Skip to main content

As the family keeper, I’m always finding a new treasure in my ancestral archives, and this one is particularly special.

Recorded 50 years ago, a cassette preserved the voices of my grandfather Warren interviewing his mother-in-law about her family history — although, my great-grandmother Minnie’s voice is essentially all you hear in this recording. Her talkative nature and warm smile left a lasting impression on me and I so enjoy hearing her voice after all of these years.

Minnie Bowron was my grandmother Jane’s mother, she was 97 years old when she died in 1984 in Hutchinson, Kansas. She was married to my great-grandfather Ezra Bowron for 55 years, and her 3 daughters, Ruth, Theresa Ann, and Jane were born and raised on the farm we still own and farm today.

Click on image to play audio.

Left to right: Minnie (Vanover) Bowron, daughters Theresa Ann, Ruth, and Jane, Ezra Bowron

Read the full audio transcription:

Well I was born in Gold County, Kansas in 1887, February the 2nd, and my parents were Samuel and Anna Vanover, V-a-n-o-v-e-r. I had a brother who was almost 14.

They were leaving, just like, uh — there was a caravan of covered wagons. People were just having to leave because you couldn’t raise anything to eat or sell or anything.

And my father had — he had — such a nice team of mules, and they died with what you call a glanders about two weeks after they got out there. And it seemed like that’s the way their luck went from the time. Well, it’s just (that) there wasn’t any way to make money. But they run that restaurant for quite a while and, uh, then that’s about all I know about the western Kansas. Because it went — see I was too little to really know. But we left there and we went to Superior, Nebraska. Where we lived in part of the house, (where) my father was a bachelor.

And my father (had) this real nice house in Superior, Nebraska. And my father farmed his ground, and he furnished the seed and everything, because my father didn’t have anything to do. And when we left there, then we went to Omaha, Nebraska. How we happened to go to Omaha, I can’t tell you, but my brother had a job in a shoe shop making shoes.

And I must have gone to kindergarten, I must have been older because I remember him taking me across the railroad, uh, streetcar tracks to some kind of a school. And then we went down near, uh, Nebraska City with some friends my father had known, and he worked there, and I don’t know how long we stayed there until we went to Auburn, Nebraska, where we lived. No, I can’t tell you —  I think I was nine years old when we left there.

When you left Auburn? Auburn and Auburn.

And we went to, Pawnee, no to Humboldt. Out in the country in Humboldt. My father bought a little place out there, an acreage out in Humboldt, and we farmed until I was old enough to go to high school. And of course, those days you — it was quite a ways you’d know where to go, but just drive a horse or something. And so they went to Pawnee because I was ready for high school, and I went to there —  I finished out high school.

Pawnee, Nebraska? No, Pawnee City, Pawnee City.

We lived at Auburn. And then I went to the to Humboldt. And then we went to Pawnee because I was ready for high school. And that high school wasn’t for 12 years. It must have been ten. But I took things in that high school, and I thought I could go to Hiawatha when we moved up there to be to make a to things — that I’d taken to go towards my 12 years, but they advised me to go with the academy, and I wouldn’t think of going to the academy because they had one in Pawnee and everybody went to Academy was just one that couldn’t do anything in high school.

Well anyway, I went to work — they said I went to work when I could see across the counter. And from then on, I worked at that place, the one place, and then I worked at this Bierer, Shadel & Company — that they just now sold — the people they moved out. It was a general store from — they sold — the grocery and chinaware and everything in the basement. Then there was men’s clothing and women’s clothing. Women’s clothing was upstairs. What they had, of course, there wasn’t very much in those days and there was carpets upstairs. It was just everything you can go in that store that you needed. They sold yard and muslin and well, I can’t describe it. One Christmas time we wrote checks for 35 employees. Now that employ that, uh, we had delivery boys that brought the groceries and took them. And I worked there until I married in November 5th, 1913. Now, let’s stop there (till), canna (Can I)? Shall I go?