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Day Two in Berlin – Summer of 1914

July 30, 1914

Woke at 9:30, feeling fine. Breakfast in our hotel – rolls, chocolate, butter and two kinds of preserves. You can guess by this time that we like chocolate. It is much better than we get at home, or else they know how to make it. Butter is a part of the menu just as much as bread, and breakfast is the only meal where you get it without paying extra. They don’t salt their butter and it is delicious. That is the regular breakfast, sometimes honey instead of jam, and after I got used to it, I liked it much. That morning we walked around town and looked at the stores which are one of the most attractive things about Germany. I can imagine a woman would not want to do anything but shop when she went abroad. Everything I can think of is now cheaper in Germany than it is here except fruit, post cards and chewing gum. At noon we saw them change the guard in front of the Emperor’s palace, a little exhibition of German soldiery which always attracts a crowd. Afterward there was a band concert by a military band, and I never heard a band play in such perfect time or tune. We took a few pictures around the palace, visited the Royal Stables, (which looks like a palace) where the Kaiser keeps his 300 horses and as many carriages and sleighs, and then went down to Bruce’s boarding house for dinner. There were two American girls, Misses Tillett from Texas, studying piano, Mr. Kramer from Cedar Falls, studying violin along with Bruce, Mr. Ferguson, a Yale PhD who was studying a few weeks in the University of Berlin, a young Englishman, two young Germans, and Frau Klein and her daughter, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Frau Klein had a fine dinner and she kept the whole table in good humor with her pleasant way of talking. She speaks the most perfect German I have ever listened to, and it would be a great place to learn German, I should think, but Bruce says whenever there are two or three Americans together they can’t learn German rapidly, because they will talk English to each other.

After dinner Bruce and Kramer and we three took the suburban train for Potsdam, about 15 miles away, where the Emperors have had their residences since Frederick the Great. Frederick built Sans Souci – the original palace with the grounds around it, and it is still what he intended it to be, – a place where you can forget every care. I still think it is the most beautiful place of the kind I have seen. I don’t know how many miles the grounds extend but they are all kept in the most perfect condition; forests of these big trees and thick, velvety grass underneath, wonderful flower gardens, fountains, grape vines, fruit trees, etc. We took a dozen pictures but never have found the roll since. We three who had never been there, went through the old palace with its reminders of Frederick the Great and Voltaire, whom he admired so much that he invited him to come and live there, but they soon got enough of each other and couldn’t live together. Just as we were leaving we heard aeroplanes overhead, and five of them passed over on their daily trials. They seem to be farther advanced in flying that we are in the US, airships are much more common. The next day we saw a big Zeppelin flying over Berlin. We saw all of Potsdam, which takes most tourist a day, between four and seven. The way Bruce led us around from one place to another reminded me of Forrest. We had a lunch on the bank of the river Harvel while we were waiting for the boat to take us back to Berlin. Just about sunset it came along and I don’t think I ever enjoyed a ride as much as that one. The Harvel is the prettiest little river imaginable. That exaggeratedly green grass grew right down to the water’s edge, so you could hardly tell where it left off and the water began. All along the shores are pretty little forests, with a spire or tower rising out of them. Everything along the river was ideally beautiful, although there is quite a bit of commerce. Nearer to Berlin are the handsomest houses by far that I have ever seen; white stone or marble, half hidden by trees, with green velvety lawns sloping down to the river, and artistic little boat houses along the bank.

We reached Berlin about 10 p.m. rather cold and hungry, so we told Bruce and Kramer to take us to the best eating place they knew of. They led us to the largest and finest restaurant in Germany, if not the world. “Das Rheingold” which seats 4,000 people, has 450 servants and 150 waiters. It is not expensive but the cooking is the best in the city so Kramer said. The interior is divided into a number of large rooms, all mahogany walls, plush chairs etc. You felt as though you didn’t belong there unless you were dressed for the occasion, but we saw poorly dressed and working people come in as though they were perfectly at home. That is one of the beauties of Germany, – you don’t have to dress up to go anywhere. The well-dressed man is conspicuous in Berlin. We had a fine dinner, with as good beefsteak as I’ve ever tasted in America, for 75 cents apiece.


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Summer 1914 – First Stop – Berlin

July 29th 1914

Woke at 9:30. Raining (it rains every day in Berlin) Had breakfast in a rather fashionable café next to our hotel, and walked down Unter den Linden to the White Star office, where Bassett engaged a berth on the Olympic from Cherbourg August 19th. The agent, to whom he had a letter of introduction, told us that we would have to cut out Prague from our itinerary, because all trains stopped on the Austrian border. In front of the office we met Harrington & Motley, two more of our University Club, and they went with us to the American Consulate, where I had a good visit with Harold Quarton, the deputy consul who used to be in GWU with me. The Berlin consulate is a big place and does lots of business, but it has a reputation with the American residents of Berlin of being very stupid and unobliging. From there we took a subway out to Charlottenburg (West Berlin) and walked through the Tiergarten, a big park of 600 acres, to Bayreuther Strasse 2, where we inquired for Herr Lybarger. I waited half an hour till Bruce came in – the other boys went back to get something to eat. Bruce has a moustache and some German mannerisms, but is the same old fellow, I am glad to say. He inquired right away about everyone at home, especially about Grace and her wedding. We talked only a few minutes and arranged to meet at our hotel in the evening and go out to see the sights at night.

Bruce Lybarger was a friend of my grandfather from his home town of Osage, Iowa. After studying violin in Berlin he returned to Osage and taught violin at Cedar Valley Seminary. It seems he knew just where to go to show his hometown boys the sights of Berlin.

That afternoon we took a trip in a sightseeing car, all through the main part of the city and Charlottenburg, where the emperors have a palace, and the famous Mausoleum is. The Berlin parks and palace grounds are the most beautiful I have ever seen. The trees all seem to grow about 100 high, and they are so close together that it is almost dark under them, but some how they make the grass grow thick and smooth everywhere.

Bruce came up about 9. He said there was no use starting out before 10 because there was very little doing before midnight, but we went out to a little open air park to see the illuminated water-fall – a series of cascades with colored lights shining through them. Bruce has been around to most of the cafes with people who have wanted to see them – he had taken Dr. Savre around just a week or so before, and he knows how to do it alright. We would have had a hard time without him. He came to Berlin about a year ago not knowing a word of German, he said, and at first had an awful time getting around, but without studying he has picked up enough words and expressions to pass as a German when he wants to. About ten o’clock we went into the Picadilly Café, the largest and most popular. It is an enormous building, with a wide gallery running all around, and the floor covered with little tables, all of which were occupied. At one end, between the ground floor and gallery there was a fine 30 piece orchestra, which was worth a big price to hear. We finally found a table and ordered drinks for the privilege of sitting there. It was an interesting sight, I could have willingly sat there all night simply watching the people; laborers, soldiers, business men, young sports, young couples drinking out of the same glass (that’s a sign they are engaged) , women dressed to kill, sitting alone unless they could get someone to sit with them and buy their beer. People sit for hours in these cafes on 1 glass of beer and talk and listen to the music. The waiters get no salary, but a 10% tip from everyone, and in some places they pay for the privilege of working. A custom that Bruce told us about might very well be adopted in the U.S. I think – every person pays for himself. It amounts to almost an insult to treat a man you are with, or even a woman. I suppose that is the origin of “Dutch treat.” Bruce says that the American music students, girls, in his pension (boarding house) sometimes ask the men to take them to the opera, each paying for him (or her) self. They can’t go alone, and everyone feels perfectly free to ask the other, and refuse if it isn’t convenient. He says it resembles a family more than any similar place he has been.

We left the Picadilly after an hour or so and went to the National, which Bruce says is the worst. I didn’t see anything very bad or tempting about it. There were about a dozen fat, old, hard looking women sitting alone at tables with their arms and breasts bare, smoking cigarettes, and looking coldly around for victims. They didn’t even look at us which was a compliment I thought, and we sat off in an alcove and watched, as most of the other patrons seemed to be doing. One old gray haired man seemed to have “fallen” for one, she was sitting on his lap trying her charms on him. It was nothing but disgusting. We drank chocolate and ate “kuchen,” our favorite dish in Germany. They have the most wonderful kuchen, or cakes, that any small boy ever dreamed of. It is like paradise to walk down the street and see the windows full of all sizes, colors and kinds of cakes, or it would be if you could taste them all. I wanted to send some home and if I ever go again I shall.

The next café we went to was a brand new, large one, and the most beautiful of all I thought, – big round brass pillars, marble walls, the balcony inlaid with onyx, windows of stained glass, big cut glass chandeliers, etc., etc. They also had as good an orchestra as any in town, with a famous Russian violinist leader. We had apple cakes and whipped cream here, and it entitled us to a seat all night if we cared to stay, but about 12:30 we went to the Ice Casino, a big building where they skate to music between eats or drinks. The ice wasn’t working at that time, though, and it was turned into a dance hall. We got a table near the edge of the floor and watched them dance. Bassett asked one of the German girls to dance with him and she did. Everyone watched them out of the corner of their eyes to see how Americans danced and we could have owned the house if we had wanted to. About two o’clock, we decided we had seen enough for one night, and as the cars had stopped running Bruce called a taxi cab and we rode to our hotel for about 25 cents apiece – two or three miles. The whole evening cost us a little over a dollar apiece. A real Berliner would do it for one-fourth that much and get a good deal more pleasure out of it. That is a mild example of the notorious “night life” that is supposed to equal that of Paris, – if it isn’t the Kaiser will pass a law making it so. It doesn’t seem to me it suits the German’s temperament – he sits through it all with a stolid face. The places where they do seem to be enjoying themselves are in the small beer halls where they can get a quart of beer for six cents and a big slab of cheese and rye bread for two cents, and sit and talk and sing “Die Wacht am Rhein” all night long.


The Outbreak of World War One

Over the next few weeks, if you’d like to experience the outbreak of WWI from the perspective of an American student (my grandfather who was 24 at the time) who was planning a tour of Europe but got stranded in Nuremburg, Germany when the war began, check in to this blog.

I have transcribed the letter he wrote to his parents when he returned to the United States after his three week odyssey and will post each day as he experienced it. I am amazed by his resilience and his remarkable ability to put a positive spin on what must have been a disappointing trip.

We begin with his letter to his folks and his arrival in Germany on July 28th after crossing the Atlantic on the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse:

Washington, D. C. September 5, 1914

Dear Folks:

It is 1:30 p.m., and I will see how much I can write all alone here in the office before supper time. I am going to make three copies so I can send one to Forrest and Frank at the same time. (That reminds me, I had better make an extra one for Dean at the same time.) Then you can keep them as long as you want to. I hardly know how to tell everything, unless I just follow my diary, although that isn’t a very systematic way to describe things. You have all read the letter I wrote on ship board, so I will begin with July 28th the day we landed in Bremen.

July 28, 1914

Our porter waked us early (that was the only thing he did on the whole trip to earn his tip) and we went on deck to watch for the first sight of Germany. It was cloudy and rather dark, but we could see a low stretch of land on our right (starboard, I should say) about 6 or 7 miles away. It was very shallow, for there were light houses and light ships and buoys right beside us to mark the channel. Northern Germany has no decent ports at all, it is so flat and sandy. About 9:30 we stopped and a lighter took us all off, – 800 third class passengers and baggage. The Germans were overjoyed at the sight of their native land, though it started to rain hard as soon as we got on the lighter, and we landed at Bremerhaven two hours later in the rain. Bremen is not the port, it is 35 miles above where the big steamers land, and passengers are taken up there by train from Bremerhaven. Being low tide, we couldn’t even land at Bremerhaven, but had to stay about ten miles out.

I was the second one off the boat, and the first one to go through Customs inspection, which consisted of opening my suit case and bag and shutting them, – no questions asked. We had hot chocolate and coffee cake in the waiting room and about 11 o’clock the train took us up to Bremen. The sun came out, and our first glimpse of Germany was more than satisfactory. The country is low and somewhat marshy, but pretty. There were big herds of Holstein cows in almost every pasture, and I suppose dairying is the principal industry around Bremen, though there were quite large rye fields, which looked good. It didn’t look at all like America – – as soon as you began to think it did, along would come a pretty stone house with a red tile roof, windows full of flowers, lace curtains, and immaculately clean doorsteps and front yards; or a shed (always of brick or stone) with a thatched roof, green with moss. My first impression of the country was that it is pretty and prosperous. I didn’t see a single hut or shack or poor looking building. The only thing that didn’t look right was to see the women loading the wagons, plowing the potatoes, and doing the hardest work while the men did the easier work.

At Bremen we went up to the hotel with Rogers and Edwards who were going to buy bicycles and ride up the Rhine leisurely, reaching Geneva, Switzerland in about a month. (I would like to know where they are now.) We thought we would stay till evening, and all the “University Club” of the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse would have dinner together in the Rathaus, but we found that a train left for Berlin right away, so we told them all good-bye and got on. That was a dandy ride, through the prettiest country in Germany, except the Rhine; maybe it looked so because it was the first we had seen for so long. The land certainly looked and felt good, though it rocked under my feet for a day. Our train made about 50 miles an hour for about 5 ½ hours (pretty good for a toy train) and it cost us about 1 cent a mile. We came out just as clean as we went in. I like the German trains. In every compartment there is a good map showing just where you are going. We had a delicious dinner on the train: soup, veal, potatoes, gravy, vegetable compote, chocolate and rolls for less than 70 cents. A woman and little girl sat in our compartment. The little girl wanted awfully to talk to us but she couldn’t say a word of English and she laughed at the way we tried to talk German.

We arrived in Berlin about dark and took a droschke to the Hotel Stadt Weimar, which had been recommended to us by Mrs. Roemmele on the boat. It was a very good place, the best possible location in Berlin, right near the intersection of the two principal streets. The crowds were beginning to gather on Unter den Linden. They were singing The Watch on the Rhine, the Austrian National Hymn and something to the tune of “My Country tis of Thee,” and we supposed it was all about the war between Austria and Servia. The crowds and noise kept increasing and the police on horseback had to keep chasing them up and down the street so they wouldn’t block the traffic. We took a little walk and when we tried to come back the police wouldn’t let us cross Unter den Linden. We walked back and tried another street, and they put us back. One of them told us it was too late to get back to our hotel, and we began to think we were out for all night, but we finally did get back and were satisfied to watch the crowd from our balcony after that. Our rooms looked like they might have been made for entertaining the royalty – a great large room with two fine beds, large dressers, wardrobe, etc. and a smaller room with the same furnishings – little electric lamps on a stand beside your bed so you could lie there and read. It was so nice we hated to go to sleep, but when we got inside and pulled the soft, light eider down quilt over us, we couldn’t stay awake a minute.

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JBK Diary – June 15th – June 28th, 1912

I’m trying to keep up with the events of my grandfather’s life when he was 21 years old and home from school for the summer. His birthday is June 23, 1890 so at the time of these entries he turned 22. In keeping with his typical modesty – no mention of his own birthday in his diary entry on June 23.

One mystery is finally solved. I’ve been confused by earlier entries about people going somewhere with Bill, or “mother and father met me at the station with Bill.” I can’t think of anyone in the family with that name so I was wondering how I would figure out the connection and who was this Bill that got so much mention.

With his entry on June 15th —

“Harnessed Bill and drove to the Clipper with Aunt Clara . . .”   — I now know that Bill is the family horse! 1912 was definitely at the age of transition from horses to automobiles as a mode of transportation and also explains why so many of his entries mention when he travelled by car and what kind of car it was.

Saturday June  15 – Fine Warm and Bright

Got up at 6. Harnessed Bill and drove to Clipper with Aunt Clara for Elsie and boys. Elsie’s sister came. Drove around, up town, to Aunt Grace’s etc. Elsie, Guyon & Donald, Miss Lewis and Aunt Clara up to dinner. Dean rode bike to 2.38 & found Frank, Anna and baby coming up on freight. Surprised to see them. Arthur C and I went up town to hear band. Talked with Lee Hill. Got suit cases with horse.

Sunday June 16 –

All Kingsbury children sat together in church. Met lots of people. Mr. Sawyer’s Sunday School class. Big reunion at East Hall. 40 relatives. Grandma Bush, Gardners, Aunts Abbie, Clara, Grace, Uncle Bert, Elsie, Guyon, Donald, Burtchs, Kingsburys, Williams, Caves & McCashs from Greene in 3 cars. Dinner, picture, automobile rides.

Comment: “PICTURE!!!” I sure would love to find it.

Monday June 17 – Fine

Worked at Press office off and on all week.

Remarkably – there is no entry for Tuesday June 18th and only very brief entries for the next 5 days.

Wednesday June 19th –

Stayed at Press office til 10:30. Paper not out.

Thursday June 20th –

Didn’t work. Aunt Grace Gardner’s for dinner.

Choir at Millie Waynes. Surprise party.

Friday June 21st – Summer

Fine day. Didn’t work much. Ate supper with Aunt Clara and Elsie and also at home. Grace, Carey and “us kids” went to Lyrics. Vaudeville stunts. Stayed with Clinton Hill. Mr. Schoonaver sick.

Saturday June 22nd – Warm

Got up at 4:15. Walked down Great Western track and shot at suckers. Picnic.

Sunday June 23rd – Warm (his birthday – turned 22)

Sang in choir. Laura Carter came at noon. Dinner at Bergers and music. BYPU (?) Civil Service people ___ firm exams. (Can’t make out the meaning of his reference to civil service exams.)

Monday June 24th –

Frank went back to WU (West Union). Looked up trains for Miss Lewis. Hot day. Dean, Ella Otarr, Carey and Laura, Ruth Barker and I walked down GW track, thru Spring Park and back by road. Played anti over.

Tuesday June 25th – Hot

Picnic at Spring Park – Forrest & Cornelia, Anna, Laura Carter, Grace & Ruth B., Carey, Rob Pattingale, Flora, Fern, Clyde, Clark, Uncle C and Aunt G, Elsie C, Guyon & Donald and Miss Lewis. Dean and I fished & rowed boat. Home at 8:30. Des Moines College Quartet at Baptist Church.

Wednesday June 26th – Hot

Woke up at 9 am. Letter from Smith. Report 28th. Bought ticket and saw all relatives. Packed in 1/2 hour. Dinner at Grandfather Walker’s. Train at 2.38 with Forrest, Cornelia, Clark and Dean. Waterloo at 5 pm. Tried to find John Clyde. Got shower, bath & swim at YMCA. REad until train time. Motor boat races. Left 8 pm for Chicago. Lower berth. Good sleep – 9 to 6.

Thursday June 27th –

Transferred to Pa Station. Walked over to loop and took L to Lexington Avenue & 63rd. Found Snell Hall – University of Chicago but Phil Kearney not in. Took I. C. uptown. Breakfast. Left at 10:30 for Washington. Found Dad Riley on train. Talked, read, slept and wrote. Dinner at 5:30. Good sleep in upper.

Friday June 28th –

Woke up at Baltimore. Washington on time 8:45. Took suitcases to YM and went to work at 9:30. Easy day. Worked till 6:00 getting stuff out for Central accounting system. Went out to camp. Met Miss Crane on train. Supper, talked with Hill. Fair sleep.

Isn’t it amazing that he could get word on June 26th that he was to report for work in Washington DC on June 28th and he not only got there in time but he went straight to work after being on the train all night for the past two nights! That’s what you call a good work ethic.





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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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JBK Diary – June 3 – 6, 1912

Joseph B Kingsbury is home in Osage Iowa after completing the spring semester in Washington DC. In addition to attending school, he is working as a clerk in the Department of Agriculture.

Monday June 3, 1912 – Independence – Primary Day in Iowa – Warmer

Rose 7:30 Breakfast in bakery. Found Emma Moore and Ray  & Will Berger. Left for W.U. (West Union) at 9:30. Arrived at 11:30. Saw D. Clapp at Depot. Walked in on Frank at the bank. Surprised everybody. Went over and visited Aunt Ella. Looked in at church on my way home to supper. Frank voted. Planted garden after supper. Sat in hammock till 10:30. Fine sleep. Cool night.

Tuesday June 4, 1912 – Cloudy & cool.

Started at 9:15 for Soward’s Cave. Went back 130 feet with candle. Walked back in 55 minutes. Dinner at Aunt Ella’s. Talked and read till 4:00. Helped balance up at bank. Supper at Clapps. Carlotta stayed with baby. Sang. Went over to Kings room above garage and played piano player till 11:15. Went home with Charlotte C.

Wednesday June 5 – Fine -cool.

Rose at 8:00. Went downtown, found Ray Jacobs took us out in the country in his Metz car to see Ed. Loafed in bank till noon. Played catch with tennis balls before dinner. Washed dishes and feet. All up to Carter’s for supper. Went to Methodist Church lecture by Armenian. Laura, Carey, Carl and I walked through graveyard at 11:00 pm. Home at 12. Carey and Laura getting pretty thick.

Thursday June 6 – Fine cool.

Rose 7:30. Started to leave on 9:23 train but stayed. Watched Roy J tune piano. Went up to Carters and shot with rifle & revolver. Loafed till 4:30. Talked with Uncle F. Y. working on new house. Played with baby. Best baby going. Started for Fayette 5 pm. Roy J took Carey and I in Metz car. Kings took Laura, Annie, Frank and Helen Clapp. Some speed on way to Fayette. Got Alma and went to woods for picnic. Pretty place. Went up over stone cut and watched sunset. Shot rifle. Carey and Laura went through cemetery. L. fell over barbed wire fence and cut her arm. Visited with Alma.

A few observations:

  1. Here a link to the Metz car. It was essentially a “build it yourself” car for people with enough mechanical ability to put the car together. Parts were sold in 14 sets, which essentially allowed someone to buy the car on time. The buyer would construct the first set of parts, order the next one and over time had a completed car advertised as being worth $600 for the cost of the parts, which was about $350.
  2. It is fun to picture my grandfather as a 22 year old home for summer vacation. Visiting with extended family (West Union is about 70 miles east and a little south of Osage.) Frank, Joe’s older brother was working in Uncle Frank Whitmore’s bank and I believe Joe worked there for at least a summer before he went to Washington DC for school. “The best baby going” – refers to Josephine Kingsbury, Frank’s oldest daughter who was born in 1911. JBK’s affection for her lasted his whole life and one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t meet her when we both lived in California (1985 – 1997 for me).
  3. Aunt Ella was Wayland’s older sister who lived in West Union, Iowa until she moved to Monrovia, California in 1912 (according to her obituary which appears below.) She married later in life (age 36) and her husband Frank Y. Whitmore had two sons and a daughter from his previous marriage. Together they adopted a daughter Lillian, who was born in New York to Norwegian parents. Lillian attended Cedar Valley Seminary memoriam.1948. 1909-1910 and later attended Redlands University in Redlands, California (about 63 miles due east of Los Angeles.)
    In the “small world” category, when Joe’s oldest brother Forrest Kingsbury retired from the University of Chicago where he taught psychology for a number of years, he retired to Redlands University and taught there for awhile. In one of JBK’s family letters he describes the trip he made with his younger brother Clark to Forrest’s memorial service in Redlands in 1972.

4. I’m fascinated that JBK explored caves, since that was something my father, his oldest son, also like to do while growing up in Indiana. Almost as adventurous as walking through the graveyard late at night, another favorite activity of JBK. I like to visit graveyards but I tend to go during daylight hours in search of my ancestors. Whenever I make it to the grave yard in West Union, Iowa I’ll have a great image of my grandfather and his friends walking through it late at night.

5. Alma is JBK’s cousin, Alma Fussell, Mary Kingsbury Fussell’s daughter. Mary Kingsbury married Martin Fussell and they had at least three children. Roy and Mary were older, but Alma was only three years older than JBK. Need to research a few more names.


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JBK Diary – May 30, 1912 to June 2, 1912

Thursday – May 30, 1912 “Decoration Day” (in JBK’s handwriting)

Fine, cool and bright. Got up 6:15. Went out to Dominion Heights and borrowed some tools from Mr. Comley. Worked all day at camp. Put up mess tent & 3 floors. Dug holes etc. Big day’s work. Home at 6:30 Bath and supper. Talked with Marshall and got Greenway’s cot. Prayer meeting. Packed trunks. Bed 10:30.

Friday – May 31, 1912

Finest day. Rose 7:30. Lame and sore (guess he over did it with the Big Day’s work!) Took suit and hat. Busy day. Drew money from bank at noon. Saw about berths. Packed up. Letter from mother.

Saturday – June 1, 1912

Fine. Got tickets and berths at 8:30. Finished packing. Busy all day. Payday. After work got laundry. Mrs. Travers for dinner. Left for station at 6. Henry A, Gillis (from Ames), Carey and I got berth together – $2 each. Carried lunch. Bed at 9:30, 10 hours of sleep. Carey and I slept well in upper. Block of Olen, NY (?) (YMCA) going to Davenport. Ex Rep Gordon of Lima Ohio.

Sunday – June 2, 1912

Cloudy. Rose 7:30 (6:30) Sat in observation car and read. Fine ride across Ohio and Indiana. Chicago 2 pm (on time). Walked up Michigan Ave. Dinner at Thompsons on State Street. Went thru Field Museum. Left at 5:30. Slept 2 or 3 hours. Independence at 12:50. Bed at Gedney Hotel. Perfect night. Balmy & clear. Much cooler than Washington. Crops very backward.

Geney Hotel. Independence Iowa

So it seems JBK was making a trip home after his semester ended. A few observations.

He was clearly working several hours a day in addition to going to school at George Washington University. He was also active in church activities, some sort of camp in the suburbs of Washington DC where he was helping build part of the facilities, and took a two day train trip home.

I doubt there are many college students today who would get up at 6:15 am a few days after their last exam. Nor would they spend one of their only free days working so much that the next day they’d be “lame and sore.”

True to his nature, even during a layover in Chicago while waiting for his next train, JBK managed to include site seeing and a visit to a museum.  Here’s a link to the modern Field Museum. Looks like fun! Apparently it was started to house the collection of natural history exhibits and artifacts assembled for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition. At the time JBK visited, it would have still been in Jackson Park, in one of the original buildings remaining from the World Exhibition but it moved to it’s current location in 1921.