Archive for May 2012

In Search of the Homestead – Part 3   2 comments

I think most of us wish there was a portal that we could travel through into the past to relive a special moment in time or just feel the warmth of those who loved us and who we loved that are no longer with us.

My search of the homestead was not about locating the land my ancestors farmed, because I knew where that was. It was a research trip to locate family documents,  to touch them, see them and imagine the excitement that must have filled the moment for my family members. It was an opportunity to meet and spend time with people who share my blood, to get to know them and learn from them. But, most of all it was about reconnecting with memories that I hold close to my heart.

I knew returning to Hildreth would stir up memories and emotions from a time long past.  I parked my car at the end of the main street and closed my eyes and I could  envision the town the way it was when I was a child.  I remember the town busy with people doing business at the I.G.A. store, and how the farmers would meet for coffee  before they started their day.  I could hear the church bell ringing calling everyone to Sunday service. I remember walking to Clint’s Tavern to see my Grandpa Bebensee and how he would let me pick out any candy bar that I wanted. 

As I passed by the old creamery building I could feel my Grandpa Evers’ hand holding mine as we walked the half block from his back yard together. He would reach into a little change jar on the buffet and give me a nickel to carry and we would get an ice cream cone from the creamery and then stop at the post office to get his mail. I recall days spent fishing at the Republican Dam – eating a picnic lunch of fried chicken and potato salad and falling asleep in the sun.
I recall spending the afternoon with my Grandma where she ran the town library and how the ladies would come in just to visit with her. At the cemetery I could hear the roar of the Phantom Jets flying over head at the memorial service for my Uncle in 1989. And I recalled how my Mom took my hand and we walked together to her Mother’s grave and how she trembled standing there as I put my arm around her. These moments in time are irreplaceable and unforgettable and what inspires me to write them down.


I had a wonderful lunch with a woman I became acquainted with last year by the name of Barb Casper in Hildreth. She invited Mrs. Jurgens who bought my great grandfather’s farm in 1948 and still owns the farm. It was a joy to give her a photograph of the Habben home as it looked in 1908 and listen to her tell of how as a young bride she removed all the gingerbread off of the house because she thought it was too old-fashioned, something she tells me she later regretted. Her husband Harold was a classmate of my father’s back in the 1930’s. Barb shared a memory with me of my Grandfather and how she found him asleep on her couch one day. When she confronted him he just said he wanted to see what it looked like and was tired and decided to take a nap. Yep, I think to myself that was Grandpa – if he got tired he didn’t care where he was. Hildreth was one of those towns where people left their doors unlocked and everyone was like one big family. They all kept an eye on each others children and when someone had a problem everyone showed up to ease the pain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I left Barb’s I traveled out to the old one room school-house that my Mom and her siblings attended in the 20’s and 30’s. As the breeze rustled the trees I think I could actually hear the giggles of children at play. I could imagined my Mom and her brothers as they traveled down the dirt road in their pony cart pulled by their beloved horse, Prince. The building is falling apart and the weeds are so high around it I didn’t dare get to close. I had been warned about snakes and ticks in the grass and to be very careful walking around. Next time I’ll bring my weed whacker – LOL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found it difficult to leave the area because there was this strong feeling of being home and safe that was hard to leave behind.  I drove down road 4 to road 10 and headed south to Franklin to my next stop along my journey.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Posted May 31, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Uncategorized

In Search of the Homestead – Part 2   1 comment

Hot sultry nights, the steady chirp of the cricket and gravel roads are all things that remind me of my childhood trips to Grandma’s house in Nebraska.  The three day car ride from Massachusetts to Nebraska every summer seemed endless to me and I’m sure to my Dad,  who never really seemed to answer the question that I would whine every 10 minutes of “how many more miles,” it seemed even longer.  Although we would be in Nebraska for many miles to me it wasn’t Nebraska until we hit the gravel road that would bring us “home” to Grandma’s.  The old gravel road has been black topped for many years but there are still many gravel roads in the area so I purposely take the back way from Wilcox to Hildreth just so I can go down the gravel road and travel back in time to those special feelings of coming to see Grandma.  I continue to visit my Grandparents, only now there are no big hugs, no endless kisses and no one that makes a fuss over us like Grandma did.  After I catch them all up on the happenings it’s hard to hold the tears in because even after some 30 years I still miss them.

Life seems to be changing all the time – if only we could slow it down some.  As I drive through town I am saddened to see that so many of the buildings now sit empty.  The library where Grandma worked is now a hair solon and the old IGA store appears to be a gift shop.  The only  businesses there now are the Municipal Building and the Bank.  It seemed so odd to see only one car parked on the street.  As I continue my travels I find that more and more of the small towns that I was familiar with are the same way.  Buildings sitting empty and left to nature makes me wonder if the way of the small town is gone for good

 

Posted May 20, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Uncategorized

In Search of the Homestead – Day 1 on the road   Leave a comment

The landscape of eastern Colorado from I-76 has seen little change through the ages; it seems to serve only as a place to go through to somewhere else.  The wind often howls and the main source of water arrives in the form of rain.  There are no trees and only real vegetation you see is sage brush, tumbleweeds.  Occasionally when there is an exceptional amount of rain there are wild flowers.  Only once in all the times I have been on this interstate have I seen an array of wild flowers – or what most of us would call weeds and that was in 2009 when my late husband I were returning from a trip to Minnesota.  It truly was a sight to behold, red, blue, purple and blue flowers filled the drainage areas from the highway – it was spectacular. 

I was worried that the boredom of the ride would make the 7 hour trip to Nebraska unbearable.  I think when you’re driving the time goes faster because you are concentrating on the road, passing trucks and wondering how many more miles to the next rest stop because you drank too much coffee.  (LOL)  I try to think about something besides where the next rest stop is, which I will warn you if you ever travel this highway,  are very few and very far between in the state of Colorado.  My thoughts drift to those pioneer women with those long hot dresses walking beside the wagon through this windswept area.  There were no rest stops for them; there wasn’t even a tree to go behind for a little privacy.  So what did they do?  I really don’t have any answers for this, I suppose I could goggle it but it’s late and if you want to know I’ll let you do the search.  What about the so called “curse?”  There were no quick stops on the trail – actually there are no quick stops on the interstate either.   How much of their pride did they actually have to give up obtaining the so called “free land”?   You always hear about how brave the men were to follow their dreams into the wilderness to find freedom and land, but I think the women were the real courageous ones. 

Well I guess you can see where my mind was as I raced down I-76 and I-80 at 75 miles per hour. 

I arrived in Holdrege with no problems until I tried to find the Super 8.  In my mind I just knew it was on the east side of town when in reality it was on the west side, or was that south?   There are no mountains in Nebraska to help the directionally challenged find their way – ha ha. 

The evening of May 15th was spent with the most loving people I have ever met.  I barely know Marvin and Mary Arehart, who are my 5th cousins and who I have only been with 3 times.  The last few times I have been in Nebraska I have made a point of stopping to visit with them.  They greet me with arms open and are genuinely glad to spend time with me.  I believe that there is a blood bond that unites us with family regardless of the number of generations between us.  During dinner Mary hands me a paperback book and tells me that she wants me to have it.  On the cover of the book is a painting of a small boy and his mother looking out into the distance, the book is titled “God’s Yard Light” and that’s when I notice that Mary is the author.  I was so pleased to have a copy of this book about her son David, not only because she wrote it, but because I know what she went through to write it and how the publisher lost the original that was all hand written, so she had to re-write the entire book from scratch.  She spoke of the book when I visited her in 2009 and she mentioned to me that she probably would not complete it so I was very pleased to see that she had.

Transcribed from Mary E. Aerhart’s book:

“I will never forget the night that David and I stood peering out into the darkness from the road that ran east and west in front of our farm.  David was a young man at the time but he still loved to look at the lights of our neighbor’s homes that were all around us.  He knew by the direction and location exactly which of his neighbors lived by the glow of each particular light.  He pointed and identified each one that he could see, and then he looked up in the sky and pointed to the moon and said, “There’s God’s yard light.”  It was then that I knew someday David’s story would need to be told, but it would have to wait until time could bring healing and understanding to the life of a young boy and his family who loved him.”

“Recently, as my writing was nearly complete, I told David that I was writing a book about him.  He looked at me in utter disbelief.  I said to him again, “David I am writing a book about you.”  Tears came to his eyes and he leaned over and kissed me ever so gently.  Thank you, Lord, He understands.”

It was such a wonderful evening and they tried to convince me to stay another day with them.  The temptation to spend more time with them was difficult to resist.  The evening ended with big warm hugs, kisses and yes even a few tears from two of the most gentle; loving and giving people I have ever known.

Wednesday morning I’m off to “Nebraska”.  I’ll explain that comment tomorrow.

 

 

Posted May 18, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Uncategorized

In Search of the Homestead   Leave a comment

Posted May 9, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Uncategorized