Charlie was my great-uncle. We were both born on 31 July but he had 70-some years on me. I remember meeting him a couple of times when he came to visit his sister, my grandmother. The last time, he was probably about finished writing this, but I had never heard about it and neither had my father, so I don't think he told his sister then. My grandmother was my main source of family stories and she would have shared this had she known of it. Instead I received a copy in recent years from newly-discovered distant cousins never met in person. Charlie's stories of his parents are consistent with what my grandmother told me. I'm curious though if anyone I've known ever knew Charlie's grandparents: that is, his step-grandfather George Helbert and Mary Maume from Ireland. It sounds to me as if Charlie had heard about them but not met them, and that seems strange, because he'd have been 9 when George died and 19 when Mary died.
Photo at left: Charlie visiting his little sister Maude, out on her back balcony, Delmar Ave., St. Louis.
Charlie wrote from memory and personal knowledge, and that means that outside immediate family and descendants there is a fair bit to correct. I have added notes -- from the census and other records -- which show up when you mouseover parts of Charlie's text. But of course the main text is as Charlie wrote it.
I'd be glad to add links here to people who tie into this family line. Email me.
This is the Story of my Life, Charles Edward Hilbert, somewhat elaborated but in fact a part of my Family Tree and my experience in life's livelihood for survival.
FIRST: I would like to say that I have never kept a daily Diary on my life, and there are no written documents of record on my Family Tree. The following story will have to come from the Horse's Mouth . . . or from memory as you may say . . . and I hope you will excuse the verbosity of this report.
My name is Charles Edward Hilbert. I am this day, August 25, 1961, just past my 80th birthday; date of my birth, July 31, 1881; place of birth, Rolla, Missouri; my father's name, John Thomas Hilbert, and my mother's name, Hannah Manerva Branson. My father's name should have been John Thomas Murphy. He was born at sea . . . the Atlantic Ocean . . . in the year of 1850 to his parents, John Thomas Murphy and Mary (nee Maum) Murphy, as they emigrated from Ireland to the United States. My father's father died at sea three weeks before my father's birth and was buried at sea. His mother emigrated on to New York where she obtained employment with a wealthy family by the name of Turner, where she worked for a period of five years as a cook. It was here where she met one George Charles Helbert, a gardener who also worked for the Turners. George and Mary became very much in love and were married in the year of 1855.> At this time they decided to buy a farm in the state of Missouri, near the town of Mint Hill. They moved their belongings to this farm and it was here on this farm that George and Mary had their four children. George and Mary remained on this farm all of the remaining days of their life and are now resting in the Mint Hill Cemetery. May they rest in peace. God will bless them. George and Mary's first child was a son, Charles Edward Helbert . . . my namesake. Charles died at the age of about 21 years and was unmarried. Their second child was a daughter, Mary. She married George Varble. They had four children, two daughters and a son. Their third child was a daughter, Julia. She married James Mahoney, a railroad conductor, and he was govenor of the state of Arizona two terms and for many years a delegate to the Republican Convention from that state. They had two daughters. George and Mary's third child was a daughter, Ann, who lived a long life as a spinster.
These Helbert children were my father's half brothers and sisters. At this point of this story, I would like to make a statement to verify the above regarding my grandmother's story about her trip from Ireland to New York City. I have seen and read a letter which my father received from this same Mrs. Turner in reply to a letter he had written her to make inquiry about the story his mother had told him regarding this trip. In her reply to my father's letter, Mrs Turner did confirm my grandmother's statement regarding the trip and added that Mary was a fine woman.
My father grew up with this Helbert family and was given the name of Helbert. After he left home to be on his own, he never wanted to change his name back to Murphy. However, he did change the name of Helbert to Hilbert. He said he liked it better.
On September 19, 1877, my father and my mother were married and this is the romantic story of how they met. My father was a promising young livestock buyer of the days in about 1876. He bought and shipped livestock to the St. Louis market. One day when he was out buying livestock, he decided to stop at the Widow Davis farm to buy some hogs. He talked to the good looking widow and offered her 2 cents a pound for her hogs. She wanted 3 cents and they could not agree on price so he left, telling her that if she didn't sell them to him she would have the hogs left on her hands. So, as soon as he left the house, she hopped on horse back and speeded out to all the farmers in her neighborhood and bought up all the hogs. Then, when my father went looking for hogs they had been sold. Well, he had to go back to see the widow Davis and pay her price of 3 cents a pound. They did so much talking about the hogs that he couldn't stay away from her so he took her to a Square Dance one evening and the other young men in that part ganged up on him and wore about to clean him up. An old girl friend by the name of Bell took him to one side and told him that the gang was going to beat him up, so Bell and my father took a walk down to a small creek. My father took off one of his shoes and filled his sock half full of sand, then put the sock in his pocket and went back to the dance. My father and mother started to have their first dance when the gang started for my father. He pulled this old sock out and started slugging the guys and soon there were four lying on the floor and the rest ran away, and my mother thought she had a real man and she was proud of him. That was the start of a long friendship. They were real people; bless the both of them!
When my father married my mother, he came into great wealth. He had quite a little money of his own. My mother was a daughter of Dave Branson, a wealthy plantation owner. He owned about 100 slaves and carried on large operations in several businesses. When my grandfather Branson died, my mother was one-fifth heir to the estate, of which she received about $150,000 in cash and property. This was a lot of wealth those days . . . no taxes to pay.
All of this estate came to hand about the time of my birth. My family were very refined people and lived in luxury. They were outstanding in our local society. My mother said that I weighed fifteen pounds when I was born and my picture was in the town newspaper, and people came by the dozens to see the big baby. Well, I am still a big baby.
My mother was a daughter of David Branson and Sarah (nee David) Branson. The Davids and Bransons were emigrants from England in about 1800. There were six children born to this Branson-David marriage, two sons and four daughters, first a son, Andy Branson. He married Sally Ann Simpson. They had two sons, Dave and Will Branson. I don't know their marriage status. The oldest daughter was Betty. She married Frank Owens. They had three children. A daughter, Margaret, married a Shaffer. Their son, Billie Owens, was an M.D. and had a large practice in that field. He was married, to whom I do not know. Their other son, Jeff, never married. The second daughter was Ruth. She married Bill Karns . . . no children to this marriage. The third daughter was Mary Ann. She married Andy Williams . . . no children to this marriage.
My mother was the fourth daughter to this Branson-David marriage, born Aupust 25, 1845. She first married Commandant Perry Davis, an officer in the Civil War. This marriage had five children, first, a son, Jack Davis. He married Sally Holland. They had three children: A daughter, Lucy, married Lines Johnson and they had three children; I do not know the marriage status of Jack's second child, a son, Thomas; Jack's third child was a son, John Davis. He died early in life, no family.
The second Davis child, a daughter Rebekah, married Samuel Branson. This Branson family was not related to my mother's family. Rebekah had four children, first, a daughter Augusta, vho married Billie Patterson, son of William Patterson, Sr. Billie's mother's first name was Sally Ann. I don't know her maiden name. Augusta had several children, a son and daughters. I don't know all of their names and marriage status. Rebekah's second child was a daughter, Mary. She married Stave Holland (his second wife). They had three sons and a daughter. I don't know whom they married. Rebekah's third child, a daughter, Florence, married Arthur Givens. They had a son at the time they disappeared. None of the family ever knew their destiny.
Rebekah fourth child, a son, Burl Branson, went West in 1900 and married a school teacher. They are living in Phoenix, Arizona, and have two sons, one an M.D. and the other a mineralogist. I never knew Burl's wife's maiden name.
My mother's third Davis child was a daughter, Martha. She narried Steve Holland (his first wife). They had three sons. The fourth child to this Davis-Branson marriage was a daughter, Mary. She married Hans Skoby, a farmer. They had ten children. I do not know their names and marriages. The fifth child to this Davis-Branson marriage was a daughter, Margret. She married Bill McKenny, a Traction Engineer. They had two children, a daughter and a son. I don't know their marriages.
To my mother and father's marriage, there were four children, first a daughter, my sister Eva. She married John S. Wells, a son of John Wells, Sr. and Betsey (nee Purcell) Wells. They had a daughter and three sons. Eva had three children, first, a son, Charles Wells. He married Lena Farris. They have one son, Segel. Eva's second child, a son, Perl Wells, married Margret King, a daughter of Ben King, an ex-Browns baseball player. There are three sons to this marriage, all single men at this time. Eva's third child, a daughter, Mae, Married Ben Millman. Mae died early in life and left a husband and three beautiful daughters, all single at this time.
My sister Eva and her husband, John S. Wells, have passed on out of this life. They left a wonderful family behind to mourn their passing. They now rest in the Houston Cemetery, in Houston, Texas County, Missouri. May God bless them.
The second child to this Hilbert-Davis marriage, myself, Charles Edward Hilbert, married the very prude and wonderful woman, Mary Frances Mounce, a daughter of James Buchanan Mounce and Mary (nee Wingfield) Mounce. The Mounce and Wingfield families emigrated from the state of Tennessee to Missouri in about the year of 1870. This Mounce-Wingfield marriage had ten children, first a son, Thomas, second a daughter, Ada, third a daughter, Mary Frances (my wife), fourth, a son, James, fifth a daughter, Otie, sixth, a daughter, Della, seventh a son, Cleveland, eighth a son, Mores, ninth a daughter, Jennie, and tenth a son, Michael. I do not know all of these Mounce children's marriage status. James Mounce lived to be 104 years old and Mary, his wife, died at about 60 years of age. They now rest in a little cemetery near the Mounce family old form, nine miles southwest of Salem, Missouri. May they rest in peace. God bless them. They were wonderful people.
My marriage to this Mary Frances Mounce gave me four gracious children. Our first child, a daughter, Alma, was born December 7, 1904, at Gila, Missouri. Alma married Walter C.P. Johnson, a son of Christin Johnson and Sopha (nee Hensen) Johnson. We never can say too many nice things about Christin and Sopha Johnson. They were really wonderful people. They now rest in Half Day Cemetery, located just north of Chicago, Illinois. Alma's first child, a daughter, Virginia Lee, married Wayne Kimball, a son of William C. Kimball and Eliza (nee Ressler) Kimball. There are no children to this marriage. Virginia Lee and Wayne are in professional life as school teachers. They are wonderful.
Alma's second child, a daughter, Daisy Mary, married Ralph Kuhfeldt, a son of Henry Kuhfeldt and Helen (nee Wachmeister) Kuhfeldt. Ralph's grandparents on his father's side are August Kuhfeldt and Minnie (nee Muller) Kuhfeldt, and on his mother's side are Franz Wachmeister and Minnie (nee Kleist) Wachmeister. Daisy and Ralph have four children, first a son, Gary Michel Kuhfeldt, born February 21, 1952; second, a son, Jonathan Lee Kuhfeldt, born May 15, 1953; third, a daughter, Laurel Ann, born March 28, 1956; fourth, a son, Paul Kuhfeldt, about 2 1/2 years old at this time. A fine young family with a wonderful future.
Alma's third child, a son, James J. Johnson, married Mildred Rivard, a daughter of Ralph Rivard. Mildred's mother was a Hoffman. James and Mildred are divorced. No children.
Our second child, a daughter, Bulah, was born January 13, 1906, place of birth, Gila, Missouri. Bulah married Clarke R. Frank, a son of Joseph Frank and Sarah (nee DeFreitas) Frank. Bulah has one son, Robert C. Frank. He married Joy Johner, a daughter of Emil Johner and Ruth (nee Marenssen) Johner. Rob and Joy have one son at this time, Robert C. Frank, Jr, born May l8, 1958. Weo call him little Robbie. He's a great boy.
Our third child, a son, Buford Edward Hilbert, was born March 17, 1907, at St. Louis, Missouri. He first married Eve Warner, a daughter of Jacob Warner and Anna (nee Lang) Warner, an emigrant from Switzerland. There is one child to this marriage, a daughter, Shirley May, born May 22, 1928. She married Thomas Williams, a son of Martin Williams and Teresa (nee Hughes) Williams. Tom was born February 22, 1925. Thomas has five brothers. They are: Robert, James, John, Joseph and Martin. Martin died in infancy. The present Williams family were all born in Chicago, Illinois. The grandparents were emigrants from Ireland many years ago. This Hilbert-Williams marriage has seven children at this time, first a daughter, Maureen Anna, born July 5, 1951; second, a daughter, Suzanne Elaine, born March 12, 1953; third, a son, Daniel Edward Williams, born May 2, 1954; fourth a son, Thomas Martin Williams, born October 9, 1955; fifth, a daughter, Nancy Joanne, born February 22, 1957; sixth, a daughter, Laura Lee, born August 23, 1958; seventh, a son, Jerome Williams, born February 16, 1960. This is one of America's finest young families. We wish them well. Buford and Eve are divorced. Eve is still single. Buford has remarried. His second wife, Alice Wilhelm, is a daughter of George Wilhelm and Margaret (nee Adams) Wilhelm. There is one daughter to this marriage, Brandell, eleven years of age at this time. Buford and Alice are divorced.
Our fourth child, a son, Clifford Charles Hilbert, was born April 2, 1911, at St. Louis, Missouri. Clifford first married Vivian Gregory. I do not know her family tree. There is a daughter to this marriage, Dolores Ann. She married William Lewis, a son of William Arthur Lewis, who is a son of Elmer R. Lewis and Kathryn (nee Murname) Lewis. Bill's mother, Marion Francis (nee Adams) Lewis, was a daughter of Peter Adams and Mary (nee Jacobs) Adams. Clifford and Vivian are divorced. Clifford's second wife, Mary Lou Martin, is a daughter of Joseph Thomas Martin and Marie Margret (nee Noonan) Martin; there are no children to this marriage at this time.
The third child to this Branson-Davis-Hilbert marriage, my brother, James Franklin Hilbert, was born in 1884. Frank passed away at the age of about 14 years and was buried in a little country cemetery near the Pan-Handle Desert section of the southwestern part of the state of Texas. Frank was a fine sample of our family tree, a good boy. We mourn his passing. God will bless him forever.
The fourth child to this Branson-Davis-Hilbert marriage was a daughter, my sister Georgeann Maude Hilbert. She married Edward Patterson, a son of John Patterson and Mary (nee George) Patterson. Maude had three children, first, a daughter, Velma. Velma married Fred Kirby, Jr. a son of Fred Kirby, Sr. Fred's mother was a LaFave. Velma had one son, Fredie the third. He married Nadene Schultie. They have a son, born October 19, 1961.
Maude's second child, a son, Donald Patterson, married Geneva Abbott. They have two children, a son and a daughter.
Maude's third child was a son, Vernon. He was married and now divorced.
My father was a man of character, a man with understanding of human nature. He was outstanding in all fields of his adventure. He was a public speaker by request; he made many political speeches. He was a public reader; he had many requests to read at public meetings. He was a church-going man, a real Christian. He was a member of the Order of the Free Masons Masonic Lodge for 35 years before his death. I can remember seeing him give real large size sums of money to the poor in our community. He built a complete church building and gave it to the poor. He was well known across the countryside for his generosity. My father and mother were real Christians. They were members of our local Church. I can remember the people in our community gathering at our home once a week to hold prayer meetings. This was before my father built them a church building and donated it to the church. The people around our home were poor people and could not build a church building. My father always offered thanks at our dining table. My mother did her part by teaching us children our bedtime prayer. My parents were real Americans.
My father was always interested in getting more postoffices in operation in communities where the people needed them. He would look for a prospective postmaster, then he would write the Postmaster General in Washington, who was at that time, Timothy O. Howe. The General would give the necessary authority to establish the new post office needed. He would get himself appointed postmaster and set up the new office and run it for awhile; then he would help the new prospective postmaster to get appointed Assistant Postmaster. He would let the assistant handle the post office business under his supervision, and when my father felt that the new assistant was ready and capable of handling the post office duties, he would help him get appointed as postmaster. This procedure was followed in establishing many post offices needed in some sections of the southwestern part of our country those days. I can remember some of the new post offices he put in operation. They were as follows: First Grove Dale, Mo., Gladden Valley, Mo., Wellsford, Mo., Spring Valley, Mo., Pulltight, Mo., Ink, Mo., and many more.
At the time of my birth, my father owned and operated a number of businesses . . . a General Store at Grove Dale, Mo., a Meat Market at Rollo, Mo.; two Lumber Cutting Mills; three wheat threshing machines; several good sized farms. He was a Pinkerton detective for many years. I can remember seeing him make arrest and take his prisoner to New York City on murder charges. In his detective work, he made a lot of investigations into different types of crime.
In 1885, he had some heavy losses in poor investments and became very nervous. He sold out almost all of his businesses and moved his family to the state of Texas. He took them there by rail and in 1886 he decided to move his family back to Missouri. He put his family into a covered wagon and started out on that trip. This took about six weeks by land and on foot. When we landed in Missouri, he didn't seem to be satisfied, he wanted to go some more, so in 1888 he moved his family to the Ozark Mountains in Shannon County, Missouri. This was near the town of Spring Valley. Two of our families were living there at that time, my half-brother, Jack Davis and his family and Samuel Branson and his family. My father thought this retreat to the mountains would ease his mind from all of the losses he had suffered financially. This is not all. In 1889 he moved his family to Oregon County, Mo., near the town of Thayer. He stayed there one year and moved back to Shannon County; then we moved some more in 1897. He and nine other families emigrated to the state of Oklahoma by covered wagon. There were ten wagons in this train. It took about six weeks to make the trip. We didn't have any trouble with the uncivilized Indians; everything went along fine from day to day and everybody was happy. We did expect a lot of trouble with the Indians as they were still massacreing wagon trains at that time. We saw places along our travel where the Indians had massacred wagon trains. The remains were in evidence. Those were hair-raising sights. When we camped, we would park our wagons in a circle. This position would give us more protection in case the Indians would attack us. We had a lot of guns and a great amount of amunition, and that wasn't all. Every man and woman, and some of the children, were good marksmen. We would have given the Indians a hot time if they had tried us. When we reached our goal, it surely was a relief.
This Western country was very interesting to us children because of the number of wild animals around. We could see wild horses in droves; they would do a lot of fighting among themselves. The buffalo was more peaceful. This Western country was something to see. You could travel all day and not see a living human being, all prairie country. If you wanted a piece of wood to make a fire, there wasn't any you could get; you made your fire with buffalo chips.
While we lived in this Oklahoma country, my father wanted to explore further into the Southwest. He made a trip down to the west part of Texas, taking my brother, Frank, with him. Frank was about fourteen years old at that time. While they were down in Texas, Frank was taken sick with pulmonary fever and died within five days. He was buried in a little country cemetery in the Panhandle section of West Texas and my father came home and explained to us what had happened. I remember that this news of my brother's death almost killed all of us. This was a very sad time for all of us.
This was not the end of our going. The next fall we hooked up to our old covered wagon and emigrated back to good old Missouri. This time again we were lucky. We had no trouble with the uncivilized Indians. This trip took about the same amount of time. Day after day we pushed through the muddy road, landing back in Shannon County safe and sound.
In 1900, my family moved to Salem, Missouri. Resided there until 1905 when my father and mother moved to Gila, Missouri, near where my family and I lived on a small farm. This town of Gila was a very small place, just a Post Office on the side of the road, and in 1906 my parents moved hack to Shannon County, near Wellsford Post Office. Now they seemed to be satisfied and they lived there for the next seven years. It was here that my father passed on into Eternity on the 3rd day of March, 1913, at the age of 63 years. Cause of death was gall stone formation. My father was a good father and husband, purely a family man, always concerned about the well-being of his family. He now rests in the Cox Cemetery, near Spring Valley, in Shannon County, Missouri. My father was wonderful. May he rest in peace. God will bless him for the good he did for mankind. Amen.
I would like to tell you more about my mother. She was the mother of nine children, five children by her first husband and four by her second husband. She was very strict in her dealings with her family and in business. She was a woman well known for her intense nature, always up and at it, with never failing action, always with plenty of energy to spare. When she was young she worked out in the farm fields to help her husband harvest the wheat crops. She would cut the wheat with a hand suckle, from there to the house to cook their meals, wash dishes and clothes, clean house, making cloth for her family on a hand loom, working until after midnight almost every night, doing all of her own housework as any good wife would do. This routine kept up all during the Civil War days, and in the time when I was old enough to remember her actions, I have seen her buy and sell livestock just like a man. She was considered a wise dealer. For many years in the later part of her life she was a well qualified midwife. She would crawl out of bed in the wee hours of the night, hop on horse back and take off in the dark of the night to deliver a baby. On some of those cases she would be gone for several days, or until the case was controllable. I have heard her say that she had delivered over a thousand babies in her time. She was a very energetic woman, working hard all her life. With all of her ambition and nerve, she lived to a good old age of 84 years. She passed away in 1923, cause of death, heart attack. She left fond memories with all who knew her. She now rests in the Cox Cemetery along side of my father, at Spring Valley, in Shannon County, Missouri. She was a good mother and a good wife. May she rest in peace. God will bless her forever.
I would like to explain a little in detail about what one had to endure when traveling by wagon train in the early days. On our three times across the three states by wagon train, traveling a distance of about 1600 miles, it took us about 160 days, counting the time we took off to rest our horses. The average number of miles traveled in one day was about 10 to 12 miles. Here is the daily routine we followed day alter day: We would start out in the morning with our wagon loaded to the top with our camping outfit and personal belongings, with just room for the driver and one other passenger. The rest of us would have to walk. When our wagon would get stuck in the mud, we would push to get the old wagon moving again. We never stopped for mid-day lunch, just kept going along, and in the afternoon we would start looking for a camping spot for that night. When we found a place where we could get water and wood, that was where we spent the night. The first procedure was to get a good fire started so my mother could cook our supper. The rest of us would set up our sleeping tent and get ready for bed. After we had had our supper, we would put out all camp fires so there wouldn't be any light on our camp ground, then we would crawl into bed and get what sleep we could. We had two real large dogs with us. They were vigilant friends. If anything tried to come around our camp while we were sleeping, they would give us a warning and my father would crawl out of bed and look around to see what he could see. Mother would follow him with a gun in each hand, ready to back him up in what came up. When daylight came, we got out of bed and had our breakfast, black coffee and corn pone, then hitched up our horses to the old covered wagon and started on our next day's travel. When we got out of bed in the morning, our night clothes would steam from the moisture that came up from the ground to our bedding. While traveling along the muddy road, my father and I would walk along the side of the road with our guns and if we saw any game that we could eat, we would bag it and when night came we would have a good supper. We didn't have any trouble getting feed for our horses. Corn was 20 cents a bushel and hay was 10 cents a bale. The problem was the 10 and 20 cents to get it with. This procedure followed day after day until we reached our Home Land. On one of our trips across the country from Texas to Missouri, I saw my mother take a couple of shots at a man who wanted to come into our camp. As he approached our camp, my mother told him to stop but he kept coming, so she cut loose with a couple of shots at his feet and he turned and ran away. My mother was an exceptionally good shot with a pistol. My father said when I was about six months old that my parents owned and operated a general atore at Grove Dale, Missouri, and one day two men came into the store and began to help themaelves. My mother told them to get out. They were slow in getting out so she put her pistol to her eye and said to them: "Get out or I will put a hole through you." One of the men said to the other, "Come on, she is a woman," so they walked out and took off. My father came in the store a little later and my mother told him that she had just run a couple of men out of the store because they were nosing around too much. He was surprised and said to my mother: "Do you know who those men were?" When he told her that one of them was Jessie James she said, "I don't care if it was the president; they had no business taking my groceries without paying for them."
When my parents lived in Salem, in 1901, I decided to go West and make my fortune, so along with three other boys about my age took off for the wilds of the West. We landed in New Mexico in the city of Albuquerque, broke and hungry. We pawned our guns and got a few dollars and moved on into the woeful of the great West. Here we found life somewhat different from our Homeland. We started looking for work and it wasn't easy for we were so young and the employer was skeptical of our ability to work. They needed older men. We did find a job in a Coal Strip Mine. The Boss said to us, "Boys, you can't work until you have something to eat." As we sat down to eat, one of our hard boiled guys said soemthing about the food. The Boss didn't like what he said so he pulled us from the table, one by one, and tossed us outside. We didn't get our eats . . . left there hungry and started out into the country. We found a dry spot and set up camp for the night, built a good fire and stretched out for the night's sleep. But, we couldn't sleep. If we were still, the wild animals would come up to our fire anil start snuffing at our feet. We would kick at them, shoot our guns a few times, and they would vamoose for awhile, but soon be back again. This kept up all night. When daybreak came, we moved on into more trouble. Our only source for money was to find a gambling joint where we could win a few dollars. We did find a rusty dump, got into a 21 game and won a few bucks. After we won this little money, the Boss said to us: "You hillbillies get out and stay out; you are too young to gamble." Well, we got out in a hurry. We were looking for his gang to take a shot at us. Each of us carried two guns and we thought we were tough. This sleeping on the ground every night made us tough. The only bed I saw while I was in the Wild West was when I was sick and was in bed for about three weeks in a Railroad Grading Gamp. You couldn't call it a bed, just an old cotton mattress thrown on the ground in the corner of an old dirty canvas tent.
A lot of the things we did out in that wilderness I can't put in print. It would take too long to describe. We had a few fist fights and a few bloody noses, nothing serious. We went to see a Buffalo Bill's show. This was near Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I did talk to him for a few minutes about some of his tricks. He was really a nice fellow, he would take time and chat with anybody. He looked to be about fifty years old at that time. This was in July, 1901. From there we went looking for work, went here and there but couldn't find what we wanted. When night came upon us, that was where we spent the night. We never got a bath only when it rained. Although this was desert country, it did rain once in awhile. We had no soap; all we could do in our rain bath was to rub our bodies with a hunk of prairie grass and rain water. This would knock off the loose dirt and we felt as though we had had a bath. Drinking water was out of the question. We suffered for a drink of water many times. If we got something to eat, it would be what wild game we could bag. Having no water, we cooked this game, dirt and all. It really tasted good to us. When you arc hungry, you will eat most anything.
We never ran into trouble with the Indians. They seemed to stay out of the way. It wasn't often that we found a gambling dump that would let us take any part in the games. We just moved on, looking for where we could get a few bucks. We didn't think of crime. Although we were pretty rough, we didn't want to go to jail. Well, it happened! Two of our gang decided to go back to old Missouri, so George Summers and George Patten put out for home. Burr Branson (my nephew) and I bummed around for awhile and Burr decided to move on into Arizona where he married a country school teacher and has lived eyer since. This move left me alone. I knew it was up to me to make good. I found a job that any boy would dream of . . . a cow ranch. My job was to ride the line fence to see if there was any broken fence wire, and if there was broken wire, to repair it. This trip would take all day and a part of the evening. When night came, we would spread our blankets on the ground and fall in (that was what they called it). Well, this sleeping on the ground was not too bad when it didn't rain, but when it rained, we would just lie there and take what came. Sometimes I would turn my face to keep from drowning. The next morning we would get in the sunshine and dry our clothes.
I graduated from this cow job and started looking for something better and I found a job with a Railroad Grading Camp. I didn't get started with this outfit for I got up sick the very next morning, and I mean really sick with Malaria Fever. I was in bed for three weeks. The cook at the camp was my doctor. He would give me a white powder, which he called calomel. He said this calomel was what the doctor gave for that kind of fever. He would give me the food he said I should have. The Boss would ask the cook every morning how that young feller was getting along in Tent 7: My fever broke in about ten days and I was so weak I could hardly stand on my feet. I finally got stronger and the cook said to me: "Boy, you should go home to your parents; that is where you belong." This job would have been what they called a mule skinner. I told the coolc I wanted to work awhile to pay the Boss for my eats. He said, "You go on home and forget the Boss." Well, I said to the cook, "I am broke." He said, "You don't need any money; I will fix you some food to take with you. You won't starve before you get home." Well, I took his food bag and started for home. My only way to get home was to bum my way on the freight cars. Not being experienced, I did pretty good; I got home in two days. This was in 1902. When I got home, my mother would not let me come into the house before I had a bath. She gave me an old wash tub and a pail of water and sent me to the old coal shed to clean up. Then I went into the house and talked to my family about the West. I said to them that the West was too rough and rugged for me. They sympathized with me and then the fireworks started.
My father gave me a real going over. He said to me, "Boy, you have sowed your wild oats and it is time you wake up to the fact that you are almost 21 years old. You should start to get somewhere in this life. Settle down, get a job and get married. Raise a family and shoulder some responsibility." Well, this getting married didn't go over too good with me; getting married was the last thing I had in mind, but while he was going all over me, I didn't say a word. I knew when he said something and gave you that look over the top of his eyeglasses, he really meant it. The last words to this lecture were: "DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" This, I did. I did go out and get a job, a lot of jobs. I worked here and there for about a year. Then I got a couple of small estates, opened my own bank account, and was a big shot around town. I started to see a lot of pretty girls and have a good time, turning them down for some other girl, and finally something happened to me. This was on New Year's Eve, 1903. A friend of mine said to me, "How would you like to have a blind date with a Queen?" Well, this I was proud to honor so he and I went to a livery barn and rented a two-seated buggy and started out to meet this Queen. He took his old girl friend and I had the Queen. So we took in a square dance that evening and had a nice time. Before I let my Queen get away, I said to her, "How about seeing you tomorrow?" She just nodded her head, didn't open her mouth. I thought this was cute. Well, I did see her the next day and every day after that until it was on June the 16th, 1903, that we were married and started our own business. We set up housekeeping in Salem, Missouri, and that following fall we moved to Gila, Missouri. This was about 25 miles southeast of Salem. Gila was just a post office located at the side of the road. We worked this farm for three years and it was here that our first two children were born. Then, we wanted to do better and decided to move to St. Louis, Missouri. This was December, 1906. I went to work for the United Railway Company as a Conductor (Street Car Conductor). I worked at this job for four years. I laid this job on the shelf and worked at a lot of different jobs and it was here in St. Louis that our other two children were born. In 1914 we decided to move to Chicago, Illinois. We lived at several home locations in Chicago from 1914 to 1951, a period of 37 years. I worked at a lot of different jobs. I was employed by the Western Electric Company from December 1915, to August 1922, first as a Cable Process Inspector, then a Clerk in the Inspection Department, then to Assistant Foreman, then on to Division Head. This was a very responsible position. It required a lot of technical supervision. I handled this job smoothly and completely for about three years. In August, 1922, I turned in my resignation to the Western Electric Company and opened offices at 4239 West Harrison Street in Chicago for real estate in all of its branches, and have been selling real estate most of the time since.
My wife and I worked hard all through the years to bring our children up to maturity and on their own. Our children were good children. We never had to correct them when we took them along with us to visit friends; at home they were well mannered children . . . our daughters I never had to correct but the boys I had to set straight once in awhile, but as I think back over the years, they weren't too bad . . . just boys. My wife and I had 48 years of married life together. She was my young love and my old love, the only real love I ever knew. Our last home address was Clarendon Hills, Illinois, a small village just west of Chicago. Here she spent the last years of her life. On July 27, 1953, she passed away. Cause of death, blood vessel breaking just below the esophagus. She was laid to rest in the Clarendon Hills Cemetery. She left fond memories with those who knew her. Let us remember her as she was, really a great person, a devoted mother and a true wife. May she rest in peace. God will bless her forever.
I often think of what my father said to me when I told him that Mary Frances Mounce and I were going to be married. If you remember, I said in the beginning of this report that my father was a man who knew character. When I told him of our coming marriage, he said, "I am delighted; you have made a wise choice. This Mary F. Mounce is one of the finest young women in this part of the country. She will make you a good wife and I want you to be good to her and you won't have any trouble, but I warn you, she is not a person who takes trouble sitting down." Now I can realize he really knew character.
After my wife passed away I realized I was all alone. I became very nervous. I could not continue to live in the old homestead. I sold the property and rented a room in the town of Downers Grove which was near Clarendon Hills. I stayed there about two weeks but I couldn't take that any longer so I started to travel around from one part of the country to another. Then, I stopped at my daughter Alma's home near Hillsdale, Michigan. It was here in Hillsdale that I met a wonderful lady by the name of Cleo (nee Wandell) Carter, a widow. We became good friends and were married, not for love but for companionship. You don't have but one love in this life. Cleo was a good woman and a good partner. We enjoyed each other's company very much and we had five wonderful years together. On September 7, 1957, Cleo passed away suddenly. Cause of death, a stroke caused by sugar diabetes. Cleo was laid to rest in the Kirby Cemetery just east of Hillsdale, Michigan. Cleo's home was Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. After Cleo passed away, I remained in Hillsdale, all alone and on my own. I am now employed by Herb Fowle, a Realtor, with offices at 74 1/2 North Howell Street, Hillsdale. Mr. Fowle is now our Postmaster here in this very much a Home Town. My duties are to sell real estate and attend to the office business.
I would like to say that I have a lot of sweet and wonderful memories of my childhood days when my parents lived in the Ozark Mountains. There were four of us children in the family . . the oldest, my sister Eva, eleven years old at that time, I was the next oldest at eight, my brother Frank, five, and my youngest sister, Maude three years old. We spent many a day playing and romping through the wilds of the mountains, hunting, fishing, boating, and doing just about anything that any kid would do. Every day was a dream day for us kids. My older sister Eva was not much for the rough stuff. She was more of the refined type, wanted to stay in the house and be more doleful. My brother Frank was an all out go-getter; he was ready for anything and any adventure that came up. My younger sister, Maude, was a different type person. She liked the outdoors, always wanted to go with us everywhere we went. On account of her age (only three years old at that time) we had to be very careful with her so that she would not get hurt, but she was always ready to go with us. When she got a little older, she was a good hunting partner. She always wanted to go hunting with my dad and us boys and when we would bag some game, she wanted to carry it home. She liked to show off a little. As she grew older, up around fifteen or older, she was one of the prettiest youngsters in the whole countryside. She could have won a beauty contest in anybody's country.
Our country had a very poor school system in those days. If a child didn't want to go to school, he could stay home. That was up to the parents. The school had nothing to say about the children staying home. I remember going to our country school. This school was about three or four miles from our home. We kids would walk to and from school, carry our lunch pails and do a lot of scrapping on the way, and this was fun for us kids. I can remember that our teacher's monthly salary was $30.00 per month and they would pay out of this sum $5.00 a month to some neighbor for room and board. I also remember the achool trustees complaining about the high cost of running the school. With a school system like this, you can see that was the reason so many children went without an education those days.
As the years rolled by, I grew up to be a workman. I worked when I could and the little money I earned I would give to my parents. I helped them all I could.
My two sisters were wonderful to me. No man would want better sisters. They always showed great affection for me and always kept in touch with me, giving me encouragement to go forward and do better in business. Anything I did was all right. I couldn't do a wrong . . . that was their way of thinking about me. I, on the other hand, was a stubborn jackass. I would hold back on my love and affection for them, never expressing my real love for them. They just kept on loving me and I kept on being stubborn. Now I have realized my mistake and I feel very badly about this. I pray that God will forgive me. I am sorry.
I have seen a lot of changes in my eighty years of life . . . from the ox team to the Jet age. Today, if you saw a covered wagon moving along the way, the first thought you would have would be that it was a Gypsy outfit and you would have an unkind feeling for them. Back in the Eighteenth Century, the only conveyance by land was Horse Power with some kind of vehicle. The covered wagon was a common scene in those days.
The population of our new country was in very much of a turmoil in the early days. Everybody was looking for that Gold Mine but it seemed to be just ahead. Some people have found that Gold Mine and are now sitting on it. If you haven't found the Gold Mine, you can do the next best thing.
Here are some of my experiences in the fields of life's livelihood for survival . . . different employment at different times in the line of my 80 years. Most of the following mentioned jobs came in the depression years and after I had reached the age of 20 years.
The first job was a farm hand, then a livery attendant, selling nursery stock, making wood alcohol and learning the business, cow ranch hand in the West, railroad construction in the West, Life Insurance, Industrial Division, Express Co. freight distributor, Packing House Meat Inspection for U.S.A. during World War I. Learned the Cooper Trade, worked for the Western Electric Company as a Process Cable Inspection Division Head, newspaper subscriptions, salesman in South Water Street Market as a Retail Produce Salesman; owned and operated a Bread Route in Chicago; owned and operated two trucks in delivery business, in South Water Street Market in Chicago; owned and operated a Retail Produce Business in Chicago; owned and operated a Retail Grocery Store in Chicago; owned and operated a Retail Egg Business, Chicago; gave demonstrations and sold kitchenware to the housewife; worked for Schaffer Brothers in Building Material sales for three years in St. Louis, Missouri; during World War II, worked for General Finishing Lab. in the Heat Treating Department of the Japanning Laboratories in Chicago.
I owned and operated my own real estate business, located at 4239 West Harrison Street, Chicago, Illinois. In 1940, my partner, Bill Garven, and I build a number of new homes and we were doing a nice building business when in 1942 World War II came along and building material was rationed so we were compelled to discontinue the business of building homes.
Now, in my later years, as a hobby, I manufacture a wonderful medicine, specially prepared and is highly recommended to relieve body aches and pains in cases of Arthritis, Rheumatism, Athletes Foot, Sprained Ankles, Itching Skin, Back Aches and Over Exerted Muscles. I call this medicine "Hilbert's Wonder Run" and I now sell this remedy to many satisfied customers in six midwest states. My Mail Order business now reaches forty postal addresses in Ohio, 38 in Michigan, a few in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Arizona. My customers order and reorder my product continuously. I have in my office files hundreds of testimonial letters from people who have used Wonder Rub with satisfaction, and praise its validity.
This experience in the fields of employment has given me some knowledge on how some things should be applied.
I do hereby certify to the veracity of this report.
Charles Edward Hilbert
A WARNING TO THE YOUNG
DON'T do anything in the first half of your life
that you will regret in the last half of your life.
If you do, Old Age can be miserable. Let us live up
to the Glory and Might of that Secret of Divinity. Amen.
Mary Maume came from Gortacurrig, Kildorrery, in northeastern county Cork, Ireland. Kildorrery is almost straight north of Cork city.
Mary's husband was George FREDERICK Helbert. George and Mary were married in St. Louis, MO on 7 Sep 1854. The record is indexed as George Helwert and Mary Murphy.
George is buried on their farm; I have seen the grave and have a rubbing of the headstone which shows he died 14 Feb 1890. We don't know where Mary's grave is; it might be in Useful, MO. Mary died shortly before 10 Feb 1900 while living with dau Annie in St. Louis. It doesn't sound like Charlie knew them, does it, although they lived long enough for him to have known them.
I have no marriage record for Julia, b 1862, and James Mahoney, but my father also knew that was her husband's name. I don't find him ever being governor of Arizona: not when it was still a territory nor after statehood. (Wikipedia has a list.) Julia was still with her parents in 1880 (age 18, reported 16).
Charles was born in 1856 and was still alive at the 3 Jun 1880 census. He must have died age 23 or 24.
Mary Delephine Helbert, b Jun 1861, d Aug 1930, was their third child.
Obviously Charlie meant to write "fourth" child. Annie must be the Nancy we see in census records, given that we know no Nancy and there is never an Annie listed. So she would be the second child, born 1858 ... later reporting her birth year as June 1865. Not with the family in 1880; age 22? and already gone to St. Louis? 6 Jun 1900 census, St. Louis, MO, living at 103 N. Channing.
Before I started family research, we thought our ancestors emigrated abt 1800 just because we didn't know anything further back.
I have gathered some records of David Branson's descendants - with info that differs from Charlie's. I show Andy married to Mary Ann Williams; they had 9 children, including the sons Charlie mentions. Betty married Frank Owens and had 10 children, not just 3, but no Margaret marrying a Shaffer and no son Jeff. David Branson's daughter Ruth, married to William Carnes, had 3 children that I know of. Mary Ann may have had no children with Williams, but she also married James Lore and had 10 kids with him.
My grandmother also had the idea that her grandfather owned a hundred slaves, but I have been glad that census records haven't confirmed that. Apparently his estate was the largest yet settled in Phelps county but I don't know the details of it.
Fred and Nadine also had a daughter. They divorced and both have second marriages, but no further children.
Don, my father, was the youngest of Maude's three children, Vernon being about 7 years his senior.