On This Day – March 27, 1927

John Norman Webber and Beatrice Irene Jensen were married March 27, 1927 in Tyler, Minnesota.

Webber, John Norman wedding 1927

Norman was the first child of Myron David Webber and Dorinda Rebecca Strange. He was my grandmother Abbie’s older brother and my great-uncle.

This quote from a Webber family newsletter sheds light on how Norman, who lived in Iowa met Irene, who lived in Minnesota:
Their first summer in Iowa City, Myron, Dorinda and 6 of their children lived in a tent in City Park – with no sleeping bags. It was a momentous summer – here in the park, Norman met Irene, who was in town visiting her cousin Phil Norman.

And here we have a picture of Irene, Norman, and a woman whom I would guess is Irene’s mother. The photo is identified with these words:
In Tyler
Showing my ring
Webber, John Norman and Irene 1926 Tyler, MN Showing my ringIrene looks really happy, but she’s not giving us a good view of that ring!

Twenty-three guests signed the memory book at the wedding. There are no names from Uncle Norman’s family.

N-Guest List wedding Norman&Irene Webber363 (1)

Attendees of the wedding of Norman and Irene Webber

Cousins have been emailing back and forth the past few days helping me by sharing information and documents. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!) Some had heard that there was a rush to the altar, but no one knows for sure. Whether or not this was a “shotgun wedding” – perhaps due to a false alarm – it was a marriage that lasted and all agree that their love for one another was genuine.

The photo on the left was taken on their 1st Anniversary. The photo on the right on their 22nd Anniversary in 1949.

1st-anniv-1928 (1) copy                22nd Anniversary

And here we have Norman and Irene opening gifts on their 25th anniversary at the home of Ersel Webber Addis and Laird Addis.
Webber, John Norman 25th wedding anniversaryUncle Norman was known to have rather unruly hair.

Norman and Irene lived in West Lucas Township, near Coralville in Johnson County, Iowa for many years. They appear there in both the 1930 and 1940 census. Norman and Irene lived a simple rural life as described in this undated story by Norman:
Webber, John Norman writings pg 1 This is our home, 1927_20170325_0001

"Goat Island"

“Goat Island” Click to enlarge

Uncle Norman may not have given a monetary value to his home, but the 1930 census taker valued it at $300. To give some context, other homes on that page were valued in the thousands. Uncle Norman earned his living as a plasterer and it was not full-time work.

I love Uncle Norman’s sense of humor and writing style. “After leaning lean-tos completely surround the house and lean-tos leaning lean-tos to the lean-tos, we are beginning to feel just a bit crowded again. Shall we repeat the cycle?”

Norman’s words: “We have learned to live with the two of us” seem to echo their sense of loss in having no children. But this story also makes clear that Norman and Irene felt great joy in having nieces and nephews come to visit and be a part of their lives. As cousin Yvonne wrote in an email, “We are their children.”

In later years, Norman and Irene lived with Norman’s parents in Iowa City. They also lived in a house on the property of Norman’s sister Abbie and her husband Charles (my grandparents). I wrote a little about their home and business in Charles’ and Abbie’s Place.

One more story for this wedding anniversary post. As a wedding gift, Uncle Norman gave one of his nephews and his bride a “kissing stool” because of their height difference. As you can see, Uncle Norman was well acquainted with this particular problem.
n-i-6 copy


Bonaparte Retreat

2016 Trip to Iowa Day 2

The moment I realized I would be happy every morning during this trip.


Delicious breakfast at Oak Meadow Delight B&B

Then I increased my happiness by going to exchange my rental car for a more compatible model.

2016-iowa-hedrick-signI called Dad(Jerry) and set off on the short drive to Hedrick for a visit. I have traveled the route from Ottumwa to Hedrick maybe a thousand times in my life – hundreds, anyway. It had been four years since I was last in the area, so I decided to set the GPS. That was a mistake. I would probably be driving through corn fields to this day had I not known where I was going!

Dad suggested we go to Bonaparte Retreat for lunch. I had never been there before and thought he said Bonaparte’s Retreat. When I was doing a little research for the post, I learned that there are several recordings of a song with that title – by Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Kay Starr and others. I chose this particular recording because it is the oldest I found in my cursory search and we were on our way to an historic building. Also, could the name of the band be any more fitting for a trip to a restaurant?

Dad was my navigator and off we went without much time to spare. He figured it would be a 45 minute drive, but it took a little longer because a lane was closed on the highway. We arrived 10 minutes past closing time. People were leaving as we approached the door, but the waitress told us to “slip on in, just slip on in.”


Dad in Bonaparte, Iowa

Bonaparte Retreat restaurant opened in 1970 in an abandoned grist mill along the Des Moines River in the village of Bonaparte, Iowa.

I chose the Pork Tenderloin for lunch, which the menu describes as “hand-breaded and made famous in historic Bonaparte.” Pork tenderloin was made famous to me by my grandmother Abbie, who served it at my grandparents’ truck stop. I only eat it when I am in Iowa – pork tenderloin is really not a thing in Texas. We had a table by a window with a view of the river. Dad usually enjoys a good conversation with a meal, but we knew we were holding up our waitress and others, so we didn’t linger.


For once in my life, I took a fairly decent selfie.

As we were leaving town I spied the genealogy society sign at the town library, so I had to stop, even though I was not at all prepared to do any genealogy research. Dad stayed in the car while I ran in to see what I could find. The genealogy society records consisted of notebooks on the top shelf of the small second room of the library. The helpful librarian retrieved notebooks for me while I tried to remember what family names matched this area. Oh yeah, SMITH. 😉

I got copies of a few family group sheets, but couldn’t leave dad out in the car any longer, so I left. When I walked out, I found him chatting it up with a new friend on a park bench – a former blacksmith who had pointed out a brick building he had built (Dad was completely unimpressed by his masonry skills, but did not share his opinion until we were out of earshot.) It was a hot afternoon, so I thought we should call it a day even though I had not hit the notebooks containing obits, marriage records, and whatever else was there.

By the time we got back to Hedrick, I was in need of a little Bonaparte retreat myself, so I headed back to my peaceful B&B to rest a bit before driving out to get dad again. We met my sister and her husband for dinner at a little Italian restaurant in Ottumwa and enjoyed a good meal together.

Now that I am home, I’ve been going over the family group sheets I got while in Bonaparte. One set of information was submitted by Clarence Monnett Smith, a 1st cousin 1x removed. We have never met. The other group sheets did not provide the name of the compiler. I’ve been busy checking and adding some new information to my tree. And, of course, I couldn’t stop looking for more. I fell into a genealogy “hole” all day yesterday and could barely crawl out at the end of the day.

I’ve decided to add a To Do List at the end of some posts as a reminder to myself.

  1. The next time I travel to Bonaparte, Iowa, I should spend a little more time walking through the historic buildings, visit some pottery shops, and enjoy a few minutes by the river.
  2. Optional visit to Bonaparte Cemetery to find Laura Sargeant. She was the wife of my great-grandfather Andrew Washington Smith, but we are not related.
  3. Try to plan a thorough visit to Van Buren County. Ancestors lived in Vernon, Birmingham and Stockport. Read; find plat maps; follow up on the group sheets I brought home. I’d like to find old home sites and visit the cemeteries and any other places of interest.
  4. Prepare to do some research in the county seat – Keosauqua.
  5. Enjoy the Villages of Van Buren! The Scenic Drive Festival might be just the time to visit.

A few related posts:
Flying Solo – the 1st day of my trip
Charles’ and Abbie’s Place – a Sepia Saturday post about my grandparents’ truck stop
Tombstone Tuesday: Smith in Bethel Cemetery – on my previous visit to Iowa

Fred M. Webber Sermon: Notes from a Sermon

Webber, Fred Myron in clerical robesRev. Fred M. Webber was serving as co-pastor of Pisgah-Mt. Pleasant Federated Church in Greenfield, Ohio when he delivered this sermon in August of 1988.

8-14-88 – Pisgah-Mt. Pleasant – 12th in Pentecost

FMW (Fred M. Webber) began with a reading from the Old Testament. The same passage was the basis of the sermon he delivered the previous week – Exodus 16: 2-15.

2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your murmurings against the LORD. For what are we, that you murmur against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening flesh to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your murmurings which you murmur against him–what are we? Your murmurings are not against us but against the LORD.”

9 And Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your murmurings.'” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. 11 And the LORD said to Moses,
12 “I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'”

13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning dew lay round about the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.

FMW cites the Anchor Bible, a Bible commentary series, for the next passage from John chapter 6. I don’t have access to the Anchor Bible, so I’ll just use the RSV.

41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Webber, Fred Myron sermon 1988.08.14

Webber, Fred Myron sermon 1988.08.14 page 2

Webber, Fred Myron sermon 1988.08.14 page 3

Webber, Fred Myron sermon 1988.08.14 page 4

Webber, Fred Myron sermon 1988.08.14 page 5

Webber, Fred Myron sermon 1988.08.14 page 6

Webber, Fred Myron sermon 1988.08.14 page 7

For other posts about great-uncle Fred M. Webber, Abbie’s brother, visit his page.