Neva MartinMy Autobiography
written in highschool 1934
let to publish here by Heidi Kirste
|The Auswanderer of County Thorn|
|[Genealogical Data of the westprussian Ancestors of Neva Martin]|
My great grandfather on my mother's side, Frederick August Kirste, was born May 16, 1812, in the northeastern part of Germany. My great grandmother, also on my mother's side, whose maiden name was Wilhelmine Fredereka Krampelz, was born March 7, 1818.
After their marriage they lived on a small island in the Vistula River, until an ice blockade, which dammed up the river, swept away their home and so losing all they had. Both of them lived to be in the eighties when they died.
My grandfather, Ernst Reinhold Kirste, was born April 5, 1848, in Rosegarten, near Thorn, Germany. He was the third child of a family of six.
He was confirmed by his pastor, Dr. Lambeck, when fourteen years of age, in the year 1862.
In 1863 he joined the Navy and continued to be a sailor until 1868. He then became a soldier and served in the army from 1869 until 1872. While he was a soldier German had a war with Poland*), but he was never called upon to fight a battle. After being a soldier for three years he obtained an honorable discharge and in the same year of 1872 came to America being twenty-four years old. He lived for a time in Illinois with his older sister, who had previously come over from the old country.
[Als mein Großvater nach Amerika kam, konnte er die amerikanische Sprache nicht sprechen, deshalb besuchte er kurze Zeit die Schule, um Lesen und Schreiben zu lernen. Er war in der Anfängerklasse, aber obwohl er ein erwachsener Mann war machte es ihm nichts aus, weil er bemüht war, die Lebensart seines neuen Landes kennen zu lernen.]
My grandmother, Helena Veronika Kaforke, was born April 2, 1861 in Brandenburg, Germany which is situated on the Elbe River. She came to America with her parents in 1866, being five years old. She was too young to remember much of her voyage, but it was at the close of the Civil War when they arrived in America. They also settled in Illinois and it was here that she met and later married my grandfather, when she was but sixteen years old. As grandfather was thirteen years older than grandmother, he would not tell his age until after they were married a year or more.
They lived in Illinois for two years, where one child was born to them. Together with their only child they came to Webster County, Nebraska. Here they lived on a farm for eight years and where five children were born, my mother being one of these.
There was one especially exciting event that happened while they lived in this neighborhood. One of grandfather's neighbors, Leonard Rall, had hired a man to work for him.One day Mr. Rall was going to town so the hired man went with him. He knew that Rall had taken money with him so before they left home he had hid a hatchet under some straw in the wagon. On their way home from town he took the hatchet and killed Mr. Rall, robbed him of his money and hid him in a straw stack. This man did not get very far away before he was captured and brought back to Blue Hill and put in jail. The neighbors were so angered that they formed a posse and took him from jail with the idea of hanging him. My grandfather was the one who put the rope around his neck and he had been raised into the air when the officers arrived and cut the rope. He was taken back to jail and given a trial being sentenced to the penitentiary for several years. It was later reported that after he was released from prison he became a preacher.
After living at Blue Hill for eight years, they moved to Furnas County, where my grandfather had taken up a homestead or timber claim. They moved in a covered wagon, bringing with them their cows, horses, and all of their belongings. They lived in a dugout on an adjoining farm until he had built a dugout on his own farm, and also a few other necessary buildings.
Three more children were born in Furnas County, making a family of eight children, six girls and two boys.
My mother was three years old when they came here. The first year grandfather had to break sod and to burn the grass first. One evening he, with the older children, went out to burn a strip of grass, and mother, then about four years old, had followed them without their knowing it. Grandfather happened to see her as the fire was getting closer and grabbed her up just in time to save her live. She says she still remembers the flames leaping high in the air beside her.
My grandfather was always very fond of music and singing. For several winters he conducted a singing school class at the God Hope School House, going a distance of five miles and one half, and driving a horse and buggy but most of the time going on horse back.
Although they suffered many hardships as all pioneers did, they lived to build them a comfortable home on their homestead and enjoyed themselves for many years. My grandfather died on November 15, 1925 and my grandmother July 6,1927. Since their death their oldest son Reinhold Kirste has taken over the farm and with his wife and son are making it their home as grandfather had made it his wish that one of his sons would live there.
My mother, whose maiden name was Louise Helena Kirste was born December 8, 1883 at Blue Hill, Nebraska. She was three years old when the family came to Furnas County to make their home. She attended school for several years in a sod school house which stood on the Northwest corner of the farm now owned by Henry Brakhahn. Here many literaries, debates, and singing schools were hold during the winter evenings, a few years later a new frame school house was built which now stands. It is one half mile north of the old one.
My mother was married to my father, Robert Letson Martin, March 20, 1904. They lived for three years on one of my grandfather Martin's farms. Here my oldest sister, Nyrna, was born. Then they moved on to the farm of Fred Masters which they bought the following year and where we still live. my other sisters, Irma, Glenva and myself and my only brother Bobby were all born at this place. This farm is three miles south of Hendly and as we are in the Hendley school district, we have all attended school at that place all our life except that my oldest sister attended a country school for a short time, driving a horse to a cart when only seven years old and as there were only eleven grades in Hendley at that time, she graduated from Beaver City Highschool in 1924; Irma in 1928; Glenva in 1933; and I hope toin 1935. Bobby is in the fifth grade and nine years old now.
I had a serious accident when I was just three years old. My father was grinding corn with a horse-power grinder and Glenva, just two years older to the day than I, was following around behind the horses. It was in the early morning and after I was up and mother had given me my breakfast she put on my wraps and I went out to there they were grinding. I also wanted to follow the horses, so father told me to run on in. I did but went up too close to the grinder and took hold of some turning cog-wheels with my right hand. My father seeing me, grabbed me up, but not soon enough. There must have been some hysterical parents for a while after that. They decided to take me to Brewster Hospital in Beaver City as soon as possible. In their excitement they could not get the Reo car started, so they immediately telephoned Bert Stearns and he took us. The Doctor was out of town and it was noon before he got back. The doctors there at the time put me to sleep and did the best for me they could. My parents stayed with me at the hospital that night. I still have the coat I wore at the time, which has the place in the sleeve which had to be cut open, as did my dress sleeve, in order to get my hand out. As I was not very old I had not done much writing so it was not hard for me to change.
In April 1924, we witnessed a terrible tornado which damaged all of our buildings except the granary. The buildings which received the greatest damage were the barn, which had only been built four years previous and then the largest in this part of the country, the hogshed, 60 feet cattle shed, a double deck chicken house and various other buildings. Parts of the buildings were later found over two miles from the farm. This tornado occurred in the evening about dusk, as my father was driving cows in the barn. The hired man was also outside. They both started for the house when they heard the barn crack. When my father had just stopped outside of the barn door, everything became dark for a moment and he stopped just in time as the peak of the roof fell in front of him. They both succeeded in getting to the house after the worst part of the storm was over. My father hung on the fence between the house and the barn and the hired man had been laying in a small ditch in front of the garage. Every window of the house was broken but two, by boards hurled through the screens and glass into the house.
In the summer of 1927 our family went to the mountains for a week's vacation. Some friends of my parents, who used to be our neighbors lived in Fort Collins, Colorado so that is wher e we stayed. We left early in the morning from Hendley in a model T Ford and reached Fort Morgan, Colorado that same night where we rented a cabin for the night, then went on to fort Collins next morning. While there we took a trip to Estes Park through the Big Thompson Canyon and over Longs Peak. We also visited a large fish hatchery and a saw mill. Mr. Kennedy, with whom we were staying, was night foreman of an oil refinery, so my father had the privilege of seeing a lot of work in the oil fields. On our return home we came by way of Denver where we saw the state capitol and took some pictures of it.
Written by Neva Martin, January 12, 1934
*) Notice of the author of this document:: Probably Neva Martin had the german-french war of 1871/72 in mind. It is not very well known - even not in Poland and Germany - that there was only on war ever between Poland and Germany and that was the one of 1939. The only other battle between polish and 'german' soldiers was that of Tannenberg in the year 1410, but that was fought between the Polish Crown and the 'German Order', who had established an own state, whose territory did not even belong to the 'Holy Roman Reich of German Nation'.
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letzte Aktualisierung: 13.03.2004