Schaller man leaves 104 years of rural memories
Albert Joseph Roeder, age 104, of Hartley, formerly of Schaller, died on March 31, 2002 at the Community Memorial Health Center in Hartley.
The funeral mass was on April 3rd at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Schaller. Reverend Tim Johnson, St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Sanborn officiated. Burial was in the St. Joseph Cemetery in Schaller.
Serving as pallbearers were Alan Jatho, Robert Kautzky, Jr., Jerry Ocken, Mark Roeder, Paul Roeder and Gary Zentz. Music was provided by organist Nancy Rieck.
The Fratzke & Jensen Funeral Home in Schaller was in charge of arrangements.
One hundred and four years ago on April 22, 1897, Albert Joseph Roeder was born. He was delivered by a midwife on a farm northeast of the little town of Arthur. He was the second of seven children born to Peter and Christina (Henrich) Roeder, Jr. His brothers and sisters included Caroline Katherine, Frances Mary, Esther Elizabeth, Leonard Mathew Valentine, Raymond John and Margaret Gertrude.
Albert worked very hard as a youngster. As the oldest son, he had to help his father farm the land, therefore his schooling was very limited. His first school was located two miles away. He attended the first year, but as planting season arrived, he was forced to leave school to help at home.
While he attended the Sister School, he stayed at his Grandpa Henrich's home. Albert schooled until the fourth grade. Passing tests was difficult due to poor attendance. At age 11, Albert's dad bought his own farm near Arthur. His father told him he could not afford a hired man and put Albert to work. He worked hard and long hours planting and harvesting crops, milking cows, and any and all farm chores. Albert was especially good with the farm horses. He always had them trained before they were ready to hitch.
When the farm chores were done, there was always more to do! There were cobs or coal to haul to the house for heat or carry milk to town (Arthur) to sell for a nickel a quart.
There didn't seem to be a lot of time for fun, but Albert did have a few favorites. His favorite childhood games were drop the handkerchief or tag. He had a little red wagon that was his favorite toy and a pet dog name Shep. His best friend was his cousin, Ed Roeder (Mathew and Mary Roeder's son) and in the summertime they fished and swam.
Albert's favorite foods included "smashed potatoes" with gravy and chocolate cake. There were a lot of other things that Albert ate back then that didn't make it to the favorites category. Some of these included blutwurst (blood sausage), head cheese, brains, pigs feet and a lot of cornmeal mush!
He helped make their own sauerkraut and their own soap. The folks used home remedies for what ailed them. Albert recalls using mustard plaster, goose grease, sulfur and asafetida bags for colds. The latter was tied under their chin for inhaling.
Every once in a while, Albert might have gotten a little naughty in church. Peter's way of dealing with this was to pinch Albert's ear with his fingernail.
Albert learned to drive a car at the age of 16. It was a 1916 Buick, and Emil McMoris, a mechanic, taught him.
At the age of 18, Albert was too big to go back to school. To make a little extra money, he worked at the popcorn plant. As the corn was elevated, Albert picked out the moldy ears. He also delivered cobs to houses to use in the cook stoves. He made $3.50 a day.
Albert first dated at the age of 19. He went to the movies with a girl named Lizzie Dick. Albert served in the United States Army for about five weeks in 1918. He was scheduled to go to Camp Dodge (near Des Moines). The camp caught the flu so Albert didn't have to report right away and then Armistice was declared. He received an Honorable Mention Discharge and $1.00.
Albert was 24 when he first met Anna Halbmaier. He was headed to Chicago with a train carload of cattle. He used his brother-in-law's pass and rode in the caboose. His dad had told him about a nice family that lived out that way a mile from his Aunt Elizabeth Haub. He stayed out there a few days and got acquainted with Anna. They went to a dance together and had a good time.
Albert returned to Iowa and Anna started writing him letters. He asked Anna to come to Iowa for a visit. So she and her brother came. Albert returned to Chicago and this time when he went to visit Anna, he asked if she would like to move to Iowa. He bought a diamond ring and proposed. Anna chose September 5, 1922 for their wedding date. They were married at St. Mary's Parish in West Booklyn, Il. Their wedding night was spent at her parents home as they had to clean-up.
Frank and Margaretha (Then) Halbmaier gave Anna a dowry of sorts. They were given one cow and one pig. They honeymooned on a boxcar bringing the animals back to Iowa. The pig died shortly after arriving and the cow didn't calve. For nine years Albert and Anna farmed on Peter Jr.'s farm with Peter demanding half of everything. Anna decided that was enough of that, so they moved.
By this time they already had the first of four children. They rented two more farms and had two more children. They are Urban Francis, Alberta Elizabeth, Georgia Mae, Ann Elizabeth, Florian Joseph and Cecelia Mary. Urban was named after his uncle, Reverend Urban Halbmaier. Alberta was named after Anna's sister, Alberta Dinges-Chaon and Georgia was named after Uncle George Dinges.
Albert and Anna lived through a lot of hard times, such as the summer of 1936. Albert had bought his first hybrid seed corn, $8.00 for two bushels.
It looked like a picture-perfect field, beautiful purple tassels, two ears on every stalk. The 4th of July arrived and with it came scorching temperatures of 112°. It burned everything in sight. Not a thing was saved, not even the garden. Somehow they made it through and had some very good years after that. Albert farmed with horses until Urban was at least 18. Then he bought a used 1936 John Deere GP for $500 and put a new block and pistons in it for $40. (He still had that tractor when he retired and sold it at the sale!) In 1942 Albert bought a new John Deere B Tractor. 1946 was a good year, the war was over and most towns held a raffle to give away a car. Albert was the lucky winner. Albert finally bought his own farm four miles south of Schaller, 160 acres for $310 an acre. He was 55. In 1962 he retired and moved to town, Schaller.
Anna and Albert celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary in 1967. Anna wanted the celebration because she feared that Albert would not live to their 50th. (Albert's health worried her). It was Anna who would not make it to their 50th anniversary. She suffered two strokes and passed away on July 15, 1971. Albert fondly remembers her as a good cook, housekeeper and a wonderful dance partner.
Albert continued to live in Schaller, driving to Storm Lake, daily to dine at Ken-A-Bob restaurant. In 1992 he moved to Hartley to live with his daughter Alberta and her husband Gerald Dahnke.
Albert's children are: Alberta and her husband Gerald Dahnke, Hartley, Ann and her husband Frank Ocken, Omaha, Neb., Mary and her husband Robert Kautzky, Perry and son Florian, Mount Vernon, South Dakota; a sister Esther Lansink, Ida Grove; his 46 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. Albert had one step great-grandchild, four foster great grandchildren, four step great-great grandchildren and 11 foster great-great grandchildren.
Albert was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, his son Urban, his daughter Georgia Zentz-Schiedecker, two great grandchildren, brothers Raymond and Leonard, and sisters: Caroline Carrie, Frances and Margaret.