Daniel Edward Kline and Leona Josephine Bassett were married November 14, 1911 at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Hastings, Nebraska. Their attendants were Leona’s cousin Arthur Bassett and Dan’s sister Mary Kline. Dan was one month short of his 25th birthday and Leona was 18 years old.
In 1911 Dan was still living with his parents and helping with the farm work. Edna Kline Trausch remembered that “Dad drove the Watkins Wagon with horses. Uncle George Kline drove it first and when he quit Dad took it over and ran it for a year or so. I don’t know when it was, before the folks were married or when they were first married. I just remember Uncle George and Dad talking about it.”
In a 1996 interview Edna Trausch and Rita Obermeier told what they knew about their parent’s courtship.
Edna: “Mom was working out for somebody around Hastings when they met. Mom used to do house work. [It was common for girls and young women to earn money by living with a family and doing the cooking and housework. They received their room and board and about a dollar a week.] Dad was going with Cora Halsted from Giltner. She wanted to marry Dad, but she wasn’t a Catholic. She wouldn’t join the church. She said “I’ll go to my church and you go to your church. It doesn’t matter to me.” Dad said “But it matters to me.” Dad’s folks would have up and died if he had married her. All the time Dad went with her, Grandma and Aunt Kate picked on her because she wasn’t a Catholic. She never did marry. Mom never did say who she went with, but she told me this story. The neighbors always listened in on the phone if somebody called her for a date. The neighbors said she would go with anybody, but not Sunday night, [then] she was going with Dad. Dad came to the farm with a threshing crew; that’s how they met.”
Rita: “The only thing I remember about it, Mom told me about one time they were going to Grand Island on a date and they were going on that long bridge; they called it the mile bridge. [over the Platte River] They met somebody and they had to get on a little turn off on the bridge. It was only a one-lane bridge.”
In a 1988 interview Sister Francis Kline remembered going to the wedding at St. Cecilia’s. The Kline family went in a carriage. After the ceremony a wedding dinner was held for the immediate family at the home Jule Bassett, Leona’s father. Jule and his second wife, Maud, lived on the farm where Leona grew up on the SE1/4 section 33, West Blue township. The location is 1.5 miles east of Hastings on 26th Street on the north side of the road. The buildings are gone.
Dan and Leona “went home” to Dan’s upstairs bedroom in his parent’s farmhouse. They lived there until March 1912 when they moved onto the farm they would eventually purchase. Those must have been very difficult months for Leona who was three months pregnant at her marriage. Her mother-in-law, Bertha Kline, was a stern, unloving woman who blamed Leona for the family embarrassment. (Leona was just 18; Dan was 24 when the pregnancy began.) Dan’s sister Kate, an old maid, age 30 living at home, was much like her mother with an added component of “humor” that belittled people. (Kate Kline got married January 1, 1946 at the age of 63, and her mother, Bertha, dropped dead the same day. But that’s another story.)
In a 1982 interview Grandma Kline told me the following: “My wedding gift [from her father] was $35. We went to town and bought a dresser, chest of five drawers with a mirror on top, and bedstead and springs. Then we went home and we picked shucks out of the cornfield and filled the tick and that’s what we slept on. We either had a straw tick or a shuck tick. We emptied them every year in the fall and put in new ones. Spring we’d shake ‘em, take out all the scraps, put some new ones in with ‘em and back on the bed they would go. A Shuck mattress was four or five inches thick. We had feather pillows. We always raised ducks or geese and made feather pillows.
“Dan’s mother bought us a kitchen table to eat on and Dan’s father made us a kitchen cupboard and a washstand. We always had a washstand. We set the water bucket on that and washed our hands there. In the living room for years we never had nothing but six wooden chairs. Later we bought a library table. Then later we bought a dish cupboard for the kitchen that cost $5. It’s still in the basement at home.” [On the farm]
“We had a Bible that Dan’s mother gave us. In the evenings we’d set around and read the Bible and pray. I did embroidery. In the summer we set on the porch. We didn’t subscribe to a newspaper, couldn’t afford it.”
“We paid $65 for a cook stove, bought it on time. And our house was so poor that we couldn’t live in the kitchen. We lived in the living room and the bedrooms. It was so cold that our reservoir would freeze solid on the stove at night. The kitchen floorboards were worn through and the foundation was full of holes. When I cooked I put on my overshoes to go out there. My dress would blow up from the wind coming up through the holes in the floor. We lived there two years before we got a new kitchen floor. The landlord just didn’t see how he could afford to put in a new floor and they were wealthy. His name was Belsley. He was a mine digger and every time he’d get a little money he’d come out here and buy this cheap land. Make a down payment on it. They had lots of land they got for four and five dollars an acre.”
“The kitchen was a big room. The people that lived there before we did had a washer with a motor on it in the west end of the kitchen. But we took that out and put the floor in. We were two years like that. We threatened to move and then the landlord got busy. For years I did the wash in the kitchen. Heat the water on the cook stove right in the kitchen.”
“We had the living room and two bedrooms. One bedroom was a little room that just held a bed and a low chest. You had to squeeze to get between the bed and chest when you were making the bed. The other bedroom must have been nine feet wide and twelve feet long.”
“The big bedroom was the one that had the bedbugs in it. They were in the house when we moved in. Then after the spring opened up the first year I said to Dad, “We’ve got bed bugs.” They crawled up the wall in the corner, the wall was just black. We used kerosene on them; if we would see a place where there were several we would put a little kerosene on them. And then we would pick ‘em. Take them off the wall with a needle. Every day we would pick every one we could find. We couldn’t get rid of them any other way. Bed bugs are terrible! You can’t sleep with them. They bite; raise a welt just like a mosquito. I can take everything but bites. They get in every little crack, behind the windowsills, behind the mopboard, behind everything. Then at night they crawl out. It took us a couple years to get rid of them. Mary Kline Wunderlich [Dan’s sister] moved east of us and their house was full of ‘em. They bought formaldehyde and burnt that on some wood. Didn’t faze ‘em.”
“The south end of the house was all cracked away from the floor and we tinned that all up with tin to keep the mice and rats out. The plaster in the house was so poor that every night the mice would gnaw through, then the next day we would fix that hole and the next night the same thing over. We fixed the holes with tin. We used everything we could find. We didn’t make the tin very big and the next night they would chew through somewhere else. It was a mess. We lived that way for three years and then we hollered, “We’re going to move.” The landlord came in July and Dad said to him, “We’re looking for another place. We can’t stand the mice.” So the landlord said to plaster the house. So then in the fall the landlord paid someone to plaster the house and we never had but one or two mice in it since.”
Despite “having to get married,” and the hardships they endured wresting a living from the Nebraska prairie, Dan and Leona were married for over sixty-five years until Dan’s death in February 1977.