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Connecting Generations


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Happy Birthday Joseph Bush Kingsbury

My grandfather would be 126 if he were alive today. In some ways I feel I know him better than I did when he was alive because I’ve spent so much of the last three years reading his contributions to the family letter and organizing family photos.

Here’s a pictJBK.1890orial review of some key points in his life.

Wouldn’t it be great to know what became of that christening gown? I imagine it was a family gown, worn by his two older and two younger brothers as well.

Ten years after this picture was taken, Joe’s mother, Flora Bush Kingsbury died at the young age of 40. Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury and Hannah Brown Kingsbury moved in to help their son Wayland care for his four sons.  Of this time, Ella Kingsbury Whitmore, Wayland’s sister writes:

“The only time in all those years that death entered the family circles was to remove the sweet wife and mother, Flora Bush Kingsbury, to the heavenly home, in 1900. Father and mother willingly gave up their quiet home and went to that of the desolated family. They were glad they were wanted and could still be useful. When the children were told that grandpa and grandma were coming to stay with them, and they would all be careful and try not to tire them, Joe said gently, ‘We will be quiet, we are used to walking on tiptoe.’ And what little Joe said was sure to be acceptable to his small brother Dean.

The two older boys [Forrest and Frank] were, while real boys, sensible and thoughtful and kind, and the home was, as nearly as possible, a happy one for all. Later, dear Annie Walker came to be a blessing and joy to all of them, most happily filling a mother’s place to this good day.”

Whitmore, Ella Kingsbury.  Salt of the Earth.  Monrovia: Monrovia Printing Company, 1944. Print.

Gentle is a good word to describe my grandfather. He had a quiet way about him that made him easy to be with despite our 65 year age difference.

After one year at Cedar Valley Seminary in Osage Iowa Joe began school at George Washington University in Washington DC in 1910. One of my prized possessions is his diary from his first year in DC. It begins with his account of a trip to New York City on December 24, 1910. I’m transcribing it just as it’s written with the exception of adding paragraphs.

Left Washington in the rain at 7 a.m. At Philadelphia changed cars, got on wrong train and went 5 or 6 miles before we discovered mistake, came back to West Philadelphia and took next train. Twenty minutes late in New York arrived at 1:35. Looked for Forrest for 1/2 hour, telephoned to Aunt Ruth then found him. Walked down Broadway, saw Wall Street, Trinity Church, around Battery Park up Water Street to Brooklyn Bridge.

Lunch at Child’s on Broadway. Took subway to 110, back to 96 and walked to 103. Three rooms at Clendening, parlor, 2 bedrooms, bath and hall, fine, quiet place, fine furniture, beds and bath. Great style. Rested feet, talked and wrote post cards until 7:30 then rode down Broadway, saw the Electric signs, theater crowds, etc. Got off at 44th and walked to 33d over to 5th and past Library. Stopped and got presents at Japanese Bazaar. Got lunch, went over to Pa Sta and got suitcase then took elevated back to Hotel. Bed at 11:00. Fine sleep. Wakened by chimes playing Christmas carols, beautiful morning.

All had bath, walked up to Whittier Hall, got Aunt Ruth walked over past Grant’s Tomb to Edgewater Ferry, crossed through the ice. Trolley to Ridgewood, arrived at 10:30. Roy at SS Talked had presents, ate candy etc all day. Fine turkey dinner, 3 courses, plum pudding. Ate candy all pm. Took a walk to Paramus Church, where Aaron Burr was married. Played with Donald and Guyon. Perfect little boys. Mr. & Mrs. Rogers called in evening on way to church. Aunt Clara and Aunt Ruth went over there to sleep. I slept on cot in parlor. Guyon came down and got in bed with me early in morning.

Got up and took a run. Fine cold morning. Ate about 49 buckwheat cakes. Forrest, Lucius and I went with Roy in auto to his office, wrote post cards, L and I went up on Heights north of Hohokus, over to Paramus Church and back. Beautiful homes.

Even though I’m still figuring out the relationships between the people he mentions, having something like this is so valuable to document family history.  I think Ruth and Clara may be Annie Walker Kingsbury’s sisters but there were women named Ruth and Clara on the Bush side of the family too so I’m still figuring out the relationships. I hope to retrace my grandfather’s steps on a visit to New York City but probably not in December. I’m not sure “the elevated” is still an option and I know from a quick Google search that the Hotel Clendening was demolished in 1965.

I’ll close today’s birthday tribute to Joseph B. Kingsbury with his college graduation picture – neatly dated on the back “1915 AB Geo. Wash U. Joseph B. Kingsbury”

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A New Cousin – A New Friend

Through the family letter the five Kingsbury boys from Osage, Iowa managed to keep in touch for most of their adult lives even though they were spread across the country and rarely got to spend time together. Some of their children managed to keep in touch through the family letter for a few years after the five brothers passed away but by the late 1990s the family letter died out.

The oldest brother Forrest and the youngest brother Clark did not have children. The second oldest and the second youngest, Frank and Dean, had the most children. Frank had three: Josephine, Robert and Bruce and Dean had four: Joseph, George, Doris and Margaret (Peg). My grandfather Joseph was in the middle and had two sons, my father Bryant and my uncle Deane.

Through social media and modern technology, some of the second and third cousins have been in touch over the past few years but the connections are primarily within each direct line. I keep up with my cousins Peggy and Stacy and the grandchildren of Dean and Helen Kingsbury keep up with one another. In the past two to three years, as more of us have “found” each other on Facebook, the circle is expanding again. It makes me happy to think how happy that would make our grandparents.

Today offered a perfect example of the widening circle when I got to meet two of my second cousins, Marcia Moore and Gene Moore who both live in California. They are in Charlotte, NC for the high school graduation of Gene’s grandson (Marcia’s grand nephew) Dylan Vassily. So today, with portable scanner in tow, I drove to Charlotte to meet them. Carolyn, Gene’s daughter, was hosting a graduation party for Dylan and 16th birthday party for Alex, her younger son. Alex had to leave for a meeting at work before I remembered to take pictures, but here’s one of Marcia, Carolyn, Dylan and me (from left to right).Cousins.6.12.16

Okay – that’s a pretty amazing “widening of the family circle.” I’m still kicking my self for not getting a picture with Gene (Marcia’s brother) and Alex before they left.

So other than feeling completely “simpatico” with Marcia, right down to our matching colored tops (no we did not plan that) I got to scan a few photos that I know some of our other cousins will be happy to see.  I don’t usually link all of my blog posts to Facebook but since I’m not sure all of my extended Kingsbury cousins follow the blog, I’m making an exception today.

Here are two of my favorite pictures that Marcia had from her mother Josephine.

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Wayland Briggs Kingsbury Family – December 21, 1923

The back of the photo didn’t identify them by position but Marcia and I were pretty comfortable identifying the Kingsbury boys and we’re hoping Chris Pahud and some of his cousins will be able to help matching the wives in the back row with their husbands.

The three youngest children in the picture are the children of Orrin Dean Kingsbury and his wife, Helen Sheriff and they are Joseph and George in the front row (not sure of the order) and Doris being held by her father Orrin Dean.

The first row of adults is: Clark Kingsbury, the only son born to Wayland Kingsbury and his second wife Annie, Frank Kingsbury, Wayland Kingsbury, Annie May Walker Kingsbury, Forrest Kingsbury and Orrin Dean Kingsbury holding his daugher Doris.

The children in the back two rows are Josephine and her brothers Robert and Bruce. The very handsome and kind looking man in the back row (top left) is my grandfather Joseph Bush Kingsbury. In 1923 he was still four years away from meeting his wife, Katherine Gertrude Bryant.

Now I’m guessing at the women in the back row – from left to right I think they are Frank’s wife Anna Carter, Dean’s wife Helen Sheriff and Forrest’s wife Cornelia Hasselman. (Chris – help!)

And now, because I know this will bring much happiness to the grandchildren of Helen and Dean Kingsbury, here is one more that I scanned from Marcia’s collection. There was nothing on the back but we’re both pretty sure this is from a family visit to Osage that Dean and Helen made with their four children at a time when Clark and his wife Allie Cobb were also there.  But who is the woman between Annie and Clark? Maybe one of Wayland’s sisters? I think the picture was probably taken in the late 1930s. Clark and Allie were married in 1935. Helen and Dean’s youngest daughter, Peggy, was born in 1925 and their oldest child, Joseph, was born in 1918.

 

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Easy Blogging

One of the biggest hurdles to regular posting is deciding what to write about. I really have no excuse for not being able to do that. Every time I consult the stack of letters that my grandfather Joseph Bush Kingsbury contributed to the Kingsbury Family letter, I am reminded that I should start sharing his kernels of wisdom on a much more regular basis than I currently do.

Case in point. In 10 days I will meet my second cousin Marcia Moore for the first time. Her mother Josephine Kingsbury Moore was my grandfather’s niece. So without further ado, let’s see what Joe had to say about spending Thanksgiving in Iowa in 1966 with his beloved niece and her family.

From his letter dated 28 November 1966 JBK recounts his recent visit to Fort Dodge, Iowa where he spent Thanksgiving with his mother (his step-mother actually because his father remarried a few years after JBK’s mother died when he was 10), brother Clark, Josephine, Edson and their family. Clark Kingsbury is the youngest of the Kingsbury boys and the only son born to Wayland Briggs Kingsbury and his second wife Annie May Carter. Josephine is the daughter of JBK’s next older brother Frank Kingsbury.

First let’s see who was there and how they got there. JBK’s letters often describe modes of transportation in great detail:

“I arrived in Fort Dodge Tuesday evening after a six hour train trip to Chicago, a long taxi ride to O’Hare Airport, and a two-hour flight on Ozark Airlines. Jo and Edson were at the airport to meet me, and with them Marcia, home from Cambridge, Mass., and Dick, from Reno. Next morning Jo took me to the Friendship Haven Health Center, and we found mother sitting in her wheel chair at work on a big and complicated jig-saw puzzle, looking very fresh and pretty. I came back after lunch and had another visit with her.

That evening (Wednesday) about 10:30, I left with Dick and Gene in Edson’s Cadillac, for Des Moines (about 90 miles) and a few minutes after midnight we met Clark at the airport. We were back in our hotel in Fort Dodge and in bed by 2 am, and rested and ready when Edson called for us at 9:30 Thanksgiving morning. At 10:30 we started the celebration with a breakfast of waffles, bacon, sausages served by Marcia, Dick and their mother.”

Let’s learn a little more about the family gathered round that Thanksgiving table 50 years ago:

“I suppose in this age of packaged and frozen foods, an old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner is doomed to disappear, and it will be a pity; but Josephine revived the old traditions. There were nine of us around a big, beautiful table, and the food was like it used to taste in the old days. Gene and his pretty wife Sue were there, and 9-month old Caroline furnished the amusement. She reminded me of Peggy Ann at that age, and like Peggy, she is a good poser for photographs. Dick and Gene took pictures of her sitting in her great-great grandmother’s lap.”

Many relatives have commented on my grandfather’s letter writing skills. I think this next paragraph illustrates the point. I don’t know any of the people he describes (but I’m about to meet some of them in 10 days!) yet I feel like I know them by his descriptions. His mother had moved into the retirement home in Fort Dodge from her home in Charles City not too long before his visit.

“I was delighted with mother’s appearance; her face is smooth and her color healthy and good, and mentally she is still alert and young. She follows every conversation and is an interesting talker. It was a great satisfaction to me to see her again after seven years, and to get reacquainted with my niece and her family. Jo is a strikingly pretty woman (I still think of her as a girl) with white hair and a fine complexion, and we all know her sweet disposition. Edson is a good-looking man who looks to be at his prime. Dick is a tall, blond, young man, whose hair is beginning to thin. He is on the serious side, very thoughtful, reliable, and interesting to talk to. He works in the Nevada State Highway Department, and takes courses in the state University in Reno. Gene is a tall, handsome boy with dark hair, who works in the Post Office, but hopes to move to Syracuse and continue university work there. He met Sue at Iowa City, and it is easy to see why he decided to get married. Marcia is assisting a Sociologist at Harvard, auditing some courses, and planning to get an advanced degree in Sociology. She is a pretty girl, and ‘modern’ in the best sense of the word  – – very much alive to what is going on, but not one of the disillusioned and alienated generation. I hope she can get acquainted with Doris and Peg and their families; I am sure they would all be congenial. For some reason, Marcia reminds me of Peg.”

Thankfully, I know that Chris Pahud (another second cousin of mine) really enjoys these letters and is a big fan of JBK’s writing style. Once I get started, it is hard for me to stop. I can’t tell you how many hours I spend reading my grandfather’s letters. And since Chris is a musician I know he will appreciate this last tidbit when JBK describes his trip home to Bloomington Indiana.

“I got on the Lake Central plane at Chicago at 8:15, but before we reached Danville, Ill., the pilot announced that Terre Haute and Bloomington were closed down by fog, so I ended my flight at Indianapolis and Lake Central paid for a taxi ride to Bloomington (50 miles). The only other Bloomington passenger was a girl in a light colored jacket and trousers carrying a violin case. She had left London that morning and was to meet her husband, a music student at IU.  We met him at the hotel in Bloomington and rode out to their apartment together, and I discovered that he was a Turk, and that they had lived in Ankara last year, so we parted with promises to see each other again. He is studying viola under Sir William Primrose, said to be the greatest viola player in the world.”

It helps understand JBK’s interest in meeting a Turk if you know that about ten years before this he taught at the American University in Turkey for a year. My uncle Dean and JBK’s wife Kitty, who died in 1959, were with him.  More fodder for another blog  post on another day. I promise not to keep you waiting so long for the next installment of JBK’s insights.