My grandfather, John Weber, lived with his family in Nebraska, where they struggled financially. John moved to Minnesota to farm, but his first wife died giving birth to my uncle John Francis Weber. His second wife, Elizabeth Dietz (my grandmother), farmed by New Ulm. The Dietz house was ahead of its time, with gas lighting (before electricity), and a large water tank in the attic that allowed them to run water through faucets in the house. They had a smokehouse in the basement where they processed their meat. My aunt Mary Konen worked on their New Ulm farm from 1st grade on during the summer.
My grandparents John Weber and Elizabeth (Dietz) Weber built Weber-Dietz Battery and Tire Repair. It later became Weber’s Service Station and John eventually sold it to his sons, Leo and Ted Weber. When my dad, Leo, was married in 1952, he felt there wasn’t enough money for two families to survive at the garage so he drove a Gluek Beer truck and worked at Gottwalt Lumber until fall, and then moved with Rosetta (my mother) to Hawthorne, Nevada, where he worked road construction and then on public housing on a military base. My oldest three siblings, Anthony, Barb and Charlie were all born in Nevada.
Back in Pierz, the service station became Weber’s Texaco. Ted Weber was married to Arlene Suess. Arlene’s sister, Marie, was married to Elmer Sitzman, who owned a bar in Buckman called Marie's Lunch. Elmer was a great baseball player who was known for stealing bases, playing center field well and being a great hitter. Elmer and Marie are Red Sitzman’s parents. Weber’s Texaco was sold to Red and Pam Sitzman and then became Red’s Auto. Pam is Brenda’s sister. (Rod and Janet Brixius’ two children.) Pam runs the financial end of the business as Brenda runs the financial aspects of our business (CORE Professional Services). Ted kept the business small as he didn’t purchase anything he couldn’t pay cash for. Pam and Red made Red’s Auto into the larger successful business it is today. My grandmother, Elizabeth Weber, would eventually be the Grand Marshall for the Pierz Octoberfest. She was 60 when I was born, and lived until I was 39. At her 99th birthday she told me, “I used to want to live to be a hundred, but now I’m thinking 99 is long enough. She was strong in her faith and gave me some great insights. Grandma Elizabeth died at 99. Elizabeth made an aqueduct system which ran all of the rain that came off her roof into rain barrels. She used the water on her garden and had an amazing garden.
Before my parents were married, mom, Rosetta Kapsner, taught in a one-room school 8 miles east of Buckman called District 113. She had 32 students to teach in 7 grades. The school initially didn’t have electricity (in 1950), but the parents made sure they had electricity by the Christmas show as they wanted the show to be at night. There was no running water, but there was a pump outside. It was on a dirt road and cars were frequently stuck coming and going. Rosetta lived with Mabel Young. Clarence and Mabel Young came from Illinois with the last name “Younger”, but changed their name as they no longer wanted to be associated with their cousins Cole Younger and Cole’s brothers Jim, John and Bob (Jesse James cohorts).
Cole Younger and his brothers were “guerrilla fighters” for the Confederate army during the Civil War. His father was pro-union, but was shot dead by a union fighter anyway. Cole spent the rest of his life seeking revenge against the union for this. Cole fought with a group called the “Bushwhackers” who had a special hatred for the “Red Leg” of the union troops who fought ruthlessly in his home state of Missouri. The Red Legs used execution, arson and plundering in an effort to demoralize the confederacy. Cole rode with Frank James and William Clarke Quantrill in a retaliation raid in Lawrence, Kansas, known as the “Massacre in Lawrence,” on August 21, 1863 in which 200 citizens were killed and the town was looted and burned. This wasn’t a battle, it was an execution of all the men and boys due to the town’s alliance with the Union. Cole left for California during the Civil war, claiming he went to recruit for the Confederacy. Jesse and Frank James joined the Younger brothers and were involved in hold-ups of stage coaches, banks and trains in Missouri, Kentucky, Kansas and West Virginia. They were known as the James-Younger gang. The Iron Mountain Railroad hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to arrest the gang. John Younger was shot dead, and shortly after, one of the investigators was found dead alongside a rural road. The Pinkerton Agency burned down the James home, killing Jesse’s 9-year-old half-brother and wounding his mother, resulting in one of her arms being removed. A neighbor had tipped off the Pinkerton agency. This neighbor was found dead, and it is believed Jesse James killed him.
Its rumored Cole Younger fathered bandit Belle Starr’s first child (Belle was also from Missouri and they did have a relationship). Belle had a history of bandit boyfriends (2 husbands shot dead) before she was killed. (It was believed she was shot by a neighbor twice in the back, as she and her 3rd husband had an ongoing feud with him. No one was arrested.)
The down fall of the James-Younger gang began in Northfield, Minnesota, when they attempted to rob the Northfield bank on September 7, 1876. They selected this bank because they believed it was owned by a Union General who fought in Missouri. (They were mistaken.) It was the opening day of deer hunting in Minnesota. Townspeople sent up an alarm when they saw strangers standing outside the bank, and a shoot-out ensued. The outlaws killed 2 townspeople (including a cashier), but fled with nothing. The Northfield citizens killed 2 gang members and badly wounded Bob Younger. The townspeople formed a posse and pursued the gang. Another shoot-out occurred by the Watonwan river close to Madelia, Minnesota. A gang member was killed and Cole, Bob and Jim Younger were all badly wounded and captured. The James brothers, Jesse and Frank, escaped and made it back to Missouri. Jesse James was later killed by a member of his gang, Robert Ford, who hoped to collect a reward for the killing. Bob Younger died in prison in Stillwater from tuberculosis. Cole and Jim Younger were paroled in 1901 with the help of the prison warden. Jim committed suicide in a St. Paul hotel. Cole declared he had become a Christian and repented, although he only took responsibility for the one robbery he was caught attempting. After Frank James served out his prison time, Cole and Frank toured the south in a wild west show called The Cole Younger and Frank James Wild West Company. Cole Younger died on March 21, 1916.
Jesse James' father left to pan for gold in California when Jesse was 3. His stepdad and mother were slave owners. Jesse married his first cousin, Zerelda Mimms. She died in poverty after Jesse’s death. There weren’t a lot of people who wanted to help someone who lived off of stolen money most of her life. The Ford brothers weren’t trustworthy, but it’s believed Jesse James kept them around because he was interested in their sister. Robert Ford and his brother Charles Ford were recruited by Jesse James after the Younger brothers went to prison. Robert shot an unarmed Jesse in the back of the head, while Jesse was adjusting a picture in this living room. When Zerelda entered the room, Robert denied having shot him. However he immediately left and sought out the reward. The Ford brothers were indicted for 1st degree murder, plead guilty, were sentenced to be hanged, and pardoned by the Govenor, all in the same day. Charles Ford became addicted to Morphine and committed suicide. Robert Ford moved to Las Vegas and opened a tent bar. His life ended when a man entered and said, “Hi Bob,” before blasting him away with a shot gun. It doesn’t surprise me that the Youngers who moved to Minnesota wanted nothing to do with their cousins. Like the James brothers, they were scary people, which in my opinion is the easiest, and least respectful, type of people to be. There is no honor among criminals and they didn’t have happy endings.
Getting back to Red’s Auto, they have already sold 50 copies of Murder Book at the station for me! Thank you!
I don’t believe there’s intelligent life on other planets. Why should they be any different than ours? Bob Monkhouse
Brenda and I watched a King of Queens episode and I enjoyed Doug’s (Kevin James) interpretation of a wedding vow. Carrie was asking Doug if her father could live with him if she died. Doug told her, “Sorry, but it’s in the rules. He can’t. Remember we said, ’til death do us part. That means if you die, we part, so your father can’t live with me.”
Brenda and I went to see Steve Martin and Martin Short at the Orpheum this past week. Steve Martin commented on his jokes: “I think of my jokes like my children. Half of them aren’t mine.”
Thanks for listening,
Since it was a cold gloomy weekend we decided to visit the Science Museum in St. Paul and attend the Syttende Mai celebration at Mindekerken to watch Preston conduct the Crosstown Community Band from south Minneapolis.
Frank Weber is a forensic psychologist whose award winning forensic and clinical work includes assessment and expert witness testimony for homicide, sexual assault, and physical assault cases. From this real life world comes his first work of fiction Murder Book from North Star Press. “A convincing piece of fiction that pulls you into a heart-breaking human experience with unpredictable and jolting twists.”