Friday, December 8, 2017

Gone a-courtin' in the Show-Me State

Though it's only an hour's drive away in today's travel conditions, I don't suppose I had expected a young man who had just moved from Kentucky to Kansas to slip over the border to yet another state to find his bride. Shows you what a poor guesser I am.

By the time we had found John Blain in the 1880 census, the Kentucky native was only seventeen years of age. Of course, it was a few years after that point—actually, closer to the turn of the century—when he began thinking about finding someone with whom to tie the knot, so perhaps by then, he had already scoped out the possibilities in his newly-adopted state and decided to look elsewhere.

If it weren't for those shaky-leaf hints at Ancestry, I wouldn't have given it a thought to look for marriage records for John Blain in Missouri, but that is apparently where he found the love of his life. She was a gal in her late twenties by the name of Harriet Beeman who caught his eye. Living in yet another of those small, rural towns—Walker, in Vernon County, Missouri—Harriet told John "I do" before the local Justice of the Peace on the twenty third of September in the year 1897.

When we found the newlyweds back in Walnut, Kansas, in the next census—taken nearly three years later in June, 1900—John and Harriet were the proud parents of daughter Emma, who had arrived in the Blain household in August of the previous year. As it turned out, baby Emma was to be the first of four daughters. Following her arrival in 1899, she was joined by sisters Rozella in 1902 and twins Vera and Vida in 1906.

By the time of the twins' arrival, their paternal grandmother had already passed away—a sadness not unknown by many young families, certainly, but unlikely to be the impetus for the next occurrence in the life of the Blain family. With the 1905 Kansas state census, we learn that John and Harriet and their children had moved from their rental home in Walnut to another place in an even smaller community about fifty five miles to the north, known as Centerville.

Perhaps it was on account of his business that John moved his family away from Walnut. The 1905 state census reported his occupation to be "hardware." Whether for business or simply to keep in touch with family back home in Walnut, John found himself traveling by train to span the hour's travel distance between his old hometown and the new community. It was on one such trip that life suddenly changed for the entire family.


  1. I am enjoying the story! :)
    Now I am curious ...but patient...I hope he meets someone business wise:)

    1. Sometimes I wish the census would record more detail about people's occupations. In John's case, the earlier census only reported his position to be salesman. Of course, I want to know, "What did he sell?"


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