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"The Carley Story"


This is the Original  Story by Opal Fern (Burdue) Carley

Clark3.jpg (32822 bytes)

Charles LeRoy (Roy) Carley and wife
Dora May (Andrew)
Grand children Evelyn and Clark L. Carley

sitting on laps.
Anderson Ranch, Rooks County, Kansas. About 1934.


Wife of Leroy Andrew Carley, great grand son of Thomas Alonzo Carley

The first Carley we have information about was Lawson H. Carley, later known as Lott because of a mistake in his name as recorded in the Army during the Civil War. He was a calvary man in the Union Army. Kenneth Carley has a lovely colored tintype picture of his great-grandfather Lawson and great-grandmother Margaret Daigh Carley in which he is in uniform and carrying his sword (which Clark Carley has at this time). It is to be willed to Kim Carley.

Lawson (Lott) was a Lieutenant. There is a remarkable resemblance among Lawson, his son C. L. (Roy), his grandson Leroy Carley, Ken Carley, great-grandson, and Kim Wayne Carley, great-great-grandson. He married Margaret Daigh (Day) in Auburn, Nebraska.

During the Civil War, he was captured by the Confederates and spent his life as a prisoner in the infamous prison at Andersonville. Life was very hard there. There was not enough shelters, it was cold and wet. Prisoners did their own cooking mostly on campfires. May did not have enough food and became ill. Lawson came home at the end of the war in poor health. When Lawson died, his son Charles Leroy was 15. His mother said at one time, Charles Leroy (Roy) was working away from home in harvest. She went to visit him and was overcome by his appearance, which frightened her. Her 6'6" son was very thin and exhausted. She had difficulty not letting him see her cry. Margaret Daigh Carley was the only one of their grandparents C. L. Carley’s children ever knew. The Lawson Carleys had two other children, Eva Carley Rightmier and Dr. Harry Carley, dentist in St. Louis. The C. L. Carley children were privileged to know Aunt Eva, who lived on a nice farm near Wamego, Kansas. The Leroy Carleys visited there for the Righmeirs’ 50th anniversary. Aunt Eva has one son, Ralph and one granddaughter, Ann. At the time of their celebration, Aunt Maxie and 2 daughters of the Harry Carley family lived in St. Louis. After the death of Uncle Milton Rightmier, Eva moved to the Masonic Home in Wichita. Evelyn Carley Goodwin lived in Wichita at that time, as her husband was stationed there. Evelyn visited her often. Aunt Eva Always said Evelyn was named for her. The people who live in the Masonic Home could take some of their belongings with them to make their rooms more like home. Aunt Eva took her radio so she could listen to her soap operas everyday. She also took her rocking chair. At the home, she continued piecing quilts, several of which were given to great-nieces of hers. She was happy that she was pianist for the home at 80 years of age. Opal visited her in Wichita. The birthdays in each month were celebrated by the group in the home. She especially enjoyed them.

After the Civil War, Lott returned to Auburn, Nebraska, where he died in 1885 and is buried there. Grandmother Margaret Carley lived with the family of Charles Leroy (Roy) Carley and was the only grandparent the children of that family ever knew. She passed away at the home of her daughter, Eva Rightmier, near Wamego, and is also buried at Auburn, Nebraska. Winnie Daigh was a cousin of "Roy" Carley. His daughter, Winnie May, was named for her. Winnie Daigh was a teacher in Oklahoma.

December, 1901, Charles Leroy Carley (Roy) married Dora May Andrew at Wamego, Kansas. After 4 years, Roy Carley came west and plowed for hire near Luray, Kansas, where he met Dr. Andreson, a Plainville dentist. The doctor owned land near Plainville, which "Roy" rented. Whey Roy came west, he came by emigrant train car. This was about 1905. Earlier, many came west by emigrant trains, bringing their animals, machinery and household goods, as well as their families. They also brought food and bedding to use on the way. When Roy came, his emigrant car was attached to a train of the Union Pacific. He brought 4 horses, a walking plow, planter, mower and household goods. The walnut dresser in Margaret Carley Bowland’s home was in that car. At that time, the Andreson ranch had only a granary, a lean-to and rock for the foundation for a house when the Carleys arrived there in January, 1905. Dora May and children, Leroy Andrew and Margaret, came by train. The land had been known as the Dillon half-section. The family lived in the granary while Dr. Andreson had a small house built for them. As the family grew, the house grew. The original house became kitchen, diningroom and bedroom of the larger house. Three bedrooms, a living room and a porch were added on the south. The house is still occupied and brought up-to-date with bathroom and modern conveniences. Lee, while at a sale there, was given a tour of the house.

A large barn was built for the Carleys. There was a garden spot and windmill near the house and, of course, the "privy" and a storm cellar. A lane led back from a country road to the buildings. James Milton Carley (July 13, 1906) was born there as was Winnie May Carley Gill (May 2, 1908).

While living on the Andreson Ranch, the four "kids" walked to District 97 a mile north of their home. At school, they did the usual thing, like playing "Come, Come Pullaway", baseball, Prisoner’s Base, "Blindman’s Bluff", and "Hide and Seek". Boys also played marbles and girls played "Jacks" and "Hop Scotch". At home, there was work to be done and time for little else. During school years, there was homework to do, lots of it. They were lucky to have a former schoolteacher for a mother. She never lost interest in facts and figures. She had a good education for those days, having gone to school in Athens, Ohio where her brother, Millard Andrew, taught and at Emporia State Teacher’s College in Kansas. Her vision was very poor and her brother secured her first glasses while she was with him.

Most of the girls in following generations are nearsighted as she was, but all her life, she read books and newspapers. When having extra difficulty reading, she would put the print up to her nose and peer over her glasses. She was very good at knitting and made not only ordinary things, but also knitted lace. She said she knew only one pattern, but she made it in different widths for baby items and pillowcases. Having known the pattern, she didn’t have to see her work.

Both the Roy Carleys were interested in education. He was one of a group to visit Holcomb, Kansas schools when the first consolidated school in western Kansas was set up there.

Because of a large herd of mild cows, at that time milked by hand, the Carley family had little spare time. There was time to visit neighbors and friends such as the Sherman Carley ("Aunt" Lizzy and "Uncle" Sherman) and the Emile Michaelsons ("Aunt" Flo and "Uncle" Emile). The "Aunt" and "Uncle" were terms of respect, but there was a distant family relationship with the Sherman Carleys. He was a half-uncle of the father. Core Carley Hoagland is their daughter.

At times, neighbors would sell or trade with each other. After "ages" waiting on a payment for something sold to the Henns, the Carleys asked for the money and were told, "We thought we’d just let it go on that other". None of the Carleys could figure out what "that other" was.

When the Carley "kids" were ready for High School in Plainville, the older ones as Freshman and their Grandmother, Mrs. Lawson Carley, set up housekeeping in town during the week. After that, the "kids" were supplied with an Overland automobile and drove to school. Somewhere along the way, Milton decided that was all foolishness and quit. Though we never hear him sing, Lee sang the bass part as the Mikado in the operetta of the same name. Milton got a job on the Minx Ranch for $1.00 a day and board. Margaret and Lee (Leroy) graduated in 1923. Later, when Winnie May was the only one in high school, she rode a horse. That must have been miserable in winter. A neighbor girl accompanied her. She graduated in May, 1926. The girls in Plainville High wore uniforms, navy pleated skirt and white "middy waist" with a sailor collar and tie. For dress, they wore the same style in navy skirt and middy. There was no competition in dress!

There were advantages sometimes to having a dentist for a landlord. Dora Mae had her teeth pulled in her 30's and Dr. Andreson cared for the needs of the family. Her trip to the dentist was different than it would be now. On the fateful day, she drove a horse and buggy to Plainville. The pain-killer was a shot of whisky. It is hard to imagine this strict Scotch Presbyterian having whisky for any reason! When the deed had been done, she climbed in the buggy and drove home by herself. When Dr. Meade, her medical doctor heard she had dentures, he said he was sorry as he would not take a "million" for one of his teeth. This same Dr. Meade was our doctor later in Hays. He looked like a beat up prize fighter, but was a compassionate man and a good doctor. When Clark was due t be born, he called me often and took me to the hospital! He also brought Evelyn and Kenneth into the world. He died before Curtis was born. "Maggie" Jacobs and Donald Meade were the Meades adopted children, who still live in Hays.

Lee started at Fort Hays State Teacher’s College in 1923. He lived at the home of the Kings at 116 W. 7th, where the Taco Shop is now. The next year, he worked on campus in the greenhouse where he also had living quarters. The three buffalo in a pen on the campus were in his charge, also. He got kidded a lot because he was afraid of them. The next year, he again lived and worked in the greenhouse and developed an interest in the many flowers. The greenhouse furnished flowers for campus activities and sold some to individuals, but not as a usual thing because the flower shops objected.

In the spring of 1926, he lived in a tiny house at 207 W. Broadway, where the parking slab at the fraternity house is now, with three other students. It is hard to believe W. 5th was Broadway. It was a lumpy dirt road. Later, many of Hays streets were numbered east and west, and north and south were mostly named for trees. Opal lived at 200 W. Broadway with two girls from her High School class in Jetmore. We lived with Mr. and Mrs. Wendell Burdette (Alice and Wendell), newly weds that we knew.

In the fall of 1926, Lee shucked corn in Nebraska and in the spring of 1927, he worked on a poultry farm near Auburn, Nebraska. That town is the burial place of his Carley grandparents, Lawson and Margaret.

Back in Hays, he worked for the Alonzo Brummits at their hatchery and lived with the Jim Brunnits in a boardinghouse at 505 Ash. At Alonzo Brummits, their little daughter always came to Opal with paper and scissors and put in her order for paper dolls. Ihlo Brummit becsme Mrs. Vivian Meckle of the Hays Music Store here.

Leroy taught at Yosement in the fall of 1928. The school was just north of the "city". He had what was called a three-year State Certificate earned by college hours. He has always said he had 36 pupils. He hated the whole thing as much as Opal loved her job. He lived in Hays in the meantime. After five months, he gave up the job, retired that is. Opal was teaching near Jetmore and living at home. Her school was the one where she went to school as a child. About this time, someone was critizing Opal for not being with Lee. Our brother-in-law said in his calm style, "She is only trying to make a living". The economy lacked a lot of being good at that time.

In the summer of 1928, we lived in a new basement apartment at 333 W. 8th, and both went to FHSC. It rained most of the summer and when summer school was over, we went to Jetmore to help Grandpa Burdue finish harvest. Because of the rain, the fields had been too wet to get the wheat cut.

When Grandpa Burdue’s wheat was safely out of the field, Lee went to help on a farm in the area with the same problem, where there was no phone. Opal received a message from Hays saying there was a flood here so Granny and Opal took the Ford Roadster and left for Hays. There was mud all the way so we stopped at a farm house where we stayed overnight. Friends from Jetmore, who were in summer school were still in town, and thanks to Earl Wilson, who put on his bathing suit and went into the basement before the water had reached its highest and brought out everything he could. Our elderly landlady stood at the top of the stairs and hooked the dresser drawers with a hoe to get them out of the basement. Dishes were in a huge cupboard which turned over on its back and floated around. Only a salt shaker was broken! It took a lot of soaking in tubs of water to get the mud off the dishes. One can still see where the water level was, ten inches from the ceiling!

In 1929, when school was out, (terms were 7 months then) we moved back into the basement apartment until the house we had rented at 209 W. Broadway was available. Aunt May and Uncle Glenn lived next door at 211. Those houses belonged to the Jim Swires. We paid $15.00 a month rent! The Swires built us a modern toilet onto the house. Whatever we needed, they supplied.

Our three older children were born while we lived in that house. Part of the time, we rented out a large room as an apartment.

In 1929, we bought the Kansas City Star route from a student Lee knew for $600.00 and started his newspaper business, which kept our family until Lee retired April, 1981, because of his health. In Lee’s case, being without a boss was a good idea. With newspaper companies, there is a contract and occasional visits from an area manager. Other papers we had over the years were the Topeka Daily Capital, Hutchinson News, Wichita Beacon and the Hays Daily News. Lee began with the Hays paper May 15, 1934, when Kenneth was a year old. When we took on the Kansas City Star, it sold for 65 a month. In 1970, it sold for $3.50 a month when we sold the route for health reasons.

Later, the Swires decided to move into town so their small son could attend school and they moved into the house next door. The Gills lived across the street until they bought the house at 602 E. 12th for $129.00 at a tax sale. They also bought the two lots where the garage stands, which made a total of about $200.00. In 1982, May sold it for $28,000 plus the interest she will draw.

One day when Glenn Gill was going north on highway 183, he picked up an elderly hitch-hiker. During their conversation, he found out that he and his passenger wee going to the C. L. Carley home. The elderly man was Uncle Charlie Andrew, brother of Dora May Carley and Glenn was going to court Winnie May. Glenn and May were married in May, 1927.

On August 18, 1927, Leroy and Opal drove in Lee’s Ford Roadster to Beaver City, Nebraska to be married. They stopped at WaKeeney, Kansas for lunch. The cafe was well filled. It turned out that most of those there were having steak and noone could cut it! The place soon broke into a chorus of laughter because everyone was sawing at their steak with little results! And a good time was had by all unless it was the cook. There was only one Minister in town, so they were married in his home by Reverend T. A. Lindenmeyer. They drove back to Norton as May and Glenn Gill were living in a hotel there. Glenn was working near there on a road gang of which the grandfather of Fritz (Pete) Felten, Jr. was the "boss". Later, May and Glenn lived at WaKeeney where she lost prematurely, her first son.

Lee and Opal’s marriage was not announced for nearly a year as both had jobs. Because of the economy at the time and a shortage of jobs, married women were not to have jobs if their husband had work. The marriage certificate is in the back of the album given to them on their 50th anniversary, August, 1977 by Sara and Curtis Carley.

The next summer, they lived on West 8th, they lived in Mrs. Tarrey’s basement and both went to college. The three older "kids" were born while they lived at 209 W. 5th. Mrs. McCollum and Clara McCollum Parsons were our first real neighbors. They lived in the house where Opal lived while in school in Hays. The children called the elderly lady ‘Collum. She spoiled them, of course. Clara, when we first knew her, was teaching kindergarten at Kiowa, Kansas.

While there, Fred Willey, a cousin of Lee’s, lived with them so he could go to high school. He was supposed to help with the newspapers, but was not inclined to do anything. He helped himself to the piles of coins Lee left on the buffet. He had a boyfriend who visited frequently and when Fred Willey was sent back to Wamego, the friend who had moved to Kansas City walked back and asked if he could have Fred’s job. His name was Charles Tracy. He lived with the Carleys his senior year and also his first year in college. Opal mended for him so he could go dancing. He made up for such things by babysitting and one time, baking the bread rolls so Opal could go to visit the Carleys at Plainville. She told him to eat what he wanted and there were few left when she got home. One of his jobs was to go to Plainville with bales of papers on a motorcycle with a sidecar. He was afraid of the vehicle even before he had an accident and nearly broke his neck. He didn’t give up.

About this time, the "Carley kids" one and only real uncle, Milton, had a girlfriend that he sweetly referred to as "The Old Sow". She still lives in Hays.

While the Carleys lived on W. Broadway (fifth), they acquired their first of many pets; the lowest, widest, fattest dog imaginable followed Lee home from uptown and decided to stay. He was promptly named "Shorty". It was soon noticed he was very afraid of mops and brooms which was hard to understand since as far as the Carleys knew, he had not been threatened by such things. A friend shot him for Lee, as he was not to be trusted with the small children. Later, it was learned that he had lived in Ellis where the help used such things on poor "Shorty".

Sometime in 1933, the Carleys moved into a large house on W. 9th. The area occupied by the Golden Q was their front yard. They paid $20.00 a month rent. The house had just been painted inside and out. It could have been bought for $2,000, but Lee thought that was too much. After four months, Mr. Dechant, who had a family of 13 came to look at it and bought it at once!

On election night, while they lived there, Lee went to the news office to check on the returns. Kenneth was in a bucket in an open window. Opal was sewing and felt someone was watching her. There was a man’s face topped by a railroader’s cap just above Kenneth. The man backed out of sight, but the next time she looked, there he was! She got up, knowing she knew the house better than he did. She got a gun out of a closet and went out a side door and walked up behind the man and said, "What do you think you are doing?" The gun wasn’t loaded. He took out on the run and ran east on 8th street toward town. Lee came in a short time and tried to find him. His clothes and lunch pail showed clearly he was a railroad employee. That was a dumb thing to do, but it worked. Sometimes, if one is angry enough, it is not hard to do dumb things.

On ninth street, the space now occupied by the Laundromat, was the backyard. Across the back of the lot was a row of large pear trees. As soon as it was dark, a bunch of boys from eastern Hays came to pick the fruit long before it was ripe. None were ever allowed to ripen, but the small children picked some up and dropped them into the toilet! There were problems!

When the house sold, the Carleys had trouble finding a house to rent! Former landlords, the Jim Swires, had moved in with his invalid father on West 12th. They told us there was a house next door for rent. They apologized for suggesting the Carleys renting it, because of the condition it was in. A large family had been camping in the house. The landlord was a wealthy man living in California. Miller Brothers here had the renting of it, but they did nothing, but collect the rent! So before the Carleys moved to West 4th, they saved up expenses they had had to spend on the house and presented the bills as the last month of rent! The back rooms have been torn down.

(Believe this was added by Shirley)

Opal has a picture of her three little red birds taken in the 12th street yard. They all had little red knit suits. At that time, vitamin pills had not been invented. Babies and young children were given cod-liver oil, a nasty, smelly, awful-tasting oil, but the children liked it and would remind their mother they had not had their oil. They would line up with open mouths to get their share from a spoon! It probably did a lot for Kenneth’s health.

THIS WAS TYPED UP BY SHIRLEY, wife of Kenneth and she was great at flowing thing to make her family seem great.


< NOTE the CARLEY NOSE.

Top left is Thomas Alonzo

Top right is Charles LeRoy with Clark on his lap

about 1933

Bottom left is Lawson Hannibal (LOT) Carley


Transcribed to computer by her oldest son, Clark. Some of the spelling is as she wrote it, little of this document was changed.

Mother passed on this past Dec.10, 1997 and is buried with Dad in Mt. Allen Cemetery at Hays, Ellis Co. Kansas.

Copywrite Clark L. Carley


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