THE LIFE STORY OF

A. E. MEISSNER

Narrated by Adolph Elmer Meissner

Composed and written by Calla Ethelyn Adams

Edited by James Elmer Adams

This on-line document is dedicated to

Calla Ethelyn (Meissner) Adams

18 May 1916 - 12 Oct 2003

and to her son

James Elmer Adams
19 Nov 1946 - 9 May 1987

Transcribed 2002 with minor edits by Loren P Meissner

PART I

My years of childhood:

Hardships and discovery

1..

I was born in Josephine County, Oregon, about five miles from the town of Merlin. We lived a quarter of a mile from the Rogue river, at the foot of a mountain butte that rose almost straight up for about a half mile. Pa homesteaded 160 acres on it and built a log house and barn. Six or eight acres of this land was good rich river bottom land. We raised blackberries, peaches, apples, and all kinds of vegetables.

Click thumbnail for map showing location of the homestead near Merlin OR.

I can remember about the first of March one year, when there was a terrible storm. The rain came steady and then turned into snow. It snowed several days until it was four to six feet high in places. Then the weather turned warm and began to melt the snow. Soon the river began to rise. My father went up to the neighbors who lived above us, to talk about the situation and see what they planned to do. They advised Pa to get his family moved out of down there, as they were sure the river would rise enough to wash his place away. He came back and told Ma what the Booths had said. As much as she hated to leave her home, she agreed. So after making some snowshoes for Mother and Albert (my older brother) we left our home. It was a mile and a quarter up the mountain to the neighbors, and Dillie (my sister just older than Albert) and I had to be carried by our parents.

LPM NOTE: Adolph Elmer Meissner was born 8 Dec 1889. His parents had moved to this land near Merlin OR about Jan 1888 and later filed for homestead, according to letters sent to WI.

2..

It snowed again all that night without stopping. The sun came out the next day and began melting the snow. The river began to rise rapidly, and pretty soon it was up to our house. By nightfall our house was in four feet of water. The current was so swift our place was soon washed away, just as Mr Booth had said. The river washed away the house and the barn. The cow, all our hogs, and the chickens were drowned. My father had a heavy long rope he had taken to tie up the neighbors' house to a big oak tree, but the water didn't flood as deep up there. It didn't even get up to their floor.

Before many days all the snow had melted, but we were left without a home. We stayed with the Booths until some time in May. Pa began to build another log house on a higher place on our land. He felt the neighbors were getting tired of us, so he worked like a trooper day and night. He moved us in even though the house wasn't quite finished.

The house was just one big room with a fireplace on one end. Pa had to cut the logs and hew them so they could be placed one on top of another. Then he put clay between the logs to keep the air and moisture out. This process was called 'chunking up.' The fireplace was made of clay and sticks. A row was put together with two sticks of wood side by side and layered with clay. Layer upon layer of sticks and clay were laboriously put together, until at last the fireplace was completed.

3..

After getting us all settled into the new place, Pa began to grub off the soil. Most of the days it would be raining while he worked. He would be right out there in the cold drizzle, trying to get rid of the thick undergrowth of bushes to get enough land cleared for a garden. He worked awfully hard all that spring. Finally he got enough of the best part of the land ready for cultivation and planting.

On one corner of our land was a little valley with a spring that ran out of the side of the mountain. This formed into a small creek that ran through our place to the land below us. Pa could have built a reservoir if he had wanted to. Some of the land was pretty good, and we raised lots of beautiful raspberries and strawberries. Pa also planted some oats so the horses would have hay. All in all, we had a pretty good living. Sometimes Pa worked out for other people and brought in a little money.

We kids were like a bunch of wild Indians. Sometimes we used to go up into the mountains and have a great time, when school wasn't in session. We had to walk about three miles to school. I wasn't very old then, about in the first grade. In the fall when the weeds and undergrowth went to seed, my feet would get all scratched up and full of stickers, and I would cry. I only got one pair of shoes a year. I'd get a pair in the late fall when cold weather began, and they would have to last until the next year.

4..

Every fall, Pa would go with two or three of the neighbor men deer hunting. They went to Pea Vine Mountain, Hole in the Ground, and Bald Hills. They'd be gone about a week. Ma would cook some hard tack and pack some bacon and other food for them. If they were lucky, they would bring back plenty of venison for the lot of them.

I was only about eight years old when I helped get wood for the cook stove. On Saturdays we'd go up into the woods and saw and split wood for Mother to use over the next week. One day we found an old wagon that had wooden wheels, and we used it to haul the wood down to the house. The wagon was one the Ringling Brothers neighbors used and for some reason left behind.

Pa raised a lot of berries and garden stuff down on the piece of land that had been flooded out. He would haul these to the people at the quartz mines. He did this for three years. It was a long hard trip to the Green Back Mine. He made pretty good money, but it was hard on him and rough on our horses.

5..

Pa was plowing one day with the high spirited team, when one of them got the tug caught over her leg. It scared her, and she began to tear around. All of a sudden both horses started running. Pa had the lines tied around his back so he could pull one way or the other (depending on which way he wanted them to turn) and he could still have his hands free to hold the plow handles. They pulled him over and drug him along the ground a long way. The horses got clear down to where the creek ran through our place forming a huge mud hole. Pa struggled to get the lines off, and just in time. They ran right through the mud hole, dragging the plow clear down the road. The team got to an old tree lying on the ground with a big snag on it, and Topsy got close enough to it that she got her hind leg hooked into it. It nearly tore her leg off. Pa hated to do it, but he had to shoot her. We couldn't get by with one horse, so Pa went to Grant's Pass to buy another one. He looked around a long time and found a grey one he liked. We named her Meg. She was really a nice horse, so gentle we could ride her. Pa used to drive Pete and Meg to the mines with the produce and berries we raised.

There were some English people who lived on beyond us quite a ways. He was a blacksmith. I used to like to go over there and watch him pound on the red hot anvil, and watch the sparks fly. He'd shoe horses and sharpen plow shears. I'd watch him for hours.

6..

One time Albert and I went on up to their house, and I waited by the gate. I had been waiting a long time when I suddenly noticed some sound. I heard a slight noise behind me, and looked around to see a big black dog sneaking up on me. He had put one foot down and then the other real careful to surprise me. When I saw him, I jumped through the gate and locked it so he couldn't get to me. He barked and barked and showed his teeth, but finally gave up and left. As soon as he left, I ran back and found Albert.

One time we had the horses staked out near some yellow jackets' nest. We tried to hurry and get the horses untied, but we stirred up the yellow jackets and they stung us and the horses. That was a painful experience we didn't soon forget.

Another time we rode the horses over to the evergreen glade about a half mile from the house. We took them over there to pasture when we didn't need to use them. We saw a couple of big wild boars that were fighting up on the hill. We took off in a hurry. The next day when we came back to get the horses, we saw one of the boars lying dead on the ground. The other one had killed him and gone on to join the pack.

7..

I used to like to look off in the distance at the big snowy Siskiyou Mountains when I was little. I made up a little song that I used to sing about them. Part of it, I remember, went something like, "A big white sow in the Siskiyou Mountains." It's something that gets into your very soul when you live in a rugged country like that. In later years I heard a piece of poetry that brought back memories of those early days. It went something like this.

Oh! Woods of the West, sleepy woods that I love,

  Where few of the long days have heard

The prayers of the wind in the branches above,

  and the tremulous song of the bird.

Where the clustering bloom of the dogwood hang,

  Or the white stars through the dusk of the pines,

Down the dim aisles of the old forest pour

  Sunbeams that melt into wine.

I long, how I long to be there

  and dream in that region of rest,

Far apart from all the worries of men,

  In those wonderful woods of the West.

8..


My father was an infidel and my mother a spiritualist since childhood. They were great on going to the dances and went a lot. They would put some straw in the back of the wagon for us children to ride on, and drive into Merlin and other places for the dances. My father was quite a square dance caller. They would stay until two or three in the morning. When we got tired we would climb up in the wagon and cover up with quilts and go to sleep on the straw. After we built the new house, we had a big dance there.

It was just a short time after this that the Church of God had a revival meeting, held in the Hop house. Dances were also held there. Brother and Sister U.G. Clark, a young couple, had moved in below us and started a little farm. They got Brother Bew and some other preacher to come hold a revival there. Brother Clark was a happy man, always singing and whistling.

One day Sister Clark came up to see my mother. She talked and visited with Ma, and got her interested in going to the revival meetings. Of course, all my mother had ever known was spiritualism. Her mother had been a medium. I remember seeing my grandmother lay her hands on a table, and it would tip up. I could hear the knocking of the spirits on the floor above us. When I was small, they used to have some of their spiritualist meetings at our house.

LPM NOTES:

"Grandmother" was Celesta (Brey) Haskins, 1844-1898. A letter to WI, fall 1887, mentions that Celesta has moved to Oregon and is living with Loretta and Adolph.

Church of God members referred to each other as "Brother" or "Sister," and collectively as "saints."

9..

Ma finally agreed to go to the revival, and after a few meetings she was saved. Pa was strictly against it and wouldn't go. Ma went off to the meetings with the Clarks one Sunday, and Pa and we boys went down to the lower place to dig potatoes. We had a big Irishman working for us to help dig the potatoes. His name was Hal Hasty. He slept in the barn. We had been digging potatoes all morning and were on our way back up to the house. It was about a mile up there, on the main road that branched off to go to our place. Along came Brother Bew and another preacher, with Ma beside them in the buggy. When she saw us, she got out and was going to ride on up to the house with us. Pa told her, "Go on with them old preachers!" Mother just walked along on home behind our wagon, with Pa cursing about the preachers the whole way.

Things kept getting worse, and after about a week of this misunderstanding between them, something began to happen. We found out later that Brother Bew had been so burdened for Pa that he had gone out behind his barn and prayed and prayed until he felt the burden lift. About this time, Pa came in the house and told Ma he thought for sure he must be going to die. "Then you'd better pray," Mother said. Pa said, "I never prayed in all my life and I can't pray now." He had cursed the preachers and called them names; still Mother kept asking, "Don't you think we had better send for Brother Bew?" Finally he consented, and Mother sent us boys out to get him.

10..

In the meantime, before Brother Bew arrived, Pa told Ma to take the tobacco off the shelf and throw it in the fireplace. We used to have to go into town and get him some before he ran out, so that was quite a change. Before long Brother Bew came, and he got down by Pa's chair in the front room and began to tell him what to do to be saved. He opened up his little New Testament and read to him. They prayed quite a long while.

Soon the people all over the county had heard that Pa had been saved. They said, "If Meissner can get saved, there must be something in religion!" From that time on, our lives began to change. A few evenings afterward, I was out in the kitchen cussing around, and Mother took me by the arm and said, "Listen here, don't you ever let me hear you swear again!" We kids had been used to hearing Pa swear so much, we didn't think anything of it. I wondered what was happening to Ma and Pa, but I was careful after that.

This was the beginning of our family's career as Christians. My folks were Christians until the day they died, and Lottie and I have followed their example. They were called "saints" in those days, and believe me, many were persecuted by unbelievers. Even we children went through some hard times because of our family's stand. I remember, one time the neighborhood bully found out about our watermelon patch, and out of pure meanness slashed and broke the melons all over the ground. I sure felt sad when I saw them. It seemed like there were so many wicked people in that part of the country and so few who believed in God.

11..

In spite of some hardships, this place where I was born, and where I lived for the first nine or ten years of my life, was filled with many happy memories for me.

We stayed there on the old homestead quite a while. I don't know for sure exactly how long it was. Then Pa heard about a place he could rent over on Grave Creek, on the other side of the mountain toward the mines. He figured, if he could get closer to the mines, he wouldn't have to make such long trips with his garden stuff. He never had any trouble selling what he took there. The women used to come down out of their houses that were built on the sides of the mountains, and carry away everything Pa had brought. The women would be yelling, "Don't take it all, save some for me!" Fresh garden vegetables and fruit were a scarcity out at the mines.

On the morning of the move, we got up early and loaded all our belongings on the wagons. I remember it was a cold morning, with frost covering the ground. We started out with the team and wagon, and away we went, never to see the old home place again. I wanted Pa to save it for me but he wouldn't do it.

LPM NOTES:

Adolph would have been about 11 years old at this time. The move to Grave Creek occurred between Carrie's birth Aug 1900 (near Merlin) and Paul's birth Nov 1901 (at Grave Creek).

Some family records use spellings "Grove Creek" or "Graves Creek." USGS shows: "Grave Creek, Josephine Co, OR (historical). 42 deg 38 min N, 123 deg 22 min W."

12..

I soon felt at home over at Grave Creek. It was over the mountains quite a ways, about twenty miles and through a big valley. It was wild country. Not many people lived around there, and those who did were three to four miles apart. There were a lot of wildcats and cougars in the surrounding woods.

The place we moved to was called Espey ranch. It was a good little farm. My father raised a garden and fields of alfalfa. We stayed about three years there. Pa made pretty good money. He used to have a big old buckskin purse. After he had been to the mines selling his produce, he would come home at night and pour out his money on the table and count it. Instead of green paper money, it was all five and ten dollar gold pieces.

I used to enjoy going to the mines with Pa. When it came to staying home to weed the beets and carrots, I didn't like that. Being a boy, I would try to get out of it whenever I could.

There was an old man living near the mine who had a talking crow. Once in a while Pa and I would stop there and talk and listen to his pet crow.

13..

There was a nice big orchard on the Espey ranch. Sometimes the wild hogs would come up into the orchard to get the apples. Our dog Jack would hear them and get after them, grabbing them by the ears. We called the hogs "rail splitters," because they would squeeze between the fence rails. One time I was down at the lower end of the alfalfa field when I heard the dog barking. I ran down to where Jack was to see what all the commotion was. He had a bunch of wild hogs cornered beneath some old pine trees that had been cut down and were lying in a pile. I got up on top of the pile and looked down in between the branches and saw them huddled together. I got a stick and poked them in their backs. Boy! They really squealed and made an awful noise. Finally I got tired of that kind of fun and ran off home.

There was a big sugar pine tree just below the barn. I liked that big old tree. One day some fellows came and cut it down. The place never seemed the same to me after that. The blue jays used to fly up in that tree, and then fly down to the corn crib and steal corn. We boys used to fool away many an hour trying to catch those blue jays. We made a long noose from string and put some corn in the middle of it. The birds would fly down to get the corn, and while they were pecking at it we would pull the string and catch them. Sometimes we'd get them by the back. One time a huge flock of Carrier pigeons flew down in the branches of the big pine tree, just filling it completely. Where they came from I don't know, because pigeons didn't live in that part of the country.

LPM NOTE: Passenger pigeons?

14..

One day we went down to the barn, and we saw a couple of little striped animals in the hay. We got some sticks and went after them and killed them. I don't know where our smellers were. Later when we went up to the house Ma said, "Where have you been? You smell like skunks!" We had our woolen underclothes on that Ma had made for us. We took them off, and she gave us a good scrubbing. I don't know what became of the underwear, but we never wore it again.

Another time I did a foolish thing. Pa and Ma had gone to Grant's Pass and left Albert, Dillie, and me home alone. Albert said he'd make us some candy. He got a dish and some sugar and stuff, and put everything in the pan and got it boiling. Then he put some horehound in it. If you haven't seen any pieces of horehound, it is made by squeezing the juice from the leaves of the horehound plant. He had just finished cooking it and took it off the stove, when I said to him, "I wonder if it's still hot?" Albert replied, "Well, stick your finger in it and see." So I did, and of course it stuck to my fingers and burned me pretty bad. I went around crying for quite a while after that.

One morning, Albert and Louie and I went to the Worling boys' place to spend the day. We started out early with our bags of marbles. It was about three miles over the hills to their place. We played all day and had a big time together. The sun began to get low before we started for home. The shadows were getting deep in the valleys and gorges. The Worling boys went a little ways with us on our way home, and then turned back.

15..

As we traveled apart from each other, they would holler and we would answer back, as long as we could hear each other. Finally their voices faded away. Before long, we heard some yelling again and so we answered. This went on for a while, until it seemed to come closer to us. It sounded like it was in one of those deep gorges. I thought it was strange how the voice could be so close, when we had told our friends goodbye so far back. Finally, when we got up near the top of a big hill, we came into an evergreen glade enclosed in a grassy meadow. We heard the holler closer now. It sounded different and strange, and we were scared! So we started to run as fast as we could on over the glade and on up to the very top of the hill. Then we heard the holler again. It seemed to be following us, so we ran down the opposite side of the hill toward home. We heard it once again from behind us as we ran, but that was the last time. It's a good thing we finally got sense enough to realize it wasn't our friends but a wild animal's call. It must have been a cougar. That was a pretty frightening experience for me. I don't understand how our parents could trust us to go so far from home by ourselves in such a wild country. There were some pretty fierce animals living in those parts.

16..

We had a neighbor by the name of Corduroy. He was a ditch walker, hired by the sluice miners to patrol the ditches above the mines. He had a son my age, and I went up to play with him one day. On my way home, I came to a log and walked across it. I noticed, through a hole rotted away through the log, two fat little wild pigs. I looked at them for a while and left, for I knew the old sow wouldn't be very far away from them.

We had many an experience there on the Espey ranch. The stage stopped there to change the horses before starting on up over the mountains. The place was for sale, and Pa could have bought it. He could have made a good living there, but he let someone else buy it right out from under him. So then we had to look for another place to move.

Pa hunted around, and finally located a place to rent near Gold Hill. It was known as the McClelland farm. It was a big place. There were about two hundred acres, but it was poor land. It took several trips to get us moved up there.

We loaded both wagons with hogs, and started to take them up there one evening. We had to go over the mountains. I couldn't have been more than twelve years old. I was driving four horses with as big a load as Pa, and Pa expected as much of me almost as a man, it seemed.

LPM NOTE: This move occurred between Paul's birth Nov 1901 at Grave Creek and Lillian's birth Nov 1903 at Gold Hill.

17..

When I got nearly to the top of the mountain, I fell asleep. The horses just kept on going along the road, until they came to the top of the mountain where the stages stopped to change horses. There was a shed off on this little side road, where the stage driver pulled in in bad weather to change horses. My team pulled up in there and stopped, and this woke me up. I hurried and gathered up my lines and got started down the road again. I could hear Pa's wagon bumping along in the distance ahead of me as he made his way down the mountain. I was afraid he would get so far ahead of me I wouldn't know which road to take when I got to the fork. He never stopped once to see how I was coming. When I got to where the road turned off, I could tell which way to turn by the sound of his wagon. After about an hour I finally caught up to him.

The next morning we stopped about ten o'clock and fed and watered the horses. Then we ate and rested a while at a little place beside a creek. After we refreshed ourselves, we hitched the horses to the wagons and drove on until we reached the McClelland place. To get there we had to pass through the little town of Gold Hill and continue on up the river that ran through Squaw Valley. We unloaded the hogs and stayed all night at the McClelland place, and started back for another load early the next morning. Load after load we moved, until finally we were all moved from the Espey place.

In spite of the poor land, Pa raised one field of pretty good corn. He fattened a bunch of pigs with the corn, and sold them for about what the corn would have brought. It seemed like he didn't have such good judgment sometimes. Or else it was just tough breaks.

LPM NOTE: According to other sources, this was actually Sams Valley rather than Squaw Valley.

18..

Another time he bought a baler and got a school teacher to run it, and he made some money baling hay for people. This was during the summer months when school was out. I got awfully tired of driving the poor horses around, and the horses got mighty tired too. They had to walk all day long up and down. Pa hired another man to pitch hay into the baling machine.


We made an awfully poor living on this place, so Pa decided to go somewhere else. He wrote to some people by the name of Peterson, who lived in Pullman, Washington, to inquire about renting a farm. From their letters, Pa decided to move up there and find a place to live. Pa fixed our two wagons like the early settlers did. He stretched bows over the wagon bed and fastened canvas to them. We loaded our belongings once more, and with our two dogs started out. There were four head of horses to each wagon. Pa and Ma went ahead, and we followed along behind. Albert drove the second wagon. We used to have great old times when we went on such trips. Sometimes we'd quarrel and argue as we rode along, but the folks were far enough ahead that they couldn't hear us. I got the mumps on the way and could hardly turn my head to either side.

After some days of travel, we came to a little town way out in the wilderness where they raised lots of sheep. It was at this little town that Ma got sick. We had to stop and stay there for a while. Ma had twins, but they didn't live. She really had a rough time and almost died herself.

LPM NOTES:

The move from OR to WA was in Dec 1905, according to Manly's recollection -- time enough for another pregnancy between Lillian and Edith, but no confirmation of twins at this time.

Other sources record "twins b fall 1888, McAllister OR, died in infancy" -- this was between the births of Albert and Adolph.

19..

After about two weeks, she was able to walk again, but she was not feeling well enough to travel in the wagon. There was no railroad running through this town, so Pa took Ma to the nearest railroad town to send her on ahead. Dillie went along to help care for the younger children: Lillian, Paul, Carrie, Charlie, and Manly; while Louie, Albert, and I went with Pa in the wagons.

We met Ma in Washington, and moved on a farm owned by Brother Neal, a saint preacher. It was a small acreage farm with a house he had built for his family. He used to go out preaching different places, and one day when he came back and found his family all sick he refused to have a doctor for them. He prayed for them and trusted God to heal them, if it was His will. But they all died, and the townspeople nearly lynched him. They accused him of just letting his family suffer and die.

We stayed on that farm that winter, and Pa got some jobs plowing land for some of the big land owners who were Christian saints in that part of the country. It didn't freeze hard enough to make the ground solid, so Pa was able to earn our living all winter long.

LPM NOTE: Dillie was 21 years old in Dec 1905. The "younger children" who went by train with Loretta and Dillie were: Lillian (age 2), Paul (age 4), Carrie (age 5), Charlie (age 7), and Manly (age 8). The older boys who went on wagons with their father were: Louie (almost 13), Albert (20), and Adolph (16).

20..

The next spring, we moved to a place called the Sothe farm. It was 360 acres. We plowed that land, and planted most of it to oats. The school house was located on the Sothe farm, but I didn't get to go to school much, as I had to plow like a hired hand. I ran one team and Pa the other. We had to plow the ground and disk and seed it. Somehow we got it all planted. We also had a good vegetable garden, and a place to raise hogs. We had a fine bunch of porkers there, and did pretty well on this place. There was a nice big orchard and a good house with a barn on the Sothe farm. There were a lot of ground squirrels from the surrounding woods, and we used to have trouble with them cutting off the oats and wheat along the edge of the fields. I used to trap them and kill them with poison bait, and sometimes shoot them with my twenty-two.

I had five sheep, a buck and four ewes, of my own. One time I heard the wolves howling, and I thought they were after the sheep. I hurried out to the pasture land and looked around. I spotted the sheep, when all of a sudden I saw something all crouched up, out of the corner of my eye. It looked like a wolf ready to pounce on me. I yelled for Albert but no sound came out, I was so dumbfounded with fear. Then I saw that it was our little dog. I thought he was tied up down by the house. He was just waiting for me to say something to him before he hopped up to me. I was pretty scared that time. Another time the sheep got too far away over in the field, and the wolves killed one of them.

21..

One winter I got a new pair of skates. I was so proud of them, and could hardly wait for the ice to form so I could try them out. When I finally did, the ice was so thin it gave way when I started across, and I broke through it and fell into the icy water. I thought I was going to drown! Every time I tried to get out, the edge of the ice would break off and down I'd go again. Somehow I managed to get out, but I lost both of my new skates. I had to walk about a mile and a half home. When I got there, my clothes were frozen stiff on me. I thought sure I would be sick, but the exercise of walking kept me warm.

The Church of God home was just down below our home, on the bottom land by the creek. That's where we went to church. Some of the elderly ministers and others passing through stayed there. They used to hold camp meetings every summer. Some real miracles happened in those days. I saw people healed who had never walked for a number of years. I saw evil spirits cast out of people. They would get happy and praise God and shout and sing! They had wonderful times at those meetings. People would come many miles in their wagons to attend, and camp out for the week.

22..

It was while we were on the Sothe place that my mother got awfully sick. She always weighed close to two hundred pounds, but in a few months' time her weight dropped down to ninety pounds. She couldn't keep any food in her stomach. No one seemed to know what to do for her. Everyone had given her up to die, because in those days we didn't have doctors like we do now. We just trusted the Lord to cure what we thought might be cancer. Finally Mother called for the elders of the church to come and anoint her with oil and pray. After she was prayed for, she went up to the neighbors' the very next day, and ate a regular farmers' dinner: meat and potatoes and everything. Her stomach didn't bother her after that.


It was not long after she was healed that we moved from there, taking with us Edith and Percy -- the Sothe farm was their birthplace. They are the only two who were born in Washington. The rest of us were born in Oregon, except Dillie and Albert who were born in Wisconsin before Pa and Ma came to Oregon on an immigrant train.

Mr Monroe, a saint preacher, and his wife and two sons came into town in their covered wagon while we were living at the Sothe farm. I'm not sure where they came from. Their oldest son was named Ed. He was a common laborer. He'd work at any job he could get. The younger brother was a school teacher. Ma got it into her head that it was time Thalia (nicknamed Dillie) got a man. She was close to twenty years old and Ma thought Ed would make her a good husband. Mrs Monroe got together with Ma and talked things over and got Dillie interested in Ed. It wasn't too long afterward that they got married. The Monroes moved away with Dillie and went up to Alberta, Canada and took up homesteads.

LPM NOTE: Dillie was 21 when the family moved to WA; she had her 22nd birthday just before her marriage to Ed in Jun 1906.

23..

Mr Sothe died suddenly one day, and his son took over. He wanted to run the farm, so we had to get off. We moved back to Brother Neal's place again, down by the creek, and lived there a short time.

Pa was not content there. He talked with some men who were going to Texas to look over the country. They claimed there were great opportunities down that way. Pa went with them down to Texas and looked around, and came back to tell Ma he had decided to sell out and take us all down there. I think that was the biggest mistake he ever made. Ma wasn't too strong yet. It was only about three weeks since she had been healed. She didn't have Dillie to help her any more since she got married. Of course Albert was making his own living by now, and he decided he wouldn't go with the family. He stayed behind and got a job as a carpenter, later making his way to Spokane.

Before we left, we had an auction sale. Our furniture didn't amount to much, but we had a little farm machinery and our horses to sell. With the money, we packed our personal belongings and bought train tickets for Texas.

LPM NOTE: According to Manly, Percy was born in a tent on the Neal place (Jun 1907), and they moved to TX in Mar 1808.

PART II

Texas -- Roughing It

24..

After a long ride on the train, we pulled into the depot with a lot of hungry little kids. Pa went to buy some bread and butter for us to eat. The butter stuck to the roof of our mouths, and we didn't like it. We learned that the butter had been made from the cream of cows that had been eating cottonseed meal. Compared to the beautiful part of the country we had lived in, this place seemed like dried up desert country. I asked Pa, "Why on earth did you ever bring us way down here to such a place? How are we ever going to make a living here?" After looking around and talking it over with Ma, they decided maybe I was right. So we got on the train again, and went down by the Brazos river. This was cattle country. We got off at some little cattle town, to see what things were like.

We met a man by the name of McGinnis who had come into town with a load of fresh garden stuff. This was the kind of food we liked, and he found us to be good customers. Mr McGinnis owned a small cattle ranch and raised garden produce to sell. When he found out we knew how to raise vegetables, he asked, "Why don't you come out with me to my place? I have two places out there. One has a good big log cabin no one is living in. You can farm the land around it on shares."

LPM NOTE: The "little cattle town" may have been Richmond TX, and "the McGinnis place" may have been near Katy TX. (Manly says they spent a month at Richmond during 1908, then lived at Katy during the summer of that year.)

25..

So we went out to live on the McGinnis place. We planted peanuts, corn, and some sugar cane. We bought a couple of cows from McGinnis, but they were wild cattle. They weren't like the cows we were used to milking. We worked with them to train them. After they had their calves, they were tame enough to milk. One day the calf got away and went just like a jack rabbit lickety bang across the pasture land. We chased after him. We must have run about five miles when we finally caught up to him and brought him back home.

Before too long, our money ran out and we were desperate for something to eat. Pa went to the store in town to see if they would let him have some food on credit. They turned him down, so he was forced to sell his walking plow. While Pa was at the store making his trade, Louie and I went out to hunt a jack rabbit for supper. We walked and walked, looking everywhere. Finally one jumped out of the bushes. I took a shot at him, and down he went. I was so happy I laid my gun down and went over to my brother and gave him a great big hug. We picked up the rabbit and took it home to Ma. That night, the family ate black eyed peas and stewed rabbit.

26..

Pa thought he should try to hunt up a job. He went to a little town near by and looked around, but couldn't find anything. A day or two later we got a job picking up potatoes. They were the first crop of early potatoes, and we made a little money that way. After about six or eight months of living here, we got up and left the place.

It was a hard life there, but being boys we had a good time too. The wild cattle weren't used to people being around. When we would walk into town, they'd come up near us and start gathering in big herds around us. It's a wonder they didn't trample us down. We used to have a lot of fun down by the edge of the Brazos bayou. Water moccasins and puff adders lived there. How we enjoyed catching the bullfrogs. They sounded like an old mad bull.

In a way I hated to leave there, but we wanted to find a place to live where there wasn't so much rain. It poured down three times on our way to where a Church of God fellow was living. We were disappointed in him. He seemed to be possessed, by the way he acted. We only stayed there a few days.

Pa heard about a man who had a bee farm, so I went to work for him. He paid me a dollar and a half plus my board and room. Pa moved the rest of the family on quite a ways from there, to a place called a 'jack farm.' This was a 160 acre place with very poor land, where they raised male donkeys. I decided not to work too hard on the bee farm, as I wasn't getting paid much. I was sick of the place anyway, so I asked the guy to pay me the money I had earned. All he would give me was a gallon of honey.

LPM NOTE: According to Manly, in fall 1908 they lived on a place near Lockhart TX where donkeys were raised.

27..

It must have been a good fifteen miles to the jack farm where the folks were. I started out early the next morning. It was about noon when a fellow came along in a fancy surrey drawn by a fine horse. He stopped and asked me where I was headed. When I told him, he said, "You've got a long way to go yet; you'd better get in." So I rode along with him for about five miles. I told him my father had been a gardener, and what he was doing now. "Well," he said, "we are opening up a big piece of land down at Agua Dulce. I wonder if he'd come down there and see what he could raise?" So I told Pa, and he went to see the fellow. His name was Branks. He was a cotton raiser. He owned some stores and other small businesses. Mr Branks told Pa there were two houses on the place, and that Pa could have the little one to live in while experimenting to see what could be grown down there.

We soon grew tired of Agua Dulce, so like a bunch of gypsies we loaded our belongings into the wagon and away we went. Louie and I drove the wagon, pulled by two mules. Pa and Ma had gone on ahead with the children on the train. We pulled into a town where a couple had just been married. The townspeople were giving them a big shivaree. In the confusion of the celebration, the groom shot into the crowd and a woman was killed.

We wanted a place to stay and to feed our mules, but couldn't find any place. Someone told me about an old man who had a little farm down by the river out on the edge of town, where we might be able to stay. It was all our little old mules could do to drag their legs along to get down there. The man was real good to us and fed our mules and let us stay over night. The next morning we got up and started on our way again.

LPM NOTE: Manly gives dates "Fall 1809 to 1909" for Agua Dulce TX, and says they moved from there to Alice TX.

28..

We went for a ways, and I began to have the feeling we were lost. So when we came to the next farm, I decided to ask directions. I let myself into the yard. The place was all fenced in. It didn't seem like anyone was around, but I went up to the door and knocked. A strange feeling came over me, so I turned and had started back for the gate. Around the corner came a couple of vicious dogs. Boy, did I run for the gate. I slammed it shut just in the nick of time. They jumped against the gate and growled and showed their teeth. I was lucky to get out of there when I did. I got back into the wagon pretty shaken up, and we drove on. We came to another place, and they said, "Yes, you are on the wrong road." They told us how to cur across to get back out to the right road.

We came through one part of the country that was a new settlement. They were all Germans, who were opening up the land and building houses. Se talked with some of them before going on our way.

29..

When we located Pa and Ma, we found them out there in the wilderness just like a bunch of wild Indians. Pa was cooking a rabbit. He had put dough over it and then wrapped mud over the dough, and put it down in the ground on some coals and covered it to bake it. After it was baked by the red hot coals, he pulled it out of the hole and peeled off the clay and the dough, and it really tasted good. Ma wanted to borrow some cups from the people Pa was going to work for, but they told us to go cut some empty tin cans for cups. That really hurt Ma's feelings. She said, "They must think we're a bunch of Indians or something." Anyway, we moved up into their little old place. Pa worked at trying to raise some garden vegetables, and Louie and I worked for the boss on the farm. We drove a team and three mules, and plowed a lot of that new ground for them.

There used to be storms they called 'northers.' Cold winds and heavy clouds would sweep down on that part of the country. We could hear the sound of it coming, and we would say, "Here comes another norther." How the rain would come down out of those clouds! The men dug big holes and piled the dirt up around to form banks to catch the water in as it rained. Thus when the dry weather came they could water the stock and have water for their gardens. This was really cattle country though, not farming land. They were experimenting with the idea of raising cotton, and tried to get the ground in shape for it.

30..

During the times when the 'northers' came, Louie and I would get a box of shells and take the gun and go to the water holes. There we would wait under the trees and in the bushes, and watch for the ducks to come. They would fly in great bunches, and light down on the water. We would bang away at them, and sometimes get two or three with one shot. Frightened, they would rise up and fly around, and soon they would come back. It was almost as good as having ducks in your own back yard. We would shoot all we could carry home. We had to be careful of our shells though, as we could only afford a couple of boxes a month. We saw a lot of quail and jack rabbits, but didn't bother killing the rabbits what with all the ducks.

I remember one time we went hunting, and rode on the mules. My gun stock somehow got down to where it rubbed and bounced against the back of my mule, and he began to buck and jump. This made me think of a post card I had received from someone that read, "When among the cactus, keep your seat." It sure would have been bad to have been thrown off, but I hung on.

It was open range country there, and the cattle would come down and get into the lot where we kept the mules and their feed. One time we tried to catch one of those big old longhorn steers. We got a rope around him in back of his front legs, and I got up on him. His horns stuck way out on each side and looked so big! He bucked one way and I went the other and fell on the ground.

31..

It was about half a mile from where we lived to where we worked. We would get up about daylight and leave for work, not returning until dark. There were a lot of rattlesnakes around. We always carried a stick as we walked along, for generally we'd see or hear them on the trail. Sometimes we'd kill them but most of them would get away when we banged at them with our sticks.

We lived there in Alice, Texas for about six months. After the ground was plowed and the cotton was picked, we decided to leave that place. We heard about a new part of the country that was opening up with good opportunities for new settlers. It was a town called Riviera, below Kingsville, Texas. The land was said to be good, and there were artesian wells there. So mother, with Carrie and Lillian and the little ones, went on ahead on the train like they usually did. We came along with the mules and the buggy loaded down with as much as we could get in it. Pa sure trusted us boys on our own. As I look back, I wonder how he was ever able to do all that he did.

When we got to Riviera, Pa began to build a place for us to live. He got some boards and made a floor and boarded it up all around, and then put a tent up over that. We lived that way quite a while. We made our living by working for people who had bought 160-acre pieces of land. We grubbed and cleaned off their land for them. Finally Pa bought a lot, on time I guess. I don't know how he could have paid cash for it and built the house on it too.

LPM NOTES:

Paul says that many of the events described between the "northers" and rattlesnakes occurred while they were still at Agua Dulce, before they moved to Alice.

Manly says they left Alice for Riviera TX in fall 1909.

According to Paul, the arrangement at Riviera was sharecropping.

32..

We heard from Dillie now and then. They only stayed in Alberta just one winter, and then got out of Canada. It was so cold their horses almost froze to death. All they had was a sod barn to keep them in. The following spring they headed south and traveled to one of the southern states. I believe it was Georgia where Ed contracted the fever and died. Dillie went out to California after the funeral, and worked as a cook in some of the sawmills in the northern part of the state. Later she met Bill Schertz in Upland, and married him. This marriage soon ended in divorce. She met and married a man named George Zaich, and her sister Carrie eventually married his cousin Andrew some years later.

LPM NOTE: Other records indicate that Ed Monroe died in Alabama.

PART III

Lottie

33..

One day Lottie Wing and her parents came to Riviera. They had read an article in the Church of God paper called the 'Gospel Trumpet,' asking for other saints to come down to Texas to settle. I can't understand how they ever had the courage to sell out and come all the way from Albert Lea, Minnesota. This was awfully poor country. The artesian wells when dug ran pretty good, but many played out before long. Albert finally came back down to Texas, and together we built several houses for people.

The Wings didn't settle in Riviera, however. They went to the town of Woodsboro north of us and east of Beeville. I had seen enough of Lottie to know that I liked her a lot, so I left my folks and went up to Woodsboro. That was the last time I would be living with my folks. They went on south to Brownsville and on over into Mexico for a while.

In May 1910, Lottie and I were married. Pa Wing bought a forty acre piece of land in Woodsboro with big oaks on it. The ground was poor, but we plowed up a little of it with the little old horse Pa bought. We planted some cotton, but it didn't amount to much and we never bothered to pick it. Pa and I cut down some of the oak trees, and cut them up into firewood to sell in town. Mother and Grandma Wing helped make the living by doing laundry for the town hotel and for some of the townspeople.

LPM NOTE: From here on, "Mother" usually means Lottie. Here “Grandma Wing” is Henrietta (Calkins)

34..

One day we were down town selling some wood, and I happened to see the real estate man talking with some fellow. I said to Pa Wing, "There goes the real estate man with some guy. Maybe he'd buy your place, and we could get out of here!"

"Naw, I don't think we could," Pa exclaimed.

But I insisted, "Let's go over and talk to him anyway." After we talked to them for a while, the man seemed interested. He said, "It sounds just like what I've been looking for." He explained that he was a well digger and was working in Mexico, but his wife didn't want to live down there. He wanted to find a place for her to live while he was away working. he wanted to see the place, so Pa took him out to look it over. He liked it and bought it, along with the livestock and equipment. When things were straightened out and ready, we moved to Oklahoma where the Wings had some relatives.

We found a place to rent and moved in. When spring came, we plowed and planted some corn, beans, and potatoes. We had a cow and a pig, and we were getting along pretty well. Then along came summer and a long hot dry spell. One day a big swarm of grasshoppers blackened the sky. We lived at the foot of a hill, so when they swooped down to land they ended up in the neighbors' fields beyond us. They ate the cornstalks clear down to the stubble.

35..

One morning, Pa Wing came over and said, "We are going back to Albert Lea to live. There's no feed for my horses here, and I can't sell them for anything, so I'm going to take them along and sell them up there." He had six brood mares he had bought. Pa said, "I'll just have to put them in a boxcar, and I was hoping you'd sell out and come with us."

I didn't like the thought of leaving, because I thought we were doing pretty good. When I told him I didn't want to go, he almost cried. So I finally agreed to the move. We sold out, and I got back the four hundred dollars I had invested in the place. Mother and Grandma Wing made a nice lunch for me to eat on the way in the boxcar. They went on ahead with Pa Wing, on the train. I made it pretty good with the horses as far as Kansas City. The train stopped a while, and I watered the horses and bought a can of beans to eat. That was all I had to eat then until I got to Albert Lea. I was sure glad when that trip was over.

Mother and I rented a little house on what was called Flanagan Row. It was named this I guess because a policeman owned a lot of little houses along there. We got settled in, and I went out to look for work. I found a job unloading coal. I was sure tired that night, and Mother began to have pains. Our first child was about to arrive with just Grandma Wing for a midwife. She had hard labor and it was a long time before Eldred was born.

LPM NOTE: Eldred was born 19 Aug 1911.

36..

I worked at whatever I could find around there for a while, and then I decided I was going to be a carpenter. I had worked along with Albert enough to know a little about it. So I went to see an old man who was building a house, and he hired me. I worked for him until he finished his place. Then I went to see a couple of men who were starting a contracting business, and they hired me. I worked for them for six or eight months, when I heard about a big contractor in town by the name of Johnny Hansen who was hiring men. I got a job with him, and worked for Mr Hansen for several years.

I finally saved enough money to buy a lot out on the edge of town, on Fourth and St Joseph streets. I paid about 80 dollars for it. Then I located a little old house about six blocks from my lot, and moved the house all the way by myself. I don't know how I ever did it. I had a couple of big planks and some rollers. It took me about two weeks. I got the house blocked up on the lot, and put dirt up around the foundation. Winter was coming on, and I worked on my house between jobs and on weekends. The house had a main room, and on one end a little bedroom next to the kitchen. Of course the house wasn't plastered on the outside with stucco, like they are now. It just had wood siding. I think I only gave about sixty dollars for the place. Mother helped me paper the kitchen walls with newspaper, to help keep out the cold. We finally got it fixed up, and lived through the winter there.

37..

The next spring, I decided to build a new house. I borrowed eleven hundred dollars at ten dollars a month interest. I tore the old house down after I built the new one. Eugene and Ethelyn were born there. Later we traded our house off for a piece of barren land up north of Minneapolis, to a fellow by the name of Albert Larsen. He was a "Watkins man," and used to drive around through the country selling his products.

I quit my job with Mr Hansen, and we went to the place up north. It had sixty acres, with a creek running through part of it. It was about ten miles from Cambridge one way, and about the same distance to Princeton the other direction. I tore down an old house and used the lumber to build a house for us. I just got the roof on and shingled, when a big snowstorm hit. Mother and I stayed up all night nailing tar paper onto the outside walls to keep out the cold. We had to crawl up the side of the wall on a ladder to go to bed, because I didn't have the stairway built yet. I drove a pipe down through the floor of the kitchen, and we could pump water up into the house. The water was that close. This made it real handy for Mother.

 

38..

I built a little sod barn by the bank along the creek, for the livestock. We had a cow or two, and some pigs. We named our horses Jick and Dolly. Jick was kind of a high spirited horse. One afternoon, Mother was driving Eldred and Eugene home and was near the creek crossing, when she lost the reins. The buggy sank down into the water up to the floorboards on the inside. Mother was helpless with the small boys, but Dolly saw the danger and pulled on Jick, and somehow they managed to get out of there safely.

I worked out doing odd carpenter jobs that winter. When spring came I cleared off the land and planted potatoes. I took two big loads of spuds into town to sell. That was the only way I had to make money. The following winter we were almost destitute. Somehow, the Lord took care of us.

Pa and Ma wing came from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to be with us, as Earl was going to be born. We were a long way from any doctor, so Grandma was there to be with Mother.

We had some nice oak trees on the place there, and Pa and I cut firewood and sold it to the schoolhouse.

There were a lot of German families moving in around that part of Minnesota to settle. It wasn't long till we sold our place to one of them and went to Cedar Rapids to live.

LPM NOTE: Earl was born 27 Aug 1917.

PART IV

Iowa - Years of Tragedy and Depression

 

39..

We bought a place on the north edge of Cedar Rapids, on Tenth Street not far from Mother's brother Frank and his wife Merne. Grandpa and Grandma Wing lived in a little house right behind Frank. The Church of God was within walking distance, and we were quite active in the church work there.

I got a job for a sash and door factory at first, and then I worked as a laborer at the Rock Island railroad for a year as a car carpenter. The second year, I was moved up to a first class mechanic. My wages as a car carpenter were small, but we got along pretty fair. After my promotion, I made 80 dollars twice a month; then we did real well.

Merlin was born during the time everyone had influenza. The epidemic was just after the first World War, and many lives were lost, including little Merlin's. We were all down sick with it when he was born. The preacher and Frank took care of things for us.

Wesley and Elmer were both born at this place too. Elmer was just a baby when the railroad went on strike that winter. While the men were on strike, I was busy building a house on our new land. We traded our place on Tenth Street, and I bought an acreage of land in the southwest part of Cedar Rapids. I cleared a thousand dollars on the trade, so I bought the lumber I needed to build with. It took all winter to build the house, but I didn't have to worry about money for groceries, because the union took care of that.

LPM NOTES:

"Grandpa Wing" is Lottie's father, called "Pa Wing" on previous pages.

Merlin Edwin Meissner was born in Jan 1920 and lived about 2 weeks.

Wesley was born 20 Jul 1921 and Elmer was born 24 Oct 1922.

40..

I had just finished the foundation, when it began to freeze up. It got pretty cold before I had the place completed. There was another big snowstorm there on Twenty-third Avenue in March. We didn't have any curtains up yet, and the white plastered walls reflected the snow, making a glare that was hard on our eyes. We had to fasten up sheets until we could get some shades hung.

That spring the strike was over. The men had lost, but the Company told us we could come back to work on their terms. I was sure glad to get my job back.

While we lived on the acreage, my brother Charlie came to visit from Panama, where he worked on the Canal Zone. Later, my other brother Manly came and stayed with us until he built a little house on a place near us. Soon after, he married a girl from California. Manly and Hazel were married at our home. Manly worked at the Rock Island too for several years, before they sold out and went to Panama to live for a while.

It was the summer of twenty-four when we received the tragic news of my mother's death. She and Pa were with a realtor going to see a piece of property to buy out by Lancaster in California, when the realtor's car turned over on a big curve. It pinned Mother under and crushed some ribs. Before help could arrive, she was gone. She was only fifty-nine years old.

LPM NOTES:

Apparently Charlie visited (at "the acreage") some time after Elmer's birth 24 Oct 1922 (at Tenth Street).

Brother Manly came to Iowa in Feb 1924, and married Hazel in Jun 1924. Manly and Hazel left Iowa for Panama in Nov 1925.

Loretta was not quite 59 when she died: b Jul 1865, d Jun 1924.

41..

The next year, Mother and I had our last son born at home. He was our seventh boy, and we named him Manley after my brother. Hazel helped Mother with the delivery. Manley was born on his mother's birthday, 09 Mar 1925.

My father came to visit us and Hazel and Manly, after Ma passed away. I think he went on up to see Lillian too, in Michigan. I had not seen him in fifteen years.

Little Manley took sick when he was just past three years old, and we lost him 04 May 1928. We never really knew what caused the trouble. Nowadays the doctors could have pumped his stomach and no doubt saved him.

A few weeks later, we got a pass on the railroad and took the family to California to visit my brothers and sisters. Pa had remarried by this time, and was living in Moore, Oklahoma, where his second wife had a home.

The railroad talked of moving the car repair department to the Chicago area, and they were laying off a lot of men. They said I could keep my job if I wanted to follow it. I couldn't think of moving my family to a big city. Edythe was just a baby, and Eldred was about nineteen. He worked for a printing company, and was bringing in some money to help. Eugene had a part-time job at a bakery. We decided to sell the acreage and get out on a farm somewhere. Through a real estate man we located 80 acres of bare farmland about seventy miles south of Cedar Rapids. After building a house on the new land, we moved to our new home in Malcolm, Iowa.

LPM NOTES:

Son Manley was born 9 Mar 1925 and died 04 May 1928. Other records show cause of death "ptomaine poisoning."

"Pa" (A.F. Meissner, b 1861) had married Mattie Applegate McLennan in Apr 1928.

Edythe was born 25 Apr 1926.

42..

It was the depression years when we went to the 80. Times were hard for everyone. Lots of people lost their homes and farms. Eldred left for California to work in a nursery for my brother Paul, and he sent us money so we could pay our taxes. With the money we made from the cream we sold, we managed to buy what few groceries we needed. Mother canned everything she could, to help us get along. We butchered our own meat, and we had all we really needed.

Things began to pick up after I got called back to the railroad to work piece work off and on. I drove back and forth weekends to Cedar Rapids, and managed to keep the farm running too. I would get the work lined up for the older boys, Eugene, Earl, and Wesley, to do during the week. Mother went to Cedar Rapids in Jun 1932 and stayed with a Christian friend, a neighbor to Frank, for a few weeks. It was there that Jeanette was born. While there, she was able to spend a little time with her parents before they passed on. I had rented a little place to stay in Cedar Rapids, from a fellow named Port Sickle, and batched it during the work week at the railroad.

When Jeanette was two, I got a railroad pass, and Mother and I took her and went to visit Lillian and family and also Pa and his new wife. We left Edythe and the boys home with Ethelyn to look after them. It was during the winter, and they had school and there were chores to do. They got along fine, and we had a good trip. This was the last time I saw Pa. He lived to be seventy-eight.

LPM NOTES:

Jeanette was born 14 Jun 1932.

"Pa" (A.F. Meissner, b 1861) had married Mattie Applegate McLennan in Apr 1928; he farmed on her land in Oklahoma until his death in Sep 1939.

"When Jeanette was two," Lillian lived in Michigan and "Pa" in Oklahoma.

43..

Ethelyn and Walter Adams were married in September of 1936, and they lived on the 80 for a couple of months afterward. Mother and the girls came to Cedar Rapids to live with me while I was building the new place on Coldstream. We only lived there a short time after it was finished before we sold it. Finally I quit the railroad work altogether. I had worked for a total of nineteen years at the Rock Island Railroad. I never liked working there, but I raised a family that way just the same.

We went back to the 80 to live permanently and it was the biggest blessing that ever came to us. The depression ended about this time, when Roosevelt became President. He helped the farmers get back on their feet. Once again we began to get ahead and make a little money.

The summer of 1939 we left Earl to look after the farm. We took Wesley along to California with us, to help build a house for Eldred and Naomi. Edythe and Jeanette, being young girls as they were, went with us also.

Eldred owned a nursery in Inglewood, where he sold plants and garden equipment. During the construction of a theater across the street, Eldred and Wesley hauled (for walkways) wheelbarrows of fresh cement that was wasted and had fallen to the ground. That evening, as Wesley was crossing the street, he was struck by a drunken driver and killed instantly. This was such a blow to the entire family. Yet, through the darkness of our despair, a rainbow of hope was held out to us. We felt better when Mother told, how just a few days before the accident, Wesley had felt the Lord talking to him and had surrendered his life to God in prayer.

LPM NOTES:

Adolph and Lottie moved back to the 80 about 1938; Roosevelt became President in 1933.

Eldred married Naomi Driggs in Jul 1936.

44..

After finishing the house in Inglewood, we returned to the 80, and somehow time healed our loss. We farmed about ten more years there, and did pretty good except for the time the tractor ran over me. I broke some of my ribs and was in the hospital for quite a while. Eldred came from California to help Mother and Jeannette while I recuperated. Through the goodness of the Lord, I began to snap back to normal, and I began to think of retiring from farming. Edythe was married to a local boy, Melvin Peterson, and they moved onto a farm of their own. It was about 1947 when I sold off a lot of my machinery and some livestock, but I didn't go through with the retirement just then.

Walter, Ethelyn, and their three children came to Iowa that spring from California. Through Eugene, they bought the farm of Kenneth Taylor through him. After farming one summer, they were ready to sell out and go back to California. They didn't have much in the way of machinery to work with, and Ethelyn was expecting James. The school was quite a ways for the children to go. We had just sold our 80 and didn't know where we would move, so I offered them just about what they paid for their 160. They had an auction sale and moved back to California.

LPM NOTES:

Edythe married Melvin Peterson in Nov 1945.

Ethelyn and Walter Adams came to Iowa in spring 1946 with Gary (born 20 Oct 1937), Ardith (born 06 Feb 1939), and Glen (born 25 Jan 1944). James was born Nov 1946 in CA.

45..

The house on the Taylor farm was on a hill and pretty old. The land was rough in places, but I raised big crops of corn, alfalfa, clover, and soy beans. We began to put money in the bank. I bought some nice Guernsey cows and some machinery. We tore down the old house and built a new one. We fixed up the barn and put new hog wire fencing around the place.

Elmer was going to college in Grinnell and driving back and forth. Jeanette was with us for a while, but it wasn't long until she went out to California to stay with Ethelyn and look for a job. She fell in love with Brad Jones and married him. We had just finished the new house when Mr Vogel came along and offered us a good price, so we decided to sell. By then, all the children were in California, except for Edythe and Eugene and their families. So after living there for three years, we gave up farming for good.

LPM NOTE: Jeanette married Brad Jones in May 1950.

PART V

California - The Good Life

46..

After having a big farm auction, we loaded up our pickup and came to California. When we arrived in 1949, Elmer had started to build a place for Ethelyn and Walter in San Bernardino. Walter was working at the Southern California Gas Company. Mother and I moved in with them where they were renting in Colton, so I could help build Walter's place. This was the first of five I was to build in California.

After we finished Walter's house, I bought a lot across the street on Leroy and built a little place. We lived there for a short while, but we wanted to get a place where we could raise a few chickens and have a cow. That old farm life was still running through our veins.

We bought five acres on Baseline near the Church of God, and I built a house and a little barn. We rented out the house on Leroy, and moved down there to live for a total of seventeen years. I bought a tractor and raised feed for the cow. We sold milk and eggs, and we really enjoyed life there. We were both in very good health. I built a second house on the east side of the land, and when my sister Lillian moved here from Michigan I sold the place to her and her husband Earl Kellogg.

47..

Then I bought a house and moved it to the land space between our two homes. Eugene and his family came to visit from Iowa, and they lived in it for a while. I thought that was the end of my building, but I happened on to a good buy just a few houses from us. A house had burned down, and the owner had to clean it up. He offered it to me, and it was for such a reasonable figure I couldn't turn him down. I tore out the old burned-out shell and built a nice two-bedroom house. Then I rented out that place on Western Avenue.

Eventually, the work of bottling the milk to sell became more work than pleasure for Mother, and we sold the cow. We missed our fresh milk and home-churned butter; however we kept the chickens and enjoyed the good eggs. I began to do some fix-it work for people, and opened a small business in my garage. I kept busy enough to occupy myself with trips to the auction sales in the area. I really enjoyed those trips to the sales.

We did pretty well, until Mother got a sick spell in the fall of 1968. We learned later it was probably a little heart attack or a slight stroke. She fell in the barnyard while gathering the eggs. She was in bed afterward for about a week. A little later, we took her to the hospital for another week for a thorough checkup. She got better and seemed to be alright again.

Just before Christmas the following year, a couple of young black fellows forced their way into our house and knocked her to the floor. They beat up on me and then robbed us. This had a terrible effect on her nerves. Mother began to go downhill after that, a little at a time.

48..

We sold our place and the rental next to it to Elmer, and moved back to the house on Leroy street. We got along real well for about three years. Then, in the spring of 1972, Mother began to fail quite noticeably. By September she had to go to the hospital. She spent the best part of two months there, with a break of five days at home between hospitalizations. When she was able to come home the second time, it was for three weeks and three days. We hired a good Christian lady, Pauline, to come live in and help us with the care of Mother and the house.

Ethelyn still looked after ordering and the making up of our medicine, as well as what running around on business was necessary for us.

We were doing quite well, when Mother fell in the middle of the night, Nov 19. The X-rays showed a cracked pelvis. Of course this meant she had to lie quiet for as long as it took to heal. We are just living on borrowed time anyway, and our lives are in God's hands. He alone knows what our few remaining days hold in store for us.

LPM NOTE: Lottie's fall occurred in 1972.

Epilogue

49..

We have had a good full life and a good family, with much to be thankful for. I am almost 83 now, as I recall these experiences of my life. Perhaps it will be kind of nice to read about the road of life your Father and Mother traveled, and compare it to your own, perhaps to recall parts of it you shared with us along the way.

Life has changed so. It is so much different from when I used to work ten-hour days for a dollar. Still, through it all, we didn't think too much of it. We took one day at a time, to live and enjoy life.

We will soon be leaving this old world, so I'll tell you children and whoever may read this :--

Goodbye for now. Some day we'll meet, over yonder.

[signed] A.E. Meissner

Postscript: 1973 — Trip to Oregon

(by Ethelyn Adams)

After our mother passed away, our father missed her so much! But surprisingly, with the help of the lord he held up real well. I was truly proud of him. He had always seemed to lean on Mother to encourage him through hard places. Now at last he knew what it meant to lean completely on God.

We began to talk to him right away about going up to Merlin Oregon and Grant’s Pass, where he was born and grew up to the age of twelve. As we made plans for the following June of 1973, he began to look forward to this with enthusiasm! Father’s Day, we had a family gathering of the children, which he enjoyed. Then the following day we started out for about a two and a half weeks’ trip to Oregon.

He enjoyed the scenery along the way and the visiting as we drove each day. We came into Sam’s Valley before Grant’s Pass and drove out to the farm where Aunt Lillian was born. He was able to go right to it. The original barn was still standing. We had a nice picnic lunch along the Rogue River and got some good pictures. From there we went to Grant’s Pass and then to Merlin. Nothing looked familiar to him there and we found out later that the town of Merlin had been destroyed by fire three times and each time located in a different place, so no wonder he couldn’t get his bearings.

We had quite a hard time finding the old homestead Grandpa Meissner had taken from the government back in 1899. We went to the court house in Grant’s Pass the following day and got a map showing the original homestead location and so was finally able to locate it. What a thrill it was for our father to stand once again on the land where he was born and where the little old log cabin stood which was later washed down the river. You could just see it all came back to him fresh and real, as he stood there looking at the Rogue where it curved around when it came up to the foot of the bluff on his right. There were still peach orchards there on the bottom land. We saw an elderly man up in one of the trees thinning the peaches. I went over to him and asked if he had ever heard of the Meissners. “Oh yes indeed,” he said. “That gulch or low place in the bluffs over there,” he pointed to the north, “is still known as Meissner’s Gulch.” He said his name was Lester Ford and his father had homesteaded the piece of land next to the Meissners. He was pleased to meet our father. They had quite a visit together! He was about ten years younger, but he recalled his parents telling of the big flood and speaking of the Meissner family. He showed us one original peach tree still standing which had been from a shipment of fruit trees from England back in the early 1890s or thereabout by Grandpa Meissner.

Father asked if he knew of the family by the name of Avery. There was a girl named Queen who went to school with him that lived near them. Lester said she had inherited her folks’ land and only just recently sold it and was living now in Grant’s Pass. He told us where to find her. We called her and then after lunch went to visit her and get her picture with our father. What a time they had recalling past events.

Later we tried to find the road leading back up into where the second log cabin had been built on higher ground, but the brush and undergrowth had covered the road that had not been in use since the cabin itself had been destroyed by fire, probably thirty years ago. Walter and he tried to walk back up in there from River Road but were not able to go far enough to find the place the cabin had been built. But after feasting his eyes on the beautiful Rogue River and standing on the old homestead soil once more he was ready to head back home for San Bernardino again.

However we urged him on to see a few more places and people since we had come that far. We drove right by Grave Creek north of Merlin on our way to Portland. This was where Paul was born, on the Espey Ranch after they left the homestead. We should have turned right off the main highway at the bridge where the sign was Grave Creek and it told about the stage coach route on the sign. We didn’t seem to realize it was so near there until we talked to Lillian and Edith later after getting home. They both had visited the place in recent years.

We visited Albert’s daughter Vivian Foley in Portland and Eugene’s son Larry Meissner and family in The Dalles. Our father told his grandson Larry how much he put him in mind of himself when he was a young man just starting our in life. He enjoyed the three great grandchildren he had not seen before.

When we got back down the coast to Arcata, Calif and Charlie Meissner’s, he was overjoyed to see his brother “A,” as he called our father. He said he never believed “A” would come to see him! They had a wonderful visit together. They were more of an age and had shared more experiences than had Paul and himself. But while he was happy to see Paul too in Millbrae near San Francisco, he was beginning to tire and was getting anxious to get on home the next day.

We saw Earl and wife who bought a ranch at Altaville Calif. And Walter’s brother and family near Modesto. All in all it was a very rewarding trip, one I shall always treasure. As my father shared his experiences with us of his boyhood days the places he had written of in his book all came alive and real to me in a way no one else could make them do.

The rest of the summer of ’73 went by pretty fast. He took a couple short trips to my brother Elmer’s in Northridge where he stayed a few days each time. Then at Thanksgiving we took him to see my brother Earl one last time. He enjoyed this trip very much he said.

He was 84 on the 8th of December. The next day Sunday afternoon we had a surprise birthday party for him. Aunt Lillian’s daughter Elaine made and decorated a lovely cake for the occasion. Aunt Lillian and Aunt Edith, his two sisters, were to the party as well as other relatives and friends. He thoroughly enjoyed the occasion! Little did we realize it was his last birthday though, as he seemed quite well.

The Sunday before Christmas we took him to Elmer and Jeanie’s for a family Christmas get together. We all enjoyed a nice day.

The following week, before New Year’s, he went with Walter to the church on Saturday to the workday the men of the church were having. He worked outside trimming some of the shrubbery. It was a nice day and he seemed to enjoy himself. But it was soon evident he caught cold.

To top it off it began to rain. I wanted to take him for a shot of penicillin or something to help him shake the cold, but he just hugged the fireplace and slept a lot in his chair. He was just beginning to feel a little better when I received word of my brother Eugene’s passing of a sudden heart attack [08 Jan 1974]. How I dreaded to break this news to him. He took it pretty hard. Said it ought to have been him instead. Eugene was just sixty.

Well, he just seemed to lose the will to live after that and went down in health fast. One month to the day later we had to take him to the Loma Linda hospital. He only lasted three weeks. After he had been there about a week he said to Walter and me, “You’re going to miss the old man being around one of these days.” Truer words were never spoken! Somehow he seemed to realize his time was short, but he was ready and anxious to go to be with Mother.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23 (KJV)

Adolph Elmer Meissner was born 8 Dec 1889 at the family homestead near Merlin OR.

He died 2 Mar 1974 at Loma Linda CA, aged 84 years 2 months 22 days.

 Lottie Hazel Pearl Wing was born 9 Mar 1891 at Albert Lea MN.

She died 20 Dec 1972 at San Bernardino CA, aged 81 years 9 months 11 days.