Friday, September 23, 2016

Verne Goes to the World's Fair

Despite drought that ravaged the prairie states and other hardships of the Depression years, the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair, called A Century of Progress, drew huge crowds. It opened on 27 May 1933 and closed on 12 November. Its success was so great, that it also ran from May 26-Oct 31, 1934.[1] Its lure did not evade Clint and Mary Troutman’s children. Verne was not to be left out. Perhaps, Neville went with him, for she had expressed a desire to go to her mother, who conveyed the message to Verne away from home in Decatur, Indiana attending the Reppert School of Auctioneering.[2] A note in a postcard from Mary indicates that Verne made the trip in August 1934: “Be careful of your clothes and money at the fair that you don’t lose anything.”[3] It seems likely that Verne went with his new friends from Reppert, or perhaps, with, Ruben Strate, his buddy from Winside who accompanied him to Reppert.
He saved post cards from events at the Fair that impressed him and brought home a silver and black metal cane as a souvenir, which he kept in a black footlocker with all of his other memorabilia from high school and pre-marriage days. On occasion, he unfastened the big metal clasp of the footlocker, lifted the lid, and pulled out the 4-H and track ribbons, the yearbooks, letters, postcards and other treasures, and told the stories to his children. My brother doesn’t remember the stories of the World’s Fair. Maybe he wasn’t as curious about the footlocker as his sisters. My sister remembers the black cane. The only items left are the post cards.

[1] “Century of Progress,” Wikipedia  ( : accessed 24 May 2016), “Success.”
[2] Troutman, Mary, Winside, Nebraska, to Verne Troutman, letter, 29 July 1934, news from home; “Assorted Letters, Memorabilia, and other Papers from the Collection of Verne and Lois Troutman,” binder; privately held, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
[3] Troutman, Mary, Winside, NE, to Verne Troutman, postcard, 1 Aug. 1934, news from home; “Assorted Letters. . . .”

Friday, September 16, 2016

Getting Along in the World: Carl

With Neville, James, and Carl graduating from high school in 1929, Verne in 1932 and Virginia in 1933, my paternal grandparents Clint and Mary Troutman were experiencing a gradually emptying nest. The first one to marry was Carl.

Following his high school graduation, Carl probably worked as a farm hand for his father or for a neighbor. Farming is what he knew. If he had another job, I’m not sure, but he did have a girlfriend, dimpled, vivacious Dorothea Martha Fleer, daughter of Herman Fleer and Wilhelmina (Winter) Fleer. Herman was one of two Fleer brothers who owned the store that turned on the first electric lights in Winside (see Winside: the Place to Be).

This is Carl and Dorothy’s story in their son Darrell’s words (footnotes and bracketed words are this blogger’s):

“Apparently my Dad was a pretty intelligent young man.  I base that statement on two things:  He won a Nebraska State Mathematics championship when he was in high school and somehow he was able to graduate with Neville and Jim in 1929.  He would have been 16 1/2 years old and must have skipped at least one grade somewhere.  I don’t know what he did from 1929 to 1933 but one could safely assume that he worked as a hired hand. 

“My folks were married in early January 1933 in South Dakota.[1]  Obviously the choice of South Dakota was due to the shame and stigma of that era related to my mother being very pregnant with Gary. My uncle, Rev. Herman Hilpert [Dorothy’s brother-in-law], went along and took them to a preacher friend across the border. 

Carl and Dorothy, wedding photo.

 "After the wedding they farmed the homestead of my great grandfather Redmer[2] for a couple years. While there, a tornado caused significant damage to the place. (As an aside, my mother kept a daily diary of their first 5 years of married life, which I have.)

“They moved to a rental farm about 5 miles from Winside, coincidently in Brenna precinct,[3] and their older children also attended District 81 [where Carl and his siblings had attended; see School Days].  He farmed initially with horses, two teams, and acquired his first tractor in the early [19]40s.  I can remember picking corn by hand.  He and the young team led the way and Gary and I followed with the older docile team. I can also remember having to milk all the cows by myself so he and Gary could do other things.  I would have been 6 to 9 years old, so he started us early [as did his father Clint before him]. 
Carl Troutman family, c. 1939-40.

“One vivid memory that I have is [of him] telling me on Dec.7, 1941 about the raid. Since he was of prime draft age I’m sure he was concerned. 

“A family memory is Gary and I playing with matches on a haystack, catching it on fire, and trying to smother it by pushing more hay on it.  My mother eventually came running and saved the day. 

Little farm boys, Gary and Darrell
“In addition to farming, [Dad] fattened cattle.  It would seem that he prospered at both. . . .  [M]y mother was never comfortable on the farm.  She would bribe the hired man to do such chores as gathering the chicken eggs or she would take sticks and lift up the chickens so she wouldn’t have to touch them. . . .  She belonged in the big town of Winside where she started. 

“Their move to Winside occurred in 1946. Mom’s father, Herman Fleer, died on September 1 of that year.  The Fleer family tried, with no success, to sell both [Herman’s] General Store and the home he lived in.  For reasons unknown to me, my parents made an offer for both the store and house and it was accepted.  The funds I assume came from what they had saved in 13 years of marriage.  Dad obviously had no experience with this new profession, but he worked very hard at it.  I’m estimating about 80 hours each and every week.  There were three grocery stores in town when he started and when he retired 25 years later, his was the only one.  Dorothy and all the children also spent lots of time there. My memories of time spent there are endless.  He was a generous man, extending credit to whoever asked, and unfortunately never collecting on many of those debts after he retired.  He seemed to prosper in the store and after he died I discovered that he had acted as a banker by loaning substantial funds to many friends and acquaintances. (FYI, he even lent money to Verne on one occasion.)”[4]

Thanks, Darrell. I have many happy memories of family dinners at Carl and Dorothy Troutman's house in Winside, of the big shade trees along the walk to Uncle Carl's store a half block away, of entering by the side door next to the meat counter and smelling the fresh cuts, of browsing the aisles and, of course, buying candy. I remember Uncle Carl's teasing and Aunt Dorothy’s infectious laughter and her delicious fried chicken and cherry pie. They had plenty of children to play with, too, totaling seven by 1952, a special and very dear family. If children are a testament to their upbringing, Carl and Dorothy were a great success as parents, as all of their children have made or are making positive impacts on their world.

[1] “South Dakota, Marriages, 1905-2013,” database, ( : accessed 14 Sept. 2016), entry for Carl Troutman and Dorothy Fleer, 5 Jan. 1933; citing Bon Homme County. 
[2]  Grandfather Redmer was Dorothy’s maternal grandfather, Martin Redmer, born about 1838 in Prussia, who immigrated to the United States in 1874 (U. S. and Canada Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1500s to 1900s, database, citing Martin Rodmer, age 36.) He obtained his homestead certificate on 20 Nov. 1884: Bureau of Land Management ( :  accessed 15 September 2016), certificate no. 4568, Martin Redmer, 20 Nov. 1884.
[3] 1940 U. S. census, Wayne County, Nebraska, population schedule, Brenna precinct, enumeration district 7, sheet 4-A, visit no. 65, Carl Troutman household; digital image ( ; accessed 14 September 2016); NARA microfilm publication T-627, roll n/a. Brenna precinct was the location of Clint and Mary's first farm in Wayne County.
[4] Darrell Troutman, Lincoln, Nebraska [E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] to Zola Troutman Noble, e-mail, 30 May 2016, “Info request,” Darrell e-folder, privately held by Noble, [E-ADDRESS & STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Anderson, Indiana, 2016.

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Reunion and a Farewell

Lazy days of summer wreak havoc on my blog. Travel, visitors, gardening, swimming and such, keep me occupied so that I can't seem to find time for my blogging. I want to share one week of my summer—the events during the week of the much-anticipated reunion of the Nebraska Troutman family.  Then I will get back to the family history.

We met at Ta-ha-zou-ka Park in Norfolk on a hot, hot July day in an air-conditioned lodge. How many of us would have come if it hadn’t been air-conditioned? I wondered. I remember reunions when I was a child when we met on hot days like that, but outside at picnic tables. The day before or the morning of, my mother, grandmother, and aunts prepared bowls of homemade potato salad, Jello salads, sliced tomatoes, home grown green beans cooked with ham, home fried chicken, homemade cakes and pies. This time, we gave all the cooks a break and had our party catered. We feasted on all the above, except the green beans, and we supported a local business by hiring them to prepare the food.  Some of us brought homemade desserts and there were sliced home grown tomatoes from Indiana (my husband's garden). It was all delicious!

Troutman reunion, Norfolk, Nebraska, July 24, 2016. Photo by Roxanne Meyer.

You could say that “a good time was had by all”—and it was true: we laughed and talked and hugged and caught up on the past two years. But hanging over our heads like an ominous cloud was the knowledge that our cousin, brother, uncle, etc., Darrell Troutman, lay in his home in Lincoln spending his last days with his wife and children. After four years, cancer was about to claim his life.

Carl, Dorothy, Gary, Darrell and Judith, 1939.
Backtrack a little. The second son of Carl and Dorothy Troutman and my oldest cousin after his brother Gary passed away several years ago, Darrell has been one of my mainstays in keeping the family history and writing my blog. He’s also the tease. He added his mother’s line to our family tree, and he has faithfully read my blog, although he never commented, but I knew. He let me know in subtle ways. He kept track of all the contact information for all the cousins and their families. Not long after his mother died in 2009, he shared with me a treasure he found in a diary his mother kept on a trip from Nebraska to California in 1930 when she was fifteen. He asked for my input on how to share it with the family and how to edit it. He produced a beautiful keepsake of photos, maps, and footnotes added to his mother’s diary. I cheered.

First page of Dorothy's travel story.
In June, I sent him a message asking for information about his parents during the 1930s. He responded in his usual gracious manner with as much info as he knew. Then he added that he might not make it to the reunion in July because of “health issues.” I replied, “If you don’t make it, we may have to come to Lincoln to  see you.” I wish I had told him my husband’s comment: “He’s the one of your cousins that I like to talk with most at the reunions.”

We planned to visit him on Tuesday afternoon following the reunion, but his daughter called me on Monday morning to say that he could no longer take visitors. The next day, he passed away about the time we had planned to arrive for our visit. And so, on Saturday, we had a reunion of another sort when cousins, nieces, nephews, siblings, and Darrell’s wife and children said good-bye to him at his memorial service. His son offered a moving tribute, and the pastor’s homily inspired us all.

And so we said farewell to Darrell.

 Click on this link for Darrell's obituary. 

This link will take you to a web site that details Darrell's military service.

Friday, June 24, 2016

After High School? Auction School for Verne

When my father graduated from high school in 1932, the depression was in full swing, and jobs were scarce. Verne was familiar with the sight of “hobos” trudging along the railroad tracks on the border of his father Clint Troutman’s farm in Wayne County, Nebraska.  Undaunted, he set to work organizing a baby beef 4-H club[1] and continuing in his father’s footsteps in agriculture. He had designs on additional possibilities, as well: to be an auctioneer.
In the summer of 1934, he and a high school buddy, Ruben Strate, enrolled in the Reppert School of Auctioneering in Decatur, Indiana. Founded in 1921 by Colonel Fred Reppert, a reknowned auctioneer, the school offered intense training over a period of ten days.[2] 
Fred Reppert is the man in the booth on the right, side view.
Verne was up for the challenge. Although he may have traveled by rail, he probably drove to Indiana in a 1932 Chevy Coupe, his first car.[3] He took his classes seriously, penciling copious notes during each lecture, which he saved. The browned pages can barely be deciphered. Some of them include rules for good living:
·      “Never mix work and play.
·      “Wine and women will kill an auctioneer.” [4]
·       “If you meet the world with a frown, you will get frown[s]. If you meet the world with a smile, [you will] get a smile.
·      “If you don’t know a thing to be a truth, don’t repeat it.” [5]

And for running a successful business:
·      If any organization is not of service to the community, it will be very short lived.”[6]
·      “Never have any person by-bid just tell the audience that the owner cannot . . . sell at that price & 9 chances out of ten he will be able to sell.
·      “Use nothing but newspaper advertising.
·      “A dissatisfied customer is your worst enemy.
·      “Know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it.
·      “Pay the consigner the next day.
·      “Buyer pays for goods day of sale.” [7]

While there, he also made a friend, a fellow classmate, Irvin Patrick, from Circleville, Ohio, whom everyone called “Circleville.”
Verne and "Circleville."
Verne on Circleville's shoulders. Yes, Verne looks like Carl in this photo.
The graduates of auction school, summer 1934. Verne is 4th from right.

The days spent at the Reppert School of Auctioneering left a lasting impression on Verne. He went home and taught his brother James all that he had learned, the chant and all the personal and business advice.[8] Together, they developed an auction business that spanned a number of years, brothers facing the future together.
Newspaper release, unknown paper and date.

[1] Walter Tolman, Lincoln, Nebraska, to Verne Troutman, letter, 11 June 1932, Assistant State Extension Agent writes he has learned that Verne has formed a baby beef club and will come to tag the calves; Assorted Letters, Memorabilia, and Other Papers from the Collection of Verne and Lois Troutman, binder; privately held, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
[2] Melissa Davis, Indianapolis, Indiana, [(E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE),] to Zola Troutman Noble, e-mail attachment, 3 June 2016, “Reppert Auction School,” on the history of the school; Research/Indiana e-folder, privately held by Noble, [E-ADDRESS & STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Anderson, Indiana, 2016.
[3] Verne Troutman, “Grandpa Verne’s Story,” undated, edited by Z. T. Noble, 29 July 2014; computer files, “Dad’s Story2.”
[4] Verne Troutman, “Col. Cy Springer,” lecture notes, Reppert School of Auctioneering, Decatur, Indiana, 27 July 1934. Privately held by Zola Troutman Noble [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Anderson, Indiana, 2016.
[5] Verne Troutman, “Guy Pettit,” lecture notes, Reppert School of Auctioneering, Decatur, Indiana, 28 July 1934. Privately held by Zola Troutman Noble [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Anderson, Indiana, 2016.
[6] Ibid., “Col. Cy Springer,” 27 July 1934.
[7] Ibid, “Col. Cy Springer,” 28 July 1934.
[8] Connee Willis, Wichita, Kansas [(E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE),] to Zola Troutman Noble, e-mail, 24 May 2016, “Reppert School of Auctioneering,” Troutman Cousins/Connee, folder, privately held by Noble, [E-ADDRESS & STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Anderson, Indiana, 2016.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Letters, Cards, Notes, and Stuff

My father saved "stuff."  He saved letters and cards and awards ribbons and souvenirs and photos and all kinds of STUFF. (Thank you, Dad!) These items help to tell the story of his young life.  

During the summer of 1930, Verne Troutman survived a ruptured appendix. He was sixteen. He saved some of the cards he received while in the hospital in Norfolk, Nebraska.

On 1 February 1931, he joined the Boy Scouts. I'm not sure why he joined so late at age 16, but he did.
Boy Scouts of America, membership card.

 Dad always said his nickname in high school was "Slim" because he was so skinny. This tells exactly how skinny. At 5'10", he weighed 138 pounds.
And here's his Boy Scout diary in which he kept track of his good deeds for the day. I think my favorite is "loaned a fellow a nickel."

He even saved his report cards from 11th and 12th grades. Not bad, Dad!

When he graduated from high school in 1932, Verne received a letter from Uncle Jim (aka James Henry Troutman), his father's brother in Virginia. Here it is, transcribed, errors and all, just a few edits for clarity:

"Marion Va, May 17 - 32
"Dear Verne
"Rec your picture and it sure does look good your are a good looking Chap I know. Say you know I hate to just send you 1 00 after sending the other kids 5 each but as Andy says I know you know the represion is on so you must not think hard of me for this is the hardest time I ever saw to make a dollar You know I wrote Clint about having a fine horse well I put [a] crazy man out with him and he fed him until he died It just made me sick he was so pretty and a fine one this fool fed him wheat and every thing. [H]ave been told since he died he would feed him 5 to 6 times a day do hope you all can come out this summer though [I know]you are not making [any] money for there is no one [ma]king any now uless [sic] its old Hover [sic] and his 53  Verne you all have one smart man in Nebr I know I read after him some and that is Senator Norris he says he dident vote for Hoover for he dident think he was the right man for President. To much Job for him & I cuse [sic] this pencil have lost my fountain pen could not find it any where would not of taken 5.00 for it[.]

"Well you and all of the famil try and come this summer would love to take you over the mountains into NC and down whar de water melon grow know you woud have a good time

"Your Uncle Jim"
Despite receiving only $1.00 from Uncle Jim, instead of $5.00, as his three siblings each received, and all at once, too, as they graduated the same year, Verne didn't seem to hold a grudge. He always chuckled at the straightforward way Uncle Jim addressed any issue.

This motto is another one of Dad's keepers. Since he was on the high school boxing team, it makes sense that a motto from a boxer would be meaningful to him.
And life goes on.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Winside: In My Memory

When I was growing up in the 1950s, Winside was the family gathering place. My grandparents, Mary and Clint, and uncles Carl and Jim and their families lived there. Before Grandpa died in 1949, we gathered at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Then the gatherings moved to the uncles' homes. Sometimes we went to Aunt Nevilles' home at Laurel in the next county north, or to our house (Verne's) at Stanton, in the next county south. I suppose we went to Aunt Virginia's house, too, but that's not clear in my memory. She lived farther away at Fremont and then Boys' Town. Mostly, I remember family gatherings at Winside.

That's also where the Old Settler's Picnic was held. It was a big event on our yearly calendar. There was a parade with floats and fire engines and bands and politicians. But mostly there was food and family fun. Everyone brought picnic baskets and we ate at the park located south of Main St. on the west end of town. My grandmother, mother, and aunts made the best fried chicken I've ever tasted, the best pies and cakes, too. The grown-ups sat at picnic tables or on blankets spread on the grass and talked. Sometimes the men stretched out on the blankets and napped. The children ran and chased each other and played games. The teenagers eyed each other and flirted. Sometimes there were organized games and prizes.

One year when I was five or six years old, I entered a foot race for children. I think it was a hundred-yard dash. I remember running has hard as I could on the course on that wide Main Street, pumping my little arms and legs and glimpsing the other children trying to catch up to me. I won! My daddy was pleased. His laughter rings in my ears. I think my prize was a silver dollar, which I probably spent on candy.

Free use map of Winside,, Nebraska.
The farm where I grew up in Stanton County in the 1950s was straight south of Winside about 17 miles. On the map above, you can see the road going south toward Stanton. Countless times we drove that gravel road to and from Winside, the dust flying behind our car on hot summer days, windows down letting the outside air blow on us, no air-conditioning. I looked forward to crossing Logan Creek (although I didn't know the name until I saw it on this map) and driving into Winside, past my Uncle Carl's grocery store on the corner of Main and Hunter (another street name I didn't know before this map), past Uncle Carl's big two-story house just a block past the store on the right, and straight on north through town to my grandparents' farm a mile and a half from town, east side of the road. Mostly, I remember driving a mile or so farther north to Uncle Jim's farm where we often gathered for holidays to feast and fellowship.

Winside's literary claim to fame can be attributed to Laura Ingalls Wilder. In her book, On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, she describes the route she and Almonzo and daughter Rose took through Winside: "Crops are poor since noon, country about as dry as Dakota. Went through Winside about 4 o'clock. Roads are awfully hilly. . . . The soil in Wayne County is very fine and close, not exactly clay, but clayey. The people here claim it is the best soil on earth to stand drought."1 In the very next paragraph, she describes going through Stanton. My imagination soars with thoughts of her and Manly bouncing along on the seat of their covered wagon on the very road we traveled from Winside to Stanton.

Main Street, Winside, c. 1949, a winter of heavy snows.
In college, I had a poster on the wall of my dorm room that said, "Part of you remains wherever you have been." If it's true, a part of me remains in Winside. For certain, I carry memories of Winside in heart.

1. Wilder, Laura Ingalls, On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1962), p. 32.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Winside: The Place to Be

The town of Winside, Nebraska got it's name because of a dispute with the railroad over where to run the tracks. Owner of 800 acres located at Northside, Nebraska, H. N. Moore wanted the tracks to come to his town, already established about 3 1/2 miles from the present location of Winside. Despite his influence and the efforts of other Northside citizens, the railroad officials decided the land around Northside was too hilly and situated too far from Wayne. They wanted to space towns every eight miles along the track, so they chose a lower, flatter location that filled that bill.1
Of course, landowners at that site, particularly, Dr. R. B. Crawford, had been lobbying to bring the railroad there. A legal dispute ensued, and the railroad compromised with the Northside folks by agreeing to move some of the businesses to the new site, businesses Northside citizens had built in anticipation of the trade the railroad would bring. The new town was platted and recorded on 14 June 1886. Dr. Crawford, said it would "be called 'Winside' because it was bound to win and would gradually kill off the old town of Northside."2
About thirty years after this dispute, my grandparents, Clint and Mary Troutman, moved their family to Wayne County, about ten miles southwest of Wayne, the county seat, and eight miles southeast of Winside. The town was well established by then, the wide main street a pleasing feature. In addition to many businesses, the town boasted its own salaried baseball team, a city band, a volunteer fire department, a newspaper (The Winside Tribune), a water system, a telephone company, a public library, a farmer’s union cooperative, and so on.3 A light plant brought electricity, and the first lights turned on in the Fleer Brothers store in 1912.4 Electric streetlights replaced gasoline lanterns by 1915.5 By 1920, Winside’s population peaked at 488 people.6
Living on a farm some distance away, my grandparents experienced none of the amenities found in Winside, however—no indoor plumbing, no electricity, no central heating, and so on. Only when they drove to town for supplies could they experience such modernities. About 1924 when they moved a mile and a half north of Winside, they began to benefit from town life. They moved so the children could go to high school. That farm was my dad’s favorite place of all they had lived.7 It was the place I remember as my grandparents’ farm.

1 F. M. Jones and F. J. Dimmel, The History of Winside, Nebraska: Northside, Railroad, Growth and Development—Winside, Settlement and Growth to the Present (N. p.: n.p., 1942), pp. 8-9.
2 Ibid, pp. 9- 10.
3 Ibid., 64-82.
4 Ibid., pp. 74-75.
5 Ibid, pp. 74.
6 Ibid., p. 249.
7 Verne Troutman, “Grandpa Verne’s Story,” edited by Z. T. Noble, personal computer files,  documents, “Dad’s Story2.”