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By looking at the photos of her, you’d think she was a hard woman, an unhappy woman, a woman that controlled all that surrounded her. Her features were sharp, a long face and pointed nose, stern jawline, thin lips, piercing eyes and she always — in every image I’ve seen of her — wore her hair parted in the middle, pulled tight to her head and compiled into a bun that landed at the collar of her dress. As was the style, her dress was form fitting from the waist up, full length sleeves with puffs at the top, and a row of buttons from the top of her collar to just below her waist, followed by a layer of draped fabric and a skirt that certainly reached, or even surpassed, her ankles. I know smiling for a photograph was nearly impossible in the 1880s, and it certainly wasn’t required etiquette, so this perceived sternness was likely simply a result of me never having actually seen her smile depicted.

The passage from her obituary in the Brown County World on March 18, 1921 reads “Mrs. Klinefelter was a woman of noble Christian char­acter, exercising a wholesome influence upon all with whom she came in contact with. She was kind, affectionate and patient, bearing her suffering with resignation and cheerfulness.” I wonder if this presentation of her character is true to who she was, or if the family chose to present her in a more positive light as can sometimes be the case, I choose to believe the former. Either way, her passing in Hiawatha, Kansas at the age of 85 was momentous given that she was, and still holds the status of, the Klinefelter family matriarch.

Eunice, her 3 daughters, and 4 grandchildren in same household — 1920 Census (click for larger view)