Baby sisters can be the delight of the family. Baby sisters can be tag-alongs on siblings’ adventures. Baby sisters can be cute and adorable and/or annoying. Baby sisters can copy the behavior and mimic the words of their siblings much to everyone’s delight or chagrin. Little Isabella Mary Boultinghouse was all of that, plus she was the apple of her family’s eye. Born in 1903, she would live for 93 years and remain a little sis.
Little Sister grew up on a small Kansas farmette (as it would be called today)…it was just 14 acres. She learned to do “girl” farm chores, such as gathering eggs, feeding livestock, and learning to cook and bake. Her grandmother Isabella, after whom she was named, was a skilled seamstress so she acquired sewing skills along with crocheting and embroidery needle work. Her father and brother loved to hunt and fish so she was accustomed to frying fish and preserving meat. She was quickly learning to become a farmer’s wife.
Lil Sis also enjoyed the childhood play as she loved on her favorite dolly. She and brother Jack (Edward) climbed like monkeys on the side of the house so they could make their way up to the roof and look out across the plains. When mother Naomi could not find them, she knew to look up to spot her mischievous youngsters sitting up there, giggling, and trying not to give themselves away. The little joys of pretending and imagining!
During the school year, Isabella rode horseback with Jack to the one-room schoolhouse (Riverside School) they attended. Each term, the pair earned certificates for having no tardies or absences. At the end of 8th grade, she graduated with her formal education completed. Later on, the regular teacher at Riverside would require a substitute; Isabella would be the guest teacher.
Isabella had a way to escape the hum-drum of living in the country. Her sister Pearl had married and had four children with the family living in Kansas City, Missouri. Many times, Isabella took the train to visit them and help care for the children. In the summer, she would go to get one or two of the children and bring them back to spend part of the summer with their grandparents. Then, she could escort the children back to their home. Kansas City had many attractions and activities to interest the teenage girl.
At the age of 15, Isabella became the charter member of a ladies’ sewing circle. The group named themselves The Busy Bee Club. They met in members’ homes on a regular basis with lunch being served and then a choice of sewing or card playing. She completed many embroidery and quilting projects. She would be a member of the club for the rest of her life.
Isabella turned 17 in 1920, not long after the end of World War I. Several of the single veterans returned home and wanted to court and eventually marry the county girls. That year, she caught the eye of 24 year old Andrew Earl Storer who lived within a few miles of her. They courted and married two years later.
Little Sister was all grown up and settled as a farm wife. All her experiences of girlhood contributed to the woman she became. But…she would always be a little sister.
Epilogue: Isabella Mary Boultghouse was my mother’s mother. Her daughter Merna Mae Storer became my mother. Unlike my grandmother, I would not be a little sister. I would be the big sister…that story will remain for another time.