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.”

Friday, April 22, 2016

Winside High School, 1932 and 1933

Just a few photos today from Winside High School and a correction on last week's blog. My father, Verne Troutman and his sister Virginia did not graduate the same year, as I stated last week. Verne's year was 1932, and Virginia's was 1933. Thanks to my cousin Lee Nelsen for sending a few gems from his mother Virginia's collection.

Wouldn't it be fun to see the play for this play bill when Neville, James, and Virginia were part of the cast? Winside High School, as small as it was, had drama clubs and plays and many opportunities for students to excel.
Verne's commencement folder and graduation photo:
Verne Troutman, high school graduation, 1932.
And Virginia's:

Virginia's high school graduation photo, 1933.
 Then here's the yell book. Would our cheerleaders use these today?
A page from the Winside High School Yell Book.
Winside was a busy little town in those days and the high school was an integral part of the community. More on Wiside next week.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Winside High School Days: Angst and Triumph

This week marks the 102nd anniversary of my father’s birth, so he is on my mind. On 13 April 1914, Verne Clinton Troutman entered the world. Born at home on a farm in Stanton County, Nebraska, he had the bluest eyes and blondest hair a kid could have.  A cute little round-faced boy, he was the fourth child and third son of Clint and Mary Troutman. That’s a tough position, the youngest of three boys. 

Verne, about age 3.
 His youngest sister Virginia told me that Carl and Verne often bickered and fought, and Jim would attempt to referee. Finally, their dad bought them boxing gloves and let them duke it out. I don’t know who won. Those boxing gloves would later attain significance in Verne’s life.

In earlier blogs, I’ve written a few stories about my dad, his adventures and misadventures. I haven’t told about his greatest humiliation: he failed seventh grade. His sister Virginia, always his defender, said his class included several high achievers; he was not the most studious. Also the family had moved to town from country school, so perhaps he was behind his classmates in town. Dad said the teacher didn’t like him. For whatever reason, his teacher saw fit to make him repeat seventh grade. He was devastated. I’m not sure he ever got over it. For sure, my dad was the best at math of anyone I knew. He could solve a math problem in his head quicker than any of us could figure it on paper. Reading, however, was not his forte.

Neville remembered that when they moved to town, “the town kids made fun of James and Carl because they wore knee pants. Verne told me that James met them back of the school house and gave them a fight. They said, ‘Those country boys are strong!’”[1]

The three oldest Troutman children, Neville, James, and Carl, went through school in the same grade. Neville said, “I started to school with James. One of the teachers put Carl up in our class. He was very good in math. He won first [in the state in a math contest] in Lincoln.” His math teacher, Miss Ruth Schindler, who later became James’ wife, no doubt coached him. The Troutman trio graduated together in 1929 at ages 18, 17, and 16, respectively. Their class of seventeen sat on the stage, and Neville wore a “ pretty green dress.”[2] Verne was two years younger than Carl; Virginia was about a month shy of two years younger than Verne. They ended up graduating the same year also, 1932.

James, Carl, and Neville, senior photo, 1929.
 1930 was a banner year for Verne. First, on 14 September 1930, his Hereford won grand champion at the county fair.[3] Second, he miraculously recovered from a ruptured appendix at a time when most people died. Virginia described her fear when her parents took Verne off to the hospital: “I went out behind the barn and knelt down on my knees and prayed and cried. I was so afraid he would die.” To everyone’s great relief and joy, he survived. Virginia credited his recovery to a miracle from God. That same week, another patient in the same hospital died of peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix.

Third, the Winside High School boxing team of which Verne was member won the 1930 tournament held at Winside High School. WHS was fortunate to have a twenty-three-year-old coach who had been a former Mid-West A. A. U. boxing champion in the welter-weight division, Gerald M. Cherry.[4] Cherry also coached basketball, and Verne was on that team, as well. Mr. Cherry was a favorite of Verne’s teachers.  Fourth, the 1930-31 basketball team he was on won twelve out of thirteen games that year, one of the best records in the school’s history prior to 1940, and Coach Cherry produced winning teams in all five years of his tenure at Winside.[5]

On the back of the photo below, Verne identified the boxing team members: (left to right) Robert Wilson, George Moore, Verne Troutman, Warren Selders, Harry Jensen, Marvin Trautwein, and Coach Gerald M. Cherry. Verne also identified this photo as the 1930 champs, but The History of Winside identifies the second photo below as the champions. It remains to be determined which source is correct.
Winside High School boxing team, 1930 (?).

Winside High School boxing team, 1930 (?)
The History of Winside identifies the above boxers as Donald Katz, Richard Moore, Robert Wilson, Hamer Wilson, Verne Troutman, Carl Anderson, and Coach Gerald Cherry.6
They were all good athletes, those Troutman brothers. James and Carl excelled at basketball. Neville liked to watch her brothers’ games: “My dad made me mad once. He would not let me go to a basketball game in Wayne. James and Carl played and James was the star player. I cried.” The caption under the photo below names the players on this 1928-29 Winside High School basketball team: Back row: Allan Francis, Coach Herbert Brune, Carl Troutman; front row: James Troutman, Leo Jordan, Howard Witt, Manfred Wolf, and Ross Holcomb. James and Carl were seniors.

1928-1929 Winside H.S. basketball team with James and Carl.
 Verne ran track, played basketball, and boxed, and he saved all his ribbons and other awards from athletic events. In the attic of our Nebraska farmhouse, a big green trunk with a rounded lid full of Dad’s high school memorabilia enticed his children to explore. He used to show us, once-in-a-while, his awards and tell stories of his athletic adventures. 

1932 Winside High School basketball team.
Verne identified the above players: front row: C. B. Misfelt, Robert Wilson, Verne Troutman (honorary captain), Norris Wieble, C. O. Witt; second row: Raymond Graef, Frank Wieble, Cecil Jordan, unknown; third row: Monte Davenport, Coach Cherry, Arnold Porter.

1 Neville Troutman, “Neville’s Memory Book with Virginia’s Memories of Country School,” compiled by Sharon Lamson, Troutman Family Newsletter: This One’s a Keeper!, 1998.
2 Ibid.
3 F. M. Jones and F. J. Dimmel, History of Winside, Nebraska: Northside, Railroad, Growth and Development — Winside, Settlement and Growth to the Present, p. 228 (no place, no publisher, 1942).
4 Ibid, p. 91.
5 Ibid, p. 101.
6 Ibid, p. 91.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Clearing a Family Cemetery

Once in a while, I need to set aside the family history and focus on the family present. This is one of those times.

On Saturday, March 19, 2016, three descendants of Mathias Harman (1769-1802, Henry, Sr. > Heinrich Adam) met once again at The Quarter Way Inn near Bland, Virginia. You may (or not) recall our meeting last summer at the invitation of Tina Kiehn, proprietor of TQWI, who had contacted me earlier in the year and said, “I think I live in a house where your ancestors lived." Was I excited? I could hardly contain myself! She described, also, a cemetery across the road from her house. For a refresher, click on this link to read my account of last summer’s visit and to view photos.

Although Tina had warned us that the cemetery was overgrown with weeds, my husband Myron and I did not come prepared to hack through a tangled mass of raspberry and multi-flora rose bushes, not to mention pokeberries and saplings and such—all of it taller than our heads.

Two Harman cousins, Kitt Slusser and her mother also met us there. Kitt and I left feeling an urgency to return to clear off the cemetery where our ancestors lay. Many thanks to Kitt for actually taking charge and organizing a workday. Myron was skeptical about whether we could get it done in one day and I wondered, too, but our desire to be a part of the work motivated us to drive from Indiana.

After a few days of blue sky and sunshine and temperatures in the sixties, we woke up Saturday morning to skies the color of slate, pelting rain and a temp of about 50°. We pulled on boots and extra layers and took raincoats. Brrr!

Leaving our motel in Wytheville, we hoped the skies would lighten and the rain stop by the time we emerged from Big Walker Mountain Tunnel on I-77. It did—somewhat. The sky seemed brighter and the rain sprinkled instead of pelted. Maybe it was our high hopes, but I don’t think so.

By the time we arrived at The Quarter Way Inn about 8:45, the rain had nearly stopped. Kitt and her husband Jeff were already at work. We unloaded our equipment, handed it over the gate, the key for which could not be found, and hefted it up the hill.

At the entrance to the cemetery, a row of yellow daffodils smiled at us—a refreshing sight on a gloomy day. New life, promise of restoration, of resurrection, of joy.

Myron and Jeff, wielding chainsaws, cleared the perimeter of the cemetery first. As fast as they sheared off the briars and brush, Kitt, her sister Shannon, Tina and I could hardly keep up as we picked up the cuttings and hauled them to a burn pile. Shannon's boyfriend, Roger, showed up later and pitched in. By this time, instead of carrying every bundle of prickly sticks to the fire, we threw them over the fence, and Shannon and Roger threw them on the fire. As Myron and Jeff worked their way into the center of the cemetery, we spotted the sign hanging lopsided from one eye bolt—Harmon Family Cemetery. Finishing in one day looked promising. In fact we finished in four hours, and we were bothered only once for a few minutes with a light rain.

Thanks to Shannon, who insisted that Kitt stop her work to take pictures, our busy day was photographed. Thanks to Kitt for the photos.

The Quarter Way Inn viewed from the cemetery. Note dark sky.
The cemetery clearing task looked daunting, at first.

Tina, working hard.

Myron with his chain saw.

On overview, Jeff on left, Myron on right.

Finally, we get a glimpse of the sign.
Clearing around the sign.
Zola carrying brush.
Roger and Shannon burning the brush. Jeff taking a breather.
Zola and Tina, clearing brush.
After the work was done, I took a few photos of my own. The cleared cemetery's beauty was breathtaking.

Poor neglected sign! Kitt has ideas for a new one. I like this one, except the wood is split, so re-attaching the eye bolt would not be feasible.
Harmon Family Cemetery, sign
The earliest burial in this cemetery was most likely Mathias Harman who was killed in an accident on his horse in 1802, leaving behind his wife Mary and five children. He was thirty-three years old. I'm not sure which tombstone is his--many of the stones are unreadable. The tombstone pictured below belongs to Mary. She never remarried. It's actually easier to read than the photo suggests: "Mary, wife of Mathias Harmon, Married Jan. 25, 1791." No birth and death dates, only marriage--interesting. Kitt, Shannon, and I are descended from Mathias and Mary.
Mary Harmon's tombstone.
To compare, here is a photo taken only three years ago by another Harmon descendant that shows how much the tombstone has deteriorated in that short amount of time. Makes me worry.
Photo courtesy of Find A Grave contributor, "Mike."
Henry Harmon's tombstone is lying on the ground. It appears to have been broken and attached to cement to keep the parts from getting scattered. The clasped hands can mean unity in life and death or the last good-bye. Henry, Mathias' son, was my 3x great-grandfather and a brother to Jezreel, who was Kitt and Shannon's 4x great-grandfather. Henry's wife, Fanny Brown Harmon, is buried here, too, but her tombstone is probably one of the illegible ones.
Tombstone of Henry Harmon (1797-1878).
Nancy F. Harman Bales was a daughter of Henry and Fanny Harmon. Her husband William Bales was killed during the Civil War and is buried here, too. His inscription is on the other side of Nancy's marker.
Nancy Harmon Bales (1827-1889)
Jerome Bonaparte Harmon, son of Henry and Fanny Harmon, is buried here, too.
Jerome B. Harmon (1831-1915)
We couldn't read the tombstone below, but the heart design at the top is beautiful.

My great-great-grandmother, Anna F. Harman Waggoner, may be buried in this cemetery, somewhere. It seems likely since her parents (Henry and Fanny) are buried here along with two of her brothers, Jerome and Hezekiah, and her sister Nancy Bales, not to mention numerous nieces and nephews. Anna and her husband Jacob Waggoner lived close by in Bland County.  She died in 1871 giving birth to her ninth child, William. Little Willie also died about six months later, so he may be buried here, as well. Perhaps the stone below is Anna's. Or it could belong to Mathias or Willie or Fanny. I'm adding it to honor each of them whose particular burial spot is unknown.
Unreadable tombstone.
Despite our aching backs and legs, we left feeling satisfied for honoring our ancestors by clearing their cemetery. Now we have to figure out a way to keep it maintained. Kitt has ideas.