My Family History

Chapter 1 Section B


by Glenn D. McMurry


Grandparents Deal

My grandfather's name was Joseph Marion Deal. He was born in Wisconsin March 3, 1862. He had five sisters: Nellie, Fannie May, Lucy, Rose, and Sue; and three brothers, Gene, Clem and Franklin. The only ones I remember are Nellie, who was my Great Aunt Nellie Raub, and Sue. Great Aunt Sue came to visit my grandparents a number of times. There was a joke about her that got repeated often in the family. She was quoted as declaring, "Iíll tell you one thing, Iíd never get into bed with a nakíd man. I donít care if he was my husband." Iím not sure whether she had a husband. In my memory, she came alone on her visits.

My grandparents were married in Wisconsin, March 15, 1883. For some reason they moved to Phillips County, Kansas in 1892. I guess Grandpa Deal wanted to get a taste of the wide-open spaces of Western Kansas.

Their first home in Kansas was a sod house. It was a real convenient way to build a house in those days. Lumber was scarce and expensive, and prairie sod was plentiful and free. Of course, one needed a sod plow, good horses and a willingness to put in some hard labor.

I remember Grandpa saying, "Every pioneer had a sod plow those days. If they didnít bring one along when they moved west, they bought one when they got there."

I saw a sod plow once, and it certainly was a simple device. I suppose it could be called a laborsaving device, because it was better than digging by hand. However, it took two good horses to pull it, and even then the ground had to be moist to make it work right. It certainly couldnít be used when the ground was frozen, when it was dry as a rock or when it was too wet.

The sod plow cut a three or four inch strip of sod and turned it over. The sod was then cut into convenient lengths with a flat spade and loaded onto a wagon. It was a backbreaking job, for sure.

Many roots were tightly woven into the soil, making the lengths of sod very heavy. These roots went deep and after a layer of sod was removed, they would grow. With some rain and warm weather, the ground was soon covered with grass again.

Grandpa had to buy heavy boards to make frames for windows, doors and roofs. Because sod was so heavy, roofs were made from wood.

Since that sod made good insulation, sod houses were relatively easy to heat in winter. Cow and buffalo chips were in good supply and they made excellent fuel.

According to my Mom the sod house was also cool in summer. When we were having hot, humid weather, making it hard to sleep at night, I sometimes wished for that cool sod house my Mom lived in when she was a kid.

Six children were born to my grandparents. The second child died in infancy. The other five were Ed, Mom, Nelle, Joe, and Leo. All except Joe and Leo was born in Kansas. I remember Mom telling me about taking care of Uncle Leo when he was a baby, especially how she had to change his diapers. I guess that was the part she disliked the most. Since that was long before the day of disposable diapers or modern washing machines, Iím sure keeping a supply of clean diapers was quite a chore.

Deal Family, 1904
Nelle, Edward, Bonnie (my Mom)
Grandpa, Joseph Marion, Jr. (Joey), Grandma

Deal Family (years later)
Mom, Ed, Nelle, Grandma, Leo, Joey

As more people moved into the area, the little town of Marvin was started, and my grandparents left their sod house for a home in the town.

Grandpa Deal

Grandpa Deal at 70 Years

I always understood that Joseph Marion Deal, my grandpa, was a Pennsylvania Dutchman. I suppose that meant that he or, at least, his ancestors were part of the Amish community that has lived in Pennsylvania for many years.

Of course, my grandparents met in Wisconsin, and at that time, my grandpa was a Methodist. I have no knowledge of whether he ever was Amish in his religious beliefs. I know he had very strict moral and ethical standards. In fact, Grandpa Deal was a "hot headed" person in any matters concerning his beliefs about right and wrong.

The Deals were typical Methodists of that day. That meant one was opposed to the vices of drinking, gambling, smoking, dancing, card playing, and the like. My Grandpa was fiercely opposed to these "sins," and probably the worst of them all, in his eyes, was drinking alcohol. A short time after the family moved into the town of Marvin, a saloon was opened there. That did it! In 1908 he sold his farm and home, and moved his family to a little central Kansas town called Bernal. The name of the town was later changed to Elmer.

Grandpa purchased a farm close to the Elmer church and school. According to my Mom, it had a very nice house and barn.

That house was destroyed by fire at least twice. Once while Grandpa and Grandma lived there and, later, when another family moved in. As a matter a fact, I believe their barn was struck by lightning and also burned to the ground.

When the family moved to Elmer, Joseph Marion, whom everyone called "Joey," and Leo were the only kids still in school. They went to Elmer, the same little school I was to attend some years later.

Uncle Ed, Aunt Nelle, and my Mom were all "courtiní" age. First Mom, and then Aunt Nelle, were married while my grandparents lived at Elmer.

In 1917, Grandpa Deal decided to leave his Elmer farm for one in Burrton about sixteen miles to the east. The farm had a rather stately house, situated at the end of the "water-tower" road. As a kid, I always looked for the water tower as we neared Burrton. As soon as it came in sight, I knew we were getting close to Grandpaís farm. Soon I could see that gleaming white house more clearly with its big red barn trimmed in white. There were other outbuildings, like the granary, buggy house and chicken house. Of course, there was also the well-known outhouse between the house and the chicken house.

Why Grandpa bought that farm, Iíll never know. He always complained about the hardpan earth that he had to plow.

"That soil is the hardest stuff to plow I ever saw," heíd say to Dad. "Itís either too dry and hard or itís too sticky and wet. It always takes a four-horse team to pull the plow."

Grandpa and Uncle Ed farmed that farm together until Uncle Ed married my Aunt Elizabeth. Uncle Ed then took over the farm. Grandpa bought a little home in town within walking distance from the farm. He continued to spend lots of his time helping with the farm work as long as his health permitted.

I was still in grade school when my grandparents moved into a house in the town of Burrton. I have many memories of that little brown house, trimmed in white. We had many happy times on our visits there. There were also sad times for the family in that house. My grandparents both died there. Since my Uncle Leo never married, he made his home there until his death. Aunt Nelle lived there until her death. Her youngest son, Gene, lived there until his death. Finally, after his death, the family home was sold.

The day came when Grandpa and Uncle Ed decided they should have a Ford Pickup around the farm. It would be very handy for hauling things back and forth from the town house to the farm. Also, it would be much more convenient to use for grocery shopping than having to hitch up a team of horses to a wagon or buggy.

Uncle Ed did most of the driving of that pickup, but there came a time that Grandpa decided to take a trip to the town of Hutchinson, which was fourteen miles away. He wanted to get groceries for Grandma and some repairs for his machinery.

Uncle Ed loved to tell the story of Grandpaís first solo trip. He would start by telling how he had given Grandpa driving lessons and thought he thoroughly understood just what to do. Then he would tell how he watched in amazement at what happened that day.

First Grandpa had to back the pickup out of the barn that had recently been vacated by their buggy. Becoming confused about just how much to push on which pedal and when, he shot out like a bucking bronco.

"Whoa! Whoa!" Grandpa kept hollering as he backed all around in the back yard.

Finally, he got his foot off the gas pedal and slowed down. Then he quickly slammed down the brake pedal and came to an abrupt stop.

Uncle Ed then ran over to Grandpa and reminded him how to shift gears and move forward. At last Grandpa got the pickup in a forward motion and was on his way to Hutchinson.

After a few hours, he came back. Uncle Ed saw him coming down the road and could tell that he was in low gear. I guess no one ever knew whether he drove in low on the way over as well as all the way back.

"I wondered why the engine ran so fast for that fourteen miles," he said when Uncle Ed told him he should have shifted into high.

I can still hear Uncle Ed laughing as he told this story. As I heard it several times, it has stuck in my mind. I also remember that Grandpa didnít appreciate all the ribbing he got over his driving escapades.

Grandma had another story to tell about Grandpaís driving. One Sunday afternoon she suggested they take a ride to the park in Halstead, about seven miles away. This time things went fairly well until they came to a railroad track and the train was approaching the crossover. Since Grandpa couldnít think quickly how to stop the car, he just turned off onto another street and went around the block several times until the train went by.

By that time Grandma said she wasnít so sure that she wanted to go on, but Grandpa insisted they continue.

They enjoyed the rest of the drive to the park, but their fun didnít last long. They hadnít gone far inside the park when Grandpa saw a small bridge in front of him. It didnít look too safe to him so he drove off the road. Quickly, he found himself turning this way and that to miss the trees. By then he was too confused to find the brake pedal. You can guess the rest. He didnít miss one of the trees and it stopped him abruptly. Although both Grandma and Grandpa whacked their heads into the windshield, they werenít hurt badly. Of course, both were very embarrassed as people came to untangle Grandpa from his predicament.

Although Grandpa didnít appreciate hearing Grandma and Uncle Ed tell their jokes on his driving, he was a great joke teller, himself. I always liked to hear him and I never remember hearing a joke that didnít make me laugh. As a matter of fact, he laughed at his own jokes as he was telling them. Sometimes heíd get so involved in telling his joke that weíd forget the gist of the story. As he had a Santa Claus belly laugh that was catching, it didnít really matter whether we really got the point of the joke or not. We would all laugh with him.

Grandpa had a Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish background, and he could speak the "low" German used by the Amish in our area. When heíd go to Hutchinson on Saturdays, he would look for groups of Amish men standing around on the streets talking together. Heíd listen awhile and then walk up and join in the conversation. As he didnít dress in Amish-style clothing, they would really be taken off their guard. Grandpa loved to tell us about the times heíd play his little joke on the unsuspecting Amish men.

"You should have seen those guys. They stopped right in their tracks and stared at me," heíd say as he laughed at the trick he had played on them.

Each time grandpa told that story Iíd think, "I surely wish I could talk Dutch. Then Iíd know what those Amish kids at my school were talking about."

One of my Dutch-speaking friends told me that the kids liked to say "dirty" things, because they knew that the teacher and all of us non-Amish kids couldnít understand.

Grandma Deal didnít always appreciate Grandpaís humor.

"Joe," sheíd say, "you shouldnít embarrass those men that way. Itís not the Christian thing to do."

Grandma was probably right, but as Grandpa told those stories it didnít seem so un-Christian to me. They were down right funny!

The older Grandpa got, the more intense he got about his ideas of right and wrong. He was an ardent Democrat. He liked to discuss politics and the economy, but if his listeners disagreed with him, the discussions got hot and heavy. In fact, he developed a very "short fuse," as the saying goes. Things got so bad the family worried that he would get in real trouble and let his temper get the better of him when someone crossed him.

After awhile, Grandpa lost his hot temper and began to get moody. Since he had never been one to keep to himself and sit at home, Grandma knew he wasnít well.

Things got worse and worse. One day Grandpa began to suspect that the bank was swindling him out of his money.

"I want to take a look at your books," he demanded of his bank president.

Naturally, the president refused such a demand.

Grandpa got very angry and his "quick fuse" went off. He hit the bank president, knocking him down. The police were called and Grandpa was taken to jail. The story was spread over the front page of the Hutchinson paper. How embarrassed the family was!

The police, moved by Grandmaís pleas, released grandpa into her custody. I donít remember the details of all that happened, but I do remember how upset and hurt Grandma was over the affair. She was a proud person and something like that happening to her "Joe" affected her deeply.

The rest of the family were notified about Grandpaís mental and health problems. Mom was especially concerned. She thought the world of her father, but could do nothing except grieve over the problems. Since we lived in Western Kansas at the time, it was difficult for us to get back to Burrton very often. Sometime later, the authorities decided that Grandpa must spend time at the State Mental Institution in Larned, Kansas. His condition didnít seem to improve with the care there. He only became more despondent and moody. Finally, he was released back into Grandmaís care.

Grandpaís mental condition did stabilize some when he returned home, but he was never the Grandpa that I used to know. I was about fifteen years old by this time. When we would visit Burrton, we would all try to act as if everything were normal. However, everyone knew things werenít right. My fun loving, joke-telling Grandpa was gone. In his place was a broken, quiet, despondent old man.

One day the phone rang and it was Aunt Nelle with the message, "Papa died last night. Can you come?"

Of course, our entire family stopped what we were doing and returned to Burrton to be with Grandma during her sorrow.

I remember Mom saying, "Papa is now asleep in Jesus and his troubled mind is at rest."

Ruegger Ancestors

I know more about Grandma Dealís family than I ever was able to learn about Grandpaís family. Grandmaís father, Edward Ruegger, was born October 18, 1836, in Switzerland. In 1854 the family came to America and settled in Monroe, Wisconsin. Edwardís father was a minister and was the first to hold a church service in the German language in Monroe.

In 1908 my Great-Grandpa Ruegger and his sisters, Pauline and Amalia, known as "Emma," were able to return to their home in Switzerland for a visit. These pictures of the three and of their home were taken during that trip.

Great-Grandpa Ruegger fought in the Civil War. The following article appeared in the Spring, 1954, edition of the Wisconsin Magazine of History.

Five Weeks of my Army Life
By Captain Edward Ruegger1
(Introductory Note by Lillian Kruege
A vigorous young man, a resident of Monroe, enlisted in Company K, Ninth Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry on October 7, 1861. Edward Ruegger reported at Camp Si(illegible), Milwaukee, where he was commissioned a second lieutenant the month following enlistment. After a short interval he became a first lieutenant and, about nine months later, on August 15, 1862, was ranked as captain. After more than three years' service, he was mustered out at Milwaukee on December 3, 1864. 

His soldiering completed, he returned to Monroe and became the proprietor of a hotel known as the United States House, subsequently operating a brewery and also a wholesale cheese firm. 

A farm in Town Clarno, near Monroe, became the Ruegger home from the late 1870's until 1896. His wife died in 1888, and Captain Ruegger then married Louisa W. Pfeiffer of Monroe, later removing with their family to the city. For about thirteen years the Captain was Monroe's justice of the peace, retiring in 1908, and that year enjoyed his first visit to his native Switzerland. 

Captain Ruegger, a sociable man, found recreation as a member of the Turner Hall Society and the Sharpshooters' Club; he was the founder of the Harmonic Singing Club (Swiss Maennerchor), which he directed for many years. His services at various community levels were many: He was sheriff of Green County, alderman of Monroe, chairman of the Green County Democratic Committee, and so on. Of him it was said: "He proved faithful to every trust..." The death of Captain Ruegger occurred on April 12, 1916. 

To perpetuate Civil War history in the Midwest, Mrs. Ruegger has permitted the printing of her husband's account of his participation as a member of Co. E. Ninth Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in the Camden Expedition in March and April, 1864. (Camden is situated in Southern Arkansas on the Ouachita River. It was settled in 1824, and in 1860 had a free population of 1,344 and 2,219 slaves.)

The aged little Mrs. Ruegger offered her assistance and participation in an interview at the Society's Building, bringing a Ruegger genealogy, clippings, a picture collection and an abundance of enthusiasm. After a sprightly morning's conversation, she still sparkled as she bade "Good Bye," willing to make another trip from Monroe were it necessary. 

We wish to acknowledge Mrs. Ruegger's helpfulness in supplying information relating to her husband and in clarifying portions of the Camden Expedition manuscript. 

Ruegger's Account

The Seventh Army Corps, commanded by Major General Steele, was taking life easy, encamped in the spring of 1864 near Little Rock, the capital city of the State of Arkansas, a pretty city on the river of the same name. It remained there the greater part of the winter and, outside of the regular guard duty and erecting earth forts, passed the time at leisure.

About the middle of March our army corps received orders from the army commander to move forward to Camden, Arkansas, to aid, if necessary, Major General Banks, whose troops were partly in Louisiana and partly in Texas, headed against the notorious Rebel General Kirby Smith.

Our army corps consisted mainly of veterans, who already were in their second and third year of service and who were well-trained, acclimated, and used to hardships of all kinds.

We left Little Rock as stated above in the second half of March and marched in a southern-westerly direction toward our goal. There was not much happening the first few days, except that several times bushwhackers fired into our columns and then retired in a hurry on their horses, so that pursuance by infantry was not to be thought of. After advancing further, we soon realized that we were up against a tough proposition. We marched mainly through woods, and soon our advance guard was attacked so that we heard shooting all day long.

Who never saw an army corps moving (ours was 12,000 men) has no idea how slowly and awkwardly this is accomplished, with so many batteries [illegible] with their train and baggage-wagons, one wagon for each company of infantry, pulled by six mules and whatever else is connected with it; in short, such a train is from three and one-half to four miles long.

Naturally, such a train must have its convoy as protection and a company of infantry was placed in between every 10 or 20 wagons, the army corps away from the front, then the rear guards with about a battalion infantry, a few cannons, and one or two companies of cavalry.

Everything went well until April 2, when our regiment, entirely composed of Germans, the train and rear guard, the cavalry behind us, had been in slight touch with the enemy already two hours. At about two o'clock in the afternoon we turned off the road, which led to Washington, Arkansas, to the left in a rectangular corner formation towards Camden. Of this opportunity the enemy availed themselves to cut us off, together with about half of our wagon train. As everything was heavy timber and we could not see what was ahead of us; they nearly succeeded in doing so. But we stood our ground along enough until the 50th Indiana Regiment, which was Irish, came to our assistance, and we soon turned the enemy to flight. We lost four prisoners and two wounded.

After this we shoved on until we reached the Little Missouri River, where the enemy again showed themselves in masses and prevented our installing a pontoon bridge, although our pontooniers tried it at night. In sort, we had to give it up, as the firing of the enemy was too strong.

In the following night the Second and Third divisions marched about eight miles up along the river, where they waded it and attacked the enemy at about four o'clock in the morning. Now the time had come for our pontooniers and in a short time all were over the river. For a short time there was a bitter battle and our Brigadier General Rice was badly wounded on the head, but could not be induced to leave the battlefield, although blood ran over his face all the time. After a short time, it got too hot for the rebels and they retreated slowly in good order, chased by our cavalry. About one to two miles from here we went into (bivouac) where we rested a few days, as we were badly tired out...

Our regiment was encamped near a long house, and I cannot pass over this without relating a brief episode. Near the log house was a fresh grave with a board at the head and bearing the inscription, "Colonel, 5th Texas Rangers." A sergeant of my company, a curious fellow, investigated the grave and found a large hogshead full of smoked hams and shoulders instead of the body of a colonel. He reported same immediately, and I sent about ten men with him. They disinterred the rebel colonel, which in cannibal fashion was promptly devoured by the regiment.

After our rest, we shoved on and reached the Prairie St. Ann the following day. That day I was officer of the day and, as such am always served with a horse, I was in front with the General Staff. The view we had reaching the prairie was immense. The enemy was standing in battle line, infantry and cavalry composing the center with the cavalry on both sides as cover for the flanks, with sufficient reserves.

Our infantry now advanced, running at both sides of the timber road, the road being given to the artillery and cavalry, who came flying on in full gallop and promptly took position at the end of the woods. Now the artillery duel started and lasted until our entire infantry stood there in battle-array. When we advanced, however, the enemy retreated...

Meanwhile, it became evening and as officer of the guard, I hunted our Brigadier General to receive orders. As I could not find him, I helped myself. I took of each regiment of the brigade two companies and shoved them about 150 yards from our battle line, giving orders to shoot at everything that would move. It was now ten o'clock and so dark as it could possibly be. Both artilleries still fired upon each other haphazardly until gradually the firing ceased.

At about two o'clock in the morning the enemy tried to overrun us, but was repulsed by our double sharpshooter chain. We expected to have a chance at our enemy the next day but he did not seem thus inclined.

Toward noon volunteer sharpshooters were sent over the prairie. They peppered each other for some time but not much was accomplished.

During the night the 3rd Division was sent making an encircling movement to cut off the enemy on his retreat, which, however, was not successful, as they already were on the march to Washington, Arkansas. When the 1st and 2nd Divisions advanced into the open prairie to attack, the enemy had already flown and we found, to our surprise, barricades and fortifications at the end of the prairie into which the enemy failed to coax us.

The following day we again started to march and nothing much happened until the forenoon of April 15 in Poison Springs, Arkansas, when suddenly we were surprised by an artillery cannonade. The enemy had taken position with their guns on a hill, which we had to pass, to give us a reception. They also knew accurately where we had to place our guns by necessity. The distance was measured off and the shells struck our batteries.

Our regiment had to guard the 1st Missouri Battery, Captain Backoff, and a German battery from St. Louis. We lay on the ground near behind the guns and here we saw how cold-blooded the Germans can be, even in the gravest danger of life. Although the cannoneers fell right and left, they were jolly and gay. There was, for instance, a handsome, tall young man, who served No. 1, or in other words handled the ramrod. He had undressed to his underwear and sang one jolly German song after another throughout his strenuous work....

The cannonade lasted about two hours and 70 to 80 pieces are engaged. It would have lasted longer had not a part of our artillery tried to encircle the enemy, which forced them to retreat. Later, ascending the hill, we stopped for a short rest and found that the enemy had their guns placed among hazel-brush, so nothing could be seen of them, thereby having an advantageous position. However, they were severely punished. There lay a cannoneer, still holding on to the cannon-wiper with his head entirely shot off from his body.

Finally, we arrived in Camden, where we expected to see blood flow before we could enter which, however, was not the case. There were seven earth fortifications around the small city; guns, and so on were still in position, but no enemy to be seen. The thing looked suspicious to us. We immediately occupied the forts, erected a pontoon bridge over the Washita River, to have an outlet if retreat would be necessary. {The Washita River is known as Ouachita. The river rises in the Ouachita Mountains in western Arkansas and flows southeasterly and south into Louisiana.}

We were not there two days when we learned from our spies that General Banks, whom we were supposed to support, had received a bad licking, which left us deep in the enemy country, a small force, thrown onto our resources.

The 3rd Division was transferred immediately upon our arrival in Camden by about 200 mule teams to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to get provisions for all, but sorry to say, we later saw little of them. Most of them were either killed, wounded, or made prisoner by Price and Marmaduke. Very few missed the slaughter.

When the sad news reached us in Camden, orders were given to send out a number of wagons to requisite cover or anything. There were from 10 to 20 wagons with 8 companies of Negroes and 2 companies of cavalry. Only four miles outside of Camden they were attacked, and all Negroes were mercilessly shot, as the confederation by that time gave not as yet pardon to Negroes. A part of the cavalry escaped.

We now were in a bad condition. We had no more to eat, neither for man nor beast. The enemy came close and closer, so that the last night we stayed there, the sentinels from either side treated each other with curse-words, accompanied with shooting throughout the night, to find out if we were still here.

The next morning was given over to drilling. The bands played their liveliest and merriest tunes and everybody was in good humor as if we had intended to stay there. Evenings at taps the bands played in all corners of the small city, but all knew that staying any longer was out of the question.

Right after taps, all lights and fires were extinguished, each company received orders to be ready to march; tents were taken down; everything loaded up and brought in order; however, very quiet without noise. The hoofs of horses and mules were covered with woolen blankets as well as the wheels of the different wagons, so there would be no noise in driving.

One regiment after the other, as well as the batteries, departed over the pontoon bridge, and during this time our sentinels stood fast at their posts, as if nothing were happening, until four o'clock in the morning when they were recalled and annexed to our regiment, which was the last to cross the bridge.

We no more than were on the other side when the enemy covered the woods where we had been with bombs.

During the night we also sank two steamboats on the Washita River so that they could not be used by the enemy to cross the river, thereby being forced to march 15 miles up river where there was a bridge or ferry. We thereby gained a considerable lead.

However, already in the forenoon of the second day, the enemy came again in touch with our rear-guard. We quietly marched on and arrived evenings in a small city named Princeton where we encamped.

Dead tired and hungry as wolves, we lay down. For me, however, this rest was short-lived. As guard officer I was commanded to report to General Rice. I went to headquarters and the General greeted me as follows:

"Captain, you will have a hard time of it tonight. I have to give you no further instructions. Password, here is none. Take as many men as you need for the guard, but I must have ten minutes time for the formation of the battle line. If, during the night you need strengthening, there on the wall hangs my canteen full of corn whiskey. Help yourself. Report often during the night. Once more, I need ten minutes time!"

My first work, of course, was taking the canteen on the wall. Then I took a cavalry company of the 3rd Wisconsin, which I shoved one and one-half miles up the road on which the enemy had to come; one and one-half farther back a company of infantry with two guns and still farther back four companies of infantry in advantageous position. Further more, the camp was surrounded by a chain of sharpshooters so that a sudden surprise-attack was impossible.

All went quietly during the night until about four o'clock in the morning when the cavalry company was driven back to the infantry with the two guns. In a short time a hot advance guard battle was developing. I rode out to them and we held the enemy back, slowly retreating to our camp. However, we gave our small army a half an hour's time and thereby accomplished our aim.

Now, we again went onto the march and reached the Saline Bottom. Our rear-guard held back the advance guard of the enemy during the day, and in the evening we again took bivouac, and what bivouac! We already stood up to our knees in water and mire, and still it rained on. To lie down was out of the question. Standing, I leaned against a tree and soon fell asleep for a short time. Our entire wagon train with contents was burned up this night. We had no horses or mules to pull them farther and we did not want to leave them....

Every mule, still able to walk, was hitched to the guns, so that there were from 12 to 16 head on each cannon.

At about one o'clock at night rapport was sounded, and all officers wallowed through the mud to General Steele's headquarters, under a tree. With tears in his eyes he told us that we were confronting General Kirby Smith's entire army of 25,000 men. We were only 5,000 men left and could not subdue the enemy; our men were starving and dead tired. What was to be done? As no one gave him an answer. Brigadier General Salomon (our first colonel) took the word and spoke: "General Bluecher is said to have remarked once that as long as he still had 5,000 good men, no army could make him prisoner; somehow or other he would make him and them a passage!" Such language encouraged the entire corps of officers, and it was unanimously decided to wage the battle for life or death. You can imagine that none of us felt delighted; we all knew enough.

General Steele turned over the command to General Salomon, promising him to stand close to his side, which he did. It is worth mentioning here that the two opposing generals, Steele and Smith, were bothers-in-law. General Smith's wife being a sister of General Steele.

The following day, about five o'clock in the morning, the enemy drove our guard-posts under cover. The noise of rifle fire started and, as our regiment was the last in the march line, we were the first to be attacked. "Fall in," was the command. We stood there about five minutes when the advance guard came running and lined up right and left to our regiment as well as they could; the rain of bullets already took its victims, and a "Forward March!" command came. We now knew what we had to expect. In front of us was a clearing, maybe comprising 100 acres, behind us the woods. When we reached the clearing, we furiously charged the enemy with bayonets and with such a resounding battle cry, which is only possible in such circumstances. We ran over the field and disbursed the enemy without firing one shot.

We then retreated, formed the battle line at the end of the woods, and in a short time we had a whole line of fortifications made out of old stumps, fence rails and everything possible, close at hand. There we lay--awaiting the on-coming enemy. The left wing of our battle line touched the Saline River and the right a gulch, a veritable swamp, which extended for miles into the country, filled with water, so that the enemy could not fall into our flank; thus the entire attack was confined to our front. This was our salvation. No other circumstance would have enabled us to accomplish what we did.

None of our soldiers fired one shot until the enemy came within 75 to 100 yards. The order was strictly carried out to aim at the knees only. All of a sudden a shot popped; then two, three, four and then it opened up along the entire battle line. In 15 to 20 minutes our front was clear, and our soldiers brought in the wounded of the enemy in back of our line.

After each attack, each regiment sent two companies forward as [illegible] and as such we sneaked towards the rebels' battle line sometimes as close as 50 yards. At one of these occasions I nearly met disaster. We lay on the ground, close to the enemy line, when suddenly the soldiers arose, firing a whole volley at us and, climbing over the rail fence, advanced. While this happened, my soldiers were not idle either. I saw three or four right one after the other turn a somersault, wait a little too long and before we reached our battle line, they too started to fire, so that for a short time we were behind the fire of the two armies. We retreated in sections; our soldiers saw us coming and shot between us. Whoever has not experienced something similar has no idea what hissing such a lot of bullets will cause. I thought to myself: "If you get no bullet now, none is molded for you." It was a miracle that we escaped in such a way--only one of us was slightly wounded. The battle lasted until four o'clock in the afternoon. Then the rebels had enough. Nobody ever saw soldiers more valiant than our small troop; cold-blooded with no fear of death, for we all were already half dead from hunger and exposure.

I must relate a brief episode. During the afternoon an aid-de-camp came to me (he belonged to my former command) offered me his canteen, which was attached to his saddle-horn. While I drank, a bullet hit the head of the horse. It fell so quick that I hardly had time to jump to the side. My aid-de-camp lay in the mud and mire--half under the horse. I promptly grabbed the canteen and plugged it with the cork before I could help the poor devil under the horse. "Jesus Christ, Captain, I'll git!" he said and pulled out.

Our regiment captured in these days a rebel battery and one regimental flag. The battery swung into action about 200 yards in front of our regiment; the colonel ordered companies A and D to give the horses a volley, and promptly we captured the same. The enemy's infantry was at hand, too, but too late. We held them in check until the rest of our Negro regiment (two companies), after killing the artillery men with their bayonets, had brought it behind our battle line.

It was a sad spectacle, such a butchery, but they were right--they received no consideration; and therefore did not give any.

Our brave Brigadier General Rice from Iowa was badly wounded during the battle. He would not allow an amputation and died from the effects at his home in Des Moines, Iowa. As stated above, the rebels had enough about four o'clock at night and we retreated, without being pursued across our pontoon bridge over the Saline River. All weapons of the dead were first destroyed or thrown into the river so they could not fall into the enemy's hands.

On the other side of the river we went into bivouac and shortly fell asleep--some dreaming of better times, no doubt. The next day we marched as well as we could towards Little Rock and at about two o'clock in the afternoon we stopped. The provision-wagons had met up with us, and our hunger had appeased.

The next day in the afternoon we arrived in Little Rock, each fort firing 33 honor-salves. All troops were lined up at attention, and we marched through the whole city between presented arms. But, how we did look! Some did not have any hats, others torn pants---in short, we looked like a corps of bandits; but one thing all of us still possessed--our weapons.

The official later report showed that we had 773 men dead and wounded and the enemy 2,706 dead and wounded, among them two generals, proof that aiming low in battle is of prime importance. My company in these days lost 63 men; 17 dead and the rest wounded.


1 Ruegger's Camden manuscript was translated from the German by Carl Marty, Sr., of Monroe. A copy is on file in the Library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

2 Miss Krueger is the managing editor of the "Wisconsin Magazine of History." She contributes articles and book reviews to the "Magazine" and speaks throughout the state on the subject of pioneer women and their contribution to the American heritage. 

Ruegger Genealogy

In 1905, a genealogy and picture of the Ruegger Coat of Arms were presented to my Great-Grandpa Ruegger by the members of the Harmonie Singing Club. It was the occasion of his retirement as their director. According to the Foreword to the genealogy "great care was taken by the Society that every detail be correct." This genealogy, along with a picture and explanation of the coat of arms, can be found in Part "E" of this Section of my autobiography.

Grandma (Ruegger) Deal

Grandma Deal at 74 years

My Mom filled me in about Grandmaís early life. She told me Grandmaís folks, the Ruegger family, were "well off." To me that meant they were rich. She explained that Grandpa Ruegger made his money and niche in life processing and selling cheese. When I was a kid, it was always a puzzle to me how anyone could get rich in the cheese business. Of course, I didnít know anything about the business world at that time. All I knew was farm life.

I was told my Grandpa and Grandma Ruegger were proud people. As I remember my Mom, my great-aunts, and Grandma Deal, I know they certainly seemed to carry on that tradition. It wasnít a bad kind of pride that showed disdain for others. Rather it was the kind that made them want to do and be the best in whatever they undertook. As I think back over my life, I believe I inherited that pride and desire for perfection.

I well remember three of Grandma's sisters. The two, who lived in Madison, Wisconsin, were Alma and Sophia. Incidentally, Sophia lived to be one hundred five years old. They would come to visit us from time to time, and I was able to visit in their homes several times. I always thought they were just as nice as my Grandma. Of course, that is saying lots, because in my eyes my Grandma Deal was tops.

Here is Sophia's obituary from their local paper:

Mrs. William A. (Sophia) Schuetze, 105, who was the oldest resident of Green County, died at 2:50 P.M. on Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 1979, at Pleasant View Nursing Home where she had resided since November 1974. 

The former Sophie Louise Ruegger, a native of Monroe, was born here August 12, 1874, the daughter of Edward and Sophia Schober Ruegger. Her father was a captain in the Civil War, fighting in the Arkansas Campaign, was a justice of the peace here and was also in the insurance business. He organized the first Mannerchor here which his son, Edwin, later conducted as the Swiss Chorus. 

Her marriage to William A. Schuetze took place Nov. 27, 1900, in Monroe. He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and had operated a livery stable and later was in on the operations of Badger Cheese Company. 

Before entering the nursing home, Mrs. Schuetze resided at 1817 8th St. Her husband died April 16, 1931. She was the last of the family. 

Her only survivors are the grandsons, William R. Schuetze, Louisville, KY; John R. Schuetze, Circero, IL; and Frederick E. Schuetze, Kansas City, MO; and three great grandchidren. 

She was preceded in death by her mother in 1889, her father in 1916; her husband in 1931, two sons, Edwin, a well-known musician who died Jan. 15, 1966, and Willard, known for his interest in horses and show ponies, who died Sept. 28, 1971, both of whom were owners-operators of the Schuetze's clothing store here. She was also preceded in decth by a granddaughter, Barbara Louise Schuetze, killed in an auto accident in 1966; 4 brothers, Otto, Louis, Theodore and Edward; 5 sisters, Laura, Ida, Alma, Anna and Mollie; a half sister, Lily Ruegger, and a half brother, Carl Ruegger. 

The deceased was a member of the United Methodist Church and of its women's organizations, including the Gleaners Class. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star for 80 years, in additional to her interest in her faimily and church work, she was interested in needleworks of all kinds. 

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, in the Shriner-Neushwander Funeral Home. The Rev. Floyd Fahlgren, retired United Methodist minister, will officiate. Interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery, Monroe. 

There will be no visitation. 

Grandma's sister, Laura, lived in Fruita, Colorado. Her husband was Ed Swim. The Swimís were farmers like us. They had lots of kids, so I always enjoyed visits with the Swim family.

I remember that Uncle Ed Swim liked to hunt deer during open season. He always had lots of stories to tell about hunting and fishing. Since they always had a supply of venison and fish in their freezer, we had plenty to eat on our visits there.

Once in a while Grandma Deal and her three sisters would get together for a reunion. Most of the time they would come to Grandmaís house. My Mom and Aunt Nelle always tried to visit when the Wisconsin aunts came. That made six women talking and talking for hours. Since all were hard-of-hearing except Great-Aunt Alma and Aunt Nell, it was a noisy place when they got together. All of us who had normal hearing got into the habit of talking very loud when we wanted to communicate with any of them. Even today, I find I havenít completely overcome that habit.

Grandma Deal (in the center) with Step-mother, Louisa Pfieffer
and Sisters, Alma, Laura and Sophia

According to the genealogy, Great-Grandpa Ruegger had eleven children by his first wife and two by his second. The only one of Grandma's brothers that I remember is her half-brother Carl. At least two brothers died before I was born. It's rather ironic that four girls died in infancy or early childhood, and my grandmother and three of her sisters all lived very long lives.

My Grandma Deal was a wonderful woman, and a real matriarch. When grandma said, "Pa," he responded.

"Yes, Ide," heíd answer.

Grandmaís real name was Ida, but Grandpa always called her Ide. One didnít have to be around them long to discover that Grandpa worshiped Grandma, and vice versa.

The type of hearing problem that afflicted the Ruegger family must have been inherited. To call the roll of the hear-of-hearing people: Grandma Deal; her two sisters, Laura and Sophia; all her children except Aunt Nelle; two grandsons, Aunt Nelleís son, Marion, and Uncle Edís son, Charles. I donít know about the earlier generations.

Iíve always wondered why my Mom didnít pass on her affliction to any of her children or grandchildren. We have often given thanks for that fact. Something in the McMurry genes must have blocked the hard-of-hearing gene, if there is such a thing.

In the days before electronic hearing aids were available, the aids were more like telephones. Grandmaís first hearing aid was a single headphone attached to a steel spring band that fit over her head to hold it in place. She always tried to cover the headpiece and the band with her own hair to keep people from seeing it.

Since the batteries ran down so quickly, she put the headphone on only when she went to church. In those days earphone batteries wouldnít hold up. Conserving the batteries didnít help the family communication problems.

The development with efficient electronic circuits and better batteries made the difference. The salesman explained to Grandma how to handle her new earphone.

"When you awake in the morning, put your hearing aid on and adjust it. This instrument with those new batteries will give you wonderful ears again. Here, Mrs. Deal, let me put this on you."

I was there when the salesman demonstrated that brand new earphone to Grandma. It was one beautiful Saturday afternoon, and I had caught a ride to Burrton from college. As I will tell later, I went to Burrton on weekends as often as possible while attending college. I have always been glad I was there the day Grandma got that wonderful new earphone.

"Now, go outside the house and notice the difference."

All of us went outside with Grandma and walked around the yard with her.

"Is that a bird I hear?"

"It sure is, Grandma."

"I havenít heard a bird since I was a little girl. It is unbelievable. I can hear that bird singing. Wait, whatís that roaring? Is something wrong with my earphone?"

"That is the wind, Mrs. Deal," the salesman said. "Youíll get used to the natural noises the rest of us hear. Youíll hear many noises that you havenít heard for many years."

Grandma couldnít believe she could hear again.

"Land sakes!" she said.

When Uncle Ed came in from the farm, Grandma told him to put the earphone on. He, too, heard sounds he hadnít heard for years.

It wasnít long until all my hard-of-hearing relatives had new earphones.

"Donít talk so loud. Youíre yelling at me." After that, when the family got together, that was the common complaint of my Grandma, Mom, Uncle Ed and Uncle Joey.

Soon, they learned how to adjust their phones. It was just wonderful hearing the Deal family talk without yelling at each other.

I have very fond memories of Christmas celebrations through the years. When I was a kid, we always went to Grandpa and Grandma Dealís home on Christmas Day. I never remember a Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma McMurryís. It wasnít a concern to me at the time, but now as I think about it, it was rather strange. Mom often went to Burrton to visit the Deal family. She just took Dad along for the ride, I guess! Anyway, that was the way it was. Of course, since my Dadís two sisters never married, at Grandpa McMurryís home, there were no children. When we went to Burrton, both Uncle Edís three and Aunt Nelleís three children were there.

As I think back over the years, I realize that, not only at Christmas, but also through the rest of the year, we visited the Dealís in Burrton, 16 miles away, much more often than we visited the McMurryís in Hutchinson, only six miles away. Iím sure children were one factor, but family relationships and my Momís dominant role in our family also play a part in that pattern of behavior.

Unless we had sickness or extreme weather, that would prevent it, all the Christmas presents, save one or two, were toted to the Dealís early Christmas day. It was a thrilling time for me. Since Ted, my cousin, was only eleven days older than I was, we always played together. Aunt Nelle and my mother were very close to each other all their lives. Ted was the first child in his family, but I was the last in mine. In the eyes of our parents, we were nearly perfect babies, and also looked a lot alike.

Cousin Ted Shaw and Me

"Look, look up there," my brother would say as we were on our way to Grandma and Grandpaís for Christmas. "Canít you see Santa Claus and his reindeer pulling that sleigh through the sky? No, right there, right up over Grandpa Dealís big red barn! Canít you really see it? Surely you can see it now!"

Iíd be desperate trying to find Santa Claus coming over the barn, and I couldnít understand why everyone else seemed to see that wonderful sleigh. I knew I was missing the whole thing about Christmas. According to my brother, if I couldnít see Santa Claus in the sky, I probably wouldnít get any Christmas presents at all!

I did have sort of a sickening feeling that I was being duped, but being the naive, believing kid I was, I took it all in as the gospel. I assumed that I was the one that missed the great experience. Each year I would think that maybe next year I would be able to see that wonderful sight! But, guess what! I never did!

When I was a little kid, Christmas at Grandmaís was always a thrilling time. That beautiful, big Christmas tree that Grandpa Deal put in the dining room was always loaded with decorations. I could hardly wait to get there.

We would always arrive early Christmas morning. The rest of the relatives would begin to arrive midmorning, especially those with children. Since Uncle Joe and Elsie had no children, they would usually come later, just in time for the big Christmas dinner.

One of the cardinal rules was: Do not open the dining room doors and show the tree and presents until everyone has arrived.

When the Shawís arrived, it was the high point of my day. Ted and I began to play immediately. If it wasnít too cold, we always had to explore the entire yard around Grandpaís house to see what was new or just experience things that were familiar.

"Hey, Glenn, look here," Ted said as he opened the back of their car. "Look at all those Christmas presents. Letís open some of them. We can wrap them up again, and no one will ever know."

This happened when we were about six years old and simply ornery at times. Ted was the aggressive one. I would drag along doing whatever he wanted me to do. Of course, I imagine, part of the time I had the ideas, but itís easier to blame Ted for the ideas that got us into the most trouble.

"What in the world are you kids doing?" Uncle George said as he discovered us snooping and pawing through the presents. He was disgusted. Aunt Nelle arrived on the scene about that time and we were really in trouble.

Not only had we found the lovely wrapped presents, we had unwrapped a number of them. Was she mad! I thought we were going to get a spanking right on the spot.

"What made you open those presents? You knew you were supposed to wait. I am certainly not going to wrap your presents again. Weíll put them under the tree as they are and give them to you the very last thing," Aunt Nelle scolded.

I guess that must have been punishment enough. For sure, we never did try that stunt again.

Some of my earliest recollections about Grandma Deal were the family dinners she served. Naturally, the Christmas dinners were always big affairs. However, there were many other occasions when we went to Grandmaís that a big meal was part of the visit. Grandma always prided herself on having lots of things to eat. She would keep so busy waiting on everyone that she was always the last person to finish eating.

Grandma took time out to sit down for table grace, however. As long as Grandpa was alive, he always did the honors. After his death, my Dad would be asked to bless the food. As soon as the blessing was over, up would jump Grandma to see that everyone was served.

After dinner, Grandma would start to clean up the table and prepare to wash the dishes.

"Oh, no you donít," Mom would say. "The rest of us will clear the table and do the dishes."

I always had the feeling that Grandma enjoyed being told to rest awhile and let someone else take over in the kitchen. Nevertheless, at first, she would protest and make a big fuss about it. Finally, she would slow down and even sit in her rocker for awhile.

Grandma often told me how much she hated guns. Not just some guns, but all guns, rifles, revolvers and shotguns. However, when the gophers got so thick, Grandpa bought her a revolver and taught her how to kill gophers that were ruining their corn crop.

"I hated to kill those gophers," Grandma told me. "When I saw one, Iíd point that gun towards it, close me eyes and pull the trigger." She must have been a pretty good shot, because she killed lots of them.

"Grandpa makes me carry home the gophers I kill, to prove that I really killed them," she told me.

I often wondered which she hated more, the gophers or the gun she toted.

One Sunday afternoon when we were visiting at Grandma Dealís, I was playing alone in the front room while all the adults were talking in the kitchen. For some unknown reason I had some kind of sharp object in my fingers and I proceeded to put a big scratch on the Dealís new phonograph. That incident really ranked high on my grandmaís "Oh, Heavens!" scale of disgust. It even ranked higher on my motherís scale!

"Glenn," Mom exclaimed. "What in the world caused you to do that to your grandparentsí beautiful new phonograph?"

I was only about five years old at the time and I had absolutely no idea why I had done it. I was just walking around the room and hitting whatever I came near. Itís a wonder I didnít damage more furniture. No wonder I was bored. Ted wasnít there to play with me and the grown-ups were just talking loud and not saying anything I was interested in hearing.

After I finished college, I wanted to take my folks and Grandma Deal on a trip to Colorado. As Grandma was not inclined to go anywhere after Grandpa died, I was afraid she wouldnít go with us. However, I told her we would visit Aunt Laura and she finally did consent to go. By that time Mom, Grandma and her sister, Laura, had all acquired hearing aids and could enjoy their conversations together.

Our trip took us to Fruita and Grand Junction. We saw the Black Canyon and the awe-inspiring rapids on the river above the canyon. I had never seen anything like that before, and I have never seen rapids like that since.

Even I was scared of that Black Canyon. The road was close to the canyon and when we stopped at a scenic spot, I realized I was right on its edge. The only way I could see the bottom of that canyon was to crawl on my hands and knees and look over the edge. Good grief!

"Look folks! Youíve got to see this. That canyon must be a mile deep."

I was surprised to see my folks and Grandma also on their hands and knees taking a peek at that wide and very, very deep hole in the ground. I was even more surprised to hear my Grandma, who never swore, exclaimed, "Oh my God, look at that!"

I knew my Grandma wasnít really swearing. She had seen one of Godís marvelous things.

On our trip home, we followed a roaring mountain stream for miles. At dark, we stopped at a small motel where we spent the night.

For the night, Mom and Grandma turned their hearing aids off to conserve their batteries. In a way that was a blessing for them. For Dad and I it was different. We could hear the rushing and roaring of that stream throughout the night. It made sleeping difficult.

The next morning we continued our trip home, crossing that stream from time to time. Sometimes its banks were solid rock and narrow, and there were falls and rapids along the way. At other times the stream was wide and quiet. For a group of green folk from the plains of Kansas, these wonders of nature were amazing sights.

Iíll explain later about how Aunt Nelle and her sons had to come to live with my grandparents. Iím sure life was hard for my Grandma, with Grandpaís failing health and another family to care for. When she got a job, Aunt Nelle worked away from home, leaving the boys in Grandmaís care. However, I never heard her complain that she had to raise another generation of kids.

During my college days, the weekends at Burrton were always pleasurable. I got more acquainted with my cousins, and Grandma would play games with us when she wasnít working her crossword puzzles. When I left, she always packed a little box of food for me. She always made me welcome, but now as I think about it, I must have added to her workload.

When I returned from the War, I could hardly wait to see my Burrton relatives. Grandma had slowed down considerably. She had quit going to church. In fact, she went nowhere. She was simply "waiting it out." Uncle Leo, Aunt Nelle and Cousin Gene were still living with her.

One day I showed Grandma some of my pictures I had brought home from New Guinea. Seeing those near-naked women and the men with gourds on their penises caused her to cry out.

"Nell, get me my reading glass. I canít believe what Iím seeing."

We all had to tease Grandma a little as she studied those pictures and exclaimed over them.

After I was married and moved to California, one of the highlights of our trips to Kansas was going to Burrton. Grandma always welcomed us with open arms.

When Grandma was ninety, the local paper gave this account of her celebration:
Birthday Celebration
Oldest Citizen Observes 90th Birthday
A remarkably spry and energetic Burrtonite celebrated her 90th birthday Saturday, and is having a wonderful time this week looking back on the events of a busy weekend. She is Mrs. Idea Deal, who is Burrton's oldest resident.

Although her birthday fell on Saturday, the event was observed on Sunday when all the members of her family were able to be present. They included her three sisters, Mrs. Sophie Schuetze and Miss Alma Ruegger of Monroe, Wis., and Mrs. Laura Swim of Fruita, CO, and Mrs. Deal's stepmother, Mrs. Louisa W. Ruegger, of Monroe, Wise, who will be 90 years old May 28. They all arrived last week and the three women from Monroe left yesterday to return to their homes. Mrs. Swim remained for a longer visit.

Also here for the celebration Sunday were her two daughters and her three sons and their respective families. They we Mrs. F. E. McMurry of Hutchinson, KSMrs. Nell Shaw of Wichita, J. M. Deal of Newton, Ed Deal of Burrton. Twenty-one were present for the birthday dinner on Sunday, and in addition to having her family with her, Mrs. Deal enjoyed the flowers and telegrams and dozens of cards sent her from friends and other relatives.

Lively reminiscences have been flying back and forth at her home for the past week and the family for the past week, and the family has been laughing at the face that Mrs. Deal weighed only three pounds at birth in 1864 and when her father returned from the Civil War, he looked at the tiny baby and said, "She'll never amount to a thing" However, she not only made it through precarious baby years, but grew up to be a healthy young woman who married at 18 and later accompanied her husband to northern Kansas to a homestead in Phillips county.

They and their family lived in a sod house and endured the hardships of the early settlers in the Midwest, later moving to western Kansas, and then to a farm six miles south to Hutchinson. Wanting more land than they had in the last location, house where Mrs. Deal now lived a quarter mile north of it. They moved to Burrton 37 years ago buying the farm now occupied by the Fred Unruh family. They lived in this property nine years and then purchased the

Until last May 10, Mrs. Deal had never been sick and led an unusually active life. However, on that her son, Leo, found day she had conducted an extensive housecleaning project, and was in the process of hanging newly ironed curtains when she "blacked out". The Medical term was a small blood clot, and although she has made a complete recovery, she says she "doesn't do as much as she used to do."

It was sometime after this incident that she decided she would no longer "clutter the house" with the diaries she had kept most of heir adult life, and she carried them out to the trash burner and destroyed them. Her children were sorry she had burned the books, and now she is a little sorry, too, for although she maintained they had nothing of value in them, they were a good source of reference. Now when the family wants what happened twenty or thirty years ago, he can no longer have her check the date for them. However, she retained the current one and at the end of every day writes down what has happened.

And during the past week she has a lot of fine things to write about.

Grandma was ninety-six years old when she died. My Mom kept us informed about her last illness and death.

Mom said when they would visit Grandma, she would scold them. Sheíd say something like, "Why are you folks standing around here like you are expecting me to die or something? Why donít you get out of here and eat your dinner."

My Grandma lived an unselfish life and did everything for her family. In turn, she was much loved and respected by her family.

Uncle Ed Deal and Family

Back Row: Uncle Ed, Aunt Elizabeth, Virga Beth
Front Row: Charles, Jay

Uncle Ed was my motherís oldest brother. He didnít marry until his late 40ís. Aunt Elizabeth, his wife, was younger than he was, and I always felt he bossed her around just as he did his kids. They had three children, Verga Beth, Charles and Jay.

I enjoyed Aunt Elizabeth and the kids. Aunt Elizabeth loved horses, and was an excellent rider. While at Bethel College, I always tried to visit them on the weekends when I got rides to Burrton. They lived on a farm three-fourths of a mile from grandmaís house. Sometimes, my cousin Marion would let me peddle his bike, with him on the handlebars, to go to visit them. I donít know whose rear suffered most, Marionís or mine.

Unfortunately, Aunt Elizabeth died of cancer when the kids were quite young. I remember visiting with her during the time she was sick. She was always fun to talk with even during her illness. I liked Aunt Elizabeth very much and really felt sorry when she died. Uncle Ed was left alone to raise his family.

Uncle Ed at 86 years

Through the years they moved into Burrton and finally sold the farmland. Both of his sons married, and moved into Hutchinson. Verga stayed in the Burrton family home and cared for her father until his death.

The Shaw Family

Since Aunt Nelle was motherís only sister and was only two years younger than Mom, they shared many experiences growing up together. When Aunt Nelle started to date George Shaw, Mom was disturbed.

"Nelle, donít get attached to George. He drinks and remember, his dad was a drinker and caused many problems with his family. Get a man that doesnít drink," Mom chided her.

Aunt Nelle didnít pay any attention to Momís advice, however. She just insisted that, "George is a nice young man and lots of fun. Sure he sips a little drink from time to time, but he will never let it get him. A social drink doesnít hurt anyone."

As I have explained before, Grandpa Deal was very opposed to any kind of alcoholic beverage; and therefore, Georgeís "little" habit was kept from him. In fact, he thought George was a great guy and was happy to approve of Aunt Nellís marriage to him. They, like my Mom and Dad, were married in the Deal home in Elmer.

The Shaw family lived in Newton, Kansas, where Uncle George had a bicycle shop. Later, they moved to Wichita, Kansas, where they lived until the early 30ís. Theodore Deal Shaw (Teddy) was born August 6, 1917, just eleven days before my arrival. Of course, having babies so close together, caused another bond between Aunt Nelle and my Mom. It also meant that Ted and I would grow up together and form a close relationship.

Aunt Nelle and Uncle George had two other sons, Eugene Byron, nicknamed Gene, and Joseph Marion, who went by the name Marion for many years. Then later on, for some reason unknown to me, people started to call Marion "Joe." To me, even today, heís still Marion.

Aunt Nelle always wanted a girl, but that didnít happen. Mom and Dad did have their girl, Helen Margaret, but, tragically, she died at age eleven. That left the Deal sisters with a total of five boys, and no girls.

I always had great affection for my cousins, Ted and Marion, and as I will relate in other parts of my story, we had many good times together. Gene, on the other hand, was a quiet and withdrawn boy, and it was hard to develop the same closeness with him. The family always felt his experiences as a child with his fatherís drinking sprees affected his personality. More about those problems later.

Tedís Train, My Wheelbarrow

One Christmas I got a little red wheelbarrow. Everything was from Santa Claus those days. That was what Mom said and for several years I believed it without question. That same Christmas my cousin Ted got a beautiful electric train set. For some reason, Ted liked my wheelbarrow and I was infatuated with his electric train. Every time he came to our house, he wanted to play with my wheelbarrow. We got into a fuss one day and to settle things I hit him with a sand-filled pincushion, right in the belly. Ted was not happy about that! He promptly grabbed an old square chair leg and whacked me right on the top of my head. Boy, did I bawl! I bled like a stuck hog and came running to Mom.

"Weíve got to go to Doctor Roberts right away and have that stitched," she said. Dr. Roberts had been our family physician for years. "Iíll call Dad from the field and have him take us to town."

Dad was farming with horses then, and he had to unhitch and care for them before he could take me to the doctor. As soon as possible, he cranked up the Model-T and off we went to town.

Usually a trip to town was lots of fun, but this time was different. I still remember that stitching job and just how it felt when the doctor stuck me with that needle. I had no idea how tough my scalp was, but I soon found out.

Since my fatherís parents lived in town near the doctorís office, we stopped there before going back home. While everyone was visiting, Ted got tired and went to find the car so he could take a nap. Suddenly Mom missed him and the search began. Everyone went hunting inside the house and outside, up and down the street. Someone looked in our car, but he wasnít there. Mom was frantic, wondering how she would tell her sister that we had lost Ted. Finally, someone discovered that he had crawled into the wrong car and was asleep on the back seat of the neighborís car. How relieved we all were!

I could never forget my desire for Tedís electric train. It was a wonderful thing in my eyes. I can still see that train running around on that idiot circle track. There was also an electric light in the front of the engine. What I would have given to have a train like that!

"Could I exchange my wheelbarrow for Tedís electric train?" I begged.

"Of course, you canít. You got that wheelbarrow for a Christmas gift and you arenít going to trade it to Ted," Mom said. Mom seemed to have some attachment for that wheelbarrow, and she wasnít about to let me part with it.

"But Ted wants to trade his train for my wheelbarrow," I insisted.

"What would you do with a train out in the sand? What would he do with a wheelbarrow in the city without sand?" Mom explained. "No, Glenn, you canít have that train and thatís that!"

I still think that mom should have let me make the swap. Why now? Ted never did like that train and I would loved to have parted with my wheelbarrow. Even today, after all these years, I still canít see why it wouldnít have been all right.

Driving the Car

One weekend, when I was about 9 years old, I went to Wichita to visit the Shaw family. While I was there, Uncle George let Ted and me each have a turn at driving his Buick. That old car had a cutout on the exhaust that caused the most terrible noise. I had to hold my ears while we were riding in it. Since there was no such thing as an automatic transmission in those days, we had to shift with a manual stick.

Ted was first. He had never driven before and apparently hadnít watched as his Dad drove. So, trying to manipulate the machine was very hard for him. He couldnít make the clutch, gears and throttle get into sync. He had a terrible time.

His Dad finally said, "Thatís enough. Let Glenn drive now."

All my life I had been around farm machinery and had always observed just how everything worked. I had also watched carefully when I rode in our Model-T with my Dad. Although the transmission in Uncle Georgeís car wasnít exactly the same as in our Model-T, I had no trouble working it.

"Look at that!" Uncle George said. "How did you learn to drive a car like that, Glenn?"

"I thought all boys could drive a car. I learned to drive on the farm." I said, being so proud of myself.

Uncle Georgeís Possessions

Uncle George and Aunt Nelle Shaw always seemed to have plenty of money. I considered them "rich."

"Heís my rich Uncle George," I would tell my friends. I decided that someday, I was going to be rich, too. Just imagine having all that money. It seemed to me that Tedís Dad gave him anything he wanted, and so he had to be rich. Ted always had lots of toys and very nice clothes.

Uncle George always seemed to buy all the new things that came along. He had one of the first radios I had ever heard. He extolled the tremendous things that could be heard on that radio. I guess he felt sorry for us because we didnít have one, so he gave my folks the one he had and got another for his family. He was very generous, I thought.

My brother worked hard getting that radio hooked up. He even constructed a high wooden tower on the milk house, and strung a wire aerial from the very top of it to the west end of our house. It was a great tower, and we all admired his design and construction job. That tower stayed on the milk house for years, even after the radio Uncle George gave us was long deemed to be a joke. I liked to climb upon it to look for sparrow nests.

Even with all Juniorís hard work, we still had to spend even more hours trying to find a station on that radio. When we finally found one, it would soon fade out and we couldnít find it again. Yes, that radio was truly a very unreliable piece of equipment. Maybe that was the reason Uncle George wanted to get rid of it.

That junk radio sat on the table in our bay window for a very long time. Finally, we got a new Majestic radio, and it worked. We enjoyed it immensely. We listened to radio shows, such as the Adventures of Jimmy Allen, Amos and Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, and George Burns and Gracie Allen. What a terrific invention, the radio!

Barnstorming with airplanes became the rage in the early 20ís and soon Uncle George had his own airplane. It looked like a World War I fighter biplane. It had a single engine and was made of sticks, wire, and, what looked to me like, tough paper. The plane had a slick wooden propeller. It had to be used to start the engine.

I found this picture of an airplane that looks like Uncle George's airplane, as I remember it.

Starting an engine those days was quite an art, and also dangerous. I was never allowed to get close to the plane, but I remember seeing it from a distance and hearing people say that it belonged to Uncle George. To me, ownership of an airplane was more proof that my uncle was a very rich man. I bragged to my friends that my uncle had his own airplane.

Uncle George flew that airplane from town to town, and pasture to pasture, giving rides at a dollar per person. He was a king around for awhile. Had he waited a few more years, until there were some decent airports, maybe he could have been even richer. He seemed to get plenty of people gathering around to see him land and take off. Uncle George and Aunt Nelle lived in Newton at that time and there was lots of wide-open space around on which to land an airplane. Who needed an airport? He was lucky, in a way, because he didnít have to pay any airport fees.

For awhile all went well with Uncle Georgeís airplane venture. People were thrilled to take a ride and see the countryside in a way they had never seen it before. However, one nice Sunday afternoon, as he was landing in a pasture to pick up his passengers, he had a surprise he didnít expect. Remember that pastures are pastures, and they often have gopher holes scattered around in them. Most of the holes are small and donít cause a problem, but this time was different. One of his landing wheels fell in a very large gopher hole. Well, the gopher hole won that confrontation between it and the planeís landing wheel. That plane was flipped end to end landing on its back. It was a miracle that Uncle George wasnít killed. I guess he was just lucky.

I can still see Uncle George standing beside that upside-down plane. Naturally, it was a wreck and there was no fixing it. That was the end of Uncle Georgeís plane barnstorming experience. Since Aunt Nelle had never wanted him to fly, I believe she was relieved.

Not long after the airplane wreck, Uncle George acquired a motorcycle with a sidecar. Aunt Nelle didnít particularly like motorcycles either, but she thought they were safer than an airplane. At least she didnít have to fall so far if something happened, so she went along with his idea. I even heard her say that she thought his antics were fun.

Uncle George and Aunt Nelle would often come roaring to Burrton on his motorcycle to visit the relatives. However, his motorcycle adventures didnít last long either. It wasnít a wreck this time, but a new baby, that changed things. Their first boy came along and they didnít feel it was safe to put the baby in that sidecar. Before long Uncle George got rid of the motorcycle.

While Uncle George lived in Newton, he ran a bicycle shop. During that time he came up with another idea: manufacturing automobile tire boots. A tire boot was just a patch attached to the inside of a worn or damaged tire. The tires we had in those days werenít exactly the 40,000 to 60,000 mile guaranteed and virtually un-blow-out-able kind. The rubber used in the manufacture of tires was very soft. When one ran over anything hard and sharp, he could expect blowouts. I remember my dad telling me that he couldnít get more than 80 miles from his tires.

A section of the bicycle shop was used for Uncle Georgeís side- line, booting damaged tires. I remember seeing hundreds of old tires in his shop when I visited. That was the source from which he and his help would manufacture boots. I have no idea where he got that specialized machine to slice those old tires. It was sort of an endless knife arrangement. After chopping the tires into various lengths, they used that blade to remove the tread and other unwanted material. After the pieces were trimmed nicely, they were ready to be glued to the inside of damaged tires.

Boots added to the life of tires, but they had one drawback. Tires with boots would easily get out of balance and make a thumping noise. Despite that, many put up with that inconvenience to make the tires last longer.

Uncle Georgeís boot idea worked. He supplied tire shops for miles around. He did lots of traveling hauling those boots to dealers in the area. I just knew his enterprise was very prosperous and that he was getting more and more money to make him rich.

Shaw Family Troubles

Aunt Nelle had to put up with lots of Uncle Georgeís ideas and schemes, most of them related to his love of money. Sadly, as time went on she had to deal with his greatest obsession-his drinking. To compound the problems, this was during prohibition. Uncle George even got into the booze business. He also became involved with the Ku Klux Klan thinking he could make new friends and also promote his booze business. Finally, his drinking got the best of him. Aunt Nelle was getting desperate.

One day Aunt Nelle called my Mother and told her about Uncle Georgeís condition. She didnít want to tell her parents. She knew that Grandpa, especially, would have a fit, and she was uncertain just what he would do. For that reason she had called my parents for help. They made several trips to Wichita to see what could be done. Finally, my folks urged Aunt Nell to leave Uncle George. She finally allowed them to take her and the children to Burrton. When they arrived and Grandpa was told about the situation, he refused to believe it. He just scolded Aunt Nelle and demanded that she go back to her home.

"No, No! Never!" Grandpa demanded. "You are not going to divorce your husband. You go right back and iron out your problems. It can not be all that bad. If you try, you can patch things up."

Grandpa also told my parents to stay out of the situation. That hurt my Mom so she left the situation to her folks.

Aunt Nelle did go back to Uncle George. He promised on a stack of Bibles that he would quit drinking, but it was too late. As time went on, he got so bad that he spent his time either in bed or in a violent rage. One day he threatened Aunt Nelle with a butcher knife. Fearing for her life and for her children, she called Grandpa for help. This time he believed her about the seriousness of the situation. He brought his daughter and her three children back to Burrton to live with him.

Back Row: Aunt Nelle and Ted
Front Row: Marion and Gene

This all happened early in the summer as we were preparing to move to Western Kansas. Aunt Nelleís oldest son, Ted, came to spend the summer with us. When school started, my mother convinced Aunt Nelle that she should let Ted stay with us. Because Ted had gotten behind one year in grade school, he was a freshman and I was a sophomore when we started to high school in Hanston. Ted lived with my folks until he graduated and left for college. We then spent two years together at Bethel College. When Ted decided to become a dentist, he left Bethel and went to Kansas City to enroll in a dental college.

One day when Uncle George sobered up enough to know what he was doing, he figured heíd go to Burrton and bring his wife and family back home with him. However, when he drove into the driveway, Grandpa was standing in the doorway with a loaded shotgun aimed at him.

"Turn right around and leave this place and donít ever come back," Grandpa demanded.

Uncle George never returned. He had disgraced the entire family and even himself. Aunt Nelle finally got a divorce, and from then on, she made her home with her parents. That divorce was a real shocker for the entire family.

Some years later Aunt Nelle received a call from a mortuary in a little town in western Kansas. Uncle George had been found dead at the foot of a ladder where he had been painting a house. The coroner said that he had suffered a heart attack. He had a letter in his pants pocket with Aunt Nellís telephone and address. Aunt Nelle asked Mom and Dad to go with her and help her see that Uncle George had a proper funeral. The folks contacted me where I was teaching at Zook. At momís request I brought one of my suits for Uncle George to be buried in. They asked me to sing a hymn for the service. I tried, but I couldnít finish it. I broke down and cried. It was a sad occasion.

Uncle Joey and Aunt Elsie

Uncle Joey was born when Mom and Aunt Nelle were teenagers and according to Mom, they raised him. Mom laughed over changing the diapers for their little brother. She and Aunt Nelle made up a little tune that went, "Shiver, Shiver, Little Tree."

I donít remember the rest of the words, but apparently the sisters got of a kick out of watching that baby pee when they took off his diaper.

Uncle Joey married Elsie Coberly, the daughter of one of Hutchinsonís leading pharmacists. The Coberlyís were considered by my family to be "well-to-do."

Aunt Elsie and Uncle Joey didnít have any children. I donít know whether there was a medical problem or it was by choice. I never heard any discussion about the situation.

When I was a kid, talk of any subjects related to sex was taboo. Once in awhile I would hear Mom say so-and-so is in the "family way." I really canít remember when I first noticed a pregnant woman. I didnít know the difference between a pregnant one and a fat one, I guess. Babies and how they happened were the least of my interests.

Uncle George Shaw started a bicycle shop in Newton, and hired Uncle Joey as a helper. Later when Uncle George and Aunt Nelle moved to Wichita, Uncle Joey took over.

When we would visit his shop, Uncle Joey always seemed busy selling new and used bicycles, patching tires, replacing foot pedals and the like. He wasnít a very sociable type. His work seemed more important to him than family affairs and get-to-gethers.

During World War II he took a job with the Cessna aircraft plant in Wichita. Wichita was only twenty miles from Newton so he and other workers organized car pools to their jobs. Since gasoline was rationed, car-pooling was common. People today act as if itís a brand new idea.

During the war, nearly everyone who wasnít in the armed forces got some kind of work supporting our countryís defense efforts. Even my Aunt Nelle became a riveter, putting bombers together.

Aunt Elsie worked in Bachmanís bakery just across the alley from her house. I didnít really get well acquainted with her until I went to Bethel College in Newton. She would give me hot bread and rolls to add to my meager larder.

One day I asked Uncle Joey, "Why donít you get rid of that old Dodge coupe?"

Heíd smile and say, "That old jalopy is making me money."

For sure that old Dodge was his pride and joy. He enjoyed keeping it in running condition. Several times I rode in it from Newton to Burrton. It was only a fourteen-mile trip, but it seemed a hundred miles. Every car on the road passed us. However, it didnít bother Uncle Joey and Aunt Elsie didnít seem to mind riding in it either.

Aunt Elsie died from a heart attack leaving Uncle Joey alone. He soon had a housekeeper. After awhile that housekeeper became a matter of speculation bordering on a scandal to the rest of the family. Of course, today such arrangements seem to be very common.

The familyís concerns didnít seem to bother Uncle Joey and his "housekeeper" stayed with him until his death.

When Uncle Joey died, he left a hefty wad of money to his sisters and living nephews and niece. We never did know how much of his wealth he had saved and how much he had inherited from Aunt Elsieís family.

He had a rather complicated will. As long as his sisters were living, each was to get $200 a month. After both had died, the rest of the estate was to be divided among his living nephews and his one niece. As usual there was fighting over his property. Whatís new? There were some items of value and farmlands to be sold. Some wanted to sell and some didnít. After several years, the estate was finally settled.

Darlene and I came out pretty well over the affair. Uncle Joeyís money has been part of the reason we have been able to enjoy several trips since retirement.

I have often wondered why Uncle Joey and Aunt Elsie didnít spent more of their money to travel. They just seemed content to stay at their jobs until they retired. Then they were happy just living a quiet life in the same little house in Newton.

Uncle Leo

Uncle Leo, the youngest of the Deal family, never married. He worked in and around Burrton, mostly doing painting jobs. Although he was drafted during World War II, he was soon discharged for health reasons.

When Uncle Leo got older, he developed a drinking problem. Iím sure he caused my Grandmother much sorrow. However, I donít believe he was ever a threat to her physically. Heíd just come home and sleep it off. I remember visiting Grandma and finding Uncle Leo asleep many times. He had some odd ways of sleeping, too. One Sunday, apparently dead to the world, he was sleeping on his knees and hands. How that worked, I never figured out.

Grandma always kept a room available for Uncle Leo. Iím sure that when he was working, he would help with the household expenses. He was also a help with household chores when he was sober.

After Grandma died, Uncle Leo stayed in the family home until his death.

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