Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fannie Smith 1896

Here is my great grandmother Fannie Smith of Pittsford, Vermont, at age 20 (top right) at Miss Anne L. Page's Kindergarten Training School in Boston in 1896.  The other girls' names are unknown.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Edd Dickerman Letter

Here is a letter written December 1, 1939, by my dad, Edd Dickerman, when he was 5 years old. It was sent to his aunt Virginia Spurling from Daytona Beach, Florida, on Edd's mother Doris's birthday. And here is a photo of Edd (Dick) in December 1939 with his little brother Tom at Daytona Beach.




Rollin C. Smith Letter from School

Here is part of a letter written November 1, 1856, by my great great grandfather Rollin C. Smith when he was 17 and away at school in West Rutland, Vermont (11 miles from his Pittsford home). Rollin was writing to his cousin Ezra A. Smith, also 17. It reads:

West Rutland Nov 1st

Dear Cousin,

When I left you I partly promest to wright you A letter. I have some lesure time to night so I thought I would wright A few lines. I am as well as common and like to be so as I ever was, for all I see I was home a weeke ago + stayed two nights. I do not expect to go home again till School closes, that will be two weeks from next Wednesday. Father was hear last tuesday + stayed till Wednesday. Have you heard from Michigan lately. I have not since I came here. I have wrote three letters there + have not received an answer from any of them yet. Ezra I wish you could come here to school this winter if a' go. It is a grand place you had better believe. Mr. Bingham is A fine man his whole intrest seems to be in his child's [? illegible]. I like him the best for a Teacher than any I ever saw before.

how is all the folks in Pittsford the Girls in peticlar. I saw some of them A week ago. is there any new Cidar up there. if there is I should like to be there to.

there was a Turkey Shoot at Center Rutland to day. I did not go over. most of the Boys went a school did not keep but half aday. it is most ten OClock time I was in bed (+ you to I guess) my Room mate has gone out and has not got in yet he will get fasened out if he does not come soon. it is saterday night. tomorrow I must go to Church in the new meeting house. you had better believe it is A slick one not much like the olds shells in Pittsford.

we have got into the wizdemow [?] Examples in Arithmetic we have not gone fast but we are not Afraid of What we have gone over. I wish you would ans this letter if ya think it is worth answering

Yours truly

R C Smith

E A Smith Esqr

Nov 1st/56

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Johann Nierath and Dorothea Roggentin

I just scanned these little tiny photos that were inside a locket my mother gave to me. Her grandmother Doris Sophia Maria Nierath gave it to her when my mother left Germany to move to Canada in 1960s. The photos must be of Doris's parents, Johann Joachim Nierath (born January 30, 1825, in Wendorf bei Baumgarten, Mecklenburg, Germany, died July 26, 1894, in Fahren bei Neukloster, Mecklenburg, Germany) and Dorothea Sophia Margaretha Roggentin (born November 13, 1842, in Fahren bei Neukloster, Mecklenburg, Germany, died December 17, 1922, in Mecklenburg bei Bismar, Mecklenburg, Germany).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Virginia's Memories of Ed Spurling Family

Letter from Virginia Spurling to Diana Dickerman
October 4, 1998.

Our Spurling kids didn’t have Indian names. Uncle Ed Spurling ran the store at Cherry Creek long before Dad [Ira Spurling] went out. His three kids were born there. I remember the summer of 1910 when Aunt Mae came to town to stay with us waiting for Bill to be born. He was 8 months younger than [Virginia’s sister] Doris.

The Ed Spurling kids were Bill, Eddie, and Sis. As Sis was born on my 10th birthday we have a special bond. I’m sure you’ve heard of Eddie and Ann Spurling. Both Tom’s and John’s families keep in touch. Bill died this past year.

While my Dad was the oldest of the children of Levi and Lizzie Spurling, Uncle Ed was the youngest of the six. Only those two had children.

Uncle Ed learned the Lakota language and made lots of friends among those Indians. Dad was much older—more reserved and formal and kept his distance. He learned the names of items in the store but nothing much of their lives. We girls were 11, 9, and 6 ½ when we went out the first time and picked up lots of isolated words. There was never a close tie between how the two families were accepted by the Lakotas.

Bill was in South Dakota State Agricultural College as a freshman when Ruth and Doris were there. He became an Agricultural Agent first in the NW corner of the state and then for the Northwestern Railroad. Then came the 2nd World War. He was married to Margie and they had Gary by then, I think. He was at the Invasion of Italy with Patton when that part of the army came into Europe from Africa.

After the war, they settled on a 40 acre spread west of Denver—raised chickens, sold eggs and made cement blocks. Sometime about the sixties Bill and Margie went to Australia, bought into a cattle ranch near Cairns in Queensland. They came to town to see Charlotte and me the evening we were there about 1974. As Margie’s mother in Chamberlain SD needed full time supervision they had to come back. They had landed in a Mormon community and became very devoted converts in Australia. After her mother died they went into the Ozarks—probably a Mormon community then to Texas. They spent their last years in care and devotion in their temple. Bill was tall and skinny. His beautiful golden baby curls began receding in college and left a skinny top. His face crinkled up when he laughed.

As Uncle Ed had taken on another store and he’d hired a renter for the ranch our paths crossed slowly. By the time we were 14 to 4, they were at the ranch and if the Cheyenne River was low someone could drive us in a wagon across. We had such good times especially if a hay wagon and team were available and Bill and Eddie strong enough to harness it. We’d get a jug of water and some crackers and have a trip to the grove up the river about ½ mile away.

Sis’s name was Elizabeth Gertrude [Spurling] and I guess I’m the only one except Eddie whoever says Sis. He was called Buddy until he rebelled at being referred to in a term relating to an immature flower!

She really struggled getting through school and later trying for a job but didn’t do a bad one at being a rancher. Her husband "Dutch" Ed Buchholz bought out the shares of Uncle Ed’s ranch that belonged to her brother. She had three sons and two daughters. Debbie spent some time living with Doris.

Sis finally found that a brain tumor was her physical problem and regrets so that there were so many years of learning that she can never recover. She lives in a retirement community like mine and can go every day to see Dutch in the Alzheimer’s Unit. He seldom recognizes her.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Karl Wilken Family

"Karl" Johann Friedrich Wilken (1876-1937), daughter Alma Wilken, son Karl Willi "Walter" Wilken (1902-1981), Walter's bride Elsa Anna Grunert (1906-1999), Karl's wife Doris Sophia Maria Nierath (1878-1963) circa 1928.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Virginia Spurling (1905-1999)

Recollections by Virginia Spurling

Mother [Fannie Smith Spurling] said that I was born just as the children were coming out of Sunday school, June 25, 1905. Our house was across the street from the Congregational Church in Pierre. That was six blocks east of the house [on Prospect Ave.] the folks bought later in the year.

Virginia's childhood home at 149 W. Prospect Avenue, Pierre, South Dakota.

That house stood on a high lot with a stone retaining wall. There was a big barn at the back. Dad [Ira Spurling] kept a cow Old Jersey and a horse Bob. The stable and carriage room were off the back alley. The huge hayloft extended upward and we could enter it by steps up from the back yard. In later years when it was empty it was a huge area for all kinds of play.

During World War I the hayloft was the military hospital. All the girls in the area for blocks around were Red Cross nurses and cared for the wounded as the battle raged. We really had scads of kids and long summer days of exciting play. The boys were soldiers for both sides and who fought on which side never mattered to us.

Dad’s store in Pierre [South Dakota] is very vague to me as he took the Cherry Creek [South Dakota] store in 1913 when I was eight. The next summer Mom rented the house and we went to Vermont for 15 months as Granny (Addie Whedon Smith) had had a heart attack. I attended Pittsford School for 4th grade and [sister] Ruth was in 2nd.

Pittsford, Vermont, home of Virginia's grandparents, Rollin and Addie Smith, after they moved off the farm. The modern address is 4152 Route 7.

The grandfolks [Rollin and Addie Smith] had moved off the farm on the side of the West Mountains when Vermont Marble Company bought up all the farms there. Grandpa’s farm had no marble on it so he didn’t reap the riches some others did. The living room of the house had originally been a blacksmith shop and all of the timbers were 10”x10”. The other rooms sprawled out from there. Upstairs where we were quartered was low with sloping ceilings. Mother could stand upright only in places where the roof peaked.

Wars were a puzzle to me as when I left Pierre the teacher was talking of the war with Mexico. I knew that was south of the United States. The next fall (Sept. 1914) the teacher talked of the war in Europe. As I was never good at figuring out situations, I decided that Europe must be nearer to Vermont, so interests there didn’t know about the Mexican War.

Rollin Smith in 1914 in the yard of the house in Pittsford, Vermont, where Virginia lived.

We had two wonderful summers in Vermont. We kept out of the lovely long grass that Grandpa [Rollin Smith] mowed, but the brook beyond kept us cool and happy—also long days of exploring the little woods in back. The Powers kids and Margie and Ethel Geno were our ages. Louise Willis was older but acted like an older sister at times.

The Block apartments at Capitol Avenue and Pierre Street, Pierre, South Dakota.

Back in Pierre we spent the winter in the Pierre Street Block. It was four rooms with a cold water sink in one of them. The bathroom (toilet and tub) was down the hall and shared with several families. Our cousin Pinky (Adelaide [Ayres]) was taking Business College and stayed with us too.

Then came Cherry Creek. Dad insisted we must stay all winter as Mama was a teacher so we were there for two summers and a winter. We kids didn’t do the studying we should have.

Virginia's sister Doris on Chub in front of their store, Spurling Bros., in Cherry Creek, 1917.

One of the high spots was Chub. He’d taught generations of kids how to ride and was the most aggravating pony that ever was. He had big blue eyes with a wicked look. His coat was white with big spots covered with a few brown hairs so his pink skin showed plainly. So we had a safe pink and white stead with blue eyes. But he was ours. We learned his ways. If there were any cows in sight our rides were fun until he had herded each cow into our corral. Then we shooed them all out and when they had drifted far enough, we could repeat the process.

Virginia holding Chub with sisters Doris and Ruth at Cherry Creek on Doris's birthday, Dec. 1, 1916, a mild winter.

Another way to get a ride was to lead him as far away from the store/house as we could walk, then it would be a brisk ride back. He also went anyplace if there was another horsebacker along. Riding away from the house was almost impossible for kids. Chub would look back to see who was bothering him, then he’d nibble a blade of grass, then lift a hind leg and scratch his stomach, take a step and repeat. Any adult could handle him. He was finally turned out to pasture and lived to be 35 years old.

During my high school years Dad got Shorty for us one summer. He was a bay with four white feet and a white nose. As he was the best of the Indian ponies Dad bought each spring for $5, he stayed and was there when I taught at the Jeffries School.

Summers at Cherry Creek and winters in town [Pierre] became standard. I made bread from age 15 on as Mother had a job and didn’t come out except for a short time. There are so many possible stories.

High school was followed by two years at Yankton College 14 hours away by train. We always arrived or left Pierre at 2 or 3 in the morning. I remember the long walks home at night carrying suitcases.

My college work was only two years at Yankton where I got my Normal Diploma. All the rest of my college work came during summer courses and after school hours when I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Teacher education in those days consisted of endless courses in “How to_____”—teach reading, teach spelling etc., etc. Judy [Crooks Froemke, niece] later called them Mickey Mouse courses and I guess they were for every system I taught in had its own program. Over the years I took summer courses in five different states. I taught 3 years in South Dakota. The Jeffries School was just 7 miles along the Cheyenne River. There were five children in the family of school age and it was cheaper to hire a teacher for them than for the county to pay board, room, and tuition in another county. It was a good year and I went to all the dances for miles around—sometimes all the way on horseback. Some dances were held in school houses and in the warmer months ranchers could move furniture outside and have the dances. We always had oyster stew in big tin cups about 2 or 3 am. Once when the car I was riding in had no lights they kept the dance going until day light for us. We’d driven there by moonlight but clouds had moved in.

Seeing deaf children on the train as I went home from college piqued my interest. Also I’d read an article about teaching deaf children to speak in the wonderful Saint Nicholas magazine. So after three years at Cherry Creek and Highmore, I went to Northampton, Massachusetts, to Clarke School for the Deaf. It is the first school in the U.S. where children never use a hand sign and communicate solely using speech and lip-reading. It was a wonderful experience. It was the same year as [sister] Doris went to Middlebury.

The next fall was 1929 and I’d found no job, so I stayed with the grandfolks in Pittsford while Mother took a break and visited Ruth and Doris at South Dakota State and also wound up business in Pierre.

Virginia teaching deaf children in Delavan, Wisconsin, 1931.

When she returned to Vermont, I had found a job and went to Delavan, Wisconsin, to the State School for the Deaf. My beginning salary January 1930 was $130.00 a month for 10 months. I left June 1945 at $450.00 per month.

My credentials got me a job in Delavan because I’d been to the same school as the superintendent’s daughter and my picture didn’t look like a flapper! Otherwise every job I got was because someone who did the hiring knew me personally. In fact I was invited to apply at both Tennessee and Ohio. My nine years in Tennessee were most fruitful. There I was able to attend classes after school, evenings, Saturdays and summers until my outside credits were gathered and I’d qualified for my BS in Ed and then the MS in Ed.

House at 122 N. 4th in Delavan, Wisconsin, where Virginia lived with her mother Fannie for fifteen years.

It was hard to leave small town Delavan where Mother and I had had such a pleasant life for so long, but I’d never have kept up with standards much longer without a degree.

Oh, Doris said I’d been to Mrs. Coolidge’s School. Clarke School was the place she’d taught in her youth and met [President] Cal. I was there the time they were in the White House and she always visited the school whenever they came to their home just around the hill from Clarke.

In Knoxville I lived with friends some years and then had my own apartment. Only two of my close friends from there are now living.

Coming to Akron (Cuyahoga Falls) 1954 was the most wonderful move of all. I was teaching deaf children who lived in their own homes and their parents became good friends. Our mutual friend had asked Charlotte if she’d take me in as her husband had died that summer. We still marvel that it was so timely and fruitful. We traveled so much, laughed so much and enjoyed books, music, and bridge. Her friends took me in and so did all the church people. Now, I’m able to be the decision maker for us and help her keep her calendar straight. I’ve been an extremely lucky person. Who else has a family like mine and so many loving and interesting friends?