Saturday, December 21, 2013

Did Christmas Come Twice?

by Audrey Barclay

The approach of Christmas always turns back the pages of memory to the holiday that brought both laughter and tears. It still does, though it happened almost forty years ago.

I arose that Christmas Eve to face a day crowded with things to be done in preparation for the coming day. My parents were to drive the clumsy, big lumber truck in from their home some thirty miles away to share in the festivities. What they didn't know was that Etta, a sister in St. Louis, had written that she was coming also, with her three children, but requesting us to withhold the information from our parents. It would be fun to surprise them.

A younger sister, Velma, was staying with us during the holiday season while she was employed at a local variety store. Both Velma and my husband, Erna, must work that day, but there was to be no school, so the children were being allowed to sleep as late as they wished. Velma, Erna and I were taking advantage of the latter fact to enjoy a leisurely breakfast without the usual confusion of several children needing attention. We chuckled over the surprise in store for Mom and Dad when they saw Etta and her children; we discussed other pertinent matters that absorbed our attention so we failed to hear the noise of the heavy vehicle pulling into the driveway.

Then a fumbling noise was heard at the door. Wonderingly, because of the early hour, I started to rise from the table, but before I was on my feet the door opened and there came my mother, holding aloft a huge cake. She advanced  into the room, followed closely by Dad, who had both hands around an enormous box of Christmas goodies. After pausing only long enough to push the door shut with his foot, Dad followed after Mom, echoing her gleeful greeting, "Merry Christmas, everybody!" Both faces were bathed in broad smiles of happy anticipation.

I was ashamed of the idea that was chasing about in my mind. Could they have made such a horrifying mistake? Not MY mom and dad! I was stunned at the idea. Erna, Velma and I simply sat there exchanging questioning glances, each of us waiting for one of the others to tell the happy couple of their error.

Having deposited their burdens in the kitchen, they returned to the dining room where I was fumblingly trying to pour cups of coffee to warm them up after their long ride. Mom looked around expectantly and, seeing no signs of excited children, inquired, "Aren't the kiddies up yet?" She sounded disappointed, then surprised when I replied, "No, there isn't any school today." I couldn't bring myself yet to blurt out the awful truth.

At last it was time for Erna to leave, so he told them, rather timidly, to be sure, "This isn't Christmas Day. It isn't until tomorrow." Both Mom and Dad thought he was only teasing, and Dad, being quite a tease himself, decided he'd have a part in the fun. He began explaining that he'd tried to tell Mom she was mistaken in the date, but she wouldn't listen to him. Knowing our dad, we knew he'd never have made that cold drive had he really thought Mom was wrong. It was only when Erna put on his coat and cap and picked up his lunchbox that they really accepted the truth. Looks of horror, embarrassment, and disappointment replaced their happy smiles.

In his chagrin Dad announced they wouldn't be returning the next day, bringing remonstrances from all of us (by that time several of the children had been awakened by the sound of strange voices and were standing around sleepy eyed and wondering what the commotion was all about). When Erna finally told him to forget it, we wouldn't tell on him, and that Christmas only comes once a year, you know, Dad replied, "The heck it don't! It's come twice THIS year."

The rest of the story is anticlimactic I suppose, but the tale would be incomplete without it. Erna left from work to meet the afternoon train while Velma and I spent the time comparing notes. Seems we each had been in a near-hysterical state throughout the day, bursting into sudden spurts of laughter, followed by floods of tears as we pictured the faces of our parents and knew how embarrassing the incident must have been for them. We agreed we'd spare their feelings and not reveal the occurrence to our other guests, but Dad, being a good sport, couldn't resist the opportunity to let the others in on the secret.

Yes, they did return, bright and early, but in a somewhat subdued attitude from that of the previous morning. And it was, truly, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The End

Audrey and Erna (on sofa) surrounded by family,
Christmas Day 1948.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

When the Leaves Turn

by Audrey L. Barclay

Nature has provided the leaves with a calendar to tell them when to start changing from the faded, dusty green of their summer attire to their "Jacob's coat of many colors." It seems to happen almost overnight. Nowhere is the scene more glorious than right here in our Ozark hills, especially the one I see from my kitchen window.

A light frost only hastens the process, but a hard one brings a quick change to winter dress of drab browns for all except the evergreens dotting the landscape.

The tall hillside is a tangled mass of many shades, of many colors. Indian paint brush and some kinds of oaks burn like flames of fire, others of the oak family are of bronze or burnished brown. The scarlet of the sugar maples mingles with the bright yellow of soft maples and hickory-nut trees. Here and there a crimson vine of poison ivy twines its way up the trunk of a tree.

The fencerows are overgrown with drooping stalks of pokeberries, the raisin-purple fruit still clinging tenaciously to the parent plan, which is almost smothered by huge clumps of crimson sumac, with its orange-red berries. Not quite so plentiful are the lovely bittersweet shrubs, with their tiny, orange-tinged-with-red berries, and countless other colorful trees and vines of which I do not know the names.

A small lake at the foot of the hill reflects the picture, adding a background of blue sky where light popcorn clouds float lazily by.

Although many have tried, only that Master of all artists, God, has ever succeeded in producing such a scene of splendor.

Jason Rust, grandson of Audrey Barclay, shot this photo of
the Ozarks' autumn colors that Audrey described as "glorious."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Little Ghosts and Goblins

This newspaper clipping came to me without a date on it. I can't be sure what year Audrey and Erna hosted this Halloween party, but then, sleuthing is half the fun of exploring family history.

According to the guest list above, eight of the nine Barclay children attended this event. The only one missing was Shirley, the youngest, who was born in 1933. I believe that if Shirley had been there, even as a babe in arms, her name would have been included in the newspaper story. Don't you think so? Glenn, the sibling closest in age to Shirley, was born in 1930, and he showed up on the party list. So, my first guess was that the party was held between 1930 and 1932--post-Glenn and pre-Shirley.

But wait! The article mentions that the party was held on a Wednesday night. Why would people have a party for children on a school night unless it was actually Halloween--October 31st?

I went to the Internet and checked old calendars to find the day of the week for October 31st on each year of the early 1930s. The first Halloween that fell on a Wednesday in that decade was in 1934.

Sorry, Aunt Shirley, but it looks like they partied without you. Maybe they thought it would be too scary for a one-and-a-half-year-old girl. I hope you've had enough treats since then to make up for what you missed that night.

UPDATE 10/28/13: Apparently, my detective work wasn't thorough enough. I just checked my genealogy database for Velma Brower (Audrey's sister and party assistant) and discovered that by the time October 31, 1934 rolled around, she had been Mrs. Raymon Tracy for nearly eight months. So, what year was the party? I dunno. I give up.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Casper Hamilton

by Audrey L. Barclay

The dapper little man stepping briskly along, the soft April breeze ruffling his thinning black hair, was Casper Hamilton, head of the history department in a New York City school. He was planning to celebrate his fifty-second birthday by settling himself for the evening with the new novel he had tucked beneath his arm, a story of the Civil War. Such stories were a hobby with him, and he anticipated an enjoyable evening.

Casper lived alone in a modest two-room-and-kitchenette apartment in Manhattan, with neither wife nor television to interfere with his reading. He was a timid little man, so it was inevitable that he feel ill at ease and in the way on those rare occasions when he did join the few friends he had among his colleagues. This timidity and his slight stature--he was barely 5'7" tall and had never weighed more than 147 pounds, sopping wet--had earned for him the appellation "Mr. Milquetoast" among his students. Privately, of course.

Casper had been born in Reading, Pennsylvania, where his father worked for civil service in the State Department of Commerce. His mother taught kindergarten and was unable to hide her frustration when her frail child failed to behave with the maturity of her small pupils, almost from the day he could walk. As a result he came to rely almost wholly on his own resources for companionship.

The boy was a good student and graduated from Penn State at the age of twenty. He realized he must choose a vocation requiring little physical ability. Teaching seemed the logical choice, so, having majored in history, he went to Pittsburgh and secured a position teaching that subject in one of the high schools there.

The first rumblings of World War II were being heard then, and the young man kept an alert ear tuned to the progress of the European conflict. It was history in the making, and he was among the first to offer his services following Pearl Harbor. To his chagrin he was rejected because of faulty vision; the best he could do to show his patriotism was to serve as air-raid warden for the duration.

After twelve years with the Pittsburgh school, the little teacher went to New York. He'd had an attractive offer to teach history and economics in the system there, and he was ready for  change. It was a good move, resulting eventually in his present position with the large high school that had come to be a second home to him.

The 52 years sit lightly on the erect little shoulders as he hurries homeward, the bright black eyes looking neither to right or left. He whistles softly beneath his breath the strains of his favorite song, "Mine eyes have seen the glory-----."


Editor's Note: Audrey's vivid descriptions in this story make it one of my favorite examples of her writing. I don't know if Casper Hamilton was a real person or a character born of Audrey's imagination, but she made him seem real to me. In fact, if I had to guess, I would speculate that the writing assignment that generated this story might have been to interview someone and then write a short biography based on those interview notes. Except I can't even imagine where Audrey would have met a timid little teacher who lived in Manhattan. Can any of you Barclays out there shed any light on this?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jesus Is Always There

by Audrey Barclay

'Twas The Little Old Church in the Valley
Where I first learned to know about God.
I tho't we would never be parted,
That I'd always be very near God.

Then I went to The Church in the Wildwood,
And I cried that I'd left God behind,
But soon I knew Jesus was there, too.
I'd not left the Saviour behind.

Next I found I had gone to the mountain
To a Little White Church on the Hill,
And once the Saviour came with us
And we held a camp-meet by the mill.

As years passed away I found Jesus
Was always awaiting me there,
Whether big city church or wee chapel,
Jesus was always there!

Friday, September 20, 2013

September Eighteenth

By Audrey L. Barclay

The first contingent of draftees from Greene County were leaving that night, and thus began a series of events marking the date, September eighteenth, as a special one throughout my life. It was 1917, and we had only recently become involved in the war against Germany. The entire populace, it seemed, would be at the station to demonstrate their patriotism and bid the young men God speed. Learning the young Barclays next door were going to join the throng of patrioteers, I suggested we make it a threesome, since we all had to ride the same streetcar, anyway.

Knowing Mr. Barclay's love of pranks--especially one that would make my face turn red--I shouldn't have been so filled with confusion, when they called for me, to find his younger brother had been finagled into making the party a foursome. My first impulse was to say something had come up that had changed my plans, but quick thinking made me realize they would all see through the stupid alibi, which would certainly give Mr. Barclay something to chuckle over. I accepted the proffered arm and went marching off to the trolley line as if it were the most common thing in the world.

As the evening wore on, I kept telling myself I wouldn't go out with him again, even if I were asked. I had met Erna a few times, but there had never been any particular attraction between us, and I wasn't about to pursue the acquaintance. Oh no---? That's what I thought!!!

We were married the following summer, just a couple of kids; Erna was eighteen, I was seventeen. Then Fate played a prank, the age for registering for the draft was lowered to eighteen, and on September eighteenth Erna had to register. However, before he could be called up, the Armistice was signed, so we were spared that ordeal.

Time passed, and it was ten years and five babies later when the date again brought an event of extra special importance. Infant number six was expected early in November, I THOUGHT, when he suddenly announced his impending arrival--on September eighteenth, 1928. That was surprising enough, but completely flabbergasting when the attending physician announced he was not alone; number seven was also arriving. And so we became the proud parents of twin sons, Alan and Olan.

September eighteenth, 1942, has memories of mixed emotions. It was on that date that a brother of Erna's had died in a distant city, and the remains returned to our town for interment. Our home became the focus point of activities for the family. It was also the date our daughter, Martha, met the young man she was to marry within a few months.

The final episode, to date, was when Alan's little son, Jimmy, chose his father's and Uncle Olan's birthday to become a part of the family. Needless to say, I find myself wondering each year, as the date approaches, if it will bring other events of special significance.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Spirit Letters - Conclusion

Editor's Note No. 1:  In the past three weeks we've read three different pieces Grandma Audrey wrote to introduce the so-called spirit letters. Today, we'll take a look at the letters themselves -- the notes of Amy Hagadorn Smith (Audrey's paternal grandmother), purportedly jotted on tablets as the words were dictated to her by spirits.

I've never seen the actual handwritten notes; what I have is a transcript typed by Audrey. Because of the frequent misspellings and run-on sentences (not common in Audrey's own writings), it's my impression that she typed the notes exactly as they appeared in Amy's handwritten tablets, errors and all. So will I, with one exception. Sometimes Audrey used a series of spaces between phrases--probably just as Amy did--to indicate where one scrap of dictation ended and another one began. I would do it the same way here, but the Blogger program I use to write this blog insists on deleting extra spaces, so I'll use a light-colored symbol (this barely visible one: <<>>) to mark the spaces Amy used in her notes.

Here we go:

Los Angeles, Cal.  Aug 15, 1913

I am the danish king christian, the second <<>> I came to the spirit life 1692, when the nations were at war with each other as they are today <<>> I lost the crown to sweden and for a time they ruled, then another war came and denmark won it back, and it has stood till now <<>> I see you have a brother here <<>> you do not believe it for you have not heard of his death from home so I come to tell you <<>> he was killed in a mill last January so try to believe it from your spirit friends <<>> he has been here for himself as a spirit still you think it is imagination can't you believe them <<>> he left his farm to you <<>> you will get an offer for it but don't sell it tell him not till you see it <<>> I want you to go for your brother or is son found a box of treasure that was my own <<>> it was stolen from a danish ship that I sent to America in 1691 to get out of denmark when I lost the crown <<>> another ship seized it and took it ashore much more that you will find if you look for it on his farm just south of the spot where they found this box you can get it all if you keep the farm for a time will you <<>> you may do with it as you like only do all the good you can another boy found the box soon after he took the silver bricks to his mother <<>> she has them still but don't know they are of any value <<>> he only got the bricks she may sell them to you if you want them <<>> the rest is where george told you will see the pearls I took from the crown and the rubies I had on my robe then there is some more stones that was among other things I thought to bring them to america and get a large parcel of land there is one more box and 3 sacks <<>> all are still there but you get them <<>> if you can't, then let it go for I can't it but you can help others as I know you will and that will help me for I will feel as if I had a big load off my mind <<>> the ship that got this was a pirate ship so did not dare put it on the market <<>> they buried it and got caut soon after and was hanged <<>> it has lain there all these years near a small brook on the south fork of it where it is not good to cultivate some timber is there but the heavy raines have washed it nearly to the surface <<>> you will find more silver bricks and some valuable tablewear in silver and some more valuable china dishes that I packed in a strong box from my own palace <<>> it is very find you will be proud to use it <<>> it is all right you will see a beautifull chain of gold with a medal I use to wear it on state occasions <<>> wear it it is pure gold <<>> put it on a watch and wear it for me then some more gems I had for the throne clothe they are still on it but it will be rotten <<>> take then and get you a nice necklace made there is enough for it there <<>> my seal ring and others you can get them changed and give them to the sons then in the sacks were the real treasure it was my gift from the house of Hapsburgh <<>> it is worth a randsom <<>> the house of Hapsburgh is one of the oldest on record but you are from the house of Holenbein a branch of Hapsburgh and I am so glad to bring this to you <<>> I will go with you to your brothers farm and help get this but don't sell it <<>> you get this away he did not know it till he sees it from this side <<>> I found it from this side of life <<>> I was a single man so had in heirs cousins came to the throne after me but long after I lost the crown and they could never find the crown or any of the jewels they were never found and they never will be for them get this and do all the good you can and when you come here give it to some worthy poor for their comfort while on earth <<>> you want to know of my death <<>> I was wounded when they took the palace <<>> my heart was broken to and I did not care to live longer <<>> it was in 1697 sure your church is all right it will awaken man kind to the truthe and to a higher life you <<>> you ask who was Constintine <<>> he lived in the 1(?) century and was a great man in his day <<>> then another by the same name was a kings guardsman that was all then you hear of another Livingston he was a cousin to Robert Livingston his children are the ones that held his patent untill it was wrested from them by the Anterenters so you see you are coming in to what is yours by right so go and get it and use it for good for it has been idle so long and we could not show it to the right ones till now <<>> do as you are guided and it will be given to you for you are the one to get it now if <<>> you feel as if you are the dupe of all your friends you are mistaken for the message hear is will suhurely come to you with the power of attorney to help you so be brave a little longer you are the dear sensative soul that we can use to give this to the world say to all I don't believe but I know it is true that our spirit friends or with us and can help us if we do right.


Editor's Note No. 2:  Okay, then. Now that we understand why Amy always declared her intention to move back to New York, let's start at the beginning and check out some of the allegations in her notes. For more information, click on the links provided.
  • References to "I am the danish king christian, the second..."; "I came to spirit life 1692..."; and "I  was a single man so had in heirs cousins who came to the throne...":  Christian "the second" died in 1559, more than 140 years before the spiritual entity who purportedly dictated these notes. According to this list of Danish monarchs, all of the kings named Christian (ten of them to date, I through X) were married and had multiple children. 
  • Reference to "...when the nations were at war with each other...": A Wikipedia article about the history of Denmark shows that Denmark was frequently at war, often with Sweden, and Christian II was certainly involved during his reign (1513-1523). Again, that time period is much earlier than the date referenced in Amy's notes.
  • Reference to Amy's "brother here" ("here" meaning in the spirit world); "he was killed in a mill last January"; and (much later in the notes) "the rest is where George told you will see the pearls...":  Amy had three older brothers (Minor, Christopher and William) and a younger one named George Cheritie Hagadorn, who was the closest sibling in age to Amy. I haven't been able to ascertain the dates of death of the three older brothers, but George died on August 16, 1936--not in January of 1913 as indicated in the notes.
  • References to "you ask who was Constantine"; "...was a great man in his day"; and "...another of the same name was a kings guardsman": Here are articles about Constantine the Great and "another of the same name," Constantine II. We have no way of knowing why Amy would have asked the spirits about them.
  • References to "...the house of Hapsburgh..." and "...the house of Holenbein a branch of Hapsburgh...": Wikipedia has articles about the House of Habsburg and the House of Hohenberg, close enough to the spelling in Amy's notes that I believe these names are her interpretation of the ones told to her by somebody's mysterious voice, spirit or otherwise. Hohenberg was indeed a branch of the Habsburg line.
  • References to "...a cousin of Robert Livingston..."; "the ones that held his patent until it was wrested from him by the Anterenters...":  An online article titled "The Breakup of Livingston Manor" describes land patents Robert Livingston obtained in New York. One point of interest is the mention of the "Manor of Rensselaerswyck." Amy's husband, Samuel S. Smith, was born in New York in the town of Rensselaerville, and Amy herself was born in a town named Livingstonville in Schoharie, New York. Robert Livingston's land holdings were apparently vast. As for the "Anterenters," I found this article by Nancy S. Cannon about the Anti-Rent Movement, a revolt by farmers in several New York counties, including Rensselaer and Schoharie, against "what they considered an unjust system of land tenure."
As stated in earlier posts, I don't know if this is the entirety of Amy's spirit-letter transcriptions or not. It's all I've seen, and if there's more, I'd certainly like to read it. Whatever your opinion about the source of Amy's notes, you have to agree that they make you very, very curious.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Spirit Letters - Part Three

Messages from Spiritland
by Audrey Smith Barclay

I didn't know I was supposed to have descended from a considerable line of royal ancestors until after I was a grandmother. I still find it difficult to accept, but that's what the "papers" say, said papers being two ancient school tablets I found at the bottom of my grandmother's old trunk when it came into my possession several years ago. It was all news to me!

Grandmother went to California when I was nine years old, remaining there until ten years later, but we had corresponded regularly. I still had vivid memories of the weeks I spent on the farm with her each summer; they were the happiest times of my childhood, in spite of her eccentricities. Fortunately, it wasn't until after her return that I became aware of her interest in supernatural things. The knowledge explained, in part, some of the things I've never understood. I knew, for instance, that she despised my grandfather, whom I can barely remember. She would go no nearer his grave than the roadway, even when I begged to visit it, myself. It was quite near and she'd walk with me to within sight of it, then I must go the rest of the way alone.

I hastened to visit her as soon as possible after Grandmother returned to the old home. It was then I felt the full impact of her belief in communicating with spirits. She spared me nothing, except the answer to my question about Grandfather and what he had done to earn her hatred. I didn't dare ask, although she regaled me with many instances of being heckled by his mischievous spirit, explaining with great gusto how she always outwitted him. It was my first experience with one who consorted with spirits, and I found it rather frightening, to say the least.

Grandmother soon let it be known that she was only stopping over at the farm for a short time, then she was going back to New York, where the family had lived until most of the five children were grown. She neglected to say, however, for what...or whom...she was sainting, and it wasn't until after reading the contents of the tablets years later that I was sure I had the answers to both that question and the one concerning Grandfather. At any rate, she continued waiting until nearly three years had passed, then she suddenly sickened and went to join her friends in the spirit world.

Many years later, I found what I now refer to as "The Letters." The closely written pages, in Grandmother's neat script, appear to be communication dictated to her by spirits of various people long dead. They unfold a most remarkable tale, unbelievable, really, although a cousin and I have verified a few of the statements. Whether or not I descend from royalty is a moot question...if so, I've surely descended a long way! Nevertheless, I thought there might be some among you who would find the story entertaining. If so by my guest: (Note the dates.)


Editor's Note: Okay, let's stop here for now. Judging from the lack of traffic on this site, not too many people are waiting with bated breath to find out more about the spirit letters. Nevertheless, Grandma Audrey did attach a typewritten transcript of the letters (part or all of them, I don't know which) to the above piece. I'll retype her transcript for posting here next weekend.

In the meantime, I'm curious: If you are related to Audrey, then you're also related to her grandmother Amy, who sincerely believed she could communicate with the dead. Reading Audrey's stories about Amy makes me wonder if there really is such a thing as a "sixth sense" and, if so, is it something that might be inherited? 

The subject intrigues me because I've actually had one profound (and as yet unexplained) experience with someone from "the other side"--my maternal grandmother, Lola. You can click here, if you wish, to read about that incident. Now I'd like to know if any of the rest of you have ever had a close encounter of the spiritual kind. Come on, now! Comment or email, but 'fess up if you have. I can't be the only one who's dying to know.

Amy Lucinda (Hagadorn) Smith

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Spirit Letters - Part Two

A Word from Audrey (Smith) Barclay

There are those who will, no doubt, most emphatically declare the letters I am about to share with you to be nothing more than the wanderings of a senile mind or an unusually vivid imagination. To be perfectly frank with you, in your place I'd feel exactly as  you do about it--skeptical, to say the least. On the other hand, there are many people who wholeheartedly believe in Spiritualism, and who cite many unusual experiences to justify their beliefs. I'm glad I don't believe it, because if I did, I'm sure I'd be just plain scared to death!

May I tell you a bit about my grandmother [Amy Lucinda Smith Hagadorn] before we read the letters?

My earliest recollection of her dates back to the days when, as a very small girl, I spent several weeks each summer visiting with her and my bachelor uncle on their Ozarks hill farm at the Crossroads.

In those days the house was a large, one-room log cabin with a loft, or attic, and a wide porch across the entire East side of the house. It was on this porch that most of Grandmother's waking hours were spent, when the weather permitted. I can see her now, in her low rocking-chair, a pan of potatoes (or peaches or apples) on her lap, her paring knife in her hand, and she, herself, sound asleep. Suddenly her head comes up with a jerk as she awakens, but before she has finished even one potato she is quite likely to be nodding again.

She was a little short, dumpy woman of Dutch ancestry--not at all a person to fear, if one could judge by appearances. But woe betide the individual who aroused her ire! Her temper was something to reckon with, and it was common knowledge that she feared neither man, beast, or the devil. Sometimes, because my uncle was a semi-invalid and not to be taken into consideration, someone would try to impose on her, but none ever tried it a second time.

I suppose I should have painted a picture of her better self first, but somehow, I must have gotten started all wrong. Actually, Grandmother was a gentle person, kind to those in need, and went for miles to care for the ill. She believed in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, and she expected others to follow the same rule. When they failed to do so, that was when she took matters into her own hands and endeavored to show them the error of their ways.

It was about the time I came along that my grandfather managed to get himself into disrepute with her. I've never known how their difference of opinion came about, but I do know that during the last few years of his life, they never lived together as man and wife.  He was a contractor, and his work kept him away from home for months at a time, but on the rare occasions when he did come for a few weeks, she always made him welcome--up to a point. Even after Grandmother passed away, when I was only two and a half years old, it remained a mystery to the family just why Grandmother had come to shut him out of her life so completely.

Grandmother went to California to live when I was nine, and it was while she was living there that the old house burned. Several years later, after I was married, in fact, my father decided to build a new house on the old home place in the hope that Grandmother would return and spend the remainder of her days there with him.

It was such a joyous time for me when, finally, I could take my baby daughter and visit the place--and people--I had longed for for so many years. At first it seemed Grandmother had hardly changed at all in the eleven years since I had last seen her. Gradually, however, she began to talk to me of things she had never mentioned when I was a child. Before my stay was up, I was almost afraid to go to bed at night. Then, too, the bitter way in which she talked about Grandfather was frightening, although she did not reveal the reason for her bitter hatred of him, even so many years after his death.

I soon discovered that Grandmother had no intention of staying long at the farm. Born and reared in New York State, she insisted she was going back there. Three years later, when she suddenly sickened and died, her trunks still remained packed as they had been when she returned from California. And still, no one knew for what she waited before continuing her interrupted journey to New York. She kept her own council, and she kept it well.

Dad and Uncle Arb continued to live together until Uncle Arb, too, passed away some twelve years later. All that time Grandmother's trunk remained a mystery, as Dad did not seem at all curious, and Uncle Arb, I suppose, wasn't interested. At any rate, I never quite had the courage to make any inquiry, or pry, until recently. The mystery surrounding so many things was finally solved--at least to my satisfaction. Buried deep within the trunk were two old-fashioned school tablets such as I used when I was a child. Page after page was filled with the letters I am about to share with you, written in Grandmother's beautiful script, and dictated (if you can believe what you're going to read) by the spirits of men long dead.

Shall we read?


Editor's Note: Well, no, we won't read those letters just yet. They were not attached to this particular piece, so it seems Grandma Audrey left us with a cliffhanger this time.

As for the school tablets on which the letters were written, it's my understanding that several members of the family have seen those tablets, though no one among the folks I've spoken to has any knowledge of where they are today. As much as I'd love to see the originals, we do have a typed transcript of the spirit letters (or at least a part of them; I don't know for sure), and I'll post that in a couple of weeks.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Spirit Letters - Part One

Editor's Note:  Grandma Audrey's own paternal grandmother, Amy (Hagadorn) Smith, was a spiritualist, a fact that Audrey apparently found fascinating. (I have to admit: so do I.) Audrey wrote at least three stories that referenced Amy's spiritualism. There's some duplication in the three pieces, but there are also enough differences that each story helps to flesh out the other ones, so that reading all three of them provides us with a clearer understanding of the facts. 

I don't know the chronology of the three similar pieces. I do know that two of them end abruptly, and one, the shortest, is the only one that has Amy's so-called spirit letters attached. My plan is to publish these writings in four parts, concluding with the spirit letters. 

Let's begin with a piece titled "Audrey's Book." If I have the entirety of it, it's slightly over four double-spaced, typewritten pages--a good first chapter, maybe the only one. This version is intriguing because it's a fictionalized account in which Audrey changed some--not all--of the people's names. Those of you who knew Audrey could figure this out on your own, but for those who aren't familiar with our family's history--and because Audrey uses real names in the pieces to be published later--here's the cast of characters in order of their appearance:

  • Amy Smythe --  Amy Lucinda Hagadorn Smith, Audrey's grandmother
  • Gracie -- Audrey herself
  • Min -- Minnie Lee West Smith Brower, Audrey's mother
  • Aaron -- Arba, Audrey's uncle
  • Eric -- Ernest, Audrey's father
  • Nell and Daisy -- the horses, most likely named Nell and Daisy in real life
  • Pax -- Stotts City, Missouri, where Ernest and Minnie met. Amy and Samuel's big log cabin was built in a small community known as Crossroads, four miles west of Galena, Missouri, and "a 45-minute ride" by train from Stotts City. 
  • Manuel -- Samuel S. Smith, Audrey's grandfather, Amy's husband
  • Rev. Jackson -- Sorry, no idea about his real name.
Okay, let's get started:


Audrey's Book

by Audrey L. Barclay

Amy Smythe waddled happily around the big log cabin putting hr house in order before time to meet the rain at the whistle-stop station three miles away. A small granddaughter, Gracie, was coming to spend the remaining three weeks of the summer before school started again. Amy hadn't seen Gracie since Gracie's mother had taken her and gone back to her parents nearly five years before. It was typical of Amy's character that her sympathies had been with the deserting daughter-in-law, and they had remained fast friends and corresponded regularly.

It had taken a bit of doing for Amy to persuade Min to put Gracie on the train alone for the 45-minute ride, but she had finally succeeded. The child was slowly recovering from several weeks of a low-grade fever, and Amy thought she needed the kind of care she could give her, and some good old country air. Amy was not a licensed physician, but she had come from a family of them, so she almost qualified. She did have a license to practice midwifery and was in great demand in the community for her services in that capacity.

Now Amy carried the last big stone crock of the still warm milk to the cool cellar and returned to comb her thin, white hair and change into a fresh calico dress. She called to Aaron, her son, to say it was time to hitch the team, Nell and Daisy, to the surrey. They wanted to be sure little Gracie wasn't left waiting alone on that godforsaken [station platform] in the middle of nowhere. It would be bad enough for her to accept the two people who were, literally, only names to her, although her mother had "faithfully" impressed on the childish mind the love and respect involved; that she must cherish Grandma Amy and Uncle Aaron. It was sad, but true, that Min had not done her duty as well in regard to the child's father, Eric. All Gracie knew of him was his name, that he and her mother had met when he had come to the small mining town of Pax with his father to build a schoolhouse, and that after four years of marriage they had separated. Never any explanation, but now Gracie was beginning to ask questions, questions that got only evasive answers. The small girl was intelligent enough to look forward to learning a few things from Amy.

It didn't take long for Gracie to become a member of the family. Amy talked to her as though she were an adult, about everything except those things that bothered her childish mind. They were adroitly evaded, while even more mysteries were added. For one thing, she learned Amy despised Manuel, her husband. She had borne him five children, yet the last few years had rejected him. She permitted him to stay in their home when his work made it possible, but would [no] longer be a wife to him. Gracie had but the vaguest memory of her grandfather, and when she learned he was buried but a few hundred yards from the house, she had a childish desire to visit the lonely grave. His had been the first and, for a long time, the only one in the acre of land donated for the purpose by a neighboring family.

Amy always took Gracie down the road within sight of the plot when she wanted to go, but would never go near it herself. There was never any explanation for her attitude, and it remained a mystery to Gracie nearly half a century. As time passed, other mysteries were added, to which there would be no answers. However, time has a way of eventually clarifying most of them.

Once having successfully made the journey alone to visit Amy, and enjoying it so much, Gracie was permitted to spend several weeks of each of the two following summers at the farm. They were but a repetition of the first, but Gracie loved the time spent there. Uncle Aaron always let her ride the mare, Daisy, when he took them to the spring for water. Nell was a bit too skittish to be safe for the child. She walked through the woods and fields with Amy when she went searching for herbs for her home brewed medications.

Strangely enough, Gracie was bewildered by Amy's attitude concerning religious matters. Very little was said, really, except that Amy always spoke rather disparagingly of the only minister who lived in the vicinity. She showed such a charitable spirit to everyone, was so jolly and kind, really fun to be with, yet so adamant in some of her ideas, i.e., Grandpa and Rev. Jackson.

Gracie always liked to relate the story of how Rev. Jackson arrived at the farm on horseback one day just in time to share the noon meal. Among other things, Amy had prepared chicken and dumplings. The good man served himself generously of everything offered him, except the chicken. He took a second helping of the dumplings and gravy. After he went on his way, Amy broke into peals of laughter. To Aaron's question, she replied, "Pooor old sinner! He wouldn't eat the devil, but he'd drink his broth." Her little brown eyes literally sparkled with merriment.

It was just as well that Amy never mentioned her religious beliefs to her small granddaughter during the early years. There were, apparently, no other believers in anything occult in the community. Amy had become involved while still living in New York, where she and Manuel had lived until the children were grown, then they had started wandering from state to state in search of work.

Eventually, the eldest son, Oran, had married and went to California. By the autumn of 1909 he persuaded Amy and Aaron to leave the farm and make their home with him. That ended Gracie's summer visits to the farm, though she kept in close contact with her grandmother. Within a few years she learned the beloved old log house had burned down.

Shortly after Gracie was married in 1918, she learned from Amy that her father, Eric, had settled down from his wandering and built a small house for himself on the old farm. He had never remarried, but they had never met in all those years.

Then, in 1920, to Gracie's joy, she learned that Amy and Aaron were "coming home." She could hardly wait to take her infant daughter and visit her dear ones. She didn't know quite what to expect of Eric, but he readily accepted the role of father and grandfather. Then strange things began to happen.

Gracie learned things she had never suspected of her grandmother. All Amy could talk of was her experiences with those in the spirit world. It was frightening to one who had no knowledge of such things other than occasional references in something she was reading. The photos of herself that Amy exhibited were spooky enough to be frightening. Each one was surrounded by dim faces of people long dead. One such face had been completely obliterated with a pencil. Amy said it had been a photo of Manuel and she didn't want a picture of him around! No, she still wouldn't go near the rapidly filling cemetery.

It was evident that Amy was in no way senile, in spite of her 80 years. She was as mentally alert as anyone. She had simply become a devout advocate of spiritualism.

Still Gracie learned nothing to help solve the mysteries that so intrigued her, but another was added.

Amy stayed at the farm until 1924, never unpacking the huge trunk she had brought from California. She said she didn't want to have to pack it again when she "went to New York." She never revealed why she was going, nor for what she was waiting. She had no known living relatives there, and if she had communicated with anyone back there, no one in the family knew of it, but she seemed determined to go.

Then, in early Spring of 1924, Amy suddenly sickened and was gone to join her friends in Spiritland within three short days. Aaron and Eric, as a matter of course, had her remains interred beside their father, the first time she had been inside the little cemetery. Aaron and Eric continued living in the house until Eric eventually found himself alone. He had inherited the farm and stayed there until he, too, was stricken in 1951 and the house and all its contents came into the possession of Gracie. She had waited a long time, but now she was to learn a few answers and in the strangest way possible. Amazingly, Amy's sons had never bothered, in the 27 years since her death, to open the trunk.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Those Who Came Before Us

Three weeks ago we read Grandma Audrey's essay about how much she liked to visit cemeteries. In case any of you readers share her enjoyment of those peaceful places, I thought we might do a little browsing of our own. (Remember to click on the images to enlarge them.) I think it's only right to start with the final resting place of Audrey herself, along with her beloved husband, Erna, then on to some of their ancestors:

Audrey L. (Smith) and Erna L. Barclay
Greenlawn Cemetery, Springfield, Missouri

Audrey's mother:  Minnie Lee (West) Brower
Greenlawn Cemetery, Springfield, Missouri

Audrey's father:  Ernest Ray Smith
Nolan Cemetery, Galena, Missouri

Audrey's maternal grandparents: 
Louisa Catherine "Lula" (Smith) and Zachariah Taylor West
Greenlawn Memorial Gardens, Springfield, Missouri

Audrey's great-grandparents: Nancy (Owens) and Isaac West
Moore Cemetery, Stotts City, Missouri

Audrey's paternal grandparents:
Amy Lucinda (Hagadorn) and Samuel S. Smith
Nolan Cemetery, Galena, Missouri

Grandpa Erna's parents:
Barclay, Martha Caroline (Mynatt) and James Daniel Barclay
Bethel Cemetery, Charity, Missouri

Erna's maternal grandparents:
Jemima (Jemiama?) Ann (Hinds) and Martin Linville Mynatt
Bethel Cemetery, Charity, Missouri

Erna's paternal grandfather: Durrett Hubbard Barclay
Atteberry Shed Cemetery, Dallas County, Missouri

Erna's paternal grandmother (wife of Durrett Hubbard Barclay):
Lucretia (Davison) Barclay

Erna's great-grandfather (father of Lucretia): Brackett Davison
Atteberry Shed Cemetery, Dallas County, Missouri

Erna's great-grandmother (mother of Lucretia):
Delilah (Hardison) Davison
Atteberry Shed Cemetery, Dallas County, Missouri

If you're a descendant of Audrey and Erna, then each of the people laid to rest under the grave markers pictured here contributed some part of himself or herself to the person you are now. It might be the color of your eyes, the shape of your hand, or even some unconscious mannerism. Think about these folks sometimes, and when you do, remember to thank them. At least for the good parts.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I Walk Alone

by Audrey L. Barclay

I walk alone,
No mortal man can share my inmost tho'ts,
Nor any of my burdens bear.
My sorrows, illnesses, my fears,
My want for food, my loneliness, my tears,
Are mine, alone. But wait!
I'm not alone,
For every weary mile
God walks beside me all the while.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Audrey's Newest Angel

Martha Lea Barclay Fasnacht passed away on Thursday, August 1, 2013, at the age of 88 years. She was the fourth child (second daughter) of Audrey and Erna, loving wife of Wayne, dear mother of Karen, Denny and Becky, sister of my father and seven other siblings. 

Martha (Barclay) Fasnacht - July 1996

Among the things that are special about Martha is the love story she shared with Wayne, her husband of 70 years. They met at a Springfield, Missouri, roller-skating rink in 1942 on the second night that Wayne, a young soldier, was in Martha's hometown for boot camp. They married in 1943 and had their first child in 1944, six weeks before Wayne was shipped out to France. In the year and a half he was overseas in service of our country, they wrote letters to each other, every single day, declaring their love. Both of them saved the letters they received, approximately a thousand all totaled, all of which have been preserved by their daughters chronologically in 15 three-ring binders.

Wayne is 94 years old now. He knows Martha is gone but struggles to remember why she isn't with him. This time it is Martha who has been called away. There may not be letters during this temporary term of separation, but I believe with all my heart that Martha will not stop sending her love to Wayne.

Friday, July 26, 2013

About Cemeteries

by Audrey Barclay

I like to visit cemeteries, particularly old ones. The older they are, the more fascinating I find them. The inscriptions on the ancient gravestones intrigue me, as do some of the names I've found. To me such places are of great historical interest. I can spend hours letting my mind's eye travel backward, trying to visualize an individual to fit the name and the era. I don't believe I am any more morbid than most people just because I find such peaceful places interesting.

A few years ago my husband and I toured the eastern states and visited the graves of many of our famous people. We never failed to find others of special interest, for one reason or another. One that especially intrigued me was found in a small churchyard cemetery in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was first attracted by the apparent age of the monument. On inspection I discovered the date to be in the late 1770s, but I was so impressed with the inscription that I forgot to copy the vital statistics. Quite legibly inscribed were these words:

"Remember, friend, as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, you soon will be,
Prepare thyself to follow me."

I have since found out the inscription was not new, but, nevertheless, there is much truth to it and I liked it!

I suppose my interest in burial places was largely due to my having lived near such places during most of my childhood. Not large cemeteries; on the contrary. The first one was that of a tiny premature infant, not large enough to justify a regulation burial, but large enough that the young parents were impelled to give it a decent burial at the corner of their backyard garden. I was but four years old when we moved next door. I soon discovered the little mound and was told it was the grave of a baby. I couldn't imagine a baby so tiny, as kids my age didn't know about "preemies" in those days. How often I wished we had moved there sooner so I could have seen the baby! As it was, I made it my special project to see that flowers were added to the other ornaments--shells and pretty colored glass--all during clover blossom time for the five years we lived there.

The next place I remember was the grave of my paternal grandfather who had lived in another county. The man who lived on the adjoining farm had recently donated an acre of land for a community cemetery when my grandfather suffered a heart attack and was the first to be placed there. It was but a short time until Mr. Rowland, who had donated the land, became the second occupant. A pen of split rails was erected around the plot to protect them from being trampled by animals.

I went to spend a few weeks with my grandmother the summer I was eight years old, and my day was not complete if I failed to take my twilight walk to stand atop the rails beside grandpa's grave and remember him. I felt no sense of sadness, and I still don't, when I visit that tranquil, well-maintained place, as I did only a month ago. Needless to say, the seventy years since my grandfather was laid there has eliminated the rails, and many families are represented there.

In 1912 we rented a farm and moved to it. Within sight of the house--only a few hundred feet, in fact--the owners had set aside a small plot for a family cemetery years before. It contained the graves of probably eighteen or twenty members of the family, a few of whom I could remember.

There have been others, but not of such special interest, except for the latest one. In 1960 my husband and I bought a new home in a new addition of homes. After moving, we discovered an ancient cemetery at the end of the block. It was sadly neglected and overgrown with weeds and brush. We were told it was a slave cemetery, but I was never able to verify that fact. Shortly after we moved there a greedy contractor decided to confiscate it and erect another home on the land. I don't know how he planned to obtain legal title to it. When he moved in and started stacking up the modest gravestones, the nearby citizens discovered what was happening and objected violently. It was not in time to prevent much desecration, but did stop it from being completely destroyed. The stones were left in a pile, where they are to this day.


Editor's note:  In the above essay Audrey mentioned that it had been seventy years since her paternal grandfather was laid to rest. Her paternal grandfather was Samuel S. Smith, who died August 6, 1903; therefore, Grandma Audrey would have written this piece about 1973. 

Now, about that graveyard where Sam Smith was buried: I've searched online for it for years with no luck at all. Today, after retyping Grandma's "About Cemeteries" for posting here, curiosity took hold of me once again. Armed with one new piece of information (the name "Rowland"), I did another Google search. Here's what I found:

It's hard to read the inscriptions, but this is the gravestone of Samuel and Amy Smith. Since Amy is buried here, too, this obviously isn't the original gravestone that eight-year-old Audrey stood "atop the rails" to see, but we can assume she stood right at this spot many times in later years, after Amy's death in 1923. 

The name of the place where Sam and Amy are buried is Nolan Cemetery, located in Crossroads, Stone County, Missouri. Their son (and Audrey's father), Ernest Ray Smith, is buried there, too, as are his brothers, Arba, Omar, and Samuel Junior, as well as Omar's wife, Annie, and Samuel Junior's wife, Frances (herself a Rowland). If you want to view their gravestones, find their names on this list and click on them. Further substantiating Audrey's essay, I found four people with the surname Rowlands buried at Nolan Cemetery, including one Jasper Rowlands, who passed away only three years after Samuel Smith. 

Based on what seems to be a fairly recent photo, Nolan cemetery is still well maintained:

I can't say enough good things about the  Find A Grave website that helped me on today's search and on so many others in the past. The information I found there today is available only because a volunteer named Maria was kind enough to post it on the Find A Grave site just two short months ago. Thank you, Maria!

If any of you readers are close enough--and curious enough--to check out Nolan Cemetery in person, click here to find Crossroads, Missouri (about 145 miles northeast of Springfield) or, better yet, click here for a map to the cemetery, complete with GPS coordinates. And, if you actually do go visit the graves of Sam, Amy, and their sons, as Grandma Audrey liked to do, please write and tell us about your experience there.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Audrey's Children

An Untitled Poem about Audrey Smith Barclay
by Shirley Barclay Rust

Never a mother so loving,
In every little way
Never a mother so humble
And faithful every day.

Helping with our problems
As we grew from day to day
Righting all our daily wrongs
Only helping us grow strong
Loving us beyond where
Duty calls.

Prayers for our repentance
Allowing us our freedoms
Urging us to grow up to be
Loved by one and all.

Many tears she shed for us
Although we didn't know
Rather we were more concerned
That we could go to a picture show.
Happy when we were happy
And sad when we were sad.

Wonder how that Mom of ours
Always seemed to know our faults
Yet loved us in spite of them,
Never doubting our abilities,
Even when we did.

Only yesterday it seems
Loving arms reached out
And gathered me in full embrace,
Never faltering.

All of us are grown up now,
Ladies and gents are we,
And Mother, still our guiding light,
Needs our love to make her day bright.

God in His mercy gave us a
Loving, faithful mother,
Ever ready to show she cared, providing
Nourishment, both physical and spiritual,
Nurturing in every way she knew.

Surely, in His infinite wisdom, God made
Heaven a wonderful place and
Insured for our mom, as well as others,
Yes, God surely made our mother.


The First Four ...

Left to Right:  Harold, Martha, Nina, Paul

The Next Four ...

Left to right: Olan, Glenn, Wayne, Alan

And The Baby:


Friday, July 12, 2013

Two Pals on a Hilltop

by Audrey Smith Barclay

The daily trek through the woods to the high, bare pinnacle of rock overlooking the valley was the highlight of the day for nine-year-old Mike and Butch. The two had been inseparable companions ever since the huge, brown-and-white Collie had appeared at the Andersons' back door one rainy October night two years earlier, shivering with cold and half starved. He was little more than a half-grown puppy, but even then his enormous paws gave evidence of his size when he reached maturity.

Boy and dog grew together, each idolizing the other. Mike was an only child so, to him, the big dog had taken the place of another human being; he took him everywhere he went, confided all his secrets--in short, Butch almost assumed the role of Father Confessor. He was always waiting to escort Mike home from school, waiting with teeth and tongue bared in happy anticipation. The short side trip to "their" rock always made the journey home something to look forward to.

Tousle-haired Mike knew, aside from the beauty of the scene spread below them, there were all sorts of interesting things for a little boy and his dog to see. Sometimes a toad, disturbed from its reverie, hopped across the path before them; often a lizard or a terrapin, perhaps a snake, would be sunning itself on the warm rock.

There was one never-to-be-forgotten day they found the odd-looking snake stretched across the path. When gingerly attacked by Butch in an effort to frighten it away, the odd creature began to shrink in length while at the same time it grew broader and flatter. Mike and Butch watched it, bug-eyed, then backed away and left that one in full possession of their hilltop. They never saw the strange snake again.

The view from the big rock never failed to fascinate Mike. He spent hours lying spread-eagled, chin on folded arms, or sitting cross-legged, with an arm around his beloved pal, gazing across the valley. A highway wound in and out between the few farmhouses and fields and made its way to the hill on the opposite side, where it disappeared among the trees. The dreamy-eyed Mike looked after the few scattered cars as they sped along, wondering what was behind the horizon. Then, Butch, waiting patiently, would gaze wistfully up at the face of his little master as if he were saying, "Come on, Mike, please! Let's go see what's over there." And Mike always answered, "We will, Butch, some day we will!"

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Day Late for the 4th of July Festivities

Well, if I'd been paying attention yesterday, I'd have realized that the 4th of July was the perfect time to remember Audrey and Erna on the 95th anniversary of their wedding. That's right, they tied the knot in Springfield, Missouri on July 4, 1918, ninety-five years ago yesterday.

Here, I'll post their wedding-day photo again to make up for my tardiness:

It appears I also missed an opportunity yesterday to post another favorite photo that was taken on the 4th of July, this one from 1915:

(Remember to click on photos to enlarge them.)

That's Grandma Audrey standing on the wagon with her hand on her hip. A notation on the back of the photo reads: "July 4th, 1915 - Headed for picnic at 'Baptisin' Hole' on Spring River, Stotts City, Mo."

Let's turn that photo over:

Twenty-four people are identified here. Just in case someone is looking for information on any of these folks, I'll transcribe the names here so Internet search engines can find them:

On ground -- Mrs. Van Welsh -- Mrs. Fred Welsh

On seat -- Harve & Minnie Brower, Baby Velma

In tree -- Henry Schillinger

Below him -- Webster Welsh

Second row -- Mr. Schillinger, Audrey Smith, Janie Schillinger, Minnie Schillinger, Lena Welsh

First row -- Erma, Etta, Geneva Brower, Clieve Galloway

Top row -- Abb & Minnie Galloway, Former Dessie Schillinger and husband

On ground in rear -- Fred Welsh, Emery Welsh, Van Welsh

H. Brower's team & wagon

So, I've done a little research today to find out who these people were who planned to picnic at the "Baptisin' Hole" on that long-ago 4th of July. The Browers, of course, were Audrey's family. Minnie and Harve were her mother and stepfather; Velma, Erma, Etta and Geneva were her half-sisters. Audrey was 14, almost 15, in this photo.

Van Welsh was the white-bearded man behind the horses (or were they mules?) in the photo. His full name was Martin V. "Van Buren" Welsh, and he was a Union soldier during the Civil War. According to census records, he would have been 75 years old at the time of the photo. Van's first wife, Lorena, died in 1888. Nine years later he married his second wife, Annie (Anna, pictured standing at left on the ground), who was Harve Brower's widowed mother. I couldn't confirm the family connection of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Welsh, but Webster (shown peeking over the shoulder of the man next to Audrey) and Lena were children of Van and Annie. Webster was 14, born in the same month and year as Audrey. He died only three years and 20 days after this picnic; I don't know why.

I found Absolam H. "Abb" Galloway in a 1905 Joplin, Missouri City Directory. He was a miner, as was Harve Brower, so perhaps they knew each other that way. By the time of the 1915 picnic, Abb was married. He and his wife, another Minnie, had a son named Clieve, and the whole family lived in Stotts City.

The Schillingers were a real puzzle, but I finally tracked them down through young Henry Schillinger (the shadowy figure barely visible in the tree at the far left of the photo). The man identified as "Mr. Schillinger" (whom Audrey just missed poking with her elbow) was Andrew A. Schillinger, a widower. His wife, the former Margaret J. Arter, had died four years earlier. Dessie, Janie, Henry, Minnie -- and a couple of other kids who didn't go to the picnic -- were their children. Dessie's unidentified husband's name was James Allison Jay. Even after finding all these Schillingers online, I still can't figure out their connection to the Browers, the Welshes, and/or the Galloways, nor can I find any other reason for so many Schillingers to be in Stotts City for a 4th of July celebration. All the records I could find, before and after 1915, showed the Schillingers living in Kansas. Nevertheless, there they were in Stotts City on that day, and I'm certain it didn't cross any of their minds then that some old woman in Louisiana would be sticking her nose into their business 98 years later.