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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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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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My Grandfather’s Love Letters

My grandfather was a college professor. He was 65 years old when I was born in 1955, but I enjoyed a 28 year relationship with him that profoundly influenced my life. The letters he left behind continue and deepen that relationship. I am so thankful for his written legacy.

I am taking the liberty of sharing a side of Joseph Bush Kingsbury that most of the world never knew. I’ve decide it is okay to do that. When I read his letters they are completely in line with the person I knew him to be and yet they reveal a side of him most people who knew him never got to see.

When my grandfather met his future wife he was 36 and she was 24. They married 11 months after they met. Thank goodness – or I wouldn’t be here! It’s kind of crazy (and a little selfish) when you think of things that way but I wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t be reading this if those two people – who seem like such an unlikely pair in so many ways – hadn’t gotten married on January 4, 1928.

This letter was written about a month before their wedding when he was on assignment in Columbus, Ohio and she was living at home in Washington DC. I’m pretty sure she worked at the Library of Congress, which is so COOL!  (If you haven’t been to the Library of Congress it is one of those places that I think all Americans MUST visit. Right up there with Gettysburg – but for entirely different reasons.) He worked for a Chicago consulting firm, Griffenhagen and Associates, doing studies for state and local governments on personnel policies and salaries, usually in an effort to come up with a uniform salary structure that equalized compensation based on training and experience across many levels of government.

When I read my grandfather’s love letters to Kitty, it’s bittersweet. I know their relationship didn’t work out the way he wanted it to and they had many years of unhappiness. But when I read of his “head over heels” love for his young bride to be, I’m happy to know that he had these feelings.

I also like these letters because I get a bit of an idea what Kitty was like. I met her, but I have no memory of her. She died in December 1959 when I was 4 years old.

December 1927

Monday Night – Columbus, OH

Forgive me, darling, but I have another sentimental spell on, and I can’t go to bed without writing you again. Went to a romantic movie tonight (The Road to Romance – good too) – maybe that’s all that’s wrong, but I think it’s something deeper. Lately I’ve been so happy that it’s almost alarming. I’m likely to forget my dignity and do something childish most any time. I haven’t worried about anything for several weeks, and the world looks like a good place to live.

When I first knew you and we used to talk in a sophisticated way about love and marriage I said I thought marriage didn’t change anyone much. I’m beginning to think it does – at least the immediate prospect of it does. I may be kidding myself, but I think I am changing a little. For one thing – I can look back just a few months and see what a baby I’ve always been. I’ve just naturally thought of myself first and expected everybody to do things to please me, and if they didn’t I wouldn’t play. Probably you’ll have some occasions yet to remind me of this, but I’m beginning to grow up, at least.

Just think, a year ago I didn’t mean anything to you nor you to me! I don’t know yet why I fell in love with you – I certainly didn’t intend to. It was a rash thing to do, but having been cautious and deliberate all my life I enjoyed being reckless and I think it’s the wisest thing I ever did. As usual, I’m talking as though I did it all. As a matter of fact you just happened across my path and having seen you I was done for. For some unknown reason you chose to let me stay and now I’m your prisoner for life, and don’t want to be anything else.

Writing is so unsatisfactory. If you were here I would hold you so tight and kiss you till I made you promise never to let me go.

                                                                                                                Your lover


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Osage Treasures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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”

img080


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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.

 

 

 

 

 


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Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury’s Civil War Records

Most people know I’m a big Civil War buff and some might assume its because I grew up in the land of magnolias and sweet tea. I think it is because my husband and I started visiting Civil War battlefields when we were first married so it is a  hobby we developed together. I am sure we will do even more of it when we retire.

One of the first things I did when I got interested in genealogy was to track the Civil War records of my ancestors and I have both Northern and Southern soldiers in my family tree. Our direct line Kingsbury ancestor who would have been old enough to fight in the American Civil War – Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury was born in Vermont in 1827. I knew from his daughter Ella Kingsbury Whitmore’s book entitled Salt of the Earth, published in 1944, that he did not serve. Here’s what she writes about that:

p.20 The Civil War came on with all its tragedy. To this day, the sound of the fife and bugle, on patriotic occasions, recalls those stirring days, small as I was. Our father’s place was seen to be with his family, so we were spared the anxiety that came to the homes from which the father joined the army.

Today I found out why Joseph Biscoe Kingsbury’s place was “seen to be with his family.” FLBlog.5.27.16

His name is on line 13 of the record copied above, which is the 1863 draft registration record for the Third Congressional District of Iowa. He is registered as Class II, which is the designation for married men over 35. If he’d been born one year later, he would have been Class I and might have been drafted in the later years of the war.