Do you remember: Christian and Mary Morlock?
By Richard Karns
Special to the Herald Review
I talked with Dorothy Morlock Bitler for the information for this article about her family. She was as gracious during the interview as I have always found her to be and it was a pleasure to have her share her family history with me.
Her grandparents, Christian and Mary Pletch Morlock, migrated from Germany to the Reed City area. There was a connection to them moving here — Mary had two sisters living in the area.
Christian farmed the land they had acquired and before Mary was married to Christian Morlock she worked as a housekeeper for Toby Zimmerman. Mary also was known for her skills as a mid-wife delivering many babies and helped families in need with other illnesses. Mary spoke German as her primary language and Dorothy said she found letters in her Aunt Mary's belongings after her death written in German, so many of the children could have spoken German, too.
Christian and Mary had nine children, including Ida (Hainbecker), Albert, Ella (Nix), Rose, Esther, Mary, Lillian, Ernest and John.
Dorothy's parents, Albert (1890—1966) and Edith Thiel (1899—1993) married and started housekeeping on a farm south and east of the original homestead on South Hersey Road and east on 190th. Bob Morlock lives on that farm today.
They had three children, including Milton, Dorothy, Betty and an infant brother, Lyle, who died shortly after birth. They attended the Trimner School until eighth grade, except Betty, who attended Hersey School after Trimner School closed. They went to Hersey for high school.
Dorothy said she liked the work outside on the farm, but not so much the inside housework, though she did her share there, too. She particularly liked driving the horses whether it was hauling hay, cultivating or picking up stones. Betty was the youngest, but there were chores for her, too. It was a rule of thumb that everybody worked on the farm. Dorothy said she always had a very bad case of motion sickness, and when going on long trips to places like Bay City, the family would need to stop and let her walk to get air.
Dorothy remembers her dad would buy fish from a man who would come by selling them. Her father was always working on the farm to support the family, so he didn't have a lot of time to go fishing. Dorothy said she didn't remember going swimming very much.
Pat Bitler moved from Mount Pleasant to the area when his family came with the oil company. Pat graduated in 1943 from Reed City High School. Pat and Dorothy met while rollerskating at the armory in Big Rapids. There is a difference of opinion just exactly how the events of that meeting went. According to the way Pat always told it, Dorothy had fallen in front of him, and being the gentleman he was, he helped her up. Dorothy laughed and said it really didn't happen that way. She was having trouble with one of her skate wheels and Pat said he would fix it for her. The rest is history.
Dorothy said Pat had to learn how to take corners when driving or putting on the breaks on the curvy roads so she wouldn't get car sick.
"Pat did most of the driving, but if I was in the front seat or doing the driving, I didn't get sick," Dorothy said.
Pat and Dorothy were married in 1946 and had three children, Jane (Torry), Carol (Ladd) and David. Pat worked for Canalco and for the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, all while farming on the side. Dorothy worked for the Wolverine Co. when it first started in Reed City in the back of the Dahlquist Ben Franklin store, and earned the wage of 43 cents per hour. When she went to work for the Hatchets in Big Rapids, she was earning 60 cents per hour, and after the strike, 90 cents per hour. They moved for a short time to Pontiac and when they came back they lived with her mom and dad, and bought the Hersey gas station, helping run it.
Pat and Dorothy bought a farm in 1968 on Meceola Road where Dorothy still lives today. Pat died unexpectedly in 2012. Dorothy will still do her yard and garden. She said the family was taught to help each other and those who needed help. To this day, Dorothy goes to help friends with their gardens and other things they need. Her children are faithful to her, doing the things she isn't able to do.