Memories of Friedrich Strickert and Catherine Neumann: A Little History about my Parents and Family
by Tillie Mahler (Matilda Strickert, 1881-1976, daughter of Frederich and Catherine Neumann Strickert)
Strickert Family History
Soon after my parents were married they bought and moved on the farm where we lived until we came to Kansas in April 1893.
[Note: Friedrich's first wife Wilhelmina Giermann had died in 1872 and he had briefly remarried in 1873. Friedrich married Catherine Barbara Neumann, the youngest daughter of Frederick and Louisa Neumann, on Oct. 27, 1873. From Friedrich's first marriage there were the following children: Hermann (age 9), Johann Carl (7), Anna (5), and Wilhelmina (3). Another baby Frederick had died at 8 months in Jan. 1873. When they were married, Friedrich was 34 and Catherine was 18.]
Mother told us that the first winter they lived in sort of a stable that was on the place and it was so cold that the bread would freeze and she would have to thaw it out in the oven before she could slice it and their meals were very frugal.
Herman, John, and Anna slept in one bed in the attic while Minnie slept with the parents. So they managed to keep from freezing by using all the bedding available. Even the blankets that were used to cover the work horses during the day did duty on the beds at night. She often spoke of these hardships.
The farm consisted of 100 acres, 80 acres of which was still in heavy forest. When weather permitted, father with a little help from the boys would cut down trees and haul the logs to the saw mill. The woods were so thick that many trees grew tall and slender. These were cut for telegraph poles. Mother would work at taking the bark from these trees so they could sell them for telegraph poles.
By the next summer they were able to build the house. It consisted of two quite large rooms, a cellar, and a full attic which was plastered so quite comfortable. It was heated by the large cook stove with oven doors opening to both sides. I well remember how nice it was to stick our feet in the oven to warm them.
Every year they would try and get 10 acres cleared and ready to plant crops. There were some sugar maple trees and I can just remember father tapping the trees and collecting the sap which was boiled down for sugar and syrup. There also were wild berries of various kinds, especially red raspberries. Mother and the girls would pick large milk pails full and she would take them to town to sell (or trade for other supplies). She would also make preserves from the wild berries. These had to be boiled down as the only storage she had were stone-ward crocks or jars--glass fruit jars with lids that sealed were not in use yet.
By hard work and good management, by that time they built the brick house. There were good barns, cows, hogs, sheep, chickens, and some geese. The apple, pear, and plum trees were bearing fruit and mother always had a large garden.
The sheep were shorn in the spring after being washed in a creek. The wool was taken to the mill (after it had been carded by hand) where part of it was made into long rolls about the size of a man's finger. Then mother would spin it into yarn which she dyed and knitted into mittens and stockings for the family. Mother never wove any cloth. She would exchange some of the wool for cloth of different kinds, but all wool and like home spun and woven material. It was warm, but rather scratchy as I remember.
Mother made all the clothes. She often mentioned that she got her first sewing machince (a Singer) the day I was a year old, so I suppose that she had made things by hand sewing for ten or more years.My grandmother Neumann [Note: Louisa Wendt Neumann, her husband Frederick Neumann had died in 1859. Louisa died in Detroit in 1893, the same year that the Frederick Strickert family moved from Canada to Kansas.] lived with us much of the time as mother was next to the youngest of the family. Her brother Adam was the youngest. All of the Neumann men seemed inclined to be woodworkers and builders. So grandmother sold the farm and she lived with her children. I have many fond memories of her.
The first time I can remember washing dishes I was about four years old. Henry was a baby [Henry J. Strickert, born 1885]. Grandmother stood me on a chair and I washed and Mary [Mary Strickert Uppendahl, born 1878] dried the dishes. She told me I did well and gave me a pillow to lie down on the floor and rock Henry's cradle. I guess I went to sleep on the floor. When I awakened, Henry was playing and grandmother was watching us.
Mother always helped in the fields at harvest time. The brick house was built about 1886. There was a large living room, a bedroom, and a parlor downstairs, and four bedrooms upstairs. The living room was heated by a large wood-burning heater.
The rooms all had nice maple floors, and I especially remember the lovely maple wainscoating panels around the lower part of the living room. All the lumber came from trees that grew on the farm.
When father sold the farm, there were only about five acres of woods left and the underbrush had been cleared away so grass grew and it was fun to play. Our house faced to the south and was quite a distance from the road.
Our Grandfather and grandmother Strickert [ Johann and Christine Strickert] lived about 3/4 mile west of us in a little log house on the corner of the farm that he had turned over to his youngest son Christian