Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Treasure Hunting

For almost a year now, I have had two large boxes of old color slides sitting in my livingroom from my last trip to visit my dad. Along with the slides came a slide viewing table and a slide projector. One of my scanners has a place to put slides but I haven't been very impressed with the quality. The process of trying to search through these slides in the midst of my schedule plus the cumbersome setup required just to look at the slides, let alone save them to my computer seemed too much. My eyes are not good enough to use the light table anymore and setting up the projector and then transfering the one or two slides I want out of the tray and into my computer was too complicated! It was definitely like hunting buried treasure!

For Christmas this year, Emily and Dave got me a slide converter that quickly puts the slides on my computer for viewing and saving. All I have to do is put the slides in the tray and slide it into the little machine that is already hooked to my computer. The slide pops up in live view so I can quickly decide if I want it or not. If I don't, I slide to the next one and if I do, I save it with one click. In the last week I have had to fight off the urge to sit down and open "just one more" tray of slides many times a day. Here is one of my favorites, so far.

My grandmother, Frances Dibbens and Vera Johnson, my mother
This picture was taken on the Royal Gorge Bridge near Canon City, Colorado about 1952. The reason I like it so much is that it seems so natural and lets me imagine them stepping out of the car on a chilly day to walk along the same bridge I have explored a couple of times since. They are wearing everyday clothes that I might not see in a more formal shot. This was about 3 years before I was born.

More treasures to come!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Still Standing

The Dibbens homestead is still standing and used! Over 100 years ago, the two story kit home was ordered and brought to the Dibbens land between Cheney and Murdock by wagon. I've heard there is a picture in Souders Museum of the arrival of their house. That's a picture I would love to see. The house was not a little cabin. It was a 2 story home complete with dormer windows and a bay window.

I have a feeling the arrival of the kit was very exciting for the Dibbens family, who were living in a dugout on the land at that time. I'm sure it was big news among the neighbors, also!

The river chased away many of the residents since Arthur Dibbens, Sr. died in 1932. After sitting vacant for 20 years in the 80's and 90's, it has had one owner for the last 10 years. The last time I had passed the house, I wasn't sure it was original. I stopped along the country road and snapped pictures from there. There were varying stories among contemporary family members about the location of the original homestead.

Enter cousin, Carmen and her sister Marcia, who compiled the Field genealogy book that first piqued my interest in genealogy more that 15 years ago. Marcia has more information than I do about the Dibbens side. They are the two daughters of my great uncle Preston. We spent a day this summer talking genealogy, visiting cemeteries in the area and getting better acquainted.

After a few hours of visiting and digging into the past on paper, Marcia and I took off to visit some sites for ourselves. We visited Pleasant Valley School where the Dibbens children, including my grandpa, Forest, attended school. I have an old picture of them standing on wagons outside the school. Standing in the field next to the building, I realized that as they stood on the wagon, they would have been able to see their home, which sat a couple hundred yards from the house shown above. The only thing left of their home now is the silo shown in my last post.

After visiting the school, we drove to the old Dibbens homestead. This time, with strength in numbers, we knocked on the door and talked to the owners. They let us take pictures of the house and promised to send us some pictures of the floor they had just uncovered. The old carpet was covering the original wood floors! Can you imagine? This house has stood against floods, teenage ghost hunters, a small fire or two and time and is still standing.

Here is a picture of the house as it looked last week:

The owners asked us to not look too closely at the front porch as they are in the middle of a big remodeling project. They bought the home knowing that it is pretty old so they were very interested in it's history.

They sent some pictures of the wood floor. I think it must have been beautiful and probably will be again. Here is a picture that shows the design.
Another fun genealogy day!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chance Meetings

Sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time.

A couple of weeks ago, cousin Glenna and I drove to Cheney to go to the Sedgwick County Fair. We stopped at Souders Historical Museum before lunch and looked around. There is a whole wall, in one building, of pictures from about 75 years ago taken in Murdock, Kansas. As we were starting to leave, we met Mrs. Baker, a member of the Souders family who helps run the museum. We asked her if she knew the Rutkowski's and found out she had run the general store in the 40's with G Aunt Eva! She said it was just the two of them during the war and they took care of everything. Small world!

She also knew where the Dibbens' homestead was. She said the house is still standing and being lived in after 20 years of being vacant. It was the site of many Halloween gatherings by the local teens during that time. She said it flooded many times over the years because of how close it is to the river. After getting directions, we started off for the site. It was only 4 or 5 miles from the museum on Norwich Road.

When we got there, we found a silo on the west side of the road all by itself in the middle of an empty field. It seemed familiar like I had seen it in a picture. (yes, I had) On the other side of the road was a farm very close to the river. I stopped along the road and and snapped some pictures but had no idea if I was looking at the right house.

I love mysteries! That's why I love genealogy, I guess.