I remember my grandparents
by H. Herbert Bauss - December 10, 1974.
I well remember my grandparents as I lived most of my childhood and youth with themn and my parents in their country home in what is now the city of Midland, Michigan. Their homestead is now addressed 3300 Swede Street. The house still stands and is being lived in as of this date.
Grandpa Henry Haker came to America when he was a lad and worked in the stone quarries near Amherst, Ohio, until he and his wife Christina (Griem) Haker and their three younger daughters moved to their farm east of Midland. The house was built for them in 1895 by William Dehn, and the contract papers are in my possession at this writing.
Their eldest daughter, Emma, married before they came to Michigan.
Grandma Christina Haker came to America when she was a young woman. They were cousins, or their parents were cousins. A friend of grandpa's returned to Germany for a visit; grandpa asked his friend to bring a wife with him upon his return. After Christina Griem was in America about a year they were married.
Later they purchased 40 acres in Midland Township, Midland County. The SW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of Section 11. Life was very hard on the Midland farm as the soil turned out to light send and low producing. It seems he had been deceived about the land, as the 40 acres had been planted to rye among pine stumps and the lush growth convinced Henry that the land was very fertile. For many years he continued to clear the large pine stumps from the farm by blasting them out with dynamite, using the durable roots as fence posts with remainder of stump being used as fuel to heat the homestead end for cooking. Many times the top of the cooking stove would glow red from the fast burning pine fuel. A piece of an old root is still in my possession, having been made into a lamp for us by our daughter Betty Jean and Dick Austin in 1952 or 1953.
During the housewarming party held in their new home, the dancing shook down the plaster from the parlor ceiling. This story was related by my mother, Bertha (Haker) Bauss
The following I remember:
A large (6 qt.) iron teakettle stood on the stove continously with hot coffee strengthened with chicory powder. The whole family fortified themselves with this brew frequently. The main cash crop was chicory with eggs being sold to buy staples. Several cows were kept and milk and cream were also sold. A team of horses furnished the motive power, while a large garden produced fresh vegetables and a patch helped feed man and beast in the winter. Storage of apples, potatoes, carrots and cabbage for winter use was in the earthen floored basement. Chickens and hogs were also raised, and a smokehouse helped preserve hams, bacon and summer sausage. Some pork was "salted down" in brine as salt pork to be used in Beam Soup and other cooking. This hearty, delicious soup was frequently available as a good hot after-school lunch for me. This bean soup which was available almost all the time, was made in a deep iron cooking pot, which is in my possession at the present time.
A chunk of home smoked ham on a thick slice of fresh homemade bread was called a horse and rider. Of course it was spoken in German, which I can no longer speak. Another treat was a soda cracker soaked in coffee, in a saucer. Bacon drippings were frequently used as a spread for bread, too.
Other foods I remember were the homemade sausages in links and sometimes in cloth sacks to be smoked, and Potato Pancakes were standard birthday fare. Apple "schnitz" were dried for use in winter also. Select ears of corn were tied together with the husks left attached, and hung in the attic over a wire, guarded by tin shields at each end to discourage mice. This corn was used for seed for next years planting.
It is said by my mother that I walk and act much like my grandfather, and look a bit like him too. He 'was much beloved by his family, and trusted and admired by his community for his integrity and gentleness.
As I think about those childhood carefree years, many thought are and memories are still clear as if they were only a few years ago. Grandmother Haker knitting wool sox, and a never ending supply of mittens which were beautifully done and were kri6tted with tufts of wool inside for added insulation. The hooked and crocheted rag rugs, pieced quilts, cottage cheese made from skim milk and sometimes buttermilk for a different treat. Her hands were ever busy. She was tiny and energetic, and a hard worker.
I remember deer drinking at a spring flowing out of the garden, grandfather making wooden shoes from birch, and wood yokes for carrying heavy loads such as buckets of milk, water and potatoes, etc. Calves tethered in the orchard to eat grass and fertilize apple trees. There was water to be carried to the calves, cows and horses, chicory and carrots to weed on hands and knees, vegetables to hoe, potato bugs to pick. Mother (Arlene) and I remember these things - a part of the -life of all farm families at that time in history.