The Family Letter Blog

Connecting Generations


1 Comment

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.

 

 


1 Comment

Hannah Brown Kingsbury – A Lifter, never a Leaner – Week #5 – 52 Ancestor Challenge

With Winter Storm Juno bearing down on New England, it seems like a good time to write about my great great grandmother Hannah Brown who was born in Vermont in 1830. (Even though it is a week early for Challenge #5) No doubt she had her fair share of plowing through snow during her childhood in Vermont and perhaps plowing of a different sort when she and her husband Joseph Kingsbury began their life as pioneers in the Midwest; first in Illinois in 1852 and five years later in Fayette County, Iowa where they secured a quarter section of land, built a log cabin and began farming.

Hannah was the youngest of three girls born to Orrin Brown and Mary Read Cheney. Her father died when she was only 3 years old and her mother remarried a few years later. Mary and her second husband had four sons (Clark, John, William and Nathaniel) and one daughter Lucy Ann. The 1850 census for Jamaica, Vermont shows 19 year –old Hannah Brown living with her mother, step-father and half siblings.

Hannah met her husband Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury while he was building a barn for her stepfather. Hannah and Joseph married on October 4, 1852 and they moved west that same year. Their first child, Mary Lucinda, was born in Cherry Valley Illinois in1853. In 1857 they moved to Iowa and began life on the prairie where their next three children were born, Fannie Ella (1857), Wayland Briggs (1859) and Emma Brown (1861).

SaltoftheEarth.1.27.15I have a book written by Hannah’s daughter Ella Kingsbury Whitmore entitled Salt of the Earth. She published the book in 1944 in Monrovia California and dedicates it to the descendants of Joseph B. and Hannah Brown Kingsbury. She wrote the book at the request of her daughter to capture some of her memories of life in the Midwest. It describes her childhood growing up in Iowa and provides a detailed account of daily routines – everything from making soap and candles, making and washing clothes, and the importance of music and religion to her family.

On page 12 Ella writes of her parents when they were young:

“One can picture the young Vermont couple, Joseph with his dark hair and eyes, tall, and thoughtfully serious, Hannah, short and plump, blue eyed and earnest, as they grew interested in each other. Her voice was a rich soprano, full and true through the years, such as is rare. His was bass, sweet but not strong, and before many years, was but a whisper. His love of music was deep.”

Their wedding was a simple ceremony at the minister’s home with Hannah’s older sister Mary and her husband as witnesses.  The young couple left for Cherry Valley, Illinois where they had relatives, as soon as they married.They carried all of their worldly possessions, “a strong tool chest, filled with carpenter tools, a small trunk of Joseph’s make, containing his wardrobe and a ‘big box’ of Hannah’s store of clothes and bedding, and keepsakes. They had youth and health, and habits of frugality and industry, and a good share of the rare quality, common sense.

After a few years in Illinois, the family visited Vermont with their first child, Mary Lucinda.

“A daguerreotype picture of them at that time shows three earnest, thoughtful faces. The young mother and little daughter have their dark hair parted over their broad foreheads, and smoothly combed over their ears, not very different from the style of young people today.”

From the story of Joseph’s tall silk wedding hat dropping to his shoulders when he put it on, and the reference to Hannah and her daughter’s “broad foreheads,” I think it’s a safe bet that my “bulgy Kingsbury brow” as my husband lovingly calls it, might actually have come from the Browns and not the Kingsbury side of the family.

In 1881, Joseph and Hannah sold the farm and moved into the town of Oelwein, which was a new railroad town. They eventually moved to Osage and Joseph worked with his son Wayland in the family hardware store. The hardware store in Osage stayed in the Kingsbury family until the mid-1950s, with Wayland’s second son Frank as the final owner.

Hannah and Joseph stayed with Wayland and his four sons after the death of Wayland’s first wife, Flora Jane Bush in 1900. Ella writes:

“Father and mother willingly gave up their quiet home and went to that of the desolated family. They were glad that 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, Joseph 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.”

Ella recalls her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary as a grand celebration held at the home of Mrs. N.J. Berger. Grandchildren played violin and piano and recited verses. Their children and friends shared stories of Joseph and Hannah’s life together. There was a picture taken in the yard with 34 people in it (sadly, not reproduced in the book) and the next day 24 family members went to the photography studio for a more formal picture (also, not reproduced).

Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury died in September 1909, a month before their 57th anniversary and Hannah later moved to the home of her son Wayland and his second wife, Annie Walker Kingsbury. On August 24, 1914, Hannah wrote to her daughter Ella, then living in California:

“I am settled with Wayland and Annie again, with no prospect of unsettling, and I am satisfied. Shall try to be cheerful and agreeable and useful, as far as I am able.” After describing her day at church she continues: “Dean received a letter from a girlfriend in Washington, with a clipping containing a whole lot of names of Americans that were stranded in Europe, and Joe’s was among them, as also the two friends that were with him. They were in Nuremberg. We have to keep satisfied with ‘watchful waiting’ for awhile, probably. Oh, the cruelty and meanness of such a war.”

Hannah died when she was 84 and her daughter Ella describes her as brave and helpful to the end. In one of my favorite lines in the book she writes of her mother:

“No self-pity, no whining, no grumbling, do I recall. Trustful and true to the last. To her it was humiliating to be a leaner. A lifter was her habitual character.”

Good advice – the world could use more lifters!


2 Comments

50th Wedding Anniversary Poem for Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury and Hannah Brown Kingsbury – October 1902

This poem is from the book Salt of the Earth by Ella Kingsbury Whitmore on the occasion of her parents’ 50th Wedding anniversary. It was written by one of their granddaughters.

Just fifty years ago today,
‘Mongst Vermont hills so far away,
In a little quiet eastern town,
Occurred the things I’ve written down.

Perhaps you’ve heard the tale before –
Perhaps you’ve heard it o’er and o’er;
But it ne’er before was writ in verse
So listen, please, it might be worse.

October four, in fifty-two,
The sky was not a lovely blue,
At early morn the rain came down,
On the wedding day of Hannah Brown.

The stalwart youth who won her heart,
And Hannah, lived some miles apart,
But he was young, and strong, and full of life
And went through the rain to take his wife.

Up the big long hills he drove along –
His heart was full of joyful song,
For today he and the young school teacher
Had planned to go and see the preacher.

So what cared he for mud or rain?
He soon would see her face again
And side by side, through life, from now,
He’d always have a smiling “frau.”

And she was young, and fair, and sweet,
As any girl you’d chance to meet,
If you would travel far and wide,
Up many a mountain’s rugged side.

From her country home to Londonderry,
Where lived the young man Joe Kingsbury,
Over the mountains she had come,
To teach the youngsters near his home.

As long as the old world turns around,
Just such cases will be found.
He learned to love, and wooed and won,
The shy and pretty Hannah Brown.

So now he planned to take his wife,
And go out west, begin a life,
In far away big Illinois,
Of which he dreamed, since but a boy.
The wedding gown was fine and new,
It was light gray-it was not blue
There’s a joke about the bridegroom’s hat-
Maybe he will tell you that.

No wedding grand was in their plans-
A quiet marriage, by a man
They both knew well was kind and good,
Jamaica’s preacher, Elder Wood.

As eve drew on, the sky did lighten,
And stars came out, their way to brighten,
As on they went, these loving two,
With sister and her husband true.

The knot was tied, and good and strong-
Has not come loose through all the long
And busy years passed through since then,
Through years now counting five times ten.

Some days perchance were dark and dreary,
And oftentimes they both were weary;
But through hard times they came at length,
Each strengthened by the other’s strength.

And now around them in their home,
Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren come;
Each one’s heart is full of love,
Each one trusting God above

Will send his blessings, rich in store,
For long years prolonged many more.
So here are congratulations hearty!
At this anniversary party.

Three cheers for Grandpa and Grandma Kingsbury,
For Jamaica Town, and Londonderry!