Nelson Howard Ulmer, youngest son of Sarah Heim
and Emanuel Ulmer, married Cecelia Caroline Smith, an orphan from Brooklyn, New
York. She was brought to Nebraska
in 1915 by train with her younger brother and sister who were either adopted or
put into foster homes. Cecelia, being 15 years old, was able to work for her
keep so she lived with several Heim or Ulmer families, working for room and
board. While staying with Reuben
and True Ulmer, and helping care for their two little girls, Evelyn and
Lorraine, she met Nelson, Reuben's younger brother, who was a returning veteran
of World War I. They were married
March 23, 1921 at his parent's home in Dawson.
The wedding was followed by an oyster soup supper. To accommodate some of the relatives
who were always late they set the clocks back for the time of the wedding.
The following day they moved into a 4 room house 2 ½ miles north of
Dawson on 80 acres of farm land.
The house had been moved there from the old home place one half mile east where
it was originally built for Nelson's grandparents, Jacob G. and Regina Gross
Heim. On this little hill one
fourth mile west of Highway 75, Nelson and Cecelia lived all their married
lives, except for about 3 years in the early 40's. At this time they moved the family
into town to take care of Israel Ulmer following the death of sister, Sarah
Ulmer. Neither had ever married. Cecelia died at the home on May 29,
1967, and Nelson died while on a trip to Dolores's in California on March 18,
Three daughters were born to this union, Genevieve Mae on February 9,
1922, Dolores Irene on May 4, 1923, and Caroline Ruth, who died at birth, July
8, 1924. Times were hard, money was
scarce and crops were poor. We had
no running water or electricity. We
cooked and heated water on a wood burning stove and took our Saturday night
bathes in a round galvanized tub in the kitchen – the youngest got to go first! Our lights were kerosene or gasoline
lamps. We pumped our water from a
well and carried it to the house in a bucket.
Christmas was not a time for fabulous expensive gifts at our house but
usually necessities were wrapped and placed under the tree to have something to
open. Sometimes Mom made us new
doll clothes for an old doll. Our tree was a seedling red cedar cut from the
lower pasture and placed in the front bay window where we lovingly decorated it
with lots of foil ice cycles saved from year to year. It was not our practice, but we
understood some of the older generation signed their Christmas cards in pencil
so their names could be erased and the cards reused. Recycling is not a new
Probably the thing we most looked forward to on Christmas morning was a
shoe box filled with candy, unshelled nuts and maybe an orange. We each received our own box and
could eat its contents as fast as we liked or make it last a long time, but it
was all we received. It contained
some boughten hard candy and the rest was made by Dad. Several weeks ahead he bought a
10lb. Cake of Hershey's milk chocolate.
He used this for dipping.
Cherry chocolates were his specialty but we cracked plenty of peanuts for
chocolate peanut clusters and black walnuts for fudge. Dad was the candy maker in our home
at Christmas while Mom made the raised coffee cakes and tea rings she often
shared with friends and relatives.