Friday, August 28, 2015

Closing in on my Great Grandparents

Ruby Flanders, pictured above as a 17 year old, is my mother. As you can see she's the daughter of Milo and Nannie (Becker) Flanders and has three brothers, Cleo, Albert and Mervin, and two sisters, Ethel and Pearl.

My Aunt Pearl had a daughter who passed away last year at the age of 66. She was unmarried, so this year her niece has spent considerable time cleaning out her house in preparation of selling it and settling her Estate. As my cousin came upon family photos, she consulted with another cousin, the daughter of my Uncle Albert, who suggested that I might be available and willing to scan those family photos. I jumped at the chance to view, preserve, and archive these precious family heirlooms.  

Last weekend I received this 21 lb box full of photos to scan.
I'll be writing several posts about the photos I've found but today I want to write about one that features perhaps an "ancestor" who reaches the farthest back in time.
On this chart above I'm "Mary Rebecca Margheim", shown at bottom right. My great grandparents are Lewis Clarence Flanders and Sarah Jane McMillan. I have a photo of each of my great grandparents, EXCEPT Lewis and Sarah Jane Flanders. I'm hopeful that someday I'll discover that picture. 

Today as I was scanning, editing, and captioning pictures I found this one of "Villa, Mildred and Aunt Rena Flanders".
It's particularly wonderful because a short letter was written on the back, to my grandmother Nannie Flanders.
It reads: "My dear Nannie, Only had the one picture of the girls taken that day, so will send you one of the girls and myself. Wanted True to have his taken with us but he wouldn't. Received your welcome letter and will answer in a few days. It is cool and fine here now. Nearly time for the mail man so will send this and write later. Lovingly yours, Rena. Love to all."

I could not recall a Rena in my Flanders relatives, so I went to my RootsMagic database to find a Flanders family with members Villa, Mildred and Rena. I literally jumped in my chair when I saw this family unit:
There they are. Lorena "Rena" Colby Flanders, wife of Truman "True", and mother of Villa and Mildred. As you can see in the pedigree chart above, Truman was a brother of my great-grandfather Lewis C. Flanders.

While I still don't have a picture of Lewis or Sarah Jane Flanders, I'm getting closer with this postcard picture of Lewis's sister-in-law "Rena". 

I'm so happy to have this photo of Rena, Villa and Mildred Flanders. It's too bad "True" wouldn't get his picture taken at the same time, but I'm blessed with what I do have. And I feel like I'm successfully closing in on the possibility of eventually securing a picture of my great-grandparents, Lewis and Sarah Jane! As we cousins work together, we may all be blessed with this discovery.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Finding photos of Roberts Cousins on Facebook

Through the Greene Connections (Pennsylvania) group on Facebook and the efforts of Candice Buchanan there, I've become acquainted with Lloyd Roupe, who has roots in the hometown area of my husband's grandparents. Recently this picture was posted of the students at Morris Grade School, Gilmore Township, Greene, Pennsylvania.
Lloyd identified the students as follows:
I noticed that several of the students in the class were children of Blaine Roberts and his wife Sarah (Cole) Roberts. This chart shows my husband's relationship to Blaine Roberts.
Larry's grandfather Sherman Russell Roberts was a first cousin to Blaine Roberts. So the children of Blaine and Sarah are second cousins, once removed of my husband. This group sheet shows the children of Blaine and Sarah, but I don't know the birth dates of all of them.
I labeled the children in the class photo so I could identify which of them were cousins of my husband. 
There's no way I'd have a photo of Larry's cousins like this without Facebook and the cooperation of the wonderful people who give of their time and efforts to share family histories!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Blessings abound amid the hard work of our Yard Sale

Half of the items displayed at our sale. 
We just wrapped up our second and hopefully final yard sale. Here are my thoughts about that experience.

One month ago I began the difficult task of cleaning out closets, spare rooms, furniture drawers, cabinets, the pantry, and bookshelves. My husband has physical limitations that restrict him from lifting, bending, carrying, pulling, hauling ... pretty much everything required in preparing for a yard sale. He was, however, very willing to advise me on what to keep or what to discard. And I think he's like most men who don't want to "get rid of" very many of their possessions. I, however, don't like clutter, don't like to feel "possessed by my possessions" and really am not crazy about lifting, bending, carrying, pulling and hauling! 

My husband was good about supplying me with boxes in which to pack our unwanted items. I reported on Facebook that he loaded boxes into the back of his pickup, then stopped to get a few groceries on his way home. He came out of the store to find that someone had helped themselves to the boxes in his truck that were within reach of the perimeter of the pickup bed!
The built-in bookshelves have served us well, but if our next house doesn't
have them, where would we put all these books that were stored here?
My son and granddaughter devoted one Friday to helping me unload bookshelves, carry these heavy boxes of books down the 19 stairs from our second to our first floor, clean out the pantry, and sort and clean out my husband's clothes closet. Since our granddaughter recently got her driving permit, she was more than happy to drive Grandpa to the Thrift Store to deliver 10 large trash bags of clothing for donation. 

My husband's two sons and our grandson donated a full weekend to cleaning out the 4 rooms of our third story and basement. That was the hardest job of all! 
We filled the rented dumpster by noon on the day we cleaned
out the top floor and basement of our house
By day's end, we had much more trash than the
dumpster could hold!
It didn't take long before our living space was GONE!

Finally on Wed, we were able to start displaying items
in our front and back yards.
Our summer resident doe and her twin fawns joined in the "Fun".
One fawn is shown in the photo below.
"Giggles" the Clown blessed us with laughter and her skills.
She bought an item and paid for it with cash that was
deposited INSIDE this balloon puppy. My friend Karen
is pictured here with "Giggles". 
Our furniture items filled our front porch!
A gentleman bought the metal desk shown in the photo above and came at closing time with two strong friends who helped him load it into his pickup. We hadn't sold the gold chair and loveseat in these photos, but were blessed greatly when he offered to buy them and load them along with the desk. In 5 minutes we'd cleared this half of our porch and didn't have to load, haul, or dispose of any of these large items! 

Karen, at left above, and Corinne, right, are my "yard sale queens". They very successfully hosted my father's yard sale one year ago. I have no experience in appropriately displaying, pricing, and negotiating with customers about used items. They allowed me to enjoy visiting with our guests as they dealt with our "buyers". I couldn't have tackled this huge job without them. 

I was rewarded with many more blessings as I tended to this sale Thursday and Friday.
 1. I met the new owner of the house next door.
2. I visited with a man who told me he helped capture an escaped convict in the third story of my home back in the 1950s. 
3. I met two people who offered tips about potential future owners of our house. That's always a good thing!
4. I got to visit with local friends whom I rarely see due to our busy schedules.
5. I was able to donate many useful items to people I deeply care about. That's the greatest reward for the hard work.
6. I enjoyed just being at home and in my yard for 3 consecutive days. I don't remember the last time I was able to soak up contentment like that.
7. The most fulfilling half-hour I spent was visiting with my son, who was able to drive into town for a quick visit.

It's wonderful to be able to recognize the blessings that come from hard work and from associating with our friends and the good people of our community. Now on to the next step in our downsizing plan. But first, one weekend of rest and recovery.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The LETTER was Delivered to my Mother Here in 1950

In my previous post I wrote about this letter that my dad wrote to my mother in May 1950, at the time of their divorce. Thank you to Google maps I can see where my mother was living at that time.
We can zoom in close enough to still read 8 1 1 on the porch of the house on the left. And it looks old enough to have been the house standing on that lot in 1950. I'll bet she was renting a room in their 2nd story. Cool!

A First-Hand Look at Little Becky and Dennis, age 2

For the last year I’ve been acting as “Conservator” for my father’s estate, following his May 13, 2014 death. My work has involved sorting, organizing, scanning and archiving his life’s paperwork and photos. 

My dad was an accountant and a genealogist among his other interests and hobbies. He was born in 1921 in Kansas so he survived the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps after his graduation from Hoisington High School in 1940. He was a guitarist who entertained as “The Sunflower Wrangler”, singing and playing published and original Western Swing songs on KVGB Radio in Great Bend, Kansas and at dance venues in that area. It was at one of those dances that he met my mother, Ruby Nadine Flanders, then 17 years old and a student at Stafford High School, Stafford, Kansas. Dad completed his first year in the US Army in 1942 while Ruby finished high school, and on 9 July, 1943 he came home and married my mother. Until Fall, 1945 when Dad returned home at the close of WWII, my mother Ruby resided with my dad’s parents, John and Mollie Margheim in Hoisington, KS. Upon his Army discharge, they moved to Great Bend, KS and each were employed at Thies Packing Company as bookkeepers.

On 5 Nov 1947 my twin brother, Marion Dennis Margheim and I were born at St. Rose Hospital. By the Fall of 1949 my mother had decided she no longer wanted to be married to Dad, or to live at home with me and Dennis. She moved to Manhattan, Kansas. My dad’s parents opened their home to Dad, Dennis and I, so we moved to Hoisington where Grandma could take care of us while Dad worked at the meat packing plant. In 1949 my dad’s sister LaVerna had been out of Hoisington High School for 2 years, was living at home while working in a local music store, and was teaching piano lessons on her grand piano in their home.  

As I continue with my “archival” efforts, I spent some time last Saturday sorting through a plastic tote that I had packed several years ago, condensing other totes to fit in a closet. As I dug through the plastic bin, I recognized items I’d saved, such as things Dad sent home to my mother from Germany, photos from grade school, baby shoes, silverware, and rattles that my Grandma Margheim had saved for us over the years, and other family treasures like that. But this time in that bin, I found something I don’t remember ever seeing before. I’m stumped because I have a pretty good memory for things like letters, notebooks, registers, diaries, etc, being the strong left-brain thinker that I am. I spotted this envelope.
  You can see that it’s a letter sent by my dad, Ernest L. Margheim to Ruby N. Margheim in Manhattan, Kansas, dated May 8, 1950, about the time that their divorce was final. The letter is a friendly correspondence, as Dad reports to our mother his recent activities with friends. What makes the letter especially interesting to me is that he also writes quite a bit about Dennis and me, reporting on our behavior and activities too.
In May 1950 Dennis and I were 2-1/2 years old. You can see in the photo above that I'm wearing my favorite white boots. 
Here are some samples of his writing to her about me and my brother. Since they are hard to read, I'll transcribe the paragraphs.
"The kids are well and happy as ever, the(y) kiss and hug daddy as he leaves and kiss and love him when he returns and sure are glad to see me come back from wherever I go - like Tuesday night to the Saddle club. I left them about 8:30 and next morning the(y) said There is Daddy home from meeting. And as the(y) kiss me goodby when I leave they say Daddy come home - guess they got that from me telling them at first that I was coming back home to them soon. Yesterday when one of LaVerna's students drove up, Dennis run and called Grandma to come see - and said Who is that? Mom asked who is it Dennis, and he replied - "Lores" - she was Deloris and tis sumpin to marvel at the way they remember the girls names that come to the house and this girl Clara from Galatia - she and the twins get along real fine too - and on her last lesson they were both at the piano and counted with Clara - folks said sure was sumpin to hear Clara and the twins count 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 - they get a kick out of it. Yep - they still play - and piano too - and When I practice my part in the choir hymns they sing along - especially Becky - she gets a sorta frown on her face and REALLY SINGS - ha ha -- they pull up each a chair and sit on the west end of the bench so they can see too -- they say "let's see" -- they want to look on the book too!!"
"Last evening they were out in the yard playing with Grandpa and with the two kids from over east (neighbors) every once in a while Becky came running in the house nearly exhausted saying -Becky tired -and brush her hair upon her forehead then took off running - stopping to say GOODBYE - and waving she took off running again - she did that about five times in the course of an hour or so. They look at the little animal books they got for Xmas and read them - and play with their shovels and wagons every day. And with their rubber balls - throwing them and running after them - and they take a nap each afternoon - just take off their boots or shoes and socks and crawl on the bed, saying Denny or Becky tired - ha! TALK all time!"
"And they like to put on clean clothes in the morning -- they remember what they wore the day before and if it is soiled - Becky says - Clean One -- Get Clean dress - with the SSSSS on the dress. And you should hear Becky call Aunt LaVerna - she really calls it our Aunt Verna -a-a-a ! she usually calls. And Becky can say Groceries real cute and they both go along with their Aunt LaVerna to get Groceries at the store - and Sister said they behave real good in the store - 'Tother evening at supper we had boiled potatoes and corn etc. Becky was eating corn and grandpa asked 'Becky, do you want some potatoes'? She kept right on eating her corn and said Becky Busy - sorta frowning and saying it with emphasis to let him know she was busy and him not to bother her when she was eating. They both love macaroni - fixed in any way shape or form and eat balanced meals, they call for the meat or bread just like they were grown up. Sure am proud of them!!
"Hamilton's seemed thrilled over my joining the saddle club and talking of getting the shirts for the kids and Mrs. Hamilton said - don't go to any extra bother - surely they have some white shirts or Becky a blouse and just get the red emblems (saddles) and sew them on the back - and let them wear the white boots they wear now occassionally wear -- Denny wears his brown shoes most of the time anymore - But Becky likes her boots and she walks and runs in them real nice."
Dennis and Becky, holding hands as we often did, with our Cheyenne Saddle Club emblems on our white shirts, as referenced in the letter above.

We are holding hands with our Aunt LaVerna who rode with us in the parade with the Cheyenne Saddle Club
Dennis and Becky are pictured here in 1949 with our Grandpa and Grandma Margheim and our Aunt LaVerna in front of their house in Hoisington, KS. 
I feel so very blessed to have found this letter and glad it's still very readable. How many people have written documentation that offers a first hand view into their daily life as a 2 year old? And from the view point of a very loving, devoted, proud father! It not only shows a bit of my personality, along with my twin brother, but it shows the "graciousness" held by my father at a difficult time in his life, having become a single father at that same time. I'll close with this photo of Dennis and me with our precious dad, Ernest Margheim in front of our grandparents' home. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Beautiful Jane Ann Wilson McMillan

Yesterday I wrote a post here about the woman in this portrait. My newly-found cousin Doreen sent it to me digitally, indicating that it could be our great, great grandmother Jane Ann Wilson, wife of Samuel McMillan. The chart below shows my ancestry to her.
Notice that Jane McMillan was born in 1823. My research of the photographer Ferris Beals indicated his studio was open in Elgin, Illinois only from 1890-1908. I realized Jane Ann would have been 67 years old the first year the studio was open. This portrait certainly is not of a 67 year old woman, and I KNOW, because I'm currently 67 years old.

When I posted a link to this story on Facebook, it caught the attention of my friend Candice Buchanan, Senior Project Manager at She studied the portrait closely and advised that, in her expert opinion, it very well could be that of Jane Ann Wilson and was most likely a copy of an earlier photo. That would explain how it could have the Ferris Beals information on it. After evaluating the clothing and hair style, she puts the photography date at about 1860-1865, at which time Jane Ann would have been between the ages of 37 and 42, which is reasonable. I might add that Jane Ann married Samuel McMillan, my great, great grandfather in 1843 at the age of 20 and by the age of 37 was the mother of four sons and two daughters, the youngest of whom was my great grandmother Sarah Jane, born in 1853. As a mother of six at age 37, Jane Ann McMillan looks beautiful!

Today more confirmation of her identity came from my cousin Doreen. This is a scan of the reverse side of the portrait.  

It says "Papas Grandmother, his mother's mother". Later someone added "Gpa Flanders grandmother. Her name would have been McMillan but I don't know given name." My grandfather Milo Flanders had a brother Clarence, who was the "Papa" in this case. And as you can see in the chart above, his mother's mother would have been Jane Ann Wilson and her married name was indeed McMillan. 

I'll close by saying again that I'm certainly blessed to have a digital copy of this portrait and am grateful to Doreen for sharing it with all of us! So happy to know you, Jane Ann Wilson McMillan. I think you're beautiful!