He left behind very little in the way of material goods, but one item is a gold mine– the life story recorded by my father-in-law in his own handwriting. Persuaded by his daughter, Sharon, to record his thoughts and observations of his earlier years, Walter M. Lohr started writing and recording stories he recalled from the time spent with his parents. He recounts tales his own father first related about their ancestors, the Lohrs, Greenes, and Lellmans. There are some dates and places, but the true beauty of the stories is in the details.
He tells of life on the prairie in Logan Township, Clark County, South Dakota and the many years when the crops failed, moving herds of cattle on a four day drive, riding the train for the first time to visit his grandparents, his mother going to Chicago to buy the grand champion cow at the International Livestock show, the carpenter who built the farmhouse (including a diagram and evaluation of the house!). The house would be home to Walter for 58 years, with the exception of nine months at college and a year and a half when he lived in the north end of the county. It was also home to Walter and his wife Frances for 32 years.
Also included in the memoirs are stories of land being sold to someone else after being promised to Walter, early country school consolidation … and many more stories up until the time Walter and Frances were married in 1935. He said in the later years that part was for someone else to write.
In addition to providing an insight into his life, Walter included many details that have helped me trace the family ancestry to previous generations. Later checking has corroborated all the details and clues he mentioned in the book, including the Grunheck family who employed Walter’s immigrant ancestor, Mathias Lohr, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. This name was an important clues years later that helped locate the Lohr family origins in Butzheim, Germany.
Now the challenge is to follow his example and record the stories of the present generation for our posterity.