Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Memories from 1956

Memories from 1956

We are so fortunate to have a hometown newspaper that not only continues to publish local news weekly to this day (starting in 1881), but also has a 100 years ago, 75 years ago, 50 years ago, etc. page that also republishes photos from past years every week on that page. I've shared some of these, here before, but today I have two more that are such fun.
It is the Coon Rapids (Iowa) Enterprise -
We get it weekly, electronically, for $25 a year. What a bargain!! ;-)

The last two weeks have had my brother, Jim, and Nancy's brother, Al Bolger, in their 5th and 6th grade class photos from 1956. Enjoy...I sure do.


"SIXTH GRADERS IN 1956...We’re continuing this week to feature photos originally printed in the 1956 Rambler school yearbook. These were the sixth graders back in
1956 and most of them turned out to be 1962 Coon Rapids High School graduates. The teachers were Miss Robinson and Miss Gruber. Front row: Jan Smouse, Kay Russ,
D. Jensen, Roger Lucht, K. Tuel, R. Augustus, Janice Sigler, Lois Gustoff, P. Patrick, A. Molle, Miriam Bowman. Second row: Arnold Palmer, C. Jensen, S. Kirk, Steven Roberts,
James Herbert, Jane Jensen, Sue Textor, D. Duncan, Ron Brower, Mary Dixon. Third row: Miss Gruber, Karen Lyons, Rayoma Truhe, T. Sailer, G. Swarthout, R Lucht, Thomas
Schumacher, Nancy Bowman, Janet Patrick, Lynn Thorp, Judy Shirbroun, J. Sailer. Back row: Barbara Tuel, Linn Flook, Ron Kopaska, Gary Halterman, Jim Smith, Roger Smith,
Jim Knobbe, David Nielson, Doug Carpenter, Dennis Barber, Linda Jones."

"Fifth graders in 1956...We’re featuring the elementary grade school class pictures from the 1956 Rambler yearbook. Most of these kiddos grew up to become graduates of Coon Rapids High
School in 1963.  Front row from left: Jane Wallace, B. Samuel, Dwight Olson, David Carpenter, C. Samuel, Karen Anderson, Jim Emery, Daniel Stock.  Second row: Mrs. Maude Mountain, D.
Kepple, Terry Hilgenberg, D. McBride, Tom Heater, Michael Dailey, Nancy Deeth, Danny Pierce, Bonnie Hill, Miss Caroline Gruber.  Third row: Mark Peterson, Bernita Rudolph, Carol Woods,
Larry Carpenter, Alan Bolger, M. Ford, Doug Honold.  Back row: Darrel Whitehead, Tom Campbell, Richard Brannan, Wally Wagner, Jim Oleson, Barry Norem, JoAnn Lucht, and J. Meters."

Families are Forever!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Farmers Helping Farmers in Western Iowa in the 1950s

Farmers Helping Farmers in Western Iowa in the 1950s
In recent weeks in our Hometown Weekly Newspaper, the Coon Rapids Enterprise, Coon Rapids, Iowa, where we grew up, in the Years Ago section, Charlie Nixon has been sharing photos of groups of local Iowa farmers who were helping out with the corn picking harvest of a neighbor who was sick or injured. Among perhaps a half-dozen of these to date, two of have my dad and my wife’s dad in the photo. I’ll share these here. These were the friends, family, and neighbors I grew up with as a teenager. What fun!! ;-)
This first group has my dad, Leverne Smith, though he and my uncle Orin, side by side are named wrong in the photo... the two are switched... in the third row.

(Click on the image to see enlarged view, of course!)


OCT. 1953
 Friends gathered at Boise McLaughlin’s farm northeast of Coon Rapids on October 21, 1953 to crib and pick his corn as a good neighbor act since Boise had been ill. Nine pickers were furnished by the men, who picked and cribbed nearly 30 acres in about three hours.
Left to right: Bert Justice, Paul Hufferd, Daryle Hilgenberg, Harry Schultz, Harold Grim,
Bernice McLaughlin, Ted Jacobsen.
Second row: Don Lewis, Kenneth Betts, Rex Lewis, Harold Ford, Eli Rees, Wayne
Cashatt, Orel Thomas, Arnold Thomas, Marvin Penfold, Delbert Ford, Don Williams.
Third row: Floyd Kretzinger, Dean Jacobsen, Orrin Hilgenberg, LaVerne Smith, Frank Clayburg,
Boise McLaughlin, Delton Schultz.
Women who helped serve lunch were Mrs. Arnold Thomas, Mrs. Paul Hufferd, Mrs. Bernice McLaughlin, Mrs.
Don Williams, Miss Irene Jacobsen, and Mrs. Delbert Ford.

This one has Nancy's Dad, Glen Bolger, front row, clear to the right...


 We’re still featuring neighborly harvest photos and remain amazed at the number of farmers compared to today. This photo dates back 62 years. Friends and neighbors picked corn at the Mrs. William J. Lee farm home north of Coon Rapids on October 15, 1956.
Standing from left: Jerry Bull, Elmer Lund, Roy Raines, Harold Johnson, Keith Lee, Delton Schulze, Max Tuel, Warren Moller, Conrad Lawrence, Rev. J.D. Stanley; Pete Vonnahme, Roy Fick, Raymond Franey and Virgil Booton.
In front: Clayton Roller, Don Brincks, George Seidl, Ivan Tigges, Clarence Boes, Everett Dennis, Wendell Greene, Lynn Byerly, Harry Schulze, Ronnie Dennis, Roy Nelson.
Kneeling behind them are Vic Tigges, Ed Bundt, Ray Engelen, Delbert Ford, Beryl Gymer, Doyle Conner, Dale McCoy, Loyal Kramer, Howard Thorne, Raymond Goodwin and Glen Bolger.

One more for Nov 1954, to show the tractors and pickers!!

Families (and Neighbors!) are Forever!! ;-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Approaching my 9th Ancestor Stories Blogiversary

Approaching my 9th Ancestor Stories Blogiversary
(this coming Sunday)

Thank you!  …to each of you who have continued to check in on this ‘Ancestor Stories’ blog over the years… especially in recent years when life has taken me away from my genealogy/family history work for some substantial periods of time.

Two things have accounted for that… First, personal family matters.
Second, I have spent a lot of time, from time to time, on my family saga, historical fiction writing.

I often say I write my historical fiction in a creative nonfiction style. Looking at my initial post on this blog, I see how much that is:

“Farmers of the Prairie; the people, the times, the places
A story of one family; created from many families”


If you haven’t kept up with my writing, lately, and are interested, here is a recent piece that kind of summarizes what I’ve been doing… in about 1300 words, easy read.

I would appreciate any comment you may have. Thank you. Dr. Bill ;-)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Happy Birthday, Dad - It would be 103 today

Happy Birthday, Dad - It would be 103 today

Leverne 'Pete' Smith
b. Aug 9, 1915
d. June 25, 1977
Age 61
Far too soon...

This is the way I prefer to remember him! Happy Times!

Happy Birthday, as well, to his sister, Betty, my Aunt!

Bethene Smith Pierce
b. Aug 9, 1919
d. Jan 6, 1993
Age 73

We miss them both, very much!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Local Hometown Newspaper - 100 Years Ago

Local Hometown Newspaper - 100 Years Ago
Paul Kinnick (right) working in the Bank!

July 5, 1918

Paul Kinnick has gone into farm service, leaving the State Savings Bank rather short of help. But then, under the order to work or fight every man who can do farm work, and Paul knows how, must get into it. The boys overseas and the folks who live in town must be fed somehow.

Len (sic - Lem) Williams has completed the cement work of the addition to the Fred Davis Cafe. The front stairway to the building is being taken out. It is rumored that the Davis building will soon be used for a “movie” show in connection with the Cafe.

The recent shipment of knitted goods made by the Red Cross Chapter at Coon Rapids and forwarded to the soldier and sailor boys’ consisted of 93 pairs of socks, 77 pajamas and 50 sweaters—a large amount of work for the month of June.

My comments on the three items, in consecutive order in the column, caught my eye this week:

1. My Maternal Grandfather, Paul Kinnick, left the bank and went to work on the farm, apparently to avoid being called into the military. I had not known this before. He and Dorothy would have been coming up on their fourth wedding anniversary. Son, Leo, was about 15 months old, and Dorothy would have been pregnant with Eileen, to be born in December 1918. An interesting perspective of 100 years ago.

2. Williams would have been an uncle of Paul (mother’s brother). Assume this is the movie theater we all went to in the 40s and 50s as we grew up…

3. Just a tidbit from the war mentality and volunteer effort - WWI !!! ;-)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father’s Day 2018 - Remembering my Fathers

Father’s Day 2018 - Remembering my Fathers
Pete Smith (1915-1977)
William E. Smith (1859-1939)
Paul Kinnick (1892-1968)

It is always a challenge to know what to do to celebrate Father’s Day.

My three daughters are always clever at coming up with something new each year.

I’ve seen tributes others have made, on Blogs or on Facebook.

What could I do that was different? Find three photos of my father and grandfather’s not used before.

Happy Father's Day 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018



The fifth in a series of guides to popular research destinations 

The In-Depth Genealogist is pleased to present their newest book in the research series by writer, Katherine R. Willson entitled “A Genealogist’s Guide to Grand Rapids, Michigan”. The book is a great resource for genealogists who plan on researching in this geographic area. This guide offers information for genealogists regarding the top libraries, archives, and museums in Grand Rapids, as well as the surrounding areas. These repositories offer abundant treasures for the researcher of all levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
Also highlighted in this guide are a wealth of non-genealogical options for urban adventurers, art aficionados, beer connoisseurs, nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and the universal tourist. One could easily spend a week in this area and only sample a small portion of what this part of Michigan has to offer: stunning scenery, fantastic food, and unique attractions.
“A Genealogist’s Guide to Grand Rapids, Michigan” is available now as a PDF download ($4.99) through The In-Depth Genealogist Store (  Subscribers to the website receive a 10% discount on purchase of the book. 
“A Genealogist's Guide to Grand Rapids, Michigan” was created by Katherine R. Willson who shares her familiarity with Grand Rapids, Michigan and the surrounding area to assist genealogists and family in making their trip an enjoyable one. Katherine R. Willson of Ann Arbor, Michigan is a 6th generation Michigander who began researching her own family tree when she was an 8-year-old Junior Girl Scout. She works full-time as a professional researcher, compiling family history books for private clients, and is an engaging and dynamic speaker at national, regional, and state genealogical conferences. She has taught genealogy classes in Ann Arbor since 2001, and currently serves as President of Michigan Genealogical Council, President of the Virtual Genealogical Society, as well as serving on the boards of several other national, state, and local genealogical organizations. Her website is