A Glimpse into 1930

Glenn & Rosa (Jones) Stewart with their son Glenn “Archie” Jr. and his daughter, Lisa.

Last year, I went home to Ohio to visit for my grand-baby’s first birthday and while at my mom’s, we were going through her photo album and behind a big 8×10 picture, there was this letter hidden.  I wrote about it before when talking about how this letter helped me learn more about the mysterious life of my great-uncle Dale.  From the hint in this letter, I was able to find his mug shot in the Montana State Prison.

The letter was written November 28, 1930 and was from my great-grandfather Glenn Archer Stewart, Sr. in Pickaway County, Ohio, to his uncle Asbury Archer in Noble County, Ohio.  If you don’t know the story of the Glenn and Dale Stewart (and you can read here if you’d like), but quickly I will say that their dad murdered their mom in 1914 and Asbury was not allowed to raise them, being a single man.  The boys were placed in the children’s home system and moved around several times.  Glenn eventually made his way to Pickaway County, I think to work on the farm of Lewis Edward Jones’ farm, where he met Rosa Jones.  They married May 6, 1927 and their first child, Glenn “Archie” Stewart, was born shortly thereafter November 13, 1927.  (You do the math! *wink*)  Their second child, Rose Mary Stewart, was born October 1, 1930 and this letter was written when she was nearly two months old.

From the Circleville Herald, 14 July 1945.

Recently, I went back and re-read this letter and this glimpse into my great-grandparent’s life in 1930 was stunning and revealing to say the least.  I had heard that their relationship was difficult and that Glenn was hard to deal with.  His son, my grandpa Archie, did not particularly care for his dad and spent much of his time at the Jones’ farm with his maternal grandparents.  I had previously found a scandalous newspaper article from July 1945 where my great-grandma Rosa filed for divorce while Glenn was overseas, calling him and his “lady” out for a supposed affair.  When I asked my great-aunt Rosie (Glenn and Rosa’s daughter) about it, she had no knowledge of this affair nor the divorce filing, and she was actually quite defensive about it until I showed her the article.  I’m sure it wasn’t a pleasant thing to read.  This letter, however, reaffirmed the marriage was strained to the point HE thought about leaving in 1930, way before she ever filed for divorce.  They stayed together but not happily as Glenn ended up in a mental health facility and later shot himself in June 1954.  Dale, his brother, killed himself in Los Angeles in a mental facility by eating poisonous ant paste.

Besides describing family matters, this letter also was an interesting peek into what life was like in 1930 Pickaway County, Ohio, and how the people were struggling with their farms, their finances, and to find work/ways to provide for their families.

 

November 28, 1930
Duvall, Ohio

 

Dear Uncle,
Received your letter a couple of days ago and was glad to hear from you.  It has been a good bit since I heard from you.  Well, we have been having some awful weather this week.  Snowed and has been down below zero for the past three nights.  I certainly hate to see it get bad weather because I don’t know what we will do down here.

 

The corn is all husked down here and we have been trying to make a living by trapping and hunting and it is going to be a darn slim one too.  Fur is not worth half as much this year as it has been.  Rats are only worth 50 cents apiece.  Skunks $1.25 and coons $4.00.  We used to get $1.50 to $2.00 for rats and $9.00 for coon.  We can’t catch them now because the streams are all frozen over.

 

 Boy, I’ll tell you I don’t know what we will do till spring.  I never seen a time in my life that a fellow could not find something to do in the country.

 

I had a field of corn to husk and got done last Thursday.  So I started out to find something else to do, and everybody that is not done husking will be done in a couple of days.  Most of them shredded their corn because the did not have any hay.

 

About the only thing that we can do now is to make wood and a fellow cannot eat that.  I have never been able to buy a load of coal this fall, just 3 or 4 bushels at a time.  A fellow has to have a little coal to burn with the wood.

 

Rosa wanted to read your letter tonight and she said that you need never worry about who is going to take care of you when you get older, that you was welcome to come and live with us when ever you wanted to.  Our baby girl sure is getting nice.  She is getting old enough to laugh now and she is sure cute.  I don’t know what we would do without her.

 

I don’t know just how to say it, but there was a time last summer that I had a notion to pull out and leave but since the baby has come it seemed to make us both realize more that it was not right to separate. 

 

Yes, Azza, I get a letter from Dale every week.  His address is Deer Lodge, Montana, Box 7.  I wish you would drop him a line or two.  I know he would be glad to hear from you.

 

Azza, I would like awful well to have a fat hog to butcher this year because we are out of lard and meat and have not got the money to buy more.  My father-in-law is going to butcher in a few days and I could get a nice hog off him for $20.00 if I had the money.  I have been to buy our meat every other year and had enough lard to do till next butchering but I have not got the money now.  I hate to ask you for it because you have been so good to me, but I tell you Azza, I have not got a thing to do, and not only me but nearly every body else down here.  I told Ed I would see if I could get money enough to buy one and then kill it when he butchered.  Well, it is nearly mail time so I’ll have to close.  Write soon.

 

Your nephew,

Glenn

 

 

The Stewarts Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole

My grandparent’s chicken noodle soup casserole… a new holiday tradition.

Christmas is, of course, a time filled with family, traditions, and food.  Both sides of my family was all about big gatherings and huge meals. For my mom’s side of the family, this has always included my grandma Clara Lou (Peters) Stewart’s famous Buckeye Candy.  While I’ve tweaked her recipe to be less … how do I say this … teeth decaying & sugary, her tradition is still passed down each year and everyone looks forward to candy making time at our house.

There is also another piece of the Stewarts floating around that I decided to incorporate into a Christmas Eve tradition – their Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole.  It’s really one of the simplest (and cheapest) recipes I know of, if not the most unique.  I don’t know where they found the recipe, or if they created it on their own, but it was one of my personal favorites and on the few rare occasions I went down to eat at their house by myself, this is what I requested.  We lost grandpa Stewart on December 23, 2006, and his mom, Rose May (Jones) Stewart Hochmuth, on December 29, 1999, so the holiday season is a tad bittersweet.  Today though, I felt connected to them again.  The same flavors, the same smells drifting in from the kitchen…

My New Heirloom

Clara Lou Peters and Archie Stewart on their wedding day.

My mom sent me a picture of my grandma Clara Lou Peters Stewart on her wedding day recently.  It reminded me that she showed me her wedding dress once when I was little.  I’m not sure why she had it out specifically but it was in a big yellowing box and when she pulled it out, I remember thinking how lovely it still was and how much I’d love to wear it some day.  I never did get to wear it; my first impromptu wedding dress was a bright pink dress I’d worn to homecoming and at my second wedding, I wore a black lace number.

I had been thinking for a very long time about doing something with my wedding dress.  Not only was a black Gothic wedding dress totally unique at the time fifteen years ago but I also had hand sewn my own black veil trimmed in the sweetest black crochet trim.  It took me weeks to finish.  My dress, being delicate lace, had ripped during one of our military moves and so it hung in my closet for years now staring me in the face, unable to be worn any longer but being too sentimental to toss out either. 

Long Lost Uncle Dale

My 2nd great uncle Dale Stewart. Inmate #9645 of the Montana State Prison in 1930.

I am so happy to write that I have managed to find a great big puzzle piece in my quest to find my 2nd great uncle Dale Stewart.  For new readers, let me briefly say that Dale was orphaned in 1914 when his mother was murdered by their father before he committed suicide himself at the Columbia Hotel’s out kitchen in Caldwell, Ohio.  Dale and his older brother, my great grandfather, Glenn Archer Stewart ended up in a few home for boys before Dale became a merchant marine and Glenn went on to be a farmer, security guard and a steel worker among his many other incarnations.  Both Dale and Glenn committed suicide later in life to which I’ve written about as well.

Bittersweet Photographs

Glenn Archer Stewart Sr. (left) and son, Archie Stewart.

This past week, my mom sent me the very first pictures I’ve ever seen of my great-grandfather, Glenn Archer Stewart, Sr.  I’ve written briefly about Glenn… he was one of the two young boys who were orphaned when their father, William Stewart killed their mother, Esther, and then himself at the the Columbia Hotel in Caldwell, Ohio, in 1913.  Glenn, and his younger brother Dale (who I’ve also written about), both committed suicide as well – Dale in 1943 and Glenn in 1958.