Sunday, January 3, 2016

George Leroy Houseman

First off I must say, I had a dickens of a time with these pictures for some reason, so my disclaimer is to enjoy them as they are, and I will attempt to keep fixing them.  They just wouldn't cooperate.  Enjoy the Ancestor Flashback today......

George Leroy, Ida, and my Dad David
George (My Grandad) was born on the 18th of October 1911 in Deshler, Thayer County, Nebraska, to William Henry Houseman and Louisa Catherine Suiter. 
George, whom I will hereafter refer to as Grandad, was the second youngest of 13 children, and the last living of them all. He lived a long life of 94 years and 3 months. I can’t imagine the changes he must have seen in his life span. From horses and buggies, one room schools, to the age of computers and travel that we live in today.

At a Houseman reunion held in Brooks, in July of 1995, this brief history of Grandad was related as a tribute by his grandson Mark Senecal.
George was born on the 18th of October 1911 in Deshler, Thayer County, Nebraska, and lived there until he moved to Canada in 1929. He was milking cows and doing many chores before he even started school, and he started school at the age of four. He didn’t quite finish high school because his father, William Henry, died and he and his brother Hank had to operate the farm for two years before he moved to Canada. When he was a child he remembers that to get money to buy groceries they milked the cows, then separated the cream, and sold the cream. This was their grocery money.

George first came to Canada in 1929 with a brother, Raymond, and some of their neighbors. They rode in a box car with all the animals and farm equipment, and household furnishings. They had a set of bedsprings tied to the roof of the boxcar that he slept in with a friend. One night the wires broke and they fell down onto the tractor below.
When asked why they chose Brooks, Alberta, to homestead, it was because they were interested in buying irrigated farmland from the rail road company. They bought this land for $60 per acre.

Raymond moved his family to Brooks, in the fall of 1929.

Hank, Grace and George, sorry for the sizing of this pic.  It was being pretty stubborn
Hank and George with their mom and Grace (a sister) came to Brooks to stay in the spring of 1930. They brought with them a couple of cows and calves, some farm machinery and some household furnishings.

George took his mother home in 1936 to be buried, and returned with Henry and Rose Albers, a sister and her husband, and their animals and property.

He met Ida Bender when she was working for Raymond and Myrtle, doing
Grandad, Grandma and their three kids.
housework for them. They were married on the
9th of October 1936 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Ida was born in Schuler, Alberta, Canada on the 3rd of January 1919. They bought the farm from Raymond in 1943. And after farming the land for 47 years, they retired to Duchess, Alberta. George will be turning 84 in October of 1995.

Some of my own memories I have of Grandad and Grandma, first start of course when we all lived out at the farm in One Tree District. They lived in a three bedroom house, which still stands today, and we lived in a home on the same farm, which has since been moved off. As kids, I remember spending quite a bit of time at their house, since it was just next door. We loved to be with Grandma and she would always feed us. Even today she always wants to be the perfect host and is always offering to find food or drink for us. She was always especially good at giving us vitamins, which most of us still faithfully take to this day.

I remember Grandad being a really hard worker. And of course on the farm, there were always many things that needed to be done. I think the work was never ending. We would ride along to take Dad and Grandad dinner out in the field, because they only could stop the tractor long enough to stick some food in their mouths, and let us kids play up in the tractor for a few minutes, and then they would be back at it, until late at night. 
Grandad had always been a small man, physically, but a giant of a man inside. He has an attitude of work until it is done, and even then work some more. He has been a wonderful Grandad and has always gotten pleasure from his grandchildren and even great grandchildren.

Due to his hard work and Grandma’s healthy eating and fabulous home cooking, Grandad has always been one of the most physically fit people I have known, the next being my own Dad who is just like his own Dad. Even up until his passing, I marvelled at his overall health and physical fitness of his body.

Grandad and Grandma spent some time at my home in B.C. in the summer of 1994, and then in the summer of 1995. Their objective was to pick blackberries and make jam. It was great fun to spend time with them and still see Grandad’s excitement with picking blackberries. I think this is another hereditary trait in our family. Now for any of you who know what blackberries are like, you’ll understand the thorns and vines and what a nasty, tangled, mess it is to pick these berries. Well, Grandad had his coveralls, gloves, hat, and boots on, with belt around waist, bucket attached to belt, and a step ladder trailing behind for hard to reach places, and bush clippers to cut his way back into the thick of the bush, where the best berries usually are. He meant serious business.

From his funeral:

George Leroy Houseman

Born October 18, 1911 in Deshler, Thayer County, Nebraska, and passed away on January 16, 2006. Grandad was 94 years old.

Grandad was the second youngest child, but youngest son of thirteen children,
born to William Henry Houseman and Louisa Catherine Suiter. He was the last to pass away. He started school when he was four years old, but that wasn’t the first of his education. He was trained well in the art of milking cows, and doing chores on the farm and around the house. He wasn’t able to finish school because his father passed away and he and his older brother Henry or Uncle Hank as most of us know him, had to run the farm for two years before they made their move to Canada.

Grandad and Raymond made their first trip to Canada in 1929 to check out the
possibilities of farming here. Land was selling for $60 per acre. Raymond moved here to Brooks in the fall of 1929 with his family, and Grandad, Hank and their mother moved here in the spring of 1930, bringing with them a few cows, some machinery, and household things.

In 1936 when Grandad’s mother died he returned to Hebron to have her buried there with his father, and returned with another sister, Rose and her husband.

He met Grandma in 1936 when she was working for Raymond doing housework for them. They were married on the 9th of October in 1936 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. They bought the farm out at One Tree, from Raymond in 1943 and farmed there for 47 years. They retired to Duchess where they spent the next 12 years, until Grandad’s health needed them to be closer to help, and they moved into Brooks where Grandma still resides today.

Grandma and Grandad have three children, David, Lila, and Dory, with 17 grandchildren, and __lots of __ great grandchildren, and 4 (at the time) great great grandchildren.

Here is a story related by Bea Behnke about a time when they came to visit the relatives up in Canada.

I was probably about 9 when Mom and Dad (along with me) decided to go to Canada to visit George and Hank's families. We didn't write or call - we just drove up from Nebraska! Guess Mom and Dad figured they'd be home since they were farming. We arrived in Brooks on Saturday evening after dark - I think around 9:00 - 9:30. Since we had no idea where either George or Hank lived, Dad stopped in town and asked the first person he met if they could tell him where Hank or Shorty
Houseman lived. This guy said that he had just seen Hank in town a few minutes ago, so they took off to find him. He and Dorothy were both in town, so they were the first ones surprised. We followed Hank and Dorothy out to George and Ida's with a plan for when we arrived. Dad went to the door by himself (of course it was dark out) and when George came to the door, Dad said he was looking for work and was told in town that George was probably needing some help on the farm.

Well - George had been napping on the "Chesterfield" (a new word for me...) when Ida saw two cars drive in and pull up in the dark - (Uncle Hank didn't want them to see his car and recognize it right away.) So she of course, woke up Uncle George. There had been a murder in a town not too terribly far from Brooks and the murderer had not been found and just before he had fallen asleep, the radio had announced that there was a chance that the suspect was in the area of Brooks and the surrounding towns. So - the two cars, in the dark shadows - spooked him - when he went to the door, he quickly put the hook across and latched the screen door at the same time Dad reached to open it and ask for work. Dad was quickly told that "No" - Uncle George didn't need any help.....but Uncle George also noticed two figures in the shadows - Uncle Hank and my Mom - who wanted to hear the conversation. Dad used to call Uncle George "Governor" when he was younger and so he repeated his request, this time calling him Governor, instead of George. He still didn't catch on. Then my Mom stepped up and tried to get involved in the conversation about a job and he didn't recognize her or her voice either - still being in the dark and shadows, and still that one figure that he could see, (Uncle Hank) was standing back farther. Finally, after getting a little concerned, Uncle Hank stepped up and said "Come on, Shorty, let 'em in." Course he recognized that voice. What a great reunion that was. Aunt Ida probably knows how long it had been since they had seen each other, but I think the last time may have been when Grandma Houseman died in 1936.

I was just 6 weeks old then. I don't know if George and Hank had been back to Nebraska since then or not.....but if not, it would have been almost 10 years since they had seen each other.

The first Houseman Reunion - at Yellowstone - what an experience that had to be for the Houseman siblings. All the cooking was basically done outside on the open fire. I always picture Uncle George getting the fire ready. Everybody brought lots of food from home - my Mom and Dad brought bacon, ham and eggs, along with a HUGE griddle to cook on....and the California relatives brought so much fruit!!!! Uncle George brought lots of meat, too, I remember. I'm sure that all of us cousins are grateful that the Reunions got started - otherwise, we would have not known each other very well, as the miles had taken many of the first generation in lots of different directions and visits were few and far between.

Since we spend the winters in Sun City, Arizona, we get to see more of George and Lila since they come to Sun City Grand, Arizona. The last time Uncle George and Aunt Ida were in Arizona, they helped me celebrate my birthday in February. We've got some good photos of that evening and I'll remember his smiling face from that time.....good times!!!! Our oldest son, Michael, shares the same October 17 birthday as Uncle George.

The other thing I remember hearing my Mom talk about many times, according to the letters she would get from Grandma Houseman after they went to Canada and particularly the year before she passed away, she wrote that she was being well taken care of......and George did without things that he needed, to make sure that she had what she needed. Mom said it was hard to see them go to Canada, but she was proud of her younger brothers (George and Hank, both) and grateful that their Mother was being well cared for.

Thoughts shared by Hollis Grone:
I don't have any particular story to tell about Uncle George except that when I was a little shaver he had come back to Nebraska to husk corn for my Dad. It was a cold season and he had come down stairs where we had no heat. Mom used a cook stove in which she burned corn cobs and wood. Uncle George opened the oven door and sat down on it and the door broke. It took a little time for him to live that one down. I remember when my Mother, Bertha was in the nursing home that Uncle George and Aunt Ida came all the way down here to visit her. They came in their camper and parked by the nursing home so they could spend time with Mom. I thought that was really considerate of them.

Thoughts from Sheldon Houseman

Almost every time I try to think of something about him it has to do with berries. Him and his garden in Duchess, the raspberries in particular. I realize now how little I knew him, and really never did get to know him like I would have liked to. His smile and his laugh are the only other things that I can say were unique to him, and that I will miss.


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