John Ginther's Letter to Son

Envelope: Postmarked Lake Norden, Aug 3, 12 PM, 1942, S.Dak.

Writing on it: "From J. Ginther, Castlewood...

Mr Robert L. Ginther

615 So Ceder St

Tacoma Wash.

Inside Letter Written With Ink: "Castlewood S Dak 8-4 42

Bob Ginther Dear Son

Your letter of the 31 was received yesterday at noon the 3rd, and was glad to heard from you and glad you have a good job

Darrel is geting along fine you ought to see him ride he goes in gallup last night he drove the mules home from the binder lots of fun here for him.

They are going to town this morning he is going to get a new hat and overal. he is doing lots of work haul water to the pigs [?] yesterday he rode one around on the binder. but we have not heard from Perl [page 2) a card Saterday Stadem is building a barn just north of the old one basement barn wind mill down flat and the old barn is all down so they have lots of work too I have a few hours culing to do this morning it went very good this harvest and then we have a few days chocking to do so we are getting along fine and good luck too must close and answer [you?] can

Dad John Ginther Castlewood S Dak.

Note on the letter: Darrell is the eldest child and son of Robert Lee and Pearl Ginther. Ronald Ginther, Bob and Pearl's fifth child, will be born August 10. In a few weeks Pearl and her family, with the newborn in her arms, will leave their home in Sioux Falls for good (where they had lived from 1936-42, with visits from many Ginther relatives coming from Dell Rapids, Sioux Falls, and even Iowa), and move to Washington State to be with Bob who has gone there and gotten a good-paying job in the shipyards. He had worked at Morrells in Sioux Falls for 7 years or so, but was needing more income than his foreman job would ever provide, so he had to make the break to a better paying job market on the West Coast in the wartime industries located there. Everything seemed to be going well at this point in everyone's lives. But five years later, in January 1947, Bob would crash with his young brother-in-law in a plane Bob was buying for some partners and fellow church members in Washington who wanted to learn to fly. By then there were six children, and a seventh, a daughter Roberta named after him, was on the way. That news would be a catastrophe for John Ginther. He had been a vigorous man up to then, it seems. He would live only three years more, passing peacefully in 1950 in his own farm home, attended by his third wife Annie Ginther, who had been his childhood sweetheard apparently. Darrell and his younger brother Lorin Ginther were present shortly before his passing, along with their Stadem grandfather, Alfred Stadem, who knew John Ginther well.

Ardella Simpson was John Ginther's second wife. She moved to the Dallas, Texas area after her divorce of John, taking Edith, Renee, and Jack. It is not known how hard she took the death of her former husband and the father of her four children: Robert (Verne originally), Edith, Renee, and John (called Jack). If anyone knows, please let us in the Ginther family here know at:

For a list of the signatures and dates of the Ginther visits, please see the "Guest Register" of Bob and Pearl Ginther via the link given below.

Of Tornadoes and Barns: The Stadems' barn was demolished by a tornado, and so starting in 1942 Alfred Stadem (Darrell's Norwegian Grandpa on his mother's side) began to salvage what he could, and used that to begin the replacement, which he called the Basement Barn, since the foundation was partially dug into a slope or small hillock. That barn has in recent years fallen down in a bad storm, and is now replaced in turn with the new people-oriented structure that looks like the Basement Barn, called Barna Velkommen (Welcome, Children). Pearl lived to age 101 and a half, and saw the first level, the basement built, while contributing to the project's expense along with her sons.

Bob and Pearl did well enough in Washington State to purchase a small farm for John's and Anne's retirement years; this was the farm on which he spent his last years and days. Nobody knows what happened to his unique, hand-made, horse-drawn circus equipment. His extensive German-style pipe collection was sent by Anne to Darrell Ginther, who had no idea what to do with them and disposed of them. Two fancy German plates were given to Pearl Ginther by Anne. Besides pictures and a few letters, the Ginther children have their memories to treasure of Grandpa Ginther and the old farm and the wonderful ponies, horses, mules, and good times spent there on visits. Anne was their Grandmother, far as they knew, and she was a very sweet, loving person to them always. As children, they had no knowledge or awareness of their Grandpa's drinking problem, and they didn't know anything about his previous two marriages, being too young to ask about such things. Childhood used to be regarded and preserved as long as possible in a state of innocence, you see. But no more!

Darrell Ginther wrote up an account of his rollicking times on the Ginther farm and also the Stadem farm, called "The Old Horse and Buggy Days." We have it on-line, but can't say exactly where at the moment. Please go to it on-line when we offer it here in the near future. You will get to see what it was like in the 1940s on these farms, for Darrell's was an exceptionally detailed account; he had an excellent memory for the way things were like back then as a kid knew and enjoyed them, a far different way of life than we live today that is probably gone forever. It is that way of life that the Heritage Center Barn on the Stadem farm is set up to recreate or portray as far as it can be, so that the younger generation can see what made them what they now are. For that reason Pearl Ginther contributed so much to the project, for the sake of the younger generation, lest all knowledge of that wonderful heritage be completely lost to them.

If you are interested in what this project entails, please go to:

Plain View Heritage Farm Home Pages: The Introductory

Note on John Ginther's Religious Affliliations: We have John Ginther's own notation in the Pearl and Bob Ginther Ginther guestbook that he was Lutheran, but was he really? His family back in Iowa were substantially or even wholly Lutheran, associated with a particular Lutheran Church in their town, but after he removed his residence to South Dakota, it may be he dropped his emotional and cultural tie to that Lutheran body and felt freer to explore other Protestant churches. He may have always been a "nominal" member, whether in Iowa or in South Dakota, going only on certain church holidays, as many did even back in the 1930s and 1940s--a slide away from church that has continued right up into this 21st century. So, with no real involvement that is shown or evidenced, we can't be sure he was very serious in his search for a local church he could be actively involved in. But at the time of his son Robert's sudden death, he was put in the record of the funeral papers as a Baptist and a member of the Castlewood, SD, Baptist church. Its pastor attended the funeral in Bryant, SD, and was listed among the clergy. This doesn't mean John Ginther was an active member of that church, only that he might have attended for a time, and was put down as a member on the rolls. Perhaps that was his way of declaring he had severed ties with the Lutheran church of his parents back in Bellevue, Iowa? We don't know and can't know, but it is a possibility with this free-wheeling individualist. We do know that he took his childhood sweetheart, Ann Wagner, a Catholic, for his third wife after Ardella gave up and left him for Texas, taking all the children with her except Robert. That liaison with Anne Wagner wouldn't be approved by his family--surely! Marrying a Catholic, and she his third wife? It was altogether irregular to a staunch German Lutheran family set-up in those days, and he must have been well aware of it at the time. I can just imagine he deliberately thumbed his independent nose at them when he took an even more provocative step in registering himself as a Baptist!

In any case, he was no loyal Lutheran, and if he was a believer in anything, it wasn't in Christ and the Free Gift of Salvation (to which he may have given lip service, but that is about all, apparently). Religion saves nobody, and religious or not, Lutheran or Baptist, he did not truly accept Christ in the saving Gospel until he lay very ill on his deathbed. We have a testified account of it, so we know this happened. A "Grasshopper-man" all his life, he yet came to know saving grace and rest for his soul. As his grandson, I am so thankful for that fact. Besides, I loved his ponies and horses and the great fun we had as little children on his little farm he shared with sweet-tempered Grandma Anne, where we took outrageous advantage of our too-trusting and too-indulgent grandparents! And I was, with my eldest brother, probably the worst!--Ed.

Minnie & George Ginther's Card to Pearl Ginther

"Guest Register" of Bob and Pearl Ginther, 1936-1941, Sioux Falls, SD

When I was on Plain View Farm in late fall, 2011, as the project of the Heritage Center Barn took shape before my eyes, I saw one cold day a grasshopper perched on a sheet of plywood that lay in the sun, trying to extract a little warmth before the night came with its chilling, killing cold. I took a picture of it, I felt so empathetic toward it. I have been a grasshopper man myself, as I viewed my Grandfather Ginther--so I know what it is like when the temperatures plummet and I haven't prepared myself financially for the coming winter in my income. There is one difference between us, however. My dear Grandfather had not prepared himself spiritually, which I am trying to do, knowing "a night comes when no man can work," as the Bible verse cautions us. I can look around and see a lot of grasshopper-people too, who are not preparing themselves for the coming Winter that is coming upon the whole world. This is going to be the death of many, and so I am behooved to warn others not to follow the easy way, the summery way, which is rapidly passing as an option, not just individually but for all the nations.-- Ed.

"The Man of Vapor: the Summer and Winter of a Grasshopper

For the Ginther Genealogy by Sue Grable:

Ginther Genealogy

Special thanks also go to Sylvia Fjelstad-Stadem Yuge for her own Ginther Genealogy, which we now have, as we have drawn information from it for Mary Lou Ginther, daughter of Louis F. Ginther, in this Guest Register. This genealogy includes all the known lines of the families. Anyone who wants Sylvia Yuge's Ginther Genealogy can contact us for the discs and print it off themselves!

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Excluding Sue Grable's Ginther Genealogy: (c) 2013-14, Butterfly Productions, All Rights Reserved