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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stories Uncle George told Me

I talked with George Kleager, my grandfather's brother, in 1983.  He told me about his parents, my great-grandparents - Joseph Kleager and Lesetta Mincemeyer Kleager.  Telling about his father's life:

Before Joseph was married, he worked as a teamster in St. Louis.  He hauled coal across the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.  In the winter the rivers would freeze up and he would haul the coal across on ice.  In the summer, the coal was ferried across.

Joseph married Lessetta in 1875.  He was 25, she was 16.  At that time he bought a farm of 120 acres in the southwestern edge of Franklin County, Missouri on the Little Bourbeuse River (pronounced burr-buss).  He grew mostly wheat, some corn, oats, and clover hay.  He had two big draft horses.  There were also big gardens and orchards where apples, pears and peaches were grown.  George especially remembered lots of apple cider, "apple butter made in the big old iron kettle", and "bushels of apples in the basement."

There weren't many cash crops.  Wheat, which Joseph hauled to town in in horse drawn wagon, was sometimes sold.  In 1901 the Rock Island Railroad was laying tracks around Beaufort for a line from St. Louis to Kansas City.  The railroad crew used mules to grade the rail road bed, and Joseph would haul oats about 20 miles up to Beaufort for to sell as mule feed.  He received 40 to 50 cents a bushel for the oats, apparently making it worth the 20 mile trip!  A trip that far would take at least a day and a half each way with a team and wagon.

Below is a (poor) picture I took in 1983.  It is in Boone Township, Franklin County, Missouri, looking across the Bourbeuse River (where the trees are in the middle ground) to the farm house and farmstead (white buildings) that was Joseph and Luesetta's farm.  The farm was in the family at least 80 years, being taken over by Otto Kleager, the youngest son, after his parent's death.

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