As we have returned to Adair County in 2007, I have been drawn toward deepening my understanding of Family History. Perhaps it is both a function of our move but also a function of my being in my early 60s. It seems the older one gets the more we are often drawn toward putting together the pieces of our past. For me, it has multiple functions of honoring those who have gone before, preserving those stories for future generations (if we don't, who will?), and a seeking to know who they were and who I am.
When I recognized that almost 100 years of our Family History sits in the North End of Kirksville, I felt that I had found some common threads that were asking to be re-woven together. As a writer, I am always looking for ways to bring Story to light in ways that are most meaningful and most whole. Recapturing those stories through the common geography seems 1 way.
I have noted below some of those connections which I would like to weave together. These are rough notes. I would invite other Family Members to share Stories that help to flesh this out, should they feel drawn to. Dates and locations are approximate. I need to head into the Family Treasures of Pictures, Artifacts, and Oral Histories. I need to head to the Courthouse to check out exact locations. This is a bigger project, but one I am eager to sink my teeth into.
Once again, I headed back to the 1919 Plat Map of Adair County. Melanie (my able assistant in such photographic matters) and I positioned the Colored Pencils to mark the following locations:
(Blue Pencil) Fred Albert and Lottie (Hart) Brenz moved with their growing girls (Thelma Louise, Ruthirene, and Dorothy Ione) to Mary Street in about 1927. They had lost their Farm and subsequently the Neighborhood in the Porter School District, both of which were beloved to them and their family. Lottie's health due to an accident had placed new demands on their family situation which made rural living very difficult. Mother has pointed that location out to me; the house is gone.
(Green) Marking the 1st known connection of our Family to the area, Frederick and Matilda (Waibel) Brenz would have settled there at least by the 1870s. Their house's address would have been 422 West Burton. Their little House sat in front of a 2-3 acre pasture. Our last connection to the area was when the property was sold at the passing of the last of their Children (Della and Clara) in 1968.
(Yellow) Isaac and Catherine (Powell) South moved "kitty corner" across the street from the Brenz's. (Please note that in the present moment exact location is unclear.) Isaac was a long time farmer, just prior to the move, in the Willmathsville area. They lived at that address in the North End at least around 1905 until their passing a few years later. Their Granddaughter was Lottie (Lillian or Dean) Hart. She was raised by her parents west of Willmathsville. Lottie took training at the Music Conservatory in Kirksville. She lived on the weekends with her parents and took the train to Kirksville to live with her grandparents during the week. Word has it that the Grandparents Isaac and Catherine, and Mother Matilda Waibel Brenz wanted Lottie and Fred (Brenz) to meet. They did. They were married in 1911.
(Orange) Lottie's parents [Robert Nelson and Louisa (South) Hart] had decided to move to Kirksville. Their property was close by the Brenz and South properties. (Please note that in the present moment exact location is unclear.) In the midst of their move (ca. 1914), Robert Nelson Hart took what he thought was his medicine; it was not and he died shortly thereafter.
(Red) Kazimir and Dragica Blaskovic raised 4 of 6 Children at 1019 N. Osteopathy. The 1st was born and died in Iowa; the 6th (and last) was born and died at this address. The Family moved to this address sometime after Joe was born in about 1915. Kazimir's work in the Coal Mines had meant at least 2 moves (Novinger, Missouri, and Fraker, Iowa) before my Father was born there in 1918. This "North End" Neighborhood was a place where the new Croatian immigrants settled. Many, if not all of the Immigrants, came from some of the same Villages in Gorski Kotar, which was then part of the Austro Hungarian Empire. I wonder whose houses were up and down that street. I know the Crnic Grocery Store was a magnet for the Neighborhood. Kazimir and Dragica left in 1945 when Kazimir's health deteriorated after a fall. They moved to be closer to their 2 daughters and Dragica's sister in Des Moines. My Father was newly home from the War and helped them move that October. Kazimir died in Des Moines in 1946.
Map: 1919 Plat Map of Adair County.