Gail Lee Martin loved researching family history and she’s passed that passion on to several of her daughters, including me. She tracked her McGhee line laboriously through letters and visits to courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries in those pre-Internet times. I’ve been retracing her steps, but using online resources, to see what further can be discovered.
In doing so, I joined a Perry County history group on Facebook for Arkansas. While asking about the McGhees there and sharing some photos, I’ve met some distant cousins who shared their ancestors with me. This photo shows Florence McGhee who married William J. Marshall in 1910.
My thanks to Dana Mattingly Craft who provided this picture. Information from the back: Florence McGhee Marshall with children: Robert Marshall (in her arms), Willie “Dane” Marshall, Doyle Marshall (retired from the navy around 1950), Kenneth Marshall (killed in service on December 16, 1941 around Honolulu, Hawaii while piloting an airplane off a carrier for the Navy).
This photo had to have been taken prior to or in 1918 as Florence and Dane died at the end of 1918 as did her one-month-old infant.
In looking at this photo of Florence, it reminded me of a 1940s photo of my mother, when she worked at Boeing. Do you see the resemblance?
This sharing of information led to another connection who surprised me by colorizing Gail’s picture. I think Jenny S. Henry did a marvelous job and I greatly appreciate her skill and willingness to share her talent.
Classic Cars from the McGhee and Martin Family Albums
In sorting old photos for my mother’s book about her childhood in the 1930s, I was intrigued by the pictures of family cars through the decades. I’ll share some of these vintage car pictures here with you.
This photo shows my mom, Gail Lee Martin, between two of her school days friends. They are posing with her dad’s new car in the 1930s. She was fortunate during the Great Depression of the 1930s, her dad had a job when so many could not find work.
Mom had sorted the family photos into cigar boxes. There was one box labeled “CARS” so here are those great old automobile photos from the 1920s and 1930s.
This photo was labeled “Albert Vining – new car.” Albert was Gail Martin’s uncle.
This one labeled “Pearl Tower” looks like the same model of car, though a bit worse for wear. I’m not sure what the purpose of the addition on the running board is for. Pearl Tower and Albert Vining both lived in Tyro, Kansas, and she was his sister-in-law so it is quite likely that this is Albert’s car.
The photo above was labeled “Roy, Sam and Clarence McGhee with Car on the Phillips Petroleum Lease.” Clarence was Gail’s father, Sam was her grandfather, and Roy was her uncle. This also looks like the same model of car.
All the photos are from the Martin family album
My sister, Karen Kolavalli, is our guest blogger for today: “A snow storm like this meant our country school would be closed when I was a kid. All six of the Martin kids would have been out playing in the snow until we were sodden and frozen. We’d come in and huddle around the wood stove to thaw out. Mom would already have hot homemade cocoa ready for us and we could look forward to potato soup with bread and homemade butter or pancakes and eggs for supper.
Today I’m content to watch the snow coming down from the warmth of my home. The TV news indicates that’s a really good idea.”
If Mom were still here, we could ask her if she remembers the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940 that raged from Kansas to Michigan. I did find a poem she wrote in 2006 inspired by the snow and ice that Kansas was having then. In 2007, icy day motivated her to revise Ice Storm and feature it with her granddaughter’s photos on the Our Echo website.
Here’s another snowy photo from the McGhee family album.
I had the idea of getting a sketch made of Mom. My thought was to use it when reissuing some of her family stories in individual editions. Now with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct, it’s possible to reach a wider audience than ever before with self-published books.
There’s a site called Fiverr with freelance artists and writers willing to work for $5 or $10. Many are in places like Asia or South America where $5 goes further and they appreciate the chance to reach an international market for their talent.
You can view examples of their work and commission one to draw a portrait. I opted for the $10 version and supplied a photo. This was the resulting graphic.
For those reading this who actually knew Gail Lee Martin, what do you think of the likeness? I thought the hair was a little stiff looking and maybe too high in the center.
Then I looked at the photo that I supplied and decided the artist did quite a reasonable job capturing Mom. Share your reaction in the comment section below.
The artist who created this was Polillavw of Argentina.
A Pet Badger
I’d never think to have a pet as ferocious looking as a badger. They have fearsome claws and are noted for their digging. My mom was given a baby badger back in the 1930s and she raised it and kept it as a pet.
She tells some remarkable stories about what it was like to have a pet badger. Here’s more information about the American badger and more about her pet badger.
An Unusual Pet – An American Badger
- Preview of My Flint Hills Childhood
on the Blurb.com website (or click on the preview above). The book won the 2010 Ferguson Kansas History Book Award.
- “Jolly Was a Badger” (excerpt from My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up In 1930s Kansas)
Excerpt from the book on the author’s website
Gail Martin describes in her book how they raised the badger as a baby. This video shows a European baby badger, but it would have looked pretty similar to this.
Note that it has a harness. It also digs just like my mother described her pet badger digging in their potato patch. A collar didn’t work for the badger as it would just slip off over its head.
Gail wrote on June 4, 2002
“I was talking with Carol about when she was in second grade at Seeley, a country school. She had Mrs. Neumayer as teacher and that teacher’s daughters, Peggy and Ann, attended the school too.
I was just first year out of high school and I stayed with that family during the week to take care of a younger girl, Ann. That family ate huge amounts of fried potatoes every night and I had to peel those spuds.” Gail Martin
Karen adds an update to this story: “Ann’s (the one that Mom babysat) had an older sister Peggy and an older brother Robert. Both are deceased. All three of them lived in El Dorado. Ann’s married name is Fankhauser; Peggy’s was Little. Mom and I ran into Ann at the Senior Fair the year after Dad died and I took pictures.”
Here’s a photo taken by my sister, Karen.
Here’s Karen’s description: “Eureka Days, 1996 – Mom demonstrating how she & Dad (Clyde) made wagon wheel rugs at the museum during Eureka Days in 1996. That’s 6-year old Chhaya Ruth K. with her–we were back in Kansas for a short visit from our home in India. Greenwood County Museum.
Carol Garriott – Dec 28, 1999 “It seems like I ought to know, having seen this photo before — but, who took the picture? Boyfriend? Roving reporter, spotting a beautiful girl?”
Karen Kolavalli – Dec 28, 1999 “I’m sure Mom can tell you in a more interesting way than I can since it’s her story, but I believe it was a street photographer. There’s another one of Mom and a girlfriend of hers, too, taken by a street photographer. Both are postcards. Oh, now that I think of it, the second one is actually a postcard addressed to you, February 19, 1945, Wichita, Kansas. I’ll get it scanned and uploaded soon.”
Gail Martin – Dec 29, 1999 “Well, of course, I loved this coat too! It was a chocolate-brown & cream colored plaid. Mother never said anything about my choice of clothing I bought while working at Boeing. I lived in a home with a divorced lady and her two sons. 1000 S. Patty.”
Mom’s commented on this photo,
“I had this photo taken in a little 3 for $1.00 shops that were around Wichita. They were patronized by many military guys and their girlfriends because they were developed fast while you waited.
You’ll notice I still thought I looked better without my glasses.”
She would have been 20 years old in 1944.