We Remember Laura Allen Hall Hering

June 1, 2022 will be the 50th anniversary of the passing of this well loved mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great great grandmother.

And so the story goes… written by Lisa Hering with research and stories by Lee Hering

Credits: Henry “Lee” Hering, Youngset son of Laura Allen Hall Hering

     Just thought it might be good timing to give credit for much of this information to my father, Lee Hering, who has been researching his genealogy for about 60 years. His interest began when his mother, Laura Hall Hering, showed him a list of all her in-laws which she had made when she got married in order to keep them straight. When Laura and Albert married, he didn’t have much to learn in the way of in-laws since she had been raised an only child. But Albert, on the other hand, was one of 12 children, 10 of which grew to adulthood. And they were all married with children. And both his parents were still living and both his grandfathers. Lee loved puzzles, and when she showed him the list back in the 1960’s, he was hooked.

     Lee has a database with about 4000 names, most with copies of public records, headstones, photographs, paintings, and personal letters. He is dedicated to accuracy and only lists those people he feels are certain.  His information on the Hering/Hall ancestry goes back to the mid 1600’s in Germany and on my mother’s side it goes all the way back to King Edward I of England.

     The greatest genealogical library in the world is in Salt Lake City at the Mormon library. Several times, Lee moved there, renting an apartment for about 3 months at a time, in order to do research. He claimed that “ancestors were falling off the book shelves!” He has gone to many a cemetary on his travels looking for ancestral headstones. He has been to Junction, TX and seen Warren Hall’s headstone, to the Berlin community near New Braunfels to see some of Albert’s ancestors, and even to London and Germany to see where ancestors lived and perhaps to find their homes still standing. Many of the Hering ancestors have their roots in a small town in Germany called Oberkaufungen. We have been to the church where our ancestors were married, and seen the parsonage with the name “Christoph Hering” inscribed in stone above the door, and in 1984, because of his research, I was baptized there at the Stiftskirche which is over a thousand years old. The community did a newpaper article about me on an American finding her “roots” and at the ceremony they played Home on the Range because I was from the wild west! In that same town, Lee found the home of one of our ancestors and was taking a photo of it when an angry German woman came out and asked him what he was doing. In his broken German, he said, Ich bin Hering. And her whole attitude changed. She said “Ich bin auch Hering!” I am also Hering! She invited him in and showed him all sorts of photos. He has dozens of 3 ring binders full of data, and now helps others with their family history. At the time of this writing, he is 96 and still sharp as a tack.

Laura Hall Hering of McGregor

Childhood and Youth  1895-1915

Laura Hall, about 18 months, 1896

 Post 1: Laura Allen Hall Hering

    I want to honor my grandmother, Laura Allen Hall Hering, by posting a photo and tribute to her each day until her birthday. If anyone else wants to help contribute, please feel free. On May 10, 2022 she would have been 127. On June 1, 2022, she will have been gone for 50 years (1895-1972). I still remember the day she left us. Funny thing is, I didn’t live near her, and only saw her a few times a year. Why I felt so strongly about her, I don’t know. But I did. There was something magical about her, comforting, caring, grandmotherly but just good human being, mother, and wife. I have so many stories about her through my dad. But none of them convey the feeling I have about her knowing her personally. Maybe it’s a false feeling because I didn’t see her that much, I didn’t grow up with her right next door. But my love for her is fixed in my memory, and that will never change. She had a younger brother and an older sister both who died as small children. She was raised as an only child. She lost her father at age 4 to tuberculosis. She was born in McGregor, TX. Her mother and grandmother moved there in 1884 when the town was 2 years old.  Laura Hall at about 18 months. *BTW, my dad just told me this… the reason this photograph was made was because she was ill and her parents were afraid she wasn’t going to live. Wow.

Wedding Photo of Warren J Hall and Augustine Meier, 1892

Post 2: Laura Allen Hall Hering

    The marriage of Laura’s parents, Warren J Hall and Augustine Meier in 1892, was not to be long nor happy. Their first child, a daughter, died before Laura was born and is buried in the McGregor cemetery. Laura was born in 1895 at 707 W 2nd St. in McGregor. Warren contracted tuberculosis and the family moved to San Antonio for the beneficial climate. While there, they had a son who died at 7 months. He is buried in San Antonio. Warren’s illness did not improve, and the family of three moved further west to Junction, Texas where Warren eventually died and is buried there. Laura remembers the silver dollars on his eyes.

     Their money was used up. Augustine, or Gustine for short, and Laura headed back to McGregor taking a stage coach from Junction to San Antonio and then the train to McGregor to live with the older Augustine on the corner of Adams and W 2nd St. Gustine didn’t have a dime to tip the porter, and so kicked the suitcase from the carriage to the train, with Laura on her hip in one hand and a bag in the other hand. Laura was 4. Gustine was just 23, a widow with two lost children. Gustine became a dressmaker, and Laura was raised primarily by her grandmother, Augustine Jahnke Hayes, between whom there was mutual adoration.
Laura Hall, about 4
Laura Hall, about 4
Post 3: Laura Allen Hall Hering
 
     Remember how you could get in a photo booth and take 4 silly poses straight in a row? Well, these 4 photos were in a long strip less than an inch wide. Isn’t she adorable? I can definitely see a family resemblence in her sweet face. She was a happy girl with a positive attitude.
After Laura and Gustine returned from west Texas, Laura shared a room and a bed with her mother in Gustine’s mom’s house for 3 years. For a little girl, that’s pretty comforting having mommy always there, especially when you’ve lost daddy.
 
     But her dream spot came to an end when a very nice man by the name of Jacob Smith fell in love with Gussy, and… they got married! For Laura, that meant someone else was taking her place in the bedroom, and she was out! I don’t know where she went, (possibly her own room in the new house Jacob built) but she threw a fit. She wanted her spot in the bed, and she wasn’t going to give it up without a fight. No wonder step parents have it so hard sometimes, new dynamics at home where it’s supposed to be safe. Apparently, she said some harsh words and made “Daddy Jake” cry. But once she got to know him, he was the nicest, gentlest, good man to both her and her mom, and she loved him dearly. For the rest of her life, she regretted those words. They became very close. It was really the only father she knew. And he loved her very much. My dad also knew him as the only grandfather he had, and called him Daddy Jake since it wasn’t a real grandfather. And to him, Gustine became “Mama Jake”.
Augustine Jahnke Meier Hayes

Post 4: Augustine Jahnke Hayes, grandmother to Laura Allen Hall

 
     This is a photo of Augustine Jahnke, Gustine’s mother, Laura’s grandmother, who immigrated from Posen, Germany. Family lore goes that Augustine’s father died young leaving the mother and about 5 children very poor. In about 1869, a local doctor who had emigrated to New Jersey came back for a visit. He and his wife fell in love with Augustine who was 13 at the time. She didn’t have much of a future in Germany, and the doctor and his wife couldn’t have any children, so asked to bring Augustine back to the USA with them. What a decision for a mother to make, knowing she would likely never see her daughter again! So they say Augustine boarded a ship to America with them and came to New Jersey to begin a new life.
 
     In 1875, she married a Mr. Jacob Meier who had emigrated to New Jersey from Switzerland. They had a daughter they named Augustine in 1876. In 1878, they had a second daughter, Huldah.
 
     The next thing we know, from the 1880 census, the two Augustines are in Throckmorton, Texas working on a sheep ranch. Mr. Meier appears to no longer be with them. Here, tragedy has touched their lives. Huldah, less than two years old, dies. Family legend says she choked on her food, turned blue, and was gone within a couple of hours.
 
Augustine was our “marrying” ancestor. She married twice more before her 4th and last husband, Frank Hayes in 1896. He was the grandfather Laura knew and loved. But not before we have some interesting romances (plural) in the family. Mr. Warren Washington Joseph Hall and his brother had a second hand shop of some type in McGregor. Warren’s age was half way between the two Augustines. Hmm, which one is a man supposed to date? Family legend says he dated mom first, and then, the younger Gussy, whom he married. Their first child was born 8 months after the 1892 wedding. The child, a girl, Leafy Ione Hall, sadly died in childhood and is buried in McGregor. Their next child, a girl, was our Laura.
Frank turned out to be a very good man whom Laura adored. Augustine (now Hayes) never wanted her age known and listed it differently in each census. She told Laura she was about ten years older than Frank and didn’t want him to think she was an old woman, so she always said yes to going out dancing even if she was really too tired. She died in 1920 claiming she was 63. You can find her grave in the McGregor cemetery next to her daughter whose headstone reads: “Gustine”.
 
     Incidentally, Augustine probably couldn’t write because we know she asked someone to write a letter for her to her sister, Paulina, in Germany, asking her to come over and immigrate. That is another great story for later, all about the Great Galveston storm of 1900.
 
     I believe Laura’s grandmother Augustine must have been a charming, lovable person, a lot like Laura, because they were very devoted to one another. I don’t really know, but it makes sense to me.
 
Laura Hall about 10 years old
Post 5 Laura Allen Hall
 
   This is Laura, age unknown, but probably about 10 years old. When Gustine married Jacob Smith in 1901, they built a new house at 715 W 3rd St. and moved into it. Here, Laura certainly would have had her own room.
 
     She attended McGregor Grammar School which was just about a half a block away at the end of W 3rd St. The street was affectionately called “College Avenue” because it dead ended into the school. There were 11 grades all in the same building. Grammar school was grades 1-7, and high school was 8-11. There was no 12th grade. The building wasn’t very old, having been built the same year she was born, 1895. Each grade level had a separate room. The ceilings were high and the windows were big, so it was easy to cool in the summer. But winter wasn’t quite as comfortable. They had a gas stove against the wall which had a one gallon water humidifier. If you were close to the stove, you got hot. If you were far away from the stove, you stayed cold. My dad says they were miserable but that they didn’t know it. And he would know because he attended the same school many years later. That one is no longer standing.
Laura Hall Age 14, 1909
Laura Hall Age 14, 1909

Post 6: Laura Allen Hall Hering

     Life settled down for a while after Laura’s mother remarried. The town, McGregor, was growing and new buildings and invetions were coming along. They had electricity (a drop cord in the middle of usually only one room in the house, with one receptacle on it) and running water fairly early on, as well as a flour mill, a school and a post office (no home delivery except to rural areas). Around the turn of the century, they had two hotels, a national bank, a tannery, and a cottonseed oil mill. Daddy Jake was a good businessman with many interests. He was a good provider and eventually had numerous buildings and acreage. He owned a paint store, a lumber yard, a steam laundry, and a wood lot. Laura’s step-grandfather, Frank Hayes, was a blacksmith and did repairs and made many things out of steel for the townspeople. What the town did not have was indoor bathrooms. Only outhouses and chamber pots!
 
     Laura learned how to sew from her mother who was a dressmaker and Laura would have been making some of her own clothes, maybe even her own hats (how do you like this one?). They had one of those treadle sewing machines that you pump your foot on to make it go. And it was black with that pretty shape that old machines have, but it wasn’t old back then … it was the newest thing! They didn’t have closets or clothes hangers. Laura said she made her own clothes hangers by rolling up a magazine, tying it with a cord and then making a loop in the cord. She’d hang the dress on the rolled magazine and hook the loop on a nail hammered into the wall. Voila, closet. She was very creative and could crochet and make roses out of ribbon.
 
     I think she is very pretty in this photo. She is about 14 years old. She would have been in high school by this time, in the same building as the grammar school, as the new high school wasn’t built until 1916.

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Laura Hall, Age 16, 1911

Post 7: Laura Allen Hall Hering

 

     There were no telephones until about 1914, and so the townspeople of McGregor would send a written letter that had to be delivered to the post office. If the note was to someone local, often parents would send a child to hand deliver it to the recipient. Although the streets had names, there were no street signs as of yet, and so you just had landmarks and verbal directions based on people or buildings you knew. We have little notes that were shared between some of our ancestors, just nice anecdotes saying if they were sick and wanting to visit and such. Laura often walked to Main Street to do errands like getting the mail and picking up groceries. There was a little girl about 5 named Katherine Perkins who lived along the way, and the little girl’s mother always told her to wait for Laura to pass by the house so she could walk with an older girl. If you had to go any distance, you took a horse and buggy, but that took a lot of time to get set up, so if you could walk or ride a bike, so much the better. But most of the streets were dirt. And that made it hard to ride a bike sometimes.

     One day, when Laura was 16, she rode her bicycle to town. She slipped and fell off the bike. Standing nearby was a quiet young fellow named Albert Hering, son of the German farmer Charles Gustav Hering. Albert too was in town doing errands. This 17 year old worked on his father’s farm which was situated some 5 miles northwest of town on the Crawford Highway (now known as the “Old” Crawford Highway, but it wasn’t old back then). He was a farm boy with only a 4th grade education, tall, slender, and broad shoulders used daily for lifting and plowing. Laura was a city girl who was already in 10th grade. He didn’t say anything, but he remembered that day and the pretty city girl.

     Today, May 10, 2022, Laura would have been 127. Happy Birthday Grandmother Hering! A lot of people still love and miss you. The legacy you left is in the faces of many a bright young child.

Laura Hall, Age 17, High School Graduation, 1912

Post 8: Laura Allen Hall Hering

Photo at age 17, 1912, High School Graduation
High School Diploma
 
     In the first couple of decades of the 1900’s, McGregor did not have a theater for entertainment. Movies were silent at the time, but not yet available in McGregor. Laura’s step father, “Daddy Jake” loved stage plays and short skits. He rented the upstairs of one of the buildings downtown and produced performances. He convinced Laura to be in some of the plays, and for him, she accepted, but, she was not altogether comfortable doing so. Some of them were quite silly, she thought.
Laura graduated from high school in 1912. She was a grown lady now, and it was time to decide her future. In truth, she wanted to live on a farm and be a farm wife. But as a city girl, there was not much possibility of that. She really knew nothing of farming. But she wanted to live in the wide open spaces. For now, however, she would learn to be a teacher. And Baylor University, established long ago in 1845 while Texas was still an independent nation, was just 20 miles away in Waco.
Laura Allen Hall High School Graduation Diploma 1912 from 11th grade, McGregor HS
Baylor Days, Laura Allen Hall and Friends, 1912-14
Baylor Days, Laura Allen Hall and Friends, 1912-14
Baylor Days - Chorus Girls
Baylor Days - Chorus Girls

Post 9: Laura Allen Hall Hering

   Life for Laura at Baylor University. At that time, not many women were lucky enough to get to go to a university. Women were not even allowed to vote. They were barely allowed to work and only in certain fields. So it was a very serious thing to go to college. Now, what type of a student do you think Laura was? 

     I cannot tell you what kind of grades she made, but I can tell you that she was a woman of … fun. Laura and her camera captured just about everything, silly times, goofey times, memorable times. If there is one thing she did, she made a lot of friends. She’s the middle one in white on this train made of young women. Names of the engine and caboose are unknown. But there is a likely chance that this was a dignified, serious, and instructional purpose for this unlady like behavior. On second thought, no there wasn’t. No supervision, no watchful eyes of mother or grandmother, her first time away from home was simply fun. Not so different from modern day kids! Except I don’t think there was sex, violence, alcohol, or drugs. Laughter was about the extent of it, and Laura loved laughter. I think that’s what I loved about her so much. She was simply a happy person. You could see that in her. It was genuine. 

Fun Times at Baylor University

Post 10, Laura Allen Hall Hering

     Laura spent the 1912 and 1913 school years at Baylor University in Waco. Apparently she had her own personal camera, undoubtedly a rarity. This enabled her to produce even more silly things. She always had a good sense of humor and sillyness fits her personality. I know because my dad still repeats a lot of her “phrases”, for example, “He who tooteth not his own horn geteth his own horn not tooteth.”

     Laura most definitely had fun at Baylor. She was good at making friends and she made a lot of them those two years she spent at Baylor.  Look at this series of 5 staged photos.  What an actress! She must have gotten her training with Daddy Jake back in McGregor as we do see a number of photos of her in costume, so she must have liked it some.  Something tells me she instigated this crime scene, seeing as how she was the designated “Victor!”  (She is the one in the sailor type collar. One thing I have noticed about old photos is you so often can’t see faces. ) Click on the photos below to see them in detail with captions.

We found a hat.
We found a hat.
We wondered what we'd do with it.
We wondered what we'd do with it.
Lenore is bashful.
Lenore is bashful.
So We Fought
So We Fought
I Got It, The Victor
I Got It, The Victor

Post 11, Laura Allen Hall Hering

Here are a few Interesting local sites, photographs taken by Laura about this time -1912-ish. Laura had decided to become a school teacher. Although Baylor was a four year college, she didn’t need 4 years to become a school Ma’am or “marm” in the rural areas around McGregor. She only needed two. So, at the end of the second school year, she was ready to go back home. A four year degree would have been nice, but expensive and it really didn’t warrant the time or expense. In fact, she would end up only teaching one year, so she made a good decision.

Country School Ma'am
First Lesson in School
First Lesson in School
Wasp Creek School
Wasp Creek School
School Bus to Wasp Creek
School Bus to Wasp Creek
Post 12: Laura Allen Hall – Back Home, 1914
 

     Laura left Baylor and her friends at the end of her second school year there, which would have been in May of 1914. In the fall, she became the School “Ma’am” at a place called Wasp Creek. If you follow the Crawford Highway about five miles northwest of town, there was a creek called Wasp Creek. The people who lived near it were farmers and couldn’t easily get into town. So they had a little one room school house built right out there near them. This was the Wasp Creek School. They had six grades and not many more children than that.

     Five miles away from town is a pretty good distance if you don’t have a car. So, it would have been a bit cumbersome for Laura to live at her parent’s house. By horse and buggy, a horse can walk 3-5 miles an hour, so could have taken her an hour to go go between school and town. But there was the dust and the rain and the creek crossing and of course, getting the horse hitched to the buggy. She loved the country anyway, so she rented a room in a home near the school, and paid for meals at the home of none other than a Mr Charles Gustav Hering, a German farmer and his ten children, less than a mile away. It wasn’t long before she caught the eye of one of his older sons, Albert, age 20.

     Many of the kids at Wasp Creek rode to school on horseback, sometimes several kids to a horse, or walked. There were stalls, hay and a water trough at the school for the horses. There may have been a few automobiles, but not too many in 1914 and it was unlikely that a farmer would bring his/her kids in every day in a Model T. In any case, Laura did not have one.

     Laura would go home to visit her family each weekend. And that did require getting the horse and buggy ready. One week end, as she was crossing Wasp Creek, something spooked the horse, and it reared up completely out of control. Laura wasn’t able to control the horse and she was in danger of the buggy tipping over. Both she and the horse could have been hurt badly, not to mention the buggy. But, as the story goes, she said a gentleman appeared out of nowhere. He took the reins and calmed the horse down. Once all was well, he handed the reins back to Laura, and said, “You’ll be OK now, ma’am.” Then he walked away back to wherever he’d come from. She never saw him again.

Post 13: The Story of Laura Allen Hall 

Joseph Johnson Hall and Hannah Billing Hall, paternal grandparents

     In 1832, in the small town of Wisbech, England, near the eastern shore north of London, a little girl named Hannah Billing was born to Rebecca Bellamy and Warren Billing. In Ramsey (for Ram’s Eye as it was a hill surrounded by wet lands), a town less than 20 miles away, Joseph Johnson Hall was born in 1883 to Joseph Hall and Jemima Stokes. He was one of twelve children. The two children eventually  attended four grades of schooling at the same school. They were destined to meet. Hannah had ringlets in her hair, and they caught Joseph’s eye. He would always remember her ringlets. At age 18, Joseph, along with an older sister, Jemima, made the huge decision to go to America. Hannah would remain in England and wait for him to return. He and Jemima traveled to the west coast of England and boarded the ship “Roscius” in Liverpool. He was listed as a grocer as his father owned a grocery store, and she was listed as dressmaker. This was the year 1851, well before the Civil War and before Ellis Island or Castle Garden opened for immigrant processing. Of note, Castle Garden opened as a New York port in 1808, and it was designated as an immigrant processing center in 1855. Before 1855, immigrants were freely allowed to enter the country. When they arrived in New York, as was usual, the passengers paid any customs due and were free to go. How different from today!

     Joseph went to Cleveland for his apprenticeship which took six years. Upon completion, he was a carpenter master. And  the first thing he did was to board a ship back to England to get married to Hannah. His ship arrived in England on July 9, 1857, and the marriage records show the wedding on July 10, merely one day later. 

      Joseph Johnson Hall  became an inventor, builder and architect. Not only is his life work interesting, but his love story is a great one as well. Together they had at least 15 and possibly 17 children. They remained married for 45 years until Hannah’s death in 1902 in Los Angeles. Their son, Warren, named after Hannah’s grandfather, married Augustine Meyer, Laura’s mother. Neither Gustine nor Laura ever met Joseph or Hannah, as the distance was far and money was scarce. However, Joseph replied to a letter of condolence that Gustine wrote to Joseph in 1902 upon the death of Hannah. JJ wrote about his memories of the ringlets in her hair when they were just children in grade school (you can see she still had them in the photo below). He was in love with her then, and remained so throughout their life. Gustine carried that letter in her apron pocket for many years. He died two years later in 1904. He was described as an affable fellow by a reporter discussing one of his inventions.

 

Joseph Johnson Hall, 1833-1904
Joseph Johnson Hall, 1833-1904

       If you ask me, I think we get that recognizable “Hering” look not from the Albert’s side of the family, whose facial features were long and rectangular, but from Laura’s. And I believe Laura got it from her paternal grandmother, Hanah Billing. Seen in this photo here with her ringlets, Hannah shows a very round face and smallish nose. I think she looks very related.   

 

Hannah Billing Hall 1832 -1902
Hannah Billing Hall, 1832-1902

This is the bank building in Woodland, CA designed by JJ Hall. The red stones were hauled in from Flagstaff, Arizona. 

Below is one of the houses designed by JJ Hall. This is an example of his fine draftsmanship. The detail is amazing. 

     Joseph and Hannah remained in London where he worked for several years. Their son, Warren, was born in London during this time. The growing family returned to the US when the Civil War ended. The voyage was difficult for Hannah and she lost a pregnancy soon after arriving. During Joseph’s lifetime, he filed at least six patents we know of for his inventions. He invented a washing machine that was operated by a boiler, the sales model of which we purchased at an auction of the patent office, a steam engine, and numerous others. His architectural drawings were highly detailed and works of art. After a fire in Woodland, California, he designed the new bank building, several offices and shops, and a variety of residences. One of them in particular was restored in the 1990’s to it’s original condidtion, painstakingly rebuilding it after a fire down to removing multiple layers of wall paper to find the original pattern and having that reproduced. It is a 5000 sq foot house and is said to have cost $500,000 to restore. It won the first prize by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the early part of the 2000’s. My father and I went on the homes tour there in 2006 and were acknowledged as his descendants. 

      Sadly, the bank building was torn down in the 1970’s, only a few years before preservation became  big deal. However, many of the shops and other homes were saved. An artist painted renditions of his bank building and the train station, both of which were up for sale when we were there, the proceeds of which would go towards their new community center. As the purchaser of the painting of Joseph’s building, I was allowed to hang it in the community center with a plaque dedicated not only to JJ Johnson, but also to Laura Hering and my father, Lee Hering. It hangs there today. 

Gustine Smith, Laura Hall, and Jacob Smith in California in 1915
Left to right, Augustine Meyers Hall Smith, Laura Allen Hall (later Hering), and Jacob Smith, aka Daddy Jake
Halls and Sayers, Laura's kin folk in California, 1915
Post 14: Laura Allen Hall – A Trip to California, 1915
    
     We believe Gustine met her first husband, Warren Hall, who died in 1899 from tuberculosis, in McGregor, but we’re not really sure what brought him there. Warren’s parents, Joseph and Hannah, and much of his family, had moved from Cleveland to the bustling and progressive west coast city of Oakland, California just on the mainland side of the bay of San Francisco, for which there was not yet a bridge. Neither Gustine nor Laura had ever had a chance to meet Warren’s parents or any brothers or sisters who lived in California. Warren’s mother Hannah died in 1902 and his father Joseph died in 1904. They would never have the chance to meet them. But Gustine had kept up by mail with some of the family, and I can imagine there was an invitation to come visit. Laura very much wanted to meet her father’s kin and so she, Gustine, and Jake Smith decided to take a trip to California.
 
     In 1915, train was the main form of overland travel and McGregor certainly had the trains being at the intersection of two major railroads. Cars were rare and undependable. There were only 40,000 vehicles registered in Texas in 1915, for a population of just over 4 million. Highways were dirt or gravel, and tires wore out often. Radioators used up water quickly and it would have been dangerous to cross the desert. Thus, undoubtedly, they would have taken a train out to California. Joseph and Hannah had 15 and possibly 17 children, 12 of which lived to adulthood. And most of them lived in Oakland, so there were plenty of kin to meet. And there was a lot of name learning on her father’s side of the family. Laura made some very good and long lasting relationships.
 
     Photos below are Gustine, Laura, and Daddy Jake in California, other members of the extended family (the Sayers) and the train depot. Of Note: the Panama Canal opened in 1914 and in 1915 there was a big exposition and World’s Fair in San Francisco to celebrate it as well as the rebuilding of San Francisco from the great fire of 1906, so it was a busy city that year.
Albert at 23 in the yard of Mamma Jake's home.

     I don’t have many stories about Albert from his youth. When he was young, with so many siblings in the house, he and one of his older brothers, Luther, would go sleep out in the bunk house or barn that was normally saved for the hired help during harvest season. It was their man cave away from the women! From what I understand, they were pretty good pals. Uncle Luther lived to be 104, and when he was just 100, he continued his routine of buying a 5 year subscription to the McGregor Mirror newspaper. I am so glad it is still in business.

     One year when Albert still lived at home, Luther and Albert got a job hauling gravel for the county to pave the highway. They loaded up their own wagon with the county’s gravel and took it to the work site with their own team of horses. To unload, they had a trick. The floor boards in the trailer were not nailed down. So they would get on either side of the wagon and each grab an end of a board and twist it from the horizonal position to the vertical position, thereby allowing the gravel to simply spill out onto the road. Not a bad idea, eh? By the way, a gravel road is considered an “improved unpaved road”. It was an intermediate stage to the building or our country. Comapred to dirt, it was a raceway!

Post 15: Laura Allen Hall Hering – Laura meets Albert 

    When Laura became a school teacher at the one room school house on Wasp Creek in McGregor in 1914, she boarded, that is, took her meals at a nearby farm owned by German farmer Charles Gustav Hering and his wife, Louisa. Since they were already cooking for at least 15 people, one more for pay was a help without really any extra work. Charles was second generation American, and he and his wife spoke English with a German accent. Both Charles’ parents and Louisa’s parents had emigrated to Texas through the port of Galveston in 1846, only one year after Texas because a state in the union. Texans were trying to populate Texas and its wide open ranges. Germany was experiencing poverty and famine at that time. So American entrepreneurs advertised in Germany the prosperity they could have in the newly formed state of Texas. Inviting posters showed a mountain range at the port which looked good in the picture, but did not exist anywhere except on that poster. Still, many immigrants were willing to give up their homeland for 40 acres and a mule. Imagine, advertising for immigrants. What a difference!

     Charles and Louise had 12 children, 10 of which grew to adulthood. Albert was 20 years old at this time, handsome, tall and slender at the hips, but shoulders so broad he had to have his suits tailored. He had been working full time on the farm since the end of his 4th grade education. He was a farmer, but that work was back breaking and hard, dirty, and highly dependent on the weather. He had ideas of supplemental businesses in town to ensure his income.

     It was at this country farm of Charles and Louisa that Laura officially met Albert. Laura was not only attractive, but had an irrestible personality. She had no lack of friends and suitors. However, she and Albert were developing a very special relationship. They soon became friends, and their friendship soon deepened into something more. 

    Albert’s family, unlike the only child experience of Laura, was large. Photographing that many children would have been difficult and possibly considered frivilous. We have no photos of Albert before he met Laura, the amateur photographer.

     Typically, Germans were not demonstrative in their show of affection. Even though their personal bonds were strong, this family did not often hug, kiss, or say “I love you”. Though there was love between Albert and my father, he says they never told each other that they loved each other. It was simply understood by action. A handshake sealed a deal, but a mere word would have been just as good. Albert himself was quiet, honest, trustworthy, wise, and respectable. If there was one thing he was, it was his word. When he spoke, he meant what he said. He never overextended himself financially and always lived within or under his means. He was never pushy. He once told Laura that if he asked a woman to marry him, and if she refused, he would not ask again. He was his word and he took people at their word. 

Dirt Road Being Graveled
Improving an unpaved road, McGregor, Tx early 1900's
Laura Hall Hering at 20
Laura Hall Hering at 20, 1915
Honest to Goodness Love Letter
Part of Laura's Wedding Dress (blue and white) and Albert's suit (black)

Post 16: Laura Allen Hall Hering

The Marriage

I love this photograph of Laura sitting outside her house (notice no grass in the yard) reading an “honest to goodness love letter”. She didn’t mention who it was from, but there was more than one man in McGregor who was in love with Laura. One day, one of them proposed to her. They had been friends for some time. They knew each other quite well, and chummed around frequently. She had to tell him “No”. They were such good friends, she should want to marry him. He was so disappointed that he cried. But Laura wasn’t in love with him. She was in love with another, someone she only met after beginning her teaching career. She had her heart set on Albert Hering, the quiet 20 year old who labored day in and day out on in the fields, who got dirty and sweaty working a plow with a team of horses, and milking cows before dawn. But he was the most honorable man she knew, sure of himself, true to his word, observant and respectful. He didn’t know much fun. His family was German descent, and they were serious and reserved. Mostly what he knew was work. Farming was a risky business. Some years, the crops failed, and there was no money. Some years there was a bumper crop, and prices dropped. The farmer was the first to feel financial woes and the last to reap the benefits of a gain. But it was the noblest job a man could have, to feed the world.

Laura hadn’t spent a lot of time with Albert, and she usually only saw him amongst his large family, but as of late, he’d taken to courting her. Against his family’s wishes, he would take a team of horses into town on Saturday nights to visit this “city girl” and have a little privacy with her. His family complained that the horses were tired from working six days a week. They needed a rest like everyone else. And they didn’t think she’d make a good farmer’s wife because she’d never lived on a farm. City girls were usually not very good out on a farm. Albert’s family was against the match. Albert didn’t have much, and this was one thing he wasn’t going to compromise on. He knew what he wanted. And Laura wanted to live on a farm in the wide open country where she had a view of things far, far away and the feeling of spaciousness. Albert’s family miscalculated on that.

At Laura’s house, there was a swing made for two in the back yard, one painted white where you sit across from and face each other. That was where Laura and Albert could have a few moments together. She was hoping he’d ask, now in the summer of 1915, as they had known each other for almost a year. But the spring had been busy with planting and the summer was proving to be busy as well with harvest season. Winter was coming on, and it would soon be too cold to meet in the swing out in the back. She knew Albert was thinking about it because he’d already informed her that if he asked a girl to marry him and she refused, he wouldn’t ask a second time. July 10th was such a Saturday night. The horses had been used all day in the fields, but Albert hitched a team up and went to visit Laura. As they sat that hot July night in the two seated swing, he finally asked. And the answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

The wedding was planned for December when there was no work in the fields. They chose to have the ceremony at the home on 3rd street where Laura had grown up, the home of Augustine and Jake. It took place on a Tuesday night, December 7th, a cold winter night. Her dress was blue and white, and she held chrysanthemums in her hands. A friend sang the song, “If All My Dreams Were Made of Gold, I’d Buy the World For You”. The write up reads that the gifts were too many for description because everybody loves Laura. Even the school children made her gifts. After the service, Gustine and Jake left the premises to the newly married couple as their honeymoon spot which they had for 10 days.

Laura saved her wedding announcement, her new calling cards, the calendar where she circled the night Albert proposed, and swatches of material from her dress and Albert’s suit. This was a happily married couple, and it would remain so for over 60 years.

There’s more to come and it will be posted right here and on facebook!

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