Kletke/Durham Genealogy

Erna Gertrude Kletke

Female 1903 - 1999  (96 years)


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  • Name Erna Gertrude Kletke 
    Born 17 Apr 1903  Alva, Woods, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Occupation House Wife / Business Partner Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 27 Apr 1999  Taos, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Erna Gertude Kletke was born in Alva, Oklahoma on April 17, 1903 to Edward Gustav Kletke and Ida Louise (Augustine) Kletke who had immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1900.
      Her parents owned two farms-one at Alva, Oklahoma and one at Lawton, Oklahoma. At Lawton, where her brother was born, her father planted cotton in the spring. Then he'd go back to Alva to harvest his wheat. After harvest he would plant the wheat for the following year and return to Lawton to harvest the cotton. While living at Lawton, Erna reached school age and was sent to Alva to attend school. On a visit to Alva as her parents prepared to return to Lawton, Erna cried, desperately wanting to go home. Her parents relented and took her with them. On the way home, Erna became ill-a case of the measles. The measles left Erna with poor eyesight and a distinct disadvantage in school. She was age nine. In spite of this difficulty she persisted in her studies and went as far as the sixth grade.
      Her mother and father later sold the farm at Lawton and returned to Alva. Her mother became ill with tuberculosis compelling Erna, her parents, a brother and three sisters to move to Optimo, New Mexico in 1918. Optimo was a Lutheran settlement near Wagon Mound. Her father rented a farm and Erna worked with him in the fields. Finances were tight. To help her parents with expenses and to keep her siblings in school, at the age of 18 or 19 Erna accepted a position in Gallup, New Mexico. She worked in the home of Helen and Carl Nolan doing housework, cooking, and caring for their baby. After nearly seven months in Gallup, Erna quit and returned to Optimo in time to celebrate her parents' 25th wedding anniversary.
      Following a trip through the Moreno Valley in northern New Mexico, her parents purchased the Thomas P. Gable ranch at Agua Fria (near Eagle Nest) in 1924. Agua Fria had a general store and post office, and a school. It was located at the intersection of U.S. 64 and State Road 434, the road to Angel Fire.
      The Moreno Valley winters were a challenge for the Kletkes from the beginning. "When we moved up there we couldn't get to the ranch. We had to wait for the night to freeze the road. There was so much mud and water running from the snow." The Kletkes prepared for winter by storing supplies of canned goods, coffee, sugar, etc. "We butchered our own beef, pork and poultry." In the winter of 1925 she remembers being snowbound from December 23 to March 9. "School buses, everything, was shut down. We got mail once or twice a week-they came in by bobsled." To go for provisions or to visit neighbors she remembers using bobsleds pulled by horses to traverse the snow "above the fence line." To keep warm, they placed heated rocks under straw in the sled and wrapped themselves in lap robes.
      Talmadge D. Neal of Eagle Nest (then known as Bella) owned the Agua Fria store and post office. One day in 1924 he drove out to the ranch where he found Erna working in the field. He asked her if she would run the store and post office for him. Replying she had never done anything like that and she wasn't sure she could, he told her he would teach her. She remembers helping some valley residents to mail their packages because they couldn't read or write. When Neal sold the store and post office, she had worked for him two and a half years.
      Erna traveled to Taos, New Mexico to seek work. In September 1927 she started working as a clerk for Alvin Burch in the Burch store. It was a general store located on the north side of the plaza.
      While working at Burch's Erna met many people. One of those people was Elisha P. Randall, owner of a sawmill and lumber yard in Taos. Their encounters were occasional social events until the San Geronimo Fiesta in September 1929. One evening after work Erna and her roommates decided to go to the carnival nearby "to see what was going on." As they arrived at the Ferris wheel they met Elisha. He asked Erna, "Will you ride the Ferris wheel with me?" I said, "Sure I'll ride with you." They began dating in October, were engaged in November and married February 9, 1930.
      The marriage ceremony was performed in the family home at Agua Fria by Reverend McNutt of Cimarron, New Mexico. The ceremony, attended by family and close friends, was followed by a dinner also served in the family home. Erna and Elisha's honeymoon was spent in Denver, Colorado.
      From the outset, Elisha involved Erna in the business. He wanted her to know the business, to be his partner and be able to go on in the event something happened to him. When asked about her part in the business during the early years of marriage, she replied, "I didn't want to sell lumber ..." Anyway when he would leave for more supplies or material to sell "I'd have to go out and do it." When someone came to buy lumber I'd tell Elisha "Mr. Ledbetter got a board 1 x 12 (10 feet long) and it had three knots in it as big as a quarter. I'd describe everything they got and he had to bill it afterwards."
      During the 1940's and 50's, Erna added to the financial base by operating a second hand furniture store. "I'd go to Denver and pick it up, bring it here and sell it."
      Her hands were never idle. While talking or riding in a car, she was busy tatting. She used to make up to three yards of lace on a trip to Denver. Her handwork is not restricted to lace. She has embroidered and crocheted as well. She paints pictures, assembles and paints Kachina dolls and makes beautiful Ojos de Dios.
      She takes great pride and joy in an annual Christmas project. In 1934 Taos Town officials asked the community to participate in decorating the town for Christmas. Elisha suggested a manger scene and Erna went to work. She put straw and a doll in a box for the manger. Using nail kegs, wire, Halloween masks, and old clothes, she created figures representing Mary and Joseph. The next year she added cardboard cut out animals which she painted. Later she began making life-size sheep, camels, a burro, and a cow out of papier-mache. Eventually she had to give it up because the work to restore the figures and move them each year was too much to continue. She still assembles a small manger scene which she places in front of the business.
      The Randalls had two sons who died as infants. They reared four children: Charles Edward, Minnie Louise, John Alden and Merlin David. All were educated in Taos and are graduates of the University of New Mexico. Their three sons live in Taos and are associated with Randall Lumber Company. Minnie Lou, now retired from the U.S. Forest Service, lives in Albuquerque.
      Since her marriage in 1930, Erna has lived in four homes, all on the same five acres. Erna's first home had oiled floors and was built of rough lumber and tarpaper. In 1935 on moving to her second home she had three rooms and got her first indoor bathroom. In 1938 they began plans for home number 3, "their dream home". By the time they built "the big house," living quarters were very crowded as they now had four children. Although it wasn't finished they moved into the new home in time for Christmas 1941. This home had three bedrooms and a very large living room where the Randalls served holiday dinners to as many as 24 family members and friends. They also held regular square dances in their living room-always two squares, sometimes three. After the death of her lifelong partner, Elisha, in 1971, Erna moved to her present home in 1973 because the family home was too big for one person. The family home is now leased and serves as a restaurant.
      Erna continues to be involved in the business. She walks from her home to Randall Lumber Company almost everyday where she greets customers - most of whom call her "Grandma". At the age of 93 she still does her shopping.
      She finds comfort and inspiration in her religion. She was brought up Lutheran, and as there was no Lutheran church in Taos, she faithfully attended the Presbyterian Church and guided the religious training for her children. She now regularly attends services at the Sangre de Cristo Lutheran Church which was established in 1992.
      She has three granddaughters and four grandsons. A great-granddaughter was born in March 1996.

      Minnie Louise Stephens; November 1996
    Person ID I0254  Kletke-Durham
    Last Modified 21 Jul 2009 

    Father Edward Gustav Kletke,   b. 26 Oct 1873, Alexen, East Prussia, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Sep 1947, Alva, Woods, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years) 
    Mother Ida Louisa Augustin,   b. 18 Jan 1880,   d. 31 Oct 1934, Alva, Woods, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 54 years) 
    Married 29 May 1898  Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F017  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Elisha Pratt Randall,   b. 4 Jan 1896,   d. 7 May 1971  (Age 75 years) 
    Married 9 Feb 1930 
    Children 
     1. Baby Randall,   b. 11 Nov 1930, Taos, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Nov 1930, Taos, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     2. Charles Edward Randall
     3. Baby Randall,   b. Feb 1933, Taos, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Feb 1933, Taos, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 0 years)
     4. Minnie Louise Randall
     5. John Alden Randall,   b. 7 Oct 1936, Taos, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Mar 2005, Taos, New Mexico Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years)
     6. Merlin David Randall
    Family ID F106  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Ida & Erna Kletke
    Ida & Erna Kletke
    Harold Kletke Family
    Harold Kletke Family
    Back Row: Elisha Randall, Louis Engelken, Bob Tecklenburg, Martha Tecklenburg, Theresa Kletke
    Front Row: Erna Randall, Ella Engelken, Hilda Kletke,
    Edward Kletke, Harold Kletke
    Kletke Family
    Kletke Family
    Martha Tecklenburg, Harold Kletke, Ella Engelken,
    Hilda Kirmse & Erna Randall

    Documents
    #33 1947 October 26 - Berlin
    #33 1947 October 26 - Berlin
    Letter from Anna (Kletke) Steguweit to Harold Kletke requesting assistance with food and clothes.