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.

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