instructions.

In the meantime, the other cowboys who were arrested were either not charged or were found not guilty.

A second trial was held in May 1876 at Lowell, the county seat of Kearney County from 1872 to 1878, before Judge G. W. Post.  During a break in the trial, Attorney Jim Laird, who was defending another case, learned that an organized mob from Kearney Junction was intent on lynching Smith.  Attorney E. F. Gray and Laird rushed to the courtroom, got a prop for the lone guard to put against the door, and then positioned themselves in the narrow stairway. As the mob started up the stairs, the attorneys cocked their pocket pistols sending them into retreat. Judge Post then organize a posse to guard the prisoner and the mob dispersed.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty of second-degree murder and Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison.  Because of threats to lynch Smith, he was transferred to the Lancaster County jail.  The Lowell court verdict was also appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court and reversed on the grounds of the qualifications of jurors, examination of witnesses, and instructions to the jury.

By now you are probably wondering how a cowboy afforded several lawyers and two supreme court trials.  Well, according to newspaper accounts, Jordan P. Smith had a wealthy foster mother, Mrs. Patterson, in Texas who along with Smith’s twin brother attended the trials.  According to newspaper accounts, Smith was born in Missouri in March 1853 and the family moved to near San Antonio, Texas about 1855.

Smith’s third trial was held in February 1877 in the little courthouse at Juniata.  District Judge William Gaslin, known as the terror of criminals, presided.  Attorney, B. F. Smith of Juniata was one of three who assisted District Attorney Dillworth. Three attorneys, including James Laird, a prominent Juniata lawyer acted for the defense.  The jurors were J. W. Striker, John Gates, G. Laher, L. Webb, M. Perkins, J. Adams, D. Bigelow, E. M. Allen, W. Hodgson, R. S. Langly, A. Caldwell, and R. H. Nolan.

The trial attracted a lot of local attention, and the courthouse was packed every day.  One wonders how many spectators could squeeze into the 16 by 20 room filled with lawyers and jurors.  The Juniata Herald published a daily “Extra” during the trial.  Unfortunately, no copies of the Herald prior to November 1877 are extant.

James Laird was well-known by members of the jury and he was an excellent speaker.  The jury found Smith guilty of manslaughter with a recommendation for mercy.  But Judge Gaslin sentenced Smith to the maximum, ten years in solitary confinement.  However, the state prison warden did not obey the solitary part of the sentence.

After the third trial, the editor of the Fairbury Gazette commented “Jordan P. Smith on his third trial for murder, which took place at Juniata recently, was sentenced to a term of ten years in the penitentiary. On his first trial, he was sentenced to be hung; the next time to thirty years imprisonment.  In this ratio, one more trial should set him free.”

In March 1884 Smith was released from the penitentiary, after having his sentence reduced for good behavior.  I have not found what became of him after his release.

Milton Collins is buried in the Kearney Cemetery.  His wife Anna-Belle Cook remarried to Brantson Jones Miles in Henry County, Iowa, on September 16, 1879.  She is buried with her second husband in Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Mausoleum in Portland, Oregon.  Roy Asbury Collins, Milton’s son, became a prominent physician in Portland, and ironically, was shot and killed by his jealous wife in July 1909.  He is buried in the Kearney Cemetery with his father and grandparents.

James Laird’s reputation was enhanced by the trial and he went on to be involved in other high-profile trials.  When Nebraska was awarded three Congressional districts after the 1880 census, Laird was elected the first representative from the Second District and was in his fourth term when he died in August 1889.  Laird, a bachelor, is buried in Parkview Cemetery in Hastings.

The little frame courthouse on Juniata Avenue was torn down after the records were moved to Hastings.   Unfortunately, no photo of the building is known to exist.

Juniata Courthouse marker is located at 901 Juniata Avenue. The marker was installed for the Juniata Centennial in 1971.

William Allen Hayes

I recently checked the family history to see who the oldest living ancestors were in the year 1900.  This is the story of the earliest born Renschler ancestor who lived to see the twentieth century. He is the great-grandfather of my mother-in-law, Maxine Wymore Renschler.

William and Susan Jane Hayes about 1890. William had a widow’s peak and a thick head of hair.

William Allen Hayes, called “Bill” was born in Jackson County, Ohio, the son of Nathaniel Wilson Hayes and his first wife, Sally Detty.  There were no birth records in Ohio at that time.  The date of his birth, recorded in various documents, ranges from 1836 in his obituary to 1841 on the 1885 Kansas State Census.  After much research, I have concluded that September 1837, as recorded on the 1900 census, is the most likely date.   Bill was only eight years old when tragedy struck the Hayes family.  The mother, Sally, died after the birth of her fourth child, Nancy, in May 1846.  Nathaniel remarried in June 1847 to Ruth Clark.

Bill’s father, Nathaniel Hayes, never stayed in one place long.  By 1852 the family was living in Monroe County, Iowa.   The 1856 Iowa state census of Monroe County lists Nathaniel’s occupation as “smithing” and “Wm” age 15, as a farmer. Ruth is not listed, having apparently died after the birth of her fourth child, Abigail in early 1856.   It didn’t take Nathaniel, age 37, long to find another wife as he married Deborah “Terrell,” age 19, on October 20, 1856, in Wapello County, which adjoins Monroe County.

On March 8, 1860, in Wapello County, William A. Hayes married Susan Jane “Tyrell,” age 17.  The interesting note about this marriage is that he married his stepmother’s sister.  They would have 14 children.  The June 1860 census of Wapello County lists the occupation of both Nathaniel and William as “laborer.”  Neither one owned any real estate.

William joined Company E, 14th Iowa Infantry in October 1861.  He was described in the Regimental Descriptive Book as 23 years old, 5 feet 7 ½ inches high, light complexion, hazel eyes, and black hair.  He was mustered out in 1864 at the end of his three-year enlistment.  In a future story, I will tell about William’s Civil War exploits.

In 1870 both William and his father Nathaniel with their families were living in Long Creek Township, Decatur County, Iowa.  Both were farmers who owned no land.

In the spring of 1871 the extended Hayes family moved to Washington Township, Republic County, Kansas where they filed for homesteads; Nathaniel and his son-in-law William T. Stewart in Section 3, and William a half-mile south in Section 10.  Their homestead applications all stated they settled on May 13, 1871.

The William A. Hayes family on their homestead in the spring of 1886. Eleven children were raised in this small house.


William’s homestead application #10899 dated February 4, 1874, is for 160 acres in the northeast quarter of section 10, Washington Township.  The post office was Center Mound, Republic County, Kansas.  I do not know why he waited three years to file for a homestead.  The year 1874 was the famous grasshopper year when no crops were raised.  By October 1878, when his Homestead Proof was filed he had 55 acres under cultivation in corn, wheat, rye, and oats.  He had a frame house 14 by 24 feet, a stable, hog pen, chicken house, and 3 acres of forest trees and a hedge.  His Homestead Proof states that he lived in a “temporary” house until the frame house was built. The family tradition was that the family had lived in a sod house.

According to the 1880 census farm schedule, the farm was worth $1,500, he had $150 worth of implements and $250 worth of livestock.  By then 100 acres were tilled, and there were 4 horses, 1 milch cow, l other cattle, 7 swine.  2 cattle had been sold in the past year.  Produced in the last year were 50 dozen eggs, 100 pounds of butter, and 50 bushels of potatoes.  Grains raised were barley, Indian corn, oats, and wheat.

The March 1885 agricultural schedule of Republic County, Kansas, Harbine post office, shows:160 acres worth $3500, only $40 of implements, $50 wages paid during year past, 17 acres winter wheat, 15 acres spring wheat, 65 acres corn, 20 acres oats, ½ acre potatoes, 8 acres millet, 300 bu. Corn and 50 bu. Wheat on hand.  40 acres were still unbroken prairie which produced 25 tons of prairie hay.  $25 worth of eggs were sold, 400 lbs. of butter made;  4 horses, 4 milch cows, 39 other cattle, 38 swine.  5 cattle had died.  $400 of animals were slaughtered.  20 apple trees, 4 cherry trees, and 1 acre of maple trees were listed, and 1 dog.

Dryland farming on the plains was not easy or particularly successful.  William filed his patent (deed from the government) in October 1878 and took out a mortgage in November.  During his ownership of the land, he took mortgages in 1878, 1880, 1885, 1887, 1892, and 1895. The year 1894 was the famous drought year when nothing was raised.  He sold the homestead on May 9, 1896.  By that time his son Harmon, our ancestor, was married and living in the village of Harbine on the Kansas side of the Nebraska border.

The Byron Herald reported on March 11, 1898, that “W. A. Hayes has packed up his household effects and moved to Beaver City, where he will in the future reside.”  The family lived on a farm two miles southeast of Beaver City, Furnas County, Nebraska. In 1900 they were living in Beaver Precinct, on a farm they owned.  Three children, Ida age 38, Sarah age 17, and Ernest age 13 lived with them.  Ida never married and died in 1908 at Superior.  She is buried in the family plot in Washington Cemetery.

In December 1904, the family moved to Superior, Nebraska where William died on December 22, 1905, at the age of 68.  A short funeral service was held at the home, then, the remains were taken to the Washington Church in Republic County, Kansas where another funeral was held.  The Odd Fellows Lodge of Republic, Kansas conducted the burial rites at the grave in Washington Cemetery.

Washington church and the cemetery where many Hayes family members are buried. The church is long gone. The original photo is a postcard.

I visited William’s granddaughter, Annabelle Hayes Tavener, in 1979.  She told me stories about the extended family.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a tape recorder at that time, so I took notes.  She called him “Grandpa Bill,” and said he was a gentle, timid man.  His wife ran the household.    He was survived by his wife and eleven children.


Barbara Koob – a Saint from Heppenheim

Saint Marianne Cope

Peter Koob, a farmer and day laborer, was married to Barbara Witzenbacher from Hambach and had 6 children with her. His daughter Barbara was born on January 23, 1838 in Friedrichstrasse in Heppenheim and was baptized the next day in the Catholic Church of St. Peter.  She was named Maria Anna Barbara Koob. 

Part of the beautiful old section of Heppenheim. This is what our ancestors saw.

In 1839 the Koob family emigrated to the USA on the ship Ariosta which left the port of Antwerp, Belgium, and docked in New York harbor on Oct 16, 1839. The majority of the passengers were families from Heppenheim and the nearby villages of Kirschhausen, Sonderbach, and Erbach. Most of them moved to Randolph and Suffield townships in Portage County, Ohio.

However, the Koob family settled on farmland in Utica, New York, where they became American citizens named Cope. From a young age, Barbara felt called to the monastic life, but at the same time, she was obliged to contribute to the livelihood of her family through hard factory work. It was only after her father’s death in 1862 that she entered the St. Anthony Convent of the Franciscan Sisters in Syracuse, New York at the age of 24. There she made her vows on November 19, 1863, and took the name Sister Marianne.  The schools and hospitals of her order were particularly important to her. Because of her assertiveness, she and several other sisters turned a saloon into a hospital that also treated alcoholics and African-Americans, and which still exists today. Due to her skills in organization and administration, she was appointed Superior of the St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1875 and two years later as Provincial Superior of her order.

When the King of Hawaii was looking for volunteers to care for lepers in 1883, Mother Marianne’s Order was the only one willing to undertake this difficult task. “It will be my greatest joy to serve the abandoned lepers,” said Mother Marianne.  Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) meant rotting alive, which at the time could only be prevented by isolating the sick. There was no cure.  A leprosy epidemic broke out in the 1860s, and in 1864 Hawaii’s government passed isolation laws to contain the disease. In 1866 the island of Moloka’i was designated a leper colony.

The conditions in the colony were terrible. Sick people were often torn from their families by the authorities and taken to the leprosy hospital in Kaka’ako, Honolulu, where they usually disappeared without a trace.

Sister Marianne and her fellow sisters cared for over 200 lepers in the colony. As early as 1885 she founded the Kapiolani Home for the healthy daughters of lepers. She not only took care of the physical ailments of the sick through devoted care but also introduced hygienic measures and had new clothes tailored for the lepers in the girls’ home.

When the hospital was closed in 1888, all the lepers were evacuated to Moloka’i, which means “island of the dead.”   The lepers eked out an existence without any medical care and were left to their fate.

At the request of Father Damien de Veusters, a Flemish friar and long-time director of the home for boys, Mother Marianne and 3 Franciscan Sisters arrived in Moloka’i in November 1888, just in time to take over the management of the home and to care for those with leprosy until their deaths.  She first founded a home for girls and women with leprosy to protect them from violent and assaulting men. She worked for the lepers for another 30 years.

Intensive care, hygienic measures and the procurement of medicines from abroad improved the living conditions on Molokai’i to the extent that the epidemic was contained and many of the leper’s children were saved from infection.

Mother Marianne was spared the illness and cared for the sick until her death on August 9, 1918. She was honored for her self-sacrificing, long-term work under the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Beatified on May 14, 2005, and canonized in Rome on October 21, 2012. 

In the church of St. Peter in Heppenheim, a memorial plaque and a statue of mother Marianne on the high altar honor a courageous, generous and determined woman, a true saint from Heppenheim. 

The above information was taken from

You are probably wondering why I am including the story of an American saint in my family history blog.  The reason is that passengers on the ship Ariosta that brought the Koob family to American included our ancestors Peter Klein and his wife Barbara Greisemer.  Their five children included our ancestor, John Klein-Kline born 1820 in Sonderbach, a village near Heppenheim, died 1855 at Randolph township, Portage County, Ohio.  John married Margaret May born in 1824 at Kirschhausen, near Heppenheim.  Some of her relatives were also on the ship Ariosta.  Their son, John J. Kline born in 1848 in Portage County and died in 1914 in Hamilton County, Nebraska was my generation’s great-grandfather. 


Juniata’s Bandstand and Town Pump

Juniata’s Town Pump and Bandstand

Few people living today remember Juniata’s iconic bandstand, windmill and hand pump which stood in the center of Juniata Avenue’s intersection with 10th Street.

The history of the public water supply in Juniata goes back to the town’s very beginning when in the spring of 1871 the B & M Railroad bored the first well.  It was located east of Juniata Avenue on railroad property.   The well was to provide water for the railroad’s steam engines but was also used by the settlers.  Then in November 1874 a well 87 feet deep and six feet in diameter was dug for the use of the steam-powered flour mill.  In September 1878 a public windmill was erected east of Juniata Avenue on 10th Street.

The 1884 Birds Eye View drawing of Juniata shows the large railroad windmill and large windmills at the Commercial House Hotel and the livery barn both just south of the tracks on Juniata Avenue.   Twelve other windmills are shown, one by the livery stable at Juniata Avenue. and 8th Street, the remainder at private houses.  Only two windmills are shown north of the tracks.  The majority of houses did not have a water supply.  They either hauled water from the town windmill located on the south side of 10th Street between Juniata and Adams Avenues or got their water from a neighbor’s well.  Hauling water would have been a huge inconvenience.  No wonder they only took a bath on Saturday nights and everyone in the household used the same water.  During the winter months, they seldom if ever bathed.

Looking north on Juniata Avenue in 1909.
In this postcard photo, the camera is looking north on Juniata Avenue.  The stamp was canceled in January 1909.

The village bandstand was built in September 1904.  It stood in the center of the intersection of Juniata Avenue and 10th Street and could be seen from four directions.  In October 1905 the village put down a new well on the north side of the bandstand and moved the windmill there.  A large cistern was constructed for the public water supply and for water in case of a fire.

In this photo taken about1915, the camera is pointed northeast. The building to the right stood where the current post office is located and was the Juniata Herald newspaper office and printing plant.
In this photo taken about1915, the camera is pointed northeast. The building to the right stood where the current post office is located and was the Juniata Herald newspaper office and printing plant.


The photographer stood in the intersection of Juniata Avenue and 9th Street to take this photo.
The photographer stood in the intersection of Juniata Avenue and 9th Street to take this photo.  The first building on the left was an auto repair shop.  During the late ’40s, it was used by A. B. Wymore as a hatchery.


About 1943 an electric pump was installed on the well to fill the cistern in the middle of the street and the landmark windmill was removed.


This photo was taken about 1950.
This photo was taken about 1950.  The windmill has been replaced by the well-house which contained an electric motor on the well. The bandstand has been reduced to ground level.  Notice the cement street light poles. They were made in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration. The small building to the right stood along the alley. Ben Carl, who ran a restaurant, owned it during the 1930s. If a destitute family came to town, he let them live there and gave them food. Later the building was the Longstaff barbershop. The large building facing Juniata Avenue was the school gymnasium which burned down in December 1961 when I was a sophomore.


Juniata installed a water and sewer system in 1957, making the well and cistern obsolete.  A 1960 tornado damaged several buildings in town, including the railroad depot, and it was at that time that the last portion of the bandstand was removed.

This photo was taken in 1977.
Sometime in the mid-’70s, Wiseman Construction built a replica of the lowered bandstand.  This photo was taken in 1977.  The building to the left is the State Bank of Juniata building.  It was being used as the town hall at this time.  The box on the side of the building was a pay telephone.


The gazebo in the downtown park is a replica of the lowered bandstand constructed in the 1970s by Wiseman Construction.  It was placed in the center of the intersection where the original had stood until it was deemed a traffic hazard and removed.

Maxine Wymore’s Childhood

Myrna Maxine Wymore was born at 10 p.m. on August 27, 1914, at Byron, Thayer County, Nebraska.  She was the third child, second living, of Andrew Burr (called A.B. or Burr) and Ina Clara (Hayes) Wymore.  Her father’s occupation was listed as farmer on her birth certificate.  However, he soon quit farming to be a traveling salesman.   I never met him as he died in 1950, but in talking with the family, he was called “Burr or A.B.”  The signatures I have seen were always “A B Wymore.”

Maxine never used the name Myrna, but she sometimes listed it as her middle name.  Her older sister, Irma, was born in 1912 at Byron and her younger brother, Arthur Clark Wymore (called Clark) was born at Hastings in 1918.  The Wymore family moved often.  In June 1917 when A. B. registered for the World War I draft they were living in McCook and he was selling Singer sewing machines in “western Nebraska.”

The Wymore family was living in a rented house at 315 Kerr Avenue, Hastings in January 1920 when the census was taken.   A. B. was working as a traveling agent according to the city directory, and the census gave his occupation as “agent for a cream business. “

In September 1920, when Maxine was six-years-old, her father purchased the house at 310 East 10th Street in Juniata for $500. The Juniata column in the Adams County Democrat had this to say: “Mr. Wymore, traveling supt. for an Omaha creamery company, has purchased the Vreeland property on the east side and after sundry repairs will move in and become a fixture of the town it is hoped.”

310 East 9th Street in Juniata. The white circle on the car door is the Singer Sewing Machine Company logo.
310 East 9th Street in Juniata. The white circle on the car door is the Singer Sewing Machine Company logo.

Maxine Wymore, Irma Wymore, Raymona Conover, Adella Conover, Henrietta Conover, and Clark Wymore in front. About 1921 in Juniata.

The Adams County Democrat reported in November 1921 “Mrs. Wymore, who has been ill for so long, was taken to the Nebraska Sanitarium last week for treatment.”  The Nebraska Sanitarium, located on East Ninth Street in Hastings, was a homeopathic hospital run by the Seventh Day Adventists.  I haven’t found any written diagnosis or description of Ina’s illness.  However, many years ago when members of her generation were still living, they insinuated it was depression caused by A.B.’s continual absences from home.

However, poor Ina had another reason to be depressed.  A. B. had moved his brazen girlfriend and her three girls into their home in Juniata on the pretext she was doing the housework.   Aunt Mary Wymore Bates (who called her brother Burr) told me that Burr and family drove down to Jewell County, Kansas to visit his parents.  When they went to leave Nellie took the front seat alongside Burr and Ina was in the back.  Burr’s mother, Amanda (McNabb) Wymore told her son to get his wife in the front seat where she belonged.    Burr was not happy with his mother.

This is the story I was told by a Hayes family member about the incident that led to A. B. committing Ina to Ingleside (Hastings State Hospital).  Ina was gone from home and when she returned she found A. B. and Nellie in bed together.  In a rage, she grabbed a kitchen knife and chased him around the table.  After that he had her committed.  Her parents tried to take her to their home, but couldn’t get her released.

Maxine clipped from a class photo taken about 1923.
Maxine clipped from a class photo taken about 1923.

How all this drama affected the Wymore children, I do not know.  Maxine, who was old enough to remember, never spoke of it, and I, thinking it was too personal, never asked.  She did mention her Grandmother Hayes taking her to visit her mother at Ingleside.  She also mentioned that she and her siblings often spent summer months at her Grandparents Harmon and Ruth (Kimball) Hayes’ farm in Republic County, Kansas.

Exactly when or where A. B. met Nellie Morgan Conover I don’t know.  Her husband, Ray A. Conover had died in January 1919 at Sutherland, Nebraska.  However, it didn’t take her long to appear in Juniata where she had no relatives.  In her March 1922 application for a Mother’s Pension, she stated she “came to the county March 22, 1920.”  She also claimed that she owned a five-room house in Juniata with a $200 mortgage.  She said she got $15 a week from A. B. Wymore for caring for his three children.   The county granted her $25 per month welfare.  In November 1924 Nellie Conover sold the house in Juniata for $575.  The Democrat reported:  “ A. B. Wymore has sold his home in Juniata to George Reynolds and will move his household goods to Nelson where he has rented a home. They expect to go Friday this week.”

On March 19, 1925, the Hastings Democrat reported: “Word has been received of the death of Mrs. A. B. Wymore at her home north of Edgar.  Mrs. Wymore had been at the hospital at Ingleside for some time and when the doctor told them she could not last but a few days, she expressed her desire to be taken home and so her daughter Erma and Mrs. Conover accompanied her in the ambulance.  She only lived two or three days after getting home.”

This is what the Hayes family told me about Ina’s death.  Ina wanted to see her children, so she was taken to their home.  Her family wasn’t told she was there or that her health was precarious.  Three days later, on March 12, 1925, she died suddenly.  Ina was buried in the Washington Cemetery in Republic County, Kansas.  After the shock of Ina’s death and burial, some of the Hayes family were suspicious about her sudden death and approached the county attorney about having her disinterred and examined for poison.  They were told it was too late.  Fifty years later, some Hayes relatives were still convinced Nellie had poisoned Ina.

Maxine was ten years old when her mother died.  She never mentioned the death or funeral to me.  When I tried to ask her about her early life, she said “I don’t remember, that was a long time ago.”

August 11, 1927, the Hastings Democrat mentioned the marriage of Burr and Nellie.  “Mrs. Nellie Conover and Mr. Burr Wymore were married at Scottsville, August 1st and are taking a short trip but have not yet decided where they will make their home.  Mr. and Mrs. Wymore lived here a few years ago.”   At this time I do not know where they lived between Ina’s death in 1925 and 1928 when I found them in the Kansas City, Missouri city directory.  They were living at 2028 Kansas Ave. and A. B. was listed as a salesman.

The Juniata correspondent to the Hastings Democrat reported on August 23, 1928 “A. B. Wymore and family of Kansas City are moving into the Ray Magner house.”  That house is at 111 East 7th Street.

The Wymore family lived at 111 East 7th Street in Juniata from August 1928 until August 1930. The house is still standing, but greatly altered.
The Wymore family lived at 111 East 7th Street in Juniata from August 1928 until August 1930. The house is still standing but greatly altered.

Andrew Burr Wymore Jr. called “Junior” was born September 13, 1929 in Juniata.  Maxine was fifteen, and the youngest child in the family, Clark, was eleven.  With five older sisters, Junior was fussed over and dressed like “Little Lord Fauntleroy.”

In July 1930 Andrew B. Wymore purchased the house at 609 Blue River Ave in Juniata for an undisclosed amount.  Maxine always called it “the big house.”  She lived there during her high school years.  Her 16th birthday party was reported in the Kenesaw Progress.  “Mrs. A. B. Wymore and daughters entertained 20 young folks in honor of Miss Maxine’s 16th birthday Wednesday evening.  Decorations were in blue & white.  A box was decorated with crepe paper and long streamers each one leading to some gift.  After games, a delicious lunch was served.”

Wymore family home at 611 Blue River Avenue in Juniata. The car was a 1931 Chevy convertable.
Wymore family home at 609 Blue River Avenue in Juniata. The car was a 1931 Chevy convertible. This house is still standing.

Throughout the ’30s and ’40’s the Juniata columns of both the Hastings Democrat and the Kenesaw Progress were full of the doings of the Wymore family of five girls and two boys.  Maxine was fun-loving and popular.  She played basketball and was in the glee club.  She dated Gaylord Weseman seriously during  ’31, ’32, and ’33; and the story is that his heart was broken when she married Bud Renschler.  The gossip columns never mentioned Bud and Maxine dating.  Maxine graduated from Juniata High School in May 1934.

Juniata High School's 1933 girls basketball team. Maxine is on the left in the middle row.
Juniata High School’s 1933 girls basketball team. Maxine is on the left in the middle row.


Maxine's 1934 high school graduation photograph.
Maxine’s 1934 high school graduation photograph.

Bud marriage017
Bud and Maxine’s wedding day. They did not have a formal wedding photograph.

Bud Renschler was working in Iowa for A. B. Wymore selling chicken remedies.  In late July, A. B. and Nellie took Maxine to Harlan, Iowa where on July 28, 1934, she married Marion Eugene “Bud” Renschler in the Methodist parsonage.  Maxine was 19 years and 11 months old and Bud was 19 years and 4 months old.


The Henricus Lux Family in Iowa

The Lux family arrived in New York harbor on November 16, 1853.  They were in Iowa by December 14 when Henricus purchased 144 acres in the northwest quarter of section 7, Tete des Morts Township, Jackson County, Iowa for $1600.  This land bordered that of the Saint Donatus Catholic Church.

Tete des Morts, township, which in French means head of the dead, was named for the creek of that name.  According to legend the name derived from the numerous skulls of Indians killed in a battle along the creek.

The Lux farm is outlined in red on this 1905 map. By that time the farm was owned by daughter Mary's second husband, Mathew Kirsch. Notice that the creek is named Lux Creek.
The Lux farm is outlined in red on this 1905 map. By that time the farm was owned by daughter Mary’s second husband, Mathew Kirsch. Notice that the creek is named Lux Creek.

Unfortunately, we do not know how the Lux family traveled from New York City to Tete des Morts.  We know they did not travel by wagon because in less than a month they were in Iowa.  The most likely route would have been by railroad to Chicago and then on to Rockford, Illinois, the end of the line in 1853.   Perhaps they purchased a team and wagon in Rockford which is 82 miles, about a seven day trip, from Dubuque, Iowa.  The population of Dubuque in 1853 was about 3,300. The only way to cross the Mississippi River at Dubuque was by ferry.  Then it would have taken another day to travel the 13 miles to Tete des Morts. Dubuque, Iowa

I assume there was a house, either log or stone, already on the farm when Henricus purchased it.    However, the price of the land seems high—about $11.10 and acre—when government land was selling for $1.25 an acre.

When the Lux family arrived at Tete des Morts , they found a log church that had been built in 1848 and dedicated to Saint Donatus of Muenstereifel, protector against lightning and storms.  He was widely venerated in the Rhine Valley and in Luxembourg.

The Lux family had just arrival in Iowa when tragedy struck.  Eleven year-old Jean Lux died January 26, 1854 and on March 3, fourteen year-old Henricus Junior died.  They were the only sons of Henricus and Mary.  It is not known what caused their deaths.  On February 21, 1854 the oldest daughter, Theresa, married Johann Tritz.  Theresa, died on January 30, 1857 aged only 24.  Her grave in the Saint Donatus cemetery is unmarked.

In October 1855 daughter Mary Ann married Peter Theisen and in November daughter Susanna married Karl Hoffman, both in the little log church.  Both couples lived to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversaries.

In the autumn of 1856 the church and parsonage with their contents burned.  A new stone parsonage was soon built.  The list of contributors includes H. Lux $4.90.  The 42 acres belonging to the church were surveyed and it was noted that two of Lux’s fences stood on the church property.

The cornerstone of a new stone church and rectory was laid in April 1858.  Donations for the new church included H. Lux $75.00, a substantial sum at that time.  In 1859 a Catholic school, which met in the rectory, was organized.

 Saint Donatus Church
Saint Donatus Church

The 1860 federal census’s agricultural schedule gives us a glimpse of the Lux family’s farming operation.  The farm was valued at $4,000, of which ninety acres were improved–that is cultivated.  The value of farming equipment was only $50.  The livestock consisted of 5 horses, 3 milch cows, 2 oxen, 3 other cattle, 5 swine, all valued at $400.  Produced the previous year was 120 bushels wheat, 50 bushels corn, 30 bushels oats, 15 tons hay, 100 bushels potatoes, $50 worth of fruit, 500 lbs. butter, value of animals slaughtered was $200.    These numbers were about average for the community.

Stations along the Way of the Cross. I've walked this path twice in my life.
Stations along the Way of the Cross. I’ve walked this path twice in my life.

The first outdoor way of the Cross in America was built at Saint Donatus in 1861.  Fourteen brick shrines line a winding path some 500 feet up the wooded hill behind the church.  In 1866 a large four-story boarding school for girls, St. Mary’s Academy was built.  The School Sisters of Notre Dame from Milwaukee supplied the school.  H. Lux paid $30 to the church in 1869.  This probably included money owed for previous years as he paid $5 pew rent in 1870.

Daughter Elisabeth married Peter Kummer in 1865 and daughter Mary Ann (yes, two daughters named Mary Ann) married Martin Mousel in 1869.

A continued drought killing trees was mentioned in the church chronicle in 1874, and a large cross was erected in the cemetery that year.  Also in 1874, “Numerous deaths among the little children” but no cause was given.

A high school named Tete des Morts High School for young men was erected in 1875.  Classes were held during the five winter months.  A notation in 1875 reads “Towards the south and west boundary (of the church land) towards H. Lux, came a board fence on the one-half of the parish border line; the other half Lux must make and keep up.  To make such fences is very expensive but exceedingly necessary.”

Henricus wrote his will in September 1875.  He left his daughters, Susanna Hoffman, Marianne Theisen and Elisabeth Kummer each $800 to be paid after the death of his wife.  To his daughter, Mary Mousel, he left the remainder of his estate both real (the farm) and personal.  Henricus died May 8, 1876 at age 73 and was buried in the church cemetery where his grave marker still stands 144 years later.

 Henricus and Mary Lux grave marker
Grave marker of Henricus and Mary Lux.

Mary Lux was living on the farm in 1880 along with daughter Mary Mousel and her six children.  Martin Mousel had died in 1877.  Mary died January 2, 1894 at the age of 86 years.

Henricus and Mary are my great, great, grandparents, great grandparents of my grandmother, Catherine Kaiser Trausch.  Many descendants of Henricus and Mary Lux live in Adams County, Nebraska, including families named Theisen, and Mousel.

Information about church was taken from the “Original Chronicle of the Parish of St. Donatus” translated from the original German by Arnold Toma in 1955.