Although Joe and Annie had endured the death of their infant daughter Elizabeth soon after arriving in Snyder, less than a year later they welcomed another addition to the family. Son Albert was born on February 14, 1913 and was appropriately given the middle name of “Valentine” in honor of the Saint’s Day. Sometime in 1915, Joe and Annie loaded up the boys and headed to town for a formal portrait of their young boys.
As a mother of three boys myself, I know trouble when I see it and this photo has trouble written all over it, doesn’t it? I’m sure they sent copies back to Crete.
While living in Snyder, Joe and Annie and their children were separated not only from their extended family but were also quite a ways distant from a Catholic Church offering regular masses.
The nearest church was in Brush, which was about seven miles away. In fact, St. Mary’s in Brush was not even founded until April 11, 1911 – just a few months before the family arrived. For as long as the family lived in Snyder, St. Mary’s was a mission parish and did not always offer masses every Sunday.
This was apparently of great concern to Joe and Annie, so much so that they sent the older two boys back to Crete so they could attend the Catholic school there and prepare for their first communion. They lived with their Grandpa and Grandma Burkey (Joseph and Ottilia). Recall that years earlier Ottilia herself was anxious to leave their Julesburg homestead so that her children, Annie included, could receive a Catholic education in Crete. Grandma Ottilia was probably thrilled to host her young grandsons to ensure that they received a similar education!
According to Clem’s grandson:
Ottilia was born in Germany and the boys like to hear stories about the old country. Their dad [Joe] would send sides of beef sewn in canvas on flatcars on the train. It was frozen solid before it left for Crete and stayed frozen. While they enjoyed living in town, it was nice to get home for the holidays.
Here we have a photo commemorating Clem’s first communion, and I recognize the studio from the many other photos we have from Crete.
Eventually, St. Mary’s must have grown enough to accommodate the family’s spiritual needs; we have a photo of younger brother Joe Jr.’s first communion, and that photo was taken in Brush.
The family continued to grow with the births of Mary (1915), Joe Jr. (1917), and Bertha (1920). A momentous occasion was the reason for a big family trip back to Crete in 1920. More about that next time.