Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ora Parsons Stegman - My Great Grandmother #4

Ora Parsons Stegman - My Great Grandmother
52 Ancestors

Ora Parsons was born December 16, 1896 in Benedict, Wilson Co., Kansas. Her parents were William and Mary Scates Parsons. Ora had four siblings, Ruth Parsons born 1893, Cress Parsons born 1894, Opal Parsons born 1897 and Osie Parsons born 1898.

In the 1900 Census Ora is four years old and her Mother Mary is listed as the head of household and widowed. So the kids grew up without their father.
Ora Parsons in Benedict Kansas - Date unknown
In the 1910 Census Ora is 14 years old and listed as working as a servant in a private family. Her Mother works as a laundress for a private family and her brother Cress is a laborer of odd jobs. It does not sound like they had an easy life and were all doing what they could to survive. I would love to know what family Ora worked for and if she lived at home or lived with the family.

Sometime between 1910 and 1916 Ora moved to Kinsley,  Edwards County, Kansas and was working at a hotel that was run by Mary Denning. I was not able to find Ora in the 1915 Kansas State Census, she is not listed with her family who were still living in Benedict, Kansas. I do not know how she ended up 370 miles away from her family to work in a hotel. At that age you would have to have courage to travel that far away by yourself. But, for whatever reason she ended up at that hotel it turned out to be a good thing because Mary Denning was the older sister of her future husband Adam Stegman. He was out there for work and I would guess stayed at the hotel since it was run by his sister. I would love to hear the story of them meeting for the first time.

They married on March 29, 1916 in Fredonia, Wilson Co., Kansas.

They lived in Ellis County Kansas where Adam was from and their first daughter Irene was born in 1917. I had thought Ora converted to Catholicism when they got married but after I looked at the records at St. Mary's in Ellis County I discovered that when Irene was baptized, Ora is listed as "non-catholic." Ora was later baptized July 11, 1921 at St. Mary's.

In 1922 Adam went on strike with the railroad and ten months later he was hired by Missouri Pacific Railroad, which required them to move to the small town of Downs, Kansas. Adam went first and Ora and Irene traveled by train later. Irene remembered the train trip and her first view of Downs was the Gazebo. She thought it was beautiful.

A two story house on Ray Street was the first house they lived in. Then they moved to a little house north of town. Adam always said Ora would move them every time the moon rose.

 In 1925 they rented a house on Osborne Street and this is where their last daughter was born. As of 2018 my Great Aunt is still alive.

In 1926 Ora threw a surprise Birthday party for Adam and this is what is listed in The Downs News and Times:
          Mrs. A. Stegman entertained at a birthday party in honor of Mr. Stegman on Monday evening,   Nov. 1. The guest congregated at the home and all were out of sight when Mrs. Stegman summoned her husband from town on the pretext that relatives had arrived for a visit. The evening was spent with cards and dancing. A delicious lunch was served to the following guest at a late hour: Mr. and Mrs. Vern Rollins, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Hoover, Mr. and Mrs. Dick Ewing, Mr. and Mrs. M. McNall, Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Bryant and Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Addams.

According to the 1930 Census, they owned a house on Beal Street that is worth $800 and they own a radio. The 1930's brought the dust bowl years which brought black blizzards. These were severe dust storms that covered everything and could get into the smallest cracks of homes. They would blow in large dark clouds and reduce visibility to a few feet.  Irene said she remembered the "Dirty Thirties" well. When a black blizzard would come through the school would close and they would stay home and play music and dance. Ora liked a clean house so I'm sure she had lots to clean after a dust storm would blow through. I can't even imagine having to clean all that fine dust out of everything.

One day Adam came home and put one paycheck on the table and said you can buy anything you want. He give Ora one paycheck every month. Ora always wanted something new, carpet, curtains or something for the house or girls. She kept the girls clothed and the house clean and updated. She was always hitting Adam up for extra money according to Irene.

Ora was 5’1, green eyes and light brown hair. She was a short heavyset woman. She always did handiwork, crochet, sewed, embroidered. She was a good housekeeper. She would tell Irene, “don’t care what your husband does, what your doing, get cleaned up before your husband comes home.”

The depression was in full swing during the 1930's and the family knew they were lucky that Adam had a good job.

Irene graduated from Downs High School in 1936. She wanted to be a beautician; Ora took her by train to Kansas City but would not let her stay because the city was dirty. On the way back they stopped in Lansing to visit a friend named Minnie and Irene stayed to work for her.

They made it through the 1930's and in 1940 they owned a house at 821 Osborne Street in Downs and it was worth $1,000.

Around 1938 the family moved to Concordia Kansas for Adam to work with the railroad. They didn't stay long because in 1940 they are listed as living in Downs again.

There are two banks in Downs. Ora and Adam had separate bank accounts. When the State Bank accidentally took money out of her account that should have been taken out of Adam’s account she took all her money out of the bank and opened an account at The National Bank. Guess she wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.

Their oldest daughter, Irene married in 1940. In 1942 I found this newspaper article that Irene had pasted in her photo album.

Mrs. Adam Stegman went to Concordia last Thursday evening to spend the weekend with her daughter Mrs. Lee Hefley and Mr. Hefley. The following morning however, found a new member in the Hefley family for Mrs. Stegman to visit with - a grandson, the little man arriving at the home in company with Daddy Stork during the early morning hours.
Ora Stegman with Grandson Ed in 1943
Ed remembers as a child "Momo" as he called her, would come and pick him up when the town sirens would go off for a fire. He would run outside and wait for her to pick him up and they would go to the fire. Sounds like a fun and adventurous Grandma to me.

In November of 1953 Adam's job again required them to move. Adam and Ora closed up the house and moved to Kansas City, Missouri. While there Ora worked for Jones Wholesale Company to be able to collect social security.  In 1958 he retired and they moved back to Downs Kansas.

I believe once they retired they were able to do more camping and traveling. They both loved being outdoors.

In 1966 they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary and in 1976 they celebrated their 60th Anniversary. I always felt they were a couple truly in love and they both loved life.
Adam and Ora Stegman

Ora's Obituary
Died August 27, 1984

Ora Stegman was born to William and Mary Parsons on December 16, 1896, at Benedict, Ks. Ora departed this life at the Downs Nursing Center on August 27, 1984. She was married to Adam Stegman March 29, 1916. To this union of 67 years was born 2 daughters, Irene Hefley and Jewell XXXX. She enjoyed the good home life she made for herself and family. Her most enjoyable moments were quilt making, needle work and enjoying God's great outdoors camping and fishing. Ora is survived by her husband, Adam, Downs Nursing Center; daughters and sons-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Hefley (Irene), Downs, Ks., and Mr. and Mrs. Frank XXXX (Jewell), Kansas City Mo.;2 sisters, 5 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren. The Funeral services were held August 29 at the St. Mary's Catholic Church. Father James Hoover and Father Roger Mietl celebrated the Mass. Organist for the service was Mrs. Doris Mick. The following served as Pallbearers, Irvin Burmeister, Al Stroh, Tony Heinen, Alan Feist, Dean Bihlmaier and Amos Chapman. Interment was made at the Downs Cemetery. A memorial has been established for the Downs Nursing Center or St. Mary's Church. Domoney Funeral Home was in Charge of arrangements.

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