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Our Family


Excerpts from
SOME MEMORIES OF
FRANK SCHUKAR


as written by his daughter Dorothea Schukar Rohrs

BACKGROUND: August Schukar had come to the US from Prussia in 1852 with his parents, brother and sister. They settled first in Wisconsin, and all three children married there. In the mid-1860's they all moved to the prairies of Fayette County, Illinois, near Vandalia. Several Fayette County families, including some of August Schukar's relatives, moved to Buffalo County, Nebraska, about 1885. Three years later August took his family there, too.

The reason the Schukar family moved so often was that Grandfather [August Schukar] had asthma and was always trying to find a climate that would be agreeable. They made the move to Nebraska from Illinois in 1888, in an emigrant car--a railroad car that was half stock-car for animals and machinery on one end, and half box-car for the people and household goods on the other. A [cousin] of Grandfather's and his family came too.

This was a real ordeal--the train crews thought the emigrants were an awful nuisance, and were as harsh and inconsiderate as they could get by with--which was plenty! For instance, they would set the car off on a siding and perhaps leave it there for days, or perhaps for hours, but they wouldn't tell the people, so they could get off for a while. So they had to take food enough for the entire trip with them. Dad [Frank] was only eight years old at the time, but he remembers that they all got sick, and when they got to feeling better, they longed for something different to eat, but there wasn't anything, so they had to eat more of the same, (foods that friends and neighbors had brought in before they left), and promptly all got sick again. He always thought it was coffee-cake with a kind of egg and cottage cheese topping that did it, and with our present-day knowledge of food poisoning, I imagine it was. He could never eat anything on that order all his life, because it reminded him of that dreadful trip.

In 1893, after a couple years of drought in Nebraska, several related families decided to try Texas, after hearing reports of good land available there. They sold their farms, and packed up their belongings into covered wagons and headed south.

He was just the right age for [the wagon trip to Texas], 13 years--old enough to not need watching all the time, and young enough to escape the worries and ignore the hardships. The children his age could get off and run alongside whenever they wished, and each evening's camp brought new delights. They were following one of those famous cattle trails and met herds of cattle being driven to Dodge City. (Later, when the movies "Dodge City" and "Cimarron" came along, Dad really enjoyed them and told many incidents that he hadn't told before these movies reminded him of them.)

For instance, south of of Dodge City, some cowboys who were returning from a cattle drive, rode along with the wagon train for several days. The Schukars enjoyed their company and did not think too much about it, until they came to a river that had to be forded exactly right, because there was quick-sand on either side of the ford, and if they had gotten into that, they would have lost everything, including even their lives, perhaps! As soon as they were safely across, those cowboys spurred their horses, waved goodbye, and soon disappeared, traveling at their own pace at last. It was only then that the Schukars realized why the cowboys had traveled with them for those several days!

Frank Schukar liked Texas, and retired there in 1948, enjoying his last years in the Dallas area.

Excerpted from "Ancestors and Descendants of Friedrich Schukar and Maria Sasse" by Mona Houser (copyright 1985)

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