Archive for January 11, 2011

Selling points of St. John, Kansas

You just never know what you will find when going through old correspondence and other memorabilia.  God bless the pack rats but someone has to make sense of things and I guess it might as well be me.  I enjoy reading through yellowed newspaper clippings and also trying to decipher people’s penmanship.  I can say this from all the letters and diaries I’ve looked at, my ancestors from the Norwegian side of the family had very good hand writing.  (I wish I had much better penmanship, the computer is partly to blame for my scrawl!)

Looking over my husband’s grandmother letters, who probably had so much work to do that she dashed it off quickly, it takes longer to read her writing.  I only saw one letter dated in 1919 from my husband’s GREAT grandmother and she had terrible spelling and grammar.  Again, my Norwegian ancestors cared about how they wrote even if English was their second language.  I may have to type up an example showing a bad example from a person who had English ancestry.  Better yet, I’ll try to scan the 1919 lined paper that is very aged and yellowed.

For now, I want to share what was written up in a St. John, Kansas newspaper about my husband’s grandfather W.R. Gray.  It was a kind of promotional to get people to live in the town of St. John.  The businesses were trying to promote what an amazing little town they had by listing all the different industrial and businesses that were already established by 1921.  Here’s what was written about W.R. Gray:

“…Last, but by no means least, isthe St. John Art Gallery, owned and managed by W.R. Gray.  Mr. Gray has the reputation of being one of the very best photographers in Central Kansas and always keeps abreast of the times in photography.  People come from far out of hte St. John trade territory to have their photo work done in Mr. Gray’s studio.

So, as we said before in this article, the publication of our long list of industrial articles was made possible by the patronage of the wide-awake firms mentioned above and the News, on behalf of both ourselves and Mr. Evans, desires to publicly thank them.

During the publication of the series, Mr. Evans touched upon county resources in general, also education, churches and commercial life, real estate, etc. Mr. Evans has showed quite clearly that real estate in the vicinity of St. John is much cheaper considering the price, than in the older agricultural states of Illinois, Iowa and Indiana…”

So, one last poem I had to share that might have been an original with W.R. Gray but I doubt it.  I think it is cute and was in a little notebook where you have to flip the pages to get the next answer.  The title is: “Such is Life” by Jessie Gray, she was a single woman all her life in the small town of St. John, Kansas and kept her father’s photography business going after his death in 1947.

They were out upon a picnic, and were sitting on the sand.

The moon was shining brightly, and he held her little ______?


As he held her little shawl, how fast the time did fly,

His eyes were filled with longing, as he looked into her _______?

…lunch basket.

As he looked into her lunch basket, and wished he had a taste.

He seemed supremely happy, his arms around her________?


With his arms around her parasol, fortunate for this young chap,

With happiness she trembled, as she sat upon his_______?


She sat upon his handkerchief, this charming sweet young miss

Her lips an invitation, he slyly stole a _______???


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