Sunday, March 11, 2012

Backward Glance - Maud May Morgan

Maud May Morgan, known later in life and to her many descendants, as Grandma Bemiss, lived a long and rich life. In 1964, a couple years after the death of her husband, she dictated some of the family history to her daughter, Virginia. Her desire to share dates and stories about her own family, her husband's, as well as some of the ancestors, created a priceless heirloom of information that has inspired and entertained three generations of children and grandchildren. Her influence on her descendants is incalculable.

Maud was the second child and only daughter, born to Charles Clark and Virginia Caroline (Topping) Morgan. She and her older brother, John Clyde, were both born in Blanchard, Page County, Iowa. Maud's birthday was September 16, 1884. She had three younger brothers, Edgar Howard, Wilford Charles and Francis Willard.

In 1893, Charles and his mother, Mary Jane (Clark) Morgan, traveled to Gove County, Kansas, in a covered wagon. They homesteaded on land about one mile west and four miles south of Grinnell. After they were settled, Maud said, "my mother and we five children came by train." The family was enumerated in Grinnell Township in 1895.

On March 18, 1905, Maud was united in marriage to Fredrick James Bemiss, the son of William Silas and Olive Orrel (Webster) Bemiss. They were married in Gove City, Gove County, Kansas. Except for a few years living in Geary County and Logan County, they lived in Gove County the rest of their lives. To this union were born nine children. The first five were sons: William Elmer, Marvin Charles, Alan Edgar, James Edwin and Robert Oliver. The latter four were daughters: Luella Mae, Florence Olive, Nellie Virginia and Edna Marie.

We have always been told that Grandma Bemiss had a rule that if you complained about the food at a meal, you would have to do the dishes. So, her children learned to tell her that the food was 'just the way I like it.' This is a still familiar phrase among her descendants! And, truly, 'Grandma Bemiss Cobbler' is 'just the way we like it!'

Freddie died in 1962, but the couple did celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1955. All but one of their children were able to gather to honor them at the time.

Two of Maud's sons, Elmer and Bob, preceded her in death. After returning from Bob's funeral, just a few weeks before her own death, she commented to the effect that it wasn't right to see your children buried. On March 11, 1975, she sat down in her chair at the end of the day, as was her custom. She drifted peacefully into death. She is buried in the Grinnell Cemetery.

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