Posted in 2019, genealogy, Summer at Sonnystone, updates

Monday Musings

It is raining again … I’m fighting the gloomies, aware that some summers here in Eville have involved too much rain to suit me or my garden and this could be one of them…

Last week there were a kajillion activities around town…I had planned on getting down to see the Ultimate Air Dogs, my favorite feature of the Shrinefest Air Show, but the planes and dogs were rained out.

In between thunderstorms, we took the kids to the zoo…I adore the new Budgie Walkabout.  There are 350 Parakeets (did you know Parakeets are also called Budgies?  I didn’t) in a rainbow of hues flying in a roomy screen area.  You purchase feeding sticks (hey, it’s for a good cause), put out your hand and oila!

I took in an inside-fest: Midnight Madness at Willard Library.  Each day there was a speaker or two and the librarians were there until late to help with local and regional genealogy from their extensive collections.  I’ve attended before, but not since the Willard addition of The Browning Room.  The new room holds a lot more people comfortably and the  two days of presentations that I attended were excellent.  I immediately started using my new-found tools to run down some details and killed many of the rainy hours living in the Past…

I have always enjoyed planning Trips, so that’s another way I’ve piddled while I wait for the Sun.  I’m working on a foray into New Mexico.  We took a quick visit before Casey retired and Ihad a fall and injured my knee the first day out, to say nothing of the fact that we took the Wrong Road to Taos… We didn’t have enough time, either, so I’m thinking we’ll head back this September and do it right.  I’m also tweaking our March 2020 Getaway –Florida Keys, Naples, Melbourne, and (of course) Disney –Just another way to wait out the rain…living in the Future.

I’m failing to live up to my Motto:  Be Here Now… but Now is wet, dark, dusty, and just plain depressing…   Is the Sun still out there?

It is, it really is…

(Brush up on your Spanish as you sing along with George…and get outside if you can see the Sun)



Posted in 2018, Autumn at Sonnystone Acres, genealogy, Great and otherwise

Playing the role of Grandmother…

I don’t know if I should call this the genealogy project anymore.  A better moniker might be Who were my grandmothers? Something new that generally contradicts the stories I’ve been told pops up with each of them.

I started life with 5 grandmothers:  Mom’s grandma, called Little Grandma; Dad’s maternal grandmother, called Gainsey; Dad’s paternal grandmother, Grandmother Mayne; Mom’s mother, Grandma Eaton; and Dad’s mother, who my brother named Plain Grandmother, P.G. for short.

I have focused on Grandmother Mayne because that’s who I’m writing the story about, but I am constantly sidelined by looking at records of the others…

Then there’s the pictures.  I have a plethora of photographs that go back to the civil war and possibly before.  This picture of Grandmother was my first clue that she was not a concert pianist.

A girlfriend whose family had owned a photography shop over in Illinois pointed out to me that this was a “performer pose”.   My great-aunt Bernie provided another clue when she gave me this little flyer.  The year 1900 written on there is my grandmother’s handwriting (I can tell because she wrote me letters).

If you could look closely, you’ll see that this is not a concert pianist performance.  I’m more impressed that she had star billing and ran the show!  She sings, plays mandolin and piano and it’s all “pop” music of the day..!  Probably there was some dancing.   Add that my great-grandmother was born Olive R. Kinkade and “changed” her name to Kathleen, and it doesn’t seem to me that she was a prim, college-educated concert pianist.

So, back to the train.  Ben L., the handsome county clerk, was also a teacher in the Browns School District, living with his mother and sister in Albion.  He took his bride home and that’s where my grandfather was born 9 months later and where my great-aunt Bernie was born 14 months after that.  According to Aunt Bernie, grandmother insisted on “having her own home” when Bernie was 2 or 3.  This picture was taken in front of that house.


No doubt Grandmother had to re-invent herself again when she married into the Mayne Family.  They were rather snobbish and would not have approved of her background.  As a result, I rarely heard much about her childhood and only knew for sure that her mother had died when she was 6 months old, she had an older sister named Anna, and that her step-mother had not been kind.  Bernie said that the Kinkades were “poor”.

It is hard to tell what is “poor” and what’s not, but I’ve discovered just who they were, and who my grandmother’s mother’s family (McWilliams) were and that tells a story much different than what I expected.

Having spent the week being JoJo the grandma, it is easy for me to imagine how much my grandmothers enjoyed being around me and my siblings.  Double that to a great-grandmother and it must be twice as joyful, especially if you are able to play with them and teach them.  I learned so much from my great-grandmother Mayne, more than from any other grandmother.  She taught me to love poetry and playing piano, and she had large closets full of books to read.  She tried to teach me to embroider and crochet.  We helped her bake pies, rolling out the dough and slinging around the flour, and she would save a little bit of the piecrust and bake it just for me.  She put butter on her crunchy peanut-butter sandwiches and used Roman Meal bread.  We played Chinese checkers and she didn’t let me win.  She wrote us letters and had Thanksgiving at her house, Christmas at ours. I spent a couple of weeks each summer at her house getting spoiled and doted on.

Grandmother visited us in 1957 when we lived in Gary, Indiana.  She insisted on going up to Lake Michigan, where she took off her shoes and waded in…

That’s me holding Grandmother’s hand, I’m 3, she’s 81…

She has rather haunted me all these years, compelling me to tell her story, and I will.  However, the other grandmothers are clamoring to be heard, too.  As I uncover more secrets, I am mesmerized at how strong my foremothers were.  I hope my grandchildren look back and remember me the same…


Posted in 2018, Autumn at Sonnystone Acres, genealogy

Family Tree Intrigue

Back in 2003 my cousin sent me this clipping from the Grayville newspaper…just above it says

102 years ago today, April 16

It was 1901.  Ben L. Mayne, the handsome county clerk, was my great-grandfather and the pretty Miss Kinkade was my great-grandmother.  I had heard the story that they’d gotten married on a train, and I thought it sounded so romantic, but I thought they were actually traveling somewhere like St. Louis or at least Evansville…  Reading this, it sounds a little rushed, wouldn’t you say?  Odd that a Rev. was along, but they had to have the conductor and the brakeman witness it.   Don’t forget, Grandad was the county clerk, so they didn’t have to wait on a marriage license.  And where did they go?  Did they just get off the train in Grayville and grab another one back?

When I began to sort through old Mayne family archives, I came across a marriage certificate..

This is the official record, note that Grandad is the witness.   attached to it is a document from 1948…

Notice that the witnesses are the same conductor Neiman that the newspaper article mentioned, but instead of brakeman Trott is Mrs G.W Hall.  (This habit of women being Mrs. Husband Name is a pain.)  At first I had no idea who Mrs. G.W. was, but I am pretty sure it was Grandmother’s aunt Isabella.

I wonder why they were getting the marriage certificate certified again in 1948…

Anyway, this whole wedding-on-the-train sounds a bit shady to me.  My great-aunt Bernie once told me that her brother had been born “9 months to the day after Dad and Mother got married”.  Small town folks probably did their math, like me, and noted that the baby actually came a couple of weeks early and I’ll bet she heard about it…

Several years back I started writing a book about Grandmother’s life and the research is more fun than actually writing it.  We were told she was a concert pianist, not true; that her family was poor, not true.  But I’ll save that story for another time…

My daughter-in-law is having surgery tomorrow, so I’m stepping up to help with the kids for the couple of days.  I’ll catch up with you when I can.