In 1885 my grandparents, the Jacob Strobel Sr. and the Christian Dobler families came to America from Russia and settled in Scotland, South Dakota. Each family had 8 children and they worked mostly on farms. The Jacob Strobel Sr. family consisted of Katherine (Haas), Christina (Gramm), Gottliebena (Lukas), Christian, Jacob (my father), John, Gottlieb, and Carolina (Baltzer). The Christian Dobler family consisted of Dora (Strobel), Christina (Knodel), Katherine (my mother) Strobel, John, Theresa (Leupp) Christian, Mary (Stahlecker) and Leopold.
In 1890, after the Rock Island R.R. was built through Kit Carson County and homesteads were available, a number of families loaded their meager belongings, livestock and furniture in railroad cars and arrived in St. Francis, Kansas. From there they loaded wagons and came to the vicinity of Yale Post Office (later Sam Schaals farm) about 14 miles north of Burlington. It was known as the Russian-German settlement. My father, Jacob Strobel Jr. homesteaded S.E. 1/4 14-745 but never took out the patent or proof of it. Grandfather Strobel Sr. homesteaded just north of our Dad. Because of the drought, grasshoppers, etc. it was hard to make a living so many including Dad went to Denver to work on a dairy farm and sent his wages of $25 per month home for the others to live on. This was in 1891. Later be worked in a silver ore smelter for $2.50 per 12 hour shift.
In 1893 Jacob Strobel married Katherine Dobler and built a house about 16'x 26' with sandstone, sod roof and wall to wall mud floor. My mother would go over the floor once a month or so with a thin mixture of yellow clay and wheat chaff which made the floor real hard. They put -down a well but no windmill so had to draw water by windlass. (160' deep and the bucket held 7 gallons). This took a long time to water 10 or more: cows and horses.
Theodore their first child was born in 1893. In 1866 Emma Strobel was born and married Jake Schaal in 1921. I, John Strobel was born in 1899 and married Margaret Weisshaar in 1927. In 1904 Albert was born and married Lena Ziegler in 1931. In 1908, when Emil Strobel was born, there was a big snow storm with about 2 feet of snow and no help could get through so my Dad was the midwife with help from our 12 year old sister Emma. Emil married Anna Ziegler in 1933.
My first recollections were in 1903 when Jacob Strobel Sr. (my grandfather) would go to Burlington with eggs and butter in exchange for groceries in a 1 horse-top buggy and usually brought us each a small piece of candy which we eagerly awaited. We had a large lake just south of our farm. John and Bill Wahl who lived 1 mile southwest and farmed ground north of us would haul their feed past the lake. One would get off the wagon and we would see a big black cloud of smoke because they used black powder. Then there was a big bang and thousands of ducks would rise. That was the time of Ducks Unlimited! In 1906 John Wahl was killed by lightning. Bill Wahl married Katy Adolf (A.W. Adolf's sister).
In 1904 Dad added another room and wooden floors in all the house. Later that same year, we, Mother, Albert and I, went by train to Denver to visit Mother's brother Chris Dobler, wife Sophie and son Art. Enough money was had by then to buy a new 2 seater spring-buggy and a new DeLavel cream separator.
In 1906 because there was not enough land to farm and pasture on 160 acres, our Dad homesteaded a quarter (S.E. 1/4 7-7-45) about 5 miles northwest of our farm with open range to the Republican River. There were problems with loco weed and the cattle and horses would eat it and become almost worthless. A week before Christmas in 1906 we moved to the new homestead and in 1907 built a new 24 x 50 adobe barn which is still used today by my nephew Leland Strobel and wife Lee. It was a dry year in 1908 and Dad cut about 35 loads of russian thistles for feed. Other feed should have been mixed with it but there was little to be had. Until 1912 we had only implements of a walking plow, lister, harrow and cultivator. We used a threshstone which was cut out of rock and had a corrugated surface about 3'wide and 22" high. This was pulled by 2 horses over a circle of grain on the ground. All the wheat, millet and beans etc. were threshed in this manner. Dad would then winow it in the evening wind to separate the chaff from the grain.
In 1912 we bought our first-John Deere gang plow for $55, a McCormick 5'mower for $45 and McCormick rake for $37. Plowed about 35 acres for fall wheat and sowed about 30 acres of wheat between corn' rows with a 1-horse drill. So in 1913 we had our first good wheat crop getting about 1500 bushels. Ernest and Carl Fisher threshed it for us. The price of wheat was 70 cents a bu. but with the European War, the price later went up over $3 a bushel. Then the government pegged the price at $1.90 for a number of years. Dad bought a new Ford for $545 in 1915. It had electric lights which were run by a flywheel generator so when you came to corners or slowed down you had to race the motor to be able to see. The dash and tail-lights were kerosene which you had to light with a match when it got dark. My first ride in an auto, however, was in 1909 in an International with solid rubber tired buggy wheels and goggles had to be put on because there was no windshield and we were going the amazing speed of 15 m.p.h.
In 1914, my brother Theodore went to Redfield College in South Dakota to study for the ministry. In the fall of 1922 I bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle and went to California to visit relatives. West of the Rockies there were no roads, only ruts and old railroad beds. In Salt Lake I found that roads were still worse going west so I crated my motorcycle and shipped it ahead to Lodi and I continued on by train. I did construction work for 4 years returning home each summer except I for the harvest. During the fall of 1923 Christian Dobler (my grandfather) was killed by a bull while bringing home the milk cows. I returned to Colorado in 1926 and built a small house and other buildings and in December 1927 married Margaret Weisshaar (daughter of Joseph and Margaret (Schaal) Weisshaar).
In 1928 my cousin Emil Strobel from Lodi and I decided to have a carload of fine Calif. grapes shipped by rail in an iced car to Colo. to sell at the county fair. However, they got delayed and didn't arrive until a week after when folks had bought most of their supply. The cost of this adventure was $1565. The ice got low so had to buy more and after a week only sold half. We sent the car back to Denver where a fruit dealer bought them all. Our getrich scheme got us enough to pay for the grapes, freight and an extra $100 for Emil. I got enough for the gas going back and forth. No money maker after all but a good experience. "Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only more intelligently." Then followed the 1929 crash, depression years and the dust storms. In 1934 the government destroyed 12 of our cattle because of the lack of feed. For this we were paid $174.
In 1936 our only child Esther was born and left for Calif. again with my parents Jacob and Katherine Strobel but then returned within a week because of the death of my sister Emma Schaal who died in a fire. We returned once more to Calif. and built a house trailer and I worked for a construction co. We always had our house with us when we traveled. We built our present home in 1941. From our hillside we can see the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. I worked 30 years in construction which took us all around California, Nevada and Hawaii. In 1969 we went to Europe for three months to visit all the relatives on both sides who did not venture to America. In 1956 our daughter Esther was married to Stanley Wethern and they have 4 children, Stephen (married to Jeannine Zukoski), James, Karen and Kathy. I have been retired about 20 years and Margaret and I come back to the old farm and community whenever possible.
As I celebrate my 87th birthday today, I think of the wonderful miracles and inventions that have been developed in my lifetime from horsepower to space travel. We live in the present, we dream of the future and we learn truths from the past for in youth we learn and in age we understand.