Stories From the Farm and Ranch

Return to the Index

Evelyn Zeckser 1920-2023 and Mary Schultz 1920-2020

Evelyn writes:

I was born at home in Alma, Kansas, on January 13, 1920, during the depression. My parents were John and Ida Heder Meyer. I went to grade school in Alma, but didn't have the opportunity to go to high school because my parents didn't have the money to pay for school. Fortunately, my younger sister and brother were able to go later. From 14 to 19, I cleaned houses. For this, I was paid $2 a week and received room and board! One spring I cleaned 11 houses. This was back when people really cleaned their homes in spring and fall.

Elmer was born in Alma, in the home where I still live, on January 29, 1915; his parents were August and Anna Burgess Zeckser. He went to Alma High School and played football and basketball. I met him at Walther League. He was 5 years older than me, but my parents didn’t seem to care because they knew him and liked him. We got married on March 22, 1939 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Alma (I was 19 and he was 24) and moved into the stone house across the road from his parents south of Alma. We farmed with a team of horses when we were first married. In July 1942, when I came home from the hospital after Carole was born, we had just gotten electricity so we got a refrigerator and a wringer washing machine. When Elmer’s parents built a house west of Alma, on July 4th, 1944 we loaded our things on a hay wagon and moved across the road into the house where I still live. We had a furnace and a bathtub here, and Marilyn was born in October of that year. We bought this farm from Elmer’s parents in 1948 (254 acres), then were given 320 acres pastureland from his parents later. We had a farm sale in 1998.

We always farmed, had chickens, cows, pigs, cattle, and registered quarter horses. Elmer wanted to have enough horses to have a sale, which we did when we had about 75. In later years, he drove the school bus for 16 years and worked at the Alma Co-op during the day. As the girls grew up, I then worked at the café in town for 3 years, Newton’s drug store for 16 years, and the Alma Manor for 3 years in the laundry room. We always had a big garden and lots of strawberries and I canned and froze anything and everything; I even used to make ketchup. I always liked to sew and mend, and used to make practically all our clothes. I loved to sew for our daughters and would sew late into the night after everyone was asleep.

We were married for 62 years when Elmer died in July 2001. I still live at our home and only drive to Alma and back now. I go to church on Sunday, visit my neighbor up the road, go to coffee and quilt at the Alma Museum. I have a big flower garden and enjoy spending my time out there – it’s my therapy! I watch TV, read a lot, and like to do embroidery work.


Mark Feiden, John Hund, and Gary Schultz visited with Evelyn Zeckser and Mary Schultz at the Wabaunsee County Museum in Alma, Kansas, on June 18, 2019. Evelyn was interviewed again in June of 2020 for a Smithsonian sponsored COVID-19 followup project.

NOTE: I was getting caught up and starting to work on biographies for this page when I learned of Mary's passing—just a few months shy of her 100th birthday. Meeting and spending time with Mary and Evelyn was very special experience for me. While their recollections—spanning nearly 100 years—are priceless, I was most impacted by the quality of their close friendship. I was also especially appreciative of Mary thinking about who I was and making a special effort to include members of my family in her stories. I am so very happy to have met Evelyn and Mary and these films will forever warm my heart.—Mark Feiden

Laundry Day
Alma, Kansas, 2019

Marriage, Friendship and Home Brew
Alma, Kansas, 2019

Hardwood Floors
Alma, Kansas, 2019

Alta Vista
Alma, Kansas, 2019

Alma, Kansas, 2019

Evelyn interviewed with John Hund for the Smithsonian sCenter for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Magazine
Alma, Kansas, 2020

Return to the Index