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It Began At A Box Social


Denice Gooselaw

The United States is a very new country still with veryold people in a manner of speaking. Most of the people who now live in thiscountry are descendants from people who came from the Old World. They arethe ones who helped our country become the great nation it is today. Thisis very true for all the people who have lived and are now gone and theolder people who are still alive, but remember those hard times. True, forGertie Hemmes.

Gertie Hemmes, formerly Gertie Myer was born in Alexandria,Iowa. Her parents, George and Tillie Myer came to Iowa from Germany manyyears ago. They lived all of their lives in Franklin County, Iowa. Gertiewas the oldest of six. She had four brothers, George, Ted, Dan, and Samand one sister, Ester, who was the youngest of the six. Since she was theoldest, Gertie had to help quite a bit around the house with the work besidesgoing to school. Many kids do the same today, but the work then was muchharder than it is now. She graduated from school in Iowa and a few yearslater was married.

During the early nineteen hundreds, the ladies held whatwas called Box Socials. This was to raise money for certain functions. Thisis how Gertie met her husband-to-be. Each lady made a box with her nameinside and the boxes were auctioned off. The highest bidder received thebox and ate with the girl whose name was inside. During that time this wasa very romantic way to meet. The box Gertie made was bought by John Hemmes.He was a very handsome young man with many talents. He seemed to have gottenthe right box, for on September 18, 1915, Gertie and John were united inthe bonds of holy matrimony. They were married in St.Vincent at the MethodistParsonage. From there they moved to a farm near Humboldt, Living on a littlefarm with only two people seems very dull, but Gertie was kept very busyevery day of the week. She helped her husband with the chores sometimes.They would deliver eggs to the stores in this area. She would have her daysset aside to do her work in the house. She sewed quite a lot. She even madeher own wedding gown. They lived on this little farm for only a few yearsand then moved to where John Hemmes is living today.

As time went on the happy little couple grew happier whenthey were blessed with four little babies. It was going to be hard to dothe chores because there was only one boy, but they seemed to manage. Theodds seemed to be in the direction of the girls. This was Gertie's chanceto really show her ability in sewing and cooking. As the girls grew, theylearned to do many household things from a very good teacher. The oldestwas the only boy, Wilbert, then the three girls followed respectively, Thelma,Winona, and LaVerne. As the four grew up and left home, the family continuedto grow larger and larger for Gertie and John.

Wilbert married Ester Jurgens, also from Iowa and Gertieand John became the proud grandparents of five children, They are Marilyn,Reggie, Brad, Marshal, and Eileen. Thelma, the oldest daughter, chose nursingas a lifetime career. She is now living in St. Paul and is director andco-ordinator of a nursing school in St. Paul. Winona married Dan Gaetz,a very German, German. Gertie and John again became proud grandparents oftwo grandchildren. They are Patti and Bob. Dan and Winona Gaetz now livein Hallock. LaVerne, the youngest of the four, married a serviceman, E.H. Haire. Three more children were added to the list of grandchildren. Theyare Dennis, Gale, and Ky. E. R. and LaVerne now live in Austin, Texas. Tengrandchildren was a good number and it made Gertie and John very happy.

The little family that started with two grew and grew,but there is an old saying that every good thing must come to an end, andthis was so for Gertie Hemmes. She passed away on January 25, 1960. Shelived a very hard, but very happy life and you can still see this in John,her husband, who lives alone on his farm. When you see him, you see a strongman, who is still a hard worker, but you also see a very gentle, generousperson who loves life in its entirety. When you look at him you wouldn'tthink he was a day over sixty, but on January 21 of this year, he turned81 years old. He lives a good life, but some of the credit must go to hiswife, Gertie, who loved him so much. Sadness always comes with death, butsomeday Gertie and John will be together again in their new home, Heaven.


Hemmes, John. Interview, January 10, 1971.

Hemmes, Wilbert. Interview, January 10, 1971.


Hemmes, Wilbert. Interview, January 10, 1971.