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The life and Times of
John & Helen Fuss

John Fuss Jr.

Chapter 1: John's Early Years

Chapter 2: The Bachelor Years

World War I brought high prices and prosperity to the farming operation. The farm did utilize one of the first tractors in the area. John was initially deferred from the service due to the farming operation. As the War progressed and more men were drafted, his number was called. On November 11, 1918, he and several other young men from the Emmitsburg area were to drive to Frederick for an examination for Army service. However, they did hear that the War was over and that they would not have to report. My Father mentioned about hearing the Church bells pealing at 11:00 a.m. on that day and was glad that he had not been inducted.

From his pictures at the time, John was a rather handsome young man. He talked much in his older age about his single days. He could recall dating more than twenty young women. He often recounted the three Margarets, Margaret Hare, Margaret Shreve and Margaret Kemper.

He often told about Margaret Shreve and how he was quite interested in her until a neighbor told how this Margaret and her mother treated Margaret's father. He often had to stay out in the shed. So that ended that Margaret. Margaret Hare often told him afterwards that she had not married anyone else until after John was married. But his favorite was always Helen Ohler.

Helen Ohler was the daughter of J. Rowe Ohler and Annie R. Stansbury Ohler. They lived on the Harney Road only about a mile away from the Fuss farm. She was also a member of Toms Creek Methodist Church. She was five years younger than John. John often told how she was always his favorite girl, but she would not date him continually. She often told that he would talk quite frequently about getting married and she wasn't ready.

John sang on the choir at the Church and Helen Ohler sat in the second seat in the congregation. He would tell that she would sometimes give him a smile. When she did that, he knew it was all right for him to ask her for a date that time. I suspect that he sometimes gave up other dates when she accepted.

She often told how he would be close by to help untie the horse when they were ready to leave the Church service. 1 In 1916, Charles, John's older brother, had married Rosanna, Helen's older sister. This had led Emma, Helen's oldest sister, to say that to one Fuss in the family was enough".

Elmer and John continued to operate the Fuss farm, working for their Mother. The two younger brothers had gone elsewhere. Clarence had gone to work for his aunts on the Baumgardner homestead and would come home only on certain weekends.

When Robert completed High School, he moved to California to work for his older cousin, Maude Edwards. The farm continued to prosper. They had very high grain yields. They fed and fattened 75-100 steers each year. John would travel to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and buy railroad carloads of young steers to bring to the farm to fatten. These would be transferred by rail to Littlestown and then be driven on the roads to Emmitsburg.

Disaster struck one year when the herd contacted hoof and mouth disease. The farm was quarantined. Then state officials came and destroyed the entire herd, including even the milk cows. They dug ditches in a field below the barn, slaughtered all cattle and hogs on the farm and buried them. There was some compensation paid by the state to reimburse farmers for the loss, although it did not cover the cost of the animals. Farm families worked long and hard days most of the year.

The social affairs were mostly get togethers with neighbors. Especially in the winter, the young people would be invited to various homes for games and food. The young men would often take dates or sometimes pair up with unaccompanied girls. John told of sometimes taking Helen Ohler home.

John did make several short trips to New York City, to visit his two aunts and uncles. In the winter time, he made several trips to drive new cars from the factory to an Emmitsburg or Taneytown dealer.

John had made one trip to California in November 1926. He went along to Kansas with his Uncle Ezra and visited a few days on his farm there. Then alone to visit with his cousin who had an orange grove at Covina, California. He spent the winter working in California. This included work in an oil field, as well as in the orange groves.

During this winter, he received a letter from Helen Ohler which somehow asked him to come back. He was so encouraged by her letter that he gave up the opportunity in California and came back to Emmitsburg. The romance continued.

Finally, sometime in late 1928, John asked Mr. & Mrs. Ohler for Helen's hand in marriage. This apparently was readily given. John took Helen to Blocher's Jewelry Store in Gettysburg. He had her measured for a ring size. Then he negotiated to purchase a ring while she was outside, paying about $125.00. He did not show her the ring. However, he gave to Helen the S&H Green Stamps for only about a $10.00 purchase. She evidently was a little disappointed that he had not spent more for an engagement ring. It was sometime later when he finally gave her the rest of the green stamps.

Elmer and John had always been quite close, because they worked together on their Mother's farm until they were 33 and 31, respectively. I always heard from both of them that they got along well together. John handled most of the business matters involving the farm and his Mother's affairs.

I never heard either of them give any indication of disagreement and they were always very close brothers throughout their entire lives. John and Elmer had shared using the automobile owned by their Mother. This often must have caused difficulties if they had dates on the same evening, but that was evidently resolved in some way. In 1924, Elmer bought his own automobile and John used his Mother's.

Read Chapter 3: Helen's Early Years 

Read other chapters in the life and times of John and Helen Fuss

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