Victor Thomas Eckart “Vic”


Victor Thomas Eckart “Vic” – 3rd Generation Eckart

Hattie Mae Scidmore “Mae”



Victor Thomas Eckart

Born:  15 October 1871 in the homestead house northeast of Tescott, Ottawa County, Kansas.  1900 U.S. Census states born October 1872.

Died:  9 September 1947, and buried in Tescott, Kansas Cemetery

Married:  to Hattie Mae Scidmore at Tescott, Kansas on 8 December 1897

Parents:  William Frederick Eckart (1843 – 1905) and Susan Lodocis Ellison (1854 -1944)

College:  Kansas State Agricultural College.  Time spent unknown, but his first   semester report card, issued 19 December 1890 showed passing grades in English analysis, geometrical drawing, book-keeping, carpentry, rhetoricals, vocal music, and military drill.


Hattie Mae Scidmore:

Born:  10 July 1880 in Ottawa County, Kansas

Died:  Lincoln Center, Lincoln County, Kansas on 8 May 1920 from hyperthyroidism.

Parents:  Frank Leonard Scidmore (1854–1922) + Anna Maria Peckham (1858 –1922)


Eckart Family Story (Kansas) – J.R.Murphy, 9 September 2001 Edition


     Vic Eckart owned a general merchandise store with his brother, Ray Eckart in the town of Tescott, Ottawa County, Kansas.  He also owned farm and cattleland.  Because of poor health, Vic quit the merchandise business and instead, did odd jobs, later going into the real estate business.  After moving to Lincoln, Lincoln County, Kansas, he owned a hardware store.   He was a fine amateur photographer and had a number of quality photos, three of which show his handiwork on this website.  He also took up golf, first playing right-handed, then switched to the left.  His wife, Mae, developed hyperthyroidism, which was apparently undiagnosed, and died of heart failure at the age of 40.  She left Vic with 3 children.  Vic kept a diary from 1910 until his wife died in 1920, and will use portions here.  He also wrote in shorthand script about one Halloween how “the boys” hauled a cow up into a church belfry.



By Bernice Eckart Murphy (from her Autobiography, 1978):

With Excerpts from the Diary of Vic Eckart

Hattie Mae & Vic Eckart - HattieMae-VicEckart.jpg




       My father (Vic Eckart) and Mother (Hattie Mae) started their marriage in a home a few miles north of town.  After Treva (my older sister) was born, Dad bought the general store and moved into the home in the town where I was born.  At that time, a general store stocked clothing, shoes, dry goods, groceries, candy, fresh butter; around Christmas time there were many toys on display on the second floor of the store.  I loved to go upstairs to look at and play with them, although Dad rarely allowed me to go up there without having a clerk with me.


      Dad had three clerks.  They would always fill a bag of candy for me when I was old enough to come into the store.  Most often I would just drift into the store with that in mind, but often Mother would send me there for a few groceries or some butter.  Butter in those days was churned by the wives of the local farmers and then brought to the store in large wooden pails.  When a customer would come into the store for butter, Dad would get a wooden scoop and measure it into a paper placed on the scale to sell it by the pound.  He had a stock of thin wooden boat-shaped cartons in which he put the butter after he weighed it.  Then it was wrapped in brown wrapping paper and tied with a string.


     Grandpa (Frank L. Scidmore) sold his home in town to move to the north side of Tescott, about two miles from the center of town.  After the second owner of the original house decided to sell, Dad and Mother bought the old family place (about 1904) in which Mother spent so many happy years.  Treva and I were happy too, because we both liked the place.  Doii was born there in 1910; I was four years old at that time. 


     Across the street from our home was the Christian Church in which our family played an active part.  Mother played the organ for the services, funerals, and weddings.  Treva and I rang the church bell in the steeple each Sunday morning and Dad started the wood fire in the stove for warmth in the wintertime.  The Christian Church believes in baptism by immersion; under the front part of the platform where the minister gave his sermon, was the big 8 x 10 foot tub for the water.  I still have the page from a bible that my Mother gave me for Christmas, which shows my name and date of baptism. 


     When grandfather (William F.) Eckart died, Grandmother (Sue) Eckart moved to town.  Her house was about a block from ours.  Aunt Vera was divorced, so she moved in with Grandmother, bringing her daughter (my cousin Hope) with her.  This house is still standing.  Hope, who was one year younger than I, became my constant companion.


     Uncle Ray Eckart and Aunt Annabelle with their family of three boys – William, Lester, and DeMerle, moved to a home one block back from Grandmother’s house.  We girls never lacked playmates.  Uncle Ray started, owned, and operated the Tescott Telephone Company, now a portion of the Kansas Bell Telephone System.

Treva & Ray Eckart - Treva-RayEckart.jpg


     The big brick school that Treva, Doii, and I attended for grade school and part, but not all, of high school, is still standing and being used (1976).  It is located on the north side of town, not too far from Grandfather (Frank L.) Scidmore’s house.




     About 1910, Dad suffered a severe attack of appendicitis.  Dr. Vermillion urged him to go to the nearest hospital, which was in Kansas City, Missouri—a trip of about 250 miles—for an operation.  There was a choice of travel: either by horse-and-buggy or by train.  Dad opted for the train, probably with Uncle Ray at his side.  When they examined him at the hospital, they found that his appendix had burst.  This meant a long recovery hospital stay for him and he wore a drainage tube for a long time after he returned home.  Luckily, he survived and became healthy and hearty again.


     Because of this health problem, Dad sold the Tescott general store.  We moved to Denver, Colorado in May 1911, where we hoped to aid his return to health with an outdoors gardening job in the mountain air.  The whole family, including Grandmother, aunt Vera, and Hope, moved with him, although Grandmother bought a house of her own.  In our yard was a tent-house, probably 24 x 24 feet.  That became our playhouse where we would sometimes eat our lunch.  We stayed in Denver until August 1912, when we returned to dear old Tescott to rejoin our friends there.





      “Started from Denver, Colorado.  Arrived at Denver May 2.  Doii awful cross and all of us pretty well worn out.  Went to St. Elmo Hotel.  Called up Mrs N. Norris.  May 3rd, ...rented furnished room at Edgewater and moved over.  Up late in evening.  May 4th; fixed up things and started rent for one month. 


     May 4th - Helped Mae arrange things.  All of us feeling fine.  May 21 to 22; bought house and furniture for $1600.  Will try to stay here this summer.  Hope I can find something to do.   Mae not so well.  (Vic relates next working some odd jobs).  May 31; went down town with Mae and got some things.  ...Not much doing in this burg but all are well.  Have done odd jobs and hunted work for a month.


      July and August; worked on a fruit farm most all these two months.  Learned the art of gardening – not such a bad job after all. 


     September 7; started work for the John Forhine Clothing and Furnishing Store at 3793 Downing Street, Denver.  September 16; worked a week and getting $18 per week .  Pretty late hours but good pay.  November 19; Working at same thing.  Do not know how long I will keep it up as it does not agree very well with my health.  The children all getting along fine and Mae seemingly getting better.  Doii growing and cute as can be.  Treva getting to be quite a large girl.  How it makes one realize realize they are going down the ladder of time.  Bernice a happy careless don’t care girl.  How I am wrapped up in the kids. 


     December 25; Christmas; Went to store and worked a couple of hours.  Took Treva over with __.  Mrs F. gave me a fine pair of silk suspenders in a brown wood box.  We all enjoyed our dinner, although it is the first time I have ever been away from home.


     January 1, 1912; New years day – nice and warm.  Finished at my work Saturday night and will be idle unless I can find something else.  ...Treva has been going to school all winter and is getting quite a girl.  Bernice 7 years only.  Doii just big enough to be cute.  Lacks about 2 months of being 2 years old.   January 6; coldest morning of winter – 6 below.  January 9; Windy and warmer.  Not doing anything except trying to dig a cesspool.  Ground pretty hard.”


     “April  28, 1912; Returned to Tescott.  Found everything covered with snow.  We left Edgewater.  Dear old Edgewater – only a sleepy helpless infant depending on Denver as a child would its Mother.  Yet there we spent the nicest coolest summer we ever spent and while the winter is not bad.  We will never forget the place and what times the children had friends and little folks that will be remembers.  And we left it was with a sort of regret (that) we found good people and neighbors even in that corner of the globe.  But house is home and ever Tescott has a charm for one that has been reared here.”




      Returning to Bernice Murphy’s story:  Tescott finally had electric service about 1912 to 1914.  This altered life in many ways: no longer did the lamp chimneys need to be cleaned every morning, bedtime was a bit later because we could see better to do our reading, parties could be held until later hours, and Christmas trees were lighted with bulbs instead of hazardous wax candles.  Dad bought an electric vacuum cleaner to replace carrying rugs out to the clotheslines where we would beat the dirt out.




     In November 1915, Mother, Doii, and I visited grandfather Frank L. Scidmore and Grandmother Anna Maria in San Diego (for an extended stay).  Grandfather had retired when I was about three years of age.  He, with Grandmother Anna Maria, moved to Tacoma, Washington to be near their son Gerald who had lost a leg in a lumber mill accident.  Later, Gerald, his family, Granddad (F.L. Scidmore), and Grandmother all moved to San Diego, California.


     Because Treva was in high school at the time, it was decided that in order to avoid missing a year, she would stay and keep house for Dad while he was working.  I was put in school in San Diego for the year term.  Doii was not yet old enough for school.  At the end of the school terms, Dad took his vacation and came with Treva out to California; we would then return home to Kansas together.





      “Mae went out to California taking Bernice and Doii.  Treva stayed with me.  I get lonesome.  I miss the children – wonder if it will always be so.  How my life is wrapped up in them.  December 11; Treva and I went to Salina to get Christmas presents for the kids.  It was Treva’s first Christmas shopping that she ever did that amounted to anything.  She has grown...


      July 2, 1916:  Started to California.  Treva and I stopped over one day in Denver.  Had a fine trip.  ... California is a fine state and has an even climate.  Did not like San Diego as well as Orange, California.”






     Vic writes about day-to-day concerns  “We traded land near Solomon for a section in Lincoln County.  Paid $4000 differing.  Very little rain during the winter, March the dust storms were the worst in years and the wheat blowed out until very little was left.   ...May 1st, 1917; grass in pasture is good enough to turn out cattle.  Alfafa has not grown much on account of lack of moisture but will do all right now (since a rain).  I have been building a fence in the section north of Shady Bend.  ...traded for a new car - Oakland.  May 20th; rained every thing needing rain.  May was altogether a very good month with enough rain to keep crops growing, yet a good deal of the weather was cool and uncomfortable.  Several frosts and one as late as May 20.  Not many vegetables injured, except mulched potatoes.  June 1st was the last rain that fell, until August 6 and 7.  Corn about all gone.  No wheat to amount to anything.  Very few potatoes.  August 19th; rains – corn greatly improved.  Lots of feed – kuffar corn looking good.  Alfalfa doing fine.”


     January 1, 1918:  “Went hunting with 20 (people) in all and drivers – killed over 400 rabbits.  Our side beat by 4 rabbits.  ....It has been the driest winter in a number of years.  In fact we have not had a soaker for more than 2 ½ years and unless we get moisture soon, look out!   ....Have been appointed as Chairman on ‘Board of Society of Defence.’  Also have charge of Food Administration.  Feb 28; rain and snowed about ½ inch.  March 3; rained 1 inch.  1918 all crops a failure except alfafa.  Oct, Nov and Dec 1918; An early snow.  The only ones to make any money were the cattlemen.”


     1919:  “The winter was pretty cold and plenty of moisture fell after January 1919.  Roads were bad until April.  Wheat on April 1 so was falling down in the bottoms, but prospects were never better and were it not for the rains it would have made splendid pasture.  Too wet for wheat – only a partial crop down and twisted – the worst shape I ever saw.  Fred (___) and I cut about 15 acres of Mothers with tractor which made about 15 bushels to the acres.  ...We moved to Lincoln in October 1919 and stayed all winter.  The girls went to school and Treva graduated.  ...had several bad dust storms with some wheat blowing out.  April 2 and 3, we had the worst snowstorm of the year.  The wind blew the snow in drifts as high as the barn and was a blizzard that compared with 1886, although it did not get very cold.”  His diary ends here when Mae Eckart dies.





        Returning to Bernice Eckart’s history:  In October of 1919, we moved to Lincoln where Dad purchased a hardware store.  Shortly after this move, my dear Mother passed away very suddenly, leaving a much-saddened family.  Later, I worked as a clerk in Dad’s hardware store for one year before I entered Kansas State University.  Treva graduated from Lincoln High School in 1920 and went on to college to become a teacher, and Doii graduated from High School in 1928.




I.  Fred Buss, Tescott’s Carpenter


     Fred Buss and his wife Flossie Scidmore (my aunt), lived in a house at the south end of Tescott.  Uncle Fred Buss was a carpenter by trade.  Their children were Frank, Boyd, and the twins Ardith and Arlyn.  It was my job to watch the twins during the summer for which Aunt Flossie gave me a sum of money.  


     Uncle Fred Buss built and operated the first and only movie in town.  In those days it was known as an air dome because it was not covered and was in the open air.  It was similar to the present drive-in theatres except it was much smaller and had plank seats for the customers.  There were no cars at that time.  I popped and sold the popcorn for five cents a bag.  Of course, when it rained the ticket purchasers were given rain checks for the next showing.  The rain often arrived during the movies, so the customers had to go home.  This was the big entertainment for the whole countryside.  On Saturday nights the place was full to capacity.


     Uncle Fred Buss built a new brick, two-story bank building for the Scidmores (finished in November 1911).  This bank building is still in use by the present owners of the Bank of Tescott.  It is located on one of the main four corners in the center of the shopping district.  So, Uncle Fred Scidmore ran the only bank, Grandfather Frank L. Scidmore owned the only hardware store and later was director of the Tescott Bank, Dad (V.E. Eckart) owned and operated the only general store, and Uncle Ray Eckart owned and operated the telephone system, while Uncle Fred Buss ran the only movie house.  Talk about a family-owned town – this was it!


      An Opera House was built (of course Uncle Fred Buss built it) at one end of Main Street.  Here all the big gathering including high school plays were held.  I was in a play at the Opera House during one year in school.




II. Automobiles in 1910 – 1915 Rural Tescott, Kansas


     There were only two automobiles in our town in 1910, with one belonging to Uncle Fred Scidmore.  His was a Stanley Steamer.  To operate the car, the driver had to wait to build up steam in the boiler with which to run the engine.  My father had the other car – a Buick.  Both cars were two-seaters; the front and back seats held five passengers.  There were no doors and the top could be either let down in the back of the car or brought up over our heads to protect us from the sun or rain.  There were fabric side panels with clear plastic windows that could be buttoned on for more protection.


     The carbide gaslights were lighted with matches when light was needed.  Tires were unreliable; when we would drive to Lincoln, Kansas, about 17 miles, for an afternoon outing, we would have as many as two or three blowouts.  These were repaired by vulcanizing them on the spot wherever we were at the time.  Vulcanizing took about an hour, which occasioned much grumbling by my father.  When a long trip was made, Uncle Fred Scidmore would take his car also; in that way, one car could be used to help the other if there was trouble.  Rains brought mud and without paved roads, this often meant that we would get stuck in the gumbo.  On one such occasion, after having a farmer help us out of the mud, Uncle Fred arranged for all of us to be fed and bedded down for the night in the home of the farmer.  Dad, I am sure, offered to pay, but I am just as sure that the farmer refused to take the money.  That was the way people were in those days.



RECOLLECTIONS OF TESCOTT - Bernice (Eckart) Murphy

III  OUR HOME, 1910 to 1919


     Our Tescott home was a two-story Michigan farmhouse-style on a large lot.  It had two big screen porches on the front of the house.  Mother would always take us out on a screened porch when we had a thundershower, where we would listen together to the rain and watch the lightning.


     On the first floor of the house, we had a parlor and a family room with a wood-burning stove (there were no such things as furnaces until later).  There was also a small bedroom and a big kitchen.  The kitchen had a wood-burning cooking stove, which was used for cooking and heating all hot water.   Meals were eaten in the kitchen too, and Mother washed clothes on Mondays at one end of the room.


     The upstairs area was for sleeping.  There were actually two bedrooms and another smaller one that was used for storage.  On one side, under the roof, was an additional area where we kept trunks, baby buggies, and other items that needed to be stored.  Mother and Dad slept in the big bedroom while the other bedroom was for us girls.  Doii (Ann) and I slept together in a double bed, while Treva slept at the other end of the room in a single bed.  We were directly above the kitchen.  The smoke pipe from the kitchen range came up through our bedroom floor and continued through the bedroom ceiling and roof.  This hot pipe was the only source of heat for the bedroom.


     Dad got up early in the morning and started the fire in the range, then called us to get dressed.  We climbed quickly out of bed to dress near the stovepipe, but not too close to it, lest we be burned.  Then we hurried to the kitchen for breakfast.  If it happened to be washday, Dad would have already drawn water from the outside well and put it into a large copper boiler on the cook stove.  This was the water for the laundry, also for boiling the clothes; in those days, clothes were boiled to whiten them.  Toward the kitchen door were two old chairs on which two washtubs had been placed. One tub was used with a scrub or washboard for the “hard to clean” clothes.  The other tub was for rinsing the clothes after they had been washed in the washing machine.  When not in use, the washing machine was kept on the back porch.  When washing, we girls had to job of turning the flywheel on the machine.  Remember – there was no electricity then!  Out in the yard Mother would put up six long lines for drying the clothes.  Washday was full of hard work.  We were all glad when that day was over!


     We had a large yard then, with much of it planted in blue grass and fenced for our play yard.  All the neighborhood children gathered here, which made Mother happy for she knew where we were at all times.  In one section, Dad had a large garden from which we enjoyed almost every vegetable we ate.  In another part of the yard, we had two crab apple trees, a pear tree, and a cherry tree.  When canning time came around, Mother made jams, jellies, fruit sauces; from the garden she canned tomatoes, pickles, and relishes.  If we did not have the fruit in our yard, she bought it by the bushel.


     After the jars were filled, they were stored in a dugout cellar under the house.  The temperature there was just right to keep apples, carrots, and potatoes for the winter.  Imagine all the work that was required for this...but what a good feeling it was to see all that food put away for the winter season.


     When 5 p.m. rolled around, I became the milk lady.  I hung a quart pail on one arm in order to carry it to another house.  Here, the man of the house brought in the milk in large containers, which he distributed among his customers.  Sometimes it was dark before the milk arrived.  I remember being terribly frightened when this happened for I would have to walk home alone with the milk with no light to guide my path.  We paid 5 cents for a quart of milk at that time.





     “Life is a great deal as you make it, either sunshine or sorrow.  God bless the smiling jovial face, not the one with evil intent and not the one whom smiles to lure you on and plays false.  But it is the good whole-hearted smile, the laughter that makes you laugh, one that sees the funny part of life and is always smiling and passing it on to others.  They are the ones that get the best and enjoys the most.”




1.   Infant, died 1897 at birth


2.  Treva Florence Eckart was born 27 August 1900 and died January 1985.  She married Joseph Decker on 21 July 1925 at Silvan Grove, Kansas.  Joseph Decker was born 7 November 1892 and died 1 November 1943.  They had two children.


3.  Anna Doii Eckart was born 16 February 1910 in the house where Frank Leonard Scidmore and Anna Marie Peckham Scidmore built and lived) and died August 1992.  Anna Doii married Faye Allen Whiteside in 1929 and were later divorced.  They had two children.


4.  Veda Bernice Eckart was born 29 February 1904 and died 18 December 1996 at Auburn Hills, Michigan.  Married James F. Murphy.  They had two children.





1900 U.S. Census of Tescott, Morton Township, Ottawa County, Kansas:


Eckart, Victor T, head, October 1872, 27, married 2 years, born Kansas, father born France, mother born Ohio

May H., wife, July 1880, 19, married 2 years, 1 child, none living, born Kansas, both parents born Michigan.



* See photo of Victor and Hattie Mae Eckart – HattieMae-VicEckart.jpg

* See photo of Victor Eckart and two children, taken by Vic Eckart – Bernice-Vic-TrevaEckart.jpg

* See photo of Treva and Ray Eckart, taken by Vic Eckart – Treva-RayEckart.jpg