Sunday Stories: James Edwin Hurlburt

James Edwin (Ed) Hurlburt and Minnie Mae Hutches were married in 1892. They lived in and around Westerville, (Custer County) Nebraska the first years of their lives together.

Minnie Mae’s ancestry can be traced as far back as 1403 to Gillis du Castel, Counsellor to Louis, Count of Flanders. He was founder of the Flemish du Castel family. He died in 1403 but his many descendants have multiplied and scattered over the whole earth.

One direct descendant, Captain Edmond du Castel I and his family were the first to immigrate to America. Captain Edmund took the Oath of Allegiance to William Penn on September 10th, 1683.

He married in 1693 and had three children: Samuel, Edmund, and Christian. He became a wealthy merchant in Philadelphia in the business of privateering during Queen Anne’s War in 1707. He was given command of the sloop “Resolution” under letters of the Marque to prey on French and Spanish commerce.

The second generation of Du Castels in America changed the family name to “Casteel”. The family has records of Edmond II of Piscateway Creek, Maryland, born in 1713. Edmond Casteel III who was father to Shadrack Casteel of Bedford County, Pennsylvania; Shadrack’s son, Thomas, who served in the American Revolution under Captain Evan Cessna; Thomas’ son, John, born in 1786 in Pennsylvania; and John’s son, John, born May 15, 1828.

This John moved with his family to Illinois. One of his children was Margaret Matilda Casteel, born 1851. Margaret Matilda married David Hutches, and their daughter, Minnie Mae, born in 1875, married James Edwin (Ed) Hurlburt in 1892.

Ed and Minnie Hurlburt were grandparents of Gordon Reichenberg who lives in Sutherland in the Sutherland Centennial year of 1990-91.

Ed and his twin brother, Sam, were enthusiastic hunters who put food on their families’ tables by hunting wild game. For a time they shipped barrels of pheasants to New York for a fine restaurant to serve to their gourmet clientele.

The twin brothers fiddled for community dances held in barns, schools and homes. Dances held in homes were sometimes called “kitchen sweats”, an accurately descriptive term.

Minnie Mae and Ed’s children were Goldia Angelia, born May 7, 1894; Ruby Luella, born March 1, 1896; Julie Viola, born May 27, 1898; Sylvia Esther May, born April 15, 1900; Fannie Bell, born February 15, 1903; Alanson Edwin, born October 31, 1906; and Pauline Lucille, born in August of 1912.

The family moved from Custer County to Arthur County in 1914. Ed built a frame barn with a hayloft, then sent for his wife and family. They lived temporarily in the barn while Ed was putting up a good sized sod house nearby. The girls slept in the fresh, new loft.

Minnie brought a big amaryllis plant from Custer County and set it by the door of the barn where it would get plenty of sunshine. The whole family was busy from dawn till dark, so no one noticed their gentle old milk cow nibbling on it. It pleased her palate and she finished it off down to stubble.

Minnie was devastated, but salvaged enough of the plant to start it again. To this day in 1990, members of her family have amaryllis plants started from that original one.

Ed played the fiddle and Minnie played the piano. They always had music in their home. After they moved to Arthur County, Ed met other fiddlers and joined a group that played at dances. The little extra money he earned fiddling came in handy and was usually used for special things the family could not otherwise afford.

Ed often took his girls with him to the dances. They all were good dancers and sometimes played piano accompaniment for the fiddlers.

During the flu epidemic in 1918, their oldest daughter’s husband, Bob Moody, died and soon thereafter, their daughter, Ruby Luella, and her newborn baby died. Many other families suffered the loss of loved ones from flu that year.
Hurlburt headstone in the Westerville cemetery
Their daughter Esther May, married Henry Reichenberg; Fannie Bell married August Reichenberg; Julia married Russell Goslin; Edwin married Mary Stokey, and Pauline married Seward Adkins.

After their children were grown and gone, Ed and Minnie sold their Arthur County land and moved to Lewellen, where they lived until Minnie Mae died May 18, 1941. Ed lived another 16 years and spent most ofhis time with his daughter, Fan, in Napa, California. He died April 11, 1957. Ed and Minnie’s daughter, Sylvia Esther May, is the mother of Gordon Reichenberg of Sutherland.

Submitted by Bonnie Crouse Reichenberg


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