Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sharing Memories on Sunday - Late 1940s on the Smith Farm

Sharing Memories on Sunda
Late 1940s on the Smith Farm

This stream of thoughts and memories started yesterday, with "The Book of Me" post.

Today, searching for some other photos, I came across this series of images that help date the changes in the house... that I've wondered about, for some time. Remember how I often say how important it is to 'look at the backgrounds' - not just at the people at the center of the photo??

Well, here we go. In this photo, the bathroom remodel (where front porch had been) was still underway. On the far left, you can even see the cement mixer is still sitting there. The outer wall has not yet been painted - as it is in the aerial photo, for example. Old east porch is still in place. The M Farmall was new. That was why the photo was taken. But... Pete is holding Jimmie. Jim was born in April 1944. He can't be a year old yet, so this is winter 1944-45. That dates the remodeling! Neat!

This photo is of the front (west) porch before the bathroom remodel was done. Mom is the taller one in the middle. I haven't tried to identify the others... friends of hers, but maybe I'll figure that out another time.

This image is clearly marked 1947. Wilson Thomas, our dog Whitey, Bill behind the tent, Jimmie out front, on the right. BUT, again, look behind. The car. The pickup! The new porch was not built yet. You can see, from the left, the 'wash house' - 'cob house' - 'chicken house' - edge of the barn!! Also some fencing that disappeared in the following years. The infamous 'grove' can be seen behind the buildings...  ;-)

This photo is labeled '1950 Chevy' - Tom was born in May 1948 - he would be two. That would be mid-1950 sometime. Jim would be 6+ and I would be 11. NO NEW PORCH yet. Note fence with picket gate! Things I've always overlooked, before.

The Easter 1954 photo had the new PORCH - and the 1950 car was replaced with a 1953 car - same colors, but this one had a visor! Mom wrecked the 1951, as I recall!  ;-) Here, Barry was a little over a year old, Tom was nearly 6, Jim (taking the photo) would have been nearly10. I, Bill, was 14, going on 15 in a few months. Loved that striped tie! ;-)

Oh, the memories...

And, one more photo image - this is from a photo of the wall of Jim's Apartment in Florida - he had the original color photo of the farm - does he still have it, I assume??


Families are Forever...  ;-)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 5: Your Childhood Home

The Book of Me, Written By You
Prompt 5: Your Childhood Home

"The Book of Me, Written By You" is a GeneaBloggers project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves.

Prompt 5: Your Childhood Home

Your Childhood Home - My parents rented farms the first couple of years of their marriage. I was about 2 or 3 when they bought the farm where I grew up - through High School - until I left for college. My parents and four younger brothers (who were each born while we lived here) continued to live there for many years after I left.

The farm was on 160 acres in Willow Township, Greene County, Iowa, about 7 miles northeast of Coon Rapids, Iowa. We were just a mile east of of the county line with Carroll County, Union Township. Most of our community relationships were there. The aerial photo of the farm was taken in the late 1940s. (Note: the one-room country school I attended through 7th grade was located a mile north of our corner - just to the left of the upper left corner of this photo!)

What was it like – describe it – each room. Fairly normal farm house, for the time, actually, with a couple of special features. Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room, Bed Room on first level… this was my parents bedroom. Upstairs were two normal bedrooms, plus, over the kitchen, we made another bedroom (we called it the attic), that was used when brothers 3, 4, and 5 arrived. I got the first upstairs bedroom; later shared with one brother.

When Mom and Dad first bought the farm, there was a porch on the west (front - left, above), and also on the east (back) of the house. Early on, in the mid-1940s, the front porch was enclosed and made into a full bath room and entrance hall (though that door on the 'front' was NEVER used - everyone entered near the kitchen…on the side of the house). This was the status in the farm photo, above. In about 1949, the old, small porch, on the east, was replaced by THE PORCH. You can see it directly behind the family in the 1954 Easter photo. It was what we later called "a family room." Note: Entering that door, left, below, the kitchen was immediately to the left.

Bill holding Barry, Eileen, Pete, Thomas (T.K.) - brother Jim taking the photo

Was there a favorite room? THE PORCH was a special place for each of us. It was a large room. We moved the piano out there; there was always an upright freezer there, in later years, full of goodies. The east end was all mahogany bookcases built in the wall with a flagstone fireplace in the center. A long window seat under the big window. The television (we were one of the first in the neighborhood to have one) was in one corner - a Motorola. And, lots of space for boys to play. Couch and lounge chairs facing the fireplace. Many parties held here, family, friends, school, church, etc. 

Is there anything you particularly remember from the house? Everything. All family memories of the time are tied to this house, and the yard around the house. A very special place (of course!).

The road & area - We had a 'main' gravel rod running north and south west of the house. We also had an east to west road on the south side of the house - it ran to a house/farm a half mile east on a dead end. The drive came off the south road, past the house, and to the west. A nice lawn with apple and cherry trees occupied the corner, with walnut trees along the west road. Our farm was actually the 80 acres on the north and 80 acres on the south of that east-west road (this is the road you see along the bottom, in the photo. We later bought the land to the north, that is in the upper part of the photo, as well).

My additional comments: This was a fun exercise, because I always enjoy recalling those days, on the farm, the began my life. Thanks, for the memories!

Families are Forever!

Friday, September 27, 2013

75 Years Ago This Week - September 27, 1938

75 Years Ago This Week - September 27, 1938
Bill and Karen, at Paul Kinnick front yard in Coon Rapids

75 Years Ago This Week began March 1, 1938 - my mother and father were preparing to get married later in the month. I'm continuing this meme, from time to time, as issues warrant.

Selected diary excerpts from Eileen's diary, from this week, 75 years ago:

Saturday, Sept. 24:

… Took Pop over to Pilot Mound & back. Drove Polly's car. Polly went along but I did all the driving. Ate dinner at 2:00 at Schoppes in Jefferson. ...

Monday, Sept. 26:

… Karen Kay born at 5:00 a.m. Folks there when it happened. …

Tuesday, Sept. 27:

… Down to the fair awhile. Got season tickets $1.00. …

My comments: Wish she had said who they visited in Pilot Mound, over in NW Boone County. Assume it was Soderstrom cousins… his ('Pop' was my Dad's father, William Smith, of course) maternal grandfather had died there in 1901… I would not have expected him to still be in touch with family there; but, of course, I was wrong. ;-) A new family history research questions to work on...  ;-)

Karen Kay Kinnick was born 9 months before I was (on July 1, 1939); she is daughter of Mom's older brother, Leo Kinnick, and his wife, Ida Marie. Karen is my first cousin, of course.

Was your county fair 'season ticket' $1.00 this year?? What fun!

Families are forever!  ;-)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wordless (nearly) Wednesday - Raymond Edward Schmitt - Baker

Wordless (nearly) Wednesday
Raymond Edward Schmitt

Raymond is my first cousin, twice removed; that is, Joseph Schmitt was his grandfather, and my great-great grandfather. He was a Baker. Love to share photos of people at their work. The photo comes courtesy of the recently expanded research and sharing of the "Nebraska Cousins" I've mentioned earlier. Along with my daughter, Arrion, they/we have formed a new Facebook Group for sharing and 'new cousin' discovery. This photo came from the latter source - contact with Pat Chittendon, in Wisconsin, a granddaughter of Raymond, who shared this photo, and others.

The new Facebook group is: Descendants of Joseph & Elizabeth Beatrix Schmitt (of Alsace, France) 

If you would like to join the group, let me know. We have 35 members now, and getting lots of looks.

One further note: I've written several times of my great-grandfather, Michael Smith, a Civil War veteran.
This group emphasizes that his family used several spellings of his last name, including: Schmitt, Schmidt.

Families are Forever!  ;-)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 4: Favorite Season(s)

The Book of Me, Written By You
Prompt 4: Favorite Season(s)

"The Book of Me, Written By You" is a GeneaBloggers project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves.

Prompt 4: Favorite Season(s)

    •    FALL - Why? New School Year starts - football season…followed by basketball...
    •    A Happy Memory. Our family (and I) have many, many memories around those words. Started when my wife and I were in High School together. Then, as our three daughters grew and their school years. We were Iowa State University football fans - very avid for a few years, when they had good teams. We traveled, usually with one to three daughters, sometimes boy friend, even - to all away games for two years, as well as every home college football. Two bowl games - one in Atlanta, one in Birmingham. Visited National Parks, going and coming. Sometimes met family. Skiing in Colorado before or after games. Parking in people's yards at Kansas games. No end to memories. Then, lived in Tucson, became (and still are) great fans of University of Arizona Wildcats - both football and basketball - went to all home games, many away games; including year-end basketball tournaments - San Diego, Bay Area, Seattle. So many memories!! Arrival of FALL brings them all back!
    •    Close your eyes and imagine your favorite season – write down what you see, feel, hear. THINKS I DID THAT!  ;-)

My comments: What fun! ;-)

Families are Forever!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy 4th Blogiversary - To this blog!

Happy 4th Blogiversary - To this blog!

Image Courtesy of:    

Thanks to our good friend, Thomas MacEntee at: for the recognition! ;-)

My, how time flies!  ;-)

P.S. My very first blog entry, at FLINT HILLS OF KANSAS, was 23 Sept 2005, at:

Families are Forever!  ;-)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wordless (nearly) Wednesday - Charles Grapes and Earl Cedar

Wordless (nearly) Wednesday
Charles Grapes and Earl Cedar

In recent weeks we've enjoyed sharing a number of photos received from what I refer to as my Nebraska Smith cousins. These are the children and grandchildren of brothers and sisters of my paternal grandfather, William E. Smith.

We especially had fun with the three family photos of the the Charles Grapes family, where Charles always had the same smile, and, we wanted to comment on his 'clothes' for the photos...

Now, we have another photo of Charles here, with his nephew, Earl Ceder. These were said to be their "Sunday dress-up" outfits - clean coveralls. Notice that Charles even has a nice white shirt, with a tie, even. And, that same smile. Love it! And, of course, THE HATS!!  ;-)

Families are Forever!  ;-)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 3: Your Physical Self

The Book of Me, Written By You
Prompt 3: Your Physical Self

"The Book of Me, Written By You" is a GeneaBloggers project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves.

Here I am on a hike near my daughter's house on Boulder Mountain, in Utah

Prompt 3: Your Physical Self

    •    Your size – I'm a 5 foot 10 inch male - taller when younger - lesser as I get older; surprise. As an adult, at various time, my weight has ranged from 175 to 260 at various times… so yes, that is a continual issue. I'm currently around the middle of that range and working down… permanently. ;-)
    •    Scars - all scars are small, not noticeable. I've never broken a bone. As a four-year old, I fell out of a car, with my maternal grandfather driving - he was known for driving slow! I do still have some grains of sand under my scalp, back, right, high - where I landed in the gravel - gravel road at the time. A distinctive V scar on my ring finger, where I tried crawl through a barbed wire fence at one-room country school, perhaps eight years old. At about twelve, I had my hand, my thumb, actually, on plow, walking behind, for some reason, and Dad tripped the rope. My thumb was squashed… can still see the after affects. Pretty dull, stuff, rich?
    •    Eye color - gray; more brown when rested, more green when tired.
My comments: Not my favorite exercise, but trying to be a participant.

Families are Forever!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fiction Friday - Post 6 - Character Development 2 - Names 1

Fiction Friday - Post 6
Character Development 2 - Names 1
Battle of Wilson's Creek, MO

One small part of Character Development is coming up with Names. As I'm in and approaching the final editing process for my forthcoming "Christmas at the Homeplace" - there is a lot of waiting for feedback from others. During some of the waiting time, I've been reviewing the several short stories I've already written related to the Founding of the Homeplace that will be included in a short story collection. This collection will be my next book, in the Spring of 2014, tentatively titled: "American Centennial at the Homeplace."

It begins in 1833 with the first settlement and runs to 1876, the American Centennial year. The various stories share the growth of the valley, town and community of The Homeplace prior to the Civil War, the devastation of the Civil War, and the beginning of the recovery from the devastation. It is based on the many accounts I've read of actual nearby communities during the period.

What does this have to do with Names? Each and all of the names, both surnames and given names, are based on names actually existing in the census records of the three county area in the years of the stories. What a great way to get "correct" names. The names are based on my family history and social history research. Great idea, to use real names for the place and time, for realistic fiction.

The valley population reached about 135 prior to the War. It goes to near zero during the war. By 1970, it is back to near 100, some the same people and some new ones. It was fascinating to share these stories. I'm anxious to write some more - I've read so much, and there are great stories to tell. I hope you enjoy them… and, perhaps, you will recognize some Names. ;-)

Families are Forever!  ;-)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wordless (nearly) Wednesday - Mary Mohr family

Wordless (nearly) Wednesday
Mary Mohr family
 Over the past month or so, I have been exchanging photos and other family history information with some cousins regarding the families our great-grandfather, Michael Smith. I've sharing a number of them, from time to time, earlier on this blog.

Today, I want to share one that "I just like." It is the family of Mary, from Michael's first wife (we descend from his second wife).

Mary married Adam Mohr in Hampton, Rock Island Co, Illinois. They had six sons. I suppose I identify with them, since I'm the oldest of a family of five boys.

And, there are only five boys in this photo - which allows us to date it - Michael Leo Mohr (1893-1987) as born in 1893. This would have been a year or two earlier.

Adam Mohr (1858-1944)
Mary Mohr (1858-1940)

John Adam Mohr (1878-1969)
Charles Mohr (1880-1975)
Louis F. Mohr (1882-1960)
Edward Mohr (1884-1949)
August Peter Mohr (1888-1967)

My comment: I have often wondered if the Mohr families that have lived in Coon Rapids over the years were related in any way…  ;-)

Families are Forever!  ;-)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy Grandparents Day! Three sets in One Photo

Happy Grandparents Day! 
Three sets in One Photo

May 1961 - Three sets of grandparents - mine, my daughters' and my grandchildrens' - ;-)

What fun!

Note: Dorothy and Paul Kinnick in front; Pete and Eileen Smith, on left; Nancy and Bill Smith on right - Annette in the middle!  ;-)

Families are Forever!  ;-)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 2: Your Birth

The Book of Me, Written By You
Prompt 2: Your Birth 
"The Book of Me, Written By You" is a GeneaBloggers project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves.

The prompt for week 2 is: Your Birth.

Do you have any baby photos? - I believe this photo, with Dad and the dog, at about 6 months, is the closest I have to a baby photo. We were poor farmers, but very happy!  Little money for film and processing! ;-)


Where were you born? Born in St. Anthony Hospital, Carroll, Carroll County, Iowa. Being born in the hospital was uncommon for our families, at the time. More often, at home.

Who was present at your birth? Just Mom and Doctor, I believe, then I joined them… long ago! ;-)

July 1 was a Saturday. Mom didn't make an entry in her diary that day, for some reason…   busy, perhaps?

My comments: I'm mostly pleased the event occurred. Details are not something I'm too concerned about. I did that with the daughters… ;-)

Families are Forever!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fiction Friday - Post 5 - Themes 1 - Family History Research

Fiction Friday - Post 5
Themes 1 - Family History Research

As I was preparing my "Hometown Monday - Homeplace Country Inn and Karen" post over on The Homeplace Series Family Saga blog, the excerpt that I was using was about some of my characters doing family history research and how it impacted the details of the story.

This is a Theme that I run through all of my fiction writings. They are informed by my own research and the many GeneaBlogger and other posts I read regularly about people as they go about their own genealogy and family history research projects and sharing them. These stories are simply endless, and provide such rich context and details for my stories.

Even conversations we have with "cousins" comparing our family history research will inform your stories, if you keep an "ear" turned to those stories. This evening, writing this, I was on a Facebook message chat with a KINNICK cousin and exchanging regular status replies with a SMITH cousin. Each discussion contained elements, of new thoughts, that will likely end up in one of my stories, one day. This is what I do where some writers do journalling. What do you use? Have you thought about that?

Families are Forever!  ;-)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - Michael Smith Civil War Discharge

Treasure Chest Thursday
Michael Smith Civil War Discharge

[click to view larger image]

This is for my great-grandfather, Michael Smith - his birth name was Schmidt/Schmitt depending on your source. Outside of service records, he used Smith after coming over from Alsace-Lorraine area of France in 1845. 

This even has a physical description: 5 foot 8 inches, light complected, grey eyes, brown hair. Born in Colmer, France. 3 Oct 1864, served three year term. Discharged at Davenport, Iowa.

Thanks to cousin Will Grapes for sharing this image! ;-)

Families are Forever! ;-)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wordless (nearly) Wednesday - Family Photos, thru the years

Wordless (nearly) Wednesday
 Family Photos, thru the years

I've recently been very fortunate to be exchanging photos and family information with a couple of 2nd cousins (common great-grandfather, Michael Smith) in Nebraska (both men, making it even more special). Among the photos are these family photo, taken in three time periods. I'm totally missing this kind of photos of my Dad's family...

This was the first one I got. It is about 1919, based on age of youngest... one yet to come, born in 1920. The young fellow on the left, is William. He is Dad of my cousin, also Will. We'll follow him.

It is now 1928 - youngest is now 8. William is not the tallest boy, second from the right. Notice the expression on the face of the father, Charles, never changes....

1930 - William is now in the hat, second from the right, still. What fun!  ;-)

Families are forever!  ;-)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hometown Monday - 100 Years Ago This Week - More Lem Williams News

Hometown Monday
100 Years Ago This Week
Lem Williams News

Last Monday, I posted a bonus piece from my home town newspaper from 100 Years Ago this week about my great-great uncle Lem Williams. His was a frequent name in the paper of the time because of the various blacksmithing, concrete, construction, ice man, and other projects he undertook.
Last week, he had contracted to build a new dam for the floor mill on the river. Here is an update, a week later.

100 Years Ago in the Coon Rapids Enterprise, August 15, 1913:

"Lem Williams has engaged some farmers who are on their way from Kansas to assist him on his mill dam work. Some sections of Kansas are completely burned out by hot winds. Water has also failed and stock is being disposed of as rapidly as possible and some of it at any price."

Families are Forever!  ;-)