This photo of Earl and Lena Temeyer (center front) with their ten children was taken in 1945 when two of their sons (Harold and George) were both home on leave at the same time. Earl and Lena are center front with daughters Carol (left) and Kathlena (right). Behind them: George, Margie, Harold, Donna, Chuck, John, Ray and June.

BUZZ MAGAZINE - My name is Lena Temeyer. I was born Lena Feuhrer on November 11, 1897, in Macon County, Illinois. My parents were farmers, on a rented farm, not far from Decatur.

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Over the years I’ve jotted down notes about my life. First, from what I remember growing up, and later, things that happened in my life as they occurred. I recorded these things because I thought my descendants might like to know. Now, they think you might want to know.

I remember my home in Illinois very well. There were 12 of us kids - five girls and eight boys. Farmers usually had large families - more hands to help.

My mother made the most delicious bread, and I will never forget the smell of it baking. Or the process of making butter.

The whole family helped make butter from the “skim” off the top of the milk from the cows we had. We milked by hand back then, of course. We didn’t even have fly spray, so the cows’ tails would swat us in the face while we were milking as they tried to shoo the pests away. Some of the butter we made was kept for our family, but every

Friday my father would hitch up the horses and take the rest to Decatur, where he sold it. He sold most of it to a local saloon, where they served rye bread and cheese with the beer.

Mother rarely went to town with Papa - there were too many children to tend to, and too much work to be done at home.

I always felt the love that our family had for one another, and I wasn’t very old when I discovered that my parents thought there was plenty of love to go around.

I first realized this when I was about eight years old when I saw how they treated old man Elrick, who stayed with us. He was a deserter, in hiding, a man with no other home, and my parents gave him refuge - food, a warm place to lay his head, and plenty of love.

Eventually, Papa came to a point when he thought the rent for our farm was too high. His sister, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said rent was cheaper there. So my parents sold almost everything we had, except for some personal possessions and four horses, and we moved to Iowa.

At first old man Elrick didn’t come along, but it wasn’t long before he followed. He lived there with us again, in Iowa - fed, clothed, provided employment, and loved - until he died.

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In 1915 I got engaged to Earl Temeyer. We were both just 19 years old. Courtship was different back then. We didn’t even share a kiss until our engagement was


Shortly thereafter, Earl found out about a farm that was for rent for a great price.

However, the owner would not rent to a single man, so we announced to my parents that we were going to get married sooner than planned to take advantage of this opportunity that would help us start our life together on a high note.

Rushing the marriage angered my father though, as he thought I must be carrying Earl’s child. Such a thing was unheard of at the time, and very shameful. It wasn’t true though, and to prove it, and prove our intense love for one another no matter what, we said we would wait a year to be married - even though it meant missing out on that wonderful opportunity.

But we waited, as we said we would, and proved to the world that the most important thing to us was each other, no matter what the obstacles.

Earl and I were married on January 31, 1917.

It was yet another year after our nuptials that we started our family and eventually we became the proud parents of five girls and five boys - 10 children in all: Chuck, Harold, June, George, Ray, Margie, John, Donna, Carol and finally Kathlena (Kathe). Chuck was 22 years older than Kathe and his wife (Tilly) was already expecting their first child when Kathe was born - when I was 43 years old.

My children always knew there was plenty of love to go around, and many of my children had large families also. Between the 10 of my children, they provided me with 57 grandchildren. Chuck (Tilly) had 11 kids; Harold (Leola) had 7. June (Bill)?had their hands full with 13; George (Carol) could not have children of their own, but they adopted two (plenty of love to go around you know!). Ray (Betty) also never had biological children, but they considered all their nieces and nephews their own, and included them all in their will. Margie (Fred) had seven children; John (Louise) had two, Donna (Jim) had seven, Carol (Dick) had four, and Kathe (Rex) also had four.

With the exception of Carol and Kathe, the youngest two, all of our children became farmers, just like Earl and I.

I was so blessed to be able to not only meet but spend time with, all of these grandchildren - all 57 of them - and also most of THEIR children, my great-grandchildren. Unfortunately, Earl was not as blessed. He died in January of 1957 when he was just 60 years old, and our youngest, child, Kathe, was just 16 years old.

People often wondered why I never remarried after Earl died. For 33 years

I remained a widow. I missed Earl, but I was not lonely. You see, with a family like the one he and I had raised together, there was plenty of love to go around.

My children all called me Mom, but the grandchildren lovingly called me Grandma T. We had coffee dates every Saturday at my home, with homemade cake and cookies.

Not everyone would come every week to the Saturday coffee time, but there was

always a house full. This was a tradition until the time of my death, on January 4, 1991.

I was 93 years old when my time came to go home. My family was sad, of course, but I was happy to go home and finally be with the greatest love of my life, my husband, Earl. I was also welcomed home by my daughter, Donna. She passed before I did.

It’s so hard to lose a child. I always said children should not die before their parents. But God had a reason for calling Donna home first. The remaining family doesn’t know why He called her home so early, yet, like I do. But they will know someday.

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This is a very condensed version of this generational love story, and I only have room to touch base on some key events that epitomize that sentiment. After all, we are talking about 126 years here.

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After Earl died it was just Kathe at I at home. All the other children were married, living in their own homes, and starting their own families.

A bomb dropped on me the day that Kathe, at age 20, revealed to me that she was pregnant. Now this is 1959 ... unwed mothers did not get pregnant - imagine the speculation when my father thought I was pregnant back in 1916! Kathe and I decided that it was best that she “leave town.”

We had an easy out. Kathe’s next older sister, Carol - and her husband Dick - lived in Washington State (Dick was in the Army and they were stationed there) and were mourning the loss of their firstborn child, Lori, who was born with hydrocephalus (an accumulation of serous fluid within the cranium, especially in infancy, causing great enlargement of the head; water on the brain).

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Kathe originally intended to put the baby up for adoption, but later decided against that. Secretly, I had hoped she would return with her child, realizing that the Temeyer family had enough love to go around, no matter the circumstances. And she did.

Years later, that child, her son, Eric Jon, would epitomize that realization.

“Sixty years ago, in 1960, a single mother gave birth to a son in an era when out-of-wedlock pregnancy was scandalous and hushed. That single mother was, of course, my mother, Kathe Hooton. Mom has shared over the years how she discovered she was pregnant, wanted to quietly get married, and when that fell through went to Washington state to live with her sister, have the baby, and give it up for adoption to avoid the scandal.

With Mom about three months pregnant, Grandma T (a rock of goodness and mercy if there ever was one), Mom, Carol, and her husband, discussed it, and off to Washington Mom went. Mom stayed there through my birth, and then returned to Iowa, with me.

That wasn’t the plan.

A couple of very important points here I would like to make; first, that Mom decided to keep me even while single and no husband or father figure. In 1960 that was extraordinarily brave and uncommon.

Carol and her husband discussed adopting me since they had just lost their firstborn child. That chokes me up every time

I think about it.

No one else knew the situation beforehand, but before Mom returned with me to Iowa, Grandma T called a family meeting and told everyone what the situation was, how it wasn’t going to be a big deal, and that everyone?WOULD support my mom and me from then on. Reminding them that our family had enough love to go around.

(Mom recently told me that Grandma T “said” this, but left it up to son George to relay it to the family at the meeting, even though she was strong and strong-willed, was not used to being the “rock” and thought the information coming from a man would have more impact).

And that is exactly what they did. In fact, I was treated especially well, even after reaching my teens and doing a LOT of incredibly stupid stuff.

In 1960 most families would have swept this situation under the rug, put me up for adoption - or worse - and moved on. Not the Temeyers. What an incredible, merciful family!

Then, my REAL Dad, Rex, married Mom and adopted me.

I am wonderfully blessed to have my family... parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, Grandma T... who without them, I don’t know what I would be. I am truly humbled and grateful to be part of a family with enough love - so much love - to go around”

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Rex wouldn’t want me to mention what a softy he is, because his reputation for many years was as a tough guy, Harley-riding, no-nonsense, raise-them-right kinda guy. But... God brought him to my daughter Kathe. Because despite this macho facade, Rex has shared our “plenty of love to go around” with so many foster kids that I have lost count.

It was not unheard of either for Rex to find a motorist (or especially a biker) broke down on the side of the road and bring them home for Sunday dinner (don’t try this at home in these days folks!).

Rex and Kathe always put their children - biological or foster - on the same playing field. They KNEW, they LIVED, there was enough love to go around.

Margie and Fred had many foster children over the years too.

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Through most years, all of my children and most grandchildren lived close - within 30 miles. We saw each other often. Everyone made time to visit each other frequently, and we had a family reunion every fall.

We also had an annual Spring Quilting Get Together, where as many as possible would come together and help construct or finish quilts, that were always given to a member of the family. These were huge gatherings as well, often with 50 or more in attendance, spanning four generations.

The local newspaper (Independence, IA) even ran a story on one of our quilting get-togethers because it was so unusual. They interviewed Donna who said “It is remarkable that we get along so well. Our family is really close.”

All in attendance agreed that the best part of that get-together was spending time with me, Grandma T.

Chuck and Tilly, Carol and Dick, and Kathe and Rex all lived within 2 blocks of each other for many years.

John and his family lived and farmed our old homestead. Ray and Betty lived just down the road. They farmed together until Ray’s death. John’s son Jeff and his son

Justin, farmed with both of my boys and eventually took over it all after John died.

Kathe and Rex moved to Missouri with their kids in 1978. One of Donna and Jim’s sons followed a few years later.

Some grandkids decided not to farm, went to college, and moved away. They have spread far and wide now: Colorado, New York, Texas, Florida, and other states. I’ve lost count of the number of great-grandkids I have by now, but it is well over 100. The great-grandkids have scattered even farther.

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All of my children lived long, fruitful, blessed lives, with the exception of Donna, as I mentioned. Cancer got her on April 19, 1988 when she was just 55 years old. Unfortunately, cancer took one of her daughters as well on April 9, 2014. Peggy had just turned 60 a few months before her death.

Today, only two of my ten children are living: Carol (84) and Kathe (82). They still try to have family reunions, but they are fewer and farther between, and not as well

attended as they were back in the good ole days.

As I look down on my family, I can say I am very proud of each and every one. They all have good ethics and morals, they are all caring and they are all compassionate and pass down the love that they were raised with.

With such a large family and so many cousins, second cousins, and more, not all have ever even met. But you know what? Even though my family represents many different religions and political views (which were generally never discussed - that’s probably why we all got along so well!) - and miles and miles, along with lifestyles and

financial status separating so many ... I am confident that if a Temeyer descendant showed up on the doorstep of another- even if they had never met in person before - they would not be turned away.

Because my friend, the Temeyer clan has plenty of love to go around!

This story originally ran in the February 2023 issue of The Prairie Land Buzz Magazine