Friday, November 18, 2011

The Kansas Connection

My mother attended college in Topeka, Kansas at a school named Washburn College. It was my understanding that she graduated from Washburn with a bachelor's degree majoring in library science. Her sister, Alice, also attended Washburn. But the two sisters, born in New Hampshire a full three years apart ( my mother in August 1906 and my aunt in December 1909) were just one year apart in their scheduled graduation years at Washburn. I recently became aware of their class proximity when I found a copy online of Washburn College's 1930 yearbook, the KAW, that included a list of my mother, Emma Currier and her sister, Alice annotated with their class year designations.
Active members of sorority, Opeya

Title page of 1930 Washburn yearbook

Both Currier sisters are listed in the yearbook as active members of a sorority called Opeya. I don't know the history of this organization other than the annotation, " Founded at Washburn College, 1929" so I have no idea of Opeya's purpose;  for example, whether it was a scholastic group, a special interest club of some sort or, perhaps, somehow related to the Greek fraternities at Washburn. But in any case, the listing on this page was the first record I had showing that my mother was in the class of 1930 while her sister was right behind her in the class of 1931. According to my cousin, Alice Currier's daughter, her mother did not graduate from Washburn but, instead transferred to Boston to complete her collegiate studies. According to my sister, our mother also went on to Boston for studies after leaving Topeka. We thought she had graduated from Washburn but we were not sure. In the 1930 edition of The KAW my mother wasn't pictured with the class of 1930 graduates. Perhaps she was camera shy or maybe she didn't graduate as we had suspected all these years. But we just didn't know for sure.  So I submitted a request for her academic transcripts from Washburn (now called Washburn University),  not to be nosy but to set the record straight with source data for my family history files. And after paying a $3 fee and providing proof of kinship, I got the answer...our mother was awarded an A.B. Degree on June 3rd, 1930 and her date of entrance to the college was September 15, 1926.  Her major was English and her minor was Music.  It was nice to see she had fairly strong academic success in her junior and senior years after minor struggles as a freshman and sophomore.

Washburn College Academic Transcript - Emma Currier

My sister was closer to my mother than me during our mother's later years.  Closer geographically and, as our mother aged, my sister was more closely involved because her proximity enabled her to provide and coordinate our mother's daily needs.  Not to mention closer personally in the way that mothers and daughters often form closer bonds than do mothers with sons. Our mother related some of her Washburn memories to my sister before she passed away in 1997. Some of her thoughts she might have shared with me but some of the experiences she had in Topeka  and disclosed to my sister suggested there were emotions attached that might have been easier for her to share with her only daughter than with me, her youngest son. The memories she related had to do with her living accommodations in Topeka which we had always understood to be residing in the home (or homes) of relatives. What relatives we never determined nor gave much thought to beyond the fact there was some vague connection to our mother's father, Marshall Currier. Well, relatives or not, my mother told my sister that she suffered some uncomfortable moments inside her residence in Topeka, the first being that she was assigned some household chores including responsibility for cleaning a community bathroom that contained a bathtub which other co-residents utilized as a spittoon! Scrubbing up other household members' tobacco spittle was not a fond memory for Washburn College student, Emma Currier! And, unfortunately, and more ominous was a situation where someone, she did not specify who or where,  presented her with unwelcome advances. Apparently not threatening her safety but certainly uncomfortable and definitely unwanted.  My cousin was not aware of her mother having similar problems and she has told me that the only comments she recalls her mother making about her college experience was "living with Uncle Henry."  I wasn't quite sure who "Uncle Henry" could have been but I was eager to start researching in an effort to find out. I had already established the two Currier sisters had been students at Washburn. The next obvious place to look was the 1930 Federal Census reports for Topeka, Kansas.

Emma Currier listed on Federal Census, Topeka, 1930
In 1930 Emma Currier was listed as a "roomer" in a home on Boswell Street owned by a Louis Wilson, age 77. Other occupants were his wife, one more "roomer" and one "lodger." I don't know the difference between a roomer and a lodger unless it has to do with meals included perhaps? Or maybe the lodgers are allowed to spit tobacco juice into the tub while roomers have to clean it up?  In any case, don't see any Uncle Henry mentioned. There was a radio set in the home, a  new category of interest to the census.

Alice Currier listed on Federal Census, Topeka 1930
  In 1930 Alice Currier was listed as a "roomer" in a home at 1515 College Avenue where the head of the household was a 45 year old music teacher named Rachel Johnson. I can't decipher the comment in the "owned or rented" column so don't know if Rachel was renting or not. But Rachel was listed as "head" of the household.  There was no radio in this home. Maybe Rachel provided entertainment by playing the piano each evening? There's no way to know but if so I'll bet Alice preferred that to scrubbing bathtubs like her sister!  And obviously there was no Uncle Henry here, either.

It's fun to guess about things like this and sometimes it's the only option if there are no available sources to prove or disprove a theory. As long as a clear line is drawn between conjecture and documented facts I think finding humor in family history research is healthy. Sometimes I find myself chuckling over something I stumble across in my research. So I hope finding humor is healthy or maybe I'm just going crazy and don't realize it. Whatever, I do have some good sources of documentation that I've inherited and I've found many more on websites like,, and to supplement my records. Together, they all help paint a picture of The Kansas Connection as it pertains to two sisters from New Hampshire. The panoramic view of our family ties to Kansas that I found most interesting came from the pen of a lady named Mary E. Morrison. Actually, Mary E. Morrison Wallace Currier to be precise.The illustration and narrative below was my initial inherited source document introducing me to Mary Morrison in my family history.                                                                                          

"To The Top Of The Tree"

 A half letter-sized nine page booklet entitled, "To The Top Of The Tree,"  listing the chronology of the Currier family, prepared (I THINK) by my grandfather, Marshall Currier or his wife, Florence Currier, or their daughter (my aunt) Alice Currier. Or quite possibly it was the result of a combined effort between any or all of the three. I've got some of the drafts for the booklet, some typed and others hand written in pencil on legal note paper. My point in mentioning all this is that this is family sourced documentation prepared (I THINK) in the 1920's or 1930's.  Mary Morrison is mentioned in the second full paragraph of page 4. The John Currier of Langdon was my great great grandfather and Mary was his second wife. I must have read that paragraph about John's two marriages a hundred times before it dawned on me that the first wife, "Emaline Morrison," sister of his second wife's first husband, William Wallace, was Emeline Wallace, not Emeline Morrison! The booklet while certainly well intentioned and diligently researched, was not accurate. There was no Emeline Morrison.  Mary E. (Morrison) Wallace, widow of Emeline's brother, William Wallace, remarried John Currier, the widower of Emeline (Wallace) Currier. Got that? Good, you'll be tested at the end of this paragraph. The spelling of Emeline with an "e" agrees with other source documents as well as the engraving on Emeline's gravestone.  Stuff like that doesn't guarantee accuracy, it just increases the probability of being correct. So the 1920/30 era Curriers published some erroneous info in "To The Top" but they should be forgiven because it was an error that was easily solved after I stopped my head from spinning a few times. It really is remarkable this compilation of family history was gathered and researched back so many decades ago!   No computers. Not even TV and the History Channel to help out. Just U.S. Mail and library visits and perhaps some of the items I've been fortunate to have passed on down to me.  I find that absolutely amazing!  And there is additional info in the booklet they compiled that is both invaluable and accurate. I'll back that statement up as we continue considering Mary E Morrison.

Mary E Morrison was born in Langdon, NH January 11th, 1824.  There are numerous census records that confirm her year of birth and one Federal Census (1900) that confirms the month and year. But as enormously helpful as census records are to genealogy research, they can't always be considered gospel. Enumerators, those assigned the job of recording the information on the census record forms, were human and, therefore subject to human error. But I've got the best of all sources to pin Mary's date of birth right down to the day...Mary Morrison's diary for 1883! Her diary entry for Thursday, January 11, 1883 reads, "My 59th birth day and the first after Mother left us. I thought to celebrate the day by writing to my Diary."

Mary (Morrison) Currier diary entry - January 11, 1883
 Diaries are a genealogist's dream. It doesn't get much better than this for documentation. The "Mother lode" of information, straight from the source. Limited only by interpretation of handwriting and colloquialisms of an earlier age, diary entries, to me, are like a time machine handed to me on a silver platter. Sure, I suppose someone could make a false or misleading entry but I suspect that's not the case unless the diarist assumes someone else will read the entry.  I have many of my great great grandfather's diaries starting from 1865 and many years up through 1883. I only have Mary's for the one year, 1883. But I don't believe either one of them thought other eyes would  read their diary comments, at least not during their lifetimes.  And if they suspected otherwise they didn't record any juicy stuff or trashy rumors that might attract prurient interests.   Most entries are routine comments of life and work on a New Hampshire farm listing what chores were performed, who visited or if they travelled anywhere, purchases or sales made, animals or tools loaned or borrowed, and regular weather reports, especially winter weather!  Rarely have I found entries with emotional connotations other than occasional remarks about Sunday sermon critiques.  Mary's 1883 diary is the exception to the mundane workaday theme typically found in most Nineteenth Century diaries but only concerning those few occasions where she was confronted with remarkable events.

Her comment about "mother left us" refers to her mother, Olive (Liscomb) Morrison who passed away in 1882. On the 1880 Federal Census Olive was recorded as an 89 year old widow residing in the Langdon, NH home of her son-in-law, John Currier and her daughter Mary and grandson, John M Currier. So when Olive passed away it was exactly as Mary wrote..."left us." Mary's marriage to John Currier was her second marriage as noted in the "To The Top..." booklet. Her first marriage was to William Warner Wallace whom she married in Langdon on April 20, 1845.  William Wallace and Mary had two children, Henry Halbert Wallace born in 1846 and Emma W Wallace born in 1850. Both children were born to the Wallaces in the town of Northfield, Summit County, Ohio. William was recorded on the 1850 Federal Census for Northfield with the occupation of "Merchant." There's another Wallace family listed adjacent to William's family on that census but I don't know if that was a Wallace family relative that might have encouraged William and his wife, both born in New Hampshire, to establish residence in Ohio. On every census record I've found listing Henry or Emma Wallace, their recorded state of birth has been Ohio. When the 1880 Federal Census reports started asking not only for place of birth but places of birth for father and mother, the two Wallace children born in Ohio with parents born in New Hampshire became a little easier to verify.  Not conclusive proof but good leading source info. Unlike the death of William Wallace. The life of Mary's first husband, the father of Henry and Emma, appears to have ended around 1850 but date and place of death is unknown. There is another family tree on that lists William's date of death as July 3, 1850 but that tree provides no source documentation. After 1850 the next chronological record of Mary and her two children is the 1860 Federal Census for Langdon, New Hampshire showing Mary residing in the home of her mother, Olive. No men are recorded as living in the household, pretty much endorsing the assumption that both women were widows. The "civil condition" categories of single, married, or widowed were not recorded on Federal Census records until 1880. There is documentation that Mary's father, David Morrison died in 1857 but, as mentioned earlier, only uncorroborated evidence her first husband died in 1850.

On May 7, 1863 Mary  (Morrison) Wallace, widow of William Wallace married John Currier, widower of Emeline (Wallace) Currier. I hope I stated that correctly. When you get right down to understanding the situation it is brother and sister in law, by marriage, marrying each other after their spouses died. It's all documented.  Believe me, I couldn't make up stuff like this if I tried . I might screw it up and make a mistake or an off the wall assumption or link but this scenario seems pretty clear to me.        

New Hampshire Marriage Record Index
Both Mary and John had two children each from their first marriages.  Mary's son, Henry Wallace and her daughter, Emma Wallace as I mentioned earlier.  John's first marriage had produced a son, Austin Currier born in 1838 and a daughter, Frances Currier born in 1841. In 1864 John and his second wife had a son together that they named John  Morrison Currier. The 1870 Federal Census for Langdon, NH reveals that John and Mary Currier resided in their Langdon farm with their six year old son, John M. Currier, along with Mary's daughter, Emma Wallace age 19, and Mary's mother, Olive Morrison age 79. Two other parties reside with them, a 16 year old male farm laborer and a 24 year old man whose profession appears to be "clergyman."
Federal Census, Langdon, NH - 1870

No sign of Austin and Frances Currier nor Henry Halbert Wallace but since their respective ages were 32, 29, and 24 for these three adults it seemed likely they might be  "grown and gone," possibly with their own families in separate homes. And for Austin and Frances Currier that was exactly the case;  both of them were recorded on the 1870 Federal Census still residing in Langdon. But Frances lived with her husband, Harvey Dickey, while her brother, Austin, still single at 32 years of age, lived on a farm with two older women listed on the report as "housekeepers."  So all except Henry Wallace were present and accounted for and all in Langdon, New Hampshire.  Henry's whereabouts in 1870 remained illusive until I cheated a little.   I started looking for him in Kansas on the assumption that Henry Wallace was quite likely one and the same "Uncle Henry" remembered by my Aunt Alice.  A little reverse osmosis research working backwards with chronological information...every thing's fair in love, war, and genealogy is what I always say! So Henry Wallace might be the gentleman listed as a farmer on line 3 of the 1870 Federal Census for Dover, Kansas. Might be are the key words here.  Dover is about 18 miles West of Topeka so maybe Henry started farming there and later relocated to Topeka? It could happen. The age of 23 was right. And the place of birth (Ohio) matched. So the evidence is not conclusive but there is a reasonable possibility this could be the Henry we're looking for.

1870 Federal Census - Dover, KS

Evidence of Henry Wallace living in Kansas is a little more credible in 1875 thanks to the Kansas State Census.  Thank you, Kansas! The state collected their own census data every ten years in years ending in 5 from 1855 through 1925.  Slightly different from the federal census format, Kansas State Census records are a gold mine of information!  The 1875 state census for the town of Mission (same as Topeka) recorded a farmer, "H.H." Wallace, a 28 year old male with Ohio as state of birth. In and of itself this report would be no more conclusive than the Federal Census five years earlier. But recorded within the same residence in Mission is a 24 year old female by the name of Emma W. Wallace who was also born in Ohio! Now the Kansas connection is starting to look pretty solid!  Maybe not a hard and fast lock on Henry and his sister but pretty darn close! And in my opinion a pretty convincing link between the Curriers and the Wallaces of New Hampshire and their ultimate migration to Kansas. Moreover, the Kansas State Census asked "where from to Kansas." Emma listed New Hampshire. Henry listed Massachusetts which I have no way to contradict having lost track of his movements between 1860 and 1870. But it could be so I'm fairly certain we're beaming in on the right Henry Wallace.

Kansas State Census 1875 - Topeka

H.H. Wallace shows up again in the 1880 Federal Census residing in the town of Mission again, same as the State census five years earlier. But this time there's no Emma Wallace residing with him. I managed to find an Emma Wallace residing in the city of Topeka recorded with the occupation of "servant."  I believe it's one and the same Emma Wallace, sister of Henry Wallace.  Lending support to that is the fact that the report does show her place of birth as Ohio.  At the same time I have to confess that it also shows both of her parents being born in Ohio instead of New Hampshire. But there are so many possible reasons for errors on nineteenth century census reports that I wouldn't count anything out of the realm of possibilities, even a drastic change in occupations from "Teacher" in the 1875 Kansas Census to "Servant" in the 1880 Federal Census. But who knows? Anything could happen. In any case, by the year 1880 we have fairly well located and documented some of the family tree with Curriers in Langdon, New Hampshire and Wallaces in the vicinity of Topeka, Kansas. The family demography would soon be altered. Mary E. (Morrison) Wallace Currier would be a key player in the forthcoming demographic changes and, for me, an invaluable chronicler of events.

Mary Currier's 1883 Diary
After a hesitant start Mary Currier developed into a dedicated diarist in 1883. I can't speak of her diligence in any other years because her 1883 diary was the only one I was fortunate to inherit. The first entry of the year was the birth day entry on January 11th. Then a two week gap of blank pages until January 25th. From that point on, Mary missed only a handful of days in recording entries. Seldom lengthy, perhaps due to limited space by diary design (each page designed for two daily entries of ten lines apiece), her comments reveal a hard working, disciplined farmer's wife, who maintained a household for two men, her husband and their son, while devoting Sundays to church and Sunday School, weekdays to cleaning, mending, baking, canning, sweeping, cutting vegetables, and sewing, and occasional evenings visiting or receiving visiting neighbors and relatives.  Each workaday task dutifully recorded (including failures when bread didn't rise), each weekly letter from her daughter Emma logged as "had a letter from Emma," and the comings and goings of her nineteen year old son ("johnni & I went to the dentist Mr. Albee of So Charlestown Johnni had 6 cavities filled") and seventy-five year old husband also named John and apparently differentiated for diary entry purposes by formally addressing the senior as, "Mr Currier went to Charlestown Bank."  During the cold winter months her daily comments on weather included thermometer readings ("8 above zero this morn, bright and clear") and as winter gave way to spring the simple comment, "churned" indicated it had warmed up enough to produce butter. Her Sunday remarks sometimes tabulated church or Sunday School attendance ("about the usual number present" or "quite a number to S.S.") and frequently critiqued sermons (most were endorsed as "good sermon") and often recorded their titles ("No Man ___?___ To Himself and Take Heed How You Hear").  She shared her hopes for the effects of these sermons on the congregation as "Hope many have benefited" while secretly confessing one Sunday frustration of " Wish Ira Smith would not sing so loud."

Mary's husband, John Currier died in August of 1883. An amazingly strong and agile 75 year old farmer who still could cut and haul a cord of wood in a day but on this day, August 27th, while hauling a load of hay with a team of horses, suffered a fatal accident in a hayfield. The cold hard facts of his death were described on page 5 of the Currier's booklet, "To The Top Of The Tree" in one two sentence paragraph. To be sure, the booklet was a compilation of Currier family ancestry and not designed to embrace nor describe the sentiments associated with death. That's the nature of genealogy. And if you take the time to combine the narrative about John Currier from page 4 above with page 5 below he turns out to be a pretty interesting fellow.

Interesting or not, that would have been no consolation to Mary Currier to lose her second husband and the father of their teenage son to a farm accident. To my eyes, Mary's shock and sorrow as well as her resilience to carry on literally jump off her diary page entries from August 27 to August 30, 1883.

"Oh! What an h___? has brought to us. Our dear father & husband so suddenly called into Eternity this day nearly six o clock or half past five. Poor dear man left us so sudden."

Due to the layout of the diary pages Mary's day of shock and sorrow stands in contrast with the three days following describing her life going on through baking the first day, funeral services the next, and continuing on with needed farm responsibilities of threshing wheat and oats. "Life Goes On" is an epithet commonly expressed but it doesn't always hit you smack dab in the face like this picture does. Nevertheless, Mary faithfully continued writing her daily diary entries. An increase in the frequency and volume of friends and neighbors "calling" indicates Mary and Johnni (now identified as "John") were receiving moral support to ease their loss. Mary's appreciation is displayed by her meticulous accounting of each visitor, including what meals and chores were shared as well as some who "stayed over night."  Austin Currier, John Currier's son from his first marriage (and my great grandfather) was mentioned on occasion as assisting with farm chores. Mary's son John who, prior to his father's death was mentioned as going to school in "S.R." now is obviously helping with farm work, harvesting corn and digging potatoes. ("S.R." was Saxtons River, Vt, about 13 miles from Langdon). But despite the care and concern of family and friends as well as devoting their efforts to chores and farm work, Mary wrote more than once, "Oh! how lonely John & I are left" and "But how sad we both feel." 

On September 14th, two weeks following John Currier's death, Mary wrote, "Had letter from Emma. I can expect Henry tomorrow."  But the next day, among other descriptions of her days activities she wrote, "Henry did not come as I have expected."  The next mention of her son, Henry, was on the 21st with the comment, "Henry Wallace came about four o clock."  This seemed to me a somewhat formal and unemotional comment to make about the arrival of her oldest son's arrival from Kansas. Then again, it's possible Henry had been there already and just not previously mentioned in Mary's diary. I never saw any entry to indicate that Emma Wallace, Mary's only daughter had returned from Kansas either or increased her weekly correspondence to her widowed mother. But I'm just working off what information Mary recorded so I have to remember not to read too much into comments and lack of comments. In any case, at the beginning of October Mary's entries describe preparations for auction of the farm! The auction was held on October 3rd and then on the 5th, "people came for the articles they bought at the auction...Dorty (sic) came for the hens and chickens."  On October 18th, her entry reads, "trying to get things together to pack in trunks."  And on Sunday the 21st, "Many called after church. Had to do more than I like to be all ready to leave early in the morning."  Mary and John have decided to try and put their sorrow behind them and leave Langdon, New Hampshire. With the assistance of Henry their trunks are transported to the railroad depot and they travel by train in four days to Topeka, Kansas to establish residence in the same town as Mary's oldest children. The train ride offered Mary ample opportunity to observe the scenery and document the trip.

Mary seemed to me to be a bit critical about delays en route. Perhaps she had high expectations for the railroad's efficiency. Four days travel for roughly 1400 miles in 1883 sounds like pretty good transit time to me but elapsed travel time was probably not the real issue. Here was a New Hampshire farm wife who just lost her husband to an accident relocating half way across the country to live near all of her children, leaving farm chores and daily workaday routines behind her. She didn't have to churn butter or bake bread and pies while a passenger on the train. All she had to do was watch the scenery go by and record her impressions of what she saw. All the while anticipating what kind of life awaited her in Kansas. I guess she had a right to jot down a few complaints.

On Friday October 26, 1883, the first full day in Topeka following her journey, Mary wrote,"John went home with Henry after noon. I went through some of the streets with Mrs Huntoon then called at Emma & Miss __ (illegible)__."  And commented the following day, Saturday, "Stayed with Emma last night. She & Miss (?) are doing their Saturday work."  I wish I knew the name of Emma's companion recorded by Mary but have been unable to decipher. Knowing who she was might reveal some clues on the living arrangements established for Mary. For the remainder of the year Mary's diary entries made it clear that her son Henry maintained separate residence but visited frequently throughout the week, often with a team of horses drawing a load of sand and lime for making mortar. He apparently was constructing something but I don't know what.  Her youngest son, John enrolled at Washburn College, of all places!  Many comments described "selecting articles for John's room at college." The frequency of purchases for John's college residence makes me feel he might have been a little pampered. But that's just my impression. If he was here to defend himself he'd probably point out that this was 128 years ago so who's to care if he was pampered or not?! (Good point, John).  As for Emma, Mary enjoyed and recorded doing many things with her daughter, attending church, lectures at the library, and visiting John at school. But I've failed to determine exactly where Mary lived and whether it was with Emma or not.  She made numerous complimentary descriptions of the weather ("a very pleasant day with not a cloud all day") and how much she enjoyed walking ("Emma, John & I walked over to the cemetary (sic) some two miles. It being a delightful day we enjoyed the walk.") No more comments of loneliness or sadness which makes me think that Mary was indeed, moving on with her life. She maintained correspondence with the Curriers and friends back in New Hampshire, noting when she sent and received letters or cards. Christmas of 1883 was recorded, "We were all to Dr Huntoons to dinner and spent the Eve. John went home with Henry a very pleasant day."  And the last dated entry for the year was on Thursday, December 27, 1883, "Baked bread finished mending. Sent receipt back to E.M. Smith."

If Mary wrote in any other diaries before or after 1883 I imagine they have long since disappeared. There are "memoranda" pages following the dated daily entry portion which were primarily used for accounting income and expenses. Interesting to me were the paid column entries for October, one titled "Coming to Kansas" and just below it "for Johnni" both itemized at $40.50 each. I'm assuming that was for train fare and baggage. I guess Henry must have paid his own way. There are other entries within the memoranda section that appear to be dated 1884 so rather than using the diary purely for chronological events it may have been relegated to general notes or accounting. Whatever the case, the very last Memoranda page is pictured below:

Page noted, "Picked in Kansas first of May by Mrs S_____?_____" with an actual clover and attached stem sewn into the last Memoranda page. Darkened by age and enclosure it is well preserved. Mrs S might have found the four leafed clover before Mary arrived or after. Probably after. Whenever it was it seems likely that Mary hoped it would bring good luck.  I know it brought me good luck as it opened up a view of the entire year of 1883 that I never could have gotten from official documents and certificates. I will always be grateful to Mary and any of my ancestors who had a hand in preserving this precious window of 1883.  

With no more diary to show me the way, I resumed my search the old fashioned way. Well, old fashioned in the sense of resorting to records instead of written dialogue.  Since I'm using my computer to sort through genealogy websites it hardly seems fair to call my methods old fashioned. But computer or no, for the life of me I was unable and continue to be unable to find any record of Mary Currier or her son John Morrison Currier from any source between 1883 and 1895.  As I mentioned earlier I had found Henry and Emma on separate Kansas State Census records for 1885 but nothing on Mary and John. Emma apparently was a servant and, it appeared to me, for the same Mr and Mrs Huntoon that Mary's diary had mentioned a few times. But so far sifting through the 1885 census records from the state of Kansas has not helped me to pin down the location for Mary or her youngest son. And 1890 is a wipe out for research since almost the entire Federal Census records were destroyed in a fire. The one thing I did manage to come across, I assume from about 1885 give or take a few years are photographs of Mary and John. Both of these portrait type photos were contained in a Currier family photo album I inherited. Kindly noted in pencil as to their identities and both photographed by the same studio, Leonard Photography of Topeka, Kansas.

Mary E Currier

John M Currier

These are the only photographs in the album imprinted with the logo of Leonard Studio of Topeka, Ks. Believe me, I looked for more Leonard Studio photographs in the hopes that Henry or Emma might have posed for photos as well. But no such luck.

Kansas State Census records for 1895 brought the Curriers and the Wallaces back into the light after a decade of residence darkness. Mary E Currier, John M Currier, and Ema (sic) W Wallace reside together in Ward 3 of Topeka, Kansas. These state census records don't list relationships between household members the way federal records do nor did they indicate home ownership.  I can only guess that Mary owned or rented the property she shared with her daughter and youngest son. The occupations for each were "house keeper" for Mary, "bookkeeper" for John, and "Ema" I think was a "clerk" (hard to read).  Henry was recorded by Kansas as still farming and still in the town of Mission living with what appears to be a married couple assisting him on his farm as laborers. The 1900 Federal Census records show Mary and her three children still residing in the Topeka area but with a reshuffled deck. In the first year of the Twentieth Century, John M Currier has been married for one year to Cora Grubbs and the newlyweds reside in a rented home on Clay Street in Topeka. Cora's mother, Mary Grubbs lives with them. John is still listed as a bookkeeper and the record specifies his employer is the Chicago Lumber Company. Henry still resides in Mission, Kansas but in this year his mother and sister are recorded as residing with him.  Henry's occupation is farmer, Emma's is housekeeper, Mary's occupation line is blank. One additional male resides with them, recorded as a farm laborer.

So between the end of 1883 with no more diary entries to lead the way up to and including the 1900 Federal Census records, only the Kansas State Census records provide clues on the Wallaces and Curriers in 1885 and 1895.  And as noted above, documentation in 1885 is incomplete as far as my research goes, missing any record of Mary or John.  I attempted to find newspaper articles from the website,, which revealed the possibility that both Henry Wallace and Emma Wallace may have been involved in politics. An August 1898 edition of the Topeka Weekly Capital newspaper cited the withdrawal of an H.H. Wallace from nomination for State Senator. A nominee of the "fusionists," a political term popular in that era for combinations of political parties and special interests, including farmers, would also be compatible with our Henry H Wallace but, as always, not a sure thing. Henry's sister could be one and the same as the Miss Emma Wallace endorsed in her candidacy for county treasurer by the State Ledger paper in July, 1897. According to the October, 1898 Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital newspaper she was defeated by a Will S Eberle. There's a bit more corroboration in Emma's case wherein her occupation listed on the 1885 state census listed her place of employment as "Department of Treasurer." The 1898 newspaper article supports this possibility citing, "who for fourteen years has held the position of deputy treasurer."  Interesting to note that the description of her previous service includes working for many treasurers, the first of which was named Huntoon. So Mary might have worked for the Huntoons as a servant, resided in the Huntoon home, but also worked for Mr Huntoon in the Shawnee County Treasurers' Office!  These newspaper pieces prove nothing, of course, but since my search is like trying to be a cold case detective, they should be considered if not suspects, then very much  "persons of interest."

1898 newspaper article - H H Wallace

Newspaper articles 1897 & 1898 - Emma Wallace


                                provided one more item of interest.  An advertisement published in the newspaper, Plain Dealer in 1908 lists John M. Currier, Sec. for the Chicago Lumber Co., in Topeka.

In the center of a column of advertisements, John's Chicago Lumber Co advertisement seems a little understated in comparison to the Kaw Milling Company's dare to buy a sack "on our say so" or "OK" Lard "The Perfect Shortener" but all in all still a tasteful and conservative means of getting the lumber company image out there. Works great for me since it matches nicely with John's occupation records on census reports: in 1895 a "bookkeeper," in 1900 a "secy in "lum yard," employer Chicago Lumber Co, in 1905 "lumber dealer", and in 1910 a "clerk" in "lumber yard."  All listings close enough to verify John's employment at the Chicago Lumber Company in my opinion. Whether the progression from bookkeeper, to secretary, to dealer, and ending with clerk is a true picture of going up and down the corporate ladder I'm not certain. Each of the four records were made by different enumerators, two state and two federal, and each would have their own interpretation of job titles. And regardless of their interpretation of job categories, name spellings, and all other categories of entries the census enumerators were required to record, they had to have been influenced by the citizens they were documenting. What other explanation could there be, for instance, in the example of Henry Halbert Wallace. In the 1850, 1860, and 1870 Federal Census records his name is recorded as "Henry Wallace." On all subsequent census records, federal and state, Henry is listed as "H.H. Wallace." All different enumerators who, on many records, listed others on the same reports with full names as well as just initials.  Henry was always "H.H." from 1875 on and for the rest of his life. I have to believe that he preferred it that way and made it clear to the enumerators that he was to be listed on the record accordingly.

The residential alignments as they were configured in 1900 remained the same for the rest of Mary Currier's life as well as her children's lives. John resided with his wife Cora and her mother in 1905 (State Census) and 1910 (Federal Census). John was always listed as head of household (customary for the times) and while renting a home in 1900 he was recorded as owning the residence in 1910 ("freely" owned, no mortgage).  Mary and Emma still resided with Henry who was listed as the "head of household" and owner of the residence. In 1900 the property was listed as owned vs rented and categorized as a "farm" vs a "house."  In 1910's Federal Census Henry (or I should say H.H.) still owned it but the category reversed to being a house instead of a farm. But the most interesting thing that jumped out at me when I saw the 1910 federal record is that it was annotated with the address of the home...1515 College Avenue in Topeka. Sound familiar?  Maybe not considering how long ago in this short story turned novel I mentioned it. This address is the same  address as listed for my Aunt Alice in 1930!  Now the fact that Aunt Alice said she lived with Uncle Henry was starting to make sense.

Going forward I found no more census records listing John M Currier. I found Mary, Emma, and Henry on the Kansas State Census in 1915, the three of them still together on College Avenue. That was the last record I found on Mary. I couldn't find anything on anybody in 1920. I even browsed through all of the 1920 Federal Census listings for College Avenue in Topeka but found no record of Mary, Emma, or Henry. The 1515 College Avenue address simply was not listed in 1920. Then, in the 1925 state census, Emma and Henry reappeared. Same address. Same defining information of ages and Ohio birth place. Some of the other categories are a little confusing but there are just too many matches to be anybody else. But clearly, no Mary and not surprising because she would have been 101 years old in 1925!

Kansas State Census Record 1925 - Topeka, Shawnee County, Ks

H H Wallace is listed on line 15 with his sister, Emma W below him on line 16. I'm not sure what the enumerator was trying to say for marital status. It almost looks like a precursor to McDonald's Golden Arches in black and white. Probably not but seeing as how he or she also recorded "yes" annotations for other residents in the column calling for "Single, Married, Widowed, or Divorced" I don't suppose interpretation is of much importance! In any case, the lines below the Wallace siblings has one more piece of the Kansas Connection puzzle. Two names are listed as belonging to the same household of 1515 College Avenue. A Rachel E Johnson and a Clara O'Landry? Clara's last name illegible. No ages, place of birth, or other descriptions noted. But Rachel Johnson sure rang a bell...the music teacher residing at the same address with Alice Currier five years later on the 1930 Federal Census!  I still don't know who she was other than a resident in the same house as my ancestors but there is some continuity at least linking a few pieces of history together. The history is incomplete to be sure but there's still enough recorded data to provide a glimpse of the Curriers and the Wallaces from the Nineteenth and a good ways into the Twentieth Century. And if I ever get a chance to stop in Topeka I'm betting I might even be able to focus in on a clearer picture.

I was disappointed that and could not disclose when any of the two families in Topeka might have passed away. I had earlier reviewed a map of Topeka to see how close the Currier sisters were to each other in 1930 and saw that they were residing just a block or two away from each other. Moreover, both were a short walk from the Washburn College (University) campus. The same map also showed a few cemeteries nearby so I pulled up the website,  Long story short (which is  obviously not my forte') two Wallaces, three Curriers, and one Grubbs (no pun intended) are buried together in Mount Hope Cemetery. A couple of blocks West of the Washburn campus, an upright headstone in Northwest Plot IX marks the family grave site.

The individual burial sites for each member of the families are marked by engraved flush ground markers.

And with these markers some of the history becomes clearer. John M Currier died in 1913 at the age of 49.  Mary didn't pass away until two years later so it appears that the sadness she escaped when she left New Hampshire came back and stung her again during her life in Kansas. John's wife, Cora, survived her husband by fifteen years, passing on in 1928 but her mother's death came in the same year as John. That's two Currier women that shared a year of sorrow in 1913. John and Cora, by the way, never had children so the Curriers in Kansas ended the line there. And finally, Henry and Emma Wallace, brother and sister born in Ohio, died in the same year of 1929 and are buried with the family in Topeka's Mount Hope Cemetery. I have asked the cemetery office if they could provide any more information on the six interments. I was hopeful they might have death records or obituary notices or just something to pinpoint exact dates of death. Mount Hope indicated they would send me anything they could find but I have received nothing for over a month now. If I ever get more data I will update this posting accordingly.  Since my mother, Emma Currier and her sister, Alice enrolled at Washburn in 1926 and 1927 respectively, it's likely that they resided with or near "Uncle Henry" and his sister for some period of time before he passed away in 1929. One aspect of all this that will remain a mystery is,  did Uncle Henry chew tobacco and did he spit the juices into the bathtub?  Maybe somebody in the Topeka area could stop by 1515 College Avenue and see if there's any evidence one way or the other. Until I get an update on any of these factors, my search goes on.