Reginald Elmer Weimer's Family
(Seated lady appears to be Nancy Elizabeth (CROWE) WEIMER)
"Kingfisher Oklahoma, February 1959
In 1889 (seventy years ago), at the age of eight, I came to Oklahoma from near Caldwell, Kansas, with my parents, Jesse J. and Nancy E. Weimer. I was born in Maryland in 1881, we moved to Caldwell in 1885. My father hauled freight from Caldwell to Fort Reno in 1888, then at the opening of Oklahoma, April 22, 1889; he homesteaded a farm near Kingfisher where I grew to manhood.
I can well remember my first year in school in Kansas. It was a little yellow schoolhouse about 6 or 7 miles west of Caldwell. I can remember a few of the folks who lived near us. They were Sam Garlitz and a brother Sim, and a Sol King who lived just east of the little yellow schoolhouse. There was also a family named Awalt or Erwalt who lived west of the school.
In 1942 I drove up to Caldwell where we lived, and to my surprise, there stood the little old yellow schoolhouse where I first went to school in 1888. It was the only thing I found that I could remember.
I was raised a farmer and lived on a farm till 1918, except from 1902 to 1906 I worked at a coal mine in Maryland. From 1918 to 1928 I worked two years in the Osage Oil field, then ran a garage in Kingfisher till 1928 when I went in the Restaurant business.
I retired from the Café, January 1, 1948 on account of ill health. Since then I have been doing some cabinet and carpenter work, and now I pass the time at my hobby, making replicas of the Covered Wagons that traveled the Old Chisholm Trail.
The first time I saw Kingfisher it was nearly all tents and covered wagons. The railroad was building south from Caldwell near Pond Creek when we made our first trip, so about all there was to be seen between Hennessey, Oklahoma and Caldwell was prairie grass, prairie dogs, rattle snakes and lots of coyotes, and they seemed to enjoy howling near our camp all night long. It would take about three days to make the trip. The last time I made the trip to Caldwell, I made the trip in two hours.
I have made and sold lots of the little wagons; they are quite a tourist attraction. I now have them in nearly every state in the USA, some in Canada, and I know of one that went to London, England. They have a lamp in them and make a fine TV or night lamp."
Written by Reginald E. Weimer
Original copy in possession of Grand-daughter, Laura Jacqueline Mellies
Notes from Laura E. Weimer
Jesse and his wife Nancy had one son and one daughter who died as infants. They moved to Kansas from Pennsylvania in 1882 where they lived until the opening of Oklahoma was announced. The team of horses they used in the Land Run into Oklahoma were the first to cross the Cimarron River. Jesse staked his claim 5 miles north and 1/2 miles west of Kingfisher and by October they had moved all their belongings in covered wagons to their new home which was a 12' X 16' shed. They lived there until 1901 when they moved to West Virginia and later to Maryland. When the children began to pick up bottles and take them to the saloon to trade for rubber-neck gum, they decided it was time to move back to Oklahoma. They moved to a ranch west of Kingfisher where Jesse worked until about 1906 when he bought a farm 13 miles northwest of Kingfisher.
An interesting story from the time shortly after Jesse and Nancy came to Oklahoma after the opening of the territory had been related as: One time when Jesse and Reg had gone back to Kansas to get some lumber, the Indians went on a rampage and Nancy took the small children and hid in a corn patch all night until it was safe to come out.
Kettle belonging to Nancy (CROWE) WEIMER, now in possession of descendant Bill Trosper (shown)
Notes from Laura E. Weimer and family members:
"To many people in the Kingfisher area, the mention of Reg Weimer's name brings to mind the miniature 'covered wagons' he made during the last 15 plus years of his life. He made over 900 wagons in all, dedicating his 569th wagon to his daughter, Laura Elizabeth, on his 80th birthday.
Reg was born in Carlos, Maryland, the oldest of seven children. At the age of 8, he made the Oklahoma Land Run with his father. He married Virda Fourt in 1901 and in 1902 they moved to Maryland where Reg worked as an engineer in the coal mines. Their only daughter, Laura, was born in Carlos. After moving back to Oklahoma in 1906, Reg worked in the oil fields and then opened a garage in Kingfisher. In 1928 he opened a Cafe in Kingfisher and people would come from miles away to have a 5 cent hamburger or a good steak and everyone called him "Pop". He was an excellent cook and his grand-Daughter Jackie remembers spending the day at his house him preparing mouth-watering fried chicken for lunch. One of the most amazing things to his young grand-daughter was that his gravy was always lump free!
Reg started building his wagons models in the early 1950's after retiring from 20 years in the restaurant business. His first wagon, which was 18 inches long, took him two weeks to complete. Later he shifted to a 14 inch model and later made only the 10 inch model. The wagons had miniature brakes and undercarriages which duplicated those used by the pioneers and doubled as television lamps. When the wagon-tongue was lifted the light came on. In later years he would work on four or five wagons at a time and could complete four wagons each week, complete with canvas top (which his daughter Laura would make for him).
The wheels were turned on a lathe and a jig-saw was used on the spokes. The wagons were built to scale "as nearly like the old wagons as I can make them" (Reg was once quoted as saying). They were complete with brakes which actually worked, a canvas cover, barrels, skillets, ropes and other fittings. Paint was applied so skillfully that buyers would often actually thump the silver wheel to try to make it ring. Some of his wagons have been sold to people in Hawaii, Canada and even London, England. In 1960 he was selling his model wagons for about $11 a piece. He never had many wagons 'on hand' and was once quoted as saying that he never had more than 3 or 4 on hand at any one time. Reg also made dressers and desks, some of which were made from oak flooring and many smaller items, such as fruit bowls, salt & pepper shakers and ashtrays. He was a master craftsman and many of the items he made are still owned by family members. As late as 1994 his grand-daughter, Jackie, was still using a dresser and desk and 3 bookcases made by him. Jackie and her daughter, Stacy also use several what-not shelves made by Reg and most family members have at least one of the covered wagons he made. Jackie still has some of the plans for the wagons showing the sizes of the various pieces. It is very faded, but still readable.
His work-shop in the garage was an exciting place for his youngest grand-daughter Jackie to visit. There was always an assortment of wheels and other wagon parts hanging from the ceiling and always the smell of saw-dust! Reg, like Virda, always had time for his grandchildren and many of us have fond memories of times spent at his house, exploring the cellar, playing the old pump organ, sitting at the table for a meal fit for a King, or watching him work on his wonderful covered wagons."
Courtesy of Jackie Mellies
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