Thursday, March 24, 2011

Moritz and Marie: Hardship in Paige, Texas

From New York, Moritz and Marie Beier traveled by train to Paige, Texas, in Bastrop County.  The U.S. rail systems was growing rapidly.  They could have chosen routes through Chicago or St. Louis to connect with the Houston & Texas Central Railway.  The H&TC Railway came through Paige every day on its way to Austin.

My grandfather Rudolph Beyer and his sister Ella Beyer Hardi wrote much about Moritz and Marie's life near Paige.  Both were born at a later time, so Moritz and Marie must have talked a lot with their family about the hardships they experienced.

Some of these notes are pieced together from the manuscript photocopies I have been given.

Rudolph Beyer wrote in 1969:  A former close friend August Thiele had left Germany earlier & had started on his own near Paige.  Also August Thiele was first to meet them at the train & took them to his house for their first meal at Paige, Texas.  Father soon landed a job with a farmer, Mr. Highsmith, who could talk the English language only.  This farmer had Father to cut up trees for stove wood & clear land.  The pay was very small, but could take home a hog free for meat any time he needed meat.  Hogs were running wild in pastures & lived on acorns.  They, Moritz & Marie, did not find the new country as they had expected, and would have returned to Germany if they could have made enough money to return. 

Ella Beyer Hardi wrote:  They came to the United States in August 1884.  She was 25, he 33 yrs old.  [After arriving at Paige], they lived for a time with Moritz’s sister and husband, Amelia and Henry Kmoch, who had migrated from Germany earlier, and lived in a very small 3 room house. 
They also stayed with the brother Carl [Beyer] and wife Annie.  The deep sandy soil, and extremely dry climate, added to their early hardship.  Maria, (my grandmother) would ride horseback to neighbors, the Thiele’s, as walking in the sand was so difficult.  Mr. Thiele and grandfather had known each other in Germany.  They chance met in the road near Paige, were happy to see acquaintances.  Moritz cleared land of cactus at Paige, preparing it for farming, for the owners. 

Ella Beyer Hardi also wrote:  When first arriving at Paige, Tx, there was much suffering from the drought, and Grandmother had said, it was late fall before she had enough water to do a washing.

Ella Beyer Hardi notes:
I remember my Parents just brought a little boy Emil along from Germany. While living at Paige mother was sick a lot. Neighbors heated rocks to keep her feet warm and one foot the sole was burned so bad after it healed part of sole was like leather.  Couldn’t wear a shoe for long time.  [She also] miscarried.  The little boy got sick in morning and died that night of the same day. They called it the black jaundice.

Moritz and Marie buried three children near Paige at the Milton Chapel Cemetery.  Their graves are no longer marked:
  • Emil Beier – Sept 18, 1883 (Germany) to Mar 18, 1886 (Texas)
  • Infant son – Born Apr 18, 1886
  • Ida Beier – Apr. to May 1890
Although conditions were harsh while they lived at Paige, not all of their news was sad.  On July 14, 1887, as noted in a previous post, Moritz filed his Declaration of Intent to become a citizen of the United States at the Bastrop County Courthouse.  The next day, Marie gave birth to Olga Beier.  Olga lived until 1957.

Rudolph Beyer wrote:  They lived their first 7 years in the U.S. at Paige Texas.  Father's first work was clearing land for a Mr. Highsmith, then buying 2 horses. 1- a mare & raised a mule colt.  Farming was new to them and lots of the work was done the hard way.  Their first cotton planting was done by hand.  Later a furrow was opened with a sweep stock, and a 50 gal. wood barrel with a shaft through center hooked to 2 poles, and a horse would pull this similar as a gig or single buggy.  This barrel had 1 or 2” holes all around & this way, after filling the barrel with Cotton seed through a larger trap hole on one end, was their first Cotton planter, as the seed dropped into the furrow.  Cotton seed was very cheap & waste did little harm.  Some Cotton gins burned seed under boiler for steam, unless some one hauled it home for cow feed.

1 comment:

  1. Just a note that Amelia Beier Kmoch (sometimes spelled Emelia) would have been the same age as "Ernestine Beier", the single female that sailed from Hamburg with "Ernst Beier" in 1884. Also Henry Kmoch (Heinrich Kmoch) was listed on a 1880 Census schedule as a lodger with a family in Serbin, Texas, which also said he immigrated in 1879 from Germany. Comments added to Ella Beyer Hardi's note suggest that Amelia and Henry may have married after Amelia arrived at Paige.
    I am looking for immigration information for Moritz Beier's brother Carl.