Chapter 4: Raising families on the Prairie -- August 1895 - 1909


By August of 1895, each of Thomas's daughters are married and having children. Anna and her husband Joe Lindley had their third baby in February 1895 (they later have four more), and that summer Emma and Lulu had their first. Emma nearly died from complications of childbirth, and so her daughter Permelia grows up an only child, feeling as close to her Lindley cousins (the only cousins who grow up in Nebraska) as if they were her brothers and sisters. Lucy's daughter Kate, who will be four in December, also grows up an only child. They live in Oklahoma until 1897, when the mother of Lucy's husband Will dies -- they go back to Pennsylvania for a few years to live with his widowed father until Will can no longer stand being away from their Oklahoma farmlands.

Anna's family lives in Central City, where her husband has a pharmacy, and Emma's and Lulu's families live on farms within 25 miles of Central City. Emma's family first rented the Traver's farm (pictured above and on pages 350-351 and shown on the map on page 275) and then bought a farm about 8 miles from Fullerton, which is 20 miles from Central City. Their brothers Charles and Thomas still live at home -- Lucy writes to ask if 21-year-old Charlie is seeing any girls. Thomas turns 15 in October 1895 and has outgrown the country school. He and his mother Ruth move into Central City so he can attend school, while his father Thomas and brother Charlie live on the farm.. Thomas, who is now almost 60, continues to work as a farmer. He is very active in his church and also in the Masons and the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic, a national organization of Civil War veterans -- see photos on pages 362-3). He also enjoys visiting with former comrades, especially James Gregg, who periodically comes from Pennsylvania to visit (three of his sons live in Nebraska, including Emma's husband Charles) and they talk about the war long into the night. In 1904 Thomas and his wife Ruth buy some land and move into a home near a college just northwest of Central City.

In 1902, after less than six years of marriage, Lulu's husband Buel dies, leaving her with five children. Another neighbor, Willet Atherton, steps in to help, and two years later they are married. Lulu is pregnant with their second child when they move to a farm in Vermont that they had bought sight unseen after it was advertised in the newspaper.

In 1909, after almost 30 years of marriage, Thomas's wife Ruth dies, and another phase in Thomas's life comes to a close. He is 72 years old and widowed for the second time, his children are grown, he has 25 grandchildren with more on the way, and his pension, which he started receiving as a Civil War veteran as a result of the Act of June 27, 1890, begins providing him financial security as it is doubled in the next several years and then doubled again in the next decade.

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