Visiting Aunt Agnes
The House Out Back
The Old "Buggy"
The Wedding Dress
Agnes Reeves was born April 1, 1889. Until 1997 when I went on a research
mission to Kansas, I knew only that she was born on April 1st, and that the diamond was
her birthstone. The year of her birth, and especially her age, was always a highly kept
secret, which I will talk more about later. Agnes was my great aunt by marriage.
Agnes was born in Nebraska, the child of Fielding W. Reeves and Mary Deborah "Mollie" Terry Reeves. She had one sister older, Pearl B., a twin brother, Arthur, who died at the age of 10 years in 1900, and two younger brothers, Homer L. and Raymond F. Her father died in 1895 and was interred at Clarks, Nebraska. After her husband's untimely death, Mollie moved with her children to Grenola, Kansas, purchasing the family home in 1897. The children grew to maturity in that small rural Kansas town. Later, after Mollie's death in 1942, that family home became the home where Agnes spent the majority of her life. The house had changed over the years because I recall her telling me about how it looked when she was a child and how the porches had been added.
In 1911 or 1912, Agnes married Oscar Connick, a plugman for the Winfield Fire Department. Oscar was born in Red Oak, Iowa on December 28, 1877 and came to Winfield in 1893. Oscar's sister, Winnie May, was married to William Shaw Marks. They were my maternal grandmother and grandfather. On December 12, 1913 Agnes and Oscar were blessed with twin sons, Edward L. and Edwin Levere. The day was to be sad as well, for Edward died shortly after birth. Edwin died on April 26, 1918. The children were affected by the disease of Syphilis, contracted by Oscar during his service in the U.S. Navy during the Spanish American War (1898-1902). He later died on March 2, 1935, presumably of complications caused by the same affliction. Oscar served his country in Company F, 21st Kansas Infantry. Oscar and Winnie Connick's parents were Frederick and Sarah A. Warren Connick.
As the sister-in-law of Winnie Connick Marks, who died in 1920 at age 40, leaving behind 7 children, Agnes became very close to several of those children, my mother being one of them. My sister says that Agnes and Oscar were asked to take one or two of the younger of the children but chose not to do so. Perhaps the loss of their own children made it too difficult to think of loving and losing again.
After Oscar died in 1935, Agnes stayed in Winfield in their home at 1620 Millington until after her mothers death in 1942. In 1943 she inherited the family home in Grenola and moved there. Agnes lived out nearly all her years in that charming rural Kansas farming community of Grenola. Her income was provided by the pension she received as Oscar's widow. In 1974, the year following Pearl's death, Agnes was moved to the Good Samaritan Center in Winfield where she lived until her death in 1976.
Agnes' sister, Pearl, was married to a distant cousin, Charles R. Reeves and lived in Kentucky. In 1943, at the time the family home was transfered to Agnes, Pearl and Charles were listed as living in Green County, Kentucky. I do not think they had living children, if any children at all. Agnes and Pearl always kept a game going about age; neither would divulge either of their ages, so who was older was anyone's guess all those years. Neither would betray the other, though I remember many "escapades" of my mother trying to get Aunt Agnes' drivers license out of her purse to have a look. We would all try to get Aunt Pearl to tell when she was visiting, but never would she, nor would Agnes divulge Pearl's age. They were a fun pair for a little girl like me to spend time with.
In Grenola lived Sylvia Shrader Reeves and her son Raymond, who was a year older than me. Sylvia was the widow of Agnes' younger brother, Raymond F. Reeves. He was known by friends in Grenola as "Curley". Raymond died of a coronary in 1944 when Raymond (the son) was an infant. Raymond (the son) died around 1993 or so of a coronary. He too was young at his death. According to people still living in Grenola, Raymond was divorced and had one or two children. He lived in Oklahoma, possibly Tulsa. As a child he was a great collector of Roy Rogers memoribilia. As a little girl, I didn't like him - boy, ugh! Years later when he was living in Wichita and I was in nurses training at Wesley, we would get together and could actually enjoy each other's company.
Agnes had another brother named Homer L. Reeves. In 1943 he was listed on documents as living in East Chicago, Indiana and having a wife named Ruth. In Aunt Agnes' living room was a picture of Homer as a young adult. I don't recall ever meeting Homer, though she spoke of him fondly.
When I was a small child and even into my teen years, I spent time each summer with Aunt Agnes in Grenola. My memories of her are of those times in the small, quiet Kansas community or of her visits to Wichita to see us.
Our relationship didn't start out in a cozy manner according to the story I was told. When I was in my first year of life I was very shy and took to few people outside my immediate family. Apparently Aunt Agnes and others of my extended family were dismayed because I was such a timid baby and screamed bloody-murder whenever they tried to hold me. As the story goes, Aunt Agnes was visiting our home and, as usual, I wouldn't have anything to do with her. The day we finally bonded, Aunt Agnes was giving my mother a permanent. I woke up from my nap before the task was complete. When they came into my room I was frightened by the state of my mothers pin-curled hair, started screaming, and held out my arms to Aunt Agnes. She, of course, immediately rescued me and we were fast friends from then on. She was a friendly port in a thundering storm I think. Poor mother, she had to get the curlers out of her hair before I recognized it was her.
So, Aunt Agnes was not a "blood relative" to me at all, she was my mother's aunt by marriage. She was my great-aunt by marriage only, but she was an aunt that I dearly loved and with whom I greatly enjoyed spending time.
Though she lived a simple life in that small town in Kansas when I knew her, she had experienced great joy and sadness in her life, like all of us, and had the wisdom and contentment of one who has learned to enjoy each day and the simple things it brings.
Aunt Agnes was a person in my life who had an incredible impact on me. I loved her dearly and still like to think of her in that old two-story farm house on the little dirt road in Grenola, Kansas.
Carol J. Swander Clark
(These are my memories - accurate to my way of thinking.)
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