The Early Years of Living in Texas--The Frank and Maria Matous Rektorik Story
- This is Part Two of the Frank and Maria Matous Rektorik Story.
Living in Texas by Gary Rektorik
Frank and his family learned quickly that hard work was required to be
successful farmers on their black land farm in Moravia, Texas. The family
lived in a wood frame house which was built prior to their purchase of the
land. As their family grew a room was added.
The land was fertile for farming and possessed a large pond and also aspiring
from which Mixen Creek began. Native pecan trees were also abundant.
Frank built a cellar in the clay soil on the west side of the house. It was
about 12 feet deep and became a storage area for a number of food and staple
items. Because of its depth, the temperature remained cool and constant.
The clay walls prevented any problem with water leakage.
Sauerkraut was stored in a fifty gallon wooden barrel and placed in one
corner of the cellar. In another corner was a fifty gallon barrels of wine
made from the wild grapes found on the property. There were shelves on one
side on which milk was stored until it clabbered. There were also shelves
dug out of the clay walls which held the preserves. Potatoes were placed on
the dirt floor. Above the cellar was built a small house with windows which
housed the milk separator on one side and lard and molasses on the other.
Flour was purchased in 100 pound sacks. The coffee would have to be parched
in the oven and then ground prior to use.
Tax records show that after two years Frank had accumulated five horses, five
head of cattle and one hog. By 1900, Frank reported nine horses, fifteen
head of cattle and twenty hogs. Most of the family's money was generated
from the sale of their money crops of corn and cotton. In addition, any
surplus of eggs, butter or vegetables were sold or traded for staples at the
CRANZ & KESSLER Mercantile Store. The eggs were packed in wash tubs with
cottonseed as protection between each layer of eggs. Each Thursday Frank
would take two tubs of eggs and any surplus produce by wagon to Schulenburg
which was a twelve mile trip on dirt roads.
The most common meat for the family was chicken. However, as the family
grew, as well as the family;s hog population, pork also became a common meat.
Up to twelve a year were butchered.
Since refrigeration was a thing of the future, the meat and sausage would be
cooked, put in crocks and covered with lard. Bacon would be hung in the
smoke house. These methods would preserve meat for use over a several month
Beef was not a common meat for consumption until several of the families in
the area formed a beef co-op. In this way when a calf was butchered everyone
in the co-op shared the meat. However, with no refrigeration or preservative
method for beef, the meat was eaten at every meal until it was used up.
Drinking water was obtained from an eighty foot well. Rain water, used for
numerous purposes was caught in a cistern situated on the south side of the
Most of the Rektorik siblings were able to attend school in Moravia and
graduate from the ninth grade. The school was about four miles from the
house down a black-land road. The children had to walk to and from school in
all types of weather. Seldom was a ride of any sort available. The Moravia
school opened in 1887. FRANK KUBALA taught at the school for twenty-one
years beginning in 1889 and appears to be one of the teachers who taught most
of the Rektorik children.
Social gatherings were held throughout the community. The HAJEK, MATUSTIK,
and HOLUB families were among those who twice a year would have a Sunday
dinner for all the families to attend. Chicken noodle soup was standard fare
for these events, along with a keg of beer. The families would walk to
attend these occasions.
All the Frank Rektorik family were baptized Catholic. However, at one point
in his life; Frank, being a trustee of the church in Moravia, did not agree
with the dealings of the church. Because of this, Frank never again attended
Maria Rektorik was short in stature, about five foot, and heavy set. She
possessed average intelligence and a happy go lucky attitude. She had
straight hair and always wore a babushka. She was a hard worker and rarely
disagreed with Frank. Except for nearly dying of typhus fever she enjoyed
good health until her death. She enjoyed working in her garden and she was a
very good cook.
A story passed down about Maria was her love of preparing squabs. On one
occasion, in her later years of life, she climbed a later on the side of the
barn to gain access to the pigeon lofts. She stuck her hand in to grab some
squabs but felt something hit her hand. Thinking it was only an exposed nail
she grabbed again and was struck again on the hand. She climbed down ladder
and later found that she had been bitten twice by a chicken snake.
Frank was of a very serious nature. Because of this, he often appeared stern
and aloof to those around him. He believed in hard work but was noted as
generous in his pay to work hands. He was an avid reader and possessed above
average intelligence. He spoke no English when he first arrived in Texas;
however, later in life he was able to speak and understand some words. He
was short in stature, about five foot seven inches, and was fairly thin. In
his sixties he was semi-bald and had a full beard. He wore glasses for
reading and had a special chair reserved only for himself. He had trouble
with his right knee and walked with a cane. He enjoyed playing dominoes and
the tarok card game.
A better understanding of Frank is obtained by reading the following passage
from his ledger which has survived through the years.
"You should love justice, desire freedom, love mercy, help the weak,
forget the bad things, love the truth, fight against slavery, love your
wife and children. That is the only way to have a happy family."
The above story was researched and written by a cousin of mine, Gary
Rektorik. It is contained in a family published book, Descendants and their
Families of Frank Rektorik and Marie Matous, written by Gary Rektorik and
printed in 1997. My great appreciate goes to Gary for all his efforts.
Susan Rektorik Henley