Memories of Samuel and Nancy Ellen Cain


The following was written by Evelyn Lewis Walters in answer to my questions to her about her memories of Grandpa and Grandma Cain.  I received this  on  November 23, 2000


Some of my first memories ever — was our move from north of Clifton to north of Clyde.  Mother drove a lumber wagon loaded with furniture and me beside her; while Dad and brother George rode horseback and drove a herd of cattle.  This was the first day of March 1920 (moving day on the farms at that time).

Mother’s parents, Samuel & Ellen Cain (never heard her called Nancy) lived east and north of Clifton on the Cusic farm.  I believe I could almost take you to it today.  There was no doubt 10-15 miles between the two homes.  In my memory the Grandparents had a car.  We drove a springwagon and two horses or rode horseback.  I remember what a big day it was when the Grands became the proud owners of a new Model A.  What kind of car they had before that I do not know — only they always had a car.

During the fall, corn shucking time I was left with the grandparents. Sometimes June was also there.  Uncle Charlie and Aunt Martha lived in Vining.  Everything was fine as long as June stayed, but when I was alone, there were mice in my bed.  We were sleeping on a mattress cover filled with corn shucks and as I was afraid of the dark and upstairs alone every little noise frightened me.  This was between 1920 and 1922 as I started to school then.

On the farm the water for the house had to be carried up quite a hill and it was a long block or so.  Grandmother carried water and did all the necessary things about the house.  She was not a big woman and rather wiry with rusty colored hair coiled in a knot on top of her head.  Grandad was a big man, I would guess well over 6 feet tall and just a big man, not fat.  He wore a full beard until one day!! He was in the habit of resting after his lunch and laid down on a couch and read his paper falling asleep.  His breathing would make the paper go up and down which tickled us kids.  He was very hard of hearing and Grandmother would say he only hears what he wants to.  One day as he lay on the couch (she was annoyed at him because he wouldn’t get rid of his beard) she grabbed the scissors and cut the beard off.  He got up and went to the barber and was shaved, but always wore a large mustache. He never shaved himself, always going in to Clifton to the barber. That couch was about 30 inches wide with an oak base, a raised head piece and covered in black or brown leather.  There were no springs or soft padding.

The barber cut a growth on Grandad’s cheek, and as time passed cut it many times.  A growth about the size of a large marshmallow grew right in the hollow of his cheek. He and my mother went over to Savannah, Missouri to have the growths removed.  All were cancerous and Granddad’s had eaten almost through his cheek.  They told how they could feel the poultice pulling out the roots.  This was before cancer treatments per se other than cutting them out.  They neither had recurrence in the same place.

I do not know when they moved to Vining after living on the Cusic farm.  They had lived on farms in the area after settling in Kansas.  My mother was born on a farm east of Twin Mounds (an area) in Cloud County.  Grandad’s sister Leticia Wheeler lived in Miltonvale, which would have been relatively close to Twin Mounds.  There were several Wheeler children.  The two I knew most about was Lola, who married Fred Lynas.  They had two children Raymond and Dorothy.  There was about 15 years difference in their age.  Dorothy, June and I were together some. There was Dell and Dallas Wheeler. This is all very hazy and I shouldn’t even mention them.  Grandad’s brother, Ben,  lived at Concordia for a while, Carrie says.  Since she is 12 years older she remembers.  He returned to Illinois to live, and his son Palmer brought him to Kansas to visit several times during the years.  Esther corresponded with Palmer over the years.  Another Cain family came to Kansas to work in the oilfields, that was Gerald (Claude) and wife and 2 sons.  Gerald(youngest son) and his older son(Donald)  were killed in an oilfield accident.

There were two birth dates used in these clippings for Grandad. However, his death certificate shows 1852. Carrie and I think that is correct, as we remembered his being quite a bit older than Ellen who was born in 1860.  Framed certificate hung on the wall by the front door at their home in Vining concerning another child’s death — Robbie I think.  There was also another child that died.  I assume that they are buried in the Vining Cemetery.

It was my understanding that the Cain’s were instrumental in the starting and functioning of the Christian church in Vining. That little white church stood just east of Uncle Charlie’s house in my memory. I think the grandparents had lived there at one time.  Estella and Emma spent lots of time working as janitors for the little church.  One of the big jobs, according to mother was keeping the lamps filled with kerosene and the wicks trimmed and the chimneys clean.  Lamps always smoked up the chimney when there was a draft in the room which was often as people came and went in the church.

Mother graduated from high school in spring of 1900 and she married Merion Harvey Lewis on Halloween 1900 and they lived to have their 50th anniversary. She lived until November 6, 1953.  She had a stroke and was paralyzed July 3 and was taken from Concordia hospital by ambulance to my home in Lawrence, Kansas.  Ken has begun to build a room on to our house and he hurried and finished it, so that we would have a room for her.  She never was able to speak after the stroke, but made over the children by making little cooing sounds.  Larry was almost 2 and Cathy 3 ½ and Cheri 8. Ken worked away from home most of the time. I had help that came in during the day 5 days a week. Carrie and Leo came from Kansas City on the weekends to help. (I have mother’s memory book given to her 1900)

The Cain family (Sam) came to Kansas in 1880. Grandad and a friend had ridden horseback from Illinois to Kansas to explore and see if they wanted to live there.  Granddad went back to Illinois and married Grandmother and they came back to Kansas.  Mother was born in 1882 in the Twin Mounds area of Cloud County.

The friend that came to Kansas lived near Vliets or Bigalow.  I’m not sure which.  I can remember visiting him with my parents in a little wood shack with very little to live with.  We called him Uncle, but children always used a title of respect.  This would have been in the late 1920’s. He was not related to the family.

I’m not sure when the grandparents moved back to Vining after living on the Cusic farm.  That is where most of my memories were from – Vining.  We would visit and they would visit us at Clyde.  Grandad always had peppermints in his pocket for us.  You know the kind?  They were about as large as a nickel and about a quarter of an inch thick and white in color.  When he finally had some pink ones, that was heaven.  Granddad was the Justice of the Peace in Vining. Being a large man he gained respect and if he grabbed someone they did not escape easily. All the kids in town loved him.

Grandmother was always busy and found a use for everything.  She made quilts from scraps from which her aprons and dresses were made.  After an article of clothing had been worn out there, were still some areas without much wear and those were utilized in her quilts. She was of Scotch ancestry and her auburn hair and saving ways showed up.  Grandmother gave a watch to each Grandchild when they graduated from high school, until June, Volney and myself all graduated in the same year, 1934.  She made a quilt for each of us.  She lived with my parents after she was no longer able to care for herself and spent the last few months in a nursing home.  She died in 1948.

I really have no recollection of time events in regard to Uncle Charlie and Aunt Martha Dawson Cain. I spent as much time as I could with June, and Bud was always a little pest hanging around.  There was a story — One summer day Aunt Martha was expecting the iceman to deliver 25 lbs of ice, as she had her card in the window designating 25 lbs. When he came to the door with 50, she inquired why — he said Buddy said you wanted 50 lbs of ice.  Buddy spoke up “No Buddy didn’t say 50 lbs of ice — Buddy can’t say 50 lbs of ice.”  The iceman usually had some little slivers of ice that kids could have.

The Woodruffs moved to Oklahoma and we seldom saw them. We did make a trip to Watonga in 1926 and Uncle Charlie took me along the next summer when they visited Aunt Emma’s. We got to go to Oklahoma City and saw our first talking movie.  Janet Gaynor in Smiling Irish Eyes.

Harold and Jack did not move to Oklahoma when the family did. Uncle Charlie and Harold did paperhanging and painting.  They were always busy and did a lot of it for our family too.  Jack lived with our family a lot and helped my Dad on the farm.  Harold and Alice were good to the Grandparents and took them to Oklahoma and Illinois for visits.

After I left home, and lived in Washington DC and later Washington State I completely lost out on Cain family.  Harold would give us a little news when he had any.  We visited Harold in a retirement home just a few months before his death.

These are my memories at the moment.  I will include pictures that I have.  If you have questions a memory might jar loose.

Love Evelyn

The End – Written by Evelyn Lewis Walters November 23, 2000 about her grandparents, Samuel and Nancy Ellen Cain.




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