Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bits & Pieces: Mystery Women; the Carrollton High School Class of 1923; Social Notes from the Carrollton Democrat; and More

Now and then, a "Bits & Pieces" post shares scrapbook items that don't fit neatly within posts about the Howe-Salyers family. Still, the random photos, cards, and clippings must have been important to the family. They may still be important to readers who had ancestors in Carrollton, Kentucky and nearby communities. This post includes a lot of names and faces.

1. Can You Identify The Women? The Buildings?

This image, cut into sections, features 27 women who appear to be in their teens or early 20s. A high school class? A social organization? A group of office workers?
The image offers a few clues about time and place:
  1. Written on the bottom section: "Photo by Otto White, North Vernon, Ind." North Vernon is less than 50 miles from Carrollton, and Otto White was a prominent professional photographer in the area from the mid-1890s until at least 1934. [Source: Lieber's Photo News, May 1934, p. 9; cited in an online post about early North Vernon photographers]
  2. Written on the top section: A date: "Oct - 24 - 1923"
  3. A sign on a building in the background: "J.P. Taylor Co." A web page of the Library of Virginia reveals that the company was connected with Universal Tobacco Company, a major player in the tobacco industry during most of the 20th century. The company was based in Richmond, Virginia, with offices in other places, including Carrollton, then a major tobacco market. There is no mention of a company location in Indiana.
Based on these factors and the hometown of our scrapbooker Sarah Eva Howe Salyers, I think chances are good this image was taken in Carrollton.

Can you provide the names of anyone in the photo or identify the location?
UPDATE: A Facebook viewer, Carolyn Williams, identified the building as the original Carrollton High School on Seminary Street, where the middle school is now. Thank you, Carolyn.
Notice below that the list of 1923 Carrollton High graduates includes 11 girls. Could they be in this photo, along with other girls at the school?

2. Graduation Day 1923, Carrollton High School

Commencement Program Participants:
Rev. B. Lehr, Miss Coghill, Miss Schirmer,
Miss Greenwood, Professor J. T. C. Noe,
Mr. O'Donnell, Rev. Robert B. Smith

Senior Class (a few related to Sarah) 
Anna Voigt Becker
Mary Nell Coghill
Julia Aileen Davis
Lenora Greenwood
Effie Harsin
Helen Elizabeth Jett
Anna Belle Lindsay
Ruth Howe Lindsay
Martha Janetta Nicklin
Anna Katherine Raney
Opal Maurine Schirmer
Roman Alexander Browinski
Richard Joseph Framme
Charles William McManis
David G. Pryor
Howard C. Robertson
Ralph Newton Taylor

3. The Good Ol' Days at the Pharmacy

Imagine paying $2 for four prescriptions! Sarah Eva Howe Salyers did just that in January 1923. She also bought an atomizer for 85 cents plus four rolls of shelf paper and four rolls of crepe paper – at 10 cents a roll – for the Carrollton School PTA. This bill from Ford-Driskell Drug Company, "The Home of Pure Drugs," tells the tale.

Maybe some of you with Carrollton ties can make out the name written under the printed word "Salesman." Bill Kendall, maybe?

4. Names in the News

Here is a summary of social notes from newspaper clippings (likely from the Carrollton Democrat) pasted into the same scrapbook. While the clippings are undated, they come from pages containing items from the early 1920s. Below the summaries are images of the first three articles.
  1. Johnson-Luhn Wedding – Lillian Florence Johnson became the wife of Henry G. Luhn, Jr. in a ceremony at St. John's church at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26. [Oct. 26 was on a Wednesday in 1921, so that could be the year.] Officiating: Rev. B. Lehr. Attendants: Hilda Luhn and Frank Luhn, sister and brother of the groom. Parents of the groom: Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Luhn.
  2. Death of Mrs. Charles Brown – Alma M. Welch Brown, wife of Charles R. Brown, mother
    of infant Charles Robert Brown. Based on date references in the obituary and a posting on,  I estimate that she was born in 1906 and died in the early autumn of 1925.
  3.  Milton Woman Bitten by Snake Large as Man's Wrist – (reprinted from Madison Courier) – August 20 – Mrs. Allen E. Smith, wife of the pastor of Milton Methodist Church, was bitten three times close to the ankle by a copperhead snake while in her garden. She sought help from a neighbor, Mrs. Harry Voiers
  4. News from Ghent: • Mrs. Oliver Tyson died at the home of her son in Madison on Friday, August 17. [Aug. 17 occurred on a Friday in 1923.]  • Miss Carolyn Platz entertained Wednesday evening for her guest, Miss Rogers, of Covington, with a delightful garden party.  • Mrs. F.B. McDonald, Misses Linnie and Callie McDonald, J. M. Bond and John L. McDonald motored through central Kentucky this week.  • John Tandy is enjoying a two weeks' vacation from the bank.  • Mrs. R. O. Dufour and children, after a month's visit with relatives in Geoegia, returned home Saturday afternoon.   • Miss Margaret Scott entertained with a picnic supper in honor of her visitor, Miss Elizabeth Toby, of Harrodsburg. The following guests were present: Miss Wilson, from West Virginia; Miss Caroline Platz and her guest, Miss Daisy Orr, of Covington; Miss Margaret Ford, of Georgetown; Misses Martha Scott, Mariam Gex, Anna Katherine O'Neal, Mary Long and Ruth Ellis; Messrs. John Long, Will Ed and Gex Diuguid, Will Parker, John L. McDonald, J. M. Bond, Emmett Montgomery, Leslie Terry, John Heady and Victor Ellis.
 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Sometimes these incidental little newspaper bits can help genealogists make family connections. I hope you found some familiar names here.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Family Stories Told in Verse – A Few Revealing Poems Written by Sarah Eva Howe Between 1890 and 1915

The little scrapbook of Sarah's poems
While digging through the piles of scrapbooks this morning, I came across one I hadn't seen before. It is much smaller than the others and has been trapped, maybe for decades, among the larger, thicker books.

"A treasure!" I thought. Sure enough, it was. Sarah Eva Howe Salyers had transcribed into the book some of the poetry she had written between 1890 (when she was 7 years old) to 1915 or so.

To preserve some of the poems for family and for all who care to read them, I am including here a few that tell family stories or offer insight into Sarah's thoughts and observations.

The first poem includes this note, using initials for her own name, Sarah Howe Salyers:
Written the summer S.H.S. was "going on eight" and her first written-down poem.
Her poem includes an asterisk leading to a footnote that refers, I think, to her twin children and their battles over toys.
Two little mice ran out to play
One was brown and the other was gray
One had some cheese, but none had the other,
Who tried very hard to get some from his brother.*
But as they played and frolicked about
A little pussycat then came out.
She "shooed" them away from their quiet play
On that beautiful summer day.

* Even at the age of seven, I was prophetic of conditions seen later in [the] Salyers family –- not only cheese.

A few pages later, I learned something about the Howe family I had never heard, nor had my husband, who is Sarah's grandson. (Read the transcription below the image if you prefer not to decipher Sarah's handwriting.)
Sarah's explanation about the inspiration behind "Chalchuite," a poem she wrote at age 10.
Transcription: When S.H.S. was ten, in the 4th grade, her parents talked of going to live in New Mexico, reading much literature concerning it, and especially enjoying the book The Land of the Pueblos by Mrs. Lew Wallace [Susan Arnold Elston Wallace]. This poem was written under the inspiration of much hearing about turquoise mines in the New Mexico side of the Rockies, called "Chalchuite" by the Indians.
Imagine! This family in Carrollton, Kentucky was seriously considering a move to New Mexico. If they had gone, I wouldn't be reading Sarah's scrapbooks today – and I would likely never have met her grandson. (Note: Mrs. Wallace's book is available to read online or download free in electronic format.) An asterisk within the poem leads to a footnote that tells us more about the family.

Chalchuite (pronounced chälchəˈwētē, says Merriam-Webster) is an Anglicized version of the Aztec word for turquoise, the most valued green stones in the Aztec society.

The cold gray peaks of the Rockies
Look on the peaceful vale
Forming a pathless barrier
Before which the strongest quail.

They guard the chalchuite
In their stern and rocky base
While the stormclouds gather unheeded
Shrouding their tops with lace.

For the beautiful vale, this jewel
Its country's praise has won.
So we call the land "Chalchuite" *
This land of the setting sun.
* That was how we privately spoke of New Mexico, so no one would learn what we were talking about, as the idea of going there was a secret. We didn't go, incidentally.
 In 1894, when Sarah was 11, her pet and constant companion Solon disappeared. (I think she pronounced it like "SOLE'-on.") She wrote this poem and likely posted it in her neighborhood and maybe in the window of her father's department store.

Strayed or Stolen
"Strayed or stolen" – a spaniel, Solon!
White breast, white feet – he's fond of meat – 
(chicken, however, he likes the most).
He's "brown as a berry" and "warm as toast"
And just think, friends, that he's lost or stolen.
Oh friends, dear friends, let me entreat
That should you meet upon the street
A spaniel by the name of Solon
Oh please remember he's lost or stolen!
And then return this small bow-wow
To the house or store of R. J. Howe
and bring back my poor little Solon!

 And now, one of my favorites: a poem Sarah wrote at age 16, casting her father as narrator. She noted in the scrapbook:
This poem was written about 1899, inspired by some of the early art efforts of Leonora. [In the poem, Daddy calls Leonora "Elsie."]
Higher Criticism
From all the absorbing study of a book on Ancient Art
Showing on illumined pages master pieces of the ages
I had turned my thoughts and fancies to things present, with a start,
But there lingered still the glory told in picture and in story
Of all the wonders man had wrought since prehistoric days
When the first man, with his hand, drew strange pictures in the sand
While the woman stood beside him to admire and to praise.

But lo! I hear a sudden sound, and as I quickly turn
I see my Elsie standing, an audience demanding.
Within the brown eyes starry bright the fire of genius burns.
In fingers fat and fair, a pencil held with care.
She waves a paper masterpiece before my dazzled sight.
"I've drawn a picture. Look! Daddy, please don't ready your book!
See if you know what this is -- all red an' black an' white!"

Still musing on my book, I gaze, and answer dreamily
"Great Heredity art thou! On these pictured pages now
I behold each circling age since Art was in its infancy –-
Thru these hieroglyphs are told stories that are centuries old;
Thus, perhaps the wise Egyptian wrought within his pyramid;
Carved in ebony or jade some Chinese-like monster made
While these lines and curves are like the work the great Assyrians did.

Ah, this gorgeous Art – Byzantine its origin, no doubt
While the frescoes in the tombs of the gloomy catacombs
Find a parallel achievement in these skulls the lie about;
Youthful Michaelagelo –- "

"Daddy, stop! Oh no, no no!" 
My Elsie's lip is trembling, and a frown is on her brow.
Quick tears have filled her eyes and stormily she cries,
"You just don't understand at all!
Why Daddy, that's a cow!
A poem ends with Sarah's little sister's frustration over Daddy's highbrow interpretation of her simple artwork.
Continuing through the scrapbook: What fun to find a 3-stanza poem Sarah wrote as a 25th birthday gift to William Levi Salyers (the man she would marry two years later, in 1905). As noted in the blog posts of Sept. 25 and 29, 2016, William (often called Will) was known as "girl crazy" in his teens. This poem lets us know that Sarah was well aware of his popularity among young women. Sarah included Will's girlfriends by first name in her poem, and in her scrapbook she added a footnote to provide their surnames, just in case future generations wanted to know!

To "Billy"

When Billy was a baby, in the long long years ago
(With big blue eyes, and dimpled cheeks, and golden curls, you know),
He looked about and wondered what this strange queer world could be,
He wasn't altogether pleased with everything, not he!
The great big sun was far too bright, the moon too far away;
And cats scratched when you played with them, and puppy dogs would bite.
But when he saw a little girl, he smiled a dimpled smile.
She suited him exactly his spare moments to beguile.
The years have passed, but strange to say (you'll think I'm joking, maybe),
He likes the little girls as well as when he was a baby! 

The years have passed, a score or more o'er Billy's curly head
He's fluttered like the butterfly from flower to flower, 'tis said;
Cupid, how could you be so mean, you wicked little sprite! –-
To take a good and honest heart and leave it such a sight!
For here your arrows left a scar, and here 'twas but a scratch,
With here and there a gaping wound where Billy met his match!
In many a state and city has your cruel work been done,
and each a chip or splinter as a souvenir has won.
You have brought him many pleasures and perhaps a little pain
And not even Father Time can make his scarred heart whole again. 

And when a "jolly bachelor" he sits before his fire in days to come
and sees the ruddy flames leap higher and higher,
Methinks I see in fancy wondrous pictures thronging[?] fast
In drifting smoke, in glowing coals, sweet memories of the past.
There's little (1)Peggy –- his first love -- and (2)Nellie, young and true.
There's (3)Ella with the golden hair and sprightly (4)Jennie, too.
Three (5, 6, 7)Mabels (one with birdlike voice) and (8)Mary fair and tall;
"Sweet (9)Emily with dreamy eyes," he sees them one and all.
There's (10)Sallie, too (the little scold!) and fair-haired (11)Harriet,
There's (12)Anna with the merry smile and many another yet!
He smiles, then sighs, then turns around, contentedly, to pat
The comrade of advancing years, his old and faithful CAT. 

  1. Peggy Wilkins
  2. Nellie Hafford
  3. Ella Hamilton
  4. Jennie Stringfellow
  5. Mabel Taylor (who lived in Madison, Indiana)
  6. Mabel Burke (who lived in Louisville)
  7. Mabel Myers
  8. Mary Butts
  9. Emily (name illegible; possibly Soos)
  10. Sallie Howe (Sarah herself)
  11. Harriet Smith
  12. Anna Milton
From Sarah's poem "To 'Billy,'" a list of girls dated by William L. Salyers before Sarah and Will became "an item."
The book holds many more of Sarah's writings: lullabies she wrote and sang to her little sister (who, as you may recall from previous posts, was 13 years younger); a verse about a stray cat; poems she wrote as school assignments; poems she wrote after her marriage. I'll hold those for other posts. For now, I will just marvel at the creativity of this girl, who was writing complicated rhymes before her age hit double digits.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mam-maw and Aunt No-No Write Home from the Sanitorium

In January 1912, our scrapbooker Sarah Eva Howe Salyers was a busy woman. She was caring for her family of five (including husband William Levi "Will" Salyers, 5-year-old Robert King Salyers, and twins James Richard and Mary Alice, who were a few months shy of 2 years old). Apparently, Sarah also was caring for two ailing relatives: her mother Alice Ada Cost Howe and 15-year-old sister Leonora Alice Howe. In the scrapbooks are references to Alice and Leonora having rooms upstairs at the Salyers house. At first I thought they were staying there because they were ill and needed Sarah's care, but various notes in the scrapbooks make me think they lived there with Sarah and her family.

(from left) Mary Alice, Bob, and Jim Salyers, 1911-1912
The children were sad when Daddy and big brother Bob took Alice (called both "Mam-maw" and "Grandma") and Leonora ("Aunt No-No") to the Carrollton depot to board a train bound for Louisville. From letters Sarah pasted or transcribed into her scrapbooks, we learn that the two women went to a sanitorium. References to "Dr. Pope" suggest that they checked in at the Pope Sanitorium, established in 1890 by Dr. Curran Pope on Chestnut Street in downtown Louisville. According to Louisville Encyclopedia by John E. Kleber (University Press of Kentucky, 2001), Page 785, "sanitoriums were popular in those days for treatment of chronic diseases and disorders such as tuberculosis and nervous/mental disorders." I have not yet discovered the ailment that sent them there.

Letters from Alice and Leonora to Sarah in Carrollton, and letters Sarah sent to them in response, offer insights into social customs, medical care, and transportation trials and tribulations of that time. There's also an amusing story or two.

 February 1 (Letter from Leonora to Sarah)
Dear Sister,
It is snowing "like pitchforks" here.  . . . We received your letter just a few minutes ago and were certainly glad to hear from you. I got the letter down at the office in the back of the building. Mr. Thruston Pope is just as fat as ever. [This statement makes me think that the Pope family had Carrollton ties and that the Howe and Salyers families were acquainted with them.] I had a pleasant time on the train coming up except that the train was too warm and I got the headache. When we got here, it still ached so I lay down and slept about two hours. About that time Dr. Pope sent for me. He looks about the same but his hair is a little grayer. Dr. Pope did not keep us so very long. I do not know anything about how long I shall have to stay.

February 1 (Letter from Alice to her daughter Sarah)
"We are rapidly getting acquainted and find the crowed very friendly and agreeable. One lady, Miss Tillie Baer of Owensboro, is one of the lively ones. She knew "Harry" McGinnis and knew "Artee" Griffith . . .  Haven't drunk cocoa but have had milk every meal. Doctor questioned us both closely yesterday, and I took the "mestatic" yesterday but Leonora's headache was so bad, she did not. . . . [I have searched for the term "mestatic" but have not found a meaning or explanation.]

February 2 (Letter from Alice to her daughter Sarah)
Dr. Pope says for us to take a morning walk for 20 minutes before our treatments, so we have just come in from our "braces" which felt very "tonic" as it was colder than I thought. Please send me 1 black silk waist [which I think is a blouse or under-blouse], 1 pr gray kid gloves no. 6, one gingham apron.

February 28 [Letter from Sarah to her sister Leonora]
. . . As for Madge [the Salyers family horse], we can't drive her yet on account of the terrible roads _ the hundreds – I was about to say thousands – of tobacco wagons that are constantly criss-crossing the streets into a hollow checkerboard of mud (if you can take in such a figure). The last time I had her out it was almost impossible for her to drag the
Sarah's transcription of her letter to Leonora. The scrapbooks contain some actual letters but many transcriptions of letters, possibly so the originals could be returned to the people who received them.
surrey through the streets, light as her load was (your humble servant was the sole passenger).  . . . Will said he had a fine time on his visit to you and a mighty good dinner at Doctor Pope's and could see a lot of improvement in "our" two patients. I must tell you the joke –– Bob wanted to go down with his daddy, and I suggested that maybe he could go and stay with you all while Will attended to business, as you did have two beds, and he could sleep with Grandma. Will said, "I wonder if I could stay one night at the Sanatorium, too," and Bob said readily, "Why yes, Daddy, you could sleep with Aunt No-No while I sleep with Grandma!" But his daddy blushed and said he was "afraid Aunt No-no would object!"

Several observations about this excerpt:
  • The Salyers family of Carrollton was still using a horse and buggy for transportation in 1912. A previous post reports that only five automobiles were registered in Carrollton in 1910-1911.  
  • Sarah's reference to dinner at Dr. Pope's reinforces my thinking that the Salyers family was connected at least socially with that family. 
  • Little Bob's innocent suggestion that his daddy sleep with his mother's sister made his daddy blush, which I find endearing. Other scrapbook passages mention that Will stayed at the Seelbach hotel when he traveled to Louisville on business or to visit his mother-in-law and sister-in law. The hotel would have been within a few blocks of the sanitorium at 115 W. Chestnut Street.

March 25 [Letter from Leonora to Sarah]
Leonora Alice Howe without her glasses, circa 1918
By March 25, it appears, Leonora's health has improved. In a letter to Sarah, she speaks of going to
places beyond the sanitorium grounds:
I am going to see Girl of My Dreams [a play] Saturday with Miss June Walker at Macauley's. This morning we went downtown. We went to the New York Store and then to Dr. Ledeman's. . . . I just wanted to see if my glasses were all right. I wish you could see the doctor. He is attractive. He has a keen sense of humor and is fascinating because he is so funny. He is a man of almost thirty years, I suppose. Now you will think I am talking a great deal about him, but I assure you he is perfectly harmless and besides he is Hebrew and is married "already yet."
How typical of a 15-year-old girl to write home about her social engagements and the handsome doctor. Less typical, perhaps, is her frequent request that Sarah send butter:
Do tell me if you find any fresh butter, for you know my weakness for that article. Dr. Pope has good butter, but it is not quite so fresh as I like. I like the fresh country butter.

Sarah's letters from Carrollton reply that she was unable to get fresh butter at an affordable price. Research on why that was so will have to wait for another day.

The pages and papers in this scrapbook are loose and not in consecutive order. A look through the whole book failed to turn up evidence of how long Sarah's mother and sister stayed at Pope Sanitorium. We know they recovered from their ailments, because both lived decades beyond 1912.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Five Years Later, It's Twins Again – and Mourning Again

In May 1915, Sarah Eva Howe Salyers of Carrollton, Kentucky, was the busy mother of three children: 8-year-old Bob and 5-year-old twins Jim and Mary Alice. Her husband William Levi Salyers was busy, too, most likely working with his father at the local C.D. Salyers Tin and Stove store.

The Salyers household was about to get even busier. Sarah was due to deliver their next child at any time. In 1915 she had no way of knowing if the child would be a boy or a girl. Did she know she was carrying twins? I'm not sure if physicians of that day could tell if a mother was carrying more than one child, but I suspect a stethoscope would surely detect multiple heartbeats. Even without an official diagnosis, Sarah may have suspected twins based on her previous pregnancy.

On May 14, Sarah gave birth to twin boys. The first-born twin was healthy. They named him David Hillis Salyers II, after his father's grandfather.

The second twin was stillborn. They named him John Howe Salyers, after his mother's grandfather. On the day he was born, John was buried near his ancestors in the IOOF Cemetery in Carrollton.

David H. Salyers II, circa 1936
Sarah and Will had to celebrate a birth and mourn a death at the same time. I can't imagine that wrenching struggle between sadness and joy.

David was what is known today as a "twinless twin." Psychologists tell us that a surviving twin feels a sense of loss throughout life. I wish he was still here to talk with me about that.

David was the baby of the family and was, I'm told, spoiled by his sister and teased by his brothers. Like many Howe and Salyers relatives, he loved reading, singing, acting, and playing the piano. He never had a piano lesson, but he was a natural – he just sat down and played.

He went to school with his neighbors and cousins in Carrollton until his family moved to Richmond
circa 1926, when David was about 10. After a few years, they moved to Lexington, where he graduated from Henry Clay High School (1933) and the University of Kentucky (1937).

In July 1942, David joined the U.S. Army. He served first as a clerk typist, then in ordinance, then –
when his commanding officer discovered he could play a portable field organ – as a chaplain's assistant. During his 29 months as a soldier, he traveled throughout central Europe. He wrote many letters home, including one describing what he saw when he helped liberate the prisoners at one of Hitler's death camps. (Maybe those letters will be blog posts someday.)
David H. Salyers II, circa 1943

Before he went off to war, he married his Arkansas-born sweetheart, Eurelia Maehew Kennedy. Mae settled in Louisville, where David had been living in an apartment with his mother. While he was away, their son (my future husband) was born. A daughter was born a few years later but died shortly after birth.

In the late 1940s, David and Mae bought a big Victorian house in what was to become fashionable Old Louisville. It wasn't so fashionable then, just affordable. They became active in neighborhood restoration and were major forces in saving the historic area from decay and demolition. They were leaders in many civic organizations and projects, including the Kentucky Derby Festival, Shakespeare in Central Park, St. James Court Art Show, and others. Following the footsteps of David's Howe ancestors, they were also were active in the United Methodist Church. They lived in Old Louisville until they died.

David worked at the Kentucky Department of Revenue's downtown Louisville office for many years. He was an outgoing man who had the gift of gab, and he enjoyed nothing more than engaging people – friends or strangers – in conversation.

On 25 September 1981, he lost a 10-year fight against a kidney disorder. Honoring his wishes, his wife donated his body to the University of Louisville medical school. In death, as in life, David helped others.

David with wife Mae and son David III, Christmas 1945
David H. Salyers II, early 1916

David H. Salyers II in 1958, visiting the Carrollton, Kentucky house where he was born in 1915. This was the home of his parents, William Levi and Sarah Eva Howe Salyers.
David H. Salyers II, enjoying time at the piano, circa 1960. He never learned to read music but could play any song he heard, frequently entertaining others at church events, family gatherings, and parties. He also was known for his baritone voice and was a soloist in college, performing in Broadway musicals and operas. Keeping a promise to his mother, he sang Ave Maria at her funeral in 1955.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Death Casts a Shadow on Sarah's Joy

We pick up the story of Sarah Eva Howe Salyers where we left off, with the birth of her twins Jim and Mary Alice. Sarah and her husband William L. Salyers now had two sons and a daughter in their happy Carrollton, Kentucky home.

It was a joyous time for Sarah, but she had one nagging worry. In the weeks before the twins arrived, her father, Robert James Howe, was not well. He was complaining about stomach upsets and fatigue. As many people did in those days, he had traveled by train to the world-class spas in French Lick, Indiana, hoping that the area's sulfur-spring "miracle waters" would bring relief.
Image from a post card sent home to Carrollton by Robert J. Howe in March 1910.
On April 8, two days before the birth of Sarah's twins, Robert wrote to his wife Alice Ada Cost Howe:
Dear Allie,
Today I have been recovering from the disorder of Friday.  Have been drinking waters hot and cold, walking, chatting, making acquaintances, etc. Visited West Baden again this morning and tried the waters from two of their springs. Mr. John Herrod[?] and Mrs.[?] James Todd of Owenton arrived last night. Took a bath hot sulphur salt glow rub etc. this afternoon. Letter from Bro Will [Rob's brother William F. Howe] rec'd this A.M. I wish you all good health. My love to you. Tell Leonora [Sarah's sister Leonora Alice Howe] to write.
In other letters, Rob mentioned headaches, skipping dinner, and drinking "five or six glasses of hot mineral water, which has since been effective . . . " He wrote letters to Alice from French Lick as late as April 12, when he mentioned that he was "nervous" and would share details when he saw her. (I interpret the letter to mean that he was nervous about his health.) He probably left for home soon after that to meet his new grandchildren.

Less than three weeks later, on April 29, 1910, he was dead.

Although Rob was a prominent citizen and businessman of Carrollton and known throughout the region, I have not found his obituary online. It may have been front-page news in the Carrollton Democrat, as was the news of his brother Joseph B. Howe's death 19 years later. I'll be visiting Carrollton to dig in the archives and will update this post when I find an obituary.

Condolence Letters

Sarah's scrapbooks include many condolence letters sent to her and to her mother. Even though Rob had been feeling below par for a while, the letters indicate that his death was unexpected.

I am struck by the outpouring of sadness in these letters – and the eloquence of the writing. Most of the letters sent by relatives and close friends included comments about Rob's deep Christian beliefs, and most expressed concern for Alice and her daughters Sarah and Leonora. Some were especially concerned about Sarah, who was "just over her confinement" after giving birth to twins.

Page 1, Letter from "Aunt Katie"
To Alice From "Aunt Katie" of New Mexico:
"It is not that I think I can say something to lessen your grief that I write, but because I want you to know we feel for you and sympathize with you in your bereavement. ... But what a good thing he got home. And that Sallie was over her confinement. . . . The memory of him is so pleasant as he was so kind and good – and what comfort that is to us  . . ."

To Alice from Margaret Bond of New Orleans:
"I wish I was able to say something to help the heartaches, but words fail me so. With the deepest sympathy and may the Lord help you each one in this dark hour."

To Alice from Mariam Coltrane of Concord, North Carolina):
"God's ways are mysterious, and we have only to accept them knowing that it is a 'loving Father.' In this case we know that he was ready always for the summons and to me the quick call is so much more desirable than a long, lingering illness. ... I hope that Sarah was sufficiently recuperated not to have any real harm to her health from the shock."

To Alice from Mattie A. Carrington of Louisville:
 "I was so shocked and grieved to know of your great sorrow, and I want to offer you my love and deep sympathy."

To Alice from Mrs. W.C. Darling of Grand Rapids, Michigan:
"The very sad news has reached me of Mr. Howe's sudden death. How Mr. Howe will be missed. The vacant chair in the home, the empty pew in the church . . . "

To Alice from Sallie W. Wells of Charleston, South Carolina:
"I cannot yet realize it is true . . . I feel I have sustained a personal loss, for he was always a true friend, and they are passing away so rapidly. ... Not only will he be missed at home but wherever he is known."

What a fitting post for Father's Day 2017. Sarah loved her father and was, as mentioned in the post dated Aug. 11, 2016, a bit of a "daddy's girl." Today's reflections on her father might remind us of our own. Happy Father's Day to all dads and dad-like mentors out there.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A "Little Fairy" Daughter for Will and Sarah Howe Salyers

Mary Alice with mother Sarah Howe Salyers, c1914
Mary Alice Salyers was born to on April 6, 1910. I long to include her baby picture here, but I have never seen a picture of baby/toddler Mary Alice that didn't also include her twin Jim!

To solve that problem, I've cropped one of the images to feature her with only her mother. After all, as you will see, she was like her mother in many ways. You can see several more images in a previous post about the twins.

Letters in the family scrapbooks refer to young Mary Alice as a "little fairy" and a "sweet little elf." Maybe that little round face and those big eyes played a part in that. Based on what I know of the adult Mary Alice, I can imagine her as a little girl full of creativity, a keen interest in everything, and a love for books and stories.

This fading picture hints at another part of her personality. An older Mary Alice, maybe 10 years old, is playing with her brothers Jim and Bob and two unknown (to me) adolescents. This image fits with the adventurous and playful Mary Alice who in her 60s and 70s waded with my children in a creek, gave them rides in a wheelbarrow, and helped them catch bugs.

Mary Alice Salyers forming a pyramid with brothers Jim (far left) and Bob (far right) and two unidentified friends, possibly cousins, c1920

Mary Alice Salyers, c1928 (age 18)
When Mary Alice was in her mid-teens, she moved from Carrollton to Richmond, Kentucky, where she graduated from Madison High School circa 1928. (I'm guessing at the year, based on her birth year of 1910.) I wonder if this portrait might be her senior picture. Like most of the photos in the scrapbooks and family albums, it is not dated. I may discover details about her high school years as I delve into more scrapbooks. Her mother Sarah made some of them specifically for her, but Mary Alice made many scrapbooks, too, just like her mother.

Mary Alice got her college degree from the University of Kentucky, where she was a member of Kappa Delta social sorority; Theta Sigma Phi communications/journalism society; Phi Beta Kappa honor society for the liberal arts; Kappa Delta Pi honor society for the field of education; and Mortar Board, a society recognizing scholarship, leadership, and service. All of these accolades fit with the Mary Alice I knew 35 years later.

From about 1934 to 1939, Mary Alice was the librarian in Somerset's combined city and high school Carnegie Library. She left that job when she married Richard Allen Hays of Anchorage, Kentucky. What fun it is to read newspaper articles about her engagement and wedding. This article from the Lexington Leader of April 9, 1939 (found at describes how Mary Alice announced her engagement to her friends. Of course the event involved books!
An article in the same paper's "Personals" column of June 4, 1939, described a linen shower give in Mary Alice's honor. "Gifts for the bride-elect were presented in a box made to resemble books on a shelf," with the names of the guests as authors of the books.

The ceremony uniting Dick and Mary Alice in marriage took place at sunset on June 17, 1939 in the garden of her parents' home in Lexington. 
(Will and Sarah moved there from Richmond around 1930.)  The local paper reported the next day: "The bride, given in marriage by her father, wore her mother's wedding gown of ivory silk, shirred in princess style, with lace veil caught to a wreath of white rosebuds."

What a treat to see Sarah Eva Howe's wedding dress! I have not come across any  pictures of Sarah's wedding (14 December 1905 in Carrollton, Ky.). Now I can imagine the way she looked when she married Will Salyers.

Dick and Mary Alice moved to a farm in Jefferson County during the 1940s. In 1945, Mary Alice gave birth to the couple's only child, Richard Allen Hays, Jr. A few decades later, they downsized into Dick's childhood home in Anchorage.

Mary Alice was an educator and librarian at Anchorage School, where she made reading important – and fun – for students from the 1940s to 1975. She offered summer sessions that brought her students in to read, do projects based on that summer's theme, and hear stories. Like her mother Sarah, Mary Alice could tell a good story.

Mary Alice died on July 18, 1998, just two months after becoming a widow. Her story continues through her son and his wife, their sons, and a new generation now numbering two.

There will be more posts about Mary Alice, because Sarah created scrapbooks for her and because Mary Alice created some of the scrapbooks herself.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be taking a break from blogging to spend time with living cousins. In the next post, we'll return to the scrapbooks to learn about a death in the Howe-Salyers family – a death that brought Sarah much sorrow barely two weeks after the birth of her twins.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sarah's Son Jim – Mischievous Boy, Mischievous Man

Of the four children who grew to adulthood in the household of William L. and Sarah Eva Howe Salyers, the one most likely to pull pranks and play practical jokes was James Richard.

Jim and his twin Mary Alice were born 6 April 1910 in Carrollton, Kentucky. I didn't meet either of them until the 1960s. Even though Jim was then in his 50s, I could see the little boy in him. He liked to tell jokes. Like all of the Howe-Salyers descendants, he was inquisitive about any topic that came before him. He liked to tease, and he was a little bit full of himself. I think his Aunt Leonora Alice Howe was likely on target circa 1912 when she referred to toddler Jim as "a little dickens."

Jim circa 1935, in his mid-20s

Jim attended Carrollton High School but got his diploma at Madison High School in Richmond. His parents had moved the family there so first-born Bob could attend Eastern Kentucky State College (now university) but still live at home. Jim attended the University of Kentucky and, like his brothers, joined Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He graduated from UK with AB and MA degrees and began working in adult education and vocational rehabilitation of adults with disabilities.

Jim and Lee, circa 1943

On 17 May 1941, Jim married Harlan County native Lee Rose Pope in a simple ceremony at Cumberland Falls, Kentucky – a location that was both beautiful and geographically convenient to relatives of both bride and groom.

Like many of his peers, Jim served in the military during World War II (1942-1946). During service in the U.S. Army, he won battle stars in the Rhineland Sector of Europe and worked as a clinical psychologist and psychiatric assistant at an Army hospital. Popular ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and pal Mortimer Snerd helped Jim promote the Army's psychological testing and treatment for soldiers and veterans.

Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, James R. Salyers, and "dummy" Mortimer Snerd, circa 1945

By 1951, Jim worked in downtown Louisville for the Area Medical Office of the United Mine Workers Welfare and Retirement Fund. When I met him in the 1960s, he was still working for UMW. At some point, his job included traveling to the homes of miners who had filed disability claims. He interviewed them and took 16mm movies to document their problems with mobility or health issues.

In fact, Jim shot a lot of 16mm film over the years. His movie camera was his constant companion, and he left behind stacks of metal film cases full of scenes from his work and from family gatherings and celebrations, everyday activities, vacations, sporting events, and everything else imaginable. After hours of editing and splicing, my husband had the family scenes digitized to DVD. He then donated a copy of that DVD plus all of the original reels to the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort.

The Salyers Brothers (from foreground): Jim, Bob, David
Jim did a lot of still photography, too, probably more than anyone else in the family. He shot selfies before selfies were cool! The selfie on the right shows Jim with his brothers Bob (center) and David, circa 1960. The brothers captioned this image was "The Salyers Mafia."

Like his mother, Jim had a keen interest in genealogy and family history. Much of the information I have about him comes from his application to The Filson Club (now The Filson Historical Society) of Louisville. The application, complete with a four-generation family tree, is dated 10 December 1958. If you want more evidence of his love of family history, visit the library of the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort and open the Salyers surname file. You'll notice that somebody has written on several of the pages with crayon, usually red. Jim had a habit of labeling documents, letters, and photos with crayon. The first time I researched that file, I had no doubt who had contributed those crayon-embellished pages. I think there are papers donated and crayon-marked by Jim in the library's Carroll County and church files, too.

Like his parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins, Jim paid attention to politics. He made it a point to meet elected officials, and he supported Democratic Party platforms and candidates. He ran for political office only once, as far as I know, in the primary for state representative of Kentucky's 34th Legislative District in Louisville (1965). He lost by a substantial margin.

James R. Salyers and Colonel Harlan Sanders

Jim was always flamboyant, to the point that his nieces and nephews referred to him fondly as "Crazy Uncle Jim." As he aged, Jim became more eccentric. He wore cream-colored or white suits in the style of Colonel Sanders. Note the photo of the two men, complete with Jim's signature crayon mark, which probably pointed to information he had written to the left of the photo in an album. He drove a big Buick with seating for six – except he kept the passenger and back seats full of books, files, newspapers, and all manner of "important things." His life-long tendency for name-dropping became more pronounced, and he referred to famous people he had merely seen from a distance as if they were his long-time friends.

James R. Salyers, circa 1984.
Jim died on 16 September 1985 in Harlan, Kentucky, leaving no direct descendants. The loss of a relative is sad in itself, but the saddest part of losing Jim was losing the family history he kept in his head and in boxes and bags. We could not find those records, letters, notes, and family artifacts after Jim and his wife moved from Louisville to Harlan in the early 1980s. Only after his death did we learn that his wife had burned all of those family treasures. Explaining why she did it would take another blog post. Bottom line: By that time, both Jim and Lee were dealing with dementia and were convinced they had been wronged by his Salyers relatives – even though various members of that family had gone above and beyond to care for them.

There's advice in this for all families. If you have one relative who holds most of the family history, make sure you are making copies or audio recordings all along. Don't assume those facts and stories will be there for you when your relative passes away.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

It's a Boy – and a Girl! Twins for Will and Sarah Howe Salyers

When Robert King Salyers was two weeks shy of his third birthday, he became a big brother. His mother Sarah Eva Howe Salyers gave birth to twins James Richard and Mary Alice.

The earliest image I have of the twins is this charmer that includes mother Sarah holding  Mary Alice (on the left) and Jim while Bobby looks on. What a perfect example of the clothing styles children wore in that day. Based on the birth date of the twins, 6 April 1915, I'm estimating that the photo was made in the summer of that year, when the twins were about four months old.

In the photo below, taken when the twins were maybe 18 months old, the three children are having a tea party. Mary Alice is on the left, and Jim is on the right. Bobby is serving – using a teapot that we have today.

This excerpt from their mother's scrapbook includes comments from a letter written by their Aunt Leonora (Sarah's sister), whose reference to "we" includes her mother (the children's maternal grandmother Alice Ada Cost Howe):
Those twins! I just long to see them. The pictures of them are so sweet – we have put them on Grandma's mantel, where we can see them every minute of the day. We can't decide which of the pictures we like better – but I think little Mary Alice in the Tea Party looks like a little fairy, and I'd just love to gather her up for a good hug. In the same picture, James Richard's eyes gave us the impression that he is a real little dickens." (Note Sarah's notation "right you were!" Sarah transcribed many letters into her scrapbooks and added editorial notes such as that one.)

I'm guessing this image of the twins in their coats and hats could have been taken in the winter of 1911, as they approached their first birthday that early April. Again, Mary Alice is on the left. The arrangement seems to be true of all the images taken of them as children. Was that intentional?

I date this photo of Sarah with her twins at 1914, based on a guess that the twins are 4 years old. Based on family stories and tidbits from the scrapbooks, I've come up with these sketchy profiles:
• Jim was rambunctious and mischievous. He liked to tease (probably his sister more than anybody else).
• Mary Alice was quieter; dainty and feminine yet fun-loving. She slept with her favorite dolls and a plush bunny.
• Both were smart and inquisitive, as were their big brother and their parents and grandparents. As they got older, Mary Alice learned to play the piano and also performed in a number of school and college plays. Jim played sports and performed in plays, too.

The only other "twins" photo I have handy jumps far ahead to circa 1955-1960 (?). That's just a guess as I place them between 45 and 50 years of age. It captures the personalities I remember. She looks thoughtful, kind, and serene; he is probably thinking about a joke or a prank he plans to pull!

In one of the scrapbooks, Sarah pasted ads and cartoons that featured twins. Here are two of them:

Artist: Charles H. Twelvetrees



Caption to cartoon at right:
"We might flip a coin, and the one who loses can grow up to be VICE-president!"

I've heard twins talk about their frustration at being thought of, especially during childhood, as a "unit." I suppose I have done that very thing by posting about "the twins." To redeem myself, I will soon post about each of these fascinating ancestors separately. Even though there is nobody today who can tell us their birth order, I will start with Jim and lead up to Mary Alice, who was better known to me and my family and who was like a third grandmother to my children.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It's a Boy! Will and Sarah Welcome Their First-Born

Robert King Salyers, the first-born child of William Levi and Sarah Eva Howe Salyers, came into the world on March 22, 1907, increasing by one the population of Carrollton, Carroll County, Kentucky.

Robert K. Salyers, circa 1910 (age 3)
Bobby, as he became known, became the center of the family's attention. While I don't have the scrapbooks Sarah made especially for him, other scrapbooks mention him often. One reference answers a long-standing question. In a box of family photos is the image of a little boy in a baseball uniform. I've never been sure if it was a picture of Bobby or his younger brother David. In a scrapbook is Sarah's transcription of a letter from an aunt, who wrote ". . . tell Bobby I was delighted with his baseball poses." Mystery solved!

As Bobby got a bit older – say around 5 – references to him become "Bob." Apparently he was always asking questions and wanting to learn, because the scrapbooks have several stories about his inquisitive nature. Here is one of my favorites, from a letter Sarah wrote to her mother and sister:
Bob is having a spell of popular songs that have to be explained to him word for word. He happened to hear me singing "Bill Bailey" and for nearly a half-hour I explained what Bill's domestic troubles were, what the weather reports said when he was turned out of doors, also what use he could make of the "fine tooth comb" (which you will remember was B.B's only piece of baggage). That is the way Bob always does –– he goes to the root of every matter, he understands a song first, and then settles down to solid enjoyment of it. It was therefore "Bill Bailey" for a week until now Mary Alice knows it too and can supply the last word of every line with startling fluency." [Mary Alice, Bob's little sister, was scarcely a year old at the time.]
Robert K. Salyers, age 12
(If you want to refresh your memory, the lyrics of "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home" are available online.)

By the time Bob was 12, he was a handsome young man with three younger siblings following him about. By all accounts, he was a patient and helpful big brother. I wonder if he may also have been helping at his grandfather Charles D. Salyers's tin/stove/hardware store – or helping his father Will Salyers, who sold stoves first at the store and later for Warm Morning Stoves and other companies. I think it's likely because, by the time he was in his mid-20s, Bob was advertising manager of the Moore Stove Company of Illinois.

From the scrapbooks and newspaper articles found online, I compiled this timeline of milestones in Bob's life:
• 1929 – graduated from Eastern Kentucky State College. Bob later served as secretary and then vice president of the UK Alumni Association, either because he went to school there (although I have found no evidence) or because he worked for a while in the office of the university president.

• 1935 – research assistant to University of Kentucky President Frank McVey

• 1937 – served as Kentucky director of the National Youth Administration; became a popular speaker on NYA programs

• 1936-1941 – president of the Kentucky Conference of Social Work and the state director of the National Youth Administration

• 1941 – married Loretta Smith in Louisville, Kentucky

• 1940s – served in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander; after the war, served in the Navy Reserves

• c1947 – bought a house in the new Glen Carlyn subdivision of Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.; began working for the U.S. Department of Labor; organized the Bureau of Veterans Reemployment Rights

• 1951 --  Director of the Labor Department's Veterans Re-employment Rights division

• 1967 – retired from the Labor Department after 20 years of service, culminating at the position of deputy assistant secretary for labor management relations

• 1977 –  collapsed while walking across the lobby of the University Club in Washington, DC.; died instantly of an apparent heart attack. 

As I said in my previous post, I saw Bob only a few times. All I know about him is what I've gathered from his mother's scrapbooks, a few newspaper clippings, and family stories. The timeline certainly doesn't cover the depth and breadth of his life, but it hits some of his major accomplishments. He seemed to be a popular, well-respected man, successful in his public-service career, often called upon as a public speaker, and elected to leadership roles in several organizations. In those ways, he is a lot like his Howe and Salyers ancestors – especially the Howes.

I was better acquainted with Bob's wife, Loretta, and his son, Robert K. Salyers, Jr., because they lived in my home town of Louisville for a while. I saw his daughters, Abigail and Martha, less often.

The photo on the right shows Loretta and the family's first two children: Abigail (1942-2013) and Bob. I believe it was taken circa 1945.

Maybe the best way to close this vignette about Robert K. Salyers (named for his father's brother) is with the obituary published on page C-5 of the Washington Star on September 10, 1977:
Robert K. Salyers, 70, director of the retired members program for the American Federation of Government Employees, died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack at the University Club, where he kept a room, according to a spokesman for AFGE. Salyers lived on South 5th Road in Arlington.

Salyers, who retired in the early 1970s as deputy assistant secretary for labor management relations at the Labor Department, had worked for AFGE since 1974.

Robert King Salyers, 1940s
A Kentucky native, Salyers was director of the National Youth Administration there from 1936 to 1942. During World War II, he was stationed in Iceland with the Navy and after the war was assistant to the director of demobilization for the Navy here. He later served with the Selective Service System and, before joining the Labor Department, was director of the Bureau of Veterans Re-employment Rights.

He was a past president of the Kentucky Society of Washington. He leaves his wife, the former Loretta Smith; two daughters, Abigail and Martha, and a son, Robert K. Jr.

In the next post, I'll introduce Sarah's twins James Robert and Mary Alice.