Naomi Ruth Stevens
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
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, 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.