Bio: Barr, Fred Sr. and Mary

Transcriber: stan@wiclarkcountyhistory.org

Surnames: Barr, Christopherson, Zielanis, Olson, Schwarze, Lenherr, Susa, Parkel, Celesnik, Arch, Ozanich, Hatton, Marg, Paulson, Johnson, Hackleberg, Strausman, Celar, Heck

----Source: Family Scrapbook

In 1923 after four years of drought near Ryegate, Montana, and not being able to harvest the hundreds of acres of wheat they had planted with little return, Dad Barr bought a model T touring car and loaded in his six children. Jake stayed in Montana with his Grandma Barr, as she was alone, and he finished eighth grade before joining the rest of us in Wisconsin.


The journey was not an easy one. I recall Dad and Mom telling of a flood washing out a large bridge and part of the road. We, along with two or three other families, stayed in a nearby schoolhouse until we could find a different route, again on our way not knowing where we were to make our new home.


Wisconsin land at that time was very reasonable and after traveling around several days, they landed in Greenwood. I think probably the banker told them there was a farm about four miles south of Greenwood for sale. It would be the Gordon Christopherson place. For some reason the farm didn't quite suit them so they kept going west towards Willard. Land wasn't very well settled at the time and there were a lot of woods and rocks. Nevertheless they bought the home place consisting of 80 acres where son Fred is still living.


After years of hard work, clearing the land with the help of dynamite, horses, a breaking plow and endless labor of picking stone and tilling the soil, more land was bought. We raised a big garden, kept cattle, pigs and horses. In the summer we'd have beans and pickles to pick for the factory. We gathered blueberries and blackberries and in the fall the cellar would be full of barrels of cabbage and apples, bins of potatoes and shelves of canned fruits and vegetables.


The furniture which probably consisted of a stove, table and chairs, beds, dishes and some small machinery, along with a horse named 'Limerick' was shipped by rail coming to La Crosse and later to Willard.


They had a family of seven children: Freddie, age 2; Anna Fae, age 3; Tom, age 6; Jake, age 8; Dave, age 10; Edna, age 12 and Francis, age 14. I'm sure Dad and Mom Barr had a lot of hard years ahead of them; but with good health, a lot of ambition and determination and a lot of help and love from good neighbors it wasn't all that hard.


As years went by, Dave and Dad would haul gravel from a pit south of our place 3 or 4 miles for the roads for an extra income. In the winter cows would produce little milk as few people fed more than roughage hay. They fed very little grain because they didn't have it to feed.


Fire destroyed our home on March 31, 1931 on a cold and windy morning. Dad had gone to the house to get some warm water to feed the calves, and as he was entering the house there was big explosion. He was thrown several feet from the house. He lay unconscious in the Marshfield hospital for 3 days. He received a broken hand and severe internal bruises. Luckily all the children were in the barn helping with chores before going to school. Neighbors were so good, all came to help us get settled in a garage and move the debris so we could rebuild. I remember staying with the Parkels for a few days, Ann made me the cutest cotton dress and undies. Neighbors brought quilts, canned goods, dishes and so many good things. The stores from Willard and Greenwood sent food and dishes.


After the rest were out of school Freddie and I rode a pony often times pulling the other on a pair of skis. The roads at this time had very little traffic, people hauling wood, milk or mail with horses and sled.


Our teacher, Stanley Zielanis, was a good six feet tall, wearing a size 11 shoes. At noon we talked him into going for a ride on the little sled behind the horse, of course. We intended to dump him into a snow bank. He laid down on the sled, stretching his long legs, and after a fast ride, face full of snow, had a good laugh on the boys, their plan didn't work.


Another time Sally Olson, now Sally Schwarze of Greenwood, was our teacher. David went home with the Lenherr boys at noon and Mrs. Lenherr gave Dave a piece of limburger cheese. Not wanting to tell her he didn't like the cheese, he returned to school with it and threw it into the furnace. The aroma was so terrible Sally had to close the school for the day. Another time Dave and Tom went to visit Pete Susa's who lived next door to the school, during noon hour and rode Susa's billy goat, again coming to school with a terrific odor and the teacher sent them home. Of course the boys knew if they'd go home before school was out they'd be punished, so they went to the neighbors and stayed till school was dismissed and returned home with the rest of us. Those were the Good Old Days at West Eaton.


We always had a lot of fun at home as well as plenty to do. We'd make bon-fires to roast corn and potatoes, with the Parkel, Celesnik and Arch families. We went swimming in Black River on hot summer evenings. We would take our truck and load up all the neighbor kids and go to the river. Mom weighed about 170 pounds and could go out and float around in the river — it was fun watching her. Dad made us stilts and a jumping post made from a car spring on a post.


One year Tom and Dave went to the woods to cut a Christmas tree. It was so big they couldn't drag it so they had to get the horse to pull it. As they were going down the road Mr. Davey, the mailman, asked them what they were doing. They didn't want to tell him it was a Christmas tree, so instead they told him that they were going to make some wood for Dad.
We had a bicycle built for two with two sets of handle bars and pedals, but only one could steer. Freddie and I would sit on the handle bars while Dave and Tom pedaled.


We had a dog harness made for our collie dog to pull us on our sleigh. We used that when we went after the mail which was a mile away. We would always find an excuse to go in and visit Mrs. Ozanich or Mrs. Hatton as they'd always have cookies or something to send home with us.


Frances married Paul Marg and they lived in Mondovi and later retired in Eau Claire.


Edna married Leonard Paulson of Spokane Washington.


Jake married Ruth Johnson of Greenwood.


Dave married Selma Hackleberg of Black River Falls and they moved to California.


Tom married Esther Strausman of Eau Claire.


Freddie finished high school and married Bernice Celar of Willard. They took over the home farm.


Anna Fae married Ervin Heck and farms south of Greenwood.


Mother and Dad had a good life. After Freddie bought the home place, they moved to a smaller place south of their place. They took a few long trips back west and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1956. Dad passed away a year later at the age of 81. Mom moved to Greenwood later and enjoyed her little pink house and her many friends and neighbors. She drove her car to visit children until she was 86 years old. At the age of 86 she fractured a femur and was confined to Memorial Home. She passed away in November of 1974 at the age of 91.


I will close now and give the other good people of Willard a chance to express their happiness and sorrow along this pathway of life.


Submitted by: Mrs. Ervin Anna Fae Heck

 

 

 


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