Born March 9, 1900

Topeka, Kansas

Written By: Eva Myrtle Havens

Epilogue by: Amanda Ann Roberts, Granddaughter

My mom's mother was living on a farm in Indiana, where she was about 8 months pregnant (with mom). She was so homesick to see her family in Topeka that she left for Topeka with neighbors in a covered wagon. They got to Butler County, Missouri and Mom was born there in the covered wagon. Grandma was never to return to Indiana so she and Granddad were divorced and Mom never saw her dad until she was 15 year old. Mom was a very strict, but loving, mother. Dad was more lenient and tended to spoil all of us. I had a sister, Mildred b:1901, a brother Vernon b: 1904 and a brother Charles (Chick) b: 1913.

My Dad, his two brothers and their father were all Santa Fe Railroad shop foremen. Mom's step father and her mother also were Santa Fe employees. I grew up knowing only Santa Fe food all of my childhood. My Mom was one of the first "Fred Harvey" girls, but she hated it so only worked a week.

Our home was a happy home and was church oriented. There were always extra people being "mothered" by Mom that lived with us, my grandfather James Havens, Aunt Lyda Havens, Uncle Charles Havens, Reno Swartz (a pal of my brother Vernon) and various other relatives for long or short periods. All the friends of we four children were frequent guests and we must have averaged a party a week for this or that occasion. I studied piano from 8 to 24 and Mildred studied violin, so music sessions and family song-fests were a constant thing. We were a truly happy family.

Mom's father, William J. Van Horn, moved to Central Oregon at the turn of the century with 3 sons from his second marriage and his new wife (#3) Nettie. His second wife and a young daughter had died in a diphtheria epidemic, leaving him with 3 small sons. So Granddad and Nettie married and moved to Oregon. He and the 3 boys "proved up" 4 homestead claims and later put them together as one big family ranch which is still in operation with the youngest daughter and her husband living on and farming it. Granddad and Nettie had several more children of their own, so it was always a busy and fun place to visit.

In 1908, 1911 and 1916, we spent the whole summer there on the ranch. We visited lumber mills, sheep herders camps, joined threshing crews with old fashioned 8 horse wheat "combines". We ate with the threshing crew at authentic chuck wagons. To get to the ranch from Topeka, we always traveled different routes but my favorite was Union Pacific Railroad over the Rockies and through Royal Gorge on the Denver & Rio Grand Railroad narrow gauge tracks and over the famous swinging bridge. Three days and three nights later, we stopped at Arlington, Oregon. We stayed overnight in a country hotel with "out back" conveniences. The next morning took a combination freight and passenger train to Conden, Oregon; it was a 30 mile, 8 hour trip. We had to spend the night there. Then the next day we rode a four horse Wells Fargo Stage Coach up over the divide, 21 miles to Fossil, Oregon. It was 10 hours from Fossil to Granddad's ranch, 10 miles by a team of horses and a spring wagon. This was on top of Blue Mountains, virgin forest, all sorts of fish wild animals etc. There were saddle ponies for all of us to ride. It was really living.

In 1908, one of Mom's brothers came home from Oregon with us. He lived with us and learned the "tin-smith" trade under my Dad at Santa Fe sheet metal shops. When I was 14, I began working as a bundle wrapper in a dry goods store on my vacations and Saturdays to earn money for my high school. On Saturdays we worked from 8 am until 11 pm and the pay was one silver dollar.

After I graduated from high school, I went to work at the Santa Fe office and later my sister and oldest brother did also. I worked in the Engineering Department for 4 years and then two years in the Tax Dept. It was in the Engineering Department that I met John Raymond Emery, whom I later married in 1924. Being Railroad people, we had free transportation so our family always did lots of traveling.

In 1924 we had only an over night honeymoon at the old Muelback Hotel in Kansas City, but later on that summer, Mildred joined us and we three went on our first camping trip. Three of us in a World War I pup tent. We drove up through Canada and to Niagara Falls where we camped three days on the very rim of the falls on the Canadian side. Quite an experience!

That fall, a crowd of us left to drive to California. We had two car loads (5 of us, Pop and me in our car, and Pops mother, father and sister in the second car) and took the southern route. It was the cold "White Pole Highway" just white bands around telephone poles to mark the way and we had to open and close cattle gates and drive through pastures, etc. To cross the Mojave Desert in California, we had to drive the old "Corduroy" Road that was just telephone poles chained together and laid on the sand. A second car with Aunt Emma (Mother Emery's sister), Uncle Harry, Frances, Aunt Annie(mother Emery's and Aunt Emma's aunt) and Uncle Fred Holden took the northern route so they could visit North Dakota and see Aunt Emma's old homestead. She had moved out there and built an "old soddie" (sod blocks) house and lived there while she taught grammar school. It took our two cars, three full weeks to get from Chicago to Azusa, California. We had a big tent and camped along the way and three or four times, we found tiny wooden shacks we could rent to sleep in. They contained wooden cots and a ticking to be filled with corn shucks by each tenant and that was your mattress. There was also a wood burning stove, a table, straight chairs and that was all. You carried your own cooking utensils, water bucket, dishes and food (no place to buy food) and you carried water from a near by creek for all uses. Also you carried a water bottle on your car for use along the way. They were canvas bags that hung in front of the radiator. Dirty? I'll say, but water was cool to drink.

Car number three met us in Azusa. Eventually all others returned to Chicago but Pa and I stayed. We lived in Azusa, El Monte, Baldwin Park and then Beverly Hills. Had our own music store in Baldwin Park and then a big one in Beverly Hills.

Our son, James Robert, was born in Covina, California while we lived in El Monte, California. It was lonely there. Orange and English walnut groves all around us and town were small country towns with very friendly and neighborly people.

In 1927 California went broke, two years before the stock market crash in 1929. We managed to sell our store in Beverly Hills and moved back to Oak Lawn, Illinois. I was pregnant with our son Jack when we left California in 1927. We got back to Oak Lawn in April and John William was born in August 1927.

Pop went to work for Chicago Sanitary District in May 1928 and we moved into our little home on 54th Court and lived there from 9 years. Coral Ann was born in December 1933 while we lived here. She was a true joy.

We were lucky in a way, that we managed to get our house furnished and a car paid for before the Sanitary District laid off 1,000 men one day in June 1931 and then for 8 long years we were to know the true 'Big Depression'. NO work for engineers any place but we struggled through with NO "relief" help. We made it on our own and it was not easy! Pop's first real job was May 1939 with Cook County Highway Department, where he stayed until he retired in May 1959 (20 years).

We traveled a lot but always by car, over these 53 years. We went to Florida all the way to Key West three or four times, to New Mexico several times, to Oregon with our children, to Kansas at least once every year, to Old Mexico, to Canada, but best trip of all was to South America. Jack and Kay lived in Connecticut and we drove our car there and left it. We embarked on a ":Banana Boat' for a three week trip to Guayaquile, Ecuador and returned with only six passengers. This trip was in October 1953 on a a Norwegian vessel and it was different than anything we'd ever done before. In Guayaquil we visited the home of Maria Arosamena (one of our shipmates) who's brother was president of Guayaquil State. We had lunch with the American Ambassador and his wife at Maria's club. We met her Aunt and her children.

I can remember very clearly going to Aunt Gertie and Uncle Hayes' wedding in 1905 and then we went to Topeka to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1955. Now that's when you feel old. Now, 22 years later, I'm just home from Topeka celebrating Aunt Gerties 90th Birthday.

In 1963, I fell twice. First time I had a skull fracture and black eye. The second time I broke a bone in my left arch and small left toe. I also had many bee and hornet stings. This was a bad year for me. I had right thumb surgery in 1965. In September 1946, I had a hysterectomy and appendectomy. In April 1958, I had rectoseal, cystoseal and lump removed from a breast but it was benign. In 1974 I had now fallen from a ladder. I was in the hospital from November 3rd to December 15. On August 3, 1975 I had an ulcer on my right leg and they put me in the hospital for a skin graft. It took 7 months to completely heal.

In 1950, I received my 50 year pin from Eastern Star Chapter (Helena) #210 in Topeka, Kansas. Mildred was there also and Aunt Gertie (a past member) presented our pins to us.

On November 11, 1970, my brother Vernon died at 66 years of age. On February 24, 1977, my brother Charles had a severe stroke which affected his right side, speech and brain at age 63.

Our oldest son, Bob, was killed in W.W.II in Germany on April 7, 1945, he was 19. Jack has been with IBM most of his working years. He and later he and Kay (married July 18, 1953), have lived in many cities in as many states. Their Bob was born August 1, 1956 in Joliet Hospital while they lived in the little house next door. Diane was born May 21, 1958 in Rochester, Minnesota. Bob and Lyne Brooks announced their engagement to both families on Easter Sunday 1977. My son Jack, was born in Topeka, Kansas but we lived on 54th court, Oak Lawn. Coral Ann was born on 54th Court in Oak Lawn December 13 ,1933. Most of her working years with Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad and later merged with Northern Pacific and Great Northern which then became the Burlington Northern and was transferred to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1970. Coral Ann married Jessie Ray Cowan August 16, 1958 and Mandy was born June 3, 1959.

Our houses: 1. Lived with Dad and mother Emery in Oak Lawn the summer of 1924 until we all left for California.

2. Pa and I lived in a garage apartment in Azusa, California.

3. Small cottage in El Monte, California (Mother Emery and Bernice there also)

4. Apartment in back of our Music shop in Baldwin Park, California

5. August 1, 1926 we moved to apartment on Vermont Street until January 10, 1927.

6. January 1927 we lived with the Emery's in a house in Burbank California until we all (Mother Emery, Bernice, Raymond and me, our baby Bob and our Boston Bull "Hinky Dinky" drove back to Illinois in spring of 1927.

7. We lived with A. K. Kuhan and his 12 year old son Kenneth in Oak Lawn until our house was ready.

8. We lived in our small five room cottage on 54th Court from June 1927 to June 1936, 9 years believe it or not.

9. Lived in a house on Parkside in Oak Lawn from June 1936 to May 29, 1939.

10. May 29, 1939 a flat on Racine in Chicago until April 30, 1941.

11. Bungalo on Paulina until September 29, 1941.

During 1941 (Pop's first year of work after the long depression), we built our own house on Normandy, in Oak Lawn, and owned it lock, stock and barrel when we moved into September 29, 1941. Bob was killed in the war while we lived here and it was just too much to stay there after that.

12. We built our home in Lemont, brick by brick and owned it when completed and moved in November 18, 1946. Now April 13, 1977 (31 years later), we still love it and hope we can stay here until we die.

In March 1976, Frances lived with us and most of her time was in and out of the hospital and doctors, with multiple myaloma (cancer of the bone marrow). She returned to work mid November, a great recovery for her from Chemotherapy treatment.

We had our darling Mandy with us most of the time from her fifth birthda until she was ready for junior high and every minute was pure pleasure. Coral Ann's loss was our gain.

I joined Homemakers in 1951 and for the next 25 years, I was very active in the local unit holding offices in local, county and state levels. I loved it all. Still do, but don't like to work it anymore.

I attended the Methodist church in Lemont since 1950 but didn't join until 1966. I was so busy in Homemakers that I couldn't do church work too so I waited to join until I was able to work and carry my own weight. I've tried to even since by having all sorts of offices and am now Treasurer for the Methodist Women's group which sounds easy, but it's sure more work than it looks. But I enjoy it.


Epilogue by: Amanda Ann Roberts her Granddaughter


My cousins Diane and Robert and I spent most of our weekends together at our grandparents home. We will never forget all of the holidays that we spent with them and the warmth of their love. They did many things for us as kids, such as putting up a swing set, picnic tables, setting up a tether ball pole, and blowing up endless small swimming pools. Their home in Lemont will always be our home too.

My son, Christopher Michael Niedzielski, was born on January 19, 1979 and was loved and held by both Great grandparents. My grandfather died in June of that same year and my grandmother thought that Chris was somehow his replacement. To this day he remembers sitting in a small chair at Great Grandma's table where she fed him hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese (his favorite dish at the time). In November of 1989, J Ryan was born to Robert and Lynn Emery and gave my grandmother the chance to see her second great grandchild. Family was my grandmother's greatest joy and she loved these two little boys. She didn't live long enough to see Tyler Anne who was born to Robert and Lynn in December 1995 but I know she would have been proud.

She lived in her house which she loved, as long as she could, but too many falls down steps and basement stairs told her that she should move somewhere more sensible. With my Aunt Kay and Uncle Jacks help, she found a nice retirement community in Joliet, Illinois in 1985. She had a private room for a while, but when her arthritis won out, she moved to the nursing care facility there in the same home. It was very clean and she enjoyed living there but still missed her home immensely. Our grandmother was a wonderful, loving lady who was always ahead of her time in wisdom. She lived to be 91 years old and died June 21, 1991 and we will miss her forever. Her sister Mildred (Auntie Wad to us) is still alive and living in her own home in Albuquerque, NM.

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