Merlin's Memories
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                            Merlinís Memories

                 An Interview by L. J. Ehrlich

                      Mesa, AZ.  March 1996

 

              About Merlin

 

            Merlin Laubhan.  Born of parents: TR and Theresa  on June 20th, 1916. Born out on the farm 3 miles west of Follett.  Uncle Alec went to Ivanhoe to get Dr. Markley.  He didnít make it in time.  When they got to the house, I was already born.  Aunt Leah, Carl Laubhanís wife was the mid-wife.  My birth certificate showed no problem with the birth.  Aunt Leah was in her twenties.  Mother was about 21.  Leah was already married to Carl.

 

About Early Times

           

            The earliest thing I can remember after I was born was that we lived in a little house.  There were 2 rooms on the bottom and 1 room on top.  My mother had a sewing machine that was enclosed like a cabinet.  When I was about 3 years old I hid in that cabinet.  I was hiding from her and I went to sleep.  She liked to went nuts looking for me for about 30 minutes. Her screams woke me up.

            The next thing I remember,  Dad farmed there.  He had an old type drill.  Every year when he would get through drilling he would have to clean those tubes where the grain would fall through.  I was about 4 or 5 and I stuck my finger in there and it about cut it off.  We had an old Hudson and he took me to Dr. Markley.  I remember that Hudson.  It was black (everything was black in those days.)

             Dad had a truck.  It had solid rubber tires on it.  It had a chain drive.  Thatís what drove it.  It was an 1918 truck.  When I remembered it , it was in the early 20ís.  It was a used truck and it was green.  Dad bought it used.  He never bought anything new.

 

About Ouida

 

            I can remember when Ouida was born.  She was not born on the home place but at   what we now call the Bender place.  That was another mile west and just a little bit north.  She was born March 24, 1923.  She married Harvey Hoeppner.  They had 4 children, Paula, Rama, Harvey & Christine. 

 

About Zeta

 

            Zeta was born in Follett in 1925.  She was born in the same house that Ouida was born in. That house is gone now.

 

About Shirley

 

            When my mother was pregnant for Shirley, I was on my way to college in 1934 in Austin , Texas.  What is funny is that I left in September to go to college and Shirley was born in October and I didnít even know my mother was pregnant.  They must have kept things a secret in those days - or she wore a corset or something.

             Dad called me in Austin and told me we had a new baby sister.  I was floored!  I said that I didnít even know that Mom was pregnant.  Yep, he said. We named her Shirley Theresa.  She was born in Shattuck.

 

About School, 1923

 

            I started in school in Follett at the age of 7. That was the time that Grandma and Mina had the Texas tea room. I stayed with them to get to school.  Mom and Dad had the farm and they couldnít get me to school. They didnít have the right transportation  for me and I was too young to ride a horse.  I stayed with them for about 2 years.  On weekends Mom and Dad would come and get me to take me home and bring me back on Monday mornings.  They practiced the Seventh Day Adventist Faith at that time.  On Friday evenings we had to be home by sun-down.

            My teacher in the first grade was Audie Smith.  Dr. Joe Smithís wife. His dad was the deputy sheriff  in Follett.  That was Chubby Smithís grandpa.  When I started school I was older than the other kids.  So I was allowed to skip the second grade.  I went from first grade to third grade.  I got to ride the horse to school - 4 miles west.

            School buses came into being in 1937.  Laubhan Motor Company sold the school  system their first school busses.  They were green. I and Don Travis went up to Ohio to pick them up. 

                       

About School Activities

 

            When I went to school I got there in the morning in time for class.  Had to take my horse down to the livery barn and tie him up.  Take the saddle off and go off to school.  Took my own lunch.  When it got time to leave Iíd get my horse and get on home.  By that time it was dark. especially in the Winter time.  I missed quite a few days because of the winter.  I did get to play some football in the 7th or 8th grade.  I only weighed about 105 pounds.  I wasnít very big. 

            I did some track.  Follett Panthers played some of the big teams - like Amarillo and Tampa.  Where the new school building is now is what our play ground was. 

            I got whipped at school. I talked a lot in school.  Miss Audie took me out the back.  She made a circle in the ground about 5 feet in diameter.  She filled it with several rocks.  She made me pick up each rock individually and put them in a certain place.  Then I had to put them back in the circle.  She made me do that about 5 times, then she let me go.  I was about in the 33 rd grade.   They whipped kids sometimes.

 

Carl Laubhan  Around 1918

 

            Carl and Leah had a meat market in Follett.  When he quit that he went into the nursery business north of town.  He paid us kids to pick strawberries.  We ate more than we picked so keep us from eating the strawberries he gave us gum to chew while we picked.  He raised tomatoes and a lot of stuff.  That  became his thing.  He died while he was still in the nursery business north of Shattuck, OK.

 

About Alex Laubhan

 

            He was a cowboy from the word ďgoĒ.  He got married before Dad did.  He moved down south and did some ranching there.  His name was Alexander George, born 1890 in Russia.   He married Louisa Ehrlich in 1911.  He and Carl married sisters.  Leah had a twin sister Rachel.

 

About Herman Laubhan

 

            Herman got married about two years after TR did.  He married Momís sister. He was born in Lehigh in 1896.  Mary was born in 1896 in Russia.  They had two sons, Thurman Gex and Milton.

 

About Jonah Laubhan

 

            Jonah was the youngest son.  He was born in 1900 in Lehigh.  My folks had a store in town.  Lots of times I would stay with Uncle Jonah and Aunt Martha on weekends.

            Jonah and I really got along.  His wife was Martha Jane.  She was  a twin to Lydia Matlock.  George Ehrlich went over to Russia to pick the twins up and Amelia.  The parents were to come later.  They couldnít because of the war outbreak.

 

About Tillie Laubhan

 

            Tillie was born in 1904 in Indian Territory.  She married Asaph in 1923.

            Tillie and Asaph were in some business when I knew them pretty well.  They had a General Merchandise Store in that building that my Dad had.  He and Ezra worked together.  The building weíre talking about on Main Street is the same as that Beauty Shop, Hair Fantastic, thatís there now.  Kinda down there where Lively's were. 

            Dad built that in 1919 and stocked it with merchandise. Priced everything that went to pot.  He went broke.  He didnít take bankruptcy.  They didnít know about bankruptcy in those days. He went completely broke.  The White House Lumber Co. repossessed that building.  So they moved back on the farm into a grainery.  We lived in a grainery  I can remember that well. 

            He was on the farm for about 3 or 4 years before he moved back and bought that building back again.  It was under $2000 that he owed on it.  He went into threshing.  He started threshing wheat for people.  He went to them.  He had a big crew  20 to 30 people. 

            When he was in Texas, broom corn was the big thing.  He bought a broom corn baler from a guy in Shattuck on time.  Dad  couldnít pay him right off and promised to pay him in about a year.  The guy in Shattuck just let him take it and pay him as soon as he can.

            Dad didnít go back into the grocery  business again when he bought back that building.  He started handling Essex cars.  He got in 4 of them.  They were not a good car.  Then he took on Pontiac .  He couldnít get enough cars..  He couldnít get them in.  He took on Chrysler products.  Heíd  stock 1 or 2 or 3. Heíd have to go to Amarillo to pick up more of them.  It was 200 miles to Amarillo then.  That was until about 1927.  Then he got the Chevrolet Dealership.

 

About the Chrysler Convertible and the Big Fight

            The fight at Hermanís only lasted about 3 or 4 minutes.  TR never had a fight in his life.  I was there in the restaurant.

 

Theresaís Ancestry Notes   As Given to Merlin Prior to her Death.

 

            My maternal grandfather, John George Ehrlich was born in Russia in 1850 on the East side of the Volga River.  He had two brothers and maybe two sisters.  His father, (Gottleib)  died at the age of 35 and his mother (Katherina Sophia Resig) never remarried because if she had remarried all the children would have inherited all the assets and the estate would have been broken up. She became the manager of all the holdings of the estate.

            She was seen every day on her horse and buggy looking at her land.  The family was well to do. She directed the building of dams and canals. She built flour mills for the three brothers.  They were all on their own.  They had their own tailors, own blacksmiths, own orchards, etc.  They were self-sustaining.   Grandpa, John George, had to go to the Army.  He was in there for 6 years.      He had a younger brother than him that came to the United States back in 1875 or so.  He came over to look it over.  But then he wanted to stay.  John George came to the United States to find his younger brother to get him to go back to Russia.   When  John George went back to Russia, he just couldnít forget America.  That was around Marion, Kansas. 

            John George Ehrlich was married twice.  They called that place the Visilia.  Con in Canada had a painting he did of the Visilia.  This was in Russia.  Con was  John Georgeís first son by his first wife, Mary Gross.  She was born in 1855 and they had 3 children together:  Rosa, which married a Schick, Amelia which married a Kellen and Con married Eva Hilderman.                   

            After his first wife died he married Katherine Wunder.  Their first  child was Theresa in 1894.  She was born in Russia. Then Mary in 1896.  Asaph was born in 1898.  When Asaph was born, Grandpa knew his first son (Con)  would be conscripted into the Army for 6 years and he didnít want that to happen.  Thatís when he decided to come to the United States.  He knew he was going to like it here. 

            So he left Russia.  When Asaph was born, John George walked to Saratov and applied for a visa to the United States.  They didnít want to leave their home because of their vast holdings.  He sold his part of  the  livestock and personal belongings to his brothers.  Mom wasnít really sure.  They didnít take many clothes with them when they came into the United States. John George said that  weíre going to go to America and become Americans. 

            When they came across on the ship, they brought Conís violin.  Asaph ended up with it.  Their  ultimate destination was Marion, Kansas.  They left Russia as quickly as they could.  The year could be 1898 or 1899.  

            After they left Russia they missed the boat at Hamburg.  They had to take a later boat at Liverpool.  They caught a freighter to Montreal, Canada.  Then they went west to Winnipeg by rail.  When they arrived at Winnipeg, the border was closed, quarantined because of smallpox. 

            They stayed in the immigration center at Winnipeg.  But Grandpa was a guy who had to be doing things all the time.  He met a fellow by the name of Britman who was looking for laborers to work in the saw mill at Canora, Ontario.  Mr. Britman helped them settle and get a place to stay. They had chickens and a garden.  Grandpa had a nephew with him.  So Grandpa, Con and the nephew worked at the sawmill for the railroad.  They earned $2 a day. 

            Grandpa wasnít  satisfied working for wages.  He wanted to buy some land.  Mr. Britman told him of some land available in Saskatchewan.  So they took the train to Yorkton.

            He  and Con  went to a place in Ryan where they found some land.  It had an abundance of game because he was an outdoorsman.  He liked to fish and he liked to hunt.  They had partridge, deer, rabbits, moose and all that stuff.

            He arranged  for a farm for himself and one for Con.  He had them close together.  They had the stipulation that they had 2 years to move on it.  There were no roads and the area was fast getting settled by Galatians, Ukrainians, very few Germans.  

            Grandpa liked the rich soil.  He knew he could support his family here.  He came back to Rathportage  full of hope and a glowing  account of the farm he had arranged.  The nephewís name was George Ehrlich.  He was 18 years old. 

            Nephew  George soon got homesick for his aunts and uncles in Kansas.  They bought him a train ticket to Kansas.  George wrote back and told them how nice it was.  There were orchards, gardens, wild game and no snow.  They were homesick to see all their relatives.  So they packed up and went to Marion, Kansas. 

            They never homesteaded there in Kansas.  Word came that there was land opening up in Oklahoma for settlement.  Grandpa was reluctant  to travel again as he still wanted to go to Saskatchewan at Ryan where he made application for that land.  His family did not care for the primitive places in Canada.  They wanted to come to Shattuck where all the other relatives were.

 

In 1901

 

            They came on the train to Oklahoma.  He homesteaded with Con on two 160 acre farms touching each other two miles west  of Shattuck on the south side of Wolf Creek.  Thatís about where Hulda Schoenhals lived.  It was pretty primitive.  The way they got that land:  there was one section that was open.  He and three other guys homesteaded on this.  They split it up in 4 pieces, 1 mile by one quarter mile.  They drew for lots.  He and Con got two, 160 acre farms side by side.     They built  two houses and dug a well.  When they built the houses, they built them so it looked like one house they were that close together.  They built corrals and made gardens.  They needed a milk cow so they heard of a rancher who had one for sale.

They had to live on the land for 5 years to prove it up before they could get a deed for it.  They finally got a milk cow from some guy in Shattuck. He proved out the land.  He took the kids and all went back to Saskatchewan.

When he got back there the land was already proved out.  All kinds of people had moved in there.  So he heard of another place about 100 miles west of there at Yorkton.  So he went back there and then he walked north to where Burgess, Sk. is in that area.  He and Con proved on 2 quarters.  Con was on the south side of the river and Grandpa was on the north side.

            The way they proved it up:  they built them 2 houses that Fall.  They werenít very large, like 12 by 12.  They got them some horses and put them on skids.  After  they proved it up, Grandpa sold his quarter to Con.  He then came back on the north side of the White River and he bought a place about a mile and a half from there.

 

 

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