by Marva Boehm Mason:
"My grandmother wrote [this] at my request before she died. She
grew up in Moulton on a farm on the south side of town." - Marva
was born February 1, 1902 in Moulton,
Texas to Fritz Lueke and Emma Niemeyer Lueke. My brother, Arthur,
was born July 15, 1904, and Lille (Mrs. R. J. Etlinger) was born December
2, 1906. We had a brother (George) and sister (Ella) who died before
I was born.
Dennis Wagner, my second grandson (born in 1956) was born on George's
(my oldest brother) birthday, February 22.
I was baptized in Zion Lutheran Church in Moulton
by Pastor G. Rapp and confirmed April 16, 1916 by Rev. H. A. Heineke.
I went to Sam & Will Moore Institute in Moulton
through the seventh grade. My piano teacher, Miss Adele Cordes, was
blind and she taught me piano for seven months. I did not even learn
all the basics but my folks thought I could play America and
the money was scarce so I had to quit.
The first cassette tape recording I made and gave to my grandchildren
was titled Grandchildren are God's Greatest Gift to a Grandmother
Growing Old. This story I started to write in September 1984,
and the title of this tape is Writing My Own Grandmother Story
for My Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren.
|Fritz and Emma
Lueke and family
I started school when I was seven years old. My first teacher's name
was Miss Tillie Guenther. There was no kindergarten. We did not have
friends because we did not get to go places. We did go to Sunday school
and Church and once a year to a feast called May Fest. My Daddy gave
me 50 cents to spend on anything I wanted. Of course that was ice
cream and soda. Soda water was 10 cents a bottle and 5 cents for a
big ice cream cone. By the time we went home, I always had 10 or 15
cents left which I gave back to my Daddy.
Once a year, at Easter time, I got a new dress and a pair of shoes.
Sometimes, if we were lucky, some aunt would give my mother a piece
of material and she would make me a new dress and most of the time
that material was a feed sack that chicken feed came in. As I got
a little older, I got to visit my grandma and grandpa in Shiner
during summer vacation. That was really something. I rode a passenger
train from Moulton
and I thought that was the greatest thing on earth. Grandma and Grandpa
(Dietrich John and Elizabeth Lange) Niemeyer were so wonderful to
me and my cousin Hattie Anna Marie Niemeyer Pietsch. We always went
there together. We had to go to bed before it got dark and they had
nothing but candles to give us light. They were afraid we might not
be careful and start a fire. They had a music box that played about
eight or ten times. They brought that one from Germany when they came
to America. I fail heir to that and now it is at my son's (Ben Wagner)
house in Schulenburg
and he is finding someone to fix it. After my death, it goes to him.
Cousin Hattie and I helped Grandma Niemeyer and when we did get to
play, we took corn cobs, painted faces on them for dolls and also
made clothes for them. After a few years, we got China dolls, which
were cloth bodies, legs, arms, with china hands, head and feet. I
always had dresses, coats and hats for them that I made myself. We
never had a tricycle or skates. We had chores to do after school,
like bringing in clothes from the line, that Mama had washed, fold
them and put them up, feed chickens, gather eggs, and bring in wood.
We had to cook on a wood stove so when the wood pile was nearly gone,
Papa ordered a big load of wood. The man just dumped it and Arthur
(brother) and I had to stack it real neat. We did not have grass in
the yard so every Saturday we had to rake, sweet the yard so it looked
nice for Sunday. We had friends we would visit on Sunday and then
they returned the visit. We always had a big lunch on Sunday. I made
my first bread and cake when I was 10 years old. Mama did not like
to cook so I fail heir to that early in life. I remember as if it
were today. I had three girls over on Saturday evening so I decided
to make molasses candy. I did not have a recipe but I made some. It
did not turn out like candy, it was just a sticky mess but we ate
it with a spoon. I told the girls, "do not eat too much, we might
get sick", but you know what happened? After we went to play, Arthur
cleaned up on it. You guess it! He got loose bowels and messed in
his britches. After the girls went home, I heard Arthur crying and
calling me. I started to look for him and found him behind the house
standing in a corner. Man, I had fast thinking to do before Mama came
home. So, you know what I figured out, so I did not have to get my
hands dirty, I took the water hose, made Arthur stand with his legs
apart and I squirted water on him till he got clean. Then I took his
clothes, hung them on a picket fence and washed them with the hose.
I must have been nine or ten and Arthur was six or seven years old.
When Mama came home, I got a licking for making candy and Arthur got
a licking for messing up his clothes. Those were the days.
Arthur (brother) and Lillie (sister) always ran out of money before
it was time to go home. Guess I always was tight, and as the kids
always accused me of squeezing a nickel so hard the buffalo fell off.
|Fritz and Emma
Lueke's home south of Moulton
The first house that I remember that we lived in was a two-story house.
It had a long stairway and steps. Did we ever have fun sliding down
the banister! We kept them polished for sure. We had just painted
floors, no carpets like today, not even a scatter rug because that
was only for the rich people, and although we had plenty to eat and
wear, we never had anything to waste or get extras. We had no electric
lights. We used oil lamps to study by. Those lamps would smoke so
bad the chimney would be black, so they had to be washed every day.
Later my Daddy bought a lamp called an Aladdin Lamp. That was wonderful
and gave real good light. The first few years I remember we had to
set the iron on the wood stove to get hot so we could iron our clothes.
Before we started to iron, we had to go cut off some cedar leaves,
run the hot iron over that to make the iron get real smooth and not
stick. We usually had two flat irons (that is what they were called)
on the stove to get hot while we used the third iron. We had no silverware.
I do not know how to describe them to you, other than they looked
like tin and had to be scrubbed after every meal. The handles were
black wood, forks had three prongs. We had no water pipes in the kitchen
so every time we needed water we took our bucket to a well in the
yard and pumped water. We kept one bucket full in the kitchen and
one bucket which hung from the ceiling on the porch which had a long
handled dipper in it and we all drank from the same dipper. How things
have changed! Now, we use a clean glass ever time we drink. We had
chickens, cows, and hogs. We always had good jersey milk cows and
morning and night, she gave a big bucket full of milk. Milking was
done by hand. Daddy or Mama did that until I was 12 years old, then
I started. It was not so bad in the summer time, but oh when it was
so cold and ice on the ground, it was horrible. Sometimes our hands
got so cold, we could hardly finish. But, finish we did. In those
days, we had a milk and cream separator. You would pour the milk in
the container on top of a machine, and then start turning a handle.
The milk would run from one part and cream from another. When we had
enough cream, we would put it in a churn and make butter. We sold
the butter we did not need for 35 cents a pound.
We had no refrigerator, only a wooden icebox. Daddy would bring ice
when needed. A block of ice weighed 50 pounds. That would last almost
a week. Of course, we could not chip ice to make Kool-aid or other
drinks. We had a soda water factory at that time and we were allowed
a few bottles of sodas. Our choices were lemon, cream soda, Big Red
or orange. Mama did let us put a few bottles around the block of ice,
but with three kids, you know how much soda water we got.
As I said before, we raised hogs, so when the first cold norther blew
in, it was hog killing time. A neighbor and wife would help us and
then we'd help them. We made our own sausage, bacon and ham. My job
was, when Daddy had cut the bacon in big slabs, was to put ice cream
salt all over it. Then, in the little house in the yard, which we
called a smoke house, the ham and bacon was laid on a table. After
the sausage was stuffed in a casing (intestines), they were hung on
a round stick, like a broom handle and hung across the length of the
house. Then an old pot or bucket was filled with wood chips and a
fire was started on the outside until the flame burnt low and started
a smoke. Then it was set in the middle of the smoke house. We kids
had to check on the smoke bucket every once in a while and put on
a few wood chips. Then, if the flame got too high, we would throw
a little sand on it. It usually took a week before the meat was ready
to eat. A hog has a lot of fat, so that is all cut up into small pieces.
A fire is build under the old iron kettle and the fat pieces are cooked
almost all day till all the flat is out of the pieces. Then the pieces
are as small as a dime, real crisp and brown. A large white cloth
is hung in a crock pot so the fat can be strained. The little pieces
are called chitlins. They are used in cornbread and boy that was good
eats: a mess of turnip greens and chitlin cornbread. As the chilins
got old and could not be used for cooking, Mama would put them in
the old kettle, put some water and several cans of lye in it, build
a fire, and that cooked for a day. Then the lye dissolved the chitlins
and after it stood in the kettle a few days, Mama would take a saw
and cut it up into about 6 x 5 inches and that was soap we used in
I want to go back just a bit. My Daddy had a meat market in Moulton
and whenever it was hog killing season, about three weeks before,
whenever he butchered a cow, he would bring the intestines home and
I had to prepare them. The first thing I did was run water through
the intestines to clean them. Then, Papa had made a scraper out of
wood that looked a piece of wood about four inches long, one inch
wide, with a round cut out at one end. You see, the intestines had
fat down the middle. You take one end of the intestines, hold it against
the cut out and pull till you get to the end, which goes into a bucket
of water. Next, the gut is turned inside out, scraped several times
until nothing remained but the outer skin. Then, you cut them into
long lengths about 18-20 inches or longer, depending on how big a
sausage ring you want to make. Then you tied one end with twine and
blow them up like a balloon. Next, you tie the other end, then tie
it to the clothesline and wrap it around till the end of the line.
They had to dry all day and when they were dry, they were as clear
as glass. Then they were kept in a container till we made sausage,
but before we could stuff meat into them, they had to be put in water
again to soften and were cut to the size you wanted the sausage to
be. Then, as I stated before, they were put in the smoke house to
be cured or as we say today, "processed". In order to have enough
sausage all season, we had to pack them into the lard to keep them
from spoiling or getting rancid. To make knockwurst (hard sausage),
we had to leave them in the smoke house and smoke them for two or
three weeks. What a change. Now we go to a market and get all kinds
of sausage without doing one bit of work.
Before we had a cream separator, we would keep the milk in the icebox
for a day. The cream would rise to the top. We would take it out of
the box, set it on the table, and the milk would turn to clabber,
then we could take a spoon and roll the cream to the side of the bowl,
put it in another bowl and set back in the icebox until we had enough
to make about one or two pounds of butter. That was made in a crock
about 24 inches high and 8-10 inches wide. The handle was made of
wood with a cross bar and that was put in the churn to the bottom.
Then, a lid with a hole in it for the handle to go through was put
on top and you were ready to stomp the cream up and down until you
had butter. We kids had to take turns and did we hate to sit there
that long. But, so it was. Now, you may wonder what happed to all
the clabber that we took the cream off. Some we used to make good
old cooked cheese, cheese pie, and the rest was given to chickens
and hogs. We drank the buttermilk and had buttermilk soup once or
twice a week. I still like buttermilk soup but none of my kids would
try it. In fact, if I wanted peace and quiet at mealtime, all I had
to do was make buttermilk soup. My kids never were fussy about food
but no way would they eat it. I am talking about after I was married
and tried that on them.
We cooked on a wood stove so wood had to be brought in to fill the
wood box. This was also used to heat part of the house in winter.
In the living room was a heater to heat the rest of the house. We
had to heat water to take baths. We had a cistern house in the yard.
That is a house that holds a large tank into which the water is pumped
from the well which had a windmill on top that when the wind was blowing
we had to turn it on to keep the tank full in case of fire. In this
cistern house, we had a bathtub and had water piped into it but had
to heat water in the house, carry it out to the tub. Believe me, there
was no way like a relaxing warm bubble bath. We put just enough water
in to wet our bottom and that was a must for Saturday night before
dark. The folks would not let us use a lamp for fear of fire.
I got my first bicycle when I was 13 years old. I think I only got
it so I could get home from school at noon to warm the dinner so we
could all eat and so I could get back to school in time. The table
was left until I got home from school and cleaned up. Then, I got
my lessons, practiced my piano lessons. By that time, it was time
to get the chores done.
THE ESTATE OF OLGA LUEKE WAGNER SMOTHERS BY MARVA BOEHM MASON (GRANDDAUGHTER)
Olga Elizabeth Johanna Lueke married Benjamin Howard Wagner, Sr. (born
4 March 1904, Mouton, Texas-died 11 August 1937, Galveston, Texas)
and they had one daughter, Ethel Virginia Wagner Boehm (born 23 November
1922, Lavaca County, Texas) and two sons, Shelton Howard Wagner, Sr..
(born 20 January, 1924, Lavaca County TX) and Benjamin Howard Wagner,
Jr. (born 4 November 1926, Lavaca County, Texas). After Ben's death
in 1937, Olga married Frank Smothers n the 1940's. Olga died on 24
July 1991 and is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Yoakum, Texas.
Olga's parents were Fritz and Emma Niemeyer Lueke. Olga's maternal
grandparents were Dietrich John and Elizabeth Lange Niemeyer.
Pictures provided by Marva Boehm Mason, Houston, Texas.
A computer printout of Dietrich John Niemeyer's descendants is provided
by Angelina Genzer Kretzschmar, San Antonio, Texas. UPDATED 7 APRIL
2011 AND COPY TO MARVA.
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact