Abraham Ephriam Staley
By Lloyd M. Staley (1895-1983)
Very little is known of the early life of Abraham E. Staley, my grandfather. He was born April 6, 1837, near Cumberland, Hancock County, Indiana. As he was only twelve years older than James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier poet born near Greenfield, the county seat of Hancock, we can assume that his early life was similar to that of this well-known Indiana poet.
At the age of twenty, he was married to Eliza R. Tice. The marriage took place in Hancock County, but other than the date of November 1857, I have no other details.
Abraham did not serve with the Union Army during the war of the Rebellion. My father told me that he was drafted for service but, after a few weeks, he secured a substitute to go for him. This was allowed and was often done during the Civil War. Father told me that he recalled his return home after the short time in the army.
A move to Missouri
Three more sons were born to Abraham and Eliza Staley in Missouri: William M., Guy E., and Ira C. Three sons were born in Kansas: Arthur M., Harry C. (who died in infancy), and Oliver T.
In 1889, the family moved to a farm one mile northwest of the Santa Fe station at North Ottawa. They lived on this farm for eighteen years. It was while they lived here that my memories of my grandparents were formed. My parents often visited them there.
That old-time religion
Grandfather was quite jovial. He liked to joke and tease his grandchildren. He also liked to hunt and fish. I can remember hunting and fishing trips with him that his grandsons enjoyed immensely. He liked to hunt squirrels and often would go into the woods with his rifle, select a good spot, sit upon a stump or log, and wait for the squirrels to appear. I heard him say,"There are just as many squirrels here as anywhere so I will wait for them to come out."
Also, I well remember going to the show pens of the livestock show at the Franklin County Fair to see his purebred Chester White hogs. He always received some prizes for his efforts.
The farm in Kansas
Grandfather retired from the farm in 1907 which was also the year of their golden wedding anniversary. I remember well the celebration which was held on their farm north of Ottawa. This family reunion included all eight sons and most of their families. I have a large photograph that was taken of my grandparents and their eight sons on that occasion. What I enjoyed most was playing with my many cousins who were predominantly girls which was very satisfactory to me as I had no sisters of my own.
Of course we had a big dinner, well prepared and served by a Negro lady my grandmother often had helping her. I recall quite well the delicious cherry pies which had little funnels of paper sticking out of them to release the steam while they were baking. Certainly they were most delicious to a boy of twelve years.
On another occasion, after my return from the army of World War I, I recall driving with my grandfather in father's Model T Ford from Ottawa to my home on the farm. The road was quite rough so I often drove on the left side of the country road because that was the smoothest to drive and no other cars could be seen for miles. This worried my grandfather and he repeatedly cautioned me about driving on the wrong side of the road. However, we reached home safely, despite my rather erratic driving.
Grandfather was living with his son, Guy, near Hastings, Oklahoma, when he died on December 29, 1919. His funeral was held in the little Free Methodist Church in North Ottawa. He was buried beside his wife and infant son in the Highland Cemetery, Ottawa, Kansas. The graves of my grandparents are well marked and the cemetery well kept so that future generations may locate the burial place of their ancestors.
Louella McAdams remembers when she was 3½ years old (1917), Abraham picked her up and said goodbye to her. He was crying. Louella was moving to Montana.
Jack Martin (grandson of Isaac Newton through Retta) remembers "Uncle Abe" as being called "Hog Staley" for the fine breed of hogs he raised. Jack remembers meeting him circa 1919, when he was 4 years old.
According to Louella McAdams (10/85), Abe built a store which son Isaac Newton ran (Louella has store books). Isaac Newton and his wife lived with Abe for a few years.
According to Vernita and Lena Hallett, Abe went back to visit his sister Almira in 1914. Abe traveled to the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 where he lost his hand-carved walking stick. Since the Olympics were also held in St. Louis in 1905, one wonders if he was there to see that event as well.
According to L. McAdams, Abraham sold the farm in 1918; (he rented it out until 1918). The party renting it in 1918 heard a noise outside one night and went to investigate. There was Abe Staley, sitting in an old rocking chair on the porch. He said "This is where I belong." The new owner drove him home since Abe had walked to the farm. Shortly thereafter, he died.
Arlonzo Edwin Staley
By Lloyd M. Staley (1895-1983)
My father, Arlonzo Edwin Staley (also known as A.E. Staley, Jr.), was born near Cumberland, Hancock County, Indiana, on September 9, 1858. He lived there with his parents until they moved to Missouri in the Spring of 1866. The family settled on a farm near Jamesport, Missouri. I have heard my father tell of the forests of primitive oak trees that grew there when he first lived in that area. Father spent his teenage years in this farming community. He often mentioned the fishing trips they made to the Grand River, which is the main stream of that area. In those days, it was legal to seine fish (with a net) from the streams and he told of the big catches they made in those days.
In 1876, the family moved again, this time to Kansas, locating on a farm north of Ottawa, near Norwood, five miles south of Baldwin City -- a town and cattle-loading area. This place is now only a memory. After living in this community for three years, they moved to another farm eight and one-half miles east of Ottawa, beside a little stream known in the area as Hickory Creek. This was in 1879. Father was a young man at this time so, being ambitious to earn some money of his own, he attended a few weeks of a special school to qualify as a school teacher. Qualifications for teaching were not very rigid at that time. The only requirements were that you attend a "Normal School" which was held for a few weeks in the summertime. He taught several terms of school in his neighborhood. One he particularly mentioned was a school called Pleasant Ridge but known in the vicinity as "Crazy Ridge." This school was in the district south of his home.
The first year of their married life was spent on a cattle ranch in the "blue stem" country of Kansas, Chautauqua County. Father also taught a term of school the winter he lived on this ranch.
After one year, they moved back to the Lamb farm. They later bought this farm which is located six miles south of Wellsville, Kansas. All five of their sons were born on this farm which has a special place in the memories of all the family. Father and mother lived here until they retired from the farm in 1923. From this homestead, they moved to a house in Wellsville.
The cutting edge
One of his interests was community progress and he served in a public capacity on several occasions. He was elected to the office of Township Trustee at different times, served on the local school board, and once ran for the office of a State Legislator on the Democratic ticket. At this time in Kansas, his party seldom had anyone elected to a public office.
I believe his most constructive contribution to the community was his interest in the New Hope Baptist Church where he was a deacon, Sunday School superintendent, Bible class teacher, and janitor, also. His faithful work in these capacities kept this small congregation active for many years.
His farm buildings were always kept in good repair and, when necessary, replaced by better structures. He was one of the first in the community to build an ice house for the storage of ice for summer use. This building was filled each winter, weather permitting, with natural ice. Having ice in the summertime then was indeed a luxury and I can still enjoy the thought of iced tea and ice cream on those hot Kansas summer days. With the help of two neighbors, A.M. Graves and Frank Wilson, they each built silos for the storage of winter feed which was an innovation of the first order of those days.
Horsepower in those days was just that -- horse power. He kept several teams for farm use and raised colts most every year to replace his stock or to have a surplus horse to sell for added income. My brothers and I made pets of the colts and it was a sad day when we had to part with one by way of the auction block.
Father was a rather large man, physically, being about six feet tall and weighing around 180 pounds in the prime of his life. I can remember how he handled some of his livestock by sheer strength when the occasion arose.
Five sons were born to my father and mother and all were born at the old farm between the New Hope Baptist Church and Evergreen District School, Franklin County, Kansas
Arlonzo Edwin Staley died in Wichita, Kansas, in August 1950. He is buried in the Wellsville, Kansas cemetery along with May Belle. On the same lot are buried May's parents, Matthew Benjamin and Martha E. (Trenary) Lamb Harrison. (After Matthew's death, Martha married John H. Harrison.)
According to Jeff Staley (8/26/81), the following pieces were written by Arlonzo Staley shortly after his wife died. At the time he wrote these, he was living with his son Clarence Staley. They were written on scraps of paper and in the fronts of various books in his library. Jeff has corrected spelling errors.
April 3, 1936, at Topeka, Kansas
After my stay of five months in Fort Worth, Texas, with Vern and his fine family. It was one of the most pleasant experiences of my life. Everyone treated me so kindly and I made some new friends which I shall ever remember with pleasure. My visit with the two brothers was especially enjoyed as I had not seen any of them for many years.
The visit with Guy's folks was a real treat to me as I have not had the opportunity in all my life to visit my own brothers as I earnestly wished and especially so while May was yet with me. But now that she is gone, I must go alone the few remaining days of my life -- though not alone, because God has given me five sons who are my support and great joy and pride for which I thank and praise His name all the days of my life. I know when my task is finished here, there remaineth for me that joyous privilege of meeting those dear ones of mine that have gone before to that land promised to those that love the Lord and that walk in His ways.
I look back over the many years of my life and remember that, in all those years, God has kept me and has not taken any of my dear ones from me until He called my beloved wife from me on April 19, 1935. I have good cause for rejoicing. And, as I see this physical house in which I live growing weaker day by day, this fact brings to me more vividly the truth that I have but few more days to remain. Only a few days till I shall meet May in that land where there will be no more parting.
May God help me to so use those remaining days, that I may be a joy and an inspiration to these wonderful sons He has given me.
Like a glimmering sunbeam, May shone for just a moment in my dreams last night. The thought is so sweet today that I must write it here as my dream memories. She seemed to smile and commend some act of mine.
All such thoughts are a great comfort to me now in my lonely life. Oh, if she could be with me now! If only for just a few minutes! But then I know that can never be again on earth; only in memory -- and these glimpses of her sweet face as it was when we first knew each other. Love is oh so sweet.
A new week has begun; this old body tired, these eyes that have served me so well for near seventy-eight years are beginning to dim, so that my sight is getting poorer every day. And, while life is not a burden, it is not the joy it was when May and I first knew each other.
God has blessed me in that I have five noble sons of whom I am very proud, yet I am sorrowing over the loss of that life partner He gave me and who has gone on to her reward to which I am soon to go and ever be with Jesus and her that is now with Him. I am homesick for heaven and all those dear ones who have gone on before, and who I know are waiting on the shore to welcome me, and from where none ever return.
Oh, glorious land where God my Christ of eternal beauty will through all eternity reign! May my God hasten the day when I shall lay this useless and painful body down and take that perfect, sinless one which God has promised all who love and obey Him.
But I know as long as He permits me to remain, He still has a task for me to do which is not yet completed. And it is my remaining task to seek out and do that work until I shall hear that welcome call, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Come up higher and receive the reward that is prepared," not only for me, but for all who are faithful to the end. For God has a work for each of us to do that we each must finish before the call comes. Oh, that we may be patient and faithful to that task, knowing that He has promised that we shall not lose our reward!
So I pray God, that I may ever be faithful.
The following note was written in the front of the book "A History of Christianity" by John S.C. Abbott, copyright 1885. The book is in the possession of Mabel Staley of Santa Maria, California.
This book I bought early in my Christian life and which I have read several times. I place it at the top of all the books on this subject I have ever read, except of course the Book of all books, the Bible.
My wish and earnest prayer is that each of my five sons may want to read it as often as I, their father, has read it.
It has been a source of spiritual uplift to me and a mine of information which I have used in my work in my many years work in the Sunday School. It gives one a vivid picture of what a real follower of Christ may expect in this sin-cursed world.
Peace will never come to this world until Christ and His teaching are accepted by all mankind.
Yours in Christ, A.E. Staley
From a Bible presented to the A.E. Staleys. The Bible is in the possession of Greg Staley of Immanuel Mission, Arizona.
Presented to Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Staley by the members of New Hope Church and S.S. for appreciation of the many years of devoted service to the church and community.
The data above was written by my dear wife who was taken from me April 19th, 1935. And now this Bible is especially prized by me on that account as well as the cause for which it was given and the dear friends making the gift. And now, in my remaining days, as I go from place to place, it is always with me and my constant companion. It is at all times on the table before me from which I read every day, if possible. I hope when I am gone it will be received by loving hands and hearts that shall ever keep in memory the devoted life of mother and the fond prayers of father as well as the words written in this book.
Written on Christmas Day, 1936, at Topeka, Kansas, by me.
May Belle (Lamb) Staley
By Lloyd M. Staley (1895-1983)
It is rather difficult to write much of a biography of my mother, May Belle (Lamb) Staley (pictured here in center). Most of it, I am sure, will necessarily be what I have remembered of her and boyhood recollections of my early life at home.
May Belle Lamb was born on a farm near Ottawa, La Salle County, Illinois, on May 2, 1869. Her parents were Matthew Benjamin and Martha (Trenary) Lamb. Of the three or so years she lived there, I know very little. I do know that in 1871, when she was three years old, she came with her parents to Kansas. They traveled overland by covered wagon, which was the usual manner of moving with one's household goods and livestock in those times.
The party consisted of my grandfather Matthew, his brother John F. Lamb and their families. I recall my mother telling of sitting on the wagon tongue with her cousin Charles F. Lamb when they were in camp while on the way. The party crossed the Mississippi River by ferry at Hannibal, Missouri. By what route they came through Missouri, I do not know. One of the last camps was made on the Marais des Cygnes River at Ottawa, Kansas, at what was known as the Hickory Street ford. The next day the party moved to their respective farms ten miles east of Ottawa on the Logan Street road.
Mother spent her girlhood days on this farm and of this time of her life, I know very little. She did attend a country school, Evergreen District 42, which was located one-quarter mile north and one-half mile west of their home. It was not on an established township road, but was in the center of the section of land immediately west of their farm, because this was the exact center of the school district.
I do not know anything of the courtship of my mother and father. My father's family lived about a mile and a half west of Mother's home on the Ottawa road near Hickory Creek. They probably met at some of the neighborhood parties that were quite common in those times; school and church programs, box suppers, and just neighbors visiting.
Mother and father were married March 2, 1887, at the home of grandfather Lamb by a Reverend Scherer, a Presbyterian minister who was a friend of the family.
The family farm
Mother's life from now on was that of a farm wife and the busy occupation of raising a family of five boys. There was a continual round of preparing three meals a day and, in those days, you could not depend on boxes of prepared foods and frozen vegetables. In fact, there were few, if any, fresh fruits or vegetables unless they could get them from their own garden. All cooking was done on a stove fired by wood which was cut by manual labor with a crosscut saw and an axe.
Preparing meals was a continual daytime job and the dishwashing and cleaning up went well along into the evening hours. This method of cooking over a wood fire continued until gas was introduced in the neighborhood and a pipeline was laid by the farm. Then we had gas heat and gas lights.
It was usually the farm wives' task to raise a flock of chickens which supplied eggs and meat for our own table as well as income from the sale of eggs to the town grocer. Mother often raised a flock of 40 or 50 turkeys which were marketed about Thanksgivingtime. If the market was good, this made a welcome additional income for articles of clothing needed by the family for the coming winter.
Turkey raising was quite difficult and required much attention. First of all, they hid their nests out and they had to be searched for so as to save the eggs to place under a chicken hen for hatching. This way, the turkey hen would lay another batch of eggs instead of incubating the first laying and raising the poults herself. The turkey hen was allowed to raise her last laying as her own brood.
The social scene
The Christmas program was the highlight of the year, with a Christmas tree well decorated and presents tied to the tree branches and piled beneath the tree.
Also there was a Children's Day program, usually in June in which all children were expected to take part. Often a Sunday School convention brought visitors from other Sunday Schools from several miles around. This always required a basket dinner at noon for everyone, which was an especial treat for the younger generation of those times.
School programs were big events, also, and were usually held at Christmas time. The "last day of school" was celebrated the last of April. This was also the occasion for a basket dinner and it was the delight of the school children to celebrate the end of the school year in this way. Often there were other events during the school year such as box suppers. On these occasions, the ladies brought lunches packed in fancy, decorated boxes which were auctioned to the highest bidder. Always some popular girl had very spirited bidding for her box and for the privilege of eating supper with her.
The children grow up
So it went with all the family. Glen went to high school in Wellsville for two years but transferred to Ottawa High School for his last two years after Vern had finished at the Academy and had gone out into the world. Thus it was with all of my brothers except Ellis, who was still living at home when they moved to Wellsville.
At last, a life of leisure
I had taken over the farm at this time so they still felt part of the farm community. Although the farm was not a very good moneymaking operation, they managed to have some income from the several oil wells on the place. This was the big depression time, so times were bad for all.
My parents continued to live in Wellsville until Mother's death on April 19, 1935. She is buried in the Wellsville Cemetery on the same lot with my grandparents, Matthew Benjamin Lamb and his wife, Martha Trenary (Lamb) Harrison.
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