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Peter R and Anna Thiessen Harms History Page

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Peter R Harms Family Picture
about 1949 only 5 grandchildren at this time!
Peter R Harms  January 7,1897-October 7, 1968
Anna Thiessen Harms   March 10,1900-February 10, 1990.  

Anna Thiessen Harms and siblings.
 She is the one on the chair in the middle.
 If anyone knows the date please let me know. 
 I think about 1901-1902.   

Anna  Harms Story

Anna Thiessen Harms Shares Her Memories

Anna (Thiessen) Harms was born March 10, 1900 in Jansen, Nebraska, a small town in Jefferson County. Her parents were Peter B. and Anna (Isaac) Thiessen. Peter B. and Anna Thiessen had eight children. They were Maggie, (the oldest) David, Lena, Pete, Kate, Anna, Elizabeth, and Agnes.

        When Anna was a young child she moved with her parents to Alexandria, Nebraska in Thayer County. Alexandria was located near the Blue River. Many times after a big rain the river would overflow its banks. There were two large bridges to cross over the river and at times after heavy rains the water would raise and flow over these bridges. After the rains and the water had gone down in the river Anna's Dad and neighbors would fish with a seine. They caught mainly carp and some catfish. They would catch about a tub full of fish and the children would help clean them. Anna remembers a couple of times a few carp were so long they would hang over the width of the kitchen table. Their Mother would fry a big platter of fish and they could eat all the fish they liked.

Anna began her school days in a one-room country schoolhouse near Alexandria. Since her parents spoke a lot of the German language, German was the language Anna spoke when she first started to school. She recalls one day seeing her Dad cutting alfalfa in a field nearby the school. Speaking in Low German, she tried to tell her friends it was her Dad in the field, but they could not understand what she was trying to tell them. She did soon learn to speak English and could communicate with her friends at school.

When she was a young child she had several bouts with tonsillitis. When they had to have a doctor for her illness she remembers watching Dr. Grebe make pills at the table. He had small pieces of paper and would shake powder from bottles on the paper. Anna recalls going to her Grandpa Thiessen funeral when she was six years old. The hearse was black and was pulled by two nice horses. This was in 1906 in Jansen.

After a few years her parents moved back to Jansen, Nebraska. The children had to cross a railroad track to go to school. One time Anna carelessly crossed the track when a train was coming very near and it frightened her.

At the age of twelve Anna moved with her family to Meade, Kansas. Her father farmed and broke horses part time. All of Anna's family worked hard. Her sister Liz and Anna herded cattle on foot until their Dad purchased them a white pony they named "Bumpo". Most of the time they rode Bumpo bareback. While Anna's Dad and his sons did custom work with their threshing machine, she and her older sisters worked in the fields with horses pulling the machinery to plant and cultivate the crops.

Anna has many fond memories of her parents. Her parents instilled in their children the values of honesty, earnestness, and discipline. They were a close family strong in the Mennonite faith. She recalls many times her mother would gather the children around the dining room table to read and teach the children from the Bible. The children knew their parents cared for and loved them very much. Anna was seventeen years old when her father passed away on April 13, 1917.

Sometime later Anna returned to Fairbury, Nebraska to visit her sister Maggie and husband Henry R. Harms. While there she attended an engagement party for her cousin. At this time she renewed acquaintances with a childhood friend, Peter R. Harms, from north of Fairbury. Pete and Anna had attended the same church and school a .few years together when they were children. Anna, along with other young folks, had gone to the party in Pete's parent's car driven by Pete's older brother. When the group stopped by to pick up Anna and Pete's sister Agnes at Maggie's home, Anna and Agnes got in the back seat. Pete asked Anna if he could sit beside her while going to the party. Anna answered Pete, "Yes, if you behave yourself!" Later that same evening when the group had gone to Pete's parents home, Pete asked Anna if he could accompany her to Maggie's house --"Permission Granted!" So young Peter R. Harms, with the family's horse and buggy, accompanied Miss Anna Thiessen to her sister's home that evening. This was their first date.

Anna stayed at Maggie's home for about two months and Pete and Anna had several dates during that time. Although Anna returned to her home in Meade, Kansas a romance between Pete and Anna bloomed from that evening of Anna's cousin's engagement party. Pete and Anna corresponded by letters. Pete had to work at home and could go see Anna only two times in almost two years. The second time he came he asked her to marry him. Anna said, "Yes"! Anna's Mother and Kate arranged an engagement party for Pete and Anna. Kate, Anna and their Mother made a couple of quilts and other things for the home. They sewed Anna's wedding dress. Soon they were all ready to take the train to Fairbury, Nebraska to prepare for Pete and Anna's wedding day.  *see note below

Pete and Anna were married February 9, 1919, in the Mennonite Church by Reverend B.O. Kroeker of Jansen, Nebraska. [This would be the Ebenezer Church renamed in 1937 --the Jansen Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church which would later become the Jansen Bible Church]  Their first home was the same home Pete's parents had lived in and this was where Pete was born. They lived here about two years and Herb was born here. They moved from near Fairbury to near Jansen, Nebraska. They lived here several years. Lee, Irene, and Melvin were born in this part of Nebraska. Merlin was born on the Rueben Cole place.

There were two frightening incidents Anna recalls when her children were young. One day Herb, Lee and Irene were playing outside and Anna went out to check on them but she did not see them anywhere! She called for them and from far above on a tall windmill she heard little voices saying, "We are up here!" Lo and behold Anna looked up and there were Herb, Lee and Irene! After coaxing them to come down she asked them "Why did you climb so high?" They told her they were watching their Dad threshing about a mile away at the neighbors. Another time after Pete and Anna had moved to Kanorado, Kansas in 1932 and Herb was about thirteen years old, Herb and some other children were walking down a country road coming home from school and Herb was struck by a drunken driver. Herb was seriously hurt and had to go to the hospital for several days.

Pete and Anna farmed and Pete broke horses part time while they lived in Kansas. Their son Eldon was born south of Kanorado, Kansas, in 1933.

In 1934 the Harms family moved to the Madrid, Nebraska community where Pete and his family farmed and did custom work. Dale was born in 1936 and Jerald was born in 1942 in the Sutherland, Nebraska Hospital. Anna's Mother passed away October 30, 1946.

In July 1955 the Harms family moved to the town of Madrid. The home they lived in was a gift from Lee and Lill. Pete later was employed as the janitor of the Madrid School for eight years.

After Pete's health began to fail when he contacted Parkinson's disease, Pete and Anna moved to Grant, Nebraska in December 1967, and lived at Sunset Haven. Eight years after moving to Grant, Pete became very ill and entered the Perkins County Hospital. He remained in the hospital for almost five months until he passed away October 7, 1968. Anna endured a lot of sorrow after losing her husband Pete, but a few years later in June, 1973, Anna was blessed by having her son Jerry survive, although he was badly hurt, a plane crash which took the life of a good friend Hoyt Hendricks.

Anna lived at Sunset Haven until June 21, 1982, when she came to live at Golden Ours Home. Before coming to Golden Ours she had two leg operations and did lose her leg from complications of sugar diabetes, poor circulation and blood clots, she has an artificial leg and handles it very well.

Being a very ambitious person, Anna has continued to keep herself busy at Golden Ours. She has made fifty-seven rag rugs, giving most of them to her family and friends and selling a few of the rugs. She has pieced and made many quilts and pillows and is always working on projects to give to her loved ones. She does many things to help in the activity room. She enjoys writing letters and does a lot of reading. Anna plays the piano by ear.

Some of Anna's "Favorites" are: COLORS---red and blue; FLOWERS--roses, zinnias and petunias; FOOD------fried chicken and bran flake bread (her family's food specialty); SONG---all hymnals; HOLIDAY--- Christmas, because it is the birthday of Jesus.

A humorous incident that happened to Anna while she has been at Golden Ours was a time when Lee and Lill had come to take her for an outing. They all went out the south door when a friend stopped to talk with them. Anna, in her wheelchair, was sitting on a slant on the sidewalk. All of a sudden the wheelchair started moving! Anna thought Lill was pushing the wheelchair from behind--oh, so fast! Lill did not realize the wheelchair was on the move----AWAY went Anna in her wheelchair at high speed to the far end of the ramp! Before Lee and Lill were aware of what was happening---there was Anna dumped out of the overturned wheelchair on her knees! Anna said she had often prayed on her knees-----but not in that fashion!

A highlight in Anna's life was in August 1987 during the Perkins County Centennial celebration in Grant. Anna, her son Jerry, Jerry's son James, and James' daughter Stephanie, representing four generations of the Harms family, rode in the family's 1955 Ford car in the Centennial parade.
        Although Anna has had her share of hardships she believes the Lord has blessed her and her family in many ways. Their faith has played a most important part in their lives and Anna is proud of her family and that they are all believers. Anna accepted Christ as her Savior on June 11, 1915 at revival meetings in Meade, Kansas. Both Pete and Anna were saved before they were married and were baptized and belonged to the church. When they moved to Madrid they joined the Mennonite Brethren Church in 1936. Anna has read the Bible thirteen times and still enjoys reading it. She recently celebrated her 88th birthday.

        To describe Anna Harms --she has a good sense of humor and a bright twinkle in her eyes. She is a very courageous, devoted woman of strong faith. Anna is an inspiration to many.

Anna Thiessen Harms dictated this life story to staff in 1988 while living in Golden Ours.

     Retyped by Kathy Sperling (granddaughter-in-law) in 2002 with minor editing.

* Kathy's grandmother Katie Penner was living at Meade, Kansas at this time and helped with the shower for Anna Harms -little knowing one day their grandchildren would be married!

Sod house that the Harms Family lived in at one time.

Farm yard of John L Harms at Fairbury, Nebraska

Harms Journal with birth and death dates

ClubCreek Plat

John L Harms grave pictures by Lee Cornelson

Peter R Harms Family History: Paxton, Nebraska 1937-1954 by Dale Harms in 2004
Peter R Harms Family History page 2 

Pete and Ann at the kitchen table
 Paxton, Nebraska

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