"Twas The Night Before Jesus Came"

'Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house Not a creature was praying, not one in the house. Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care In hopes that Jesus would not come there. The children were dressing to crawl into bed. Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap. When out of the East there arose such a clatter. I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash! When what to my wondering eyes should appear But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here. With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY! The light of His face made me cover my head It was Jesus! returning just like He had said. And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth, I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself. In the Book of Life which He held in His hand Was written the name of every saved man. He spoke not a word as He searched for my name; When He said "it's not here" my head hung in shame. The people whose names had been written with love He gathered to take to His Father above. With those who were ready He rose without a sound. While all the rest were left standing around. I fell to my knees, but it was too late; I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate. I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight; Oh, if only I had been ready tonight. In the words of this poem the meaning is clear; The coming of Jesus is drawing near. There's only one life and when comes the last call We'll find that the Bible was true after all!

written by Unknown Author

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Section Premieres – 70s to Today

New Section Premieres – 70s to Today

Farming in the 70s
Too often, we think of history as "100 years ago, or at least 10 years ago." But history actually began 10 minutes ago. A lot has changed in the last 40 years, and a new section of the Web Site explores those changes in rural America. In the left hand navigation pane, you'll find a new button that will take you to the new section. These were tumultuous times. A farm boom in the 70s led to a bust in the 80s when many over-extended farmers lost their livelihoods and their land. Those who were left were forced to get bigger or get out. Those who made it finally achieved parity in income with their urban neighbors. This was a time when ag technology made astounding discoveries in genetics, machinery and computers. Pesticides became more sophisticated and, ironically, some consumers started demanding food without chemicals. In pop culture, rural America was portrayed as either a nostalgic refuge from modern life or as a threatening place filled with sadistic perverts. And farmers began raising fuel in addition to their traditional crops for food and fiber. Farming in the 1970sWhen you enter the new section of the Web Site, just click on one of the thematic buttons across the top, and then follow the stories in the left hand navigation.

2011 Event Calendar

The schedule for the 2011 season of special events at the Wessels Living History Farm has been set. It includes a wide range of family and educational events. The admission price for visiting the farm and special events is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for senior citizens and $2.00 for children. The farm can also be rented for parties, reunions, weddings and other special events. Call Dale Clark for details at 402-710-0682.
  • Sunday, July 17 – Model A's on the Farm from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 14 – Living History Day from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday, October 1-2 – Tractor, Engine and Vintage Auto Show from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.
  • Saturday, October 1 – Barn Dance with music by the Kramer Sisters from 4:30 p.m. to Dark.
  • Sunday, October 23 – Boo on the Farm from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Sat. December 10 through Fri. December 23 – Christmas on the Farm from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. each day.

Recognized! Outstanding Tourist Attraction in Nebraska

The Wessels Living History Farm has been named the "Outstanding Tourism Attraction" in the state by the Nebraska Travel and Tourism agency. The annual award is given to a Nebraska tourist attraction that has worked toward the continued success and growth of it community and the tourism industry in the state. The Farm has increased its annual attendance at the physical site to over 8,000 visitors a year. Visitors have come from 49 states and 21 foreign countries. Memberships have grown to over 200. There are now nine buildings on the Farm site south of York. And the Farm's educational programs have kept the Farm open six days a week for seven months with a full schedule of special events during the other months. In addition, this Web site has now reached over 6.1 million visitors from all over the world. They have read through over 11.2 million page views, and the site's movies have been viewed over 1.2 million times.
EDSITEment logo

The Wessels Living History Farm Web site was also recognized as one of the "one of the best online resources for education in the humanities" by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In 2007, a panel of reviewers voted to include this site on EDSITEment, a gateway to the highest quality humanities-related educational content on the Internet. We have more about this honor here. This recognition prompted the Omaha World Herald to say we are "A Virtual Must-See." In addition, we continue to receive messages from folks across the country who are using the content and learner resources we offer. We've got excerpts from some of these e-mails here. It's heartening to know that the material we're working hard to provide is being used and appreciated – by 6.3 million visitors like you since 2003. Thanks!

Winter - Holidays

Winter - Holidays

During the long winter months, most farm families looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas when family and neighbors would gather for a festive meal and a chance to visit. The holidays brought special performances at school, music and singing, a

Was Christmas for kids in the 1920s like it is today?

Merna Bailey tells a Christmas story.

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(Quicktime required)

Merna Bailey Video
Christmas tree decorated with real, burning candles, and sledding and ice skating. Harvey Pickrel remembers skating on a pond near his school. "…Our skates, you'd just clamp to your shoes, the old farm shoes, and they'd come off every once in a while, quite often. So they didn't work too good…we had fun doing it anyway."

Albert Friesen remembers a special treat at Christmastime — peanuts. "Candy or bananas was a big treat in those days. Peanuts, well peanuts…we only had them at Christmas time."

Photo of a group of people ice skating.
A trip down to the local pond for some ice skating was always good for a little winter fun.

The Orphan Train

Norma Ehlers remembers that illness and accidents often claimed the lives of children or parents. Relatives or neighbors often took in orphaned children after the death of parents. Her grandparents raised the child of an acquaintance whose parents had died.

"[They] took him into their home and raised him as their own. And I think you saw a lot of that in those days. In fact, I have an aunt and uncle that had done the same thing with the other child of the family. My parents had done the same thing with a cousin's child from Illinois that needed a home. It was just, you know, heritage of a lot of love and compassion for people." -- Norma Ehlers Quicktime Logo (Quicktime required) Norma Ehlers Photo

From New York to York County: Orphans from much farther away found homes in Nebraska. From the late 1800s through the 1920s, the westbound train brought thousands of orphaned children from New York City to plains states and Nebraska's rural communities. Older boys were strong enough to work in the fields, and girls could help farm women with the endless chores of cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, and other duties. When the "Orphan Train," as it was known, stopped in the town of York, and other communities across Nebraska, farm families came to the station and looked over the children on the train. Perhaps a childless couple wanted a very young child. Or maybe a family that had lost a child to illness or accident and was searching for a foster child. The long train trip was frightening for these neglected children from the East Coast, but many children found a new family and a new life in Nebraska. People who came to Nebraska on the Orphan Train now go to Orphan Train reunions to tell their stories.

See What You've Learned!

Try this trivia quiz to see what you've learned about living on a farm in the 1920s.

Written by Claudia Reinhardt.

Winter - Social and Community Activities

Winter - Social and Community Activities

Delco Lighting Plant advertisement

In the winter, many farm families looked forward to church, when they could get there through the snow. There was no 24-hour per day electricity on farms in the 1920s. There were no evening television programs or video games. Mother often mended clothes or did needlework by the light of kerosene oil lamps.

The family gathered around a battery-powered radio, using headphones to hear their favorite programs. Herbert Heine said their family used a radio powered by batteries. All family talk stopped when "Ma Perkins" or the "Amos 'n' Andy Show" came on the radio. "Amos 'n' Andy" first aired in Chicago in 1928. It soon had a huge national audience that lasted for 30 years.

The program was a humorous look at stereotypical black characters… played by white actors. Later, the show moved to TV in 1951, but was met with protests from the black community. The show was cancelled after two years. But in the 1920s and 30s, the popularity of the show and others sold a lot of radios and, on the farms, a lot of Delco home battery systems to power the radios.

Do you ever fight with someone over the TV remote control? The same thing happened back in the 1920s – except they fought over the radio.

Darrel Ronne Photo
"I can remember my brother and I used to – The first radios you had a headphone, there was no speaker. And we'd fight over who was going to get the headphones… And there were shows that went on like 'Amos and Andy' and some of those we liked to listen to." -- Darrell Ronne Quicktime Logo (Quicktime required)

Walter Schmitt talks about the early days of electricity.

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Walter Schmitt Video
Written by Claudia Reinhardt.

Winter - Chores and Work

Winter - Chores and Work

How can you keep ice in the summer if you don't have a fridge?
Norma Ehlers lets you know.
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Norma Ehlers Video
On winter mornings, children had to get out of warm feather beds in the dark. The house was cold in the morning, so they dressed quickly as the fire in the heating stove slowly warmed the house. Families kept an eye on the wood supply — fuel for the cook stove and the main heating stove. Keeping the wood box full was an important winter chore. Winter morning and evening chores were done in the dark before breakfast because winter days were short. Cows had to be milked, horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, and chickens had to be fed and watered. Then children washed, ate breakfast, and got ready for school. Snow was no excuse for staying home from school.
Photo of horses pulling ice cutter on pond.
Before electricity and refrigerators, harvesting ice during winter was the only way to keep things cool during the summer.

Harvesting ice

In winter, creeks, rivers, and the mill pond froze solid. It was time to harvest blocks of ice for the ice house. Albert Friesen remembers harvesting ice from a nearby pond.

Ice tongs were used to pick up the slippery ice blocks.
Albert Friesen Photo

"During the winter when that pond would freeze solid, we'd go and cut ice and they had ice saws. You did it by hand, just like wood. Saw it like that… You'd slide that, put tongs around it and pull it up along the skid way, up into that wagon… and then haul it to the ice house. That would be a sort of silo, a deep hole, and they'd pack this ice in there and then with straw. You had to have straw around it or else it would melt in the summertime. And we went to ice houses in the summertime and got ice to make ice cream." -- Albert Friesen Written by Claudia Reinhardt.

Winter - School

Winter - School

1920s Teaching

One teacher describes her class and school in Seward County, adjoining York County.

"The schoolhouse was a large one-room building with windows on each side. It was heated by a coal stove. We did not have a well on the school grounds so the children would take the pail and go for water over to the adjoining farm house. The children were from 5 to 16 years of age, in classes ranging from first to eight grade. Two of the boys were taller than I. The children would come to the front of the room for classes. They played games at recess and noon, such as Andy-over, baseball, hide and seek, keep away, and kick the can. My salary was $72 a month for nine months, and I was to do my own janitor work; sweep the floors and get the goal for the stove."

Bernice Lyon
Pioneer Schools, Produced by York Area Retired Teachers, 1976
Nebraska Historical Society Collection

Cold and snow were not excuses to stay home from school. Only illness or a blizzard kept children home from school. The teacher rang the bell and school began. When the weather was dry, children played outside at recess. On the rainy or sleeting days, students played word games or had spelling bees at recess.

Merna Bailey taught school. She rode her horse the two and a half miles to school and was paid $50 a month for nine months. Later she made $75 a month at a school near York. She taught reading, spelling, penmanship, geography, history, and arithmetic. Herbert Heine remembers school in the winter.

Herbert Heine"We had chores in the morning … take care of the horses, and there's always cattle to feed. And we had to see to it the dog got something and the cats. Eat breakfast and take off for school…We walked to school, about two miles… And then there was a time we had snow or too much rain, Dad would take us to school with a horse and a sled [or] a kind of buggy we had… He would give us a ride to school, put some hot bricks for us to stand on … to keep [our feet] warm." -- Herbert Heine Quicktime Logo (Quicktime required)

Mystery Number Game

Take any number up to a thousand.
Multiply it by 7.
Add 100.
Multiply by 33.
Multiply by 9.
Multiply by 481.
Take the last 6 figures of your result and add them to the preceding figures.
The last 6 digits of the answer will be 285,714.

Photo of school classroom with students.
On cold winter days the classes would stay indoor during recess.
When the weather was bad in the winter, the teacher would invent work for students to do at their desks. Here is a sample:

  • Take a page from your reading lesson and arrange the words in alphabetical order.
  • Make a list of all the words in your reading lesson containing a given sound. Example: K sound (corn, car, king, cracker)
  • The teacher put a list of words on the blackboard. Pupils copied the list and then wrote the opposites. Example: Up and down.
  • Write the names of creatures that: fly, run, jump, swim, or creep.
  • Write the names of animals that growl, purr, cackle, sing, laugh, neigh, bark.