52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Earliest

My earliest memory of him was riding together on his horse. I was bundled up in a baby coat with a scarf wrapped around my head. He wore his farm jacket as he held on tightly to me. My mother had lifted me up to him so he could place me safely on the saddle in front of him. We rode out to check a pasture and his Black Angus cattle. He was my Gramps, and I was his little Punkie. All was right in my precious world. I wonder what stories he told me as we plodded along the trail through the pastures. Did he explain to me about farming? Did he share with me tips on handling horses?

My earliest memory of her was being held in her arms as we walked around the farmhouse and chicken coop. She instructed me in how to gently pick up a hen’s egg from a nest. Some of her hens she called by name as she taught me how to make clucking sounds. She was my Grammy, and I was her little Punkie. All was right in my precious world. What did I learn about chicks and chickens that day? What stories were there about the roosters strutting around the yard?

Earliest memories can lay the foundation of what remains of our recollections of grandparents and parents. How treasured these memories are…how revered…how engraved on our hearts! In the winter of 1951, my mother and I flew from Washington, D.C., to Salina, Kansas, to visit with my Gramps and Grammy (Andrew and Isabella Storer) for the first time. My father would join us two months later. (My dad was a city boy.) On the farm in Kansas, a little city girl like me learned about horses, chickens, pigs, cattle, dogs, and cats. Earliest memories…earliest dreams…

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Diary

Dear Diary, today I listened to a message on our answering machine. The content left me stunned and teary-eyed. The gentleman caller stated that he was not sure if he had the correct number. He was calling from Colorado. He had found our phone number in his desk as he was cleaning out. He said he was trying to reach Merna Mae Storer. Would Merna Mae please call him back as he wanted to chat? He did not state his name.

Merna Mae is my mother, who passed away five years ago. I knew from some of the caller’s clues that he was my mother’s cousin Mitch…my cousin, too. I decided to call him back, but first I had to regain my composure. He answered on the first ring, “Hello, this is Mitch.” I introduced myself and told him about my mom. He stated that he had wondered why he had not heard from her. They had graduated from high school together and would meet up at their annual reunions.

He went on to tell me that he is now 96 years old. His wife died in 1977, and he has remained unmarried. He works in his yard. His favorite activity is volunteering weekly at the Wings Over The Rockies Air And Space Museum in Denver. Staying busy has helped him remain young in body and spirit.

We only talked for 10 minutes or less. He baited me…little did he know…when he said, “That Merna Mae was a real little lady growing up.” I am calling him back soon. My gentleman caller knows stories and tales about the Stevens side of my family! I am collecting questions for Mitch.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Namesake

Good gosh, many grandmas are blessed with grandbabies named right after them. What an honor to look into the sweet eyes of a tiny one and call that bundle of preciousness by one’s own name! Why examples can be found just by viewing this picture of a 50th wedding anniversary celebration!

In the front row is Grandma Isabella Anna Couchman Stevens. Born in England, she married her sweetheart William in New York City. (Their first daughter was named Isabella Anna Stevens.) In time, they moved all the way to Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas. The young girl standing in the row behind the children and beside the lady in the striped dress is Isabella Mary Boultinghouse Storer, Grandma’s namesake. Grandma knew the fine art of dressmaking while Granddaughter knew the fine art of quilting and crocheting. Both ladies understood the value of hard work with their hands.

Now the lady in the striped dress is Naomi Ruth Stevens Boultinghouse…yep, you got it…she is Isabella’s daughter and the young Isabella’s mother. She is named after her grandmother Naomi Orme Stevens, who remained in England. The “Kansas” Naomi had a talent for growing roses and landscaping beautiful front yards. She and her husband ran a small grocery and cafe.The “England” Naomi was a clog maker: she made the pattern cards for jacquard weaving looms. Both ladies understood the value of hard work with their hands.

When I was born, I was named after both of my grandmothers: Isabella Mary and Anna. No, my first name is not Isabella. My parents used her middle name to christen me Mary Anne, which is my first name…I have a middle name…another story will explain that…another time. Unlike my Grammy, I was not given the talents for needlework. I was given the talents for teaching and writing. I understand the value of hard work with my creativity.

Now, raise your hand if any of you gentlemen are named after your grandfathers!