Bobbie’s Story as of 2012
I am very late in getting my personal history into the eccchistory.org website. Today’s date is l2:01 P.M. on 12-22-2012. To me it proves that God is right again. The Mayans were only people like us, after all. The sun is shining, snow has given us moisture we have sorely needed for three years! We couldn’t even have 4th of July fireworks this year. Bad fire year. So—at age 88, I want to get my thoughts all in a row, and get this information to you on my life to go along with my ancestral histories.
The more I look at pictures of my ancestors and read about them, I am more sure than ever that someday my family will feel the same way about me; not all of them will know me, but they will learn more about me because of this web page.
I can recall when I entered first grade in September 1929. It was in the little brick elementary school in Cambridge, Kansas. I was five years old and turning six in October. I was inquisitive and active and loved life. I had seen my two brothers leave for school, and it sounded interesting. They came home with some wild tales, and I wanted to be able to experience that. I walked to school many times, and one of the adults took me when the weather was bad. But even when it was cold, I had to walk if the old ’28 Chevy wouldn’t start.
Mary Lou and I loved being together at that age, but we felt that our brothers Wally and Junie were only good for teasing. The only real paddling I got was from Mama. It was a really nice day, and I wanted to walk home leisurely and sit on the side of the Cambridge Hill and dig in the dirt and maybe see a spring flower in bud. Papa had come after me, as he had business in town anyway. He knew I would be walking home about the time he was heading home. I saw the car (easy to identify, as there weren’t too many cars those days). I hid in some bushes and let him go by. He did this a couple times as he hunted for me back and forth. When I got home, happy and dancing, Mama said, “Where were you when Papa was looking all over for you?” “I don’t know,” I said, trying to be believably serious. We were standing, and Mama put my face into her belly, lifted my dress, and without any jeans or pants to soften the blows, she gave my buttocks a time to remember! Even in those days, they had been worried.
The rest of the years in elementary school were good. We had a rhythm band, spelling bees, ciphering matches, and I learned fast, was happy, and was so proud when I got little paper certificates from the State Superintendent of Schools for achievements in writing, spelling and deportment. Yes, deportment! Lewis Pickens was my best friend in the first grade, and it lasted a lifetime.
The rest of my school days through the 12th grade at CHS were memorable. I liked the teachers, thought I was in love with Mr.Volkland. Found out he was attentive to me because he could count on me for help with plays, proms, carnivals and sundry things such as the school paper, The Bulldog. It took several years to open my eyes to that fact!
I married Billy Loren Ledgerwood in July 1942. Both, his mother Gladys and my father Alf had to go to the courthouse and sign that even though we were underage, seventeen and nineteen, they approved of the marriage. Bill was headed for the WWII draft. To beat the draft he could sign up for any of the services and he chose the United State Coast Guard. He left January 13, 1943, and served for three years in the USCG.
Our son Bill, Jr. was born in June of l943. We were alone three years, and Bill returned to us January 31, 1946. He decided he needed to take advantage of the GI Bill free education from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. It was a good move, as he taught in Kansas and Colorado until 1970 when the hippies in Aspen, Colorado ran us out of not only Aspen, but out of teaching.
We had two girls, Julie in 1947 and Nancy in 1949. We always felt that we had the best kids in the world, and still think that here in 2012.
Billy graduated from Emporia State College in Kansas, and the girls both graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Billy married Janelle Wulf from Cheney, Kansas and had three children, Darren, David and Deann.
Julie married Larry Hjermstad and raised his two boys, Mike and Dale, plus they had two of her own, Eric and Alisa.
Nancy married Joe Sperry of Eckert, Colorado. They had a boy Vaughn and a girl Renee. Sorrowfully, Nancy passed away in 2005, leaving many broken hearts; but someone said, “Don’t say you lost her when you know where she is.” She was a devoted Christian. I will add parts of her Celebration of Life at the end of this part of my story.
Our three kids gave us nine grandkids, fourteen great grandkids and five great, great grandkids. They all make this granny proud.
In 1971, Bill, Sr. decided he had had his fill of teaching, so (against my will) we sold everything, cashed both of our retirement checks and moved back to the beautiful Flint Hills in Kansas. We lived close to both parents around Cambridge. We had some money, but found out real quick that the big Ford V8 truck, big cowboy hat and boots did not make a rancher.
We built a new house (with nherited money), and he and I worked to make ends meet and could have been happy there; but alcohol got the best of Bill. I divorced him after forty-two years – the hardest, saddest time of my life. I had to sell the farm, and I moved back to Colorado near Julie and Larry in Durango. Bill passed away in 2000.
After I moved to Colorado, I found a wonderful, fulfilling job in the United States Forest Service as an Information Specialist. I have never looked back, and life has just gotten better every year.
Julie and Larry Hjermstad divorced, and she married Scott McCallister. They live in Arizona half-time and Colorado the rest of the time. Julie, at age sixty-one, had her first grandchild Makenzie Dale the cutest little three and a half year old you could ever imagine. (Sounds like my brother Lynn describing his daughter Michelle’s action when talking about her granddaughter. Sorta silly.) But Makenzie is the only baby child here in Colorado. I have plenty of grandkids, but I can’t show them the cookie jar or watch the deer roaming in my yard.
I love to go to Arizona when the kids are there. I soak in the hot tub, the warm sun; and I get to use the big “picker” to bring down dozens of oranges off their trees and bring them home for friends.
About eight years ago, after many years in genealogy and certificates in DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and Huguenot Society, I found that I had four Mayflower ancestors: Richard Warren, Stephen Hopkins, Francis Cooke and Edward Doty. You can read Stephen Hopkins account of his trials getting to the Mayflower and then finally to Plymouth Plantation. It is called, On This Land I Will Die.
After being gone a while and reading some of the research I had done, Julie told me, “Mom, you should write a book.” So I did.
Julie thought of the name of my book after we studied and discussed many titles. I wanted it to show my life and true feelings, mistakes and loves and joys, not just an account of things. We named it, Secrets of a Cambridge Graduate. By secrets, I did not mean the conventional term. I meant it to indicate the moments, thoughts, feelings, and happenings that others, especially my children, might not know about me.
The inside front cover of the book reads: “In 1993, I visited the dugout site where my mother was born in the late 1800s near Cambridge, Kansas. The dugout was not visible, but a mound of dirt and pieces of the steppingstones that ran from the entrance of the dugout to the well and the barnyard were evidence that this was the place. Ancient walnut trees continued to thrive around the property. I stooped, picked up a single, black walnut and absent-mindedly dropped it into my pocket.
When I moved into Sunshine Gardens Assisted Living facility eighteen years later, my children were helping me unpack some boxes and discovered a single black walnut among the keepsakes. “What is this?” they asked. It took me a moment to remember.
I believe that this walnut was meant to be—that it is the perfect symbol of my life and the life of my family. It is tough, hard and rough, yet it gives promise of nourishment, safety, and continuity of life.”
This book is my story about life in rural Kansas and Colorado during good times and bad. My hope is that I will encourage you to write your own stories and share them with those you love.
The back cover of my book depicts a Kansas walnut tree and the explanation of why I wrote the book: “BOBBIE LEDGERWOOD was inspired by her aunt Mary Higgins Moore to write her own memories from diaries, journals, letters, postcards, and napkins that she kept from the time she was ten years old. She was eighty when she decided to use a computer and type her life story.”
Some of you might have known or have heard of the Higgins family who lived around Atlanta and Cambridge. If the book goes well, I have a novel in mind: a story about my grandfather William Wallace Higgins, a civil war veteran. I feel like I “just have to scribble” a little just as aunt Mary did a day or two before she died at age eighty-three. William Wallace had a very unstable life, most of it not of his doing, but he persevered. I am now a Daughter of the Union Veterans of the Civil War (DUVCW). I have a pin I wear inscribed with DUVCW and the inscription “Our soldiers wore blue.” It had crossed swords above the inscription.
Aunt Mary’s great, great granddaughter Nancy Hamilton, who now lives in Texas, made copies of the whole diary (1900-1952) and sent it to me. I had many wonderful days reading every page. She didn’t miss a day. One day she wrote. “Alta (her daughter) was born this morning about ____.” She never mentioned before that she was pregnant, but she did say things like “went to bed early yesterday,” “a very tiring day,” or mentioned that someone came and helped her pick beans. I have the diary sitting happily in my bookcase. It is fascinating reading.
At age thirteen, in the small Presbyterian Church in Cambridge, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, confessing my sins and asking the Lord to forgive my sins. A traveling evangelist held a revival there, and he helped me understand that I knew a lot about Jesus, but I didn’t know Him personally. So from that day to this day in December 2012, He has guided me and shown me the way that I should go (sometimes with a stern voice and a prod), but He was always right!
Julie and I made plans for this 2012 Christmas, but (like most plans) they got waylaid with snowy weather, late travelers, and sickness. Today is Christmas Day. I helped fix a paper sack of goodies that I remember receiving as a kid at our church program every year in Cambridge. I made for all the residents here at Sunshine Gardens. Then Julie will pick me up (I gave up my car willingly a year ago), and we will go to her house for barley soup. The kids get back in a few days, and I will have them here for my gift exchange. I have their gifts here already. Such has been my life, but looking back, it all was wonderful when it did come together!
I have traveled extensively, mostly to find and enjoy my quest for relatives-- the old ones. In Ohio, I found information on my great granddad Valentine (Valentin) Braun, who came from Germany with his parents in 1839. He married Barbara Gries in New York. I met a 91-year-old cousin B.J.Gries, who owns the largest certified seed company in the USA. He rides his bike to work every day. He graciously showed me around the area and the Fremont Cemetery.
In the Rutherford B. Hayes Library, they found a box in the attic storage that contained important information on Valentine (marriage certificate, naturalization papers, legal papers); and in the Flat Rock Orphanage I found a box of information on Valentine’s tenure there as superintendent until he died in 1895.
I traveled all the coast of Virginia, visiting Montecello. Julie and I had visited the Montecello Association that owns the grounds now. This was an important meeting because they were to decide whether to let some of the Sally Hemings family join the Association. They didn’t succeed at that time, but I believe they did get some recognition in later meetings. It was enjoyable to meet the Hemings family, eat with them, go to the cemetery with them where their children placed flowers on Thomas Jefferson’s grave.
Williamsburg is where my 7th great grandfather Thomas Thorpe and his wife Katherine Seaton are buried in the Bruton Parish Church cemetery. When I arrived at the cemetery, there was a NO ADMITTANCE sign displayed; they were refurbishing the grounds. I talked a caretaker into letting me go over broken stones and mud to get a picture of their flat, raised stones. Thomas’ great, great grandfather was massacred in Jamestown in 1623. His wife survived. I would love to take that trip again!
In 1993, the Ashcrafts hosted the Brown/Higgins reunion in Cambridge. We toured the old homesteads of both the Browns and the Higgins. Then we went to the dugout site where Mom was born in 1892. I picked up a walnut.
I want to say a bit about my daughter, Julie. I call her my angel, as I did the first day she was born. She has endured a lot from my desires. She always makes me feel that it is “really important to all of us, what you are doing.” She has done all the work on my book with the publisher. I just WROTE the book. She and I edited it five times, but she has taken it all from there. She has taken pictures, gotten them ready for the publisher. She is good at the computer and organization. Without her this book would have never seen the light of day! If you never saw an angel, I suggest you meet her. Bill and Julie are my happiness.
Julie, Nancy and I took an extended trip to Alaska, the Caribbean, two Mexican cruises, and with free trips to France, Austria, Hawaii, thanks to Billy and Janelle, also sundry short trips around the nation.I guess I have told you as much about myself and my family as you want to know, and then some. I hope you enjoy Life and never forget Who gave you that Life! Love and Blessings,
|Bobbie in first grade|
|Alf and Annabelle's Fiftieth|
|Bruton Parish Pew|
|Bobbie and fish|
|Bobbie and ML|