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Posts Tagged ‘Missouri’

My husband, grandson, and I began a new adventure recently – selling our home and moving 600+ miles away to another state. The knowledge of the move was known for quite awhile but the logistics and details were filled with stressful moments. How long would our home need to be on the market before it sold? How much would it cost to make sure the home was ready to be sold (cosmetic and other repairs)? Would there be enough “profit” for us after the sale? Move ourselves? Hire a moving company? What to take? What to pitch? What to give away? When to start packing? Where to put the boxes that were packed? And for the love of everything – what is this going to cost? (If you have ever moved, you know what I’m saying!)

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U-Haul with some boxes in the over cab

Luckily for us, the selling of the house was almost the easiest part – we closed even before we had to move. Then it became a matter of how quickly can we get everything packed. Once we started packing boxes, it became pretty clear that there wasn’t any place to put them and be able to pack more! So we decided to rent a U-Haul truck in order to start getting things out of the house. 

 

My husband very meticulously figured out the best way to maximize the space inside the truck in order to pack everything in to it. There were some (in retrospect) funny moments such as when my husband and son-in-law was moving our reclining sofa and loveseat from the house into the truck. Our daughter mentioned that hers came apart to make it easier to move but since the company who delivered our furniture years ago brought each piece in as one piece and not apart, no one bothered to check. (It was only after they about killed themselves getting it out of our house, into the truck, off loaded from the truck at our new home and just before figuring out how to get it from an outbuilding on the property to the basement of the house, did my husband realize that yep – they did come apart!)

Time seemed to be our enemy on the day my husband had wanted to get on the road. Without any place to sit or sleep, we ended up staying in a local hotel overnight before braving the last bits of cramming more items into the truck or the vehicle I was going to be driving and being sure to leave enough room for our traveling items (luggage and a couple bags of “important paperwork”).

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Husband and I with our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons

With good-byes, hugs, and tears shed, we finally hit the road and left our home north of Dallas in the afternoon of June 11th. We stopped for the night at a nice hotel in a small Oklahoma town and enjoyed a delicious meal at the diner next door. The next morning, we began the last leg of the journey to our new home.

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That picture and the one below is what it’s all about! Big sky, rows and rows of corn, soybeans, and wheat! Gravel roads and country lanes. Barns and tractors. People who wave as they drive by. Neighbors who bring corn, corn, and even more corn! Furry critters and feathered friends to watch and marvel over. Small towns and big hearts.

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Our life is a little more slower paced these days – at least until our grandsons starts high school soon. My deadlines are 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (breakfast, lunch and dinner – oh wait, here it’s called breakfast, dinner and supper!). There’s always laundry to be done, weeds to be pulled, flowers to be watered, and new places to discover. It’s not quite retirement but it’s pretty dog gone close!

Stay tuned for more stories of our life in Missouri – and what this means for my genealogy research (hint: I’m really excited!!)!

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Mid-Hiatus

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I’m just “sort of” back right now. Isn’t that a beautiful sight? That’s our new view looking down the road.

We’ve moved. To Missouri. To a farm. Up-sized – not down-sized. This is land that has been in my husband’s family for 5 generations.

Many stories to tell. Stay tuned.

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The Library of Congress’ Today in History page reports that on this day in 1918, the “American Expeditionary Forces…launched its first major offensive in Europe as an independent army” led by General John J. Pershing. My family has a connection to “Black Jack” Pershing in two different ways. As seen in the photo above, my grandfather met the General in the days of WWI when Pershing inspected my grandfather’s squadron. In a letter to my grandmother back home in Indiana, my grandfather mentions the inspection and meeting. Pershing is the first man in uniform from the right (not standing on the car) and my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, is the third from the left.

The second connection is through my husband. Pershing State Park in Linn county, Missouri lies across US 36 – 16 miles from my husband’s father’s farm. Each time we drive that road, we see the signs about Pershing and the Park.

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joshua & jennette smutz stone

Today’s tombstone is located in Brunswick, Missouri and belongs to my husband’s great-grandparents, Joshua and Jennette Smutz. I took the photo of their gravestone in June 2013 while we were in Missouri on vacation. My sister-in-law has done quite a bit of research on the lines of my husband’s family.

Joshua was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania to Isaac Smutz and Sarah Stauffer on November 21, 1855. He married Jennette Herbert, daughter of John Herbert and Jennette Smith, on February 26, 1878. The couple had two sons (Earl and Layton) and four daughters (Maggie, Ora, Eva and Della Beryl – my husband’s grandmother). Joshua died on November 21, 1921. Jennette died almost twenty years later on July 25, 1941. They are buried in Elliot Grove Cemetery.

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While we were on vacation in Missouri, my father-in-law took us on a cemetery tour. We visited the graves of grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, and collateral relatives. Before we left to return home, I realized that we hadn’t been to the family cemetery in several years. This three person graveyard sits on land that used to belong to my husband’s 2nd great-grandfather, George Washington Littrell. After he died, it eventually ended up belonging to my husband’s paternal grandfather’s brother.  After he passed away, it ended up going into a bank sale and another resident of the rural community purchased that plot of land where the cemetery was located. Missouri statutes explain that even though a cemetery might sit on private land, and even if it doesn’t have a drive that takes it directly to the cemetery, family members are not to be blocked from gaining access during regular daylight hours. There really has never been an issue with us visiting the Littrell cemetery. The gravel road goes right up to the barn and corral areas and the cemetery sits just outside of that.  I wrote a blog post awhile back about our experience when we visited the graves a few years ago that you can read here.

As we pulled up, I looked in horror at the following scene.

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Someone – or several someones – had just placed whatever those things are (they look like steel sawhorse type of things) right inside the cemetery! I was mortified! And the steel cable “rope” that had cordoned off the graves was bent and pulled away from the corner posts. If the person who rents out the land knew about this, I know he would make sure the men who work for him would remove it and not ever do it again so I’m very hopeful that after my father-in-law speaks to him all will be taken care of. It’s just so sad that whoever did this, a) didn’t even realize this was a cemetery or b) didn’t care.  You may also notice that the stone on the right has been shifted as well.

And just to make a comparison – below is the picture of what it is supposed to look like.

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Let’s hope this sacred family cemetery – small as it is – where George W and Kitty O (Blakely) Littrell are buried along with their very young daughter, Annie Elizabeth – will soon be properly cleaned of the equipment and I can breathe a lot easier.

(Photos by Wendy Littrell)

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The Donkey

At the farm is a planter where my mother-in-law had lovingly planted many types of flowers over the years. Sadly, with her passing, there won’t be any more flowers planted in it – at least not in the foreseeable future. The planter looks like a little cart being pulled by a donkey. All of the children have been fascinated by this farm fixture, and they’ve all wanted to “ride” it. When they’ve been very small, someone has held them on it to get a picture.

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Baby O – summer 2010

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Baby C – summer 2002

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Donkey as of June 2013

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(My grandson next to the Mickey statue at the Walt Disney Hometown Museum)

Where did Walt Disney get his idea for Main Street USA in Disneyland? Perhaps from the small, rural town in Missouri where he lived for several years during his impressionable childhood. My grandson and I had the opportunity to visit Marceline, Missouri during our vacation. Marceline is about 17 miles away from my father-in-law’s farm and driving down the main drag, conjurs up all sorts of ideas and thoughts about what many small towns in rural America are like. There’s a corner café where the food is out of this world and owned by a local resident. If you arrive during regular meal time hours, you might find Ma Vic’s standing room only – but don’t leave – a table will soon be available!  Down on the corner is Zurcher’s. Close to the old train depot is Ripley Park.  The park includes a Santa Fe railroad caboose and a steam locomotive as well as a gazebo.

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Near there is the Walt Disney Hometown Museum where I took my grandson during one of our excursions while on vacation recently. The museum is open April through October and is only $5 for admission. It is well worth that! The tour begins in the first room where a guide provides a very rich and detailed history of not only the Disney family, but the Santa Fe Railroad and the city of Marceline. She was eloquent, personable, and very knowledgeable. Very large panoramic photos are displayed in chronological order around the room and at one side is Walt’s original school desk from Park elementary which he rescued on one of his visits to Marceline before the school was torn down. During the summer the desk is on loan to the museum from Walt Disney Elementary school and if you go, make sure to notice the large WD that Walt carved into the desk (which is how he knew that it was his)! There is a sign outside the museum which restricts the use of photos or videos, however, we were informed that photos are allowed because so many people are posting them to Facebook and of course, free advertising doesn’t hurt!

Most of the artifacts, especially in the several rooms on the first floor, were donated by the family of Walt’s younger sister, Ruth Disney Beecher. There were letters, photographs, objects – even the TV that Walt made sure Ruth had in order to watch the opening ceremonies of Disneyland because she didn’t like to be in big crowds. On that television set was the original special broadcast of those ceremonies which you can stand and watch. In another room was information, posters, records, videotapes, DVDs, and news clippings about the 1956 Disney movie, “The Great Locomotive Chase” with Fess Parker and Jeffrey Hunter. The movie is playing on a screen and anyone is welcome to pull up a chair to watch it.  Another room is the “Train” room and has many displays of Walt’s trains. There are cases filled with letters among the Disney family members, a phonograph (which is playing on a recording) of Walt interviewing his parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. In another room is a large screen and several chairs where a visitor can watch The Man behind the Myth hosted by Dick Van Dyke. My grandson and I watched about ten minutes of the documentary, and I wished we had more time to watch all of it.  My grandson also enjoyed the ten minutes of “The Great Locomotive Chase” so I will be on a mission to see if our local library has a copy to borrow. Upstairs, is a large room dedicated to a scale model (not complete) of Disneyland. Since I had visited the theme park as a very young child (see my series of Travel Thursday posts: Over the Rainbow Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5), I pointed out to my grandson the areas I fondly remember. There were several local news articles about Disney and artifacts elsewhere on the second floor. Downstairs, adjoining the large front room where we began the tour, was a room dedicated to the only ride that operated outside of Disneyland – the Midget Autopia. There is a car on display from that ride. Since there are 70 trains that run through town each day – the museum is located in the former train depot – we were able to look right out the window to watch them go by – another highlight for my grandson!

Exiting the museum through the same door that Walt would enter when he rode the train into town (Amtrak only stops in Marceline for groups of twenty or more with special arrangements), there is a smaller building toward the back that is the Railroad museum. That was very interesting as well. Even though the ladies who run the tour explained that if we wanted to leave for lunch and come back – our ticket would be valid all day – our time was very limited. Perhaps on another visit, we would be able to do just that and spend more time. In particular, I think I would have found the correspondence between the family members pretty interesting. We were told that on the north side of town, we should visit the “Dreaming Tree”, a cottonwood tree that grew on the Disney farm and where Walt and his baby sister, Ruth, would sit under while Walt would daydream. The Tree of Life at Walt Disney World represents Walt’s tree from Marceline. There are other spots around town that were pointed out as places to visit – Walt Disney Elementary School, the park with the flagpole that Walt gifted the city with during one of his trips back, the barn that used to sit on the Disney property, and even the Disney home (which is now a private residence, but people do drive by to look at it). Though the main drag of Marceline is on Kansas Street, the street sign downtown reads “Main Street USA” and resembles the famous mouse ears that Walt made famous!

I recommend that if you are within a 50-75 mile radius of Marceline that you drop in during the times the Museum is open – especially if you or your family are fans of anything Disney – or trains!

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