Imagine having a big brother who loved nature, hunting, and fishing. That same brother enjoyed climbing on the roof of the house so your mom could not find him to do chores, and he taught you that same trick so you could do the same. As an adult, that brother brought his family by motorcycle and sidecar from Wyoming to Kansas to visit you. That brother was my great uncle Jack whose legal name was Edward Ralph Boultinghouse (1896-1943). His sister was my grandmother, Isabella Mary Boultinghouse (1903-1996). They had two other siblings, Pearl and Helen.
Jack is another leaf on my family tree who had the gift of wanderlust. Like his dad Lafe, farming was not for him. In his late teens, he moved from Osborne County, Kansas, to Casper, Natrona County, Wyoming. There he wrangled horses for a rancher as he loved riding and roping. He also worked as a roustabout on the oil fields. There he met the daughter of a Swedish immigrant and married her. Her name was Zola Snyder. Together they became the parents of Betty Lou. After a few years of marriage, they divorced…being a family man was not his true calling.
After a time, Jack moved on to Nebraska. He had a new wife, Marie Hammer. He managed a wildlife preserve. He was very much at home in this environment. He seemed to have found a home, but…
World War II happened. Brother Jack was an expert on Remington rifles due to all his hunting experiences. He was hired by Remington Arms in Denver, Colorado, to help in the designing of new military rifles. Unfortunately, Jack developed cancer and spend much time in the Saint Anthony Hospital. He was often delirious from the painkillers. To ensure that he not blurt out any military secrets armed soldiers supervised his hospital room. Jack died quietly in May 1943 at the age of 47.
Once her big brother Jack left Kansas, my grandmother saw him every few years. What did she miss the most about him? What stories did she wish to share with him?
In the end, Jack came back to Kansas. He is buried in the same cemetery as his parents and little sister Isabella. Big brother Jack, you were one of Isabella’s heroes.