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Logan County Pioneers and their Treasures

August 10, 2010

Logan County pioneer Laurel Williams with Jack Annan

I was lucky to have the honor to help Jack Annan emcee the annual cowboy breakfast last week to kick off the fair. One of the best parts for me was to learn about a couple of Logan County pioneers, Rachel Schuppe and Laurel Williams, who were recognized for their contribution to Logan County over numerous decades.

I saw the common theme of resourcefulness from both families. Schuppe’s parents were German immigrants from Russia who eventually settled outside Proctor. Her dad had a job until they were able to buy a farm in 1922 and build a new home. Rachel still lives in this home today.

Logan County pioneer Rachel Schuppe with Andy Long

Growing up, the family had a very diversified agriculture operation, growing a variety of crops on 320 acres. They would buy 300 chicks every spring to raise, and they milked 24 cows by hand each day. A big family garden and canning operation provided fruits and vegetables.

They managed to move to America with nothing and eventually excel. Rachel’s son, Gordon, put it best when he said that they always found a way to get by. They did not ask for handouts or pity, even during the dust bowl of the 1930s.

Laurel Williams’ grandparents were German immigrants from Russia. They settled on a short quarter of land in 1894 that they bought for $1,000. It was not easy for the family. During the 1930s the dust bowl and bank panic resulted in the loss of their farm. The family did find another farm to rent, but when Laurel was 14, tragedy struck when her mother died of childbirth.

The family had just purchased another farm, so Laurel had to assume a lot of the household responsibilities. This still did not prevent her from graduating high school and going to college at what is now the University of Northern Colorado. She was majoring in elementary education and music, but during World War II there was a shortage of teachers, so she was granted an emergency teaching certificate. Laurel taught for 32 years and eventually retired in 1982 from Fleming Public Schools.

There are a couple of lessons we can learn from these brief biographies. First, use your resources wisely. The basic key to success in personal finance is to spend less than you make. If there are no ways to cut your expenses, can you make more?

Do you have extra time to work another job? Do you have an idea or side business that could make you money? Consider these things.

The second major lesson from these stories is to remember what is important. These families worked hard just to survive. It was amazing to see some of their children at the breakfast to celebrate the pioneer award with them. Together, they have 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Their treasure is not just the income they made, but the families for which they have been the bedrock.

After we have died, we do not live on through our accomplishments or belongings. We live on through our families and the memories and traditions we have made. It is easy to see that Laurel and Rachel’s influence will continue to live on through their families.

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