Stories and history of some of my ancestors and other aspects of genealogy
Monday, May 4, 2015
MY GRANDMA'S STORY: CHAPTER THREE
When George Browne was about twenty-two, he went to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to work as an apprentice under a depot agent that he might learn telegraphy.
When he had finished his course, he went to visit his sister, Mary Ann Browne (Warner), who had married Will Warner, a blacksmith, and lived in Marietta, Minnesota, USA. George was fortunate in getting a job with the Minneapolis and Saint Louis Railroad Co. as depot agent in Marietta.
Near Marietta, a farmer, John S. Baker, and his wife, Hannah Maria South (Baker), lived with their five children: Lucy, Mary Helen, George, Ella and Florence.
Mary Helen was teaching school, although she was only sixteen and some of her pupils were nearly as old. George Browne met her and on December 1886 they were married in Gary, South Dakota.
A little girl was born August 29, 1889, but she lived only one day. Another little girl was born October 20, 1890. She was a great joy to her parents: Ella May Browne.
George became very ill with a kidney ailment, Bright's Disease. He was given up by local doctors but Mary heard of a specialist and took him to Minneapolis where he was cured.
He had been given a promotion to a larger station, Madison, next to Marietta. He was still very weak from his illness and decided to give up his job and go to a small place on another railroad in North Dakota, so they moved to a little place called Boynton in North Dakota.
Mary was expecting another baby. She planned that the baby would be born at a place about fifty miles from Boynton where there was a hospital and doctors. When they moved, they took a sixteen-year-old girl with them to have someone to care for little Ella May when Mary went to the hospital. The girl, Maria McAllister, was the oldest of twelve children and was used to helping her mother when younger children were born.
When they awoke on the morning of February 22, 1982, there had been a big snow storm. The tracks were covered with about three feet of snow and the trains were not running. (No automobiles in those days, and the roads were all covered with snow).
Mary became aware that the new baby was about to arrive. How fortunate they were that Maria McAllister was with them. Soon Ella May had a new baby sister; a long, skinny baby with a very red nose weighing less than five pounds. They named her Hazel Florence.
George kept his job for three or four months, and decided to go back and get a job on the Minneapolis and Saint Louis Railroad in Minnesota. He secured a job at Delhi, Minnesota, about 70 miles from Marietta, a very nice place which was our home for ten years. The neighbors were mostly Scotch and Scandinavian people. It was wheat country and there were five grain elevators along the side railroad track.
The depot was soon converted into a real home. A barn was built on the right of way and was soon occupied by a carriage, a horse named Old George, a cow, and a buggy. Farther up the right of way was a chicken house with one hundred chickens, and between was a garden with every kind of vegetable and strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Between the main track and side track, was a large lawn and a swing; also a chair swing and two hammocks. Mary had a pretty bed of flowers and George built a lath house beside it. We had a lovely place to play when our friends came to visit us.
Father sold hail insurance to the farmers and took orders for McCormick and Deering binders and reapers (farm equipment), and thus added to his income.
When our two brothers, Lloyd and Cyril, were born; Ella May and I went up to Marietta and stayed with Grandpa and Grandma for a few weeks. After a few years, Grandpa gave his farm to his son, George Baker, and Grandpa and Grandma moved to Redwood Falls, Minnesota, the county seat of Redwood County. That was only eight miles from Delhi, so we often went to visit them on Sundays when father could leave the depot.
Mother used to get the four of us ready for Sunday School each Sunday and she would come to church later. We would go home and father babysat until mother got home.
The Minnesota River was about two miles away and often we would go down to the river for a picnic. In the summer, father would take us to wade in the river and mother would pick wild plums, grapes and choke cherries to be made into jelly and preserves. I would pick wild flowers.
In the winter, we would take our sleds and father would give us sled rides on the ice.
At first we had one horse we called Old George and a single buggy with one seat. That was soon too small for the family and then we had two black horses, Billy and Dick, and a double buggy. They were skittish horses and gave us a few scares.
There was a two story, white brick schoolhouse in Delhi, with two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. One upstairs room was the assembly hall. One time when I was very small I was at home with the measles. Lightning struck the school building on the corner where one stairway was. (There was a separate stairway up to the assembly room). My sister was at school, but no one was hurt and no damage occurred, except to the stairway.
There were three teachers, the principal, Mr. Laidlaw, and two lady teachers. Two of the teachers I had were girls who lived in Delhi: Miss Barbara Cummings and Miss Sadie Stewart and later a teacher who came from Wisconsin: Miss Etta Kinsman. They were all nice teachers.
When I was three years old, the folks went to Tennessee where father bought some timber land. Lloyd was a baby, so he went with them, but Ella May and I stayed with grandpa and grandma in Marietta. Grandpa went shopping and when he came home, he gave us some gum to chew. I swallowed mine and grandma made grandpa hitch up his horses and go back to town for a bottle of syrup of figs and she gave me a dose.
In 1902 father became ill with chronic bronchial trouble. His doctor told him he should go to a warmer climate, so we sold most of our possessions and moved to a little place called Montoya in New Mexico.
Our teachers gave a farewell party for the four Browne children. After lunch, the principal, Mr. Laidlaw, had all the children march up the stairs to the assembly room. They had a program and cakes and lemonade. We each got four presents, one from our own teacher and one from each of the three rooms. The ones from the three rooms were books. We were sorry to leave our school.
Before leaving Delhi, I should tell you about ice-cream back in those days. I don't remember that they sold it in the stores then. Of course we didn't have refrigerators. We didn't have electricity. We used coal oil for our lights. About the only time we had ice cream was on the Fourth of July.
The lady who had the hotel had an ice house with double walls and saw dust packed between. In the winter, they went down to the Minnesota River and sawed out big cakes of ice and stored them in their ice house and it would keep pretty well into the summer. On the Fourth of July, the folks would buy a big chunk of ice from Mrs. House and we had a freezer (non-electrical of course!) and made ice cream. What a treat it was for all of us!My Grandma and her brother and sister (my Grand Aunt and Grand Uncle), from l-r, Lloyd Sanderson Browne, born Feb. 21, 1894, died March 4, 1932; Ella May Browne, born Oct. 20, 1890, died Aug. 29, 1905 at aged 15 of tuberculosis; and my grandma: Hazel Florence Browne (Curtis), born Feb. 22, 1892, in Boynton, North Dakota during a raging blizzard, died Sept. 11, 1982 at aged 90 in Woodland, California of pneumonia. My parents were with her at the hospital when she passed; and my best friend and I were in my grandma's house, where I had been living with her. At the moment of her passing, she heard her shuffle down the hall of her house in her slippers just as she so often did in life.My grandma's Uncle Thomas Browne, born April 11, 1850 and Aunt Agnes with their three youngest children: Annie, Nora (born 1892) and Sadie (born 1894) (l-r). Annie fell when she was a baby and was crippled. She died at age 15. There were three older children, not pictured: Will, Clara and Robert. Photo was property of Mrs. G.M. Browne (my grandma's mom). (These would be my Great Grand Uncle and Great Grand Aunt and first cousins two times removed).My maternal Great Grandfather George M. Browne, born Feb. 14, 1863 in Ontario, Canada. Picture taken around 1899 when he was station agent and telegrapher at the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. He was station agent at the depot in Redwood Falls, Minnesota around the time that Mr. Sears of Sears Roebuck got his start there selling watches. My grandma had an article in the Saturday Evening Post with the story and a painting of the depot where my grandma lived when she was little. She pointed out her room which she could tell by the location of the big tree in the yard. I visited Redwood Falls, Minnesota about 14 years ago and while the depot is gone, they have a commemorative model of it and a plaque with the historical information, which I have pictures of. The tree whose branches overlooked my grandma's bedroom window when she was a little girl is still there. .Photo taken Delhi, Minnesota. He married Mary Helen Baker in Gary, South Dakota in Dec. 1886. Due to his declining health (he had Bright's Disease) they later moved to New Mexico and then California where his daughter (my Grandma) married and resided on the farm where my mom was born and raised and where I grew up and on which my brother and his family still live.The Baker sisters: My Great Grandmother (sitting on left) Mary Helen Baker (Browne) born July 23, 1869 in Blue Earth, Minnesota, died Nov. 1935 in Auburn, California, aged 66; and my Great Grand Aunts Lucy Baker (Onstad) (sitting on right) born July 21, 1867, died Dec. 1896 at the age of 29; Ella Delora Baker (Silvernale) (standing on left) born Sept. 10, 1876; and Florence Ansley Baker (Landon) (standing on right) born July 10, 1880. Photo taken in Dawson Minnesota shortly before Lucy's death. Their mother was Hannah Maria South. Their father was John Wesley Baker. The Baker line is very well detailed and documented in a published genealogy of which I have a copy and to which my Grandma added a supplement. It traces the family in detail back to my 8th Great Grandfather Edward Baker who came to America on the Winthrop fleet in 1630 and was a prominent founding father of Lynn, Massachussetts, USA (now Saugus). Baker's Hill, which is a suburb of Boston, retains his name to this day.My Great Grand Uncle William H. Browne, born Sept. 28, 1860, on left with his family. The only ones I can identify are his twins (the girl and boy of about the same size on either side of photo): Alice and Charles. Of course, his wife seated; I don't know her name. The gentleman seated on right is my Great Grand Uncle John L. Browne, born Nov. 23, 1853. William lived in Denver and was a city engineer in charge of the city's water supply. John was a carpenter and contractor.My Great Grand Aunt Ella Delora Baker (Silvernale) born Sept. 10, 1876; my Grandma's Aunt (her mother's sister). Photo taken at studio in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Ahhh the Baker line, a wonderful thing, so well documented. I love it...Some of Ella's great grandparents were Obadiah Bardwell, Mehitable Smith and Zedekiah South! Love the names....My Grandma's Uncle John L. Browne, born Nov. 23, 1853, and her Aunt Elizabeth Browne, born Sept. 6, 1846 (my Great Grand Uncle and Great Grand Aunt). Photo taken at H.J. Chalmers studio in Madison, Minnesota.My Grandma on left, Hazel Florence Browne (Curtis) with her brothers and sister: Cyril, Lloyd and Ella May; holding five of the pups from their father's bird dog. (Circa 1898).My Grandma's Aunt Emily Justina Browne, her father's sister: born March 28, 1867, died August 10, 1888 at age 21. My great grand aunt. Photo taken at H.J. Chalmers studio in Madison, Minnesota.My grandma's sister Ella May Browne, born October 20, 1890; died August 29, 1905 at aged 15 from tuberculosis.My Great Grandfather George M. Browne, after a serious illness. Born Feb. 14, 1863 in Ontario, Canada; died Dec. 1929. Photo taken at the Post Office Building at 23 4th St. South in Minneapolis, Minnesota by W.A. Nye.The John Simon Baker Family: my grandma's maternal grandparents and their children...my 2nd great grandparents and my great grand aunts and uncles...John and his son, George, were both prominent citizens in their small town in Minnesota. George started up a local bank and was president of that institution for many years. John was a Civil War hero and was injured in the war. He could hear the soldiers tramping by on their march to Atlanta as he lay in his hospital bed. Years later John desired to return to Tennessee and visit some land purchased by his son-in-law (my great grandfather, George Browne). While he was there, he suffered a heart attack and died in Hillsboro. John's lineage descends directly from King Henry II of England, who was my 22nd great grandfather; (and many more generations are recorded even further back than that). There are biographies written about George and others in which John is included. Hannah's grandfather, Zedekiah South, fought in the Revolutionary War. Online archives have records of Zedekiah including a receipt for shoed he acquired for his troops and his pension information. He was my 4th great grandfather. Parents seated: John S. Baker, born Dec. 29, 1841 in Fayetteville, New York, died Dec. 21, 1912 in Hillsboro, Tennessee; Hannah Maria (South) Baker, born Oct. 15, 1845, Springville, New York, died Sept. 13, 1935 in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Children (back row, left to right): George, born July 5, 1871; Lucy, born July 21, 1867, and Mary Helen (my grandma's mother), born July 23, 1869 in Blue Earth, Minnesota, died Nov. 1935 in Auburn, California. Children (front row, left to right): Florence Ansley, Born July 10, 1880 and Ella Delora, born Sept. 10, 1876 . Photo taken at the photography studio of Olson & Anderson, in Montevideo, Minnesota.My Grandma's Aunt Emily Justina Browne, her father's sister: born March 28, 1867, died August 10, 1888 at age 21. My great grand aunt. Photo taken at H.J. Chalmers studio in Madison, Minnesota.My 2nd Great Grandmother Hannah Maria (South) Baker, on my mother's side, born October 15, 1845 in Springville, Erie, New York; died Sept. 13, 1935 in Redwood Falls, Minnesota and her grand daughter, Freda May Laudon (my first cousin, two times removed), born March 20, 1913. Photo taken at Scenic City Studio in Redwood Falls, Minnesota.Helen Porterfield; one of my grandma's, (Hazel Florence Browne (Curtis)'s, childhood playmates in Minnesota.My grandma's childhood friends from Delhi, Minnesota, circa 1899: Edna, Hilma and Arthur Borg of Dellhi, Minnesota. Photo taken at N.B. Andersen studios in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. My grandma's "boyfriend" in 2nd grade was the Borgs' cousin Oscar Lagerstrom who later went on to become a revolutionizing, Oscar winning Hollywood sound man.Edna Borg with her baby. Edna was the best friend of my grandma's sister: Ella May, when they were school girls. Ella May died at the age of 15 from tuberculosis. Photo taken at Scenic City Studio in Redwood Falls, Minnesota.T.J. Treadwell and family, Delhi, Minnesota--Masonic friend of my grandma's father (my great grandfather George McLelland Browne). T.J. operated a wheat elevator near the train depot where my grandma and her family lived.Mr. Schooley and family in Delhi, Minnesota. Mr. Schooley was the harnessmaker and sold saddles and mended shoes.John Borg and his wife: friends of my grandma and her family in Delhi, Minnesota. Parents to the Borg children in previous photo.This is Suzy. Photo was taken sometime prior to Dec. 1886 at the W.H. Baker photography studio at 448 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, New York. I'm sorry to say Suzy isn't part of my family and must go in the Friends Album. As my sweet little prim and proper Grandma recorded on the back of the photo: "Suzy, Friend of Father Before He Married Mother". This could also be categorized as "what if"....I'm also very sorry that Suzy must now go throughout my history and story telling here without a last name.My grandma's childhood friend, Mabel Borg, in Delhi, Minnesota. This was my grandma's best friend and often let her play with her bicycle, which was called a velocipede at the time and is mentioned in my grandma's story. Just look at this old-fashioned bicycle! Photo taken at Ennor & Childs Railway Studio Headquartered in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. (They even had a railway photography studio!)This is my grandma's childhood doll. She is a porcelain doll from the later 1800's. My grandma would have been playing with this doll throughout her childhood in Minnesota. When I was a little girl, my grandma gave her doll to me. She lovingly and painstakingly sewed a beautiful ensemble for the doll to wear, including this lovely dress and ribbon. I will show a close up of her detailed "undergarments" in some additional photos. I cry and cry as I look at the love and detail she put into sewing this outfit; to give her doll to me. Oh how I miss her, and how I know I didn't show my love and appreciation nearly enough when I was young.Some of the loving detail my grandma put into sewing the outfit for her doll when she gave her to me: her petticoat shown here, with a lacy bottom.And here are the knickers my grandma sewed for the doll, with elastic waist and everything! Such painstaking detail!She even sewed knee-high nylons for the doll, with a hem on top to make them stay up. Throughout the turmoils of life, and moving; one of them has been lost!Almyra Winston, My 3rd Great Grandmother, Born Stephentown, New York, August 22, 1803; on my mother's side of the family. Died January 5, 1896, Royalton, Wisconsin. Thisi is Hannah Maria South's (pictured previously in Family album) mother; Hannah Maria was Mary Helen Baker's mother; Mary Helen was my grandma's mother (Hazel Florence who wrote Grandma's Stories). Mary Helen (Baker) Browne, my maternal great grandmother, born Blue Earth City, Minnesota, USA, July 23, 1869. Mary Helen was the last surname Baker in my direct line. The Bakers were prominent Puritans and settlers of New England from the 1600's through the 1800's, having come across from England on the Winthrop Fleet. My Great Grandfather, George M. Browne The back of the photograph of my great grandmother (Mary Helen (Baker) Browne).