Ziebell celebrates 100th birthday
Waupaca centenarian remains active, writes poetry
By Jim Paul
Lillian Ziebell will celebrate a milestone birthday when she turns 100 years old.
Ziebell is still active, living in her home of the last 33 years.
Born on December 3, 1922 two miles west of Ogdensburg, Ziebell is the daughter of Nels and Olga Johnson, sibling to Harry and Rose.
Ziebell was 5 years old when she started to learn English, until then the family spoke Danish.
In the spring of 1928, the family moved to Crystal Lake in the town of Dayton to live on a 160-acre farm. Some of Ziebell’s earliest memories are helping her mother milk the cows and tend the family’s work horses.
Ziebell remembers walking on a dirt road to the Crystal Lake School, a one-room schoolhouse with boys and girls outhouses.
“I remember walking to school a mile and a half and there were quite a few houses and there is hardly a house there now,” Ziebell said.
Ziebell attended the Crystal Lake School until the eighth grade and she never attended high school.
After completing the eighth grade, Ziebell went to work as a live-in housekeeper for which she was paid room and board and $3 a week. She would eventually earn $5 a week.
She worked six days a week and would have Sundays off when she would go home for a day. One of her employers was her former teacher.
On a night out in Waupaca with her friends when Ziebell was 17, she was asked out by the man who would become her husband.
They actually already knew each other as he lived just down the road from her and also went to the Crystal Lake School.
On Jan. 12, 1943, she married Edward Ziebell and the lived on the Ziebell family farm where Edward worked for his father as a hired hand.
Edward and Lillian had dairy farms along with cash crops; Edward was also a gifted carpenter.
In all, Ziebell would move five times in over 90 years, all within two miles.
The couple would have two children Linda and Wayne, her first born died shortly after birth. The children would also attend Crystal Lake School until it was closed in 1958.
When Ziebell was nearly 40 years old and her children were in high school, she started roller skating. They went to the Lo-Nor Roller Rink in Plainfield or the Armory in Waupaca. She continued to roller skating into her 60s.
Ziebell and her husband traveled throughout Wisconsin, California, Hawaii, Texas, Canada, Mexico, Denmark and Norway.
Ziebell has two grandchildren, Alan and Ann and six great-grandchildren, Preston, Forrest, Sawyer, Magdalen, Katelyn and Jacqueline. Edward died on Aug. 11, 1997.
Ziebell has lived through major advances in technology. Her family got electricity in the late 1940s and in the 1950s the family saw television at a neighbor’s house and decided to get one of their own. Daughter Linda was out of high school by the time they had a telephone.
Ziebell refuses to use a microwave and other kitchen gadgets.
Still active, she goes down to the basement several times a day in the winter to put firewood in the woodstove and shovels snow.
She stopped cutting her own grass last year because her lawnmower died on her otherwise she would still be doing it.
Ziebell has a green thumb and kept beautiful gardens. She has given away thousands of starter plants that have gone all over the country.
Ziebell’s teacher once told her she was a good writer and that skill has stayed with her, she is an avid letter writer.
About 20 years ago a friend told Ziebell she should write a poem and she took it to heart. She writes nature poems and hand writes many copies to send to friends. She has had poems published in Manawa’s The River Writers Team.
Here is her poem, “Spring.”
Spring is like an inpatient child
Let it outdoors to play
After those long dreary winter days
It wastes no time
It turns our grass green
To wake up the flowers-with warm April showers
Soon to be seen
We patiently wait to hear
Our first Robin sing
“This is spring!”
For Ziebell’s birthday a low-key celebration is planned as Ziebell is still social distancing for covid.