The Fullmers of Wisconsin

News and history for the Fullmer family

Family History is Rad!

Yesterday, Saturday, was Spring-like for a February day, 40+º, melting, puddles, mud. I was actually home to enjoy it. I had plans. We stripped the two guest beds and our bed. Hung the quilts outside to freshen. Put in two loads of bedding right down to the bed pads.

We had gotten an early start, so after that I baked some oatmeal raisin cookies. My next planned project was cleaning the office. Then about 10:30am, the phone rang, our land line.  We had just sat down to put our feet up for a bit while the cookies finished baking. Norm answered and handed the phone to me. He said it is someone about the museum.

It was a young lady who was in the area taking pictures of Westfield for a 99-year-old lady who grew up here, and was in a nursing home in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Would there be any way that she could see the museum. We get those requests from time to time, and in my mind, I was going to see if Uncle Neil was available. Remember, I had projects in mind for the day.

I am not sure what made me ask, but I said, “Who is the lady who grew up here?”  Her response was “Martha Jost”. “Do you know who her father was?” I asked, “She may be related to my husband. His grandmother was a Jost.”

“Yes, her father was Ted,” Jessica, the young lady said. “Were there twins in the family?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied surprised, “Martha is one of them. Her sister Lydia was the other.” “Oh my gosh,” I replied, “That makes her a first cousin to my husband’s father.  We can show you lots of things to take pictures of that relate to Martha’s family.”

So we met in the afternoon, brought her the information that we had on that family including a pedigree chart to show Martha her parents, grandparents and great grandparents. We showed Jessica the museum and then took her to the cemetery, the old high school (we knew she would have graduated from that school building because she was in the same class as Aunt Vaudice Fuhrmann Mills), the farm area that Martha would have grown up on across from Cant Hill (it is no longer a farm), Cant Hill where Jessica knew Martha always went sledding, Thal Acres where Martha’s dad would have grown up (of course it was a farm then and not Thal Acres).

In my notes, it was Aunt Vaudice who had showed us the area of the Ted Jost farm. She remembered the twins as being very artistically talented and pretty.

We exchanged e-mails, phone numbers and hugs. Jessica is going to see if Martha can fill in any information on that particular family group, possibly scan me some pictures at least of Martha and her twin. Jessica was so excited. We were so excited.

This was not just a chance meeting. The Jost family was the line that we were working on when we went down to Farmington. It is the family that I have been entering information on into Family Search. Interestingly, when I was making up documents for Jessica to take to Martha, I realized that I had all kinds of information on her family in the Reunion program on my desktop that had not been entered into Family Search. I would have missed it entirely. It makes the hairs stand up on my arms to realize just how thin the veil is at times. What a great experience! Thanks to whoever up there was putting this meeting together. Family History is indeed Rad!

Grandpa Kie

KIE-2This is a picture that was taken by my sister Rosa one hot June Sunday morning back in 1956. My dad had to go out after some milk for the house. He slipped on his overalls and out he went. The overalls are how I remember him the most. Usually there was a blue work shirt under and some work boots instead of the slippers. There were times when he was dressed up. He had a Sunday suit, but the overalls were his everyday apparel.

I remember one time his saying that the overalls had saved his life. He got too close to the auger for the corn silage to be blown up into the silo. It caught the overalls and jammed. He was very grateful that it was not his leg, arm  or any of the rest of him. I don’t think this is that pair of overalls because they were pretty much chewed up, but notice the patches that Mom sewed on this pair. He had several pair of overalls.

Aunt Eloise has passed at 95

My Aunt Eloise has passed away yesterday, February 2, 2016. She was 95 years old.

Here is a photo from 2007 and some memories written by my cousin Joyce Kruger Natzke, Bonduel, who is also in the photo.

3aunts From left to right: Three of my aunts – Evelyn Kruger Miller, Lucille Kruger Heath, Eloise Kruger Quinn and cousin Joyce.

Just my Aunt Lucille, the one I consider to be most like my dad Kie – she is a real card – and Joyce are the only ones still here.

“Word came yesterday that Aunt Eloise passed. She was my Dad’s youngest sister, and spent about two years with us, at the age of 18, running our household. She married Ivan(Pete) Quinn on the lawn at Grandma’s.on Nov. 15, 1941. Not long after that he was drafted and served in WWII. Actually 4 of the Quinn boys were in the army, and I remember Mrs. Quinn had four stars in the window. Pete was sent to Iceland and I know one of  the boys was in the Pacific. While they were gone, Eloise and her friend, who was married to another brother, Ellis, decided to join the war effort too. They went to Chicago and were two of the “Rosie the Riveters” that you have probably heard of. She was 95, and her birthday was in June, so almost 96.
“One thing I remember about the wedding. After the ceremony, she exclaimed, “My flowers!” She had forgotten them in  the house!” by Joyce Kruger Natzke

Cousins – Distant and Dear

Cousins-2smOn the right is my brother Neil and his wife  Pat. But on the left, is our first cousin once removed and his wife – Loren King and Shirley. There is such a family resemblance between Neil and Loren. Our grandfather, John Fuhrmann and Loren’s mother Lorena Fuhrmann King were brother and sister.

Lorena’s husband, William King, was a minister and a really fun person to be around. At the end of their life, Uncle Willie and Aunt Lorena lived on Lawrence Street in Westfield in the same house that Great Grandma and Grandpa Fuhrmann lived in.

I don’t know if I could ever find it, but somewhere I have a tape that we made with Mom (Alta), myself, Aunt Vaudice and Great Aunt Lorena. Aunt Lorena was not all that much older than my mother – ten years. It was Aunt Lorena who shared her obituaries and other family papers with me. One obituary was for my Great Grandpa Kruger. No one else on the Kruger side seemed to have that document.

William, Lorena, Loren and Virgil King (3) This picture of the family was probably a scan or picture taken with the photo still in a frame under glass (not by me), but I thought it was worth putting it in here. In back Loren and Virgil King. In front Great Uncle Willie and Great Aunt Lorena Fuhrmann King. Willie King is related to me through the Boniers. Aunt Lorena is my grandfather John Fuhrmann’s sister. They are not related to each other.

Cool Names on New Family Search

As you play around on New Family Search, you can’t help but begin to see how far back some of these lines go.  For example, if you follow the Scribner line to Robert Scriven and Elizabetha Alicia Corbet and then follow the Corbet line, you will find all sorts of lines that go waaaay back.  I realize that the further back you go the more errors there could be, but for me it was just neat to go so far back that I could see biblical names on a genealogical line, such as King Solomon and Caesar Augustus.
As I browsed through connecting lines, I came across many interesting names.  So here is my list of top ten cool names that I found on Family Search:
1) Charles the Bald
2) Ardaric, King of the Gepids
3) Escam Princess of the Huns
4) Wacho of the Lombards
5) Gandolf Alggeirsson King in Norway
6) Aud “The Deep Minded” Ivarsdatter
7) Godwulf King of Trojans
8 ) The Scarlet Woman Rahab
9) Bezaleel “The Master Craftsman”
and my favorite…
10) King Odin Wodin of Asgard

The History of Grandpa Fullmer – part 3

Jim and Ruth Fullmer on their wedding day

Jim and Ruth Fullmer on their wedding day

This is part 3 of a three part article. If you haven’t read the first or second parts, you can catch them here and here.

Dad was asked by neighbors to run for town supervisor and he won. He had served in this capacity for a few years and I remember hearing a discussion between he and my mother about something that wasn’t right with the town board. I asked about it and he explained that Gasser Construction Company out of the Dells had invited the town board members in the area to a very elaborate dinner. Dad refused to go because he felt the board should maintain its independence and be free to choose who got road contracts. He said it just didn’t look right for them to be treated by Gasser who certainly wanted those contracts. It was a minor stance for him but it confirmed to me the necessity of honesty in public life.

As John and I grew up and went to college, we had reached an age when we felt we knew as much as Dad did, and sometimes more. By this time, 1963-4, we had sold the farm and moved to Lake Delton where dad took over a very prosperous Shell station located on highway 12, across from what is now a Field’s Steak House. He had 2 full time employees and 2 part timers and John and I worked as we were available. One of the most valuable employees was a mechanic named Marvin. We worked with him for a long time. One day dad confronted him with stealing from the till and told him to take a few days and decide what he wanted to do to keep his job. John and I were shocked and sure dad was not correct about Marvin. We mustered up the courage to talk with him on Marvin’s behalf and admitted that perhaps Dad was mistaken. Dad described all the signs of behavior that tells an employer he is being robbed by an employee. Marvin had done them all. Dad explained that knowing how much Marvin needed this job, he let the small thefts go and just did not give him a raise. Now, however, the amounts were too much to ignore. John and I were thoroughly impressed by Dad’s knowledge and the effectiveness and sensitivity with which he handled this situation. We were both humble in his presence and came away with a new respect for him. As for Marvin, he came back and behaved himself for a while. While John was home from college large amounts of money began disappearing from the till. John recounts how systematic and careful Dad investigated who the employee was and when the proof was clear, Marvin was fired for good. Even though Dad probably had his suspicions, he was very careful to make sure he was right.

One story deserves telling because it reveals the overly cautious side of my father. When Joanie and I lived in Asia, we had hoped mom and dad would take advantage of free air travel throughout the world which is a benefit of airline employees, which we were, officially. Mom was all for it but dad could not see going somewhere where english was not the language. When it became clear that Joan would have to leave Asia early due to being pregnant with Becky, we contacted my father and stressed the need we had for him to meet Joan and the kids in London and help her get them back to the States. Joan could actually handle this task just fine but we wanted to get my parents out into the world. He accepted our request and we made arrangements to have them arrive in London the same time that Joan and the kids would be arriving. All went well. Bishop Howe of a London LDS Church guided them around touring London. On the last day before they were to leave for the U.S. dad was concerned about finding a taxi the next morning in time to get to the airport at Heathrow. (Finding a taxi in London when you want one at this time is never a problem). Dad asked the cabbie if he would be good enough to pick them up at a set time tomorrow. The cabbie caught on that my dad was overly concerned and assured him he would be there to take them all to the airport. The next morning all was going fine except the cabbie, knowing that my father was nervous, arrived 15 minutes early thinking that would reassure him. It put him into a tailspin of getting everyone going and into the cab as fast as possible. Nearly to Heathrow, Joan is checking to make sure they have everything and when passports are mentioned, my father gets a pained look on his face. He left them in the hotel safe. The cabbie said ”you have got to be kidding” and promptly turned around, sped back to the hotel and returned to Heathrow in time for their flight. I told my father “Whatever you tipped the cabbie, it wasn’t enough.” As Joan witnessed all of this, she can tell it better.

It is time to bring this to a close and I will do so with two stories of things I learned about my father after I had grown up. While working at the Shell station one time, a salesman stopped in for gas. John and I waited on him and he noticed my father walking around the garage stalls. He looked carefully and asked us who he was. We told him and then he asked if he had ever lived around Westfield or Harrisville. We said he had. He promptly introduced himself to Dad and told him he had been in the Harrisville tavern when my father died. He said he has told that story all over the country. Dad just smiled and said it was a fun stunt and he was glad the fellow enjoyed it. The salesman left. We wanted to know the story immediately.

Dad was at the tavern in Harrisville one afternoon and said to Mary the bartender, “Mary, I think I’ve had it. Call Dutch Schultz in Westfield and tell him Jim Fullmer is dead on your floor and to get out here and pick him up. Dad was serious. Mary refused saying she was not going to bother Dutch with such nonsense. Dad said,” No you call him, he’ll come,” and all the other patrons in the bar convinced her to do so. Dutch Schultz was the undertaker in Westfield and long time friend of Dads. Mary called reluctantly and said that Dutch did not say anything, he just hung up. Ten minutes later someone in the bar said that Dutch and his hearse had just pulled into the parking lot. Dad promptly laid in the middle of the floor with his arms folded across his chest. Dutch burst through the door and proclaimed “By God, Fullmer, I have waited for this moment and now I’ve got you. He grabbed Dad’s legs and started pulling him across the floor toward the door. One of the men at the bar said that because they had called him and given him this bit of business, Dutch ought to by a round of drinks for everyone. Dutch dropped Dad’ s legs and bought the house a round at which point Dad jumped up and said, “I’Il have one too!”

This last story happened a few years ago as I was part of a team to solve some problems with the teachers’ union in Platteville, WI. Over dinner we were getting acquainted with other team members and the woman next to me explained that she grew up in Reedsburg, which is near the Dells. We shared stories about the area and she explained that she worked in the Dells at her brother’s Mobile service station. I said that I knew her brother. My father had worked for him just before my father retired. She looked at me and said “Jim Fullmer. He was your father?” She was so serious all of the sudden that I considered that her memories of Dad might not be good. “Oh,” she continued, “he saved my life. I was in so much trouble all the time that my brother wanted me to work for him so he could keep an eye on me. He would give me the evening shifts to keep me away from trouble. Jim often worked the same shift and we would talk a lot. He was so kind and understanding and he made so much sense. He valued his family so much that I decided to straighten myself out and look at life differently like he did. He meant the world to me.” She had lost touch with him when he moved away and I told her of his years in retirement and how he had passed away a few years before. It was a grand moment for me and I came away thinking “Well I’ll be damned Dad. You never quit influencing people for good.”

Even as I prepared this lecture, I remember stories and incidents that were meaningful if you are to understand this man Jim Fullmer, but they are not included here. He often surprised me with his patience and understanding when you were most afraid he would just be angry. As difficult and challenging as his life was for him, especially since nothing ever worked out the way he planned, he lived his life with love, grace, and fun. I hope I can do half as well. Thanks Dad, you were great.

Your son, Robert.

Where was William Fullmer’s blacksmith shop

We know that William Fullmer was a blacksmith in Packwaukee and Adams. We need to find that blacksmith shop in Packwaukee. Mom is going to check the Marquette County Tribune readership and will check the tax records at the Historical Society. We need someone to check the deeds for the property across the street from the restaurant in Packwaukee on Liberty St. He owned it from around 1907-1911.

Jacob Rufe – A Missing Link Uncovered

It was only recently that I have really gotten into family history.  Before now, I knew that Mom had done a lot of genealogy, but that was about it.  I had no clue how to get started with family history or even how I could help.  First, I had to figure out what had already been done.  Two things have really helped me get a grip on what my family history is and how far it goes: one is New Family Search and the other is the 15 generation pedigree chart that I purchased and filled out.  Both of these have allowed me to see, at a glance, what has been done and what needs to be done.  I could now begin to see where I could help out.

I began asking Mom for family history documents so that I could scan them into digital copies.  This was something easy for me to do that did not require a lot of knowhow.  Soon after that began, I got into a conversation with Rob about creating a website for the family.  It wasn’t long before Rob began to work his magic and started creating the framework for  It would be the new hub for all things family history, at least for our family that is.  You may ask what all of this has to do with the topic of this article… I’m getting there.

One day while I was putzing around on the internet, I decided that I would do some searching to see if perhaps anyone else had created a website about any of the older generations of Fullmers on our line.  I did a couple of searches that resulted in nothing of any interest.  Then I typed in “John George Vollmer” and I found a link that took me to rootsweb (click here if you want to see the actual link).

The article summarized a family line that followed Maria Magdalena Vollmer, a daughter of John George Vollmer and Sophia Rufe (our line follows her brother Jacob).  Initially I was interested in John George’s parents who didn’t match with what was listed on Family Search (they list the parents as John Justus Follmer and Maria Magdalena and Family Search shows Johann George Vollmer as the father.  Johann George and John Justus are actually brothers, so it could be an easy mistake).  Then I noticed that Sophia’s parents were named.  Those names were missing on Family Search!  I had to dig deeper and surprisingly, that wasn’t too hard.  I did a search for the father,  “Jacob Rufe” and then I started finding all sorts of information!

Jacob Rufe was born on February 7, 1718 in Tegernau, Loerrach, Baden, Germany.  He came over to the United States in 1739 on a ship called “Snow Betsy” and purchased 180 acres of land in Pennsylvania.  He married Anna Elizabeth Speece and had 6 sons and 1 daughter, Sophia (our line).  Jacob joined the militia (as did three of his sons) and fought as a corporal in the Revolutionary War.  This was a family that was right in the thick of the creation of a new nation.  To put things into perspective, Jacob died in 1790, the year after George Washington was elected the first president of the United States.

Jacob Rufe's Gravestone

In addition to finding information on rootsweb, I came across a book titled, “A Genealogical and Personal History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Volume 1” on Google Books.  This is where I found most of the detailed information about Jacob and his family.  I was also surprised to find pictures of Jacob’s gravestone on the internet.  Someone had created a profile for him on which contained the photos I have posted with this article.  The internet (mostly rootsweb) also helped me uncover four additional generations on the Rufe/Ruff (as it is spelled in German) line.  All of which were not on Family Search yet.  In all, I think I have uncovered about 20 names so far with more to come as I search for siblings of all of these families.

This was a really cool experience for me and I hope I don’t come off as bragging while telling my story.  I was humbled to be able to help and actually enter a name into Family Search.  My intent on writing this article was one, to inform the family of the newly found link and two, to demonstrate that getting into family history is not as hard as it seems.  I will back up anyone who says starting family history can be a daunting task, but with all the technology we have today, it can be as easy as typing a name into a search engine.  Rob and I will be trying to make family history even easier by listing projects that need to be done on  Your involvement could be anything from a personal project to a quick family home evening activity.  I think you will be surprised how the Spirit will guide you once you get started.

The History of Grandpa Fullmer – part 2

Jim Fullmer

Jim Fullmer as the owner of the station in Ft. Atkinson

This is part 2 of what will be a three part article. If you haven’t read the first part, you can catch it here.

Let me take a moment from the stories and profile James at this time. First of all he was rarely called James and sometimes Jas which was a common shortened version of James. All called him Jim to my knowledge. Jim was smart and quick witted. He was very good with numbers, enjoyed a wide sense of humor, and could be playful. There wasn’t much he could not build, be it a rabbit hutch or a farm shed or com crib or pig crate. He had extensive tools which were frequently displaced by his sons. (Some how John and I managed to lose over twenty hammers on the farm much to our fathers amazement. We lost 12 hammers in one summer. Both of us have no idea what happened to them.) Jim possessed strong ethics and a moral sense although he rarely preached it. He was an excellent example for me.

He dearly loved my mother and rarely had arguments, at least in front of us. He could get angry but not often. He had a strong sense of the way life should be lived and in the old days felt obligated to mention it to someone who did not measure up. He was true to his philosophy of success all his life which was to work as hard as you can and success will follow. It never brought him the financial success he wanted and would change this philosophy to working smart and having an education. He was fascinated by the law and spent free time just sitting in court rooms and watching trials. His fine sense of justice may well have been honed there. He was never accusatory and had a strong sense of fair play. He did not appreciate those who cheated or were dishonest in getting what they wanted.

He rarely went to church although he viewed himself as a Christian. He was pretty independent in his own way. He was an excessive worrier which at times for him became almost pathological. He expressed that this worrying was his biggest curse but he could not help it. He was a moderate drinker and liked to drink from the top shelf, coke and 7 Crown seemed to be a favored drink.

He never laid a hand on us children, ever.

What follows now are some favorite stories about my father that impacted me and who I am as well as illuminate aspects and character of Jim FuIlmer.

The first story has to do with building a small barn in Westfield for my sister’s horses. Dad always hired someone to help and that person was frequently an older man named Charlie Rabbitt. He was a carpenter with few teeth, smoked a com cob pipe, and was a fascination to us kids. I do remember that my dad wanted to treat Charlie for a good days work but Charlie explained that, while he would like to, his wife expected him home. I remember dad saying to mother that Charlie was not wearing the pants in his family and maybe he should have a talk with him about being the head of the family. This was a common theme in those days and men did not hesitate to inform other men if they were too controlled by their wives. The other part of this story has to do with me and the profound ignorance of a 7 year old. Watching the building very closely and probably asking too many questions about it I wondered why the roof boards were longer on one side and quite short on the other side. With all seriousness on my fathers part, he explained that the lumber yard had sent the wrong sized boards for half of the roof and they would just have to make do with what was sent. Somehow this seemed like a completely valid explanation and I adopted it until I was near 30 years old, driving through Westfield and looking at the barn and wondering why he didn’t just send the short boards back. All of a sudden it dawned on me that my dad was not being sincere with me and that one half of the roof needed to be shorter to accommodate large sliding doors. I felt like an idiot for holding on to the understanding of a 7 year old for so long.

The next story has to do with breakfast which was very similar every morning. Mom tried to give us kids some variety and some of the time we cooperated. Dad, however, had pancakes and sausage almost every morning and they were our favorite as well. One morning on the farm we were sitting around the breakfast table, goofing around and were scolded by mom. We straightened around because dad would get involved if we ignored mom and we did not want that. While concentrating on behaving, a pancake zoomed across the table and hit John full on his face. We both sat stunned until we saw a flicker of a smile on dad’s face and the pancake battle began. I am sure John and I lost but we were so surprised that dad stepped out of character and started a food fight that I can recall the moment to this day 50 years later.

A similar story occurred when we first moved to the farm on Russell Flats. Exploring the 230 acres I found a old dump pit next to a pine grove my grandfather planted years before. I promptly claimed this land for my own and wrote out a deed for dad to sign. Now we needed a hut on it and John and I were trying to figure out how to build one. Sharing our problem with dad at a time when he was trying to get the farm up and running, he surprised us by suggesting we take one of the old chicken coops up on the hill, clean it out and use that. The idea was perfect except for one thing, we would have to take it apart and rebuild it. NO, said father. Lets put some log skids under the building and haul it up there with the tractor and he dropped everything and we did it. The “Hut” remained our treasure and when it finally collapsed a few years ago, John called to let me know. It was one of the most special things my father did for us.

Christmas is a time for giving and I never challenge that premise. Our Christmases were quite traditional and it was always noted when a card with three angels on it was placed on every tree. It was the only thing my father contributed and it belonged to his mother. One Christmas my father was frustrated at never having the money to get his children everything they wanted. This Christmas he decided to spend the money anyway and we got tons of toys and things. I do think it was everything we wanted. Now I know that doing this is not always a good idea but I felt wonderful as did my siblings. We still remember that Christmas to this day and appreciated the tremendous effort that dad put into it. We even remember what the gifts were to this day.

I have tried to reconstruct the course and times of Dad’s life and it has been harder than I thought it would be. I did find mention of him on a census list of 1920 and 1930. In 1930 he was listed as a 19 year old hired man on the Albert and Bertha Bartz farm in Springfield Township of Marquette County. According to notes that mom made, Jim moved to Fort Atkinson in 1935 and worked for Jule Marachowsky who apparently owned grocery stores and furniture stores. He began dating mom while she was at the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing. Details of just how they got started seeing each other are no longer clear to me or my siblings but her father’s farm was only a few hundred yards from the Old Frank Russell farm where dad was working. John remembers mom telling him that she met him during a double date, dad being with someone else. We all suspect that James and Anna Maude Hamilton probably had someone other than my father in mind for their only child and daughter. Nonetheless, they were married June 6th, 1936 in style and fashion with an elaborate reception on the Hamilton farm. They must have moved very soon to Fort Atkinson, WI where Jim’ s brother Harley lived.

Jim Fullmer's First Station

Jim Fullmer's First Station in Fort Atkinson

Apparently he took over a Pure Oil service station in 1937 and had it for one year. This was the time of the nasty labor strikes in Fort Atkinson that involved goon squads. Strikers were often attacked on the picket lines by hired thugs or security men hired by the company they were striking against. The union responded by bringing in some very large and nasty tempered “goons” to walk the picket lines in place of the workers. Dad told me of one day when a dangerous gathering was taking place on the street where Dad had parked his car. A number of these “goons” were gathering and waiting for orders. Some were sitting on Dad’s car. He wanted to get his car out of there but didn’t want any trouble. One of the nastier looking individuals noticed him and asked what the problem was. He explained that he wanted to get his car out of there if he could. The fellow ordered everyone off his car and they made a gauntlet so he could get it out of there to safety. Dad said he could have kissed this fellow. The strikes ended the future in Fort and Jim and Ruth moved to Westfield to run a Phillips 66 station in 1938. Daughter Mary arrived in 1938.

W.W.II arrived in 1941 but Jim was exempted from service because of his rubber vulcanizing skills. In 1941 they moved to Watertown to work for Marachowsky and ran a service station in the area of the M&I Bank and David Paint store. He also was hired nights by the Technical school to help train machinists. He told me he knew very little about training machinists but knew slightly more than his students. Daughter Jean came along in 1942 and we are not sure but they must have moved back to Westfield in early 1944. Sister Mary was helpful here because she remembers being thrown out of the Watertown movie theater because she got so upset when Bambi’s mother was killed. She remembers mom and dad taking her immediately for ice cream to calm her down.

In Westfield they rented what we refer to as the Andrew Anderson’s house which was right across the highway from Jim’s new Pure Oil service station, known as the Parker Brothers station. Both buildings are still standing just south of the fairgrounds on Cty M. I arrived in late 1944 and brother John in late 1945. Around this time he was elected to the Westfield School Board and served in this capacity until the early 1950s. Mary remembers when he took a very strong stand supporting a teacher and against a family whose son had been disciplined and wanted the Board to fire Lulu Sanford, the teacher that we all have had. This time period was a difficult one for Westfield schools. Around 1950 we moved in town to a classic old house now owned by Ray Locke and while a garage has been added, the horse bam is still there. Dad leased a Standard Oil service station on the north end of old Hwy 51, across from Galligher Garage from Judd Clark. What was unique about this station is it had a picnic area and a small trout pond with hugh trout. I have run into a few people who used to travel through Westfield when they were kids with their parents and wanted to stop to see the trout. One time, or maybe more, someone stole all the trout during the night. My father just laughed as they were fed liver from the local meat market and probably tasted like nothing that was eatable. In 1956 we bought the Zuehlke farm which neighbored mom’s farm and moved during the summer. Later it was explained to us by mother that dad was under too much stress and was worrying too much and they bought the farm for a change of life.

Life on the farm generated many, many stories but let me share a couple. I was dating this cute girl Joanie who lived just down the hill from us. I was 16 and had my drivers license and after spending an evening with Joan I took a long time to say goodnight to impress upon her how much I liked her. If I had to be home by 10 PM then I left Joan’s at 9:59. To impress her parents with my maturity, I drove out of their driveway very carefully. Once on the road, I floored the gas pedal all the way up the hill and gently coasted down our driveway. One summer evening, convinced that my father could not possibly know what I was doing, he and John were sitting on the porch. I casually walked up and calmly sat down next to them. Silence! Then my father spoke evenly, “Say John, do you think that car can stand much more roaring up the hill like that?” It never dawned on me that of course he could hear me coming every time. Nothing more was said, it didn’t need to be.

A similar story had to do with John and myself running for the tractors whenever dad left for town or the mill. We would race the tractors all over the farm. We were confident that dad never knew. Years later around the thanksgiving table we began telling stories of our adventures on the farm. John and I shared our racing stories and proudly proclaimed no one every knew. “Oh, you damned fools, of course I knew. I would come home and walk down to check the cows and find the whole pasture torn up with tractor tracks. How could I not know?” John and I looked at each other acknowledging how stupid we were. The point was, dad never said anything or very little, letting us boys be boys.

One of those “you had to be there” stories began simply enough. Times were rough on the farm for dad. He was trying to farm when most small farms were going out of business. He would eventually have to give it up as well. Before that happened, however, the three of us were putting a window fabric over a broken window of a shed. Dad and John were inside, I was outside. All of us on a ladder. Dad told me to be careful as this fabric would tear easily and as we were struggling to get it into place, dad said to guide it a little but not to touch it with the stick I was using. I said “You mean like this?” I meant to tap lightly but the stick went right through and must have poked through right in dad’s face. I said “Ooops” but there was no noise from the inside. Instinctively I knew what that meant and I jumped off the ladder and was running full tilt as my father burst forth from the shed door with John behind him. We were laughing so hard we didn’t get far and collapsed on the lawn with my father playfully pummeling us. It was a great moment.

Find John Holweck’s Gravestone

John Holweck and Josephine Auer (his wife) are buried somewhere in the Calvary cemetery (the Catholic one) in Wisconsin Dells. Unfortunately, we’re not entirely sure where. Dad and Rob have both walked the cemetery with no luck. If we could get someone to track down this stone, take a photograph of it and maybe even get GPS coordinates (or just draw a map of where it is), that would be great!

Directions to the cemetery: Take Hwy 13 (16/23) into the downtown Dells. After crossing river bridge (going towards Mom’s), continue to the third set of stop lights and turn left on Vine St. Continue straight on to the Calvary Cemetery main entrance.

The Cemetery is maintained by St. Cecilia Catholic Church (603 Oak St., Wisconsin Dells). They keep records of the cemetery and who is buried where. The phone number is 608-254-8381.

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