Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Wedding Reflections

I can't believe I haven't posted since June! I have had a very busy summer. We went to NYC in June for a few days and then spent the rest of the summer getting ready for a September wedding. Now that the wedding is over, maybe I can post more.


I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about weddings and how the whole process has changed in the last few decades. I think Pinterest has upped the game some. Everyone gets an overload of ideas.

But I also  think we just don't have the visual record of the details and hours of planning and preparing that went into yesterdays weddings. No one took photos of the bride's shoes! I wish we did have that record.

I don't know why, but I never asked either one of my grandmother's about their weddings.  I don't think either one of them would have talked about it much. Neither of them had a traditional wedding.

I have previously posted wedding photos of some others in my family tree:        Peter Peterson's               Fred Schmidt's
               Cornelius Smith's                            Ken Schmidt's

The first wedding I remember going to was my dad's sister's wedding - Judi and her husband, Ed. I don't seem to have a single picture in any of Dad's stuff. I know Grandma Bea made my sister and I each a dress and we handed out little bags of rice to everyone after the ceremony.

My mother and dad often told the story of their wedding - in particular the wedding cake, which was dropped. I have a video of them telling that story. I'll have to blog about that sometime.

We lived in South Texas when my mother's brother got married - Ken and his bride, Judy. So only my mom was able to attend that wedding. I know I was excited when Judy sent each of us girls a wallet size photo of them.

My own wedding seems like a blur now. We decided in September to get married in December. My mother made my dress and my sisters! No 12 month planner for me. Then in January we moved to Florida.

In looking over photos I have discovered one thing that doesn't change much.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Faces From the Past -- A Picnic in Kiowa County

Once when I was very young, my grandmother, Beatrice Schmidt, and her sisters, Vi Dirks and Edna Schmidt, decided we should all go on a picnic out in the field near where they grew up. The group included those three and my Aunt Judi, my mom, my sister, Nancy, my brother, Arlin and I. We walked in a shallow creek bed for a good while and I think the reason the whole event sticks with me so well, is because we all found ourselves covered in leeches and had to peel them off of ourselves. Anyway, I found a few old slide photos of that day. My guess is it was the very early 1960s.

This one is one of my all-time favorite pictures.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday's Tip - Small Town Blogs and Websites

Some time ago I found a really interesting blog. I was googling for an obituary when this blog popped up. It is called "Too Long in the Wind"  and it is part of  Pawnee This blog has years of interesting tidbits about the area of Kansas that many of my ancestors lived in. While I never lived in Pawnee Rock, I have visited there on numerous occasions and have visited the cemeteries and taken many photographs. (see Find A Grave for my contributions in Barton County, Kansas).

The Mennonite settlement near Pawnee Rock has long been a part of my research and I've found I have a connection to almost everyone in the Bergthal and the Dundee Cemeteries.

This blog, by the website creator Leon Unruh, is both historical and contemporary and makes the community come alive. He links to other articles and obituaries and adds comments and stories for the people and places he is familiar with.  He includes photos - old and new and often includes letters and emails from other people. He talks about the town and how it has changed over the years. And of course he blogged about the Bergthal Mennonite Church closing.

The whole Pawnee Rock website is interesting and they even have scanned the entire 1950 yearbook from the high school!

Perhaps such a blog exists for your family's town! It is worth searching for. And if not, maybe it would be a great blog to start!

Thanks, Leon, for bring Pawnee Rock, Kansas to life for me.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Those Places Thursday - Kansas MCC Relief Sale, Hutchinson, Kansas - "The Junk Man"

The Mennonite Relief Sale in Hutchinson at the State Fair Grounds has been a part of my family for many, many years. I remember going when the auction was in the old sale barn. My grandparents, Beatrice and Harvey Schmidt, were almost always there. It was a time to see people from all around the state and even outside the state that you hadn't seen in awhile.

The sale is a charity sale - with all proceeds going to MCC - the missions branch of the Mennonite churches. There was always a quilt auction with quilts made and donated by churches and individuals. Plenty of other things get auctioned off as well, but the quilt auction has been a big draw for some time. But maybe even more of a draw than the quilts, is the food. Because, while not everyone can afford to bid on a quilt, everyone can enjoy the food.

We attended and enjoyed the sale during the years my grandparents were alive, but after they died, the sale took on a new meaning. My dad had worked out an agreement with his dad, Harvey, regarding the years and acres of accumulation of stuff. Grandpa Harvey loved auctions and there was more than a little stuff piled up on his farm. Someday I'll write more about that.
One of the first years

But for now, it is enough to say that Dad and Grandpa came to an agreement that what the family did not want, could be sold at auction with the proceeds going to MCC. So after Grandpa died, Dad took on the project of taking several trailer loads of stuff to the MCC sale in Hutchinson every year and selling it. Dad was fondly known as the "junk man" at the sale and people looked for him and his stuff every year.
He sold old tools, wheelbarrows, buckets, wagons, tractor seats, pumps, jacks . . .the list goes on and on. Any number of things in just about any condition. Many people used these rusty items as yard art. Occasionally someone would find something they'd been looking for - a particularly collectible tool or hood ornament.

These pictures were taken in some of the last years and by the looks of it, they were taken at the end of the two-day sale.

One year they made the news in the Hutchinson paper's coverage of the sale.

The sale was always a great place for family from all over the country to meet up and have fun. There are lots more stories and pictures from years of going to sales but I'll save those for another time.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

BIRTHDAY BIO - Phyllis Egli Schmidt - The Early Years

Last year I wrote about Mom on her birthday and today I am going to write a little more about her early life. I have learned things about my parents since their deaths because I have been going through old pictures and letters and miscellaneous documents. It has been an interesting journey and there are so many things I wish I could ask them.

Mom kept several scrapbooks when she was young that I don't remember ever seeing when she was alive.

Some had lots of photographs and some were pictures that she had cut from magazines.

Fortunately she wrote about the photos and the people in them.
Phyllis, Harris, Tom
Many of them were pictures of her with her siblings and her cousins.

Cousin Kathryn, brother Harris, Phyllis

Tom, cousin Richard, Phyllis, Harris

Phyllis lived near many of her cousins and they often talked of all the times they shared as kids. These pictures are a glimpse into that childhood.

Phyllis and her cousins, Sandra and Karol

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BIRTHDAY BIO - Ken Schmidt 1932-2011 - The Early Years

Kenneth 1936
I started Dad's bio blog in 2013 on his birthday, and continue here . . . .
Kenneth 1935

Kenneth was the oldest child. His brother was two years younger and the two of them were constant companions as they grew up. They worked together on the farm, they went hunting and fishing and they went to school in a one room schoolhouse up the road from where they lived.

Ken and his brother, Lee, on bicycles

Harvey and Kenneth
Kenneth - first duck

The back of this photo says that Ken skipped school to go quail and duck hunting with his dad south of Coldwater.

1932 Chevy, Ken and Fred Smith

Ken liked cars. His early letters often mentioned that he had stopped at a dealership to look at the new cars.
Harvest - the boy in center is Ken

Ken with his sister, Judi and their dog
Kenneth's sister, Judith, was several years younger than her brothers. They thought the world of their adorable little sister, although I know they teased her as well.

One of Ken's school papers tells what he like to do . . .

Ken - school assignment "What I Like To Do"

Friday, February 21, 2014

Family Friend Friday - Martha King Espander

Growing up we had a large group of family friends that were single people. Generally they were people that my parents worked with and/or we went to church with. Over the years many of them married and moved away but I remember them as being part of our family.

One of those was Martha King. Martha was in nurses training at LaJunta Mennonite School of Nursing with Mom. She was older than many of the students but was in Mom's class - the class of 1955. After they graduated, Mom married and settled in Greensburg, Kansas. Martha, like many other Mennonite nurses, got a job at the hospital in Greensburg. At that time the hospital, Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, was run by the Mennonite Church.

I remember Martha often coming out to our house for dinner. She and my brother shared a birthday - June 5.

Tom Egli family, Ken Schmidt family and Martha on the right. 1958
We all remained close to Martha for many years and I remember her being at our house in Rocky Ford, Colorado. She lived in Walsenburg, Colorado and later in Pueblo, Colorado. I remember her commenting one time that "I am older now than my mother was when she died." Her mother died at the age of 45, when Martha was only nine years old. Her mother's birthday was the same as mine, Nov. 8.

Martha was very excited when she met Otto Espander, a widower in Walsenburg and they were married May 8, 1970 when Martha was 50.  But sadly, Otto passed away June 9, 1971. Martha lived in Pueblo the remainder of her life. She died August 17, 1996.
L to R: Rita, Susan, Phyllis, Nancy and Martha 1976

I have wonderful memories of this caring woman, who loved others and had a strong faith in God.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

BIRTHDAY BIO - Edna Amanda Peterson Egli 1900-1984

Edna Amanda Egli was born on February 16, 1900 in Manson, Iowa. She was the fifth of eight children born to Peter and Annie Peterson. Three sisters, Minnie, Sylvia, Delphia, and one brother, Floyd, were older than her and when she was born they were 8, 6, 4 and 2. Needless to say, her mother had her hands full and in less than a year, she was expecting again. Her younger siblings were Sanford, Lillian and Hazel.

 Edna says in her handwritten memoirs:

“I can remember leaving home to stay with an Aunt and Uncle in Cherokee, IA.  They carried me wrapped in big shawl to the train and I stayed with them because Mother was expecting another baby, he was 1 1/2 years younger than I. Seemed like for years I would go and live them every so often up until 10 or 12 years. (I) would go home for school and back with them in summer months. Their children were older than I so I told people I was adopted and my own folks weren't my real parents.” 

Edna and her Cherokee County Mama, Aunt Mary

In spite of the time spent in Cherokee, Edna detailed lots of memories of her life in Manson as a young girl. Her uncle built their house on “Swede hill.” Her dad worked as a clerk in the grocery and dry goods store. They had a barn with a cow and chickens so they had plenty of milk, cream, butter and eggs. 

Her mother did all the sewing of dresses, shirts and coats. Her dad had a shoe repair kit and would resole their shoes. The Peterson family faithfully attended Augustana Lutheran Church in Manson.

In the winter the neighborhood children would sled and skate and in the summer they played games “like run sheep run” and 4th of July picnics, or going on a long hayrack ride out to Twin Lakes.

1922 Ford Model T Runabout
Edna attended Manson schools and graduated from Manson High School in 1918.  During her school years she worked at Dalton Press, a publishing company in Manson. She earned 5 cents an hour.  Later, in 1922, she sold subscriptions to the Manson Journal and won first prize in a contest. The prize was a car – a Ford Coupe Runabout. Or so I was told. [see link]

Edna also attended and graduated from Fort Dodge Business College and was later employed by Davis Bros. & Potter Grain Company as the manager of the Manson Elevator. It was here at the elevator that she met Emery Egli, who also worked there.

Edna married Emery Egli on October 5, 1929. Soon after they were married, Edna joined the Mennonite Church in Manson. 

Edna and Emery Egli farmed in the Manson vicinity until they retired in 1966. They had four children -- Thomas, Phyllis, Harris, and Kenneth,  – and ten grandchildren. 

Edna passed away on February 12, 1984, just short of her 84th birthday.  Her funeral was February 15 at the Manson Mennonite Church; interment at Rose Hill Cemetery, Manson.       


Baptism certificate
Phyllis Egli Schmidt
“Recollections of My Childhood” by Edna
Funeral card

Sentimental Sunday - Pete Seeger 1919-2014

Pete Seeger died on January 27.  Pete was known for his controversial political views. But that is not what I know about him. [If you want to know more, there is a lot of information on the internet - just Google him!] What I know about Pete Seeger was that in 1963 my mother bought an album called Children's Concert at Town Hall. I don't know what made her buy it and I don't know what she thought of his political views but she liked having music for us kids to listen to. I so vividly remember laying on the floor in our old farmhouse south of Greensburg listening to the record player.

We loved listening to
"Henry My Son"
"Here's to Cheshire, Here's to Cheese"
"Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal"
"I've Been Working on the Railroad"
"Riding in My Car"
"Put Your Finger in the Air"
"Michael Row the Boat Ashore"
"Be Kind to Your Parents"
"This Land is Your Land"
and others.

But our favorite song was "Abi Yoyo" - more of a story than a song and we listened to it over and over.

Years later I had the privilege of seeing Pete Seeger in concert at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. Pete Seeger's antiwar sentiments were right in line with the Mennonites. At one point he asked those of us in the audience to sing for him because he knew Mennonites could really sing acapella. So we all sang a song that we knew as "606" but was really called "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow." (This links to a pretty good video - I'm sure there are others) It is a beautiful song and especially when sung acapella by a large group of Mennonites.

I introduced my kids to Pete's songs and we discovered a book in the library "The Foolish Frog" and the song that went with it. My kids loved it. Nothing sticks in your memory quite like music. Farewell to a great musician. You will be missed.