Friday, January 28, 2011

57 years later

This letter was stuck between the pages of the memory book from Jess and Mable's 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration.  It must have come as quite a surprise to them.

to Jess and Mable Butler
from Almee Sires Johnston, Mable's former school teacher
 February 2, 1972

Mable with younger siblings - circa 1916-17
"Dear Mable and Jesse,

"Do you remember Almee Sires who was the teacher in the Intermediate Room at the Haswell School in 1915-16?  Well, I am she, and we read in the Pueblo paper of your 50th anniversary on Feb. 5th so wanted to send congratulations and good wishes for many more happy anniversaries.  

"A good many years have passed since that year at Haswell, when you, Lemmie and Garnons were in that room.  While teaching in Haswell I was invited to stay overnight in your home.  It was winter time, and I was shown the meat room - meat stored on shelves around the room.  I have never seen so much meat in a private home and such good looking meat.  At that time it was a common practice to stay overnight one night, during the school term in the homes of the pupils.  You had a nice, congenial home in which to live.

"Many changes have taken place since you were here, and new people live in and around Haswell.  

"I wish all teachers could have had as nice pupils as I had!!"

Post script:
A Google search for "Almee Sires" brought this interesting result:

Appleton City Journal
Appleton City, MO
11 April 1913
 J.A. Sires and family, who for a number of years have been residents of this portion of St. Clair County, left last Tuesday for Haswell, Colorado, where they anticipate making their future home. Their daughter, Miss Almee Sires, who is teaching the Prairie Home School near Monegaw Springs, will finish her term of school before joining the family in Colorado. (Osceola Republic)

Appleton City Journal
Appleton City, MO
16 April 1914

Prairie Home:
A party was given at home of L.A. Morris on last Saturday night in honor of Miss Almee Sires who leaves for the Western countries this week. Quite a crowd was present and all had a nice time and plenty of good music was rendered.
 *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Last Friday, April 3rd, was the last day of school. Had it not been for shortage of funds, school would not have closed until April 17th. 

Miss Almee Sires has been teacher here for the last three terms, her first and last terms taught in Missouri. She anticipates leaving for Haswell, Colo., soon for her parental home. Her parents moved to above named place last December. She will be greatly missed by Missouri friends as well as Prairie Home pupils. We can gladly say she has reached with much success during the three terms.
They, teacher and pupils, were planning for an entertainment on the night of the 17th, but on receiving the sudden word that on account of shortage of money school would be two weeks shorter the program then was sadly put aside. Consequently a "'Big Dinner"' was planned by patrons instead. In which every one of whom were present of such an eventful occasion to partake of the many delicacies - dishes too numerous to mention, did ample justice to all. They presented her with a quilt made by friends and pupils of the district, with name of each on block. The pupils also gave her a beautiful locket. They felt as though they could not do too much to show her how much they have appreciated her genial and liberal kindness shown during the three successful terms.

It is regretted to the utmost her leaving the State of Missouri entirely. However, such being the case, we will all join in extending our sincere wishes to her in getting along just as nicely in her future western school teaching as her past.

She not only has the name of being the kind of a teacher any school would be glad to have as an example before their children, but also is a perfect lady, with her mild, sweet disposition.
"'One Who Knows"'

She was obviously a well loved teacher.  
I would love to have talked to Grandma Mable about her.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It gets a little bit wild around here . . .

to the family
from Mom (Leona)
August, 1978
Kari, Jamie Ann, Kristi - September 1978
I just finished a two week stint of taking care of Jamie Ann, followed by a two week period of taking care of Kristi and Kari.  During this time we had Tommy, Chuckie, Jeremy, and Amy several times for two day periods.  It gets a little bit wild around here, but it's fun.  I usually look a bit haggard and wonder if this can really be vacation.  

Jeremy and Jamie Ann - Spring 1978
One morning I had Jamie, Jeremy and Amy all by myself.  I took Jamie out of her bed and bathed her, and then let her play while I got Amy up and bathed her.  Then I put Amy in the crib with a toy while I gave Jeremy a bath.  About that time Jamie got in my lipstick and put it around her mouth like a little clown.  It must have been hard work, because she broke a brand new lipstick in three parts.  At that same time Amy decided she had been good long enough and started yelling.  I couldn't leave Jeremy alone in the bathtub, because he kept standing up.  I was happy to see Uncle Don [Carpenter] come in the door.  Between the two of us, we managed to get all three babies ready for the day.

Jamie Ann- 1978
 Jamie does exactly what she sees us do.  She got her mother's eye make up and put it only around her eyes.  She looked so funny!  She managed to get Dad's paint brush when we were out of the room.  She only painted on the walls where her grandfather had painted.  She had big blobs of paint on two walls where she had dipped the brush in the paint and painted the same spot many times.  She got hold of the window cleaner and sprayed my clean sliding glass door just as she had seen Cordy clean the windows.  We have to be pretty careful of what we do in front of Jamie.  We have to be even more careful of where we put things and how long we leave her when she is quiet.

Jeremy, 21 months - Amy, 9 months (early 1979)
That Jeremy is a darling little baby.  He wants to do everything the big boys do.  He really figures out how to get what he wants.  He never makes the same attempt on something more than once or twice; he always tries something else.  I feel like I have done a day's work when I take care of him for a couple of hours.  He adores Amy, and he is very gentle and careful around her.  He hits anybody else if he doesn't like what they do, but he kisses Amy all the time.  I don't know how a child that age can realize that another child is his baby and show such unselfish love for her.  The only time he hits her is when he tries several times to put a little toy in her hand and she doesn't take it.  He loses patience!

Aren't grandkids wonderful!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

" . . . grateful for what we have"

This letter was written over 25 years ago but sure sounds familiar.

to Don, Lynn, and family
from Dad (Lou)
October 13, 1983
Lou canning in the kitchen at 39 Meadowbrook - 1983
"We really feel like we have been blessed to have all four of you boys working hard in the Church and all employed in these very difficult times.  The "Today Show" has been running a series on the "new poor" for the last week or so.  It showed and interviewed many people who are now living on the streets, in cars, parks, etc.  Also showed people who are now getting their food from the trash dumpsters behind the stores (and being run off by store employees), gleaning in the fields this fall for all left over crops, soup kitchens being overwhelmed by the numbers of people, and church groups and clubs trying to help, etc.

"So, this helps us to be especially grateful for what we have.  Speaking of what we have - Mother and I have canned lots of tomatoes, apples, peaches and pears this fall and should have canned a lot more, but at least we got started.

"We bought a neat gadget to make juice from tomatoes, grapes, etc and to make apple butter.  We also bought a steam canner which is a lot easier.  We made a lot of jelly and jam also.  You know how much I like them!  We should have plenty for fall this year without buying any."

And this is what Leona did following the canning!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Corresponding with the past

In the process of sorting this week - yes, I still have a bookcase that is almost full of notebooks - I came across a collection of letters written to and from Lou.  None of them was particularly remarkable, and it was a hodgepodge group of authors and dates.  Most of them contained nothing more than a summary of daily activities, highlights of trips taken, or thanks for a gift received, but I was drawn to them in spite of, or maybe because of, their ordinary contents.

A hand written letter is becoming a memory of the past.  In this era of email, instant messages, webcams, and cell phones with unlimited minutes, the idea of writing ones thoughts on paper and mailing it to another person is all but obsolete.  But letters offer an insight to family history that is different from more formal writings.  Sharing routine details about daily life, personal letters allow us to vicariously experience life in a different time and place.  It's hard to imagine a time when a radio would have been an exciting purchase, but it 1941 it was certainly newsworthy.

"Did I ever write and tell you we traded in our old Radio and paid in the money Harker gave me on a new R.C.A. Victor?  Well I did and we do enjoy it so much and it makes a nice remembrance of him, too.  He said what was left to use for something for myself and the children that were home and we decided we would rather have a radio than anything else for our old one was completely worn out and we enjoy a radio so much.  I wanted you to know what we used it for."
 to Mable and family
from Aunt Lorena (Harker's half sister)
January 5, 1941

I've posted before about the Davis family Round Robin letters and recently got this information from Donna Mae Bagby (Lou's cousin) about its origin.

"You asked when the Robin was started.  Uncle Norman started it in the l940's sometime to go to his brothers and sisters (13 of them).  It has gotten lost quite a few times and we have had to restart it but hopefully it will continue.  All of the siblings are gone now so is a cousins' round robin and many, like you had not read it until after their parent passed away so is quite new to many but thankful so many are interested and willing to keep it going.  Thanks to my mother - she laboriously typed off the letters on a manual typewriter starting with Don and My marriage in 1951 and I have all those copies and am trying to get them bound in booklets for our daughter Pamela who will keep them."

So this year I'm going to focus on letters, posting excerpts from Lou's large collection.  His grandparents, brothers, sons, and other assorted family members are represented in the letters, and I'm hoping we can get a glimpse into history as well as the not so distant past.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Still here - still researching

Obviously, I've been taking a break from this blog.  Although the hiatus wasn't planned, regular blog posting got lost in the midst of Christmas plans, preparations and celebrations!  But don't worry, I haven't abandoned this project and am planning what to post in 2011.  I hope you'll be patient with me.

On a high note, as usual, January brings me a renewed energy and passion for family history.  During the past week, I've spent many hours entering family names into a new genealogy program for my computer.  I'm entering each name with its accompanying details individually, rather than importing all the data from another source.  As I enter the names, I also enter any sources, references, or vital records I have that document or prove the names and dates.  It's painstakingly slow, but also very rewarding as I become more familiar with family names and places.  I'd love to put together a timeline or migration map. . . .   I easily get drawn into more and different projects.

And just because I find it fascinating, here is a treasure I've happened on during my research. 

Michigan Birth Record of Cora Melvina Wisemiller

 It's hard to read on the screen (click on the image to get a bigger picture), but the last entry is for July 3, 1872 - Cora Melvina Wisemiller.  Moving right across the columns it states that she was born in Brooks, Newago County, to parent Wm. H. Wisemiller - born in Ohio and Martha A.  Wisemiller - born in Michigan. 

 I love to see family names on old documents - it's a great reminder that all these names are real people and have a story to tell.  And I plan to keep telling it.