Thursday, November 18, 2010

Family History Time: Grandmother's Birthday

Clara Anna JOSEPH was born on 22 November 1894 in Ivy Landing, Monroe County, Illinois. She was born when her mother was 44 (old by that day's standards). She was born in a little "landing" town along the Mississippi River that has long since washed away. Her parents, Henry/Heinrich JOSEPH and Magdalena REGNER, both came from the tiny German village of Alzey but (so the story goes) did not know each other there. Alzey was a wine-growing, agricultural region, and Monroe County seemed very similar to immigrating German. Clara was the youngest of 11 children and I love the stories she told me........... like how she never went to school past third grade. Her father was a shoemaker and she did not like wearing his homemade shoes (the kids teased her) so she quit. And for whatever reason, her parents did not force the issue. At one point, Magdalena and little Clara boarded an overnight steamer for the trip upriver to St.Louis so Magdalena could visit her older married daughters. Accommodations were spartan and the little rooms had no water. Clara, like all little children, wanted a drink of water. So Magdalena bravely went up to the bar in the smokey card room and requested a drink of water for her child. They gave it to her in a heavy glass beer glass.............. which I still have. Why did she not return it or leave it? Who knows? Clara's father died on 22 Feb 1917 of stomach cancer. But Clara married George Louis Gurney on 12 April 1917 just as he was entering Basic Training at the Great Lakes Naval Station. Lucky for me, WW I ended before he was finished. I think this photo is the nearest thing to a wedding photo that I have. Clara died in 1973; thank goodness I got to know her and spend some time with her.

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