Inspiring Interest in Your Favorite Topic
It is amazing the information we discover about our ancestors. Facts and tidbits that we are so anxious to share with others in our family. We have all watched someone’s disinterested eyes glaze over as we share information. So, how do you share these stories without being referred to as the best “sleep aid” around?
KYGS Member Betty Darnell had an idea that worked for her family.
KYGS Member Drips the Content
A few years ago, I mentioned a family story I’d turned up to my sister. She encouraged me to spread the stories around. So, I began a project of sending out emails every two weeks, to my siblings and cousins, telling a story about one of our ancestors, and including a photo if I had one.
The project was well received and led to some interesting feedback. One that had the best reaction was about my grandparents and their wedding photo.
When my brother read the story and saw the photo, he asked if I had noticed how much our nephew resembled our grandfather. I had not and sent the story and photo to our nephew. He replied that he’d had more fun with the photo–his friends were convinced it was him in old clothing, not really his great-grandfather!
Sharing Research: Remembering Our Grandmother
Several years ago, Mayme Bauer Forst, a friend of Catherine’s, sent a postcard to Mamma that Catherine had sent her in 1912. Catherine, age 16, had written:
“Mama is making me a yellow silk dress out of one of my great grandmother’s dresses. She wore it to Washington’s inauguration [I haven’t been able to verify that], it was white, then. You said you allowed ‘no half-dressed people,’ well how about those who are three-quarter dressed, for my dress has low neck and short sleeves?”
After completing her public school education, Catherine taught one term in a rural school in Lincoln County, where, according to the newspaper report of her death, “she was favorite with both pupil and patron.”
On 8 July 1914 in Lincoln County, Catherine married John “Rupert” Little. The newspaper reported that “The bride is the pretty and accomplished daughter of Mrs. M. C. White. The groom is a steady, industrious young farmer, and is in every way worthy of the bride he has won.” Catherine was 17, Rupert was 20.
That summer, Rupert was working at a car shop in Jacksonville, Illinois, 60 miles northwest of Millwood. Catherine wrote to her mother and her brother Tom [Mollie had Mamma and Harold call Tom “Uncle Jack” because she didn’t want them saying “Uncle Tom,” a contemptuous term for a Black man].
Rupert was working from seven to five, but Catherine wrote, “The day doesn’t seem long though, for I have my fancy work and library books. Everything is dead here on Sun., no shows or stores open.”
After two years in Illinois, Rupert and Catherine returned to Lincoln County, and made their home on a farm of 100 acres south of Corso and west of Millwood. Rupert and Catherine had three children, Regina, born on 11 March 1915; Harold, born 6 March 1916, and Carmelita, born 15 July 1917 at Millwood in Lincoln County, Missouri.
Late in December 1918, Catherine fell victim to the influenza epidemic, which caused pneumonia and rapid death. The global epidemic killed over 20 million people in 1918 and 1919, more than all the fighting in World War I.
She died 2 January 1919, leaving Rupert with three young children; Regina was 3, Harold was 2, and Carmelita was just 17 ½ months old. Rupert’s mother, Mary Agnes “Molly” Bowles Little, and his sister, Sarah Jane “Sadie” Little, helped raise the children.
Mamma told me that at the time of Catherine’s death, Rupert was unconscious with the flu. When he woke up, she had been buried for two weeks. Aunt Sadie followed him around, fearing he would kill himself. Regina died 19 February 1931 in a St. Louis Hospital after contracting measles following an appendectomy.
In 1932, corn was selling for 17 cents a bushel. Rupert sold 100 bushels for $17.00. The farm was sold to cover his debts. Rupert was hired by a friend who was a doctor in Webster Groves, Missouri, to manage his farm at Bertrand in Mississippi County, Missouri.
Rupert died 4 July 1961 and was buried with Catherine at St. Alphonsus Cemetery at Millwood. Harold died 22 Apr 1985 at Woodland Hills, California.
What a Clever Way to Share Research
What a great idea! Notice that Betty was able to share dates and pertinent information without overwhelming the reader. She shared some sweet and poignant stories that made these folks real. A way for one generation to reach the next.
Another tip! Once you have several weeks of stories, you could assemble them in a booklet to have for future generations.