Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Grandma Caroline

It is difficult to pay Mother's Day respects to just one grandmother, particularly since I have so many in my various family files.  However, I have recently visited Grandma Caroline's grave, thus I have selected her for my blog.  The vitals on her are ... Caroline Gettis, born 11 February 1839 in Ohio to Ira Ellis Gettis and Mary "Polly" Daniel; died 20 August 1924 in Beatrice, Gage Co., Nebraska.   She married Jacob Zehrung in 1855 in Tama Co., Iowa.

Her life between the dates is interesting and adds meaning to the family history.  Caroline had thirteen children, the first born when she was almost eighteen years of age and the last when she was almost forty-four years of age.  There were eight girls and five boys and twins (boy and girl) born in 1874.  That qualifies her for being an outstanding mother!  

The Zehrungs lived in Iowa until about 1879 when they moved to Jewell Co., Kansas.  According to family stories they made the journey by wagon, most likely stopping off at places in eastern Nebraska and eastern Kansas to visit relatives.  In 1881 they moved to Harlan Co., Nebraska, where they lived near Ragan.  Some of their older children married in Kansas as well as Harlan Co., Nebraska.  

Jacob took advantage of the Timber Culture Act in Nebraska and left Harlan County in about 1890, going to Sheridan County, NE in the sandhills.  It was there that he died on 15 June 1893.  The land had not been proved up on and Caroline was left with some young children.   Jacob was buried in a country cemetery not far from the land that he owned which was relinquished.  Each year our family decorates his grave.  

In 1969 the son of Caroline's older daughter, Nellie, visited me.  He was elderly, but his memory was sharp.  There would be no written documents to verify his stories, but they were interesting.  When Jacob, Caroline and children (some married and some children) left Harlan Co., Nebraska for the sandhills in Nebraska's panhandle, they went by wagon north to the Dismal River, stopping to visit his brother, David Zehrung.  They followed the river as far as they could to locate the land they would claim.  The prairie was desolate, and while the government wanted settlers to plant trees, it would be next to impossible to grow them in sand.  

Caroline tied young children up to their wagons to keep them from wandering off in the never ending flow of sand.  The older boys hunted wild game and eventually they built a house, most likely from sod.  When Jacob died at age 57, Caroline probably didn't have to think twice about leaving the sandhills of Nebraska.  According to descendants, Jacob's brothers in eastern Nebraska provided the means for her to bring the younger children to Gage Co., Nebraska.  In 1915 Caroline married Aaron Rummerfield.  

With Jacob in the panhandle of Nebraska and Caroline in eastern Nebraska, there were children married and buried in various locations.  Amazingly they stayed in touch through their lives.  My sister-in-law and I had never been to Grandma Caroline's grave until last week.  She is buried in the Evergeen Cemetery in Beatrice, Gage Co., Nebraska.  This year, both she and Jacob have flowers on their grave for Memorial Day.  

Happy Mother's Day, Grandma Caroline ... you were indeed a great mother!  


Judy Shubert said...

So much history here. Thanks for telling it in such an interesting manner, keeping Caroline alive in our thoughts!

Anonymous said...

This is why I am so thrilled that Ruby is part of my Zehrung / Gettis family tree. Caroline Gettis and Jacob Charles Zehrung were the parents of my great grandmother - Sarah Jane Zehrung who married William Eli Doyle who were the parents of my grandfather Harlan Edward Doyle. Gage Co., NE is filled with the Doyle - Zehrung - Gettis roots of many a family tree.
Ken Parker
Overland Park, KS