Monday, January 14, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: McKenney (Part 3)


This final installment in the McKenney series was printed in February, 1962 by J. Wilson McKenney.  There were only 120 copies made.

J Wilson McKenney

Since producing this little booklet almost three years ago, I have received several letters correcting or amplifying entries in the McKenney story.  This addenda is offered as tribute for my errors.  But who will go on from here to produce a truly creditable genealogy?

Last summer Ruth and I drove across country, stopping to visit in Missouri.  At an ancient courthouse in Harrisonville, seat of Cass County, I discovered only two McKinneys (note spelling) in official records of births.  I was told a fire had destroyed records prior to 1883.

Berta McKinney is the name on the card.  Lavina is given as the mother's name and the birthplace is noted as Austin township, northeast of Archie.  The birth of Lawrence McKinney (without the Jesse) is recorded as February 1, 1886, about two months after the date in the family Bible.  The father's name is noted as Jonathan, age 42; the mother's as Luvina, age 30.  The attending physician in both cases was Dr. W.A. Tout, of Archie.  Apparently prosperous enough to purchase a Tout family history, he had no patience with small details like patient's names. [Touting his own horn?]

Dutch Corners is not a place name now known in Harrisonville.  But I learned that the town of Archie was laid out in 1880, three years after my grandparents returned to the Missouri farm from Colorado.  Cass County was named in 1849 for the Democratic candidate for President.  And that year about half the male population of the county went west to the gold fields, a trend which continued for 30 years.

I have no evidence explaining why the family name should be spelled McKinney in Missouri and McKenney in California; possibly a clerical error.

A nostalgic letter from Joe Hamm recalls his memories of a half century ago at the family farm on Magnolia Avenue:

I can remember the wonderful odors of wash day when the women folk started the fire out doors under the cast iron pot, where most things were boiled.  We were sent to gather loose brush from the cypress trees and bark from the eucalyptus trees along the car line.  What a heavenly aroma this combination of woods did make!

The irrigation ditch that bordered the front yard carried water that was wonderfully cool.  When the ditch was dry it was filled with cool interesting sand.

There was a pantry where you could almost always pick up a cold biscuit or muffin to munch on between meals.  The store room off the other end of the kitchen had a heady smell of smoked hams and whole roasted coffee beans.

Wakened in the morning, you could hear Grandma stirring about in the kitchen, where, on the old wood stove, she would put together a farmer breakfast of hot biscuits and honey, mush, ham and eggs....

It was a rich and rewarding lifetime exposure some of us have been priviledged to enjoy near the warmth and love of this unique and grand family, the McKenneys.

Yes, Joe, the sights and sounds and smells of that time and place are well remembered, leaving a taste of sweetness we were never to know again.  The trees on the Avenue were friendly giants -- how could they grow so small in another generation?  The limbs were kind to small climbers...the hay was so fragrant... I was told I could capture the crows by sprinkling salt on their tails.  Life's first great disillusionment came as I trudged home, salt dissolved in sweaty palm, bare feet sore from racing on stubble, and the laughter of the haying crew ringing in my ears.

Joseph, with the bright memory, was an actor in his youth, entered the Los Angeles county fire department in 1929, became its Safety Director, and retired in 1961.  His father, John F. Hamm, husband of Kate, died in 1957.  Son Laurence Manly Hamm, after Army discharge in 1919, engaged in the plumbing contracting business with his father in Alhambra, bought the business in 1927, and still operates L.M. Hamm, Inc.  He has three grandsons and six granddaughters.  His sister, Hazel Pruett -- my age -- lives in Baldwin Park.

Corrections in my original "McKenney" story are many; it will probably never be brought up to date.

Uncle Marion, known as 'Mame', died in 1905; he had four sons, three of whom are living.  Earl, born in June 1900, died in 1958.  He married in 1923 and fathered three sons: Francis, Earl, and Galen.  Allen, born October 31, 1901, married, has no offspring.  Willy, born July 14, 1903, married in 1929, has three children.  Lewis, born January 6, 1905, married Vyvan Smith in 1929, had two daughters, was divorced.  With the rank of Major, U.S. Army, ret., he married Patricia Swahn in 1954, made his home in Costa Mesa. His name is listed locally as McKenny.

Bernice married James Millikin, not Mulligan.  Her son, Gilbert, a resident of Costa Mesa, married Ruth Trapp in 1939, had a son named George.  He married Natalie Mathews in 1956 and they have three sons: Larry, Bruce, and Brian.  Bernice's son, Bruce, died in 1959.

Ten sons and daughters of Jonathan W. McKenney are shown here as they appeared at the 1938 family reunion.  Now, 24 years later, two brothers and three sisters are dead.  Shown, left to right, are Mildred, Grace, Emma, Kate, Bernice...

...John, Ralph, Birt, Joe and Al. 

Blanche's daughter, Addie, now living in Whittier, married John Marion Cain, who died in 1918.  Her brother, George Wilson Doyle, died in 1944.  His son, Joseph, born 1928, died in Veterans' Hospital in 1959.  George's daughter Patricia has five children; son Lawrence, who also bears the middle name of Wilson, is father of two.  George's wife, Irene, who lives now in Bowie, Arizona, says Lawrence flies jets and looks like an earlier version of me.

Uncle Al died in 1953 and his wife Jessie died in 1959.  She had lived with daughter Francis in Colton after leaving her Yucaipa home.  Cousin Richard, who had farmed with his father at Bloomington and Coachella Valley, moved to Costa Mesa, married Helen Allen, had a son, Richard Allen [1935], divorced.  He married Margaret McFarland in 1955, Ronald Allen was born the next year. [Actually, its McLaughlin and they had no children -Stachia]

Aunt Mildred, that wonderful spirit who taught in San Joaquin Valley so many years ago, died of cancer March 2, 1961.  Uncle Charlie, her companion for 41 years, spent Christmas with 11 grandsons and 3 granddaughters--and a great lonliness.  Betty Davy bore her Kevin James in 1959 and Alys Erickson mothered her Theodore Von in 1961.

Birt was buried February 6, 1961, a month before Mildred's death.  He had lived alone at the Maywood Hotel for many years but for some time he lived near Manly's home in Alhambra in order to visit Emma.

Emma still sews, a skill she has used since leaving her grocery store in Laguna Beach.  Her daughter Mildred lives at Laguna.  What fun Milly and I had in the summer of 1916 [she was only 5 but I was 8] as we searched for coffee shells and marine life on those unspoiled beaches! She is the wife of Ed Hobert -- not Hyatt -- whom she married in 1940.  Mildred's daughter Carolyn married Peter Burr in 1960, had a child last year.  Marian is a resident of Fullerton, Catherine of Garden Grove.

Aunt Grace and Uncle Dee have lived in Laguna Beach since the early 20s; Dee was a mechanic for the city for many years.  Ruth married Douglas K. Perrin in 1940 and Margaret married Lawrence W. Taylor in 1941; all live in Laguna.

Ralph, now 69, claims to be the "oldest active fireman in the Sixth Army."  Long a resident of Flagstaff, Arizona, he has become a senior warden in his local Masonic Lodge.

John, youngest of the 14, retired as an industrial electrician in 1960, now enjoys bowling, gardening.  Daughter Phyllis married Donald Pederson in 1946; they have an 11-year-old named Susan Lisa.

My father, Joseph W., will be 80 this year, the oldest surviving member of the family.  He has had a quiet retirement from cabinet work in Long Beach and San Bernardino, but rarely writes.  He is proud of his 58 years membership in the Masonic Lodge; he took his first degree in Buena Park in 1903, was enrolled in the honorary 32nd degree in 1958.

My sister, Jo, still operates a clothing store in Hermosa Beach; Husband Bob is a veteran executive at Northrup Aircraft.  Son Robert Neal is a father; Gary Arthur, 20, is completing his printing apprenticeship.

Since leaving Compton Junior College in 1930, I have been constantly engaged with words, type and paper.  From 1933 to 1950 I owned and edited four weekly newspapers, was co-founder of Desert Magazine.  Since 1952 I have been editor of CTA Journal for the California Teachers Association.  Daughters Pat Stewart (a beautiful girl, Jennifer) and Jody Lakner (two fine boys, Roger and Frederick) live near us.  Son Jon, a language specialist, left for Nurenburg in January for a two-year tour with the Army.  All of them were with us at Christmas time.


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