Mary Sophia Rusler – Surname Saturday

Mary Sophia Rusler

Mary Sophia Rusler

I have saved the oldest daughter of Augusta Wilhemina Erxleben and Michael Anthony Rusler for last because she was my great grandmother.  Many of my relatives have shared memories and stories they have about her so this post may be a long one (for me).

Mary Sophia Rusler

Mary Sophia Rusler

Mary Sophia Rusler was born December 3, 1874 in Rockford, Ogle County, Illinois.  When she was a young child her family moved to York County, Nebraska where she lived the rest of her life.  At the age of 19 she married John Wesley Tracy.  They were married by the County Judge at the York County Courthouse on March 21, 1894.  She was the child of German Immigrants, his family had been Americans since the colonial days.  They had seven children: Bryce Dilworth (1896), Ivan Wesley (1898), Pearl Olive (1900), Ray Lewis (1902), Mabel Rosanna (1904), Mary Augusta (1908), and James Everett (1913).

John Wesley and Mary Sophia Rusler Tracy

John Wesley and Mary Sophia Rusler Tracy

Tragedy struck this young family in October 1905 when they lost their son, Ray, in an accident (The Death of a Child).  I have heard that this tragedy was a turning point for John Wesley, before this he was happy go lucky fun-loving guy but after this he became a serious man and a church leader.  There is a picture taken soon after Ray’s death and I see  sadness in all of their faces.  James Everett wasn’t born until 1913 (5 years after Mary the next youngest) and when she was 38.  I can relate to this.  I don’t have 7 children (4) but there is quite a gap between my youngest (6 years) and I was 39 when he was born.  I can’t imagine being a mom at this age without the modern conveniences I am thankful for today.  I have noticed that many of my female ancestors had children somewhat late in life.  In fact, my Grandma Mabel was 45 when she had twins – one of which was my dad.

Tracy Family about 1905 I think they look sad.

Tracy Family about 1905
I think they look sad.

In 1931 a second tragedy fell upon Mary Sophia; her husband, John Wesley died of a heart attack while out hunting. By the time of his death the farm consisted of nine 80 acre sections – each of the six children were given a section in the will and Mary was given three sections with the homestead.  Mary continued to run the large farm independently.  This was an amazing thing as the 1930s were a tough time what with the depression, the grasshopper invasions, the dust storms, etc…  She was a strong woman.  In fact, John Wesley had raised Shorthorn Cattle and had a bull he was quit proud of.  She kept that bull (and maybe his son) and made money breeding him.  People came from all over to pay for the use of that bull.

John Wesley Tracy Family about 1916

John Wesley Tracy Family
about 1916

My dad’s cousin Jeanette lived with Grandma Mary Sophia for a few years when she was a young child.  She had a lot of memories to share.  Jeanette describes Grandma May as “pure as the driven snow.  Kind and nurturing and she loved God more than anything.  Totally independent after Grandpa died, ran the farm literally by herself, hiring hands to plant and harvest.  There were hired hands to feed during those times.  She kept the farm in top condition.  All the buildings painted and repaired.  I never saw Grandma Tracy angry.  She had the patience of Job.  She talked softly to God all day through the chores – milking, gathering eggs, dusting the chickens for mites, whatever.  On her lips was always, “Thank you Lord”.  Sometimes I would hear, “Help me Lord” but rarely.  She was very frugal, but never wanting.  She had electric lines running down the road and I asked her why she did not have electricity to the house.  She told me she gets up with the morning sun and goes to bed at dark.  Truth

4 Generation Augusta, May, Ivan, Lloyd

4 Generation
Augusta, May, Ivan, Lloyd

is, we did need a coal oil lamp some evenings in winter.  She was a fabulous cook and baker.  We baked bread, cinnamon rolls, parkerhouse rolls, one day a week.  She made noodles one day.  We did laundry one day. ” She said grandma had a lot of clutter stacked on the huge buffet behind the kitchen door.  She had her sewing machine under the kitchen window where she could see all of her beautiful flowers while she sewed.  Grandma loved her flowers.

The oldest two boys, Bryce and Ivan, farmed nearby but Olive and Mary married and moved to the northwest.  When Mary and her husband initially went west they left their oldest four children with Grandma May until they settled in Washington.  And once, Aunt Olive and her husband, John Larkin, visited in a huge truck that they used to haul fruit in Oregon, but this time it had a bed, drawers, chairs and stands like a motor home for the trip across country.  Mabel and Everett lived in the northwest for several years but moved home, later Everett moved to Louisiana.  Grandma Mabel and Grandpa Leo Gotcher took over the home section of the farm and moved into the farmhouse after Great Grandma Tracy’s death.

Grandma May Tracy with Gotcher Grandkids

Grandma May Tracy with Gotcher Grandkids

Jeanette tells another story, “Sleeping soundly in Grandma’s deep delicious featherbed, a storm was brewing.  But we slept peacefully.  Morning came, we went down to breakfast and walked out the back door to take the long walk to the outhouse.  (Oh yes, Grandma had a lovely bathroom with a grand porcelain tub and a pedestal sink and a separator.  No toilet.)  SURPRISE!!  Chickens running around the farm – naked, defeathered.  the chicken house was long gone!  Tornado had come through and taken it far into other fields.  Quite a number of chickens remained, as we gathered all we could find, many along the creek bed, some in the barn, many helpless and boy, did we have alot of chickens to prepare for canning.  Could not save too many.  But Grandma made the best chicken and noodles in the world.  So, we did have some of that too, and fried chicken – the rest we canned.”

Grandma May

Grandma May

“Grandma Tracy love oyster stew and chocolate covered cherries.  Every year on her birthday the family would gather for fabulous oyster stew – delicious with fresh cream and butter and oysters in season, special ordered, and for dessert, wonderful chocolate covered cherries.  Grandma did like her candies.  She always had some on hand.”

Which brings up a memory my dad and his twin sister had of Grandma Tracy.  They both remember that Grandma lived with them when they were little and sometimes during the day, the adults would leave them with Grandma and admonish them to watch Grandma in case she got into the sugar.  By this time Grandma.  My dad wasn’t sure what they were supposed to do about Grandma getting into the sugar, they were just told to watch her.

Cousin Mary Elizabeth Tracy (Everett’s youngest) says she remembers her dad telling her that Grandma’s chickens were taken from her so that she wouldn’t have to bother with them in her old age and it was after that that she died.  He was trying to teach Mary that people need a reason to wake up every day.

Grandma Mary Sophia Rusler Tracy died October 19, 1961 in Henderson, Nebraska.  She had a stroke three days before her death, but her longtime fight with Diabetes was a contributing factor to her death.  She was 85 years old and had lived a full life.  She was a strong pioneer lady who loved God, loved her family, loved her church and her community.  She lived through great tragedies and was surrounded by loved ones until her death.  Hers is a legacy of strength, steadfast faith and love and I am proud to be a descendant of Mary Sophia Rusler Tracy.

Posted in Rusler | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Tuesday’s Tombstone – Liol Rusler

May Rusler Tracy youngest bro Liols grave 8 8 42 in Hollister

Okay, So I don’t have a tombstone picture of Liol Rusler but I think I have a picture more rare – a gravesite picture.  Somehow my grandmother acquired this picture of Liol’s gravesite in Hollister, California in 1942.

Liol Rusler

Liol Rusler

Liol Otto Rusler was the youngest son of Michael Anthony Augusta Wilhemina Erxleben Ruser.  He was born August 6, 1895 in York, Nebraska when his mom was 40 years old.  He was the 10th child but he never knew two of his siblings as they died before he was born.  He was only eight when his dad died while they were living in Custer County, Nebraska.  He moved with his mother back to York – Bradshaw where they lived in a little house in town.  In the 1910 census he lived here with his mom and sister Pearl and a boarder named Manly Barr who was a horse dealer.  Liol’s WWI draft registration give his description as medium height and build with brown eyes and dark brown hair.  Liol married Anna Viola Anderson in 1915.  She was born March 4, 1899 in Iowa City, Iowa.  They bought a small piece of property in Bradshaw from his mom for $500 and were living there in the 1920 census.  At this time they had two daughters, Helen (1916) and Violet (1918).  By 1930 the family was living in Mason City, Custer County, Nebraska and Liol was a truck driver – hauling freight.  His mother had died in 1927.  His family had grown quite a bit: Marvin (1920), Erma (1923), Elsie (1925), Darlene (1926), and Martin (1928) had joined Helen and Violet.   I figure at some point while he was hauling freight he visited California because by the 1940 census the family was living in Pajaro, Monterey, California on Highway 101.  At this point Liol is working for the WPA doing flood control.  They have also added to the family bringing their total to 14.  Donald (1930-1930), William (1931), Barbara (1932), Jean (1935), Patricia (1937), Frank (1938), and Richard (1940).  Liol died August 3, 1942 in Hollister, San Benito, California just three days shy of his 47th birthday.

Ideas for further research:  What did Anna do after Liol’s death – she had quite a few young children to take care of.

Liol Rusler, Olive and Bryce Tracy, and Pearl Rusler

Liol Rusler, Olive and Bryce Tracy, and Pearl Rusler

Pearl, Liol, Will (in back) and  Bertha Rusler

Pearl, Liol, Will (in back) and Bertha Rusler

Posted in Rusler | Leave a comment

Pearl and Earl Rusler – Sentimental Sunday

Pearl and Lloyd

Pearl and Lloyd

Pearl and Earl Rusler were the eighth and ninth children of Michael Anthony and Augusta Erxleben Rusler.  They were twins.  They were born August 27th 1891 in York County, Nebraska.  Earl died a month later on September 27th and is buried at Council Cemetery in York.  I can only imagine how hard it must have been back in this time to have twins, especially in a rural area and Augusta was 36 years old as well.  This must have been a sad time for Michael and Augusta as just a year later on November 3, 1892 their son George also died.

Pearl survived and married Lloyd Wagner in about 1911 at the age of 19.  Lloyd was 22, born October 15, 1888 in Central City, Merrick, Nebraska.  The couple had no children of their own but were a favorite and aunt and uncle to many of their nieces and nephews.

Bertha and Pearl

Bertha and Pearl

On the 1920 census Lloyd was farming near Brown township in York County and Pearl’s older brother William was living with them as a divorcee and working for them.  On the 1930 census they were farming in Leroy township (this may have been the same place and the lines may have changed).  In the 1940 census Lloyd is now an auto salesman.

One of the Rusler cousins, Susan Murphy, said that every summer she would spend a week or two with Pearl and “Uncle Waggie” and one of the Tracy cousins (probably Jeanette) would come stay also.  Pearl would put a can in the window and when they were good she would put coins in the can but when they were bad she would take some out.  One year for Christmas she got a doll and she took it to Aunt Pearl’s and Pearl told her if

Liol Rusler, Olive and Bryce Tracy, and Pearl Rusler

Liol Rusler, Olive and Bryce Tracy, and Pearl Rusler

she named the doll Pearl she would give her 80 acres.  She still has the doll named Pearl and the 80 acres.  Many of the other relatives also received 80 acres from Pearl as she was quite the business lady.  I know my grandma Mabel inherited Pearl’s house in York – that is where the Gotcher’s had their 50th Wedding Anniversary Party.

I also heard a story that it is possible that Pearl’s house is where Grandma Mabel first met Grandpa Leo.  Grandpa Leo worked on one of the Wagner farms and as The Wagner’s did a lot of entertaining at some point the two met.

My dad’s cousin, Jeanette Tracy, remembers Aunt Pearl well.   Pearl was one of her favorite Aunts.  She stayed at her home many days and nights and Aunt Pearl always bought bismarks.  She had the first “stick” style telephone Jeanette had ever seen.  She crocheted the most

Lloyd Wagner and his brother

Lloyd Wagner and his brother

beautiful things – Jeanette still has a doily Pearl made.  Aunt Pearl was always dressed well and had the most beautifully decorated and clean home – no clutter at all. This makes sense since they didn’t have children.

Lloyd died April 2, 1966 in York, York County, Nebraska and Pearl died November 17, 1987 in York as well.  They are both buried at Council Cemetery in York.  I was thinking about Pearl and it struck me that I was sixteen when she died and yet I don’t remember ever meeting her even though she lived close to my grandmother and I believe that they had a close relationship.  I wish I could have met her as since then I have heard such great stories about her.882e2ed0-4665-4c9b-822c-67d9447758cc

Posted in Rusler | Leave a comment

Wordless Wednesday – Pioneers

These two pictures were from the pictures my grandma left.  I do not have the originals but they may have been tin types.  They could be Tracy or Rusler ancestors coming from Illinois to Nebraska.

Family in front of tent and covered wagon

Family in front of tent and covered wagon

ladies washing laundry in creek

ladies washing laundry in creek

Posted in Tracy Family Research and Stories, Wordless Wednesday | Leave a comment

Tuesday’s Tip – Timelines

As genealogists I think many of us question what the end product of all our hard work will be. Maybe we will write a book or make Heritage Scrapbooks. Maybe we will plan and host family reunions and try to share our research with whoever will listen. Most of us have family trees online that we share with other researchers. Perhaps we join societies and write stories for publication. Or maybe we will blog in the hopes that somebody will read your research.

I have dreamed up several such projects. I do plan to write a book – in fact I already have the title. I have also made one Heritage scrapbook and have several more in mind. And last summer I planned and hosted a family reunion in York, Nebraska. And of course I blog. I have also written an ebook for the homeschool blog I post on about doing genealogy as a unit study. It is in the editing phase now but check out our blog as it will be on there soon; www.nextgenhomeschool.com

IMG_1742Now I have started a project that I have been thinking about for a very long time. I am taking the vital statistics of my ancestors and plotting them in a blank history timeline book I bought at a recent homeschool convention. The events for my family I am writing along the bottom half of the timeline. Then along the top I will plot American history events. Not only national events like wars and presidents and such but also state local events that pertain to the areas my ancestors lived in. I want to more easily see what was going on when and where my ancestors lived. If an ancestor was in a war I want to plot what unit he was in and maybe where he fought. Perhaps I will see that my ancestors fought alongside, or heaven forbid, against each other in the Civil War.

My Timeline so far

My Timeline so far

I have a year to work on this timeline before I want to really put it into action. Since I have been blessed with the opportunity to homeschool I want to make History come alive for my children. I want to use this timeline to make a more interactive American History Curriculum for my sons. When we talk about the Battle of Lexington I want them to be interested because one of their ancestors, Edmund Parmenter, was there. And when we talk about The Civil War we can talk about their 4th great Grandfather, Charles Dyer who was a confederate soldier and died at the Battle of Shiloh – felled by a tree. Or their Great Grandfather Russ, who is still alive and was on the USS Honolulu at Pearl Harbor and fought in the Pacific throughout the war. So many interesting stories and with a timeline I can set them up in historical order.

As to the practical steps of making this timeline. As I said, I bought a blank timeline book but there are several websites where you can make an online timeline with pictures and stories. For some reason I am more of a paper and pen kind of gal when it comes to large projects like this. I did check out a few timeline programs that seemed interesting: SaveEveryStep and TimeToast are two great examples. I chose to make my timeline start at 1600 and move year by year up to current day. I ended up having extra pages and so could have started earlier but I am content with starting at 1600. For each person I plotted their birthdate and location, and death date and location. If I know they fought in a war or were in someplace interesting during an interesting time period I plotted that also. Next I will start plotting American History Events using a pre-made timeline I have. You can also find these online. And then I will go back and look at each person’s life and try to figure out where they were and what they were doing during each event. I’d like to find a story about each ancestor. For instance, I know one ancestor died of the Spanish Flu so that will be included also.

I wonder if anyone else has done their own American Family History Timeline? If so let me know how you did it and how it turned out.

Posted in Organization, Website and Research Reviews | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Matrilineal Monday – Beryl Catherine Richert Siefken

Beryl as baby

Beryl as baby

Beryl Catherine Richert was born in Lisbon, Linn County, Iowa on October 25, 1905 to George Daniel and Mabel (Moses) Richert.  Her brother Edward was two when she was born.  When she was a toddler the family moved to Jerauld County, South Dakota.  Beryl’s mother Mabel died of an illness in 1914 when Beryl was 9.  Her father married Carrie Saville in 1919.

Edward, Beryl, and George Richert

Edward, Beryl, and George Richert

Beryl married George Herman Siefken in South Dakota on September 1, 1926.  Herman and Beryl had three daughters, Doris (1927), Inez (1929-1929), and Jean (1931).  Inez lived only a day.  My mother (Jean’s oldest daughter) didn’t ever even know about her – but she was mentioned in Beryl’s obituary.  Sometime between 1935 and 1940 the family moved back to Iowa, Jones’ county (next to Linn County).

Herman, Beryl, Doris and Jean

Herman, Beryl, Doris and Jean

They lived in Morley and during that time Herman and Beryl ran a small restaurant.  I ‘d like to know more about this restaurant and where it was in Morley.  In early March, 1953, Beryl had a blood clot in her leg that went to her brain.  She died March 14, 1953 of a brain aneurism at the hospital in Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa.

4 Generation - Beryl, George, Karen, and Jean

4 Generation – Beryl, George, Karen, and Jean

She lived long enough to see both of her daughters married and to get to know at least one of her grandchildren.  My mom was three when her grandma Beryl died.  She doesn’t remember her but Grandma left her her watch because they say mom liked to play with it when she sat on Grandma’s lap.

Posted in Matrilineal Monday, Siefken Family Research | Leave a comment

Surname Saturday – Still working on the Ruslers

Will Rusler is the boy standing in back

Will Rusler is the boy standing in back

Today I’m writing about the seventh child of Michael Anthony and Augusta Wilhemina Rusler.  William W Rusler was born on the farm in York County, Nebraska on November 8, 1886 (or 1887).  I thought he had married Laura Etta Morrison late in life and they had  no children.  But as I was looking through his records today I discovered that he had been married before and had a child in his first marriage.

I have not been able to find him in the 1910 census but in 1917 on his WWI draft registration he says he is married and has an eight year old child.  On the 1920 census he is living in York County with his sister, Pearl, and her husband, and it says he is divorced.  In 1930 he is living in Custer County, Nebraska and is a Trucker for a Freight Hauling company and he is married to Laura Etta.  On this census when asked the age of their first

William & Etta Rusler

William & Etta Rusler

marriage he says 21 and she says 16.  But she is three years older than he so they were both married before.  Which means he married for the first time in 1908/9 and immediately had a child in order for him/her to be eight in 1917.  Laura is enumerated in the 1920 census living with her parents in Dix, Kimball, Nebraska as a married woman with the last name Walker.  In 1940 William and Etta are renting a farm in Buffalo County, Nebraska but soon after the census they moved to Eagle, Idaho because this is where he filled out the WWII draft in 1942.

William & Etta Rusler Tombstone

William & Etta Rusler Tombstone

Laura Etta Morrison Rusler died in Idaho February 19, 1954.  William died in Caldwell, Canyon County, Idaho on June 25, 1958.  They are both buried in Wilder Cemetery, Canyon County, Idaho.

So here again I have more work to do.  Who was William married to in 1909?  When did William and this wife divorce and what happened to the wife and child?  All questions I will have to find in Nebraska as I can’t seem to find the answers online.

Posted in Rusler | Leave a comment