Historical Details

Hebner, William Frerderick Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/01/2020


By Rose Hebner Lewis

Fredrick. William Hebner, born Nov. 16, 1866, was a tall slender man who always wore a mustache and sometimes whiskers. His parentage was probably some Austrian, Russian and German.  He immigrated to America by working on ships, making several trips and during his teens stayed in America.   He drove a stagecoach in 1888.

In 1901 he was appointed postmaster in Charles Mix County in South Dakota. I believe there was a small town named Hebner, after him.

In 1904 he married Catherine Beck, born July 19, 1884, a beautiful woman, short of stature of German parentage. Her parents immigrated from Russia with her and her four brothers, Henry, Jacob, Peter, and Gottlieb Beck, when she was a small girl.

The family settled in the vicinity of Jamestown, North Dakota.  The German language was spoken. All the Hebner child­ren spoke the language in the home. In 1907 the Hebners homesteaded about 16 miles southwest of Harrison. Mr. Hebner ran the blacksmith shop in Harrison for several years, later selling it to Ed Meiers. The building burned in about 1930, but Dick Herran now uses the area as part of a lumber business.

In 1810 Mr. Hebner and Bill Grimm drilled wells in Nebraska and Wyoming and did so for a number of years as wells were needed. Although ranching and farming were the main source of income, Mr. Hebner did some well drilling in his late 70's.

The Hebners had eight children. William Fredrick, born Oct. 12, 1906 in S.D., married, with 3 girls and 1 boy, he played wind instruments in high school and became a druggist.  Margaret, Jan. 21, 1908, Harrison, married Tom Lewis, 2 boys and 1 girl.  She played violin in high school. David Walter, Feb. 6, 1910 died 1973, a rancher, mine worker, Daniel Fredrick, June 19, 1912 ranches the homestead ranch, Rose, March 27, 1915, married Lester Lewis (not related to Tom. L.) 2 boys and 1 girl, Katherine  Magdalene, born Feb. 26, 1917, married Charles K. Knight, 2 boys and 1 girl, Louise Frieda, Jan 10, 1920, married Frank Snook, 3 boys, Benjamin Reuben, Feb. 10, 1923, married Jeannie Roney, 2 boys and 2 girls. Ben is a technician at a steel plant.He was in Germany during W.W. II in service. (All were born at or near Harrison.  All the girls taught school).

Fred H. as he was known, spoke 5 languages, played violin, accordian, and band instruments and at one time played in a band.

Life was not easy trying to raise a large family. Everyone worked as he was able. Crops of corn, potatoes, and grains were raised. Hay was stacked for feed. Horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys and geese were raised. Early threshing was done by horses going in a circle to run the machine. Everything was done by the "4 footed" horsepower. Some tragedies occur­ red, as when a harrow overturned while an unruly horse could not be managed. One of the horses was badly gouged and had to be destroyed. Most people had to break their own horses to work, which often caused a great deal of anxiety until they were tamed. Wagons or buggies with teams of horses were the common mode of travel.

Supplies of sacks of food such as 100 lb. bags of sugar, flour, rice and bran were common fare.  The 16-mile trip to Harrison took all day to complete so hay and quilts were put in the wagon for the children who were allowed to go along, as they generally fell asleep before getting home. On one trip when I (Rose) went with my father, he went into a store, leaving me with the lines. Some one came down the sidewalk on roller­skates scaring the horses. I was too small to pull hard enough on the lines to stop the run-away team. Luckily some man noticed my predicament and managed to grab hold of the wagon and get in to stop them.

There were jobs for everyone. The potatoes, corn, and watermelons had to be weeded. Sometimes the rows seemed endless as we hoed. The garden needed regular irrigating from a reservoir. Homesteaders depended on trading, so there were cows to milk, sometimes as many as 20. We learned to milk at about five years old. The milk was separated, cream sold and sometimes   churned and butter sold, besides what was used for the family meals. There were eggs, too. All helped provide nutritional eating for the table and animals. Kerosene lamps and lanterns had to be kept filled for light. In the fall, with team, wagon and youngsters, dry cow chips were picked up to use along with wood and coal for use in stoves. In spring, an incubator was used to hatch chicks. Corn was picked in the fall and later shucked. Corn shuck mattresses were used in the bunk house.

Geese were picked of feathers for those heavenly soft warm mattresses for the house and for pillows.

When floors were painted during spring housecleaning, we looked forward to a night or two sleeping on our beds outside.

Plums and currants were picked at a nearby creek.  Sandcherries from the sand­ hills were further away.  Usually several families went for picking the sandcherries and used 5 and 10 gallon cream cans for hauling the fruit used for jellies and pies. Lunch was taken along.

Most falls it was necessary to pile dry drifting tumbleweeds and burn them. It was exciting to see them flare up at night which was when most of them were burned.

Catherine Beck Hebner was a very good cook. Her bread was the best ever. Usually about eight loaves were baked at one time. Garden vegetables were canned and preserved. Meat was canned, cured or smoked in the smokehouse using wood or cobs for the smok­ing. Some meat was 'fried down' and packed in lard to keep it. Some corn was dried.

Barrels were used for making sauerkraut and pickles, fifty gallon size for the winter supply of sauerkraut and smaller jars or kegs for dill pickles. Watermelons were pickled in large barrels and were truly a delicacy in the winter. A family favorite was a 'ribble' soup made with milk.   Sunday was the day for a dessert treat of cake or other sweets. (With hot bread several times a week, who needed it?) Before all the snow melted in the spring or after a heavy hail storm, we would freeze ice cream.

Quilts and clothing for the family were made by the mother along with the 'store' clothes. Washing was done at first on the washboard and with a boiler, then later hand-run washers. Irons were heated on the stove for pressing clothes.

Neighbors often served as 'mid-wives' when a new child was born. On one occasion, my father took my mother to help a neighbor expecting her child. Older brothers decid­ed to examine a gun in her absence.   It accidentally discharged, firing a hole through the wall, narrowly missing Rose, a small child who was asleep on the bed.

Most families ran the gamut of the general diseases - chicken pox, mumps, measles, flu etc. The regular cold and cough remedy for us was a teaspoon of kerosene and sugar, with chest greasings of 'probably' Watkins products. (Watkins men made regular calls). One boy had rheumatic fever. Ben suffered a brain concussion from falling from a horse while riding to bring in the horse herd for use in the field work.  Dr. McNeil drove out from Harrison to prescribe. He would accept little pay, but took in addition a sackful of roasting ears and several chickens as payment. Dr. W.H. Priest was the long time Harrison doctor before the later ones.

The Hebners were Lutheran. Rev. Hellman was one Lutheran minister. The children were baptized when small. Later most of them attended the Methodist church because it was more active.

Christmas time was a real joy. School programs, stringing popcorn and cranberries for the tree and lighting the candles. A  most impressive toy was the first 'mama doll'.  Also a special rag doll and one large doll with (imitation) hair, worn out by the younger sisters. The nuts,candy, and cookies -and sometimes an orange, a special treat- were most cherished in our young lives. The school Christmas tree was usually a huge tree and I believe often provided by our father who owned a small place in the canyons. Tinsel, chains made from pine needles, strung popcorn and cran­berries, decorations made in school, chinese rope and wax candles comprised the tree and schoolroom decorations.  The care­fully placed candles on the tree seemed never to have started a fire as they flick­ered gayly during the school program. The school always presented a very fine, enter­taining program.

Some of the early teachers at Summit School were; Mrs. O.B.. White, Miss McCullough, Edward Pendray (who became noted scientist and rocket expert;· he· would carry Rose, then 5 years old, piggy back during school games.)  Bertha Osborn, Mattie Parsons (Gorley), Miss Rusher, Anna Olson (Abel), Alma Dunlap, Hilda Detlefsen, and Martha Newell.

Some of the games played at school and at homes when company came were pump-pump pullaway, kick the can, steal sticks, fox and geese, checkers, bean bag, cat, follow the leader, made snow forts and have snow­ ball fights, foot races, vaulting, jump rope, baseball, football and others. On crisp moonlit nights, fox and geese was exhilarating with neighbor children. Some rode miles to school horseback and some came in buggies. We lived only a quarter mile from school, so walked and usually took the school water supply for drinking and washing hands. Lunches were brought.

Our mother was sick a lot so we depended on ourselves. We liked scrambled egg sandwiches for our lunches. Once we decided that goose eggs might be good so took them but they were so tough we settled for hens eggs.

The swimming hole at the river about three miles away was frequented as often as possible. It would be a day of swimming, picnicking and fishing.  There was always the need to be on the alert for rattle­ snakes. Many dogs and horses died of snakebites. Some dogs would kill the snakes. Turkeys would strut noisily in a circle around a snake if they came upon one.

Without refrigeration, foods were kept cool in cellars or sometimes put in pails or tight containers and left to float in barrels or tanks of cold water.

Transportation was the lumber wagon, buggies and later a Model T Ford and then a Buick.

Some of the neighbors were John Bourrets, Charley Brodericks, Ed Herrans, William Adamses, Con Parsons, Hanleys, Charley Tangens, John Tangens, Meekers, George McCormicks, John Pendrays, John Jassmans, and Albert Hellers.

Catherine Hebner died June 3, 1926 at 42 years of age.  Fred Hebner died Jan. 12, 1946 at age of 80.

All eight Hebner children graduated from Sioux County High School in Harrison, Nebr. and most had some college.   All did quite well scholastically.

Most of the grade school education was from the country school.  Rose went to school in Harrison part of first grade to Grace Bourret (Powell) and third grade to Nellie Bannon.

While in Harrison during third grade, there was sudden thawing of snow causing much flooding in the 'drydraws'.  One  day my sister Katherine and I (Rose) decided to walk to see some of the flooding a distance out of town with a friend, Frank Koch. We walked on a portion of railroad tracks to cross to the other side and walked on up the edge of the draw.   There was a partially washed out fence across the flooding draw.

Since it was getting toward dusk, we decided to try to cross on the fence rather than return by the long route we had come.  I  was the last to cross and it was a frightening experience as the barbed wire fence seemed very insecure with unstable posts in the flooding water.

Horseback riding in the country was a way of life whether for pleasure or for doing a chore. When swimming holes were not available, tanks and cisterns were sometimes taken advantage of.  Young people also walked on stilts.

We had an unusal cow that would circle the house when she wanted to be milked and 'moo'.   She was always pleased when we took out a slice of bread on which we had put salt and ate bread and all.  Once we had a different hen, also.  She would cackle to come in the house, come in the house and lay an egg on the cushion in the rocking chair and then go out.

During the summer there was a large attendance at the non-denominational Sunday School at the schoolhouse on Sunday.  It was a day to look forward to, as I could wear that beautiful (to me) white eyelit dress, white stockings and shoes (some­ times slippers} for dress.

There were what we called walking preachers or Wilkyites who came through quite often and held church services night­ly at the schoolhouse.  They would stay in our home and live with us about two weeks or so at a time and we would take them to some of the neighbors One night we decid­ed to pull a little prank on them. With a soft flat stuffed cat with an oilcloth cover and a 'meow squeaker' in it we slip­ped it under the sheets of their bed.  In the morning they told us they were just sure they had heard a baby crying somewhere.

Some of the early stores in Harrison were Marstellers clothing and grocery store, Max Federle's grocery, Kock Mercantile, Chet Unitt Lumber Co., Tress Powell Hard­ware, (in existence yet after over 50 years} , Alex Lawry's candy store -the Rids paradise , where a big sack of candy was filled for a nickel and there were scores of 'penny bargains'.

Bill Pontius was an early day post­ master. A.M. Brown published the Harrison Sun.

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