Ruth Smith, a little more than a simple farmer’s daughter

Ruth Smith, 1908 Seneca High School

Ruth Smith, 1908 Seneca High School

Kansas was a good place to be a farmer, at least for the Smith family. Ruth (pictured here in the 1908 freshman class photo of Seneca High School) was the daughter of William Smith and Mary Amos. My assessment of a “good place” comes from the fact that I’ve never seen a farmer with such a consistent supply of servants – usually that’s what the kids were for! Here’s a little background.

William, originally from New Hampshire, married Mary Amos (from Ohio) in 1885 in Nemaha, Kansas – same county as Seneca. They had 4 children – not nearly enough to run a farm on. Frank the oldest was born in 1887, Amos in 1888, Ruth in 1893, and Agnes in 1895. Every census year, with the exception of 1910, a servant lived with the Smith family. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 1895, 16 year old Lena Haug from Germany
  • 1900, Barney Burdick, also from Germany
  • 1905, 20 year old Josephine Bockman of German
  • 1910, none – I think Mary was getting tired of the pretty young ones ;)
  • 1920, 75 year old black man named Bob Mason (Mary did the hiring that year)
  • 1925, 16 year old Rosa was listed as the housekeeper

Quite a list for a simple farmer! But back to Ruth. Ruth Amos Smith lived at home through 1915. Before 1920 she married Clinton W. Kanaga and they had one child at the time of that census in Kansas city, Issouri. By 1930 they had 2 more children and lived in Witchita, Kansas. Clinton was in advertising for the music retail industry apparently. 1940 saw the Kanaga family back in Kansas City. It also mentions on this census that Ruth had 4 years of college – another sign that her father was a successful farmer.

According to the SSDI, Ruth died in May of 1988 and Clinton in 1977. While I didn’t find an obituary for either of them, there is a lengthy obituary for their son, Clinton Jr. who passed away in 2006. What an active and colorful life he led, I wonder if he got that from his mom?

Viola Bennel or Bennet or Bennett? Ahh, handwriting…

Viola Bennett, 1908 Seneca, KS

Viola Bennett, 1908 Seneca, KS

I think this is Viola Bennett. Viola was a freshman at Seneca High School in Kansas in 1908. She is identified in this class photo as #2 and as you can tell the name written by #2 appears to be Viola Bennel. However, as you can probably guess, I found no evidence of a Viola Bennel anywhere near Seneca, Nemaha county, Kansas in 1908. I could however find a Viola Bennett.

Whoever wrote this list of names was rather lax with the crossing of the t’s.

The list of names

The list of names

If you look at some of the other names,  #1 Ruth Smith for example, the t is barely crossed.  #5, Floyd Carpenter, almost looks like Carpenlir. You get the picture. So, when I found a Viola Bennett, born in 1894 in Kansas, living in Nemaha county from 1905 to 1920, I was fairly confident this was our girl. An important point to remember, you never know how much information an anonymous writer of information has.

Here’s what I can tell you about Viola Bennett – her parents were William Bennett (1863-1910) and Theresia Grollmes (1870-1954). Viola was the oldest of about 6 or 7 children. Her parents married in Nebraska, but the family lived in Kansas all her life. Between 1920-1925 she married John Edgar Sparling and they settled in Oneida, Kansas. They had at least one child, possibly more. Viola died relatively early in 1958, just a few years after her mother.

Here’s to hoping we’ve got the right Viola!

Wanda Johnson #3, hopefully more than the lonely divorcee she presents on paper

Wanda Johnson in 1908, age 17

Wanda Johnson in 1908, age 17

Wanda Johnson is identified by #3 on the Seneca High School photo from Seneca, Kansas. (Whole photo originally posted here.) Her bow is magnificent isn’t it? Wanda was from a larger family, and one I wish I had the time to delve into more. She was born about 1890/91 in Kansas to Irvin Johnson (1856, CA) and Ellen Burger (1854, Canada). Her parents married in Ontario but the children were born in Kansas. Irvin was a farmer naturally. Wanda was the 6th of 7 children as well as I can tell.

In 1908, when this photo was taken, Wanda was 17 or 18. In 1910 she lived in Seneca with her parents. Her older sister Effie and husband and small child lived in a nearby town, Richmond, with older brother Claude. Claude was a widower at 26 with a baby (Claude Jr.).  See what I mean? So much more I’d love to research. But back to Wanda.

She married Elmer Britt sometime before 1915 when the couple appeared in the 1915 KS census. In 1920 they lived in Seneca, Kansas and Elmer was a barber. But, by 1930 they had made a move to Los Angeles, California. Older sister Effie (now Stevens) and family were also living in CA, near Los Angeles. I’m not sure who followed whom. Elmer was working as a salesman for building materials. The couple had no children and that may have been the reason that by 1940 they were divorced.

Wanda was a single border in LA working in a clerical position for the board of education – at age 49 it may have been her first job. And unfortunately her sister, Effie, would die in LA a few years later in 1944. I hope Wanda wasn’t as lonely as she appeared on paper (or even in this photo). While I’m not totally sure this is her, a Wanda Britt born 10/29/1890 died in Arizona in April of 1978.

Blanche Rambo, lost in Kansas (and yes I did just like the name)

Blanche Rambo, 1908

Blanche Rambo, 1908

Blanche Rambo is number 18 on the nicely identified high school class picture in Seneca, Kansas, 1908. (You can see the full photo in this post.) Her known story is a short one, I’m hoping others can fill in the blanks.

Blanche was almost the only child to Elmer Elsworth Rambo and Jessie L. Richards. She was born in Nebraska in 1891 and was without a sibling until 1908 when younger sister Lucile was born the year this photo was taken. The small family lived in Seneca during the 1900 and 1910 census where Elmer was a brakeman for the railroad. In 1900, Blanche’s maternal grandfather Francis Richards lived with them.

It’s likely that Blanche married and moved on shortly after this photo but no evidence of her marriage, residence, or death can be found. The same is true for sister Lucy. Her parents and Lucy continued to live in Seneca through 1920. But, at least by 1929, maybe sooner, Elmer and Lucy had moved back to Nebraska where they had married in 1889. In 1930, the elder Rambos were both working in Gage County, NE for the Nebraska Institute for Feeble Minded; Elmer as a shoemaker and Jessie as a laundress.

I certainly hope you find some descendants Blanche!

Carrie Waggoner, 1908 Seneca HS Freshman (that’s KS not NY)

Carrie Waggoner, identified here as #4 in the freshman class of Seneca High School. I had to research a few of the people in this picture to uncover which Seneca High School this was. Kansas was the connection. This is an interesting group. The ages of the students look to vary widely. Some probably were older than the norm for a high school freshman, due to the need to work or starting school later for whatever reason.

Carrie was born Julia Carrie Waggoner in Nebraska in 1891; she was 17 in this photo. She was the 2nd oldest child of Rosa and Ben Waggoner who moved from Nebraska to Kansas after Carrie was born. Her other 5 siblings were all born in Kansas. Seneca is part of Nemaha county, Kansas where the family lived from at least 1895 to 1910.

Ben Waggoner, originally from Pennsylvania, was a farmer not surprisingly – it was Kansas after all. By 1920, Ben, Rosa and the 2 youngest children (Orville and Silas) had moved to Harris county, Texas to continue farming. In my brief research I didn’t find a census record with Carrie for 1920. It’s likely that she married. According to Find A Grave, Ben died in 1928 and Rosa in 1933, both are buried in Katy Magnolia Cemetery in Katy, Texas just outside Houston.

I could find a lot on Mr. Waggoner, but daughter Carrie is more elusive. I’m hoping family can fill in the blanks.

Thomas P. Render

Thomas P. Render

“Thomas P. Render, Millerton, Kans.” is written on the back of this photo from postype on eBay. Millerton, Kansas is in Sumner county, which is where Mr. Render spent most of his (probably interesting) life. He was born in 1855 in Kentucky to C. J. Render and Lucinda Phipps – several people have noted the the middle initial P. stands for Phipps – likely. He lived with his parents and a few siblings in 1860 in Butler, KY. By 1870 he moved to Coffey, Kansas to live with older brother John. in 1880, he and probably a younger brother lived in Palo Pinto, TX where he worked as a stockraiser. 1900 found Thomas in Sumner again, a single man working as just a “laborer”. By 1910 he was a grain buyer – still living alone. He probably died before 1920, as I didn’t see him in another census record. No descendants I suppose, but a family none the less.