Sunday Stories: Fred Vernon Laubner

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Born December 24, 1914 to Leonard (born Oct. 6, 1864, Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio; died Oct. 12, 1925 at Hershey) and Estella (Carrico) (born May 18, 1875, Parsons, Labette County, Kansas; died Mar. 28, 1959 at Denver, Colorado) Laubner, who lived and homesteaded in the NW ¼ Section 24 of the O’Fallons District. Was born on this homestead and attended the O’Fallons School. All of the Laubner offspring have attended the O’Fallons School.

My father, Leonard Laubner, donated the land to start O’Fallons School, and served on the School Board for 20 years or so. I loved the subject of history in school, and my favorite teacher was a lady by the name of Jennie Haist. She taught the intermediate grades: fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth; there were four grades in each room. Two teachers were hired in the High School. I graduated in 1932 at the age of 17 years, and with the honor of Salutatorian. The folks could not afford to send me to college so I could fulfill my dream of attending flight school.

I was on the “Championship Basketball” team in 1932; along with Elmer and Herman Swedberg, Vic Young, Ken Johnson, and Mackey. During the playoffs, we beat the Sutherland and Hershey teams, then went to Ogallala and nearly beat them. We had a helluva good team. I was also on the softball team, and was the only guy who ever knocked a ball up on the roof of Hoatson’s Garage. The ball diamond was where the Firehouse is today in Sutherland. A house was sitting in the location of the Adams Bank building, and McNeel’s Hotel was just south of the bank building.

I’m the youngest of five older brothers and sisters; they are: Oscar, Bertha (Mrs. Willard Ford), Clara (married Ed Lingwall, and later divorced), Andrew who married Bess Carvett, and later divorced, Etta (Mrs. Bernard Crews), and I married Lila F. Forshey, daughter of Alexander and Mary (Rose) Forshey on October 2, 1937. We ran off to Colorado to get married. Ken Johnson and Fern Binegar were witnesses. We were married by a preacher, Lila would not have a Justice of the Peace. Lila and I lived on the “home place” until 1959, and since that time, always in and around the Sutherland area until 1979 when I moved to Hershey, Nebraska.

My mother was a sister to Mrs. John Q. A. Harshfield. Grandparents were Pius Mathis and Julia Carrico, and Andrew and Mary Laubner. The Laubners are buried in Ohio, and the Carricos are buried in Sundance, Wyoming.

My Grandfather Carrico farmed before moving to Nebraska, and upon his arrival to this area, he worked for Sam Dikeman. He lived on the place now owned by Gene and Kay Kramer. He was the one that planted all the trees and built a sod house on that place.

I was born on Christmas Eve Day morning, and had a devil of a time getting a birth certificate. My birth was not recorded, no doctor, just a mid-wife was present. Getting a birth certificate was accomplished in 1940.

My proudest moment was when my son, Tom, was born in the old “Fenner” hospital in North Platte.
I didn’t like to dress up as a kid, wore overalls and sandals to school. When it got cold, I got a pair of ankle high button shoes and I hated those shoes with a passion, so hard to button.

Wintertime activities were playing cards, ice skating on “Fulk’s Pond” located across from where Fischers live at O’Fallons. When the ditch was built, they dug the dirt out to build up the banks of the ditch and the low ground made a good pond on the east side of the railroad tracks to skate. The Dringman girls were really good skaters, along with my sisters.

I’ve always liked guitar and banjo music. Lila played in a band “The Nebraska Ramblers”, starting in the early 1930’s. Once a week the band played on radio station KGNF and on station KODY for about one year. Lila was originally from Gibbon, Nebraska and her father hauled sand and had a truck farm and sold garden vegetables and melons.

Harshfields and Laubners always had family gatherings, Uncle John Harshfield would play the guitar, Alva would play the mouth harp, and most everybody would sing.

We would go out and hunt “chickens” (Prairie Chickens). There used to be a lot of chickens, but now all there is are grouse.

One time, during the war, Harshfields had a barn dance; Nicholsons and Beema Combs played for it; all the money taken in was given to the North Platte Servicemen’s Canteen.

My first job other than farming, I got paid $1.55 an hour and out of the first check, they took $1.53 Social Security. No other deductions. Bad times in my life were during the drought in 1934, when the bottom of prices fell on cattle in 1973, and in October 1979 when I lost Lila to cancer.

I’ve seen a lot of changes, not only in Sutherland, but the whole country. I hope people enjoy reading the various histories being written up for the Sutherland Centennial book.

According to online obituaries, Fred Vernon Laubner passed away on Jun. 1, 1994 at Hershey, Nebraska.


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