Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Our Past is Present February 28, 2017

February 28, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. It is sad when a business catches fire, but one evening two businesses caught fire. The first was the H. D. Thompson Bus and Livery barn, which caught fire on the evening of February 24, 1912. The fire caused damage to the hay stored in the loft. About 25 tons of hay were spoiled by the fire and water. The alarm was turned on at 10:00 that night. It started at the rear of the barn just after several employees had gone to bed. The employees reported that they saw no evidence of a fire and the origin remained unknown. The hay and grain were a total loss. The barn roof was almost completely destroyed and the horses had to be moved temporarily to the Central Livery Stable. Mr. Thompson was out of town at the time of the fire. The building was actually owned by M.H. Foss, who had insurance on the contents and the building.
While the Fire Department was busy fighting the fire at the H.D. Thompson Bus and Livery Barn that evening, the stable in the rear of the Murray Bakery had also caught fire. Three horses in that barn were scorched, but their blankets saved them from being badly burned. The horses and harnesses were taken out and the fire quickly extinguished with the only loss being a ton of hay.

We have a display of early fire-fighting equipment and pictures of early fire fighters in the basement at our Museum. Stop by for a few minutes or a few hours to visit and learn more about Geary County history. Our artifacts have been donated by Geary County residents displayed with meaningful commentary to help you learn more about why we say… This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Our Past is Present February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about the Women’s Relief Corps, which celebrated its 45 years of organization in Junction City on February 22, 1929. Only two of the charter members were still living in 1929. They were Mrs. Alphia Nicholson and Mrs. Elisa Bush.
Thirty other members joined them in the celebration. The organization, which was formed during the Civil War to aid Union soldiers and their families had worked quietly throughout the year, but in making a summary it was found that considerable patriotic and charitable accomplishments had been achieved. A silk flag with staff and stand had been presented to the Hardscrabble School District Number 29; sunflowers were made to sell at the National Convention; a contribution was made to the John Brown Monument fund and financial help was given to the Wichita Drum and Fife Corps. At Christmas time a contribution was made to the Mother’s Club to be used for the poor of the community. The Women’s Relief Corps had also established a scholarship fund of $150 for deserving high school girls or boys. On Memorial Day, flowers and small flags for the graves of all Civil War veterans and Relief Corps members were furnished. In 1928 this amounted to a little over 300 graves.

The report, which was shared with our listeners this morning was made during the annual Washington Day tea in 1929.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Our Past is Present February 24, 2017

February 24, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
The availability of adequate AND AFFORDABLE housing was written about in the Junction City newspaper in 1949. The rent controls, which had been enacted during WWII, were being repealed across the nation as towns and cities attempted to deal with the challenges of hundreds of thousands of GI’s starting families and getting an education now made obtainable with the GI Bill. In Junction City and Fort Riley the housing problem was an old and familiar one. Early in 1949, the Army announced that 38 sets of temporary family quarters were being made available for non-commissioned officers of the first three grades at Fort Riley. The “temporary” nature of these billets was being emphasized because they were being converted from the old wood barracks, which were hastily constructed at Camp Funston during the war. Each unit would have only three rooms, which included a kitchen, bath and living room doubling as a bedroom. If these quarters were too small for men with large families, it was announced they could refuse the billet and wait for assignment to a larger space in the Camp Whiteside area.
In the same issue of the “Junction City Union” newspaper a letter was printed in the “Public Opinion” column in which a local veteran shared his feelings about why rent control was still needed. This writer was D. J. Smith and he claimed that veterans would not have enough money left to buy shoes if they had to pay $100 a month more for rent. He noted that his rent had just been raised by $5.50 per month, which gave his landlord an increase of $264 a year. Mr. Smith went on to state that he had lived in the apartment for five years and the plaster and wall paper were in bad condition when he moved in and the landlord would not spend a cent to improve it. Mr. Smith told about an Army officer who lived in a remodeled two-room garage apartment with the only entrance being on the alley surrounded by trash burners and garbage cans. The Lieutenant paid $75.00 plus utilities just to have a place to live. It was perceived by some in 1949 that rent controls were needed in Junction City. Some may even say the same today. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our Past is Present February 23, 2017

February 23, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. Sunday, March 3, 1929, was the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Mr. Thomas G. McKinley and Miss Virginia G. Ross. Their relatives and friends from Geary County joined them in observance of the joyous event. Among the guests were the bridesmaid, best man and four other members of the original wedding party. Mrs. McKinley wore a black satin dress with a brooch and earrings, which were a gift of her bridegroom on their wedding day. The McKinley’s were both pioneer Kansans. Mr. McKinley had come with his parents from Illinois in 1858. The trip was made by the use of wagons. There was one drawn by horses, one by a yoke of oxen and one by a yoke of cows. The cows provided milk for the family and were used to start a herd of cattle on the farm once the homesteaded area was located. Soon after their arrival, they selected farmland near the mouth of the Humbolt Creek. Opportunities for an education were meager and Thomas McKinley felt that made life more challenging for him. However, through his natural ability and strong determination, he attracted the attention of his peers, who found him well qualified to serve publicly his community and country. He served on the rural school board for 34 years as well as being a justice of the peace and constable.
Mrs. McKinley was the youngest daughter of the Ross family, who came to Kansas from Virginia in 1873. Mr. and Mrs. McKinley spent the best part of their married life on the farm, but enjoyed their retirement years in their home in Alta Vista, where they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

We have many pictures of early pioneers from this area displayed in the hallway on the first floor of our Museum. Stop by and take a look at them and other interesting displays about Geary County history. We think you will agree that the more we change, the more we stay the same. That is one reason we say “Our Past Is Present” at the Geary County Historical Society. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Our Past is Present February 22, 2017

February 22, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Many Kansans may be surprised to know that when the state was first settled there was not a sparrow within 1,000 miles. This fact was recorded in the archives at the Historical Society in Topeka. When settlers first came to Kansas there were only a few insects. After the soil was cultivated by settlers, the insects appeared like the plagues of Egypt. With no birds to feed upon the invading swarms of bugs and flies, beetles and other insects, the settlers lost many of their crops.
About the time the grasshopper plague had devastated the fields in 1874 and left a barren waste where once there were the hopes and aspirations of the new settlers, an idea came to some of the pioneers. Since there were no birds, why not bring some to the area?
So, in 1874, Fred W. Giles, O.W. Jewell and others, ordered a shipment of English sparrows from New York. They received 35 sparrows, but 4 were dead. The 31 left were in poor condition according to the Giles account. However, “They were received with the kindest attention.” The birds were restrained from freedom for a while. In fear of losing all of the birds and when all but five died, the remaining birds were turned loose to take their chance with life or death in nature. That fall Giles counted twelve birds where there had been but five and the following autumn a census listed the sparrow population at sixty. The third year the number had increased to three hundred and after that they multiplied so rapidly that within a very few years the cities were literally alive with sparrows and people began killing them off in large numbers. However, in just a few short years, Mr. Giles proudly reported that the insect annoyance was entirely abated.

Sometimes when we try to solve one problem, another appears to challenge us. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Our Past is Present February 21, 2017

February 21, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is titled “Stranded On A Train That Got Stuck In A Snow Drift”.
 Fifteen passengers on a snow bound MK&T railroad train had to be rescued late on the afternoon of February 27th, 1912 and were brought to Junction City on a work train. Of the fifteen, eight were local residents and they had interesting stories to share about their experience. Mr. and Mrs. Will Waters and Mr. And Mrs. L.A. Wennerstein had spent the day on Sunday in White City then boarded the train to come back to Junction City that evening. The train plowed through the snow drifts until the train engine shoved into a five foot snow drift two miles north of Skiddy and got stuck there.
When the train stopped earlier at Skiddy, it had been agreed with the personnel there that if the train got stuck, the engineer would blow the train whistle as a distress sign and a group of men would be sent out to assist. A nearby farmer heard the calls and went to investigate. Upon seeing the stuck train, he returned to his home and was soon returned with a big batch of biscuits, eggs and coffee. The mail clerk turned his car over to the ladies and Mrs. Waters and Mrs. Wennerstein were placed in charge of serving the food to the other passengers.

The engine on the train died after the hard coal for the coach heaters was exhausted and the train became quite chilly. The men passengers rose to the occasion and gave their overcoats to the women. The men retired to the smoker coach where they spent the night playing cards and smoking. The following morning the conductor managed to get into Skiddy and returned with a large quantity of provisions purchased from the Maloney Store. That evening a work train from Junction City got within two miles of the train and the passengers transferred to it. Two of the ladies fainted upon reaching the rescue train. Eventually all of the passengers were safely returned to Junction City and they were thankful!!! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Our Past is Present February 20, 2017

February 20, 2017  
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.  
The biggest sale in the history of Fort Riley and one of the largest ever ordered by the War Department, took place on February 23, 1922. The entire facilities at Camp Funston, which was the largest training center during WW I, was to be sold for salvage. There was a 64 page catalog published by Samuel L. Winternitz and Company of Chicago, which contained the items to be sold. The Winternitz Company was to be the auctioneer for the sale. The items for sale included general supplies, clothing, motors and vehicles, leather and harness, machinery and engineering supplies.  
Prospective buyers were required to have a paddle number before the sale began and all bidders were to be recognized by their number during the auction. The numbers were obtained from the clerk after the prospective bidder deposited $200.00. If no purchase was made, the deposit was returned at the end of the sale.   
Twenty percent of all bids were to be paid in cash or certified check at the time of the sale and the balance was required within ten days. No delivery was permitted until all goods were paid in full. Some of the articles up for bid were 11,250 shaving brushes; 14,042 toothbrushes; 80,000 undershirts and 66,000 cans of meat. The sale was expected to attract buyers from all over the country.  

By 1925 even the frame buildings completed with plumbing and heating fixtures had been sold and demolished from scrap to contractors and entrepreneurs, which left nothing but a barren flat where 80,000 “doughboys” had lived and trained. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our Past is Present February 16, 2017

February 16, 2007
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. Since before the turn of the 20th century, clearance sales have brought excitement in the dreary days of winter for Junction City shoppers, and 1949 was no exception. 67 years ago the newspapers were filled with ads proclaiming the bargains to be found in our town during the first weeks of February. You may be surprised at some of the prices of items, which could have been purchased in 1949. Here are some examples:
Waters Appliance department was featuring a Maytag Chieftain washer for $124.95 and Durland Furniture advertised occasional rockers for $16.66 and genuine walnut lamp tables for $8.66.
The clothing stores' ads were really enticing. Hood and Spencer was offering men’s dress suits for $21.95 to $42.95, leather jackets from $5.95 to $15.00, neckties were 3 for $1.00 and socks were 2 pair for 29 cents. The ladies also found bargains such as - Wash Dresses at Townsend’s from $1.88 to $5.88 while Cole’s offered a Justin-McCarty polka dot rayon crepe from $22.50.
LaShelle’s Shoes was promoting a new mid-high heel in blue or green calf for $10.95. Used car prices ranged from $200.00 for a 1936 Pontiac to $1,625.00 for a 1948 Ford while a new Hudson, “The only car you step down into, was advertised for $2,402.83.

A large ad introducing a new flour, “Silver Mist” manufactured for Shellaberger’s of Salina covered half a page in the newspaper. This new “Silver Mist” flour was bleached, enriched with phosphate, and in a convenient shelf-rite box and the advertisement listed 22 local grocery stores carrying the product. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Our Past is Present February 15, 2017

February 15, 2017  
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.  
Sixty-seven years ago this month, the “Junction City Daily Union” headlines read: “Katherine Ritter Wins First Place in the State With Article”.  
Mary Katherine Ritter, a 16 year old sophomore in the Junction City High School, had been declared the first place winner in the state-wide essay contest sponsored by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas. Mary Katherine’s prize, which was awarded by Beechcraft of Wichita, was a engraved pen and pencil set.  
Kansas firms presented prizes to the high school writers of the best essays covering nine different topics dealing with Kansas industries, resources and ideas. Mary’s essay, “Wings Over Kansas” was the state winner on that topic. Other papers were written about salt, poultry, oil, livestock, manufacturing, Americanism and safety. A sweepstakes winner was declared from the nine state winners at the annual Kansas Day Celebration in Topeka.  
Mary Katherine was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Ritter of Route 3 in Junction City.  Her interest in “Wings Over Kansas” stemmed from the fact that she had flown light aircraft from the Ritter Field, which was located on her grandfather’s farm. His name was Fred Ritter.  According to the article, this was Mary Katherine’s second experience as a contest winner. She had also won first prize in a contest sponsored by the Junction City Chamber of Commerce on the topic of fire prevention.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our Past is Present February 14, 2017

February 14, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. Today’s story is about a “Valentine’s Day Wedding." One of Geary County’s earliest love stories began during the turbulent days of July 1855, when the first territorial legislature met in the little town of Pawnee, which no longer exists. That area is now a part of the Fort Riley reservation. New settlers were pouring into the new town every day. A 16 year old girl by the name of Ruth Barry, had come from Pennsylvania with her brother-in-law and his family. Arriving at the same time as the delegates to the legislature, the Barry family was recruited to assist with the efforts to feed the delegates, even before they had found lodging or shelter for themselves. Young Ruth was put to work making over 70 pies under the most primitive conditions.
Among the dignitaries was Governor Andrew Reeder and a young man by the name of Gabert Fischer Gordon. Gabert was placed at the Governor’s table that night when Ruth served pieces of the pies she had made. According to family accounts, it was love at first sight. Even though Mr. Gordon was considerably older than Ruth he courted her persistently during the cholera epidemic and destruction of the town of Pawnee and… he eventually won her hand.
 On a February night in 1856, Ruth and her sister crossed the frozen Kansas River in an ox-drawn sleigh made from a converted lumber wagon. Their destination was the former Territorial Capitol building which had become the quarters of the Post Chaplain and his family. It was in that building and on Valentine’s Day 1856 where she and Gabert Gordon were married. The wedding took place in the same room where just months before the issues of slavery, freedom and the future of Kansas had been debated.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Geary County Historical Society.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Our Past is Present February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. During the fall and winter of 1871 and 1872, there was a great interest throughout Kansas in the visit of the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. The purpose for the visit to this section of the country was for a hunting trip. He passed through Junction City on his special train and was received by Governor James Harvey at Topeka. The “Junction City Union” was no exception and in February of 1872, several weeks after the royal guest had departed Kansas, the following observations were printed:
“In the grand buffalo hunt upon the Republican River, where the Russian Prince proved himself a gallant Nimrod (or hunter), the honors really must be awarded to the muscular prowess of the Indian warriors who took part in the chase. It is easy enough, with repeated shots from the rifle to bring down the stoutest buffalo, but to “go through” the animal with an arrow is an exploit which indicates a prodigious strength of arm and chest. This is what the Indians in the party did to the great astonishment of the young Russian. He saw the shafts speed from the bows in their hands, enter at one side of the huge beats and whiz to a distance of several yards out the other side. The physical strength that can achieve such a result, must indeed be extraordinary and the sight undoubtedly left a lasting impression on the royal visitor.”
Remember to take a few minutes or a few hours to visit our Museum at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets in Junction City. We have artifacts donated by citizens of Geary County on display with helpful written narrations for making your visit meaningful. The Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 until 4. We hope to see YOU at the Museum.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Our Past is Present February 10, 2017

February 10, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
On December 1st, 1859, a tall gangly traveler got off a riverboat in the little Kansas town of Elwood, which is just across the Missouri River from St. Joseph, Missouri. The traveler was identified the next day in the Elwood “Free Press” as the honorable Abraham Lincoln, who according to the report “kindly consented to make a speech here although he was somewhat under the weather and fatigued with the journey.” During the following week, Lincoln visited the few towns and settlement eastern part of the strife-torn Kansas territory. He had come to see for himself the situation and the territory.
Albert Richards was amongst a crowd of forty people who gathered to hear Lincoln speak in the little town of Troy in Doniphan County. Mr. Richards recorded the following about the future President:
“There was none of the magnetism of a multitude to inspire the long angular, ungainly orator, who rose up behind a rough table. In a conversational tone he argued the question of slavery in the territories in the language of an average Ohio or New York farmer. I thought, if the Illinoisans consider this a great man, their ideas must be very peculiar. But in 10 or 15 minutes I was unconsciously drawn by the clearness and logic of his argument. His fairness and candor were very noticeable. He ridiculed nothing, and misrepresented nothing.”
The address lasted three quarters of an hour and when Lincoln concluded his remarks an older man originally from Kentucky, the heaviest slaveholder in the area, was asked to respond. He began with this honest comment: “I have heard, during my life all the ablest public speakers, all the eminent statesmen of the past and the present generation and candor compels me to say - that this is the most logical speech I ever listened to.” In March of 1861, just 16 months after his visit to Kansas, Lincoln would become our 16th President until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln’s birthday was February 12th, 1809. With the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays are included for recognition on that day. However, President’s Day is not a federal holiday. States are permitted to make their own decision about closing offices and schools. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Our Past is Present February 9, 2017

February 9, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
On February 9, 1859, Junction City was incorporated as a First City by an act of the Territorial Legislature. In 1909, the city marked the 50th Anniversary of its founding with an “Old Home Week” celebration. A special feature of this commemoration was the unveiling of a collection of photographs of the pioneers of Davis County, which later became Geary County. Tintypes and photos of early settlers who came to this area between 1852 and 1870 were gathered and shared. They were copied in uniform sizes by Junction City photographer Louis Teitzel and labeled with each person’s name and the year of their arrival in Davis County.
Ten years later, in May 1920, a forerunner of today’s Historical Society was organized in Junction City and this collection of photographs was donated to the group by James B. Henderson, who had spearheaded the collection effort. This first Historical Society was short- lived, however, and a museum was never established.
For over thirty years the photo collection, which originally numbered over 400 images, hung in the corridors of the Geary County Courthouse. But in the 1950’s, it was diminished considerably when citizens were told they could take the photos of their ancestors for their family records from the collection. Today, only about 230 of the original photographs remain. They are now part of the collections of the Geary County Historical Society and hang in the hallway on the first floor of the Museum at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets in Junction City. Stop by and see these photos and other artifacts donated by Geary County residents and
see the new exhibits about “Life on the Homefront” as we celebrate “The Year of the Soldier.”
Our Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 until 4. We hope to see YOU at the Museum. You have been listening to “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Our Past is Present February 8, 2017

February 8, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
A large stone, which was sitting outside the Aurora Theater on Junction City’s Washington Street in February of 1908, caused many people to inquire about it. Why was it there? What would such a large stone be doing just outside the theater? Who left it there? And many other questions.
Some thought it was only one of many others which would have been used for building purposes and was left there without construction personnel noticing it. Others suggested the theater manager was going to start an amateur rock pile.
However it turned out that none of them were right. The rock belonged to “Kelly and Kelly”. They were an act that had been performing at the theater that week and used the rock in the act. Kelly and Kelly were a husband and wife act that performed to show physical strength. The husband had advertised that the stone would be broken during the first performance of the evening. He would lie down on the stage floor with nothing but his heels and the back of his head touching the set of boards. The rock, which weighed at least a couple of hundred pounds would be placed on his stomach and pounded to pieces with a 17 pound sledgehammer. A large crowed turned out on a rainy evening to witness the event. It apparently took quite an effort from the gentleman wielding the hammer, but the rock did break as promised. However, the condition of Mr. Kelly’s stomach or any other parts of his body, were not reported as a result of this act.
The things people do to entertain others and earn a living at the same time can sometimes be amazing.

Thanks for reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Our Past is Present February 7, 2017

February 7, 2017  
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.  
You may be interested to know that the first industry in Junction City was born out of necessity. That was the building industry. Although there was a plentiful supply of building stone in the immediate area, it was by-passed as a building material in the beginning because of the speed with which logs or native lumber could be made into a dwelling or a business building.
Much of the lumber used for the first buildings in Junction City came from a saw mill erected in 1859 near the town of Batcheller, which later became Milford. The first dwellings in the immediate area were constructed of logs, cut on the site, or in a near-by creek bottom. One of Junction City’s founders, J.R. McClure, gave an excellent description of the log cabin he erected on his claim at the mouth of the Lyons Creek in 1855. He wrote: “It was built of rough logs and covered with clapboards, but had no floor or chimney. It consisted of one room, about fourteen by sixteen feet and appeared to be a very undesirable place to bring my wife and children.”  

The Junction City Sawed Stone Company opened the first quarry here in 1865. This business was started by Army Major O. J. Hopkins, who recognized the potential of the abundant supply of native limestone. The material began to be used and is still used for buildings throughout the county.  Here’s a bit of trivia about Geary County history: The stone used in the construction of the east wing of the Statehouse in Topeka was quarried locally by the Junction City Sawed Stone Company. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Our Past is Present February 6, 2017

February 6, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Mr. Jess Wingfield was one of Geary County’s prominent citizens in 1908. In February of that year, he met with death in an usual way. Mr. Wingfield woke from his night’s sleep in a fit of coughing. He unfortunately had swallowed his upper set of false teeth, which had lodged in his throat and could not be removed. A physician was called to do what he could, but by the time the doctor arrived the false teeth had gone even further down Mr. Wingfield’s throat and there was no way to reach the plate. Mr. Wingfield was taken to a Topeka hospital where an operation was performed the following day, but still the teeth could not be located and the patient began to quickly weaken and eventually he died. Jess Wingfield had been one of the first white person’s born in Geary County. He was a prominent and respected citizen, who lived all of his life on Humbolt Creek Road. With his passing, he left behind a widow and six children, whose descendants reside throughout Geary this area even to this day.
We have had many new visitors to our Museum lately and want to encourage all of our listeners to stop by at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets Tuesday through Saturdays from one until four in the afternoon. There are many new displays to see and our Gift Shop has some unique items - just for you.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Memoir of Mary Ann Wade Arkell: Part 2

Jennifer Dixon
January 26, 2017
Mary Anne Wade Arkell: Part 2

            We are visiting with Mary Ann Wade Arkell through the memoir of her granddaughter, Gertrude Hollingsworth.  Last week we learned about Mary Ann’s journey to Junction City, Kansas, in 1871.  Today we’ll explore who Mary Ann was through her physical description, and her strong feelings about proper dress and conduct, and her relationships with her granddaughter Gertrude and her own children.   
            “I Remember Grandma” by Gertrude Hollingsworth:
            “When I was a small child, an only child, alone on old farm – Grandma was my pal.  And for a while she seemed to me the nicest person in the world.  (For one thing, Mama spanked; Grandma didn’t)  Later I decided my mother was the nicest, and I remember quite well when I made that decision.  I had come to realize that I needed to mind and that Mama and Papa were often very busy, but Grandma had time.  (Still later I realized I liked them all, but each in a different way.)
I remember very well just how Grandma looked.  I don’t remember her laughing or even smiling much.  Yet she wasn’t sad, just serious.  She wore her pure white hair slicked back tight and pinned in a little knot at the back of her head.  (Curls were sinful, Grandma said)  She was quite obese but she wasn’t worrying about it at all.  (Certainly her overweight didn’t cause her to die young)  Some of us may have inherited her ‘hippiness.’  But hips then and now are a different thing.  Then she hid her hips as did everyone else then, under long full gathered skirts.  She not only hid her hips, but also, her knees and her ankles.  If I hadn’t seen black stockings flapping on the clothesline, I’d scarcely have known what kind of hose she wore.  She wore shoes and her dress was kept pulled down modestly below the shoe tops.
Her dresses were made in two pieces – a close fitting high necked blouse with many buttons holding it tight shut down the front, and tight at the waist…She carried peppermints in her apron pockets—big round white peppermints, and sometimes she gave me one, or lemon drops which I liked better.
            I remember her especially when she dressed up.  Her dress up clothes were worn mostly to church.  These Sunday clothes always were black, and there were a number of reasons for this.  First, black ‘didn’t get dirty.’  Second, she was a widow and widows wore black all the rest of their lives.  Too, she was an old woman and old women (meaning then anyone over fifty years of age) were supposed to wear black.  Most of all, bright colors, or even light colors, were sinful even for everyday – or so she said.  Even her wedding dress was brown.  Though it was a nice warm shade of brown.
But I’ve gone a bit afield.  When Grandma dressed up for church she always wore a bonnet.  (Old ladies, she said, always wore bonnets)....”
Mary Ann and her
daughter, Eliza
            Gertrude believed that Grandma Mary Ann did not enjoy being a mother and pioneer in 1870s-era Kansas. Gertrude knew that Mary Ann loved her children, who included Gertrude’s father and her aunt Eliza, but she understood the difficulties involved in raising a young family as a settler on the plains:
            “Grandma didn’t want her children.  I often thought, both then and now, ‘Can you blame her?’  For times, then (especially after they came to America) were indeed hard.  I wasn’t supposed to understand things which were said.  But I did, and I won’t put it all down here.  But if Grandpa was frequently cross with Grandma she was also cross with him.  It, however, was a silent crossness, for I never knew her to say anything cross to anyone.  In those days, men were responsible for their own children from A to Z.  They got the blame; but Mothers, I thought even as a child, got most of the credit.
            Grandma did not have ten days in bed or even much rest, after her babies were born.  She said she always got up on the third day and did her washing.  She lost several babies in those early years in Kansas.  It is recorded that she lost three little girls.  But I only remember her speaking of losing two.  One of these, born after my father, was still born.  She often told how she had not wanted this baby (or my father) yet, how wrong she had been.  For my father was a great joy to her, and everything a son ought to be.  Her other sons were thus also – but were never as close as my father, her youngest one who lived.  And she wondered and remarked, ‘what would a younger daughter have been like?’  At the time she hadn’t cared.

            Grandma was frequently misunderstood because she was outspoken and sometimes tactless.  She admonished children, little and grown, if she thought they erred.  But we, who knew her best, understood that she didn’t mean this just to be unkind.  (I don’t believe that she ever in her life, intentionally, did a mean or an unkind thing)…We who are her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, her great great, or ever so great grandchildren (without being completely Victorian) can be proud to follow her example.”