FRANK ELMER WEYER: THE EARLY YEARS
When questioned about his longevity and particularly concerning the remarkable vitality he exhibited well into his nineties, Frank Weyer typically referred to the sturdy genes he had inherited from his pioneer parents and the healthy and fulfilling young life he experienced on the John Weyer Cattle Ranch located near Ainsworth and not far from the edge of the famous Nebraska Sand Hills country.
Frank Elmer Weyer, the youngest of the six children (five boys and one girl) of John and Elizabeth Schweitzer Weyer, was born on January 14, 1890, at home on the Ranch in Brown County – the precise location was Section 22, Township 30, and Range 21 of that county.
Young Weyer and his ponies were practically inseparable, particularly on school days when they made together the "child-on-horse" trips to the one-room schoolhouse located in the Buffalo Flats region a mile or so from home, and later when their daily school journeys took them to the Long Pine High School – a round-trip of some twenty miles. When asked about his riding ability, Doctor Weyer indicated that he "grew up on horseback. I was a fence before there were real fences," he replied. "They needed little boys to ride horseback to keep the livestock out of the cornfields."
The area in Brown County where the sizeable John Weyer Ranch was located was primarily settled by persons of Swiss descent, and thus, both the English and the German languages were common parlance.
Frank, the youngest of the six Weyer children, received total parental support in pursuing all programs of educational value – as also did his siblings. Although the one-room grammar school quite naturally stressed "basics" and offered few if any "frills," still it laid the foundation for a good and practical education, stressing reading, writing, spelling, and mathematical learning, as it did. And it offered to the alert and curious young student that which a city school could not: the observance of more advanced students reciting more complicated materials – a kind of pre-study of more difficult material to come.
In surveying the usual special interest facets of the young child’s life as effected at Ranch Weyer, one finds that the family philosophy concerning pets was one of tolerance and even of caring, as long as the Pets lived outside the house "where good Pets belonged"!
Concerning toys: Frank Weyer did not mention playing with them to his children (although he generously provided them for his children), and they never discovered trunks or boxes containing toys in their grandparents’ attic. "Children’s books"? None have survived and since we do know that John and Elizabeth’s children were always excited about visiting the Charles Delta family – friends in Crete, Nebraska, whose children did have many books geared to young readers abilities and interests, one assumes that the Weyer children’s home library count was not especially high.
In answer to the question of how young Frank Weyer occupied himself in his "free time," one can logically assume that little or no such time existed for him – even in his fairly early years: hours in the school room, trips to and from the school via ponyback, a bit of home study, and the cattle herding just mentioned must have occupied so nearly all of his waking hours that only such necessities as eating, sleeping, and grooming could find space in his already full schedule.
Upon completion of the Long Pine High School course of study in the late spring of 1906, Frank Weyer, eager for College and all that it had to offer, decided to enroll in the College Preparatory Academy staffed and directed by Doane College. Nebraska offered several such privately operated institutions, but the one operated by Doane in Crete was nearest his home and therefore most accessible. The Academy Curriculum – a "classical" one emphasizing languages (including Latin and Greek), literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, and the sciences was truly in a "college preparation" mode, and competition was keen. However, young Weyer was up to it and it was there that he began the process of "coming of age" culturally.
Childhood was now over and the student who emerged nine months after beginning this disciplined course of study was an intellectually curious, stimulated individual – a scholar in the making.