Russell Retter

Author: Retter Hofbesitzer / Labels: , , ,

Russell Retter, son of Franklin Peter Retter and Luvina Black Retter, grandson of John and Susan Swanger Black and Emmanuel and Elizabeth Retter, was born March 22, 1889, died April 1, 1957.  Russell was born in the farmhouse at Retter Farm, but lived for several years in Dayton after the death of his mother. 

Little is known of the care of the farm during Russell's years away, but it is virtually certain that he returned to the farm full time around 1907, his 18th year.  The next year Nettie Eickhoff is known to have taken residence at the farm to serve as housekeeper.

During the earliest years Russell farmed with horses in order to make a living from the land.  The farm was quite rural at the time and had no electricity, running water, motor vehicles or indoor plumbing.  At some point early in the 1900s the original barn burned to the ground.  This necessitated mortgaging the farm in order to build a new barn.  Many years of labor and saving would be required to pay off that loan.

Over time, Russell began to take on jobs off the farm in order to supplement income and support a growing family.  His active participation in the Bethel Grange brought about service as a Grange Insurance agent, a service he continued for local farmers until his death.  At some point in the early 1920s Russell began driving the schoolbus for Bethel Local School.  He eventually served as head driver and maintained the growing fleet of buses as the school district grew.

His marriage to Nettie on December 31, 1914, resulted in four births -- Carrie Catherine in 1917, Kenneth Eugene (stillborn) in 1919, Pauline Lavina in 1920, and Mildred May in 1922.  All births took place in the farmhouse where Russell was born.  The three daughters and their husbands were each given one acre of land on which to build their homes.  During the 1950s twelve people were thus full time residents on Retter Farm.