Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another Sepia Saturday


These three darling children
are first-generation Swedish Americans.



Oscar (left), Mabel and Elmer Miller
were the children of Samuel Philander Bengtsson Miller
and Wilhelmina Blomgren Nelson Miller.

Last week, I introduced you to the children's maternal grandparents.
The little boy on the right (circa 1906 or 1907)
is my maternal grandfather.

He was the first child of the marriage,
though he had two older step-siblings from his mother's first marriage.
She married Samuel after being widowed by the time she was 30.

Elmer was born in the Frenchtown Precinct, Walla Walla County,
Washington on October 5, 1900.
For those of you who don't know the area,
"Frenchtown" is now the home of the L'Ecole No. 41 Winery.

Samuel and Wilhelmina were living on homestead land
 that Wilhelmina proved up after her first husband died.

Samuel had staked a homestead in Wallowa County, Oregon,
perhaps 100 miles away from Walla Walla, Washington.
Sometime around 1902, the couple and their children
loaded up their belongings in two horse-drawn wagons
and set off through the Blue Mountains to Samuel's homestead.

Elmer grew up in Wallowa County. Oscar came along in 1903.
 Mabel followed in 1905. Herbert joined the gang in 1907
 and the "baby" Stanley was born in 1911.

My grandfather was full of stories.
They didn't often come out but he sat down
 with my brother and told him the highlights of his life
when my brother was taking an oral history class in college
and needed to interview someone.

One of the stories he told was about seeing his first auto in 1909.
He and his father Samuel were in a wagon pulled by two bay mares,
taking a trip into Enterprise for supplies.
The car came chugging around a bend
and about scared the horses to death.
He said they went racing up a hill adjacent to the road,
trying to escape this source of terror.
Samuel was able to get the team stopped,
but he had to buggy whip them to get them to return to the road.
My grandfather said that the older generation of horses
never got used to cars.

After law school, when I was living in the Maryland suburbs
of the District of Columbia,
my mother brought my grandfather Elmer
(who we grandkids called "Daddyguy") to visit.
I took them to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
on the Mall in D.C.
One of the galleries was about early aviation
and the barnstormers.

It was one of the highlights of my life
to walk around the gallery with him
and look at the old posters that would have been
affixed to barns and watch early films of aerial acrobatics
and hear him tell about being a boy
and being beside himself with excitement
when the barnstormers came to Wallowa County
with their new-fangled planes.
He'd seen many of the aviation hotshots featured
in the exhibit.

With the exception of his first two years,
Elmer lived his whole life in Eastern Oregon.
He died in 1994 after an active, outdoorsy life.

I'll introduce you to his wife,
my grandmother,
in another post.

9 comments:

mouse (aka kimy) said...

wonderful!!!

man, I love this time travel. great meeting elmer, oscar and mabel. what great names...one just doesn't meet many oscars, mabels or elmers these day....although oscar seems to be a name which is coming back - there are two little boys named oscar in ms. t's library programs

happy sepia saturday.

Betsy said...

And this is exactly why I love sepia saturdays...the beautiful stories and pictures, too. I'm so glad you've joined our group! Those children are gorgeous, aren't they!

sperlygirl said...

what a wonderful story - i love all of the stories that our grandparents and greats hold - they are truly priceless.

Martin H. said...

I can understand how the visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum was a highlight for you. To actually be there with someone who had seen it all 'first hand' would be memorable.

Thoroughly enjoyable contribution to Sepia Saturday, or any other day for that matter. Thank you.

Alan Burnett said...

Fabulous, fabulous photograph. And a story to match. To look at those young faces and to read about the future that awaited them is priceless. Welcome to Sepia Saturday.

rebecca said...

dear scout,

thank you for finding and sharing sepia saturday.

i find this practice so touching. such honor and tenderness is being shared. and history, which comes alive through the intimate eye of a family member.

sepia saturday is a birds eye view into the hearts of others.

for this i am in awe.
and grateful.
thank you for taking me places where my heart is opened by simple stunning sharing.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I love looking at old photos....oh what is that boy thinking? Now, I must go read the post to see if you answered what the boy to the right is thinking, or if I'll have to make something up!

kt said...

meri keep these stories and photos coming they are wonderful!
kt

willow said...

What a priceless photo! I so enjoy sharing all these family treasures. I have the Miller surname in my family line, as well.