Contents©2017 by Harold Pfohl

Author’s note:
Photography has been a passion of mine since the mid-1950s.  The play of light is magic and capturing that magic has always been a fascinating challenge.
At the farm the further challenge and pleasure has been to gather the essence of the place, a bit of the human touch.  The connection with the past generation fades gradually with time but the photos capture and preserve a moment. 
In photographing, observing, and contemplating, there is no sense of reverence; nothing is an icon.  Rather, the masonry, the tool, the furrow, the stone fence where generations labored, the old horse barn…these things when studied provide an understanding of those who worked and lived here that fleshes out the data on a tombstone, or a genealogical record.
Knowledge of the history and the content of the photo combine to provide a feeling for those who peopled this place. 
That has provided great pleasure and has been most intriguing for many years.
* * * * * *
The intent of this blog was to provide a profusely illustrated overview of the German-American emigration and settlement in the rural upper Midwest through a personal history to which other descendants of that ethnic group could relate.  
Many thanks to all of you who have visited this tale.  As of the publishing of this post the blog has received nearly 20,200 views and 6,200 visitors.  That is most encouraging, and hopefully, the original intent has to some extent been achieved.
Again, thank you.
Harold Pfohl
All photos by author except as noted.



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Source – family photo

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Source – family photo


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AB old 10

Source – family photo

MID 1970s – EARLY 1990s



Viola Lueder Graese with great grandchildren Charlie and Annie Krueger









The farm ceased dairying operations in 1976 when Harold Lueder died.  Edgar was 76 years old and was no longer able to cope with the required labor in Harold’s absence.  The pasture was left to grow and has become a forest over the past 40 years.  The photos below were taken in the early 1990s.




















machine-shed-10Source – family photo, Otto Lueder – 1890s



Source – family photo














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Edgar and Gerald Lueder


Elda Lueder


Cordelia Lueder Pfohl

* * * * *






The death of Alice was a blow to the family.  The Depression was tough, the farmhouse filled with family, but they came through it and the post-war years were prosperous and enjoyable.  A brief summary of the lives of the family members follows.

Contents©2016 by Harold Pfohl



Seasons Greetings to all,

Merry Christmas, and

Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2017,

Harold Pfohl



Source – family photo, Augusta with her grandchildren, Dec. 27, 1940

Left to right: Glenrose Heckendorf, Ruth Pfohl, Sylvia Graese, Marcella Lueder, Ronald Pfohl, and Vivian Graese with Augusta in her wheelchair in the back ground.


wm & augusta fam illus.XLS


Click on the map image to enlarge it



The Depression was a severe trial for Augusta and her family. They barely made the interest payments on the farm mortgage. The stress was sufficient to give Edgar an ulcer. Erwin Graese and Viola moved back home to the Lueders and lived there with their two daughters.  Viola helped to care for baby Marcella, Alice (deceased) and Edgar’s little daughter.   Elda, Gerald and Harold lived at home unmarried, and toward the beginning of World War II, Erich Heckendorf, Renata, and daughter Glenrose also moved in.

Edgar and Harold were partners on the farm. After the anxiety and fear of the Depression was past, life was enjoyable and comfortable for many years.

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Source – family photo, Early 1940s, L-R – back: Harold, Glenrose (Renata’s daughter) Edgar, Viola, Erwin, Elda, Renata; Children in front – Sylvia & Vivian (Viola’s daughters) and Marcella (Edgar’s daughter).



Source – family photo, William was very ill at the time of the trauma experienced by Edgar with Alice’s death after childbirth (see Country Love Story).  He died May 4, 1935.  Alice’s passing surely hastened his end.


Augusta was increasingly crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. No medical remedies existed at that time to alleviate either the severe pain or the seriously crippling effect of the disease.  As she grew older, she began to use a cane; in 1935, age 61, she began walking with crutches. In 1940 she began using a wheelchair that Gerald made for her. She also suffered from cataracts and was blind in her last years. She was a quiet soul who never complained and who surely took pride in her large family.

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Source – family photo, L-R in back: Viola, Elda, Cordelia. Augusta with her daughters – about 1945


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Source – family photo, Augusta with her grandchildren – about 1946

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Source – family photo, Augusta at the barn door by the cow yard, spring 1941.  Although she was immobilized, her children made sure that she wasn’t confined to the house.

Augusta, age 76, died on September 13, 1950, terribly crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, blinded by cataracts, and finally afflicted with a stroke.


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Source – family photo, about 1922, L-R: Gerald (10), Viola (14), Harold (6), Elda (18), Edgar (22), Cordelia (12), Renata (18)

* * * * * *


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Source – author photo, Edgar in 1956 – 56 years old.  Edgar never remarried after Alice’s death.  He worked and lived on the farm until he passed away in 1988.

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Source – author photo, Edgar – late 1950s


Renata died on September 29, 1943, a victim of breast cancer.  Her husband, Erich, moved to a small home on the Pioneer Orchards farm next to Renata’s Nieman cousin whose wife became a surrogate mother to Glenrose.



Source – Renata files, Renata with her daughter Glenrose – about 1936

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Source – family photo, Renata on the right, visiting her sister, Cordelia in Leland, Sauk County, Wis.  – About 1941


Elda, who was one of the funniest people this writer has ever known, never married. She became a mother to Alice’s Marcella, cared for Augusta in her old age, and kept house for Edgar as well as Gerald and Harold while they were still bachelors. She lived out her life on the farm.



Source – author photo, Elda – about 1974

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Source – author photo, Elda was proud of the bread she baked.  She also made the best chicken any of her relatives have ever dined on.

Elda suffered a nasty almost fatal fall three years before she died, and was cracking jokes on what might have been her deathbed! Elda died at the age of 91 in 1995, cared for in her old age by the woman she had cared for as an infant, Marcella.


Viola and Erwin Graese bought the creamery a quarter mile from the Lueders at Granville Rd and Bridge St. They demolished it with dynamite and built a home there. Viola loved her Lueder homestead, and a quarter mile distant was as far away as she wanted to go.

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Source – family photo, The creamery

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Source – family photo, Demolition


Source – author photo, Viola in front of her home, about 1990

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Source – author photo, Viola and Erwin at home about 1980

Viola died at 99 years of age.  As a very small child, she was sickly and the surprise to the family was her remarkable longevity.


Cordelia’s husband, John Pfohl, was a Lutheran pastor; they lived in the tiny village of Leland near the Natural Bridge State Park in Sauk County for nearly twenty-two years.

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Source – family photo, Leland, Wisconsin

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Source – family photo, 1950, Cordelia with husband, John on their 20th wedding anniversary – celebration in the church basement.

John died of a heart attack in 1959.  Cordelia as a 49 year old widow, built a small house a hundred yards from the farm she grew up on, never remarried, and died at the age of 84 in 1994.

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Source – author photo, Cordelia – 1970s

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Source – author photo, Cordelia at Immanuel Lutheran’s cemetery, at John’s grave.


Gerald became a salesman of and mechanic for John Deere farm implements with G.W. Wirth in Cedarburg and married Irene Rozalewski.

hp 10 14 2013 19 1 crp1.jpgSource – author photo about 1990, Gerald was an unusually skilled mechanic and after retirement, worked occasionally on the Uihlein racing auto collection in Hamilton, next door to Cedarburg.

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Source – author photo, Gerald lived to the age of 92, dying in 2004


Harold married Marion Bremer, who was a great granddaughter of Johann and Minna Lueders, Jr.  (see: Lüders Emigrants)

hp 12 17 2013 25-2 copy print.jpgSource – author photo, Harold – about 1975

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Source – author photo, about 1956.  Harold developed Parkinson’s disease, continued to farm with Edgar until he died at age 59 in 1976.


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Source – family photo, Marcella – two years of age, August 8, 1937

Marcella was well cared for and did not lack for love.  Growing up on the farm was a great experience for her.  She lives there today, retired from a career in surgical nursing.

* * * * * *

The three sisters were very close.  Cordelia and Elda wore a path between the farmhouse and Cordelia’s home, only a hundred yards away.

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Source – author photo, Typical scene at the wood-stove in the farmhouse kitchen.  1970s – Cordelia on the left, Elda on the right.

hp7 81.4.1-14 final sepia+7 copy.jpgSource – author photo, On the back porch – late 1980s, L-R: Viola, Cordelia, Elda

WIS LUEDERS WEST BEND EL OL & MOM P89-6 IMG928 crp2.jpgSource – author photo, At the Fromm farm on Glacier Drive near West Bend, home of their grandmother, Sophie Fromm Nieman.  About 1990.

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Source – author photo, Dinner (noon meal) at the farmhouse – 1980s

hp 12 10 2013 1-5 copy.jpgSource – author photo, The invariable nap after the noon meal – over the years the chair wore to conform to Edgar’s physique.

* * * * * *

Even though the lives of William and Augusta’s family contained many difficulties and sorrows, the most enduring impression of these people is of their ever-present love of a funny story, lively conversation, and enthusiastic, broad interest in life.

* * * * * *

We Remember Them

In the rising of the sun and its going down,
We Remember Them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We Remember Them.

In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring.
We Remember Them.

In the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer,
We Remember Them.

In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn.
We Remember Them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We Remember Them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
We Remember Them.

When we are lost and sick of heart,
We Remember Them.

When we have joys and special celebrations we yearn to share,
We Remember Them.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are part of us.
We Remember Them.




Barn raising in 1923 resulted in two weddings.  Edgar courted his girlfriend, Alice, for eight years with her obsessive brother in the back seat or following on every date.  Then, marriage and happiness, expecting a baby, 60 hours in labor, Kaiserschnitt (Cesarean section) & a funeral.

Contents©2016 by Harold Pfohl



wm & augusta fam illus.XLS


Click on the map image to enlarge it


Falling in love with someone a considerable distance from home, e.g., ten miles, was helped greatly by the development of the primitive automobile.  Use of the telephone for long distance calls of ten miles was expensive, so young lovers were seldom able to spend much time on the phone.

Then as now, couples met in an infinite variety of ways.  Then, however, mobility and communication were much more difficult.


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Source – family photo

Lueder’s barn burned in the fall of 1922 (See: Unserer scheune ist abgebrannt!).  A new barn was built in 1923.  Robert Krause, the master carpenter overseeing the project, was married to a woman named Frieda Heckendorf, and one of the carpenters on his crew was Frieda’s brother Erich.  Erich was much enamored by William and Augusta’s eldest daughter, Renata, and they began seeing each other steadily.

Mother Heckendorf was a widow with thirteen children on a farm south of Jackson (near Cedarburg).  She was no doubt greatly pleased when any of her vast brood found a good partner in life.


Source – Renata Lueder negatives, mid 1920s?  Erich and Renata in the center.

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Source – family photo, L-R: Renata Lueder, Erich Heckendorf, Albert Graese, Elda Lueder.

A further consequence was that William and Augusta’s eldest son, Edgar, met and was smitten by Frieda and Erich’s younger sister, Alice Heckendorf.  Edgar was not quite 23, and Alice was 19.

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Source – family photo, photo likely taken by Erwin Graese, L-R: Gertrude Graese (sister to Erwin and to Albert in previous photo), Gerald Lueder, Viola Lueder, Edgar Lueder and Alice Heckendorf.  Perhaps at the State Fair in Milwaukee?



Source – family photo, L-R: Edgar Lueder, Alice Heckendorf, Erich Heckendorf, Renata Lueder, Elda Lueder, Hugo Heckendorf


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Source – family photo, L-R: Erwin Graese, Martha Pfohl, John Pfohl, Cordelia Lueder, Viola Lueder, Louis Pfohl

Cordelia and John set the all-time speed record for Lueder courtship – one year from first date to the wedding.


Reading Cordelia’s meticulous diaries from 1927 she records many visits from Erwin Graese to the Lueder farm.  It was common for him to be over at the Lueder farm several times per week.  That eventually resulted in marriage to their daughter, Viola.

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Source – family photo, Erwin Graese second from left, then Cordelia, then the bride, Viola.  Erwin was brother to Albert and Gertrude Graese seen in previous photos.


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Source – family photo, Mr & Mrs. Buelow on the left with the Bride, Viola, and her new husband, Erwin Graese.

The Buelows had a connection with Augusta’s Nieman family.  He had worked as a cooper (barrel maker) for one of the breweries in Milwaukee.  He was also a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war (July 1870 – May 1871), “only killed one Frenchman” (a cavalryman who tried to kill him – Mr. Buelow then shot him).  He hand rolled cigars that he sold to the Lueders.  The couple came out to Lueder’s farm for a week or two of vacation each year and were warmly welcomed – the family was very fond of them.


The courtship of Edgar and Alice went on for eight years and had a most peculiar facet.  On every single date in that eight-year period, Alice’s brother, Arthur, was either following them or in the back seat.


Source – family photo, Sunday, July 26, 1931, the photo was taken on the day of Edgar’s sister’s (Viola) wedding shower.


Note: the letter below with its idiosyncrasies was written by an unusually intelligent young woman who almost never engaged in writing of any sort and who hardly ever wrote a letter.  It was also written in a state of exhaustion and after trauma.

0116a ltr alice to edg 1_resize.jpg

Dearest Edgar,

Received your letter today and will be prompt in answering it right away. Yes, my dear, that was the worst Sunday night I had in my life, that was something terrible, and I with my hopes, hoping that it would get better with him. 

Now I will tell you the whole story.  Art {the obsessed brother of Alice} was home before Reinhold {another brother} when Reinhold drove in the shed he {Art} was standing there, he {Reinhold} asked why he was still outside, so he {Art} said he was waiting for us to give us a scolding, and so Reinhold woke Harvey {another brother} and so he got dressed.  I think they knew about what he was after. They sure were there in time, good luck for us yet. 

He started to hit me, but he didn’t have a chance as Harvey took a hold of him.

Then I had lost my bracelet. I took the flashlight and looked and looked until I found it, at last I found it, sure was glad of it. Yes Reinhold and Harvey got him in but was he mad.

Everybody was out of bed. You can’t imagine how I felt – was shaking over my whole body, that all wouldn’t have been just because one is that way. Yes, he ought to shame himself.


 0116b ltr alice to edg 2_resize.jpg

I didn’t sleep the whole night. Then I always thought why must I suffer like this, why must this all be.

And on Monday it was so hot we got in four loads of hay, {with no sleep} I felt as though I couldn’t no more but I’m still living. Today we hoed potatoes, tomorrow we have to get in hay again.  Agnes is by Edwin this week.  Harvey was by Edwin today, Art by Herbert to help by the hay so you see there we girls were alone again with Mother.  Martha is to the program tonight. {Agnes, Harvey, Art, and Martha were siblings}

 Now about the picnic Sunday. I think it will be all right if you call for me, if you are here by one thirty or any time that suits you best.  I think that will be early enough. 

But I hope I don’t have to go through that again what I went through Sunday. Yes if a person would know what was coming. If I had known that last Sunday I wouldn’t have gone to the party at all. I would’ve stayed right at home. Reinhold said to me I just wonder how Edgar felt, when you had seen all this going on.  Ja in was fuer angst habe ich schon aft gelebt. {I have never been so afraid in my life} I am so tired now, and will go to bed and rest. I’ll be waiting for you Sunday afternoon. So good night Schatzie

With love Alice

PS please excuse scribbling and mistakes as I haven’t got pep to do better writing.


Alice’s German closing “Schatze” is German for sweetheart.

What a courtship…life in the country was not idyllic.  Brother Arthur objected violently to Alice dating Edgar.  The occasion Alice writes of in her letter thoroughly unnerved her.  Brother Erich, a carpenter, quipped that he must have dropped a hammer on Arthur’s head when Arthur was little.  It is hard to imagine how Edgar kept his temper.  Arthur was very strange.

Alice’s father, Albert, died in 1922 leaving his wife, Mathilda, to tend to their farm and thirteen children.  They were an exceptionally fine family with very high values and exacting standards for their work and their conduct.  Arthur was an aberration.


Alice and Edgar were married in Heckendorf’s church in the township of Jackson on Saturday, September 19, 1931, three weeks after Viola’s wedding to Erwin Graese.

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Source – author’s photo, Edgar in very old age seated by the deconsecrated church where he and Alice had wed.

Arthur had to be restrained by his brothers at home during the wedding ceremony.  Thereafter, he never troubled Edgar and Alice again and lived the balance of his life as a fine member of his community.

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Source – family –photo, Alice and Edgar’s wedding, photo taken at the Heckendorf farm at the reception.

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Source – family photo, Edgar and Alice – wedding reception at the Heckendorf home

All of these family nuptials in the Great Depression must have given William and Augusta’s Lueder’s meager bank account a considerable beating.


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Source – family photo, L-R: Erwin, Viola, Alice, Edgar

The two couples honeymooned together.  Their destination was the home of a sister of Erwin who was married to a Lutheran minister living in Minnesota.

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Source – family photo

Picnic enroute.  Erwin’s sister, Gertrude, on the right, went along to visit her sister.

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Source – family photo, Alice and Edgar

Crossing the Mississippi?  Horse and wagon were still common in the 1930s.


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Source – family photo

Edgar and Alice had a happy time for several years.  There was genuine love in the marriage.  Above is a family gathering at Renata’s home in Cedarburg. Alice is in the front left of the photo

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Source – family photo, Alice on the right – a member of a very sociable family


On Monday evening, February 19, 1935, at 10:00 Alice went into labor, with their firstborn.  She expected to give birth at home with the assistance of a nurse or midwife.

Finally, at 9:00 on Tuesday evening, 23 hours later, the pains became severe and Edgar called for their nurse.


On Wednesday morning at 10:00 there was still no baby.  The nurse called the family’s Cedarburg physician, Dr. Hurth, and he sent them to the hospital, Milwaukee General.  She was in severe pain all night and at 10:30 the next morning, Thursday, Dr. Hurth concluded that he needed help.  He consulted with 70-year-old Dr. Hipke who said that a “Kaiserschnitt” (caesarian section) was needed immediately.

On Thursday just before 12:00 noon the baby was delivered.  Poor Alice had been in labor for sixty hours without giving birth.  Edgar was traumatized, immensely relieved at the success of the operation, and excited at the birth of his baby girl.  Alice was resting, feeling fine, and free of pain.  After all of that, she must have been overjoyed to hold her infant.


Edgar reported Alice’s ordeal to his 25-year-old sister, Cordelia, living in Sauk County, married to a Lutheran minister, John Pfohl.  He asked her to be the baptismal sponsor (Godmother) to the baby girl.

0117a ltr ed to john & cor 1_resize.jpg

Dear John and Cor.

My little Alice had to suffer severely for a long time before she had her little girl. Labor pains started in Monday evening at 10 o’clock and continued every half hour until Tuesday night when they became very severe and came every 3 to 4 minutes.

At 9 o’clock I got the nurse – she got everything ready and said in two or three hours it would be there. But it got Wednesday morning and still there was nothing, so at about 10 o’clock the nurse called the doctor and he said we have to take you to the hospital. She did not want to (go) but she had (to). So I took her down.

The doctor said there is only an opening of 2 inches after all that labor.

We got in the hospital at 11:00. I stayed there till in the afternoon. In the evening I went back to the hospital and stayed overnight which was a night I shall never forget. To see a loved one suffer so much and if you could see that it was progressing it would be all right yet but it did not, she suffered another 24 hours.

Then Thursday morning at 10:30 Dr. Hurth came in and examined her carefully and told me this. He said the opening is open but the child won’t come down he said either the child is big or it is tight…

0117b ltr ed to john & cor 2_resize.jpg

… behind the hip bone. He said he thought he could bring it the way he thought but would ask Dr. Hipke the 70-year-old Dr. about it. He went over and examined her and said this {Rough translation of the German “Girl, you’ve done your part, I think we’ll take over now} and the two doctors went away and when they came back they told me they had decided to give her “Kaiserschnitt” {Cesarean Section}. I asked Alice and she was glad that she could go.

It took them only 15 minutes to get ready and that went even too slow for her yet. At 11:20 they took her to the operating room after 60 hours of suffering. Dr. Hurth said to the nurses in her room “Here you see a lady that has been laboring for 60 hours and is still standing on both feet. She is a strong woman.” The doctor and nurses call her “The brave little girl.”

At 20 minutes to 12 they started operating on her and 10 minutes later the nurse came down with the baby already and told me you got a baby girl. At 20 minutes to 1:00 they came down with her after one hour.

She is feeling fine now. I’m writing this at her bedside in the hospital Friday evening. Dr. Hurth told me that we should let them operate because he said the other way I must let her go till tonight yet and then start to work on her and see that I could not make it anyhow, and then we would have to cut anyhow and chances are you would have a dead baby.

Since the operation she has had no pains. She is resting and feeling fine.

Say Cordelia, I have a job for you – we want you to be sponsor {Godparent}. Let us know if you will take it. March 10 will be the day if nothing happens. I want to go home now.

Good night


While Edgar dealt daily with the business of farming, he almost never wrote letters.  It is likely that years passed without written communication from his hand.  The idiosyncrasies of this letter reflect this.  He was in fact an unusually intelligent and meditative man who loved to read.  The length of Edgar’s letter reflects his trauma over the agony experienced by his loved one.  One could be around Edgar for days and not have a conversation equal in length to this letter.


Edgar’s younger sister, Cordelia, loved children, had a two year old of her own, and was very excited by the new arrival.  She wrote back to him promptly with enthusiastic congratulations, and in the upper left corner sent birthday congratulations to her father, William, whose 64th birthday was the next day, and her brother-in-law, Erwin Graese, whose 27th birthday was on the 24th.

0118a ltr cordelia to edg & alice 1_resize.jpg

Congratulations to Dad on his                                                        Feb. 24, 1935

64th birthday.  The same for Erwin.

 Dear folks & especially the new daddy and mama.  Heartiest congratulations to you, and we are glad to hear that everything is all right now.  Well, such is life, but I guess like all the rest of you I expected a boy, why I don’t know.  For my part I think a girl is just as good.  The nite before I received your letter, I dreamed that Alice had an eleven lb. boy and that is not the first time I dreamed about it.  Even Verone dreamed about it.  Write us some more details, such as looks, hair, eyes, etc.  I am glad she has it over with.  It will be quite a change for you folks having a tiny baby around all the time.  I hope she does not cry as much as mine did.

0118d ltr cordeila to edg & alice 4_resize.jpg

{from page 4, closing the letter}

…I would be too lonesome, alone all day.  After conference, at five o’clock john has an appointment at the dentist.

How much are you folks paying for butter at present?  We are paying 39¢ at Mielke’s {a general store in Cordelia’s village}, first class butter too.  Times sure are picking up.  The farmers around here are so happy that hogs have such a good price.  And I am glad too.  Even though we have not had a check this year yet.  We get along just the same.

Daddy {husband John} is clicking away on the typewriter, Toots {toddler daughter Ruth age 2} and the birdie {their canary} are sleeping, so I guess I will retire.

Heartiest Greetings to all, and greetings to Alice when you see her, from

Cordelia, Ruth, and John

Don’t work too hard Elda.  Wish I was there to help you.  Let the boys do the chores.  What have you got them there for?


Father, William, was not at all well.  The arrival of the first-born child to his own first-born child and son was particularly satisfying.


For Alice and Edgar, courtship was uncommonly difficult, followed by three wonderful years of love and companionship and then, deepest tragedy – peritonitis.

When Edgar and Alice left for the hospital, twelve long days before, Alice stopped, went back into the house, walked into their bedroom to look around, and then left.  Edgar felt that Alice had a premonition.  Dr. Hipke, who had recommended the caesarian, told Edgar he was called in for consultation too late.

Edgar had come home from the hospital for supper earlier on this Sunday evening.  Alice’s mother, Mathilda, came over to the Lueder farmhouse and insisted that he return to the hospital.  So his brother Gerald drove him back and his sister Elda went along.  At home brother, Harold, and sister, Viola, sat in the bedroom with their parents, William and Augusta.  None were able to sleep.

Fig 131 Cordelia & John to Edgar.jpg

Alice received several blood transfusions from her brothers and from a sister.

She died while receiving a blood transfusion from her brother Erich.  Her last words were “I’m full, I can’t take anymore.”  Reflecting on this in later years, Erich always feared that his blood might have been the wrong type.

After bringing new life into the world, Alice died of peritonitis.  She was 31.  It was a rainy, foggy Monday, March 4, not long after midnight, and fifteen days after her agony had commenced.

Edgar, Gerald and Elda came home from the hospital.  Edgar threw Alice’s clothes on the table said, “This is all I have left,” went into his bedroom, closed the door and said nothing else.   When father, William, heard the news, he broke down and wept. It was the only time the Lueder children had ever seen their Dad cry.  Two months later on May 4th he too died, worn out by a lifelong brutal combination of migraine headaches and hard labor.

* * * * *

Long distance (100 miles) phone calls were very expensive and difficult.  They involved the assistance of numerous operators to make the various electronic connections and took quite a long time to place.  In this instance, Edgar was at a large hospital, which had a central switchboard.  It would have been a rare luxury for a room to have its own telephone, and while the caller was waiting and paying for the time on hold, a search would have to be made for Edgar.  Cordelia and John had very little money to spare and the phone call to Milwaukee General was over 100 miles from their home in Sauk County, a very expensive call to make.  Brother Gerald had telephoned them and told them that Alice’s heart was giving out and she was dying.  A telegram was their surest way within their limited means of reaching Edgar quickly to express their love and concern.


Fig 132 cordelia's diary alice funeral_resize.jpg

Source – Cordelia’s diary, March 6th and 7th, 1935

MARCH 6 – Wed

Cloudy, nasty, cold east wind.  Afternoon undertaker Zeitler brought Alice.  She has a pink coffin & pink dress.  She looks lovely.  The whole parlor is filled with flowers.  Edgar’s & Mrs. Heckendorf’s bouquet consisted of Calla Lilies & carnations.  Neighbors, relatives & friends called in evening.  Rev. & Mrs. Milius & family also called.

MARCH 7 – Thurs. – Funeral

Snowing all day.  Alice’s funeral.  Very large crowd.  Heckendorf family stayed for supper.  Mrs. Buyck stayed with Mother, Sylvia, & Glenrose.  Songs sung were “Christus der ist mein Leben,” and “Jesus meines Lebens leben.”  Psalm 73 – Verise – 25 & 26-was the text.  Pallbearers were Ed Nieman, Arn Nieman, Arn Lueders, Erwin Mueller, Ed. Marth, & Otto Krause.  Ladies choir sang “Ach Bleit bei mir.”


Alice died on Monday.  Her wake was in the Lueder home on Wednesday, and the funeral was in Immanuel Lutheran Church in Cedarburg the next day.

Fig 133b Poor Alice End of the Country Love Story.jpg

Source – family photo, Alice, lying in state in the parlor of their farm home.  This was common practice; it was the norm, not the exception.

* * * * *

Excerpt from her obituary, which was read at her funeral service and from their Pastor Behren’s words to the mourners:

“O Lord do Thou not leave me,

When I this world must leave,

But Thy support do give me,

When my last sigh I heave;

When soul and body languish

In death’s last agony,

Then take away mine anguish

By thine on Calvary

 Thus prayed the departed with believing heart as two weeks ago she underwent a dangerous operation…the operation had saved her life and also that of her baby girl and with happy hearts we could include them the following Sunday in a Thanksgiving prayer during the church service for mother and child…Truly none of us would have thought that we would so soon stand before the coffin of our sister in Christ…Now rest in peace until we meet again.  Amen.”

* * * * * *

Alice’s tragic fate mirrored the hazard of childbirth for all women of her time.  This was especially true prior to the mid 1800’s when the bacterial nature of infection was first discovered.  Women died as a direct result of attending physicians/midwives not bothering to sterilize their hands prior to examination.  Although the need for sterile procedures was well understood by Alice’s time, infection was a far more terrible threat than it is today since the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics.

* * * * * *

Edgar Marcella may 35b.jpg

Source – family photos

Edgar never remarried.

In the years that followed, his sister Viola never heard Edgar mention Alice’s name.  In 1988 he died in his lifelong home lying in his bed last shared with his beloved wife more than half a century before.   Surrounded by loved ones, he lingered through a long evening, into the dark morning hours.  As he made his way into eternity, the last word heard from him was… “Alice.”

* * * * *

Viola Graese, Edgar’s sister, translated the German obituary in 1994.  She noted the circumstances in the farm home after the funeral: “…Even now I wonder how Elda and I kept our heads on straight.  After Alice was gone, we had a very ill father, a crippled mother, 3 unmarried brothers, a motherless baby, Erwin and Sylvia {Viola’s husband and daughter} to take care of.  Unless you have gone thru something like that you can’t imagine it.  But Elda and I managed to work together like a well-matched team.  Perhaps it may have been that she was the boss.  But we worked things out…”

To read the birth and death statistics of long ago is dry, lifeless stuff.  Perhaps these few letters and pictures dealing with the love of Alice and Edgar can resurrect a fraction of the human emotion desiccated by time into mere dates on a tombstone, family tree, or in a church record.


The Epilogue will be followed by a post of photos of the farm which will conclude the tale.



The Great Depression was a brutal experience for the U.S.  Many farmers couldn’t make interest payments and lost their farms.  The Lueder family was a bit more fortunate -while the situation was tight, it was not desperate.  Distant cousin and future daughter-in-law, Marion Bremer, taught in a local country school with tough conditions and poor pay.  The fox farm’s luxury product was limping along but provided some meager employment.  Son Gerald saved a few dollars and went on two very long trips with a friend at incredibly low cost.

contents ©2016 by Harold Pfohl


wm & augusta fam illus.XLS


Click on image to enlarge




Economic conditions during the Great Depression were so severe that a primary concern among Federal level politicians was serious political unrest. At the time the remedies of Communism and Socialism were both comparatively new and both were attractive to many whose conditions were desperate. The situation held the prospects for social and political upheaval.

In agriculture the worst conditions prevailed in the Dust Bowl – the states in the Great Plains where agricultural practices coupled with drought resulted in an horrific level of destruction of the land. It was plowed, planted, and then blew away in vast, suffocating dust storms. In the South, sharecropping and Jim Crow laws fostered severe poverty resulting in economic conditions of subsistence.

The photos below from that time are representative of the severe plight endured by many.

Source – Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration Photos, click on image to enlarge.

In the urban areas there were bread lines.


Source –, Free soup – waiting for something to eat.


Farming in the upper Midwest fared better than that shown in the rural photos above. William and Augusta’s farm survived; there was plenty to eat, they were able to afford weddings and celebrations for daughters Cordelia (1930) and Viola (1931) and son Edgar (1931). At the same time there was very little money to spare and the farm barely made enough to pay the interest on the mortgage.


Source – family photos, L-R: Cordelia, 1930; Viola, 1931; Edgar, 1931, click on image to enlarge

These weddings must have put a considerable strain on William and Augusta’s sparse budget while at the same time giving them cause for rejoicing.


hp 020313 15 final sepia+6 crp1.jpg

Source – family photo, William and Augusta Lueder’s home

The Depression was a most trying time, and the Lueder home filled with family members who ordinarily would have been living independently as young adults.  At one time after the death of William and then the death of son Edgar’s wife, Alice in 1935 the home held Augusta, Edgar, his daughter Marcella, Viola, her husband Erwin Graese and their two eldest children Sylvia and Vivian, Gerald, Harold, and Elda.  In the early 1940s, Renata also moved in with her husband Erich and daughter Glenrose for a total of thirteen people.

Everyone lent a hand where possible with the labor required.  Times were tough, but at the same time, there was always plenty to eat, and a roof over their heads.

The farm barely made interest payments.  Augusta sought financial help after William’s death but was turned down.  Even so, they were far better off than those who are illustrated in the photos at the beginning of this post.

Edgar assumed responsibility for the farm, and, not surprisingly, developed an ulcer.

They were cash poor, but still rich in their relationships.  The family, extended family, church, and neighbors all formed a strong sense of community.


Grandchild Glenrose Klug was born to Renata and Erich in 1930.  In 1933, Viola and Cordelia both had baby girls, Sylvia and Ruth.  By that time, William was seriously ill, worn out, and Augusta was severely stricken with rheumatoid arthritis.

Ollie 3 ring bndr img107 base_edited-1 10.jpg

Source – family photo, 1934, William and Augusta with daughters Cordelia and Viola, and their toddlers, Ruth and Sylvia.  William was 63 yrs old, and Augusta 60.  The image of William portrays no strength or vigor, rather, exhaustion.

hp fam negs 02282013 2 crp1.jpeg

Source – family photo, Augusta with Sylvia.  Examine Augusta’s hands.  The rheumatoid arthritis was taking a severe toll.  The disease is an autoimmune malfunction and results in extreme pain and damage to joints and organs.  In her time there was no relief and no medication to combat the symptoms.  Still, in the photo above, the mother of seven is obviously taking great pleasure in her little grandchildren.  Much progress has been made in dealing with this disease.

Ollie 3 ring bndr img107 crp2.jpg

Source – family photo, Augusta’s ankles were terribly swollen and distorted.  She could barely fit into slippers.  At about this time she was using crutches to get around.

A little later – on their 35th wedding anniversary.

Source – family photo, November 5, 1934, click on image to enlarge

William died the next spring.


The carrot crop was mentioned in a previous post, but is worth repeating given that there was hope of making a few extra dollars in a very tough time.


Source – family photo, Family members harvesting carrots on Lueder’s farm  – October 18-21, 1932


Source – family photo – Working in the carrot field

L-R: “Pa” William, Erwin Graese, Edgar, Alice (Edgar’s wife) Cordelia, Elda, “Ma” Graese (Erwin’s mother), Viola Lueder Graese

This didn’t work very well at all – the labor was grossly excessive for the very small profit achieved.


Ollie 3 ring bndr img095.jpg

Source – family photo, about 1936

A new Model B John Deere tractor on the left with Harold Lueder. On the right, Edgar Lueder on a Model D John Deere that had been through a fire, was purchased at a very low cost and repaired and upgraded by brother Gerald Lueder.

The tractors typically required an oil change at 100 hours of operation. Edgar invariably changed the oil at 80 hours of operation which ensured that the engines remained in as-new condition. His rationale on this was that they simply could not afford any repairs.


Ollie 3 ring bndr img097.jpg

Source – family photo, late 1930s, – Erwin Graese (Viola Lueder’s husband) feeding foxes with his daughter, Sylvia, looking on.

Erwin bicycled to work at the fox farm in order to save the expense of driving a car.

Fig 112b Feeding Foxes at Cedarburg 1934_resize.jpg

Source – family photo, 1934 – feeding the foxes

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Source – family photo, Lueder’s cousin, Ed Nieman holding a silver fox at his local fox farm

hp 020313 11 Ed Nieman 6-31 sepia copy.jpgSource – family photo, Ed Nieman at right with his cousin, Cordelia (left of center) and Cordelia’s husband and in-laws visiting from the Niagara Falls area of New York.  Photo at Ed’s home in Mequon, Wisconsin, just south of Cedarburg

The Depression was bad.  Prices and demand for silver fox, a luxury fur, dropped like a rock.  Ed Nieman had worked hard and prospered in the business with his father, John, and their Fromm cousins in northern Wisconsin.  They managed to keep operations going during the Depression which was no small feat for a luxury product.  Ed and his father, John, and brother, Herb, provided employment for a number of people in the area with very modest wages.  Business was bad, a host of citizens had no work and no income whatsoever, and a modest income was better than nothing.


William and Augusta’s son-in-law, Renata’s husband Erich Heckendorf, was a carpenter.  Work was hard to come by.  Not much money was available for new construction.  Erich and Renata rented a home in Cedarburg, and when that was no longer available, moved in to the farmhouse with their daughter, Glenrose.  They could not afford to buy a small home.


Source – Glenrose Klug, family photo, Erich Heckendorf in the center


Marion Bremer was born in 1915 on a farm north of Cedarburg.  She was a descendant of the Johann & Eva Lüders immigrant family.  In 1916 she and her parents moved to Milwaukee from the Cedarburg area.  Marion became a schoolteacher during the Depression, taught in rural schools near Cedarburg for a number of years, then in suburban Milwaukee.  She married William and Augusta’s son, Harold Lueder, in 1945 and lived on the Lueder farm on Bridge Road.

The notes below are from a series of letters Marion wrote to the author at his request in 1996 when she was 81 years old and was remembering the experiences of her youth. 

hp 10 14 2013 16 crp3.jpg

Source – Author’s photo, Marion Lueder in her 70s

The essence of the Depression experience

Marion:… worked hard, saved, and did without.  We had so few material things that we learned what really mattered.

Higher education – Teachers College

Marion: By going to summer school, and taking an extra credit – band – I graduated from North Division High School in Milwaukee in three years.  The class was large.  I didn’t really graduate as I needed two more credits in spring.  I’d gone to enroll at Teacher’s College, taking my class cards along, since I had no diploma.  A professor glanced through them, felt they were all right and I was admitted.

Teaching job – no luck – job search for anything, economizing with pennies

Marion: After graduation I applied for schools in the rural area of Ozaukee County mostly, but without success.  Times were very hard.  At that time we bought the Milwaukee Journal for the ads for work for $0.03 a copy but only on Thursdays as Mom felt it had the most ads that day.

House maid with a teacher’s certificate

Marion: I went around to try finding work as a house-helper or maid.  After studying the ads, Mom mapped out the routes for me.  She’d tell me where to go first, second etc. so that I could usually stop at 3 or 4 places on one streetcar ticket, which cost $0.07.  I was fired from a number of places but I learned.


Marion: Then at Easter time, Jaegers Bakery was introducing new bread.  A neighbor girl had applied there for a job.  The bakery called inviting the girl, Dorothy Dreist, to come to work but between her applying for a job there and the call from the bakery she had found other work.  So her Mom told my Mom about the opening and I went in Dorothy’s stead and got the job.  It was simple enough to put two slices of bread into a bag for a promotional package for the new bread and seal it.  Fortunately after that promotion time, I was one of two girls invited to stay on and I did.

Fun at Five Corners

Marion: It was during that time also that we often went to dances at Al Batzler’s at Five Corners on Saturday nights.  Music was a drum, accordion and violin or guitar.  No amplification was necessary.  It was fun.  All our aunts, uncles, cousins, were there.

We had to follow the rules:  Dance straight, dance with whomever asked you – no refusals.  Stay on the dance floor.  Don’t leave the building and go to a parked car.  Stay out of the hard bar!

If Dad felt rich – a soda for the girls

Marion: Then if our Dad felt flush (rich) he’d march Mom, Dorothea, and me to a place near the dance floor but away from the music and crowd, settle us in a booth and buy each of us a glass of soda.  After saying goodbye we’d rattle home in our Model T Ford and get up in time for church and Sunday School the next morning.

At last – a teaching job – $65 per month for eight months, a one room country school – Newburg

Marion:…my Dad still took me to apply for teaching positions and I was hired at St. Augustine on Hwy Y near Newburg for $65.00 per month for eight months {$3.00/day}.  At the bakery I earned $7.00 per week, which was more than the two or three dollars earned doing housework.  I remember buying my younger sister, Dorothea, and myself each a dress for $2.00.  They were blue and white checkered with big shawl collars.


Source – Library of Congress, 1915 Saukville Twnshp map, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin

Brutal winter of 1936

Marion: The winter of 1936 was memorable. The snow overwhelmed the graders and blowers, and roads remained unplowed for an extended period.


Source – family photo, Bridge Rd in the winter of 1936. The traffic shown consists of farmers hauling their milk to the dairy over an unplowed road, either Bridge Street or Western Avenue. Most farmers still used horses as well as tractors.

Marion: “The winter of 1936 was the first year I taught.  The winter of 1936 was one of the worst in many years.  This was at St. Augustine’s near Newburg which was a drafty little stone schoolhouse with no insulation.  The inside walls were sometimes whitewashed but not painted.    There were no storm windows and the cold blew in through the cracks.

The first time I got home – probably attending a Teachers convention in Milwaukee, Mom made curtains for the windows from matched flour bags and the wind moved the curtains through the cracks.   You could write your name in dust on the windowsills, as this was the time of the dust storms on the Great Plains.  Later when it snowed, the dust often blanketed the snow.

I found a place to stay with Mr. And Mrs. Theodore Gall right across the road from the stone school.  The Gall house was very old.  It consisted of four rooms connected like an H with a place where an outdoor bake oven had been many years ago.  It was a good place for chilblains and frozen toes that ached terribly when they got warm at school in the middle of the afternoon.   I’d have to put my feet into the snow to relieve the burning and itching.

Lavish lodging – furnace and indoor plumbing

Marion: During the winter Mrs. Gall became ill and moved across the road, to Mr. And Mrs. Weiss.  That home was very lavish with a furnace and indoor plumbing.

Chopping wood for the school

Marion: There were many days that first year when there was no school.  There was too much snow and cold, roads weren’t open and the children couldn’t get to school.  Many times I went to the school anyway, sat with my feet close to the fire and read.   I learned to chop and carry in wood for the furnace and on those days my chief occupation was splitting wood and keeping the fire alive through the night. As time passed, I read every book in the little school library.

Sometimes when the children were at school an upper grade boy would help with such chores and also get water from the neighbor’s well.

Avoiding a frozen lunch

Marion: The lunch boxes had to be brought into the room so the lunches wouldn’t freeze.  As the weather became more severe I had the little ones bring old rag rugs to help keep the draft from blowing up onto their little cold feet.

When I got back to St. Augustine’s after Christmas break, I didn’t get away again from opening of school in January until my birthday in mid-March and then only as far as Cedarburg.  When the road was open, Mr. And Mrs. Weiss hurried to Newburg (4 mi.) or Cedarburg about (9-10 mi.) to stock up on groceries.

Opening the roads

Marion: After their barn chores were finished local young men helped Erwin Mueller (a cousin’s husband who worked for the township) to open the roads – a little extra cash in hard times.  One night several shoveled just so the snow plow could move.  The snow was so bad that on occasion they made only as much as 300 ft. a night.  Some places were so deep that they even shoveled the snow over the telephone wires.  I received a dollar Brownie camera for my birthday and took a picture, still have it someplace, of the Weiss mailbox with snow higher than the mail box.


Source – IAGenWeb, Wisconsin after the great blizzard of 1936

After Easter it warmed up and things were easier.  I got down to Cedarburg more frequently and it wasn’t long until the school year ended – before the end of May.  Once or twice I walked to Grandpa and Grandma Krohns farm.

Teacher’s tools – mousetraps and brooms

Marion: Standard equipment each Fall was three new mousetraps.  Sometimes when things were rather quiet during the day or after school the mice ventured into the room.  They seemed to come from cracks in the floor where the chimney met the floor.  Part of the teacher’s job also was to keep the floor swept.

The teaching routine – nine farm kids & their education

Marion: I had nine youngsters the first year.  The children with one exception were farm children.  The boys wore overalls.  When they got too small or worn, they were relegated to farm use and they bought a new pair.

We saluted the flag every morning.  I had to follow the course of study determined by the State Department of Education in Madison.  It was divided into odd and even years.  Certain math, reading selections and language poems, stories, etc. were for odd and even years.  Thus most of the classics, especially in reading and language were covered. There was very little if any disciplining to do.  Going to school was still a privilege.  The library was very small but we made good use of it.

I did my best but Mr. Beger the superintendent and Mr. Plagemann took a dim view of teachers coming from the Rural Department in Milwaukee.  They felt that graduation from the County Normal Schools had less theory, but more practical sense.  I did my best and finally won their approval.

In the spring of the year the county eighth graders went to a central location for their exams and later a countywide graduation.  The exams were usually held in Cedarburg or Port Washington.


  • 5550 MILES,
  • LODGING COST: $17.50,
  • GROCERIES: $12.24
  • AND TOTAL COST: $170.00!

William’s son, Gerald had earned money at the local Nieman fox farm, and also picked up income by going to the Hiawatha Fur Farms in Northern Michigan for the seasonal work of pelting the foxes.  Foxes from the Nieman operations in the Cedarburg/Mequon area were sent north to the colder climate to prime the fur.

Gerald, age 24, and his neighbor and good friend, Oscar Weichert, took a trip to Florida.  It was the middle of a brutal winter, and there wasn’t much additional work to be had.

They kept their expenses incredibly low:

0081 Gerald Lueder's Trip to Florida 1936_resize.jpg

Source all photos except as noted – Gerald Lueder album

68 days: lodging $17.50, groceries $12.24.  And, the car used an unbelievable nine gallons of oil – they added a quart of oil every 154 miles!

In 1934 Gerald had purchased a DeSoto Coupe, a well-built, well-engineered car, made by Chrysler Corporation and suitable for long journeys, cruising at 50 mph (top speed was 55 mph) on greatly improved roads. It was second hand, had been owned by a woman librarian in Milwaukee, had only 10,000 miles on the odometer, and cost $325, which he financed. Two months later he borrowed $200 from his friend, Werner Kasten, and repaid the financing company, which charged him $48 for the use of $325 for the two months, an 88% annualized interest rate! He repaid Werner promptly.

Gerald and neighbor and friend Oscar Weichert headed out to the south in January 1936 for an adventure and an escape from the ugly weather.

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3578.jpg

Jan 13 1936 lunch 40 mi west of Tallahassee, Florida

The DeSoto in a speed run on Daytona Beach in Florida at 55 mph

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3581.jpg

Gerald, the DeSoto, and Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach is very broad, nearly level and has very hard-packed sand. Auto speed records were regularly being set on this natural speedway in the 1930s, before the Salt Flats in Utah became accessible and popular for that purpose.

Fig 089 Weichert hits the Daytona Beach Fig 089 Feb 28, 1936.jpg

The DeSoto on Daytona Beach, Florida

Oscar Weichert was driving through shallow water at 55 mph, with Gerald photographing the fun. Two days later the car wouldn’t run due to salt induced corrosion and contamination of the electrical system

Lodging laundry and a washtub shower

Fig 090 MM Laundry.jpg

L-R: Robert Steger, Oscar Wiechert, Steger’s orange grove partner, and Gerald Lueder.

Two Cedarburg area bachelor farmers had a 40-acre orange grove at Haines City, Florida, and put the young travelers up for a few nights. The men are shown doing their laundry. The structure on the right with the washtub on top was the shower. Accommodations were rough but the price was right – free.

The entire trip was an extended, improvised camp-out with most food (e.g. large quantities of potatoes) packed wherever space could be found. The driver’s side running board was a storehouse, and all exits and entries had to be accomplished through the passenger side.

Bathing beauty cousins in Florida

Fig 091 MM BK Bathing Beauties 1936.jpg

Pearl Strege (L) and Lila Fromm (R)

The girls were Gerald’s second cousins, good friends, and grandchildren of Andrew and Emma Fromm

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3582.jpg

Gerald and Oscar in Florida

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3577.jpg

Pan-American Clipper – Flying Boat

Gerald was always singularly interested in anything mechanical. It was a thrill to see the huge Pan Am Clipper, a state-of-the-art giant flying boat.

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3587.jpg

The Clipper taking off

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3584.jpg

Oscar at the North Carolina state line

For most rural folks in the 1930s a trip through many different states was virtually beyond imagining. One result was that the travelers photo albums often contained Stateline shots, evidence of the extent of their travels.

Compare the roads – 1920s to 1936 – incredible progress

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3585.jpg

En route through Pennsylvania to Western New York.

In a very short span of time the American road system had been vastly improved. Contrast this with the photo below from the early 1920s:


source – family photo, William and Augusta’s children, Renata and Edgar on the right.

Elda 3 ring bndr img074 crp1.jpg

Source – family photo, Lueder’s Chrysler Four in 1928 en route to Northern Michigan

Or, the vastly improved gravel road, US Hwy 2, taken by Lueders in their 1926 Chrysler on their 1928 trip to visit Augusta’s sister, Alvina, in Hermansville, Michigan.

Although it is gravel, road is an excellent all weather highway and a huge improvement over what had been.

Florida grapefruit and the extended family, Niagara Falls, NY

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3586.jpg

William and Augusta’s daughter Cordelia married Rev. John Pfohl in 1930. John came from a large German-American farm family eight miles east of Niagara Falls.  Gerald and Oscar included Niagara Falls in their trip and brought grapefruit to the Pfohls where they lodged.  The grapefruit were quite a special treat.

Photographic note: in order to avoid burnout in the negative a burlap bag was hung over the chandelier. Gerald’s photographs were taken with a Kodak box Brownie, very common and inexpensive camera from the 1930s.  It cost $2-3.00.  The negatives in the family archives are often remarkably good!



Source of all photos – Gerald Lueder album

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3593.jpg

Source – Gerald Lueder album

9,500 miles, 67 days, 17 states, Mexico, 7 national parks, & 5 national monuments

Gerald left no record of the costs associated with this trip of 9500 miles. It is safe to assume that it was incredibly cheap. A huge box was hung on to the rear of the DeSoto and the driver’s side running board was packed with necessities. Quite a lot of food was taken along.

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3597.jpg

January 1937 starting the trip west – Gerald in the center holding his niece Ruth, with sister Cordelia and brother-in-law John in Leland Wisconsin.

Gerald stopped by to say hi to his sister in Leland, Wisconsin, at the beginning of the trip.

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3594.jpg

Lockwood, Missouri, Lutheran cemetery, January 28, 1937

They stopped to visit Augusta’s uncle and Gerald’s great uncle, Herman Nieman, in Lockwood Missouri. The gravestone is that of the immigrant father of Herman, Joachim Niemann. Great-grandfather to Gerald.  Herman was the youngest brother of Gerald’s grandfather at Pioneer Orchards in Cedarburg, Johann Nieman (d. 1922).

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3589.jpg

Elk City, Oklahoma, January 30, 1937

Note the road.  The DeSoto is mud from head to foot, but the road is well constructed with the roadbed not giving way under the weight of car, a huge advance over the 1920s roadways.

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3607.jpg

Santa Cruz, California

Visiting great uncle Carl Nieman and wife Emelia and family

Sights of the West with a two dollar Box Brownie

click on image to enlarge

A South Dakota dust storm, sleet storm, & blizzard


March 23, 1937 Watertown SD, a.m. dust storm followed by sleet storm followed by blizzard.  It was the worst SD storm in 10 years.  Note that the DeSoto had a windshield wiper only on the driver’s side

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3609.jpg

Heading back to Wisconsin, March 25, 1937 10 miles from nowhere.  Watertown SD.  Desoto breaking track – Pulling the DeSoto through a drift

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3608.jpg

Mar ’37.  Brookings Co., So. Dakota.  Gerald and the DeSoto in front.  60 cars and 200 people behind him.  Gerald had a wicked sense of humor.  He was leading the way, the highway was passable but largely obscured,and he had Pied Piper thoughts.  So, he decided to drive off the road and into a cornfield wondering if the herd would follow him and they all dutifully followed right behind.  He was still laughing at that 30 years later.

Note the wrap around the top part of the radiator grill in front of the DeSoto.  It was frequent practice to obstruct the airflow through the radiator in the dead of winter to raise the coolant temperature, and improve the heating inside the car for the driver and passenger.

WIS 1930S GERALD IMG3610.jpg

Home at the farm of neighbor and travelling companion, Oscar Weichert – 3″ clearance under running boards. 1937.  The driver’s side was packed with necessities and foodstuffs.  The driver had to get in and out of the car through the passenger side.


William and Augusta’s son Edgar marries Alice Heckendorf.  The courtship has a truly bizarre aspect, and a few years of happiness are followed by deep tragedy.

Many Germanic values were still extant in the local culture, but the language was disappearing and the culture was melding into the American pot.

Next week’s post is the conclusion of the tale.  It will be followed by an Epilogue and then a post of modern photos of the farm.




The German churches were a powerful center for the teaching of ethics, for nurturing social relationships, and for providing a structure for spiritual beliefs.  In church the use of German language for the services persisted well into the 1930s.  The pastor was the shepherd of his flock and ministered to them in their grief and joy, admonished them in their ethical lapses, and led them in enhancing their brotherhood and sisterhood.

contents ©2016 by Harold Pfohl

wm & augusta fam illus.jpg


cedarburg twnshp plat 1915 LOC church.jpg

Source – Library of Congress, Location of Immanuel Lutheran Church relative to the Lueder farm.



Elmer Confirmation Class 1918 crp1 copy.jpgSource – Steve Lueders, Rev. Strassburger, 1918, confirmation class, very near his retirement.

The advent of the automobile greatly improved the quality of life of the minister and his ability to tend to the needs of his flock.  Rapid transportation by truck and refrigeration for perishable goods meant that the pastor no longer had to keep livestock in a small shed or barn by the parsonage. Furthermore, use of an automobile enabled him to visit all of his parishioners and most especially to minister quickly to the sick and bedridden in their time of need.

While the use of the automobile made it easier to attend church, it also created easier access to leisure activities as an alternative. Although nearby family members could gather more readily for baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and funerals, automotive mobility also resulted in family diasporas, as children upon reaching maturity worked and lived in very distant places.


Source – postcard, author’s collection, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Cedarburg, Wis., Thanksgiving Day

The postcard is labelled “Am Danksagungs Tage” or Thanksgiving Day.  Scrutinizing the image, it appears to be more likely that special church day in Germanic farming communities called “Harvest Festival” at which thanks was given for a successful harvest, the abundance of the fields, including decorating the church front with part of the bounty – wheat sheaves, pumpkins, gourds, corn, etc.  The interior of neighboring Immanuel Lutheran would have looked very similar to this on such an occasion.

The church was the strongest force in the community for moral, ethical and spiritual matters.  It was also a major factor in community cohesion with frequent social interaction and sharing of responsibilities for church activities.  Lastly, it was the source of great music although often performed with limited skill.  Many of the classic Lutheran hymns were by some of the greatest composers in Northern Europe.

Pastor Strassburger was at the center of all of this.


Fig 121Source – family photo, Sunday morning

L-R: Harold, Gerald, Cordelia, Edgar, Mother Augusta, Father William, Renata, and Renata’s husband, Erich Heckendorf.

All dressed up for church!  Men seldom owned more than one suit.  There was no need whatsoever for a suit other than for the most formal occasions which nearly always involved church.

They were very proud of their 1926 Chrysler “Four” automobile.


Shortly after birth, children were baptized during a Sunday church service and given their name.  This involved religious ceremony, the participation of Godparents (then known as “sponsors”), and the formal giving of the child’s name.  It was the occasion for great joy, and usually included a post church service dinner of celebration at the family home with the minister and his family invited as special guests.

Elmer Lueders Baptism record final copy.jpg

Source – Steve Lueders, Baptism of Elmer Lueders, Nephew of William and Augusta Lueder

Taufshein – Baptism certificate, signed by Rev. E.G. Strassburger

hp 04 15 2013 4-d2_resize.jpg

Source – family papers, “Einnerung” – remembrance or keepsake.

This was a card given by Cordelia’s Tante (Aunt) Mary Lueder to her in remembrance of her baptism.  Tante Mary was one of Cordelia’s “sponsors” or Godmothers.


Prayers of thanks were said before and after meals, and prayers were said with the little children when they were put to bed.  One bedtime prayer that has come down for generations is the following:

Evening Prayer – An Old German Children’s Prayer Sungand Prayed for Generations in The Family

Mude bin ich geh zur ruh

Schleisse meine auglein zu

Vater las die augen Dein

Uber meinem bitte sein

Hab ich unrecht heut getan

Sieh es lieber Gott nicht an

Dein Gnad und Christi Blut

Mach ja allen schaden gut


Alle die mir sind virwand

Herr las ruhen in Deines Hand

Alle menschen groz und klein

Sollen die befahlen zein.


Kranke herzen seude ruh

Nasse augen schliesse zu

Las dem mond am Himmel stehn

Und der stillen welt besehen


Evening Prayer – English Translation

Now the darkness shrouds the skies

Lord I close my weary eyes

Keep me safely while I sleep

Heavenly shepherd guard thy sheep


If I strayed from Thee this day

Savior take my guilt away

Purge me from all earthly dross

By the virtue of Thy Cross.


All my loved ones everywhere

I commit into Thy care

Yea, I pray that all mankind,

May in Thee their refuge find.


To the suffering ones be near

Wipe away the mourners tear

Thou who dwellest in the light

Give us all a peaceful night.



Fig 075 Hortensia Lueder Nov 1911_017 copy.jpg

Source – family photo, Hortensia Lueder, d. November 14, 1911

Rev. Strassburger provided spiritual consolation to William and Augusta when their infant, Hortensia died.  He also conducted the sorrowful occasions of the funeral service and then commitment to the grave in Immanuel’s cemetery.


Confirmation celebrated the Rite of Passage into adulthood, and was an affirmation of the young person’s Lutheran faith, i.e., “confirming” the commitment to the faith.

Elmer Confirmation Class 1918 copy 3.jpg

Source – Steve Lueders, confirmation of Elmer Lueders, nephew of William and Augusta Lueder, March 24, 1918

Elmer Lueders is fourth from the left in the back row.  William and Augusta’s daughter, Elda, is second from the right, kneeling in the front row.

This was likely Rev. Strassburger’s last confirmation class.  He retired shortly thereafter.

Elmer Lueders Confirmation 300dpi copy copy.jpg

Source – Steve Lueders, Elmer Lueders’ confirmation portrait


Source – Steve Lueders, Zur Erinnerung an den Tag der Konfirmation (Commemoration of Confirmation Day), March 24, 1918, for Elmer Lueders, nephew of William and Augusta Lueder



eIMG0087 Rev Walter Behrens, DD About 1920.jpg

Source – family photo, Rev. Walter Behrens, DD, About 1920

In 1919, after 46 years in the service of Immanuel Lutheran, Rev. Strassburger finally retired. Dr. Walter Behrens succeeded him.  Dr. Behrens was an exceedingly able man who eventually became President (now called Bishop) of the regional synod of American Lutheran Church. He earned the respect and affection of his congregation, and was the central religious figure for this generation of Lueders as they were confirmed and married.


Rev. Strassburger was sympathetic to the usage of English but had no facility in it.  His ministry was conducted entirely in German.  This persisted longer in the large German-American communities than we might imagine.

The author’s father, a German Lutheran minister in Sauk County, Wisconsin, held services in German four Sundays per month and held one service in English during the 1930s.  In 1943, he returned to his home parish near Niagara Falls, NY, having been invited to preach the sermon on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the congregation in his community.  That was done entirely in German.

That church, St. Peter’s Lutheran in Walmore, NY, was one of the core churches of the “Old Lutheran” Prussian immigration in the 1830s and 1840s.

For anyone with facility in German and an interest in the subject, his sermon notes are attached in a Footnote at the end of the post.  Below is the first page:



An early confirmation class under Pastor Behrens included William and Augusta’s daughters, Viola and Cordelia.

Fig 123 Cordelia & Viola Luder's Confirmation Oct 22 1922_2.jpg

Source – family photo, Cordelia and Viola Lueder confirmation, October 22, 1922

Cordelia is 2nd from the left kneeling in the front; Viola is at the extreme left in the third row.

Cordelia and Viola were confirmed by Pastor Behrens and had a deep-seated reverence for him. Theirs was only the second confirmation class at Immanuel to have the confirmation service in English. Seventy years after immigration, German still had priority and thus was celebrated on the pre-eminent confirmation day, Palm Sunday. English was relegated to the autumn.

This confirmation day was always associated by the family with a farming disaster. The following Wednesday their barn burned to the ground. (See UNSERER SCHEUNE IST ABGEBRANNT!” (OUR BARN IS BURNT DOWN) )



Source – family photo, Viola & Cordelia in the front yard of Lueder’s home – Christmas trees

Fig 122 hp 020313 8 copy.jpeg

Source – family photo, Christmas in Lueder’s parlor, – 1920s

The tree lights were small candles. Tiny, tin candleholders with spring clamps were placed all about the tree and the candles were lit on Christmas Eve with Christmas hymns being sung.

Money for Christmas presents was scarce, and the children had virtually none to spend. After the Christmas Pageant at church, the church gave each Sunday school child a gift of a bag of candy and peanuts. William loved peanuts, and little Cordelia, being without the means to buy her father a birthday present, would carefully save her Christmas peanuts for Papa’s February birthday.

The stove that is shown in the photo was connected to the chimney with an uncommonly long horizontal stovepipe. It gradually became loaded with soot and condensed water, collapsed, and the whole room was a blackened mess. Fortunately, this did not happen on Christmas.


Source – Cordelia’s diary, Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1927

“Dec. 24 – 1927 Sat.  We’re to Church Program in evening.  Erich and Renata were here in evening.  Pa got- woolen shirt, tie, pipe, pair of slippers.  Ma – Box of hankerchiefs – purse”  etc.

Cordelia continued with her meticulous recording of every detail of the life around her.


Fig 124 M.jpg

Source – family photo, Renata Lueder


The wedding was a grand event. A portable generator was rented and genuine, honest to God electric lighting was imported for the occasion – one bare bulb per room; what luxury! A bridal suite was prepared upstairs, pictures were taken in the afternoon, and the wedding took place at 7:00 that evening. After the wedding, the guests returned to Lueders for a feast and festivities: concertina music by Renata’s cousins Erwin Mueller and Roland Nieman, dancing, beer, and cider until the wee hours.

OCT 17 WI CED LUEDRS OCT 1927 IMG4102_resize.jpg

Source – Cordelia’s diary

“Oct. 18, 1927 – Tues. …Electricians were here in afternoon and wired for Wedding”


Cows do not care whether or not humans have a wedding. They have to be milked and fed, and since the older children were in the wedding party, Viola and Cordelia, at ages 19 and 17, did the evening chores. The girls were dispensable.  One can safely assume that on this occasion the chores were limited to feeding and milking the cows – no shoveling out the gutters…that would have been a bit much.  The wedding was later in the evening and the girls had plenty of time to clean up and prepare for the occasion.


It was the norm for newlyweds to spend the wedding night at the bride’s home, Lueder’s farmhouse.

The wedding dress came from Sears, and a bed for the bridal suite had been ordered from Sears, but on the morning of the wedding the bed still had not been delivered. The household, in a state of consternation, improvised with a bed from elsewhere. That afternoon, a Sears truck arrived, delivered the bed, and frantic activity ensued to put the new bed in place of the old one.

It was common for pranksters to tie bells onto the springs underneath the mattress!


L-R: Edgar Lueder, Alice Heckendorf, Erich Heckendorf, Renata Lueder Heckendorf, Elda Lueder, Hugo Heckendorf

This was the first marriage among William and Augusta’s children. Erich was a farm boy from Jackson who became a carpenter and met Renata when he was part of the crew building Lueder’s new barn in 1923.


Fig 124 D.jpg

Source – family photo, the wedding party with the “limousine”

L-R Hugo Heckendorf, Elda Lueder, Ann Nieman (close friend, not one of the attendants), Erich Heckendorf, Renata Lueder, Alice Heckendorf, Edgar Lueder, and the “Franklin Sedan” chauffeured by cousin Ed Nieman.


Adding to the bridal suite’s problems, Renata’s little eleven-year-old brother Harold had crossed paths with a skunk and left his shoes upstairs by the bridal suite door.  Not good.


MM BK 016 0070Renata wed 1927.jpg

Source – family photo

L-R: front,; Harold, William, Augusta, Gerald, back; Viola, Renata, Edgar, Elda, Cordelia

All dressed in their best for the wedding and the portrait.  Young Harold managed to tear a sizable hole in his right stocking in time for the photo.  Augusta, the skilled seamstress, and the mother of seven rambunctious high energy kids, must have just rolled her eyes and sighed.

Fig 069 MM 04 hp fam negs 02282013 10 copy.jpg

L-R:  Augusta, William, Edgar, Renata, Elda, Viola, Cordelia, Gerald, Harold

The occasion was grand indeed.  In addition to chauffeuring the bride to the church and the wedded couple back from the church to the farm for the reception, cousin Ed Nieman was also was an avid photographer.  He had a large view camera with tripod, and took a number of family portraits of his uncle and aunt and cousins.


OCT 20 A WI CED LUEDRS OCT 1927 IMG4103_resize.jpg

Source – Cordelia’s diary

“Oct – 20 – 1927 – Thurs.   Very lovely outside.  N.W. wind. Clear and warm.  Wedding Day of Renata Lueder and Erich Heckendorf.  Bride was taken in Franklin Sedan, Ed Nieman was Chaffeur (sic).  Attendants were taken in Star Six Sedan, Robert Krause was Chaffeur (sic).  Sears Roebuck Delivery Truck brought Renata’s set {bed for the couple – they spent their wedding night at the Lueder farmhouse}.”

Cordelia then goes on to list 117 guests at the farmhouse reception.  One wonders if this 17 year old girl kept a notebook during the evening, scribbling in it while partying.



Top, L-R: Cordelia and Elda Lueder, the newlyweds, Erich and Renata Heckendorf, and Erwin Mueller.


Bottom, L-R: Erich Heckendorf, Cordelia, Viola, and Elda Lueder, Erwin Mueller.

First cousin Erwin Mueller, a concertina player at the wedding, stopped by to relive the preceding night’s activities and taste a “hair of the dog that bit him.” For many years, Erwin was the only employee of the Town of Cedarburg aside from teachers.

The truck was probably the Township’s single biggest capital investment, aside from schools.


OCT 23 WI CED LUEDRS OCT 1927 IMG4106_resize.jpg

The partying continued.  On the Sunday after the wedding, more than thirty people came to Lueders for an “after-wedding” party.  With all of the wedding related activity going on it is a wonder that the essential work of the farm got done.


Continue reading


The school provided education for grades 1 – 8.  The children walked a considerable distance to school, did all the janitorial work, pumped and carried water for drinking, helped each other to learn, and in the end, with a good teacher, they did quite well.

contents ©2016 by Harold Pfohl




Click on a map to enlarge it.


The one room school was a fixture in rural American education for well over a century. Although technological advances provided electric lighting, radio, and occasional transport by car, the basic mode of operation changed little if at all, until the vast national wave of school consolidation eliminated the little country school altogether in the 1950s and 60s.

The educational system was a tutorial one with usually a dozen children (ages 6 to 13) and a woman as the teacher. Younger children were encouraged to seek assistance in their studies from older children, and all played together at recess and lunchtime. Classes were so small that slow or fast students could often progress at a rate consistent with their skills without disturbing the progress of classmates.  There was a touch of the Romantic in memorization of, e.g., portions of poems by Longfellow – “Hiawatha,” “Evangeline,” etc.  The children were proud of their little school and proud of what they learned.

Children also participated in chores for the school such as cleaning the blackboard, sweeping the floor after school, carrying drinking water from the pump, ringing the bell, raking leaves in autumn, and cleaning the schoolyard in spring. The chores created a proprietary sense among the children; it was their school. They kept it neat and tidy, and they took pride in it.


IMG0085_3 copy.jpg

Source – family photo

Sherman School (which still stands as a private residence on Western Ave. west of Cedarburg) is an example of that American classic that served so well for many decades – the one-room country school. It was radically different from today’s large elementary schools and had its own virtues, despite the fact that resources were quite modest.



Source – Library of Congress, part of township map, 1915.

  • Distance – home to Sherman School, round trip 2.4 miles.
  • Distance – home to Immanuel Lutheran Parochial School, round trip 7.4 miles.


Source – family photo 1942, Walking to Sherman school in 1942, three of William and Augusta’s grandchildren.  Viola’s daughters, Sylvia on the left and Vivian on the right.  Edgar’s daughter Marcella in the center.  Vivian’s first day at school.

At least the road was graveled.  When their parents attended a generation earlier in the 1910s & 1920s it was just a dirt road, and in foul weather, a mud pit.

Parents, William and Augusta, enrolled Cordelia and Viola in first grade at the same time. They were only 14 months apart in age (Viola b. Nov 24, 1908 & Cordelia b. Jan 30, 1910). No doubt the idea was that they could keep each other company academically as well as in their daily trek to and from school.

“School started at 9 AM and we were dismissed by 4 PM.”

The Lueder children walked to and from school, in foul weather and fair.  On occasion, e.g., heavy rain, Papa William would harness a horse and take them to school in their buggy.

Viola: “On rainy days Pa would take us to school with Old Bob, our buggy horse. It was fun to ride in the buggy with its top up and side curtains on. We were always glad to get a ride. Now I realize that this was extra work for Pa. He had to stop whatever he was doing and harness up the horse. It was slow traveling, for the horse could not run because of the ruts in the road.”

hp 04 15 2013 -a2 copy.jpg

Source – family photo, Bridge Rd., a dirt road in 1926

Viola “in winter we were so bundled up that only our eyes showed in those days. We wore long heavy underwear and long black cotton stockings, and high buckled boots. Mother crocheted sweaters, scarves, and caps for us. She also sewed a winter coat for Cordelia and myself. Some kids wore leggings but we could not afford them. One Christmas I received a pair of leggings as a Christmas gift from my sponsor, John Mintzlaff. I was quite proud of them. I did not wear them very often. They were too precious to me.”

“The sharp brisk winter winds brought tears to our eyes when we had to walk into the wind. Our cheeks were red and so were our fingers. Even though we wore woolen gloves our hands were so cold that it was hard to hold on to our lunch pails. Honey pails or ‘Plowboy’ tobacco pails were our lunch pails.

“There were no snowplows to open the roads. We would walk in the tracks that the horses and sleds made…Along the country road snowdrifts were piled as high as the cedar fence posts along the roadside. A hard crust would form across the top of the snow banks enabling us to walk across the snow banks.”

“We were always glad to get to the school house for we knew that the teacher would have a good fire going in the furnace-like potbellied stove. It took a while for the schoolroom to warm up in subzero weather.”

“On cold frosty evenings when walking home, one could hear the telephone wires hum. We would then put our ears to the post and listen to the strange sound.”

“One bitter cold day Cordelia, Gerald and I had walked to school in the morning. During the day a snow storm blew in by the time school let out it was really bad. So Pa, sent Edgar to meet us when we went home to help us find our way home. He walked ahead of us making a path. We arrived home all right.”

“I remember so vividly, when in my first year at school, in the late fall. There were large windows on the west side of the school and I could see a lovely sunset. It was just before school left out and we sang this song that I have never forgotten: Shadows of the Evening.”

Now the day is over

Night is drawing nigh

Shadows of the evening

Steal across the sky

 Youtube link for the hymn: Now the Day is Over


“There were no gym classes. We all got enough exercise walking to school and from games we played during recess and at the noon hour. The games we played at school were baseball, Annie, Annie, Over, a game where we threw the ball over the school building and a team on the other side would try to catch the ball and come around the building and grab one of the players.  Pump, pump, pull away was also played.”


“The students were assigned jobs such as sweeping the floor, dusting the erasers and washing the blackboards, and ringing the school bell.”


“December was the month where the teacher planned the Christmas program the children would present on the 23rd. This was done every year. Families of the children would come to hear the program. We recited poems, sang carols, and gave little plays. With the help of the teacher the schoolroom was decorated with paper chains made of green and red manila paper. The children drew and colored Santa Clauses and other Christmas symbols which were pasted onto the windows. We also had a Christmas tree with all the trimmings. The last few days before the 23rd we had very few classes.”

“After the program was over, the students each received a bag with nuts, candy, and apple, and orange. I know that I was afraid of stepping in front of the people and reciting a Christmas recitation. All the children knew their parts well.”


Viola: “there was no plumbing or electricity. The privies were outdoors. There were two, one for the girls and one for the boys. There was also woodshed. It was the boys’ duty to bring in wood and coal. The well was located just south of the school building. A tin cup hung on a piece of wire on the side of the pump. All pupils drank out of the same cup. In winter there was a water pail and a dipper. Kerosene lamps with reflectors were mounted high on the wall.”


hp 04 15 2013 5-b3 sepia_resize.jpgSource – family photo

Interior of Sherman School, about 1942 – 43.  Almost certainly the same as the interior during the preceding 30 years but with the addition of electric lighting.


Sherman School HP 1909.jpgSource – family photo & with ID assistance from Steve Lueders, Sherman School students about 1908 – 1910 with teacher on the right.

There were quite a few Lueders at Sherman School – The immigrant couple, Johann and Eva Dorothea Lüders had numerous great grandchildren.  Only a portion of them are shown in the school picture above.

Edgar and Renata (see photo above) are the children of William and Augusta, whose family is the subject of all Section III posts concerning rural German-American life in the early 20th Century.

hp 4 2 13 ced exhib 05 copy 2 a.jpg

Source – Steve Lueders – Around 1911 – 1912

hp 4 2 13 ced exhib 05 copy 3 b copy_resize.jpg

Source – family photo, about 1910 – 1911,  The event is likely the annual school picnic in spring.

It includes William and Augusta’s eldest children, Edgar (10 yrs), Elda (6 yrs) and Renata Lueder (8 yrs).  Renata Lueder is the 4th from the left, sitting.  Edgar Lueder is the 2nd from the right in the second row, kneeling in a white shirt next to the seated lady in the .  Elda Lueder is seated center front in the dark dress.


sjl16-Sherman School.jpg

Source – Steve Lueders

Viola, kneeling at the little cradle; Elda, on the ground on the right (dark jacket/sweater),\; Renata, standing fifth from the left.

Given the costumes, the boy with the fiddle, Viola in front with the cradle…what was it?  It couldn’t have had anything to do with Christmas since the children are dressed far too lightly for that time of year.


sjl17-Sherman School.jpg

Source – Steve Lueders  Around 1910

Note the road – Western Avenue, in front of the school.  Another dirt road, suitable for horse and wagon, but not for the soon dominant automobile.


Source – family papers, Report card and attendance award

Click on image to enlarge it.

While a good teacher could accomplish quite a lot, it certainly required very hard work to cover the subject matter for eight grades, deal with individual learning problems, and maintain discipline.  Keeping all the pieces glued together was an accomplishment and the preparatory training for teaching was very limited.  That usuallyconsisted of attendance at a two year “County Normal School.”  Most teachers were women, and since the professional opportunities for women were limited, some very bright young ladies became teachers, which was good fortune for the pupils.




Fig 118b Edw Rappold 02 parochial school 1896 1926 copy
Die Zweite Kirche as Immanuel’s Parochial School

Courtesy – Edward Rappold, The parochial school, a converted church.

The Lueder children’s schooling was almost entirely at the one-room country school on Western Avenue, Sherman School.  Gerald (8 yrs), Cordelia (10 yrs) and Viola (12 yrs) attended Immanuel Lutheran Parochial School for the 1920-21 school year by default.

The Sherman School Board consisted of William Lueder who had seven children, a bachelor farmer, and a third farmer who was childless.  In the middle of the school year in January, the teacher, Mrs. Wilhelmina Wiessbach, was earning the grand sum of $65/month and had the audacity to ask for a raise to an astronomical $75. The school board voted 2 to 1 against the raise, the teacher quit in the interest of trying to earn enough to eat, and the Lueder children walked 3.7 miles, each way, 7.4 miles round trip to and from Cedarburg in the dead of winter to attend the parochial school.  One suspects that William and Augusta were more than a little steamed about that vote.

* * * * * *

Immanuel Lutheran’s original pioneer log church in Cedarburg served as the parochial school for many years. Then, in 1896, the deconsecrated second church, was moved to the location shown on the map, and became the new school.  This was the school that the Lueder children attended.  It served as the parochial school until 1926 when a parish hall was built which also functioned as a school.  A second story had been built above the classroom in the former sanctuary and was used as an apartment for the teacher.   The building was torn down on January 9, 1932 and was succeeded by Kiekhaefer’s Mercury Outboard motor factory and a municipal water tower.

Source – family photos – click on image to enlarge

Winter could be fun but not if you have to walk 7.4 miles in this going to and from school.


Fig 119 Parochial 1921-22 arthur dauss.jpg

Source – family photo, Parochial School students, 1920-21 school year.

Standing in the rear: Viola Lueder on left, Cordelia in center. Right row, fourth from rear: Gerald Lueder. The overwhelmed teacher: Arthur Dauss.

1921-22 arthur dauss.jpg



eIMG0086 Parochial 1921-22 arthur dauss0001b crp.jpg

Judging from inspection of this enlarged cropped portion of the photo, lighting on gloomy days was very limited (the fixture on the ceiling is the only one visible).  And, one might reasonably conclude that on winter days, those seated in the back of the room near the huge furnace were broiled while those toward the front of the room froze.

The parochial school’s only teacher, Mr. Arthur Dauss, taught so many children that the poor man was overwhelmed and, as a result, did not really accomplish much.  The photo shows 31 children in eight grades.

The Lueder children were very good students but were cash poor, and sensitive about it. In addition, in the course of walking three and a half miles to school, especially in winter, they were occasionally late and, as punishment, were made to stand in front of the class. Children being children, this resulted in ridicule. To cap it all, as good students, they realized that the quality of instruction was poor.



Source – family papers, Zeugnis translated = mark or grade.

This is Cordelia’s report card for the parochial school year, 1920 – 1921, fifth grade.  Note the left hand column, “Tage abwesend,” i.e., days absent.  The weather in January and March must have been bad indeed.


The two girls graduated from grade school in 1924.  Viola was 15 and Cordelia was 14.  Their 8th grade teacher, Lottie Kopp, wrote a letter commending them on their grades.

Mom early years not pix0001_resize.jpg

Source – family papers


Mom early years not pix0004_resize.jpg

Mom early years not pix0003_resize.jpgSource – family papers

Note #4. Recitation   “The Boy Who Wanted to be Spanked”  Our culture certainly has changed over time.  That would be a most curious topic for a grade school graduation today, and likely verboten.

Elmer Lueders Public School Diploma final.JPG

Source – Steve Lueders

Ozaukee County grade school diploma from 1920 awarded to Viola and Cordelia’s slightly older cousin, Elmer Lueders who also attended Sherman School.


Viola and Cordelia were excellent students.  The summer after they graduated from grade school the High School principal came out to the farm to visit William and Augusta to urge that these excellent students continue their education. The girls hid from him and that was the end of it. While they would have loved to have gotten an education beyond grade school, they had experienced the 3.7 mile walk (7.4 miles round trip) to and from school for several months of the year including snow and rain. Doing that for High School was a thoroughly dismaying prospect.

That the High School principal would have made such an effort was likely unusual.  Perhaps Ms. Kopp, their teacher, learned that they did not plan to continue, and, dismayed by that, talked to the principal, asking him to have a discussion with their parents.

 CORDELIA – LETTER TO A FRIEND “No, we are not Freshies”

Mom early years not pix0005_resize.jpg

Source – family papers

No, we are not Freshies, Viola and I.  It would have been all right to go to high school as long as there is no snow, but think of the winter. To walk those 3 1/2 miles every day through snow and bad weather is no fun, maybe home in the dark sometimes.”

Why didn’t William take his children to school every day?  Perhaps the problem was time.  This was prior to electricity on the farm and all the morning milking and chores had to be done by hand.


hp 020313 6b copy_resize.jpeg

Source – family photo,  Township snowplow at Lueder’s driveway.

It was uncommon for farm children to go to school beyond the 8th grade. They were often needed at home, and education at the high school level was not necessary.  As discussed in the previous post, they were kept very busy with farm labor.


The author attended a one room country school and walked one and one quarter miles to get there in Sauk County, Wisconsin from 1948 – 1955.  With rare exception, no amount of bellyaching about rotten weather would convince his Mom, Cordelia, that a ride to school was in order.  Not much sympathy from that quarter.  She bundled him up in long johns, scarf, stocking cap, and boots and shipped him off into the foul weather with his lunch pail.  Recollection of that experience provides great appreciation for Viola and Cordelia’s reluctance to attend High School when it meant a daily seven mile walk, including bad weather and darkness.




Cordelia – 1927 – she was 17 years old, 5’3″ tall, and never weighed more than 125 lbs. in her entire life.  Sister Viola was sick so “I did the chores,” which meant that on any given day she shoveled out a ton/2,000 lbs of manure, fed hay, silage and ground feed to thirty cattle, bedded them with fresh straw, and helped with the milking.  This was normal.  And, much, much more…

contents ©2016 by Harold Pfohl


The objective of this post is to provide a focus on the range of work women/girls were responsible for and capable of.  It was remarkable.  Portions are redundant with material previously posted.  

This post draws heavily from Cordelia’s 1927 diary/journal when she was 17.  Something compelled her to assiduously record all events, all visitors, all work done, all peddlers, etc. that involved the farm.   She began keeping this record when she was 14 in 1924 and continued it until she married in 1930 and departed.  She continued to keep a diary for the rest of her long life but the farm part of it was history.  It never included personal reflections, observations or meditation which makes sense considering that she had six siblings who were not inclined to respect the privacy of her journals.  Kids snoop.

Her diaries from 1924 – 1927 are an extraordinary document of the cultural history of German-American farming in the early 20th Century.  Numerous pages from 1927 are provided after the end of this post for those who might have interest.

The post also relies on material from Viola’s memories written many decades later recalling details of her youth on the farm.

Upon reading Cordelia’s 1927 entries, the two most remarkable features of their lives were 1) the range of work the women did, and 2) the amazing social lives of the family. Getting together with cousins, aunts and uncles, neighbors and friends was not an occasion, but the norm.  Large and small gatherings were common – at least once per week and sometimes two or three times per week and often late into the night, especially during the winter.  In the absence of electronic entertainment that we now have people needed very little excuse to get together for companionship, and a good party.  Three pages from March 1927 illustrate both the work and the fun they had.  (click to enlarge  beginning at the upper left)

Women did all of the work that their strength enabled them to undertake.  Nothing was exempted excepting heavy and/or dangerous labor, e.g., guiding a hand plow, or handling the bull in the barn.  Men did all of the work with the tractor.  That may well have been due to the brute force required to crank the beast and the danger of a backfiring engine breaking an arm while cranking (the backfire turns the crank violently in the reverse direction).  Men also did almost all of the work with the horses.

Note – not shown in these excerpts above, the older children, teens, frequently went to the cinema and enjoyed the silent films.

Communist Cell?

Nobody was paid any wage of any sort.  The work was collectively done for the common family interest.  If the farm made money, then expenses were covered for all needs for both parents and children.  The farm economy was emphatically “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”  

Viola: “… There was only enough money to buy the necessary things for the family. Extra money was always put back into the farm.… The good prosperous years on our farm were from 1923 to 1930.”

* * * * * *

The tasks that the women engaged in are listed with illustrations where possible.  Some of the images have been seen in the blog previously but are included again to illuminate the point being made.

After the list numerous pages from Cordelia’s diary are reproduced for the reader to browse if so desired.

 Some cryptic extracts from January: “Butchered small Buch {from another farmer} heifer. Uncle Otto helped.” “Butchered four Chester White hogs. Arnold Nieman and Uncle Otto helped. In afternoon cleaned casings {cleaned and sterilized hog intestines for use to make sausage}.”  “In evening Elda scrubbed and Viola and I did chores.”  “Sawed up meat today.  Viola and I took out manure.” “Made blood, liver, and potato sausage today.” “Cut meat in morning.  Ed & Ma & Elda made summer sausage all day.  In evening Elda scrubbed. Viola and I did chores.”  “In evening Dr. Wastrack {veterinarian} was here and looked at four of our cows {checking for bovine tuberculosis}.  Put ring in bull’s nose.”  “Ed was to stockholders meeting of Cedarburg Supply Company.”  





Women had very little to do with plowing, tilling the field and making it ready for planting.  That is covered more fully in the post:plowing planting and harvesting

Stone Picking

However, the women were called on to help out for one arduous, onerous annual multi-day chore, helping to pick up stones in the field. The region had been buried under glaciers during the Ice Age.  This resulted in an immense amount of stone rubble strewn throughout the fields in considerable depth. No matter how many years the soil was worked stones would emerge through the topsoil with the spring thaw.  If the larger ones were not removed they would act as a danger to the equipment that was used for cultivating crops and harvesting.  For example, if the cutting bar (sickle) on a mowing machine hit a rock it could wreck a cutting blade which meant expense and considerable time delay.

Picking stones was laborious. Members of the family would walk down a field spread out in a row slowly moving toward the end of the field. A bucket was filled with stones and carried over to the stone wagon. When the wagon was full it was driven to one of the stone fences that bordered the fields. The contents were dumped on the stone fence and the wagon headed out into the field to continue the process.

field stones 005.jpg

Source – Chendrashaker’s world

Unloading stones onto the stone fence.  The above photo from the web is little changed from the 1920s except for the motive power, the relatively modern tractor.  At Lueder’s all of the children helped.

Planting Potatoes

Viola: “In May it was time to get the seed potatoes ready for planting. Potatoes were caught up in pieces and we had to be sure that each piece had an “eye” {sprout}. We all had to help with this as soon as we could handle a knife.… The potatoes dug up in fall were used for planting.”

“Seed” potatoes are  potatoes cut with an eye  or two within the cut piece.


The piece is planted into a shallow hole or ditch and then covered with earth.  This was all hand work that the girls participated in.


Potatoes provide actual seed but planting them will not result in a plant that is the same as the plant giving the seed.  The cut potatoes with the “eyes” result in a genetically identical plant.  


Corn was cultivated (stirring up the soil between the rows to destroy weeds) with horses.


Source –

After the horse drawn cultivator had worked the soil between the rows the girls spent many hours hoeing the soil between the corn plants.


Source –

Potatoes were plagued with the “potato bug.”

potato beetle.jpg

Source – Maine organic farmers and gardeners assn.

The bug was a voracious insect that in sufficient numbers would gobble up the leaves on the potato plant.  The method of control was simple:  provide each child with a coffee can, put a couple of inches of kerosene in the bottom of the can, and send the child along the rows of plants, inspecting them for the potato bugs.  When found, they were knocked into the can and terminated with extreme prejudice by the kerosene.  This kept the kids constructively occupied for many hours.

HARVESTING – (some of these photos have been seen in a previous post but are included to illustrate the tasks)

Making hay                 man_pitching_hay


Source – family photo

Harold Lueder mowing hay in the 1930s.

Once the hay was cut, the girls walked through the field with pitchforks and turned the hay over after a few hours of exposure to the sun to help it dry/cure.  Then a horse drawn hay rake gathered the hay into rows.

hay rake.jpg

Source –

The hay loader was pulled along the rows and conveyed the hay to the top of the wagon where it had to be distributed to even out the load.  The girls would help with that task on the hay wagon.


Source –

Unloading the hay and getting it into the barn was largely men’s work.

Harvesting Grain

For a more detailed discussion and photos of the harvesting and threshing process for grain see the post:  plowing planting and harvesting

For our purposes with respect to women’s work, the photos below, seen previously, are germane:


Source – family photo

Elda Lueder is on the grain wagon, distributing the load being pitched up by her brothers Edgar on the left and Gerald on the right.


Source – family photo

The threshing process required the preparation of an uncommonly large amount of food for a large number of men.  A mid-afternoon meal was prepared and carried to threshers to keep the men fueled for their labors.

Harvesting Corn

Again, for chopping corn to make silage, see the post:  plowing planting and harvesting

The girls helped with the corn bundles that had been standing in shocks in field.  It was heavy labor.  See the back load with the team of horses in the photo below.  I believe that the two women are sisters Elda (holding the reins of the team on the right) and Cordelia.


Source – family photo

In addition to silage, corn was left standing in the fields, uncut, for the cobs to fully mature and harden.  The corn was then husked, i.e., ears were broken off the stalks, the husk was stripped and the cob thrown into a wagon.  Very laborious work.  The link below is to a YouTube video of corn husking by hand in Nebraska:

Digging Potatoes


Source – community food gardens network

Viola: “… potatoes were plowed up with a V-shaped plow blade. Then the persons got down on their hands and knees and crawled along the open furrow, digging around the ground with their hands and sorting out the potatoes.… It was a long and tedious piece of work… the potatoes were picked up in pails by the women. The men used half bushel baskets, put the potatoes in the bags and then into the cellar. In 1930 Pa bought a potato digger. This made potato digging much easier, for now one could go along the row and pick up potatoes, no more scratching around in the ground.”


Ollie 3 ring bndr img086 crp1.jpg

Source – family photo

Everyone helped with picking apples – especially the girls. They picked thousands of bushels of apples during their youth on the farm.  They enjoyed that work in October’s “bright blue weather.”  The apple picking container on the ladder was filled, then emptied into a bushel basket.  A wagon came into the orchard to pick up the filled baskets and take them back to the farm for shelter and for grading.  The girls, especially Elda, did much of the grading.

Viola: “… There were such apples as Duchess, Ben Davis, banana, wealthy, made blush to mention some. The apple crop was always the last one to be harvested. We had apples all winter long.”

Many decades later Cordelia and sister Viola still looked forward to each October when apple picking season came to the ten acre orchard. They only stopped when age limited them.


Romantic Myth


Reality – A Ton of Cow Poop and Much More

Barn chores largely consisted of all of the animal husbandry tasks.  For the cattle, this included:

  • Unloading silage (pickled corn stalks & cobs) from the silo,
  • Carting numerous loads of silage to the manger for the cattle and feeding them,
  • Hauling ground feed to the mangers,
  • Getting hay from the haymow overhead and feeding them.  
  • Hauling straw in from the straw-stack for bedding.
  • Shoveling out the gutters

Farm manager in barn - 107 700x394.jpg

Cattle consume a prodigious amount of fodder and the resulting processed food emitted from the cows back end must be removed each day.  The consequence of such voluminous consumption for 25-30 cows is roughly a ton of cow-poop and urine per day.  For a properly designed barn and assuming a cow with any sense of decency aiming properly, this stuff winds up in the “gutter.”


Source – Yesterday’s tractors forum

From there it was shoveled into a “carrier” hanging from a rail and when that hanging bucket was filled, it was dragged (easily) along the rail to the cow-yard and dumped onto a pile or into a “manure spreader.”


Source – Wisconsin Historical Society


Source – Farm collector

The manure spreader was pulled out to the fields almost daily and the manure was forked onto the field with systematic covering of a whole field as days passed.  It was valuable fertilizer, crucial to keeping the soil productive.


Source – wikimedia commons


Source – Wisconsin Historical Society

Before long, resourceful agricultural engineers devised a “manure spreader” that mechanically distributed the stuff, much to the relief of the farmers.

Cordelia and Viola helped almost daily with all of the chores and assisted in hand milking of the cows as well.  On one occasion Cordelia notes without comment that Viola was sick and “I did the chores.”  She was 5’3″ tall, never weighed more than 125 lbs. her entire life, and “I did the chores,” meant that she cleaned out 2000 lbs of manure, fed (hay, silage, ground feed) and bedded (fresh straw) all the cattle, and helped with the milking.


Cordelia – from notes made late in life: “As we grew older we had to help milk cows, morning and evening – (no milking machine) – just strip, strip, strip!  It was not such a bad chore except when the cows would kick or swish their dirty tails in our faces.

When we came into the house after the morning milking, breakfast would be ready, and occasionally Mama would make french toast if there was old bread on hand.  She would stand by the old kitchen range filling the big platter with delicious browned toast, her face red from the heat of the kitchen stove, trying to keep up with the hungry gang!  I often wonder if she ever had a piece left for herself!”


Men handled the slaughtering and the heavy lifting.  Women cut the meat, ground the meat and did much of the work in making sausage. Men helped on this. See the previous post: Part 5 – Early 20th Century – Making a Living – Herding, Milking, Butchering, Shearing, Picking…Work, Work, and More Work

Below – the tools for grinding meat and stuffing sausage – Sears Catalogue, the Amazon of its day.  The implements shown below were practical and efficient for occasional use by one farm family.  It is likely that Lueders used the equipment shown or something almost exactly the same.


Source – 1902 Sears Catalogue – Bounty Books

The slaughtering was the ugly part and handling the large animals required men’s strength.  The Lueder children didn’t like that part of it, but once it was done, processing the meat into sausage, hams, beef, etc. was just another chore.

Shearing Sheep

B.B.N. 5 or 6 in Sheep Hand Shear Lg.jpg

Tom_Roberts_-_Shearing_the_rams_-_Google_Art_Project B.jpg

Source – By Tom Roberts – lQEDjT-_MXaMJQ at Google Cultural Institute

Sheep provided wool for a variety of uses.  Some of the wool sheared 90 years ago used for quilts/comforters is still in use with new covers and remains delightfully comfortable. Most of the shearing was done by Pa (William) and Edgar using hand shears with the girls helping to hold the animal.  

The sheep also provided mutton – see butchering above.

Caring for the sheep was Cordelia’s responsibility.


Source – family photo

Cordelia with a runt lamb and pet that she bottle fed, “Snookums.”

Household Work & Misc

Viola: “Ma {Augusta} put up sauces from cherry, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries. She did not can vegetable other than sweet-and-sour yellow beans, and sweet-and-sour red beets, dill pickles, and sauerkraut. Of course she had lots of jams and jellies.”

“The meals were prepared by Ma. As we girls grew older we had to help, like setting the table, peeling potatoes, and running errands. After we were confirmed we had to do more work.  {note – confirmation ceremony affirming commitment to the Lutheran faith occurred when children were  12 – 14 years of age, usually coincident in the child’s age with graduation from 8th grade} Cordelia and I had to always do the dishes.… This job was assigned to us and no questions asked. We used homemade soap that Ma made.… For washing face, hands, and back we used bought soap.”

“There was a reservoir on the kitchen stove that was always filled with rainwater; we used it for washing face and hands in such.”

Renata was more of a “house” person than her three younger sisters.  Elda, Viola, and Cordelia were outdoors kids, helping out with all of the chores.  Cordelia notes that Elda scrubbed floors but there are few entries in her diaries indicating that she, herself, did much of that.


Viola: “We grew up in a home that had no plumbing. Rainwater was pumped up from the cistern in the basement by a cistern pump. This pump was in the backhaul. In winter it would always freeze shut. Drinking water is carried in from the well in the milk house.”

Viola:“the cellar had a cistern in which rainwater was stored. Rainwater was used for all washing.… The water for washing clothes was heated in a copper wash kettle.”



Source – 1902 Sears Catalog – Bounty Books

Viola:Ma was a good housekeeper, even though she was quite crippled with arthritis and having nine children. The wash machine she used was hand powered. Ma made her own soap which got the closes white is any detergent does now.”

“The wringer type wash machine was hand powered.  Back and forth, back and forth we would pull and push the handle, one hundred times for each load.  Then the wash was wrung through the wringer which we children turned with the hand crank.”

“Clothes were always soaked overnite in a wash tub.  In the morning the badly soiled clothes were scrubbed on a wash board in the tub.”


Source – Pinterest

Viola: “The white clothes were always boiled first in a copper wash boiler, which was set on the stove…Then both the boiling water and the clothes were put into the washing machine and washed…{when done} the was then run through the wringer into a tub of rinsing water and then into the second tub, where wash bluing had been put.  The clothes came out a sparkling white.”

“…when we were little Ma never had enough wash line or clothespins to hang up all the wash so the overalls and heavy wash were hung over the garden fence to dry.”

“In the milk house there was a gasoline engine used to pump water. One summer Pa arranged it so that the wash machine was outside near the milk house and the engine was used to run machine.”

“Ironing was done with flatirons heated on the kitchen stove.”

Sherman School


Source – family photo

Scrubbing the school floor and cleaning it was an occasional task that the family helped with.

maxresdefault crp.jpg


Continue reading


Contents © 2016 Harold Pfohl

Fire was a gut fear of all farmers. A barn fire was catastrophic. The Lueder family experienced such a fire in 1922. In addition, new shelter was needed for the increasing amounts of machinery that became available to farmers and greatly facilitated the efficient execution of their labors. The equipment could not be left out in the open exposed to the elements.

This post looks at what was involved nearly a century ago for a family that lived through a barn fire and then via adaptive reuse converted a horse barn/pigsty to a machine shed.



Wisconsin, 1924 – Source – David Rumsey collection


Location of the William and Augusta Lueder dairy farm  Courtesy of Steve Lueders, Source – Ozaukee County Historical Society




William was ambitious.  His father and grandfather had pioneered and assembled the largest landholdings in the township – 240 acres.  In 1899 the barn was raised to provide an extra floor of space for expanded operations.  In the early 1900s William purchased 40 acres from his neighbor, Tom Mitchell.  He built a new silo – an expensive proposition – to accommodate the increased harvest from his expanded holdings.


The new silo was made of wooden staves on a concrete base – think of a gigantic barrel 30 or 40 feet high.  It blew over in a severe windstorm in 1918. It was essential to operations and was promptly rebuilt.



Charlie Nieman photo

The old barn was very likely the same building that had served the farm since it became part of the family holdings in the 1850s. It was no longer large enough to serve the expanding needs of the farm and William’s ambitions.  It was obsolete.

The photo above and the enlargement below show the old barn in 1899 when it was raised to become a two-story building. Hay and grain and grain bundles were stored on the second floor. It was connected to a two story granary.

Fig 039.jpg

The strength of the barn floor for heavy loads was questionable and left William ill at ease when it supported heavy loads, e.g., the threshing machine seen in the previous post (shown in the new replacement barn) See: EARLY 20TH CENTURY – PART FIVE – MAKING A LIVING CONTD – PLANTING AND HARVESTING – HARD WORK FOR MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Viola: “The old barn was a two-story building. On the west was the dump, the man-made hill to the second floor of the barn. …. On the second floor the hay was stored. The horses had to pull hard to pull the wagon loaded with hay or grain bundles up into the barn. …Up under the roof of the barn the hay fork hung. It was used to unload the hay from the wagon.”

…the day before the threshing rig would come Pa had to put extra supports under the barn floor in the barn so that the machine would not be in danger of falling into the lower part of the barn.… When he {Tim Dobberpuhl – owner of the steam engine and threshing rig} came to Pa’s farm, he would stop at the… line fence and fire up. He needed extra power to push up the threshing machine on the rather steep dump at the barn.”

 hp 04 15 2013 3-c1 sepia resized b.jpg

On the “dump” or ramp to the second floor for the old barn.  A very steep little man-made hill – late 1920s – Source – family photo

In order to haul wagon loads of hay and grain bundles up to the second floor an earthen ramp was built on the west end.  It was very hard for the horses to pull wagonloads of hay or grain up that ramp. The photo shows a considerable grade. The barn doors to the second floor were at the top of the hill.

Viola: “The house and barn were rather far apart. In fall and winter when it was dark early they had to light the two lanterns to light the way and also to have light in the barn, for doing the milking. The kerosene lanterns did not throw off much light. Often in the strong wind the lanterns would blowout.”

“The old barn was quite a long way from the house and milk house. It was a long walk to carry the milk from the barn to the milk house especially in winter. Sometimes in winter we, that is Cordelia, I, and Gerald would go along to the barn in the evening at milking time. We would play hide and seek. There were plenty of dark corners to hide in. There were always plenty of cobwebs around and we were careful not to go close to them for fear of spiders lurking around. We would also play with the cats.”

“The barn and the granary were connected at one corner. It was also a two-story building. The top floor was the granary with large bins for grain storage.… After threshing when the oats was clean we children would play in the grain. Pa would let us only romp in the old spin. After a while when the cats used it for their purpose, we did not go in anymore.”


Fig 034 copy A .jpgPhoto – Charlie Nieman

The barn shown above was on Charlie Nieman’s farm.  The purpose of the image is to show the windmill rising out of the roof.  Lueder’s barn had the same arrangement.  The windmill was large and provided considerable power to machinery within the barn for whatever stationary equipment needed to be operated.

Viola: “There were two windmills on the farm. One was over the well house. The other one was on top of the barn. This windmill was used to drive the feed cutter. The feed cutter cut up dry cornstalks for the cows and old bundles to feed to the horses. This was called hexel, a low German word”

hp 4 2 13 ced exhib 07 .jpg

Charlie Nieman photo

The bearings on the windmill needed periodic greasing and other parts would need replacement over time.  Safety in design was many decades into the future. The windmill was immensely useful and more than a little dangerous to service for maintenance. 


001_025_GRWG UP 0094 Laying Drain Tile to Recover Arable Land_023resized.jpg

Laying drain tile to recover arable land, about 1920 – Source – author’s collection

This stereograph from Wisconsin shows a machine that dug a narrow ditch and then placed drainage tiles into the ground.  Lueders contracted for such work to be done on the north side of their barn in October of 1922.  The tiles formed a long, porous tube leading to a swamp 200 yards north of the barn.  The water from the saturated soil seeped into the tube, and land which had often been too wet for equipment and crops became arable. 

William’s effort to increase his acreage had disastrous consequences.



Their barn burned to the ground on Wednesday, October 24, 1922.  – Source –

A gasoline engine started the fire. Near the barn, drainage tiles were being placed in a ditch to create arable land, and sparks from the ditching machine 4 cylinder gas engine found tinder at the barn, which soon was blazing. Neighbors helped by wetting the roofs of nearby buildings to prevent them from burning. Edgar Lueder recalled a man climbing a ladder while carrying a milk can full of water in each hand, a feat of extraordinary strength.

Fire in a barn filled with tinder dry hay becomes an incredible inferno.  William and Augusta’s barn would have most certainly presented a sight similar to that above.  It was a horror show, catastrophic.  The means of making their living, the shelter for their animals, the hard labor of a year of plowing, planting, cultivating and harvesting torched into a raging blaze.

One of the most appalling emotional aspects of a barn fire was that the horses struggle to get into the barn where they believe they will be safe. A farmer’s nightmare was hearing the animals scream as they were burned alive.  William’s horses were spared – the horse barn was separate from the cow barn.

Viola, Cordelia and Gerald were at school and had seen a great deal of smoke on the skyline all afternoon but had no idea what was happening. Gerald, age 10, and his cousin Arnold Lueders, 13, were sent by the teacher to a neighboring farm for some tools to use at school and they returned in a panic with Gerald yelling “Unserer scheune ist abgebrannt!” (Our barn is burnt down). The children and teacher dropped everything and ran across the fields to the inferno.

The barn, filled with an entire season’s harvest of bone-dry hay, was impossible to save; it was a complete loss. That evening William came into the house and said to the family in Low German, “I guess we don’t pray enough.” The granary had been part of the barn, and the grain smoldered and burned for weeks, an ugly reminder of the disaster.

Adding insult to William and Augusta’s gloom and misery, some people had the gall to suggest that William had lit the fire for the insurance.


Fig 035 copy

A barn fire in the neighborhood, aftermath – photo by Charlie Nieman, 1890s/1900

William’s livestock were distributed among relatives and neighbors for the winter except for 12 cows, which he was able to keep in his horse barn, shown lower in this post.

Viola: “… the winter after the old barn burned down. It was a hard one for our Pa. With help he fixed up the old horse barn so that he could keep some cows at home. There was room for 12 cows.”

“Uncle Charlie Nieman boarded the heifers and neighbors took some cows in and boarded them for the milk that the cows gave. In spring they were all brought back again.”

“During the Christmas week in the year 1922, Edgar, Renata, and Elda were at a wedding and Pa had to do the chores alone. It was a dark and dreary night. When it was time to milk the cows, that were housed in the old horse barn, Pa asked me to go along with him and hold the lantern while he milked the cows. Believe me, I held tight to that lantern. To me that night was an eerie one.”

001_026_GRWG UP 0095 Lueder's Burns to the Ground-Remnants from silo Oct  1930_024resized.jpg

Photo of old barn walls taken October, 1930, from the top of a silo on the new barn built to the east – Source – family photo

The “dump” ruin/remnant is the high wall at the upper center of the picture. 

Note the corn “shocks” lined up and stacked at the lower left hand corner.  They could remain like that for quite some time without spoilage.


Fig 104 B.jpg

Lumber pile for construction of the new barn – before June 8, 1923 – Source – family photo

L-R: Edgar (23 yrs old) with Rover, – ? – Gerald (11 yrs), Harold (7 yrs) Cordelia (13 yrs) – ? – Viola (15 yrs)

Screenshot from 2015-09-20 21-08-25.png

Blueprints for a barn nearly identical in design to the new barn – Source –

The architecture and engineering was not simple.

Fig 104 0 hpscan 04282014 img025 copy.jpg

Barn raising – Source – family photo

L-R: Cordelia, Harold & Viola, “Ma” Augusta, Elda, Renata – Click to enlarge

hp 04 15 2013 5-d3 copy sepiaresized.jpg

Barn raising – Source – family photo

001_029_GRWG UP 0096b Barn Raising June 8 1923_027resized.jpg

Barn raising – view from the south. Note the wreath at the top left of the barn.

Thirteen year old Cordelia is in the cow tank wearing the big hat, and paying close attention to the grand project.

Fortunately, Lueder’s old barn was insured. The first order of business the next spring after the fire, weather permitting, was to build a new one.

Young Robert Krause, a highly skilled carpenter, was trying to start his own business and wanted to bid for the construction contract. William didn’t want to take a risk on a new businessman; he wanted a veteran and turned Robert down. Robert was unable to get enough independent work to keep himself much less a crew employed, and had to go back to work for a contractor. That contractor turned out to be the firm that William retained to build his new barn, and the contractor’s employee, Robert Krause, superintended the project.

Raising the framework comprising the trusses, joists and rafters required the help of numerous men, laboring under the direction of skilled carpenters. Neighbors would gather together to help on such an occasion, and it was turned into a festive event.

When the barn was completed, relatives, friends, and neighbors were invited to celebrate with a dance. The wooden floor of the haymow upstairs was washed and waxed, the trusses were decorated with green boughs, and at one truss, a wreath and wine bottle were hung. The whole event was similar to the christening of a ship, and at the moment of “dedication” the bottle was smashed.  

The dance was restricted to invitees only, with Harvey Groth screening the arrivals and bouncing any party crashers.  Roland Nieman and Erwin Mueller provided concertina music. Refreshments were abundant. Walter Keup and Henry Retzlaff tended bar but served only lemonade, no beer!  It was a grand party.  The burning, rebuilding, and “dedication” were among the most memorable events in the lives of the Lueder siblings.

* * * * * *

William no doubt hoped that the new barn would serve for generations to come, and perhaps even centuries, as many barns in Europe have. However, with the very recent invention of the huge round bales of hay and straw that one sees in fields everywhere, a haymow is not needed and therefore the historic design of barns is now outmoded and fated to disappear. Today the tightly wound hay and straw of the round bales act as thatching and sheds water; the bales form their own shelter.

The barn, now 93 years old, is in good condition but is underutilized. It is interesting to inspect the wooden structural workmanship; it is a marvel. Robert Krause was a master craftsman.

Screenshot from 2015-09-20 21-18-00.png

Very similar structure to the Lueder’s new barn – Source –

21 Elda 3 ring bndr img061 copy.jpg

The new barn – late 1920s – Source – family photo

Cordelia and Rover – That dog seems to have been in more family pictures than any single family member.  Dogs were never, ever allowed in the house.


Robert, the builder, was married to a lady by the name of Frieda Heckendorf, and his brother-in-law, Erich Heckendorf, was on the carpenter crew. As a direct result of the barn construction, but at a much later time, Erich married Renata Lueder and Edgar Lueder married Erich’s sister Alice Heckendorf.


Fig 38 hp scan 03282014

The horse barn/stable shown with William’s brother Otto and a mare and foal around 1900 – Photo – Charlie Nieman

The new cow barn was larger than the old one and had stalls for horses.  After the new barn was finished the horse barn was used as a pig sty, which Cordelia refers to in her diary excerpts below as a pig “stable.” The second story which had been used to store feed for the horses was underutilized.  A chicken coop and tractor/machinery shed were needed, so the second story of the old horse barn was lifted, moved north, and set directly alongside ground level stone walls to form an elongated one-story building. It was practical, easily done, and comparatively inexpensive.


WIS CED LUEDER MOM DIARY 1927 IMG3969 copy.jpg

Cordelia’s diary

 “March 8, 1927 – Tuesday, northwest wind and cloud less and clear all {day}. Very lovely moonlight in evening. In forenoon Fred and Ray Liesenberg were here to look at old barn. Pa and Ed were to auction at George Weidman’s. Viola and I did noon chores.

“March 9 – Wednesday – Southeast wind all day. Warm and clear. In forenoon Pa and Ma were to town. Ed & Elda hauled pig manure on north side{cleaning out the pig barn}. In afternoon all but Renata, {contd below}””


More pig sty cleaning and receipt of the large wooden blocks necessary to move the upper story off the stone walls.  Moving the structure is accomplished.

“Ma, Gerald and Harold cleaned out pig stable. Took away floor and cleared out everything. Harold stayed home from school because of cold.”

“March 10, 1927 – Thursday. Cloudy all day and quite warm. In forenoon took out the manure from south side of pig stable. Pa and {?} cleaned out the rest of stable. In afternoon Uncle Otto moved slippers of barn. O. Conrad was here twice and delivered wood blocks from Liesenberg for raising. E. Graese was here in evening.”

“March 11, 1927 – Friday – Cloudy & nasty all day and East wind. In afternoon Ma and Ed were to town, Gerald and Harold were to barber. Ed and Elda and Gerald hauled blocks to pig stable. Raining in evening.”

“March 12, 1927 – Saturday – Nasty and rainy all day and foggy. We moved our pig stable today. The following helped: Ed Pipkorn, {contd. below}”

 WIS CED LUEDER MOM DIARY 1927 IMG3971 copy.jpg

No. 1 above.

 Otto Lueder, Charlie Nieman, Erwin Mueller, Albert Graese, Erich Heckendorf, Wm. Moegenburg, and Fred Wendt, carpenters and Arnold Kison.  Dr. Hurth was here in evening for Pa.”

The move is finished and carpenters build the roof atop the stone walls.

No. 2 above.

“March 14, 1927 – Monday forenoon cloudy. Afternoon warm and clear. Lovely moonlight in evening. Carpenters were here in forenoon to finish pig stable. Finished at noon.”

“March 15, 1927 Tuesday – Quite warm all day and sunshine. Moonlight in evening. Eric Heckendorf was here all day to fix roof on pig stable. Otto Lueders helped in afternoon. In evening Ed, Gerald, and Ma were to Dr. to get medicine.”


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The girls shingle the pig barn roof.

“March 16, 1927 – Wednesday Very warm all day. Southwind and sunshine. 65° in shade at noon. Song sparrows and bluebirds and blackbirds are all here. Very beautiful in moonlit evening. Frogs croaked in swamp in evening. Eric H. was here all day to fix shed. In afternoon Elda and I help shingle roof on shed. Evening Pa, Ma and Ed were to Dr. to get medicine.”

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L-R: Viola Lueder, Erich Heckendorf, Elda, Cordelia, & Edgar Lueder

“March 17, 1927 – Thursday – Northwest wind, clear and cloudless all day. Not quite as warm as yesterday. Eric Heckendorf was here all day. I and Elda help shingle roof on shed. Finished it today. Most beautiful moonlight in evening. Full moon and clear. Viola did all chores alone.”

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L-R: Cordelia, Erich Heckendorf, Elda, Edgar, and on the ladder, Viola

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L-R Edgar, Cordelia, & Elda Lueder and Erich Heckendorf


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Finishing the project – transport of the wooden blocks.

“March 25, 1927 – raining hard all afternoon. In forenoon nasty – East wind all day. Pa and Ed hauled Liesenberg’s blocks to Maple Grove. In morning new neighbor Wm. Hansen was here. In afternoon Dr. Wastrack, and State Inspector were here to look after cows, did not have any who had T.B. Uncle Otto had eight {T.B. cows}”





Contents © 2016 Harold Pfohl

This post illustrates the planting and harvesting practices in broad use in the upper Mid-West/German-America in the early part of the 20th Century.  The technological advance from the 1850s pioneering days to the early 1900s was incredible. 

The advances were a Godsend to the farmer for improving his quality of life. Low-cost machines reduced arduous labor and greatly increased productivity. Although steam power had been widely available for over a generation, the mass-produced internal combustion engine was far more suitable for the average farmer in affordability, instant operation (no warm-up period), size, flexibility, and ease of fueling.

Change was gradual. Horses remained in common use for decades after the popular adoption of gasoline-powered machinery, and the gathering of farmers to share a major task such as threshing of grain ceased only with radical innovations such as the “combine,” which cut and harvested the wheat as it was pulled behind a tractor




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Casey & Dixie – Lueder’s team for twenty years –  Source – family picture

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Charlie Nieman photo – around the turn of the century

Otto Lueder with mare and foal at the Lueder horse barn – in use until the late 1920s.


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Edgar, Rover, and the Samson – May 13, 1923 – Source – family picture

The occasion of the photo warranted coat and tie!

Lueder’s first tractor, a Samson, was purchased in Cedarburg on April 24, 1922. It was a great labor saver.  The invoice from G. W. Wirth was:

Fig 105 Edgar, Rover, & New Samson May COST 13 1923_032 copy_resize.jpg

This Samson tractor was a primitive beast.  All gasoline-powered vehicles at that time were hand cranked. This writer had the miserable experience of trying to start a Samson in the 1950s.  This can be envisioned by imagining a stubborn, hard-starting lawnmower engine with several cylinders and high compression, plus the ability to backfire and break a wrist or an arm.

The Lueder family kept a team of horses for another twenty years, partially out of habit and affection, but also because of the real utility of a team.


Source – foroactivo

Edgar loved animals, and to him the tractor was not only a great labor saver, but was also a Godsend because it reduced the abuse of beasts of burden.

As noted in a previous post, walking back from Sherman School one evening, Cordelia and Viola witnessed the Bridge St and Granville Rd creamery owner working in his garden with his horse, screaming curses at the animal and whipping it unmercifully. Going to school the next morning, the girls passed the poor beast dead in the garden, still in its harness.

Had the owner been abusing a tractor, he would have paid for the repairs in cash at the local mechanics shop. Edgar liked the fact that abuse of machinery only hurt the owner.



Plowing with a single bottom plow and a team of horses – Source –

William prepared the land in this laborious manner for many years.  He had two teams of horses.  One team would become exhausted by the labor and he would switch to another.  Unfortunately for him, there wasn’t a clone, a second William that he could switch with for his role.


A more accurate depiction of plowing – really! –  Source –

The cartoon gives a more accurate sense of the labor involved by both man and horse.  At the end of the row crossing a field the farmer would give the horse a rest, then turn around and return plowing another row.  This exhausting and consummately boring task went on for many days in the autumn and spring.

Cordelia: “I can still see Papa walking behind the hand plow (one furrow) the reins around his waist steering the plow with his hands back and forth all day long.  He must have been very tired after a day of walking.”



Sulky (riding) plow with a three horse team – Source –

Eventually William purchased a sulky plow.  That saved many miles of walking in the fields.


Viola:  “All summer long and into the fall, as long as there was fieldwork, Ma always prepared lunch for the men and women who were in the fields. For the afternoon lunch she would either have sandwiches or freshly baked muffins or coffeecake… We children carried many a basket of lunch to the fields for the laborers. In the summer fruit drink was brought from the Raleigh man and mixed with water. It was quite a refreshing drink. In the fall Ma would often make hot cocoa.”  


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Edgar & Rover with the “drill,” a grain planter – Source – family picture

This device was later adapted to use with a tractor and served the farm for many decades, well past mid-century.  The durability was remarkable.

* * * * * *

While the region made splendid farmland, the retreating glaciers had deposited an infinite number of stones. Every year after plowing, after the land had been worked and prior to planting, all members of the family including children would go to the fields with a horse or tractor drawn stone wagon.

Viola: “Stones were picked up and put into pails and then dumped out on the…wagon and taken to the…fence and unloaded by hand.”  The hard labor included the older children.


Little that we do is more important than growing and harvesting grain, and few sights in nature are more beautiful than a bountiful ripe, golden, grain field.

Threshing was a time of excitement and tension. Neighbors gathered to speed the harvest before bad weather might ruin it. The work was intense, hard, and dusty, but it was shared by willing comrades and, therefore, was also fun.

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Binding grain – 1929 – Source – family picture

Edgar Lueder is shown undertaking the first step in harvesting grain (usually oats or wheat, occasionally barley and flax) which was to cut and tie the grain into bundles with twine using a horse-drawn “binder.” All of the bundles were then picked up and stacked in “shocks” of grain as shown in the foreground.

The binder enabled William to cut the grain at the peak of ripeness and food value. The shocks protected the grain against rain until neighbors, and Theo (known as Tim) Dobberpuhl with his steam engine could come for an intense day of threshing.

Viola: “It took almost a day to get the grain binder ready for cutting the grain. Grain cutting started in July. Barley was always the first to be cut. When the older ones worked with Pa in the field those hot summer days it was the younger ones who had to bring water…for the rest to drink. Lunch (a midafternoon refreshment and snack) was also taken to the fields. All day long the three horses pulled the binder around and around…”

I can picture my father sitting on the grain binder guiding the horses… a large straw hat covered his head. As soon as we were old enough we were taught the art of setting grain into a shock. It had to be done right or the rain would get into the shock.…The grain bundles were picked up and set up right to together six or eight in a row, four on each side with heads together. The bundles had to dry out before they could be hauled into the barn.

We girls did most of the shocking. As soon as Cordelia and I were old enough we had to help.… We always tried to keep up with the binder.

We all wore large straw hats, also jackets for no one wanted to be sunburned. We also wore stockings. Needless to say it could be uncomfortably warm at times.

* * * * * *

Although individual Wisconsin farmers could afford a binder, few could justify the purchase of a steam engine and thresher for their sole use. Tim, who lived just west of Wauwatosa Rd on Western Ave., served the threshing needs of many farmers in the area with his machinery.


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Equal pay for women!  Loading grain bundles – the last load of oats, July 30, 1931 – Source – family picture

Elda Lueder is on the wagon, her brother Edgar is on the ground at left. The farm was an equal opportunity employer; when necessary, women joined the men to do field work and both received the same pay – nothing.  It all went into the common pot.

* * * * * *

One of the benefits of working with experienced horses (vs. a tractor) was that they knew their job, and responded to simple oral commands to move the wagon ahead to the next group of shocks.


The excitement began with Tim Dobberpuhl blowing his steamer’s whistle a quarter mile away at Granville Rd as he approached the farm with his chuffing iron monster, towing the threshing machine behind.

Viola: “Threshing days were always something to look forward to for us youngsters, as we did not have any work out of it.… The neighboring farmers all help each other. The threshing rig would go from one farm to the other.”

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Pushing the threshing machine into Lueder’s barn – Source – family picture

Fire was a huge concern for all farmers.  Note that the steam engine smokestack shows no smoke.  The damper for the air going through the firebox was shut to prevent smoke and any sparks from flying out as the engine approached so close to the barn.  The engine had plenty of steam pressure to accomplish this task.  The white cloud is steam. 

Lueder’s barn shown in the photo was new in 1923.  The prior barn burned in 1922 – more on that in a future post.

Mr. Dobberpuhl, his helper, and his equipment served numerous farms. The threshing machine was in the barn because the grain bundles had been piled in the loft there.  The grain had to be kept dry to avoid spoilage in the field.  It could easily have taken two or three weeks before the threshing equipment could schedule Lueder’s crop into the threshing service.

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Threshing at Lueder’s barn, August 30, 1927 – Source – family picture

Likely Tim Dobberpuhl at the engine and his helper at the water wagon.

The coal-fired steam engine was parked a good distance from the barn, the threshing machine was in the barn, and power was transferred by means of a long, wide, flat belt. It was very effective and an enormous improvement over their grandparents’ harvesting tools, which were hand and horse-powered. As a young adult in the 1850s William’s father, Joachim, used a hand-held scythe to cut grain and flails to separate the kernels. (see: EARLY YEARS – PIONEERING LABOR)

The team of horses and the water wagon beside the operating steam engine kept the boiler filled.


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Building the straw stack in the cow yard  September 3, 1928  – Source – family picture

Viola: “our Pa was an expert at building a weatherproof straw stack.” The threshing machine separated the straw and chaff from the hard kernel of grain, and blew the straw and chaff onto a large stack. Creating the straw stack was not a random act. It needed to be built up into a shape that would minimize water damage and rot over a period of many months as it was consumed for bedding for the animals in the barn.

The inside of the barn was reserved for hay. The grain fields were infested with a multitude of weeds. Ragweed and goldenrod, in particular, made threshing miserable or impossible for a hay fever sufferer.

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Building the straw stack –  Source – family picture

Edgar, as blower tender, is directing the end of the spout that is blowing out the straw.  Not a pleasant job.  The amount of chaff, straw dust and weed seed was incredible.

Viola: “after the threshers work on {sic – meaning  work onward} we kids played in the clean new straw that lay loose around the stack. Even Elda played in it. We would jump from the barn floor to the straw near the stack.”


See the previous picture above.  The bucket hanging upside down from the rail in the foreground was used to build a manure pile or to unload manure into a “manure spreader” to carry it to the fields for fertilizer.  The rail continued into the barn along the gutter.  The bucket was lowered and the gutters shoveled out into it.  The bucket was then raised and rolled along the overhead rail to the cow yard where it was overturned and dumped.


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Blowing the harvested grain into the granary  – Source – family picture

Grain flowed from the threshing machine into a small hopper wagon.  This was pulled alongside the barn near an opening to the granary on the second story as shown in the photo.  The wagon was emptied into a blower powered by a belt and pulley from Lueder’s Samson tractor, which then blasted the grain upstairs into bins.

Grain flows readily, and having a granary on the second floor was a labor saver.  As the grain was needed, a spout running from the second story to the ground floor was opened into whatever container or bag was being used.  The container was filled with minimal labor.

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The cooks, August 30, 1927 – Source – family picture

L-R: Elda, Cordelia, cousin Eleanore Lueders, Viola Lueder and a cousin’s wife, Ann Nieman.

Viola: “The women on the farm on threshing days also had much work to do in preparing the meals for the men. There must’ve been around fifteen men that help with threshing and they had to have a good meal. Some of my aunts helped Ma.”

“Very early in the morning Pa would go to the butcher and buy a large piece of beef, so large it hardly fit into the oven. This had to be done (baked) by noon. Then there were potatoes to be peeled, vegetables to get ready, and pies to be made. Pies must have been baked the day before for the beef roast was in the oven in the forenoon. If the threshing crew was there yet by evening they were served supper. Then sausages were served. Sometimes Tim and his helper stayed overnight.”

* * * * * *

Appetites generated by the heavy labor were huge, so wives and daughters got together and made suitably huge meals, having lots of fun in the process. The entire affair had a social and celebratory sense to it. The abundant harvest was safely home, and a granary full of the golden, life-giving treasure gave great joy and comfort.


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Task completed, end of the day, departing from the farm – Source – family picture

Tim heads out with his steam engine and threshing machine in tow.

Viola: “When Tim had finished at a farm he would give three blasts on his steam horn and let the next farmer know that he was on the way.”

 “The days when threshing was done usually in August and the weather was hot. The work was dusty and sweaty. The men were tired and when they got home there were their own chores to do. Needless to say the days were long and hard.”


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Planting corn – Source –

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A two row corn planter – Source  –

The two buckets hold the seed corn.  The wheels turn gears that work with the buckets to drop the seed into the ground along the furrows made by the blades.

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Work on the land – Source – Cordelia’s diary

“June 4, – 1926 – Friday – Clear outside all day S.E. wind.  In forenoon Edgar cultivated corn.  Pa spring toothed.  In afternoon Ed. planted corn and Gerald harrowed.  Pa was to town.  Peddler was here and sold kettles and dishes.”

“Spring toothing” works the plowed land prior to planting.


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Pride in the tall corn crop – Source – family picture

L-R:  William, his nieces Erna & Anita Lueder, Alice Heckendorf fiancé Edgar.

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Cutting the corn for silage – Source – family picture

William on the left, Edgar with the horses in the distance.


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Hauling corn from the fields to make silage, which is chopped and pickled corn and stalks, winter fodder for the cattle – Source – family picture, fall 1927

L-R: Cordelia and Elda on the wagon, Edgar on the ground, Harold and father William on the next wagon, Gerald on the Samson tractor.

The corn was collected into bundles called shocks that were heavy and hard to handle.  The wagon beds were very low to facilitate the laborious loading of the heavy bundles.  This loading was all done by hand.


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Chopping corn for silage, blowing it into the silo – Source – family picture, fall 1927

The corn wagon is pulled next to the chopper, the bundles unloaded onto an auger that carries the stalks and corn to the chopper which minces it and blows it to the top of the silo.  The Samson tractor provided the power.

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Hard work – the silage crew – Source – family picture, fall 1927

L-R: ?, ?, Oscar Weichert (neighbor), William Lueder, Harold Lueder (the boy), Pipkorn’s (neighbor) hired man Tony, Erich Heckendorf, Viola Lueder.

* * * * * *

A silo is simply a large pickle jar with the pickled item usually being chopped green corn stalks and cobs, and less often, peas and pea vines. The pickling makes fodder out of the stalks that would otherwise be wasted, and provides, together with hay, a balanced diet for the cows.  When the silo is full all openings are shut and fermentation begins.

The whole affair was very hard work, and in the interests of comradeship and shared labor, neighbors often worked together to complete the task.

Unlike threshing, this process did not have the urgency associated with the potential spoilage of grain standing in the fields during rain.


The chopped corn ferments and in the process gives off gases.  A very large amount of carbon dioxide is formed, displacing oxygen.  It is odorless and extremely dangerous in that oxygen is not present in sufficient quantity to sustain life.  The safe practice when opening a silo to begin using the contents as feed is to let the silo vent for a time before entering to throw down fodder.  Direct, immediate entry would and did result in fatalities.


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Harold Lueder cutting hay – Source – family picture

Hay was cut when the weather promised to be good for a few days

Viola: “Pa would start the haying around 23 June. It took a long time to mow a field of grass for hay with a team of horses and the mower. Often we youngsters would follow the mower walking barefoot in the track the mower wheel had made.… New mown  hay fills the air with a sweet fresh fragrance.”

“After about three days that hay was raked into rows with the hay rake pulled by horses. Before there was a hay rake,…the hay was raked together with a wooden rake by hand.”


It was an absolute rule that damp hay was never, ever stored in the haymow.  A volume of damp hay would mold.  It was covered by a great deal of other hay and the heat generated had no way to escape given the insulation provided by the surrounding hay.  The result was spontaneous combustion and a barn fire.  The ability to fight a barn fire was nil, and the barn was invariably a complete loss, too often along with livestock.


13 Elda 3 ring bndr img055 hayloader fm thresh.jpg

Source – family picture

Viola: “in 1918 Pa bought a hay loader and side rake. Even with the hay loader it took three people to load a load of hay. Two were on the wagon to pack the hay and one had to drive the horses.”

The equipment on the right in the clip from a threshing photo is Lueder’s hay loader – a device that picked up the hay from the rows and elevated it to the hay wagon, saving a great deal of labor.  It was towed behind the hay wagon as shown below.

hay loader 2.jpg

Hay loader – Source –

Absent the hay loader the hay on the ground would have to be forked by hand onto the heights of the wagon – more hard labor.  William’s Father, Joachim, as a young man, pitched the hay onto the wagon from the ground using a three pronged “pitchfork.”  The hay loader was a most welcome improvement saving time and labor.

YouTube link to a video:  horse-drawn hay wagon and loader

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Pitchfork for handling hay – Source –



Loading hay into the hayloft of a barn – Source –

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Source – Timeless Lumber Co – and thanks to Fred Haseley

At the barn the large pronged “hayfork” was sunk into the load of hay.  The clamped/secured portion would be lofted into the barn using ropes, pulleys and overhead track arrangement.  Once the clamped hay was overhead inside the barn moving along the track to the desired location, a release was triggered and the hay dumped into the haymow.

Fred Haseley:  “I remember using these hayforks…. they consisted of two pairs of tines each approx. 4.5 ft. in length from tip to eye. The loads were so heavy that a horse was used to pull the load vertically into the loft… Once it reached the trip lever at the top it was fairly easy to pull it on the rail into position in the loft. Another rope attached to the trolley was used to release and drop the load. That’s where I was…. pulling the tines out of the hay.”

Viola: “it was always very hot up in the hayloft, but the work had to be done.”


Haymow – Source –


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In the clover field – Source – family photo

L-R: William, Alice (Edgar’s wife) Glenrose (William’s granddaughter) Viola, and Harold

William planted clover and harvested it to sell the seed which was a valuable cash crop.

Viola: “Pa would raise red Clover seed to sell. Clover seed always had a good price. When it was in bloom in late summer we kids would run through the cloverfield and try to catch butterflies. There are always plenty of butterflies around flitting from blossom to blossom. As soon as the clover ripened we could not go into the field. Ripe clover heads have to be handled with care so no seeds would be lost.”


Viola:  “The fields are empty and ready for plowing, granaries are full and so are the hay mows.  Cool winds softly drifting across the stubble fields, apples picked and stored.  The sun sets in a blood red sky and creates a picture no artist can paint.”

There was a deep sense of satisfaction and security at the end of a good harvest season.  Rural churches held “Harvest Festivals” with the front of the church filled with portions of the harvest – corn stalks, pumpkins and gourds, apples, grain, etc.  The service was an expression of thanks.


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Edgar Lueder sends the Samson to the Junkyard – Source – family photo

The Samson wore out and was consigned to a junk pile.

* * * * * *

Horses in old age continued to burn very large quantities of hay and oats without returning much for their upkeep. This was a luxury that most farmers could not afford, and after as many as 15-20 years of mutual labor and affection, the horse wound up at the knackers, which, locally, was the Nieman fox farm.  This caused a degree of emotional misery to the Lueders that was not experienced in junking a worn out and obsolete tractor.  No doubt the horses probably had a low opinion of that situation as well.


It is the writer’s guess that there were very, very few overweight, fat farmers in that era.