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Sentimental Sunday- Little Houses on the Prairie

Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls, 1975
Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls, 1975. Wikimedia Commons.

September 11, 2014, among other things, was the 40th anniversary of the television premiere of, “Little House on the Prairie” which was based on the beloved books of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The books were favorites of mine as a child- I would check out one after the other at the school library and the public library, devouring them even under the covers with a flashlight, over and over. I would dream of what it must have been like to be a pioneer in the olden days- that was probably the beginning of my (virtually) time-traveling, family history-loving self. Even though I was an adult when the series premiered, I just had to watch the programs, and they never disappointed- not a case here of ‘the-books-were-so-much-better.’ I loved seeing the settings and costumes, and sometimes-ornery, sometimes-sweet Laura, portrayed by Melissa Gilbert. (She made me think of how my grandmother would have been at that age. Grandma thought that too.) The series added characters and changed story lines from the books, but they did them well. They had the bonus of the very handsome Michael Landon, my favorite from his previous series, “Bonanza,” as Charles Ingalls, Laura’s father.  The programs from 1974-1983, plus movies from the series, still air around the world in reruns and are now being released as DVDs in their uncut and remastered versions, indicating their popularity through time.

Melissa Gilbert is releasing a cookbook full of “Little House” series recipes and memories on 16 Sep 2014, entitled My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours. She also published, in 2010, an autobiography that includes stories from her “Little House” days.

The “Little House” books have an even more special meaning for me- I knew my boyfriend was THE one when he gave me the whole set of “Little House” books as a Christmas gift when we were starving college students. OK, they were just paperbacks, but it was a nice boxed set and invaluable because I loved the books so much. The fact that he thought of them for a gift- well, that was stupendous. We are still together 35 years later, and thinking of the stories, the books, and the gift (plus the extra hours he worked to earn the money for them on top of a full load of classes plus work), make this a very ‘Sentimental Sunday.’

Schoolhouse attended by the children of George and Ella Daniel Roberts. Image taken c1970 and building is now gone. The children attended c1900-1915.
Schoolhouse attended by the children of George and Ella Daniel Roberts. Image taken c1970 and building is now gone. The children attended c1900-1915.

It is also a ‘Sentimental Sunday’ because we had the same kind of pioneers in our family! Edith Roberts McMurray Luck told stories of how her family migrated to Illinois and then to Jasper County, Iowa in the late 1800s, just after folks like the Ingalls family pioneered farming and towns on the midwest prairies. The Roberts, Daniel, and Murrell families were originally from Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana, and migrated to Roseville in Warren County, Illinois from their respective homes in the 1850s. They then traveled to Jasper County, Iowa, in 1858 with a large grouping of families and covered wagons full of household goods, elderly parents, and children.

Our McMurray and Benjamin ancestors were people of the frontiers, migrating west as the lines blurred between native and white settlements, sometimes being part of the casualties or captured during those hostilities, and eventually migrating to Iowa from Pennsylvania. Heinrich Horn immigrated from Germany (probably as a conscripted mercenary “Hessian” in the Revolutionary War and captured by George Washington’s forces at Trenton, then paroled when he became an American citizen); he settled in Virgina, then Pennsylvania with some of his descendants moving later to Iowa. The New England-born Paynes and Burnells became farmers and ministers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, and even took the train to settle out in California in the 1870s, when it still was a sort of ‘Wild West.’

The Lee family sailed from England to the Illinois prairies, going up the Mississippi from New Orleans, and although the Bunker Hill, Illinois area had been settled a while, the prairie was still a harsh environment to farm and have a business in 1875. Lee married-ins like the Lutz, Russell, and Aiken families had moved west through frontier Ohio and even into ‘Indian Territory,’ which has since become the state of Oklahoma.

The Helblings migrated to Pennsylvania from Germany, and lived on the unsettled outskirts of what is now the large Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania metropolitan area. The Springsteens were from New Jersey and watched the growth of the early Indiana prairie town that became Indianapolis, Indiana.

Edith Roberts said often to her family, “You come from strong pioneer stock. You can do anything you set your mind to.” That legacy has helped many of her descendants get through tough times, and appreciate the strong, determined pioneers that fill our family tree.

Stories to come about these families and their migrations!

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) “Little House on the Prairie” tv series information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071007/

2) Wikipedia article about the TV series: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_House_on_the_Prairie_(TV_series)

3) Wikipedia article about the books: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_House_on_the_Prairie

4) “Little House” books- http://www.littlehousebooks.com 

5) Melissa Gilbert’s autobiography- Prairie Tale: A Memoir, Gallery Books, 2010, ISBN-13: 978-141659917.

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.

Happy Birthday to Heritage Ramblings!

Gertrude Broida Cooper and her husband Irving I. Cooper with their grandchildren in 1966.
Gertrude Broida Cooper and her husband Irving I. Cooper with their grandchildren in 1966. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Our blog is one year old this week!

This is blog post number 135.

(That is an average of about 1 post every 3 days- now I know where my time goes.)

Our Home Page has been viewed 1,074 times.

The most views we have had in one day is 92.

The post with the most views had 68.

We have had 162 spam comments. (Dealing with that is a BIG time-waster, even if it is just a few clicks.)

We don’t want to say how many revisions a few of the posts have had- finding more information, fixing typos (wish I had taken typing in school), and being a perfectionist who doesn’t always get it perfect due to time constraints and distractions makes it challenging, but we keep striving to make this blog better.

We found two distant cousins. (Cousin bait is one of our reasons for blogging.)

We have had two persons with associated artifacts or a link to a person mentioned in the blog (not family) contact us.

The curator for the Healdsburg Museum found us through Ancestry.com but then saw the blog and liked it. She asked me to write an article on Edward B. Payne for their journal that accompanied an exhibit on Altruria and other Sonoma County, CA Utopian colonies- that was pretty exciting. The exhibit is over but they are planning a virtual exhibit of “Visionaries, Believers, Seekers and Schemers” in the near future. More posts to come with the Altruria story.

Two tombstones have had transliterations done from the Hebrew/Yiddish by kind persons who found us, and who recommended JewishGen’s Viewmate service for future items that need translating.

 

Not too bad for 365 days.

 

From an idea between two family members inspired by Legacy Family Tree Webinars on starting a blog (Thanks, Dear Myrt and Geoff Rasmussen!) and wanting to share the wonderful family history stories we have uncovered, we finally got it together and actually created one. We continue to be challenged concerning the mechanics of the blog- still trying to figure out how to add the lead photo of a post to subscriber emails, as I have it set up that way but it still does not do so- and finding the time to blog is almost impossible lately. Seems like each blog post requires a bit more research to fill in the blanks as one writes, as getting it down on paper- er, in pixels?- helps one to see what is missing. So the posts take longer than expected, but they really do help to put ancestors in the right context and clarify mysteries.

We do hope that you will stay tuned for more family stories- and we have some very exciting things in the works too!

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Photo is from family treasure collection.

2) The post with the most views is “Those Places Thursday: Witebsk, Belarus and The Mother of Abraham Green or Rose (Brave) Green.”

3) Healdsburg Museum, Sonoma Co., California: http://www.healdsburgmuseum.org

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.

Military Monday: Edward A. McMurray, Jr. in the Pacific Theater of WWII

Edward A. McMurray, Jr., in South Pacific or Australia, c1944.
Edward A. McMurray, Jr., in the South Pacific or Australia, c1944. (Click to enlarge.)

Edward A. McMurray, Jr., called ‘Mac’ by so many, was an airplane mechanic in the Army-Air Corps (technically in the Reserves though he served on active duty his whole service time). He told his family stories of how the Marines would go in and take one of the small South Pacific islands in fierce battles with the Japanese, the SeaBees would then bulldoze an airstrip, and his unit would be the next to come in to service the airplanes flown in by the pilots. He had wanted to be a pilot himself, but was too young- just 17- when Pearl Harbor occurred on 7 Dec 1941 and brought the US into the War. Although he wanted to join up right away, he also had to help support his mother, so he finished high school and continued working part-time. Ed then started college, hoping to be a doctor like his father, but enlisted two years after Pearl Harbor, in December 1943. By that date the military had already trained a lot of the pilots needed, and had a greater need for aircraft mechanics; additionally, he had worked at a Newton, Iowa gas station so had some mechanical experience, thus the military made him an aircraft mechanic.

Ed’s active duty began in boot camp at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. He went next to a military training school, and then overseas. He spoke of his trip to the Pacific and being packed into the troop ships (converted from passenger ships) like sardines, with hammocks six high- one couldn’t even turn over as the guy above was only inches above- and the heat of all the men and the tropics sweltering. He crossed the International Date line and endured whatever ceremony the sailors enacted upon them- he would never tell us details, as it was supposed to be secret.

"US landings" by General MacArthur's General Staff - MacArthur, Douglas (1994) [1950] Reports of General MacArthur (Vol. 1 ed.), Center of Military History, p. 432.
“US landings” by General MacArthur’s General Staff – MacArthur, Douglas (1994) [1950] Reports of General MacArthur (Vol. 1 ed.), Center of Military History, p. 432. Note #32 is Biak, with US landings on 27 May 1944. (Click to enlarge.)
Mac was stationed in Australia, New Guinea (where there were still head-hunters in the remote mountains), a tiny island called Biak, which always intrigued him- we did find it later on a map (see above)- and many other small Pacific islands. He said they would bulldoze a wide strip around the camp and barracks on the islands, but you could still hear the enemy rustling out in the forest at night, just beyond that strip. (It must have been terrifying to live like that day after day.) The Pacific War often gets overlooked with the horrors of the Holocaust, but the Japanese practiced similar horrific torture, ‘scientific experiments,’ mass killings, and unendurable POW camps.

Possibly Edward A. McMurray, Jr., in South Pacific or Australia, c1944.
Possibly Edward A. McMurray, Jr., in the South Pacific or Australia, c1944. (Click to enlarge.)

There were horrors within the Allied camps too. To get to aircraft engine parts that needed working on, sometimes the mechanics had to clean out those areas first- there might be bodies, body parts, and/or blood and other fluids in those areas, depending on how much fire the aircraft had taken on the latest mission.

Maintaining our military readyness could be a dangerous job even though Mac’s unit was not on the front lines.One of Mac’s duty stations had a big pit dug for them to dispose of the used and mangled aircraft parts, oil, etc., and gasoline would have been everywhere within. Of course, in those days, much of the population and many of our service people smoked cigarettes. One day, Mac was off on a break when someone possibly threw a lit cigarette into the pit; whatever the cause, the pit exploded in flames. He had been working in there and was supposed to have been working there at that time; he always had ‘survivor’s guilt’ that he was on a break when the conflagration occurred. So many of his friends and coworkers died or were burned terribly. They rescued as many soldiers as they could, but the horrors of the day included the smells of burning flesh and screams of the dying; they stayed in his mind forever after.

Edward A. McMurray, Jr., in uniform with unknown friend. c1942 in Newton, Iowa.
Edward A. McMurray, Jr., in uniform with unknown friend. c1942 in Newton, Iowa. (Click to enlarge.)

Being on the other side of the world, so far from home must have been incredibly difficult for all those sweet 19-year old Iowa boys, and those from elsewhere, but their committed service shows the true grit they had, and their determination to save the world from the Axis powers and their planned world domination. When asked why he enlisted, Mac replied that it was his duty to protect his mother, his future family, and the innocent people of the world. These men and women truly were, “The Greatest Generation.”

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Family photos and oral history.

2) US Landings in the Pacific: “US landings” by General MacArthur’s General Staff – MacArthur, Douglas (1994) [1950] Reports of General MacArthur (Vol. 1 ed.), Center of Military History, pp. p. 432. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_landings.jpg#mediaviewer/File:US_landings.jpg. Accessed 9/1/2014.

3) To illustrate the zeal of the Japanese soldiers, the last Japanese soldier to surrender did so in 1974- he had been holed up on an island in the Philippines for 29 years. Hiroo Onoda thought that reports that WWII was ended were Allied/American propaganda to entice him to give himself up. It required a trip by his former commanding officer to the P.I. to convince him that the war was really over. See interesting articles about Onoda, who died 16 Jan 2014, at http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/17/world/asia/japan-philippines-ww2-soldier-dies/ and http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/17/hiroo-onoda-japanese-soldier-dies.

4) For an American point of view, see Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It chronicles the life of juvenile delinquent Louis Zamperini,  who became a track star and participated in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. A favorite of Hitler, Zamperini was on target to break the four-minute mile, but the cancellation of the 1940 games due to the war never gave him that chance. He enlisted and his harrowing life as a pilot and prisoner of war are detailed in the book and an upcoming movie (to be released Dec. 25, 2014) directed by Angelina Joile. Zamperini, who died in July, 2014, also wrote 2 memoirs about his life: Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian’s Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in Word War II (William Morrow Paperbacks, reissue 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0062118851), and Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life (Dey Street Books, 2014, ISBN-13: 978-0062368331), to be published November, 2014. See also:

http://www.louiszamperini.net/?page=bio

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/04/arts/louis-zamperini-olympian-war-survivor-unbroken-dies.html

 5) The Pacific, an HBO Miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, tells the story of three real Marines and their experiences in the Pacific.

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.

 

“The Man with the Hoe,” Edward B. Payne, and Labor Day, Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series "The Man with the Hoe," Edward B. Payne, and Labor Day
Review of The Arena, published in The Critic (New York) and reprinted in Vol. 5 of The Arena.
Review of “The Arena” published in “The Critic” (New York) and reprinted in Vol. 5 of “The Arena.”
Review of The Arena, published in Truth (Toronto, Canada) and reprinted in Vol. 5 of The Arena.
Review of “The Arena” published in “Truth” (Toronto, Canada) and reprinted in Vol. 5 of “The Arena.”

(See Monday, 1 Sep 2014 for Part 1 of this story.)

The Arena was a Boston review magazine begun in December, 1889 by Benjamin Flower, considered a radical journalist in his time. He published articles that exposed the seedy side of society- sweatshops, poverty, child labor, etc. The articles also included socialistic thought as a way to remedy these problems. The magazine was even marketed to ministers with a discounted rate, in order to help educate the public through the pulpit and possibly start new centers “for the diffusion of the light of justice, fundamental democracy, for intellectual hospitality.”

Following Edwin Markham’s poem “The Man with the Hoe” in the July, 1899 issue of The Arena (pages 15-16) was an article written by Edward B. Payne (our ancestor) entitled, “The ‘Hoe Man’ on Trial.” (pages 17-24) Payne was a minister who practiced “Christian Socialism,” and although he no longer had a church pulpit (he had resigned due to health reasons, and was working as an editor in 1899), he still lectured on cooperation rather than competition in order to provide a good life for all. Payne had worked in poor tenements in Chicago and the impoverished mill towns of New England; he had seen firsthand what it was to be the “Slave of the wheel of labor” as Markham described it. Payne did not want to ‘redistribute’ the wealth as in some forms of socialism- instead he wanted to teach people how to help themselves so that they could be successful, and in turn contribute to the good of all.

Edward B. Payne
Edward B. Payne

Edward B. Payne was an excellent choice to author an article reviewing the controversy that arose around the world with the publication of  Edwin Markham’s poem, “The Man with the Hoe.” Payne was extremely well read- he had a significant library of his own, (sadly lost in the Great Berkeley Fire of 1923), lived just north of the University of California at Berkeley and thus had access to university libraries, and probably borrowed books from the extensive library of Jack and Charmian London. (A letter exists from Payne requesting the loan of a book, however we don’t know for sure if London granted it.) In the article for The Arena, Payne quoted many editors and writers from around the country. (How did he read all those articles without the internet??)

Payne began his article acknowledging that the poem had exceptional literary merit that is, “almost universally conceded.” The poem, however, was “the center of a remarkable controversy bearing on the social problems of modern times.” He quoted Walt Whitman and concurred with “the power of the poet to stir and direct the thoughts of men.” Payne continued,

“Here is a case in which men are deeply moved and sharply aroused, not by an act of legislation, not by a scientific demonstration, not by a logical argument, but by a few lines of verse sung out from the frontier West by one hitherto but little known [poet].”

Some recent literature books and websites have included excerpts of Payne’s words in their descriptions of the poem:

“[“The Man with the Hoe”] appears to have everywhere stimulated thought upon social problems, and to have called out vigorous and diversified expressions of opinions all along the line of its course…. Clergy made the poem their text; platform orators dilated upon it; college professors lectured upon it; debating societies discussed it; schools took it up for study in their literary courses; and it was the subject of conversation in social circles and on the streets.”

Payne, and many others, were elated that the poem sparked world-wide discussions of socio-economic disparities that were often only whispered about, swept under the rug, and seldom debated except in socialist circles.

The main controversy was just what it was that caused the Hoe Man to have “on his back the burden of the world.” The poem suggested that those with the wealth placed this burden on the lower classes. Others, like Ambrose Bierce, whom Payne characterized as “that distinguished critic, whose pen is sharper than a locust thorn,” declared that the Hoe Man “…is not a product of the masters, lords, and rulers in all lands; they are not, and no class of men are, responsible for him, his limitations and his woes– which are not of those that kings or laws can cause or cure.”

Payne explained in his article that another group joined the controversy: workers. Some felt the poem was “a direct assault on the American farmer” but it was not meant that way.

Payne continued his review of the varied points of view of the poem writing, “The poem has not been spared at the hands of those grotesque critics whose humor is chopped out with a meat axe.” He quoted a San Francisco Evening Post writer who called Edwin Markham, “our laureate of the clod and hoe.” Another author claimed that the poem was “founded on the theological assumption that man is not the fashioner of his own destiny,” an old-fashioned and unenlightened religious viewpoint by that date, and thus the indictment was invalid.

After summarizing and quoting many authors both critical and laudatory, Payne discussed the most important line of the poem: “How will you ever straighten up this shape [of the Hoe Man]?”  The controversy engendered by the poem,

“…illustrates the loose but intricate tangle of modern thought as touching the conditions, the possibilities, the obligations of civilization; and how tradition, self-interest, prejudice, and passion, as well as sincerity, good-will, and the love of truth and justice are all potent factors in determining the variant opinions and irreconcilable purposes of men. We are far from any such consensus of opinion as might enable us to effect wise and speedy readjustments looking to improved conditions for the masses of men.”

Finding a way to improve conditions was a guiding principle of Payne’s work and life. He felt that “We have all been brutalized under this regime of… ever intensifying competition.” He had founded Altruria, a Utopian colony in Sonoma County, California, just five years earlier, in which cooperation of all contributed to the good of the colony. Sadly the colony only lasted two years, but Edward B. Payne worked the rest of his life to educate the public about social inequalities through his work as an author, lecturer, and editor.

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1)”To the Man with the Hoe” by Edwin Markham, The Arena, July 1899, Vol. 22, No. 1, Pages 15-16: http://books.google.com/books?id=9S4ZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP7&lpg=PP7&dq=to+the+man+with+hoe+Edward+b+payne&source=bl&ots=Rf8YvFxc1K&sig=BskDJ7PfUUjkXRBiV0KxydrNQRA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Uzb0U_qCHo6oyASOt4KQBQ&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

2) “The ‘Hoe Man’ on Trial” by Edward B. Payne, The Arena, July 1899, Vol. 22, No. 1, Pages 17-24. Arena Publishing Company, 1899. http://books.google.com/books?id=9S4ZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP7&lpg=PP7&dq=to+the+man+with+hoe+Edward+b+payne&source=bl&ots=Rf8YvFxc1K&sig=BskDJ7PfUUjkXRBiV0KxydrNQRA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Uzb0U_qCHo6oyASOt4KQBQ&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

3) Ambrose Bierce, in 1894 speaking about the founders of Altruria, called them “amiable asses” with a “scheme based upon the intellectual diversions of such humorists as Plato, More, Fourier, Bellamy, and Howells. That assures the ludicrous fizzle of the enterprise…” [Quoted in Robert V. Hine’s California’s Utopian Colonies, W.W. Norton & Company, 1973, first published in 1953, page 113. The Bierce quote was from the column Bierce wrote weekly for the San Francisco Examiner, 21 Oct 1894, called, “Prattle.”] The ‘humorists’ listed were writers and philosophers. It is interesting to see Edward B. Payne’s description of Bierce five years later.

4) See also previous posts about Edward B. Payne, and watch for posts to come on Altruria and the rest of EBP’s life.

5) The controversies continue to this day concerning socio-economic disparities and the solutions. There will, I am sure, be more to come on that too (but not on this blog) as election time draws near.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images.

Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.

Housekeeping- er, Blogkeeping, Again

"We Help Mommy" c 1956
“We Help Mommy” c 1956

So sorry that some folks have been deleted previously from emails of posts, and hoping that none are now. I have tried again to delete Feedblitz as the subscription carrier, as it has not worked well, yet kept on working after I supposedly deleted it before. Once again, the subscription box should send your feed through WordPress now if I did everything right. If not… back to the computer and begging for IT help.

Hopefully WordPress has figured out finally how to add the Lee-Alexander-Aiken pages to the drop-down menu for Family Trees. It is set up the same as before, but never, even with official IT help, could we get it to work correctly. It appears to be fixed so it will be easier now to find those Lee, Alexander, and Aiken ancestors.

I do better genealogical research than IT work, thankfully.