Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Isaac Werner Visits Cullison, Part I

James B. Cullison (1857-1936)
First, before linking the information taken from Isaac B Werner's journal about his visits to Cullison, I must give credit to Jeffrey R. Cullison for his "A Brief History of Cullison, Kansas" posted online and dated 1997.  The last activity I found on the web page is more than ten years old, but I am grateful his information remains available, and it makes the journal entries by Isaac in 1887 even more interesting.

Growing up, I was very familiar with Cullison, for its school was in the Skyline League, along with the Byers School that I attended.  There was an active 4-H Club in Cullison, so I knew kids my own age through 4-H activities.  

My husband and I left Kansas after college, and although I had passed Cullison by on the highway, I had not visited the town for many years.  In the "Brief History" written in 1997, author Jeffrey R. Cullison writes:  "Not much remains of the old Cullison of prosperity and boom times.  A few old buildings are all that is left of those years.  I visited Cullison in 1987 and could not help but think of part of it almost as a ghost town."  At the 1986 reunion, several thousand people had come to celebrate its Centenial Year, and an unpublished "History of a Prairie Town" was written by Clara B. Farnsworth, which author Jeffrey R. Cullison consulted.  Pratt author J. Rufus Gray added information in his 1977 "Pioneer Saints and Sinners."  Now, I can supplement their records with entries from the journal of Isaac B. Werner.  Like author Jeffrey R. Cullison, when my husband and I finally exited the highway to tour Cullison, little that I remembered remained.

Founder James B. Cullison, pictured above, was a young lawyer with a wife and baby when he staked a preemptive claim and built a little shack on the land that would become Cullison.  The town was platted on his homestead on March 17, 1885.

Like many communities on the prairie, success depended on the railroad, and those towns through which the railroad passed were more likely to prosper.  J.B. Cullison realized this, and attempted to profit from acquiring land through which a proposed railroad would pass.  A good idea--but when the railroad changed its mind, his investment dreams disappeared.  He participated in another site, but as for his family, his dreams had moved south.  He staked a claim in the Oklahoma Cherokee Strip, and made his dreams come true as a lawyer practicing in Enid.

Cullison did plat a town and get a railroad, and by 1887 was incorporated as a 3rd class town with about 2,000 residents.  It was during that very year that Isaac B. Werner paused in Cullison several times, which are recorded in his journal.  More about that in next week's blog post.    

Remember, you can click on the images to enlarge them.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Memorial Day Tribute

Detail of a Painting Honoring W.W. I Soldiers
It has become a tradition with this blog to recognize Memorial Day with a specific post that week.  Many have included photographs taken at our local cemetery, showing the veterans carrying the flag to honor those buried there.  You can open the May blogs and scroll to past postings to read those older blogs from past years.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States, established to remember and honor those who died while serving in the military.  In most local communities, remembrances are not limited to soldiers buried there but rather, flowers are placed on the graves of family and friends as well.

Traditionally, Memorial Day was observed on May 30th during the years from 1868 to 1970.  Since 1970, the date has been the last Monday in May.  Many traditions have changed over the decades, but it seems that by changing Memorial to a holiday weekend, the recognition of fallen soldiers on the day set aside for that purpose has diminished, with people now using the weekend for pleasure trips.

Reminders of the service to the nation by our men and women in uniform deserve to be observed, and this years Memorial Day blog is going to reflect back half-a-century to another form of recognition.  A few months ago I was going through keepsakes and discovered a simple silver bracelet baring the name of Commander Raymond Vohden.  Beneath his name is the date 4-3-65.

Bracelet 'lest we forget' POW Raymond Vohden
Some of you may remember bracelets like the one I wore during the years of the Vietnam war, a symbol to remember American prisoners of war.  It had been a long time since I had worn the bracelet remembering Commander Vohden, and I decided to do some research.  Did he eventually return home?  How long was he imprisoned?  Is he still living?

This is what I found:  Raymond Arthur Vohden,  an Air Force Pilot, was one of those 'lucky' prisoners who survived to be released.  Upon his release, he is quoted as having said, "After the ordeal I've been through for the past seven and one-half years, I can handle any situation that comes up when I get back."  However, returning soldiers did not always find it easy to slip back into their old lives.  Vohden had written to his wife after six years as a prisoner of war, expressing his permission that she file for divorce and "make a new life."  She did file, but when the cease-fire was negotiated not long after, he asked her to dismiss the divorce proceedings.  She did.

He was not alone in finding it difficult to acclimate to the changes that had occurred.  In some cases wives had entered new relationships, lonely and uncertain whether their husbands would ever return.  In other cases, wives had changed, becoming more independent and less willing to hand back the responsibilities in the marriage that they had assumed, which these women now preferred to continue doing.  In still other cases, the 60s had brought social changes to those at home that were unacceptable to the returning POWs and caused friction in their marriages.  Not only their wives, but also the children they left behind had changed, adding to the difficulties of rejoining the family.

Arlington National Cemetery
A newspaper article shared the story of difficulties experienced by Vohden and his wife when he returned.  She described the initial exhilaration of his return, but said he became depressed by how things had changed during the almost eight years of his absence.  He acknowledged that he struggled with cultural changes, particularly the 'sexual revolution.'  The newspaper article ended with his decision to get away by himself for a while and "just to kind of enjoy life."  His wife agreed that he needed to be alone to work out some of the issues he was facing.

I did not find a follow-up to their story.  I do know that Raymond Vohden died November 21, 2016, leaving behind a wife, four children, eleven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  Interment was to be in Arlington National Cemetery.  Because the given name of his wife was not included in the 1973 New York Times article, I do not know whether they resolved the issues caused by their long separation during the war or if the wife mentioned in his obituary was a second marriage.  I am certain, however, that he paid a high price not only during his imprisonment but also in re-entering a changed society following his release.  I hope he found the happiness he longed for, and I am glad that the POW whose bracelet I wore was able to return.

On Memorial Day, not only the men and women who died in service to their country, but also those whose lives were inevitably changed by their service, deserve the nation's recognition and thanks.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Meet Rebecca's Children

Since last week's post was about Isaac Werner's mother and some important events in her life, this week I will share four other important events--the births of her five children!

On May 23, 1844 Rebecca Werner gave birth to twin boys, Henry Beckley Werner and Isaac Beckley Werner.  To both boys she gave her maiden name of Beckley as their middle name.  Henry did travel some before his marriage, but he chose to settle down with his wife Eva {Hain} and son Charles near the Pennsylvania area in which he was born.

Next came daughter Emma Rebecca Werner, born October 3, 1846, to whom she gave her own given name as a middle name.  Emma married William E. Good, an executive with the railroad, and they had four children:  Miriam, Florence, Paul Eckert, and Marriott Augustus.  Emma spent her life in Pennsylvania, living in Philadelphia at the time of her death, and buried in Redding.

A fourth child, daughter Elmira Rebecca Werner, lived only briefly, from 1849-1850.

Rebecca's last child was Henrietta Catherine Werner, born August 5, 1851.  She married Samuel Palmer, a pastor, called not long after their marriage to a church in Abilene, Kansas.  Four daughters were born of their marriage:  Miriam Agusta, Emma May, Mary M. and Gertrude Octavia.  Rebecca lived with the Palmer family until her death and is buried in Abilene.  A few years after, the Palmer's moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where Ettie and Samuel are buried.

Composition book for 1866-1867, Ettie C. Werner, Harrisburg, Pa.
Rebecca's surviving children lived successful lives, and their mother must have been a contributing factor.  I like to think that her influence on education made a difference.  My research found that her twin sons were still students at the age of 17, a significant education for that era.  The younger daughters were still in school at that time as well.  Unfortunately, I could find no further records of their educations, although there may have been more.  (See Ettie's book, which seems to indicate she may have attended a boarding school in Kentucky.)  What I did find was that Ettie's daughters attended college.  Education was clearly important to the Werner family.  I have journals kept by Isaac, Henry, and Ettie, and Emma may have kept one as well, although I did not locate it.

I was very fortunate that a descendant of Ettie shared a faded copy of Ettie's journal kept in 1866-1867 when she would have been about fifteen.  The image above is from that journal, and I transcribed the faded ink of a passage I found very telling of the importance the Werner family placed on reading.  Obviously, Isaac's amazing library has been mentioned many times in this blog, and his youngest sister clearly shared the same love of reading, as I suspect all of the siblings did.

From the words of the teen-aged Ettie, taken from her "Composition Book," it is obvious that her love for books was strong.  "We should also be careful to read at right times, for if we create a passion for reading it [the book], and then do not control this passion we often get to be very careless and negligent about a great many other things when we have commenced some book in which we are interested, it is very hard to resist the temptation to sit down and read and not attend to any thing else till it is finished."

As someone who rarely lacks having a book near at hand, I can certainly appreciate Ettie's words.  I only wish that passion were stronger among the larger population today.  Surely credit is due Rebecca for having nurtured such a love of reading and of learning in her children.    

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Mothers' Day Reflections

With Mother's Day this week, it seems relevant that I reflect on Isaac Beckley Werner's mother, Margaretha "Rebecca" Beckley Werner.  Shortly before his mother's death, Isaac recorded in the upper-left corner of the fly-leaf of his journal that his mother was still living.  She died on April 22, 1893, two years before Isaac's death.

Death of Tecumseh in 1813

Rebecca, as she was commonly known, lived during exciting times in America.  She was born September 11, 1812, during the years of the War of 1812, in which Britain had imposed a naval blockade to hinder neutral trade with France during the Napoleonic Wars.  The United States challenged this as illegal under international law.  Furthermore, Britain supplied Native Americans with weapons used to raid American settlers on the frontier, intending to hinder further settlement.  Particularly well known is the Battle of New Orleans in January of 1815, when British forces, unaware of the Treaty of Ghent having been signed on December 24, 1814, invaded Louisiana.

Rebecca married William Werner on November 15, 1842, when she was 30 and he was 40, his 41st birthday one month later.  Gold had been first discovered in California the previous March, but that initial gold rush was primarily Mexicans from Sonora on a small scale.  Universities were expanding across America, including Willamette University in Oregon, Wesleyan University in Ohio, the University of Notre Dame in Ohio, and The Citadel in South Carolina.
Assault on New Orleans in 1815

Rebecca was widowed June 13, 1865, and she and her daughters continued to live in the family home on their farm until the spring of 1868, when they moved into Reading, Pa.  On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Ulysses S.  Grant at Appomattox Court House, and on April 14 (Good Friday) President Lincoln had been assassinated--tragic and tumultuous times.  By the time she and her daughters moved into Reading, the War had ended, but in February of 1868 Andrew Johnson, who had assumed the office after Lincoln's death, was impeached, his acquittal by one vote in the Senate not occurring until May.  Ulysses S. Grant had been elected President on November 3, 1868, but on December 25, before leaving office, Johnson granted unconditional pardons to all Civil War rebels.

Union Officers
After her younger daughter married, Rebecca made her home with Ettie's family until Rebecca's death in 1893 at the age of 80.  The 1880s were exciting years, with electric lights and telephones coming into use and "sky-scrapers" being built.  Rebecca had moved to Kansas when Ettie's husband was called to pastor a church in Abilene, and while Eastern Kansas and living in town may have allowed Rebecca more conveniences than Isaac experienced in his rural community, it was surely less sophisticated that Eastern American cities.  Perhaps Rebecca enjoyed the new 1887 'liquor-free' drink of Coca-Cola in Prohibitionist Kansas!

Sadly, although Isaac and his mother both lived in Kansas in the 1880s and early 1890s, I found no evidence that he was able to share a Mother's Day with Rebecca.  The responsibilities of his farm, the early risks of claim jumpers, the expense of travel, and his poor health in later years seem to have made a reunion impossible.

As you gather with family to celebrate Mother's Day this year, perhaps it would be fun for the mothers among you to share with children the changes over the decades of your own lives.

Remember, you can enlarge images by clicking on them.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Lady Justice in Populist Cartoon

Last week's blog featuring the Populist political cartoon picturing the power of wealthy was so popular that I am sharing another political cartoon from 1892.  If you missed last week's post, you may want to scroll down to read it as well.

The caption reads "I simply demand 'Justice'!  Where is she?"  The man wears a cap titled "Labor."  Of course, he is asking where Lady Justice has gone.

The structures behind the laborer represent institutions in which Justice would be expected to be found.  Because the print may be difficult to read, I will supply the names of the institutions with the corresponding excuses for Lady Justice not being found in those places.

The Press:  "Don't know her--What's her last name?"  The College:  "She lives only in ancient history."  The Church:  "She is not a member of our congregation."  The Court:  "She has moved."  Wall Street:  "Eish Dodt So?"

Unfortunately, the entry on Wall Street is an ethnic slur, intended to represent a foreign accent of the question "Is that so?".  Many in the Populist Movement believed the American economic system was controlled by wealthy bankers in England, and Jewish bankers.  The sign on Wall Street was a reference to that belief.

While Populist Movement members included people from many different countries, and the Farmers' Alliance and he People's Party welcomed all workers, the sad fact was that they did not always act as their principles directed them to act.  There was a particular animosity toward Chinese laborers brought to America to do dangerous and onerous labor building the rail lines, who were willing to work for cheap wages in unsafe conditions.  Workers from other countries who took jobs away from immigrants who had arrived decades earlier also caused resentment.  Blacks, freed by the Civil War,  could join populist groups, but often they were relegated to separate clubs.  The discrimination shown other ethnicities is not a proud chapter in the history of populisms.

As for Lady Justice, she is not a symbol unique to America.  In fact, her roots run back to Ancient Rome.  The objects she carries--a balance (scales), a sword, and the blindfold she wears--symbolize  her ability to weigh the balance of the evidence and make her decision without bias; her willingness to fight for what is right; and her impartiality, without regard to wealth, power, or status.  Her image can be found in many different countries.

The laborer in the 1892 political cartoon, who lacks wealth, power, and status, calls out for Justice in his despair, but each institution in which he had hoped to find justice denies his appeal.