February 1, 1960
By R Bell Robertson
My father, James Riley Tucker, came with his father (James Riley Tucker) to eastern Nebraska where they settled on a homestead in Nemaha County. At that time the nearest shopping center was Nebraska City where they took grain to the mill and purchased their groceries. Later grandfather purchased the "Pre-empt" across the road east from the homestead on which buildings were placed and young James Riley took up farming when he married.
James Riley married Kathryn Conway, daughter of Colonel and Bridget Conway at Brownville Nebraska on February 12, 1885. Brownville, on the Missouri River was the county seat for Nemaha County at that time. To this union five children were born. The first-born was a son, and he was born on October 22, 1885 and since he was premature he died at birth. Belle was the second child and Fayetta was the third to be born on the pre-empt.
Riley then bought a farm in Johnson County, five miles east of Tecumseh and one-half mile south of the Brownville road. They improved this farm nicely with four room square house, board walk to the wash house, fully equipped as of that time. A large barn painted red and a hay barn were some of the improvements. Father planted a nice big orchard with a wide variety of fruit trees. In the orchard he placed a colony of bees. Nearly every time that we went to town during the summer we took sacks of apples and several pounds of honey to sell.
On this place was a nice timber growth all along the creek. Father liked to hunt. He would throw out grain near the edge of the timber. With no game laws at that time we had a mess of quail whenever we wanted them. We children were always elated over having the privilege of being able to have a stuffed quail a piece at a meal. We lived one and one-half mile from a rural school. Without a house anywhere on our way we were sent to school on a large work horse or an ex-race horse. Belle did not get to attend school until she was past seven years old because of the distance. Fayetta started the same year so we could go together.
Living in the lower altitude affected father's catarrhal condition so in the spring of 1903 the family moved to Holt County. Brother Frank was nine months old at the time. In the meantime when father was making the down payment on a half section of nicely improved land in Holt County, the bank closed at Tecumseh. He sent a draft and it had not had time to be cashed when this bank closure happened. Being adverse to debt, Father cancelled his agreement for the half section and bought a nice quarter two and one-half miles from Page. The house had to be enlarged, an addition was built onto the corn crib making it double with a driveway for buggies. The only trees on the place was a row of cottonwoods around three sides of the farm. So Father set about to set out trees for a big orchard.
Not all of the land was broken so during the summer it became my job to drive four horses to the plow and break up several acres. The first crop on some of this new land was buckwheat and on the other was millet. The bees worked on the buckwheat blossoms. This new sandy soil produced well for any number of garden vegetables and other crops that do well in this type soil.
After Belle had completed her work in the grade school she attended the St Mary's academy at O'Neall for the ninth grade. In the meantime during the summer she had driven around the country and gave organ lessons to those children who could afford it at 25 cents for a hour lesson. The earnings from this summer's work was to pay for her room and board and schooling at the academy. There was no high school at Page at this time.
By taking extra work at the academy and passing county exams for a certificate to teach in a rural school in the fall. She was 15 years old at the time she began teaching. Having taught two years in rural schools she and Fayetta attended school at Peru one year being able to get a state certificate on one year of college at that time. It was really high school work taken with college students. Both Belle and Fayetta secured positions in rural schools near Blue Hill Nebraska. Fayetta had quite a struggle with her work at Peru since she was unable to attend the academy the entire 9th grade the year before because Father had lost several milk cows and didn't have the money in order for her to complete the year. On April 29, 1907, the youngest child was born (Mildred).
To help with the family income, Father had quite a clientele set up in the buying and selling of land in the Holt County area. The price of land had advanced so in price that Dad could double the price on the piece of land that he had so he was willing to sell. He had relatives and friends that were leaving Johnson and Nemaha county and coming out to Gage County. He came down to Diller and bought a well improved 80 acres one and on-half mile south of Diller and two miles east.. This piece of land was just one mile over in Gage County. Dad and Mother lived on this place until the spring of 1927. They sold the land to a neighbor whose place joined them on the south. Dad was making great plans on traveling the next summer and looking for a location of a small business - probably in Colorado.
Dad's heart had been bad for a couple of years but he was never a person to complain. But he did not live long enough to complete his plans since he died in their home in Diller the following June after they had left the farm early in March of 1927. That fall of that year, Mother moved to Lincoln where Mildred entered the University. Mildred majored in Dietetics and three years later while taking her internship in Raveswood Hospital in Chicago, Mother passed away on July 2, 1930.
Mildred was a dietician for one of the large schools in Chicago after completing her internship. While working in the Chicago schools, she was married on June 3, 1932 to Alfred Harding. They had met while attending the University at Lincoln Nebraska. To this union one child was born, Nancy Kay.
Mildred died of Leukemia at Auburn Nebraska on the 31st of May, 1939, leaving Nancy Kay who was tow and one-half years old.
Fayetta was the mother of two fine boys, Gayle and Lynn. Gayle married a nurse during the war and is now living in Virginia. They have three nice children. Lynn died of multiple sclerosis on February 12, 1958. He left such a nice family of three children. And he had such a promising future for he had worked up to being conductor for the Rock Island (train line).
Frank received his masters degree from the agriculture college in Fort Collins Colorado. He majored in industrial arts. He had taught industrial arts in Aaron Gove Junior High in Denver Colorado for several years, in fact before he received his bachelors degree from Kearney State Teacher's Collect, Kearney, Nebraska in August 1931. Frank and completed a lot of work toward his Doctor's degree when he began having trouble with his eyes and had to give up the idea. Due to poor health he was unable to teach this year only half days and the school had no place for him on that type of schedule so he is still connected with the Denver schools but on the disability list. Frank married Monica Rourke in July 1947, who is employed by the Denver Schools as a bonded treasurer. They have no other family.
After five and on-half years of teaching, Belle married William G Robertson, a well respected young farmer. To this union one daughter, Meredith Mae, was born. On the farm we had one crop failure after another until William decided to leave the farm and took training in mechanics. He bought half interest in a garage and repair shop in Diller. They also had the Buick and Olds agency. With reverse circumstances, Belle decided to go back to teaching to help make a living.
I attended Wayne State Teacher's College where I received two years of college and received a life certificate.
Since she had Meredith with her in the high schools she was teaching and it became difficult to get a high school position with but two years of college, she spent the year of 1930-31 in college at Kearney State Teacher's College. With the summer of 1930 and 31 and the year 1930-31 she was able to obtain her bachelor of science in education in August 1931. Frank received his bachelor of arts during the same graduation ceremony at Kearney that year. Belle received her Master of Arts degree from Greeley State College in 1942 having spent the three previous summers in study there. While teaching homemaking in the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, she attended one summer of further study at the University of Wyoming-Laramie. After teaching two years in Junior College at Arkansas City, Kansas, she returned to Nebraska in order to have her years of teaching in Nebraska apply on her teachers retirement.
Being prevailed upon by a number of citizens of Fairbury, Belle filed for the office of County Superintendent of Schools and won by a two to one majority. Then filing for the second term the results were practically the same. This is an elective office and for a term of four years.
Meredith, only daughter, was married after she had but one year of college. Her one daughter Marlene Jo was married the next month after she finished high school. Marlene is the mother of one some Kimberly Dale which makes me a great-grandmother.
Marlene live in Lincoln and her husband is an accountant for the gas company there. Meredith's only son was inducted into the Army on October 1957. He married a girl that lived in Gettysburg but worked in the Pentagon. They have one child, Mary Ellen, which makes me a great-grandmother a second time.
After Meredith's family was out of grade school she decided to take college work and teach. Up to this time she had been a sales lady in the Hested Store. She now has her two year diploma and has taught rural school for four years but this year has the 2nd and 3rd grades in the Alexandria/Thayer County town schools. She and two other teachers from Fairbury drive the nineteen miles each morning. She is working toward her degree by attending summer school each year. Meredith's husband has worked for different oil companies for years and at present has the Skelly Oil station leased here in the city.
As far as I know the Tuckers were interested in education and well respected family in the different communities in which they all lived.
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