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 Cradle Days In York County
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ASKED LITTLE BUT GAVE MUCH
By Mrs. Anna Ratzlaff [Retzlaff]

Moral courage through this life is our best asset for a clean, straight-forward course. Physical courage gives us power to travel over the road. Then for most of us love changes our course and we are led by love to follow a course molded by the planning of more than our own desires and understanding.

So it was with Ernst Stache and Follina Smith. They met for the first time in a church in Lincoln, Ernst sharing half interest in a business place in Lincoln and Follina helping to care for the invalid wife of the first chancellor of the University of Nebraska and her family. Father Time had pursued his course and the two decided to travel the course of life together. Follina said: "I've savings; let's buy a little cottage" (located where the Miller and Paine store now stands). But Ernst said; "The water around York is so good, the land is level. I'd like to take a homestead there" – and so they did.

Follina was courageous in mind, spirit and body, and so was Ernst. Carrying on with willing hands, they were always cheerful in their lot, although the physical endurance of their family kept doctors quite busy. They always knew how to put the machinery together to keep the family going ahead.

Many were the hardships they endured on the homestead, Ernst having a harness shop in York and Follina on the land seven miles southwest of York. Indians came into the house and, unaccompanied, Follina answered their calls: "Gimme bread! Gimme eggs!" She did not hesitate handing them their demands. Ernst traveled back and forth, riding a white horse. One Saturday evening on arriving at the homestead he missed his leather money bag. He arose early Sunday morning, searched along the beaten path across the field, and found it close to York in the path just as he turned to cross the field.

Another evening as he was about to descend a hill. Looking ahead he saw two men on either side of the road in a draw. Carrying a gun with him to pick up wild game, he was prepared to handle the situation. He fired his gun and the men fled. Although Ernst knew who the men were, he never told on them. Neighborly, we'll have to say, and his neighbors – well, vice versa.

One night Ernest rode home through a downpour. He could not see the course and lost his way. Follina's sod house roof was leaking all over. She thought Ernst would probably be coming home and knew it was pitch dark outside. So she perched herself on the table and hoisted an umbrella to hold over the lighted lamp held close to the window. Ernst said her light led him safe to their love nest.

Snakes, snakes, snakes – everywhere snakes! That was Follina's dread of the homestead. She had been brought up in town and so had Ernst, and they had lots to learn. One hot summer day Follina cooled the pig with buckets of cold water from the well, only to have the pig die. Wind blew the roof from their barn and the two labored together to replace it.

After living on the homestead for two years they moved to York. Many pleasant reminisciences of the homestead were told. Turkeys thrived and they had turkeys to give away. Ernst liked to whistle, imitating all the wild birds perfectly. He was observant of the wild flowers and, in after years, to get close to nature he took his children down the homestead road and always had plenty of interesting stories to tell them.

Possessing wisdom, gained through experience, they knew how to sympathize with their neighbors. Courageous love shone forth to their fellow men. Many were the early settlers coming on a midnight train having loved ones in the hospital, or while serving on the jury, who took refuge over night under their roof. They knew they would always find welcome faces to meet them at the door.

In childhood they were taught that all churches are working for the One Spirit. So they were friendly to all Christian institutions. "By their works ye shall know them." They served the people with heart and hand, soul and mind, until they answered the call to follow the course that leads to everlasting life and peace and to be with Him they loved so well.

Thayer, February 4, 1937.


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