Sunday, June 18, 2017

Table of Contents

This collection of stories and family history was put together by my Uncle Lloyd Lawry. I was blessed to have been given a copy of his collection.I am transcribing the collection to this blog so that more family members will have access to his writing and documents that he saved.

Memories of Hazel
Aunt Sadie

The Lawry Family

Grandma, Mrs. Grace (Yeager) Helms, was married to my grandpa, George W. Lawry, on May 2, 1886.

It is indicative of the hard times they were to experience that, only one year after Grandma and Grandpa were married, they had to mortgage the farm that Daniel Helms, her first husband, had bought. The patent covering Mr. Helms purchase of the farm was issued at that time (1887). Apparently, the farm stayed in Daniel Helms name untiL 1929, when after Grandma Lawry's death, Aunt Sadie bought it from the heirs of "Dan Helms and Grace Helms Lawry,” for $2000.

The patent states "said tract has been purchased by the said Daniel Helms, and he paid, therefore, the fuIl amount of the purchase money, and interest, as appears from the certificate of the county clerk of Allen County Kansas, deposited in the state land office.”

Aunt Sadie was born March 20, 1887, just less than a year after Grandma and Grandpa Lawry were married. At that time Grandpa's eyesight had probably begun to fail as he was blinded by cataracts in 1888 when Sadie was only a year old. At the time he lost his eyesight they had Sadie and the three Helms children, Henry, James, and Nannie to support.

This is an excerpt from a letter Grandma wrote to William Lawry, Grandpa's son by his first marriage, after Grandpa's death in 1923: "I have always had to work so hard to try to have something for my children to eat when they was young, and as fast as the boys growed up they went to work for themselves.”

My Daddy said he worked the farm by himself when he was 11. This was with horse-drawn plows and cultivators. The operator had to walk behind them up and down the long rows. If they raised corn, it had to be shucked by hand.

Grandma and Grandpa Lawry had seven children:
Sadie Emma Lawry - born March 20, 1887 - died December 24, 1973 - never married
George Newton Lawry - born March 5, 1889 - died March 13, 1959 - married Gladys Moore
Jimmie Armlne Lawry - born April 3, 1891 - died December 29, 1955 - never married
Mary Susie Lawry - born March 20, 1893 - died June 27, 1990 - married John Ermel
Bennie Eugene Lawry - born February 15, 1895 - died December 2, 1981 - married (1st) Lucille McDaniel – 1918 divorced. Married (2nd) Hazel Reeve - 1927
Johnnie William Lawry – born April 17, 1897 – died October 9, 1984 – married Chrystal Faye Larue
Charlie Everett Lawry - born October 25, 1899 – died September 25, 1901

Grandma Lawry was a sweet, gentle woman who worked terribly hard all of her married life. She loved the Lord and loved her family. She was extremely frugal. As an example, Sadie had bought some old- fashioned high button shoes for 25 cents a pair. After Grandma's death, one pair was found in her closet with corn cobs wedged inside the heel to stretch them. Sadie always required her Mother to work very hard.

Although small in stature, Grandma Lawry was a giant in the Lord. In renewing her subscription to The Church Herald and Holiness Banner she wrote, “Jesus keeps all care away and watches over me every moment of my life. Praise His Name! Even though I am 72 years old, He is the same Dear Friend yesterday and today and as long as life shall last.”

Just before she died, she lifted her arms and cried; “Bright! Bright!” Perhaps Jesus gave her a glimpse of His glory and heaven.

She requested her children to read 1 Samuel 16:7 when she had gone home to be with Jesus. “But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature, because I have refused Him; for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

The Helms Family

My Grandma, Grace Yeager, was born near Lawrenceville, Indiana in Dearborn County on April 22, 1856; The daughter of Nicholas and Ellenor Yeager.

In 1867 when she was 11 years o1d she came to Kansas with her parents and her brother John W., her sister Nancy, and her half-brother Willie. They made the trip in a covered wagon pulled by oxen. They settled in what is now Allen County.

Nicholas Yeager's parents were Joseph and Margaret (Everlee) Yeager. Ellenor Yeager's parents were John Wilson and Grace (Van Kirk) Wilson.

Grandma's mother Ellenor Yeager died in 1870. Her Daddy, Nicholas Yeager, died in 1880. They are both buried in Old Elsmore Cemetary south of Moran, Kansas.

Grandma married her first husband, Daniel Helms, on March 2, 1876, at Elsmore, Kansas. She was 18, and he was 32.

Daniel Helms bought the old home place near Bronson, Kansas on a "State Patent." My cousin Lowell Lawry obtained a copy of the patent and gave me a copy.

The patent was not issued until 1887, apparently only after Grandma and Grandpa Lawry took out a mortgage on the place in 1887, though Daniel Helms had died in 1880.

Grandma and Daniel Helms first lived in a one room house located about 1/4 mile south of the second house which Daniel built later. Their two sons Henry Finley Helms and James N. Helms were born in the first house.

Nannie Leota Helms, their only daughter, was born after her Daddy's death in the second house which her Daddy had built before he died.

Daniel Helms died tragically in 1880. He was just recuperating from typhoid fever when a neighbor's cows got into his cornfield and ruined a lot of it. Daniel had a very quick temper, and against the protest of a friend, Wm. H. Fuhrman, he went to the neighbor's house and got into a very heated dispute. Apparently already weak from his recent illness and extremely upset, he again became ill.

Grandma had Mr. Fuhrman go to Uniontown for the doctor (Dr.Halm). When he got there, he explained the circumstances to the doctor. The doctor said he was sure Mr. Herms was going to die, but that he would go to see him. Mr. Herms died that evening, October 7, 1880. He and Grandma had been married only four years and seven months. He is buried in the Old Elsmore Cemetary.

That was a tragic time for Grandma. At the age of 23, she was a widow with two little boys, ages four years and one year, and she was expecting another baby.

After Mr. Helms was buried, Grandma took her last 50 dollars and bought his tombstone which stands in the Old Elsmore Cemetary. Grandma's friends and relatives tried to get her to keep the money to care for her two boys and the baby she was expecting, but she said she might never have the money again and she wanted him to have a grave marker. The inscription on his grave marker reads, "Free from all care and pain, Asleep my body lies, until the final resurrection calls, The dead in Christ Arise.”

I have always felt that Grandma loved Daniel Helms more than my Grandpa Lawry. When she died, she was buried next to Mr. Helms; several spaces away from my Grandpa.

Aunt Nannie Helms was born in 1881 several months after her Daddy died. I had wondered how Grandma managed on the farm with three IittIe children. Oscar Burrows said that Grandma went to live with her sister in Uniontown. She rented the farm to Sam Helms, a relative of her late husband.

Three children were born to my Grandma and Daniel Helms:
1. Henry F. Helms - Born 1876 - Died 1892 of typhoid fever
2. James N. Helms - Born 1879 - Died 1959 - never married
3. Nannie L. Helms - Born 1881 - Died 1954

Aunt Nannie married John Burrows. Their only child, Oscar M. Burrows was born November 19, 1904. He married Beulah M. Skaggs on September 17, 1928. They had two children, Alvin D. Burrows - born July 23, 1929, and DeVaughn J. Burrows - born November 27, 1931.

Aunt Nannie died February 27, 1954, in the Main Street Hospital in Ft. Scott, Kansas. Uncle John Burrows died January 14, 1963, in Uniontown, Kansas. They are buried in Bronson Cemetary.

Aunt Nannie was a sweet, gentle woman like her mother. I never knew her very well. My last memory of her is when I spent the night with her and Uncle John Burrows. I had hitch-hiked over to Nevada, Missouri in search of a job and got back to Bronson about dusk. I remember I slept in a cold bedroom on a big feather bed with plenty of quilts.

Uncle Jim Helms seemed to me to be an old man when I first knew him. He was 50 when I was 10. I have a precious memory of him. Kathy and I walked into his little church in Bronson one Sunday morning with our Bibles in our hands, and he met us with big tears in his eyes, happy that we had come to worship the Lord with him.

Beulah Burrows, Aunt Nannie's daughter-in-law was leading the singing. They were singing "The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago.” I had never heard the hymn, but they sang all seven verses, and before it was finished, I was singing right along with them.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Grandpa Lawry

My Grandpa Lawry, George W. Lawry, was born near Culpepper, Fauquier County, Virginia on March 4, 1839. He came to Missouri with his parents as a small boy, and several years later he came to Kansas.

There is a tintype picture of Grandpa Lawry, his wife, and four children, estimated to have been made about 1870. William, Della, one other daughter and a baby are shown. There were eight children and five of them died in infancy. Apparently, the baby died soon after the picture was made since only William and two daughters lived to be adults. The girls became Mrs. R. E. Demsey and Mrs. Della CaII. Grandpa's wife, Mary, scratched her face off the picture in a fit of anger.

Apparently, they had a stormy marriage which ended sometime before 1886. There is a rumor in the family that Grandpa did not provide well for his family.

Grandpa was a teamster in the Kansas State Militia during the Civil War. He hauled supplies to southern Missouri for the Union Army. We have a letter dated March 22, 1899, informing him that the Kansas State Militia was never mustered into the United States service and therefore he was not entitled to a pension.

Grandpa lost his eyesight in 1888 when Aunt Sadie was only a year old. Oscar Burrows, Nannie Helms Burrows' son, spent a lot of time with Grandpa Lawry when Oscar was a smalI boy, and Grandpa talked a lot to him. When he was telling a story, he would say "sez I" and"sez E" instead of "I said," and “he said." Grandpa spent a lot of time sawing and splitting wood. Oscar says Grandpa "sharpened" on his saw a lot, but being blind at that time; he made the saw duller instead of sharper.

Before Grandpa lost his eyesight completely, he quarried limestone rocks by hand and laid stone fences around their feed lots. Several years later Grandma sold many of the rocks to be crushed for paving roads. Enough of the rock walls were left for me and some of the other grandchildren to play on when we were small.

He was saved in a meeting held by G. W. Herrell and wife at Bronson, Kansas in 1905. During his illness he many times said he was ready to go. He died February 25, 1923.

Aunt Sadie

Aunt Sadie, Grandpa and Grandma Lawry's first child was born March 20, 1887, and died December 24, 1973.

As the family was desperately poor, she had to have a job as soon as she was able to find one. At that time a High School Graduate could go to "Normal School" for six weeks and qualify to teach school. Aunt Sadie did this and started teaching school in 1905. She probably got $40 a month for teaching a one room school which could consist of all grades, 1 through 8.

We have a school directory for 1925-1926 which shows her salary at $65 a month for the 8-month term.

By 1910 she was able to have the house on the oId home farm remodeled to a five-room cottage. It remained until the place was sold after her death.

She always worked very hard but expected everyone else to work hard too on jobs she wanted to be done around the farm. She raised chickens and kept cows, selling eggs and cream. She always made poor Grandma work so hard that the family was upset with her. Daddy always dreaded going to see her as she always had a hard job for him to do.

She was a life-long spinster, but apparently she fell in love with a young man in Western Kansas while cooking for a farmer one summer. He was to come to Bronson in the fall and marry her, but it is thought the farmer, she had cooked for, turned him against her and he never came. She was always bitter toward men after that.

She taught school until she couldn't get a position because she couldn't play the piano. She was always bitter about that too.

She had a heavy portion of the Lawry pessimism and depression. If one of her hens died, she would say, "all of my chickens are dying."

She lived alone after Grandma died and finally went to a nursing home where she died. She was mad at her brothers and sister because none of them would take care of her instead of sending her to the nursing home. None of them wanted to put up with her bitter, pessimistic personality.

She left all of her possessions except some furniture to George N. Lawry's boys. She left the furniture and personal possessions to the Ermel girls, Mary's children. Uncle Johnnie was bitter about that.


Sadie Lawry, in the back seat behind the driver, owned a Motel T Ford and drove it weekly to Bronson, Kansas from her home southwest of town. Edward Swink was a mechanic in town and kept her car tuned to perfection. She asked him to drive it for the Governor's Day Parade in 1965. Bill Avery, Kansas Governor, and his wife, Hazel, are also in the photo.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Strawberries and Rugs

Strawberries and Rugs
by Cynda Lawry

When I go to the back of my mind I can only remember two things about Great-Grandma Lawry. Her strawberries are my most pleasant memory about her. They were mashed and full of sugar. She had to satisfy the Lawry sweet tooth.

Dad tells a story about Grandma Lawry and one of her sisters. They were bickering over whose strawberries were the best. He would always laugh and say that mixing a pint of each would make the best strawberries ever.

My second memory of Grandma Lawy endears me to her even though I hardly knew her. She was dying. I didn't know that then. She had been admitted into St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Smith. Her condition was absolutely hopeless. The doctor said she was going to die and might as well die at home rather than in a lonely hospital room. My parents, Grandma Pat, and Aunt Opal took me when they went to get her.

When we entered the hospital it was new and intimidating. The hospital seemed humongous and overwhelming. Nothing in the small town I lived in could compare to this. Pale statues glared at me critiquing my every move. I carefully contemplated each step because I didn't want to be convicted of some terrible crime.I gazed curiously at some funny looking ladies in bizarre clothes. They wore plain black dresses that came to about the middle of their calves. Long black fabric was draped over their heads.

Grandma's room was upstairs so we took the elevator. In front of it their was a brass plaque in the shape of a tree. Light reflected off of it scattering the colors of the rainbow everywhere. Each leaf was an individual plaque thanking some hospital supporter.

Riding the elevator was extremely exciting because I hardly ever rode in elevators. The First National Bank was the only building in Mena (the town where I lived) that had an elevator

"Ding", the elevator stopped. I exited quickly because I was afraid the doors would close on me. Even today I'm afraid of being squeezed to death by those doors.

To the left of the elevator was a gift shop. Its walls were made of glass. Through them you could see all the neat but useless trinkets that attracted the eye.

Aunt Opal took me inside. She bought me a little Christmas ornament. It was a green stuffed cat. The cat laid with its head up and it tail hanging slightly curved. I still have that ornament, Every Christmas when I see it on the tree I think about Aunt Opal and Grandma Lawry.

When we went into Grandma Lawry's room I didn't care about my dying grandmother. I was captivated by the Rudolph special that was playing on the small television in the corner of the room. The only good spot to see television was from Grandma's bed. So I immediately began to crawl into it. Daddy jumped to stop me, but Grandma objected. She wanted me up me up there with her.

That is all I remember about my Grandma.  My parents thought I was too young to go to her funeral.  Even though I only have a few tidbits of information about her, I love her.  I know she loved me too.

Memories of Hazel

by Lloyd Lawry

My relationship with Hazel got off to a poor start. Daddy had brought her to Wichita where I lived with my mother and step-father. Daddy said, "this is your new Mama," which of course, was the wrong thing to say to a little boy who loved his mother as much as I did.

The other thing I remember about their visit didn't mean much to me at the time, but it certainly touches my heart today. I can still see in my memory Hazel sitting at my mother's bedside crying because they both knew that mama was on her deathbed. I'm sure mama must have known Hazel would be good to me, because in a letter to Grandma Lawry in January 1928 she said, "of course I want to stay with Lloyd, but if I can't I know his Daddy will care for him and that makes it not so hard."

Daddy brought me to Buffville in June of 1928 to visit with him and Hazel. Of course they knew my mother would die soon. I enjoyed my visit as there were lots of things for little boys to enjoy in Buffville. On July 11,1928 Hazel wrote Grandma Lawry that Leslie and I "put in a lot of time fishing and swimming." For some time Hazel would clean the little fish I caught, but when she tired of cleaning them and told me I must clean my own, I quit bringing home so many!

Mother died July 19,1928, and I came to live with Hazel and Daddy. I was grief-stricken and resentful of Hazel, and I wasn't very nice to her. In spite of my attitude she was very patient with me. However, I remember her switching me twice - once when she left me to watch Opal on a blanket in the front yard and I ran off and left her sitting alone, and once when I ran off and avoided going to Sabbath School.

After the brickyard closed in 1929 we moved to a farm east of Buffville where we rented a house with a garden and pasture for our cow. I was lonesome and Hazel tried to find something to relieve my boredom. She had me scrub my own overalls sometimes, and had me work in the garden. I felt abused, but I thought it was all right for her to scrub the clothes!

In early September of 1931 Daddy and Grandpa Reeve left home to hunt for work. They found it in Campo, Colorado harvesting broom corn. They got 10 cents an hour and had to provide their own board and lodging.

While they were gone Grandma Reeve lived with us. The rural ice man came by twice a week and we could buy 12 1/2 pounds of ice for a dime. We would make a gallon of ice cream and the three of us would eat it all before the evening was over. Small wonder that Delbert weighed 11 3/4 pounds when he was born on September 27!

The night he was born I had to walk about 1 1/2 miles to have a neighbor phone for the doctor. I was 12 years old, but still little boy enough to be scared. I stayed with the neighbor all night and they told me in the morning I had a baby brother.

Hazel wanted me to be able to manage for myself when I left home so she taught me how to sew on buttons and mend my clothes and a little bit of about cooking.

Ruth has a small cedar chest I made when I was in the 6th grade. Hazel sold some old hens to get the two dollars to pay for the lumber.

Hazel's care for me was echoed throughput the whole Reeve clan. All of her sisters and brothers as well as Grandma and Grandpa Reeve accepted me as their own. Grandpa Reeve told me many times that I was as dear to him as his own grandchildren

I was completely grief stricken at Hazel's funeral. Losing her after the loss of the other relatives and friends in the past two years was just, the breaking point. When I told Dr. Beltz before the funeral he said that no human could comfort me, but God could.

God is slowly easing the pain and He has given me assurance that I will see Hazel after this life - as I remember her singing in the "Land of Unclouded Day."

Written by Lloyd Lawry 1/11/95