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VALERIE WILLIE (SNIDER) STOREMSKI FAMILY
Valerie Willie Snider, oldest living daughter and third child of Mike and Veronica (Grudziecki) Snider, was born on a share cropper's farm in Wooten Wells in Robertson, County on March 10, 1910. She attended two years of school at Wooten Wells and then dropped out to help out with the younger children and working in the fields. As a young girl, Willie worked in the fields alongside her dad and brothers, John and Bill, and her sister, Connie. Willie handled a team of mules as well as anyone and recalls plowing with a "Georgia Stock".
Like the other Snider children, Willie also chopped cotton and then picked cotton when the cotton was ready for harvesting. She also pulled corn and helped out where needed. Running a farm was a family affair in the Snider family.
On a typical morning, the Snider family would rise long before daybreak. Before sun up, Willie and her brother, John, would have finished milking three cows each and Willie would have breakfast on the table. By sunup, Mike and the older Snider children were in the fields. Veronica stayed at home to care for the younger babies and to prepare lunch.
Willie has several early day memories that she shared with us. "When we were kids, we used to go watch the colored people get baptized in the creek. The preacher would get in the water. Then one by one, they'd lead or sometimes drag the colored people into the deep water. Many of them couldn't swim and were really scared. Some would cry like
"We went fishing lots of times with our neighbors. Took some fryers, grease and lots of skillets and pans. Then we'd cook up the fresh catfish when the men ran the lines. Was some good eating!"
When Willie was about 18 years of age, she met Casmir (Kie) Storemski, who came to Robertson County with her uncle, Dave Walker. Dave played "Cupid" and brought Kie out to Mike Snider's house at one of their Saturday night dances. Kie was originally from Bremond but at the time was living with a niece's family, the Stash Kubiaks in Oklahoma.
Kie Storemski, born on February 26, 1903, in Robertson County near Bremond, was the youngest of a family of 14 children. Kie was the son of Ike and Katherine (Bartkowiak) Storemski, the last of 14 children. Some of Kie's brothers and sisters included: John, Martin, Stash, Joe, Frank, Mary, Tekla, Pauline, Josephine (Josie), and Anna. When Kie
was about three weeks old, his mother suffered a mental breakdown and spent the remaining days of her 91 year life in state homes.
Kie's older sister tells the story of how his mother almost threw Kie into the fireplace. He was rescued by his older sister, Josephine. Kie grew up with his father and older brothers and sisters on the Storemski farm at Post Oak which was midway between Franklin and Bremond. Later Kie went to live with his brother, Joe Storemski, in Oklahoma and then stayed with his oldest sister, Josephine Vienieski, when her husband was terminally ill.
At the time Kie and Willie were married, she recalls that Kie was working in Oklahoma City cutting wood. Kie and Willie were married on Wednesday, November 20, 1929 at the Bremond Catholic Church. At the time, Kie was 26 and Willie was 19. After the wedding, they moved to a farm near Harrah, Oklahoma to set-up housekeeping. This was the beginning of the great depression and hard times lay ahead of them.
In the early 30's, a severe drought struck Texas, Oklahoma and extended northward into Kansas. This was the great dust bowl era in which top soil from the rich farmland was lifted thousands of feet in the air and crops withered and died in the fields. The U.S. economy was brought to its knees and the soup lines stretched endlessly in the once thriving cities.
Willie recalls, "The dust was so thick in Oklahoma one year that we had to cover our faces with wet clothes at night to sleep. During the day, you had to use the car lights to see."
These were hard times but life goes on. On May 9, 1932, Willie bore her first daughter, Theresa Joan. The following year, Willie's brother married Rosie Helen Sopchak and they came out to Oklahoma where Kie and Willie gave them a wedding reception and welcomed them to their home. Bill and Rosie lived with Kie and Willie for about two years. This was the heart of the depression era and families everywhere were having to double up for survival.
In the summer of 1936, Kie and Willie and Bill and Rosie decided they had had enough of the poor crops and rough climate and moved back to Robertson County. They sold their belongings and boarded a train back to Bremond in time to attend the wedding of Willie's younger sister, Connie. They lived for a few months with Mike and Veronica Snider (Willie's parents) and then moved to the Storemski farm on Willow Creek.
At this farm, Willie recalls that her folks came out for a visit and Veronica really liked the place. That was Veronica's last visit to her daughter's home, as she died of pneumonia the following February.
After her mother died, Willie spent a week at her Dad's place to teach her younger sister, Christine, how to bake bread and care for the family. At the time, three of Willie's younger brothers were still at home and her youngest brother, Lee, was only four years old.
On May 11, 1939, Kie and Willie had their second child, Daniel Leo. A day later, Willie's brother, Bill and his wife, Rosie, had their second baby, Evelyn Marie.
Kie and Willie then moved to the Warhol farm near Wooten Wells and later joined the Kubiak/Snider clan in farming the Kirkpatrick place on the Little Brazos River. It was here that several members of the Snider clan joined forces to work the Little Brazos River bottom land. Kie and Willie lived near the top of the hill; across the road lived
Bruno and Verna Snider. Down the road in a little house lived Pearl Knapik, who was related to Frank and Christine (Snider) Knapik, and in the next house lived Bill and Rosie Snider. Across the road from Bill Snider lived John and Connie (Snider) Kubiak.
On April 28, 1946, Kie and Willie had another daughter, Louise. At the time, Theresa was a teenager and Daniel Leo was almost seven years of age.
That fall, after a successful crop on the Kirkpatrick place, Kie and Willie had enough cash for a down payment on their own farm near Reagan where they bought the old Will Baker farm.
On their new farm was a rambling two-story house with a porch on the east side and a screened-in porch across the back of the house (where Kie and Willie had their bed and where Willie kept an indoor clothes line and a quilting frame in the winter months). For heating, Kie and Willie had a woodstove in the living room and another woodstove in the kitchen which Willie used for cooking and baking.
Many a Sunday, Willie would invite Mike and Martha and her sisters and their families for Sunday dinner. The table spread would include a variety of fresh vegetables from the garden, fried chicken, and pies and cakes. Oftentimes, this was followed by the kids cranking up a freezer of homemade ice cream or slicing up a watermelon from Kie's garden.
After dinner, the menfolk would gather at a card table set up under the "old oak tree" to play "42" dominoes while the kids would play games or explore the creeks and nearby woods. The oak tree was a magnificent old tree some fifty or sixty feet tall and hundreds of years old.
Another landmark was the old wagon that usually was parked under the old oak tree. The wagon was generally covered with onions being dried in the sun. The area around the old wagon was the favorite habitat for the barnyard fowls including turkeys, guineas, ducks, geese and chickens. I remember being fascinated by the long necks of the Canadian Geese and the red faces of the three or four varieties of ducks that were always underfoot. The Canadian geese had joined the domestic birds one winter and just stayed on. Eventually, they joined up with another migrating flock of geese and disappeared. According to Uncle Kie, the ducks and geese were constantly threatened by foxes, wolves and raccoons that made the surrounding miles of woodlands their home.
Once Uncle Kie brought home several baby raccoons and kept them in a pen next to the house. In the pen was part of a hollow tree which was their little home. In addition, Uncle Kie always kept mourning doves as pets and their cooing could always be heard from the house.
Although Kie and Willie were poor by today's standards, they were rich in many other ways. They always managed to grow enough food to place a feast on the Sunday table and they were spiritually happy and content (they were people we all looked up to and admired).
One of the most elaborate events that ever took place on the Kie and Willie Storemski farm was the wedding feast of their oldest daughter, Theresa that occurred in April of 1954. For days before the wedding, Willie and her sisters baked pies and cakes while Kie and his brothers-in-law built a lighted dance floor and tables and butchered several cows and hogs in preparation for the wedding feast.
On the wedding day, a beer truck loaded with kegs of beer and soft drinks and hundreds of guests arrived at the little farm. The aroma of barbecue from the pits filled the air and the excitement of a Polish wedding was evident at every turn. Dozens of kids had the times of their lives. It was like Christmas, Easter, annual homecoming, and the traditional Bremond church bazaar all rolled into one! Several of the kids got together and played baseball. The younger kids had games of "hide and seek" going and the adults got in a lot of serious visiting.
A few folks got drunk, but mostly everybody danced, ate and drank and had a good time until Sunday morning. The band was very good- played a lot of Polish polkas and waltzes and good country music. The tables were lined up for what seemed like a hundred yards. Everyone brought table cloths and the food was magnificent.
After the wedding, Theresa and Harry moved to Houston leaving Dan and Louise to help run the farm. Over the years, Kie and Willie worked the farm and continued to live very much like the early day Polish settlers of generations past. They lived without running water (fetched their water from the well in the yard), indoor plumbing or central heat and air.
During the week, Uncle Kie worked hard weeding the garden, planting and cultivating the cotton and corn crops, gathering the crops at harvest time and taking care of the livestock. He grew much of their food and got by with a minimum of income. In between crops, Kie would work for the area cotton gins at Reagan, Blue Ridge and Bremond. Kie
also worked for his neighbors, the Danfords and the Bakers. According to Willie, "One year Danford was pulling corn for us. We helped one another out when we could."
Every fall, Kie spent long hours gathering pecans from the nearby river bottoms to supplement their income. Willie did quilting, made pillows, and sold eggs and butter to help provide income, particularly during crop failure years. In addition, Willie canned hundreds of jars of vegetables, fruits and berries from their garden near the barnyard pens. She canned everything from corn, peas, beans, tomatoes, sauerkraut, figs, peaches, blackberries, to jellies and jams.
After Bill Snider's death, Rosie Snider spent a couple of months helping Willie do her canning. This was the best therapy in the world and Willie and Rosie took the opportunity to relive a lot of golden memories out of the past.
During the winter time, Willie kept a quilting frame in the big screened-in porch area where she made beautiful quilts which she sold and gave away as gifts. Many members of the Snider clan have one or more of Willie's quilts among their most prized possessions.
Initially, Kie worked the fields with a team of mules but later bought an old Farmall tractor which he kept under the old shed when it wasn't in use. Some of the cars he had included an old Model A Ford which he replaced with a 1953 Plymouth and later with a '67 Plymouth.
Each Saturday afternoon, Kie and Willie would come back from the fields early, get cleaned up, put on their "go-to-town" clothes and go to Bremond for the Saturday drawing at one of the local grocery stores. I don't think they ever missed a trip to town except when the roads were muddy.
In the late 40's, a serious threat invaded the Storemski farm with the appearance of rabid wolves and foxes. Kie had to destroy all of his dogs that came down with the dreaded disease after fighting off the invaders. Kie was forced to carry a gun while feeding the livestock and the children were forced to stay in the house. It was a dangerous
time, but Kie and Willie managed to get through it and life returned to normal once more.
In the early 50's, I (Leonard Kubiak) spent a few weeks at the Storemski farm helping Kie gather a bumper corn crop. Cousin Dan Storemski drove the tractor pulling the wagon and Kie and I walked along pulling corn and tossing the ears in the wagon in the hot summer sun. Then we'd head back to the house for a dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried corn (my favorite), fresh sliced vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and pickles, home made bread, fresh cow milk (milked earlier that morning) and home made pie.It's a wonder we ever made it back to fields after a dinner like that!
In the late 50's, Dan joined the Marines and in the 60's, Louise left for college. Later, Dan returned to help his folks add a few of the conveniences most of us have enjoyed most of our lives. Slowly, the farm house was ushered into the 20th century. First came a well pump and running water. Then came indoor plumbing and even a butane-powered range! However, Willie still has her old wood cook stove which has baked countless pies, cakes and loaves of homemade bread.
In the summer of 1969, Louise took her parents and niece, Sylvia Wisnoski, on a multi-state vacation that included Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois and Michigan.
Over the years, Kie and Willie continued to live on the farm, with their Saturday trip into town and Sunday visit to church. Kie officially retired the year he planted his last cotton crop. Over the next several years, he continued to work his garden and corn patch. He even bought a new car and made a few trips to visit relatives.
In the fall of 1980, Kie slipped on a log while crossing a stream on his way to pick pecans. The fall resulted in a severe back injury that continued to give him much pain over the remaining years of his life. In January of 1981, after an unrelated surgery, Kie was discovered to be hemophiliac (free bleeder) which almost took his life. Later he was
diagnosed as having myoloma or cancer of the bone marrow. On Sunday, October 14, 1984, Kie and Willie went to Sunday Mass as usual but on returning home, Kie suffered from chest pains and a light heart attack. He was hospitalized and died on October 18, 1984 at the age of 81.
Kie and Willie's life together was a testimony of true faith and devotion to God and to each other. They worked together in the fields and at home. Together they pulled corn and cotton during the day and helped each other with the household chores including washing clothes and scrubbing floors.
Kie and Willie have been an inspiration to the entire Snider clan and the Priest described Kie as a saint of a person and those of us that were fortunate enough to have known him would quickly agree. Kie and Willie's home was always open to anyone day or night. Relatives and friends visited often.
Willie continued to live on the farm until her death on Jan. 26, 2001 at the age of 90. Willie is buried in St. Mary's Catholic Church cemetery in Bremond.
BREMOND — Services for Willie Storemski, 90, of the Reagan community in Falls County, Texas, are set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bremond.
The Revs. Celso Yu, David Leibham and Jozef Musiol will officiate. Burial will be in the church cemetery.
A rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Peiskee Funeral Home in Bremond.
Mrs. Storemski died Friday in Marlin.She was born in Marlin and was a homemaker. She attended Wooten Wells schools and was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Holy Rosary Society.She was preceded in death by her husband, Kie Storemski.
Survivors include a son and daughter-in-law, Daniel and Alice Storemski of Reagan; two daughters and a son-in-law, Theresa Wisnoski of Houston and Louise and Roy Erwin of Reagan; a brother and sister-in-law, Louis and Natalie Snider of Willis, Texas; a sister and brother-in-law, Christine and Frank Knapik of Bremond; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
Willie (Snider)Storemski Family History
Connie (Snider) Kubiak Family History
William Marion (Bill) Snider Family History
Bruno Snider Family History
Christine (Snider)Knapik Family History
Louis Snider Family History
Lee Snider Family History
Over time, I intend to include family history information for all families that tie back to Tom and Jacob Snider. Bear with me, this will take some time!
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