Pioneer life recalled in book on Marion, Neb.

Friday, April 14, 2017

I have been sharing excerpts of Athlene Clemons Martin’s book on the development of Marion, Neb., for the last two weeks. This is the last installment and I wanted to mention that some of the names she covers include: Nilsson, Powell, Pew, Galusha, Weyeneth, Miller, Sims, Sanders, Field, Gatewood, Huff, Stilgebouer, Newberry, Angel, Eifert, Ruby and Hendricks, just to list a few. If you wish to research this fascinating history, the book is available at our Southwest Nebraska Genealogy Society’s library here in McCook.

Memories abound in this book and here is another take on how Athlene saw life in the pioneer days: “Ice skating parties were another form of amusement. These were held along the Beaver which, at that time was kept more free of dead trees and other debris thusly making it possible to use the creek for recreation areas in both summer and winter. It wasn’t unusual for some of the boys from the wets or east to skate to school. We from the east sometimes followed around the creek for a short cut to school. Imagine doing that now with the deteriorating condition of that water way. The divide farmers would come to the bottom land to cut their winter supply of wood on shares. Cobs and wood were the main source of fuel then, except for the very cold periods when coal might be sparingly used by those who could afford it. The wood pile and the cob pile were necessary adjuncts to the average farmer, but there were many times when we took our cob baskets and picked up the cobs from the hog lots. These would scent up the kitchens as the cob baskets were piled high near the iron ranges filled with “odoriferous” fuel, but oh, the good food that was cooked by the housewives of that day! The old ranges were used by the majority of women in both winter and summer. One farm wife later told me that she pled with her husband to buy her one of the new bottled gas stoves and he retorted “What, with all this fuel along the creek going to waste?” Now with the purported fuel shortage we may be compelled to return to this method of heating.”

“In later years, when I again went to live as a bride on Cloverdale (one of her grandfather’s holdings), we decided to experiment and try burning cow chips instead of buffalo chips like the pioneers had done. So we sought out a choice specimen one winter day that looked just about right for a trial experiment. We put it atop the glowing embers in our heater but alas, it was only frozen and not a dried chip! Imagine our embarrassment and chagrin when it started to thaw out running down into the ash pan and through every possible aperture of the heating stove, just as we had a couple of friends come in who were sweethearts. The rendering plant in our county seat on a hot day with winds from the southwest is mild by comparison to that stench.”

Athlene includes, because she taught school there, many pictures and names of children who attended school in Marion in the early years. If you wish to study those memories, they are available at the Southwest Nebraska Genealogy Society’s library, 110 West C, Suite M-3. We are open to the public from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesdays during our winter hours.

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