When my father-in-law passed away, we inherited boxes full of family history information. While digging through one of the boxes, we found a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings. The clippings were not labeled in any way and really were not in chronological order.
Many years ago, I asked my mom to write to my great aunts in California for some information and copies of pictures of my mom’s parents. Both of my maternal grandparents died before or shortly after I was born, and since my mom is the baby of seven children, she inherited virtually nothing in the way of family photos or heirlooms. At the time, my aunts were also in their late eighties, and I thought that these stories should most definitely be collected before the last of their generation were gone.
Oh, the stories Miss Marie could tell. I have learned to value not only the educational rights of each individual, no matter their race, creed, or beliefs, but also each citizen’s civil rights, due to experiences this fine woman shared with me.
While it was not a happy occasion (the passing of my granny), it was so amazing to be able to take a trip into the past of my ancestors. My grandmother, Mildred Varney, was born and raised on Meathouse Hollow (pronounced holler), the fork of Big Creek, in Pike County, Kentucky. Pike County, I learned, was the home of the famous feuding families, the Hatfields vs. the McCoys! In fact, there are McCoys in my family tree, some ways back. Wow!
Every summer, we headed to Arkansas to see Grandma, Grandpa, and the extended family. There were so many fascinating things to occupy a child’s mind: Strip-pits for swimming, long walks down dusty roads, and lightening bug jewelry. Now, the grandkids get together and ask, "Do you remember?" Some of the bits and pieces that come back: Grandpa carrying a revolver to the Coal Miner’s Union meetings; dishes that came on the ship from Germany with his grandmother; the mule that tore the front porch off the house. That’s all, just bits and pieces.
Trains not only played an important part in United States history, they also played an important part in keeping my family connected. My Great-Aunt Margaret Wiley attended nursing school in Independence, Missouri, graduating in 1919. The only problem, she was born and raised in St. Louis. The train brought her to Independence on her initial voyage, but trains also brought visiting family. Margaret traveled back to St. Louis to visit frequently and soon, life on the “Western Frontier” lured both of Margaret’s younger sisters to Independence.
Very early on the morning of Friday, Sept. 23, 1910, Rock Island Train # 27 left Norton, KS westbound with a final destination of Denver. The train consisted of four Pullmans, two chair coaches, a smoker, a baggage car, and a mail car. One of the passengers in the smoking car was Harvey McIntire, a resident of Rexford, KS who was returning from Concordia, where his wife was recovering from surgery. Harvey was a father to thirteen children, the youngest aged two. Around 2 a.m., the train barreled into a torrential rain going at full speed, not suspecting the trouble that lay ahead.
I decided to take a break from the never ending searching of records to learn more about specific geographic areas where my ancestors had lived. One town in particular, Stoughton, Massachusetts, had a lot of connections to my father’s side of my tree. I had heard through family stories about my ancestors who lived there, but I didn’t know much about the town. I decided to see what MGC might have on that town or surrounding area. I searched the catalog for Stoughton and received a result for a book titled Images of America: Stoughton.