This is not my life's story. It is merely some of the stories from my life.
In a sense, I suppose, this might be considered one of my autobiographies, or
perhaps the first. When I began this project nearly a year ago it was my
intent to complete it through 1981 when we moved to
Chapter 6 I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk
Chapter 7 I Do, too
Chapter 8 My Time in Leavenworth
Chapter 9 Ricky Dean
Chapter 10 Jerri Jeane
Chapter 11 Nebraska?
Chapter 12 Cyclones Forever
It is unlikely that it will ever be 'finished' in a completion sense, because remembering stimulates memory. Each story recalled gives re-birth to other stories, related and unrelated. They will be added as long as there is a shred of truth in them, and the whole project has not yet collapsed under its own enormity.
I could say that it is written for my children, Richard Dean and Jerri Jeane, for indeed it is. But, in truth it is written for me, because it is something I wanted to do. Why? Because I like to talk about myself, and no one knows me quite as well as I. The memories are mostly my own. Some of my stories have faded with memory. Since many of them can no longer be refuted or substantiated by persons living, they shall stand as 'history'. Embellishment is thus confessed, for indeed that is a part of me as well. To the best of my knowledge that is my only fault and certainly the only one which will be revealed herein.
This writing is dedicated to my best friend, Judith Roxann, who has been a part of my life since I was 16 and she was 15. She inspired many of my life's experiences and resulting stories. She has also reminded me when her recollections of my stories differ from my own. Nevertheless, these writings shall not be diminished by strict adherence to fact.
Judy has an interesting theory about memory. She declares, "we have only just so many brain cells, so we should be careful how and when we use them". At some point perhaps our brains no longer have capacity for things new, unless they replace things old. I, too, used to have a theory about memory, but alas ...
I once heard an actor/comedian remark on being honored for his accomplishments that, "I will remember this evening as long as I can". I don't recall who said it, but I've borrowed that line many times in recent years. To you, dear reader, I urge that you keep a journal of anecdotes of your life, for your own musings, if no other.
My sister, Esther Joann, was an only child, or so it seemed. She was born on
an isolated farm a half dozen miles northwest of
Joann at about age 1
The 1920s and 30s were pretty tough times in southern
Mom and Dad 1926
They wanted very much to farm, but had little with which to begin a farm
life. So, at the time Joann was born, they were living with Mom's parents,
Susan Martha and Joseph Grant Smith. Though tractors were in use then, the
Smiths farmed with a team of horses. Herman always referred to his
father-in-law as 'Dad Smith'. He said that Dad Smith couldn't drive his team
straight to save his soul. Dad recalled that one day after planting all day
with the team he asked, "Dad Smith, how are you ever going to cultivate
those crooked rows?" Without missing a beat Granddad replied, "Why,
I'll just use the same horses!" Dad loved sharing that story, and he
always laughed the most in its telling. They moved to Corbin when Joann was 6
months old, and later to the farm on the
Herman and Grace were both born in different parts of Oklahoma Indian
Territory in 1902 and 1906 respectively.
Dad in 1902 at age 6 months Mom in 1919 at age 13
Both of my Grandfathers, Louis Niebaum and Joseph Smith, made the 'run' into
the Cherokee Strip when it opened for homesteading in 1893. Louis was about 25
and Joseph was about 30. Both staked claims for 160 acres. Granddad Niebaum
couldn't farm his claim, since he had nothing to farm it with. He traded his
claim for a wagon and a team of horses. Granddad Smith had even worse luck. He
Great Grandfather Henry Niebaum has always held a lot of fascination for me, partly because he was the immigrant Niebaum. He was born near
in or near
Thru the records we find Henry moved around some early in life here in this Country. Was enlisted in the Union Army at Aurora Ind. April 20 - 1861 for a period of 90 days. I really can't believe Henry was married during this time as his first-born came Aug 22 - 1863. Though maybe Herman isn't the first-born as there is mention of a sixth child reading his obituary and somewhere along the line this information was passed on as the children wrote the obituary.
The first three children were born in Switzerland Co Ind. Herman, Katherine, and John. I would rather think the Lady he married Margaret Meinken also an immigrant of
In the year 1868 Henry and Margaret and three children migrated west to
Henry and Margaret settled in the area of Neely Ks. And thru the info I’ve received the place is still standing though some remodeling has took place.
Henry and Margaret had five living children
Herman Aug 22 - 1863 Switzerland Co Indiana
Katherine March 25 - 1865 Switzerland Co Indiana
John Fredrick Jan. 7 - 1867 Switzerland Co Indiana
Louis Nov. 17 - 1868 Leavenworth Co Ks
William Sept 4 - 1871 Leavenworth Co Ks
Margaret Meinken Niebaum died 1876 Leavenworth Co Ks leaving Henry with a very young family. 41 yrs of age. There is no record of where she is buried though we are sure she is buried in Fall Creek Cemetery Jarbalo, Ks. The cemetery was not plotted until 1880 so they were buried side by side called potters field, which is along the fence on the north side of the Cemetery. There is a large part of the Cemetery consumed by Meinken’s, which joins potters field. I have reason to believe this as the Cemetery sexton John Meinken who was a nephew of Margret Meinken. He was close to 80 at the time and convinced me of this.
Henry Niebaum remarried Nov 18 - 1880 Leavenworth - Kansas to Mary Jane Schenek previous marriage by name Vanpelt two son's Nelson Vanpelt - Everett Vanpelt.
Maiden name of Mary Jane Eminger
Henry 2nd wife is buried Hubbell Hill Cemetery Tonganoxie Ks. Died Jan 5 – 1910
The Leavenworth Co Historical Society Museum 334 Fifth Ave have a quilt on display which was made by Henry and Margaret Niebaum back in the 1860s
Mirror 30 June 1921
Henry Niebaum died at Caldwell Ks. 24 June and was brought here for burial.
The funeral services were held at the Friends church and were conducted by Rev. John Howard and Rev H.A. Cook. Burial services took place at the
Tonganoxie Mirror 7 July 1921
Henry Niebaum was born in Germany 1833 and died at Caldwell Kansas 24 June 1921 age 88 years. His early life was spent in
He came to Leavenworth Co Ks 1868 and has lived in this vicinity ever since.
He was married to Margaret Meinken and after her death was married to Mrs. Jane Schenck who died Jan 5 - 1910. There were 6 children 5 of whom are living. They are William of Tonganoxie, Louis of Caldwell, Ks also Herman and John of Okla. Mrs. Katie White of
He was raised a Lutheran and always adhered to that faith. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, which order had charge of the services at the
He was a good citizen and a loving husband and father.
Peace to his memory
The last few years of his life were spent going from one offspring household to the next and his objective at the home was preparing fire wood for the winter heat and cooking. Henry Niebaum passed away at Aunt Kate’s house Katherine White, his only daughter.”
I'm not certain who wrote the history above or when, but I believe it was written by my cousin, LeRoy Niebaum. He has confirmed that those seem to be his words, but didn't recall having written them out that way.
A few years ago when my sister and Dad were visiting us in
I very nearly never came to be. One evening when Joann was about 3 years
old, Mom & Dad were returning to Corbin from
Dad and our 1938 Chevy, first car I remember
[Greg Nickol dated the car for me in 2005]
Anytime I ever heard that story from the family it was always told as "two old drunks". Both were blamed equally, and the causes were implicitly attributed to both age and level of insobriety.
When Joann was 3 the family moved in with Grandma & Grandpa Niebaum in
Mom played piano for dances with Dad's younger brother, Lynn, and a family
friend, Elias Whitten. We called him 'Whit', and he was a lifelong fishing
partner of Dad's.
Mom was a happy person and looked on the good side of most everything. She had a great sense of humor, and was well liked by all who knew her. She also enjoyed pampering her only son. Nearly every night she would fix hot chocolate in a glass for me to drink in bed, and often would fix breakfast for me to eat in bed. Joann says I "drank from a glass at 4 months because I wouldn't adjust to a bottle". But, I'm ahead of my story and haven't even been born yet.
Mother's Day, May 12, 1935, also could have been disastrous for me. The family
was preparing for a picnic in
Dad and his brother-in-law, Horatio Hardin were not seriously injured. Shoate (Horatio) Hardin was married to Mom's sister, Edith, at that time. I don't recall ever seeing his name written, so the spelling is my best guess. Shoate and Edith had a daughter, Bonnie, about my sister's age, and they were good friends. Grandmother Smith was unable to continue with the farm, and gave it up to her youngest daughter, Finace, and husband, Ralph Watts. From then on Grandma Smith stayed for a few months at a time with each of her children for most of the rest of her life until her death in 1954 at age 89. At the time of her sudden death she was planning to remarry a friend from her youth.
One of life's great regrets is missed opportunity to review the history of
one's ancestors with those who are best able to relate it. That wisdom comes
only with age and by then, the chance has passed. As a child I spent many
hours with my Grandmother Smith, but never asked the many questions I now
have. How I would love to question my grandfathers about their 'run' into
the Strip in 1893. Or, to hear Granddad Smith tell of his time as a cowboy
Unrecorded memories pass to oblivion. Unrealized dreams are left to new dreamers.