A Mother’s Day Tribute to my Grandmother
My Grandmother 's Life
My maternal grandmother was quite a woman and was a role model for me of what a woman, a mother and just a human being should be. She was born in 1884 and died in 1969 at the age of 85. During her lifetime she would never tell me or anyone else her age. However, now that she is gone I don't suppose it matters too much. I hope she won't mind my sharing her date of birth. I only know it myself because I recently found her birth certificate information on the internet. How could she have known that her vanity would be betrayed long after her death by online records and Ancestry.com
My grandmother was born into a horse and buggy world. The year she died Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. That fact always amazes me. How speedy the pace of change is. Yesterday's wonder is today's "ho-hum" Her life spanned two wars, the 1918 influenza epidemic, a great depression, the advent of the automobile, the airplane, radio, TV, and space exploration. She remembered when there was no penicillin and when not everybody had indoor plumbing. She knew how to pluck a chicken. I saw her do it once. I was very little and I was amazed. I thought chickens came in saran wrapped packages from the supermarket and not from the farmer outside of town.
A Family Get Together in Burlingame
Kansas Genealogy Sources
- Kansas vital records - Kansas Historical Society
Kansas Historical Society
- Kansas Genealogy & Kansas Family History Resources - Ancestry.com
Listing of what Ancestry.com has for Kansas...includes unique Kansas historical records, maps & documents.
- Kansas History Online
Everything you ever wanted(or didn't want) to know about Kansas History from the archives of the Kansas Historical Society
- Kansas Genealogy Trails - Family History & Genealogy
Kansas Genealogy and Family History Research
- Osage County Kansas Genealogical Research
I found a lot of info on my grandmother here.
My Grandmother's World
She was orphaned at the age of six and with her sister and two brothers went to live with her maternal grandmother and two maiden aunts in Burlingame, Kansas. I have photographs of her in high button shoes, standing stiffly with her siblings in a photographic studio--motionless while the camera slowly blinked her image onto a glass plate for posterity. She grew up in a house ruled by strong women, and later, when her grandmother re-married a local widower, was part of a large extended family. The large photo above was taken at a summer family get-together after the marriage. My grandmother is the little girl,second from the left, sitting on the blanket.
When I was small she would tell me stories about the Osage and Potawatomi Indians who occupied the land before the white man took it from them and of attending a one room school house with children ranging in age from 5 to 14. She told me too about how she battled her family, and against their wishes enrolled in the University of Kansas after high school. Even the local Methodist minister disapproved. The “normal school” for teacher training was fine, but a University education for a woman? That was a total waste of time.
My grandmother showed them all. She graduated with honors in June of 1909, at a time when women could not vote and worked outside the home only if their husbands could not provide for them. The following September she married my grandfather and it seems the good people of Burlingame, who had been so against her going to college in the first place, shook their heads when they saw her engagement ring and said " what a shame, all that education wasted." She used to tell this story on herself as a kind of joke. But she always followed by saying how important it was to educate women. I can still hear her say : " When you educate a man you educate a person, but when you educate a woman you educate a whole family" She was not a fan of early marriage for women. " You need to know who you are before you can know who you want to marry" was what she said.
She also valued her vote. She went to the polls on every election day. I think she actually worked on a couple of political campaigns but I am not sure. I do know though, that she well remembered when women did not have the vote and she treasured her franchise in a way that those of us who take voting for granted don't. I think of her when I think of the sacrifices people are making all over the world in order to make their voices heard in government.
What She Meant to Me
When I knew her, in her sixties and seventies, she was active in local politics and cultural affairs, an avid reader, an established children’s author and local lecturer as well as a devoted wife, mother, and most important to me, the kind of grandmother who didn’t bake cookies, but sat me down and talked to me. She knew how to take a child seriously while still being a grown up. It was she who taught me to make beds with “hospital corners”, to darn socks and hem dishtowels. She also introduced me to “ The Atlantic Monthly” and “Harpers”, both of which she subscribed to for years. We would read together and discuss what we had read from the time I was eight years old. She read to me from the bible and made me memorize the Sermon on the Mount and Psalm 23. She told me to “count my blessings”. She lived her 85 years on the planet with style and grace, adapting to change, but sticking always to her principles.
In many ways her life was unremarkable—another strut across the stage of existence.. But, like all of us she made a difference and the difference she made to me, anyway, was staggering. She was my role model for what a woman could be. When she died in 1969, in Salina,Kansas more than 300 people attended her funeral. Her passing was marked with amazing pomp and dozens of letters and phone calls attested to the difference she had made in many lives other than mine. Now, as I approach the time of life she was in during my childhood, I think of her more often. The world which formed my generation is long gone. My Gen-X children who are now approaching middle age and their Gen Y offspring can’t imagine a world without computers, cell phones, and Instant Messenger, let alone birth control pills, AIDS, and TV ads for Viagra. The toys I played with as a child are being sold at the flea market as collector’s items. The furniture that I grew up with is prized by the young and hip as retro ‘50’s modern. I am walking in the shoes of my grandmother and I only hope I can negotiate the journey half as gracefully and effectively as she did.
This Song is for My Grandmother
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