Monday, March 31, 2014

Swanzey the Record Saver

Another for the LIW folks.

So many fun things that I come across in researching Little Lodges won’t be in the book, but are still interesting enough that I want to be sure all the LIW fans have seen them. Like this one:
Thanks to Bob Hayes for the photo.

See the guy in the photo? On the left side. You might have to look twice to notice him, but it’s David Swanzey (Carrie's husband). This was taken in May, 1933. David was still CB&Q agent then, and when the flood waters began to overflow into the town of Keystone, he ran to gather the railroad’s records, getting them out just in time. I guess it’s just the idea of him saving the records that makes this one of my favorite photos of him - even though you can’t really see him.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Say What?

A few items fall under this category today - most of them with WAY too many capital-letter words.

First, trying to decipher some old minutes. 

"...WM was selected to conduct the ceremonies of installations and that the Chaplain hold a watch _____ after the ceremonies had been completed."
What IS that word after “watch?”
If it helps, these are from minutes of an Eastern Star meeting in Missouri in 1909. Any ideas?

Second: “Breaking News!” Remember the slogan, “If it happened more than five minutes ago, it’s no longer news?” We (old reporters) used to live by it. Now, it’s still “breaking news” two days later! Come on, folks, there’s more  happening in the world than the plane – let’s hear some of THAT, please.

And a related third: “Maybe,” “possibly,” “if,” “we don’t know,” “I think,” “speculation,”… these words were practically banned from news articles when I was a journalist. I know that was over a quarter of a century ago, but, seriously folks, PLEASE go back to reporting NEWS that you KNOW.

Fourth: Today’s final jeopardy category was “Current Reality TV Shows” (or something like that). Hubby said, before they ever even showed the clue, “It’s gonna be Duck Dynasty.” Sure enough, that was the answer. Ya gotta be good to know the answer before they even ask the question!

Fifth: Speaking of hubby saying, we have some new neighbors from his hometown (Athens, TX – that’s East Texas, folks). Their accent is so pronounced many of the locals – Yankee winter Texans, mostly – have a hard time understanding them. Hubby used to be the same, but has worked hard to overcome it, and now, while still distinctly Texan, is not always easily identifiable as East Texan. So he’s slightly embarrassed to admit these newcomers are totally speakin’ his language.

For the record, while I’m also a native Texan (not east!), I don’t have the accent. That’s because my dad was raised in California – some of his family talks faster than I can listen – and my mom’s family were mostly German immigrants. Other than the occasional “y’all” and sometimes leavin’ the g’s off the end of words, my speech is pretty generic, accent-wise.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February: A Big Month for the Ingalls Family

On the 1st day of February Charles wed Caroline, in 1860.
On the 2nd day of February, the Ingalls family hosted the first church services of De Smet in their home, 1880.
On the 7th day of February, Laura was born, 1867.
On the 10th of February, Laura passed away, 1957.
On the 13th of February, Almanzo was born, 1857.

The month of February held several Masonic events for various Ingalls family members through the years (more about that in Little Lodges on the Prairie: Freemasonry in the Ingalls Family).

February was the month in 1889 that Charles was appointed Deputy Sheriff in Kingsbury County (De Smet). (Note: this was not his first gig as Deputy, just the only one for which I have proof in hand of a February appointment.)

What Ingalls-Wilder-Lane-related February happenings can you add?

Friday, January 24, 2014

James Wilder, Lure

This post is for my Laura Ingalls Wilder friends. 

You know how back in the day, speculators would entice people in with glowing reports of how wonderful the new place was, and all their troubles would disappear if only came to this place (whatever place they happened to be promoting)? 
I never knew that James Wilder was used in one of these lures!
I found this clipping while researching some other information for Little Lodges
It’s not something I’ll use, but thought there might be some of you that hadn’t seen it. 

From The Malone Palladium, TH, Nov 30 1871 
La Crosse, Wis, Nov. 22, 1871. 
Messrs. Seaver:-- 
We are just preparing lists and new deeds to the company of 61,000 acres of land in the extreme western part of the State, directly west of La Crosse. One from the Eastern States, who has never seen any of the western prairies, can have no idea of the beauty of the lands in south-western Minnesota. Let me refer you to Mr. James Wilder, a well-known, industrious, thrifty and intelligent farmer, lately from Franklin county, some six miles east of Malone. Business last year called him to Spring Valley, a growing town on the line of the Southern Minnesota Railroad, and some seventy-five miles from here. He returned to Burke, brought his family to La Crosse, and is expecting to locate on our lands in the spring. He is examining my land plats also with a view of selecting a location for others of his family and neighbors. Such things tell, and farmers know it. I have had many a pleasant call, too, from young men of good old Malone, who have by my request gone over our Railroad, and they can, if it be very necessary, all endorse the good things James Wilder will say of the country and the prospect for farmers who will go in now and possess the land. But now is the time. In a very few years the land we are now selling at $8 and $10 will be worth $50 to $75 per acre. This is not a wild nor unreasonable prophesying."

It goes on to tell how they are planning the towns along the rail line and how good the land is, the wonderful churches that are bringing civilization, and so on. It goes so far as to say they have “no north-east storms…and changes from cold to rain and sleet are all but unknown…The seasons come and go as if by the magician’s wand, and slush and mud, snow-drifts and hubs, disappear before you have had time to appreciate them.” HA!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Working Title: Little Lodges: Freemasonry in the Ingalls Family

Someone asked me what I’ve been up to, since she hadn’t seen any blog posts in a while. It prompted me to answer the question here.

I have been documenting the Ingalls family’s connections to Freemasonry. 

It’s been a fun journey of discovery, but has taken more time than I originally planned. (Don’t they all?)

I’m nearing completion, and I’m actually taking off this weekend to go have a visit with the girls.

Next week, I will prepare to begin the query process.
I’ll also be working on obtaining permissions for various images. I hate that part, but I’d hate a lawsuit even worse, so shall try to avoid that at all costs.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
From "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough” by Robert Burns

We had plans.
The beginning of November, we were going to take the RV to the Hill Country. We were going to do a lot of visiting with family and a lot of hiking. I was going to make a lot of progress on two current writing projects. We would have a great Thanksgiving and then head to Mayo for the follow-up heart surgery we thought Hubby would be having.

What happened was a little different.
First, the day we arrived, I got a call that my favorite aunt had passed away. The loss of a family member or friend is never easy, and I don’t think there’s really such a thing as being “ready” or “prepared” for it, but it can be less surprising. This wasn’t. It was completely shocking in its suddenness. The ‘silent killer’ had struck; a woman who did not even know she had high blood pressure - or any health issues at all - died in her sleep. Yes, there is that. But really, little comfort to those now having to live without her.
Then, the day of her funeral, we got word that an uncle on the other side of the family had died. Not so unexpectedly, but still a blow to the family.
That same day, hubby got sick. Bad stuff, and it lasted 12 days.
Just as he was getting over it, I got it. Still have it.
So although there was some family togetherness and visiting – including with some we wouldn’t have seen otherwise - it was certainly not the sort we wished. There has been no hiking at all. There has been immeasurably little progress on the writing projects.

Still, we have much for which to be thankful: Just a few days before she passed away, I had a nice visit with my aunt. We reminisced about the old days, and I had the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me and how I treasure some of those memories we discussed. How often do we regret not having had that chance.  We did get to visit some long lost relatives. My girl has a new job she is really enjoying. We received some terrific news: the monitor Hubby was wearing indicated he does not need a follow-up surgery. Hubby is well, and I’m getting there. We had a terrific year. We have many wonderful friends. So much more…

Today, we’ll have Thanksgiving with part of the family; tomorrow we’ll celebrate again with another part. And we will rejoice.