About Vernon Miller and Audria Imo Bown
Written by Naomi Snyder to Jo Anne (Jody) Bresch, Green Castle, MO, Feb. 20, 1974
Dear Jo Anne:
I received your letter yesterday and will begin a letter today and add to it from time to time until I get it answered. Yes! Your Grandmother Miller was my only sister four years younger than I. I well remember the day she was born altho I was only four years old. I understand a lot of things as the years go by that as a child I did not know but I will write this sort of rambling I expect but you can pick out what you don't understand and write and I will answer anything I can.
I am almost 75 years old and a very busy person. Should be sitting in the "chimney corner" smoking a pipe as they did in older years. Instead I am working for the Mo. Power & Light Co. as collector in Green Castle. And handle $2,000 to $3,000 per month and right now I am correspondant for the K.V. Daily for Green Castle and my husband has been sick for almost two years and we still have a farm and cattle. Our Grandson cares for the cattle and rent farm for pasture and I sew, crochet and embroider and let my house go dirty. So lmuch for me. You have saw me, but I am not sure where. Maybe at my brother, Ivie's funeral or Dean's first wife Joan's funeral. I have you and your sister's picture taken when you were amll and you were Joan & Janet to me.
Your grandmother, Audria Imo Vown was born June 17, 1903 about noon. She was a premature baby. And no medical facilities 70 years ago as now. At three weeks of age she only weighed 3 lbs. and was wrapped in a blanket and lots of clothes. And we never called her anything but Dot. From now on I will call her Cot to you as it will be more natural for me. She was no larger than a dot. Dot was born on our farm about 10 miles N.E. of Kirsville. One of Papa's aunts, an old lady stayed with us and they had not hope of Dot living as she could take no nourishment. Finally Aunt Mary gave her a meat rind to suck on. She seemed to gain some nourishment from that and finally began to nurse and take milk and gained.
Some of this I remember and some from hearing Mama & Papa talk. Due to her condition she was spoiled some as was only natural. She was blond and blue eyed and was a little taller than I when we grew up. I am five 4. She attended the country school just east of Cardy as we moved to Mcon Co. when she was about three years old. I suppose you know where Cardy's is. Things are so different now than they were then. You can't imagine what they were like.
We had a church about 3/4 mile from our house. We all attended Sunday School, every Sunday. Prayer meeting every Wed. and Christian Endeavor Sunday night and always some kind of entertainment at the church on Saturday night. Our life revolved around the church and its activities and when Dot was about 10 years old they held a revival meeting at the church and at that time Dot joined the United Brethren Church.
So far as I know she was never very active in the church when she grew up. And I can't say for sure how far she went in school. There were only eight grades in country schools then. I graduated at the ripe old age of 13 and from then on I was not at home all the time as I worked out. I was a "hired girl" in other people jomes. My first job I stayed with a lady whose husband worked away from home and she was afraid and I earned the magnificent sum of $1.00 per week. ha! So as Dot was only about 9 or 10 then I sort of lost out on things. I was always home week-ends and sometimes a week or two at a time. How did Dot & Vernon meet. We were all raised in the same neighborhood so like "Topsy" we just grew. Papa wasa rurl mail carrier and he always fed his team at Mr. Miller's right where Manford and Ethel live now and Mr. Miler and Papa were very good friends. You were raised in Ottumwa but can hardly understand farmers life.
I suppose Papa & Mamma were happy as the ordinary couple. One can't tell for sure about things like that. They argued some at least more than Bill and I ever did, but they raised five children so they must of cared. something.
As far as Bill and I and our marriage. We have been married 53 years. And we still haven't got a divorce. So it may work out. Ha! Yes, I am sure Bill and I have had a good life. We only have one child. But it is ll we ever wanted. He is 52 years old now. We went together three years before we married.
You asked what kind of social life my parents had. Well in those days it was so different than now. Church mostly only Papa seldom went. He drove a team 32 miles every day except Sunday and I expect he needed rest. Papa was an old time "fiddler" and many many evenings he would get his fiddle out and play for hours and Sundays he usually read aloud to us kids.
We did not have a fine home. Our house was as near like the one Ethel & Manford live in only we did not have as nice furniture as Millers. But the rooms were arranged the same as theirs. We were not rich but had plenty. Papa made good money. Mamma was noa very saving person. I was a "horder". Mama & Dot were not.
No we did not have a hard life, and neither did Vernon and Dot as Vernon was a wonderful provider. I am sure they had all they needed and if Dot had of been as "stingy" as I am they would of been very well to do. But they had plenty. Dot had surgery for female trouble and was supposed to be about ready to go home when she suddenly took wors and died in just a few days. August 14, 1936. She and Vernon were married Aug. 12, 1922. Vernon had been sick all summer before Dot died. He had been in and out of the hospital several times and I don't know what was his trouble.
Dot and I were together more after we were married than we were during our teens as I always worked and she never worked away from home as she was not very well. I think now some of her problems were caused by her premature birth. Dot and Vernon came to our house and were married from there by the same minister we were and they spent several days with us.
As we lived about 30 miles apart we did not see one another as often as we would now as cars and roads were not what they now are and often in the winter one could not use a car much. But we were together often and so many things come to mind as I try to write you. Little funny things that heppened, especially things the kids all said. Rex (our son) and Nolan & Dorothy especially had lots of fun.
Yes Vernon left anote. Your Aunt Dorothy May has it I think. I saw it at the time and again a few years ago. Vernon requested his people to care for Dorothy May and Nolan and Alice to take care of his baby. (Dean) But never mentioned Berthat as well as I remember.
When Dot died just six weeks before Vernon we went down to get Berthat. We would of kept her but Vernon said we could not keep her as bill would drink and we went to dances. He said he would not want her raised in that way.
Yes! We went to dances always. I loved to dance and Bill's father was a musician andplayed for dances far & wide and Bill, an only child would drive for Mr. Snyder so we went. And Bill would tke a drink. In all the years we have been married I have only seen him drunk a half dozen times and never mean or abusive. Just funny. I never saw him when he could not walk a straight line.
But we did go to dances and Bill did drink and still drinks a beer now and then. And I still think Berthat would of been better off with us than she has been. Her and Rex always were pals and both were good singers. Rex plays guitar and could of worked on radio but he was all we had and the war came along and took four years of his life.
Well this is one rambling letter. If I retire next fall as I plan and Bill still imrpoves so I can leave him a few days, I may go to Moline to visit my two grandsons. We would not drive as Bill won't drive s far unless some of the boys would takeus. I would like to go on the buss. I made the trip about 25 years ago to Davenport and I had a lay over in Iowa City.
I would love to see you and talk to you. If you could come down anytime let me know ahead so I could get organized and come see us. If you would like to meet my grandsons I will send their address. They are wonderful boys. Both married with children. I am a great-grandmother several times. Ha! Bill has relatives in Davenport. You see I am like all grandmothers. Think mine are special.
As for the children, Dorothy May and Nolan stayed with the Millers and I know they had a home but I also know it wasn't like their own parents. They were always well dressed and well fed I am sure and sent to school. They would of had to help with chores I am sure but they had security but I know it wasn't like their own home.
Ethel is still very good to Dorothy and gets her so mny nice things. Of course it wasn't her own mother but in lots of ways it was better as Dorothy knows how to do everything a house wife should do. And Nolan you know has made it. It wasn't like home I know.
But Bertha & Dean. Their life wasn't so good. Papa told me to get them and bring them to him but Mamma did not really want them, but they did stay with my parents a lot. Dean stayed with Alice awhile then she advertised in the .V. Paper for someone to adopt him.
He came back to my parents and after they died Ray & Hazel Redmon adopted Dean. I know they really had it tough. Bill and I are far from rich but if Vernon had of let us take Bertha she would of never went hungry or naked. And would of had a secure home but such is life and we live as best as we know how. If it had not of been for Ethel & Manford, Dorothy and Noland would of had it harder than they did.
The only reason I can say why Vernon shot himself was he wasn't well and too much responsiblity to try to face with four little children and poor health but if he could of just toughed it out he was a wonderful worker and provider. They would of made it and he knew how to do everything and save money.
I sure brings a lot of sad memories back to me. I had not thought of as I try not to think of things I can'thelp and I still can't see how I oculd of changed them. I know Manford 7 Ethel did their part and still do.
Do you know your Aunt Dorothy? Where is Dean? I did not know he had a little girl untilhe come to our
Golden Wedding Anniversary. I hear he has another one now. How is he?
Kenneth Smith you mention must be the son of Alma, a girl I knew when young and we paled around a lot. The man she said was Kenneth's Father was buried down here at Green Castle just few months ago. I never knew the full truth of that affair. And you may mean another Kenneth Smith.
No one will ever know how much it meant to me to have everyone of my sister's children come to our Golden Wedding Anniversary. They all always liked Bill as Dot & Vernon sure did.
One Christmas Dot and I really had a laugh. We got one another a large green dish just alike. When we opened our gifts we both said, "Well, we hated to give you this dish and I liked it so much I wanted to keep it for myself." I still have mine. I also have a picture of Dot & vernon and the four children. Just a snap shot but if you like we could have copes made of it I am sure.
Now any time you care to write me. As me what yo want to and I will answe.r Maybe some time next fall we can see each other and tlak.
Don't forget I am your great aunt and was really glad to hear from you. I wanted to come to Helen's & Nolan's anniversary so bad I cried, but Bill wasn't able to drive and I had planned to come with Dorothy until it was too late for me to get another driver.
Well Bye Bye
Your Aunt Naomi
The Legend of Mars Hill