Sunday, June 25, 2017

Uncle Jimmie

Uncle Jimmie
by Lloyd Lawry

Uncle Jimmie, Jimmie Armine Lawry, was born April 3, 1891, and died December 29, 1955. He went to the local grade school, but as far as I know, he never attended high school.

He spent his life as a farm laborer. For recreation, he loved to hunt and fish. He was always willing to take any of his nephews with him to fish or run his trap lines.

He served in France during World War I. Apparently, he served in a warehouse, and at least part of the time he helped handle bodies which were to be shipped back to the United States.

After the war, he was subject to long bouts of depression. He would stay in bed except for trips to the outdoor outhouse for weeks at a time, never eating unless food was brought to him. Evidently, he needed psychiatric care, but he never received it.

Apparently, over the years he loaned substantial amounts of money to various women and to a few men who never repaid him.

His life ended on a tragic note as a result of the continual trust in women, to whom he was romantically inclined. He had gone to Ft. Scott to take care of a woman's home and pets while she went on a vacation. When she came back, she brought a new husband with her.

As Jimmie hoped to marry her himself, he was horribly depressed, and went home and shot himself. It was tragic for a kind, gentle man who had suffered much from being used by people he loved and trusted.

Letter From Grace Lawry to William Lawry - March 17, 1923

This letter was written by Grace Lawry to William Lawry, Grandpa Lawry's son by his first marriage, after Grandpa Lawry's death.

Bronson, Kansas
March 17, 1923

My Dear Willie for you are the same to me as when I first saw you so many years ago. I was indeed thankful that you thought enough of me to write so kind a letter. May God bless you and make you a good father to your children who he has entrusted to you to care for.

Well Billie times are hard with us too. Jimmie has not been able to do a days work for over a year and is no better now. 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. So Sadie is all I have to help me unless dear Jimmie gets strong again.

I always tried hard to be a good wife and mother. Sometimes I think I have made a failure. But Billie, I can say Pa always had some money of his very own. I always gave him part of any I had and he was always willing to loan one of the children a dollar if they wanted it. I miss hlm every place.

He was getting childish. He talked so much about old times. He always said he never wanted to suffer like hls father did. He died so easy. Sadie and I had just put him in a rocking chair and brought him from his bedroom into the setting room. And he laid down on his couch and I was going to put his socks on when I saw he was dying and Sadie saw and said Oh Ma he is dead.

His last words were “Come on Grace." He had quit chewing tobacco and maybe that made him weak. He said that just before Christmas he dreamed that his little brother Jimmie came to him and took hold of his hand and said Pa do you chew tobacco and he said yes Jimmie and little Jimmie said Pa you must quit using tobacco or you can’t come to heaven and Billie he quit. Wasn't he brave after using it so long. He told everyone his dream. He thought of it so much.

It seems like I have had so many hard trials but I am still trusting One who has promised never to leave us or forsake us. That is a blessed hope for me.

Dear Sadie is so discouraged. She hasn’t taught school for so long and has had so much expense, and feels her father's death so deeply dear child.

It is cold and windy today. It has been nice winter and we may have a late spring.

I hope you and your family are all well. As you know you never sent me your last boys picture; is he as sweet as Floyd. Well tell your wife and Isola I think of them. Please write soon and often for we are lonesome. From one who will always remember you.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

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.