Grandpa and Grandma were married by the Rev. Elmer Smith on Wednesday, the 3rd of January 1934, in Knox County (Vincennes), Indiana. Grandma told me that her best friend Gwendolyn Norton and her brother Ralph were the witnesses. They all climbed into a car and puttered over to Vincennes. I once asked grandma if it was snowing that day and she said that it had been earlier in the day and so it took the four of them a while to make it there.
Grandpa didn't have much money but he did get Grandma a simple tiny silver band. I have this band in my possession now and it is indeed a tiny thing -- my pudgy German fingers certainly can't wear it! -- and nearly worn through with age. I can't wear it because although my grandmother and I are just about the same size (she was about 4'10" and I am only 5'0") I inherited my mother's German body type more than my grandma's delicate French bone structure. Oh, I see my grandmother when I look at my arms, and my mother says that I walk like she did, but for the most part I've taken on the thicker and rounder barrel look of the German woman, hah! Anyway, I love feeling grandma's wedding band in my fingers. It's such a delicate piece. I can't look at it, ever, without picturing it in its proper place on grandma's hand.
Grandma and grandpa settled on the "old home place" once they married. This land had been inherited by my grandfather and his brothers Roy and Emerson from their aunt Missouri when she passed away in 1931. The land was originally 40 acres (the SE 1/4 of S2, T6N, R2W) and has been in my family since 7 Nov 1831, when my 4th-g-grandfather John Nichols purchased the land from Wilson Lagow. John's son Joseph purchased another 220 acres but bought and sold and by the 1930's the land had whittled down to 120 acres that Joseph deeded to his daughter Missouri Ann. Upon her death Missouri's land was split three ways. Grandma told me she encouraged Grandpa to buy the land instead of letting his brothers sell it away so he went ahead and bought it.
My aunt Martha Ann was born at the house on 16 October 1934. When I was first gathering all my genealogy data I remember writing down Aunt Martha's date of birth and doing some quick calculating. I then glanced over at grandma and pointed out to her that there was barely nine months between Martha Ann's birth and the date of their marriage, all the while giving her a rather knowing grin. She snorted with amusement and said, rather indignantly, "I had nine days of grace!" That sure did make me laugh!
So grandma and grandpa had their daughter Martha Ann within the first year of their marriage and boy, was she ever the apple of their eye. Since they'd waited until their 30's to get married childbirth wasn't something that grandma had planned to do a lot of. I remember her saying once that Martha's birth was a difficult one and that she'd almost died. The experience, she said, had the effect of making her very wary of having more children.
I have a few pictures of the family at that time and I've posted a few here. The first (to the left, above) was taken about 1938 and shows my grandpa proudly holding his little girl. I love this picture of my grandfather, I think he's a very handsome man. There's something William Holden-ish about him in this picture!
The second picture was taken about 1940 and shows the whole family. I think it's safe to say that grandma was pregnant again in this shot but it's fun to speculate whether she even knew it. She sure does look happy though!
True to her word, grandma did not seek to have any more children after Martha was born and she didn't get pregnant for years thereafter. I never asked her if she was intentionally careful, if she just got lucky, or if moving into her late 30's had anything to do with it. Having had a brush with death myself during an operation (and a difficult birth with my own daughter) I can certainly relate to my grandma's fears and hesitations. Giving birth wasn't a walk in the park for anyone at that time and apparently grandma wasn't really built for it. She was lucky to have survived Martha's birth (and especially my father's, but that story will come later.)
Of course grandma did get pregnant again with my father at the age of 40. This pregnancy was one of those so-called 'change of life' babies. It was ironic that this happened to her because my grandma's mother was 40 when she gave birth to my grandma. Like mother, like daughter? My aunt Martha was six when my grandmother learned that she was pregnant with my father and almost seven when he was born.
His birth and their life after that next time!
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