My paternal grandparents were two fun loving people. I always had a good time with them. They took us camping, fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming and just out exploring the world. My Grandmother was always making some kind of handiwork. Knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, quilting, sewing, painting, you name it she could do it. My grandfather spent hours in his basement "piddling around" making the most wonderful things out of wood. He was a self taught master carver who even had some of his pieces featured in a magazine. Some of my most treasured items were made by my grandparents.
LEE HEFLEYThe Hefley's arrived in Downs, Kansas in 1873. My grandfather Lee Hefley grew up on the farm homesteaded by his grandfather Arthur W. Hefley. Lee's parent's John and Grace Simpson Hefley resided on the farm for 60 years where they farmed and raised livestock.
Lee Earl Hefley was born May 22, 1917 on the farm north of Downs, Kansas. He was the youngest and fourth child of John and Grace Simpson Hefley. Their first child died at birth in 1910, Mildred Mae was born August 25, 1912; and Howard Henry was born December 17, 1914. All children were born on the farm.
Lee grew up on the Hefley farm Homestead. His father was a farmer and raised cattle, horses, pigs and feed. He made most of his money from cattle. The family was poor and I would assume all the kids helped out around the farm.
Lee and his older sister and brother attended a one room school in District 34 called Rose Valley. Lee started attending Rose Valley at the age of 6 during the school year of 1923-1924. 11 children attended Rose Valley during this time between the ages of 6 and 14. Lee must have been a dedicated student as he never missed a day of school. I can image him and his brother and sister walking the few miles down the dirt road to school everyday carrying their lunch pails.
In his youth Lee taught himself woodworking. He could often be found sitting beside a tree with a chunk of wood whittling away. Later in life he became a Master Woodcarver.
Lee attended Downs High School and participated in track and football. He continued to never miss a day of school and graduated in 1935.
|Lee Hefley- Downs High School Football|
Lee’s right fingers were almost cut off by a large buzz saw while cutting and processing firewood. The cut went through the palm toward the index finger. Dr. Hardig at Beloit put his hand together. Another Dr. wanted to just cut it off. Lee carried a rubber ball and worked this rubber ball to get the use of his hand back. Lee and Irene were dating during this time.
Lee had dark brown hair, kinky curly, his brother's hair was curly but not not as curly, and Mae’s hair was wavy. Lee may have taken his hair after mother. Lee had brown eyes and was 6ft and 170lbs in his late teens.
Theresa Irene Stegman was born July 29, 1917 in Ellis, Ellis County, Kansas. She was the first child of Adam and Ora Parsons Stegman. Adam worked for the Union Pacific Rail Road. Irene was about 5 when Union Pacific RR went on strike in 1922 and the workers went to work for Missouri Pacific Rail Road in Downs, Osborne County, Kansas. Adam went to Downs first and then Irene and her mother followed later. Irene remembered riding the train with her mother Ora from Ellis to Downs and seeing the Downs Train Station and Gazebo for the first time. She thought it was so beautiful.
Five weeks later the family can be found living in Grant Township, Osage County, Kansas on the Kansas State Census of 1925. Adam is listed as a machinist for the Missouri Pacific Rail Road. A current rail road map shows BNSF now goes through Osage City, Kansas. I don't know why or how long they were there but was surprised to find them there in 1925. It seems Adam had to move around at times for the rail road. I can only image how hard it must have been for Ora to pack up and move her family not long after giving birth. My great grandmother seemed to have a, make the most out of life attitude so I could see her just doing what needed to be done.
|Irene Stegman in her front yard in Downs, Kansas|
DATINGLee was working for Mets Trucking Company and Irene was working for Laughton's Drug store when they started dating.
|Lee Hefley and Irene Stegman|