28 April 2016

Throwback Thursday: Dix, Nebraska Post Office, 1921

Mattie Mae (Needham) Walker, postmaster in 1921.
Mattie Mae Walker (1884-1938) was my paternal grandmother.

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin W. Walker

27 April 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Dorothy Grace (McNeill Walker) Nitzsche (1912-1948)

Circa 1945

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin W. Walker

26 April 2016

Unintended Consequences of Large Families

Wistrom kids, circa 1942.

My Dad came from a family of eleven brothers and sisters.  The eldest sibling was Beulah "Lee" Wistrom, who was twenty-two years older than my father.  So here are some unintended consequences.

Pictured above are aunt Lee's three children, my cousins, (l-r) Virginia Lee Wistrom (1928-1994), Robert Arthur Wistrom (1930-1999), and Richard Linnie Wistrom (1926-1986).  My dad was born in 1929, get the picture?  My dad had nieces and nephews older than he was!  And I had cousins the same age as my dad.

It was no big deal, really.  My dad and Bob Wistrom were best friends.  More like brothers.  But it was a fun fact for them to startle friends with when they explained it.

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin W. Walker

25 April 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Answer to Inquiry About Henry M. Walker, Jr. (1864-1952)

Sept 26, 1973 
Mrs. Stanley Paist
2730 Avenue G
Kearney, Nebaska 68847 
Dear Mrs. Paist:
     I inquired from several of the older residence about Henry Walker but none knew anything about his family.
     I found out when he passed away and went through the files of the paper and could only find the following.
     Henry Martin Walker, 88, passed away October 13, 1852 at the Lizer Nursing Home in Stockton, Ill.  He spent the last three years at the above home.
     Henry was born in Metamora, Illinois June 19, 1864 where he spent most of his life.  He came to Lena in 1924 while working as a watchman on Highway 20, which was being built.
     He was survived by nieces and nephews.  Funeral services were held at the Schreier Funeral Home in Stockton with Rev. H.D. Bedinger, of Stockton Nazarene Church officiating.  Burial was in Ladies Union Cemetery in Stockton.
     Sorry but this is all I could find out for you.  Hope this helps. 
     Curtis R. Taylor 
     Ruby Tull     Lena Ill.     City Clerk of Lena
"Mrs. Paist" is my dad's cousin Flora "Mae" (Walker) Cunningham Paist.  According to my grandfather, Mae was the only one Henry stayed in touch with after he left the family.  Must not have stayed in touch very much if she is left sending off inquiries.

It appears Mr. Taylor relied heavily on the faulty newspaper obituary.  He did not spend most of his life in Metamora; he had a wife and kids; he tried to kill his wife and went to prison, etc., etc.  Regular readers here know the story.

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin W. Walker

24 April 2016

Sunday's Obituary: Keith Glenn Walker, 1894-1980

     Keith G. Walker, 85, of 1901 Central Avenue died Thursday at Mountain View Towers.
     Born in Arnold, Neb., on Sept. 30, 1894, Walker had been a Cheyenne resident for 35 years. His prior residence was in Dix, Neb.
     He worked in maintenance of way for the Union Pacific Railroad for 38 years until his retirement in 1959.
     A member of the First United Methodist Church, Walker is survived by his children, Mrs. Leroy (Betty) Strasheim, Cheyenne; Mrs. W.L. (Lee) Wistrom, Kimball, Neb.;  Jennifer Cosgriff, New York City, N.Y.; Violet Walker, Omaha, Neb.; Arthur D. Walker, Cheyenne; Paul Walker, San Lorenzo, Calif.; Wayne Walker, La Crescenta, Calif.; nine grandchildren; nine great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren.
      He was preceded in death by his wife, Mattie, in 1938, a daughter, Dorothy, in 1948, and a son, Ralph, in 1969.  He was also preceded in death by two infant sons.
     Friends who prefer may contribute to the charity of their choice.
This newspaper clipping was found unsourced in the possessions from my aunt Jenifer's estate.  But it is clearly from the Cheyenne, Wyoming paper.

(And yes my aunt Jenifer did spell her name with only one "n" although it appears the only people who know this are the people who knew her.)

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin W. Walker

23 April 2016

Story of a Family Secret that was Part Myth

Grade school souvenir, teacher Mattie Mae Needham pictured. 
So one of our family secrets has been handed down this way.  "Your grandmother Mattie was a teacher and married.  She fell in love with one of her students who was your grandfather Keith, got pregnant by him, had to divorce her first husband and marry your grandfather.  But they were in love, had five more children, and were happily married until death."  Well it turns out while being factually true, it isn't as salacious as it sounds.

In 1904 my grandmother Mattie was an unmarried twenty-year old, teaching my ten-year old grandfather Keith.

She married her first husband in 1906.  She got pregnant by my grandfather in 1917, when my grandfather was an adult of twenty-three years.  Not when she was his grade school teacher and he was her student.

So yes, a teacher did have an affair with one of her students, got pregnant and married him.  But long after he graduated from grade school.

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin W. Walker

22 April 2016

Thank You Grandpa

Keith Glenn Walker, 1894-1980
We were not sure what to think of you.  We really didn't --

  • You were a shutterbug and took thousands of pictures of us and yourself, and the places you visited;
  • You gave away to us ten times as many photographic prints as you kept even when we didn't ask for them;
  • You always wrote the names and dates and sometimes places on the back of the pictures you kept;
  • You wrote the names and dates and sometimes places on the backs of the photographic prints you gave to us;
  • You wrote thousands of letters to your hundreds of relatives, even distant cousins; 
  • You kept all the the letters from family you received, writing on the outside of the envelopes some form of identification of the person who sent it to you, "Beulah's daughter" or "my cousin" or whatever;
  • You kept in a huge envelope every scrap of paper with a name and/or address and/or phone number and/or birthdate of a relative on it; 
  • In your retirement, you traveled the country six months out of the year visiting relatives, talking to us, telling us about our family if we would listen; 
  • And you kept taking more pictures of us

-- We didn't understand you.  You were sort of queer, not like everyone else at all.

But now, thirty-six years after you are gone, I get it.  You were wise beyond what we understood.  Thank you.

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin W. Walker

21 April 2016

Unofficial Marriage Certificate: Henry M. Walker, Jr. and Lucy M Chesley, 26 Oct 1884

This Certifies That
The Rite of
Holy Matrimony
Was Celebrated Between
Mr. Henry M. Walker of Osborn Co. Kans.
and Lucy Chesley of Osborn Co. Kans.
on 24 of October 1884 at her Fathers house
by J.C. Lawrence J.P.
Witness C.H. Chesley    Witness P.C. Chesley
I was going through my latest batch of papers to arrive from my aunt's estate and found this.  My heart jumped into my throat and my jaw hit the ground.  This was torn out of some sort of Family Bible with parts of the Gospel of Matthew still attached.

Lucy and Henry were my great-grandparents on my father's paternal side.  I believe they were in Kansas less than two years, on their way from Illinois to Nebraska where they finally settled.  The witnesses were Lucy's parents, Charles and Phoebe Chesley.

Lucy and Henry, married at home by a Justice of the Peace.  Their firstborn came eight months later.

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin W. Walker