March 29: Vietnam War Veterans Day

In honor of this day, I would like to remember my husband Daniel who served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1971. He spend 15 months in Saigon in an underground communications bunker. I decided this day to visit his memorial stone at the cemetery. I took him a gift that had been given to me many years ago. I wanted to pass it on.

You see once upon a time I was an elementary teacher. Many students would leave me little presents on my desk. One Monday morning, third grader Jenny L. gifted me with a rock that she had painted over the weekend. It bore the message “I love you”. I kept that little rock through several moves and retirement. I held on to that little nugget for all these years. This morning, I decided to regift it.

This morning as I went to the cemetery, I wanted to honor Daniel. I knew that it is a custom in some cultures to leave a rock when one visits a grave. That little rock was placed on the top left corner of his marker. “I love you,” it notes.

Final note: after Daniel served his country for three years, he served God for almost 50 years…as my husband.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Joined Together

My maternal great grandparents, Washington Irving Storer and Sarah Almina Nickel, married on 18 May 1891. Always assuming that the marriage took place at a little church in Osborne County, Kansas, I entered that information on my family tree. Hmm…I was just new to genealogy so it seemed like a reasonable guess.

In 1941, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party for family and friends. Every detail was related in an article in the local paper, The Osborne County Farmer. Best wishes to the happy couple as they remembered 50 years together.

Fast forward 78 years later, I was putting together two lineage society applications. I was proving the link from my 2nd great grandparents to myself. The proof included the link to these great grandparents as well. The connection through birth, marriage, and death was required. I began a county search for their marriage license…not found. I searched the State of Kansas records…not found. I asked a volunteer at the Osborne County Genealogical Society to aid in the hunt…not found. I noted on their timeline that they had moved to Mississippi where their first child was born three months after the wedding. I searched the State of Mississippi…not found. Every surrounding state was searched in case they married along the way south. Nothing.

I looked again at the 50th wedding anniversary celebration for a mention of where they were wedded and by whom. No place, minister, justice of the peace, church were mentioned. It remained a mystery.

By the way, the two lineage societies were satisfied with a letter from the volunteer at the OCGHS stating that a search had been conducted with no results.

So, Washington Irving Storer and Sarah Almina Nickel, where were you joined together? Your great granddaughter would like to know, please.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Females

Naomi Ruth Stevens

Naomi Ruth (Stevens) Boultinghouse

She came from a family that celebrated all the facets of her talents and personality. Her husband touted that his little woman, nicknamed Mamie, could grow flowers and beautify a yard to create a personal paradise. Her daughter, Isabella, claimed that she was kind and thoughtful toward others. Her granddaughter, Mary, bragged that she served the best hot dogs in Bloomington (population: 75). Her neighbors noted that she baked delicious fruit pies.

Mamie was the nickname of Naomi Ruth Stevens, daughter of Kansas pioneers. She married Lafayette Edward “Lafe” Boutinghouse and together they raised four children. They ran a small general store and cafe in “downtown” Bloomington, Osborne County, Kansas.

Note: Naomi died the day my parents were married…18 April 1947. Never having met her, I learned about her from pictures and newspaper clippings.

Isabella Mary Boultinghouse

Isabella Mary (Boultinghouse) Storer with husband Andrew and daughter Merna Mae

She came from a family that had taught her how to be strong and resilient. Her parents Naomi and Lafe cherished their youngest child. Needlecrafts were her talents: crocheting, embroidery, quilting. Her husband referred to her as “his little woman”, and she made her mark as a farmer’s wife. She loved entertaining on Sundays and cherished her role in the Busy Bee Club. Together she and her husband Andrew raised two daughters in Alton, Osborne County, Kansas.

To her grandchildren, she was called Grammy. They declared that she made the best pies around. “Best crusts are made from lard,” she noted. Winning several ribbons at the county fair, she prided herself on those pies.

Isabella enjoyed visits from her daughters and families, who lived in Montana and Virginia. She introduced them all to her longtime friends who all celebrated different interests and hobbies.

Merna Mae Storer

Merna Mae (Storer) Slabik

Merna, nicknamed Mae Mae, came from a family that instilled in their daughter the virtues of being independent and self-reliant. She counted among her ancestors Kansas pioneer women who had forged names for themselves. Her parents Isabella and Andrew gave her examples of being hard working and going after dreams.

Her talents lie in needlework like her mother. She could bake pies whose recipes rivaled those of her grandmother and mother. Like her grandmother Naomi, she could transform the most challenging earth into a flowering garden.

Merna developed her artistic talents in tole (French for tin) painting. Using antique kitchen utensils, she delighted others with uniquely painting designs, flowers, and characters. She had found a talent all her own.

She pulled up Kansas roots and transplanted herself in Virginia and Pennsylvania. She blossomed from the seeds planted by her grandmother Naomi and mother Isabella. She married Edward, and together they raised three children.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, I honor my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother. May all women be recognized for their contributions.