Trumbull – Dear Dan (1) – Response to Dan’s Letter (Quoted Tomorrow) – April 7, 1946

Trumbull, Conn., April 7, 1946

Dear Dan:

Here is a short note from Dave which interests me greatly. It is dated at Manila, March 22nd, and says: “Dear Gang: This is it! Well, it’s a start anyway. Tomorrow I leave for the Repple Depple. I should be on my way home within the next two weeks — possibly within a few days. I’d planned on getting some things as presents to bring home but my time came to suddenly. In fact, I’m rushed right now, so I’ll close this. It may be my last ‘til I get home, so Be seein’ ya. Dave.”

Of course we are all speculating here whether by this time he has actually started or whether the reported typhoon has held him up; also whether he will make stops enroute where he can make reports of his progress by airmail. From all I can learn, he will probably be landed at San Francisco, where he can call on Aunt Dorothy, catch up with his mail and if he has time, pay a visit to Marian’s folks at Orinda. I haven’t heard whether lately there is as much delay as formerly in getting transportation to the east, but in any event he could probably make pretty good time by expressing his belongings East and hitchhiking as so many others have done. The combination of his uniform and friendly smile ought not to make the job too difficult. It is not unreasonable to hope that by this time next month he may be back again in old Trumbull.

I note from your letter that you have been doing a lot of hopping around and should be getting quite well acquainted with France, Belgium and vicinity. It is good to know Chiche is feeling O.K. and of course as the time draws near we are all increasingly interested in what fortune holds for the future of the Guion family. Marian also is carrying on in good shape (perhaps that is an unfortunate word to use in this connection), in fact she is dieting a bit at the doctor’s suggestion to keep from gaining too much weight. I’ll be looking forward eagerly to receiving my latest daughter’s first letter in English, and like very much her spirit in attempting it. As I wrote you in one of my more recent letters which you probably had not received when you wrote yours of March 26th, the dress cloth and cradle trimming material both were sent you some weeks ago and should have been received before this. As for the blouses, the girls tell me there is not a thing to be had, and by the time there is and it is purchased, shipped and received, the lapse of time is apt to be such that again you might write that blouses are now obtainable in France, so under the circumstances, I’ll disregard this item. I am trying to get an electric iron from G.E. direct as the kind you want are still not readily available. If I don’t forget to do so, as I did last week, I shall enclose another $5 Birthday present. In England I suppose you will, if you have time, try to visit the Seamews Nest and also look up the Ward-Campbells. In both instances give them my best.

Tomorrow I’ll post the rest of this letter.  More letters from Grandpa fill out the week.

Judy Guion

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My Ancestors (2) – Anna Charlotta (Westlin) Peabody – 1865-1944

Anna Charlotta (Westlin) Peabody, daughter of Anders Westlin and Anna Brita Kling.

Anders Westlin was born November 20, 1830 at Nas, Delarna, Sweden, . He married Anna Brita Kling, born June 24, 1829 at Rodon, Naskatt, Jemptland, Sweden. Her father, Johan Kling was born in Delarna, Sweden and her mother, Katherina Tjarnstrom was born in Jemptland, Sweden.

Anders and his wife Anna had four sons, none of them living beyond the age of four, before Anna Charlotta was born on May 13, 1865, and Christina was born August 30, 1866, at Ostersund, Sweden.

In 1882, Anders Westlin and his wife sold their property in Ostersund and sailed with their two daughters to New York in the “City of Rome”, arriving at Castle Garden on June 24, 1882. Anna Charlotta would have been just 17 when they landed.

Their destination was North Dakota, and there they established a cattle ranch on Silver Prairie in the vicinity of Sandoun (now McLeod), Richland County.

At some point, Anne Charlotta met Kemper Peabody and they married at Wagon Landing, Wisconsin, June 26, 1889. Kemper’s jobs kept them moving throughout North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa when their first six children were born. Burton  Westlin, their oldest daughter, Arla Mary (my Grandmother), Kemper Francis and Helen Perry were all born in North Dakota, between 1890 and 1899. Laurence was born in Iowa in April of 1901.

In 1901 they moved to New York where he was employed by the New York Central Railroad. Their youngest daughter, Dorothy Westlin, was born in Mount Vernon, New York in 1904. The whole family was quite active in the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon. It was there that Arla Mary Peabody met Alfred Duryee Guion.

Grandma Peabody

Anna Charlotta was kept quite busy with church activities and raising her children. She visited Trumbull fairly often along with her other children. All of Alfred and Arla’s children knew their Grandma Peabody quite well.

Grandpa notified his sons, away from home, about her death in the letter dated January 23, 1944. He wrote:

Dear Boys:

Grandma died last Tuesday at 11:30 A.M., having been unconscious from the night before. She passed away quietly and peacefully, and if the expression may be permitted, happily, with her loved ones near. Death is at best a lonely adventure and is made more so when none near and dear are close by. Helen and Dorothy were there; Burton and Anne arrived later, as did Ced who was in New York and happened in about 11:30 to see them all. At Grandma’s request no funeral service was held, which, all with the exception of Kemper, met with the approval of the family. She was cremated Wednesday. Dorothy expects to continue living in the same apartment.

Grandma’s life span marks an era in American history which is fast becoming legendary. Born in Sweden, she came to this country as a young girl and with her parents settled as pioneers in what was the raw Far West in those days. Battling fierce Dakota winter storms and summer’s heat and drought, life was lived under the most primitive conditions. With Grandpa frequently away from home for days at a time, with the constant fear of marauding Indians, often facing periods verging on privatization and want, she raised a family of seven children, never for once lowering her ideals of honor and integrity. Not knowing what the next day would bring she still carried on. In the light of these struggles when your mother was a baby, the words of that beautiful old hymn take on for me a greater significance:

Lead, kindly light, amid th’encircling gloom,

Lead Thou me on

The night is dark, and I am far from home,

Lead Thou me on.

Keep thou my feet! I do not ask to see

The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I like to think of Grandma going to join Grandpa and your mother — going home, as it were, after a long and useful journey:

So long Thy power have blessed me, sure it still

Will lead me on.

O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till

The night is gone;

And with the morn those angel faces smile,

Which I have loved long since, and lost a while.

In the intimate service which we hold, each in the stillness of our own hearts at her passing, I am reminded of a little prayer which years ago, as director of a church boys club (the Brotherhood of St. Andrew) was customarily part of our closing service: “Guide us all the day long, oh Lord, through this troublulous life until the shadows lengthen and the evening come and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then in Thy tender mercy grant us a safe lodging and rest and peace at last with Thee.”

So passes from this earth one whom it has been good to know and who can set for us all an example of courage and faithfulness to ideals which can be a treasured memory, and an inspiration.

Source: The Ancestry of Franklin Merriam Peabody, Collected and made into this book as a mark of affection by his grandfather, Franklin Asbury Merriam, 1929.

Tomorrow I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1946. Dan and Paulette are approaching the arrival of little “Jean Pierre” and the rest of the family, especially Grandpa, are anxious for the announcement from France.  Both Lad and Dick, with their wives, are living in Trumbull and working in Bridgeport. Dave should be headed home and Grandpa is also expecting to have him stumble in to the old homestead in the very near future.

Judy Guion 

Ancestors (1) – Kemper Foster Peabody – 1861-1933

I recently read about a Challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I was intriqued. I decided to take up the challenge. I’m starting with my Great-Grandfather, Kemper Foster Peabody. Next Sunday, I’ll compose a post about his wife, Anna Charlotta (Westlin) Peabody. I hope you enjoy reading about my ancestors as much as I am looking forward to researching and writing about them.

Kemper Foster Peabody, about 1886

Kemper Peabody was born at Plymouth, Wisconsin, August 2, 1861, one of 12 children. He attended Shattuck Military School, Faribault, Minn. He married Anna Charlotta Westlin, (born at Ostersund, Jemptland, Sweden, on May 13, 1865), at Wagon Landing, Wisconsin, on June 26, 1889. Their first son, Burton Westlin, was born in Dunbar Township, North Dakota.

He was a civil engineer and a member of the second Legislative Assembly of North Dakota from 1891-2. He was commissioned under the General Land Office to appraise the Fort Rice Military Reservation from 1892-3. He then was the Bank Examiner of the State of North Dakota, from 1894-5. Their first daughter, my Grandmother, Arla  Mary, was born in Sandoun, North Dakota, February 9, 1892.

He surveyed for the construction of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad from Tower to Ely, Minnesota, while employed by the Chicago Great Western Railroad in construction work from 1897 to 1901. Four more children, Kemper Francis and Helen Perry, were born in North Dakota, and Anne Westlin and Laurence Kane were born in Iowa, during this time.

In 1901 he came to New York for the New York Central Railroad as Building Inspector in the Engineering Department; he was General Foreman, Maintenance of Way Department, from 1902 – 9. Their youngest daughter, Dorothy Westlin, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He became Assistant Supervisor of Bridges and Buildings from 1909 – 17.

During this time, he and his family attended the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, New York. My Grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, and his family also went to that church. One memorable Christmas, the church held a Pageant and Arla was chosen to play the part of the Virgin Mary. My grandfather wrote in his Reminiscences:

         Arla Mary Peabody and her father, Kemper Peabody c. 1911

“That night as I watched her holding the child with tender contentment and a placid, dreamy look in her soft brown eyes, something inside me suddenly exploded. I had read about “love at first sight”, but this wasn’t first sight. Here was a girl I had known and seen for several years, but apparently I had not seen her at all. This couldn’t be the same girl! Had I been blind! Here was the most enchanting person anywhere in the world. I didn’t know what had happened to me. I was in a daze. I didn’t dare speak to her: she was too far above me. All I could think of on my way home was how I could be worthy of even speaking to her.”

Alfred and Arla were married on March 27, 1913. As the family increased in size with the births of Alfred (Lad), Daniel and Cedric, they decided it was time to have a house of their own. Grandpa continues in his Reminiscences:

“We finally decided on the lot in Larchmont Gardens, and with the money I had saved, I bought one of the first “redi-cut” homes on the market and with the help of my father-in-law, who was Construction Superintendent on the N.Y. Central, aided by one of his workmen on his free days, the house was erected.”

By this time, Kemper Peabody held the position of Supervisor of Piers and Buildings from 1917 – 25. He was General Supervisor of Buildings on the New York Central Lines east of Buffalo from 1925 until his death on Sept. 26, 1933.

Source: The Ancestry of Franklin Merriam Peabody, Collected and made into this book as a mark of affection by his grandfather, Franklin Asbury Merriam, 1929.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1944, when all five boys are serving Uncle Sam.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – My Dear “Poor Dogs” – St. Patrick’s Day – 1946

St. Patrick’s day in the mornin’, 1946

My dear “poor dogs”:

No disrespect intended of course. And besides, it is generally admitted I believe that the dog is man’s best friend, but even this implies designation of you as my best friend is not the meaning I had in mind in the usual salutation. It is rather based on the old childhood saga. When this here Father Hubbard went this week to the mailbox cupboard he found it entirely bare of quotes and so you have none. Q.M.D. of course I might have called you snakes, again in no sense of disrespect but hoping in view of the day that you in turn would be driven out of your respective “islands” and shipped back to the mainland of the U.S. anyway, it is St. Patrick’s Day in the morning here or glancing at my gold watch and chain I see it is but nine A.M. – – an unusually early time for me to be indicting my weekly Clarion, but you see I have already been up hours applying a coat to tar to the laundry roof – – that and the driveway seem to be perennial jobs. And the reason for all this unseemly early morning activity? Well, Friday evening the phone rang and Aunt Anne (Anne Peabody Stanley, Grandma Arla’s younger sister), after the usual inquiry as to the state of my health, thought it might be a good thing if the six of us (Grandpa, Aunt Betty, Lad, Marian, Dick and Jean) should motor down today and visit them at her apartment. I consulted the various oracles and as all the auguries seemed favorable, I gave an affirmative answer and in an hour or so we start for the big city; AND not wanting to let the day go by without the usual letter you have learned to expect on this day, it seemed best to get started with it early, and there you have the whole thing laid bare before you. It took me a long time to say “I’m writing you early because we are going to N. Y. this afternoon”, but I have to fill up the page with words of some sort and news this week is confined to Joe Stalin’s blasts, Winston Churchill’s flowing measures and news of the settlement of the General Motors and General Electric strike settlement.

There is a little of local moment. Paul (Warden, the apartment tenant, along with his wife and two children), with the aid of Walter Mantle, is putting a new wall on the apartment bathroom. Jean went shopping in New York Thursday with Marion Hopkins (one of her objects being to see if, in the big city, she could find some suitable dress material for Paulette, unsuccessfully, I might add). Dick and Jean went horseback riding yesterday morning from the Madison Avenue Sables, it being a beautiful spring day, and later came back and did some cleaning up work around the yard.

Dave, I forgot to mention in last week’s letter that I received a note from Herman R. Semenek of Chicago, enclosing a five dollar bill and asking me to thank you for your trust in him. You will regret to learn that your Alaskan brother Ced has been insulted by the Bridgeport City Trust Co. They read his signature and addressed him thereupon as Pedric D. Tucon. It cannot be that his handwriting is a bit illegible.

Surprise. Dick is up. He just came from this cellar where he has been coaxing the old coal water-heating stove into activity. The oil burner installed eight months ago burned out apart and for several weeks now we have been waiting for the replacement part to arrive. Meanwhile we have sort of a local ration allotment for hot water. Today everyone will want to take baths and get all dolled up before going to visit so the little old stove will be working overtime.

Aunt Betty has just called me into breakfast, so leaving with the hope that the coming week will bring news from Alaska and abroad to liven up next week’s screed, I remain, respected Sirs,

Your doting father

familiarly known as

DAD

Tomorrow and Friday,  I’ll be posting pages 2 & 3 of a letter Grandpa wrote to his far-way family. I did not have a copy of page 1 so I went to my original letters and page 1 is missing from there also. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – To My Scattered Flock (1) – January 2, 1944

Trumbull, Conn.  Jan. 2, 1944

To my scattered flock:

There are several matters of import to record in this my first letter of the new year. First, about Grandma. Burton phoned me at the office early in the week to say that his mother was very weak and the doctor had told them she had not many more days before starting out on the great adventure. Might be a week, possibly two weeks, but to be safe and in accordance with Grandma’s wishes, all the children were summoned to her bedside. Thursday, Ced, Jean and I, together with Elizabeth, her two kids, Flora Bushey and Red (Sirene) all went down on the train together. We phoned to Anne from Elsie’s shop and learned that Grandma would like to see us that afternoon, so, Red and Flora having planned to attend some movie, Jean and Ced and I went to Grandma’s while Elizabeth stayed at Anne’s apartment some blocks away with her two children, then Ced and Jean left to meet Red while I went back to Anne’s to amuse the kids while Elizabeth went over to see Grandma. Grandma looks very bad, but is alert and interested in all that goes on. She was interested in reading Marian’s letter and also one from Dan, doing so propped up in bed without the aid of her glasses, too. Physically she is extremely weak, there apparently being a combination of intestinal and liver trouble. Helen was there with Anne. Dorothy had gone to work. Kemper, Marian and Larry had come on but Larry and Marian, with Alan (now 7 years old) had gone to see old friends in New Rochelle and Kemper had gone to Mount Vernon. Before we left Anne’s apartment to come home, Larry phoned from the Grand Central and he and Marian came down and we all had supper together. I neglected to say that Dave had gone down to see Grandma the day before and to my place at the office Thursday, as otherwise I would have had to close up shop.

Two airmail letters from Dan, one in the first part of the week and the other the last day of the old year, sort of ended up 1943 in good style. His first letter mentioned having had a very pleasant Thanksgiving Day with Mr. and Mrs. Heath, of whom he says he has never encountered any people more sincerely generous than the Heaths. He mentions receiving three invitations to Christmas celebrations, but “the old fox is waiting to see which invitation will be most worthwhile”. His second letter describes a short furlough which he spent in a visit to Cornwall in a little town called St. Ives (of Mother Goose fame) and a short distance from Penzance, immortalized by Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates. He was guest of a very hospitable elderly retired couple named Burnett who were introduced to him by mail through the kindness of one of the Red Cross workers.

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Dear Dan:

Lt. P. R. Martin, the Censor who usually goes over your letters, felt it his duty to remove the Heath’s address, but he very courteously wrote the following note: “Send the articles to T-5 Guion. Sorry I must cut the address out; however it is of little importance.” Accordingly, I had D. M. Read Company make up a package of bath salts, powder and soap and will get it off to you early in 1944. Are you getting some good movies or Kodachrome pictures or won’t they allow the use of a camera in England? Send me another list of things you want sent, now that we know they arrive, even though somewhat delayed. I think hereafter, that with every package I send you, I shall include some item of cosmetic or toilet article as gifts to those who are so good to you, BUT, please, in every letter make a definite request which I can show the post office as otherwise packages will not be accepted for mailing overseas. We all enjoy your letters very much and it’s so good to know you are well and content.

Tomorrow I’ll post the conclusion of this letter, with notes to Lad and Marian.

On Saturday more Special Pictures of the Trumbull House, Then and Now.

On Sunday, another Guest Post from GPCox about the Women of World War II.

Judy Guion

 

 

Trumbull – Dear Boys – Below Zero Weather – December 20, 1942

Trumbull, Conn., December 20, 1942

Dear Boys:

For three days the thermometer in these here parts has consistently registered below zero weather. Day before yesterday it was 8 below, yesterday around the zero mark and today, early, it was 14 below, going up to 8 below at 8 o’clock, and when, during the day, it rose to 2 below, it seemed as though it were getting warm. Tonight is cold again but how far the mercury has sunk I don’t know. With furnace going full tilt, oil stoves alight and the alcove fireplace doing its bit, we have been fairly comfortable. Maybe we would be more comfortable in Alaska. Dick has been wearing his Davy Crockett coonskin cap and Barbara bemoans the fact that the moth got into her parka. I feel sorry for the poor guys who have oil burners and have been rationed on their fuel oil. Everyone around here is kicking at the discrimination shown by the bunglers in Washington against New England and the East. Democrats and Republicans alike, if their memory lasts that long, will be apt to register their protests in a very definite manner in November of ’44.

No further word from Lad or Ced, but a letter from Dan arrived holding out just a suggestion of hope that he may be able to get home for Christmas. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed.

I have been using the bus several days lately to get back and forth, due to a combination of gas rationing and difficulty starting the car in this cold weather. The office, too, due to fuel oil rationing, has been too cold to comfortably work in, and for two days the heat was off entirely during repairs. I don’t know what the situation will be tomorrow. Both Dick and Dave were home for a couple of days last week with colds. Dave still has a cough hanging on, but Aunt Betty and I seem to be inhospitable to the little germ.

I am afraid the season will lack some of its old time zest this year due to the absence of some very important sons, but maintenance of a smiling spirit seems to be indicated, which I have tried to capture in the attached effort, in lieu of a Christmas card, I am sending out to sundry friends and acquaintances (see sample attached). (The sample is not attached)

A Christmas box loaded with much goodwill but few articles of much intrinsic value, was sent off to Flint last week hoping it would reach Lad in time, but Dan’s slight remembrances are being retained here in the hope he will come in person to claim them. Ced’s box previously started on its long journey but I have little hope, judging from the delay in letter deliveries from Alaska, that it will reach him by the 25th.

Inspiration seems sadly lacking tonight, if you can miscall anything I write in these weekly efforts by that name, and as it is about time to snatch a bite to eat and try to warm up the bedsheets, it is perhaps just as well to quote the well-remembered lines, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night” from one, who in your childhood days, used to pose as

Santa Claus

Tomorrow, the last letter from 1942. It wraps up news from Lad and Ced, who were not home for Christmas, Christmas guests and festivities.

On Saturday, more Special Pictures of the Trumbull House, Then and Now.

On Sunday, another Guest Post from GPCox about the role Sports played for the home folks.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – To My Little Sons Everywhere – Lad Visits Dan – December 6, 1942

Trumbull, Conn., Dec. 6, 1942

To my little sons everywhere, just everywhere: (a la Mrs. Pennyfeather)

          (including Red Lion, Pa., Flint, Mich. and Anchorage, Ala.)

Old Father Guion went to the mailbox

To see if a letter had come

And when he looked in, the mail was so thin,

He sighed, spat thrice and said “mmm”.

 

And that, my little dears, ends the bed-time story for tonight.

A letter to Barbara (Plumb, Dan’s girlfriend) brings news that one day last week, Dan, while engaging in a heavy bout with Morpheous on his camp cot, was awakened by the news that a visiting soldier was without the barbicon wall (at Red Lion , Pennsylvania) seeking admittance and who should it prove to be but Brother Al (Lad) and a fellow traveler enroute to Flint, Mich. So Lad is on his way but at present I do not know what his new address is to be in that hard Michigan city.

A letter from Grandma (Peabody) describes their rooms in the St. Albans house as large and the ceilings high. She says: “It does make me feel so bad when I realize how near I came to seeing you all before we left, which occurred on the forenoon of Nov. 11th arriving in St. Albans about 10 that evening. Gwyneth Stanley, daughter of Anne Peabody Stanley, divorced from Fred Stanley)  is here too, going to high school where she is taking shorthand and typing. She loves Vermont, has spent two week-ends with her father and stepmother and loves the baby. Kemper (Peabody, 2nd son) has a nice office off from the living room.  He is retaining his business in Mount Vernon. Dorothy (Peabody, youngest daughter) has the cutest little apartment at #5 Minetta Street, N.Y. City. On Labor Day, Anne (Peabody Stanley, 3rd daughter) went to New York to see Donald (Stanley) who had had his appendix removed. He is now back at training school. Anne lives at 37 Davis Ave., New Rochelle. She has been working in a gift shop there for some time. Larry (Peabody, 3rd son)  and Marion are very happy in their place. She did a lot of canning of stuff from their own garden and is very active socially. Alan (their son) had a very short attack of pneumonia but with the aid of the new sulpho drug recovered completely and is now back in school again. We hope to have Dorothy up here with us Christmas if all goes well. I miss her so much. We have been together for so long and she has been so good to me always and taken such splendid care of me when I have been sick. You knew I had a very bad time last February and have been very slow in recovering but I believe I am improving a little more and more. I can’t do any kind of work that takes much action so I have taken the dishwashing job. With love to Aunt Betty and all the Guions in Trumbull and elsewhere,” Her address is Mrs. Anne W. Peabody, Fairfax Road, RFD 2, St. Albans, Vt. Burton’s (Peabody, oldest son) address is Capt. Burton W. Peabody, 1223 11th St., N.W., Washington.

Mr. Ives (neighbor acress the street), I learned, is in the hospital again but Carl (Wayne) says he is expected home soon. A band of Young Trumbullites, who have made McKenzie’s drugstore their hangout for some months, formed themselves into a club and I have let them use the large storage room on the ground floor in the barn as a meeting room. They put up the big iron stove and are otherwise getting it ready for occupancy with comfort during the winter months.

Goodbye for now and don’t go sticking beans up your nose.

DAD