Tag Archives: homestead

Discerning Fake News – Family History Style

fake newsThe thing that interests me most about family history is the gap between the things we think we know about our families and the realities.
– Jeremy Hardy
In a recent post about a circa 1907 family reunion on the Rightmeier homestead in Jewell County, Kansas, I mentioned a great great uncle, August, we had lost track of.  He was one of my great great grandfather’s older brothers with whom he stowed away on a ship in order to immigrate to America from northern Germany.
A friend and reader of this BLOG who has a gift for finding information on the Internet decided to poke around for me.  I was humbled that she took time to do this.  I found an 1880 census record of Uncle August on Ancestry that put him working as a “clerk in a store” in  Pocahontas, Bond, Illinois.  We currently subscribe to only the US portion of Ancestry, but my friend has the global version.
Avoiding Making Fake News
She found all kinds of neat stuff that opened up all manner of “filling in the blanks”.  I wrote a great BLOG about it, even contacted a couple of family members about it. Using  my version of Ancestry to find more details, I filled in a few more gaps.  Once done, I decided to update my family tree maker in preparation to build a tree on ancestry with all this found information.  And then I realized that the August Rehtmeyer that worked as a clerk in a store was not MY uncle August.  Opps, that pesky reality, Truth, was about to mess up all my work.

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Regetmeier Reunion On The Homestead

My mother’s paternal great grandfather Frederick Konrad Regetmeier,  immigrated from northern Germany in the mid 1860’s.  He ended up in Jewell County, Kansas, a journey that took a decade.  The legs of his trip followed the model of many of his country men at the time:
  • 1863 – left Germany as a stowaway with his brother, August.  They were discovered en route and made to work for their passage.  Arriving in New York with no papers, they were held to be returned to Germany, but instead jumped ship during the night and escaped.
  • 1871 – Frederick became a naturalized citizen in Freeport, IL.
  • 1874 – March, received a land grant in Buffalo Township, Jewell County, KS.
  • 1874 – May, married Malinda Elizabeth Miller, the 17 year old daughter of His neighbors a mile or so north.
They lived the first five years of married life faming the homestead living in a dugout.  Around 1880 they built their dream home on the homestead.  By 1886 they had seven children, four boys and three girls. Another girl was born some years later, with two infant deaths in between.  They also took in an young orphaned boy who died at the age of eight.  With a farm to tend to and household of nine or more to feed, clothe and educate, it is not hard to fill in the story with daily life.  There were no doubt community, some church and other social gatherings.  Births, birthdays, holidays, romance and at some point weddings cam about to celebrate.

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dream-Home

Dream-home On A Kansas Homestead

 If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.  Gaston Bachelard
 During one of my extended family’s visit to the Rightmeier homestead in Buffalo Township, Jewell County, KS, an aunt found a doorknob near the sight where the house had stood. We do not know if it is off of the homestead house or another structure from the farm.  Since there has been no construction on the property since the house was demolished, there is little doubt it that it is from the homestead.  The style is right for the era.
It was about five years after Frederick and Malinda Rightmeier had married in 1876,  that it was decided they had “lived in a hole”, a dugout, long enough.  It was time to build a house.  Since Malinda had moved to the area with her parents three years before marrying Frederic, and had no doubt lived in a dugout with her parents for a time,  I am sure she was more than ready for a proper house.  By this time they had four children born about a year apart.  Two adults and four little ones in a dugout would have been cramped no matter how comfy they may have managed to make it.
Dream-home Building Materials
Information on the acquisition of the materials for the house came from an oral history done from an interview of my grandfather, Lyman, Frederic’s grandson by my younger sister.  He said that Fred made several wagon trips 50 east miles to Blue Rapids, KS on the Blue Ridge River to acquire the raw lumber as the quality was much better there.  It may have been walnut he was after.  Another account stated that the raw lumber was than milled in Randall just a few miles east and south.  It was quite a process but was a nice house by the standards of the day.

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