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!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Could this be my great-grandmother?

I've had the good fortune lately to have found "new" cousins from my mother's father's Flanders family line. They aren't really new, but they're newly-found and newly treasured! This week one of them shared this beautiful photo with me, saying she thought it was a portrait of our great, great, grandmother Jane Ann Wilson, wife of Samuel McMillan. 
This chart shows my ancestry to Jane Ann McMillan. 
I think the woman in the photo is beautiful. My cousin told me her notes said the woman was"Grandpa Flanders' (C.C.) Grandmother McMillan". The C. C Flanders referred to was a brother of my grandfather Milo Flanders. So that would mean she's Jane Ann Wilson, wife of Samuel McMillan, as shown in the chart above. 

I saw that the portrait was taken by F. Beals, 23 Douglas Avenue, Elgin, Illinois. I did some online research about Ferris Beals, photographer, and learned that his studio was open in Elgin 1890-1908. Then I realized Jane Ann Wilson, born in 1823, would have been 67 years old the first year he opened his studio. I'm quite certain the lady in the portrait is not 67 years old. I was disappointed, because I don't know how that could be a portrait of my great, great grandmother.  

My cousin and I have considered that it might be a photo of Sarah Jane McMillon Flanders, who was born in 1853. She would have been 37 years old when Ferris Beals opened his studio. But my cousin's note said it was Grandmother McMillon. Sarah Jane would have been Grandmother Flanders.  So I guess for now it's a puzzle. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

My Earliest Photo of my Mother

I thought I had no photos of my mother prior to her high school years. She graduated from high school in 1943. My dad has had her photo album from the 1940s in his house all my life! A few years ago I brought it home and scanned all the photos. I particularly liked the photos because she wrote captions on every one with a white pen, as you can see in the photo above.

For some reason, I've scanned the photo above but had NEVER taken time to study it. This afternoon it caught my attention and I gave it a good look. I'm sure my mother is the second girl from the right. I've added her name to help with the identification.  I'm thinking she might be about 10 years old. What do you think?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Most Touching Post about Uncle Alfred Margheim

This is my father Ernest Ludwig Margheim's family group: 

You see that his younger brother Alfred was born in Nov. 1923, 2 years after Dad was born and Alfred died in March 1933, at the age of 9. I've written several articles about Uncle Alfred. You can find them if you go to this link, and scroll down and read them:

When I was cleaning out Dad's house at the time he took residence at a Care Center, I reached for this box, not knowing what it contained. 

To my surprise, this is what I found when I opened the yellow J.C. Penney box. I made me gasp.
I knew before I touched these little shirts that they had belonged to little Alfred.

When I took the shirts out of the box, I found everything that I've pictured here.
Alfred's monogrammed handkerchiefs
The Book of Knowledge booklet was provided by the Grolier Co.
This little notebook was homemade with art work as the cover.
A sample of a poem included inside the homemade notebook.
Alfred's signature inside the front cover of his notebook.
I've read other poems written by Alfred so I think this is an original poem. 
Both my dad's and Alfred's names are on this book they must have shared.
This was a spelling tablet from 2nd grade in WaKeeney, Kansas, while the other items are from his 4th grade school year in Longmont, Colorado.
This is the view inside the box when I lifted the shirts off the top. 

One of the most touching items in the box. This is the ribbon from the bouquet of flowers from Alfred's funeral, given by his School Friends. 
At Rest

It's cool to see the information this gives. Alfred was 8 years old, in the 4th grade on October 3, 1932. He weighed 62, while the average for his age was 67 lbs. He was 53 inches tall. Keep in mind, this was just 5 months before he passed away from pneumonia. 
My Grandma Mollie Margheim obviously stored these personal items of her little son in this box. Here are his necktie, suspenders and part of his belt. How sad it must have been for her to pack this box!
Here's Alfred's toothbrushes, pencil, ink pen and ruler.
The small round object with his baby picture on it is a tape measure.
A view of the bottom of the box with a close-up of Alfred's marbles.
Some of the dried flowers that were preserved from his funeral. 
This little boy's marbles from 1933!
This is the back side of the little tape measure. 
At Thanksgiving, 2012, my dad was with our family for dinner. I brought "Alfred's Box" into the living room to show him. Here's a picture of him showing it's contents to his great granddaughter Alyssa Klein. 
What an opportunity for my dad to look through his brother's little box and remember!
And such a wonderful opportunity for my granddaughter to learn from her great grandfather the stories he was able to recall about his life with his little brother. 
Dad visits the grave of his brother Alfred in the Hygiene Cemetery
near Longmont, Colorado
And finally, this is one of my favorite pictures of Dad (front left) with
Alfred (front right) and their parents, John and Mollie (Amalia Koleber) Margheim.  
In the final days of my father's life, it was Alfred that he spoke of most often. I'm happy that they're together again, for all eternity! What touches me the most is that my grandma packed that box up with those assorted items from her little boy's life. Then she kept it the rest of her life. Fortunately, Dad retrieved it when my grandma died and also kept it the rest of his life. The miracle is that I found it and can pass it on. It was really special for Dad to be able to sit with Alyssa Klein and show her too. She'll know what it meant to him. And this box gives us a window into a little boy's life from 83 years ago.