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Alice Marian Parr Kinley Irish

Autobiography

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This is an interesting story written by a woman born in 1859 into a Linn county pioneering family. Alice saw difficulty from a very early age.  As an infant, her sick mother was unable to care for her or her siblings, causing them to be scattered among different homes. Adopted by the Kinley's, Alice grew up on a farm in Jasper County, Iowa. In this story she describes her childhood including interactions with local Indians, making maple syrup, and events around the civil war during which her adopted father was wounded and killed.  As an adult Alice returned to Linn County where she married, raised several children & lived out the remainder of her life.  From Alice's story we can truly learn a lot about early life in Iowa.

The following is an autobiography of Alice Marian Parr, written in 1932. The text presented below has been copied as written (spelling and format), with page numbers noted in parenthesis.  It was submitted to the Linn County GenWeb by Pam Duimstra 
 

(1)  SKETCH OF MY LIFE FROM MY BIRTH UP TO MY 73RD YEAR.  AM NO WRITER BUT PLEASE ACCEPT THIS AS A GIFT FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY WITH LOVE FROM MOTHER ALICE MARIAN IRISH.

     I WAS BORN 22 FEB 1859 IN LINN CO IA. IN A LOG-CABIN NEAR BUFFALO CREEK WHICH EMPTIES INTO THE WAPSIPINICON RIVER AT ANAMOSA IOWA.  MY FATHER & MOTHERS NAMES WERE LEONARD AND RUTH MARIAN PARR.  I HAD ONE BROTHER WHOSE NAME WAS WILLIAM.  HE WAS THE OLDEST OF US 4 CHILDREN.  NEXT TO WILLIAM CAME EMMA, THEN ELLA MAY AND I WAS THE YOUNGEST. WHEN I WAS A FEW DAYS OLD MY MOTHER WAS TAKEN VERY ILL WITH BRAIN FEVER WHICH LEFT HER IN NO SHAPE TO TAKE CARE OF HER HOME AND FAMILY.  SHE BECAME VERY WEAK AND MELINCHOLY AND NEGLECTED HER WORK.  MY FATHER WAS OBLIGED TO SEPERATE HIS LITTLE FAMILY AND MOTHER WENT TO MT. PLEASANT WHERE THEY WERE IN HOPES TO RESTORE HER MIND AND HEALTH. SHE HOWEVER LINGERED ALONG A FEW YEARS AT THAT PLACE AND DIED.  I DO NOT KNOW WHERE SHE WAS BURRIED. (2) SHE WAS RATHER TALL WITH DARK EYES AND HEAVY LONG DARK HAIR, I WAS TOLD.

     FATHER AT THAT TIME OWNED A GOOD FARM AND HAD CONSIDERABLE PROPERTY BUT HIS HOME TIES BEING BROKEN AND HIS FAMILY SCATTERED HE BECAME DISCOURAGED AND RESTLESS AND WHEN A COUSIN OF HIS SUGGESTED GOING TO CALIFORNIA TO THE GOLD MINES THEY DECIDED TO GO TOGETHER.  AT THE TIME OF THE SEPERATION OF OUR FAMILY SOME PEOPLE BY THE NAME OF SHAFER TOOK BROTHER WILLIAM WHO MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT 12 YEARS OF AGE AT THAT TIME.  WHEN HE BECAME A YOUNG MAN HE WENT TO CALIFORNIA AND MARRIED A CATHOLIC GIRL.  THEY HAD BORN TO THEM TWO GIRLS.  THE PRIEST AND A WOMAN RELATIVE OF WILLIAMS WIFE STARTED TROUBLE BETWEEN THEM WHICH RESULTED IN A DIVORCE.  WILLIAM CAME TO IOWA ON A VISIT.  THEN WENT TO MICH. AND MARRIED AGAIN WHILE THERE.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE HE IS NOW.  HE MAY NOT BE LIVING.

     (3) A FAMILY BY THE NAME OF BELTNAP IN ANAMOSA, TOOK SISTER EMMA TO THEIR HOME.  THEY WERE WEALTHY PEOPLE AND GAVE EMMA EVERY ADVANTAGE THAT A RICH MANS DAUGHTER HAS.  SHE LACKED NOTHING IN THE WAY OF FOOD CLOTHING AND EDUCATION EVEN HAD A PIANO AND MUSIC TEACHER.  SHE WAS VOTED THE BEST-LOOKING GIRL IN ANAMOSA FOR HER COMPLEXION WAS PERFECT, HER FORM LOVELY, HER HAIR THE COLOR OF GOLD, HER EYES A LOVELY BLUE. I NEVER SAW HER BUT I HAVE A NEIGHBOR, MRS GEO. PEETY WHO USED TO SEE HER QUITE OFTEN AND SAYS THAT SHE WAS A BEAUTIFUL GIRL.  SHE WROTE POEMS.  BUT THE SAD PART OF HER GIRLHOOD DAYS WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN FULL OF HAPPINESS (IF MRS. BELKNAP HAD BEEN A MOTHER TO HER) WERE MADE PERFECTLY UNBEARABLE BECAUSE MRS. BELKNAP WAS AN OLD MAID WHEN SHE MARRIED MR. BELKNAP AND THEY HAD NO CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN AND WITH HER SELFISH, JEALOUS DISPOSITION IT WAS WELL THAT SHE HAD NONE. (4) OF COURSE SHE HAD NO MOTHER-LOVE IN HER HEART.  SHE SCOLDED MY DEAR SISTER AND WHIPPED HER UNTIL THERE WERE PURPLE MARKS ON HER ARMS AND SHOULDERS IN FACT UNTIL THE BLOOD RUNS.  EMMAS SCHOOLMATES BEGGED HER TO TELL THEM WHAT CAUSED THOSE MARKS ON HER BODY.  UNTIL SHE SAID IF THEY WOULD NO LET MRS. BELKNAP HEAR OF IT SHE WOULD TELL THEM.

     MY MOTHER WHO RAISED ME STARTED WITH ME TO GO AND SEE MY SISTERS AND BEFORE WE GOT TO ANAMOSA WE LEARNED THAT THEY NEVER TOLD HER ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT HER OWN PEOPLE AND WOULD NOT ALLOW ANY OF THEM TO COME TO SEE HER.  BUT MY FATHERS SISTERS PEOPLE, AUNT SABRE CONKLIN AND HER SONS, IN SOME WAY LEARNED THAT MRS. BELKNAP WAS CRUEL TO EMMA.  FOR INSTANCE, EMMA AND A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS WELL RESPECTED THERE IN ANAMOSA WERE IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER, AND AS HE WAS A POOR MAN, SHE FORBID THEM EVEN SEEING EACH OTHER.

     EMMA LEFT HOME (5) (WHICH WAS REALLY MORE LIKE A PRISON) AS SHE HAD NO PRIVILIGES OR RIGHTS AS TO HER OWN HEARTS DESIRE.  SHE MET A MAN PERRY BROWN BY NAME.  HE ALMOST WORSHIPPED EMMA.  THEY WERE MARRIED.  THEY WERE QUITE HAPPY.  AFTER A YEAR OR SO PASSED BY, A BABY BOY CAME TO THEIR HOME, WHICH REJOYCED THEIR HEARTS FOR A SHORT TIME.  ONLY AS WHEN LITTLE BABY GUY WAS 11 DAYS OLD THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER WAS IN A WORLD WHERE THERE IS NO SICKNESS, SORROW, OR PAIN.  PERRY WAS ALMOST WILD WITH GRIEF.

     HIS MOTHER WHO WAS NOT KIND TO MY SISTER, TOOK LITTLE GUY AND RAISED HIM AND THE LITTLE FELLOW NEVER WAS TOLD ANYTHING ABOUT HIS MOTHER AND WHEN HE WAS OLD ENUF TO READ HE READ THE NAME EMMA BROWN ON MY SISTER TOMBSTONE AND ASKED WHO WAS EMMA BROWN, YOUR MOTHER.  WHEN GUY WAS A YOUNG MAN HE WORKED AND PAID FOR HIS OWN COLLEGE EDUCATION.  A GIRL THAT HE LOVED, PROVED FALSE, HE JOINED THE STANDING ARMY.  I HEAR NO MORE OF HIM OR HIS WHEREABOUTS.

     (6)  LEONARD NOYES AND WIFE, YANKEE PEOPLE AND WELL TO DO FARMERS ADOPTED MY SISTER ELLA MAY.  THEY SENT HER TO SCHOOL AND SHE HAD EVERYTHING FOR BODILY COMFORT.   ALSO MR. NOYES'S HAD A DAUGHTER DELIA.  SHE WAS JEALOUS OF MY SISTER AND TREATED HER WITH CONTEMPT.  SHE HAD A BROTHER Laverne WHO WAS A GENIUS.  HE BECAME ONE OF CHICAGO'S MULTIMILLIONAIRE'S.  GAVE FREELY OF HIS MONEY TO HIS WORKMEN AND DONATED LARGE SUMS OF MONEY TO CHICAGO FOR THE BEAUTIFYING OF PARKS.  OWNED SPLENDED MARBLE FRONT HOUSES IN CHI. BUT WHEN HE DIED AND HIS PROPERTY AND MONEY WAS DIVIDED NOT ONE CENT CAME TO HIS ADOPTED SISTER ELLA MAY NOYES.  THEY VERY THOTFULLY NEGLECTED SIGNING THE ADOPTION PAPERS.  SO MY SISTER WAS NOT A PARR, WAS NOT A NOYES (IN WRITING).

     (7) WHEN SHE BECAME A YOUNG WOMAN SHE TAUGHT DISTRICT SCHOOL AND EARNED HER OWN LIVING.  SHE WAS A GOOD LOOKING GIRL, RATHER TALL AND IN GOOD FLESH.  DARK BROWN EYES, AUBURN HAIR, QUITE A ROSEY COLOR ON HER CHEEKS.  WAS A GOOD MIXER WITH YOUNG PEOPLE.  THE PEOPLE WHO RAISED ME TOOK ME TO SEE HER ONCE WHEN SHE WAS 13 YRS OLD.  I WAS 11.  WHEN I WAS 17 YRS OLD, SHE CAME FROM HER HOME AT NOYES'S (WHICH WAS ON A FARM NORTHWEST OF SPRINGVILLE, IA ABOUT 3 MI) TO NEWTON, IA. WHERE I LIVED AT THAT TIME.

     ELLA WAS ENGAGED TO MARRY ISRAEL MASON IRISH BUT THEY BROKE THE ENGAGEMENT AND SHE MARRIED AN ENGLISHMAN WHO CAME FROM NEW YORK CITY WITH A LOT OF ORPHAN BOYS, WHO WERE BROUGHT OUT HERE TO LINN CO TO FIND HOMES..  A MAN BY THE NAME OF HORACE BROWN, RAISED HIM.  MR BROWN WAS A WEALTHY FARMER, HAD IN HIS HOME A WIFE (NO CHILDREN) A MOTHER AN AUNT, A NIECE, A NEPHEW, AN OLD IRISHMAN WHO WAS (8) HANDYMAN, AND THE SOURSE OF A LOT OF AMUSEMENT BY HIS EVER READY WITTY SPEACHES.  HENRY DANKER WAS THE ENGLISHMANS NAME.  PAT ONCE SAID WHILE WE WERE VISITING AT BROWNS, WELL MISTER BROWN AND HENRY & I CAN GO WEST AND RUN A BIG RANCH.  BROWN CAN DO THE HEAD WORK, DANKER CAN DO THE HAND WORK & I CAN DO THE JUG WORK.

     MR BROWN ONCE SOLD A FAT STEER & TOLD PAT TO TAKE HIM TO HIS OWNER AND BRING BACK THE MONEY.  HE TOOK THE STEER TO THE RIGHT PLACE & HIMSELF TO A SALOON AND WHEN HE CAME HOME MR BROWN SAID.  HELLO! PAT, WHERE'S THE MONEY?  PAT BEGAN TO BLUBBER.  AN SHURE, AN I WISHT THE DAMN STEER HAD DIED WHEN HE WAS A CALF.  THEY JUST LAUGHED AND FORGAVE HIM BECAUSE HE WAS, OUTSIDE OF THAT ONE FAULT OF GETTING FULL, A GOOD FELLOW.

     WHEN HENRY AND MY SISTER WERE MARRIED THEY HAD VERY LITTLE MONEY.  MR NOYES WAS PLANNING ON GIVING ELLA A 40 ACRE PIECE OF TIMBERLAND TO CLEAR OFF AND MAKE THEM A HOME. (9) BUT MRS NOYES SAID IF ANY ONE GETS A DEED TO THAT LAND IT WILL BE ME.  HENRY'S RENTED LAND HERE IN LINN CO FOR AWHILE.  TWO BOYS WERE BORN HERE, FLOYD AND FAY.  THEN THEY WENT TO KANSAS, TOOK UP A CLAIM, PLANTED A PEACH ORCHARD.  HAD NO CROP OF AND KIND, GRASSHOPPERS CAME.  HAD NOTHING TO FEED THEIR TEAM BUT CORN. NOT MUCH TO EAT THEMSELVES, NOT EVEN SALT.  ONE BOY BORN WHILE OUT THERE.

     CAME BACK TO IOWA STARTED WITH COVERED WAGON AND THEIR LITTLE BUNCH OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS & CLOTHING NOT MUCH OF THAT.  THEIR HORSES WERE BOTH BLIND.  ONE MARE HAD A COLT.  HENRY TRADED HER AND HER COLT FOR A LARGER BETTER HORSE WITH ONE GOOD EYE.  WHEN THEY ARRIVED AT THE HOME PLACE WHERE ELLA WAS RAISED, HENRY WAS SO SICK HE WENT TO BED AND ELLA WENT ACROSS THE ROAD TO A NEIGHBORS AND SHE, TOO, WAS DOWN BEDFAST AND THEY WERE SO POOR AND STARVED THAT I WOULDN'T HAVE KNOWN THEM IF I HAD MET THEM ANY WHERE ELSE. AFTER AWHILE THEY WERE ABLE TO GO TO SEE THEIR OLD ACQUAINTANCES AND FRIENDS. WHO DID NOT SEEM OVERYJOYED TO MEET THEM.

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