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1943: Wahlert claims he holds two county records

Bits by Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on Aug. 5, 1943.
Jacob Wahlert, Luverne, holds two county records and both records are worthy of note. First he is the father of 16 children, all of whom are now adults and living in various parts of the United States. Secondly, he claims the record of having more sons in the service of their country than any other father in this country. At the present time, five Wahlert boys are in uniform, and it is expected that two others will be called to the colors in the future.
Rearing a large family as Mr. Wahlert and his wife did was a job in itself; but it was a pleasant task, not a drudgery, Mr. Wahlert states. One of the secrets of their success, however, was the fact that they lived on a farm all the time the children were all at home. “There was plenty of work for them to do,” Mr. Wahlert said, “and plenty of space for them to play in so we always got along just fine.”
Mollie, the oldest, is now Mrs. George Blomnell, who lives in Minneapolis. George lives on a farm in Mound township. Rose is Mrs. Alfred Staeffler of Battle Plain township. William F. Wahlert lives in Dayton, Ohio, and Elizabeth lives with her parents at home. Cpl. Alfred Wahlert is stationed with the army at Warrenton, Pa. Harry and Raymond live in Cincinnati. Jacob, Jr. is serving with the U.S. Navy in California; Mamie, now Mrs. Dick Schmuck, lives in Luverne township; Mildred, Mrs. Dick Brewer, lives at Adrian; Sgt. John Walhert is serving with the army in North Africa; Ralph lives in Minneapolis; Pvt. Harvey Walhert is with the army at Boca Baton, Fla.; Pfc. Arlo Wahlert is stationed at Carolina Beach, North Carolina, and Dorothy, Mrs. William Lutt Jr., resides in Springwater township, Rock county.
Mr. Wahlert has been a resident of Rock county for nearly a half a century, and until moving to Luverne a year ago last spring, he had been a farmer all his life.
He was born in Germany April, 17, 1868, the son of John and Mollie Haack Wahlert. He lived with his parents until he was 16 years of age, attending school, and working out away from home as soon as he was able. In Germany, Mr. Walhert said, there were “no ifs or ands about it”, everybody between the ages of 7 and 14 attended school during the winter months. During the summer vacations, usually about four months in duration, he helped on farms, usually receiving about $10 for his summer’s work. However, even during the summer months, he had to go to school two forenoons a week.
Two of his brothers left home before he did, and came to this country, and they were so impressed by the United States that they sent him money to come here, too.
“Father was a working man,” Mr. Walhert explained, “and once a working man there, you were always a working man. You never had a chance to get ahead. I didn’t like the idea of working all my life for practically nothing, so I decided I could do no worse here, so I took a chance and came to America.”
In making the trip to this country, Mr. Walhert managed to get a stateroom in the middle of the ship. While the ends of the ship went up and down over the waves, the center of the vessel remained quite stationary and for that reason, he didn’t become seasick. After about 12 days on the ocean, they steamed into New York harbor. “Boy it was surely good to see land,” he said. “If you are accustomed to being on land, and then don’t see it for a while, it really looks good to you.”
A person had to do a lot of work for what he got in that pioneer era, according to Mr. Wahlert, even though America was then and is now, the land of promise. The working day on the farm began at 4 a.m. with the morning chores, and ended about 10 p.m. with the evening chores.
“People have changed a lot in the last 40 years, however,” Mr. Wahlert states, “and there’s an awful big difference in the way they live. Working half the night was a lot of foolishness. Get out early in the morning and then quit when supper time comes — that’s the way I think one gets along the best. When I first came to this country, though, everybody seemed to be working from daylight until dark.”
Mr. Wahlert settled first in 1884, in Iowa county, Iowa. The first grain binders had just come out then, and although clumsy, were a big improvement over the “self-rake.” Bundles were tied with wire, not with twine, and at threshing time, someone had to stand with a pair of nippers to cut the wire bands before the grain went into the threshing machine. About 12 head of horses were hitched to a horsepower which provided the motivating power for the rig. If any job was ever hard on horses, that was, Mr. Wahlert said. After they became obsolete, the steam rigs were used. Like anyone who has had anything to do with a steam threshing rig, Mr. Wahlert still likes the sight of black smoke puffing skyward, the sound of the whistle and the smell of steam and hot oil.
Mr. Wahlert came to Rock county in 1895, working first on a farm as a month laborer. That fall, he obtained a job with a threshing crew at $1.25 a day and helped the county until the latter part of October.
He began farming for himself in 1896 on a place in Luverne township, southeast of the county farm. On Nov. 20 of that year, he was married to Dora Bendt, in Luverne, by the late Judge Webber.
After they were married, they moved to the northeast quarter of section eight. Luverne township, about two miles west of Luverne, and lived there 12 years before buying the southeast quarter of section 35, range 46, in Springwater township, which was the Wahlert home until they sold out and moved to Luverne a year ago last March.
Although busy with his own affairs, Mr. Wahlert found time to serve as road boss in Luverne township during 1904, 1905 and 1906. While living in Springwater township, he served about 18 years on the school board of district 46 and held that position at the time he moved to Luverne.
Of a family of four boys and one girl, Mr. Wahlert is the only one living.
He has 25 grandchildren.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

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