What follows are excerpts from Some Memories of Frank Schukar written by
his daughter. This entry concerns the trip by railroad emigrant car from
Fayette Co., Illinois, to central Nebraska in 1888; and it has a second report
of the covered wagon trip from Nebraska to Texas in 1894 from the
perspective of a 13 year old.
Memories of Frank Schukar
(son of August Schukar)
written by his daughter,
August Schukar had come to the US from Prussia in 1852 with his parents, brother and sister. They settled first in Wisconsin, and all three children married there. In the mid-1860's they all moved to the prairies of Fayette Co., Illinois, near Vandalia. The older brother, Fritz, died there in 1882 from a horse or mule accident, leaving a widow and ten children, the oldest of whom was Emma who married her second cousin Carl Schukar. Carl & Emma went to Nebraska in 1885; and their oldest daughter Pauline wrote her memories a year or two before her death in 1975.
The reason the Schukar family moved so often was that Grandfather [August] had asthma and was always trying to find a climate that would be agreeable. They made the move to Nebraska from Illinois in 1888, in an emigrant car -- a railroad car that was half stock-car for animals and machinery on one end, and half box-car for the people and household goods on the other. A brother of Grandfather's and his family came too. [This brother was actually a cousin, Carl Henry Schukar, uncle of the Carl who married Emma. I'm sure many readers don't care, but I included this for the sake of those who might be looking for accurate relationships.]
This was a real ordeal -- the train crews thought the emigrants were an awful nuisance, and were as harsh and inconsiderate as they could get by with -- which was plenty! For instance, they would set the car off on a siding and perhaps leave it there for days, or perhaps for hours, but they wouldn't tell the people, so they could get off for a while. So they had to take food enough for the entire trip with them. Dad [Frank] was only eight years old at the time, but he remembers that they all got sick, and when they got to feeling better, they longed for something different to eat, but there wasn't anything, so they had to eat more of the same, (foods that friends and neighbors had brought in before they left), and promptly all got sick again. He always thought it was coffee-cake with a kind of egg and cottage cheese topping that did it, and with our present-day knowledge of food poisoning, I imagine it was. He could never eat anything on that order all his life, because it reminded him of that dreadful trip.
He was just the right age for [the wagon trip to Texas], 13 years -- old enough to not need watching all the time, and young enough to escape the worries and ignore the hardships. The children his age could get off and run alongside whenever they wished, and each evening's camp brought new delights. They were following one of those famous cattle trails and met herds of cattle being driven to Dodge City. (Later, when the movies "Dodge City" and "Cimarron" came along, Dad really enjoyed them and told many incidents that he hadn't told before these movies reminded him of them.)
For instance, south of Dodge City, some cowboys who were returning from a cattle drive, rode along with the wagon train for several days. The Schukars enjoyed their company and did not think too much about it, until they came to a river that had to be forded exactly right, because there was quick-sand on either side of the ford, and if they had gotten into that, they would have lost everything, including even their lives, perhaps! As soon as they were safely across, those cowboys spurred their horses, waved goodbye, and soon disappeared, traveling at their own pace at last. It was only then that the Schukars realized why the cowboys had traveled with them for those several days!
Frank liked Texas, and chose to retire there.
|© Oldtime Nebraska -- Some Memories of Frank Schukar submitted by Mona Mueller Houser -- May, 1998 Graphics by Ginger Cisewski|