At first, the war years of 1914-1917 did not affect the Rademacher family that much. During this time, they opened a general store in Snyder. Apparently, it was quite large and stocked everything from tractors to groceries and fancy lace. It became a gathering place for neighbors to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and share the day’s gossip.
A Colorado business directory from 1920 shows a listing for the general store in Snyder. It’s listed as “Steinfort & Rademacher General Merchandise”.
I don’t know anything about the Steinfort family, but apparently the two families were neighbors – see the middle of Section 1 of the upper right corner of the map. The names are pretty badly misspelled (“Stinfost” and “Rodenach”).
Meanwhile, back in Crete, the extended Burkey family is starting to get restless. Here is a neat photo of Joseph and Ottilia Burkey outside their home in Crete:
What’s fascinating about this photo is the presence of three Kreifels siblings. In 1913, Hattie Burkey married Louis Kreifels, a widower with eight children. Therefore, the three Kreifels siblings in this photo are Hattie’s stepchildren (and of course, Ted Rademacher will marry one of them, Elizabeth, in 1927). The identities of the two little boys are not known. One of them may be Anton Kreifels, Hattie’s and Louis’ son.
Also interesting is that both Mary and Bertha Burkey are in the photo along with Mary’s husband Joseph Smejkal. When Mary dies in 1921, Joseph will marry her sister Bertha.
Anyway, as I mentioned, the Burkey family is getting restless. Annie’s brother Vincent decides to try homesteading and files a claim for land in Weld County, Colorado near the small town of Keota. This was probably around 1913.
Annie’s sister Tillie had married Arnold Peter – remember, Arnold was Joe Rademacher’s best friend who had tried homesteading up in South Dakota. Arnold and Tillie decided to follow Vincent’s lead and they file their own Keota claim in about 1915. Pretty soon Joseph and Ottilia pack their bags (1917), then sister Bertha (1918), and then finally Emil Kreifels (1919, another one of Hatte’s stepsons).
All these folks were living on Keota homesteads during its short-lived heyday. From an online article about Keota:
Even during its most successful time, just before the World War I, Keota never had a population of more than 150, but it served some 1000 to 1500 homesteading neighbors. At that time Keota had daily passenger service on the railroad, then service became weekly, then not at all. The water from wells became undependable and during the driest years water had to be shipped in by railroads and trucks. The bank failed in 1923. The high school built in 1915 was closed in 1951. Railroad tracks were dismantled 1970s and, finally, the post office was discontinued in 1974. Today, the remaining ruins including the church are being repossessed by the prairie.
With all these friends and relatives just 50 miles away, it soon became commonplace for Joe and the family to go and visit. And of course you needed a car to do that! According to MaryBeth:
Grandpa Joe got a car in 1917. It was a touring. It was one of the first cars in the neighborhood.
One Easter my dad’s family went to Keota, Colorado to visit his mom’s mother and father. They usually could come home the same day. Keota is out on the Colorado dry lands. A blizzard came up, and it snowed so hard that they couldn’t get home. My grandpa left grandma and the little children there with her folks. The next day, he took my dad and Uncle Ted and tried to get home. They kept getting the car stuck in snow drifts. Finally they got to a house where an old bachelor lived. Grandpa left my dad and Uncle Ted there and borrowed a horse to ride home through the snow. He had to get home to milk the cows and feed the livestock. The next day he brought two horses for dad and Uncle Ted to ride and they pulled the car through the snow drifts and finally got home. Grandma came home after the storm was over.
World War I prompted some of the men to fill out draft cards, including Joe Rademacher himself, plus two of the Burkey brothers in Keota, Vincent and Gerard. As far as I know, none of them served.
The war still affected the family, though. Influenza epidemics swept the globe in the years during and after the war. In 1918-1919, an influenza epidemic came through Colorado and young Gerard Burkey (shown at far right in the above photo) was sadly one of its victims.