Monday, August 5, 2013

Sunday Stories: The Frank Edwin “Ed” and Dora Alice Wever Family

Excerpted from 1891-1991 Sutherland Centennial book.

Dora Alice was born at Moreland, Graham County, Kansas on August 15, 1891. She is the daughter of Albert and Linda (Bryant) House. She had two older sisters, Cora and Rose; and a brother, Albert Roy, 11 years younger. Dora’s father and Grander lived to be 105 years old before passing on. Dora stated that “Paw never did lose his mind, his body just gave up.”


She received her education in a country school near their homestead, ten miles south of Moreland, Kansas, completing the eighth grade. Her parents couldn’t afford to send their children on for further education as the family would have had to move to a larger town for that.

When she was just a small child, the family moved to Oklahoma on the Canadian River where her father did commercial fishing. He would set his nets out in the river and would pull in a catch, dress them, and early in the morning haul them into Oklahoma City, selling the fish there and returning home by nightfall. The family returned to the homestead in Kansas when Dora was three years old.

She was united in marriage in 1910 at Hill City, Kansas, to Frank Edwin “Ed” Wever, at the age of 19.

In the fall of 1911, they came to Nebraska by covered wagon to a homestead in the Sandhills, 15 miles north of Paxton, Nebraska. They built a one-room sod house which was 14 x 18. Dora can remember gathering cow chips to burn as fuel to heat and cook with. The gathered chips were stacked high near the house for availability.

They didn’t go to town much, perhaps once a month. It would take all day to make the trip into Paxton and back home again by wagon and team of horses.

Dora and Ed became the parents of two sons. Francis was born on August 16, 1912 with the help of Mrs. Gordon, a neighbor. Floyd was born 14 years later.

In 1919 after proving up on the homestead, they sold it and moved to the O’Fallons community, with Ed obtaining a job with the Union Pacific Railroad as a water pumper at the pump station located near the O’Fallons Depot. The family lived in an “outfit” car that the UPRR had sat down onto the ground. Dora recalled that there used to be a Depot at O’Fallons to dispatch the trains up the branch line. O’Fallons was located two miles east of Sutherland. The trains would have to stop to cross through the switches located on the main line.

Also located in the same area were two section houses provided for the families that lived and worked there for the railroad. A man by the name of Donally was the depot agent, or dispatcher. At one time there was a woman who had two little girls who worked as the dispatcher for awhile. Jim Killian was the last one to work there. Due to modernization, the depot and employees were no longer needed as the job was handled in North Platte.

The area also had a large beet dump located just west of where the main road turned north. There were quite a few farmers who raised sugar beets in the area at the time. The team and wagons would drive up on a platform and the wagon would be dumped into the railroad cars. There was a lot of baled hay loaded out of the area for points east.

Dora and Ed traveled with the Francis and Floyd to wherever they were performing in rodeos (see next week’s Sunday Stories). She would go with them so she could take care of them in their clothes. The family would put up a tent and live and cook inside of it while on the road. The boys would do their trick riding and roping performances in the summer months and return home for the winter. Using a treadle sewing machine, she made all the boys trick riding suits so they would look nice while performing.

Ed worked for the railroad until he retired in the 1950’s. He died at the age of 72 in February, 1961, and is buried in the North Platte Cemetery.

Dora lived south of the railroad tracks at O’Fallons, where she enjoyed raising a garden, flowers and going for walks in the pasture. She had a garden until she was 92 years of age. She moved to the Sutherland Care Center in 1988.

During her life she did a lot of sewing, making all the family’s clothing, sewing for others also. She remembers doing laundry on the scrub board and ironing with the old flat iron and cooking on wood-burning stoves.

She helped her husband bring in the crops, handpicking a wagon of corn in the morning, go in at noon to unload and go back out in the fields in the afternoon to pick another load. At noon she would have to fix a lunch for the men.

She also did a lot of other field work, plowing and planting grain with a team of horses. Generally they had about three teams of horses on hand to use. When the tractors came onto the place, Ed had hired men to help him out and she didn’t have to go out to the fields to help any more, but she still had to cook for all of them. Ed usually had two or three hired men at one time.

Both of her sons went to school at the O’Fallons School Francis went to the 8th grade and Floyd graduating from high school.

Dora’s advice to live long is good hard work, take life a little slower and stop and smell the roses, notice the world around you.

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