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Bloomfield History

Life Story of Bertie McDaniel

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Life Story of Bertie McDaniel
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Bertie Hippler McDaniel spent her entire life in the Four Corners area, moving to Bloomfield when she was two years old and dying in Durango in 1988.

Herberta "Bertie" Hippler McDaniel
Bertie in her 70s.

Excerpts From Bertie McDaniel's Life Story


Mostly chronological, these exerpts are also organized by subject.  See the information bar on the right.


The full account was written by her off and on through the 1970s and 80s.

Here spelling has been standardized, and most punctuation is her own.


The Farm in Hammond


Nicknamed Bertie for the rest of her life, Herberta was born on October 15, 1902 in Muniz Canyon, outside of Lumberton, in what was then the Territory of New Mexico.  In 1904, Bertie’s family moved to the Bloomfield area, where they bought a small farm from Charles and Viola Holley for $1,500 after borrowing $500 from Aztec’s Citizens Bank. 

Bertie told a little about the area at the time:

There was a country store at Blanco and at Largo.  We did trade there some I believe.  At one time Ira and Manka Townsend ran a country store on the south side if the river about 5 miles west of us.  We traded there, also we traded at the Bloomfield country store.  But my folks traded in Aztec when possible; the stores were bigger and better.  And the closest bank was at Aztec, also the closest doctor.  For years Dr. Taylor was the only doctor in Aztec.

The farm was situated near Hammond, bordered on the north and east by the San Juan River, and sported two alfalfa fields, a large corn field and an orchard of apple, peach, pear, cherry, plums, crabapples, and apricots.  On the east river bank was a row of large cottonwoods and wild currant bushes which were gathered for jelly each year.

Bertie described the house that Bruce Sullivan and his wife built when they homesteaded the farm:

They built the old log cabin from cottonwood logs which were plentiful along the rivers.  The cracks were chinked with mud.  For a roof, they laid up several big logs, to hold the smaller poles that were put on next.  What went next, I can only imagine, but my guess is that they put bark over the small poles and then maybe [illegible] next and then about six or eight inches of soil.  In the summer when it rained we could look up at the roof and there were some kind of weeds growing…that had yellow flowers; …thick like an alfalfa field.  I used to think, "My, what a pretty yellow roof we have!"

            If I remember right there were four rooms and an open porch that had a roof.  Two rooms, at least had board floors, and at least three rooms had fireplaces.  We only used three rooms, and if Dad had a hired man who batched, he used the other room.  The windows were small and scarce.  … In the kitchen was a fire place and a cook stove – we used wood for fuel.  There was a dish cupboard, a table, a few chairs and a bench behind the table. …The cabin was warm in the winter and cool in the summer.


She remembers her mother singing lullabies to her baby sister, like

Rock-a-by baby in the tree top

when the wind blows, the bough will bend

the cradle will rock

and down will come tumbling

baby, cradle and all.


Daddy’s gone a hunting

to get a rabbit skin

to wrap the baby in.

(Perhaps these are regional variations, or Bertie misremembered.)



The San Juan River


            The river brought the cottonwoods and grass, the animals and the water necessary for farming.  As much as the early farmers tried to tame it, digging channels and ditches, building siphons, it was still naturally wild.  It was this wildness that Bertie admired, at first, about the river.  She said,

As I grew older, I both loved and feared the San Juan River.  May, Lucie and I used to stand on the bank when it was flooding and watch the high sand waves roll.  What really fascinated us was when a big wave would break and the water would boil and go back upstream. You’d just have to watch it to appreciate what I am trying to say.

One of the things farmers tried to do to maintain the river can still be seen today.  Some arroyos, or washes, have been given concrete walls to stop the water from eroding the banks.  Before concrete became easily accessible, farmers would pile rocks and logs against the riverbanks for the same purpose.  Bertie described it like this:

The bank [near our home] was high and the water kept undermining [it].  The bank would cave into the river.  My father tried to keep it rip-wrapped with trees and rocks.  Every now and then a flood would was out some rip-wrap.

It would be rare to see the San Juan looking like that today.  The Navajo Dam has ended the river’s rampaging days by letting a predetermined flow out of the floodgates.  Source __ empties into the Colorado at _ (Lee’s Ferry in Arizona?) outside of _.  Water brings life, but the San Juan, like many other rivers, also caused considerable property damage and even death.




Jack Hippler, Bertie’s father, ran a trading post in Hammond, and so had to make frequent trips to Aztec to get supplies and visit the bank.  One day when Jack had gone to Aztec, Bertie remembers seeing her mother standing at the fence and staring across the river, which was in flood stage.  Bertie said, "what really fascinated me was the way the wind was blowing her thin waist sleeves back and forth, billowing it up and down."  When Jack came home hours later, he had lost his roan horse Pinto, who had drowned in the river while crossing.  The horse had probably been packing Jack’s supplies.


            Potter Crossing


Bertie remembered it being just a few days after Pinto drowned that the river almost killed the entire Hippler family.  Jack had borrowed a horse from Mrs. McClure, a neighbor, and driven the family to Aztec.  The river could rise as much as a foot during the day.  In the morning it would be "down," as they said, and by evening it would be "up."  A few miles above the Hippler farm was a wide place in the river called Potter Crossing.  Bertie’s family went to this crossing, her mother and father talking about how high the river was, and decided to try it.  Bertie said, "the big sand waves were rolling high, then breaking and rushing upstream.  The water was angry, boiling, muddy.  I thought it was fun to watch, which goes to show that I did not realize the danger we were in."  The horses, tired from their trip, got halfway into the river and stopped.  Jack didn’t urge them on, realizing know he’d made a mistake.  While the family sat in the wagon, battered by the water, Bertie’s mother pointed out two men on the riverbank.  They were Kay and Sy Mangum, who got on one horses and waded out to the stranded family.  Kay, the taller one, got into the water and helped Jack Hippler hold down the wagon so it wouldn’t turn over.  Sy lifted Bertie’s mom and the baby onto his horse and rode across the river.  He returned to ferry all the children across while Jack unhitched the team from the wagon.  Finally, as Bertie, her mother and sisters watched from the bank, Sy pulled up Jack and Kay and rode to safety. 

Whether the horses were terrified or not I can’t say, but as I look back on the hole ordeal, I can say some horses are afraid of water and some do not seem to be.  …The team and wagon were swept downstream by that gigantic pressure of angry water so suddenly that in no time they were caught in a terribly deep, swift current that carried them under a high bank.  Had the bank been low they may have gotten out, as it was Mrs. McClure’s mare reared up and came down on [the Hippler’s horse] and both went under.  A sad sight!  I do not know whether Dad ever found the wagon where it may have washed up on a sand bar or not.

            So within a few days the San Juan had taken both Hippler horses and the wagon and the borrowed horse of Mrs. McClure.  Bertie told how the story ended: "The next thing I can recall we were in Mrs. McClure’s house and Dad was telling her about our accident.  Annie McClure was crying because she was so attached to their horse that drowned.  She was a girl in her teens.  I have no idea how or when we arrived home."


                        Sam Walton’s Ferry


            Near the present site of Highway __’s bridge over the San Juan, a man named Sam Walton operated a ferry.  He was also a blacksmith, and held mail for people in the area.  Bertie said it was fun to use the ferry.  But even the ferry wasn’t always safe from the river.

One day when Mr. Walton was taking some teams, wagons and people across a big wave swept up on the boat and a man by the name of Al Young was swept overboard and drowned in the flooding San Juan River.  …I remember hearing my Dad tell about this incident.  The way I remember it, people searched for Mr. Young’s body for a month before they found it almost completely buried in the sand.  It was indeed a gruesome task to dig the body out.


                        The Flood of 1911


            On our way home from school one day we [the three older girls] met our parents in a wagon, which was loaded high with household supplies.  They explained that they had been warned to evacuate because a big flood was coming down the San Juan River.  But after we got on the wagon Dad changed his mind and we returned to the house.  We ate the evening meal and then Dad sent us all to bed and said he’d keep watch on the river.  About midnight it reached our place.  Dad said it was really some sight, the flood waters were riding four or five feet high…  The roar of the flood waters was deafening.  Dad got us out of bed.  Everyone moved in double-quick time.  He sent Lucie out to the cow corral to turn the cows and calves out and put them out in the lane.  Well, the corral was close to the river.  …we got the cows out in the lane and they went up into the hills. 

            We had a number of big hogs and some small ones shut up in the pens.  Dad and May tore the pens down and let the hogs go free.  The team was still harnessed, I believe.  We were soon on our way.  But of all things, the water was getting deeper and deeper by the minute, and Dad knew we couldn’t go up the lane to the hills because of this low swampy land where the river water would back up when in flood.  The only other road was along the north bank of the river leading east to the brush on the bank of the channel, then turning to the south and following along the bank of the channel, which by this time was like a river in flood.  The flood waters were pouring over into the road and came a ways up on the wagon bed or box.  We could no longer follow the road, so Dad turned and drove across an alfalfa field, cut the south fence and then we were soon on higher ground and had left the flood behind, but the roar of the angry waters followed us.  This must have reminded our poor mother of the last flood we were in, because we crowded around her, I put my hand on her knees and they were trembling.  But she never said a word.  No screaming or crying from any of us.

            The Hippler family drove to the school house at the foot of the hills, where other people had also gathered.  By morning, the flood had receded, so Jack and his wife returned to the farm, while the three older girls got breakfast from a neighbor and stayed for the school day.  The animals were brought home from the hills, and the family began shoveling out the 18 inches of mud that was left on the floor of the family’s log cabin and frame house.  The cellar was full of water, the adobe chicken coop was destroyed, and half the hay was ruined.




            The Hippler family celebrated holidays in many of the same ways we do today.  Bertie wrote:

At Thanksgiving and Christmas we had royal feasts.  Turkey and dressing, home-made mincemeat made into pies, fruit cake and plum pudding with sauce, cranberries, and probably a lot of other good things that I have forgotten.  Talk about delicious food!  I know my parents were the best cooks in the whole wide world.  And no one appreciates their cooking more than I.

            At Christmas we always had a Christmas tree.  We hung our stockings up by the fireplace.  Oh the excitement, the mystery, the thrills, the magic of Christmas, when you still believe in Santa.  Dad claimed he heard him, and saw his sleigh and reindeer tracks and one time he saw where Santa had come in an airplane and anchored his plane to a post while he was in the house! 

            Well anyway we know he had been to our house, because Dad always saw to it that we set Santa a place at the table and put turkey and lots of good food on for Santa to eat, and we always looked to see if he ate anything.  And he always did!  Who else would eat Santa’s food!  And who but Santa would fill our stockings with candy, nuts and oranges! And leave presents!  Not many, but maybe each of us a doll.


Jack’s Stories


            When company came to the Hippler house, Jack would tell stories of his earlier days of punching cattle in the Texas Panhandle and near Chama, New Mexico.  One that Bertie remembered went like this:

One time when my Dad was out riding on the prairie, his horse stepped in a hole and fell on my Dad, breaking a leg.  My Dad had no choice only to remain there or start crawling for camp.  I do not know how far he crawled before his companions who were searching for him, found him.  While he lay in the hospital with his broken leg, they taugh him to crochet to pass the time away.


Jack’s Store


            Jack Hippler had a two-room frame house on the farm, where he ran a small store.  He also had a trading post in Blanco Canyon.  Bertie recalled spending the night there once wrapped in Navajo blankets.  She described the Indians who visited the trading post: 

The men wore some kind of buckskins and moccasins.  They had yards and yards of white string wound around and around the big bun or coil of hair on the back of their heads.  The women wore floor-length full, full skirts.  I bet there was ten yards of cloth in each skirt!  With Navajo blankets over their shoulders and sometimes over their heads.  And jewelry!  Some were loaded down with necklaces, bracelets, rings, money buttons on their clothes.




Bertie wrote that the school house was at the foot of the hills.  She described it as a one room adobe building, continuing:

We walked a mile to school.  When the snow was deep we made trails through it and at noon and recess we made a diamond or maybe a circle with a home base and played fox and geese and more fun.

When I first started and for several years after, we only had five months of school [a year].  We had the "Brooks Reader."  Each year we only had one book for the five months of school.  We learned the whole book by heart each year.  [One thing] that stands out in my mind about these readers….  There was this pretty picture of roses in one book.  I would take tissue paper and trace this picture over and over.  And I honestly thought that some day I would be a famous artist because I could do this! ….

When we first started to school there may have been between thirty and forty pupils in our school; but as time passed and the irrigation ditch failed, people kept moving away.  By the time I was seventeen years old there were only about twelve or so pupils in the school.

After I had been in school several years, [we] finally got seven months of school each year.  I believe this was after my father became a school director.  Also they finally got the teacher wages up to $50.00 a month.  …My favorite subjects in school were arithmetic, history and geography.  I didn’t mind English and physiology.  I hated civics and spelling.  I was a poor reader and still am.




The poor teacher had all eight grades to teach.  How they ever lived on their wages, I’ll never know.  I believe they were paid $30.00 a month and had to pay for room and board out of that. 

My first teacher was Katherine McMasters.  She was nice, pretty and good to me.  I loved her.  My second year, my teacher was Nina White, the rest were Mrs. T.C. Kirk, Lucy Jones, Amy L. Connelly, Mary McMichael, Ida Estes [for] two years, Mary Brett, Edith Shultz, Marguerite Sullivan and Martha Fickel.

I loved my sixth grade teacher, Ida Estes.  I cried when school was out and she went back to Farmington. But as luck would have it, she taught again the next year.



Work and Food


[My parents] taught us the necessity and dignity of work.  All of the girls in the family [there were three Hippler girls and one boy] could milk cows, feed livestock and clean barns, saddle and curry and care for out saddle horse.  Of course all of us loved horses and could ride horseback.  We could harness a team, hitch them to a wagon, buggy or farm equipment (horse-drawn, of course, in those days there was no other kind).  Then we could drive the wagon or whatever they were hitched to…[including] a big "hay rack."  …At that time all the machinery was horse-drawn.  The mowing machines [for alfalfa], the hay rakes, and the big, long hay sleds without runners, that were dragged on the ground.  This made loading with a pitchfork by hand easier.  In those days people did not bale their hay in the field, but stacked it in a big, wide long hay stack with many tons of hay in each stack.

            We went out in the hills with our father, helped him load up these very big loads of cedar and piņon wood for fuel. 

            Then we found where a swarm of bees had built their home in a cottonwood tree of other place.  We helped cut into the tree and gather some honey.

            We fished, of necessity as well as pleasure, for fish to help supplement our diet.  We only fished in the spring and early autumn and this in the San Juan River.

            We went with our father to hunt rabbits, he shot them with a shotgun.  We went duck hunting with him.  Two of us girls would drive the wagon or buggy out in the river, below where he would shoot the ducks, then the one was not driving the team caught the ducks as they floated down the river.  It was fun.

            We helped butcher hogs also.  After Dad shot them and bled them he put them in a barrel of boiling water by means of a block and tackle (ropes and pulleys).  Then we had to hurry and scrape or pull the hairs off while it was hot.  I did not like this job, but I really did like sausage and mincemeat that our parents made after we butchered.

            We helped with the farming and garden; we pulled weeds and hoed weeds.

            We pruned fruit trees, we helped spray the orchard by pumping the spray out of the sprayer (a barrel with a hand pump) by hand.  You better believe it.  That was hard work for little girls!

            We picked fruit, packed fruit and helped load it onto the wagon.  Then father hauled most of it out to the Indian Reservation to the Indian stores at Kaibeto, Carsons, Pueblo Bonita, Gallegos, Crown Point, Pueblo Alto and Ojo Alamo and maybe others.

            In the summer and fall we helped our parents can and dry fruit and vegetable.  Some of the things we dried were corn, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, cherries, [and made] jellies and jams, melon and fruit preserves, catsup, chili sauce, etc.

            We had several milk cows and made butter and cheese. 

            During World War I we had a hand grinder and ground our own flour from corn or wheat.  We sifted the ground grains, used the finest flour for making breads, corn bread or pancakes.  Then we made cooked cereal from the coarse flour or ground grain.

            In the wintertime we chopped and sawed our wood for two heating stoves and a big cook stove.  We fed and watered the cows and horses, milked the cows, did the barnyard cleaning.

            One summer Mae, Lucie and I cut cottonwood posts and poles and made a barn for our saddle horses.  And if you think the Hippler sisters couldn’t make fences, you should have watched us dig post holes and set posts and stretch wire!

            We had a horse-drawn sled to haul the water from the river to the house.  It wasn’t very far but it surely saved a lot of time. 


Goat Herding


            Bertie married Elmer McDaniel on March 8, 1920, and the newlywed couple stayed in the Hammond area.  Elmer’s older brother Dave ran a goat herd in the Blanco Canyon and the nearby mesa. Bertie related what it was like:

In the summer, when there was no school, Dave’s wife Lillie and the children went up to the goat camp and stayed with Dave.  When we [Bertie and Elmer] were married, they had five children, named Florence, Pearl, Carl, Mollie and Lena.

            So between hayings, my husband and I would take a big lumber wagon with supplies…and go up to help with the goat herd.  I never became very fond of goats.  I thought they smelled terrible!  I liked cattle and horses because I had been raised around them, but goats--well…

            It took us two days traveling to get upon Canyon Blanco where the herd was.  We had to camp one night by a camp fire, do our cooking in a frying pan and dutch oven on hot coals from the camp fire.  Oh yes, it was fun.  My husband had been a cow-puncher or cowboy at one time.  He was used to it and I have always been an outdoor person.  I had been with my father and sisters camping by a campfire and unrolling our "bed," which consisted of a few quilts and pillows, down on the ground in the sagebrush or prairie grass.  The work horses were tied to a tree after being watered at a lake, and fed hay which we had with us. 

            We enjoyed being around Lillie.  She was so sweet, so jolly, so friendly.  I soon became very attached to her.  Dave was also very friendly; he loved to talk and to read.  They made us welcome.  In the summer most of the time they lived in two tents and camped by Crow Lakes, a natural small lake fed by rain and snow.

            In the fall, Dave would move his family down to Hammond or Bloomfield, where they would rent a house so the children could go to school.


Giving Birth


            Bertie and Elmer’s first child came in 1921 while the couple was staying with Elmer’s parents.  Elmer was working on a cabin on the land he owned in a box canyon called Pine Springs.  The baby was expected by the end of October, but as Bertie wrote, things turned out differently than expected.

            I waited until the last week of November.  No baby!  Then on November 9th our baby arrived.  I had been sick at night, but in the daytime I felt good. …Edna Slade and Susie Adair came to help [Elmer’s mother] with me.  They all got worried and sent for Mary A. Whitlock, a midwife.  When she came she told them to send for a doctor, but Dr. Taylor, whom we had engaged was out of town, so they sent for Dr. Booth.  The baby had arrived before he got there.  After all, someone had to meet him on the north side of the river after he came that far in a car, and bring him the rest of the way in a buggy.

            Our baby was a nice seven pound boy.  . …He was a few days old before his father came home.  . …At that time, women were kept in bed for nine days after the birth of a baby.


Ditch Rider


            In the spring of 1930, Elmer McDaniel was employed by the Bloomfield Irrigation District as a "ditch rider" on the Citizen’s Ditch.  Bertie told what the job entailed:

            His job in the spring was to be a foreman of a group of men who took teams and scrapers and cleaned the ditch that way.  (Remember, this is in 1930…[and] machinery had not replaced man then.)  After the ditch was cleaned, his job was to "ride" the ditch.  Yes, he saddled a horse, mounted it and rode along the ditch bank, checking for cracks, gopher holes or breaks in the bank.  Elmer enjoyed working with (and in) water.  He put in long hours at this job.


World War II




            Bertie’s only brother, Teddy, volunteered in 1941 and was sent to the Pacific.  Bertie wrote, "These are ominous days.  Just what is in store for us in the future?  Well, time will answer for that one.  Will Ted come home alive?"  Time did tell: on May 7, 1944, Teddy was taken prisoner by the Japanese.  Bertie:

He was reported missing on action in the fall of 1944.  Oh the anguish we suffered!  Dared we hope that he was alright?

Months after, word came about him.  He was a gold star!  He was killed in action, September 7, 1944, when the prison ship he was on was bombed by our own men, because it was not marked "Prisoners!"  Needless to say, we were crushed with grief. 

It would seem to me that no one, who has not had a loved one in a war, can possibly fully realize the sorrow, the anguish, the heartache, the tension we experience.  When I think of my dear grandmother Hippler, who had four children when her husband Andrew (Andreas) Hippler left her...alone to go fight in the Civil War, my heart aches for them.  How did she make a living?  Did he leave them comfortable and supplied?  Even so, think of the anguish she suffered and what of my grandfather?  I am sure it was a sad time for him also.

Then I think of my grandmother Burchard, who had her 19 year old son go to fight in the Civil War.  I can identify with her.  Life can be sad.


Below is a copy of the letter Bertie’s sister received from the War Department about the status of Teddy.


War Department

The Adjutant General’s Office

Washington D.C.



27 October 1944

In Reply Refer to:


Hippler, Theodore J.  6961534

PCN SWP 299144_16 (16)


Mrs. Fannie Livermore

Route #5, Box 374

Bremerton, Washington


Dear Mrs. Livermore:

            The War Department was recently notified of the destruction at sea of a Japanese freighter that was transporting American prisoners of war from the Philippine Islands.

            A number of survivors were later returned to the military control of our forces.  There were also a large number who did not survive or who were recaptured by the Japanese and about whose present status we no positive information is available.  It is with deep regret that I must inform you that your brother, Corporal Theodore J. Hippler, 6961534, was in this latter group.  Because of the War Department’s lack of definite information concerning Corporal Hippler, no change in his prisoner of war classification is being made at this time.

            Please be assured that as soon as additional information becomes available you will be immediately notified.


Sincerely yours,



J. R. Ulio

Major General,

The Adjutant General’s Officer


Elmer Jr.


            Elmer Jr. was Bertie and Elmer’s "precious oldest child," who volunteered for the US Army in May 1942 when he was 20 years old.  Bertie wrote of her feelings: "I am so proud of him for being so patriotic.  But I am also broken hearted that he has to go off to war.  War is so cruel, so stupid.  If people would love each other, there would not need to be wars!  Will Elmer live to come home?"  She continued, describing the situation at home:

Elmer had been driving a tractor ever since the first one [his father] bought.  [He] has been so much help to his father on the farm.  Roland [the next son] was only nine years old when Elmer left.  Now my husband taught him how to drive a tractor and put him to work in the fields, driving a tractor.  A very dangerous thing to do.

Elmer was good to write home.  I lived for his letters.  All of us, even the younger children who could write, wrote letters to him.

In addition to writing frequently, Elmer also sent money home and visited on furlough a few times.  In 1944 he was sent to Europe to fight.  Bertie related:

            Naturally I grieved, as all mothers did.  There was this tree outside my bedroom window.  In the fall when the leaves were falling from it, I’d watch them.  All the leaves fell but one.  (You’ll think I am crazy!)  You have heard of a drowning man clinging to a straw, haven’t you?  Well maybe that is what I was doing.  Naturally, I wondered, "would Elmer be killed in the war, or would he be spared like the one leaf that did not fall?"

            Then I would remember John Greenleaf poem that contained this: "And if I should live to be the last leaf upon the tree, then let them smile, as I do now, at the old forsaken bough where I cling."  And like the drowning man, I got comfort from the last leaf.  Elmer would not "fall" either.

            And he didn’t fall; he came home from the battles he was in without a scratch. 

We lived in much tension while Elmer was in Germany and elsewhere.  When he came home from Germany in the summer of 1945 on furlough, he met Naomi Beebe, and married her August 6, 1945.  Then he went back to active duty, expecting to go to Japan.  But when Japan surrendered, he was discharged.

You have no idea how good it was to have him home.  But so much had happened from the time he left until he returned.  He left a light-hearted, happy boy; he came home a serious man!  We helped him and his new wife Naomi get established in a one room house close by us.



The Forties


            Bertie and Elmer Sr. had bought a farm in Bloomfield in 1930 and raised their children by farming.  Even by the 1940s, the work was much the same as it had been for Bertie when she was a girl on the farm in Hammond.  She listed the work her family did to keep money coming in.

            By this time we were quite well established on the farm.  We had thriving orchards; we sold fruit [and] raised pinto beans for sale.  We sold hay.  We also raised a few hogs, cows and steers for sale.  We had several hundred laying hens, of course we sold eggs, but sometimes the prices was very low.  You may not believe this, but sometimes we sold for 12 cents a dozen.

            For some years we had a cream separator and sold cream.  The extra milk we fed to the hogs.  Some years we raised turkeys to sell.  Also, we've tried raising tomatoes for sale.  We always raised a big garden to use fresh, to can, and to store for winter.

            And all this time my husband Elmer Sr. was ditch supervisor.  It took lots of money to take care of a family of eleven, to buy a car or pick-up, and farm equipment, such as a tractor and the machinery to go with it.

            As for me, I was kept busy!  In the spring, summer and fall, I helped outdoors with the farm work, garden and chores.  [I also helped with] raising hogs, taking care of milk cows, turkeys, chickens, garden, canning, drying fruit and [sweet] corn.  Everyone who was big [enough] to work, did work.

            In the winter time I spent hours, sometimes until twelve or one o'clock at night sewing for the family.  I made coats, shirts, dresses, undershirts and panties.

            We had no washing machine until some years later, so I also had to wash in a tub with a wash board.  I suppose a person would have to go to a museum to see one now.  We also made our own comforters and quilts.



Fun in the Forties


            I think I am safe in saying our children were happy.  In warm weather they spent many happy hours playing in the big irrigation ditch.  It may have been about this time [Elmer Sr.] started taking the children to a movie now and then.  He also took several to Blanco, where he was riding ditch to stay with him for a few days at a time.

            We were, and are, a family of "book worms."  My parents, my sisters and brother, my husband and my children have all been delighted with books.  I have loved books as far back as I can remember.  [The first were] the nice little books with pictures and rhymes in them that my parents bought for us.  We bought books and magazines and newspapers.  Of course, we also had a radio all these years since [1930].

            Also, we had a super good time celebrating the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas and a good time on birthdays and other special occasions.

            Our children also loved picnics, especially on the Fourth of July, when their father bought more ice cream than they could possibly eat.


Subjects in Bertie's Personal History
Subjects - sub-topics

The Farm in Hammond

The San Juan River - Pinto, Potter Crossing, Sam Walton’s Ferry, The Flood of 1911


Jack’s Stories

Jack’s Store in Blanco

School in Bloomfield - Teachers

Work and Food

Goat Herding

Giving Birth

Jack as a Ditch Rider

World War II - Teddy, Elmer Jr.

The Forties

Fun in the Forties and Fifties


Bertie's Father

John Andrew "Jack" Hippler.
Shown here in his later years.


Bertie's Mother
Ada Burchard Hippler.
Shown here as a young woman.


Bertie's Brother
Theodore "Teddy" Hippler.
Shown here in his Army uniform, Teddy was killed in WWII on September 7, 1944.  He was a POW whose ship was tragically bombed by American forces.