This reunion is made up of the descendants, friends and relatives of John and Barbara (Myers) Schwartzkopf who were both born and raised in Germany. John and his brother Jacob were keeping company with the Myers sisters, Barbara and Elizabeth. Jacob and Elizabeth were married while in Germany and were the parents of one child, a little girl about 2 years old, when Jacob and John decided to come to the United States which was known as “The Land of Promise”. So the two brothers set out on their voyage reaching the United States and settling near Bucyrus, Ohio, where the Long family was then living.
This was the grandfather of Adam, Lizzie and Agnes Long and an uncle of Barbara Myers Schwartzkopf. He was a brother of Barbara Myers mother, Jacob Schwartzkopf, who had been married while still in Germany, purchased a farm in the neighborhood of the Longs and John rented a farm near. After raising a crop they sent for the women, Elizabeth, Jacob’s wife and Barbara, John’s fiancée. Their voyage was darkened by sorrow. Elizabeth, Jacobs’s wife, had made their little girl a new dress to meet her daddy in. She had worn the dress one day while still at sea and was very happy all day thinking of seeing her father soon, but that night she became very ill and died before daybreak. As was the custom then, she was wrapped in a sheet and lowered to the ocean.
In those days an ocean voyage was very different from a trip now in our “Floating Hotels” with all conveniences and reasonable safety. They traveled in a small sailboat whipped about with the waves, often bailing out the water. It took plenty of courage to attempt such a trip then.
After the women reached their destination Barbara, the single one, found employment as a housemaid and John lived with his married brother Jacob and his wife. In a few months John and Barbara were also married and lived for nearly four years on John’s rented farm. During this time three children were born to them, Mary, John and Barbara. Mary, now Mary Adams, (her daughter Cora Adams Messler and her granddaughter Hazel Messler) is the only member of the original family still living. She is past 81 years of age and enjoys remarkable good health and vitality.
When Mary was three years of age her parents sold all of their possessions except bedding and cooking utensils and started for Indiana in a covered wagon. It was a long tedious journey, it being in March and the weather cold and blustery, and only having mud and corduroy roads, including swamps. It took them fourteen days to travel from Bucyrus, Ohio to Blackford County.
A few nights were spent at farm homes along the way but most of the time they slept in the covered wagon.
When the weather was too bad the children were kept in bed day and light.
They took with them bologna and cheese and a boiler of home made bread, buying milk along the way.
They stopped at the John Wentz home east of Hartford City, staying three or four days with this family until they rented a farm near by. This was their first Blackford County home. The house made of logs, had one room with a slab floor (that is thick planks chopped from trees with an ax, rough and splintery), a clapboard door and roof and one small window. They had no stove, just an open fireplace. She baked bread for the family in a large iron Dutch oven with a heavy iron lid, much like our small Dutch ovens of today. To do this she would get a large bed of good hard wood coals, set the iron oven on them and cover coals over the top, leaving it the required time and her bread was baked.
They did not buy much furniture for the home, just one bed, a trundle bed (which can be pushed under the large bed to save floor space), a table and six kitchen chairs. Their dishes consisted of just one plate, one cup and saucer for each member of the family and a few deep dishes. Their cooking utensils were iron pots and skillets, tin pans, flat milk crocks and wooden water buckets and tubs. Their broom was a stick of wood whittled into a bunch of shavens at the bottom. They never owned a rocking chair until after Mary was married.
They remained on this farm until a couple of crops were raised then bought 40 acres of land near the Wadel School. This was just before the Civil War broke out. Grandfather also bought a half interest in Henry Yeager’s shoe shop in Hartford City and moved his family in town, which was very small at that time. He kept the farm and planted it mostly in wheat.
In this age every child was put to work when they were what we would call babies. Mother was 5 years of age when her parents would go to the farm to harvest the grain leaving her to care for three younger children all day long.
After the war was over they returned to the farm but soon sold it for a good price. Grandfather invested part of this in what is known as the Walker farm. This was still in the wild stage with woods and swamps and sometimes a bear, panther or a wolf came to visit the pigpen, sheep shed or chickens. After building a log house and barn and clearing most of the ground he again sold out and this time bought 100 acres where the old John Schwartzkopf home now stands.
There were now seven living children and one dead. Mary, the oldest was fourteen years of age. With the exception of about 15 acres this farm was in woods, undergrowth, swamps and mosquitoes but had a good well of water and a log house with one large room and a low attic room above. This same room is still the main part of the old home where Glen Schwartzkopf now lives. This room was used as kitchen, living room and bedroom. The up stairs was used for storage of food and seeds. Later the older children slept in one end of the upper room often running a snake (or what not) out of the bed before climbing in for the night. In the winter they woke up to find their bed covered with snow. Lewis, the youngest child, was born on this place. This was a fine house; it boasted two doors with glass panes, three windows and a good floor. After mother married it was divided into two rooms and other rooms were added later.
Each Sunday afternoon the children were asked to sit quietly while Grandmother opened the family bible to read and teach them. Mother had very little schooling being the oldest child; she had to help with the family cooking. She made bread for the family when only 9 years old. At the age of 6 or 7 her work was to care for the children, wash the dishes, knit suspenders until 0 o’clock each winter evening, help her mother reel yarn and keep the home supplied with candles. These were made at home by melting and molding the tallow, placing the wick in the center. In planting time she dropped corn and potatoes for her father in the field. They had no machinery in those days to make the work lighter but had to do everything by hand. Mother often smiles as she remembers their telling of Grandfathers first corn. He cut it by hand and laid each stalk on the ground, then went back over the field to gather it up and shock it, however, he soon learned better. All corn was dropped by hand and covered with a hoe. The children dropped corn from morning until night, day after day, until it was all finished. Blading of the sugar cane was another job for the children. The adults would cut and pile the stalks then the children worked around the pile, tearing the blades off and getting it ready for the sorghum mill.
Thrashing time was also quite different from that of our modern day. For buckwheat a rail pen was laid up and covered with rails, the buckwheat laid on top and beat with clubs until the grain fell through the cracks. To thrash wheat, oats and rye would select a spot of ground clean of all grass and weeds and sweep it, then lay the grain around this ground in a large circle and drive teams of horses round and round until the grain was trampled loose. Little boys rode and drove the teams and father walked near with a scoop shovel to catch the droppings from the horses, then the grain was scooped up and run through a hand turned windmill to clean it of dirt and chaff. All grain was cradled and bound by hand and all hay cut with a common scythe and gathered with a pitchfork.
Their entertainment’s, churches and schools were just as different as their crop methods. When company came to spend the evening the men of the house either made or mended shoes, and the women and girls knit as they talked, ate apples and drank cider. When young boys and girls went out together they walked if under 6 or 7 miles and were extremely lucky if they could go on horse back or in a big wagon. Their pleasures consisted of going to church or gathering in homes for a spelling bee, neighborhood apple peeling party, butchering or thrashing.
Their church was a log schoolhouse in the winter and in summer the open woodland, with planks laid across logs for seats. They went to church in calico and overalls and barefooted. The schoolroom was very plain. A rough table and straight-backed chair answered for the teacher’s desk. There was a blackboard and lumps of chalk. They used a cloth to clean the board. The desks were made of a plank with a slanting hole bored in each corner and a wood leg stuck in each hole. The seats are made in the same manner only smaller.
After all, when we stop to think and compare our modem conveniences and luxuries, our warm homes, good highways, radios, means of transportation, wonderful churches, schools and libraries we should be more happy and contented than the most of us are.
(Signed by) Cola Adams Messler (This was written in the real 1938)
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