Remembering Margaret (Maggie) Nieland (Mueggenborg) (1881 - 1962)

— from David Nieland, recollections in 2004 and Joe Voss, phone conversation in 2000

Antone [1876-1922] and Maggie (Nieland) Mueggenborng [1881-1962] moved to Oklahoma before 1909. Their first two children were born in Iowa and the third was born near Okarche. She told me they moved to Oklahoma two years before Oklahoma became a state and that was 1907. People they knew from Breda had gone out to Okarche and found land that Antone thought would be good to farm. Maggie borrowed money from her bachelor brother, Hein [Henry G. Nieland 1876-1931] to buy land. Antone went first and Maggie and the children followed, traveling by train. They loaded all their household goods into a boxcar. I don't know how much livestock they took - but they did take the chickens and likely a cow. Hein rode in the boxcar with all the family's worldly possessions and Maggie and the children rode in the passenger cars.

The house Maggie moved into on the farm in Oklahoma was pretty primitive, even for the times. She told of putting the legs of the kitchen table in cans of kerosene to keep the bugs off the table. She put the food and the baby (probably in a crib or basket) on the kitchen table to keep both safe from the bugs. When the wheat needed to be shocked, the family would work in the field at night, because it was too hot to do such heavy work in the Oklahoma summer. The baby slept on the kitchen table while all able hands worked in the field.

Maggie never had her hair cut. When Antone died she wanted to have it cut, but Grandpa [Henry] Nieland asked her not to cut it. He said he used to comb and braid her hair when she was a little girl, before she went to school. He asked her not to have it cut because of that. She did that for him. Maggie later broke her arm and could not comb her hair and again she wanted to have it cut. Her children said, "No!" and one of them came every day to comb and fix her hair until her arm healed. Her hair was never cut - once by request of her father and once by the request of her children.

Joe Voss says the farmhouse was not much protection from the cold either. It had linoleum on the floor and the Oklahoma wind blowing under the door would raise the linoleum.

The family started in Oklahoma with very little money and a big debt. Joe says they may have arrived too late to plant the first year on the land. Antone walked the roads near the farm and collected wild sunflower stalks with the seed heads. He piled them behind the chicken shed and the chickens fed on the sunflower seeds the first winter. The family is said to have survived on eggs and "blue sky" gravy. The recipe for this is simple - flour, a bit of any fat you have (butter, chicken fat, lard), heated in a cast iron skillet. Then add milk or water and cook until it thickens.

— as told by Loretta Voss Schaefer, November 2001

"I remember that Grandmother [Maggie Mueggenborg] had several horses in the barn there [Okarche, OK]. My uncle Clements usually rode after the cows. I might add, that on one of his rides to get cattle in he jumped off the horse, broke his leg, and later developed cancer of the bone as a result of the break. Back then (1937? or so) there was nothing to be done for cancer so at the young age of 28 or so he died. What we question now is, 'Did he have cancer of the bone which caused it to break, or did the break cause the cancer?' "

— as told by Lorraine Nieland Starman, October 2001

"Maggie Mueggenborg was a very nice woman and my dad, mom, my brother Dennis and I attended one of her sons' wedding in Oklahoma in 1940. She let me ride a saddle horse she had and he headed straight for the barn with me on the saddle. The bottom barn door was open but not the top one. I ducked down just in the nick of time!"

— as told by Joan Wittry (Hannasch), December, 2001

Regarding our visit to Oklahoma, Clarence also had cousins, the Krauses, in the Okarche [Oklahoma] area. One of my cousins [Agnes Osterholt, born 1930] in Oklahoma married one of his [Clarence Kraus, born 1923] so, on our honeymoon, we drove down to visit them.

His cousin, also Clarence, had a combine that was huge and they had begun to follow the wheat harvest to earn money to pay for this big machine. They had a convoy of rigs and trucks and worked from dawn to dark seven days a week from Oklahoma to Canada all summer.

After the harvest, they returned the visit, coming to see us at Carroll. While in Oklahoma we saw several of our cousins and went through the Ozarks on our way home. This was June '49.

Clarence [Kraus, Joan's first husband] died in 1952, from injuries in a car accident during a fierce rainstorm that flooded the road and he crashed into a bridge. Our sons, LeRoy and Gerald [Kraus] were so young. Lee was 2 and Gerald 8 months then.

Grandpa Kraus and a neighbor helped do the farm work until we harvested the crops and had a farm sale. A man who had once lost his wife and people helped him out, repaid his debt by organizing people to come and help do our harvesting. I never knew this man until years later.

Since the Kraus farm was then rented to someone else, we moved to Carroll, first renting a small house and later buying our own.


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