Recorded Mar 1973 by Paul Meissner (b 1901); transcribed 2005 with minor edits by Loren Meissner

Wisconsin 1883–1886

1883 Married at Cashton WI

1884 Lived with mother Celesta (Brey) Haskins at Cashton; Dillie b

1885 Moved to North Lacrosse WI, Albert b

1886 Left WI for OR (see FAM letter)

Adolph Frederick Meissner and Loretta Haskins were married 17 Sep 1883 at Cashton, Monroe Co, WI. Adolph was born 20 Mar 1861, son of Friedrich Adolf Meissner and Eva Dorothea Krauss who were both German immigrants. Loretta was born 9 Jul 1865; her father was George Haskins, a merchant, and her mother was Celesta Brey, whose father was a doctor. Loretta’s ancestry was English, Irish, and Scotch, with a bit of Indian from her mother’s father.

After their marriage, Adolph and Loretta lived for a while with Loretta’s mother in the town of Cashton WI. Dillie was born here. North Lacrosse is where Albert was born, while they lived there in 1885. They made several moves to different places in WI before leaving for OR in Sep 1886 by train.

Oregon 1886–1904

1887 Jan at Kirbyville (now Kerby) OR; Jul at Waldo farm

1888 Jan in town at Grants Pass; May took up homestead

1889 Lived on homestead west of Merlin on the Rogue River;

- Adolph, Louie, Manly, Charlie, Carrie b on homestead 1889-1900

1890 Built house and barn on claim

1892 Raised farm produce, carried via peddler wagon to sell at towns, sawmills, & mines

1894 Big snows & heavy rains flooded & washed away the house and everything

1895 Rebuilt on higher ground

1901 Moved to be closer to mines, Espy place at Gold Hill; Paul b

1902 To Sam's Valley near Table Rock Mtn for a short time

1903 Gold Hill, Jackson OR, near Squaw Valley; Lillian b

 In Sep 1886 Adolph went by train with his wife Loretta, his daughter Dillie, and his son Albert, to Kerby OR [(possibly known as Kerbyville at the time) where Adolph’s brother Ernest was living, about 30 mi sw of Grants Pass]. They traveled on a free pass from the railroad, because it was good business to haul vast supplies to the new settlers and industries developing in the west. They stayed near Kerby during part of 1887, and on a farm in Waldo, Josephine Co, in July; but they left in Sep to try salmon fishing as a way of living, which didn’t work out. They came to Grants Pass in Jan 1888 and from there took up a 160 acre homestead near the Rogue River in May [west of McAllister, later known as Merlin].

Click thumbnail to view map

The historic McAllister Post office is one mile north of present-day Merlin on the Southern Pacific rail line. The post office was opened in 1885 as Brandt, and then quickly renamed McAllister. In 1891 the town name was again changed, this time to Merlin because of the pigeon hawks seen in the area.

The few acres of river bottom land were rich soil, but the hillsides were of little use. Son Adolph Elmer Meissner was born 8 Dec 1889 at McAllister. Louie, Manly, Charlie and Carrie were born at Merlin while Pa farmed the homestead. [LPM note: the town was called McAllister at the time of Adolph Elmer's birth; the name was changed to Merlin. The site was on the Rogue River several miles west of the present town of Merlin, about 15 miles downstream from Grants Pass.] He built a log house and barn; he enclosed the land with rail fences, and cleared and planted it. He got a team of horses, harnesses, wagon, plow, and tools. He bought a milk cow and brood sow, which were an important part of the family food supply. We would have smoked ham, bacon, and sausage after the young pigs grew. Salt pork and lard would be a big help too. Seeds for the farm and garden had to be bought, and supplies for the house to last until the time of harvest. How did they ever accomplish all this? The corn, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, melons, and berries were finally ready for harvest. Now Pa could sell some at the mills and mines, to pay some of his bills and buy other things for the family.

Heavy winter snows were followed by early rains that melted the snow too fast, causing a big flood in the valley. Almost everything was washed away by the high water. They stayed with a neighbor until the spring floods were over and then returned to build again on higher ground. All that work had to be done over, just to get back to making a living on the place. In good time the crops would be planted and Pa could load the wagon with vegetables to sell. When he came back from several days of selling, he would empty the long buckskin purse of silver and gold coins on the kitchen table, for Ma and the family to see. (Not much paper bills in the early West.)

Some of the settlers who lived near by called themselves Christians and had a strong faith in God. They came to visit Pa and Ma, and explained their dedication and belief in their religion. Ma had been raised as a spiritualist who thought spirits could communicate with the unseen world of the departed. The doctrine taught by these church people was to her liking. Pa was said to be an infidel, with little regard for any church out here in this new-found land of many obstacles, where a plain living was hard to come by. He chewed tobacco and drank a little whisky, but his worst habit was cussing at everything good or bad in a loud voice for all to hear. Pa became determined to give up these bad ways, with the help of Ma and the good neighbors. They went to church and read the Bible scriptures each day, which helped them to live better lives.

USGS Populated Places shows: Grave Creek, Josephine Co, OR (historical) 42 deg 38 min N, 123 deg 22 min W

After several years of farming the land on the homestead, the soil was poor, and now Pa had to look for a better farm. Early in 1901 he found another farm at Grave Creek near the mines where he sold the farm produce. The soil was good here on the Espy place where I (Paul) was born on 13 Nov 1901. This was wild country, with bears, cougars, and wolves in the forest. Pa and Ma liked it here where they could make a good living on the farm and hunt for wild game in the back country. Pa was a good farmer and could build his own house, barn, and fences. He was good at putting up smoked meats and salt pork for winter use. He was a kind man and would cook the Sunday dinner sometimes. He knew how to store vegetables in a pit with layers of straw, deep in the ground, so they didn’t freeze in winter. He would make several crocks of sauerkraut from the cabbage patch each year. It was hard to keep food without a freezer in those days. Fruit, berries, and other foods were put up in glass jars for later use.

We stayed here until a stranger came along (about 1803) and bought the place from Mr Espy, without Pa knowing the place was for sale. Now we had to move again, to Gold Hill, Jackson Co, OR. Lillian was born here at Gold Hill, up the Rogue River at Squaw Valley, on 1 Nov 1903. The soil was not very good on the 200 acre farm, but a good living could be made.

Washington State near Colfax, Whitman Co 1904–1908

1904 Neal farm near Colfax & Pullman WA

1905 Leased Sothe farm (large grain farm near Colfax), Edith b

1907 Moved from house to tent but still farmed on Sothe land. Percy James b on Yoe place

1907 Fall, moved back to Neal farm in fall while harvesting on Sothe farm

1908 Mar left Neal farm, went to Houston TX

We moved from here in a couple of years (1904), to the Neal place in WA near the town of ... [Paul leaves a blank. Compare Adolph story. Nobody seems to remember just where this place was, except that it was in WA], where we stayed a few months until a larger farm could be found. Mr Neal’s family had died a short time before from a strange sickness. When spring came we moved to the 360 acre Sothe farm near Colfax in Whitman Co, WA. It had a good house and orchard, with barn for livestock and hay. Pa and the boys fixed the fences and painted the house. The school was on the place, a short walk from home, but only the ones who were too young to work could find time for going to school. The land was rolling hills with very good soil for raising wheat and oats. It took good plows and machinery to handle this large a farm. We had good work horses to pull the plows, wagons, and harvesters. Pa took a lot of interest in each farm he worked, and kept the equipment in good repair. He did most of the blacksmith repairs on plows and other tools. He repaired the buildings and cleared away the rubbish that gathered around the farm. Each spring, Pa planted vegetables for home use, so we would have potatoes, onions, parsnips, turnips, and carrots. Pigs were very necessary in those days as meat and lard for the family. Apples for eating raw and applesauce to use, fresh and canned fruits of many kinds, had to be put up each year. There were fried potatoes, fried apples and parsnips, and many foods were fried in the lard from the pigs we raised; baked potatoes and baked Hubbard squash and homemade bread and fruit pies with lots of milk to use. I remember my father looking at the seed catalog and buying seed potatoes for the garden. He would plow in manure from the barn and poultry house in the fall, so the soil would be loose and rich at planting time. The land for wheat and oats had to be plowed in the fall and seeded before the winter freeze came and covered the soil.

The fourth daughter, Edith, was born here in 1906 on the Sothe place; the seventh and last child, Percy James, was born here in 1907.

LPM NOTE: According to Manly, Percy James was born in a tent on the Neal place (Jun 1907). Adolph says Percy James was born on the Sothe farm.

Mr Sothe was a good man to rent from and we would have stayed on the farm, had he not died suddenly, which it seems cancelled the agreement with my father. The son now wanted the farm for his own use and we were forced to move out of the house. We moved across the rode into a meadow and lived in a tent for a while. Winter was coming and we had to find a place where we could keep warm. We moved back to the Neal place and got settled with our things. Pa built a pig pen for about 15 young porkers we had, and he repaired the house. He cut and stacked plenty of firewood for the cold winter. One cold night, we were huddled around the blazing fireplace when the roof caught fire. After we smothered out the fire with water and buckets, we spent a cold night before repairs could be made the next day. Pa and the older boys went back to the Sothe farm each day to harvest the grain still in the fields. They brought the work horses home each evening to the barn, and on the way Manly fell of Pete, a riding horse, as he crossed a creek. Manly suffered a broken collarbone, which now took a lot of medical care.

Mother had become sick, even before we moved from the Sothe house, and was cared for at a neighbor’s home while Pa and the boys harvested the grain crop. Pa had gathered the vegetables and put some of them in a straw pit in the ground for winter storage, so they would not freeze while deep in the ground. The worst of winter was over, but Ma was very sick and it seemed like she would not get well because she could not take food and was getting so weak. Pan and Ma had been with the church people and seen several miracles of healing among these believers in God. She had previously been prayed for several times. But now again the Elders and church people came, to anoint and pray. As they prayed, Ma felt new strength and sat up in bed for the first time in many weeks. She had been healed for all her neighbors and family to see. Soon she could eat and grow strong again, for her life had been spared by the power of faith in God. In a few weeks there would be an auction sale and all our belongings would be sold, so we could move to a warmer climate.

Texas 1908–1912

It was sad to leave our horses and cows and even the pigs. Our old gray horse Zig was so tame that we children could ride and climb all over him. Our dog Keno had died from eating a poisoned squirrel in the wheat field. I’ll never forget how sad we were that day.

Brazos River near Katy, 1908

We moved by train to Texas after the auction sale and stayed in Richmond for about a month. Then settled on a farm with an old house that was in bad condition and needed repairs. Here by the Brazos River near the town of Katy, some miles from Houston, we started farming. The evenings were nice as we sat outside and the fireflies sparkled by the thousands in the darkness of night. Pa bought two nice young mules with harnesses and broke them in to pull the wagon. He brought a plow, tools, and supplies for housekeeping to the McGinnis farm, and plowed the land. The soil looked good, but the house was old with holes in the floor and roof that had to be patched.  Soon the corn, peanuts, cabbage, sorghum, and vegetables were planted. When one of the mules died, the boys caught a wild mustang off the cattle range, but Pa could not break it to ride or work, so Ma said they should let the wild horse go, and Pa went back to the dealer for another mule. The boys fished in the river and caught bullfrogs, but had to watch out for poison snakes. We picked wild berries and grapes along the marshes. It was just lucky that we didn’t get bit. There were big trees and brush along the bayous and large ponds of water, but the rest of the land was open cattle range, as far as the eye could see. The soil was rich dark loam here along the Brazos and the crops grew well.

One day when the corn was about six inches tall we were working in the field cultivating and hoeing weeds, and all at once a great swarm of grasshoppers came off the vast prairie and devoured every green plant on the farm. New seeds had to be bought and planted again, but even though it was late in the season they grew well and were ready for harvest. The corn had been cut and shocked to dry, when the wind came up and a great storm blackened the sky: a hurricane was coming. The range cattle moved into the forest by the hundreds to get out of the roaring wind, but came out again after the thunder stopped and the rain started to fall. It rained heavily for several days and the country was flooded for many miles around. The crop was all lost again and our money from the auction sale in Washington was about gone. Pa had already sold the plow to get food money. When the storm let up, we moved out.

Now we loaded the wagon with our belongings, and the milk cow tied so she could follow. We waded knee deep in water for many miles on the flat plains, before reaching dry land. After we finally got past the flooded area, Pa had to sell the cow, because it would be too long a trip and she had no food while traveling; and we needed the money. As we traveled on, the weather got hot and dry and the roads dusty from lack of rain. Now water was hard to get for the mules and we had to pay for drinking water. People didn’t have enough water for their own use. This was the longest and worst journey we had seen yet, from flood to drought in about one week’s travel on foot with wagon and mule team. We all walked most of the way because it was all the mules could do to pull the wagon along the hot and dusty road. The mules suffered from lack of water and food. We asked for help at farms along the way, but found little from the poor people who were having a hard time making a living. At one farm, we did get to stay a few days to rest in a field workers’ house, which gave the mules a chance to regain their strength.

Mule Ranch near Lockhart (Caldwell Co, TX), 1908

We came to a ranch near Lockhart TX, where jacks were bred for raising mules, and there were horses, donkeys, and a lot of milk cows. The prize jacks were in separate stalls that had to be cleaned each day and have fresh straw bedding. There were hay fields and meadows to look after. Adolph and Louie got a job here for a while, and we lived in a small house on the place. Pa went to look for a job or a better place to live. Work here on the jack ranch was hard, with long hours and small pay that was hard to collect. We younger boys spent our time trying to catch rabbits in the rock fences with the help of a poor mangy dog that hung around, but we gave up because of the rattlesnakes that lived in the rock fences. We kept some rabbits in an old vacant house for a few days before Pa found out and made us turn them loose. We couldn’t swim in the water ponds because of the poison water snakes. Things got so bad here, that we could not stay in the little shack when cold weather came.

Agua Dulce, 1908-1909

We moved to a cotton farm that was starting up out on the open prairie near Agua Dulce, Nueces Co, not far from Corpus Christi TX. We lived in a tiny old house and used a tent with a board floor for sleeping quarters. This was coyote and rattlesnake country. Pa killed about 20 rattlers on the place and the coyotes howled around the place at night. Pa worked breaking wild mules and Adolph and Louie plowed, planted, and cultivated the fields, until the crops withered and dried up from lack of rain. The range cattle were dying from lack of water and feed. It was a sad sight to see. Once while Pa was plowing land near the house, he saw a mirage of an ocean port, with ships moving in the bay. . It was a reflection of Corpus Christi harbor. He called to us and we all saw it, like a mirror low in the sky

Alice and Riviera, 1909-1911

We could not stay here much longer and in 1909 we moved to the town of Alice, where we lived in a rented house while Pa looked for a place to work or farm. We moved to Riviera with mules and wagon. Adolph and Louie worked on a big farm that had a new artesian well for watering the crops. The good loam soil supported many kinds of plants. Pa raised cotton, corn, onions, and watermelons. We lived close by in town, in a tent that was up on a board platform to keep the snakes out. After a while, we bought a lot and built a house, and a barn for the mules, cow, and poultry. This was the best we had since we came to Texas. There was wild brush and trees on two sides of our place, so we had to be careful about rattlesnakes. A new house was built across the road and another in the next block. There was a low place of three or four acres of grassland nearby, that looked like a lake bed. To our surprise, it filled up with water during a big rainstorm. It had been dry, but now we went wading here. In a few weeks we noticed yellow water lilies in the lake and would wade out to pick the flowers. It was hard to believe they were there and in bloom so soon. While she was picking them, something hit Edith on the foot and left marks on her foot like a snake bite. We saw a black snake swim away. We ran to the drug store, and the druggist opened the fang marks and kept washing out the cuts with iodine. Edith was all right and we never went in the lake again. I came down with measles here, and was sick for about a week.

The school was close by, and this is my first memory of going to school. We had lost so much schooling by moving around the country. We worked in the fields when not in school, thinning the rows of cotton and corn and chopping weeds where the cultivator could not reach. Then there was picking cotton day after day. We had to be on the lookout for snakes and could not pick cotton after dark when they came out. The milk cows grazed out on the prairie and had to be brought home each evening. Sometimes it would take a while to find them, and it would be after dark, when the coyotes howl as they run in packs. Another danger that was especially bad was the rattlesnakes that came out in the warm evenings and were hard to see after dark. Sometimes we would see wild donkeys out on the range, never very close because they had been chased by cowboys so much. Some were red or black and not gray like most donkeys. One tall black wild donkey would jump the fence at night and feed in the cotton field.

Albert came here to Riviera and built several houses for the new settlers. Adolph married Lottie Wing and moved to Woodsboro TX [1910].Dillie came to see us, just after her husband Ed Monroe died in Georgia. She went on to California, to cook in the logging camps and summer resorts. [LPM note: Ed Monroe became ill in Alabama; Dillie and Ed moved to southern CA where he died in 1913. Most likely guess: Dillie came to Riviera just before she moved to CA.]

Pa and Ma sold their place in town and moved to a small farm a few miles out of town. We raised cotton, corn, and vegetables here. Pa built a water pond around the artesian well, to store water for irrigating the crops here. He was buying another sixty acres of good land a few miles away, where we raised cotton. We had high hopes for this place, and were building a house and would have an artesian well drilled before moving in. The farm next to our place had a good well for many years, but now it was not running as much and the water was getting salty. Our place would be of no use to us without water, so we had to give up the place and be on the move again.

Mexico 1911–1914

Dillie was married Jun 1906 and Albert Nov 1911; these two did not go to Texas with the family. Adolph met Lottie in Texas and married her May 1910 (see Adolph autobiography). Children who went to Mexico with their parents were Louie, Manly, Charlie, Carrie, Paul, Lillian, Edith, and Percy James.

Louie went to Mexico (see list of Arrivals on p 5 of "El Progreso de Medina, Dec 1911), but he does not appear in the “refugee” photo (McClure’s Jul 1914). Did he return to the US prior to the “Tampico Incident”? Louie was married Oct 1915, and he definitely did not go to Panama.

We moved to Old Mexico in late 1911 [see Dec 1911 issue of El Progreso de Medina] to the town of Medina in Oaxaca state. Pa worked for Mr Grigsby, a land developer, and later planted orange trees for other land owners. Louie, Manly, Charlie, and I worked clearing land and helping Pa farm the places. We raised pineapples, corn, cabbage, and other crops between the citrus tree rows. Our fruit and vegetables were sent by train to be sold in Mexico City. There were several American farmers here, and things went well for about three years. We had horses, mules, cows, pigs, and poultry.

Then the war came and all aliens were taken out by Government soldiers on trains. For our safety, we were kept in jails and army camps. During the last day of the ten day trip [between Medina and Veracruz] we were under the protection of four different flags: under the flag of Mexico in the morning at a Mexican army camp; then under the British flag while on an English train until we reached a place where the tracks were torn up; then under the German flag with German officers for about seven miles, from where we left the English train to where US soldiers were camped; and finally under the American flag when escorting about 300 of us refugees on into the port city of Veracruz where the battle had taken place [US Marines seized Veracruz April 21 1914]. Here we were put on an ocean liner and came to New Orleans, USA, in 1914.

Under the administration of Huerta occurred the incident of the trouble between Mexico and the United States. At Tampico, the paymaster and seven sailors of the American gunboat Dolphin were arrested by Mexican soldiers. Huerta refused to comply with President Wilson’s demand for a twenty-one gun salute as a public apology for this insult to the American flag. [McNair: “Huerta apologized but would fire the salute only if (US Admiral) Mayo assured him it would be answered in kind. Mayo accepted no conditions.”] To enforce this request, Wilson sent General Funston with a brigade to Veracruz. This incident was closed by the signing of a peace protocol 24 Jun 1914, and American troops were withdrawn from Veracruz on 23 Nov of that year.

See also:

The following description is in Ethelyn Adams’ handwriting, probably largely quoted from her father, Adolph Elmer Meissner, who may have obtained much of the information during his visit to Paul during the summer of 1973:

At the time of the “Tampico Incident” in April 1914, Adolph Frederick and Loretta Meissner and their family of five boys and three girls were living in the little town of Medina in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. They had traveled by way of Mexico City from Riviera TX (near Brownsville) in 1911 or thereabout. They had sixty acres of land known as the Peoria Ranch and ten acres adjoining Mrs Logan’s purchase, besides working part time for some other Americans who also were farming land near by. The climate was ideal, the country beautiful, and they were happy and comfortable living there for about three years, until trouble broke out between the two governments.

The Meissner family were forced to leave with just the clothes on their backs and what provisions they could carry. All non-Mexican people in the territory were escorted by soldiers onto trains to be taken to Veracruz, a journey that proved to be of eight or ten days’ extent. From Medina they were taken to Tierra Blanca, the men on flat cars and the women in coal cars. Here they were garrisoned by the soldiers for three days before a train could be obtained to take them to Orizaba. Once again they were placed in a prison (for safety’s sake) along with about three hundred other Americans who had been brought in from surrounding areas. From Orizaba they were taken by horse-drawn street cars to Soledad where they had to stay all night and until the following noon in the cars IN AN ARMY CAMP UNDER THE MEXICAN FLAG. [Insertions by Paul] From there they were transferred to aN ENGLISH train UNDER ENGLISH FLAG and went as far as the railroad tracks were intact, then finally they had to walk UNDER A GERMAN FLAG COMMAND the last six or eight miles to THE SAND HILLS OUTSIDE VERACRUZ THAT WERE HELD BY AMERICAN SOLDIERS UNDER THE AMERICAN FLAG. ALL FOUR FLAGS IN ONE DAY. Here the American government took over the prisoners from the Mexican soldiers and gave them food and took them across to New Orleans. It was here in Veracruz that an International News Service correspondent took the Meissner family picture as refugees and it was published in the July 1914 issue of McClure’s Magazine, which can be found in the archives of many large libraries. [Source for month? Hazel’s copy says September 1914 on the back.]

Unknown man, Paul, Loretta (mother), Edith, Carrie, Percy James, Adolph (father), Lillian, Charlie, Manly


[Note: Manly seemed to have a slightly different take on the first stage of their departure from Medina: I got the impression that they did not leave under direct military compulsion, but they were given to understand both the Mexican government and the American government considered it unsafe for American nationals to remain in that part of Mexico. They were told a train was leaving at a certain time in a few hours from the railroad a few miles away, which could bring them into American jurisdiction at Veracruz if they were on it. However, at some points during the days of their ordeal they definitely felt that their lives were in danger.]

From New Orleans the Meissner family went by train to live at Upland CA for about two years before going to Panama where they spent two years at the Canal Zone and four years living and farming in the highlands above David. They came back to California in Jun1922 and lived in Los Angeles at 315 Lee Place.

Upland CA 1914–1916

We came from New Orleans by train to Upland CA. Dillie had married William Shirtz [Schertz?] and we lived next door in a house of theirs. Bill owned a Buick car, but it wouldn’t run, so Louie helped him fix it, and Will would take us for a ride on Sundays. Dillie and Will were good to us. Pa and Dillie worked in the orange packing house. Louie and Manly picked oranges and worked for the farmers. Charlie, Carrie, Paul, Lillian, Edith, and Percy James went to school. My spare time was used to raise vegetables, pigeons, and rabbits. We got a baby goat but that was too much trouble when it got big. The goat and rabbits could not stay. The pigeons would get out and fly away.

Jobs got scarce for a while and Louie went up to Washington to live and married Alice Riddel. He did well and that is where he stayed. Charlie and Carrie stayed in school when the family moved to Panama.

Adolph and Loretta went to Panama in 1916 with their four youngest children: Paul, Lillian, Edith, and Percy James. Manly was already in Panama, having gone in 1915; Charlie went later in 1916. Carrie stayed with Dillie so she could finish high school (at Chaffey HS, Ontario CA). She was engaged to Andrew but declined to marry him until she finished high school.

Panama 1916–1922

We moved away in 1916 and went to Panama. Some Americans were starting a land development on the shore of Gatun Lake [the lake formed during construction of the Canal], several miles by boat from the Canal Zone. We went with them to clear land and build several huts. It rained most of the time and some of the settlers got sick with malaria fever, including me. Someone had taken the boat so we had no way to get out except hiking through the jungle. Finally someone went for help and the Red Cross came with a boat and rescued us. We stayed in an army barracks at Gatun. Pa got a government job in a carpenter shop at Ancon CZ, and we lived in Panama City until we got a house at La Boca where the colored employees lived. In a few weeks we got a nicer house in Ancon CZ near the school. Pa changed his job to landscape gardening foreman and later to superintendent of the department. Manly was working as a foreman on a government vegetable farm. Charlie came from California and worked in the administration building. Lillian, Edith, Percy James, and I went to school. I worked on the government vegetable garden during school vacation, found it to my liking, and did not go back to grammar school but went to apprentice school as a ship jointer in the Balboa shops. I rode the labor train to work each day. Our family had jobs and a good house to live in. Sometimes on a nice Sunday, Charlie and I would hike into the jungles looking for deer, with our machete strapped to our belt and a single barrel 12-gauge shotgun. We wore leather leggings for protection from snakes. We saw many wild animals, including monkeys. We never shot the gun much, but it made us feel safe.

In 1918 Pa went to Ecuador, and in 1919 Manly went to Bolivia. [These were apparently excursions to see if there was good land that they should move to.] At the end of World War I in 1918, everyone was running around in cars and trucks and on horseback. The stable was close to where we lived and we could ride the horses and mules. We rode a couple of miles up the hill and were watching the celebration, when the fever came back on me again, just as it had several times before. I rushed back with the mule and put him in his stall and went to bed! I woke up in the hospital.

Charlie and I planned to climb the volcano (Volcán de Chiriquí, now Volcán Barú) on our next vacation (in 1918). From Panama City we went 300 miles by boat to the port of David, and 25 miles by horseback up the mountain’s gentle slope, to a ranch at three thousand feet elevation. This was beautiful green country, with no mosquitoes or flies like there are in the lowlands. They raised cattle, coffee, bananas, corn, and sugar cane here. There were lots of wild birds, monkeys, deer, and other animals. We went by mule back around the mountain to the town of Boquete, where the hills were covered with coffee trees and this was beautiful to see, with a clear cool river tumbling down through the hidden village. We met a native guide here, who took us climbing for two days to the peak of the volcano at eleven thousand feet elevation, with a view of both oceans from this lofty pinnacle.

Click for larger picture

In 1919 Pa went to Chiriquí to see the place above David, and we bought the ranch where Charlie and I had stayed. We moved in by pack horse, because there was no wagon road. We made an oxcart road later, and cleared land for planting. It rained so much that the sloping ground would wash away if it was plowed. Farming had to be done the native way, without removing fallen trees. The place was a long haul to the port of David and on by boat to Panama City. Few new settlers came here, and those who came soon went away.

[see also Loretta letters ..\..\loretta\loretta_letters.htm ]

Manly and Charlie had stayed with their jobs on the Canal Zone. We decided [1922] to leave this beautiful place because of its drawbacks and return to the US. This was a good choice in the long run. However, Charlie stayed on the Canal Zone where he had a good job. Charlie worked on the Canal locks and found a ship’s captain who let me work my way back to San Diego.

California 1922–1927

We came to Los Angeles in 1922, where Dillie, Albert, and Carrie now lived. Pa helped Andrew on his farm. I worked as a carpenter with Albert. A neighbor (Mr Tapp) let me help build his house, and he got me a job at Weber Fixture Co where he worked. I bought a lot and built a house, with the help of Manly and Pa, where I lived and was doing fine.

Things went well for us until 1924. Pa and Ma got restless again and went looking for a place at Lancaster CA. The real estate man’s car turned over on a curve near Palmdale and mother was crushed; Pa was not hurt. Ma was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Cemetery at Glendale CA.

[To:] Manly and Adolph Meissner; RR2; Cedar Rapids, Iowa

[From Adolph F Meissner]
315 Lee Place; Los Angeles, Calif; June 29, [19]24

Dear Sons and Daughters,

I do praise the dear Lord that he is a comfort to us in our bereavement. We know that Dear Mother loved the Lord and loved all of us. If we will just stop and think how kind and thoughtful she was to see that our needs was supplied. We all know what Dear Mother went through with. It seems so hard that she had to be taken away from us so sudden. I did not get a chance to say as much as goodbye to her. I will try and tell you how it happened.

Mother read an ad in the paper, of a 40 acre ranch with 35 Jersey cows, with a very small payment down. It was near Lancaster. So on the morning of the 19th [Thursday 19 Jun 1924] her and I went to 125 S Broadway, met our man, and started for Lancaster. Everything went fine and Mother remarked to how much she enjoyed the ride. This happened just about 30 minutes before we were wrecked.

We passed through a small town called Palms Dale. The road was perfect straight for about 3/4 of a mile, and then it turned to the left. We was going about 35 miles [an hour]; I think the driver was thinking of the sale he was going to make, instead of where he was. At any rate the car left the road and turned over, and 3 of us was thrown clear of the car and Mother was under the side of the car with a part of the car lying across her neck. I sprang up and helped to get her out. We raised her up. The first thing, she said “I am dying, I am dying.” So we took her from there to the hotel in Palms Dale. On the way to the hotel she says, “What will become of Percy and Edith?” and “Lord have pity on my pour soul.” Then she said, “Oh take away this awful pain.” Then we took her into the hotel and laid her on a cot. She said “Pa, take off my shoes.” Then she said, “Get my corset off.” Then she said, “Take off my stockings — Oh!” Then she gasped for breath and was dead. So I wrapped up her shoes and stockings and turned her over to the undertaker. Then I took the stage for L.A. This all happened about 9:30 on Percy’s [17th] birthday. [Loretta died 19 Jun 1924. Note Manly and Hazel were already married (in Iowa 11 Jun)]

We were about 80 miles from L.A. The 21st we had the body moved to the undertakers’ at Highland Park. Monday the 23rd the funeral was held. We laid her in under a beautiful grove of trees in Forest Lawn.

It has been just about 41 years since I and your mother first met. It is impossible to tell how much love we had for each other.

I will say to each one of you, “Be kind to one another, for the day will soon be at hand when one of you will be taken.”

May the Dear Lord bless you all, is my prayer.

From your Father

Albert had a cabinet shop on Annandale Blvd in Los Angeles where he lived. He got sick and needed me to help in the shop, so I left my job at Weber’s. Albert recovered and business was so good that we went together and built a larger shop. We had all the work we needed, with Albert going out for orders. His wife Emma took care of the office. Pa, Percy James, a hired man, and I worked in the shop. Albert was not content to leave good enough alone; he wanted to expand into the house building business. I was not interested in building houses, so I sold my share back to Albert and went back to work at Weber Showcase and Fixture Co.

Edith married Emmet Haddox and they lived on their walnut farm. I sold my house and moved with Percy James to live in an extra room we built at Dillie and George’s place. I had bought a Ford roadster in 1925 while working in the Eagle Rock shop with Albert. Lillian had married Earl Kellogg and gone east to live. Pa farmed with Andrew and his good friend John [Cepo] and stayed at the farm with Carrie. Manly married Hazel Kleeberger and went to live in Iowa. Pa was remarried to Mattie Mc Lennan in 1928 and went to live on her farm in Oklahoma. Percy James married Odell Brummer.

Mildred 1927–

I was transferred to San Francisco in early 1927 to install store fixtures for Weber. Bob Wallace, Hal Smith, and Andy Anderson worked with me. It was here that I met Mildred Hosking, who was a sister-in-law of Andy [Adeline’s first husband?] Mildred’s father Arthur had been a fine father, but he had passed away the year before. Mildred’s mother was a very good worker and a nice person, For vacation, she rented a cabin at a Russian River resort where she went with Mildred and me plus Lorraine and a few other friends, and we had a good time. I had just bought a Buick and Bob loved to drive it.

Mildred and I were married 4 Dec 1927 at her mother’s house, with a few good friends. It was a perfect wedding. We moved to Los Angeles near Dillie in an apartment next to a little house on Orchard St. Our son Howard was born 7 Aug 1929 while we lived on Baring Cross Av.