This is the story of Laura Allen Hall Hering
A 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
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.
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.
Post 4: Augustine Jahnke Hayes, grandmother to Laura Allen Hall
Post 6: Laura Allen Hall Hering
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.
Post 8: Laura Allen Hall Hering
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Post 16: Laura Allen Hall Hering
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!