Grandma Preussler – Olive Vada Herring

August 21, 2016 2 Comments

Following is a post about a very special person, who is a big part of my childhood memories of ‘The Hill.’   Olive (Herring) Preussler is not a blood relation to my family but I called her Grandma.  I don’t know how many of the other kids in Cavendish-Teakean called her Grandma, perhaps everyone did or maybe it was just me, here is her story:

Olive Vada Herring

Preussler Family - (l-r) Melvin, Olive, David (baby), Marilyn and Marie, Merton standing (ca. 1944)
Preussler Family – (l-r) Melvin, Olive, David (baby), Marilyn and Marie, Merton standing (ca. 1945) photo courtesy Alan Sewell

Olive Vada Herring was born March 25, 1914 at Teakean, Clearwater County, Idaho. She was the fourth of five children born to Orville E. and Carrie (Heltzel) Herring, both of her parents were members of the German Baptist Brethren Church.   Her father’s family came west, from Iowa, and settled in Teakean in 1889.  Her mother’s family came west to Idaho and arrived from Astoria, Illinois in June of 1903.

Dunkard Colonists

P. E. Stookey went to the junction yesterday to meet his brother, Sherman Stookey, who with his family arrived from Plymouth, Illinois, to make a permanent residence in the Potlatch.  Rev. Sherman Stookey is a Dunkard preacher and he is accompanied on this trip by five families of his church people, twenty persons all told, who have come to make a settlement in the Potlatch section.  Friends and relatives have been here for some time and have reported favorably on this section.  Other families will follow in the course of the year to strengthen the colony.–(Source) The Lewiston Teller, March 6, 1903

P. E. Stookey, along with his brother Reed and John Q. Holladay had settled in the Cavendish-Teakean area in 1889.  I believe the article below should read twenty people, not twenty families based on the earlier article.

Colony of Dunkards for Idaho.

A large colony of Dunkards will arrive in a few days from Astoria, Illinois, and take up their abode near Cavendish.  Last spring twenty families arrived from Illinois and they have prevailed upon their friends to follow.  They are a thrifty industrious people and will make good citizens.  Such emigration should be encouraged.  They will bring with them money and show taste to improving their farms. —(Source) The Lewiston Teller, June 19, 1903

Olive’s spent her childhood surrounded by a large extended family in a close knit community of friends and neighbors.  One of those neighbors was a young man by the name of Swen Frederiksen.  Swen and Olive apparently dated for a time and although their romance didn’t blossom, their friendship would last a lifetime.  Swen died in April of 1961 and in the years following his death, Olive would honor her friend’s memory, by placing flowers on his grave at the Teakean cemetery, near her home.


Olive and Merton Preussler - Wedding (ca. 1932)
Olive and Merton Preussler – Wedding (ca. 1932) photo courtesy Alan Sewell

On November 20, 1932, Olive married Merton Preussler, the son of Gustav Adolph and Mary Emma Zebaugh Preussler.  Merton’s father had traded some land in California for land on Freeman’s Creek and Merton moved to the property in 1932.  Merton was active in the church and met Olive there.  Olive’s mother, Carrie, encouraged the relationship and expressed her concern about Merton spending the winter alone back on his place.  Although this was not an arranged marriage, Olive was strongly encouraged by her mother, to tie the knot.  After a brief courtship Merton and Olive decided to marry and went to Orofino to secure a marriage license on November 17, 1932; they were married the following Sunday.   Although the ceremony was a quiet event, a large gathering of friends and family attended a reception, held in their honor, afterward.   Together they would raise a family of six children, four boys and two girls.

Quiet Home Wedding

A quiet home wedding was solemnized at the home of Mrs. Carrie Herring on Sunday, November 20, at 12:30, when Miss Olive Herring and Merton Preussler were united in marriage by Rev. A. R. Fike.

Those present besides the family were Mr. and Mrs. John Lind, Rev. and Mrs. Fike and Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Wallace of Peck.

The wedding dinner was served immediately after the ceremony.

The best wishes of their many friends go with the young couple to their new home.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, November 25, 1932


The Herring family and Merton Preussler were Orofino visitors last Thursday…

Clarence Herring has been helping Merton Preussler paper his house, getting it ready for his bride…

Miss Della Herring was not in her place in Sunday school Sunday morning, as she was at home preparing the wedding feast…

After church Sunday evening a bunch of folks followed the Herring car home and charavaried the newly wedded folk.  They took the names of those present and they numbered 99 and it was thought that there were still more.  They were all treated to candy and cookies.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, November 25, 1932


Several cars of young people from this community attended the baptismal services at the Teakean church Sunday night.  After the services they drove to the Herring home, where a charivari was given for Olive Herring and Merton Preussler–(Source) Kendrick Gazette – December 2, 1932


Preussler-Herring.–By the undersigned Nov. 20, 1932, at the home of the bride’s mother, Bro. Merton Preussler and Sister Olive Herring of Teakean, Idaho.–A. R. Fike, Moscow, Idaho.–(Source) The Gospel Messenger, December 17, 1932

Family Life at Teakean

Olive and Merton would make their first home at the property on Freeman Creek Rd.  Olive began the busy life of managing the day to day tasks of a farmer’s wife.  In the early years of their marriage, both Olive and Merton were active in both their church and community.

The young folks have decided to plant a “missionary acre” again this year.  Merton Preussler has agreed to donate an acre of his best ground for the cause.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, March 31, 1933


Mrs. Emma Kime and Della and Stella Herring met Tuesday at the Preussler place and hoed the potatoes in the missionary garden.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, July 21, 1933

While all of the summer activities were happening Olive became ill; her condition worsened and she was taken to Orofino and hospitalized.  Olive would remain in the hospital in Orofino for more about a week.

Mrs. Merton Preussler has been ill for several days and was taken to Orofino Tuesday for medical treatment. She will stay there a few days. —(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, July 21, 1933

Her condition was so grave, at one point, it was said that Merton was making arrangements to buy a casket and planning her funeral.  However, Olive rallied and after spending several weeks at her mother’s convalescing was able to return home, toward the end of September, that same year.

Mrs. Merton Preussler is still with her mother. Her health is improving. Merton goes down to see her every evening.—(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, August 4, 1933

It has been said that she was not pleased about the final arrangements being made, for her potential demise.

Mrs. Merton Preussler has gone back home after spending several weeks with her mother. Her health is improving slowly.—(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, September 22, 1933

The following August their first child, a daughter, was born and Olive became a mother, a role she considered to be her most important life’s task, which gave her great joy, in return.

Mr. and Mrs. Merton Preussler are the proud parents of a baby girl, born last Thursday morning. . . Miss Della Herring came up from the Hoisington place to work for her sister, Mrs. Preussler, for a couple of weeks.—(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, August 24, 1934

Merton’s brother, Floris, was a farmer and nurseryman in Mossyrock, Washington and Merton was a champion gardener, in his own right.  While they lived at the Freeman Creek place, he and Olive grew strawberries, which they sold to supplement their income.

Merton Preussler is planting some new kinds of strawberries as a trial to see which kind suits this locality best.  Wm. Groseclose also sent for some new varieties.—(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, April 20, 1939

It was the custom for the farmers of the area to band together and share the workload and their equipment during harvest season.

Clarence Herring went to the Merton Preussler place Monday and cut and shocked the wheat. Merton expects to haul it out to the Wm. Groseclose place and thresh it there.—(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, September 1, 1933

Preussler Place - 4323 Teakean Rd. aka Middle Rd., Teakean Idaho (undated)
Preussler Place – 4323 Teakean Rd. aka Middle Rd., Teakean Idaho (undated) photo courtesy Alan Sewell

Likewise the women would join forces to manage the household chores, including the task of cooking meals for the threshing crews.  If you have ever been fortunate enough to sit down to dinner, the midday meal, during hay and harvest season it is a memorable feast.  The dining table greets you with the smell of fresh baked bread and there is usually a warm dessert, just out of the oven.  If you are one of the really fortunate ones, you have tasted Olive’s rhubarb cobbler with chilled cream, fresh from the cow, not the store.

Merton Preussler is stacking his grain.  He and two or three other farmers cut their grain with a binder and will thresh the old way, as there is still one threshing machine in the community.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, September 23, 1943

It was also quite common for farmers, in the area, to work outside of their farms to supplement their income to support their family and Merton was no exception.  Almost from the beginning, Merton was away during the week and only home on weekends, this routine lasted for most of their married life.

Merton Preussler is home for a week from a blister rust camp at Superior, Mont.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, September 13, 1935


Merton Preussler surprised his family by coming home unexpectedly Monday evening.  He had been home for a week and only got four days work after going back.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, September 27, 1935

The responsibilities of managing the farm and raising the children fell to Olive, during the week.  She took the role of parenting very seriously and according to her children she seldom let them out of her sight.  Her mother-in-law, Mary, is said to have made comments to Olive about being over protective and suggested she should allow her children more freedom.

The Preussler’s like many young families had to stretch their dollars to make ends meet which often meant having to “make do” with the resources available. Growing up I heard many stories about Merton’s mechanical ingenuity with repairing trucks and machinery, I ran across the following article it made me think of those stories and I have to wonder if this was one of those occasions.

Merton Preussler has repaired the old Dodge pick-up that he bought from E. M. Harrington, and has been driving it, even over these rough roads.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, January 13, 1937

During the winter of 1938 there was heavy snow and Olive went into labor with her second child, in February of 1938.  Because of the drifting snow it was very difficult to travel and they were unable to get out of their place.  Orval Choate was summoned and he went to get a midwife for Olive.  After a perilous journey and the near loss of a vehicle, the midwife arrived and their baby boy was delivered.

We have at last got plenty of snow.  It is drifted badly too but is not as deep as it usually is in February.
Mr. and Mrs. Merton Preussler are the proud parents of a boy, born February 9. . .  Stella Herring is working for her sister, Mrs. Merton Preussler and caring for the new nephew.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, February 17, 1938

In the winter of 1941, Merton and Olive added baby number three to their family.

Mr. and Mrs. Merton Preussler are the parents of a baby girl.  The baby was born February 7. . .  The Preusslers are still living in Orofino but will be moving back to the farm soon.—(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, February 20, 1941

Olive and Merton went back to Teakean and  set about raising their young family.  During this time Olive’s life would center around her family.  As part of the rural community of Teakean, after six days of hard work on the farm, Sundays were dedicated to attending church and after services friends and families would gather for Sunday dinner.

Visitors at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Merton Preussler Sunday were the Wm. And Carroll Groseclose families, Bonnie Groseclose and Mrs. Frank Johnson.  They helped Marie Preussler celebrate her eight birthday anniversary.  All enjoyed a fried chicken dinner, a lovely big cake and 1 ½ gallons of ice cream.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, August 27, 1942

It was the day after she had entertained guests and celebrated her daughter’s birthday that Olive became ill and was hospitalized.

Mrs. Merton Preussler was taken suddenly ill Monday evening, Mrs. Asa Choate took her to her home and cared for her over-night.  She seemed much improved Tuesday morning but still does not feel well.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, September 3, 1942

Mrs. Merton Preussler underwent a major operation at the Orofino hospital last Wednesday.  She is getting along nicely.  Her children are being cared for at the home of her mother, Mrs. Carrie Herring.—(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, September 10, 1942

Mrs. Merton Preussler returned home from the Orofino hospital last Saturday, where she had been for more than a week, following an operation.  Her sister, Miss Stella Herring is with her, taking care of the children and doing the housework.—(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, September 17, 1942

By early 1943 Olive had recovered enough that she and Merton were able to settle back into their normal routine.

Mr. and Mrs. Merton Preussler and children, Marie, Melvin and Marilyn visited at the Wm. Groseclose home Sunday.  That afternoon all piled into a sled and drove to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Carey for a visit.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, January 14, 1943

In the fall of 1944, Merton and Olive moved into the teacher’s cottage, for the winter, possibly in preparation for their move to Washington.  Their intent was to go to the Mossyrock area, where Merton could find work supporting the war effort.  They were unable to leave at the end of December, as planned.  Olive would have been 7 months pregnant, at this time.  They were able to make the trip to Washington, prior to the February birth of their fourth child, a son, in Chehalis.

The Preussler family did not leave for Mossyrock, Wn., last week as they intended.  They are not sure now just when they will go…  Melvin Preussler is on the sick list this week.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, January 4, 1945

Merton found work at the Boeing Aircraft parts factory, in Chehalis and the family stayed in the area until November of 1945.  He and Olive returned and resided in Orofino until April of 1946.

Merton Preussler and his partner from Orofino started cutting logs Monday of this week.  They are cutting for a Mr. Blevins, who is logging some of the Indian land in this area.–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, March 14, 1946

In April, after Merton did some maintenance, the family returned to their farm at Teakean.

Merton Preussler has repaired his road and moved up from Orofino this past week.  He is now returning to his farm after having worked at a Boeing Aircraft parts factory at Chehalis, Wn., during the latter part of the war.  He returned to Orofino last fall — and now, “back to the farm.”–(Source) The Kendrick Gazette, April 18, 1946

Merton and Olive settled back in to life at Teakean and raised their family.  In January of 1948 and January of 1954, two more sons were added to the family.

Their son, Mel, was best friends with Clint Frederiksen, the son of Swen Frederiksen.  Mel and Clint were childhood friends and running partners, when they reached their teen years.  Clint was very fond of Olive and lovingly referred to her as “Ma” Preussler, he spent a lot of time at the Preussler home while he was growing up because of the family’s friendship and his friendship with Mel.

With six children in the family, there wasn’t a lot of luxuries in Olive’s life.  One story is that the living room was in need of sprucing up and Clint showed up at the house one day with a couple of gallons of paint; he and the boys then put a fresh coat of paint on the walls and freshened up the place for Olive.  Clint was also good at mechanics and carpentry, he was not much into school but he did like shop class.  While in shop class he made a corner cupboard with glass doors on the top, to hold knick knacks and presented it to Olive.  She loved the cabinet and kept it in the corner of the living room, with her favorite things displayed.  It still sat prominently in the corner when I went to visit her, with Clint’s first grandchild, in tow.

Along with helping out when he could, Clint had a mischievous streak and you always knew when he was up to something, by the twinkle in his eye.  According to reliable sources Clint delighted in telling Olive dirty jokes.   Keep in mind Olive’s background, being raised in a deeply religious family and she herself being a devoutly spiritual person.  Now, picture the ornery teenager with the twinkle in his eye, telling off color tales for shock value.  Knowing them both, I can picture Clint with the twinkle in his eye starting his joke, Olive protesting that she didn’t want to hear such a thing and both of them giggling, in the end.  Olive had one of the most beautiful smiles, I have ever seen, her laugh was infectious and I can still hear it today.


Olive was perfect grandmother material, she was kind, loving and truly enjoyed small children.  She showed great patience, especially for a young child’s repetitive behavior, such as the youngster who repeatedly would put the cat on the piano keyboard, so the cat could “play the piano.”   I remember when I was small I couldn’t wait to go to Grandma’s house; the moment I arrived I would run in and ask her if there were any new baby animals.

Olive V. (Herring) Preussler & Grandsons (ca. 1970s)
Olive V. (Herring) Preussler & Grandsons (ca. 1970s) photo courtesy Alan Sewell

The reason for this is that Grandma Preussler was the only grandma I had that would allow me to bring whatever barnyard creature I caught, into the house, for the day.  Her son Marv raised rabbits and they were my usual targets, along with kittens, but no creature was off limits for me. One of her favorite stories about me is the time when I caught a full grown chicken and carted it around all day.  Apparently I had a doll stroller at Grandma’s, along with a baby blanket and I somehow managed to catch one of Grandma’s laying hens, proceeded to wrap it in the blanket then put it in the doll stroller and pushed it around.  How I caught the chicken in the first place, is a wonderment but for it to allow itself to be subjected to this type of treatment by a 3 or 4 year-old, is beyond me.  Apparently the chicken allowed me to carry it around, including inside the house, all day, Grandma giggled every time she told the story.

I never heard Olive raise her voice in anger toward anyone, instead she would tell you a story about why you shouldn’t do something and it worked, at least it did with me.  I remember her son Dave had a bunch of men’s toiletries in the window sill, above the sink, I wanted to get into to them and Olive told me “you don’t want to touch those, they belong to ‘Fussy Dave’ and you know how he gets if you touch his things.”  To this day I still think of her story when I think of her son Dave.  There is one other time I remember her getting as close to upset as I ever witnessed.  The farm was a working farm, the family raised animals for sale and personal consumption, as all of our families did.  Marv raised rabbits and he sold some of them as a food source and they were butchered prior to sale.  One day, while visiting, I walked out of the house and went toward the barn, most likely to find my pet for the day.  It happened to be butchering day, Marv and his brothers were preparing the rabbits for sale.  I went running back to the house and told Olive what I saw and she went up to the shed in a hurry.

After I was grown she told me she was worried that one of the boys might have told me they were butchering cats.  Apparently one of the Preussler boys, with a mischievous streak, told one of his classmates, who stopped by on butchering day, that the skinned carcasses, hanging up, were cats and that they really didn’t taste bad, the way his mom fried them.

When I was three, or four my mom and I were at the Preussler place spending the day.  Merton had loaded a tractor on his flatbed and was hauling it to Kendrick trade it in and pick up another tractor.  He went alone, his son Marv had planned to go but Olive would not allow it.  In the afternoon Olive received a phone call that Merton had been in a wreck.  The three of us jumped into her son Dave’s new car and off we went to see what had happened, I remember something being said about it was the first time Olive had driven the car and she was worried that Dave would be upset, which of course he was not.  I also remember comments about it having a padded dash, which I commenced to sink my teeth into (sorry Dave).  It wasn’t long before we got to the accident, which was on the Cavendish Rd. (Old ID 7) going toward Kendrick. In those days they let people get fairly close to the scene and I remember seeing the truck on it side with a lot of mangled pieces of metal all around the area.  The road was under construction; I believe they were widening and paving it.  I remember the clay soil was a deep red, because it was freshly worked.  I don’t know if Merton had already been taken away in an ambulance, or not.  Olive got out of the car while mom and I remained in the car and waited.  We went back to the house and someone arrived and took Olive to the hospital to be with Merton.

After the accident Merton was unable to work, one of his legs was severely hurt and he would use a cane and a special shoe, the rest of his life.  He was able to get around and did continue to garden and perform limited tasks around the farm.  I remember him after the accident sitting in his chair, next to the wood stove, with his injured leg resting on the arm of the chair, I suspect he suffered chronic pain after the accident due to his injuries.  Merton passed away on December 6, 1991 and is buried at the Teakean Cemetery.

As I grew up and would go back to visit I had a routine I would follow several times, while I was visiting.  I would go to Frank aka Unkie and Lillian Carey’s house, he would provide me with a horse for transportation.  This was usually the horse that needed to drop a few pounds and a little exercise couldn’t hurt.  After the horse was bridled, off I went, turning right at the driveway to Meridian Rd., hang a left and follow Meridian all the way to Middle Rd. and turn right and a little ways down was the Preussler’s driveway, on the right and I had reached my destination for the day.

I always made it a point to see Grandma Preussler whenever I went back to visit and after my son was born, I took him to meet Grandma.  Merton was gone by then but we had a nice visit and of course she held him and talked to him.  I told her that since I had always called her Grandma that I guessed my son would do the same.  Her response was “I would I like that, I would like that very much.”

I only saw Grandma a few times after that, her memory failed her and she went to an assisted living facility.  The last time I did see her, she still had her wonderful smile and she was glad to have visitors, as always.

Olive Vada (Herring) Preussler passed away on November 15, 2000 and was laid to rest at the Teakean Cemetery.

2 thoughts on “Grandma Preussler – Olive Vada Herring”

  1. Hi, I am enjoying your stories of local history
    I have written several stories about my life growing up in Cavendish

    Have you seen the book by my aunt Edith?
    A nice car a good woman and a little fun every day

    1. I have seen the book but I have not read it yet. I have added Vannoy info to my trees, we are connected via marriage. There was an article in Lewiston Morning Tribune marking Edith’s 100th birthday, in 2015. I would love to add to her and Allie’s story.

      I am glad you are enjoying the website and I hope my small contribution will help keep the history of the area and the memories of the folks who settled there alive.

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