Dad and Mother Ulmer

Dad and Mother Ulmer
By Mrs. Delores Ulmer Chapman
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, 1972.

   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 idea!

   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.