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A Few Stories From Martha E. Meiser

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These four short stories were written by Martha Elizabeth (Frank) Meiser in 1993 and 1994, shortly before her death. It would appear that these were originally written in letters sent to a son or nephew, and later shared with other relatives via e-mail. At this time, it is difficult to determine if she wrote any other stories that were not included with these four. They are about her ancestors and childhood. Photos added by Ben Hinks.

link to Grandma's Story

Of all the people you should know more about John, your Grandmother Frank is the one. You remember her I know. She loved you children very much. Anna Belle Baker was born Feb 15, 1880. Her father was Jacob Baker and Mother was born Sarah Jane Coburn. She married your grandfather Oliver Vernon Frank on Nov 16. He was born in 1878, died on Jan 2, 1920-a train-auto accident.

So your Grandmother was left a widow with seven children to raise.
The children were:
Mildred, born Aug 1, 1903 (died March 1985)
Deloss, born June 19, 1905
John Russell, born Sept 11, 1907 (died July 26, 1980)
Harriett, born Feb 24, 1909
Robert, born July 12, 1911 (died Dec 7, 1989)
Cleon A. (Mike), born June 30, 1913 (died April 22, 1967)
Martha Elizabeth, born July 14, 1916

We had moved to the country about a month before Dad died, into a ramshackle farm house on 5 acres of ground. There was a barn, chicken coop and a wood house, plus the outside “biffy,” There was no electricity & the pump was outside in back of the house. There was very little money - a small insurance policy. We had a cow & a horse & some chickens. Mother had people offer to adopt one or another of us, but she couldn’t give any of us up and determined to keep her family together. She was independent and worked hard and we never were hungry. Plain food, but nourishing enough. How she managed, I really don’t know. I’m sure her family helped in some ways. I remember Grandfather (her father) saw that we had a winter’s supply of apples and potatoes. We had an earthen cellar and things kept well there. I’m sure the church members helped in some ways.

At any rate, we had milk, cream, butter, eggs, chicken dinner once in a while, etc., plus vegetables & fruit canned. Mother baked bread every Saturday (wonderful day of smelling goodies), also pie or cake or cookies, sometimes she got an ice cream freezer and the ice cream was out of this world! Our cream was thick enough to be spooned out of the container & the ice cream was thick, too. Ah yumm! I’ll never forget it! More later.

Anna Frank and her children.
Anna Frank and her seven children.

As related in a letter by Martha Frank Meiser:

I bought a new purse several weeks ago. Kathy was with me and I stopped at this counter to look and couldn’t resist the purse. It is leather, made in India and has zebra figurines plus vegetation, etc, in tan, black, green, red, etc. Really a wild looking thing, but I loved it. It has taken me this long decide I had nerve enough to carry it. As I was transferring all the stuff from the old matronly looking purse, I thought of my mother’s hat.

When I was perhaps 1 0 or 11, Mother took me with her to get a new hat for herself. I don’t remember the clothes she wore than, but I’m sure they were old and well worn. In those days, of course, you didn’t go without a hat. Well, that was exciting because Mother rarely got anything for herself. So into the Milliners we went, a small little shop, and Mother started trying on hats. Well, it narrowed down to a choice of a neat little Navy blue and a light blue one with a deep crown on which were large white and pink flowers and a small brim.

Now, of course, I thought of Mother as being old (had grey hair as long as I could remember). She must have been almost 50 years old (and that was OLD)! I opted for the trim little Navy blue (for an older person), but mother was smitten with the blue hat with big flowers and she bought that one, colorful and flamboyant. I did notice that later on how Mother “perked up” when she wore that hat. It did something for her and she felt better about herself when she wore it.

So here I am with a purse - colorful and flamboyant - and know I have Mother’s love of color. Bright and cheerful color. And I will carry my purse and be glad I can enjoy it even though I’m surely old (77!!)

I’m glad Mother got that hat.


OUR HORSE “MEX”

I have forgotten some of the things I have written, so this I know will be something different.

As you know, my father died when I was three years old. We had just moved to the country. Dad had plans drawn up for remodeling and enlarging the house (an old farm house) when the weather cleared. Since there were five acres, Dad planned a big garden to help feed the big family. Since we had a barn, he bought a horse for transportation with a buggy and for drawing a plow, etc. to make a garden.

He was really a beautiful horse, but definitely not a farm horse. He came from the Mexican border where he had been in war action (before 1920’s), so he was named “Mex.” He was high spirited and unpredictable. He fought the farm work and my brother Deloss, who was the oldest boy, had to hassle with him. The boys rode him (bare back) and he did draw the buggy. When my sister Mildred got her teaching certificate she got a job teaching in a one room school house about 4 or 5 miles from home. So she took the horse & buggy to work. One day she decided that she could get there quicker if she would ride “Mex.” She got on his back and away they went. It was late that afternoon and she hadn’t come home. Mother was quite worried about her. When she finally appeared she was walking and leading the horse. Ah, yes, her rear end was so sore from the ride to school, she couldn’t sit, so she had to walk home.

Mex was very high spirited as I have said, and it was well known . So when a parade was organized for events in town, one of the men borrowed Mex and rode him. When the music started, Mex just pranced beautifully and loved every minute of it.

I remember one time when brother Bob rode him to town. Mother baked bread every Saturday and by the next Friday the supply was about gone, so she sent Bob to the store for a loaf of bread. (a neighborhood store in town) I always thought it was a treat to have “store bought” bread. When he came home, he threw down the package and there was the bread, smashed down flat. The horse had been trotting fast with Bob on his back. Then, suddenly, he balked, stopped right there and Bob slid over his head and landed on the road, right on top of the bread. Mex wasn’t with us much longer.


Oliver Vernon Frank

He was my Father and your grandfather, John. He was born in 1878, married Anna Baker in 1901. He died in a train-auto accident in 1920. His father and mother were Jacob and Harriet Frank. He had three brothers: Clarence, Charles and Harry.

Vernon Frank, as he was moat commonly known, was a school teacher for many years. He was also an interior decorator and became a mail carrier in 1917.

We know very little about his ancestry. However, we do know that his grandfather and grandmother emigrated from Germany. They has heard of the gold in California and set out in the Gold Rush of 1849. They were aboard the boat crossing the Mississippi River when the boat was sinking. All the passengers were rescued and taken to shore safely. Grandfather left his wife and baby son and went back to the boat to get his money. He went down with the boat. His wife managed to get back to Indiana where there were relatives and she raised her son there. This son was Jacob Frank and Vernon’s Father. They lived a few miles from your grandma Anna. She and Vernon were married in 1901.

I do not remember my father, for I was only three years old when he died. I have asked my brothers and sisters about him. They have told me that he was a hard working man. He was strict on the discipline and managed his children, also his pupils at school. He loved his family dearly and was proud of us all. Mother’s health was not good at times, so he helped her very much. He cooked, washed dishes, even baked bread. On Sunday mornings, he made breakfast and took care of that job while Mother got us ready for church. And then walked all his kids to church. Wish I had known him.

O. V. Frank
O. V. Frank

© 1993-1994 Martha Elizabeth (Frank) Meiser


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