The Steve Heydinger Website

Created by Mike Heydinger on October 1, 2009      

Uncle Steve was the second of John Heydinger's nine sons. He was born in 1862, too young for the Civil War and too old for the Spanish American War. He was a bachelor boy all his life. He did attend the "Swamp School," but no one can attest as to how many years he stayed. He remained at home to farm with his father and brother Joe. On the side he did some custom butchering, and again Dorothy Ernst mentions in her notes that she often remembers seeing him in his bloody apron. Steve never came to town except one day a year to get his beard trimmed and hair done by Charlie. Would he dare? Wearing a bloody apron, carrying a meat cleaver, sporting a long beard, decked out in dirty overalls?

Steve was never without a chaw of "tobacher" in his jaw and his beard always flapped kind of lopsided when he chewed and talked.

As a farmer, he and his brothers were excellent husbandrymen. They always raised excellent oats, corn, and wheat, apples, and hay,and Steve generally managed the money in the household. In fact, Steve had no use for banks. No one knows where he hoarded his money, but after his death, when the estate was being settled up, many bags of gold coins turned up. No word on whatever happened to it all.

As gardeners, Steve and the boys used to put out a garden to feed the family. At that time the family on the homestead there consisted of Grandmother Mary Gullung, Joe, Steve, John and his wife Lorraine and then later their son Phillip. They were the first in the area to grow "love apples," as tomatoes were called in those days - just for decorations until they learned how to eat them! All summer long Steve helped Grandmother do the canning up of all the fruits and vegetables - except cold packing and pressure cookers had not been invented yet. No problem - the cooked foods were packed into jars and sealed with wax, then placed into a cool cellar where the wax would not melt and possibly cause botulism. And you know what - none of them ever died from the stuff!

Another specialty of Steve and Joe was the apples they raised. They had many varieties and in the fall had a fine crop of cider. The kids came out to pick up the apples, and loaded them unto wagons. They were then sorted so the better ones could be used for apple butter. The rest were hauled over to the Pheiffer cider mill just down from Aunt Meg's place, and kegs of the sweet stuff were put up for the winter. By thrashing time the next summer the stuff finally got good!

At apple butter time, the men folk pitched in, too. True, the women folk were expected to do the peeling. But they were present at the birth of the apple peeler and considerably lightened their work if they had one. Meanwhile, Steve and Joe did the heavy work. The cauldrons had to be hauled out that had been stored at butchering time, then a fire started outside, and huge irons set up to support the cauldron and its contents. To the men fell the arduous task of maintaining the fire at just the right temperature so as not to burn the apples and then the constant stirring with the long handled paddle with the holes in it. All night long the fire had to be maintained, but the boys kept warm, outside in the cool October air next to the fire, inside with the still heady fruit of the previous year's crop.

Their best crop was melons, musk melons. No ice in those days, so the riper ones were stored in the basement and kept cool till Grandmother gave the signal. Then either Joe or Steve would bound down the stairs to fetch one up, take it out on the lawn and clean it on a clean patch of grass. The seeds out and the juice dripping, Steve would slice her up with the rusty old pocket knife he always carried, wiping it off under his arm pit. These people were green and naturalists long before those who invented the term were even born. That most lived as long as they did was a testament to divine intervention more so than to proper hygiene.

Steve did not walk the three miles from the Homestead to St. Bernard's Church for Sunday Mass. That's not to say he was irreligious, though. He claimed it had somethng to do with his "arthuritis." However, after "Phillie" was given a Crosley radio, Steve listened to every religious program on the air - and there were many in those early radio days, kind of like driving through Georgia these days. But it's hard to argue that a man who lived that close to nature and listened to God's word preached a different way was not religious at heart. He died and was buried a Catholic in St. Bernard's Cemetery. He lies under the same stone with his brothers Joe and John and John's wife Lorraine.

Steve never owned a suit in his life. That presented a problem at the time of his funeral. So when the callers came to the house for the wake time, what did they find? Two chairs turned back to back and spaced a few feet apart with wooden planks across the tops of the backs. There in the plain wooden coffin lay Steve, all laid out proper. The family buried him in the only clothing they had ever seen him wear - a flannel shirt and bib overalls. And sticking out of his left shirt pocket, right on top of a red hanky, lay his favorite corn cob pipe. Some folks claimed they could even see a slight smile under all that chin hair.

RIP, Steve. Blessed death, you surely earned it!


Posted by Mike Heydinger on October 15, 2009      

In order to grow this page and be more inclusive of Peter Heydinger's descendants, we need YOU to contribute materials. We need pictures, interesting family anecdotes passed down through the generations, historical documents still in the family - anything that will tell future generations of the whole family who Uncle Pete and his family were.

In order to keep all folks fully informed, we need current contact information: street addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses.

Contact your siblings, your children away from home, your folks - anyone in the relation - to email us their current contact information. Send it to me at

Send us digital files if possible. If you are not computer savy and still wish to make a contribution of materials to this site, please email us and we can arrange to either come to you or have materials shipped to us for scanning and then returned to you.

PLEASE - on all pictures, have each person with a recognizable face identified. If known, also indicate the year taken and place. We need Current Contact Information.

We need Family History Data.

Also, we would like to do a full page here of information on each branch of the original John Heydinger family. We will post histories of each branch, pictures as far back as we can get them, and any other interesting data about the branches - whatever YOU think ought to be up on the site. We ask you to send us digital files if possible. If you are not computer savy and still wish to make a contribution of materials to this site, please email us and we can arrange to either come to you or have materials shipped to us for scanning and then return to you.

PLEASE - on all pictures, identify each person with a recognizable face. If known, indicate the year and place the picture was taken. Protect your valuable pictures and documents with cardboard stiffeners!

We need Current Family Tree Information.

If you go to the FAMILY GENEALOGY TREE in the column to the right, you can open it by clicking on the RED words This Family Tree and locate your immediate family's limbs, branches, and twigs on the family tree.

The further back you go, the more accurate the information actually is. What we need most is more MODERN up-to-date information.

Locate your part of the family's information and update it for us, PLEASE. Email to us the new and improved data. Don't worry about formating the data. Just give us the names and important dates, tell us what generation they are in and under whose name they should go. Generation numbers are included just to the LEFT of each name.

In order to have the NEW information included in the revised tree, you MUST get it to us. We will maintain the original document in order to guarantee security. Sorry!