Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thursday, March 28th, 1935

She gets the news

Mary writes about a nurse coming to their home. The nurse, out of concern, made a follow up visit the next day. That following day, March 30th, she writes that she "gets the news."

The news, no doubt, is that she is pregnant on top of the other medical problems she is having. Later this year she will give birth to David Arthur, my father.

She may have had some cramps, but sugar cakes make life worth living.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sunday, March 24th, 1935


In these pages clothing needs and how they these needs are met are written about. Other new items in her life are the spring garden coming up and a new sidewalk out front of their home on Van Buren Street.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wednesday, March 20th, 1935

Spring arrives, brings hope

Mary notes that the first day of spring has arrived and it was ushered
in by thunder, lightning and rain. Something got her all excited for
awhile, but what was that?

And who is the benefactor, the mysterious Mr. F. (?) that promised to
get her 8-year-old son Paul a new pair of shoes, and to also pay the
gas and electric bills? These several days raise more than a few

Even Albert, Lloyd's brother, gives the opinion that Lloyd should soon
have work. What does he know that isn't mentioned here?

Dr. Grover taped up Mary's feet on the 21st, an odd thing for a
chiropractor type to do, but the family oral history always stated that
he was a "quack." Is that just what chiropractors were called in those
days? Or was he really a practicing quack?

Spring always does offer hope, and the spring of '35 brings hope that
work will be available, that they will be able to take care of their
needs, that health will improved. We'll see about that.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saturday, March 16th, 1935

Lonesome day

The importance of family and friends to Mary is evident in her Sunday St. Patrick's Day entry. She said they "looked for company, but nobody came," and then finally summed up the day with a simple statement. "Lonesome day."

The family worked hard on Saturday, planting early spring foods like onions, lettuce and radishes, and also baking pies and bread. It must have been a warm cozy kitchen this day!

Lloyd gets to feeling poorly, and when Dr. Grover comes by, cracks his neck. On the 19th, Mae is mention again as she stops by and drops off a can of peaches. We recently learned that Mae is not technically family to Mary and Lloyd. Lloyd's brother Albert married Nellie Kelley and Mae is the daugher of Nellie's twin sister, Stella. So Mae is Mary's brother-in-law's niece. Got that?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tuesday, March 12, 1935

"I walked... holding my crutches."

In this installment we have a little better view on Mary's ailment. Whatever has been troubling her, her toes or whatever, we now know that her condition was such that she was also using crutches to get around. She walked clear to Haynes, whoever they are, but the use of crutches.

Old Jerry is mentioned on the 12th. He was at grandma's, grandma being her grandmother Jennie Slane. But who is Jerry? Jennie is married to Frank Slane. On this same day, Clarence, his girl and Leada is mentioned. Leada is a misspelling of Clarence's sister's name, Leta. Mae has been frequently mentioned in this diary. Who exactly is she?

We learn that Mary knows a thing or two about sewing as she reports she has made a dress for her little girl, Dorothy.

An astute reader of this blog noted that on March 7th Mary noted Mrs. R's weight, and then a second number was also entered; 182. Also, on January 5th, following her entry for the day, the number 183 appears. It was observed that perhaps she was noting her weight. I think the observation has merit.

Note: If you would like to explore real record sources online and search out this or other families, check out this free access website: http://search.labs.familysearch.org/

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


This is the first of a series of family features that will be interspersed with the 1935 diary of Mary Hemminger Benson, second wife of Lloyd Benson. The past several blog entries speak of Clarence Benson. This picture arrived in the email from a direct descendant of Lloyd's brother, Harry Walter Benson who was born Jun 30th, 1884. The sender of this email was well acquainted with all the persons seen in this photograph.

Shown here, from left to right are Donald Kemmer, Leta (Benson) Kemmer, William Birt Benson, Mattie Martha (Weaver) Benson, Esther Marie (Hall) Benson, Clarence Benson. Donald Kemmer was Leta's second husband. Leta and Clarence are the two children born to Will and Mattie.
This photo is not dated, but this writer believes that it was taken no earlier than the mid-1940's.

And now we have a better feel for the family of Will and Mattie (Weaver) Benson recently referred to in Mary Benson's 1935 diary. Esther and Clarence were an attractive couple, don't you think?

(Do you have family photos or stories to share prompted by what you read in this diary? Won't you please share them, and won't you recommend this blog to other descendants of the Benson family?)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Friday, March 8th, 1935

Sharing food, playing cards and other women

In the next four days, Mary writes about sharing food with family and about how when family visits they pass their leisure time away.

Stella is mentioned here for the first time. Stella is Stella Kelley, the fraternal twin of Nellie Kelley. In the 1900 US Census of Grand Prairie Township, Marion County, they are enumerated as Stella E and Nella B., both born in March of 1893. A kind reader reported this relationship and also helped answer another question, which is who is Mae that Mary so often writes of? Mae is the daughter of Stella and Don, last name not currently known.

Moving on. The Friday entry didn't make much sense to me in the first couple of readings. What did it mean? "Then they went to the hospital and got a girl C goes with and left for home." I read it several times searching for understanding.

Then I realized that "C" meant Clarence. Still I was confused. Clarence was a married man with two little girls. This didn't make sense. I turned to my previous family research in my Personal Ancestral File to look up Clarence.

Ah-ha. I now believe that the girl Clarence "goes with" is Esther Hall, a young girl a few months shy of her 20th birthday. He's apparently going with her quite openly because his folks (parents) are with him and Mary writes about it without judgement even though he is a married man.

Bertha, Clarence's wife, sued for divorce the following year in Knox County, Ohio. From the Record of Divorce, Vol. 6, p. 354, she charged him with neglect and for running off with Esther Hall," with whom he left on the 19th day of September, 1936."

The divorce was final on November 5th, 1936, and Clarence and Esther Marie Hall were married that very same day. Together they would have four children. The second one, a little boy, lived only 15 minutes. He is known on the records only as "stillborn." He never drew breath. Shortly after birth, his little beating heart went still.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Monday, March 4th, 1935

Health insurance?

If you needed a doctor, you just paid for a doctor. If you needed medicine, you just paid for medicine. If you needed new clothes, you bought that instead. If you had food, you shared it. If you couldn't afford something, you toughed it out. If you were in a jam, family helped you out.

That's how it appeared to work in 1935. Mary gets new clothes, but her mother would rather see her die than go to the hospital. What's up with that? Maybe the Marion hospital had the same bad reputation back then as today.

Clarence gets mentioned for the first time here. Clarence is Clarence Benson, son of Lloyd's brother William Birt and his wife, Mattie Weaver, sister of Lloyd's first wife Daisy Weaver. Clarence will turn 30 years old on the 4th of July, 1935. He is married to Bertha and has two little girls, Eleanor, 8 and Mary Margaret, 7.

I met Clarence sometime between 1992 and his death in 1995. He was living alone in an apartment in Mt. Vernon. Clarence was known to have money back in the prohibition days. He confessed to me that he had been a bootlegger. He owned a Mt. Vernon business, several nice trucks and fancy cars. He also didn't want to talk about it much with me as that was the past and he was now a Christian man. In this diary narrative he appears to have also been charitible in his younger days.

On the 7th of March, Mary sweats puddles of sweat but refuses to go to Columbus as recommended.

Who is Miss P?