One hundred and twenty-two years ago, on November 14, 1892, Harrison Wright Schwegler was born most likely in Maries County, Missouri. He was one of six children born to Julius Schwegler and Sarah Frances Ridenhour. Our family called him Wright.
On February 27, 1914, Grandpa Schwegler married Belle McKinney. He was twenty-one and she was eighteen. From this marriage came August, Oma, Harley, Willard, Roy, and Frank. The children were born about two years apart. Unfortunately, at the age of twenty-seven, Belle died on February 3, 1923 of double pneumonia.
Moving quickly my grandfather married my grandmother Estella May Burt. As I mentioned in the story about my grandmother, this was most likely a marriage of convenience. My grandmother had a daughter Goldie prior to her marriage to grandpa. And grandpa had six children who needed a mother. They married on May 25, 1923 just a little more than three and a half months after the death of Belle.
From this marriage was born Joseph, Bonnie (my mother), her fraternal twin Betty, Ollie, Billie, Janice and Earl. Billie died at the age of two. Their first child was premature and died shortly after birth. Grandpa was thirty-one and Granny was twenty-nine when this first child was born. Grandpa was forty-three and Granny forty-one when their last child was born.
Grandpa was short in stature. His Word War I draft registration record stated that he was short, of medium build, and had blue eyes. He farmed in Maries County until sometime around 1930 when the census record showed the family living in the third ward in the City of St. Louis. Between 1931 and 1940 he was listed as a laborer in St. Louis directories. In 1940 he was listed as a setter for a tile installation company. Many of his sons followed him in this trade
My earliest memory of Grandpa is when I turned five. We were visiting my grandparents around the time of my birthday when Grandpa took me to buy a dress for my birthday. The dress was pretty, but I remember vividly what happened after the dress was purchased. Grandpa was fond of drink to put it mildly. On our way home we stopped at the local watering hole. While he had a beer – or maybe more, I can’t remember – I ate popcorn out of a coffee filter. I had a great time. It didn’t seem like we were gone long but when we got back to the grandparents home, well … words were said and I knew my Mom was mad. Needless to say we never went dress shopping again.
My grandpa was half Swiss. German was most likely spoken in his father or grandfather’s home. He had a clubhouse on the Gasconade River in Osage County, Missouri. Fishing was his passion. We spent just about every weekend with him from the time I was eight until about fourteen. And yet I don’t remember ever having a conversation with him. Oh he spoke to us but usually when he was showing us something, explaining how something worked, or when we were doing something we shouldn’t. He was a man of few words.
I didn’t see my Grandpa after I turned fourteen. He and my grandmother were having problems and he had moved out of the house. I never understood why we quit going to his clubhouse until years later when I asked my mother why. Apparently he had a girl friend and my mother didn’t want me influenced by his living arrangements. From what I understand Grandpa and Granny divorced after they were married fifty years. How sad.
Grandpa died January 28, 1978. Even though I really didn’t know the man, I have fond memories of the times we spent with him on the Gasconade River. There is nothing like running through corn fields, eating a salad with fresh tomatoes warmed by the sun, learning how to skin a catfish, and generally running wild in the out-of-doors. For these experiences I am eternally grateful.