by Opal Fern (Burdue) Carley
at age 77 years and 10 months
Opal Fern Carley
One year before she wore glasses.
50th Golden Wedding
|For other details,
see: the book, "The Burdue Family 1748-1981" by Jacob Burdue
Jacob Burdue and wife Roxie 1995,
He is the same as blind and has wrote 11
more yearly additions articles Died 1997
Ernest Jacob BURDUE 94, retired linotype operator for the
Wichita Eagle, died Thursday Jan. 9, 1997. Service 10am. Monday, DeVorss
Flanagn-Hunt Mortuary ; 2pm Forest Park Celery: Anthony. Survivor: wife, Roxie,
daughters Mlly Dee Valdois, Melba Joy Gamble, both of Wichita; brothers,
Garland of Bartesville, Okla. Seven grandchildren ; two great-great grandchildren.
Memorial has been established with the Know Your Bible Fund , c/o North Side
Church of Christ. (Roxie is still living at the age of 92 and still
drives. 10-2002) Roxie still has a few books left and I just bought 2
more to donate to Sons of American Rev. in Louisville, Ky.
|Just got the below, compliments of Marvin
Henry of my Carley clan. Near Dodge City Ks. in Mead County. 10-2002 Also, much thanks
to Debbie Hodge and Norma Mills for their DAR records which makes this all possible and
Mr. Lamp who was of Dodge City, Ks. for his SAR records, currently of New York. I will be
joining the SAR shortly. This material will also be passed on to my brother Curtis Carley
for his three daughters for the DAR. And last but not least, our dear friend Roxie Burdue
of Witchia, Ks. and her two daughters. Also, sister Louis JoNelle (Carley) Graber.
Isaac D. Burdue death
certificate 1937 Dodge City, Ford Co. Kansas.
Clark E. Burdue my
grand father and second son of Isaac D. Burdue. Corrections for Burdue
BURDUE By Opal Fern (Burdue) Carley Edited by son Clarkie L. Carley
Spelling of original story is not changed.
Burdue of Wichita, I, too, had often wondered who was the first BORDEAUX (Burdue) to dome to America from France. He
was Nathaniel, who was born on board ship coming over
in 1748. His parents lived at first in New Jersey, later his family settled in
Pennsylvania and Nathaniel married Margaret Welch. In
1775, at age 27, he enlisted to serve in the Revolutionary Army. Each year from May 1 to
November 1, he served, for five years, making a total of 2 1/2 years total service. His
family moved to Erie County, Ohio, on the Huron River, as pioneers. It was a time of house
raisings and barrels of whiskey. Someone in the group of pioneers built a grist mill for
making corn meal. the owner claimed to be a wizard and liked to bewilder "old man
Burdue", who was very superstitious. The lock on the mill door did not work well,
but it would open for him upon demand.
The first school in the area was built near the Burdue
spring. It was 16 X 20 ft. of logs of many different lengths. Floor and seats were made of
split logs with a roof of "shakes" (heavy shingles, like slabs of wood).
Nathaniel was educated in Pennsylvania and also learned to
be a shoemaker. He was orphaned as a small child and was bound out until reaching his
majority. Soon after that he married Margaret Welch. In 1833, Nathaniel was
put on the pension list of Revolutionary soldiers as follows:
|Burdue, Nathaniel - Pensioner
||Rank . . . . . . . . . Private
|Annual allowance . . . 80.00
||Annual allowance . 80.00 Sum received .
. . . . 240.00
|Service . . . . . . . Pennsylvania State Troops
||Placed on roll . . . . March 4, 1831
|Pension Number . . . . 3104
|| Age . . . . . . . . . 86
The first American Bordeaux (Burdue) died March 2, 1837 at age 89 in
Ohio. His grave has been marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution. His wife Margaret
lived to be 92 and died when her clothing caught fire. She was a devout Presbyterian. Five
of their children lived to adulthood: 1. Mary Burdue . . . she married George
Miller and that (2nd Gen) family moved to Milan, Ohio to live. Mary died in 1849 . . . she
had four children. 2. William Burdue . . . was born in Pennsylvania. He married
Elizabeth Blazer (German) in 1791. In 1810 they moved to a wilderness in
Ohio with their infant son Nathaniel, and build a log cabin. His was the first crop
of corn in the area. An old Indian befriended them because of favors Elizabeth did for
him. Upon his advise about a coming Indian attack, they left their "treasurers"
under the cabin floor and returned to Pennsylvania until the war of 1812-15 ended. When
they returned, things in the cabin were undisturbed, inspire of Indians having used their
house. William brought two small burrs (stones) and set up a hand mill which was
used by the people of the area. Because of the problem of getting material, they raised
flax for weaving linsey-woolsey for their use. Material were purchased for about .60 a
yard when they could be found. One problem was in getting poor-grade salt at $10 a barrel.
Finally, crude schools were started. Religious needs were taken care of by circuit riders
of the Methodist Church. Nathaniel's farm stayed in the family 126 years. Both Mr.
and Mrs. William Burdue are buried there. He died in 1834\; she in 1868. Their
children were the first white children in the township. Of their eleven children four died
in infancy leaving seven sons: 1. another Nathaniel\; 2. William Welch Burdue\; 3.
John\; 4. Jacob\; 5. Issaac\; 6. Benjamin\; 7. George. All of these sons were third
generation. Of these seven sons, we are most interested in Jacob, as he and Eunice
Milliman Burdue were the parents of Isaac Doniphan Burdue, my grandfather. He
was fourth generation and was born February 26, 1851 in Huron County, Ohio. At 3 years of
age he moved with his parents to Michigan where as a young man he helped with a clearing
to their house, where just a path had been. September 15, 1872, he married Eliza Jane
Runyon, born January 8, 1855. As a child I remember her mother was an English lady with
red hair . . . that same red hair has shown up a few times in the generations that
followed. Eliza Jane had light hair, as I remember. They came to Hodgeman County in March
1889 and staked a claim where they farmed until 1912. At that time they moved to
Dodge City where he was a caretaker at Sunnyside School for 20 years. At one time, my
parents, Nola and I lived on a farm about a mile from them. One holiday, we were at
their home visiting when a tornado was sighted heading right for us. We were rushed to the
cyclone cellar here someone on the steps watched the progress of the storm. When it got
near, it raised and came down on the next farm and blew it to bits. In all my life
here in Kansas, that was the only such storm that endangered me, though I have seen
three others. Kansas is not a tornado state as has always been said. It was in such a
storm that "Dorothy" (Judy Garland) was blown to the "Land of Oz",
from Kansas. A project is now underway to build a "Land of Oz" park. Eliza Jane
was a favorite name at that time and Isaac took advantage of Grandma's name to sing
at the top of his voice a song called by her name. It told about taking her on a one
"mule" open sleigh . . . the refrain was: "It is whoa I tell you! Whoa I
say, Whoa. Ain't got time to kiss you now I'm hanging to this mule". She would always
say: "Isaac!" He got the same remark when he sneezed . . . it was always
loud and sounded more like a yell. I never knew whether he did it that way to aggravate Eliza,
but I suspect he did. Their first born was Henry Jay, known as Uncle Jay. He
never married. After moving to Dodge City with his parents, he worked at the Beeson
Theater over town on the north of the Arkansas River. When he had smallpox, he was in the
"pest house", but all of us had to be inoculated. None of us took the disease,
but I still have my scar. A spot about the size of a quarter was rubbed raw and the
vaccine was placed in the space after it was washed with alcohol . . . a scab then
appeared. I seem to remember Uncle Jay had diabetes and "petit mal", the
mild form of epilepsy. He was born December 8, 1873 and died in 1927, the year I was
married. When his father, Isaac died, the Beeson family sent his family a lovely
letter mentioning how they would miss "Uncle Ike", when they went by the
school and his home on their way uptown. I never heard Grandpa called "Uncle
Ike", but I suppose he was. When Nola and I were in Dodge a few years ago,
we were pleased to see the pictures of two leading men in Dodge that we knew; Chalk Beeson
and Mr. Dowdy, a clerk at Barclays Grocery where we traded. One of my school friends
in second grade was a daughter of Mr. Beeson and her bicycle was the only one I ever rode.
The year I was in second grade I stayed in Dodge with my grandparents, as our mother was
ill. Sunnyside School was just across the street from their home. I went there for dinner
and remember very well the day I forgot to take off the apron I wore at lunch! Someone
told me. I am proud of having been a favorite of Grandma Burdue. She told me I was
because I didn't make noise and messes. Uncle Jay and Uncle Ora still lived
at home at that time. One reason I like to stay there was because she would let me
eat mustard sandwiches with French mustard and white oleo. Uncle Ora as the
youngest of their family. He was engaged to Nola G. Miller, a neighbor girl on the farm. Grandma
had a bad heart and when the day set for his wedding came, Grandma was sick. They
offered to postpone their marriage, but Grandma would not agree to that. A
reception was held at her house that day, December 25, 1919. The daughters-in-law and a
cousin's wife did the work while Grandma got up from her bed and spent several hours
sitting with her feet on the heater in the dining room Charlie Easly says it was his job
to put her feet there if she couldn't. I just couldn't say anything to her before we left
for home. When we got home north of Dodge, the phone was ringing. They were calling for
Dad to come back so he could see her alive. For many years, the family met at Grandpa Isaac's
house in south Dodge for his birthday. His sisters from Michigan and some of their
families came. His sisters were Viroqua Jane Burdue Miller and Eunice Eva Burdue Northup.
I have pictures taken at one of his birthday parties. Uncle Joe Miller and the sisters are
in it, his children, his brothers\; Emmet Sr., Eddie (Uncle Ed .. . father of Jacob of
Wichita). His other brothers died before my time, George as an infant. Clarkie Northup, a
nephew with red hair was sometimes there. I also have a picture of Grandpa Isaac and his
granddaughters on a birthday. Isaac was very active. Late in life, he passed his job at
Sunnyside to a son-in-law with Grandpa as his assistant. When there was harvest time at
Clark's, he was there. He was one of the hands as long as he was able and later his job
was to entertain the workers with physical abilities (such as jumping over a broom stick
many times), telling stories and singing songs. "The Preacher and the Bear" was
a favorite of my Dad's too. It began:
A preacher went a hunting,---Twas on a Sunday morn ---Though it
was gain his 'ligon,---He took his gun along. And on his way returning home,---He shot
himself a very fine bear The bear march out to the middle of the road,
Right up to the "coon" you see,---The "coon" got so excited he climbed
Right up a cimonium tree.---He cast his eyes to the Lord in the skies,---And
these words said to Him---You delivered Jonah from the elly of a whale, Three
Hebrew chillun from a fiery furnace---The good book do declare,---Oh, Lord, if you can't
help me, For goodness sake don't you help that bear!!
The song went on for several verses. He
learned that song from a tube record on his Edison phonograph. A part of the Beeson letter
said\; "I hope he has a job in heaven where he can hear laughter and the trampling of
little feet . . . that was his pleasure here." One of his treats was to carve little
figures for his kids at school. He also made lots of monkeys that climbed a string . . . I
wonder if any are still around. ? ? ? (Handwritten note here I cannot read) On February
25, 1937, relatives were gathering for his birthday celebration and he had a heart attract
and died before morning. February 6th would HAVE been his 87th birthday.
Clark E. Burdue and wife Edna Dunn
This picture is said to be of Clark E. Burdue and his Burdue Family.
So far, no one can help me with who is who. Clark on far right and I think possible his
mother and farther, third and fourth fromght. I have no idea who any of the others are and
no one in Jetmore, Ks. can tell me either.
|Clark Elliot as the second born to Eliza and Isaac
D. Burdue, on March 9, 1876 at Sherwood, Michigan. At the age of 13, his family came to
Hodgeman County, Kansas, where he lived the rest of his life, except for one year in Ford
County where he and Edna worked on a ranch for an elderly widower. Mother gave me a
pottery dish that "the boss" gave her. She chose it from a trunk of his wife's
treasures. It is of Majorica ware and is like one in the museum at Fort Hays State
University in Hays. Let us return to my early school years. After Mrs. Miller, in first
grade, I had a teacher whose name was Robert Morris. He was from the Ozarks and was a
typical Ozarkian if there is such a thing. Several in school were adults, as there was
nowhere to go to high school. Mr. Morris, I have no doubt, was a very good teacher for
those pupils. Much of what they were taught was of high school caliber. Chas. Easley and I
remember his playing ball with the "big kickers". Eva Williams, one of the older
ones, rode a horse to school in a long divided skirt, the riding habit of her day. There
were three little girls named Opal. Two of us were Opal Fern, so I was called Opal and she
was called Fern (Evans). Fern had a brother, one of the older ones, who was mean. When he
caught a young child away from the rest, he would bump the child's head on the stone posts
around the school yard. Not all of the older ones were like that though. One of my
friends, Dee Adder, was well over 6 feet tall. During stormy weather, he always saw
that I was well wrapped up and my four buckled overshoes were on securely so I was ready
to go when Dad came after me. My father had a sled, which he used when there was snow on
the ground for feeding the cattle. On those days, we would sit on that wrapped in a
blanket. Dad turned a big wooden box over on us which he sat on to drive the horses. We
had a cozy ride. Going cross-lots aver an area of buffalo grass, we had slightly over a
mile to go, snug as bugs in a rug!
At one time we had neighbors in the section south of us whose
name was Swindell. When their daughter was born, her father thought it cute to name her
Ima\; Ima Swindell. I knew a college girl named Rosie Shanks. There was also a girl named
April ??? As I have mentioned, the section across from our road was original sod. One time
a fire got started on the west edge of it and it raced toward our home (Aunt Berts
ranch). Dad plowed a firebreak around the buildings and corrals. Bythe time it reached the
road in front of us, it was slowed by a row of men fielding wet gunny sacks (burlap we say
now). Sometimes after dark we could see in that same area a dancing light. It was a
will-o-the-wisp and was said to be gas from an old dug well, but as anyone approached, it
would be somewhere else. I liked another name for the same kind of light\; Aladdin's lamp.
I have heard that these are often seen in swamps. This place looked a lot of being a
At one time when Jim and Effie Easley lived in or near Aunt
Bertie farms, Charles remembers his Grandfather Easley died at their home. It was very
cold and the nearest phone was 7 miles distant. Charles was assigned the task of riding a
horse to that phone to call for help in Dodge City. His father Jim put the frozen body of
his father in the back of his wagon so he could meet an ambulance from Dodge. The body was
transferred to the usual basket and placed in the ambulance. When they met, sometime
during this incident some boys shoveled snow for 22 miles so one of the vehicles could
travel the road. I suppose that it was before Nola started school, I was walking home, a
skunk joined me as I walked along, a little ways from me in a pasture. If I stopped, he
stopped. When we reached the corral fence, he stopped. After that, he did that in the same
way if I was alone.
The year Nola started school, we had company on our trips to
school in nice weather. We drove a buggy pulled by an old gray mare named "Ole
Lady". The Warden boys lived further from school than we, so their father brought
them as far as our home. The oldest boy usually drove and you would be surprised at what
we did!! On the way home, we drove a zig-zag and at least once the buggy was driven over
the side of a stone post that was leaning about 40ft away from us. These boys were Roscoe,
Walter, and Scott Warden. While we still lived on Aunt Bertie Sorem's ranch, Dad's sister
Effey and husband Jim Easley lived across the section from us. That home belonged to the
Sorem ??? They had four sons, one of which was a boy as pretty as any girl. He was small
and dark like his mother Effie. He often visited us, especially when they lived in Dodge
City. He liked them, there and not having any sones, our parents welcomed him, so he
stayed with us summers. One time when he was with us, our parents went to the barn to
milk, leaving us to play near a row of cottonwoods. Nola and Herald got into a loud fight
over the swing. Dad yelled several times for us to stop quarreling and finally he came to
take matters in hand. He spanked us all! That I remember because at least that time I
didn't deserve a spanking. That is the only time I can remember Dad spanking me. I don't
think Mother spanked anybody.
At that time the Clark Burdues lived on one of Aunt Bertie
Sorems' places. We often went to Horse Thief Canyon a short ways north of the farm in a
pasture. It was an interesting place where many went in warm weather for picnics. I only
remember one tree there, but there were ferns and mosses and some "butter cups",
small and yellow. There may have been "soap weed", (yucca) also. The caves were
of most interest. It was said it had been used in early days as a place to hide stolen
horses. These were some caves that were large enough.
(CLC visited this canyon in Mar. of 1995)
We knew a former horse thief, Old Ben Hodge, a mixture of Negro
and Mexican. He was small and very wrinkled. Nola and I were "scared to death"
of him when we saw him on the streets in Dodge City. He scooted his feet along slowly to
walk as he got caught stealing a horse and had the cords just above his heels cut so
he never again could get on a horse! That and hanging were the usual punishment for horse
thieves. Horses were very important in pioneer days. There is a picture of him in one of
I think I was to be in the fifth grade when we moved to the
"Lawhead place" south of Jetmore. It probably was in March, as that was usual
for farmers. March 1st was the time to pay the rent. I rode with Dad on a load of
belongings in a lumber wagon. It was cold and very damp. On the way, I broke out with
German measles. That was not a bit of help to anyone. When Nola and I had "kids"
diseases, we took turns being very sick. When I had whooping cough, it nearly killed me.
When we had chickenpox, I had seven of them; one in an eyebrow and six on my back. When I
had earaches, Uncle Jim Easley blew smoke in my ear from his pipe. When we had red
measles, it was my turn. When the whole family had influenza, I was chief cook and bottle
washer. A neighbor washed for us and hung out the clothes. It was winter, probably 1918.
When it was time to bring them in, I was going to get them, but Dad wouldn't let me and he
went. He had to go back to bed for several days. Charles remembers neighbors doing the
milking for his family. The only doctor in Jetmore had a driver and they took calls day
and night, driving from one farm to the other. It was late at night when they got to us.
The doctor would sleep as they drove. The neighbor did not come into the house. Not many
escaped the flu that year. Clark E. and his Uncle Ed, (father of Jacob in Wichita) were
very good friends. One time my Dad went with Uncle Ed to Kansas City. I think they took
cattle by rail. They had a silly picture taken of them. It was on a postcard which Ed
wrote to Mother, saying it as a good thing Ed was with Dad, or he'd never get home. I have
the picture. A story told by Uncle Ed says at one time he was digging a well. After it had
been dug down a long ways, he lowered Clark down on a rope to shovel some more and he
couldn't pull him out. At least he hitched a mule to the rope and brought him out in a
Uncle Ed visited us several times at the Lawhead place. Everyone
then kept a bottle of whiskey in the cupboard as whiskey toddies were the thing to use for
colds. They were made by putting sugar and a little whiskey in hot water to drink. Uncle
Ed always had a cold when he got to our house and would ask for whiskey. By the time he
left, the bottle was empty. Otherwise, the whiskey lasted us very well. My father
didn't drink and said he forgot to smoke unless someone came who did.
On hot, bright days, we often saw puddles in the road and
sometimes heat waves moving up from the ground. The puddles were a mirage often seen in
the desert where they gave the poor traveler hopes of finding water. On some occasions, if
the weather was just right, we could see Spearville on the Santa Fe railroad. It was quite
a ways from us and could not ordinarily be seen. This was called a mirage, but was really
a lumping, so it appeared to be reflected in the sky. I had a pretty black and white
shepherd dog that was born the same day I was. In winter, he spent nights in a little
peaked chicken coup designed for a hen and her chicks. After a blizzard, Old Zack (for
Zachary Taylor Dunn) did not appear, so Dad dug out the coup and Zack was dead. He was
fifteen years old. Later we had a large collie and a neighbor shot him. The man did not
recognize him and shot into a pack of dogs. His name was Shaggy.
Dad loved to sing and dance. He did both very well inspire of his
weight. At most of the square dances, he did the calling. He sung his calls which is the
way it is supposed to be done. If he insisted, Mother would dance with him to demonstrate
the schottische or the polka, both of which were dances that took lots of energy. The
schottische was usually done to a song most of which said: "Put your foot down, put
your foot down, put your foot down right there". It was a dance of the 1800's and was
from Scotland. Their polka was very fast and there was more to it than the way Lawrence
Welk does it.
Though Nola and I were not very near other kids, we did not lack
for something to do. In winter, when a large snow drift lay across between the stone posts
where vehicles ordinarily drove into our yard, we sat in a scoop shovel, held onto its
handle in front of us and slid right across the highway. It is evident we didn't get
killed! One time an old stone post laying on its side was our stove. We had a tin dipper
into which we jammed a bone and an old tin lid. Just as Dad looked out the kitchen window,
Nola hit me over the head with it. It is funny now, but not so much so then. Can you guess
what happened next?
At the Lawhead place there were rows of trees just north of the
yard. We made us a play house among them with walls of dried Russian Thistles. I don't
remember what we had in there except for rugs which were weeds that grew near. They
had a short stem in the center of a flat lacy looking oval. They were easy to pull and
were pretty rugs. Our parents and their neighbors had oyster suppers together often in
winter. There was plenty of milk and butter and fresh oysters were plentiful at the store.
Sometimes they played coronal on a large game board or pitch. I was bored silly with cards
so I served the refreshments and kept score. In summer there were ice cream socials at
some farm house. Everybody had a freezer. The ingredients were prepared and everyone took
turns at cranking the handles. No electricity for them! When the paddles were removed the
children were allowed to lick them clean. After the ice cream had set awhile to cure, it
was served along with cakes which the ladies had brought from home. Sometimes there was
dancing or party games. It was often a long cold drive home in winter. I remember one time
we had straw on the floor of a lumber wagon with benches on each side. Our family
picked-up the Wardens and their three little boys. The kids sat in the center covered with
blankets. The men stood in the front of the wagon to drive the team and the ladies sat on
the benches. And a good time was had by all. These were the same three boys who rode to
school with us behind "Old Lady". The only doll I remember having was Flora
Dona. She was made in Germany and had a white kid (leather) jointed body with a china
head. She had blond hair, painted eyes and even a blue china ribbon. From the elbows, her
arms were also china with delicate fingers. Someone tried to teach her to play piano on
the coal range hearth and broke the fingers. Her legs from the knees down were china also.
My children gave her a bad time, too. She was in a trunk in the basement here in Hays when
the 1951 flood finished her. For my birthday one year Dad went to Jetmore for a wagon load
of coal. When he arrived home, he had a little red rocking chair topping the load. He
reached it down to me saying, "If you want this you better come get it."
Somewhere I have a picture of Clark L. in the chair, but the oldest of our children,
Clark, Evelyn & Ken, finally got the best of my chair.
Uncle Jay Burdue raised rabbits for the Harvey House at the Santa
Fe station in Dodge City. He gave Nola and I a start and sold them for us. We had Golden
Fawns and white rabbits with pink eyes. Dad made their pen with containers buried
underground for their nests. At one time we had a little duck . . . (Curtis isn't to read
this part as he says I would not let him have a duck). In the evening it would sit just
below the kitchen door until someone let him in. One time we arrived home late and he was
not there. We never knew what happened to our cute little Quaker.
Uncle Ed's son Earl was working in Dodge City when he came
out to take us for rides on his motorcycle until Nola burned a toe on the motor. She liked
to go barefoot, but I thought it hurt too much. Leroy's sister, Margie, felt that way,
too. Her mother said she had no problem keeping her on the porch . . . she just took her
shoes off. When Violet Sorem (daughter of Dad's sister Bertie) was to be married to W.
Paul DeFord, who lived several miles from us, we set out for the wedding. Long before we
got there, the Model-T stopped and Dad got out to crank it. He grasped the crank and stuck
a finger in the loop of the choke wire and gave a push and split his pants down the seam!
Mother wanted to go on, saying she would fix it there, but he wouldn't go. We returned
home. Paul died years ago and Violet lives in Phoenix and is 79 now (1981). We hear from
her the last few years as often as she is able to write. She has a son Leslie there and a
granddaughter June near. Speaking of Aunt Bertie, she liked to hold us on her lap. We
shied away from her when she sat because her legs were short and she was heavy. We
couldn't stay on unless she held onto us.
Nola and I went to school at Fairview District 61 when we lived
on the Lawhead place. We were almost three miles from school.
Dad took us in bad weather, but when we walked we cut across the pasture. One time it
started blizzarding on the way home. We decided if we could find the barbed wire fence
around the pasture, we could follow it home, It worked very well though we got very cold.
A neighbor boy, Lester Rogers, rode a horse to school. It was not unusual for Nola to ride
the first mile with him. He reminded me of the schoolmaster in the Headless Horseman . . .
he was skinny and his arms dangled from his sleeves. It was also not unusual for he and
Nola to jump the fence beside the road on his horse. It was lots of fun, I heard. I have
said that my fifth grade teacher taught me to tat, but that couldn't be so, as I was never
in the fifth grade!
Mother and the teacher, Louise Gaedie, talked Dad into letting me
go to the sixth grade. As of now, I do not think that is a good idea. Anyway, Louise
taught me to tat. That is the only thing I could do that Mother and Nola couldn't! Later a
neighbor, Mrs. Jarvis Wilson, taught me a difficult way to make wide tatted lace in two
colors with two tatting shuttles and a ball of thread. I had a sample in pink and white,
but somewhere over the years it was lost. Jo Nelle just recently learned to tat. That
method of making lace is back in style now (1982). During WWI, the Red Cross asked people
to knit sweaters, socks and washrags for the soldiers in France. Not everyone could make
the long socks as turning the heal and finishing the toes was not easy, but Mother had a
talent for such things. I knitted washrags. I never figured out why anyone would want
them! The yarn was furnished by the Red Cross and all of it was the same color; olive
drab, like the uniforms. That is all the knitting I ever did, but with the aid of
"World Book", I taught both of my daughters to knit. I still can't knit. They do
well at that.
In 1918, the 18th amendment to the American
Constitution was passed making it illegal to make or sell liquor. Anything having
more than 1/2% of alcohol was considered intoxicating. Soon the Volstead Act was passed to
enforce the Amendment. But enforcing it was nearly impossible. All sorts of rigs were set
up to make it at home. Some of it was called "bath up gin" or
"ratgut". There was a time when Missouri and Nebraska had not ratified the
Amendment, but Kansas had, the "rum runners" had a hey day bringing it in from
those states at night. Since we have lived in Hays, it was brought in by the chief bellboy
at the Lamar Hotel (now the 1st National Bank). He wasn't the only one. It went to
"speakeasies", where it sold for high rates in secret. It was usually not
healthy to be caught in either of these businesses. Many people would drink anything
they could get that had alcohol in it\; Lemon extract and wood-alcohol, for instance. The
wood-alcohol was dangerous as if much was consumed, paralysis of the legs would develop.
They were said to have "jakeleg". These people were already drunks! It was not
new for them. You would be surprised at some of those who had it. You probably have heard
that making booze illegal caused more people to drink. I cannot accept that! During those
years, I only remember seeing two drunks. At a dance, a young man, Vivian Anderson, was
standing against a wall. Gradually his feet slipped out before him and he was
sitting on the floor like a rag doll. Dad saw me looking at him and told me what was the
matter with him. The second one was at a dance, also. As Ray Shiver danced by he spoke to
me and added "How are you?" I said, "I'm fine. How are you?" Those
near him laughed loudly. He was drunk! Now there is much more drinking to the sorrow of
many. They still drink anything that's handy. Some drink beer only, thinking it won't hurt
A scar faced man from Sicily, Al Capone of Chicago, had a bright
idea. He organized a gang of hoods who took over the liquor business. Some of it came in
by ship to the east coast. Just outside of the three mile limit, they transferred it to
small motor boats and those took it to shore at night. Others waited there to receive it.
When this was discovered by revenue men, the limit of U.S. waters was changed to twelve
miles. There was a rival gang, the O'Banions, in competition with the Capone gang. On
February 14, 1929, Valentine's Day, the O'Banions were in a garage. The Capons heard where
they were and went in with machine guns, lined them up with their hands on a wall and shot
them all. This was the St.Valentine's Day massacre. There were seven in the O'Banion crew.
Later, Scarfaced Al Capone met a similar fate when he was not in his big black armed car.
I remember the pictures and stories about these people on radio and in newspapers,
especially a picture of the seven crumpled by the garage wall. Al's people wore police
uniforms at the time. Prohibition began in January 1920. Al Capone wasn't the first
racketeer. The first one came 50 years earlier. Most of them also demanded money for
protection of businesses. Here is the way a columnist summarized prohibition: Prohibition
is an awful flop . . . we like it It can't stop what it's meant to stop . . . we like it
It's left a trail of graft and slime, Nevertheless, we like it
During the first decade after WWI, radio came to be and rapidly
took over communications and entertainment. The first radio I heard belonged to a bachelor
neighbor. It consisted of a square platform covered with tubes and wires. To get the
desired station, one picked it up and aimed the front of the machine toward the station
wanted and hoped! Never mind the static. We could hear "Fibber McGee and Molley"
and laugh at "Fibber's" closet, which was dangerous to open! Godson and Correll
were popular black-face entertainers on radio as the "Two Black Crows".
There was "Ma Perkins" and a little later Al Jolson, a black-face singer.
Actually, he was a little Jewish man who learned to sing in the synagogue services.
Then there was Vaudeville called Chantaque. The one that traveled
our area was Eisley's. There was singing, dancing, jokes, etc. Most of it was good. There
was lady in Jetmore, Mrs. Jacob Sorem, who was the wife of Nels Sorem's twin brother. Nels
was the husband of our Aunt Bertie. She was so heavy and because of that, she did not go
anywhere. Someone told the Vaudeville manager about her and he gave her a special
invitation. He arranged a seat on two chairs and she enjoyed the show. These shows were in
tents as a usual thing. There were also Negro minstrels in black-face. They sang Negro
spirituals largely, interspersed with jokes, dances and arguments. We saw a very good one
in Dodge City at the Beeson Theatre. It was a traveling stage show.
Sound movies began to be shown about 1928. While I was teaching
school, I and a neighbor took my pupils to Dodge City to see the first talking picture
sometime in the late 20's. It was an Al Jolson show either, "The Jazz Singer" or
"Sonny Boy", which was popular in 1929 when "Sonny" Gill was born. It
probably was the "Jazz Singer". The best circus shows came in the 20's and
traveled the Santa Fe Railroad and stopped off at Dodge City to perform. Our Dad liked
such things so we saw them all. They had clowns, beautiful horses, nice animals, ate boxed
candies, cotton candy and drank pink lemonade. There was always sideshows, but if you
didn't see it when going in, you were out of luck, When you came out it had been removed
and taken back to the train and the big tent with three or five rings for performances,
was nearly ready to go. The elephants did the heavy work at the circus grounds and at the
loading site. Little boys were on hand to water the animals and do other chores for a free
ticket. Those who couldn't get a ticket, peaked under the canvas tent. We saw a tiny
couple, brother and sister, 28 inches tall, a woman born with no legs and a thin man and
of course, the fat lady in a side show. We also attended the Northwest Kansas Free Fair,
held at Dodge City. One year we camped there with a neighbor's family in tents. We
ate lots of good stuff, like Longhorn cheese and stick bologna. On such occasions, Dad
gave each of us a quarter to spend and believe it or not, that was plenty. Also at
Dodge, there were motorcycle races on a permanent track in a huge wheat field. One time I
was with Grandpa Isaac. A rider became confused and started to push his cycle back toward
the racers. He was killed right in front of us! I'm not crazy about motorcycles now. My
cousin Cleo Easley built the track which was used for horse races and car races. Charles
Easley recalls this item.
One year our family and Aunt Effie and Uncle Jim and boys went to
Garden City to the rodeo. I think that was the only time I stayed in a hotel and I rode an
elevator for the first time. It was a freight elevator; just a platform raised by ropes. I
was about 12 years old. During the rodeo there was a woman named Talcum Powder Rose who
rode a horse called Talcum Powder.
Our Sunday School was in a country school building called "Quail Trap". The stone walls still stand not far from
the home of Shirley Scothorn Pfaff. Our materials were Methodist, but it was not of any
particular church group. I taught first grade. In summer we had church in a canyon not far
away. This was near a place called "Turtle Back Hill." I have pictures of a
group there. Then there were literary societies that also met in school houses. Dad took
an active part in one of them. There were entertainment on the program and usually a
debate was planned at the meeting before. Our father was well versed in parliamentary law.
When he became tired of people on the program not being well prepared or didn't come to
meetings, he got tired of it and after a bad showing he made a motion to adjourn
"sine die" (which means to adjourn without setting another time for reassembly).
Later, when some of them found out what that meant, they were not very happy. The ones I
remember were held at the Holbrook School in a district near our farm. There were
Christmas programs, last-day-of-school programs and picnics, boxs uppers and pie suppers.
The ladies brought highly decorated boxes of food or a pie on which the men bid. Often the
bidders knew just what to bid on to get to eat with a certain lady! It was exciting when 2
or 3 bid on the same box or pie! Some brought unbelievable prices, though it was not
a time of affluence. What became of the money? I have no idea.
One time Dad and I went to a meeting and lunch was served. I
could not eat my sandwich. It was mashed potatoes . . . just plain mashed potatoes!
My school teachers were girls right out of high school with no
teachers' training. A pretty red-headed neighbor, Ella Boreson, picked us up for school in
her buggy when she was our teacher. George Wilson was not very good at reading, so he read
to his mother each day. She noticed that he read "weat, wite and wat" and tried
to correct him. He said, "that is right, That's what Miss Ella says." She was
Danish. The reader said, "wheat, white and what". To graduate from the grades,
we had to take state tests, part in 7th grade and the rest in 8th grade. Dad thought I was
too young to go into high school so he did not let me take the 7th grade tests until the
8th grade. To his surprise, I passed them. It was still a question what I would do the
next year, but Dad was quite ill when the time came to enroll and Mother let me go. Though
I liked high school, I now agree with my father. My pal in high school was Marjorie Glen.
I still hear from her often from her home in Sun City, Arizona. I was told in high school
that the reason we were always together was that neither of us wanted to other to know
something she didn't. Perhaps that was partly true! At high school no one was allowed to
dance. The school had party games done with singing such as "Skippy Mallow"
(Skip-to-my-Lou). The town was dominated by the Presbyterian church and at that time they
did not dance. What the difference was between square dancing and party games, I never
knew. Marjorie was the only girl on the debating team, so I went too, when they went out
of town. I was given a job on those occasions, but I have forgotten what it was. As
freshmen, we were very fond of Florence Harnaday, just out of college, who taught her
students what compared to college English and we loved it. When we compared remembrances
of her recently, we found that we remembered lots of the poems she had us memorize.
The 20's reached from 1919 through 1929. It was a let down from
World War I. Everything was done in a frenzy of excitement and inventions. Everything
dramatic was made intensive. Sex was the usual and everlasting subject most anywhere. It
was the subject in literature; books, magazines and newspapers, also. The jury who chose
those to receive the Pulitzer prizes in literature could not find anyone to give it to
until they lowered their standards. "True Confessions" and movie scandal
magazines were the popular ones. One of the most noticeable new things was the way girls
and their mothers dressed. It was the age of the flapper. Let us dress a flapper:
First she puts on her tight waist, what we call a bra. It was a wide binder acted so as to
erase every visage the breasts. She must look like a little girl or even a boy. Next was
her envelope chemise or her step-ins. Then a slip with a straight bodice with a few
gathers low on each side. Her dress had a very long waist with a tiny skirt, gathered or
pleated\; not much more than a ruffle. usually there was a belt worn around the hips and
not at the waist. She wore long hose, probably black cheap rayon, rolled down over an
elastic band, to the top of the knee. When she walked the top of the hose were visible if
her skirt was of the correct length. Her hair was bobbed and that was a sin at that time.
My hair was not bobbed until I was a senior in high school. It was cut by a classmate who
had lots of experience. My parents were struck dumb when I went home. Just before the
bobbed hair, most wore their hair in large ratted buns over the ears. One girl who was
small and delicate wore huge buns. Fae Ellis shaved her eyebrows and penciled in a thin
black line in their place. Her mouth was a bright red slash. Her face was heavily powdered
and very white. She looked like she was wearing a mask! With spike heels and a
"clouche" hat, she was the height of fashion. The hat was round and deep, seldom
exposing the hair. Aunt Nola had a man-haircut which was very "in". We all got
our haircuts at the barbershop. There were no beauty salons. I doubt if the men
appreciated our benig hted. I remember the first barbershop haircut I had. Later Dad said
he wanted to talk to me. He said Mother wanted to get her hair bobbed and I was not to say
a word. I had not asked her when I had mine cut. I kept the bargain, but Mother never
looked like herself after that, to me, even though she took good care of it. The style
then was to have a marcel wave done with a curling iron which made wide flat waves. I wore
mine straight with a few bangs on one side. Dresses were shortest in 1927, the year
I was married. Very few had white wedding dresses, but there is one with clouche hat,
slippers and all at the Ellis County Museum. Most brides just wore a nice dress in their
favorite color. Lots of girls were not allowed to shave their eyebrows or buy all those
cosmetics, so they rubbed vaseline on their brows and darkened them with a burned match
stick. This worked on their lashes also. I cannot remember coats, but we had them, all
were 2 sizes too big. boys trousers had very slender legs. That was not becoming to the
thin ones or the fat ones. Alvin Allen, a classmate summed up the girls fads in a jingle
part of which said: "My Bonnie has bobbed off her tresses, Her skirts come most to
her knees, Oh nature be kind to my Bonnie, For I fear that my Bonnie will freeze." As
to high school kids, we heard little about "booze" among our peers. Many of the
girls smoked, but not my friends. There were no drugs. The only drug addict I heard of was
a woman who lived several miles from us. On one occasion we were at her home and saw her
beautiful small son who has spasms. We were told it was caused by his mother's drug habit.
The boys often carried flasks in a hip pocket. It was not the young people in ordinary
families, but the "elite" who were the drunks. The working men tended to obey
the law against liquor. This was when the cocktail parties started and the
"upper-crust" made the most of them.