Listenfelt reunion 1907, photo taken at "Uncle Jake's" fruit farm 1.5 miles west of Pennville, Indiana. The reunion was held every year on Memorial Day, in honor of the May 30 wedding anniversary of Aaron Allmon and Catherine Listenfelt.
"We have no record of their family history except their statement that Grandfather Conrad's grandfather was an officer in the English army
and fled to Germany at the time of civil war in England. When he got to Germany that would be safety "light on a rock" - Listenfels,
Lichtenfeltz, Liestenfeltz, Listenfelt - as it is pronounced and as many of the family now spell it. Later this Listenfelt married a French girl who
had escaped from France during religious disturbances there. (Her maiden name is unknown).
Grandfather Conrad did his required army service in Germany and in addition was conscripted by Napoleon and was in the terrible retreat
from Moscow. (The gun he carried in this army service [march to Moscow] was brought to America and was blown to bits by an enthusiastic
young member of the family at a 'belling' [charivari]. What a relic that gun would be now!) All told Conrad served seven years in the army. He
married Susan Bitman in the year (?) in Baden, Germany near Karlsruhe. It was almost an impossible task to obtain the money for the ocean
passage. Grandfather told many times that he worked for ten cents a day to get the money necessary. Grandmother sold her best clothing -
including two silk dresses. Good clothing in those days lasted for two generations at least, so we can see what a sacrifice she made. In 1828,
taking their two little boys - Daniel, two years old, and Jacob, four years old, they walked from Baden to Paris. When they arrived in Paris they
found that they could not continue their journey at once as the children had not been inoculated for small pox. So they remained in Paris for
three weeks until the work was done and the children had recovered. We wonder with their scanty supply of money how they managed to
live for this extra time. The ocean voyage lasted six weeks but finally they landed in New York. (The voyage had been stormy and a portion of
their scanty store of goods had to be thrown overboard, as had that of other passengers).
They spent six days learning enough English so that they could get about by themselves. Then they walked the streets of New York for three
weeks hunting work. They took turns at this, one staying with the children while the other looked for work. Finally they were fortunate,
finding a place in New Jersey where they could both work - on the farm of Peter Nevins. During their stay here another son was born whom
they christened Peter Nevins. Grandfather's wages were $90.00 a year. Out of this amount they paid $10.00 a year to send the little boys to
school. (Have any of their descendants ever paid such a proportion of their income for such a purpose?) Twice a year Grandfather went to the
city to buy clothing - mostly from second-hand stores. In six years they had saved enough so that they could move on westward to Warren
County, Ohio, where they rented a farm. This farm belonged to the Janney brothers. The friendship between the two families continued for
many years with visits back and forth after our family had left Ohio.
After some years they moved on again - this time to their permanent home in Blackford County, Indiana where they bought the farm we
know as the Allmon farm which was inherited by their daughter, Catherine, after their deaths. When they came to Indiana cash was very hard
to get. Grandfather used to walk from seven to ten miles to earn the tax money which at first was one dollar a year, but it had to be money. At
that time there were vast tracts of forest land, well stocked with oak and hickory. Nuts from these trees were called by the general name of
mast. For some weeks in autumn, hogs were well fed by merely letting them run in the woods. With a short time feeding of corn they were
ready for hog killing time. The only holiday was when Grandfather went to Richmond with a load of meat. In those days there was no
government inspection. The grocer was supposed to know good meat and that was all that was necessary for prompt sale. Their children -
Jacob, Daniel, Peter Nevins, Conrad and Catherine grew up and established homes in the neighborhood so that it became known as the
Listenfelt neighborhood. It came to be said in time that everyone who attended Olive Branch Church was either a Listenfelt or married a
A great adventure had come to two of the sons. Jacob and Peter Nevins joined the gold rush to California in 1851. They enjoyed the experience
and loved to tell of their adventures. (The compiler of these lines remembers with pleasure how her father, Jacob, Jr., used to tell of the
preparations for the big time - the night the boys came home! The family and neighbors gathered at the Listenfelt home to welcome them
and hear of their adventures. In the course of the evening the younger of the two boys produced a "fiddle" and started to play a lively tune.
His mother interrupted him saying sternly, "Put that sinful thing down!" - The fiddle was associated with dancing which was frowned on in this
household. There were, however, other amusements of which the spelling bee was one of the most popular. The writer recalls a story which
belongs to a later generation but perhaps indicates something about the good times of this period. My father was a representative of the
Linstenfelt school in a "bee" and the contest finally narrowed to one between him and a representative of the other school. Father's younger
brother (our Uncle John) was an attentive witness of the proceedings and he did not like what he saw. The opponent had his coat bunched
around him in a peculiar manner and he kept looking down at the coat every time he spelled a word. So Uncle John walked up to him and gave
him a good poke in the stomach. An open spelling book fell out of the folds of the coat, someone blew out the light and a big fight followed. The
story never told who won but we will hope the Listenfelts were as good fighters as they were honest spellers.
The children of this family had all been reared with the idea that they should be proud to be citizens of the United States. The father and
mother took a newspaper printed in English rather than German which would have been easier for them to read. They knew the English
papers would be of special benefit to their children.
Grandmother never quite outgrew the feeling that a good day's work would bring good luck, and events seemed to prove that she was right.
She had the first cook stove in the neighborhood, rode to church on Sunday in the first "top" buggy in the county with her husband in
broadcloth suit and stove pipe hat. " (text from Sketch of Susan and Conrad Listenfelt, written by Lucy "Hattie" Listenfelt, wife of Jacob Listenfelt, Jr., grandson of Conrad and Susan Listenfelt. See also the web page Listenfelt Family from Patricia Jones)