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Family History Road Trip

peggyandme.3.21.19I saw my cousin Peggy Kingsbury Rice last week on my annual visit to Charlottesville, VA for the Virginia Festival of the Book – a five day book festival with an amazing variety of authors and topics. It was our second visit in two years. Peggy’s father Deane is my father’s younger brother. Even though we didn’t grow up together and have almost a ten year age difference, when we get together the conversation flows easily and the family connections shine through.

Peggy and I have been talking about taking a family history road trip to Washington DC and have settled on the perfect time to do it. Peggy’s parents, Deane and Nancy will be visiting her the first week of June. They fly in and out of Washington DC so we’re planning a day trip around DC that will highlight places that are significant to our family history.

My father, Bryant Kingsbury (1932-2007) was four years older than his brother Preston Deane Bryant. Their parents were Joseph Bush Kingsbury (1890-1983) and Katherine Gertrude Bryant (1902-1959). Joe and Kitty met in Washington DC at a party in December 1926. From his letters to her in the year preceeding their marriage on 4 January 1928, it’s obvious he was smitten.

Although Joe Kingsbury often travelled for work and took an assignment out of the country near the end of World War II, Kitty and the boys stayed put in Washington DC until the family moved to Bloomington Indiana in 1948, when Joe joined the faculty of Indiana University. Kitty had grown up in Washington DC and there were strong connections to DC on both sides of her family.

Those are the people and places I’ll be blogging about over the next ten weeks in preparation for our visit in early June. When I refer to “our great great grandfather” I am including in the term “our” my two cousins Peggy Kingsbury Rice and Stacy Kingsbury Christiansen and me, so I’ll be citing the relationship to ancestors counting from “our” generation. Kitty is our grandmother, Papa Joe (aka Joseph Bush Kingsbury) is our grandfather. Kitty’s mother and father (Elizabeth Monica Preston and Herbert Sydney Bryant) are “our” great grandparents; their parents are our great great grandparents (sometimes listed as 2G grandparents) and so on.

We know a lot about our Kingsbury-Bush ancestry because of the “Blue Book” created by our great uncle Forrest Alva Kingsbury in 1958. In it, he captures the American ancestry of the Kingsbury and Bush families beginning with Joseph Kingsbury who came from England in 1637 and settled in Dedham, Massachusetts.

Forrest Kingsbury (1883-1972) was the oldest son of Wayland Kingsbury and Flora Jane Bush. He grew up in Osage, Iowa with three younger full brothers, Frank, Joe and Dean and one younger half brother, Clark. Flora Jane Bush Kingsbury died in 1900 and Wayland remarried Annie May Walker in 1902. All of the boys shared great love and affection for their new mother.

Forrest was a professor of psychology and taught for a number of years at the University of Chicago before moving to Redlands California where he taught at the University of Redlands from 1948 to 1952. Redlands is in San Bernadino County, east of Los Angeles. Forrest and his wife, Cornelia Hasselman (1887-1980) never had children but what a wonderful legacy he left for his nieces and nephews and their descendants.

We learned very little about our grandmother Katherine Gertrude Bryant growing up. Kitty died in 1959, when I was only four years old. Peggy and Stacy were not born until the 1960s. Contributing to the lack of information about her is that Kitty struggled for most of her adult life with alcohol addiction. This undoubtedly meant that many of the stories her sons might have remembered about her were too painful to share. I know this because I have a collection of my grandfather’s contemporaneous writings that provide a very detailed and sad account of how their lives were affected by her drinking.

So without dwelling on her illness and the effect it had on her family, I’ll start with what I know about Kitty’s side of the family, beginning with her paternal grandfather Levi Jesse Bryant (1839-1920). Fortunately there is a family genealogy, much like the one Forrest created for the Kingsbury Bush family about the Bryant family. It was published in 1938 and is entitled Charles Smith and Rachel Amy Bryant: Their Ancestors and Descendants. The author, Tenney Smith, was writing about the ancestors and descendants of his parents and by extension, at least on his mother’s side of the family, our Bryant ancestors as well. His mother Rachel Amy Bryant was the older sister of our great great grandfather Levi Jesse Bryant.

It can be dangerous to rely on previously published family histories without evaluating the data, but it offers a shortcut that I’m willing to take in this instance, to know a little more about our Bryant family. Several of our early Bryant ancestors were in Massachusetts as early as the Kingsbury family but living in Plymouth and Duxbury, which are south and a little east of Dedham.

Our first Bryant ancestor to arrive in America was Stephen Bryant who came to Plymouth, Massachusetts from Essex, England as a young man. The exact date of his arrival is uncertain but from the references to him in the records of Plymouth it seems he arrived sometime around 1632. He was on a list of Plymouth men able to bear arms in 1643, married Abigail Shaw in 1646 and became a freeman in 1651.

Fast forward a 150 years and we find Prince Bryant and his wife Rebecca Everett living in Springfield, Massachusetts. Rebecca came to Massachusetts from Northern Ireland with her parents when she was 13 years old. She is the source for some of our Irish DNA although we get another dose from the Preston side of Kitty’s family. Rebecca and Prince Bryant married in Springfield in 1798 and left for Monroe County, Illinois in 1800. Their second son, Jesse Bryant, our 3G grandfather, was born there on 8 Mar 1802.

Jesse Bryant married Betsey Williams on 18 Jun 1826 in Monroe County, Illinois. Betsey was the daughter of Zopher Williams and Ama Ludington who came to Illinois in 1815 from Tioga County, New York. Jesse bought land from his father’s estate and built a stone house near Waterloo, Illinois, where most of his children, including our great great grandfather Levi Jesse Bryant were born. The house was still occupied in 1935 when Tenney Smith researched his family genealogy.

In 1844, Jesse and Betsey loaded their eight children into covered wagons and moved to southern Missouri. There they encountered “malarial fever and insects beyond endurance” (p.46) and one of their younger daughters, Electa Elizabeth, died at the age of three in October 1845. The family loaded the wagons again, traversed the state of Illinois from south to north, and stopped briefly in Argyle, Wisconsin, where Betsey’s family was living at the time. They journeyed west to Jackson County, Iowa where they lived for a couple of years before returning to Moscow, Wisconsin, where their last child, a boy named David Zopher Bryant, was born in December 1847. Moscow is about 15 miles north of Argyle, Wisconsin, which means that Jesse’s and Betsey’s children grew up in close proximity to their maternal grandparents.

Jesse Bryant died on 21 Sep 1853. From this point on, the family stayed put (at least for a time) in Wisconsin. That’s how Levi Jesse Bryant, who was 14 when his father died, came to enlist in the Wisconsin 3rd Infantry at the outbreak of the Civil War, which is where we’ll pick up the story in my next post. His older brother John Prince Bryant also fought for Wisconsin (Company B of the 18th Infantry) during the civil war. He died in Corinth, Mississippi on 3 October 1862.

One of the reasons I enjoy genealogy is because I like to imagine what our ancestors were like. It is very difficult to find enough information in most sources to form a good picture of their personalities but Tenney Smith does a great job describing his grandmother Betsey Williams Bryant, who was born in Candor, New York in 1807 and left for Illinois, “an almost untracked wilderness,” (p.53) when she was just eight years old. She is our 3G grandmother. Of her, he writes:

“She was a worthy daughter of an honored mother. She is remembered as an old lady with full, round, pink cheeks and a halo of white hair. Her placid face beamed with loving kindness. It was a face that attracted children at sight. They liked to be with her. That face did not come from having led a sheltered carefree life. It came from having lived a life of unselfish devotion in the service of others and the care of children.” (p. 53)

Betsey’s final days were spent as a pioneer. She joined her youngest son, David Zopher Bryant when he travelled west to Clay County, Nebraska, where they each took up a homestead. “They had a house on the line between their homesteads and lived together in one house. There the end came to the long and eventful life that had been hers. She was found sitting in her rocking chair , with her knitting in her lap. Just fallen to sleep, without pain or suffering.” (p.54)

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We interrupt this WWI Diary to bring you news of two special wedding anniversaries!

 

Our Wedding

August 6, 1983

August 6th is a pretty good day for a wedding if stability is what you have in mind. Today as my husband and I celebrate our 34th anniversary – we wish my uncle and his bride congratulations on their 57th anniversary!

 

It’s funny how wedding dates are selected – no doubt it depends on the availability of the church and reception venue and I know many brides today spend many months, if not years planning their weddings.  For Rick and me – it was a much more practical consideration – there were only a few weeks between the end of my summer job and the beginning of my second year of law school. Why else would anyone choose early August in Washington DC?

We spent the early part of our time in Washington DC finding a church that we wanted to join. I remember many Sundays visiting different churches. I also remember visiting Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church and thinking I wouldn’t like it (it was in a wealthy DC suburb and I thought this very middle class girl would feel out of place with Washington’s upper crust). Of course, that was before I knew all of my Preston and Bryant family history, through which I learned that I am a descendant of Washington DC’s “upper crust!”

I still remember the sermon on our first visit to Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church int he spring of 1983 by the head minister – Tom Jones. It was entitled, “Sins of Omission.” It was a sermon about the civil rights movement and the terrible things that were going on during freedom marches in the south in the 1950s and 60s. He certainly got my attention when he said – “if you were not actively protesting the abuses by whites in the South,  you were just as guilty as the people holding those fire hoses on the marchers.” Hmmm… maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad church to join after all. And of course, it was beautiful both inside and out.

We joined in short order and remained active participants in the life of that church for the next two years until we moved away from DC in 1985. But I digress – this post is supposed to be about wedding anniversaries!

Rick and I were married at Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church on August 6, 1983. It was hot – the Washington DC kind of hot, dripping with humidity. I remember Rick asking if he could pay extra to have the church leave the A/C on the night before. We were assured that someone would turn it on early enough for things to cool down in time for our 10 am ceremony. I don’t remember being too hot so it must have worked out.

As for Deane and Nancy who celebrate their 57th anniversary today – I have this picture that I found on Newspapers.com from page 6 of the Columbus, Indiana Republic on August 8, 1960.Nancy.wedding picture.1960

Sorry to cut off the article but what an elaborate affair it seems to have been. I don’t see Deane and Nancy as often as I’d like, but it has always made me happy to share a wedding anniversary date with them.

Here’s an excerpt from my grandfather’s family letter dated November 25, 1958 in which he describes meeting Nancy’s parents for the first time.

“There are prospects of a wedding in our family. Deane is sure he has found the right girl, and they thought of getting married at the end of this school year, but the latest decision is to wait until Deane finds out whether the Army is going to take him, and for Nancy to finish her last year at the university. [Deane was a senior and Nancy a junior at Indiana University when this was written.] They met while they were both working on the Daily Student, and this fall it began to get serious. Nancy Myers lives in Columbus, Indiana, 40 miles east of Bloomington; she is majoring in journalism and literature. She is pretty, intelligent, and wise for her years, and we like her very much. We invited her father and mother for dinner about a month ago, with her sister and her boyfriend. It was her father’s birthday and we all had a good time. The four young people went to a dance and the four parents stayed home and had a good talk.

Mr. Myers studied for the ministry and preached for a while in a Christian church, then went into one of the plants in Columbus that makes radios and a number of other things as a personnel and labor relations officer. Her mother was born in Australia, and they are both lively, witty, and good people. They like Deane, and had no objections to the kids getting married, though it would please them if Nancy finished her last year in the university. This is an example of Mr. Myers’ kind of wisdom: he suggested that they think over carefully the pros and cons of getting married next June, then he would arrange a debate and he would argue in favor of it. Well, when Deane and Nancy thought of all the reasons against it, they called up her father and told him there would be no debate. They may still change their minds, but they are both thoughtful youngsters and, we will be satisfied with whatever they finally decide.

I just realized as I was typing this that the “we” in this letter means that Kitty also met Nancy’s parents. I rarely think of Kitty (my grandmother) as being involved in family events because she died in December 1959.

 

 


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Lillian Stillion – Lorion Stillion and Aunt Ella Kingsbury Whitmore

Continuing from my post on Friday January 27, 2017, the search to find out about Aunt Ella and her adopted daughter Lillian Whitmore, soon yielded a bountiful harvest of news from the West Union Argo Gazette and the Fayette County Union.

Once I had Lillian Whitmore’s married name – STILLION – it didn’t take long to learn a bit more about her and to learn that she and her husband, Reverend Jasper Clyde Stillion, had one son, Lorion Stillion, born in 1915. This announcement appeared in the West Union Argo Gazette on August 18, 1915.lorionstillion-birth-wuag-18aug1915

I am always happy when someone I’m searching has an unusual name. When that happens a Google search often yields great results and I was not disappointed. This 1987 article from the L.A. Times suggests that  Lorion inherited some of his mother’s musical talent. It also suggests that Lorion and his wife Ardell did not have any children. Further searching indicates that sad conclusion is correct.

Filling in what I wanted to know about Aunt Ella’s life, I found this In Memoriam article in the June 10, 1948 issue of the Fayette County Union, written by her nephew Frank Kingsbury of Osage.

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Such a lovely tribute to a woman who was too modest to write of her own accomplishments in the family history she wrote in 1941 – Salt of the Earth.

The most surprising news of this article is that her daughter Lillian Stillion preceded her in death, by a couple of months. I haven’t searched for Lillian Stillion’s obituary so I’ll have to work on that in my next research session.

There were 59 “hits” in my search for First Name: Lillian; Last Name:Whitmore. From these articles I’ve gotten to know Aunt Ella’s adopted daughter. Let me share her story.

Lillian was an accomplished violinist at an early age. Her name even appeared in 1977 obituary for someone who mentioned her as his first violin teacher.

She grew up in West Union, Iowa  but attended Cedar Valley Seminary for one year,  graduating on June 8, 1910. She returned to West Union, with her grandmother Mrs. J.B. Kingsbury on June 14, 1910 (Hannah was visiting her daughters Mary in Fayette and Ella in West Union). On June 29, 1910, Lillian took a position as a stenographer at the State Bank of West Union. She worked there until September 1911 when she left to attend a ladies seminary in Mt. Carroll, Illinois. Probably this one.

When Lillian’s parents moved to California in 1912, she went with them. She graduated from Redlands College in Redlands California in June 1913. Many years later, her cousin Forrest Kingsbury, retired to Redlands College after his long career in the Psychology Department of University of Chicago. Another interesting coincidence!

Lillian Whitmore married Jasper Clyde Stillion sometime after June 1913 and before August  1915. Interestingly, the census for 1910 shows that Jasper Clyde Stillion was a science teacher at Cedar Valley Seminary so that must have been where their paths first crossed. He was a lodger in the home of  Mrs. Polly Holliday.

Jasper and Lillian spent most of their married life in California. Including some time at Biola (Bible Institute of Los Angeles) which was located at Hope and 6th Streets in downtown Los Angeles. Coincidentally, 65 years later, I worked at Arco Tower, within a block of the Bible Institute. The original Bible Institute building was demolished in 1988 after damage it sustained in a 1987 earthquake made it too costly to renovate. But the iconic “Jesus Saves” sign in 7-foot tall neon red letters that once graced the rooftop of its dormitory, remains atop the trendy Ace Hotel in downtown LA today.

Here’s a 2010 blog post about the history of the “Jesus Saves” sign.

I am  fascinating by what I call “overlapping ancestor tracks.” What are the odds that a girl who grew up in Richmond, Virginia would end up in Los Angeles 30 years later, living within a few miles of where her unknown cousin – Lorion Stillion – was living at the time. Or that a few years later, she would be house hunting in the same neighborhood where her great great aunt lived 50 years earlier? That’s crazy!

This is a 2015 picture of the house at 311 Wild Rose Avenue, Monrovia California. This was Aunt Ella’s address in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 census reports. I noticed in previous research that Aunt Ella took in boarders but I didn’t appreciate the significance of the ones listed in the 1940 census until yesterday – Jasper Stillion and his wife Lillian!

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Aunt Ella’s house sold for $1,027,500 in 2015, so I doubt I’ll be moving in anytime soon but oh how I’d love to at least walk through it!

 


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Why I Read Old Newspapers – REALLY Old Newspapers!

One of my favorite ways to relieve stress is to immerse myself in newspaper searches for my ancestors. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately because work is especially stressful right now with no end in sight. I stopped reading the daily paper years ago and I certainly have no intention of resuming that habit any time soon. In today’s news climate?!? Talk about stress!

Today I learned of a great resource for  online newspapers thanks to my daily dose of genealogical wisdom from Genea-musings, which shared a link to The Ancestor Hunt. I learn a lot from other genealogists who so willingly share resources and information. Thank-you!

So wine glass in hand (the other way I relieve stress) I settled in for my favorite Friday night activity – scanning historic newspapers – but this time armed with a valuable new resource. The link on The Ancestor Hunt identifies online newspapers in each state and provides links to local libraries, some of which have free searchable databases. So in no time at all I was perusing the late 1800s, early 1900s papers from the counties in Iowa where my Kingsbury ancestors lived.

I found interesting facts about the Kingsbury family of Osage involving tax assessments, real estate transfers and Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury being chosen as a petit juror in 1888 and a grand juror in 1889. Nothing too earthshattering but I like to add bits and pieces of the family puzzle that way.

And I always enjoy the advertisements and interesting quotes and quips that make it just plain fun to read old newspapers. Like this one from the 1936 St. Ansgar Enterprise.

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My grandfather’s father, Wayland Briggs Kingsbury, was the only son born to Joseph and Hannah Kingsbury. His three sisters, all born in the mid 1800s on the newly pioneered plains of Iowa, were Mary, Ella and Emma. Much of what I know about those members of the Kingsbury family is because of a self-published family history written my Ella at the request of her daughter Lillian.

When people in the Kingsbury family talk about the family “blue book” they usually mean the genealogy compiled and published by my great uncle Forrest A. Kingsbury in 1958.

But this is my favorite “blue book” of Kingsbury family history

SaltoftheEarth.1.27.15

It’s my favorite because Ella describes her childhood and writes about the day-to-day things that she and her siblings did while growing up on the Iowa frontier in the mid- 1800s. It is such a treasure to know what the family was like; that her father was a good carpenter, that he they enjoyed singing together as a family, that they stopped farming and moved into town where her father started a hardware store in Oelwein and then West Union (or vice versa) before moving to Osage.

But the thing that always bothered me about Aunt Ella’s book was that she never talked about her own family. From what I can tell, she never had any children of her own. She was 36 when she married Frank Y Whitmore, a widower, in December 1893. From the US Census in 1900, I knew that the family included a 10-year old adopted daughter (identified as such) named Lillian, who was born in New York. Both of Lillian’s parents were born in Norway.

A few years ago I spent many futile hours trying to track down information on Lillian Whitmore. She was born in 1890, the same year as my grandfather, but I’ve never seen her name in any of his writings. I was reading The Orphan Train at the time so I wondered if that could be how Lillian came to live with Ella and Frank. But mostly I wondered if I could track down any of Lillian’s descendants so I could learn more about Aunt Ella. Maybe they have extra copies of Salt of the Earth. Maybe they have more family pictures. Maybe they have stories to share. Maybe they will read this and contact me.

Ella Kingsbury Whitmore also fascinates me because she lived in Monrovia, California. (But why did she move from Iowa to Monrovia?) Monrovia is in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, east of LA, but not too far from Alhambra and San Marino where Rick and I lived from 1985 to 1997. We looked at houses in Monrovia. Maybe I drove past the house Aunt Ella lived in and didn’t even know it. Maybe we almost made an offer on a house that was on her street! I definitely recognize the name of the street she lived on in 1940 – Wildrose Avenue.

So nearing the end of my search for the night I decided to browse the West Union Iowa papers for mid-November 1918.  A search for “Frank Whitmore” had turned up a few interesting articles, but a search for Lillian Whitmore came up blank. But just because you don’t get a hit doesn’t mean there’s not something there – you just have to decide how much time you’re willing to spend searching.

I knew from records on Ancestry.com that Frank Whitmore died in Monrovia, CA on November 10, 1918. Maybe if I got lucky I could find his obituary and learn more about his family. And sure enough on the front page of the West Union Argo Gazette from November 13, 1918 I found this:

 

frankwhitmore-obit-1918

The article also provided much needed detail about the timing of Frank Whitmore’s marriages, his career and his family. It confirmed that he was survived by his three children, his wife and an adopted daughter. But better than all that – the article provided Lillian Whitmore’s married name – Mrs. J.C. Stillion.

mrs-jcstillion-1918

My search didn’t end there, but this post will. Check back tomorrow for the rest of the story!

 

 


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Herbert Augustine Preston – Fired Again

Life in the late 1800s as a Washington DC newspaperman was no walk in the park. At least not for my gg grandfather Herbert A. Preston. Here is the text from an article that appeared in Helena Independent (probably picked up from a wire service) in March 1891 about his discharge from the Washington, DC office of the New York Herald.

Herbert A Preston, who was suddenly relieved the other day of control of the New York Herald’s Washington office, is one of the old men on the paper. For fifteen years, although Charles Nordhoff has been the head of the bureau here, Preston has borne the responsibility and ate at the news desk night after night. Why he was dropped no man knows. It is one of those things that happen on the Herald now and then to prove that it has an owner and perhaps to scare the men who are left into greater effort. The queerest thing about it is that the best men are the ones who are visited with sudden dismissal.

Preston made an especially good record during the sickness of President Garfield. The Herald all through the summer of 1881 surpassed all other papers in the fullness and accuracy of its reports of the wounded man’s condition. Most of this success was due to Preston’s acquaintance with a young drug clerk in the store where the president’s doctors sent their prescriptions.

Every night Preston knew what the physicians and surgeons had sent for and as a geologist constructs and restores an extinct species from a single stone, the Herald correspondent from the hieroglyphics of the medical men made up his story of the president’s condition. If ether was ordered he knew cutting was being done. If stimulants were sent for he knew the patient was worse; if no extraordinary drug was needed or none at all, the indications were hopeful. From such a slender thread of fact the Herald’s whole circumstantial story depended and a strong imagination made the daily account the best we had.

Herbert Augustine Preston died in May 1893. His obituary ended with a request that each newspaperman of the city contribute 50 cents so they could purchase a headstone for his grave. Although the obituary reported that his last mortal remains were laid to rest in a private ceremony at Mount Olivet Cemetery, he is actually buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Was he originally buried at Mount Olivet and then moved? Or was the newspaper mistaken?

According to the records of the Arlington National Cemetery, he, his wife, Annie McNabb Preston, who died in November 1930 and his daughter Theodora Preston, who died in October 1966, are buried there.

 

 

 


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Cedar Valley Seminary – Osage Iowa

When I visited Osage in October 2016, I spent about four hours in the Mitchell County Historical Society’s library.  I remember hearing that my great great grandfather Alva Bush, started Cedar Valley Seminary in Osage, Iowa. I also knew that my cousin Stacy had visited the Mitchell County Historical Museum many years ago when it was housed in the seminary building. I always thought it was interesting to have an ancestor who started a school, but I didn’t really understand the significance of it until I visited Osage.

First point of clarification – CVS was not a seminary as we now think of that term (a school for training religious leaders) but more like a junior college. It was started by the Cedar Valley Baptist Association at the request of the citizens of Osage, many of whom, were from New England. They wanted their children to have a good education and opportunities were limited, or perhaps nonexistent, in that part of the state. Alva Bush served as the school’s first principal when classes began in January 1863.  Cedar Valley Seminary was one of the first schools of its kind.  For some general information check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_Valley_Seminary.

When Alva Bush moved his family to Osage in 1862 they lived in family quarters of the county jail. Classes met in the Mitchell County Courthouse for a few years until it was finally decided that Osage would be the county seat (instead of Mitchell). A new building was constructed for CVS and classes began meeting there in 1870. That building is still standing today thanks to the efforts of people who love history and fought hard to save it. Here’s a link to the Cedar Valley Seminary Foundation.

Here’s an account by Clara Bush Call of the Seminary’s early days that I found in the Library’s extensive collection of CVS memorabilia.

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Clara Bush Call – Personal Recollection of CVS Early Days – Reprinted in a 30th Anniversary Yearbook

One of my favorite finds was a file with letters from former CVS students on the occasion of the school’s 100th anniversary in 1963. In it was a letter from Forrest Alva Kingsbury that is copied below. There were also letters from JBK and his brother Dean as well as Frank Moore, Josephine Kingsbury’s father-in-law, who also attended CVS, as did his wife.

Here is Forrest’s letter describing his father’s experience at CVS in 1878.

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And here is the transcription of Wayland’s first card and letter home to his folks in West Union.

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It isn’t clear to me whether or not Wayland B. Kingsbury completed his studies at CVS. I never found his name in the list of graduating students, but I may have missed it. His wife Flora Bush was listed although at the moment, I don’t remember what year she graduated.

I do know that Wayland opened a hardware store in Osage, with his father and that two of Wayland’s sons, Frank and Dean, worked in the store with him from the early to mid- 1900s. Frank was the last Kingsbury to own and operate the family hardware store in Osage. But the building is still there and getting a face lift. I checked the address from a city directory. It is on Main Street not too far from the new location of the Cedar Valley Seminary building (which is around the corner on a side street.)

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Osage Treasures

Do you ever have one of those weeks when it seems like a month’s worth of things happened? That is how the past week was for me. I spent most of the week at the national meeting of land trusts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Osage, Iowa before it all began. I left Greensboro at 5:30 am on October 26th and by 10 am Central time, I was on my way to Osage – just over a two hour drive south of Minneapolis.

Other than taking about 20 minutes to get headed in the right direction once I left the Minneapolis Airport (freeways named Interstate 34W South confuse me – especially when I want to go South East!) it was smooth sailing for my 100 mile drive to Osage. Lots of farmland, which I love to see, but very different than North Carolina fields.  It was a gray, dreary day and the fields were bare. At one point as I drove along, I wondered why certain farmers had burned their fields. The landscape ahead looked just like the remnants of a field that had been managed by prescribed burning – a technique used to restore prairies and support new growth of fire dependent species. Upon closer examination, I realized that the black I mistook for char and ash was the color of the soil in Minnesota and Iowa – a far cry from North Carolina’s red clay!

On my drive down I called the Osage Cemetery because I wanted to make sure I had a map if I needed one to find the Kingsbury family grave site. The number for Osage Cemetery turned out to be City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor Information Center all rolled into one and the folks were as nice as could be. “Sure – if you come after 1:00 pm img_5152(we’re closed from noon to one for lunch) we’ll be happy to help you find what you’re looking for.”

My first amazing discovery of the day took place in City Hall when the city manager showed me a picture of Orrin Sage – a man from Massachusetts who is credited with “founding” Osage.  He may not have ever set foot in Osage, or anywhere else in Iowa for that matter, but he sent money and for that got a town named after him. A Brief History of Osage Iowa.   I wonder how many babies born in Osage in the late 1800s were named Orrin? I certainly know of one – the youngest son born to Wayland B. Kingsbury and his first wife, Flora Jane Bush, in 1892 – Orrin Dean Kingsbury. However, it’s also possible (and perhaps more likely) that Orrin Dean Kingsbury was named after his paternal grandmother’s father – Orrin Brown. But what an interesting way to name a town – first initial and last name of the town’s benefactor. There are not a lot of names that would work with!

My other amazing discoveries were made at the Mitchell County Historical Society which is now housed in the Cedar River Complex at 805 Sawyer Drive. The library volunteer – “Char” (short for Charlotte) – was very helpful – directing me to every box, drawer, file cabinet and shelf with anything related to Cedar Valley Seminary – and believe me – there was plenty to see.

Like many small historical societies, much of what is in the collection depends on what the locals have donated. There was a file draw with hanging file folders for families by last name. In the file for Kingsbury – only one document – the a memorial booklet for Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury, printed shortly after his funeral in 1909. It contained a summary of his life that he had written several years earlier, excerpts of the sermon given at his funeral and excerpts from letters sent by friends and family attesting to his sterling character. I took pictures of each page using my phone but I’m not sure you will be able to enlarge them. The cover (not shown) simply said  In Memoriam Joseph B. Kingsbury 1827-1909. img_5171

From the records of Cedar Valley Seminary I know that my grandfather, Joseph Bush Kingsbury was in the class of 1909. It would make sense that he started college that fall and given the time and expense of travel from Washington, DC to Iowa, he probably did not attend his grandfather’s funeral in September 1909. Here’s an excerpt from a letter that his older brother Forrest wrote to my grandfather that was reprinted in the In Memoriam pamphlet.

“He has gone to the reward of a long splendid, useful life, and for his sake, we are all glad, and cannot wish it otherwise. I am so glad Grandma feels as she does, and what a splendid example she is for us. Joe, how grand it must be to have a record to leave, such as Grandpa’s is, and how we wish ours may be so too. No one can ever tell how much we, and the world, owe to him. And I shall believe he will be surprised and gratified to know all that God has been able to do through him. I believe Grandma will seem closer to us now, because she will, in a sense take Grandpa’s place, as well as her own.

And here is an excerpt from the Sermon of Pastor L. T. Foreman, entitled The Triumphant Life from the text of Timothy 4:7-8.

“It was eminently true of Mr. Kingsbury that he had fought a good fight against sin and temptation, against the world, the flesh and the devil, against any and every form of evil. Right grandly in his quiet, sturdy way did he fight the good fight of faith.  He had endured hardship in early days as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

And more that that he was victorious. He lived a triumphant life. Today, an entire community in loving esteem joins in saying, “He fought a good fight.”

“I have kept the faith,” What a pity it is that so many lives are lost in doubt and unbelief. The joy of life has disappeared in the fog of doubt and in the bog of despair. Deacon Kingsbury was always true to his Christian faith and this was his joy and strength. As a neighbor recently said: “He was pure gold.” He loved his Savior, he loved his Bible, he loved his church and the fellowship of the people of God.”

In many of my grandfather’s writings he recalls the profound influence of his early Christian upbringing. His diary entries from his first year of college show that he was actively involved in Sunday School and prayer meetings. I think over time he became less active in church. I remember writing to him with questions about religion and faith, but I’ll save that for another post.  I will say that part of my decision to join a Presbyterian Church was influenced by that being the church denomination that my grandfather belonged to when he began taking an active role in his church in Bloomington, Indiana after he retired from Indiana University. Interesting that like my grandfather, I was baptized in a Baptist Church but later switched to Presbyterian.

I’ll close with the poetic part of the funeral sermon and will write about more of my Osage discoveries this weekend.

“Have you ever watched the glories of the sunset? It is exquisitely beautiful, it is heavenly with its blending of yellow, of purple, of red and gold. Only a divine artist could produce such a sunset, and the fingers of the Divine hands spreads it over the canvas of the western sky at the eventide. But a glorious sunset is a promise of a glorious morrow.

How beautiful is the sunset of this man of God; His career has been radiant with the golden deeds of helpful service. Only divine fingers could sketch out such a life.  . . .

The glories of the setting sun of life are but the promise of a brighter morrow in the everlasting sunshine of the favor of the King, when there will be no more sorrow, nor pain, nor sin, nor death.”