Bruch, Charles Gregory
CHARLES GREGORY "GREGG" BRUCH
Beginning Life History Segments being Submitted for StoryWorth Compilation December 2020
I grew up having had little contact with my grandparents. On my father's side, both Anton and Bernadina (nee Goedde) Bruch lived on the ranch 7 miles out of town in Niobrara county, and were the God Parents at my Baptism in Saint Leo' s Catholic Church, Lusk, Wyoming. on March 16, 1930. Grandmother Bernadina died when I was age 2 and I have no recollection of her. Grandfather Anton lived with aunts Elizabeth and Pauline on the ranch. We moved some 145 miles away to Cheyenne when I was age 5 because my father was promoted in his job with the State. Anton died at the Lusk ranch at age 96 in 1939 when I was age 9 and is buried with Bernadina at the Lusk Cemetery. My contact with him was limited to the occasional visits we made to the ranch after having left Lusk. For some reason he and I did not spend much time together during those visits. As to my mother's side, grandfather Albert John "AJ"and Paulina Bautch lived in Independence, Wisconsin. Paulina also died when I was age 2, so I have no recollection of her, although we did go to her funeral there. My only recollection of AJ was in 1941 when, with my mother Josephine and sister Carla, we visited there for Christmas. AJ was living pretty much in seclusion in a small house at uncle Mike and aunt Anna Skroch's dairy farm a few miles out of Independence. AJ died in Independence during 1950 and is buried with Paulina and aunt Della at the cemetery which surrounds Saints Peter and Paul Church there. Quite a bit about lives of Anton and Bernadina are in a 1964 history compiled by my aunt Pauline. Also, my father Albert had mentioned some additional things about grandfather Anton. By all accounts, he was self-sufficient, serious, hard working, honest, and business like. His skills included fanning, building construction, and work-shop projects, along with farm-land money lending and investing. Obviously much about his personality was reflected in the similar characteristics exhibited by our father Albert. As to AJ and Paulina Bautch, I have copies of two 1945 handwritten histories by AJ, but these contain little about Paulina. By all accounts AJ was a talented self-starter and entrepreneurial businessman, involved in several significant business efforts. A sizeable (five sections) ranch-land venture was attempted in 1910 in rural Alberta, Canada, with most of the family being moved there a few years later. This did not work out, and ultimately all but aunt Della returned to U S by 1922. Aunt Della (Adelaide) had married Sabin Gogolinski there. My grandparents, like many people of the time, probably reflected the ethnicity of their families. Anton was born at Helferskirchen in what is now the state of Hessen, Germany, having come to the U. S. with his parents at the age of 2 during the year 1844. Bernadina was born during 1849 at Sieddinghausen in what is now the state of Westphalia, Germany. She had come to the U S by herself at the age of 18 during the year 1867, to live with her sister and brother-in-law in Eastern Iowa. She and Anton then met and married there during 1870. They moved first to Carroll in central Iowa, then to Oakdale in north-central Nebraska, then to Sturgis in western South Dakota, and finally to the Wyoming ranch around 1912. Grandfather AJ was born at New Lisbon, Wisconsin, during 1859, the son of parents who had emigrated there during 1855 from Popielow, Silesia, now part of modern Poland. I do not have information about grandmother Paulina's birth, but with the family name Rozek, she probably also was of Polish descent, and was living in nearby Winona, Minnesota. She was a widow (deceased husband Bambinek) with two children when she and AJ married. They lived in and around Independence for the remainder of their lives except for the foray into Canada. Obviously, my grandparents were of hardy stock, good Americans, and as such I have been very blessed to be descended from them.
OUR LUSK WYOMING HOUSE AND LOCATION
The first five years of my life (1930-35) were in the town of Lusk, (2018 population 1,541), the Seat of Niobrara County (2010 population 2,484). As such, the County now has the distinction of being the least populated County of the second least populated state of the whole U.S. During 1910, my father and his three sisters had homesteaded the equivalent of a section of land some seven miles east of Lusk, and North of the town of Node. Upon marrying my mother Josephine Bautch during January of 1929, the decision was for my father to leave the Bruch ranch, pursue other interests, and setup housekeeping in Lusk. This would require a house. My parents lived in a Lusk apartment while my father acquired the house. As it turned out, the town of Manville, 10 miles West, was in a depression caused population-decline from reduced activity at the Lance Creek oil field North of the town. Many houses there were empty and some in foreclosure status. A local acquaintance of my father (last name Jackson) had the equipment and the know how for house moving. He had the options on 10 empty Manville houses, but needed financing. So a deal was made with financing provided by my father. Out of this came our future Lusk house. It was moved to a location at S.Linn & W. 5th St. and two block West of the town's library. My father and another acquaintance, Otto Klempke, purchased three adjoining lots on that comer and subdivided the three into two larger lots. Ours became the corner lot. The house was moved in and set on blocks.It faced South on W. 5th Street My father hired a helper and they dug a full basement and built a brick foundation underneath for the house to rest on. A two car detached garage facing Linn St. also was built behind the house at the North end of the lot. Later on my grandfather Anton made me a wooden bird-house which dad mounted above the garage door near the roof peak. The large lot North of the garage was empty and possibly a city park. Our location was two blocks from what was then St. Leo's Catholic Church, a parish which the Bruch family helped start in 1912.The house location also happened to be on a street some three or so blocks South from the hospital where I was born. It was owned and operated by a nurse, Mrs. Marsh. Mom's physician, Dr. Dovey, apparently soon after was replaced by Dr. Walter Reckling who I remember well as our family doctor. My one later trip to that hospital was the result of a tricycle mishap. My grandfather Anton (who walked with a cane) had made a small one for me out of a thin tree limb. One day I tried assisting my tricycle pedaling by also pushing with the cane. I got going fast but the cane then got caught in the tricycle front fork and wheel, over I went, hitting something that opened a cut on the bottom of my chin. My aunt Mabel happened to be on our front porch talking to my mother. After hearing me cry, they saw what had happened. They immediately took me to the hospital to have my cut treated by Mrs. Marsh. For many years afterward the scar under my chin was visible. By on-line aerial photo, the house appears to still be there, and so still may be occupied.
OUR LUSK, WYOMING, NEIGHBORS
As to our neighbors, across the street and either three or four houses to the South was my uncle Frank and aunt Mable Bautch, along with their twin daughters Betty and Beth. Frank was a Lance Creek drilling contractor and my mother lived with them for some months until she married my dad. Mother worked at the courthouse for Frank Chambers, who was the County Clerk and who introduced my parents. The Bautch twins were five years older than me and had a backyard slide which they slicked with waxed paper for me to slide on. I think for birthday, they were given new matching, full sized bicycles. Someone had told them that men's rather than women's bicycle frames were stronger, so that is what they wanted and got. Oil well drilling was playing out, so Frank and family left for Denver Colorado in 1934 where he had purchased the 100 room Sears Hotel at 18th and California in downtown Denver. As I recall, uncle Frank sold the Lusk house to Frank Chambers who my mother had worked under before marrying. One house closer to us, and also facing East, was the Gibson residence with George and Ethyl along with daughter Georgeann (l year younger than me) and with Ethyl's widowed father Ed Arnold. Ed had come to Niobrara County as a young man many years previously from Kansas. George owned and operated the Midwest Hardware store selling a wide variety of merchandise including tools, furniture, and guns. George also sang in our St. Leo's Catholic Church choir where my aunt Pauline played the organ for Sunday Mass. When the Bautchs left for Denver, the slide was given to Georgeann. Next door to the West of our house was the Klemke family. Otto Sr. Was a stock and bond investment dealer, and had his office on the second story of the building next to Gibson's hardware store. I only remember their highschool age son Otto Jr. "Ottie." Next to the West of the Klemkes was a former garage facing South and a comer house facing West. This was the Watson family, Judson, Minerva, and their three children Palmer, Minette, and Justine. Justine was my age and playmate. The garage between their house and the Klemke's had been converted into an apartment that housed Justine's grandmother whom she called "Dramaw." Judson was our family lawyer. He grew up very deaf. As a young adult he was a rural mail carrier living in Keeline, Wyoming, a few miles West of Manville. He had the ambition to be a Lawyer and studied law by correspondence courses from a school I believe was in Chicago. He successfully passed the Bar Exam and set up practice in Lusk. I remember going with my parents to his office. He could read lips, but wife Minerva wrote everything said on a notepad which Judson then looked at before responding. They were dedicated Baptists, and Judson sometimes preached at their church when they were short a minister. Their son Palmer became an active Baptist Minister in California. Across the street from the Watsons and a house or two North was the two story Frank Barrett house. His wife Alice (nee Hogan) also sang in our St. Leo's Catholic Church choir. Frank was a local attorney who got into politics and later became Wyoming State Governor, U.S. Representative, and then U.S. Senator. I noticed on the Lusk Map that their street has since been renamed Barrett Blvd. I think that one or more of the children became lawyers, a daughter especially in Cheyenne. One more neighbor and across the street was the local bank president whose name as I recall was Baldwin. Downtown was a barbershop where my hair-cutting started by sitting on a padded board on the barber chair arms. Later the same barber had moved to Cheyenne with a shop called "New Moon" and I used him there during my late teens and early twenties. A couple additional memories of the time (1) My first hail storm, running from the dining room window and saying "mom, its raining ice cubes," (2) Telling people that I wanted to go to meet Shirley Temple who played in movies my parents took me to at the local theater. If l recall correctly, its owner and operator was person named Sammy Feinstein. We saw him some years later as he had taken over a downtown theater in Denver after leaving Lusk. Since the foregoing was so many years ago, many must have since come and gone from our wonderful Lusk neighborhood. Attached are two early photos of me on the Bautch's front porch.
My guess is that they were taken by Aunt Mable's son Glen Garapy, The one on before is of me and my twin cousins Beth and Betty Bautch. The one below is of my mother and I most probably taken the same day.
Virtually everyone in growing up does things that prepare them for their later activities in adult life. My earliest recollections of this seem to go back probably to age four or nearly so at our home in Lusk, Wyoming. It is in my family culture on my father's side to have a work shop and tools for do-it-yourself activities. Wherever we lived, my father always had installed a work bench and had hand tools hanging up for such activities. That (probably 1933) Christmas, one of my Santa Claus gifts was a small child's toy tool-set. My uncle Carl (then single), along with aunts Elizabeth and Pauline, were at our house for the afternoon gift opening. I was showing my new toy tool-kit. Uncle Carl took my toy pliers, opened his mouth, and gripping a front tooth in his upper denture plate, extracted the plate and then put it back into his mouth. Then one of my aunts (I think Pauline) did likewise with hers. Of course I then tried, but could not do the same, and the party went on. Seriously though, my father wanted me to follow the family culture and he set up a basement work bench for me, since his was too high for a four year old. Early on in the Lusk house, my father had built a moveable cold-storage cabinet for food. The ice-truck came by weekly for delivery of a large block of ice that went into the top for cooling. That year my father purchased our first electric refrigerator. It was a Westinghouse and was delivered in a thin-plywood wooden crate. This crate found its way into our basement workshop area close to the main bench. The open crate on its back now was storage area for pieces of scrap lumber. My had dad nailed a wide board across the box opening to provide a work bench at suitable height for me. Someone had purchased a very small red-colored vise for my bench. The little saw in the Christmas tool kit would not cut anything, so my Grandfather Anton gave me a hacksaw frame he had made that held a standard hacksaw blade. I now could take a piece of scrap lumber, put it in the vise, and saw it. Through the years, I still have the vise, the hacksaw, and another of grandfather Anton's hacksaws that he had given my dad. My hacksaw was still with me as of a few years ago, but now seems lost somewhere in my collection of " stuff." The attached photo shows my vise along with a collection of tools that I think were all made by Grandpa Anton. Missing is my hacksaw which was similar to the one in the photo, but of thinner round material.
From top-to-bottom are Dad's hacksaw, my vise, tongs made for removing ash-clusters from our Lusk house's coal-fired heating-furnace, mom's kitchen cucumber-slicer& long kitchen knife, and a wood plane for carving edge grooves in boards. If and when my hacksaw surfaces, it will be added to the photo.
MOVING AWAY FROM LUSK
My Lusk experiences came to an end in 1935 when we left permanently for Cheyenne. That resulted from my father's employment. During the election of 1932, the Niobrara candidate for the Wyoming House died suddenly during the campaign. My father was asked to fill in on the ballot which he did. I have only one recollection of the campaign and that was his speaking at a log cabin some rural place in the County. He being Democrat and somewhat politically unknown, along with Wyoming being significantly Republican, my father was not elected. It was 1932, wool was not selling (my father had two small ranches near Manville with tenants managing his herds of sheep), oil well leasing was down, weather very dry, etc. My father was feeling the financial pinch. One of his acquaintances was William "Scotty" Jack. Scotty had come to the U.S. from Scotland at the age of 16 to be with his father who was herding sheep on a ranch in the County. As Scotty grew up, he had ambition, and rose in the Democratic politics of the State. He had served terms in the Legislature and had just been appointed Speaker of the House. My father asked him if he could find dad a job in the State Government. Scotty pulled strings and got dad appointed Chief Clerk of the Wyoming House of Representatives. That was quite a challenge since dad had quit school after the 10th grade. But dad gave it his best and successfully continued on for the 1933, 34, and 35 Legislature sessions. For the 1933 session, we lived in a one room apartment in downtown Cheyenne. Years later I learned that it originally had been a well known house of ill repute, and possibly the one featured in the 1970 Hollywood movie The Cheyenne Social Club. For the next two legislative sessions, we had small apartments, one on Carey Avenue and one on Capitol Avenue. My father then was given a job- as field ·man in the State Farm Loan Department. His family and personal background as a farmer/rancher and his many past lending and land management transactions equipped him well for the job. He bought a new 1934 Chevrolet Coupe from the dealer in Lusk, but we had to go to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, to take possession of the selected model. My bunk in the coupe was behind the single seat under the rear view window. The State had over 3,000 agricultural loans out, and dad then was one of four field men who traveled the State checking on them. That got me at age four on my first visit to the Teton and Yellowstone National Parks that my dad took a few days off for the three of us visit. I remember our hotel/motel evenings on the field trips with my dad dictating and my mother using her portable to type dad's field-visit reports. The Governor always attended the monthly meetings at the Capitol where status was reported by the field
men. And after just a few months, Governor Leslie Miller then appointed dad to replace the Department head (an ex-owner of a failed bank) who had been foreclosing on too many of the loans that deserved to be carried longer due to the depression, drought, and economic conditions. As a result, our Lusk House was rented to the manager of the Lusk telephone-company operations, and we moved temporarily to a rented house on Bent Avenue in Cheyenne owned by a family named Bartlett. I think that the attached photo found online is of that Bent Avenue house shows as it now appears. It was covered with brown shingles at the time. I did not have the address but worked on-line from an idea of its location and appearance, however. Our move to Cheyenne began a new life-chapter for me, but fond memories of Lusk still remain.