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…

Peace

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.

Peace

 

Long story short…

Oh, my!  I have been so neglectful of my blogging…wondering again whether to quit or jump back in with renewed vigor, writing daily.  For now, I’ll catch you up on recent activities…

Martha called and said she’d be visiting town, so she and Nancy and I had a fine evening chatting and eating…

 

The Master Gardeners Fall Conference was super this year!  Jack Barnwell, manager of the gardens on Mackinac Island, presented a terrific slideshow that really made me want to visit there.  Chef Nathan Lyon did a cooking demonstration for us that was both informative and hilarious.  The after-lunch speakers were Scott Beuerlein from Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Kerri Ann Mendez from Perennially Yours.

I was also delighted that Sharon and  Charles Sorenson were there, peddling her books.  I’ve been stalking her to buy her latest,

and finally I caught up with her.  This book has me so excited about my Bird Garden project for Spring 2019.  Planning next year’s garden is a great way to get through the winter…

The UE production of Spring Awakening was excellent, though I can’t say I actually like the show…such a bummer.  The theatre always has a full roster of wonderful actors and I’m grateful we have the opportunity right here in Eville to witness their talents.

I’ve fallen down the rabbit-hole of genealogy…  I got out everything I’ve already done and put away about 6 years ago and going through that was a trip into the past, darkly.  In addition to my family tree, I had put together some information on the history of my house and I had forgotten some of the facts I had unearthed.  I’ve gotten it organized and I”m ready to dive into it deeply…

Perhaps I could combine the genealogy research with rejuvenated blogging habits… hmm…

The leaves are beginning to color the trees with splashes of orange, yellow, and red…think I”ll go out to the Thoughtful Spot and figure it all out…

Peace