Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Martha and Anna O'Brien - Little Bits and Pieces

Every life has enough drama and interest to make an interesting book. 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 for 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! 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.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The First Baptist Church of Warrensburg

The First Baptist Church of Warrensburg was organized in a Masonic Hall in 1847 with ten charter members including the Revs. Jerry Farmer, D.W. Johnson, WPC Caldwell and Amos Horn.  The church was disbanded during the Civil War and reorganized again in 1867.  In 1881 a brick building was erected on the southwest corner of Holden and Gay.  This served until 1904 when it was removed and the structure pictured below was built.

By the 1970s, membership had grown so large that Minister Dr. Earl Harding published a booklet complaining that, “... the overflowing condition of the departments and classes shows the impossibility of caring for our membership with our present Sunday School facilities… God is challenging us to march forward by faith and expand our program for greater service.”  

One of the pictures included in the booklet was similar to this from the Simmon's Studio collection showing the choir crowded together in front of the organ with the explanation, “Our beautiful choir has no suitable space in which to rehearse and to store their vestments and music.”

When the new Baptist Church on the corner of Hale Lake Road and Mcguire was finished in 2002, this old church was torn down to make way for the Johnson County Justice Center.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This cute picture from the Simmons Studio collection shows the photographer stepping out from behind the camera to say something to the family that has come in for a portrait.

From the surprised look on the Dad's face, I imagine that he's just told Dad what he's going to charge for this picture.

Note that Dad's coat has a smudge on it and that dirt on the negative makes the baby's arm look diseased.  These negatives are old and have been stored under less-than-optimum conditions for over fifty years.  Although we are trying to produce the best photographs possible, they are more valuable as historically interesting items than as frameable portraits.

If anyone knows the names of any of the people in this shot, leave us a message in the comments section.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

C. A. Baile (NOT)

A mystery has surfaced at the Historical Society, which is nothing new since the place is full of mysteries.  This particular one involves a negative from the Simmons Studio collection that should have been easy to solve.

The negative has C.A. Baile written on it. So I took it to members of the family who confirmed that it was indeed NOT Clifton Agustus Baile.

When I developed the negative I saw that the customer (C.A. Baile?) had brought in an old picture and asked that one individual be isolated out of a family portrait.

The photographer cut out a silhouette which was still stored with the negative.

Placing the silhouette over the negative

gives you a picture that looks like this:

Suitable for framing.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Flower Girl

Here are some charming pictures of a little flower girl found in the Simmons Studio collection.  The name penned onto the edge of one of them is Mohler. These portraits were probably done in the late 40s or early 50s. Does anyone recognize this girl?