The early 1800's were very rough for the people of Germany. There were wars and other political events that effected the lives of the common man. Famine came to many parts of the land and the poor and young were among its victims. The land was controlled by the nobility and there was no chance to obtain land to farm and exist.
Catherine the Great of Russia sent out a call for settlers. Many moved to Russia. Life was satisfactory until the Russian government changed the system in 1871. At this time military duty was changed to compulsory service. They lost their rights and were to change their names to conform to Russian forms of spelling. The only solution was to leave. The messages of opportunities in the United States spread. The first immigrants used visas, the others used forged documents. So the German settlers moved again, this time across the ocean to America. Eastern Colorado and many other areas looked like a good place to settle and raise their families on a farm.
Conrad Meyer came to America in 1902 from Russia at the age of thirteen with his older brother George. His mother, stepfather and brothers, Alec and John and sisters Anna and Marie, had come over earlier and settled at Herrington, Kansas. The following year he went with his brothers to Sugar City, Colorado to find work. He later went to Denver and worked for the Rio Grande Western Railroad.
The Willhelm Adolf family also came to America in 1904 from Russia. Margaret, Willhelm's wife, was the midwife for the Settlement area. Their eldest daughter, Margaret, then at age seventeen, stayed with them awhile where they settled north of Bethune, which became known as the Settlement. Later she moved to Denver to find work to help support the family.
Conrad Meyer met Margaret Adolf in Denver during that time and they decided to get married May 7, 1910. They rode the train from Denver to Bethune, then got a horse and buggy from the livery stable. Conrad had dressed light and later commented how he froze going all the way out into the Settlement. They were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church north of Bethune, in the old rock church. In later years it was replaced by a new building. They returned to Denver to live. In 1916 they moved to the farm 9 1/2 miles north of Bethune with their small son William. They had five more children; Reuben, Clord, Norman, Alma and Mabel. Alma died as an infant and William died when he was twenty-three years of age from pneumonia. They made their living on the farm, raising wheat, corn, cattle, hogs, and chickens.
Draft horses were used to pull the machinery and wagons. At wheat harvest time, horses were harnessed up to the header; this machine would cut the wheat with the straw and elevate it up on canvas rollers onto a header barge. When the barge was full one person would fork it down while another person arranged it in a neat stack and rounded the top so the rain would run off when it rained. This was later threshed out by a big threshing machine and crew. The machine separated the wheat and straw; the wheat went into a wagon box. This was pulled by a team of horses then scooped by hand into the granary bins. Later some of it was loaded back into a wagon and hauled to town to be ground into flour. Some was sold and the rest kept for planting in the fall. The flour was brought back home all sacked up to be used for baking bread, etc.
Corn was raised for livestock feed and the rest was sold. The corn was husked by hand, using a hook fastened onto a piece of leather that fit neatly inside the palm of your hand. The ears of the corn were thrown on the wagon, hauled home, and put into corn cribs. Cattle were branded and those to be sold were put into a cattle drive and herded to Bethune to a stockyard, loaded on the train and shipped out to be sold. Hogs that were to be sold were hauled in horse drawn wagons. The money was used to pay taxes, and purchase supplies.
Hay was stacked teepee style to dry. When dry, it was hauled in from the field and stacked to be fed to the livestock during the winter. Gardens supplied vegetables and were canned and stored in cellars. Nothing was wasted. Butchering day was a busy one to cook and fry everything up for storage. Meat was fried and put into crocks. Fat was fried and poured over the meat for storage. This kept the meat from spoiling. Chickens were valuable in a number of ways; Fresh meat and eggs. Eggs that weren't used during the week, were gathered from the storage area called the cellar and sold. Milk was separated and the cream also was sold. Trapping was another source of income for the family. The furs of rabbits, skunks, badgers, raccoons, and other Small animals were sold for supplies. Lye was bought, then mixed with craklins and water. Craklins was the refuse from cooking fat to make lard. This mixture was their soap.
School was located 2 miles south of the Meyer homestead and later was within a mile of the home. Children had chores to do every morning before going to school. Checking the traps, feeding the animals, milking. School lunches consisted of whatever you brought from home to eat. Children didn't go past the grade of eight unless taken to town to school. They were needed at home to help with the work.
Times were hard and you made do with what you had. Neighbors weren't any better off either. Everyone helped each other when the need arose. No pay involved, one day's work for one day's work. We had our good times, too. Sunday afternoons during the summer everyone would go to baseball games. In the winter we would go to the school programs and box socials. The box was auctioned off and the money was used for school supplies. The buyer of the box ate the box lunch with the one that made the lunch.
Home remedies were used for most ailments, and people hardly ever visited a doctor. Chemicals weren't used then. Paris green was mixed with water and sprinkled on potato vines for bugs, and arsenic was mixed with molasses and bran for grasshoppers. This was usually sparingly strung along fence rows, so the livestock couldn't reach it.
Wood was not plentiful; therefore, houses were built out of mud and prairie grass. This is called adobe. The roof was made of lumber. The adobe houses are cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Many are still lived in today. The kitchen stove provided heat as well as cooked the meals. Cow chips and corn cobs were gathered and used for this purpose.
The Meyer family grew up as members of Immanuel Lutheran Church, located two miles from home. Immanuels helped establish Salem Lutheran Church west of St. Francis. Amelia and Clara Beringer grew up a mile from the church on a farm. Their parents were Germans that also immigrated from Russia. Reuben married Amelia Beringer of St. Francis, Kansas. They still live on the farm one mile south of the home he was born and raised in. Clord married Clara Beringer, sister to Amelia. Shortly afterward Clord was inducted into the Army and sent to the South Pacific to fight for the United States during WWII. When discharged, he farmed on the old Bauer place, two miles East of where he was born and raised. After sixteen years, they moved to Bethune. Clara became the Postmaster in 1962. She retired in April 1985. The present Postmaster is Kathy (Adolf) Witzel, Willhelm Adolfs great grand daughter. Norman and his wife, Doris, live on the home place and Mabel lives in Burlington.
Conrad and Margaret celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1960. Conrad died in April, 1974 at age 85. Margaret died in January 1978 at age 90.