Where Are You From?
Some are aware that my husband and I have sold our farm in Kansas and have started the process of packing up our worldly posessions (again... long story). But not too many know that Steve's mom, Bette, has reached that golden age where she no longer will live in her own home. The Robbs are Kansas folk. They are also farm folk. I don't know if this is common elsewhere, but a Kansas farmer keeps EVERYTHING. So I am never surprised to find another treasure in his 94-year-old mother's home. And I was not the least bit surprised (a bit grossed out) when Steve's mom handed me a little box of my then 68-year-old husband's baby teeth. Yes. They keep EVERYTHING! She was so proud of this little treasure. Ummm... no comment.
I believe she wanted to give me this treasure because I am the family history keeper. When I met my husband, I helped start the research for his Robb line. Easy enough to do because I am the 3rd generation to keep and upkeep my own family tree, photos and keepsakes. Many of the Robb stories are fascinating, such as Steve's grandmother, who was a Catholic nun. Well, she was a nun for a few years, and then decided she didn't have the "calling."
Family treasures are a great path to more stories. By example, my grandfather was born in 1866. My father, quite the surprise, was born in 1921. So even my own grandfather, a professed communist at the turn of the century left behind some interesting momentos. I actually have a red ribbon he kept from one of the Communist party gatherings. His political leanings were somewhat ignored until the day he started painting political signs on the side of the family home with red paint. And that earned him a one-way-ticket into a private room at a local nursing home.
So now that Steve's mom is in a nursing home, we have the joy of exploring all her worldly lifetime possessions. It has been a bit of a treasure hunt. I love the whale-bone bodices from his great grandmother's dresses she had planned to remake. The old wire-rimmed glasses and gold watch fobs are glorious. But the photo and history booklets are most interesting.
Today I found a 1961 Centennial Bulletin from the Shawnee County Historical Society. Now, I'm trained as a librarian, so I'm always a bit discouraged not to find a Table of Contents or an Index to help me figure out exactly what is in a book. But today, that was ok. This small booklet about Topeka, Kansas history caught my eye, and I flipped through the pages quickly. What caught my eye was a photo of Mrs. J. D. McFarland. I started working through a few pages and discovered there was a bit of history here about the Kansas McFarlands.
McFarland is a common name in Kansas. There is a town on Highyway I-70. We had a Kansas Supreme Court Justice, Kay McFarland (1935-2015). There was a very large McFarland home (mansion by some standards) on the corner of 10th and Gage in Topeka that had a ballroom on the very top floor. And we still have a restaurant in Topeka named, McFarland's. So I am not surprised to have additional history about McFarlands in front of me. But I suppose the point is, you will just never know where Clan MacFarlane will pop up.
Topeka, Kansas. Yup. Kansas. There is a rich history of McFarlands/MacFarlanes here too.
So if you want to see if this is part of your family, that were discussed in the 1961 Shawnee County Historical Society booket, here you go:
Mrs. James D. McFarland (nee Matilda Steele) came to Kansas from Illinois in 1860. Her father, Rev. John A. Steele, had moved to Illinois from Virginia in 1837. He was an abolitionist and did not "desire to rear his family... where the curse of slavery existed."
Matilda McFarland and her husband, James D. had 10 children: Pearl (Mrs. C. C. Stillman); Lillian (Mrs. Lee C. Forbes); John Steele; Hugh; Earl; Hampton (died in infancy); Helen M.; James M.; Robert Bruse; Katherine Hampton (Mrs. Wm. H. Alderman).
Do you see a familiar name? Well, there you have it. If you are interested in the accounting of the family moving to Kansas at the time of the U.S. Civil War, let me know. I'll photocopy the pages and send it to you. But keep in mind, part of the joy of doing family history is sharing. If you find some McFarlane history, consider sharing it on the fb page, or contact one of the Clan MacFarlane Worldwide geneaologists. You might actually close a gaping hole in someone's family tree search.