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.

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