suzefoss on Family Tree Circles
Journals and Posts
Long ago, in another lifetime, people didn't instant message, text or email one another. We had to rely on the phone, which we thought was a wonderful thing - other than we couldn't afford to call long distance very much. So those calls were limited to holidays and special occasions - or the occasions no family wanted to share: The funeral.
I remember watching my dad work at his desk writing. There were old writing tools inside the desk: Pens that required ink fills. There were no ball point pens when I was a kid. But to have an ink pen that filled with ink was progress, as before that, people were using pens that needed to be repeatedly dipped into an ink well. We had those things, too. Likely used by my own parents or perhaps their parents to write letters.
I could hardly wait to learn how to write. I would draw endless lines of connected e's in varying lengths. Then I'd go to my dad and ask him if I was 'writing.' He would glance down and tell me 'yes.' I was so proud of myself! And why e's? Because that's what cursive writing looked like to me...long connections of loops that were large and small. So looping continuous e's made perfect sense to me.
But before you could write, you had to print. So began my formal education in a classroom with a round rug, toys at the side and a large room with sandboxes and paints with another even larger room to another side with pretend stores, schools, tricycles and very large balls. On nice days, some of those things went onto the playground. On rainy days, we all gathered in those large rooms to play and to also take naps.
By 4th grade, the world of cursive was finally taught. I looked at my childish handwriting and looked at my parents line of loops and thought there was no way my penmanship could ever be as beautiful as theirs: Particularly my mother's. Her handwriting was graceful curves and looked like artwork to me.
To encourage our writing skills, we were also encouraged to gain pen pals. Those were other kids we wrote to and asked questions of. It was a combo geography/history/writing exercise. My pen pal was from England. My younger sister drew a girl from South Africa. Such an exotic place! And I was secretly jealous of not getting an equally exciting place as South Africa. England? Pssshhh! We fought them, for heaven's sake! I was NOT impressed! LOL!
Of course, that idea of history, culture and geography was quickly tossed off to the wayside because we were still kids. And we wrote about what kids liked! Just like today, I'd imagine, we talked about our daily lives, our vacations, and what music we were into at the time. I loved Nancy Drew. My pen pal did not. I like jeans and sweat shirts. My pen pal liked dresses and girlie things. To say we were mismatched would be an understatement. LOL!
But we wrote and sent Christmas cards and that sort of thing. I liked looking at the stamps and used filmy paper where I'd write very tiny because I only had the inner area and the back of one flap to fit all my thoughts and feelings on life. It was a self-sealing letter/envelope and they always were blue. There were no color choices, so blue it was. And frugal it was. Every penny counted.
Indiana actually decided to drop cursive writing from the required curriculum. After all, no one wrote any more. Really? I was among those who thought that was a VERY stupid idea because NOT teaching cursive meant an entire generation would be cut off from reading a history of our people. Not only journals, but those old and long ago letters - the few that somehow are saved and hung onto and survive fire, flood, moves and flat out trashing them.
I don't have many old letters, but I have a few. The whole point about today's topic is one of those letters. The one I'm looking at is 90 years old and comes from an era when my aunts, uncles, mom and dad were all young: July 24, 1923. It's written by a distant cousin living in Los Angeles, California....and addressed to my Aunt Hall (Ethel (Madden) Eldenburg in Beardstown, IL. (Refer to another family history to understand THAT last name. LOL) I left the spellings as they appear in the letter:
'Dear Niece: -
This sure was one big surprise to get a LEtter from my Little Niece. How did you happen to Write to me once? You surely did surprise us both. I couldn't immagine from who that Letter could be. I had to Look at the address first. You say you was but a Baby when you saw me last. Well, I should say so. You sure was a cute Little Gireley. I have always wondered why the Boys never would write to me because they was larger then you. They can remember me better. Now You write me soon again and tell me how old you are by now. I think (but not sure) that you are about 15 or 15 years old. (Aunt Hall was actually 14) You write and tell me for it seams that it is only a short time sense I was in New York City last and seen you. (Aunt Hall was born in 1908 in NYC)
Your Mother when writing to me has never told me how you was getting along so now I want You to tell me all about yourself and the Boys and tell them to Write too, and tell me how far you are getting along in school for you sure Write a Nice hand so plain any one can read it, so must say we have our Home in Riverside, Calif that is 58 milles (miles) East of Los Angeles. We are Just renting here. My Wifes Father lives on our property there and Two Boys and the Youngest Girl are there Liveing in the House. Mr Bartel My Wifes Father is 83 years old. He looks after Everyting (everything) there and the children all Take care of themselves. They are all grown up. The oldest Daughter is 31 years old. She is Married. Her Name is Mrs Hahn. Her Husband is a News paper Printer. he Makes good Money and the youngest Boy is with them. He works in a Print Shot too. They Live at Long Beach, Calif. 22 Miles South of Los Angeles. So Aunt Bertha and I are all alone Now. We live Happy alone. We can get along so Nicely. So on our little Place in Riverside, Calif. we have 36 Orange Trees, servel Aprocot, GrapeFruit, Peatches, Gif and Apple Trees. It is a very nice place to Live, but I haven't got the Work there that I have here in Los Angeles.
So you think you will come to Denver, Colo. soon. Well that will be near California so you can come and see us and stay as long as you like. It is quite hot here now. It has been so cool this spring up tel (till) July 1st. It's Making up for the Lost time. Now I have been working out in the hot Sun for servel (several) days and it's sure Hot. So now I have told you about all I can think of. Now you Write me soon and I shall Write you more. So will close. Hope to hear from you REal soon.
Lovelingly Your Aunt and Uncal Carl and Bertha. Mr & Mrs C.F. Eldenburg 3814 1/2 Wall St. Los Angeles, Calif.
In beautiful curvise, a very large P.S. shows, followed by date of July 26, 1923.
I forgot to Mail Your Letter so I must add and say this was another Warm day but not as hot as it has been for the last few days. But, here it Matters not how hot the days are. The Nights are always Cool and by Morning some Nights it gets real chilly so a person can ware (wear) a coat or sweeter (sweater). So we can always get a good Nights Rest So again its getting late so must close. Hope to hear from you real soon. Your Unc C.F.E.
The envelope, post marked Los Angeles, Calif on July 27, 1923 was stamped at 11:30 AM and bears a 2 cent US Postage stamp. It's addressed to:
Miss Ethel Endenburg
308 E 2nd St
Beardstown, ILL - with a notiation c/o C. Madden
When I was a kid, I knew perfectly well who Aunt Veda and Aunt Vera were: My dad's older sisters. The problem was trying to figure out which one of those V names belonged to whom? Because it was too confusing to me as a kid, I simply didn't call them by name! In fact, I don't think I talked to them at all! Instead, I concentrated on my younger cousins who were often as not around - since at least I could find someone around who's name wasn't quite so challenging. (Albeit certainly NOT ordinary! LOL)
Aunt Veda, Aunt Helen and Aunt Vera. Those were dad's sisters. All older than he. All with dark hair and eyes - except for Aunt Vera who had blue eyes. If her hair was dark, I couldn't tell you as I only remember her hair being gray. I'm sure she wasn't BORN with gray hair, but by the time I came along, it was! Although neither of her sisters nor my dad would develop gray hair until they were in their late 70s and into their 80s. Aunt Vera's was and her eyes very blue. (I suspect I'm following dad's trend, as I still have a lot of dark hair myself - with the very blue eyes of Aunt Vera).
Each one of the sisters had a different personality. Aunt Vera was rather jolly and laughed a lot. Aunt Helen was her opposite and always seemed sad. I suppose, in looking back, she had much to be sad about, as her husband was an alcoholic and I suspect abusive and one of her kids had juvenile diabetes. It would kill my cousin while she was still young and my Aunt Helen never really got over that or the death of her third husband.
Meanwhile, Aunt Veda was tiny. She was slightly built, elegant and rather quiet. She was the one who would write in local history books that the family played their heritage 'close to their vest.' She also was the one who seemed to keep the mysteries of our heritage as well as our ancestors, for she too only alluded to a possible heritage rather than come out and just say it. Her step mother, Aunt Ada, certainly had no trouble announcing - and loudly - that the family was Native American. But according to Aunt Veda, we were Welsh.
Well, probably somewhere in the melee of our ancestral genes, that was true. But certainly and hardly the SOLE heritage! LOL!
When i asked dad, he would grow rather terse and short tempered and simply tell me we were 'American,' and that's all anyone needs to know. Or he'd say something along the lines that we were 'whoever came down the pike.' (That would be the closest to the truth)
Meanwhile, Aunt Veda was quiet and spoke with a low, soft voice. I often would listen and wonder which sister might sound like my unknown grandmother. For surely, my grandmother's voice couldn't be the gravely, harsh voice of Aunt Ada! Surely my grandmother was soft spoken and lovely, as my Aunt Veda! Of course, I'll never know for a fact, but in Aunt Veda, I hoped I saw my grandmother. In my mind, I did.
While Aunt Veda might not make waves or be loud, she certainly kept a spotless house. In her house were antiques - likely from her husband's family. There were what my sister and I called old timey 'viewmasters.' They were made of wood and double photos would be placed on a holder in front of the lens. When we looked through, the twin photo - all in black and white - became a single photo. They were called stereoscope viewers, according to Aunt Veda who schooled us on matter. We'd spend endless hours looking at the photos. Now, I can't even remember the content, but at the time, it was so interesting!
The other thing about Aunt Veda was her utter love of Siamese cats! She had part of the back porch totally screened in and it was filled to the rim with chocolate point Siamese cats. I was terrified of the things because every time I walked past, the cats would howl, climb and claw at the screen. I felt like I was under attack. And it didn't help that my memory apparently was strong of an actual cat attack when I was small. I'd look up at that screen filled with cats and hear their caterwalling as I tried to walk as far from that part of the porch as possible. Aunt Veda once tried to assure me I was safe. I didn't believe a word of it.
She had an old Victorian house. It had a long, wrap around porch with a swing and various furniture of seats and tables. As I recall, everything was wicker. No matter where we were, us kids migrated to the living room to look at the stereoscope or outside to play on the porch. There was a huge living room with bowed glass in the windows, an equally huge dining room no one used because if we ate anywhere, our clan always gathered in the kitchen no matter where we were: Dining room or not. Only people you'd want to impress would be seated in the dining room, for heaven's sake! Oh no! Family should be and would always be cozily seated in the kitchen at the very back of every house I knew - unless there simply was no more room in the kitchen because it was a special holiday and all the tables were filled with cooking and food and everything that went with that chore.
I didn't know Aunt Veda well. In fact, I didn't know any of dad's people very well. Aunt Helen was always crying or complaining about someone or something, it seemed. Aunt Vera was busy with her own brood. But once I grew up, Aunt Veda was the one who made sure to make a pathway to my life. She'd send simple gifts to my kids, stop by with Uncle Harold and ask us to go out with them or meet them somewhere. She also was the one who would send Christmas cards and always send me some saying, like 'stop and smell the flowers,' or such.
Aunt Veda was found dead one day by her daughter, Sandra, a few years before my dad died. She was the last of his surviving siblings. Like mom, he outlived all his aunts, uncles, brother and sisters and the loss of his mother, dad, grandmother and uncle who had raised him. All were gone. It was just him and mom and us....and soon it would just be us.
What do I wish now? That I'd also made more pathways to my dad's people and asked more questions. I doubt I'd have gotten a straight answer from Aunt Veda as far as our heritage, but perhaps....what I do know is that now it's too late. But I do have my memories and photos - such as the photo posted today of Aunt Veda when she was very young. It was taken in Logansport, which is where the Cox and Taylor clans were located. Did they pay for her beautiful photo to be taken? I'll never know.
What I do know is that Aunt Veda left me with the impression of gentleness and softness.....a personality much like my dad's.
I always called them mom and dad. Others called them Marge and Russ. Mom's siblings called her Peg or Sis. To me, of course, their main name was simply mom and dad.
Both were born prior to the Great Depression and WWI. Both had hard lives. Dad was born in Culver on October 17, 1912. His mother would die just 6 years later, on October 19, 1919 of TB. With her went dad's baby sister, Lucy. (I suspect her full name was Lucinda...after her ggrandmother, Lucinda Jackson.) That's when dad's life changed dramatically. His dad remarried - his aunt Ada. Ada Cox-Grover was the sister of dad's mom. But that didn't mean she wasted any love or affection on my dad or his remaining siblings...especially after her own son, Gordon, was born. She was Native American and mean. She used being Native American to threaten people and to tell them - as well as us - how dangerous she was. I believed her - every word.
I remember as a small child going to visit what must have been their house in Culver, IN. It was a small, white frame building. Inside, it was dark, dank and dusty, as I remember it. Off to one side was a door that for some reason, called to us kids. I imagine it was likely other cousins - her 'real' grandchildren - showing my younger sister and I in there, but I really don't remember. What I do remember is her towering figure over our heads yelling to get out of that room - those were Gordon's things and we were NOT to touch!
I so wanted a grandmother and this was as close to one that I would ever have. I remember my cousins - Gordon's kids - calling her grandma. Well, it was a logical choice to call her the same - after all, Uncle Gordon was HER son and MY dad was HIS brother! However, our joy at finding a grandmother was short lived, when once again, her voice loomed loud and clear that we were NOT HER grandchildren - we were Mont's - and we were NEVER to call her that again. I was very hurt and confused - and sad. And I know that's why I formed many of the ideas and feelings about children and acceptance right then and there - that if I ever had the chance to have a child call me grandma or any other name, it would be fine and they would be accepted. End of story.
Thus, I have no fond nor warm memories of that woman. And when she landed in a nursing home, clutching an old doll that she somehow had to protect in her mental confusion, I was rather satisfied about her end when we visited her one fine spring day when I was 16. I still remember that day, what I was wearing, that place...everything is acutely held in my memory. It was in March and one of the rare warmer days of Spring that the shores of Lake Michigan could offer. My dog, Asta, had just died and on the way home, we stopped by to visit 'Aunt Ada.'
The nursing home was a two story, white frame building sitting in the middle of farm fields in St John, IN. There weren't many residents or rooms inside. Aunt Ada was upstairs, along a hallway that a man who couldn't walk constantly slide up and down. Every time he approached her room, the sound of his body and clothing inching along the linoleum floor, she would clutch that old cloth doll to her chest and call out against the evils of the world. He would turn just outside her door, as that is where the hall ended before a windowed wall, and as his sounds grew fainter as he moved toward the other end of the hall, she would relax. The doll would be laid back on the bed, only to repeat the process when he once again pulled himself along the walls of the hall.
It was eerie and I was relieved to get out of there. Not only was I mourning the loss of my beloved Asta, but I hated the vile woman we were visiting. I didn't understand why my dad would bother with a woman who never bothered with him or me or any of us. But that wasn't my dad's nature - to be unkind or mean. My dad was gentle, loving and giving. I think he would have turned inside out for my mother. He would do little less for the woman who rejected him.
My dad was well respected in our hometown. He was involved in the Masons, as well as a Registered Watchmaker and a chemist at Inland Steel. We had a single car, so when mom needed a car and the bus wouldn't do, either dad would catch the bus for the Harbour or we would drive there and back again to take or pick him up. I was always fascinated along that ride, as we crossed a huge steel span bridge that thrilled me every time we crossed. We'd pass by the oil refinery where my Uncle Bud worked, close by the house where my cousins lived in East Chicago and on past the industrialized and gritty streets of a society that no longer exists except in my long ago memories.
Mom, meanwhile, was born in Albany, NY on March 20, 1016. Her life was of a higher class. Her dad was a trouble shooter on the railroad and they were moved by the company all over the country. Eventually, they ended up in Beardstown, IL - where mom's life took a dramatic turn when her own mother died. Mom was but 11 years old, and like dad, celebrated her birthday with the loss of her mother. Mom would graduate from high school - something dad would never get to do. Education would remain important to both of them, but especially to my dad. I think that's because he was unable to go to high school. He was on the Plains of Montana, being raised by his grandmother and Uncle. But the fact she could go to high school didn't make mom's life easy. Before graduation, she not only would know the death of her mother, but the death of her first step mother, whom she always spoke fondly of. By the time she was 13, she would have her second step mother - this one a drunk who quickly got rid of mom's brother by accusing him of stealing - in spite of the fact she and her daughters were said to be the thieves - and the fact she was abandoned by her dad and new step mother. Mom ended up literally being raised by a couple in the neighborhood. Those were people she looked upon as mom and dad, I think, more than her own father and estranged step mother.
Mom was smart and responsible. By the time she was 19, she was living in Hammond with her older sister and working as a manager for Miner Dunn Hamburgers. (Now Schoops) Friends were trying to talk her into meeting someone and going on a blind date. Mom said she refused several times before finally agreeing. That man was my dad. They met in October and were married December 23, 1936 in Crown Point, IN. They lost their first child, my oldest sister, the following summer. She is buried in Hammond in an unmarked grave, which always disturbed me and still does.
Mom and dad were married 63 years when dad died. By then, Alzheimer's was stealing mom's memories. Perhaps it was best that way, as dad was the caregiver to mom. I'm not sure mom would have known what to do without dad being there.
Mom was the traditional 1940s & 50s mom - stayed at home, did the laundry, all the baking, canning and cooking. Money was often tight, but they never let on. Even if they didn't have a penny, when company stopped by, everyone was invited to a fine meal. Our meals might be scrambled eggs or even oatmeal for dinner, but I don't recall ever feeling deprived. It was when my older sister found work and began to bring in money that we had our first pizza, soda pops and other things that made it seem like Christmas every time they were brought into the house. Before that, it was only special occasions when we had anything that wasn't homemade.
I remember going to orchards with the family. Jackie and I played, as I sure don't remember being among those who picked the food that was later cleaned and canned at home. What I do remember was that my job began when we did get home: Washing all those danged jars that lined the basement walls. And it was a disgusting job, to say the least! There were so many dusty, dirty jars to wash in that horrible basement that I was dreaming about marching canning jars - row after row after row of jars marching along toward the sink to be washed.
I was never so happy to wake up in all my life! LOL!
Summers were hot and steamy. We'd play endless hours on the front porch, walk barefoot all summer to the store and back - in those days, no health rules were against bare feet inside the store. We'd read, go to the library with Judy, my older sister, go to the beach - either Wolf Lake or Lake Michigan - go visit with aunts and uncles, catch fireflies or look for four leafed clover in the grass under the trees. It wasn't a perfect childhood, but it was what we had. My uncle would tell me as long as we had enough food, a dry roof, a clean bed, friends and family, then we were rich beyond our wildest dreams. I don't remember wanting for anything - but it was a different era, as well, when wearing my older sister or cousin's hand-me-downs was a wonderful gift and there was no TV calling to us about toys and such. The Christmas catalogue came out in September and we'd pour over the wonderful things inside, but there was no desire for any particular doll or anything. My younger sister and I got a new doll every Christmas and I remember getting a doll house one year - which took my breathe away. Beyond that, I was happy with what I got. It beat getting clothes, that's for sure! LOL!
Christmas was a special time. We went out and always found a real tree. Dad would put it into the same red stand every year and it would be allowed to sit and 'rest' for a day before we decorated it. Why rest a tree that was already cut down? So it's branches would acclimate to the warmer indoors and relax. And so we'd watch, the fragrance of pine heavy in the air, as the branches slowly unfurled from their tightness against the trunk....and yes, my younger sister and I would literally WATCH as the tree relaxed! Because we knew, as soon as it did, we could decorate it!
First on the tree would be the huge, colorful bulbs. Each one had to be attached to the tree. But before that could happen, dad would line them along the floor and test them. No matter how carefully they were put away the year before and gotten out that year, one thing was sure to follow: Dad cussing the lights back on again. Sometimes, he'd have them lit along the floor, unplug the string, attach it all to the tree, only to find the string refused to light when plugged in again.
Now that situation lead to some fine cuss words.
Once the lights were up, the tree was topped with a jolly plastic Santa waving from the top - but with no legs. I often wondered how painful it would be to not have legs and to know each year, a rough pine bough would be shoved up his butt. I have no idea why on earth I attached life to that plastic Santa, but I remember being relieved when he was up and on and still waving happily from the top of our tree.
The favorite part of the decorating was to come. That's when the gorgeous balls, stars and so many other things would be placed on the tree. I had my favorites: One in particular was the Democratic and Republican donkey and elephant. I preferred the donkey. That had nothing to do with politics. I simply liked the donkey best. And he ALWAYS had to be hung right in front of the huge front window for all the world to see.
Last was the tinsel. Every year, a new box would have to be bought. That's not because the last year's box hadn't been saved, but because us littler kids weren't very patient with the stuff. While my older sister would try to show us (and demand we follow her lead) how to pull one strand at a time out of the box and hang it ever carefully upon a single branch, Jackie and I were prone to the grab and toss method. Besides, when you're on the short side of the group, and they could reach higher, it made sense to us!
While all this was going on, mom would be baking and sewing. She made us doll clothes. I remember waking up one winter night and seeing her at her old Singer sewing machine, stitching away. She crabbily told me to get back to bed. It wasn't until Christmas that I realized I'd likely stumbled upon mom making our presents.
She also baked and filled empty metal potato chip can after another with layers of cookies. Each layer was separated by wax paper. There would be chocolate chip, peanut butter, kolachi (even tho we weren't Polish, she loved those little cookies) and brownies made from scratch. The best par of Christmas was being up early in the mornings before Christmas and sneaking some cookies back to bed. If mom ever suspected, she never said or else I've forgotten.
The entire holiday season was so special. Walking to Aunt Hall's house down the street for Thanksgiving dinner. I'd be freezing in my thin coat, always dressed in my best dress and fancy shoes. Christmas Eve, we'd also go to Aunt Hall's - walking down there as firing up the old Chevy just to drive a block wasn't practical. Besides, the car would never warm up before we got there or returned home, so why bother? We'd simply shiver a bit longer, but walk.
Christmas Day was at our house. Christmas morning was exclusively for Jackie and I. The night before, I learned much later, mom, dad and Judy had opened their gifts. Us little kids were to wait for Santa. And there, under the tree, would be our new dolls with their new smell and numerous other gifts I've long forgotten about, save the doll house. The house would soon fill with the smells of Christmas dinner as the window glass fogged over from the cooking in the kitchen. Jackie and I would draw pictures in the fogged glass with our fingers - sometimes pressing our faces up against the glass just to see what we would get. And that night, we would snuggle down with our new dolls tucked beside us - their new smells filling my nose with joy.
Mom stayed a traditional mom of the time until I was in high school. That's when she went to school and became a beautician. She entered and won many hair styling competitions. She traveled to conventions. Eventually, she opened her own business and called it Peg-Mars. She had that business for a number of years before finally retiring and just enjoying life with square dancing, travel and visiting family and friends. The sad day came when we realized she was suffering from Alzheimers, but there was little time to dwell on that when dad developed cancer and soon it spread to his bones and he was gone. Mom lived on for another 8 years before she succumbed to Alzheimers.
Just before her death, I had a dream that I visited mom. She was in a room with a single twin bed and a chair beside her bed. I was surprised to see my dad sitting there. I was thrilled to see him and asked what he was doing there. He said he was 'waiting for maw' He always called my mom maw. Outside the window, I noticed an old model T. I asked about that and he said he was going to be taking maw on a trip. I wanted to go to, but he told me it was a trip just for him and maw.
I woke up crying, because I understood that dream. It wasn't my time yet. But when it is, will there be someone waiting for me, too? And who will it be?
I have no stories of this side of the family. Why? Because my grandfather, August Eldenburg, ran away from the family farm in Missouri after they migrated here. He didn't want to be a farmer. He loved the American West and everything about it. So he wanted to be a cowboy and took off for Montana.
Things didn't go well up that way, from the story that was told to me. Grandpa got into a barroom brawl and thought he killed a man. So he high tailed off to New York, where he changed his name to Madden. That's also where he met and married my grandmother, Jennie Lamb.
Things in his family came to a head when one fine day, his brother, Frank, showed up at the door and wanted to see August Eldenburg. Who? Why you must have the wrong house....I can only imagine the conversation that ensued. I don't know how my great Uncle Frank convinced my grandmother and great grandmother (likely the latter didn't take a lot of convincing, as she never liked this Charles Madden anyway....hated the Irish, don't cha know?). I do know my Uncle Ernie was five years old and reported to me that his mother was waiting for 'Auggie' as he returned home - toe tapping, arms crossed and furious - while his grandmother was joyous in her glee - now announcing she 'knew he hed the murk of the davil' on him when they first met - and likely also hoping against hope that soon, either my grandfather would be solidly dead and buried or divorced and out of her hair forever.
But that's not what happened. Instead, per my grandmother's instructions, Auggie had to formally and legally change his name, remarry her and adopt his own children - or he wouldn't so much as meet his maker but wish he could. My grandmother apparently was a force to be reckoned with, Yes, she was a nice woman....who wasn't about to be taken in by anyone. Not even someone who she had married for better or worse. And by God, if he wanted worse, than worse he would get!
He staved off hell on earth by agreeing.
Not that ended his story telling. Ever in love with the West, he continued his stories. According to my Uncle Ernie, he loved nothing better than to tell people he was Native American. I've always been fascinated with that story, as my grandpa was born in Prussia! He surely continued to have a German accent?
In my mind's ear, I always heard, 'Ja! I'm Native American,' spoken in a perhaps lighter German accent, but German accent none the less. And he did this in an era when NO ONE admitted to being even PART Native American! (Certainly not my dad's people...at least not out loud so the world could hear.)
I know much about my grandfather due to stories told about the old man. I know mom and Uncle Bob stayed with the Eldenburgs when they were young and mom continued to stay in contact with them and we'd visit when we were kids. But I really didn't understand the connection. Family reunions out that way have been interesting, as I've heard whispers among cousins inquiring as to who exactly I was and why was I there....to be answered with quiet whispers still loud enough for me to hear, 'Oh, she's Augie's granddaughter....you know.....Augie, the one who abandoned the family?'
Okay...so the split runs deep there abouts.....but what about his family? What about his mom and dad and family who came with him to this country? Of that, I really know nothing. They are a bunch of names without personality. I have some photos. I have some papers, such as this one, sent along via the internet by a cousin....but I have nothing to touch or hold or to really understand who these people were - other than hard working and determined to keep their sons safe and likely away from the Prussian army. They had the money. They had the means. So they left that part of the world for a better and safer life.....only my grandpa apparently had other ideas.
My grandmother was born in Dundee Scotland in the last quarter of the 19th C. She would migrate to America with her mother, Jane Lamb, when she was still young. The reason we were told was because the air was cleaner here in America than in the more heavily industrialized Scotland. However, I'm not sure I believe that any longer, as we were also told they were associated with royalty. As it turned out, mostly that was in someone's mind. I have no idea who to blame here. And does it really matter at this date? Not to me...it is what it is.
I've included my grandmother's birth certificate with this journal entry. I'm not judging her or my ggrandmother, who by all accounts was a stern Presbyterian who wanted my Uncle Ernie to be educated in Scotland and to become a Presbyterian minister. He was indeed educated in Scotland - at least for a few years - until he learned of the plot that he was to become a minister and that's where that educational journey ended. Uncle Ernie went into the Army during WWI, served entirely in the US - although to hear him talk, he saw action. I suspect the action he was referring to was the ire of his Grandmother Lamb or something to that effect for not becoming a minister.
At any rate, I want to talk about Grandmother Lamb - my grandmother. She came here as a young woman full of hopes and expectations, I would assume. She would marry my grandfather, August Eldenburg, in NYC after her arrival. Another immigrant, I can only imagine what stories he told about himself and his adventures. I know for a fact he neglected to tell her his true identity. But that story was written about yesterday, if anyone cares to review it. (I am determined to speak about Grandmother Lamb....so Grandpa, scoot!)
According to everyone who knew her and remained alive to tell me - mostly my uncles, aunt and mother - my grandmother was a kind woman who went out of her way to be social and to care for others. I have stories of the boys marching off to WWI and as the troops passed their house, my grandmother was out front passing out freshly made donuts from her own kitchen. She was said to be beloved among many and for years after, visitors returned to their door step to inquire as to the health of 'Ma Madden.' My uncles told me many young men fondly called their mother 'ma' or 'mom.'
Thus, I've always had an image of a softer version of my ggrandmother Lamb. I know she looked nothing like her mother, either. For my great grandmother was tall, willowy with blue eyes and a long, oval Scots face. My grandmother was short, dark with a squarish face and the same chocolate brown eyes of my own mother.
The saddest part of my life was never meeting either of my grandmothers. My dad's mother died of TB when she was only 29 and he a very small child. Meanwhile, my mother's mother died when mom was only 11 - and my grandmother was a mere 50. Both my grandmother's died of TB. I often thought of these things when I was a child and worried that my own mother would die when I was still young. After all, it had happened to both my parents. How could I be lucky enough to escape the same travesty in life?
What I didn't think about was the gift of antibiotics in my life time. I didn't realize that when my grandmothers died, there was no such thing as sulfa or penicillin. The facts of my parents' lives was disease, death and dying. My own mother nearly died when she was 6 months old from pneumonia. She lost two brothers before she was ever born: One was 3 and one was 5. I know their names as well as my own: Edwin and George. My dad also lost a sister with his mother. Her name was Lucy....
As to Grandma Lamb, I suspect she also had a fine sense of humor, as mom's brothers and sister were always jolly and telling stories and jokes. They were far different in personality from my mother and her brother, who were both young when their mother died. Both my mom and Uncle Bob seemed to wear a cloak of sadness all their lives. I truly think that came from losing their mother when they were so young.
I wish I could have known her and heard her voice and way of speaking. I'd hear her words in my Aunt Hall's voice, but it was but a ghost of my grandmother. I often wonder if I might have been different had either of them been around. I have memories of my dad's dad and his sitting at our table on hot summer afternoons as we ate. He put ice cubes in my milk and to this day, I love ice cubes in milk. What would I have gained had my grandmothers' lives not been cut down too soon for me to know and learn from them?
I'll never know....
I'm hoping someone out there can help me solve a mystery that I've been trying to figure out for over 10 years now. It's a photo found among my parent's things after my dad died in 1998.
I know immediately it's dad's family. I recognize the features of my Aunt Helen, dad's sister. That lady is the one standing on the left of the seated woman. I recognize the curly hair, the eye and mouth shape. If I put a photo of my Aunt Helen next to that woman's photo, other than the distance of time, they could be siblings.
The only thing I know about the photo is that it was taken in Culver, IN. I've posted it in the Marshall County Historical Society and tried the local paper without results. The photographer is no longer in business and I've been unable to trace someone who might have records or a thread connecting back to this photography shop.
My dad was born Russell Myrl Foss on October 17, 1012 in Culver, IN. His parents were Moncton H and Harritte Lucinda Cox-Foss. Hattie, as she was called, died in October 1919 of TB when she was only 29 years old. Although my grandfather remarried her sister, that woman had a total hatred of us and to say we were estranged would be an understatement. In her mind, we were no relation to her. That might have been for the best, considering the horror stories my aunts told of their growing up with her.
Dad, in the meantime, was removed and raised by his grandmother in Montana. He did not return to Culver until he was 18 years old.
Moncton was born to William Adney and Lovinia Delphine Youngs-Foss. Hattie was born to Alfred Tailor and Florence Huldah Taylor-Cox. The Coxes were Native American....
Alfred T Cox was born in Fulton Co to Daniel Alexander and Lucinda Jackson-Cox. She was born in NC and Daniel was born in Bartholomew Co, IN - which is where they met and married. Lucinda was born to Hiram and Mary Catherine Whitaker-Jackson. It's thought Hiram's parents were Jesse and Susannah Whitaker-Jackson; Mary Catherine Whitaker's parents were William and Mary Canada/Canaday/Kennedy-Whitaker. Mary Canada was from VA.
William O Taylor was born in Ohio to O. and Deborah Hinton-Taylor in Delaware Co, Ohio. He was married first to a Chipawa woman from Michigan who died in childbirth. He later moved with his parents to Northern Indiana, where they farmed. William drove stage from South Bend to Vincennes, IN, where he met Mary Catherine Hewitt - an orphan - working in the stage house in Vincennes. They took with them several of her younger siblings to raise (can't even imagine that today!)
Hoping something along the way in all that info will help lead to the ID of the ladies in the photo. Meanwhile, I continue my search.
For years, i had contact with a cousin, Richard Colbrath, who had done extensive research into the Foss family lines extending from Denmark to the arrival of my ancestor, Johann (John) Foss in the 1600s to this country. Richard told me our common ancestor jumped ship in the Boston Harbor, swam ashore and made his way to Maine, where he married and lived out his days. I'd love to connect with more Foss cousins form this line and perhaps relocate that genealogy work that Richard did.
I have no idea what happened to Richard. I spoke to him on the phone a few years back when he lived in Portland, Maine.
I know the Foss family was scattered into Canada, through out New England. My ancestor, Lyman Peter Foss, was born in 1803 and migrated to Ohio where he married in 1830, I believe it was. They then moved to NE Indiana where they farmed and raised their family. They ended up in Marshall Co, I believe it was, where both he and hise wife are buried. He was married to Minerva Hussey - who I've had utterly no luck learning more about other than she apparently was the daughter or granddfaughter of a Fire and Brimestone minister from possibly Berks Co, PA.
From Lyman, I descend from William Adney Foss who married Lovinia Delphine (Dell) Youngs. They are buried in Marshall Co, Indiana. Their children were Roscoe, Moncton and Henry. Roscoe died young. Moncton married Harriette Lucinda Cox and they became my grandparents. My dad was Russell Myrl Foss, born in Culver, IN. Dad ended up being raised by his grandmother, Dell Foss, in Montana after the death of his mother when she was 29 and he was only about 6 years old. He remained in Montana with her until he was 18, when he returned to Culver, later moving to Porter, IN before marrying my mother and moving to Lake Co, IN.
Hoping to find some connections and some kin.
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