Amalia Koleber was born in 1902 in Kratzke, Saratov, Russia and immigrated with her parents and two older brothers to America, entering through Ellis Island in July 1904. Her family initially settled in Russell County, Kansas, but by 1907 had moved to Rocky Ford, Otero, Colorado where they found employment working in the sugar beet fields. Grandma recalled a time when her parents left her and her siblings in the house while they worked in the fields and she was terrified as Indians approached the house. The came to the door, but caused no trouble and left without incident.
By 1915 her family had returned to Russell, KS and at the beginning of 1917, when Grandma was only 14 years old her older brother Daniel died of "Paralysis of the heart, with tonsillar abcess contributing".
By the time Grandma Mollie married at age 20 in Nov. 1920 she had 5 more brothers born to her parents. Mollie married John Ludwig Margheim in November, 1920 and gave birth to her first (13 lb!) son in August, 1921 (Ernest Ludwig, my father). In November 1923 she gave birth to another son Alfred George. And on 18 Oct 1929 she gave birth to twins (combined birth weights of 15 lbs!) Leonard Marvin and LaVerna Margola. The twins were born 9 days before the Stock Market crash which started The Great Depression. Mollie's joy over the birth of her twins was dampened when they were one month old as her mother, Katy Dietz Koleber, died on 18 Nov 1929.
The Depression caused great financial hardship to this Margheim family. They relocated to near Greeley, Colorado in 1931 where they were offered living space in the corner of a barn on the farm of some relatives. My dad told me that they hung a blanket up to serve as a wind break and to offer privacy. They soon moved to a house in Longmont, CO, but their residence in Colorado was shortened by the death of their 9 year old son Alfred on 22 Mar 1933. Alfred evidently had Rheumatic Fever as a small child and was afflicted at age 9 with "St. Vitas Dance", a side effect of the Rheumatic Fever. While in the hospital in Longmont, CO, Alfred contracted pneumonia, which ultimately caused his death. Being of the Volga German heritage, the Margheim family had strong faith in God and relied on Him for comfort and healing in those trying times. But Dad said Grandma was so deeply grieved by Alfred's death that she collapsed at the funeral. She had constantly attended her son's bedside for the many days prior to his death. During that time she spoke to him of death and eternal life with his Heavenly Father. Alfred was content with leaving this earth and spending eternity in Heaven. Dad said Alfred was a happy little boy because he knew he was going to be with Jesus.
Mollie's family returned to Kansas after Alfred's death and resided in Hoisington, KS for the remainder of her life. In 1940 her oldest son Ernest graduated from high school, worked in the CCC camp in eastern Kansas and in 1942 entered the United States Army. In 1943 Ernest married Ruby Flanders and while he returned to his service in the Army, Ruby lived with Mollie, her husband John and the twins Leonard and LaVerna for a brief time.
In May of 1947 Leonard and LaVerna graduated from high school. Leonard joined the US Army and LaVerna stayed home, taught piano lessons, and worked in a local music store. in Nov. 1947 Ernest and Ruby became the parents of twins, Marion "Dennis" and Mary Rebecca "Becky". But Ernest's happiness over the birth of his twins was short-lived, as his wife found a new love and left her family in Great Bend, KS. in November 1949. Since Great Bend was only 10 miles south of Hoisington, Ernest returned with his toddlers to his parents' home in Hoisington, where his mother and father could care for the twins while he was employed as Office Manager south of Great Bend at Thies Packing Company. Grandma Mollie became an excellent caregiver for whom she considered her precious little twins. Her own fraternal twins had just graduated from high school and she very happily stepped in to serve as "Mother" to her son's twins. There was much laughter and contentment in that household during the two years Ernest, Dennis and Becky lived with John and Mollie. Grandma worked tirelessly and without complaint as she washed clothes outside her kitchen in washtubs, scrubbing them with bars of homemade soap. She had help in her iris gardens from her "Babies" as she called "Denny and Becky". She laughed frequently as she visited with her friends on the phone, sprinkling her conversations with Ach du lieber! and other familiar German expressions. If she was ever asked by Dennis or Becky for a favor (food, a treat, permission etc) she smiled and replied "Na sure!"
Mollie's house was filled with piano music as her daughter LaVerna studied with the music professors at Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS, making the round trip by train from Hoisington each Saturday. It was also filled with fiddle and guitar music as her son Ernest practiced for his performances as "The Sunflower Wrangler" on stage in Barton County and on KVGB radio from Great Bend, KS. Grandma Mollie took in laundry from friends and other Hoisington residents to pay for the music lessons Ernest and LaVerna received. She was a hard working and very giving person, who did whatever she had to do to make her family's life successful.
Grandma Mollie never learned to drive a car, but while at home she blessed her family frequently with delicious homemade noodles, whether they were in Butterball soup or covered with cherries, and with Bierocks, a German hamburger and sauerkraut dish. She joined her friends in making quilts, and she filled closets with her hand-sewn clothes (on her Singer sewing machine). She attended her Lutheran church faithfully all her life and was especially happy to welcome her pastor into her home to serve her Communion when she not able to attend church on Sunday. As I've scanned greeting cards that have been saved by her family over the years, I've read her endearing words of encouragement "May God Bless you" and "I keep you in my prayers" as she signed her name.
Grandma Mollie lost her husband in July, 1978 from a sudden heart attack and continued to live a contented life in her home in Hoisington until her death from stomach cancer on June 6, 1986. She lived a full life and endured the losses and hardships because she had strong faith in her Heavenly Father, had been raised by loving parents, had the fellowship of seven brothers as she grew up, had the frequent company of many of them as she raised her family, and had learned to be content with her life circumstances. As she sat with me swinging on her front porch swing (handcrafted by her husband) many an evening, her conversation was positive, grateful and full of kindness. And when she commented "Ach du lieber!"it was with astonishment and excitement, rather than complaint or sorrow. My Grandma was greatly loved and gave to me the secure sense of being loved and valued. She was truly a blessing to her family, then and always.