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 pictorial 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”