Bio: Svegl, Peter & Mary


Surnames: Svegl, Zupanc, Boh, Zupancic, Girc

----Source: Family Scrapbook

My parents, Peter and Mary Svegl, were born in Slovenia which was Austria at that time. They came to America about 1904 and they were married in Kansas City, Kansas in 1906. They lived there for about eleven years. They heard glowing accounts about Willard from my dad's half-sister, Aunt and Uncle Frank Boh.

They bought 80 acres of unimproved land located on a corner of the road between Willard and Greenwood. Our neighbors were Zupancs, across the road, Petersons the opposite corner and Zupancics on the next farm toward Greenwood. I never knew the price they paid, nor who lives there now.

There were five children: Peter and Mary live in New York; Anne in Akron, Ohio; Edward and Joseph died in a swimming accident in 1937. Dad and mother moved to Willard in February 1917, and our brother Peter got lost in the woods behind Willard in March. I believe the date was March 24, 1917. He was born in November 1906 so he was ten years old. Edward was only 5 months old at the time. My brother Peter was acquainted with the neighboring Zupanc boys and they asked him to go to church with them on that Sunday. It was a warm, sunny, spring day so mother dressed him in his little suit that he wore in the city and let him go along.

After services the priest asked Peter to stay so he could get the name of the i.ew family, as Mother and Dad had not yet had a chance to register. By the time Peter got out of church, Zupanc had gone on home and the priest went on his way, without asking the boy if someone was taking him home. Peter thought he could find his own way, but somehow he turned in the wrong direction, away from home.

Part of the way, everyone walked on the railroad tracks and he met a woman who told him he was going the wrong way as she knew he didn't belong to any family in that direction. So he turned around and went the way she told him but only until she was out of sight. Then he went the way he started out as he was sure she was wrong. He kept on going and ended up in the dense woods which surrounded Willard on all sides. When Peter didn't come home with the Zupancs, my parents got worried and started checking with everyone, including Aunt and Uncle Boh but no one had seen him.

By late afternoon the weather had changed completely and by night fall it was a raging blizzard, one of those March blizzards which Wisconsin never fails to get. The temperature dropped way below zero, so cold that trees were snapping and cracking in the woods.

After local searchers failed to find him, Monday or Tuesday a posse of about 400 men was formed and continued to search with two bloodhounds. Late Wednesday afternoon one of the searchers came upon him lying down against a long log, almost frozen. Peter asked, “Mister, have you got a piece of bread in your pocket?" The doctor had warned the men not to feed the boy until he was examined. He was taken to Greenwood to be near the doctor's office, for one week; then to the Marshfield Hospital for eight weeks, where all his toes had to be amputated except one.

Dad had no money for train fare, so we walked 40 miles to Marshfield to visit him. After his discharge, he had to learn to walk all over again. Mother somehow fastened his feet into cigar boxes to help him walk straight.

After recovery he suffered no ill effects and has lived a normal life. A friendly farmer had given Dad a sheep which soon had twin lambs. Somehow the mother hanged herself on the barnyard fence. The little lambs cried for their lost mother at the same time that our family was grieving for our lost boy. There was no way to take care of the orphan lambs so the farmer took them back.

As was common practice years ago, our living quarters were above the stable. So right away that year, Dad had a house built by a Mr. Girc and also a well dug nearer to the house than the original one. "So much to do," Dad said, "and no income." Trees had to be cut down by hand with a cross-cut saw. Dad pulled one end with mother pulling the opposite end. Stumps were blasted out with dynamite, to clear the land so crops could be planted. Cousin Bernice's 15 year old brother was killed and a younger brother injured by a dynamite blast.

At North school where my brother and sister went the young teacher was nick-named "Pinky Hazel Nuts", because she loved pink dresses and hazel nuts which grew wild around Willard. In the fall of 1917 I was less than 7 years old, the legal school age, but the neighbor girls begged Mother to let me go to school. I was a accepted and was getting along fine for a while.

My sister sat on the opposite side of the room which held about 60 pupils. She told me when I needed more paper to come after it. She said to wait until the teacher told everyone to stand, then I could go around the back of the room without being seen, which I tried. I got caught in the act. The teacher asked who was moving around so I went back to my seat. She came to talk to me and told me to raise my hand and ask for permission to go to my sister. I did what she said, but she sat on a nearby seat in such a way that I had to pass in front of her. She called me back, said I didn't say, "Pardon Me" for passing in front of her. She wanted me to start over this time saying "Pardon Me".

I wouldn't say it, as I felt she had tricked me on purpose, which wasn't fair. She knew I had never heard the words before and I kept on refusing. She took me to the front of the room, got her pointer and beat me until she In the summer, out came the snakes, almost as big as pythons, as they must have been old having all that territory all to themselves since time began. If a snake decided to cross the road, drivers had to stop because the snake was too thick to drive over and too long to drive around. When my sister and I were out walking and saw one of those long snakes crossing the road, we stopped dead in our tracks.

Grandma Svegl lived with us now and then. One day she saw a swarm of bees passing by, so she grabbed a spoon and Mother's new enamel dishpan and banged on it as hard as she could. She said the noise would stop the bees so they would settle down and make honey for us. The bees went on their way and Mother's dishpan was ruined.

In the summer of 1918, Mother was in the last stages of pregnancy with the fifth child. Dad was driving a wagon- load of barley to the barn. Somehow he slipped off the load and before he could stop the horses the wagon wheels went over his leg, above and below the knee. The doctor came with his horse and buggy, put his leg in a cast, and hung it to the bedroom ceiling. I can still see in my mind's eye, Dad lying there week after week. Mother then had all the chores to do, harness Bess the mare, drive to the cheese factory with the milk, besides taking care of our bedridden father and children. How s e managed, I'll never know.

Once when Eddie was only a toddler we children were all outdoors. Suddenly Mother asked, "Where is Eddie?” We looked high and low and Mother was frantic. He was nowhere to be found until someone looked in doghouse. Eddie had crawled in and was fast asleep. What a relief.

I don't know where we got the little black dog that belonged in that dog house but he soon got killed. A young man who lived in downtown Willard, came speeding through on his motorcycle and good-bye Blackie.

During World War I we had no sugar or white flour, like it or not we ate "black" bread. My parents had a hard time getting used to no sugar in coffee or tea but they never went back to sugar again. It was a good health habit for us children.

Thousands of our men were overseas fighting and more were needed. Dad was eligible in the next draft but luckily the war ended in November 1918. The Will "d school children burned the Kaiser in effigy. Then came the 1918 "Flu" epidemic. We were all sick in bed except Eddie, who kept us going with milk to drink. We recovered with no deaths in our neighborhood, but there were many elsewhere.

In October 1919, we moved to New York, where Dad had located a large dairy-farm through Strout agency. The house had 10 large rooms, finished attic, hot and cold running water, bathroom and furnace heat, all of which was unusual at that time. We sometimes mentioned visiting Wisconsin but just too far away. Dad visited his sister Mrs. Frank Boh in 1941 and my husband and I visited my cousins in 1969. Our life in new York was hardly a picnic, but that’s another story.

Submitted by: Mrs. Anne Svegl



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