Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In the past..........

Thanks to the Penny Postcard site for sharing their photos of old.  The above building was in Murray, Iowa and was one of their first school buildings. The very first one was a wooden building this one looks like it is brick. I never saw this building and I am sure that it caught fire and was torn down. The history of these buildings usually met their final fate in that way.  I am not even certain of it's location in the town, but I figure a relative or two will help me to update that info.  I graduated from a different building in Murray that was built in the 1900's that sat on a hill that reminds me of this

Edited on December 24th,

My cousin Joan Henderson Callison wrote me the following information:

The lst and 2nd schools in Murray were in the block kitty cornered northeast across the street from the present school.  Plans were being made for the present school when the brick one, pictured above, burned a month before school was out. It was thought that it was arson. They finished going to school in churches and business buildings.  Mom, Ruby Burgus Henderson and Mary Burgus Farr would have been Juniors.  Mom said that they had to ask the kids what their grades were because all the records were burned and the boys remembered them being much higher than they actually were. Mom and Mary were in the first graduating class of the current school in 1926.Grandma & Grandpa Burgus made Mom wait a year to go to high school so she and Mary were in the same class. 

Structures like the newer one are of flat roof construction. The illustration of the Woodward building a few pictures down is typical of the early 1900's style of school building. The 1926 building that Aunt Ruby and Aunt Mary graduated from is the very same building that I graduated from in 1968, 42 years later.

Another school structure that stood in Osceola, Iowa in the past shows the tower for the school bell, a carryover from the country schools who most had a tower structure built as the entry for the school and to hold the bell. As the country grew the families grew and I am sure this building became too small to handle the number of children in the town.

A structure that still stands today is the Osceola Depot.  It is still in use and the Amtrak train stops here frequently each day. When people are ready to board the train, they line up on the concrete slab and wait as a group for the train to slowly pull up to allow them to board. I don't know how fun that would be in a rain storm or snow storm as there is not covered area for them to stand.

When I was first starting out as a teacher, I taught in Sidney, Iowa.  The county seat of Fremont County was Sidney and this is the courthouse that still stands there today.  The trees have all grown in since this was taken.  This is actually the second courthouse built here as the last one was destroyed by dynamite.   The border of Iowa is more than twenty miles away but during the Civil War, the southern soldiers didn't have maps.  They were sure that they were in Missouri so they placed explosive material inside the court house and lighted a match.

 The Underground Railroad actually did go through Sidney in the 1860's. I do know that Iowa was against slavery but I don't think Iowa ever actually was attacked by the South except for this one time.

This is the Woodward, Iowa school building that was built in the early 1900's  Originally it was a Kindergarten through Senior building and the stories were told that the bottom floor was left with a dirt floor for it's early years. The school children went down there to play during rainy days for recess.  I am assuming that the money was tight.

I do know that they later finished the floor as I taught my first four years in this building. I was in the basement room with a concrete floor.  It is the one with the right back basement windows. I started teaching there in 1976.

The cupola was said to have blown off in the 1920's.  Do you notice all the Roman influence on this structure with the pediment over the doorway and the water line base that reminds one of Venice, France?

As with all older structures in this country we tear them down after 100 years.  It was taken down in 1993 to be replaced with a single story building.

I am off theme most every time but maybe I can dig out my Grandmothers old cookbooks and create a food theme for next week.   I seem to be behind on themes or never conforming at all.  I enjoy all the themed blogs and you can see more blogs who share in Sepia Saturday by clicking here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

This old chair..........

I was watching an old PBS special about the Civil War in the United States.  They covered the shooting of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth at the theater, showing old photos and the present day historic site.  Also they described what happened after the President was shot, saying that they took him across the street from the theater and placed him in a randomly chosen boarding house room on the first floor.  They laid him out on the bed diagonally because he was too tall for the small bed. There he lay being attended to by doctors who had none of today's technology to really give him any hope of survival.

They didn't ask permission of the man who had rented the room and since he was gone at the time,  I am sure he was surprised to find the government officials had taken over his room when he returned to the room. From my memory of things Abraham Lincoln didn't die from his wounds until a day later.

The thing that jumped out at me was the chair that was sitting in the boarding house on the right side of the bed. It had a caned seat.  I own a chair like that one in the photo, at least I thought so.

It is the same style of chair.  This chair did have a cane seat in it originally and it is the same shape.  I looked at other views of the chair in other pictures of the bedroom and it is from the same family of chairs but it is not the exact same kind of chair.

My chair has been stained mahogany and I am sure it was originally a light or medium brown wood.  From other views of the chair the side supports and bracing are all the exact same. The three spindles are the same in the back and the carved arches are the same.

I bought my chair at an auction in Sidney, Iowa. The woman who had passed away had an antique business in Omaha and a lot of things she kept at her house were antique.  I doubt this was a family piece but I suppose it could have been. The cross stitch piece really does look great on this chair even though it is covering up the cane seat opening.

I paid six dollars for it which was not a high price at the time in 1974. I assume that the crowd really were looking for more modern furniture.  I also bought some Wedgewood pieces at that sale for three or four dollars a piece.  The auctioneer was not much with selling all the small items so he let me bid the per item bid and then said I could take as many as I wanted.  There was an ashtray that I didn't take at the time but someone else certain grabbed it. The chair seemed like a wonderful item and would make a great desk chair to an antique desk.

Just for fun I am showing you an artist rendition of what he thought it might have looked like while Mr. Lincoln lay dying.  The artist has taken artistic license on the looks of the chair in the illustration.  I assume the artist would not think that people could someday get on the internet and view that actual chair in 1865. As small as the room was I really doubt that there could have been that many people in the room.

I probably will continue my research about the whole history of the company that made the chair.  I have found numerous sites that show the room which has been kept as a museum.  It was a very small room and the shooting or our president was a sad part of our history that will always be remembered.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  Check out others who are participating in Sepia Saturday by clicking here. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Town Craft in Perry, Iowa.........

The building sits on the corner of 2nd and Willis Street in Perry, Iowa.  It was built in the early 1900's. The photo shows the building in the 20's.  As you study the photo, notice the Fords and that the upstairs windows are open.  I was told that the upstairs was an office area for lawyers to do business in the town. The bank building was eventually sold to another locally owned company,  Brenton Bank, and it remained so until it's closing 20 years ago as a new building was created on a new site near there. 

My wife and I spent a few days in the restored building doing an art show call  "Art on the Prairie" in the upstairs part of the old bank. 

The Iowa State University was involved in the redevelopment and design of the bank building and the adjacent building was also included in the project.  This is the model that students and  architecture instructors designed for it's renovation.    Notice the clock that has been put back on the building.  It was not original to the building but the bank must have added it in the 1930's. They named it the Town Craft to symbolize what had been done to restore and refresh the two buildings.

This is the photo of the restored two buildings today.  On my other blog, Larry's Creative Zone, you can see photos of the inside of the second floor of this building.

The story is complicated but I want to share with you how renovation of the two building of the Town Craft were financed.  The photo above is the Hotel Pattee, named after the brothers who first built the building in the early 1900's..   It sits on the same block down the street to the west.  The person who financed it all started by restoring this gutted building.  She turned it back into a grand hotel and then continued down the street continuing the  restoration of many more buildings in the area.

Roberta Green Ahmanson, a 1967 graduate of Perry High School,  and her husband, multimillionaire philanthropist Howard Ahmanson Jr., have financed dozens of various causes. They live in California but Roberta bought a Victorian house in Perry so that she could supervise the projects here in Iowa. Many buildings in a two block area were all financed by them.  A Carnegie Library where she worked as a young woman was one that was restored.

I always like to know the rest of the story and where the Ahmanson made their money is an interesting one. How this California couple and their money made it to Perry, Iowa.

Mr. Ahmanson was in the family line that created all the water distributions to southern California.  I don't remember the name of the movie that was made which had a plot that centered around the wheeling and dealing that were done. Millions of dollars were made from that business venture. If I find out the name of the movie, it included the name China in it, I will correct this posting. Yes, Chinatown was the name of the movie.

The Ahmanson's are known for there kind giving and the Town Craft project was the second or third renovation venture after the Pattee Hotel. I was told that much of the money was trust money that they were required to spend. The Hotel Pattee was completely recreated from nothing for 11 million dollars.

Visit others who are contributing to Sepia Saturday by click here.

Friday, November 11, 2011


A year ago a student made this graphic display of his classmates of 2010.  The faces really are not much different than the past except the clothing has changed and the modern problems are different too.

The faces really do look the same as you view the ones of the 60's and the 30's. A cousin's little girl sits with a smile while my Aunt Doris stands straight with her great looking dress.  My parents are dressed in their morning everyday clothes ready to start the day in our old farmhouse.

More faces from the classes that my mom taught while she was in her late teens early twenties.  The years of teaching started in 1937 and as you can see the faces seem the same.  They could be modern people today even though the form of the picture tells us otherwise.

People who wanted a memory of themselves and the event in their lives hold themselves so still for the camera for it to capture their image.

My grandmother Brooks was so proud of all her things that she made to sell.  This is as close to a smile that she ever put out for a camera.

Check out the others who are participating in Sepia Saturday by clicking  here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Old Photos 1940's

The photo is one that my Dad brought home with him when he returned from World War 2.  I think it could be Belfium in 1943 and yet they did travel to France via other countries so it may be in another country. It is one of my unknown photos in his collection of many war time shots. I really am not sure the photo is of my dad but it could be as they took photos of each other to record their happenings of the time.

Thanks to the two blogger friends that did the research for me.  This is Karlshafen, Germany in 1945. It had to have been taken after the defeat of the country and when they were leaving the country to ship out to go home.

An unknown location but I am sure my dad thought it to be a majestic building. He, being a farm boy from the midland prairie, was familiar with small one story wooden farm houses or two story square farm homes.  A house that reminds one of a castle would be of interest to him.

The American soldiers all averaged in their early twenties in age and fishing would have been of great interest to them. The children seem interested to see what he has on his line. This photo had to be there near the city in Belgium where  my dad was stationed. He was there temporarily before he was sent out to be with the soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge.  One of my older blogs had a commenting friend tell me the name of the city as to where they were stationed but I have yet to find it in my old blogs.

Check out others posting on Sepia Saturday.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just sitting there........

Great grandfather Charles Brown, Illinois.
Died when my grandfather was three years old in the early 1900's.

Unknown school scene of the early 1900's in southern Iowa

Unknown folk from an album found in a house in Osceola, Iowa.  Probably related to the Webster's of Osceola but that is yet to be researched.

Step grandpa Oscar Brooks with my brothers Ron, standing, and Rex on his lap.  By the age of the boys this has to  be around 1944.  Oscar was a grumpy old cote.  He would sit and stare at the black and white tv set with a baseball game being televised and spit chew next to his chair into a tall fruit juice can.  Baseball games that were televised back then usually only had one or two tv cameras so it was starring at the back of the head of a pitcher as he threw the ball.

My grandfather Leroy Brown died in 1937 and my grandmother remarried Oscar at an unknown date for me anyway.  The photo is taken on the steps of the porch of the house in Murray that my grandmother owned in Murray.  The house still stands today with it's second story having been removed and it being turned into a Cape Cod style house.  It is in a lot of disrepair these days but still stands.

Thanks for stopping by and visit others who are posting on Sepia Saturday.  Click here to visit the menu many blogs all around the world.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Building with Brick in the New Country.....

As the United States was settled in it's early years the building of structures for actual protection from the elements was necessary. There were no condos to move into or highrise apartments.  Living in the woods and along the shore outside were the two options

The available timbers supplied wood and the use of manual labor produced wood products that would create instant shelter.  The early years were lean and the use of wood beams and mud worked well but as they survived they wanted better, so they moved  to building all wood structures.

In many ways the Cape Cod style house above resembles the earliest structures created in this country.  The windows then were smaller and the whole building was smaller.  Lean-to additions created more rooms and even saltbox house. In the originals mud and beam there was a hole in the roof to let the smoke out from the burning pit. Now they needed stone fireplaces attached so the building wouldn't burn down and even maybe brick could be used if they could buy them.

The technology from the old countries in which each of the settlers had come helped in developing brick making companies. It did become prevalent once communities became established.  The resulting product to resemble brick streets and cobblestones gave them ideas of things to make from the local clay resourcss. They could create brick fireplaces and use bricks for walls of their structures.

Through the years as the middle America's were settled,  towns would have pottery or brick factories set up along the rivers and in clay filled areas of the United States.  Iowa is filled with reserves of clay beneath some of the rich soils. Murray, Iowa had it's own brick factory west of town and as a result the earlier years of the town had a main street  lined with brick faced building. This brick building once stood as the fire station in Murray.

 The quality of brick varied throughout as different factories had low or high firing furnaces which are call kilns.  When you see brick crumbling on buildings, many times it is because it was a low fired brick. The clay may not be a predominate material as sand could be too high in proportion.  Low fired material never gets hot enough to make it able to weather the elements. The higher the heat the stronger the brick.

Stone laying was also popular in this country and as various sources were found, stone companies were developed.  It would be transported sometimes long distances. The stone could be produced for the facing of buildings and used for foundations. Some European influenced designs required a stone facade up to the first floor.

A state institution that was built north of my town has mostly brick buildings. The main large buildings all are fully covered with brick. The farm buildings that were created to do the agricultural work for the institution were also made of the same material. The farm buildings helped to store food for the residence to eat throughout the year.

I am assuming that there was a brick company in this area or that they were shipped in from our county seat town of Perry, Iowa.  They have a brick factory there yet today making bricks that are shipped throughout the United States. It has become an automated factory with train car sized containers being fired with shelves of brick inside.

An older outbuilding that I photographed in Maine was created with brick.  Because the east coast has been settled longer than where I live, this brick could have been made in the early 1800's or even before that.  The lighthouse that sits next to this structure was probably made of brick but they covered it with a concrete coating like frosting to cover up it's brick appearance.

As a side note of info, I was surprised to find that the round columns placed on the grand porches of the southern plantations some were actually made from bricks laid in a circular shape. Then they were plastered with concrete like material to be made round and smooth. Whitewashed or painted white they resemble the wooden ones.

My diversion from the Sepia Saturday original intent is a little broad this week but history is history. I enjoy watching the progression of the use of building materials in this country. When I find a brick buried in the ground I wonder it's age and where it is made.

Join others who are participating in Sepia Saturday by clicking here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Children of the past.

A photo of the past of a child that happens to be my mother Zella Marie Brown.  She was born in 1919 so we are looking at a 1921 era photo.  No, she was not a princess of a King or Queen but my grandmother lovingly nicknamed her Sis.  I am not sure if that came from Sissy or not.  She was the only girl among two boys and I do remember my Uncle Kenny called her Sis also.

This is a reposting of a photo that I have borrowed from my Uncle Kenny's stash of old photos. This boy was very good at standing still for his photo.

This is a past header that I used a year or so ago.  The little girl in the photo did not live much longer than when this picture was taken.  She was from a family with the last name of Halferty.  The person who had me frame it never knew the little girl's name or her parents name.  She just knew that it always hung in her mother's home and she wanted it to do so again.

Another reposted photo for the sake of showing you the little girl.  My grandfather, LeRoy Brown, is sitting next to a Marie Brown, a niece of his from Illinois.  From the age of my grandfather this must have been taken in the early 1900"s.  The group of relatives in the Illinois are lost but will be found on the internet. My grandfather's father, Charles Brown, died when he was three years old.  My great grandmother remarried and moved to Iowa, leaving a lot of that family history back in Illinois.  I am sure that my grandfather must have made a visit out there for the photo or Marie visited in Iowa.

My final child photo is of me on Christmas morning, 1954.  My brother's train sits on the floor and my dad is playing with his windup donkey toy.  It twirled it's tail around in circles and it really entertained him. This is the interior view in the living room of the old white farmhouse that I posted a few weeks before now.

Thanks for stopping in and visiting my site.  Visit others who are participating in Sepia Saturday by clicking here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sepia Trees on Parade.........

As I sort through the many pictures of the past that include the family members of my family tree,  I find it interesting that sometimes the trees help to identify the place in which the picture was taken.  They were taken before my time but yet I get clues and the mind starts to evaluate the background growth to know just where the picture was taken.

The above picture is clearly identified as my Grandmother Mabel Brown Brooks.  She is holding my mom's first born son, my brother Ron.  This makes it a photo taken in 1942 as my brother was born in October, 1941.

The trees are younger here and I can see a house in the background so it is in Murray, Iowa where my Grandmother lived or it was taken out on the corner a few miles out of town at the filling station where my parents first lived along highway 34.

My mom's brother, my Uncle Kenneth Brown, stands beside the big tree for his informal portrait. The tree doesn't give me any true clues but the house tells me a little.  The house is not my great grandparents house as this house is a single story with a coal shed or small garage.  It is in town but I cannot guess which one.  It is just a mystery tree to me.  The age of my uncle makes the picture to  have been taken in the middle thirties.  He and my mom lost their father in 1937 and mom who was the youngest was 18 years old at the time.  Judging by how old he looks there it must have been before '37.
Yes one of my blogger friends is correct.  Kenneth's t-shirt says Consolidated Aircraft.  He went to California and helped build bombers until he was drafted.  I expect it is the 1939 or a year later. He could have returned to Iowa to go into basic training.

This cemetery is the Union Cemetery in southern Iowa and my dad stands in front of the stones of his grandparents on his dad's side.  The trees in the background shows that it is a rural cemetery and the timber runs parallel to the gravel road in front of the place.  This isn't an old photo as it was taken in 1990's but characteristic of a lot of cemeteries in Iowa they are lined with volunteer trees around their fence lines.  The old cedar trees in the cemeteries are at least a hundred years old.

The trees in the background are in rural a rural area, on a farmstead near Murray, Iowa. You can see the barn in the background on the left and trees lining the fence row. The tree next to the small shed was probably a volunteer tree as it looks too close to the shed to have been planted there on purpose.

  The husband of the women at the end of the table must be taking this photo. They were having their evening picnic meal before heading inside to play card through the evening. She is Janice Nannen sitting at the end of the table and she is the only person still alive today. The photographer would have been Ted Nannen the farmer who owned this place with his wife.

In memory of those in the photo from left are Jesse Burgus,  my dad, Galen Burgus, a distant cousin, Bill Farr, my uncle, Janice Nannen, the hostess, Mary Farr, my aunt and dad's sister, Zella Burgus, my mom, and June Walters Burgus, distant cousin's wife.

As we all think back there were favorite trees in our lives that we experienced or remember.  I liked climbing trees and building things in trees but some trees were just large trees that shaded my sand pile or held my swing.  The large trees around my property now are old and have a lot of history that was before my time 35 years ago.  The weather has removed one while I was living here and one was taken away by the city.  I still have three large silver maples that could tell tales of lightening strikes and of model T's passing by the house.  As they become more of  a dangerous threat to my house they will have to be removed.  Before that I guess I need to write a poem about them. 

Check out the others who are participating with Sepia Saturday.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brothers on the Southern Iowa farm, August 13, 2011

The Brownie camera by Kodak was a great new invention. My parents put away the box camera and started using that little Brownie. It had a small viewfinder that you looked down into and then you pressed that plastic slide button downward. If you weren't careful the clicking of the button caused the camera to flip up and down.

The photos came back in a little packet all connected together at the top. It was designed so you could tear them out of the book but fortunately for me they were all still together.

Southern Iowa during the summer of 1956 and mom has lined up her boys again.  Two of us brought our cats and one grabbed the family dog.

Pictured from left are Rex Thomas Burgus b. 1943,  Ronald James Burgus b. 1941, Dwight Lee Burgus b. 1947, d. 2008, and Larry Dean Burgus, b. 1950.

The old house in the background is one of the T-shaped farmhouses with no insulation but it did  have electricity.  Running water, undrinkable, was in the house when we moved into the house in the winter of 1953.  In 1959 my dad built a modern ranch house on the same site.

Larry and Dwight standing next to Dwight's bike. I was 6 and in the first grade. My hand me down shirt looks a little large but I probably grew into it.  Behind us are the two locust trees with very sharp thorns.  To the left is a cistern where water was pumped into it from a pond a half mile south of there.  It was filled with water and we pumped it into the house for general use but water for drinking came from a well nearby.  The date on this one photo which must have been the top photo, indicates when it was developed so it could be early spring as there are no leaves on the trees.  Maybe it is fall but there are no leaves on the ground.
This is taken when it was cold as you can see the coats on the two young ones in front. I really don't remember that car as my dad bought a newer 1953 Ford and it was blue.

 Divide and conquer so to speak as we separate the youngest out for their photo.  This series of photos is the only bunch of photos that I have that gives me a visual record of the house.  The front porch on the other side of the house had square columns on it to hold up the roof.  I was always impressed with those square Greek influenced posts. I didn't fix the tear as it makes the photo have a little personality.

My Aunt Ruby was the sweetest woman.  She had lost her husband, Frank Henderson, before I was born.  She was one of my dad's older sisters and she liked to keep track of  him and his family.  She and I are standing next to the woodpile that will be burned in the winter. I really think this has to be in the fall as in the spring that pile would have been all used up and the bark would be in my sandpile that sat right next to it.

Having the two brothers come to Iowa for a short visit back from their California and Arizona homes made me a little nostalgic.  They left Iowa to live in the warmer climates in their late twenties.  Both of them love to come back in the summer and admire our weather.  They do not come back to survive our winters.

The last home where my parents lived in town is soon to be sold.   The neighbor boy on a nearby farm, who was my older bothers age,  had two children.  His two, brother and sister and their spouses, have bought the old farm, each owning half of it and they are trying to bring it back as a farm.  The previous owners allowed all agricultural land to grow up into weeds and trees.  It was 240 acres of land with 180 acres of farm land and the rest was timber.  The past is hard to find there when you return to visit as the roads through the property are overgrown and the barn has collapsed. 

Thanks for stopping by to visit my family branch.  Check out the others who are contributing blogs honoring Sepia Saturday by clicking here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Down on the farm.......

This is not an American Gothic painting like Grant Wood's painting,  but it could be.  They all had the tendency to bring them outside for the good lighting and stand them on the front stoop right in front of the porch.   In this particular photo you also get to see the older son peaking through from the screened porch. I do think the shadow is the shape of my mom taking the photo with her box camera.  I now  have a photo of her with that camera which I will share in a later blog.

The date of the first three photos that I am showing come from a photo album of my mom's which I date around the early 1940's.  It has photos in it that I can sequence for a couple of years in relation to what is going on with my mom and dad's life at that time. The early photos in the album show my parents dating and the back of the book shows by oldest brother while young, making it a time spam of at least two years.

I wanted to guess the identity of couple but they I don't recognize the children.  It confuses me as they have similar features of some of the relatives.  The people who I thought they were though did eventually have four or five children but they didn't have two boys.  I guess they really could be neighbors.

Here are the kids all lined up for show.  The tall boy is the one you saw on the porch peering out at the camera in the first photo.  It must be fall as they are dressed warmly for cool weather.  I also noticed the clothing of the mother in the top photo.  She has her apron on on top of the dress and then a jacket on top of it all.  Women wore their aprons from morning to night on the farm especially of that generation.  My grandma had her apron on all the time and my mom didn't wear an apron except the pretty ones for card parties.

The little girl gets her picture taken again with the new lambs on the farm.  I am sure they were showing them to the visitors and the photo got taken.  Maybe as some of my relatives on my mom sides see this blog that maybe they will be able to identify them.  I know they are not from my dad's side of the family.

The privileges of being the first born includes being place anywhere and everywhere to have your photo taken.  This is a photo from the album and it says that  my brother Ron is 8 months old.  He was born in October 1940 which makes this photo to be June of 1941.  My dad Jesse had not been drafted into the service yet but will be very soon in the next couple of months. I remember that child's seat as I think all four of us brothers were put into it when young.  It was around still in the store room when I was five or six years old and I am sure it went to the dump sometime after that when they cleared that room for making a bedroom.

My brother Ron again the same day sitting on the Farmall tractor.  I don't know whose farm this is and the clues are few for me to figure it out at this time. The possibilities are numerous as all the relatives were farmers.

Check out the others who are participating in Sepia Saturday by clicking here.