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Antone Kurz Family

Host Descendant:  Ron Kurz
.


Anton Kurz
Farmer and Rancher

Ron Kurz Collection

Please note that the spelling of Antone was changed during his life. Antone in the early years, Anton later on.
It was always pronounced the same,  "An - tône"

Peter Joseph Kurz
   Born: November 2, 1820 in Scharen, Kr. Kastellaun, Rheinland
   Married: January 27, 1856 in Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin
   Died: October 1, 1898 in Town of How, Oconto County, Wisconsin

Catherine Bibelhausen - wife
   Born: November 25, 1835 in Valwig, Rheinland
   Died: June 22, 1915 in Ladysmith, Rusk County, Wisconsin

Antone Kurz - son
   Born July 7, 1867 in New Denmark, Brown County, Wisconsin
   Died: February 18, 1943
   Burial: in Crown Hill Cemetery, Coldwater Kansas

Children of ANTONE KURZ and OLGA RAAZ are:

       i. FRANK KURZ, b. 1909; d. 1983.
          Burial: Freedom Oklahoma Cemetery 
      ii. LAURA KURZ, b. 1911; d. 1991. 
          Burial: Crown Hill Cemetery in Coldwater Kansas
     iii. BERTHA KURZ, b. 1913; d. 1984. 
          Burial: Crown Hill Cemetery in Coldwater Kansas 
     iv. VIOLET KURZ WESTOVER, b. 1924; d. 1958, 
          Burial : Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Norristown, Montgomery, PA.


 
 

OKLAHOMA
Antone Kurz Homestead

Antone Kurz was from the farming community of New Denmark, Wisconsin. He was the sixth child of 10 born to Peter Joseph Kurz and his wife Catherine Bibelhausen, in what was then a Danish community with only a few new German immigrant families.  In the mid 1800's families in northeastern Wisconsin were often the first to break ground for homesteading.  Without a doubt, Anton watched, participated in, and learned as members of the community went about building first crude shacks for shelter and barns, using the simplest of tools, clearing stumps from the land, digging water wells, and breaking virgin soil for farming and pasture land. Then fencing and more adequate homes, barns and outbuildings came as he grew older. What he learned there served him well throughout his life, as he repeated the process in adulthood on the unsettled lands of Oklahoma.
 
 
 
Oklahoma Homestead 
Photo by Jerry Eagan

 

This is Anton's homestead 2004. The house was where the pile of rocks is on the left side of the picture. The barn built into the side of the hill is the location of Anton's first dugout house  built in 1900 when he homesteaded there.  A new one room house was build in 1908 when he married Olga Raaz.  Son Frank  was born in 1909 in that one room. A two-story addition was build in 1910.  The flat top hills in the background of the picture are about 1 mile to the east of the homestead.

Anton homesteaded in Northwest Oklahoma Territory in 1900, after mining a few years in Colorado and Wyoming. During a visit to his brother Jacob's,  who had a ranch in southern Kansas, Jacob showed him open land a short distance away in Oklahoma. This is where Anton stood atop Lookout Mountain for the best possible view of the surrounding area, choosing a long narrow strip of flat, green  land to settle.  Local lore states he was the first to claim and settle land in the area. Anton homesteaded 160 acres 6 miles south of Kansas state line in Oklahoma, about 15 miles from brother Jake's Ranch in Kansas. His 1900 homestead was originally in the Township of Webster, Woodword County. After making his claim, he dug an indentation in a small hill and built walls and a roof on it which he used as the shelter for his first home. This "Dugout" later became the foundation for his barn.
 
 
 
 

Olga Raaz Kurz
1889 - 1933

Ron Kurz Collection


 
 
 

Once establish on his land and with the local population growing, Anton met Olga Raaz.  She was from a local homesteading family that had come from a German community in St. Petersburg,  Russia. Olga's father was a military musician in the Czar of Russia's personal band before bringing his family to the United States. His instrument remains in his great grandson's family collection.
 

When the Raaz Family left Russia, the Russian government  would not allow them to bring money, gold or other valuables out of Russia.  Jacob Raaz was a carpenter, as well as being a musician. He built large wood boxes to pack up their personal items that they would allow to take. Elizabeth Bissa and husband Jacob sold everything they could and bought precious stones such as Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds, hiding them in concealed hollowed out corners in the wood boxes he built.
 
 
 
 
 
 


The Raaz Homestead
left to right
Mother Elizabeth, father Jacob, daughter Pauline 
and Jacob's brother Anton Kurz on the far right.

Ron Kurz Collection

Olga's sisters Pauline and Anna.

Henry Kurz Collection

  These jewels were what they used for money the first few years in the USA.  A few gems remained in the family for two generations with Laura Kurz.  The Raaz family had 15 children but only two made it to adulthood, Olga & Pauline. Beside Paul, 19 and Anna 20, all the rest died at birth or at a very young age. One child died on the boat when they came over from Russia and is buried at sea.

In America, Olga lived with parents Elizabeth and Jacob Raaz, sister Pauline and brother Paul. The family settled on this homestead, 4 miles north of Anton's homestead and 2 miles south of the Kansas state line, in 1904.  This 160 acres is still in the family.  Olga was 3 when they came to the USA in 1892 from St Petersburg Russia.  Pauline, born in America, died just 3 or 4 years ago at close to 100 years old. Anna, also a younger sister born in America, died as a young woman in the worldwide flu epidemic of  1920.  Olga's brother Paul  was a year younger than Olga.  He was killed by a lightening strike about 20 months after Anton and Olga's marriage, and is the Paul Raaz that signed as a witness on Anton and Olga's marriage certificate. While standing in a field with his father, Paul pointed up and said, "Look at that funny little cloud" and was immediately struck. The family dog "Carlo" was also killed instantly and great granddad was knocked to the ground, stunned, but not injured. There was no storm at the time.

Insights into her Raaz grandparents , as told to a descendant by the late Laura Kurz:
"The Raaz family always served wine with meals, this included even the young children as they got a very small glass of wine too.. With Oklahoma always being a dry state until just a few years ago, prohibition didn't change Oklahoma much.  So the Raaz's always had homemade wine.  In their later years 1920's and 1930's the Raaz family moved about 100 miles south to a small German community in the little town of Bessie OK.

Life for the Raaz's centered around the large German Lutheran church there. During the depression everyone was poor and had no cars, but everyone in
Bessie lived close enough together they could walk everywhere in town.  A typical Sunday they all would go to church services in the morning then,
they as a group, after church would go to one of their homes, have a snack and a little sip of homemade wine, then they would walk, as a group to someone else's house, eat a little more and sip a little more.  As the day went on the group had visited several homes and had a lot of snacks and sips
of wine. By time for evening services some were not walking very well.

Laura also talked about her grandparents not learning to speak English and she would get in arguments about it with her granddad, of course these argument were always in German, and Laura would refer to her granddad as a 'stubborn old fart'.  Jacob Raaz died in 1938, he was in his late 80's and Elizabeth (Bissa) Raaz died in 1951 in her mid 90's. Both are buried at the German Lutheran Church Cemetery in Bessie, OK.
 
 
 

Ron Kurz Collection

Anton and Olga married in 1908. Anton was 40 and Olga 18 when they were married.  When the couple were married, Olga being a staunch German Lutheran,  told Anton any children they might have would be raised German Lutheran or she would not marry him. Anton was Catholic.  So in the 19 teens and 20's they would drive about all day Sunday to attend a German Lutheran church, somewhere in the next county in Oklahoma for Olga and the kids.  Then they would go on up into Kansas to a Catholic Church for Anton.  Neither church was very close to each other or home. They had 4 children, Frank, Laura , Bertha and Violet.  German was spoken in Anton and Olga's  home.  Frank, Laura and Bertha didn't speak english until they started to school.

Anton was 42 years old when the oldest, Frank, was born. This part of the country was undergoing years of rapid change. The 1910 U.S. Census shows that Oklahoma had achieved statehood and the homestead was now officially redesignated in Patterson Township, Woods County. Although living in another state, Kansas, brother Jacob and his family were only 15 miles away.
 
 
 
 
 

There are several humorous tales related by descendants. One cherished family story follows:

"In 1910,  Anton and Olga, with baby Frank, went to visit brother Jacob and family at their ranch in Kansas.  Uncle Jake had one of the first cars in the country at that time, I heard that it was a brand new 1910 Model T Ford. The two families went for a afternoon drive.  Anton had never driven a motor car before, and may never had actually seen one.  So his brother had him driving for the very first time.  They were traveling down the dirt road and came to a closed gate across the road.  In the range land of this time, it was just the normal thing to hop down from the wagon or horse and open the fence gate that blocked the cattle from wandering down the road. Once the horse or wagon was through, a person stopped, hopped down and closed the gate behind themselves before continuing on down the road. New to these motorcars, Granddad Anton just pulled back on the steering wheel and yelled "WHOA"...... and drove on through the closed gate. Horses didn't come with brakes."
 
 
 

Another family tale related by a descendant:

"In the 1920's the local bootlegger lived a 1/4 mile south of Anton and Olga. That place ended up being where Frank and Arline lived for 50 + years until they both died.  Anyway, during prohibition a doctor from Coldwater was in the area and wanted some good booze, not the Saturday Nite Special cheap stuff that the bootlegger sold at the local dances.  So, as the story goes Granddad Anton and the bootlegger hitched up a team of horses and wagon and went over to where the still was hidden in the hills and canyons about 3 miles east of Anton's house and got the Doctor some of the bootleggers good stuff. They had to go to the Still, hidden in the hills at night so no one ( cops, neighbors and etc.) would see them come and go. The bootleggers didn't trust any other neighbors.  It took them all night to get the good booze, but the Doctor was very pleased."

The three oldest children of Antone and Olga were, left to right, Laura, Frank and Bertha, pictured here in 1914. Violet, the youngest in the family was born in 1924, ten years after this photograph of the oldest three children
was taken.

Ron Kurz Collection


 


Ron Kurz Collection
The one room cabin was enlarged with a two story additions making the house an "upright and wing" design.

Ron Kurz Collection

This is an original photo postcard of the 1910 Ford that Anton learned to drive on. It was taken at the home of his brother Jake Kurz in Kansas. Here it is filled with visiting family members and friends. It was sent to Anton's mother, Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, for Christmas.

 

Wild Buffalo Wallows 
These land indentations filled with bright green grass were left by roaming buffalo in the late 1800s.  After rains, they filled with water and the wild roaming herds would roll in the mud to form a protective coat against biting insects and sunburn; also cooling themselves.  Anton did not break this original prairie sod on his homestead. His cattle grazed the land and used the wallows as the buffalo had before them.  At the upper left corner the little flat top hill is known as Lookout Mountain.  It is about one mile west from where the picture was taken.  The story goes since Anton was the first  person to homestead there.  He went up on Lookout Mountain to see the best land in the area,. His 160 acre homestead was 1/4 mile wide by 1 mile long.  This is how it looked in 2004.


Photo by Jerry Eagan


Photo by Jerry Eagan
Anton's grandson stands in the Freedom, Oklahoma, Pioneer Museum with Anton Kurz's old Scythe. It was used to cut grain for harvest. At the end of the wooden handle is a long curved very sharp blade. Standing in the dried, ripened wheat, the scythe was swung in a low half circle around the front of the farmer to cut the stalks close to the ground. It was then gathered by hand in "shocks" or bundles which were placed together. tee pee style. This method is still used across the U.S. by such groups as Amish farmers.

 
 

 

Laura Kurz standing beside her father Anton's 1936 Chevy.
It was the last car he owned.







Ron Kurz Collection

Anton shows off his grandson, Ron Kurz

Ron Kurz Collection

Family story:

"The last car that Anton bought was a 1936 Chevy sedan. Back then heaters didn't come standard in new cars.  So for Christmas, from the Montgomery Wards catalog, son Frank ordered a heater and installed it for his dad. Anton thought that was the greatest thing in the world you could have; a warm car in the winter time. After Anton died, daughter Laura got the old green '36 Chev and drove it until the early 1950's."

 

Obituary of Anton Kurz 

Anton Kurz, who had lived near Lookout, Okla, for about 44 years died in the Wichita hospital Thursday afternoon, February 18, 1943, as noted in the Star last week. He had been in the hospital several weeks.

The body was brought to Coldwater, and on Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock services were held at the home of Jacob Kurz in this city. Burial was made in Crown Hill cemetery beside the wife, who died on February 6, 1933.

The service was in charge of Father A. B. Dziemian, Catholic priest of Sitka, and the casket bearers were neighbors of the deceased - Ed. Mahoney, Arden Hall, Lynn Fross, Arthur Doty, William Johnson and Henry Neukirch.

Mr. Kurz was born in New Denmark, Wis, on July 7, 1867 and at the time of his death was 75 years, 7 months and 11 days of age.

Mr. Kurz was a good neighbor and friend. He leaves to mourn his loss one son Frank, whose home is near Lookout, and three daughters, Laura, Bertha and Violet Kurz, all of Wichita; his brother Jacob Kurz, and many other relatives and friends. Mr. Kurz was a successful rancher, a loving husband and father and thoughtful neighbor.
 


Crown Hill Cemetery in Coldwater, Kansas.
Photo by Jerry Eagan


 
 

Frank Kurz and Family
Son of Anton and Olga Raaz Kurz


Ron Kurz Collection

Frank Kurz Family - 1979

Ron Kurz Collection

Family Story:
" For his 21st birthday, Anton gave his son Frank a check for one thousand dollars. Anton thought it would be used to buy cattle, farm equipment and so on. Well, as most young men would do, he went out and bought a sporty new car; a 1930 Chevrolet Cou'pe with a rumble seat. Anton was not too happy.

Also, 2  and 4 years later, Frank's sisters Laura and Bertha were just plain pissed off when they did not get a generous 21st birthday check. They were still complaining about that up until they died. We found the old cancelled "One Thousand Dollar" check in Laura's stuff after she died".



The garage/bunkhouse on Frank Kurz ranch in 1947.
This is a picture of  one of Antone's grandsons with son Frank standing. It was taken  before the main house was built.

Ron Kurz Collection


Photo by Jerry Eagan
The house built by Frank Kurz in the late 1940's early 1950's,
located 1/4 from Anton's homestead.  This picture is how it looks in 2004.  At the time it was built it was one of the nicest,  if not the nicest house, in the area for years.  The building to the left in the picture is the garage/bunkhouse.

 
 

Ron Kurz Collection 


Frank and Arline were married August 24, 1933. Frank passed away August 6, 1983, only a few days before their 50 Wedding Anniversary.

North and South Meet
Brother's Sons Meet

Frank Kurz  (left) son of Peter (P.J.) and Rose Kurz of Argyle Minnesota visits with Frank Kurz (right) son of Anton and Olga Kurz of Freedom, Oklahoma. 

Ron Kurz Collection


 

Frank Kurz
1983
This treasured picture was taken less than 72 hours before his sudden death.

Ron Kurz Collection

Photo by Jerry Eagan

The Frank and Arline Kurz grave site is located at the Freedom Cemetery,
Freedom Oklahoma

 


 
 

Ron Kurz Collection

Obituary of Frank Kurz

Frank Anton, son of Olga Raaz and Anton Kurz was born near Lookout, Oklahoma, on March 27, 1909. He passed away suddenly at his home on the 6th of August at the age of 74 years, 4  months an 10 days.

He attended Lookout Rural School and worked with his father at  farming and ranching. After his father's death he continued the operation.

On August 24, 1933 at Alva, Oklahoma, he was married to Miss Arline Smith. To their marriage three children were born.

Following their marriage they lived in the Freedom area where he has farmed and ranched.

He was a former member of the board of directors, The Freedom Coop, the Woods County Rural Water District 2, served on several Rural School Boards and a lifetime member of the Freedom Museum.

Mr. Kurz was preceded in death by his parents and a sister Violet Westover.

Obituary of Frank Kurz
 

Bertha Kurz
Daughter of Anton and Olga Raaz Kurz


Ron Kurz Collection


Bertha and her mother Olga Kurz after fishing.

Ron Kurz Collection


Olga Kurz and daughter Bertha show off their days catch.

Ron Kurz Collection


Left to right:
Laura Kurz,
Margaret Holl Renier 
(Veronica Kurz Holl daughter from Wisconsin), 
Bertha Kurz
Ron Kurz Collection

Laura Kurz
Daughter of Anton and Olga Raaz Kurz

Ron Kurz Collection

Ron Kurz Collection


 

Ron Kurz Collection



Ron Kurz Collection

Ron Kurz Collection
 
 

Bertha and Laura Kurz celebrate a birthday with a niece

Each of Antone and Olga's daughters was independent in facing life, yet their lives would intertwine again and again. The following are memoirs of family descendants that describe adventures of both women.

"In their working life's Laura Kurz was a registered nurse who graduated from St. Francis Hospital, Wichita, Kansas Nursing School in 1935.  Bertha Kurz went to secretary school and ended up being an executive secretary.  It was commonly known by most of the family that Laura & Bertha loved to nip a
little."

"In the late 1940's Laura got married to an eastern Oklahoma hillbilly hick, which the marriage didn't last too long,  In their divorce papers, on the
list of items that Laura got, the last item was "one horse named Legs" The 1st item on what he got was "one large saddle".  Sounds like a country song to me.  The Hillbilly Hick would not honor the divorce papers so Laura got her brother Frank Kurz to go with her to eastern Oklahoma to get Legs the
horse and her other personal stuff from the hick at gun point.  A few weeks later Laura's car was stolen in the middle of the night from brother Frank's driveway.  It was the Hick, he still had a set of keys to the car."

"In the early 1970s Laura & Bertha both moved back to Oklahoma to retire. They bought a house together in Alva.  Like I said earlier they both liked to nip a little and they did not agree on too much.  When I got married, my new wife and I were traveling from Illinois to Nevada, we stopped by Oklahoma to visit the family.  Laura & Bertha had invited us to go out to dinner, we stopped at their house and they met my wife and asked if we would like a drink, we said yes and Laura got up went to her bedroom brought out a jug of whiskey went to the kitchen, fixed drinks for everyone, then served them and took the jug back to her bedroom.  A little while later Bertha asked if we would like our drinks refreshed, we said yes, she got up went to her bedroom got a  jug of whiskey, the same brand that Laura had, and then she refreshed our drinks and took the jug back to her bedroom."

"They both had sort of became hypochondriacs.  Now Bertha did have palsy and she would shake a lot, as she got older it got worse.  On a camping trip we were using a small 1 axle tear drop camping trailer, it was unhooked from the car but we didn't use anything to sturdy the camper so it would wobble a lot. I had to laugh at Bertha as she was sitting at the dinette in the camper and she was taking a level full large table spoon full of liquid medicine, her palsy was shaking, the camper was wobbling but she never spilled a drop."

"They would both usually get pretty tipsy every night then get into a good verbal fight.  Bertha always had bowel movement problems. One night they went to brother Franks house to spend the night and to visit with Franks kids who were visiting from the far corners of the world.  When the nephew and niece got home late that night, about 2 am, Laura and Bertha were both drunk and fighting,  when we heard them fighting my sister and I walked into the bedroom they were in, Bertha was sitting up in the bed crying and there sat Laura on a small stool leaning on her knees holding her drink not too level sort spilling some and saying in slurred speech to Bertha, "All I ever hear from you is if you shit or you don't shit".  Talk about the rest of us having a big belly laugh."

"At a later date they went Oklahoma City to doctors and were having medical test's run, they spent the night in a motel as they had to go in for their tests early in morning after they had an enema,  they did their enemas at the same time in a motel room with only one bathroom, they learned real quick a new use for a trash can."

"The last story they told on themselves.  In the early mid 1980's I moved back to Oklahoma and was only 25 miles from where Laura & Bertha lived, so I would help them out by driving them to Oklahoma City for doctor appointments when Bertha was sick with cancer,  but before we left Oklahoma City we would always stop by the large discount liquor store and they would stock up,  they would fill the trunk of the big old Chevy Caprice with booze and we would drive home with the Chevy's headlights aiming at the treetops with all the extra weight the trunk."
 


 

Photo by Jerry Eagan

   Crown Hill Cemetery
in Coldwater, Kansas.

Obituary of Laura Kurz

 
Laura Margaretha, daughter of Anton and Olga (Raaz) Kurz was born December 1, 1911 near Lookout, Oklahoma on the 27th of April at the age of 79 years, 4 months and 28 days.

She attended the Lookout Rural School, graduating from the Coldwater High School with the class of 1932. She then went to nurses training at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas and in 1935 received her R.N. Certificate working at St. Francis Hospital. During World War II she worked for both Beech and Boeing Aircraft in Wichita. After the war she went to California and later to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She also worked for the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, in 1974 she came to Alva to make her home where she worked at Clinton and later at the Carmen Nursing Home.

Miss Kurz first became a member of the Lutheran Church at Charleston where she was baptized and confirmed. When the church closed they went to Selman and when that church closed they went to Buffalo, later she became a member of the Alva Zion Lutheran Church of which she was a member at the time of her death.

She was preceded in death by her parents, two sister, Violet Westover in January of 1958 and Bertha on September 14, 1984 and a brother, Frank on August 6, 1983.

Violet Kurz
Westover
Daughter of Anton and Olga Raaz Kurz

 
 

Wedding of Violet Kurz and Bill Westover


Violet Kurz and Bill Westover
Ron Kurz Collection

Bertha Kurz, Violet Kurz, Bill Westover, Bob Hope (not the famous one).

Ron Kurz Collection

"Younger sister Violet (Jackie) Kurz married a man from Philadelphia, PA. shortly after WWII. In the late 40's Bertha moved to Philadelphia to be close to Jackie,  After Laura's divorce she also moved to Philly. Bertha worked at General Electric Co., Laura was an Industrial nurse for a distillery, and Jackie was a housewife having kids.  All was going well until about 1956 when it was found out that Jackie had breast cancer. They didn't have the modern day cures that they have today.  As Jackie got worse Laura quit her job and took care of Jackie and her family. At age 33, Jackie died a couple days after new years 1958, leaving 3 small girls with the oldest only 7. Laura stayed and took care of Jackie's family for a year or two until Jackie's husband remarried.  Laura moved to Arizona and took a nursing job at an Indian hospital. Bertha stayed in Philly to be close to Jackie's kids as the stepmother turned out to be one of those you hear the wicked step mother stories about."


Ron Kurz Collection

Ron Kurz Collection

Ron Kurz Collection



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