George Weber Memoir
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University of Illinois at Springfield Norris L Brookens Library Archives/Special Collections George Weber Memoir W388. Weber, George (1886-1973) Interview and memoir 1 tape, 65 mins., 30 pp. Weber discusses rural life in the Midwest from the late 19th century onward: homesteading in Oklahoma, farming in North Dakota, and running a livery stable. He also discusses the people of Nauvoo, Illinois, operating taverns, ranching in the West, and serving on the police force in Hamilton, Illinois. Interview by William Ortman, 1972 OPEN See collateral file Archives/Special Collections LIB 144 University of Illinois at Springfield One University Plaza, MS BRK 140 Springfield IL 62703-5407 © 1972, University of Illinois Board of Trustees Preface This manuscript is the product of a tape recorded interview conducted by William Ortman for the Oral History Office on October 22, 1972. Kathy Landahl transcribed the tape and Linda Jett edited the transcript. George Weber discusses horresteading in Oklahana, ranching in the West, running a livery stable in Nauvoo, running a tavern in Nauvoo and Hamilton, Illinois and being a member of the police force. Readers of the oral history meaDir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken mrd, and that the intervie~r, narrator and editor sought to preserve the informal, conversational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sangamon State University is not responsible for the factual accuracy of the mem:>ir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge. The manuscript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in \\hole or in part by any IIEans, electronic or IIEchanical , without permission in writing fran the Oral History Office, SangaiiDn State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708. George Weber, October 22, 1972, Nauvoo, Illinois. William Ortmm, Interviel\er. Q: W:len and "Where were you born? A: I was born in Sonora Township, on the 19th of Septe.oi>er, 1886. Q: [In] 1886, that v.uuld make you how old now? A: Eighty-six. Q: Eighty-six, you look about tvienty years younger. W:lat do you attribute that to? A: Cbod life. Q: Cbod life, lltthat about your parents, you say you were born in Sonora Township, is that right? A: Yes. Q: How do you spell Sonora? s-o-N-Q-R-A? I think it is, right? A: Yes. Q: Okay. Your parents lived out there and they lived on a farm? A: My father was born in Keokuk, Iowa and my nnther was born in Sonora Township. Q: 'lhe size of your family, how many people? A: 'lhere were four children, three boys and a girl. Q: 'lhree boys and a girl. \Ere you the youngest or the oldest? A: I'm the second one. Ib you 'iNBilt the n.an:es of them? Q: Yes, fine. A: James, my oldest brother, and then George. Q: Then you. A: Yes. And then Minnie. 2 Q: M-I-N-N-I-E? A: Yes. And one brother Albert. Q: Your parents then ~re in farming? A: Farmed all their lives, yes. I was raised on a fann. Q: W:lat' s the difference in the farming operations, 'What happened in the past l!hen the people fanned? A: ~11, it is about as different now as daylight and dark. Q: W:lat occurred on a fann at that period? A: Well, ~ farmed with horses, milked cows, and raised hogs back in the horse and buggy days. We was bom there in Sonora To\'Kl.Ship and afterwards when I was two weeks old my mther c~ down to her father's place, James Ogden, and my father want out to SUtton, Nebraska. He ~rked out there two years. And he cane back fran there and bought a fann three miles ~st of Ferris. We lived there t~lve years. I want to Eagle School House to school. Q: Eagle. E-A-G-L-E? A: Yes. I went through the first grades, you know, there. But that 1 s the only place I ever went to school. Q: I see. Okay. James Ogden. o-G-D-E-N? A: Yes, that's rignt. Q: And Sutton, S-U-T-T-o-N, Nebraska? A: Yes. Q: Okay, and Eagle School is like I say E-A-G-L-E. A: Yes. Q: And you went fran say first to sixth or sanething in that school? A: I want up through the eighth grade there. Q: You v.ent through the first eight grades? A: Yes. Q: Okay. So that ~uld put you roughly about maybe twelve or thirteen years old, sCXIething like that. What "WaS going on when you v.ere twelve or thirteen in this area? A: Ch, we had parties and then dances afterwards. After we left there, llhy we m:>Ved down to my grandfather1 s place. My father sold that place and we tiDVed down there and he lived with us. After he passed away why my dad bought the hoo:e place fran the rest of the heirs and then we lived there, brothers and I lived there and WJrked at hane until we were twentyone years of age. Q: Ckay. And the grandfather's place is the hane where the sale barn is out here, the WoodsWJrth? Is this the hoo:e you're speaking of? A: No, that was my IIDther' s place. Q: Oh, I see. A: And the other is my father's place. Q: Ckay. 'W:lere '\IBS your grandfather's place you m:wed to that you were speaking of just now? A: The big rock house, my grandfather built that place. Q: Wlat year ~dhe have approximately built that hoo:e? A: He built that, they quarried the rock one year, him and his tWJ oldest boys quarried it dQt..<n in Sonora TQt..<nShip along the river. The next year they dug the basement and laid up the cellar. There is a big art cellar there. It's sixteen steps dQt..<n and then that winter they quarried the rocks for the house. The next year they built the house, they IIDved into it and my gra.ndo:Dther lived there one year and passed away. Dad v;as fourteen years old then. (tape stopped) Q: You were bom then 1886 in Sonora ToYllShip and you told tiE a minute ago in the old Forney, F-o-R-N-E-Y, place, is that right? A: Forney. Q: Forney. And you lived there about tWJ or three weeks or ttonths right? A: Two weeks. Q: 'I'Y.iu weeks and then you m:wed. A: M;y dad had a sale. Q: You had a sale, do you tiEan an auction sale? A: Yes. Q: And then you tiOVed, is this v.ihere you ttoved to . • • A: I coo:e down to gra.nd:lmther' s place with my ttother and stayed there for two years. Q: 1his is ~house? 4 A: That is the house \\here the sale bam is today, the old Jim Ogden place. Q: Q-G-D-E-N, right? A: Yes. Q: 'Ihis is the one Yhere the Wint:w::>rth bam is today, that bane that is standing there? A: That's right. Q: And, for purposes of clarification on this tape that is about a mile or so fran Jim City or thereabouts. A: It's about three miles fran Nauvoo, ~miles and a half fran Nauvoo. Q: '1\D miles and a half. Okay. You're living there at that point, how long did you live there? A: 'lWJ years. Q: ~years and you nr:wed fran there about 1888, then. A: My father bought a fann three miles ~st of Ferris and \<e lived there for twelve years and I started to school. Q: 'Iha.t's the Eagle School \\e talked about. A: The Eagle School. I ~nt there, the only school I ever went to was there. I ~t through the eighth grade and then ve nnved dovn back in Sonora Township. (h the old Gabriel veber fann where my dad bought that fran the heirs then. Q: Is that the big stone bane? A: 'Ihe big stone hooe on the blacktop. Q: Ckay. Now we're caught up right to mere \\e were, fine. You lived there how many years? A: Well, I stayed there until I was twenty-one years old, and then I left there on the t~ty-sixth day of December and \\ent to Q: \hat year v.uuld that have been? A: That was in Q: About 1907? A: No, it was 1906. Cb the twenty-sixth day of Deca:nber I left there and \~Ellt to Gilmre, Oklahana.. Q: Okay. What did you do in Oklahana now? A: Well, I hooesteaded dow:1 there and While I was on the hon:estead I worked on a ranch. I worked on the old W. T. Hughs ranch out of Clayton, ~co. Q: W. T.? A: Hughs. Q: H-U-G-H-S? A: Yes. He nm about 10,000 head of cattle. I was in the rrnm.dup crew, there was tr.enty-three of us. There was a cook, a foreman, a flunky and the rest were cowpunchers. Q: What did you do? Were you a CCMpUllcher? A: Yes, I rode the range. Q: I see now, you say that this was in New Mexico or he was fran New Mexico? A: No, I went there and worked for him out of Clayton, New Mexico. That was about thirty-five miles fran ¥.here my hooestead was. Q: Very close then, right? A: Yes. Q: Tell me about your hanestead. A: Well, you had to build a shack on it, you had to break out ten acres, and you had to live there one, you had to be there one night a roonth for fourteen roonths. Then you could camJJile on it and pay a dollar and a quarter an acre, ~ch I did. Q: How many acres were involved. A: 0:1.e hundred sixty-eight acres, the goverrmant gave you one hundred sixty-eight acres and bet you that you couldn't live there that long. Q: Did you fool than? A: Yes. Q: Did you see a lot of people in your vicinity that didn't? A: Oh, there was a lot of hooesteaders there. 'lhey lived in sod houses and sane frame houses and everything. Q: What year, this would have been about 1906. 6 A: '!hat was in 1907. Q: [In] 1907. A: Yes. Q: 'lhis was a large area that was being hanesteaded at that time or fairly small area? A: It was in C:imarron County, Oklahana, that ~st strip that nm out bet~en Kansas and Texas. Q: Is this called C:imarron Strip? A: Cimarron Strip, yes. It w;~.s about five miles fran the Cimarron River. Q: \ollat ~re sane of the things that happened there, do you have any funny or htmnrous experiences in hCilEsteading? A: Yes, wa did. OJ.r neighbors \\Uuld :treet and chat with one another, we hauled water first, three miles. Had to haul it off our ranch well that was out in the prairies there. \\e \\Uuld haul it in barrels and set it on the side of the house and let it cool off. (laughter) Q: How did the ranchers that were there in that time period ... A: They had pretty well m:wed out and fenced their ow:1. land off then. And the ranchers didn't like the banesteaders too good but then they finally got along with them anyway. Q: Did you have any problems with them? A: No, not a bit. Q: \bat about sheep ranchers? A: There was sane of them c:wer west of us there in the hill land but not UBJCh. The cattleiiEn and the sheepnen didn't nm together. Q: No big incidents? A: No. Q: \ere there any Indian reservations there? A: No, not :in there. Q: So you didn't have any experience with Indian reservations in this area? A: No, in Boy City, Oklahcma., they had a town site canpany there in 1907, :in the fall of 1907 they opened up a tOWl site canpany there. A big outfit did and they sold lots. There wasn't a house in the place. There was a windmill there with a big tank of water and people cane and dipped it out with tin cups. And they had a dance floor, they lasted for three days. They had the dance nDJSic there and danced and oh, they just had a big tine. 'Ihere -was people there, there -was covered wagons and tents, that's all you coold see. Q: What brought this on, just the idea this land ••• A: Sell lots for that Boy City and now it's a town of about six or seven thousand people. Q: That's Boy, B-0-Y? A: Boy City. Q: Like a boy? A: Yes, that's right. Q: '!his is the t:ime period of 1907 and ~ have got you in sane kind of a house. W:lat kind of a house did you build out there? A: I built an eight by ten. (laughter) Yes, just a shack. I had a bed and a little old laundry stove in there and that -was about the size of it and a w:>oden table. Q: Did you cane back one day a mnth and during this time you ware ~rking on the ranch doWl . • . A: Yes, I'd ride in, stay all night, horseback and be around on the fence riding or sCIIething and then a couple of us wmld ride over to stay all night. Q: How did they have a -way of checking to find out if you actually stayed there ovemight? A: I don't know. Q: You just wanted to do in case sanebody might contest it. A: Nobody ever bothered with anything about it. Q: I see, how long ~re you out there? A: I -was out there about three year, a little over three years. Q: Okay. I've got down here at this point then that during this job and ~ add three to seven \<le caiE up with ten that you married about 1910, is that right? A: No. Q: Ch, 1910. I've got something down here for 1910, now what w:>uld that have been? A: I ran a livery bam in Nauvoo. Q: Okay. 'Ihat's what it is. You came back to Nauvoo in 1910, is that right? A: I came back to Nauvoo and then I bought Pat McGuire out in 1910. I ran that livery barn and then I sold it out and in 1911 I \\eilt to North Dakota. Minot, North Dakota. Q: Minot, M-I A: N-0-T. Q: Okay, let's go back just briefly. W:lat happened to your hcmestead? A: I sold it six, eight, ten years afterwards. Q: And you came out with a little profit on this? A: Not nuch, getting better but it never \\eilt down. Q: You ware sorry you did? A: Ch no, I had a lot of fl.m. Q: You're back here in 1910, with the livery bam you bought fran Pat Mcilii.re, that w:ruld be M-C-G-U-I-R-E? A: I guess, sanething like that. Q: was he an older man that had it for quite a while? A: <l1. no, he was a man, he married Mima Kelly out here. Q: Mima? A: No, Harold Bush's IOOther-in-law. Q: I don't know who that ~dbe. A: Mame Kelly. They live aver here. Q: I see. A: He ~t aver in Iowa and started a livery barn in vest Point, Iowa, and he died over there. Q: W:l.ere was this livery bam located? A: Right here this side of Canazairo's Store back in there, they always set right about in front there. There was two saloons in there. Q: Where the store is, now that building? A: Right on this side of it. Q: Right where Steve Kelly's old garage is? A: That' s right. No, the livery barn was back behind. Steve Kelly's garage 'WB.S there, that 'WB.S the old saloon. Q: I see. 'lhe building that burned? A: And that brick building that burned dom to that there was a tavern, I..J.mp's Tavern. Q: ~se tavern? A: Limp built it. Q: L-I • • . A: M-P or sanething like that. Q: HeM was the livery business at that time? A: t-ell, pretty good. It 'WB.S pretty good that time. You know ~'d get t~ and a half for a horse and buggy in an afternoon. Q: You'd rent the horse and buggy? A: Yes. Q: Okay, there are sane people that used to live in our bane, the Reinbowls, I think you told rre you'd heard of than or you've seen than when you ~re a boy? They used to have a fancy surrey and so forth. Ib you remember this? A: Old fanner Rein.bowl. I rananber when he lived there, yes. Q: $2. 50 for the afternoon for a horse and buggy. What other kinds of services did you perform? A: Ch, we fed horses. People ~uld cane in and put their horses in to be fed over noon or in the evening, say, put them up there and they w:>uld get them hitched up. Q: How many did you take care of at a time? A: Oh, ~ could handle t~ty-five or thirty horses. Q: What was the average charge for taking care of a horse for the day, feeding it? A: Feed and that 'WB.S ~nty-five cents . Q: Went up quite a bit since then? A: Ch, yes. (laughter) Q: So now that ~uld be the livery business. How many years ~re you in that business? A: Cbe year. Q: Didn't like it? A: No, I sold out. Sold to Frank Waisinger. Q: You say you then ~nt fran there to Minot, North Dakota. This ~uld have been ... A: I left there on the 8th of March in 1911 and landed in Minot on the 18th of March, ten days. Q: How did you get there? A: Emigrant car, took horses and cows and pigs. Q: You rrean railroad? A: Railroad. Q: You W>Uld do vbat, you were in the back part with these animals? A: we just slept in there, three of us want up. Q: You sold animals or took animals with you? A: No, I took than up to \«Jrk up there on the farm. there. Q: When did you get the farm? I had a farm up A: About in 1910. I bought a quarter land up there. Q: ~t's a quarter? A: Cbe hundred sixty acres. Q: Cbe trundred sixty acres you purchased in 1910? A: 1910, yes. Q: Had you ever seen this or did you buy it fran A: Cb no, I vas out there, went on a land trip ticket clear up in Galgary, Canada. We ~nt on a trip fran Madison up there, and a round trip, eats and lodging for twenty-five dollars apiece. (laughter) Q: This 'WOUld have been about the time your livery business, you were out ••• A: I ~nt When I was in that. Q: You "Went and took a trip and saw this, you liked this so you bought one hundred sixty acres. Okay, ten days you ~re out there. You'd taken sane arumals, horses to w:>rk this farm? A: I took horses and mules. Q: Horses and nules. And how many did you take? A: I took eight head of horses, tWJ cows, tWJ SC7WS, tWJ coops of chickens. Q: Two coops of chickens and how many mules? A: Vbat? Q: Did you take nules? A: I had tlND mules. Q: Okay, you get aut there, What happens? A: Well, then I farm there. I had my mchin.ery along too. Q: Did you stay out there quite a v.hile? A: I was there fourteen years. Q: And you got married the time you "Were out there then? A: Yes. Q: You went out in 1910. A: [In] 1911. Q: [In] 1911, fourteen years there. A: I married in 1912, March 2. Q: Did you n:eet your wife out there? A: Yes, she was a school teacher. Q: A school teacher fran the area? A: Right close. Q: W:la.t was her ma.iden name? A: Velma Janes. Q: J-A-M-E-S? A: Yes. Q: She had been in that area all her life, right? A: No, she V~Bs raised in Postville, Iowa, bom in Postville, Iowa, and her folks m:wed to Harvey, North Dakota. Then she taught school and then she got a school up there to teach, she cBIIE up there at Minot. Q: How did you n:eet her? A: I net her at a dance. Q: Pretty good dance? A: Oh, yes, I had lots of fi.m. Q: A lot of activity up there in that area? A: Well, they had country dances. I V~Bs the only one in that bunch around there that could call. Q: Square dances? A: Square dances. Q: Ib you play urusic too? A: No, I never played any DUJSic, but I called for dances and done all the dancing. I always like to dance. Q: How many people are involved in these type of dances you are talking about? A: Ch, there w:>uld probably be ten, fifteen, maybe. Neighbors around coo:e in to local place. Q: A house you n:ean? A: Yes, but I called at the Doluf Hall for pretty near a year. Q: 'lbe vbo? A: Ibluf Hall in Minot, South Dakota. They had a big hall there in the city. And I called there. Kind of an accident, the fellow that ow:ted. it, he got hoarse and he couldn't call. So I was setting there on the end and I said, "Ib you VIBllt n:e to help you out?" And he said, "I wish you v.ould," and I called the rest of that night and every two nights a ~they had a dance there. Wednesdays and Saturday nights. Q: Did you get paid for that? A: Yes, got paid. GJt to dance too. (laughter) Q: 'lbat ~rks out pretty gocxi then? A: Yes. Q: t-bat kind of a bane did you have~ you lived out there after you ~re married? A: Ch, I had three roans and a porch, just a small house. Q: Frane hare? A: Yes. Q: And how did the farming business go? A: Well, farming business wa.s good sCJIE years and saxe years dried out. Q: Vllat do you nean by dried out? A: Didn't get any rain, it wa.s 1917 and 1918. I fBXIIEd north of Minot, I wa.s three miles north of Minot is where I wa.s. And then I finally had a sale and sold out and ~nt to Minot and I was on the police force there a while. I bought a ranch, ~ty-three miles south~st of Minot. Che hundred fifty, ~lumdred head of cattle out there to sell and in the farm sCJIE too. I ~t out there in 1916. I was there four years on the ranch. Q: Till about 1920? A: Till I m:wed off of there the fall of 1920. Q: We have you then on the ranch t~ty-three miles south of Minot, North Dakota. You nentioned that you l'~Ere on the police force for a while. Tell ne about this. How did you get involved in that? A: <h, they just wa.nted to hire ne, I wasn't doing nothing. And so I ~rked at that for a 'While and then I quit that. During the First Vk>rld War, I bought the ranch out there. Q: en this police deal, just prior to your buying the ranch, did you have any experience you can think of out there? A: <h, not nuch. IWW' s cane in there. <he t:irne ~ had about five lrundred in there, to\'\ll of about 20,000 at that tine and there was about five hundred IWW' s cane in there, they started to raising the dickens. So they locked up a lot of than and put the rest on the train and sent them rut of there. Q: IWW' s, what \ere they? A: Vbnen Workers of the World. Q: Vkxren Vk>rkers of the World. They 'lillere, just a, was it a group? A: \Ell, different ones had a card. Sare of them was good w:>rkers and some of them didn't want to work at all. Q: They ~re looking for a.nployrrent ~en they came out there? A: Oh, I don't knCM. Q: Just out there looking for trouble? A: Some of them ~re looking for trouble and some of them ~re looking for w:>rk, too. I had sane of them w:>rk for n:e. I never had no trouble with them. Q: This -was when you ~re on the police force or When you Yere on the ranch? A: Cb the farm there. Q: 'lliis brings us up to Vk:>rld War I. You said you bought the ranch and you lived there till about 1920. What occurred the ti.Jre you \Ere on this ranch? A: I bought and shipped lots of cattle, hogs, and stuff to St. Paul. I had an interest in a butcher shop up there, too. I just w:>rked in there sane. Q: W:tat about the butcher shop you're talking about you had an interest in, is that what you took your cattle to them? A: No, I just bought ~t \\e used there was all, shipped the rest. Whenever needed some for the shop why \'E had them. I learned the butcher business too. Q: Did you have sanebody that was an older person that wanted to sell out or . . . A: No, I just was in with another fellow. Q: Oh, you started it fran scratch then together? A: No, he -was in the business and I bought half interest fran him. Q: Took turns? A: I was in when I wanted to w:>rk there I did, and when I didn't, I didn't. Q: Talking about this era of World War I, how did World war I involve you or did it in any way? A: \Ell, after the First V«:>rld war prices of everything just ~nt all to pieces. There w:tsn' t any chance of you hardly to save anything. 15 Q: In other w::~rds the prices just ~nt down on everything? A: It vtent down, yes. Q: \bat was the reason? A: \-ell, I don't know ~at the reasons, politics a good deal. Q: How did this Affect you? A: I lost a lot of money. Q: Did you lose your ranch? A: No, I sold the ranch to square up things and that part. Q: IX> you think that was probably part of it was due to the prices dropping out, did it affect a lot of people? A: Ch yes, thousands of than. Q: 'lhat takes us to about 1919, 1920. Time you're selling the ranch. W:lat happens in about 1920? A: Well, up to the war, it didn't happen till after the war vben the depression came on. Q: <kay, the depression w::~uld have been the mid-~nties, early thirties, right? A: It ~dbe around 1921 and 1922, along there. Q: W:lat about the early depression era? A: tell, everybody had ~d anything pretty near lost a lot of money if he had anything. Q: W:lat about the popularity of the president, I'm thinking basically of about the 1928 election when Hoover came in, and things got progressively even w:>rse under Hoover. A: Well, after the war, see, Hoover was in then. Wilson was in first, and then Hoover. And when Hoover went out they elected another fellow and he was in a short time and he died. W:lo was that fellow? Q: I think Roosevelt cane in right after Hoover. You're thinking of Warren G. Harding, Which muld have been prior, w::~uld have been right after . . • A: Yes, right after Wilson. Yes. Q: Then Calvin Coolidge. So these people you don't think really knew what they ~re doing as far as leadership goes that led the country . . . A: Ch, I don't know. I don't know about that, you know. I'll tell you, big business is not to help the poor man. I think big businesses rrake the big fellow get bigger. Q: Ckay. So ve 're talking about the presidents of this time period. [In] 1928 Hoover came in and throughout the cotmtry they vere building things called the Hocwersville and people were :in soup lines and so Q: <kay, then you carre back in the 1920s, back to Nauvoo. forth. era. Vl"lat are s002 of your marories 1929 to 1932? llire in the depression A: I worked on a WPA [Work Projects Administration]. for four dollars a day, team and wagon. I hauled gravel Q: Is that out :in Dakota? A: No, that's dowt here in Sonora Tomship. A: I came back here in 1924. Q: Vl"lat did you do then frcm 1920 to 1924 after you sold your ranch? A: I wa.s dowt in Minnesota for three years, had a S'lliiiD2r resort there. I was doing pretty good the first year and then the railroad vent on strike and the cust002rs didn't have any DDiley to c002 up to go fishing with. Q: So you hung on there about three years? A: Yes, tY.U years and a half, three years, SOIIEthing like that. Q: \bere wa.s this in Minnesota? A: In Lincoln, Minnesota. Q: You had it on a lake, boats and things like that? A: Well, on Lake Fishtrap and Lake Alexander. Q: Lake Alexander. A: It wa.s twenty miles \ESt of Little Falls, Minnesota. Q: W:lat did you have, a bunch of little cabins and things like that where people could stay? A: There 'WaS three cabins, I rented it, three cabins, and I had about twenty-five boats. Q: And this didn't work very well then, right? A: Well, it did the first year. Then it quit. The first year wa.s a boaner. Q: Then the railroad strike you're attributing A: Yes, railroad strike and of course, it laid off a lot of people, got a lot of people out of St. Paul, M:i..mesota, and down that way but v.hen that went on strike it just seemed like it died. Q: was this one of these labor strikes that labor movement A: Yes. Q: \E are back in Nauvoo then in 1924? A: Yes, I cc:ne in the fall of 1923, late 1923. Q: Okay, and ~t happened ~you got back to Nauvoo? A: Well, I helped haul grapes, helped put up ice, "WOrk v.hatever I could get around there with a team and wagon. Till 1924 and then I moved down on the Old Nessel place out here in Sonora Township. Q: Wlere \\Ullld that be? A: \ell, do you know vhere this here W::>ods place is? You know where Elderhush lives? Q: Right. A: Mile south, half mile south and half mile east. Q: I see. A franE hc:ne out there? A: Yes, ~11, I just rented. Q: Okay, at that period then, you still have sane horses and things? A: Oh, I farn:ed. Q: Did you buy those horses? A: No, I bought than here. Q: You sold the others? A: Yes. Q: So you are '\<K)rking :in grapes and anything you could use the wagon and teams. How mmy years did you '\<K)rk :in this field? A: Just until the next spring v.hen I ~nt out there on the farm then. Q: That \\Ullld have been . . . A: [In] 1924. Q: [In] 1924. 'Ihen you v.~ent on the farm. Then you farmad then in 1924. A: Yes, I famed for four years here. Q: [In] 1924 to rougply 1928. A: Yes, the fall of--then I v.~ent to Colorado, I moved there and I was there three years. Q: W:lat part of Colorado? A: Well , I was sixty miles due south of Denver and ~nty-five miles from Colorado Springs. I had three bumper crops out there. Q: Vba.t kinds of crops v.~ere you raising? A: Wheat, oats, and barley, and potatoes. Q: Did you have any children at this time period? A: I had three. All three of my oldest children v.~ere born in North Dakota. Q: Vba.t ~re their names? A: There is Margaret, and Alvin and Bemard, born in North Dakota. And Dorothy Lang, Dorothy was born in Sonora Township. Betty was born in Colordo. Verlie was bom in Sonora Township. Q: Dorothy and Verlie were born in Sonora, right? A: Yes. Q: You are talking about these three bumper crops of grain and so forth that you had around the Colorado area, nOW" this w:ruld have been about when, 1931 then. A: [In] 1931, 1932, and 1933. Q: [In] 1931, 1932, and 1933 is -when you were raising the grain out there? A: Yes. Q: And I got that you went there in 1928 and you stayed there three years, ~dthat have been right? A: I went there in the fall of 1927. Q: Returned to Nauvoo area. A: Yes. Q: Okay, what happened :in 1930. 19 A: I lived on a farm south of Nauvoo. I lived there five years and ~nt away with a thousand dollars less than I come there with. Q: This was about 1935? A: And 1936. Q: You left in 1936? A: No, in 1936, I opened the Red Front Tavem the first day of May. Q: Were you the first one to operate it as the Red Front? A: 'lhe first one v.ho \'BS ever in there. Q: That was right after you noved off the farm? A: Yes. Q: How did the tavem business go? A: Cbod. Q: What kinds of prices did you get for drinks? A: Everything was cheap then, ten cents for a bottle of beer, fifteen cents for the best. VJhiskey was ten cents, ~nty-five cents for the top whiskey. Q: Did you serve food there? A: Yes, I served sandwiches. Q: Had quite a few people caning in then? A: Yes, that was the tine they graded the hard road to Hamilton and paved it the next year. Q: You kind of got in at the opportune time then? A: Yes. Q: That would have been at the time that Horner was governor of Illinois. A: Yes, Horner was governor. Herbie Rei.mbod was mayor. He was here. Q: Can you think of any incidents that occured that ~re either humorous or otherwise that occurred . . . . A: tell , I run a tavem, I had one here and then I had the Oa.la-.ood Inn in Hamilton. And then the last ten years ago I was over at Industry and I had a tavem there for seven nonths so I was in the tavem business nine years and seven nonths and I never had a fight in my place and I never put a man out. I took a lot of them bane and I done a lot of tall talking. Q: By tall talking, Yhat do you ~an? A: Well, keep than fran fighting, get over there and try to SIOOOth things over. Q: You polished it off? A: Yes, I didn't fight or nothing. I just talked them out of fighting, separate than, never had a fight in the tavem at all. Q: You say you started out at the Red Front in 1936 and then . .. . A: I lived here and then I nx>ved to Hamilton. I had the <lakw:>od Inn. I had both of than. Q: You were running them both at the same time. And then you ~ntioned Industry, Illinois. A: That was just this last ten years. I bought, I O'!Niled the fixtures and I went over and took it over. He was to pay IIE but he didn't so I took it over and I had a lot of buyers but nobody had any money. Finally I found a fellow that had sana m:mey and his brother-in-law backed him and I got it sold that way. Q: NCM what year v.uuld that have been in Industry? A: That was in--this here is • . . Q: 1972. A: That was in 1962. Q: What is the name of that one over there? A: George's Place, I believe was all. Q: We are ahead of ourselves. You ~re 'ii!Orking full time then in the tavem business for quite a Yhile, right? A: Yes, but then this law business I went on there in Hamilton there. I 'W9.S on there. End of Side cne, Tape CXle Q: We are talking again about the tavem business, 1936, Red Front, the other taverns you ran. How many years did you nm the tavern? A: Nine years and seven m:mths. Q: That takes us to about 1945, right? 21 A: Yes. Q: You rented the tavern during the war then? A: Yes. Q: One thing I 'WOuld like to ask you in regard to World War II, most everybody at one time or another was listening to a radio or heard the news about Pearl Harbor. Vhere ~re you that day that you remember hearing that news on the radio or fran sc:xmbody? Ib you renanber anything about this? A: When 'W9.S that? Q: 1941. Vben you heard that Japan had invaded the Hawaiian Islands. A: I was in Hamilton. Q: Vltat was your reaction to that? A: I don't kn.cM any ume hardly. After they blo~d them all up \\tly I felt pretty good. Q: You n:ean the Japanese? A: Yes. Q: Nine years, 1945, you're getting out of the tavern business. Vhat happens in 1945? A: I had a farm north of town there I bought a farm. I had a farm there I bought before. Q: During the time of your tavern business? A: Yes. I kept stock and stuff out there. I didn't live out there. I lived in Hamilton. And in 1947, 1948, I sold the farm and I rooved back dCMl to Hamilton. I bought another fann south of there, little one, and then after I ~nt on the police force in 1950. Q: [In] 1950. Tell ue about the police force. How did you get involved in that? A: Ch, they just appointed ue, asked me if I ~uld take it. Q: You knew quite a few of the people then? A: I knew, oh yes, a lot of them. Q: Vha.t about this? t-hat did they call, What title did you have? A: I was just the city marshal. I was the deputy sheriff under Ivan too all that time. Q: Did you ever have any troublanakers? A: Oh, once in a while we \1l0Uld but then I arrested a few but I never had to arrest them a second time. My theory on the police business is if you can help sct1ebody you see is in trouble, you can help him, and he don't get smart with you, you're better off to help him out as long as he hasn't done anything criminally. But if you see a fellow that drives up, parks wrong, or sanething, if you see it go over and tell hlm he is parked wrong and for him to mve his car and if he's got too trueh to drink and you see him ccme out of the tavem and get into his car, \<lhy go over and ask him if he ~dgive you his keys and lay dOYD on the side of the street there and when I thought he was able to go I'd give him his keys. Ie could go on heme, saving having a wreck, or running into sooebody or having be picked up and having to pay a fine. But I only had Thu fellows that refused to give tre their keys. Q: Vllat did you do in that situation? A: Well, I said, ''Well, we'll go over to the police station." And one fellow when I told him to go over to the police station he said, ''Well, I might as -well give you the keys then." And so he did and he got in the car and went to sleep then. 'lhe other fellow lNOuldn't give me the keys so I took h:im over there and then made him put everything out on the table, searched him and locked him up and give him a ticket of everything he had, make out triplicate the tickets you know. And the next mming, v.hen I let him out and he paid a fine he said, "I just as ~11 give you the keys last night," because I had than anyway. I tell you. I found boys stole things you know. I'd hear about it and I'd go to them and tell than they are going to school and they are going to graduate that year. I said, ''Now, you bring that stuff back to tre. I'11 take it back where you. got it fran." And I took it back where he got it and the fellow ~dsay, ''Who stole it?" Well, I v.uuldn't tell him who stole it. And I said the boys and had their folks erne up so I could tell than too. And oh, that made sare of the folks pretty mad about the kids because they done that. But anyway I said, "Now you keep your nose clean and go on to school and graduate." And they did and they gr<:J~Ned up and got narried and they got a nice family. '!hey got good jobs, they are lNOrking, and I tell you that they thank me a lot of times for v.hat I done for them. Q: J:bw many years ~re you on the police force in Hamilton? A: Three years and a little over. Q: About 1953 or 1954? A: Yes. Q: ~t happened in 1953 or 1954 when you left the Hamilton police depart:n::ent? Did you care back to Nauvoo or did you stay do'lill'l there? A: I c<IOO back here to Nauvoo. Q: And W:lere did you live then, George, right here? A: No, over here ~re, I had a trailer over there. Q: That's on what they call Young Street? What happened after you nnved back? A: I cane over here seven years ago and I've been here ever since. I helped the police out a couple of years here. Q: Vb.en we say here W:J.ere people are listening to a tape v.hat do ~ call this? Mulhallen Street and it's the third building up fran the Red Froot, right? A: First. Q: Second, it's the second building right across, so~ are right next to the Red Front with the exception of the lot in between. So that covers the postwar years pretty ~11. Vllat I might do now then is sane questions about people, places, events, things around Nauvoo. I couldn1t help but think that the time you ~re running the tavern even prior to that ti.J:IE and I have been to auction sales around Nauvoo and I have seen such things as fragments of old stills that have been thrCWJ. on the table to be sold. Wasn1t there quite a bit of canpetition fran a guy running a tavern by people mo were illegally making an awful lot of material? A: Before that. Q: Before that. furing Prohibition? A: Yes, during Prohibition there was a lot of stills in Nauvoo. Q: I imagined. I've seen quite a few pieces of them lying around. A: A lot of stills. Q: Did that seem to hurt the people who were in the tavern business? A: Well, there was no tavern then. It was dry. Q: That' s true. Ik> you think that mst of this kind of 'Went out the door at the time Prohibition ended? A: That's right. Q: IX> you think Prohibition was a good thing or bad thing? A: Oh, I don't knorN if it done any good. It made a lot of people tmke a lot of inferior stuff, you know. Q: Sam people I think ~e blinded I think even. A: Yes, poison. No, I think that the only thing is if a mm canes in your place and he's got too D11Ch to drink, tell him, ''No, cane back tanorrow." Ikm't go bawl h:im out. Just tell him, "No, you cane back tCII[)rrow. You' 11 be sobered up." Walk away frcm him, don't stand and chew the rag with him because that causes trouble. And if he cane in the next day, ~Y if he is sober sell h:im a drink and if you see he's getting too nuch tell him, ''You make this your last drink." Tell him in a low voice so it don't go all over the rocm. And. he'11 thank you for it and appreciate it. If he don't, nine of them will cane back to you if you treat thEm right and if that one don't cOI'.Ie back you don't want him anyway.. Q: I see. VJhat about saoo of these people \\e \\ere talking about? Mr. Ripplinger, who was quite an interesting man, an inventive soul that lived up the street here a number of years ago. And. you said you did know h:im. W:lat did he do? A: John Ripplinger W1en I first knew h:im he worked for John Golden out in Sonora To~hip on a farm. And that is the first I knew John Ripplinger and Maggie Nestle ~o he married. I knew them before they ~re ever married. Q: 'What about these things that he was building and inventing around here. Were a lot of people that laughed at h:im or did everybody take him seriously? A: Cll no, John was quite a genius. He made a two engine car one time, put two engines in it. Q: Did it work? A: Yes, it run. Q: Did he keep it for a long time? A: No, why I don't know how long he kept it but he drove it around. But then he wa.s a regular genius. He could make pretty near anything. Q: What was your impression of this gas pump that ~ ~re talking about? A: Oh, he pumped gas out there. He made than out of two water bottles. He put them on ceuent and put pipes down frcm. them. The gasoline was up high and it run down in your car. So it worked all right. Q: How cane he didn't get any patents on any of these things? A: Oh, I don't know that. Q: He built concrete block houses. A: Yes, he built several houses, made blocks by hand. I've seen him do that. Q: W:lere did he make them? A: Right up in his shop behind his place there. Q: Made all the blocks there? A: Yes, made all the blocks there, had forms and stuff. Q: Another person, wilat about Hilda Reinberger? Ib you ra:ranber Hilda? A: Ch, her mther and rirJ mother ¥Jere full cousins. Q: Oh, I see. She was a neigJ.lbor of mine years ago. Did you know her? A: Ch, I knew all of her children, Jack and all of them, Raynxmd. Q: She stayed to herself quite a bit the last couple of years. A: Yes, I 'WB.S in that house \\hen I 'WB.S a kid. Q: The Wolfer W:x:x:Lard hoo:e. A: Yes, Joln Reinberger (JI'N[l.ed it then. Q: was he a ~:>od:~:orker? A: He 'Was a carpenter. Q: He did a lot of l«>rk in their ha:oo? A: vell yes, but he had lots of grapes. He made wine too, you know. The old place, that's an old wine place too. lDts of wine made them days. I'11 venture to say that two-thirds of the houses made a little wine. Q: What about Aunt Sophie? A: vell, she lived up here for years. ThatIs about all. I just knew her. Q: You didn't kn.ow her too well? A: No, I just knew her was all. Q: I reu:enber she told ne one time that she actually knew and talked to Ehma Smith, the widow of Joseph 9nith. She was a school teacher. Is there anybody else you can think of that you lt.Uuld like to bring out? A: Well, my granddad, Ben Ogden, they ware here when the tbrn:Dns was here. Q: <h really. Ibd you ra:xanber him? A: Wlo? Granddad Ogden? Wly, yes. Sure. 26 Q: What kinds of caments did he have about things like that? A: He w:~.s an Englishman. He erne over here with his m:>ther and five children. There was his m:>ther. Jim was the oldest. James 'NB.S. And then there 'NB.S Sam. And then William. And Arm and Sara, tw:> girls. 'Ihey cane over fran Ebgland. His father was a count in England and when he married outside of the royal family and so they sent her and the children over here. N:>w that's all fran him. He told ne all of that stuff, yes. Q: What was his feelings? You say he was here during the Monnon period of tine. A: Ch God, he was a young fellow. He 'JIBde trips to California in 1849, h:im and Sam did, when gold rush, you know, with the wagon train. Q: Sam Ogden, his brother or A: Brother to him, yes. Q: Did they get any gold out there? A: Yes, Granddad said he dug enough to buy a place. He bought that place. Fe gambled a fa:rm and drank a farm. (laughter) Q: 1he place you are referring to once again is vhere the sale barn is now. A: 'Ihat' s the one, that's the one he bought with gold. Q: Frcm california. A: Yes. Q: \-bat about the A: I've got a couple of pieces of his ore. It's got gold in it, gots little chunks. Q: Did he make any crnmmts about the Monnons then? A: No, he never said Dllch about than. Q: You don't know if he was for or against them? A: My grandonther said her father lived here, he lived ~st of clrurch there, not the church but r.Est of the mansion house. She said she seen Joe and Hiram Smith lay in a corpse in one of the r00013 in the IMilBion house after they r.Ere shot in Carthage and brought back here. Q: Vbo told you this now? A: My granchoother did. She was about ~lve years old. Q: When she saw this? A: She saw this. Q: Did she tell you this men you ~re a boy? A: Well yes, ~nI was ~ty-one or t~ty, along there. Q: Ib you remanber anything else she said about this period of history when she was a young girl? A: Ch no, not too DUch. Q: \-hat religion ~re they then when they ~re living here at this time? A: Well, she was Catholic. My granddad didn't belong to any. Q: She found out she wasn't being discriminated against or anything like this by .•. A: Ch, no. Q: We are talking about your granrlroother wo remembered Joseph and Hiram Smith in the, I believe, in the dining roan in the mansion house after their death. Vbat was your grandm:Jther' s name? A: Francis Risse. Q: And now she wruld have been related to Hilda Re:inberger then? A: Yes. Q: 'Ihe nnther, right, was Minnie Risse? A: Yes. Q: You mmtioned the fact that w:>uld have been his wife? A: Yes. Q: 'Ihey are all related then? A: Yes, they are sisters and cousins of my mther. Q: I see. It's been very nice talking to you today and this is a very interesting interview. I can't believe anybody could travel as DUch as you did. Did you find that looking back, \'bere do you find it to be the mst enjoyable place you really lived? Here or out west? A: Colorado Springs. Nicest climate, stuff that I lived there. Q: Okay. It's been very nice talking to you today and thank you very tlllCh. A: I'm glad to talk to you• .Ebd of Side Two, Tape Che
|Title||Weber, George - Interview and Memoir|
Farms and Farming
|Description||Weber discusses rural life in the Midwest from the late 19th century onward: homesteading in Oklahoma, farming in North Dakota, and running a livery stable. He also discusses the people of Nauvoo, Illinois, operating taverns, ranching in the West, and serving on the police force in Hamilton, Illinois.|
|Creator||Weber, George (1886-1973)|
|Contributing Institution||Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Contributors||Ortman, William [interviewer]|
|Digital Format||PDF; MP3|
|Rights||© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this material, please contact: Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 140, Springfield IL 62703-5407. Phone: (217) 206-6520. http://library.uis.edu/archives/index.html|
|Title||George Weber Memoir|
|Source||George Weber Memoir.pdf|
|Rights||© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this material, please contact: Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 140, Springfield IL 62703-5407. Phone: (217) 206-6520. http://library.uis.edu/archives/index.html|
University of Illinois at Springfield
Norris L Brookens Library
George Weber Memoir
W388. Weber, George (1886-1973)
Interview and memoir
1 tape, 65 mins., 30 pp.
Weber discusses rural life in the Midwest from the late 19th century onward:
homesteading in Oklahoma, farming in North Dakota, and running a livery stable.
He also discusses the people of Nauvoo, Illinois, operating taverns, ranching in
the West, and serving on the police force in Hamilton, Illinois.
Interview by William Ortman, 1972
See collateral file
Archives/Special Collections LIB 144
University of Illinois at Springfield
One University Plaza, MS BRK 140
Springfield IL 62703-5407
© 1972, University of Illinois Board of Trustees
This manuscript is the product of a tape recorded interview conducted by William Ortman for the Oral History Office on October 22, 1972. Kathy Landahl transcribed the tape and Linda Jett edited the transcript.
George Weber discusses horresteading in Oklahana, ranching in the West, running a livery stable in Nauvoo, running a tavern in Nauvoo and Hamilton, Illinois and being a member of the police force.
Readers of the oral history meaDir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken mrd, and that the intervie~r, narrator and editor sought to preserve the informal, conversational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sangamon State University is not responsible for the factual accuracy of the mem:>ir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge.
The manuscript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in \\hole or in part by any IIEans, electronic or IIEchanical , without permission in writing fran the Oral History Office, SangaiiDn State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708.
George Weber, October 22, 1972, Nauvoo, Illinois. William Ortmm, Interviel\er.
Q: W:len and "Where were you born?
A: I was born in Sonora Township, on the 19th of Septe.oi>er, 1886.
Q: [In] 1886, that v.uuld make you how old now?
Q: Eighty-six, you look about tvienty years younger. W:lat do you attribute that to?
A: Cbod life.
Q: Cbod life, lltthat about your parents, you say you were born in Sonora Township, is that right?
Q: How do you spell Sonora? s-o-N-Q-R-A? I think it is, right?
Q: Okay. Your parents lived out there and they lived on a farm?
A: My father was born in Keokuk, Iowa and my nnther was born in Sonora Township.
Q: 'lhe size of your family, how many people?
A: 'lhere were four children, three boys and a girl.
Q: 'lhree boys and a girl. \Ere you the youngest or the oldest?
A: I'm the second one. Ib you 'iNBilt the n.an:es of them?
Q: Yes, fine.
A: James, my oldest brother, and then George.
Q: Then you.
A: Yes. And then Minnie.
A: Yes. And one brother Albert.
Q: Your parents then ~re in farming?
A: Farmed all their lives, yes. I was raised on a fann.
Q: W:lat' s the difference in the farming operations, 'What happened in the past l!hen the people fanned?
A: ~11, it is about as different now as daylight and dark.
Q: W:lat occurred on a fann at that period?
A: Well, ~ farmed with horses, milked cows, and raised hogs back in the horse and buggy days. We was bom there in Sonora To\'Kl.Ship and afterwards when I was two weeks old my mther c~ down to her father's place, James Ogden, and my father want out to SUtton, Nebraska. He ~rked out there two years. And he cane back fran there and bought a fann three miles ~st of Ferris. We lived there t~lve years. I want to Eagle School House to school.
Q: Eagle. E-A-G-L-E?
A: Yes. I went through the first grades, you know, there. But that 1 s the only place I ever went to school.
Q: I see. Okay. James Ogden. o-G-D-E-N?
A: Yes, that's rignt.
Q: And Sutton, S-U-T-T-o-N, Nebraska?
Q: Okay, and Eagle School is like I say E-A-G-L-E.
Q: And you went fran say first to sixth or sanething in that school?
A: I want up through the eighth grade there.
Q: You v.ent through the first eight grades?
Q: Okay. So that ~uld put you roughly about maybe twelve or thirteen years old, sCXIething like that. What "WaS going on when you v.ere twelve or thirteen in this area?
A: Ch, we had parties and then dances afterwards. After we left there, llhy we m:>Ved down to my grandfather1 s place. My father sold that place and we tiDVed down there and he lived with us. After he passed away why my dad bought the hoo:e place fran the rest of the heirs and then we lived there, brothers and I lived there and WJrked at hane until we were twentyone years of age.
Q: Ckay. And the grandfather's place is the hane where the sale barn is out here, the WoodsWJrth? Is this the hoo:e you're speaking of?
A: No, that was my IIDther' s place.
Q: Oh, I see.
A: And the other is my father's place.
Q: Ckay. 'W:lere '\IBS your grandfather's place you m:wed to that you were speaking of just now?
A: The big rock house, my grandfather built that place.
Q: Wlat year ~dhe have approximately built that hoo:e?
A: He built that, they quarried the rock one year, him and his tWJ oldest boys quarried it dQt..