Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three Old Men

I'm a big fan of The History Channel's Ancient Aliens.  I love the logic that the show uses.  They will display some mysterious artifact and then say, "While there is no evidence that this thing was used by ancient aliens, there is also no evidence that it wasn't.  Might it then be possible that this was indeed carried to Earth by a flying saucer?"

Well, that sounds reasonable.  And it leads me to wonder about this picture I found in the Historical Society's collection of negatives from Simmons Studio.

While there is no evidence that these three gentlemen were the last surviving members of the Jesse James gang, there is also no evidence that they weren't. Might it then be possible that they indeed came to Warrensburg in the late 1940s to rob the bank, saw the Simmons Studio sign and decided to have their picture taken first?

The fact that there is no mention of a bank robbery in Warrensburg by three old men at that time only suggests that the desire to reform and live an honest life can suddenly hit anyone at any time.

If someone has a better theory about this picture, I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Aunt Samanthy Rules the Roost!

Last week I published this picture that I found in the Simmons Studio collection of old negatives.  I asked if anyone had any idea who these people were.

I got help from Rosalee Welling, Robbie Dyer, and Deleta Williams in indentifying these members of the 1952 Junior Class.  Deleta's hint that they were the cast and crew of the Junior Class play, led Lisa Irle to the Warrensburg High School year book where we found more information about the play.

So here they are from Aunt Samanthy Rules the Roost:

Back row left to right: 

Carolyn Ekerm, (PE teacher and director) 
Phyllis Boland (Props) 
Lester Volentine (Lucien Littlefield, a farmer)
Wallace Sheridan (Lights)
Charles Senior (Lights)
Deleta Terry (props) 
Donna Brant (Annie Ambrose, the village dressmaker)

Front row left to right: 

Elnora Bryson (Blanche Bowers, a woman of few words)
Audrey Leigh (Frank Fairfield, who likes Sophie)
LaRena Hunt (Sophie Simpkins, Samanthy's younger niece)
Patsy Price (Aunt Samanthy, an old maid)
Bill Ridge (Blair Boswell, who likes Serena)
Sue Bancroft (Serena Simpkins, her older niece)
Richard Mason (Lawrence Lovewell, a stranger) 
Joann Swope (Polly Paine, maid at the Simpkins’)

This picture was taken on the stage of the Warrensburg High School - the building that is now Martin Warren Elementary.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

We're Not Ready Yet!

My last post from the Simmons Studio collection demonstrated how difficult it can be to work with animals.  However, large groups of people can be equally difficult.  All it takes is one person looking the wrong way and the entire shot is spoiled.

Here’s a picture of a group of young people where everyone is looking the wrong way. 

I have no idea who these people are or what group they are with, but unless they’re all members of the Do-Your-Own-Thing Society, I’d say this picture wasn’t the last one the photographer took of them that day.

Here’s a large well-disciplined family.  Everybody get in a stiff pose - check.  Everybody frown and look gloomy - check.  Okay, snap the picture.  

Then suddenly the lady in the middle smiles and ruins the whole shot.  There’s someone like that in every crowd.

As usual, if anyone can tell me anything about either of these groups, I’d love to learn more about them.  Please leave something in the comment section.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fido and Fluffy - A Photographer's Nightmare

There aren’t many animal pictures in the Simmons Studio collection, but some people marched their furry family members up the stairs at 309 N. Holden to have their portraits taken.

The photographer must have dreaded seeing them come through the door because he knew he was in for a long photo shoot.  Pets just don’t know how to sit still.

Here’s a picture of Fido bobbing in front of the camera.  Maybe another shot…

Nope. That didn’t work either.

Fluffy seems to be able to keep her front half still but her back half moved.

Now here’s a lad who knows how to pose for a camera.  

Well, it’s exciting to get your picture taken, and no matter how well-behaved you are, you can’t help it if your ears jiggle just a little.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Martha and Anna O'Brien - Little Bits and Pieces

Every life has enough drama and interest to make a good story. But most of us live and die and are forgotten, leaving little trace of ourselves past a few generations.

Here is a picture of Martha and Anna O’Brien.  

The older woman, Martha O’Brien was born in 1871 in Tennessee.  She lived through the most dramatic time of change in human history.  What things she must have seen!  What stories she must have had to tell!  As far as I know, they are all gone.  I can’t find any record of her beyond birth and death dates.

I found a few more facts about her daughter Anna O’Brien.  She was born Jan. 12, 1900 and was a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

She was mentioned in the death notice of her father, Walter O’Brien, published on Oct 31, 1939: “Miss Anna O’Brien, who was with her father during the operation following which his death occurred will remain at her home through this week, before returning to Jefferson City where she teaches.”

She’s mentioned in the 1940 census as living in Ward Four, Warrensburg Township with a relative named Martha O’Brien.  

Later she was a school teacher and dietary technician in the Warrensburg school district.

She was eighty-four and living at the Ridge Crest Adult Care Center when she was selected senior citizen for the month of December by the Optimist club.  

She died Nov. 23, 1987.

That’s all I know - little bits and pieces of two lives that must have contained enough stories to make a book.

If you know anything more about Anna O’Brien or her mother, Martha, please leave something in the comments section.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Martha Louise Baile and the Chamberlain-Ditty Wedding

History is always interesting, but events that are recent enough that eyewitnesses can still give first-hand accounts are especially exciting.  For example, here is a picture from the Simmons Studio collection of the reception held on August 22, 1948 after the wedding of Melvin Clay Chamberlain and Lois Faye Ditty.  That cute little girl with the cute, long ringlets helping to serve the guests is none other than Martha Louise Baile, a volunteer at the Historical Society and the aunt of the museum’s curator. The woman to her left (with the hat) is her mother, Beulah Mae Baile.

Martha remembers that this reception was held at the home of the bride’s parents, Fay Curtis and Laura Jessie Nicholson Ditty.  

I can’t find any information about the groom but Lois Faye was born Nov. 8, 1925 in Carrington, N.D.  She attended school in North Dakota but graduated from Leeton High School.  She then graduated from the General Hospital School of Nursing in Kansas City in 1948 and became a registered nurse.

Melvin and Lois had a daughter Donna and a son Thomas.  They moved from Warrensburg in 1962 to Independence, where she became an antique dealer and owner of the Lois and Sally in Westport in Kansas City. She died on June 15, 2000 and is buried at Warrensburg Memorial Gardens.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Welch - Ballard (Maybe)

Sometimes the Simmons Studio collection of negatives offers the barest of clues and we have to do a lot of detective work. For example, we found these negatives in this envelope which says Welch-Ballard.

I ignored the name Cunningham that's crossed off on the first line and went to the museum's family files.  Under "Ballard," I found an article that said one Gladys Welch was helping to arrange the Ballard family reunion. Aha!

Googling Gladys Ballard Welch returns one relevant hit - an obituary for Leona "Joann" (Welch) Peterson who was the daughter of Henry and Gladys (Ballard) Welch of Kingsville. Aha, again!

Ancestry.com reveals that Henry Welch married Gladys Ballard in Kingsville in 1930 and that they had a son Laurence and a daughter Leona. Aha for a third time!

Now that brings us to the negatives I found in the envelope.

Who are these people?

I have no idea.  They might be the Cunninghams.