When you think of your family dynamics, who has the power? Looking into the future, I would say it is my niece that has the power to keep her generation of the family together. Looking back, I would have to credit my grandmother, Winnie Letha Currey Crawford, with being the force of power in the family.
When Winnie was ten years old, her mother died. The family had recently moved to Olathe, Kansas from Rooks County, Kansas. Her father may have been a teamster at the time. The family included
- Herbert, age 18
- Myrtle, age 14
- Mary, age 12
- Winnie, age 10
- Ernest, age 7
- Alma, age 1
My grandmother wrote about what happened to the family after her mother’s death in one of her letters. The dates are off, but I believe the story of what happened to the family is correct.
Mother died in May. We went to the Children’s Home Jun 11. Herb didn’t go and Myrtle wasn’t there long till she went to Aunt Mary’s in Denver Col. Mary and I stayed together till she got married. But to go back The Court took Littens License away. So Dad had to take us back till Mary & I finished grade school. Then He was going to put us back into a Home. I got Aunt Joe De Shazer to take Alma and found a Home for Earnest – then Mary and I lied about our ages & went to Work. I alway kept track of the kids As I do now
Most of the details of this story remain unproven. I did find Alma Jean Curry in a DeShazer household on the 1920 census living in Franklin County, Kansas. By 1925, Alma was living with her father in Gray County, Kansas. Gray County borders Ford County, where Myrtle and Winnie were living in 1925.
In terms of the children’s home, I did find an entry for Rev.Charles Litten in the 1913 directory for Kansas City. According to this entry, he was the ‘sec and genl mgr Conserving Assn of America’ at 2610 Cleveland in Kansas City, Missouri. (See blog post, U – Unknown Genealogy / PhotoADay)
The Aunt Mary mentioned in the letter is likely Mary Currey Spears. Unfortunately, I can’t place Mary and her husband John in Denver, Colorado. By 1920, Mary and her husband were living in Los Angeles, California. At this time, I don’t have a census record or city directory for them between 1900 and 1920.
According to another letter, my grandmother traveled from the Kansas City area to Dodge City to help her sister, Myrtle with her new baby. Based on the above letter, that means that Winnie was in the Kansas City area until her sister, Mary was married. All of this does fit a timeline for these events in the sister’s lives.
- Myrtle married in Dodge City at the age of 18 in March of 1917
- Myrtle’s first child is born in Dodge City in Feb 1918
- Mary married in Kansas City at the age of 17 in Feb 1919
- Winnie is married in Dodge City at the age of 16 in December 1919
Whether I prove the details in the letter or not, I do believe that my grandmother and at least some of her siblings were in a children’s home after the death of their mother. I believe my grandmother’s strong sense of family was forged during this time of her life.