Cousin Pauline's Best Story

The Gumke Pig Rodeo

Written Feb. 28, 2004

Pauline Gumke Ost was my dad's first cousin.  Pauline's mother, Rebecca Weispfenning Gumke and my Grandma Maria Weispfenning Mueller were sisters.  That makes Pauline my first cousin once removed and her children my second cousins.

I first met Pauline in the 1960's when she bought a pair of shoes from me at my shop here in Jamestown, N.D.

Two years ago I started to do genealogy work and started to write stories about my ancestors.  I interviewed all my dad's first cousins and used their information for my stories.  That's what brought me to Pauline's room at the nursing home a year and a half ago.  She was able to give me a lot of information that I included in 3 stories.  

She also told me a lot of other stories.  Grandson Owen, she told me how she took you fishing when you were a pup and how she enjoyed that.  Larry, she told me about the night she gave birth to you and how she almost died giving you life, out in the clay brick homestead shanty, north west of Fredonia, N.D.  Grandson Jeff, she let me taste some of the pickled fish you gave here last summer and told me about the pony they bought for you and your service to our country.  Morris, your mother told me all about your many accomplishments and your hard work that achieved all that.  Lorraine, Pauline mentioned that her daughter Lorraine did something for her.  That was before I knew she had only 3 sons and no daughters.  When I found that out I asked her who her daughter Lorraine was.  She explained that was her son Morris's wife and added, “She's the best daughter anyone could have”.  She also told me about her son Roger's life and his early death.

She told me lots of stories and even recited a few poems she wrote.  But there was one story that I considered her best story.  In the middle of telling it I realized that she really came alive, her eyes were wide and full of excitement.  She was also using her hands to tell the story and I could tell she was reliving the story and having a lot of fun telling it to me.  

I want to tell you this story because I think it celebrates her life now that she has passed.

This story took place about 1925 when Pauline was about 12 and there were about 8 of Pauline siblings involved.  Pauline's brother Ray was the youngest that participated. It happened down on the Gumke farm 10 miles south east of Gackle, N.D.  It was Sunday afternoon and Pauline's parents, Christ and Rebecca, had gone visiting.  Well the kids got bored and decided to go ride the pigs.  They all ran down to the pigpen and each chose a pig to ride.  They got the pigs so riled up and excited that they had to quit.  But later that afternoon the pigs calmed down and Pauline said, “Lets go ride the pigs again”.  Well they ran down to the pig pen again, each picked out a pig, and rode it.  One hand on an ear and the other hand on the tail so they could stay on.  The kids were laughing and yipping at the top of their lungs.  The pigs were running wild and squealing and the dust filled the air.  They were having a genuine Pig Rodeo and could have charged admission.  Ray had the biggest pig and when she didn't want to go anymore he rode her backwards and used a stick on her behind to persuade her to continue.  Well the pig went a little ways but was tired and laid down and wouldn't go any farther.  This scared the kids and they went and got a couple of pails of water to cool her down, but the pig took her last breath and died.

Oh boy, boy oh boy, if dad finds out what happened they are going to really get it.  What should they do?  Gerhardt said to Ray,  “You rode her way too hard”.  Art said, “Both Ray and Gerhardt rode their pigs too hard”.  Ray told Pauline that it's her fault because she was the one that suggested they ride the pigs again.  Pauline said, “ I'm just a little girl, what do I know about dead pigs”.  They had to come up with a plan so they got a rope and pulled the pig into the little hog house and covered her with straw.  

The next morning Christ who usually fed the pigs left early because he had a threshing rig.  So Rebecca fed the pigs and this went on for a few days but on the third morning when they went outside the smell was just awful.  Rebecca asked the kids to check the hog house to see if there was a dead chicken in it.  The kids knew better but they checked anyway.  So sister Mary got old Nick harnessed up and they drug the pig out of the hog house.  Even the horse smelled it and turned and looked at the dead bloated pig and took off running.  Mary was leading the horse and Nick almost got away.  

Pauline's parents didn't find out about the pig rodeo until after Pauline married Albert, which was years later.

The only thing I would like to add is that Pauline was a wonderful woman, has a wonderful family, and had a long wonderful life.  I was fortunate; I was really fortunate that I was able to spend some time with her.