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Wednesday morning, we started our day at the Cracker Barrel around the corner from our motel. We don’t have one close to where we live, so it is always a treat to be able to enjoy a meal there!

We arrived at the Pony Express Museum about 9:30. The mural (above) is on the wall of a building facing the parking lot. The museum is located in the original Pikes Peak stables used in 1860 after the military supply firm headed by William Russell, William Waddell, and Alexander Majors was picked by California Senator William Gwin to head up a new mail service. (Photo below: Display of the three men at their office.)

Below is the contract between the Citizens of St. Joseph and the Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express.

This is the location where Johnny Fry, thought to be the first Pony Express rider, left on April 3, 1860 to pick up the mail he would carry 90 miles westward – the first leg of the ride.


Photos above top to bottom left to right: Blacksmith display showing
how the horses were shoed; Johnny Fry ready to leave the stable;
“Moment in Time” plaque above stable door; Johnny Fry on horse

Below are pictures of what was carried inside the covered wagons as people moved westward. They would hang a few articles of clothing from the spokes inside the cover.

Inside the wagons were bags of sugar and flour, mold to make candles, a chair, tools, a large pot, a jug, rope, a washboard, a grater, (this model has a) bottle of whiskey, other food-stuffs, bucket, bedrolls/blankets, and more items that were necessary for such a long journey.

Contrary to what many think, everyone walked beside the oxen pulling the wagons instead of riding inside.

A Relay Station (pictured above) was a small building used by Riders to stop for just a few minutes to get a drink and change horses. These were located about 10 to 15 miles apart, and usually two men stayed there and took care of the station. The photos above show two bunks at one end of the station and a fireplace at the other end separated by a table.

The mochila pictured above was used by one of the Pony Express riders and donated to the museum by a descendant. This is what was used to carry the mail. It had three pockets that locked but the keys were at the other end of the ride. There was also a place to put military dispatches that were picked up along the way. Only 20 pounds of mail could be carried by a rider due to weight limitations of the horse.

This well inside the museum was used to water the horses during the Pony Express era in St. Joseph. It was capped in 1881, and during an archeological dig in the 1990s, it was uncovered. There are several layers of bricks built on the top in order to make the wooden platform, but all the rest is original. The bottom picture shows all of the items that were found in the well when it was excavated.

The sculpture pictured above is “The Long Trail Home” by Vic Payne. “Old Blue” – a Texas longhorn leads the chuck wagon crew home from a cattle drive.

A sixty foot diorama fills one entire wall of the museum, and the attention to detail is extraordinary. The scenes depicted show the types of terrain and weather that Pony Express riders had to endure on their rides – boat rides across rivers, prairie lands, Salt Lake Desert, mountains, prairie fires, thunderstorms, tornadoes, encounters with the Palute Tribe, and snowstorms.

A Hall of Riders has stories about 22 Pony Express riders – some famous and some not. There is a display about the telegraph and currency from the 1860s and Confederacy.

The Pony Express Museum has a chidren’s area and programs specifically designed for school children which includes a One Room School house built recently.

In conclusion, the story of the Pony Express is important in the history of our country, and the museum is designed for both young and old alike. Please visit if you are in the St. Joseph area. The admission is less than $5 per person and is well worth it. For more information visit the Pony Express Museum website.

(All photos taken by Wendy Littrell. Information on several exhibits – Pony Express Pocket Tour Guide, Pony Express Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri.)

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Recentlly, my husband and I took a short trip within our state. Since moving to Missouri four years ago, we have wanted to explore other areas.

Our first venture had us heading toward Maryville in the northwest corner of the state. My husband spent four of his twelve school years there (8th-11th grades) and hasn’t been back in over 40 years. As we headed west on US 36, we encountered morning fog. He kept telling me that soon the scenery would change. As we crested a hill and looked out toward Stewartsville (west of Cameron), I felt like I’d driven in to a science fiction movie. Not one or two wind turbines but hundreds of them dotted the landscape. Driving near, they loomed large and with the low ceiling touched the clouds.

Missouri Wind Turbines  (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

My husband eagerly wanted to show me and see for himself the areas in Maryville that were special to him. He pointed me toward the street where one of the houses was located and just behind it cattycorner was the other house. He said other than different paint color and a retaining wall, both looked about the same. From there we headed toward Maryville High School – home of the Spoofhounds. Yes, there is such a mascot! Here is the photo I took of the school sign.

Afterwards, we drove around Northwest Missouri State University where my father-in-law was an Industrial Arts professor in the early 70s. Leaving there, we headed to the Hy-Vee grocery store where my husband had his first job. Since I didn’t get my coffee or caffeine that morning before our trip, I was happy to see a Starbucks inside the store! Chai Tea Latte – yum! Being close to lunch time, we sat in the Pizza Hut parking lot for a while until they opened.

Following lunch, we took the highway south toward St. Joseph and ended up on 71 Business which took us through Savannah. My husband laughed when I told him that I knew someone buried there – my 2nd great-grandmother’s sister, Matilda Reed Imus Beale. And no, we weren’t stopping to explore. That will be another time.

We arrived in St. Joe too early to check in to our motel so we drove straight to the St. Joseph Museums which are in the former clinic used for patients at the mental hospital. Originally it was located in an area of the St. Joseph State Hospital and in the late 1960s, it was moved to the current location. According to Wikipedia, the Glore Psychiatric Museum began when an employee of the Missouri Mental Health System – George Glore – “built life size models of primitive devices formerly used for mental health” to raise awareness (see pic below).

George Glore’s life-size model of a Giant Patient Treadmill
used in the 16th, 17th, or 18th centuries.
Sometimes patients would be inside up to 48 hours. 

Once we paid for admission and received a map, we took the stairs to the third floor. There were many sculptures and paintings as well as other type of artwork made by previous patients as art therapy. Included on this floor were replicas of a music therapy room, an art therapy room, a spiritual therapy room, a patient room, and the psychiatric nursing exhibit of “Ward Quiet” which is in a former surgical room.

Top L-R: Music Therapy Room display and Patient Room display
Middle: Original Chart Desk and Psychiatric Nursing exhibit
Bottom: Spiritual Therapy display and Dexterity/Puzzle area

This large embroidered piece below was created by a patient with the nickname “The Tatterer.” She rarely spoke and was diagnosed as schizophrenic. I stood and solemnly read her words. The sign next to it read in part: “…her sewn words have been described as psychotic; but in 2010 new research found that the patient was very connected to her environment.” (“Silent Voice” description; Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri.)

Throughout the museum there were displays and information about electroshock treatments, the history of lobotomies and other types of surgeries, rocking chair therapies, and the history of mental health treatments. A very tall container held empty, flattened cigarette packs that a patient had been hoarding. Another patient had been witnessed sticking a piece of paper into the back of a television set. Upon further investigation, the staff found over 500 notes written on pieces of paper inside the television.


Early type of straight-jacket

This is a Restraint Ring – patients could be restrained to the wall
with a chain if they were considered “out of control.” This Ring
was removed from the basement wall in the Center Building in 1980.

The basement held the original morgue and autopsy rooms as well as information about treatment and education for youth. These two cars were painted by youth patients and entered in a contest.

At one time, patients worked the land as a farm which brought in money to the hospital but then was thought that since the patients were working for so long, it was equal to slavery so the farm work was discontinued. At one time the hospital served over 3,500 people so large scale salad bowls were needed as well as the mixer stand in the photo below in order to mix dough or make other types of batter. This stand was about 5 feet tall.

We asked to tour “the tunnels” before we left. A member of the staff guided us outside and across the sidewalk to an adjoining building. The entryway looked as if it was having work done and an area was used as storage. She  led us toward an open door. I kept walking but all I saw was a long, very dark tunnel. I backed up until she was able to turn the lights on. Both sides of the walls were covered with murals and paintings.

Patients had been led down there for art therapy. She told us to turn the lights out when we left. There were quite a few murals that – on a better surface and with better light – looked amazing. All I kept thinking was that I hoped the gated door halfway down the tunnel wouldn’t slam shut on us leaving us on the other side! I am not easily spooked but in that tunnel, I was a bit creeped out! We let her know when we were done.

The other smaller museums within those walls included the Black Archives Museum – highlighting St. Joseph African American experiences; the interactive Doll Museum; the Harry L. George Native American Collection which includes a large collection of artifacts from the late 1800s to early 1900s; and the WWI Saint Joseph: Reflections on Community and Conflict. There are also exhibits of the Folklore of Mary Alicia Owen and the Missouri Music Hall of Fame which includes Sheryl Crow and Chuck Berry.

The doll museum (which is one room) had a wall of Barbie dolls! I enjoyed looking at all the international Barbies.

Below is a display in the Native American area..

The display below has artifacts and information about the history of St. Joseph – especially about its founder, Joseph Robidoux IV. He had established a trading post in the Blacksnake Hills – now St. Joe.

Once finished at the Glore Psychiatric Museum, we went on to the motel and checked in. I cleaned up and then we went to eat at Bandanas Barbecue just down the road. One of my genealogy friends, Susan Petersen, always stops there on her way to Missouri from Nebraska so we had to try it. The food was excellent.

After relaxing at the motel after dinner for awhile, we drove on down to the Museum Hill Historic District. There are some beautiful churches and buildings. We parked behind a very large building in the Methodist Church parking lot.

The original location for the Francis Street First United Methodist Church was at 7th and Francis Streets and was built about 1857. Construction on the current building at 12th and Francis Streets began toward the late 1890’s-early 1900’s. We thought it was beautiful and wished we could look at the interior.

The building we parked behind had a dome at the top. As we walked to the front of it, my husband pointed out the words above it – First Church of Christ, Scientist. After doing some research later, I found that it was built in 1899 and has one of the largest pipe organs in the country. The congregation of the Christian Science church disbanded in the 1990s at that location, and it is now a wedding venue called The Dome.

In front of The Dome was a building that appeared to have been a church at one time. Now it is a Yoga Studio.


Across from the parking lot was the First Baptist Church and further down the block was Calvary Chapel.

Up on the hill was this large house with many steps going up to it.

Looking out toward St. Joseph, we saw a very long and huge structure that sat in the middle of Civic Center Park. The inscription over it said that it was given to the citizens of St. Joseph for Civic Use. Doing some research, we found that it was the City Hall built in 1926-1927. Another building I would have liked to see the inside.

We had a good first day in the city and were looking forward to the next.

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The  Week 2 prompt for “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” is Challenge. And do I have a challenge ahead of me! In October 2017, I accepted a position on the Board of Directors for my local society – Chariton County Historical Society. At the first board meeting I attended, I was asked if I would accept the role of Vice President/Program Coordinator. I was excited about helping the organization find new and exciting programs for their quarterly meetings.

Fast forward to July 2018 when the President of the Board resigned after many, many years of being very active on the Board and with the museum. At the July board and quarterly meetings, as Vice President I stepped up to chair the meetings. October is the month to elect new officers. Besides the one new member who was asked to serve to fill the empty spot, the other seven and I agreed to continue on the board. I really enjoyed my position and said I would continue as VP, but then one other lady said she could be VP but not President. So I consented to the position.

At the October quarterly meeting (our “big” meeting), the slate of Board members and Officers were approved and without any nominations from the floor, were elected. Immediately, I realized that I was really out of my comfort zone. I didn’t grow up in Chariton county. I didn’t know that much about most of the artifacts in the museum. I didn’t have a clue about the “business” of being President. I did however know that several of the board members and our hostesses are a wealth of information, advice, and guidance. And I can delegate! (Insert maniacal laughter!!)

This year will be challenging, but one thing I learned many years ago is that a challenge is just another opportunity. Missouri is coming up on the 200th Anniversary of statehood in 2021. Every group, society, and organization will be having some sort of birthday celebration of sorts. And in 2020 it will be Chariton County’s anniversary! I foresee many amazing things for the Chariton County Historical Society, its members, the community, and all the visitors!


Wheelwright Shop Display at Chariton County Historical Society & Museum


General Store exhibit in “Main Street” area

I can’t conclude this post without inviting all of you to come visit us at 115 E. 2nd Street in Salisbury, Missouri. The museum (which has a genealogy library and a large Veterans area) is open from the first Tuesday in April until the last Saturday in October, Tuesday through Friday from 1-4 p.m. or by appointment. Check out the website for Chariton County Museum and our Facebook Page.

If you would like to join the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge by Amy Johnson Crow, please click here to be taken to the link. (Hint: you don’t have to write about an ancestor – as this post shows – nor do you need to have a blog. This is a way for you to just start writing!)

(Images: Top – digital image use via Creative Commons; all other photos: photographer – Wendy Littrell, original digital images in possession of Wendy Littrell.)

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I used #2018bestnine to compile a collage of my top nine photos from Instagram for 2018. The top nine are ranked according to how many “hearts” (likes) were given on each picture. In case some of my followers aren’t on that social media platform, I thought I’d also post the compilation here as many of them are genealogy related – as well as my captions for each one.

Beginning at the top row, left to right and working my way down:

  1. Lois Evelyn Johnson, born on June 9, 1927, was my mom’s baby sister. She was premature and couldn’t seem to gain weight according to a calendar diary my grandmother kept. Lois Evelyn died on September 30, 1927. She was first buried in a cemetery in Fairborn, Ohio (then Fairfield), but a family lost several members due to a fire and wasn’t able to afford cemetery plots. My grandparents donated their plots and had the baby re-interned at Glen Haven Memorial Gardens outside New Carlisle, Ohio. This is Lois Evelyn’s heart-shaped grave marker. Lying in the family plot are my grandparents, Aunt & Uncle, and my mom. Most of the family together in rest.
  2. Genealogy Photo a Day for May 2 is “Happy Face” – a pic of my mom Mary (left) with her older sister Genevieve taken about 1956. Yesterday, May 1, was 9th anniversary of mom’s passing. Today May 2 marks 60 years of my aunt’s passing.
  3. Today the Genealogy Photo a Day is Letters. I have boxes & boxes of letters dating back to 1916. This letter was written by my maternal grandmother when my grandparents were stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany in the early 50s.
  4. Chariton County Missouri museum has Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie info in display case
  5. My husband and I were married in the office of our local Justice of the Peace in May 1988. Almost a year later, on the first Saturday of April, we had a church wedding (a reaffirmation). The date happened to fall on April Fools Day!
  6. Today the Genealogy Photo a Day theme is “Starts With T”so I chose a photo that depicts Trip of a Lifetime! My mom was thrilled to travel to Israel in the 90s. Here she is riding a camel! I am glad Mom was able to do this.
  7. This item hung on my grandparents’ wall in all of their homes for as long as I could remember. I was probably almost a teen when I made it known to my grandmother that I sure would like to have that item. Every time I saw it, I asked my grandmother to wind it for me (it plays music). At some point before my grandmother’s death, she put my name on the back of that plaque. I also think I ended up with it because I was the “baby” (by 14 years) of the grandchildren and most of the other granddaughter’s (there are 5 of us and 3 grandsons) received items like crystal stemware, jewelry, and silver. They bought the item in Garmisch (in Bavaria), and I have the letter written to my mother that detailed their trip to Garmisch and the purchase of that piece!
  8. Today’s theme for Genealogy Photo a Day is “Friends” so I chose this pic taken in the fall of 1966 in Seattle. I’m in red in front of my mom & dad. With us is Derald & Marilyn Manning and their 2 children (their daughter took the picture). We were at the top of the Space Needle. Mom & Dad met the Mannings over 10 years earlier when the men were in the US Army Air Corps/US Air Force stationed in Japan. The couples spent many evenings together playing cards, eating dinner, enjoying parties, and being close friends. I know they exchanged Christmas cards for awhile before finally losing touch by the mid 70s due to distance and my parents’ divorce.
  9. This is my Great-great-grandmother Melissa Goul. Her daughter Katie was the mother of my maternal grandfather. Melissa had a tragic life. Born in Ohio in Oct 1832, she found herself pregnant with her first cousin’s baby at the age of 18. The cousin (& his wife) moved to Missouri while Melissa’s parents moved her to Indiana. Melissa ended up marrying Franklin Blazer and had 5 more kids. Frank was killed by lightning in 1869 at the age of 33. Melissa then ran the farm by herself. She died on March 7, 1907 but had pre-planned her funeral as she didn’t want to be buried in the winter. Her funeral was held three months later on June 9. According to newspaper accounts, her body was very well preserved, and she looked as if she was just recently deceased at the time of her open casket funeral.

Are you on Instagram? Do you participate in the #genealogyphotoaday challenge?

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On this date 79 years ago, my brother was born in (present day) Fairborn, Ohio. Back then it was Fairfield – Bath township to be exact – because Fairfield and Osborn had not merged yet. My brother was the oldest child born to my mom – and the only child born out of her brief first marriage to Leslie Lovejoy. A marriage that I knew nothing about for many, many years. Their son, (birth name) Leslie James Lovejoy was born on January 2, 1940 after at least two days of labor for my just turned 18 year old mom.

Jimmie (as he was known) was a handsome fella – adored by his maternal grandparents. It was Jim who gave our grandmother the moniker of Nana. And it was Nana who took care of Jim for the first few years of his life while Mom became a working mother and figured out what she was going to do about her less than ideal marriage.

On June 22, 1946 in Berrien county, Michigan my brother was adopted by my mother’s new husband (my dad), and his name was legally changed to James G. Amore. It was known that “G” stood for Glen after our maternal grandfather Glen but there was just an initial. When my parents married just before Jim turned 4 on December 3, 1943, my brother called his new dad – “Daddy Gene.” It wouldn’t be until Jim was about 16 when he would re-meet his biological father and meet his younger half-sister.

If Jim were still living, he would be turning 79 today – which for me is mind-blowing. I often wonder how life would have played out if he had not had pancreatic cancer and passed away on August 31, 2001. I can’t call or write him yet I know he is with me. I miss you, Jim.

(Original and digital image in possession of Wendy Littrell.)

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In honor of Father’s Day, I created a collage of my male ancestors – just as I did for the The Women Who Came Before Me on Mother’s Day.

Beginning at the top, left to right:
Joseph Napolean Wilt b. 21 Jan 1868 in Henry county, Indiana and d. 9 Jan 1944 in Nabb, Indiana. Great-grandfather
Israel Wilt b. 20 June 1823 in Timberville, Virginia and d. 9 Sep 1919 in Middletown, Indiana. 2nd Great-grandfather
Emanuel Bushong Stern b. 7 Oct 1834 in Montgomery county, Ohio and d. 10 Sep 1911 in Yale, Nebraska. 2nd Great-grandfather
Peter Stern b. 10 Feb 1810 in Washington, Pennsylvania and d. 12 Nov 1887 in Clarksville, Indiana. 3rd Great-grandfather
James Wilson Johnson b. 16 Aug 1829 in Byrd, Ohio and d. 31 Oct 1917 in Anderson, Indiana. 2nd Great-grandfther
James Emory House b. 2 May 1842 in West Lafayette, Ohio and d. 1 Oct 1924 in Coshocton, Ohio. Great-grandfather
William Amore b. 6 Feb 1828 in Albany county, New York and d. 10 Feb 1896 in Franklin, Ohio. 2nd Great-grandfather
George Peter Werts b. Oct 1801 in Virginia and d. 29 July 1866 in Muskingum county, Ohio. 3rd Great-grandfather
John Lafayette Johnson b. 2 Mar 1861 in Rush county, Indiana and d. 28 May 1939 in Greene county, Ohio. Great-grandfather
William Henry Amore b. 10 Mar 1852 in West Lafayette, Ohio and d. 14 Jul 1934 in Coshocton, Ohio. Great-grandfather
Glen Roy Johnson b. 21 Nov 1898 in Anderson, Indiana and d. 18 Jan 1985 in Beavercreek, Ohio. Grandfather
Lloyd William Amore b. 5 Mar 1882 in Lafayette, Ohio and d. 25 Feb 1955 in Coshocton, Ohio. Grandfather
Eugene James Amore b. 4 Apr 1921 in Coshocton, Ohio and d. 3 Dec 2015 in Fanning Springs, Florida. Dad

 

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This week’s theme is on “Military” so I am writing about the United States Air Force. Not only did my father and maternal grandfather serve but I was born at a USAF Base medical center. As Yoda would say: “The Force is strong with this one.”


Glen Johnson

My grandfather Glen Roy Johnson (whom I’ve written about several times before) entered the Army Signal Corps on February 5, 1918 during WWI. My grandparents had been married not quite 14 months and had a son who had been born in mid-December 1917. He went to basic training at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas before being assigned to the 14th Balloon company with training at Fort Omaha, Nebraska. During training, one of the balloons exploded killing two and injuring over 30. Either then or at another time during training, my grandfather’s hand became injured resulting in a permanent curve to two of his fingers.

Gen Pershing is 5th man from the right

My granddad left for France in July 1918. The day after they landed, General John Joseph Pershing insisted on inspecting the 14th and 15th Balloon companies. Years later in life he was quoted in a local newspaper as saying, “We were just off the transport after 11 days at sea and most of us hadn’t had a bath. He [Gen. Pershing] was quite impressed that we were enlisted men.” (The Fairborn Daily Herald. Lucille Rue. 8 Aug 1978.)


Photo taken of a display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio
Caption reads in part: Balloon of the 14th Balloon Company – following Armistice

After returning from France and being discharged as a private, Granddad won a reserve commission while he was a civilian worker. It was to the Quartermaster Corps. At the time he was living in Greene county, Ohio in a town called Fairfield which would eventually become Fairborn (along with the merge of neighboring town Osborn). In 1942 he re-entered active duty in the Army Air Corps which would become the United States Air Force. He retired on December 1, 1958 as a Colonel.


Gene Amore – 1950s – Japan

My father, Eugene (Gene) Amore enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps on November 16, 1939. He went to Iceland in August 1942 where he was stationed for 15 months as an airplane mechanic with the air transport command. After he returned and following the marriage of my parents in December 1943, my Dad was stationed in Great Falls, Montana for awhile. In early 1953, he was sent to Tachikawa Air Base in Japan. My mom, brother and sister followed several months later. Most of the 1950s saw my family living in Japan through two tours of duty. He retired from the US Air Force in 1960. After returning to the Dayton area, my dad worked Transporation in Civil Service. During the Air Force museum’s move from a building off Broad Street in Fairborn, Ohio just inside the gates of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, my dad was responsible for the transportation of all of the aircraft, etc. to their new home located off of Springfield Street in Dayton – the present location.

I am very proud and thankful for my Granddad’s and my Dad’s service to the United States and the Air Force. The Air Force is in my blood. Each time I wander through the Museum filled with aircraft, artifacts, and history, I get goosebumps knowing that my family played a part in all of that.

(All pictures – original and digital in possession of Wendy LIttrell. US Air Force Logo – courtesy Wikimedia commons)

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