Kevin Brown's Page - History and Photos from Kevin

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Kevin Brown's Page - History and Photos from Kevin

Photos, articles, and stories submitted by Kevin Brown, Peggy Haskell, Julie Garska, Pat Detienne, Sean Paddleford, Sandy Schroder, Robert Waterstraat, and Fern Bishop

Hi Gary, 

Peggy Haskell of Burwell transmitted your message on to me. You struck gold here (at least
I think you have)! Johann Garska was my great-great grandfather and Johanna Schmidt was his
second wife, a step-great-great grandmother to me.

Johann and Johanna had Anna Garska Waterstraat as their only surviving child. Johann and first
wife Wilhelmina had Emilie Garska Scherbarth (my great-grandmother); Bertha Garska Fisher Feldhahn; and
Albert Garska (wife: Margaretha Forster) by this marriage. I even knew  Aunt Anna Garska Waterstraat as a
boy. She and her daughter Hannah Waterstraat Watson name to Burwell to my house when I was about
7 or so and I got to sit on her lap. 

Johanna Schmidt Garska is buried in a forgotten family cemetery known as the Aksarben Cemetery in
southern Rock County. Buried hereare Carl & Mrs. Waterstraat Sr., two of their grandchildren: Ernest &
Clara Martens (children of Augusta Waterstraat and Wilhelm Martens), and Johanna Garska. We are
in the process of fencing and marking the graves. We just  rededicated the cemetery at a
Waterstraat gathering of sorts in 1998. Still don't have it fenced or the stones up, but shouldn't be too much
longer. Johann Garska is buried in the Rushville Cemetery in the Fisher plot of  his daughter Bertha Garska Fisher
who later married Fred Feldhahn. Johann died in 1914 while living in the Commercial Hotel of Fred & Bertha
Feldhahn in Hay Springs, NE. We have been unable to piece together  much information concerning Johanna
or her predecessor Wilhelmina so anything you can help me with will be greatly appreciated. I do have
Johann's obituary and lots of things about the Waterstraats I can share. I have one photo of Johann but have
never seen one of Johanna or of Wilhelmine who must have died in Germany before the Garskas even
immigrated to America. Incidentally, Johann's grave was unmarked in that nice cemetery too until 1998 when
family members in the Nebraska Panhandle took up a collection and got it marked. We had it figured that
Johanna was dead by 1900 too but haven't yet determined exactly when.

Bernard Garska (son of Albert) and family live about 6-7 miles west of Burwell inLoup County on the NORTH LOUP RIVER in a community called Kent. Bernard or Newts died last fall at age 91. His widow Irene and daughter and
grandchildren & greats still live there. His brother Harold or "Pep" lives here in Taylor with his wife Wave. I am
the great-grandson of Emilie Garska Scherbarth and I teach here in the tiny town of Taylor but grew up in
Burwell. The Scherbarths lived on the Gracie Flats in Loup County with their 11 children. Fred Scherbarth, a son,
worked as a boy for a year for the Garska grandfather and step-grandmother up in Rock County
on the Waterstraat place (site of the Aksarben Cemetery).

                  Kevin Brown


Hi again,
August Waterstraat is confusing to us in Nebraska, for your Michigan "August" had an "Uncle" August
Waterstraat who lived on a homestead in northern Garfield County mostly with his brother Carl Waterstraat
Jr. They are buried in Cottonwood Cemetery not far from my grandparents. In fact, I decorate their graves
each Memorial Day! Our August here and Carl Jr. were bachelors; however, late in life our August married a
school teacher who had taught up in his neighborhood. The marriage was a DISASTER! They divorced soon after.

Our August here was a tidy, neat, meticulous man; his brother Carl Jr. was not. So they made a good pair.
Carl Jr. and August died in 1942 and 1945. I don't remember Uncle Frank Waterstraat, but my beloved grandma
Wilma Scherzberg knew him and loved him and Aunt Annie both very much. In fact, I loved Aunt Annie too.

I believe I have info. on your August Waterstraat's brother Otto, later known as Steve. In fact I have pictures of
his family and Hannah Waterstraat Watson's family. My mom corresponded with Hannah until she was                   unable to do so.

It will take a trip to Grand Island (100 miles away) to copy pictures, but it will get done. Linda Gasser is a
cousin of mine on the Scherbarth side. Her great-grandmother and mine are the same, Emilie Garska
Scherbarth. She is a Mormon and very genealogically minded. (I'm just old German Lutheran.)
Bernard "Newts" Garska was a first cousin of my grandma, Wilma Scherbarth Scherzberg! Only Harold
"Pep" Garska is left of that generation of Garskas. As I said, Pep lives here in Taylor.

Descendants of Augusta Waterstraat Martens are also in this area. I am not related to them but your Waterstraats are. My only tie to the Waterstraats is through Anna Garska Waterstraat.

I am a teacher so I must get to class now. More later.

                  THANKS for responding!

                  Kevin Brown
                  Taylor, NE



No, the town of Gracie was never more than an unincoportated space in the road.  Interestingly, it moved locations 5 times during its brief existence!  Frank Waterstraats lived at BLAKE in Garfield County.  That was home to Mrs. Frank's brother an family, the Albert Garskas.  Old  folks
Carl Waterstraats (Sr.) address in Rock County was eventually called Butka.  The Aksarben Post Office was established long after the old  folks Waterstraats and Garskas had left the world.  Most of the Gracie  territory in Loup County is owned by the Gracie Creek Ranch Co. (Bob Price,

This includes the Scherbarth homesteads, the Voss homestead of Fern's  dad and uncle, the cemetery, etc.  McFaddens own the Augusta (Waterstraat)  and Wilhelm Martens place on the Gracie Flats.  Some people named Dearmont control the original Waterstraat homestead in Rock County, while the Garfield County ranch of Albert Garksa at Blake is owned by Larry  Ackles.

I can't remember the nameds of the people who own the Waterstraat  places in Garfield County just now.  My plan is to get to GI Saturday to copy some pictures, etc.  Gotta get busy now.


Kevin Brown
Taylor, Skunk Holler, Loup County, Nebraska  USA



As I have been told, Johann Garska is pictured in the hotel kitchen in Hay Springs, and yes, that is certainly his final picture.  His daughter Bertha Garska Fisher (widow) married Fred Feldhahn (widower) and they built the hotel in 1911.  

 That is a coffee grinder.  I agree it's in an odd place too,  but Johann was relegated to the kitchen where he helped peeling potatoes  etc., whatever he could do to help and to stay out of the way.  It was a very busy place.  I doubt his last days were happy ones in the midst of all that continual fighting.  HOWEVER, here's one bright note--the Feldhahn girls (not Johann's blood kin) really liked the old man and got along quite well with him.  They called him grandpa and even all came to his 1914 funeral (some traveling down from So. Dakota for the affair). 
This made me feel better, somehow.

More family history to add to your lore.  Again, these are things handed down to me; I'm not saying they're 100% factual.  But they are interesting, no?

Your friend,

Kevin Brown


Dear Gary:

Just a wish to you for a blessed Easter.  We are going to my cousin's for the afternoon.  Her daughter is being confirmed in the Archer, NE,  United Methodist Church tomorrow.  I believe the Garska family, the  Scherbarths, and the Fishers (Bertha Garska Fisher) all lived in the vicinity of
Worms-Palmer-Archer before moving to Central or Western Nebraska.  So
probably Anna Garska Waterstraat lived in that area for a while also. 

I know John Garska (Johann) appears on the 1885 census for Merrick County, so I suspect Anna and probably her mother Johanna were there too. However, maybe they didn't.  Anyway, some of the Garskas, and all of the Scherbarths and Fishers lived there.  The Scherbarths lived in Merrick
County for 14 years before moving to the Sandhills of Loup County in 1894.  Interesting how now, years later, my sister and her family live near Worms (a tiny village consisting of tavern, parochial elementary school, church, and houses) and one of my Scherzberg cousins lives a
few miles east of Worms very close to the Scherbarth 80 acre homestead in Merrick County.  I'm not for certain exactly where the Fishers and  Garskas lived when they were in Merrick County.  This country is in the flat farming country not too far from the Platte River.  It is nice, but I
would miss my hills if I had to be there too long.  My relatives there mostly think the Sandhills are the pits, so you see, it is a matter of where HOME is to you.  Have a good one!

Your friend,

Kevin Brown
Taylor, NE
Skunk Holler USA


Dear Gary:

I noticed the name "DeTienne" sent you a lot of information a while ago.  My great uncle Albert Scherbarth (son of  Christian and Emilie [Garska] Scherbarth) was married to Ella Mae DeTienne in
Aunt Ella Mae was from Minnesota, but I believe possibly her family had Michigan ties.  Interestingly, my great uncle and she "hooked up"  through correspondence!  The family always called it "a mail order bride" marriage!  They got along fine, though poverty was always at their
They literally "lost the farm" in 1937 and moved to Taylor.  Their first months here they lived in a boxcar (sort of federally subsidized  housing) and get this!--shared the boxcar with another family!  It was  partitioned down the middle, I understand.  Later things got a little better for  them.

Their children all did very well for themselves when they went out on their own.  Two of the children live in Fairbury, NE, where they co-own Scherbarth Inc. (an agricultural firm) and the daughter lives in Texas. One son was killed in 1962.  If you can tell me anything about the Waterstraat-DeTienne connection sometime, I'll pass it on to them.

Kevin Brown
Taylor, NE


Dear Gary,
I realize that answering your inquiry is a shot in the dark as Germany and Nebraska both contain a lot of Schmidt's. The Waterstraats are just one family, and much easier. The Waterstraats of Garfield, and all decendents, of course are related to the Schmidts by marrying. However, in the village that I am researching, there is only 1 or 2 Schmidt families and they are related.
I am a new browser to Roots Web and noticed your submission.   I live in Nebraska as did my Great grandfather, Friedrich August Schmidt who always signed his name A. Schmidt or August Schmidt.
August Schmidt was born 1850, at farm No. 10 in the village of Waddenhausen, Lippe-Detmold, Germany to Johann Friedrich Adolph Schmidt and Wilhelmine Friedrike Heuwinkel.
August came to America in 1880, but have not found a passenger list that lists A.Schmidt from Lippe.  They are all very general info or else from the wrong place.  I BELIEVE he came to Payson Illinois to an uncle's farm and by 1883 was in Elm Creek Nebr on a homestead.  He married Caroline Grolm in Seward NE in 1884.
I have August's family traced back to the late 1700's and there things get confusing.  I guess I am hoping that I can find someone who is also searching Lippe area Schmidts or Heuwinkels. 
Thanks for listening.  
 Peggy Streiff Haskell,  Burwell, Nebr 


Kevin Brown outside his school in Taylor, Nebraska

Hessel Gesser store where Waterstraats attended dances on Saturday nites upstairs.

Waterstraat bus

Teresa Ann Caroline Waterstraat

Thanksgiving, Waterstraats at the Garskas.

Kevin brown at Aksarben Cemetery, Waterstraat Homestead, Garfield County, Nebraska
This old photo of the Waterstraat soddie has been colorized.
Waterstraats and Garskas at a settlers meeting.