Two Year Anniversary

Two Year Anniversary

I have been blogging on WordPress for two years now.  This will be my 160th post.  Are you tired of me darling?

l have learned so much about my family’s history in the process of blogging as well as the pleasure of documenting stories from my Kansas childhood, tales of raising my three children, sharing my love of food and travel, hosting guests and living on Ashland — the best block in the world.  And of course, my life with RM. Today, I was planning to blog about the Cowtown 5K as I had signed up for Team FWISD with my workmates but the Fort has been hit with a unusual late snowfall of two inches which has brought this berg to a standstill and the cancellation of the run/walk this morning.

This week’s snowfall is a record  breaker for us so we are all a bit stunned by the chain of weather events this week.  Sleet, snow, freezing rain, thunderstorms, an earthquake, and pebble ice are just a few of the weather happenings in Texas that have resulted in school closings, rescheduling of events, late business openings and general chaos. The weather newscasters are exhausted and so are we from listening to their dire, unpredictable forecasts.  RM calls these days “closed in days” and while they are fun for a day or two, we in Texas are addicted to our sunshine and free rein.  We know we have it so much easier than you people of the north (any state geographically located above Texas) and we could take some survival lessons from you.

Texans are not prepared for winter weather and we need to wise up a little as we learned the hard way this week.  I think we scared ourselves with our lack of preparation as we were suddenly stranded on freeways for hours, uncertain of viable routes home from work and filled with anxiety about our loved ones and their whereabouts.  For starters, we really need to invest in an ice scraper for clearing our car windshield. I saw proud Texans using brooms, old sweatshirts, plastic credit cards, car trash and their bare fingers to remove ice and snow from car windows this week.  Worse yet, I saw Texans driving their cars with their windshields still thick with ice; sticking their heads out open side windows for a good site line.

We also need to remember to place a few preparatory items in the trunk of our vehicles just in case we are stranded in a ditch or more likely, on an interstate that is backed up for miles.  If you live in the land of the north, you know before traveling far from home in the winter to throw in a blanket, an extra coat, bottles of water, granola bars, a small shovel, a flashlight, extra batteries, a power cord for your cell phone, a first aid kit, paper towels, jumper cables, and a small bag of sand.  These northerners even have chains for their tires and a tow rope in the trunk for self-preservation.  We also need to remember to keep our car tanks filled up so we don’t stall out during long traffic delays and cause even more traffic havoc and we must be mindful to keep the washer fluid topped off. RM keeps a gallon of the magical blue stuff in the garage for regular refills.

This week was one in which I wished we had more public transportation in the form of light rail and commuter trains as it is painfully obvious that our interstate system is no way to get around in a sleet and snow storm in Texas.  My prayer is that everyone got home safe yesterday after the unanticipated snow fall (wasn’t it beautiful?) and that you don’t have to drive anywhere until all of this melts (most hopefully, later today).  Stay safe and thank you for following along.

My grandfather, Earl Joseph Hovorka

My grandfather, Earl Joseph Hovorka

Earl Joseph Hovorka was born in the small farming community of Whiting, Kansas, about 30 miles north of Topeka, Kansas, on October 6, 1900.  His father, Joseph, and mother, Alice Maitlin, had seven children together.  Earl was the oldest son.  He had two older sisters, Martha and Laura, a little brother, Walter, who died before the age of 1, another brother, Kenneth, and two younger sisters, Winifred (Winnie) and Georgia.  He lost two siblings to illness before they reached the age of 21.  I know that Winnie died while in Santa Fe, New Mexico, seeking treatment for tuberculosis.

Bohemia map
old map of bohemia

My grandpa’s father, Joseph Amanuel, was born in Bohemia in 1858 but his family soon immigrated to Iowa when he was less than three years old. He married Alice Jane Maitlen in 1896 and she died at the age of 48.

Alice Maitlin and her first born son, Earl. and a little dog.

My grandfather did not have a close relationship with his dad, especially after his mother passed away, and after his father remarried a women named Luella Jenson Brown in 1922.  After this second marriage, my grandpa and his living siblings continued to meet and share each other’s company over the years but not as frequently with their father.  Almost all of the Hovorka clan, except Earl, moved to California during the Depression years so later this necessitated my grandparents making many memorable and well documented trips out to California to see his siblings while on vacation from his job as superintendent of a post office in North Topeka.

joseph amanuel
My great grandfather, Joseph Amanuel Hovorka to the left and his oldest son, Earl Joseph Hovorka on the far right.

Earl Joseph married my grandmother, Katherine Calahan Murrison, in 1923 and they had three children.  One of them was my mother, Katherine Eileen Hovorka Hauck.   As superintendent of the post office,  he oversaw all the workers in the postal system to which he was assigned. This included preparing their work schedules as well as hiring and training employees, and evaluating their performance. His  duties also extended to customers as he had to handle customer complaints and try to find an amicable solution to these issues. Mail superintendents had to supervise the processing of pieces of mail that come in and those that leave the post office.  He retired at 55 due to several heart attacks hopefully not caused by the bad raps people have about the condition of our postal system, past and present.  While running a post office was his full-time job, he built a home for his family in Topeka with his construction skills, honed from living on a farm for all of his growing up years, took care of an  expansive garden (once a farmer, always a farmer) with his industrious wife, Katherine, which sustained them through the Depression years, they bought real estate property when they could and enjoyed fishing and playing cards.  My mother, as a young women,  had an extensive postal stamp collection as you can imagine having Earl as your dad.

After the early retirement in 1955, Earl and Katherine relocated to Quinault, Washington, where they built a home near the shores of Lake Quinault surrounded by a temperate, beautiful rain forest.   My grandfather continued to garden, fish and enjoy his later years.  While his health was poor, he lived on to the age of 70 when he died, quite suddenly, from a massive heart attack, while visiting my family in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, on one of their frequent trips back to Kansas to visit their daughter as well as many of Katherine’s sisters and extended family living in the Topeka area. I remember that day vividly as it was the first time, at the age of 9,  I had come up close and personal to death as he fell ill during the night and my parents had to call for emergency medical help.  I woke up to find my grandfather dead and my mother and grandmother in the depths of grief.  I went to school that day but my heart wasn’t in it. Grandpa Hovorka was buried in Topeka, Kansas, and it was my first time to attend a funeral.  I liked riding in the black limousine and all the flowers (one of Katherine’s sister owned a flower shop in Topeka) but I cried too many tears at the service.  When is the right age to attend these rituals?  Not sure I have the answer to this question but I have to share that the memories are still vivid in my mind so many years later.

My grandfather wasn’t a big talker as his wife filled in for him in that department. He was quiet and reserved and I don’t remember one conversation with him as a small child.  I remember time spent on a fishing boat with him, tinkering in the shop, or picking blackberries in the garden but he was a man of few words but a jack of all trades. He was always busy working on projects with his ever present cigarette in his mouth.  He didn’t quit smoking even after suffering several hearth attacks.  Interesting that the Hovorka surname actually translates in Czech to talkative (hovor).  It must have have been what attracted him to his wife.  As we all remember, that knew her well, how my grandmother could hold a conversation.
caption id=”attachment_1707″ align=”alignnone” width=”193″]earl Postmaster Earl Joseph Hovorka[/caption]

Hazel Marie Hauck

Hazel Marie Hauck


When Hazel Marie Hauck was born on July 15, 1900, in Seattle, Washington, her father, David Albert Hauck, was 37 and her mother, Temperance Elizabeth “Lizzie” Van Hooser, was 30. David was an older brother of my great-grandfather, John Edward Hauck.

Hazel had one brother, Floyd,  who died at the age of 20, and one sister, Erma Ruth, who lived in sunny California with her husband and family until her passing in 1981. Hazel’s dad was a public school principal in Kansas before relocating to Seattle with his wife Lizzie.  I had heard stories of admiration of my Aunt Hazel from my dad and Aunt Faye.  I knew she had earned her Ph.D. and was on the faculty of Cornell University but there was so much more I found out about her life with a little research.  Below is a tribute written by three of her colleagues from Cornell after her death at the age of 64 which reveals quite a bit about her travels, career and her dedication to serving others.  This is especially meaningful to me to see one of my female ancestors, not just my male relatives, making a mark on the world.

young hazel


The death of Dr. Hazel M. Hauck, Professor Emeritus of Food and Nutrition, brought to a close the active career of a distinguished member of the Cornell University Faculty. Miss Hauck served in the Department of Food and Nutrition in the New York State College of Home Economics for twenty-nine years, and was a member of the Faculty of the Graduate School of Nutrition from the time of its establishment in 1941 until her retirement in 1961. Her scholarly teaching, her contributions to research in human nutrition, and her international services in Thailand and Nigeria are widely recognized. She was a member of many college and University committees and a member of the board of Cornell United Religious Work; she was secretary of the University Faculty for three years.

Miss Hauck came to Cornell as Assistant Professor in 1932 from the University of Wisconsin, where she had received her Ph.D. degree in 1932 with a major in nutrition and a minor in medical science. She was promoted to the rank of full Professor in 1936. Before her appointment at Cornell she taught at the universities of Oregon, North Dakota, Washington, and Tennessee. She was a fellow of the American Public Health Association and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was a representative of the American Dietetic Association in the latter organization. She held membership in Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Nu, and Pi Lambda Theta. Soon after her appointment to the Faculty Miss Hauck began the first human dietary studies conducted at the College of Home Economics. These studies contributed significantly to the understanding of human requirements for ascorbic acid, and were used by the National Research Council in establishing recommended dietary allowances.

Her nutrition and diet therapy courses were of major importance in the undergraduate teaching program, and her graduate courses were among the first taught at the College. Graduate students who worked under her direction hold positions of leadership in many countries. Though Miss Hauck’s standards were high, she never failed to recognize the potentialities of her students and always won their respect. In 1961 the students of the College voted her the distinguished professor of the year. She followed the careers of her students with genuine interest and was the first of the College Faculty to be elected to honorary membership in the College of Home Economics Alumnae Association in recognition of her continuing friendship with graduates.

Miss Hauck always sought to put the fruits of her scholarship to practical use in furthering human welfare, and her talent in finding means to do so was apparent in her own work in foreign countries and in the training of others for this same work. Especially noteworthy was her work with missionaries who came to Cornell under the auspices of Agricultural Missions Incorporated. In the spring of 1961 this organization presented her with a certificate for distinguished service in recognition of her twenty-eight years of Christian service to rural people. The citation read in part: “The hundreds of rural missionaries who profited by your friendship and your professional knowledge so graciously shared are serving in over forty different countries.” She was one of the first of the Faculty of the College of Home Economics to take a foreign assignment. In 1952- 1953, under a Fulbright grant, she served as nutrition specialist for the Cornell-in-Thailand project under the leadership of Lauriston Sharp. Her work involved a systematic investigation of the food habits of the people in Bang Chan, a rural rice village. The study she conducted of the food supply and nutritional status of the people resulted in dietary recommendations of particular help to mothers and children, and led to further research in ways to improve the health of rural Thai.

In 1959-1960 she served as field consultant with the village improvement and leadership training program of the Unitarian Service Committee in Awo Amamma, Eastern Nigeria. In her experiments with 125 Ibo families, she was instrumental in demonstrating how they might incorporate into their diet a native and inexpensive food, the groundnut, which would increase the supply of those nutrients most lacking in the foods they normally consume. Her way of working with women as they prepared meals for their families demonstrated an effective technique for others to use in continuing education in nutrition.

Miss Hauck felt the importance of making her research findings available to others in the fields of nutrition and health. Her many articles appeared not only in American professional journals but also in such publications as the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics and African Child Health, the West African Medical Journal, and the Journal of Obstetrics and gynaecology of the British Commonwealth. Soon after her return from Nigeria she became ill. Most of the data she had collected had to be prepared for publication under health restrictions, which would have made the task impossible for the average person, but with the valiant courage that was evident throughout her illness she brought her studies to completion.

In the memorial service held for Miss Hauck a young Nigerian educator from Awo Amamma, now studying in Ithaca, paid tribute to her as a worker among his people. As he described her work in remote villages, one realized again her courage, her understanding of how to work with groups struggling to develop better practices in nutrition, sanitation, and family welfare, her natural and unassuming empathy with these people. “Know you not,” he said, “that a great person has passed away from us.”

Prepared by:  Helen H. Gifft, Esther H. Stocks, Kathryn E. Walker

First Valentine’s Date as a Married Couple

First Valentine’s Date as a Married Couple

RM and I got hitched during one of the coldest winter’s in Kansas history. It was 12 degrees on January 7th; our wedding day. Two days later we headed west to the City of Angels where RM had his first full-time job as an aerospace engineer working in beautiful Burbank for the Lockheed Aeronautical firm known at the time as the site of the Skunk Works; where the U-2 and other top secret airplanes and early drones were designed. Our first Valentine’s dinner was celebrated at the legendary Castaways Restaurant in the hills overlooking a vast expanse of city lights. To two, slowly thawing and fresh, Midwestern transplants, this amazing view, surrounded by jade, palms and fruit trees, was paradise. We dined al fresco in a Polynesian-influenced space on fresh seafood–I had shrimp scampi-and we simply fell more in love with one another that evening.   It was the perfect place for two love birds, recently thrown from our familiar coop back home, to seal the commitment to make a new life for ourselves in our new home.  Last night, while dining together at Pacific Table, also al fresco with a warm heater nearby, these fond memories came tumbling back. We wondered if Castaways was still going strong? And to our surprise, after some quick hits on our i-phones, the answer was — yes. Castaways is celebrating more than 50 years in business.

The Castaway Restaurant and Banquet Center is located high in the Burbank hills overlooking De Bell Golf Course, with a breathtaking city view that is spectacular day or night. It is appropriately nicknamed “The Jewel on the Hill”. So if you want to go back in time, surrounded by the spirits of so many happy celebrations and times, take the winding road up to Castaways and tell someone that you love them more than the stars in the sky. They will cherish the sweet moment even thirty plus years later.

View over the San Fernando Valley from the deck of Castaway Restaurant, Burbank, CA
Valentine Traditions Growing Up

Valentine Traditions Growing Up

Growing up in Kansas in the 60’s, we made our own valentine cards in class using cheap construction paper and thick crayons or, on occasion, we bought very inexpensive ones at the five-and-dime store (today’s Dollar Store) to exchange with our classmates. We didn’t include candy or presents with cards except perhaps if we wanted to splurge on a box of those awful chalky valentine heart candies with sayings like “Hugs” “Awesome” and “Kisses”.  Do you know how long these candies have been around? Since 1847 by Necco.  Check out 10 other facts you probably don’t know about these candies:

Every kid in my class made a valentine’s box out of a used tissue box and we decorated it with paper clippings with our own budding, artistic touches. Too much glue was always an issue. Scissors that wouldn’t cut challenged us all but we did the work on our own.  No help from home or from helicopter parents. This box had a slit in the top for our classmates to slide their valentine into when it was time for the BIG EXCHANGE.  For some reason, paper doilies were an intricate aspect of my box designs.  We would take the box home with us and carefully extract each valentine in private to see who had signed the back of each one.  It was important to reflect on the tone of the valentine message and specific style my classmates’ selected for me.  I was sure it was some sort of sign of the status of our relationship not some random assignment of cards.  After watching my brother’s signing these cards for their classmates, I realized how random this process really is for our male counterparts. Most often their Mom’s had to do the heavy lifting.   But I certainly didn’t want to get a cute kissing skunk cartoon from a boy I thought was cute or something too romantic from a kid I didn’t even play tether ball with at recess.  The whole process was fraught with danger and excitement.  I have heard now the traditions are changing, like making Valentine cards for nursing home residents as one example, probably for the best, but the memories of the Valentine card exchange remain vivid from my midwestern childhood.

valentines card box
Mine never looked this nice. Did someone’s Mother make this one? Undoubtedly.
Great Grandmother Maggie

Great Grandmother Maggie

When Maggie Sue Franklin was born on October 9, 1885, in Buffalo, Missouri, her father, Mattison Monroe, was 26 and her mother, Rosa Bell Sutherland, was 18. The Franklin’s came to Missouri from Virginia and the Sutherland’s traveled west from Ohio to settle in the Show-Me State.  Maggie married Charles William Horn on October 13, 1907, in Aurora, Missouri when she was twenty-two. She had three children by the time she was 28.  Her oldest daughter, my grandmother, Helen, was born in 1908.  She had two more daughters, Kathryn, and Flora, who were all born in Aurora.

Her husband was a miner for many years in Aurora.  Galena ore was discovered in 1885 while digging a well on a farm, marking the beginning of Aurora as a mining town. Large scale commercial mining began shortly afterwards as the mines grew deeper and zinc and galena were discovered. The zinc from the Aurora mines was of exceptional purity and high-grade. By 1893, 12,651 tons of zinc ore were mined and shipped from Aurora.The mines attracted prospectors and miners like my great grandfather.  Aurora’s population peaked at 10,000 around 1900.  The  family moved to Kansas around 1915 settling in Newton for a while when the girls were in public school but later moving to a farm outside Madison, Kansas, population 701, when Great Grandpa took a job with T.K. Simmons Oil Company repairing and maintaining oil rigs in and around Greenwood County.

boy (may be over 14) at heavy work, shoveling ore at Daisy Bell Mine, Aurora, Missouri, October, 1910. Source: Library of Congress.

Flora, Maggie’s youngest girl child, died during the flu pandemic of 1918 which ravaged the country and the world.  The global mortality rate from the 1918-1919 pandemic is not known, but an estimated 10% to 20% of those who were infected died. With about a third of the world population infected, this ratio  means 3% to 6% of the entire global population died. Influenza may have killed as many as 25 million people in its first 25 weeks. Older estimates say it killed 40–50 million people, while current estimates say 50–100 million people worldwide were killed. My Aunt Flora was one of the many unlucky ones to fall victim to the disease.

maggie and her family
Font row: Helen and her mother, Maggie Back row: Charley and daughter, Kate

My great grandmother, not really understanding the disease, and unable to console herself over her loss, blamed herself for Flora’s death. She believed, unjustifiably, that she didn’t do enough as the homemaker to keep her home clean and the flu germs away from her little girl.  This guilt grew stronger in her later years as she was became, seemingly, obsessed with her thoughts about Flora and compulsive about cleaning her home to the extent that the woodwork and cabinet fronts in her kitchen were scrubbed clear of any varnish and warped with her constant scrubbing with a mixture of hot water and bleach. She worried so about the health of all of her offspring including her great granddaughters.  Whenever we were near, she pleaded with us over and over to wash our hands.  My grandmother and her sister, Aunt Kate, took care of Maggie, after her husband, Charley, passed away in 1967 when I was six years old.

Maggie Sue Franklin Horn

Great Grandpa was fun and easy-going and made his wife laugh out loud. He could fix anything and loved to mow the yard with an ancient riding lawn mower that he was constantly tinkering with to keep it running. He was tall and thin and Maggie was short and curvy. She took his passing very hard.  It was not easy after his death for her daughters and I remember many family conferences about how they were coping with Maggie’s dementia and anxiety and subsequent care to the end.  I wished I had known her before she slid into the depths of this disease.  My memories are of a frail, worried woman but as I look at the family photographs a different image materializes of a loving mother and wife living at a time that was so much harder for women, in general, and in particular for women struggling with mental health issues. Thank you, Great Grandma Maggie, for your strength, determination and fallibility that continues to live on in all of your offspring wherever they may wander now; many far from the beautiful and rather lonesome Flint Hills of Kansas.

Maggie and her grandson, Harold. My dad spent many summers with them in Madison, Kansas.

Maggie Sue died in January 1976 in Newton, Kansas, at the age of 90, and was buried there alongside her beloved husband, Charley.

maggie young
Dear Maggie as a young girl before her marriage.
Coach Dean Smith

Coach Dean Smith

We lost a great coach and Kansan today with the passing of Coach Smith.  Dean Smith graduated from Topeka High in 1949 and went to the University of Kansas, where he played for KU Coach Phog Allen and the team won the  NCAA National Championship in 1952 with Bill Lienhard on the team.  Bill was a classmate of my dad’s at Newton High.  Dad was a part of the golden era of Newton High School basketball, participating in three state tournaments.  The railers were champions in 1946, finished third in 1947 and lost a pivotal game in the finals in 1948 to the Topeka High Trojans.  Dean Smith played on that Topeka team that unexpectedly beat Newton’s team that year.  Ironically, my mother, Katie Eileen Hovorka, at the time lived in Topeka and attended Topeka High alongside Dean Smith.  Family legend is that she went to the prom with him when she was a senior and he was a junior.  Not sure this story is true.  If he didn’t, it was his loss.

Katie and Harold on their honeymoon at Lake Table Rock Missouri

While Dean went to KU with Bill Lienhard, my dad was recruited by K-State, played one year, but then transferred to Washburn University in Topeka where he met  and married my mother on a most fortunate day for our family.

dad at ksu
John Harold Hauck, 1948-1949, K-State
dad and bill
Dad and his high school classmates. Bill is on the right side at the end of the row.

In 2000, Dean Smith was named Kansan of the Year by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.  My dad was invited to attend his induction.  Afterwards, the two briefly discussed the game back in 1948 and the outcome.  Coach Smith couldn’t help but give Dad another dig, with his dry Kansas humor, even though 50 years had passed.  His autograph notes “Best Wishes to a great Newton Player who beat us except in the 9th – Dean Smith.”   My husband, RM, is also a Topeka High graduate.  When we met in 1981,  he told me that Dean Smith’s dad was a substitute teacher in several of his classes at Topeka High.  He chuckled that Mr. Smith always had a copy of Sports Illustrated in hand and a story to share about his boy, Dean.


Chapel Hill and Kansas lost a great one today but one that left behind a legacy of great basketball coaches and teachers including Roy Williams and Mark Turgeon as well as many young men who went onward after basketball to productive lives as doctors, attorneys, executives, ministers, teachers, coaches, military officers and in many other walks of life.  Coach Smith used basketball to reach a far better outcome than winning the game.  Rest in peace, Coach Smith.

Virginia Tech v North Carolina

Edward Sumner Spangler (Jennie’s baby brother)

Edward Sumner Spangler (Jennie’s baby brother)


The Reverend Edward Sumner Spangler was the son of Simon Mace Spangler and Mary Taylor Spangler.  He was born in Rebersburg, Pennsylvania, on January 9, 1873 and passed away in his home in Newton, Kansas, on a Thursday, August 9, 1956.  He was my grand great uncle, younger brother to Aunt Jennie that I blogged about last week.  He died five years before I was born but his photographs have hung in our family homes and in our photograph albums ever since.  He lived nearly 84 years.  The family photographs reveal a handsome face, a dapper figure, and those piercing blue Spangler/Hauck eyes.

Front Row: Sister Mary Taylor, Mother Mary Anne Taylor, Father Simon M. Spangler, Sister Mary Almeda, Sister Jennie Rebecca Back Row: Edward Sumner and Sister Verna May and Brother Frank Arthur. They had another brother, Homer P. Spangler who died before he reached the age of 1 in 1869.

He attended the primary schools of Brush Valley and Sugar Valley in Pennsylvania.The valley gathered its name from the rich abundance and overall size of the sugar maples trees it held which were discovered upon first settlement. It was also home to a large Amish community.  Edward came to Kansas with his parents and siblings when he was 19.  He completed his high school in Newton, and then took a commercial and stenography course in business college before serving as deputy county clerk for three years and as a bookkeeper and cashier for the old Kansas Gas and Electric (KG&E) Company.

To prepare for his work as a minister, Edward attended Northwestern College and Union Biblical Institute in Naperville, Illinois, graduating in the class of 1906.  He was classmate and friend to George Edward Epp who was an Evangelical United Brethren bishop and administrator.

seminary picture
Evangelical Theological Seminary chapel service, Koten Chapel

Following graduation, Brother Spangler  (I found this reference in family notes), took up a home missionary work in Illinois under the American Sunday School Union.  Founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the American Sunday School Union (ASSU) had as its mission the promotion of Sunday schools and early literacy and the spiritual development of children.  In 1790 there were no free public schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Leaders from several denominations organized the First-day or Sunday-School Society of Philadelphia, the first known organization whose purpose was specifically to promote Sunday schools. In less than twenty years, many such organizations sprang up in other cities in the United States. By 1817, ten or more of the local Philadelphia societies or “unions” consolidated into a general union and The Sunday and Adult School Union was begun. Within seven years of its inception, ten states and the District of Columbia had auxiliary unions.  By December of 1823, union representatives from various cities met in Philadelphia for preliminary discussions about forming a national organization and The American Sunday-School Union was formed.

When his health failed, he went to Tuscon, Arizona, where he was put in charge of the commercial department of Arizona Business College. He married in 1918 to Ida Larue Easterday.  My family called her Larue.  They had one son, Simon Edward, but he was tragically killed in an accident in 1931 at the very young age of 12 when he was struck and killed by a car while riding his bicycle.

spangler son
Simon Edward Spangler

Returning to Kansas,  Edward served as pastor at Dennis and Woodson in the Kansas conference before going to Breckenridge, Colorado.  After working in this mountain community, he served at numerous home mission points in eastern Colorado.  He retired to Newton, Kansas, with his wife, Larue, and lived his remaining life on 4th Street and was an “esteemed member of the Evangelical United Brethren Church.  He was faithful in attendance and loyal to the work of the congregation” (read at his service).

Aunt Jennie or my grand, great Aunt

Aunt Jennie or my grand, great Aunt

Jennie, Larue (Ed Spangler’s wife) and Jennie’s sister Lyda Spangler Peck (back row) Ed Spangler (Jennie’s brother) and Will Peck (Lyda’s husband) (seated) Beautiful garden

I never met Aunt Jennie as she passed away when I was a toddler but I heard the stories from my dad.  Aunt Jennie was my dad’s great aunt (older sister to his grandmother on his dad’s side of the family) but she was more like a grandmother to my dad.  He never knew his own grandmother as she had died when his own dad was just a teenager. (Reference my blog post about  Mary Alemeda Spangler)   She was born Jennie Rebecca Spangler on a farm three miles south of Newton, Kansas, in 1871.  Jennie was the second oldest child in the family of seven children. Jennie received her early education, most likely, in a Dewey influenced one room school, which was about one-half mile north of the Spangler Farm. Her dad, Simon M. Spangler, and her mother, Mary Ann “Polly” Taylor moved the family to Newton on the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets where various members of the family lived for many years.  This house was on the same block as my father’s home so Jennie often cared for my dad after she raised her own son.  Jennie was a big influence on Dad as he described her as fun to be around, smart, and willing to spend time with him in his formative years.  My dad stood over six feet tall by the time he was in middle school but Aunt Jennie, not even reaching five feet, stood her ground with dad as their was tremendous mutual respect.

Jennie was married to Wilbur Quisenberry in 1896, at the age of 26.  Her son, Karl Spangler Quisenberry, was  born on August 2, 1897.  Jennie is listed as a widow in the 1956 city directory but we have no family records that provides any reason for her husband’s passing or date in history. He must have died early in their marriage as our family records document that Jennie and her son Karl lived with her parents as Karl grew up.  After graduating from high school, Jennie and Karl moved to Manhattan, Kansas, where Karl attended the Kansas State Agriculture College now K-State.  To support themselves, Jennie worked as a housekeeper and maid in homes around Manhattan.  After Karl’s graduation from college, he found employment with United States Department of Agriculture as an agronomist which he did for the rest of his life.  He was to become one of the world’s leading authority on grains, especially wheat. He held roles throughout the midwest including time as the Associate Agronomist in Western Wheat Investigations, Office of Cereal Crops and Diseases, with charge of the cooperative breeding of wheat for rust resistance at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He published a book in 1967 with over 500 pages of details about wheat grain – see below for cover.  After Karl’s graduation from college and employment, Jennie moved back to Newton, where she cared for her father until his death in 1922.  From the time of his first job, Karl provided his mother with ample financial assistance.

Jennie seated with her son, Karl Quisenberry.

Jennie continued to live alone in the family home for several years, when brother Ed and his wife Larue came back to live. What took place next is not clear, however, apparently there was not room in the big house for Ed, Larue, and Jennie to live in harmony, and eventually Jennie moved out.  From then on, Jennie lived in various rented rooms and apartments until her death in 1963 at the age of 92.  Dad said she often had Sunday dinner with his family and shared holidays and celebrations over the three decades.

Vanity with mirror – early 1900’s.

I have a vanity of Jennie’s that was passed onto me by my father. While the drawers don’t open easily, I treasure it as it reminds me of the joyful stories shared with me by my dad about little Aunt Jennie.  Don’t forget to share a memory or a story with your loved ones as they will certainly be cherished.  Our family is uploading these stories into for future generations to read as well as to share with other branches of the family conducting research about their families.

Karl's book
Karl’s book which I ordered on