Grandpa William Krause took over the farm homesteaded by his father on Brinkman Ridge. He was a big man and the controlling force of the family. He made sure everyone worked to plant and harvest the crops. The major cash bearing crop was potatoes. After the harvest he made regular trips to La Crosse, ten miles away, with his wagon load of potatoes drawn by a team of horses. He got the nickname Kartoffel Krause (Potato Krause).

He was a faithful Lutheran and made sure everyone attended church services regularly. Children were always excused from public school attendance in November and December to attend German School where they were taught German grammar and Martin Luther’s catechism. German was the language spoken in the home and in the neighborhood. Sunday services were in German.

An insight into the kind of parent Grandpa was is best revealed in this story often told about him. In the early 1900’s the invention of the hayfork made moving hay much easier. This fork, attached to a long rope, would grab a large bundle of dry hay, then by a series of pulleys with a team of horses on the other end of the rope, the fork with its bundle of hay was carried up and into the haymow. During this process the youngest son Willie, just a boy, had a finger amputated in one of those pulleys. A trip to the doctor was imminent but first he gave each of the older children a thorough spanking. That son, Willie continued to farm the homestead and Grandpa and Grandma retired to a house in La Crosse.

During their retirement they often came to our house in Chipmunk Coulee for a week or more during the summer. Grandma helped Mother in the house but Grandpa dug some worms, took his cane pole, and hunted for a favorite fishing spot in the creek that wound through our farm. He’d return after dark with 30-40 little chubs and suckers. It was Grandma, Mother and I who cleaned and prepared them for the pan. For breakfast- pan fried fish of course. When at home in La Crosse he fished in the Mississippi. Almost daily in summer he would walk from 16th and Madison to the docks by the river. There he caught sunfish and crappies and Grandma cleaned them.

One time he fell into the river. He either got dizzy or fell asleep sitting in the warm sun. Hitting the river revived him and he caught hold of a piling under the dock. Too heavy to pull himself out, he clung there until someone heard his cries for help. After they helped him out he calmly walked home. None the worse for the experience, but to the consternation and worry of everyone else in his family, he continued his fishing.

Next time: Living by the creek in Chipmunk Coulee


Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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