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185. Willis Timothy11 Musser (Maude10 Teegardin, Phebe Eliza9 Haughey, Timothy8, Robert7, Robert6, Johannah5 King, Francis4, Pieter De3 Coninck, Pieter De2, Francois De1) (#3759) was born Metz, Steuben Co., Indiana 21 Apr 1901. Willis died 22 Feb 1988 Steuben Co., Indiana, at 86 years of age.

He married Bertha Altha Sawvel Steuben Co., Indiana, 06 Oct 1923. (Bertha Altha Sawvel is #4125.) Bertha was born Troy Twp., Dekalb Co., Indiana 03 Aug 1900. Bertha was the daughter of Sherman Sawvel and Lillian Ashby. Bertha died 29 Jan 1993 Angola, Steuben Co., Indiana, at 92 years of age. Her body was interred Jan 1993 Jackson Praire Cemetery. FROM Susan Musser Minch

As told to me by Bertha in late 1980, she was 80 years old.

bertha Altha Sawvel was born August 2, 1900. Her parents are Sherman and Lillina{Ashby} Sawvel. They lived on an 80 acre farm in Troy Township,Dekalb County, and later bought an additional 40 acres. Bertha had two younger brothers to play with; Roy 2 years younger than she, and Arthur 4 years younger. They were very active, playful children, looking for and getting into all sorts of mischief.

The earliest memory Bertha has, is playing, and ending up with her head stuck in a triangle shaped hole, which was on top of the water tank. She was very scared, screamed and cried till her mother came to her rescue.

In 1910, when Bertha was 10 years old, her father purchased a piano for her, and her mother gave her music lessons. She got to be a good pianist. She was also very active in the local church, at 8 years old she attended regularly, and at 13 years old she joined the church. Eventually, when she was about 17 years old, she played the piano at the Zion United Brethren Church, for 5 or 6 years. She loved playing the piano for the church, and she loved and embraced the Christian way of life. Bertha said "This kept me from getting into trouble. I was very sincere in trying to live right"

When Bertha was 12 years old, she found out that her mother was losing her eye sight due to optic never deterioration, caused by diabetes. In 1912, diabetes was a uncontrollable disease. At 12 years old Bertha began to take over the chores of the household. Just 4 short years later, her monter was completely blind. She was soon doing all of the housework, which consisted of canning, washing, cooking, cleaning, etc... her father was very good about trying to help her with the chores and attempted to make the word easier for her. he bought her a gasoline Maytag washing machine. It was a very innovative appliance at the time. Her father always helped with the canning of the vegetables and meat. They raised a large garden and butchered all of their own meat, then canned and cured it.

Bertha and her brothers,Roy and Arthur, walked 3/4 mile to Tamarack School. This was a 1 room brick school, which was heated by a wood or coal stove. If your desk was near the stove you were very hot, ans the heat made Bertha sleepy. Bertha continued school there until she graduated from the 8th grade. She couldn't afford to go to high school in town, and she wasn't16 years old, so she had to take the 8th grade again. She really wanted to go to High School, but in 1917 parents had to furnish transportation to and from school. there were no buses. Some people would rent a room from friends in town, and then take their children in town on Sunday evening or Monday morning and then pick them up on Friday evening after school. By this time her mother was completely blind, and Bertha was needed at home to do the chores of the household.

The year after she finished school, Troy Township built a new 8th grade school. The nearest High School was 5 miles away in Hamilton. A couple of years later, parents stared letting their children drive the horse and buggy to school. Every town had a livery stable, so you could unhitch the horse and stable him while you were in school.

When she was about 19 years old she met Willis Musser on a blind date. A girlfriend of hers was dating his cousin and they came over to her house one Sunday evening with Willis. They wanted her to go out with him. He didn't impress her much, but they dated on and off for over 3 years. Over this period of time, Willis was worked in Detroit on the railroad as a fireman, he didn't like the work much, and only lived in Detroit for 6 months. His Uncle John Tyson had gotten him the job.

Willis was born August 23,1901, his parent are Lee Henry Musser and his wife, Maude Teegardin. he grew up in and around the little burg of Metz, Indiana. His Dad, Uncle and Grandfather were stonemasons, so naturally he was worked into this trade, which later also included cement work, brick laying and chimneys. The wages were not very good, and he didn't make a lot of money doing this. Willis attended the Metz School thru the 8th grade. He dropped out his Freshman year. He didn't like school. All of his classmates called him "Mike", that name stuck with him for years.

On October 6, 1923 Bertha and Willis were married. They were given a farm near her father's in Troy Township. They worked the farm, and Willis worked with his father and uncle in their masonry business; working in DeKalb and Steuben Counties. Their first child was Robert Allen Musser, born August 4, 1924; followed by Evelyn Maude Musser born October 26, 1926 and Lenore Ellen Musser bron September 28, 1928. Family legend says that Willis was a fun loving guy, who didn't always come home with his paycheck, and found other ways of spending it, like at the local tavern. This made life rough for Bertha. She worked the farm, tended the garden, raised chickens, anything to feed her family. At one point she attempted to leave Willis, and tried to move home to her father's place with the three children. Her father told her, "You made your bed, now sleep in it." She went back home and made the best of it. In 1937 she found out she was pregnant again, and was not happy to know that there would be another mouth to feed. On January 11, 1939, Hal Laverne Musser was born.

Sometime after 1940 Willis and Bertha sold the farm in Dekalb County and moved to a small farm in Steuben County, west of Angola. Here they raised a small herd of dairy cattle and chickens, plus worked a few acres of land. Bertha was a frugal woman who learned to stretch a dollar.

The children attended the local school, graduating from Flint High School. The eldest son, Robert, was drafted into World War II, and served as a Bombardier over Europe. The farm was only a few miles from the Tri-State Airport. The youngest son, Hal, fell in love with airplanes and spent most of his free time working for the Eysters, to earn the money for flying lessons.

Robert married Lois Kindig in 1949 when he returned from Europe. They had daughters, Shirley, Victoria, Anita and son Bobby. Robert worked in various local factories and suffered from shell shock. Robert and Lois were divorced in the late 1960's.

Daughter, Evelyn was married in 1947, to Robert Beach. He treated her poorly. They had two children, Steven and Phillip. Finally the abuse was too much, and Willis ran Robert Beach off. Evelyn remarried in April 28, 1950 to Loren Heckler, who adopted her two children. They also had a son, David. Loren worked on the toll road as a booth attendant, Evelyn worked for the local Steuben County extension office, and they lived on road 20, near the farm where Evelyn's parents lived.

The 2nd daughter, Lenore, married Herbert Lechleidner, August 18, 1948. They lived in Fort Wayne and both worked in factories there. They had two children Leon and Karen.

The youngest son, Hal, married Marilyn Teegardin, October 12, 1957. They had 3 children, Susan, Sindee and Michael. Hal devoted his professional career to aviation.

I remember visiting the grandma and grandpa, once a month, at the farm for Sunday dinner. All of the grand kids ran around like wild indians, playing in the barn, swinging on ropes, or putting the saddle on "Goldie" the old cow.

Bertha's father, Sherman, lived with her family, in the mid 60's during the last few years of his life. Bertha and Willis lived on the farm till the mid 70's. They sold that place, and moved to a small house on Wall Lake, near Orland where they lived for 5 or so years.

While living at Wall Lake the children, and grandchildren would regularly show up for Sunday dinners; finishing the day by playing cards together. Unfortunately the family get togethers ended when they moved from this place.

They sold the home at Wall Lake in the late 70's, bought a camper and retired to a campground in Bushnell, Florida. After a year in the camper, they bought a mobile home in Dogwood Trailer Park, Bushnell, Florida, and lived there till the early 80's; forced to return to Indiana as their health was failing. Willis died February 22, 1988.

In 1991, Bertha was reunited with her long lost cousin, Elsie Reed. They had not seen each other for 70 years. They had met at the Ashby Family Reunion, outside of Logansport, Indiana in 1920. They quickly became great friends. Elsie had even taken the train up to Waterloo to visit Bertha in 1921. At that time Bertha was 21 years old and Elsie was about 16 years old. This would be the last time they would see each other for 70 years. Over time they both were married, raised families and lost track of each other.

One day, in 1990, a man came to visit Bertha. He was researching the Ashby Family, and his name was Harry Ashby. Bertha told the man all that she could remember about her grandfather, William Ashby, and what he had told her about his family coming from England. Bertha then asked Harry Ashby if he knew of her cousin Elsie Reed. He did know Elsie, and even had her phone number. Bertha immediately phoned Elsie, and they began catching up on old times.

In 1991, I took Bertha (my grandmother) to visit Elsie in South Bend, Indiana. Bertha said it was strange to see Elsie the first time... she was 16 years old the last time she saw her. It was amazing to listen to the two of them catch up on each others lives. They were like two high school girls, laughing and smiling, chatting about life, and all that had happened to them over the last 70 years.

Bertha was a devoted mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother. She always put her family first, and gave many hand made gifts to all she loved.

Prior to her death, January 29, 1993, she had been living in Fremont, in an apartment at an assisted living retirement home. She called son, Hal, concerned that her check book was off 35 cents. I all her years managing her finances she had never had this problem before!

Grandma was a great economist. She could stretch a dollar, and find a good bargain. Her sense of direction was amazing, she never forgot a road that she had traveled.

We all miss her.

Willis Timothy Musser and Bertha Altha Sawvel had the following children:

child + 260 i. Robert Allen12 Musser was born 24 Aug 1924.

child + 261 ii. Evelyn Maude Musser was born 26 Oct 1926.

child + 262 iii. Lenore Ellen Musser was born 28 Sep 1928.

child + 263 iv. Hal Laverne Musser (still alive).

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