Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Small Town Vaults Holding Our Ancestors?

Rice County, Kansas: Lyons, Sterling, Geneseo, plus...

They Are Being Held Against Our Will
When your family is from small town America, we scour all repositories for ancestral data, relics, the family bible, anything! These repositories include the local museum, the County Historical Society, college/university special collections, etc. Really everywhere!

I will be chronically the a3Genealogy experience with Lyons, Rice County, Kansas repositories. This is actually one of the biggest conundrum for the a3Genealogy researchers and small town researchers across America. Our quest is for a lost Brown Family Bible. But we have discovered "closed vaults" as far south as Mississippi, across the Midwest and off western to Montana. So let's start with the facts. 

Sidney Brown of Ellsworth Kansas, married Aunt Leona Strader. We called her Aunt Can. Aunt Can had the family bible at 206 E. Lyon St, but she died in 1980 and my grandparents Ruth and Harold "Pappy" moved into her big house, across the street from the park: 

Yes, that gray thing was the "big house." You should have seen the tiny place on Pioneer St. 

Shortened story...sorry if this is deja vu of your small town America story, but Pappo "Grandpa or Pappy Strader" to his Lyons towns-folk" died in 1983, Grandma later moved to Kansas City, where she could be surrounded by family. There was an estate sale and somethings were inadvertently left behind like Aunt Can's Brown family Bible.

We put out an alert !!!⚠  In 2002, we were notified that there was a family bible seen at the antique store. 

Is this the Brown family bible you were looking for? 

Yes, Yes, please go back and buy it. We will pay all costs. 

But two days passed and the bible was no longer there after market day. That was 21 years ago. Lyons has an older population. Every several years I call around again looking for the Bible. I'm hoping by now it has been located in an attic or basement and donated to the 1) library 2) the Lyons local museum 3) or the local antique store.

1. Lyons Public Library

I had a tinge of hope:

"We don't have family bibles that I know of.  I'll ask the "person in charge."

2. Local Antique Store, Bits & Pieces
106 East Avenue South
Lyons, KS 67554
(785) 472-8876

Open Fridays 1:00pm 785-472-8876
Possible: that's actually an Ellsworth Tele
Left message: Waiting to hear from owner. 

3. Coronado Quivira Museum 
Mr Verl Manwarren.
105 West Lyon
Lyons, KS 67554

Here's proof the ancestors are not hiding they have been kidnapped. 

"We have a vault filled with Bibles and other things. No there is no finding aid, they are catalogued by donor. No the pubic cannot go in the vault there are stacks of books in there. No we can't pull out bibles for review, there are too many of them, some in German, some...." No we have no way of determining who was donated in a particular year.

A rule of a3Genealogy and our 501c3 Tracing Ancestors: Be a part of the solution.  

Me: "Well can we assist by helping the Museum create Finding Aids?" There are probably family trees in the front of some of those bibles.

Mr. ManWarren: "We are under the jurisdiction of the Rice County Historical Society. Oh by the way, my sister thinks "she remember Oda Mae Strader of Sterling Kansas. 

Note: Leona (aka Ona and Can) did have a sister named Oda Mae Strader. Oda Mae (Aunt Odie) may have lived and gone to college in Sterling  (Cooper College) before marriage. but, there was one other Strader family in Kansas from that area. 

4.  Rice County Historical Society
Rice County Historical Society Executive Director: Charlene Akers
105 West Lyon
Lyons, KS 67554

Mr. Manwarren forgot to inform me that the Rice County Historical Society was in the same edifice as the Coronado Quivira Museum.  So after hanging up, I called back.  The Executive Director of the Historical Society had already been briefed, which is great. Plus, this was my second call to her after she told me a couple days before to call the Museum. Again I offered our free services to assist with creating a finding aid.  

We have a system. Take an image of cover, open bible, take pic of any family history or identifiable info. Next bible, repeat.  Go back to office and use spreadsheet or database to create with image and info. 

Understanding the Personnel
I know this is odd, but in small town America, you need to know the archivist, the Exec Director of the Museum and personnel at the local library. If you have time, hang out at the American Legion, the local diner, and whenever possible go to the local games, and be able to talk about the weather! Just know, we need to know a bit about the archivists and directors in small town USA. 

We always hope for homegrown. They have an inherit interest in the history of their small town and many are not museum "hoppers." But, of course it's common for Museum Personnel to move from one museum to another. Plus, Lyons, Ks, and Rice County, has suffered from declining population, so going out of the community for personnel was undoubtedly needed. None were from Lyons itself

1) One person I spoke to was from Sterling, Rice County, KS, about 9 miles away but a rivalry, except for the 4th of July celebration. Ok...Sterling also had the best soft ice cream cones growing up. Oh, let me make sure I note, the rivalry was based on which town, Sterling (earlier known as Peace, KS), or Lyons, should have become the county seat in 1871! This was still a thing in 1971 when I was in middle school! He was a family historian though, he shared. 

2) The library staff person shared she was a 50 year transplant to Lyons. (After 50 years, she STILL wasn't from Lyons.)   

3) According to the Nationwide Journey Chasing History Lands Woman in Lyons, 2013, another person I had spoken to had settled in Geneseo, Rice County, KS, population less than 300. When I was young, we knew most the residents of Geneseo. Like many, her resume included various repositories and museums.

I did learn from a newspaper article, that there is quite a bit of storage room, which makes me sad. This is not a Smithsonian Museum, this Lyons, Kansas. Our ancestors are behind those doors!

Review of the Population
In 2000 it is said that Rice County, Kansas had a population of less than 9500 (9390).  Lyons Kansas, my paternal family homeplace since the 1890's,  had a population of 3732 people in 2000. Keep in mind that was from the 1546 households and 1032 families for that census year. Personally, I think that was inflated, we knew everyone. But, that is a smaller number than the attendees at my Kansas City, Kansas high school. 

Be sure to share your Small Town Research stories. We can all learn, or at least be soothed by, or become hopeful, by other stories. 

America's History is Our History!
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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Cringing! Let's Talk America's Modern History

"Sears" 1908-1940
Synonymous with Affordable Housing
Sears Roebuck, Castleton Model, $934 to $2,193
Prefab Housing Is Not New
Listening to KC, FoxNews4 today, I had to cringe when I heard a short exchange about not knowing that there were Sears, Roebuck and Co. kit homes. Sure the reporters knew about the prefab tiny homes of today, but not about America's history; Sears Roebuck's influence, the company's influence on the housing marketing across America. Could this be true?
Do You Know the Sears, Roebuck Catalog?
Let's start with the Sears, Roebuck Catalog. Ok, I have to admit, I'm probably a generation away from the Fox4 reports of this AM, so perhaps they didn't grow up with the most important catalog of my generation. Click link above to also learn about headstones, and clothes and the opening of the Holiday Season. 
Ok...back to the houses! In1908, the Sears Roebuck catalog included 44 styles of ready-to-assemble homes ranging in price from $360 to $2,890. About 100,000 Sears Roebuck prefab homes were erected across America up to the 1940's. I have seen seen this number as low as 70K, but I will be using the preferred adjusted estimate of abt.100K homes. Many of these homes still exist in America's cities. 

In Kansas City, there were Sears Homes in Cass County, to include Belton and Raymore. You can see photos in the Missouri Valley Room of the Kansas City Public Library. 

Here is a 1923 Hillrose Model that sold for under $4000.00. Of course the Hillrose Model was able to boast to be one of the largest, but check out the Magnolia Model below. It was a beauty! Nebraska has about eight of them still standing.  These homes were made to last!

Magnolia Model
The Magnolia Model was just over $5K, and available between 1915-1920. About eight are still standing, one in Lincoln Nebraska.  Now you have a reason to go there!

Other Models and Where to Research?
There were also duplexes and smaller bungalows.  In my paternal grandmothers' homeplace of McPherson, Kansas this cute 1010 square foot bungalow exists. A recent search proved this Bellewood Model, with its Hobbit style front door, was on the market in 2018 in McPherson, KS.
McPherson, KS

Matter of fact here is a series of the homes offered from 1908-1914 located on the Sears Archives.  

Looking to learn more? Click here: Sears Archives

Pre-Civil War pre frabricated houses also existed. This was not a Sears Roebuck invention.  Here's a link:

Just remember, new inventions are most often built on our ancestors dreams (if they were dreamers). Affordable housing has always been part of the American dream.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

A Little German Genealogy For You

After 1763, Prussia became a European great power.
The rivalry between Prussia and Austria for the leadership of Germany began

Do You Connect?
Rarely, do we post a full historical newspaper article. And, for shame!!! We haven't vet the piece, but the a3Genealogy research team has been working on a lot of German ancestry research lately, and this article has circulated between Europe and the States.  Ok...also Australia! 

Arkansas Democrat, Little Rock, Arkansas, Feb 6, 1892Page 6;

Lighten Your Load and Discuss! 
Happy German Research

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