Volume 1, Number 10
Born in Wurttemberg, Germany, in 1844, John George Burger, Jr., came with his parents to America in 1853. The family came from Germany via Paris to Havre, France, and sailed from Havre on the ship "Heidelberg" in August 1853. It was a stormy voyage of thirty-nine days to New York City harbor. After landing in New York, the family immigrated to Marshall, Illinois.
A year before the Burgers came to America, the little girl who was later to be the wife of John George Burger, Jr., had come to the United States with her parents. She was Anna Maria Mayer, born in Weisbaden, Germany, in 1849, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Mayer. The Mayers had sailed from Havre, France, in February 1852 enroute to New York. They immigrated to Ohio in 1854, and later moved to Marshall, Illinois.
J. G. Burger II, age 18, with Henry Millhouse (seated). Tintype was made at Paducah, Ky., May 1862.
John George Burger, Jr., was a Union soldier during the Civil War. His unit was Company C, 62nd Illinois Infantry, and he was the orderly of General Powell Clayton. He had enlisted in 1861 and served four years and three months.
After John George Burger, Jr., and Anna Maria (Mary Anne) Mayer were married on June 6, 1867, they made their home in Clarksville, Clark County, Illinois. Thirteen children were born to them, twelve while they lived in Illinois and one after they moved to Swan, Missouri.
The children of John George and Anna Maria (better known as George and Mary) were:
Louise Marie (Lou), born March 25, 1868
Rebecca Susan (Bessie), December 22, 1869
Sarah Ellen, January 16, 1872
Emma Elizabeth, September 12, 1873
Mary Anna (Mae), August 1, 1875
John George III (George), February 24, 1877
Charles Christopher (Chas.), February 27, 1879
Oscar Wesley (Bob), December 17, 1880
Noah Ernest (Noah), October 9, 1882
William Edward (Willie), September 20, 1884
Harry Earl (Earl), September 6, 1886
Virginia Olive (Virgie), December 29, 1889
Herbert Harold (Herbert), September 7, 1893
In mid-year 1891, Mr. Burger, accompanied by his eldest son George, then fourteen years old, headed West for the Missouri Ozarks (land of the big red apple). The free homestead land and free range with crystal running water of many everlasting springs caught the eye and ear of many pioneers. They located in Taney County, three miles north of Swan, in Hodge Hollow. They soon had found a nice home site, cleared the land, and had a "house-raisin' " underway. By the end of the year, the sturdy two-storey log house, 18 x 18, was ready for the family to come to live in. George Burger III never left Taney County nor Swan, Missouri. He helped set out the orchard and vineyard, clear the land, and plant the first potato and turnip crop that helped get the large family through the first hard year in Hodge Hollow.
When the second installment of the Burger family came to Missouri in January 1892, there were seven children with Mother Burger when they boarded the Pennsylvania Lines at Marshall,
Illinois. The older girls, being employed around Marshall and Terre Haute, stayed with their jobs (and, I reckon, sent a few dollars now'n then to help keep the wolf from the door!) Mae, 16, helped corral the little flock on the journey. Charles, 13, was at the helm; Bob with the bird cage; Noah, the little red rocking chair; Willie, the highchair; Earl with the bag of necessary equipment for the baby (Virgie); and somewhere-all wanting to help with it at times-was the huge lunch box. What joyous anticipation and excitement-the first train ride-to the land flowing with milk and honey (and wild grapes, persimmons, and sorghum molasses.)
The family had a mind to work and, what with the virgin soil and mild weather, they cleared the land and raised the crops and garden. The cattle, pigs, and chickens multiplied. They had enough and to spare. They were good neighbors and had good neighbors.
Louise, the eldest, married in Illinois and never lived in Missouri. The other twelve all lived in Taney County at some time. The seven boys and sister Virgie went to school at Swan School.
The Burgers were a religious family, beginning in the old German church, Evangelical, in Illinois where they heard the sermons and prayers in German. They were taught to speak German in their home, but when they started to school the English soon dominated.
Bess was the first to marry in Taney County. She married Milt Merrick, country storekeeper and postmaster at Swan. They made their home near the store, what is now known as "Journey's End." George Burger soon came in as a partner and assistant postmaster as Milt's health began to fail. Bess and Milt had two children: John Newton (now Dr. J. N. Merrick of Seattle, Washington), and Lorene Merrick Mahnken (Mrs. P. J.) of Kansas City, Missouri. Bess, still hale and hearty at the age of 94, makes her home with Lorene.
Sarah married Calvin Cook. To this union five children were born: Raymond, Gladys (deceased), Ruth (Davidson), George, and Ernest-all living near Taneyville and all with nice families. Sarah died October 8, 1906.
Emma Burger never married (as her little girl friend said, "God never made her a man"), but she has lived a useful life. She was a dressmaker, and now resides in Springfield, Missouri, hale and hearty at the age of 90.
J. G. Burger II, J. G. Burger III, and J. G. Burger IV, Billings, Mo., about 1918.
Mae married Calvin Shipley, who had recently moved to Taney County from North Missouri, with his grandparents, the Wes Raines. Calvin and his grandfather were carpenters by trade. Mae and Cal moved to Indian Territory before it be came the state of Oklahoma. They made their home at Tuttle where he was a merchant, and lived there until his death in 1951. Mae is now 88. Their family consisted of three sons: Chester (de ceased); B. C., who lives in Oklahoma City; and Howard, who lives in Lubbock, Texas.
Virginia married Chas. Donmyer of Solomon, Kansas, and has resided in the same lovely farm home built in 1912 where they moved as soon as they were married (1912). They had one son, Paul Francis. Virginia's husband died in 1957.
One of the outstanding achievements in the lives of the Burger boys was having a part in the building of Lone Star Church near Swan. The fine neighbors participated in this-each to his special task.
It was Noah Burger who had the privilege of hauling the great Bishop Wright of Dayton, Ohio, from Chadwick depot to Swan and back again. It was also he who saddled "Tige", the gray horse, for the Bishop, and accompanied him to three
United Brethern churches to conduct annual conferences. Following
this event, the gray horse was christened "Bishop". Also soon after this,
Bishop Wright's boys, Orville and Wilbur, invented the first airplane.
Four of the boys, Charles, Oscar, Noah, and Willie, attended Methodist College (MCI) at Marionville, Missouri. Charles, Oscar, Noah, and Earl taught school some. Charles and Willie studied for the ministry. Willie died at the Marionville school in 1904. Charles finished seminary and preached, holding pastorates and other offices in the Congregational Church for more than fifty years. He preached his first sermon and his last sermon at Swan school houses. His first sermon was in the school house known as "Chunk and Mud", and the last sermon was at the Swan Home coming in July 1962. Charles died in St. Louis in January 1963. Earl died in Springfield in 1927. George died enroute home from visiting his daughter Marguerite in Kiarnath Falls, Oregon, November 1954. Oscar (Bob), who served more than fifty years as a railroad engineer with the C & El, died in Danville, Illinois, in 1957. Oscar, Earl, nor Willie ever married. Earl and Herbert both finished high school at Billings, Missouri.
Both Noah and Herbert served in the Medical Corps during World War I. Noah was stationed at the Base Hospital at Ft. Riley, Kansas, and Herbert served overseas in France and Germany until the Armistice, continuing for some months in Germany.
To go back in Burger history to 1909: Charles at that time married Blanche Pratt at Waukomis, Oklahoma, where he had his first church. Incidentally, Blanche was the organist, and a lovely, Christian girl. They were married in September 1909, finished school together, and later a baby daughter was born to them when Charles held a pastorate in Sherrill, New York. Roberta survives her father and mother and adopted sister, Betty. She is Mrs. E. E. Kice, and to this union were born three children. They now live in Webster Groves, Missouri. Ed is a Bell Telephone executive, and the children, Ned, Susan, and Cristaan, are in school.
George and Nancy Burger, 1911.
In 1910, George Burger married Nancy Clark, daughter of John and Isabelle Clark of Swan. Before their marriage, George had lived with his sister, Bess, from the time her husband, Milt Merrick, had died in 1903. At that time, George bought an interest in the Swan store and had become postmaster there until after his marriage. He bought the Spurlin place for his home and moved his bride right in. To them were born three children: J oh n George IV, Louise and Marguerite. John served four years in the Pacific during World War II, stationed in Hawaii and the Marshall Islands. George moved into a newly built store building where he kept store for more than fifty years until his death. He retired at seventy from the Post Office after fifty years' service. His son, John, became postmaster, continuing until the Swan Post Office was discontinued, and running the store until his untimely death in 1961. Mrs. George Burger (widow) still runs the old country store at Swan. Their daughter, Louise (Mrs. Jurd Haworth), lives in the community, and has helped run the County Court House at Forsyth for many years! Marguerite (Mrs. Clarence Jennings) and husband, a Taney countian, have two sons, Ralph and Keith, and now are living in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
George Burger and sister, Bess, never moved their residence from Taney County. Neither did they ever cease being interested leaders in their
own right. Bess, with whom cooking was a speciality, was
always willing to help a sick neighbor or befriend a stranger at her door. "Count
that day lost whose low descending sun/ Views from her hand no worthy action
George, a leader in his community, organized church and Sunday Schools, served on school boards, and carried store accounts over many rough places. While he never "finished" school, he never ceased to be a learner! He was a natural bookkeeper and historian, being an authority on the time and place of many early incidents in Taney County. He contributed regularly to the "Waste Basket" column of the Springfield news paper for many years, and made many friends, none better than Lucile Morris Upton. He died in 1954.
Noah, now 81, and Herbert, 70, are the two surviving sons. Noah married Eva Mills of Garrison, Christian County, Missouri, in 1911, and they have no family. He operated the Gen'l Merchandise store at Garrison, and later lived at Swan for three years. From there they went to Sparta and then to Springfield where he served as Postal Clerk in the Springfield Post Office for twenty- three years, retiring in 1952. They celebrated their Golden Wedding at "Breakfast at Heritage", KWTO, in 1961, and in 1963, celebrated their fifty-second anniversary.
Herbert married Hortense Kruger, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1919, and they moved to Solomon, Kansas. To this union was born one son, Harold Edward, in 1922. Mother and baby died in 1922. Herbert now lives with his wife, Helen, in Conrad, Montana. An adopted stepson, Al Burger, is the only son left to carry the name of Burger. Herbert is a retired businessman, and he and his wife have spent the past 12-14 winters in Phoenix, Arizona.
Blacksmith Shop at Swan, about 1906. Bill Jones at left, and J. G. Burger II and J. G. Burger III at wheelbarrow.
One of the two most outstanding accomplishments of the Burger Family, as a family, has been their "Round Robin" Family Letter which was started in 1911 and has been in continuous circulation ever since. It is now carried on largely by the second generation, and makes the circle bi-monthly if promptly answered by each participant. The other is the wonderful Family Reunions started in 1917 when Mother and Father Burger celebrated their Golden Wedding at Swan. All of the children were present and most of their families. The Burger Family Reunion is still the main attraction of the year-just not so large anymore and sometimes delayed and relayed. Swan, Missouri, is still the ideal place, and "Journey's End" still the ideal home; however, it has been held in Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington, as well as Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri. A hobby of some of
the family has been keeping a diary for many years back.
We did not dwell on Lou's family as they never lived in Missouri; however, she married John Schwartz near Marshall, Illinois, and to this union were born eight children: Claud of Phoenix, Arizona; Ralph (deceased); Harold (deceased); Mary (deceased); twins, Lloyd of Mattoon, Illinois, and Floyd of Los Angeles, California; John of Salina, Kansas; and George of Springfield, Illinois. John and Lou spent most of their married life around Marshall, Illinois, although they lived for a short time near Council Groves, Kansas. Lou died in California in 1950 while visiting her children living there. John preceded her in death, and both are buried at Clarksville, Illinois.
Father and Mother Burger left their home on Bilyeu Creek near Swan in 1913, soon after Mother Burger had suffered a stroke, and moved to Billings, Missouri. There they made many friends and enjoyed an old German community. Father Burger (John George II) died at Billings in 1920, and is buried at the Sparta Cemetery. Mother Burger (Mary) died in "Mother Bickerdyke's Home" in Ellsworth, Kansas, following a second stroke and broken hip. She is buried beside her husband at Sparta.
On this New Year's Day, 1964, there are four daughters and two sons surviving George and Mary Burger who were married June 6, 1867.
1940 Burger Family Reunion
I just took to thinking that in a heap o' ways,
I'd about forgot my childhood, and old Hodge Holler days;
It took a lot o' botherin' from a tummy full o' grub,
To fetch back recollections 'bout days o' Chunk 'n Mud.
About days when Tige and Topsy would carry us afar,
To the meetin' house across the hills - to ol' Lone Star.
How Prince would come to meet us at the foot of ol' Long Ball,
How at night the road would brighten at the hearin' of his call!
Swan Township Sunday School Convention held at Lone Star Church, First Sunday in October 1908.
Lone Star * Forty Years Ago
(Parody on "Twenty Years Ago")
I wandered to the Lone Star church;
I sat beneath the tree,
In the shadow of the old church house That sheltered you and me.
But few were left to greet us there, And few are left to know- Who helped us build old Lone Star church Just forty years ago. The same old seats are in the church, The bell swings to and fro;
Its welcome sound is just as sweet As forty years ago; But the folk who met us at the door, Their forms are gone from here; We said "good-bye" for a little while, When we stood beside their bier.
Our journey too is almost done,
Our worship days must close;
But somewhere in the "Great Beyond"
We'll meet again, I'm told;
Then we shall talk of Lone Star church- And how it helped us win A nobler life, a better home, And Eternity with friends.
In the beautiful Ozark range Lies a valley most fair, Wending its way onward, Bilyeu Creek, the crystal clear stream. Like the river of life It is ever flowing, Like a fountain from God's throne A most beautiful refreshing stream. The birds sing sweetly The squirrels squeak and play. Reminds you of Heavenly Anthems We all hope to sing some day. The days all seem brighter, The heavens seem more real, When meditating on beautiful nature God created for us all here.
|Lorene Merrick and Virgie Burger, 1909.|
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly