My grandparents did indeed come from the old country, or old countries, to settle in the land of opportunity. My father’s parents came from Germany, and even now I have relatives there whom I have never had the pleasure of hearing from. However, one of my cousins and his wife lived in Germany for a little more than two years and became acquainted with some of our relatives. It was his privilege to bring back a picture of our grandfather when he was a young man, made from a newspaper picture. My father’s name was Fey, and his father, John N. Fey, and his mother, Augusta Fischer, both emigrated from Germany.
When I was a small child my grandmother went back to Germany to see her family. She had brothers there. They wanted her to make her home in Germany, so they persuaded her to marry while there. Her first husband had died when my father, the oldest of their children, was 16. She did marry again while in Germany, but not with the intention of staying there. Her new husband had asthma and was not allowed to sail on the ship, so she came back to the States alone and got a divorce.
My mother’s family name was Newcomer after they arrived in the United States from Switzerland. The clerk could not spell their name so just put it down as Newcomer. They left Germany because of religious persecution.
Some of the Newcomer relatives settled in parts of Nebraska where only Indians and a few settlers lived. One of Mother’s relatives was the Rev. James Query, the first preacher in that area. He and his family had some interesting experiences with Indians. The Newcomer family grew to include Uncle Frank Hibbler, who lived in a log house. There also was an Uncle Tom Record. They were my mother’s great-uncles.
One of her great-uncles came to visit us on the farm in Nebraska. He enjoyed sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, which faced the road. He had a saying that I still remember – “Yes sir, you know sir, it’s a nice day today,” regardless of the weather. Mother made some marmalade while he was there. I remember it because he enjoyed it a great deal, while the rest of the family did not care for it.
My mother’s mother was Alice Davis. I have no information about her. She died when my mother was 3 years old. Her father was Frank Newcomer. He later married a widow with children. They moved to western Oklahoma by covered wagon.
They settled 40 miles from the nearest town, where they could buy things like flour, sugar, etc. Grandpa had to go by wagon. It was necessary to go through an Indian encampment. The Indians were friendly and always asked Grandpa to stop for a meal. He graciously declined each time. He was afraid they might serve dog meat.
When cotton was ready to pick, the children were taken out of school to pick – first at home, then for the neighbors. Life was hard. The Newcomer grandparents asked that my mother come stay with them so that her grandmother could make her a new dress. When the dress was finished they did not let her go back to her folks; life then was easier for her.
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.