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Osage Newspaper Account of JBK’s 1914 Trip to Europe

What a treat to find a newspaper account of my grandfather’s trip to Europe in the summer of 1914. He was planning a sightseeing trip abroad during the summer before his senior year in college but World War I intervened.

True to his positive nature, Joe Kingsbury made the best of a bad situation. Four days after he and two friends landed in Germany, the trains stopped running and they were stranded in Nuremberg for almost two weeks. The following account, which he sent to his hometown newspaper after his safe return to the United States in late August, speaks for itself.

This article appeared in column one on the front page of the Mitchell County Press & Osage Journal on September 9, 1914 and continued on page 5, columns 1 and 2. The title read:

Osager’s Experience Marooned in Germany 

Joe Kingsbury Spent Interesting Six Weeks in German Empire

He, With Others, Arrested Four Times Mistaken for Russian Spies,
But Finally Landed in U.S.A.

Washington, DC
September 2, 1914

Dear Clinton: (my guess is that JBK wrote the letter to the Editor, H.C. Hill and that the C stands for Clinton) 

Perhaps the best way to thank all those people who have so kindly inquired about me, and to let everybody know that I am back in the United States (and glad of it), will be through a few lines in the “Press.” I arrived in New York Saturday noon, August 29th on the Olympic, after a rather exciting six weeks abroad. Of course I did not expect to run into any wars when I left, and the sight-seeing part of the trip was interrupted rather abruptly on August 2nd.  I didn’t visit quite all the places I expected to, but, on the other hand, I saw a great deal that I never expected to see, and the trip was far from being a disappointment. In fact, I wouldn’t take anything for my experiences. I left New York, with two Washington boys, H.B. Elgin and J.B. Leslie, on July 20th, on the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse (now at the bottom of the Atlantic off the coast of Africa). Fifteen years ago “Big Bill” as this ship was called, was thought to be the last word in ship building, both in size and speed, and it was still one of the fast ones, making the trip to Bremen in exactly seven days. We had a splendid trip across, with 1500 Germans, whom I suppose were going home to fight for the Fatherland, though they didn’t tell us anything about it. On the 25th we learned by wireless that Austria and Servia were at war, but we didn’t anticipate any trouble from that. We landed at Bremen, July 28th and spent the next four days seeing Berlin, with Bruce Lybarger for a guide. Bruce is the same except for a German moustache and a good German vocabulary, which helped us considerably in seeing and understanding what we saw of Berlin. The morning after our departure he expected leave for a little summer resort on the Baltic but I doubt he got there, or was even able to leave Berlin. On the afternoon that we left Berlin, the Kaiser came past our hotel on his way to the palace from his residence in Potsdam, and it seemed to us as though the people greeted him a little more enthusiastically than they usually would. But still we suspected nothing and went on to Dresden, where we spent one of the pleasantest days of our trip in that beautiful city.

As we rode past the Barracks in a sightseeing automobile that afternoon we heard songs and cheers and other expressions of pleasure from the thousands of officers and men quartered there. One of them came running out to the car and with a pleased look on his face told us that Russia had acceded to the Kaiser’s demand, had withdrawn her troops from the Austrian border, and the trouble was over. Everyone was glad. This and many other incidents I noted, make me positive that the German people did not want or expect war. But when war came, no one could be more loyal and patriotic than they. There is not the look of reckless bravery on the faces of the German soldiers that there is on the American soldiers’, nor the longing for ‘something doing’. They realize better than anyone, the seriousness of their business. Three hours later we learned that the report of a Russian withdrawal was false and war would follow immediately. The young German clerk who told us this also advised us that Germany would not be a good place for tourists anymore, so we immediately stopped spending our money, went to our hotel and packed, and were ready to start for Switzerland early the next morning – Sunday.

Here our first trouble occurred. The hotel refused to take our American Express cheques (the only time they were refused) and we had barely enough cash to pay our bill and buy three tickets for Nuremberg, in south central Germany. We reached there after an all day’s ride in a baggage-passenger car, right behind the engine. An hour and a half after our arrival, all trains were turned over to the army, and all tourists in Germany stayed right where they were.

We were in Nuremberg fifteen days. We did not leave for two reasons; first, there was no better place to go, and second, no trains were running. We learned from the American Consul of a good, inexpensive place to live, Schneider’s Hotel, and composed ourselves for a stay of several months, until the relief ships, which the Consul reported were being chartered by the United States government, should arrive to bring us home. The Germans gave us to understand that no ships of any flag were now crossing the ocean and our only way of getting home was to be sent for.

Our stay in Nuremberg we shall always look back on with pleasure, in spite of some experiences that at the time were rather annoying. The evening of our arrival Elgin and I were sitting in our room while Leslie had gone out to get a cigar. We watched several officers, followed by a mob of people, come up the narrow street and enter our hotel. Presently they knocked on our door and when we let them in, they accused us of sending a telegram. We said we had not, and explained (in bad German) who we were and what we were there for, showing all the papers we had to prove that we were not Russian spies, but Americans. After marching up and down in front of our room and trying different interpreters on us, they finally left, and pretty soon Leslie came in with the explanation. He had seen a telegram posted in a window regarding North German Lloyd ships, and not knowing any German, he attempted to copy it to show us. An officer armed to the teeth grabbed him and led him off to a guardhouse where they searched him and questioned him for over an hour. Meanwhile they sent officers to guard us, whom, I suppose they thought were accomplices. I don’t blame them at all for being so suspicious, for they did catch a number of Russian spies in Nuremberg, but it began to be monotonous when we were arrested the next day while waiting for a street car, and the day after that for watching a man leading a string of horses in a market place, and the next day for trying to buy some English books in a bookstore. Each time they took us to the guardhouse and made us show our return steamer tickets, traveller’s cheques, government pass cards, YMCA membership cards, and anything else we had that was ‘made in America.’

The Consul finally gave us temporary passports, and the burgemaster ordered no more arrests except on the strongest suspicions, and forbade the crowd to follow an officer with a prisoner. That was the worst thing about being arrested. We didn’t mind going to jail so much, after the first time, but the people, especially the kids, would follow us yelling ‘spion’ (spy). When we came out of the guardhouse they would still be waiting for us, and although we had convinced the officers that we were alright we couldn’t make the kids think so. Nuremberg is a charming place, built about the thirteenth century and apparently it hasn’t changed much since. We found all kinds of places that we had studied about in mediaeval history the year before in school, and some of the most picturesque eating places imaginable, the memory of which will always remain, both for their quaintness and for the delicious food. So that while we were disappointed at not seeing Switzerland and France and England, our extended stay in Nuremberg gave us really a good knowledge of one place, some German atmosphere, and good practice in speaking German. When we had become somewhat more proficient in the latter, raised small moustaches, and had our heads clipped, we ceased to attract much attention, and if they did take us for Englishmen we showed them the American flag which never failed to command respect and courtesy. On August 17th, through the kindness of the railroad commandant and the efforts of some Americans in Nuremberg, among them Alex H. Revell of Chicago, a special train full of Americans left Nuremberg for Amsterdam. We decided our chances of getting on the American relief ships would be better if we were nearer the coast, so we took the opportunity to get out of Germany.

That train ride through the heart of Germany was the most interesting I ever took or perhaps ever will take. We traveled only about 15 miles an hour so it was like an observation train, and although the journey lasted forty hours (with no sleeping cars) it was never tiresome. Almost all signs of peaceful industry had closed down. Only women and children were at work in the fields; all the men have gone to war. Instead of brakemen, yard men and mechanics along the track, there stood men with guns, one every hundred feet, and at every bridge and culvert three or four. Frequently we had to take the siding while a train loaded with troops went by on their way to the French frontier or a hospital train would come back from the front full of wounded men.

At nearly every town there squads of soldiers and raw recruits getting whipped into shape to swell Germany’s fighting force to eleven million men. One company of infantry marching along a country road stopped, wheeled, and saluted our train as it went by, with American flags waving from many windows. At many stations, American flags were hung out in our honor, and Red Cross nurses served us with coffee, ‘kase brod,’ lemonade, fresh Rhine wine, etc. and threw flowers in the windows. The people of Germany feel that America is their best and truest friend, and their kindness and faith in us could not fail to touch every heart. So many false reports had appeared in French and German newspapers (which I know from personal experience) that the Germans are very much worried, and everyone that I talked to begged me when I got back to America, to tell the truth about Germany. I would be extremely ungrateful if I did not try to tell something of the German side. There is no doubt that the newspaper accounts, which come mostly from Paris or London, tell only one side of the story. When we reached Amsterdam we were greatly surprised to find the Dutch and English ships were running, and we were fortunate enough to get second class cabins on the “Olympic” the largest ship now carrying passengers, three sailing days behind her schedule from Liverpool. That gave us just time to see something of  Amsterdam and a little of London, and Sunday morning, August 23rd we steamed out of Liverpool, the wireless down, all portholes covered with brown paper, windows painted black, and rugs hung over them; never a light showing at night. We sighted British cruisers nearly every day, and were always in touch with them by wireless, which was put up the second day out. The trip home was also a great experience; we heard so many tales of thrilling experiences that we were ashamed to tell of our tame little adventures. Nearly every passenger aboard had lost some baggage somewhere in Europe, all who were touring in cars had had them confiscated by the governments and we decided that we had come out of the trouble about as easily and fortunately as anyone.

The Statue of Liberty surely never looked as good as it did last Saturday morning to the two thousand refugees on the Olympic. Every man, woman and child on board, I think, inwardly gave thanks for the return to the land of peace, and prayed that war may never come upon us. It is a tremendous effort to boil my story down to this size, there is so much to tell about, but these are a very few of the bare facts, with no attempt to be partisan or draw a moral. Don’t forget to send me a paper. Best wishes to yourself and family and all Osage friends.

Sincerely yours,
Joe Kingsbury

 


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JBK’s Diary – Sunday May 26 – Wednesday May 29th 1912

Sunday May 26th – Great day – fine weather. Finest day ever. Carey went over to Georgetown to sing but didn’t. Jack Brantly and I went canoeing. Fine time. River full of people. Supper at Curry’s. CE (Christian Education – I think) meeting led by Mrs. Cookman. Bed at 11.

Monday May 27th – Fine. Got up 6:30. Studied Logic. Took suit to be pressed. Busy at work. Quit at 4 pm. Came home and studied Logic – took exam. Missed 1 question. Fooled away the evening. Bed at 11. Took run and swim.

Tuesday May 28th – Fine weather. Rose 6:30. Carey and I went shopping at Woodward and Lothrop before work. Fairly busy day. Board meeting. Talked with Hank at noon. Picture with Leaders Corp’s  Harris & Ewing 5 pm. Went out to Henry Olson’s room, bought 3 camp blankets at 4005 14th Street. Hank & I went swimming. Started packing away stuff. Bed 11:45.

Wednesday May 29th – HOT. Packed up stuff. Busy at work. Did shopping at noon. Went out to Dom. Heights at 4:30 & saw Comley about Carpenter. Talked with Dean Wilbur til 7. Punch in Mizell’s room. Packed trunks. Marcy & Marshall came up and took swim. Bed at 11.


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JBK’s Diary – May 22 – 25, 1912

I’m going to try and get back on track with a few short posts from some of my grandfather’s diaries from the early 1900s. He was a student at George Washington University when this entry was written. He also worked as a stenographer in the Department of Agriculture – a pretty good DC job for a boy from Iowa.

May 22, 1912 (in the margin beside the date – “Warm”)

Another hot day. Studied History. Finished theme on Kidnapped. Busy day. Sleepy. Last night of school. Family letters –  answered. English class til 8 pm. Gave report. Swam. Uncle Bill called. Bed 12.

May 23, 1912

Cloudy, cooler. Not very busy. Blichensderfer man at office. Carey and I went canoeing from 5 til 6. Talked with Hill til 9. Olson, Carey and I studied History til 11:30. Bed 12. Called at C.S. (Civil Service) Commission at 9 am to see about Dean’s exam.

TypewriterAd.5.23.17

From Google Books, p.657 of the American Federationist, Vol. XII, January 1905

May 24, 1912,

Fine, warm. Studied History. Not very busy day. Quit at 4. Saw Mr. Metcalf about tent. History exam went well. Hot. Olson, Carey and I went to Lucia di Lammermoor. Finest thing for a long time. Bed 12.

May 25, 1912 (A Saturday)

Fine, cool. Studied Logic. Busy all day making table. Rode over to Y at noon. Tennis with Mizell til 6. Wash. Prayer meeting led by Stuterman. Talked with Hank. Choir practice. Red news. Broke glasses again, 6th time.

 

Okay that is it for today. (Who knew that a propensity for breaking eyeglasses was an inherited trait!) I’ve got to pack and will be at a meeting in the NC mountains for the next three days. Work has been incredibly busy and as usual, I’m torn between staying in the office and working and attending the annual meeting of North Carolina Land Trusts. Too late to change plans now since I have the rental car from work and three other people are riding with me.

 


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  Where I’ve Been, What I’ve Been Doing

I really had the best intentions of transcribing a few of Joseph B. Kingsbury’s letters every week and posting them on this blog. Really, I did. But as you can see from my last post being more than two months ago, I obviously didn’t succeed. Maybe I need some more Kingsbury family members to post their stories here (hint hint). I welcome other contributors and will gladly give you publishing privileges if you’re interested.

As usual, work got busy and I was posting a lot on my other family history website http://www.trovandofamiglia.wordpress.com, which captures the stories of my husband’s Italian immigrant ancestors. During the month of April, when I’ve had any time to write, I’ve been participating in a blogging challenge in honor of National Poetry Month that you can find at http://www.napowrimo.net. Maureen Thorson, the woman behind NaPoWriMo.net posts an optional prompt each day in the month of April. The idea is to write 30 poems in 30 days. She also posts interviews with poets, examples of poems and  features a poem each day from the participants in the challenge. If you like poetry even just a little, I’d encourage you to check it out. If you search #napowrimo you’ll find  poems written by people from all around the world who are participating in the challenge.

Today I posted the poem for Day 10, (yes, I’m running a little behind on that challenge too) which called for a portrait poem. Here’s the optional prompt:

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you. It doesn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, as what they are or were. If you need inspiration, here’s one of my favorite portrait poems.
from Maureen Thorson on napowrimo.net, April 10, 2017

So here’s my response to that prompt, which just happens to be about a very special member of the Kingsbury family – my grandfather Joseph Bush Kingsbury – third son born to Wayland Kingsbury and Flora Jane Bush. My mother always called him Father Kingsbury, my cousins called him Papa Joe, to many he was Professor Kingsbury but to me he was always Granddaddy Kingsbury.

Grandfather Kingsbury

The smell of fresh pipe tobacco lingered after he was gone
But memories of our time together lingered longer.

Long walks after dinner – sometimes talking, mostly walking.
Afternoons at the big dining room table that never hosted family dinners
Playing Russian Bank – a form of double solitaire.
Alone together.

Visits to my third grade class to tell of his world travels.
Feeling so special as my classmates sat in rapt attention
listening to stories of his life in Thailand.
Water buffalo and beautiful dancers in golden crowns with wrists so supple that fingers bending backward could almost touch their wrists.

When my grandfather visited, I was important – someone who mattered.
Not just at school but at home.

When my grandfather visited, his son stopped drinking for a while.
My parents stopped fighting for a while.
We were a ‘normal’ family for a while.

My grandfather was my portal to the world.
With his stories and his support
I got to see the world
and I realized that my world was not all there was.

With his quiet voice and thoughtful, measured speech
He taught me to listen.

With his never-ending encouragement and example
He taught me to seek adventure.

With his patience and kindness
He taught me compassion.

With his unfailing belief in my abilities,
He taught me to believe in myself.

Oh, how I’d like to take an after dinner walk with him now.
Slowly walking, quietly talking.
Or play a game of Russian Bank at my dining room table
(that has hosted many family dinners.)
Alone together again.

© Kalen Kingsbury 2017

joseph-kingsbury (2)


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1937 – February Letters to Kitty

Joe’s Letter to Kitty – Monday February 15th

Darling:

Nothing to write about, but this will be something to take out of the mail box and read on the streetcar. Hope you had help in moving and are more settled than you were.

No check for me, but they may be along later in the week when our time reports get there. I wrote a check for $15.00 cash today – had to buy postage and envelopes for the office.

I spent Sunday in bed with a sore throat, headache, backache and temperature, but am OK today, although I suppose I will have a week or so of nose blowing. I felt it coming Saturday night so took a physic and filled up with aspirin, and didn’t eat a thing until Sunday evening when Miss Stratton sent up a tray.

FOE has us all on the jump – he may have to leave this weekend. I felt week today but by going out at 10:30 for some Bovril (Bovril’s great bracer) and at 3:30 for hot chocolate, I got through the day.

Did Bry get over his cold? and how are you ? Write me everything.

Love, Joe

Tuesday Evening

February 16th

Darling:

6:30: FOE , Kerr and I are all back at the office grinding out stuff. I have spent most of the day conferring with FOE and Bradford. B will be satisfied if we set up salary scales for college teachers of various types, and make some recommendations about how many there should be of each rank, qualifications etc. So that is settled. I am chief of staff, signing letters as such.

FOE remarked that since your are settled in Washington I probably wasn’t interested in California any more, but I told him I still was. He said I might be there a long time.

I enclose a statement of income I got from Headquarters. Since it was not reported by G&A, I take it our figure doesn’t have to agree with this, and we might forget the payment of last January (1936). We’ll talk about it when I see you.

I am missing you and the boys terribly now. Hope things are going well. Boarding house routine is not too bad. I have a good bed, and go to bed early and read almost every night. Get up at 7 and am at the office soon after 8. Feel OK.

Hope to have a letter from you in the morning.

Love, Joe

Commentary:

Here’s a mundane day-to-day exchange between a husband and wife, with two sons, Bry (4 – almost 5) and Deane (6 months). True to my uncle’s recollection, their mother worked (I wish I knew what her job was) and a Negro woman took care of them. That woman must be Daisy – someone Kitty hired to look after the boys while she worked after returning to Washington DC in January 1937 while JBK continued on his job for Griffenhagen & Associates in Richmond, VA.

I see a recurring theme of stress in a marriage – finances. Also I see that Kitty handled the banking (as I do) in the family and that JBK would just send her the bank statement and let her know what checks he had written. Oh dear, sounds like a recipe for disaster if he didn’t know how many checks she had written!

I have to remark on the working woman dilemma. So many of my generation seem to think we were the first to deal with the “family/work balance dilemma” but in reality my grandmother was dealing with it 50 years before I did. It is also interesting to see that JBK was considering a job that would keep him in California – “for a long time” while his wife and young sons lived in Washington DC. That seems a bit odd, but maybe he assumed that if he went to California, Kitty and the boys would move out there to live with him. Or maybe he planned to live apart from his family for an extended period of time. Again – an issue that this generation of dual income families seem to think they were the first to deal with.

Next time you feel a cold coming on – be sure to take a physic (not something I’ve been able to find a modern explanation of) followed by Bovril and hot chocolate.

 


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February 3, 1937 – A Two Letter Day

In reviewing my grandfather’s letters from the 1920s and 1930s I am struck by a few differences between then and now.

First, the idea of a five day work week seems to be a  benefit that we take for granted. When JBK worked as a clerk in the Department of Agriculture while attending school in Washington DC from 1910 to 1914, Saturday work was the norm, not the exception.

Second, when he was working for Griffenhagen and Associates he often had to cover his own expenses out of his salary. Expenses that today are covered by the employer – like paying a typist or office assistant. Meals and travel expenses were not reimbursed and JBK often wrote about cheaply he could get by for a week.

Third, the postal service seemed more efficient than it is today. Letters travelled faster and mail was delivered more than once a day. I have no idea how it worked.

On February 3, 1937 JBK wrote two letters to Kitty, who had just moved back to Washington DC while he remained in Richmond VA, finishing his work with Griffenhagen & Associates on the personnel study for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Wednesday

Darling:

Sorry to hear that we are on the rocks again.(1) I wrote EOG (his big boss) that I would have to have money by the end of this week, but later FOE (his project manager) told me had been told to help me out on expenses until about the 20th. If necessary I’ll call on him for a loan; he will have to pay the office force this week. I deposited the annuity check, and won’t write any checks until I have made a deposit.

You probably read of Woodcock’s resignation. (President of St. John’s College) How would you like to be at SJC now? I imagine everybody is pretty worried. I don’t see how the place can stay open much longer.

Doubt if I can make it home this weekend, but next week we should be easing off. I’ve been working on the report the last two days. FOE and I are barely speaking; I despise him and I guess he knows it. I shall try hard to locate in Washington.

Love, Joe

(1) This means out of money – a frequent topic in their correspondence throughout most of the time they spent together. Although I only have JBK’s letters to Kitty, I get the impression she frequently wrote complaining about not having enough money, needing more money, wanting him to get a job that made more money – etc. Money – always a big stressor in relationships, especially when two people have very different ideas about it.

Pretty strong words from my mild-mannered grandfather who I can’t imagine ever despised anyone. Of course, he had probably mellowed a lot by the time I knew him. Age has that effect on people . I hardly despise anyone these days!

His second letter on February 3rd is as follows

Wednesday – 9 pm

Darling:

This is two letters to you in the same day; don’t get too flattered, and don’t expect two every day. I came back to the office after dinner and have done two hours work, but it still goes too slowly. Thought you might call (he didn’t have a phone in his boarding house and had asked Kitty to call the office if she wanted to talk to him). The telephone rang but it was CW asking if Bob was there. They are having another crisis – he hasn’t been with her since they came back together on the bus Sunday night. The visit to her family made him think she had serious designs, and he is trying to break away. Last night she sent him word that she was going out (he found out it was with the man she calls her uncle – really her uncle’s law partner who gives her money). He wrote a note telling her that was the end; showed it to me and I suggested that it might have the wrong effect. She came down to the office three times today on various pretexts, and told Mrs. D she felt terrible – cried all morning. Bob said he was going home and go to bed early but I wouldn’t be surprised if – – – oh hell, I am getting more and more uninterested in what happens to them, but it does make me feel we have something to be thankful for, and that there are troubles worse than finances, which I once thought impossible.

The package from mother came today and I forwarded it to Bry this afternoon.

You should see my boarding house. It is just opposite the vacant lot where we bought our Christmas tree. I have the front room on the 3rd floor this week, but it’s a double room, and when she gets two men to take it I’ll have to move into the backroom with a young business college student unless there is a single room vacant.

Everything is old and bare, but the beds are comfortable, rooms are warm and the food is good enough. Navy bean soup, ground steak, string beans, tomatoes, celery, rolls, ginger snaps & coffee. It reminds me somewhat of army food, on which I thrived. I can stand it, if I can stay cold and aloof enough from the other boarders. My next door neighbor is an electrical construction man working at the Dupont plant. He has to be on the job at 7:30, so for five nights he stays home and reads & goes early to bed, but Sat. & Sunday he gets drunk. He burned his car up while tight, and last week-end had a terrible fight with another inmate named Applebury, who they call “fire chief” because he sometimes goes to sleep smoking and burns the bed clothes.  I’m learning how the other half lives.

I collected $1.00 from the T&E laundry, and I still have $9.00 (after paying room & board, buying a tank full of gasoline, room at the Y, express on the trunks, etc.) – almost enough to last thru next week.

I hope the difficulties of finding an apartment and a nurse haven’t got you down. Your assignment is tougher than mine. Luck, and all my love

Joe

This letter is a good example of how I establish dates and times for certain events. By JBK’s reference to his boarding house being across from the lot where they got their Christmas tree – I conclude that the family lived together in Richmond in December 1936. I know my uncle Deane was born in Osage Iowa in August 1936 and he was a bit early so Kitty and the boys stayed there for at least a month. This means she moved to Richmond, where JBK was already working, in the fall of 1936. So my uncle spent his first Christmas in my hometown – Richmond VA! Another instance of overlapping ancestor tracks which I think I’m gonna start calling – OATS.

The gossipy part of JBK’s letter seems a bit out of character for him but I assume that Kitty knew the people he was writing about and was probably interested in the story. One observation I have though – admittedly from a woman’s perspective – If Bob was trying to break it off because CW had “designs on him” why should he care whether or not she went out with the man she called her “uncle.”  He should have relieved but I guess he was using that as an easy excuse to get out of the relationship. I can’t wait to see what develops in the coming letters.

And last question – how do you  collect money from the laundry? Is it possible they paid in advance and then had laundry done there while Kitty was in town and there was a balance in the account? Interesting perspective that my grandfather was able to live for a week (including his rent and food) on what I just spent on my Panera salad at lunch! (I do think Panera is too expensive.)


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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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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.