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JBK Diary – June 7 – 14, 1912

Friday June 7, 1912 – Fine day

Rose 6:30. Breakfast. Talked with Uncle Martin and Aunt Mary. (Wayland Kingsbury’s oldest sister Mary was married to Martin Fussell and lived in Fayette, Iowa.) Drove out to Roy’s looked around the farm. (Roy Fussell is the oldest child born to Mary and Martin Fussell in 1875 – JBK’s oldest cousin.) Alma (Roy’s youngest sister, born in 1887) drove to train with us. Miss Julia Crissey came down to depot. Charles City at 12:40. Went up town, saw Clarence Crimer & Sanders. Dinner. YMCA. Waited all pm for freight. Talked with Mr. Lapham & Morris Penney. Home at 6:10. Walked home. Met Father, Mother & Clark coming to train with Bill. (I haven’t been able to figure out who Bill is.) Washed up a little & went to Girls’ Glee Club Concert. Met lots of people. Home with Aunt Clara and Aunt Abbie. (Aunt Clara and Aunt Abbie are JBK’s aunts on the Bush side of the family – both would have been close to 60 years old in 1912.)

Saturday June 8, 1912 – Fine

Rose 8:30. Loafed. Went to store, talked with Arthur Cl. and Uncle Bert. Baseball practice with Sem boys all pm. Mowed East lawn before supper. Took bath. Senior class day exercises in the chapel 8 to 9. Band concert on Main Street. Met lots more fellows.

Sunday June 9, 1912 – Fine Baccalaureate Sermon CVS

Rose 7:30 or 8:00. Father and I drove Bill. Took washing and went to west bridge. Helped Harold Dickinson with broken axle. Church full at 10:30. Mr. Potter preached great sermon. Grandmas K & B, Aunt Clara, Aunt Abbie, Gardners & Uncle Bert to dinner. Rode down to Floyd with Clydes in Conley auto. Took Arthur to work. By Ph (?) sacred concert at church. Carey sang. Sat with Uncle Bert, Aunts Abbie and Clara.

Monday June 10, 1912 – Cloudy & Fair

Went to chapel. Carey and I called on Mr. Spaches (?). Looked through new high school with “Mac” and Mr. Boynton. Dinner at Grandma K’s. Played ball after dinner. Took Clark to alumni Ball game CVS won 5 to 1. Daily contest in the Press won by Fen Olson & Clarence Allanson. (I was going to check this against the news in the paper but unfortunately all of the papers from 1912 are missing from the online digitized version of the Mitchell County Press and Osage Advantage.)

Tuesday June 11, 1912 – Cloudy but no rain.

Farewell chapel at 9:30. Sang in quartet. Miss Morrison led ’09 class meeting. Wrote up ball game for Press. Dinner at Burtch’s with Gardners & aunts. May Pole drill & band  on campus. Fine exercises. Saw lots of people. Aunt Clara and I went early to arrange seating at banquet. 190 present. Henry A., Sigurd and I sat together. Letters read speeches. Had to speak as grandson of Grandfather Bush. Meeting in Cong church. Sermon by A W Call of Vinton. Reminisces by alumni. Fine program.

Wednesday June 12, 1912 – Cloudy but no rain.

Rose at 6 o’clock. Went to clipper with Henry Allanson. Rode with father and Billy. Planned picnic. Wrote to Frank. Aunt Grace G’s for dinner. Rode up in Charles Williams Oakland car. ’09 picnic, also ’11s at Mark’s south of town. Misses Morrison, Bacon & Fullerton, Anna Sesch, Bernice & Lucia Merrick, Lou Champion, Lewis Schulte, Ruth Moe, Ada  Weaverling, Vera Tomey, Lee Lernon, Carey B & I rode down in hack. Played three deep, stillpond, baseball and skipped stones. Fine time. Lots to eat. Returned at 6:30. Milked cow. Last commencement program, thirteen orations. Fine class. Milked cow.

Thursday June 13, 1912 – Cloudy

Loafed around home. Moved into Dean’s room, town at noon. Went to depot at noon to see Sem people off. Went up to library with Clark. Read Jack Hazard to him. Joe Naden came up. Played ball with Clark. Supper at 8. Called on Miss Bacon at East hall. Bed at 11:30.

Friday June 14, 1912 – Cloudy cool

Got up at 8 o’clock. Mowed lawn all forenoon – Dean worked at store. Drove Billy after dinner and helped Aunt Clara move to hall. Mother drove out in country to Mrs. B Coles. Loafed, read, sewed up baseballs. Played ball with Dean and Clark. Dean got supper. Read til 10:30. Rain storm.

 

 

 

 


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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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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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Sunday Morning – February 7, 1937

Dearest:

I was delighted to find your letter at the breakfast table this morning, and the news cheered me still more. Your first day as a business-woman-with-a- family-to-support sounded too good to be true. I should have sent you a special today, though I had no news. FOE will be here tomorrow morning, so I could have come up this weekend, but next week will be better. One reason I didn’t come was that I unfortunately mentioned it at lunch with CW and Bob, and she made plans at once for them to go to Washington with me. I am going to have to find a different place for lunch – she is getting too conspicuous. Another reason is that I am getting a lot of stuff together for FOE to go over in the 3 days that he will be here. A note from EOG yesterday says there is a years’ work in California, but they haven’t signed up yet.

We are getting along fairly well here, and after several days of getting adjusted to boarding house life and long hours, I feel very well. I thought for a few days my eyes were going bad, but I can still keep them working by walking to and from work and getting lots of sleep.

We must try to arrange for Bry to go to school unless you find he can be happy otherwise. Are there any playgrounds or parks nearby? I do hope Daisy is as good as she seems and that she will stay. You didn’t tell me where you got her.

The bank statement came this morning, and I am sending it on without looking at it.

I have written three checks so far:

2/4 C&P telephone  $1.20

2/4 Royal typewriter $4.00

2/6 Cash $10.00

Send me your telephone number so I can warn you if I decide suddenly to run up.

All my love,

Joe

In handwritten pencil is the following message

I am sending you Kolbe’s reply to my letter. If you want me to handle it send the letter back and tell me what to do.

 


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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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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.

ellakwhitmore-memoriam

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!

311wildroseavenue-2015

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.

st-ansgar-funnyad-1936

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!