Sunday, July 7, 2013

1913 Fourth of July Sutton Travel News

While working on the newspaper column this Sutton News section in the Harvard Courier for July 12, 1913 caught my eye. People were mobile 100 years ago due largely to dependable and reliable passenger rail service.


Several of these trips were probably tied to the Fourth of July, but still...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sutton's mid-20th Century Health Care System


Three Memorable Gentlemen

I’m addressing a certain group of Sutton folks here who grew up over a specific period of time. You’ll know soon enough who you are.

Now, by show of hands, who had Dr. Pope for a dentist? Who was a dental patient of Dr. Ochsner? Who was ever treated by Dr. Nuss? Better yet, did Doc Nuss deliver you? Or your parents? Your kids?

Beulah and Doc Ochsner
Personally, Dr. Ochsner was the only dentist to auger in my mouth before my first permanent assignment in the Air Force. Dr. Nuss was my only doctor not counting Dr. Foote in Hastings yanking my tonsils when I was five. And yes, Doc Nuss delivered my early one morning after a night he still recalled many years later.

These three gentlemen constituted Sutton’s health care system for quite some time. And to a great extent, they were three of a kind.

All six of their parents, William and Katherina Popp, John and Margareta Ochsner and Christian Jr. and Hannah Nuss were born in Russia. All three fathers were farmers near Sutton. All three were younger children in the family, two extremely so. Herman Victor Nuss was the fourth of six children; David J. Pope was fourteenth of fourteen; and Herbert Ochsner was ninth of nine. Mrs. Popp and Mrs. Ochsner had both lost a child by 1900.

Heck, darn, even their last name initials are sequential letters.

The three were born locally in a ten year span, left for medical or dental school, returned to practice nearly all their professional lives here and all are buried in the Sutton Cemetery. How common was that?

We’ll start with the oldest; David J. Popp was born April 14, 1895 to Katherina and William (Wilhelm) Popp the youngest of 14 children, of which 13 lived. Wilhelm and Katherina immigrated from Russia taking the German ship Suevia from Hamburg to New York via La Havre, France. Only their oldest son Georg were with them when they arrived in New York on July 18, 1877, fourteen days out from Hamburg.

With them on the Suevia were several of their extended family: Heinrich and Catherina Giebelhaus, Wilhelm and Catherina Brehm, Conrad and Catherina Brehm and Conrad and Catherina Pop, all headed to Sutton. Dr. Pope’s parents were listed as Wilhelm and Catherina Pop on the passenger list for the Suevia.

O.K., two things. First, note the spellings: Pop, Popp and Pope. Pop appears only on the ship’s manifest; don’t worry about it. Popp was the proper German spelling of the name. According to family legend, an early teacher told the Popp kids that if they pronounced their name that way, the proper English spelling would be Pope (the long vowel preceding a silent “e” thing). The kids adopted that spelling and in his will Pop (as in Dad) indicated he was all right with that spelling.

Secondly, did you notice any pattern in the wives’ names in that group? Catherina’s all. Why would that be? If you have any Germans from Russia heritage in your background and can’t come up with a good explanation, we need to talk. The answer is part of who you are.

The Popp family farm was the extreme southeast quarter in Sutton Township appearing in the 1886 plat maps in the same section as farms belonging to Conrad Popp, Conrad Brehm and L. Brehm. Nine children were still at home in 1900 ranging from age 19 to 5 year old David.

David registered for the World War I draft on June 17th 1917. He was a student in the Lincoln Dental College but listed himself as a private with three years in the Nebraska “malitia” then preparing for the Dental Reserve Corps. The 1920 census found Dr. D. J. Pope back in Sutton with wife Lydia and four-month old Maxine. Suzanne and Olive would follow, the three being ’37, ’41 and ’42 Sutton High grads.

Dr. Pope appeared in the list of 1921 Sutton businesses in the History of Hamilton and Clay Counties book by Burr & Buck. He bridges a time when the first of Sutton’s medical men were still around and the later time we are heading toward. Joining Dr. Pope were such fellows as Dr. D. W. Dulaigh, a dentist; Griess & Griess, dentists; Dr. Jesse L. Hull, an older physician; H. W. Kellogg, early chiropractor; Dr. J. W. Thompson, physician and Dr. M. P. Yokum, dentist. Those numbers were not sustainable.

One-year old Herbert Ochsner appearing in the 1900 census as the youngest son of John P. and Margareta Ochsner, both 1874 immigrants as young teenagers. Mrs. Ochsner would have one more son in 1902.

John Ochsner’s farm was in east part of Lincoln Township, later renamed Eldorado.

I did not find Herbert Ochsner in the ’20 census. He was 21 at the time, likely in college or dental school in a boarding house or apartment – a challenge to locate but in 1930 Doc and Beulah were residing on Cedar Street, he proclaiming his parents birthplace as Odessa, Russia, she listed as a school teacher.

By 1940 they’d been joined by Shirley and Janet, ’51 and ’56 local grads. Doc was 40, Beulah was 35 with many, many more years to come.

Doc Nuss was the youngest of these fellows born on August 22, 1905 one of six of Christian Nuss Jr. and Hannah; she also indicated a child lost before the 1900 census.

Dr. H. V. Nuss, long time Sutton physician, sole doctor for much of the time.
Christian Nuss Sr. and his wife “Margr” (as indicated on the passenger list) arrived in New York on June 17, 1875 with two kids, Christian Jr., Doc’s dad and a daughter also listed as “Margr.” They came on the Suevia, the same ship the Popp family would take two years later. Listed with them were an “Adam Trautman” age 16 and another Nuss family, Ana and Magdal with seven more including another Margr, probably a sister and kids down to 11 months of age. A New York Times article noted that the Suevia carried 79 cabin and 491 steerage passengers on that voyage.
The Nuss farm was in western School Creek Township not far from the Ochsners. Herman was a doctor in an Omaha hospital in the 1930 census (listed as Herman Nus) living in an apartment on Howard Street with wife Mildred and one-month old son Richard.      

Janet, Sutton class of ’50 and Victoria, ’54 would arrive by 1940 when the good doctor had returned to Sutton.

Everyone I spoke with about this article had great things to say about Dr. Nuss, his skills and his importance to our town. He probably delivered about 2 ½ generations of us. I mentioned earlier that he remembered the night I was born. Three of us Sutton babies were born that night, Bob Mohnike, Wanda Hornbacher and me. Mrs. Hornbacher was at home here in Sutton. Mrs. Mohnike and my mother were in the hospital in Hastings. All three were dragging out the process that night. Doc Nuss would lean back, squint a bit and tell of driving back and forth checking progress from evening until well after midnight. Finally in Hastings, Bob was born. I wasn’t ready so drove back to Sutton, again. Doc drove. Doc drove like a bat out… you get the idea. Wanda arrived. Then back to Hastings where I checked in at 5:15 AM.

Doc had lots of stories like that but he delighted in telling me that story in a manner that to this day kind of makes me feel responsible for his lost night.

Dr. H.V. Nuss nursed the image of an old-school country doctor. But I can picture him in a spare moment deep into the latest journals and technical publications staying at the top of the field for us.

So what have we done here? A few things. We’ve pointed out the similarities between the three fellows who constituted the health care system for Sutton for several years: second generation Germans from Russia, local farm kids, went off to study and came back to their home town to work their chosen profession.

These are not definitive biographies but I’d like to see them start a conversation. We invite you to add your memories and stories of these three gentlemen and to comment on any material on the blog. That’s how these systems work best.

We did not find a good picture of Dr. Pope but did find a photo of the freshman class in the 1912 annual. Let's have some fun...

Sutton High School Freshman Class in 1912, the class of '15. Dr. David Pope is in this picture - anyone see him?

There were 28 in the 1912 Freshman Class and the school annual kindly printed their names, even if the order does not appear to have anything to do with  the accompanying photo.



So, there you have it. Your quiz for the day. Good Luck and fill in your guesses in the comment section.

1963 Sutton Picnic in Long Beach, California


Sutton ex-pats living in Southern California used to have an annual picnic in Long Beach - I think it was always in Long Beach. Does anyone still do that???

The 1963 picnic was held on Sunday, June 23rd and a story appeared in the Clay County News in the July 4th issue. Ralph Ochsner of Long Beach sent the pictures and information back to Sutton. Ralph was the official promoter of the event.

The Official Group Photo from the Sutton Picnic held in Long Beach, California on June 23, 1963.
 Among those in attendance were the Yosts from Chula Vista, Lt. Alex Leitner, Bob Figi, Jr. from San Diego and Armin Stover from Bakersfield. My guess for Bob Figi, Jr. is the fellow kneeling behind two seated fellows just to the left of Mr. Griess in the chair in the center.

Does anyone recognize any of these folks? We're waiting to hear from you - comments welcome below.

A few of the guests were honored with a special photo.

Standing from left to right: Marie Griess Mettler, Ralph Ochsner, John Reger, Homer Gray (84), Mrs. Ed Ochsner and Mrs. Wesley Sanburg. The gentleman seated in the front was Billy Griess, the oldest person present at age 88.
Homer Gray in this second photo was the son of John and Emma Gray who was raised in the original home at 311 N. Way Avenue, now part of the Sutton Museum.







Gray Family Documentation for Sons of the American Revolution

Women who can trace their ancestry to someone who contributed to the creation of the United States of America by participating in the Revolutionary War are eligible to become members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.)

Men have a similar organization, The National Society, Sons of the American Revolution and their documentation is more readily available.

The images below are from the application of a member of Sutton's pioneer Gray family when he applied for membership in the sons of the revolutionary war organization. The images are not perfectly legible and the important text is repeated below:


The application was made by Thomas Gray Marsh of Oklahoma in 1970. Mr. Marsh identified himself as the son of Catherine Gray Marsh who was born in Sutton in 1906. Her father, Thomas Marsh's grandfather, was Homer W. Gray who was born in 1876 also in Sutton. Homer W.'s parents were John and Emma Gray who built the two houses that are in use as today's Sutton Museum. John Gray and his father, Col. Hosea, Wilson Gray were among the very first settlers in Sutton in 1871. Col. Gray was a veteran of the Civil War.

Each of these listings of the ancestral line in Thomas Gray Marsh's application lists the names of the spouses and the dates and places of their births, marriages and deaths making these applications valuable documents for family historians and genealogists.

Col. Gray's parents were Silas Gray and Omira Wilson who came from New York and Vermont. Silas was born in 1792 and his father was James Gray, born August 3, 1759 in New Boston, New Hampshire. James Gray is the Revolutionary War veteran who established the justification for all of his descendants to qualify for membership in the D. A. R. and the Sons organizations.

The application needs to establish the lineage of the applicant to someone who participated and it needs to describe that participation.

This second document is the next page of Mr. Marsh's application.


On this page, Mr. Marsh described what he knew about his ancestor's contribution to the cause of the founding of the United States. He listed three items.

Guarded Major Andre and witnessed his execution
Engaged in a number of battles
Served under Captain Bailey and Captain Hanley and also served under Col. Henry Jackson: State of Massachusetts.

The third item is probably the most important and those who try to verify the application have access to the rolls of the units that served in the war, especially the formal units formed by states. The incident about "Major Andre" may have been useful - it is probably a known story. The line about having been in a "number of battles" probably wasn't helpful. A list of battles would have been nice but clearly, Mr. Marsh and the Gray family didn't know specifics.

The criteria for membership in these organizations is not as strict as you might expect. The ancestor did not have to wear a uniform in an organized army unit. "Contributing" to the war effort includes merchants who sold goods to the army or donated funds to support units or supported the cause in other ways.

The next information on the page reference pension documents for James Gray and a D. A. R. document to further support Mr. Marsh's claim.

At the bottom is a place for the classic genealogical proofs: birth records, marriage records, death certificates  family bibles or other documents that support the facts and dates listed in the application. Since the application was completed in 1970 vast amounts of this kind of documentation has become readily available online and is used by family historians and genealogists to complete similar documents on individuals and families. A member of the Gray family filling out their own application today would be able to provide much more information and much better references for that information.



A Look at Edgar in 1888

The July 8, 1938  issue of the Edgar Weekly Times ran this story describing the news in an issue of The Edgar Weekly Times from May 25, 1888. This is a pretty good snapshot of several aspects of life in Edgar 125 years ago...







The 1888 paper was a special edition with extra advertising and photos of the town. If you are looking for information about businesses in a town, the Christmas and New Years issues always have ads from almost everyone in town.






There were photos of several homes, probably among the more prominent residents at the time.













Here was some information about early settlers. The Isham family shows up in many stories of early Edgar.





















This special issue gives a good inventory of the businesses in Edgar in 1888. It would have probably been bad form not to have advertised in this issue of the local paper.


















And we learn who ran this paper in 1888.