Matilda Edna Agatha RETHERFORD EISENHAUER
I would like to share some history about my maternal grandmother and her family, as told by her to our family before she died in 1982.
Matilda Edna Agatha Retherford was born in Altoona, Iowa in 1899. She was one of eight children born to James Ephriam Retherford and Eliza Noble Plumb. When Edna was two the family moved to a farm twelve miles outside of Hill City, Kansas. Here her father raised wheat, corn, cattle, hogs and horses. Father and uncle William Plumb homesteaded 160 acres and bought a three room sod house. It was plastered on the inside with yellow clay and white washed. It had a cookstove that burned corn cobs, otherwise the children would gather cow chips-only dried ones.
A neighbor loaned us a cow for milk and we got chickens in the spring. Father planted a large pack of potatoes and went to the store if he had enough eggs to trade. He got one gallon Kerosene for lights, one gallon syrup, fifty pounds flour, and one pound Horseshoe Tobacco. Tobacco always came first.
Sometimes we raised a garden if it rained. Later on father was able to get more cows and after a few years he bought 160 more acres at $5.00 an acre. He planted wheat and corn, and took it to the mill and got a winters supply of flour and corn meal. With our butter and eggs and potatoes we lived better. He always butchered enough hogs for our meat and lard.
One of the earliest experiences Edna remembers hearing about herself was when as a tiny child she was lost after a big rainstorm. The family spent some time looking for her and finally found her rag doll by a rain-swollen pond. They all feared she had drowned. She had wandered over to uncle Williams' in the rain and he found her and brought her home.
"I started school when I was 7. My first teacher was Lizzie Welty. We walked two miles to a large frame school house with one room. Sometimes there would be thirty people and only one teacher. The teacher was the boss from the time we left home at nine in the morning until four in the evening. We had a five month school then. The teacher got $35.00 a month and paid her own room and board. She had a wooden paddle that she used on any unruly child. I started in a five month school, then they got a seven month and I graduated in a nine month school. I was in the hospital with appendicitis and didn't get to march with all the other girls in their pretty white dresses. Father said if I ever got a spanking in school, I'd get another one at home. I graduated from eighth grade at 17.
"My brother Justus Harry took typhoid fever at age 14. I remember playing 'rabbit' around the trunk of a tree. Although the majority of the family's time was spent working the farm, they occasionally found an opportunity for entertainment and managed to attend a carnival when it came to the area. On Sunday afternoons they might have a potluck with the neighbors or go fishing in the nearby creek."
Sometimes the children would entertain themselves by getting into mischief. One time Edna and her brothers took an old set of wagon wheels and rolled them off the barn roof and into the hog pen. The fence fell flat and freed all the hogs, Father never did find out how the fence got ruined. We got to go into Hill City only twice a year; once in the Fall and once in the Spring to purchase new shoes.
When Edna was 17 she became engaged to James Whittier from Whittier, California. He had worked on a neighboring farm and they had known each other for two years. Her parents would not allow any of the children to marry until they were 21. He was drafted into the army and died of influenza in boot camp in 1918. Edna met Charles Daniel Eisenhauer in the choir of the Methodist Church. She also traded at his food and hardware store in Hill City. Her parents' did not allow her to see Charles so they met at Auntie Nan Plumbs' parlor. She was only 19 when she left home and married Charles, never to return home. They were married in Hill City on June 22,1919.
Transcribed by Bill Sowers
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