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Read some of the old letters between ancestors and get a good idea of how they lived and what they cared about.

1943_05_09_Viola_Meredith_Runyon_1.jpg (140004 bytes) Viola Meredith Runyon to Jackie Gander
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1940s_Nora_Bernard_Cavanaugh_2.jpg (71675 bytes) Christmas in the early 1940's. A Christmas card from Bernard and Nora Cavanaugh to Nora's sister Gertrude Jarboe
1940s_Nora_Bernard_Cavanaugh_1.jpg (104101 bytes) Inside letter from Nora to Gertrude
1949_12_12_Nora_houseworries.jpg (202734 bytes) December 12, 1949:  Letter from Nora Cavanaugh to her sister Gertrude Jarboe.  Nora is discussing where she can move to live and having her sister Annie move down from San Francisco.  This letter was sent from 636 Robinson Street in Los Angeles
1956_01_02_Anna_Laura_Bell_1.jpg (143290 bytes) January 2, 1956:  Letter from Anna Laura Bell to her niece Josephine Gander.  Written from 2061 N. New Hampshire, Los Angeles.  At this time, three of the Bell sisters were living together at this address:  Anna Laura (Annie), Agnes Kendrick (Aggie), Nora Cavanaugh.
1956_01_02_Anna_Laura_Bell_2.jpg (168352 bytes) Page 2 of the letter
1956_01_02_Anna_Laura_Bell_3.jpg (165539 bytes) Page 3 of the letter
1956_01_02_Anna_Laura_Bell_4.jpg (186023 bytes) Page 4 of the letter
WR_Bell_10_29_1940.jpg (156685 bytes) October 29, 1940, from William Robert Bell, Greenfield, Missouri, to Gertrude Bell Jarboe and daughter Anna Lou Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Willie was Gertrude's half-brother.  

Willie tells about his recent birthday party where he invited black neighbors to attend and talks about how his attitude has changed about race relations.

He also talks about how he has willed his interest in the Bell farm to Loutie.

WR_Bell_10_19_1940.jpg (96733 bytes) October 19, 1940:  The document mentioned in the letter above where WR Bell wills his interest in the Bell farm to his half-sister Loutie Bell Volmer.
WR_Bell_10_18_1941.jpg (281000 bytes) October 18, 1941, from William Robert Bell, Greenfield, Missouri, to Gertrude Bell Jarboe and daughter Anna Lou Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Willie was Gertrude's half-brother. 

Willie talks about some work he has been doing on his chicken houses, discusses a religious chain letter, tells how he gets up at 4:00 am every day to say the whole rosary, mentions the final sale of the Bell homestead to Joe Volmer's daughter and remembers a great flood of 1885 where he enjoyed playing in the river.

WR_Bell_11_3_1942.jpg (57911 bytes) November 3, 1942:  A brief post card from Willie Bell to Gertrude Jarboe.  Mentions that he is looking for a letter from her about a visit and discusses the problems of gasoline rationing (due to World War II).
WR_Bell_3_19_1943.jpg (222736 bytes) March 19, 1943, William Robert Bell, Greenfield, Missouri, to Gertrude Bell Jarboe and daughter Anna Lou Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Willie was Gertrude's half-brother.  

Willie discusses some general matters at home including troubles feeding pigs and the cost of wheat and the price hogs bring.  He has had to go great lengths to get to Mass as the local priest has lost his voice.  Talks about his daughter Alice and her family.  Also talks about Calvin, the son of Anna Clopton who was staying with him.

WR_Bell_8_1_1943.jpg (211679 bytes) August 1, 1943, William Robert Bell, Greenfield, Missouri, to Gertrude Bell Jarboe and daughter Anna Lou Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Willie was Gertrude's half-brother.  

Willie talks about general farming issues with prices of grain.  Has had a letter from Della who is expecting a baby.  Apparently she was going to name the baby William Dell or it's a little joke.  Anyway, Thomas Adelbert Ream was born about six weeks after this letter.  He also discusses difficulties getting travel on the Railroad, probably due to WWII traffic and about the boy Calvin Clopton who is in the Army.

WR_Bell_11_19_1943.jpg (190141 bytes) November 19, 1943,William Robert Bell, Greenfield, Missouri, to Gertrude Bell Jarboe and daughter Anna Lou Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Willie was Gertrude's half-brother.  

Just a general newsy letter about his family, letters from sisters Agnes and Rose, a visit from daughter Alice with her son and daughter-in-law and all of them going Quail hunting.

WR_Bell_11_8_1949.jpg (225829 bytes) November 8, 1949, from William Robert Bell, Greenfield, Missouri, to Gertrude Bell Jarboe and daughter Anna Lou Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Willie was Gertrude's half-brother.  

This letter is about Bishop Marling visiting St. Patrick church and then the Bishop and 9 priests had dinner with Willie.  Also covers surgeries for his daughter and son-in-law, Alice and Clyde Morris.

WR_Bell_12_8_1949.jpg (84783 bytes) December 8, 1949, from William Robert Bell, Greenfield, Missouri, to Gertrude Bell Jarboe and daughter Anna Lou Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Willie was Gertrude's half-brother.  The letter mentions that he had gone by Jacksonville (Illinois) on his way home.  This would be to visit his daughter Alice Bell Morris.  He talks about Anna (Clopton) who was either his housekeeper or a step-daughter, his first wife Mattie Smith Bell having died in 1926.  Keep in mind when reading this letter that Willie was already 87 years old when he wrote this.  His letters were always so full of activity that he never seemed like an old man.  He died in July 1951.
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December 14, 1949, from Rose Bell Bowles in Liberal, Kansas, to her sister Gertrude (Gertie) Bell Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Gertie's daughter Anna Lou Jarboe was living at home with Gertie at the time.  Rose and Gertie's half-brother Willie Bell had recently been to visit Gertie (see letter above).  Rose's daughter Leta Gertrude Bowles Burns was living in Texas with seven children.  Gertie was apparently recovering from some unidentified illness or difficulty.  Gertie's daughter Lillian was living in Seguin, Texas.  Although Rose signed the letter "Your aged sister and Aunty", she went on to live another 18 years, living to be 97 years old.
WR_Bell_6_12_1950.jpg (245508 bytes) June 12, 1950, from William Robert Bell, Greenfield, Missouri, to Gertrude Bell Jarboe and daughter Anna Lou Jarboe in Monroe City, Missouri.  Willie was Gertrude's half-brother.  This letter lays out a trip that he has planned for July and August by train to Liberal, Kansas, Los Angeles San Francisco, Utah, Denver, St. Louis and so on.  A 30 day trip by train for a man almost 88 years old.  He did take this trip pretty much as planned.  He had asked his half-sister Rose Bell Bowles if she wanted to go along but she declined due to poor health.  This letter also talks about his 300 chickens, a broken washing machine and how he and Anna make money selling popcorn on the street.
  The next 15 slides are a series of letters following Willie's trip to California and a separate trip by Charles and Rose Bell Bowles.
Siblings_9_1950_01.jpg (77431 bytes) September 29, 1950.  A letter from Nora Bell Cavanaugh to Willie Bell, then his note on the bottom forwarding it to Gertrude Bell Jarboe.  He forwarded the letter he got from Nora dated September 26th and the letter Rose Bell Bowles wrote to Anna Laura Bell on September 11th, which had then been passed on to Nora who sent it to Willie.
Siblings_9_1950_02.jpg (129332 bytes) September 26, 1950.  Page 1 of 3. Nora Bell Cavanaugh in Los Angeles writing to Willie Bell in Greenfield, MO.  She writes about an outdoor pageant at the Hollywood bowl for the 100 year anniversary of the founding of California.  She mentions Charlene (?) and Isabel (possibly daughter of Agnes Bell Kendrick)
Siblings_9_1950_03.jpg (121980 bytes) September 26, 1950.  Page 2 of 3.  Nora continues talking about the celebration and the Los Angeles County Fair.  Talks about Fred McMurray's prize cattle.  Then tells Willie that she always remembers his dead wife Mattie every morning at communion.  She goes on to detail her communion list of dead loved ones:  husband Bernard, parents Tom and Louise Bell, brothers Tommy and Emory Bell, sister Mary Alice Bell, Bernard's parents, Dr. Cavanaugh, Matthew Cavanaugh, Annie Smith, John McAndrew (Loutie's husband), Mattie Bell, Sally Taylor (her mother's sister), Florence Bell Smith (Emory's daughter)
Siblings_9_1950_04.jpg (129187 bytes) September 26, 1950. Page 3 of 3.  Communion list continued:  Margaret Cavanaugh, Mayme Cavanaugh, Albert Kendrick (Agnes's husband), Ella Saunders (her mother's sister), Joe Volmer (Loutie's second husband), Dell Jarboe (Gertie's husband), Nellie Bell (Emory's wife), and Will Beechwood (Mary Alice Bell's husband).  Then she gives a prayer for those in purgatory, which she says is what her husband Bernard used to pray for at communion.
Siblings_9_1950_05.jpg (140301 bytes) September 11, 1950.  Page 1 of 8.  Letter from Rose Bell Bowles in Liberal, Kansas to her sister Anna Laura Bell in San Francisco.

She writes about Willie's visit to see her in August and then starts talking about a trip she is getting ready to take with husband Charles and daughter Cecelia (Peg) to Missouri and Charles birth place in Illinois.  She and Charles are both 80 years old at the time of this letter.  Yet, she writes that Charles has worked so steady and not had any vacation for two years!

Siblings_9_1950_06.jpg (152401 bytes) Page 2 of 8.  More information about how they will leave the next week for Loutie's in St. Paul, Kansas and then on to Missouri and Illinois.  Explains that she really doesn't like to travel and is happy staying home saying her prayers and listening to the radio.  Also says she can't hear well.
Siblings_9_1950_07.jpg (152043 bytes) Page 3 of 8.  Rose wishes she could have gone on the trip west with Willie, as he had asked, but says she wasn't well enough for such a trip.  She talks about the weather being so dry that the wheat crop is a failure but now it is raining and the maize and kaffir? crops are not maturing before the frost.
Siblings_9_1950_08.jpg (160713 bytes) Page 4 of 8.  She wonders how Willie's trip went after he left her place on August 4th as no one wrote.  She admires how well he is.  Talks about son Tom's step-daughter visiting for two weeks and about the travels of Tom and his family.
Siblings_9_1950_09.jpg (143076 bytes) Page 5 of 8.  Continues talking about the travels of Tom and family then mentions daughter Mary going to Wichita on insurance business, leaving Thelma (Rose's daughter-in-law) to take care of the office.  Thelma was married to Rose's son George who is in the hospital at this time at Wadsworth for more x-ray treatments.  He hopes to be home by Oct 1st.  He has only been able to work a little bit.
Siblings_9_1950_10.jpg (148974 bytes) Page 6 of 8.  Continues talking about George's illness and his treatment [He died less than a year after this letter on August 30, 1951.  Not sure what type of cancer or illness he had.  She mentions bumps coming back and temperature rising.] 

Says that her brother Emory's son Joe Bell and wife visited recently from Albuquerque.

Siblings_9_1950_11.jpg (143449 bytes) Page 7 of 8.  Talks about trips daughter Mary has taken but doesn't mention places.  Talks about husband Charles' health and says he looks 50 years younger than she does.
Siblings_9_1950_12.jpg (164231 bytes) Page 8 of 8.  Talks about daughter Leta visiting with four of her children and Leta's husband being taken to a Doctor at the time she got home from a 500 mile drive so she had to milk all 24 cows.  Husband Joe is doing OK now.  Leta's son Joe Lane is working for the telephone company in Dallas and daughter Rose Mary is in Fort Worth nursing school.  Youngest child Virginia starts school and will be six in December.  

Closes by telling about how her gladiolas bloomed and asks Annie to write a long letter to her.

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January 20, 1956, from Nora Bell Cavanaugh at 2061 N. New Hampshire Avenue, Los Angeles California, to her niece Bernadette Jarboe Kelly at 601 South Davis, Monroe City, Missouri.  This is a newsy letter that covers a lot of ground.  Apparently Bernadette had found some cloth in the family bible and has written to ask if it could be from someone's wedding dress.  This leads to a detailed description of the cloth in the wedding dresses of each Bell daughter.  It appears that the family bible also contained some embroideries made by John Thomas Bell's first wife, Mary Alice Eddings.  Then there is a discussion of a long lost letter by their father John Thomas Bell's sister Susanna Bell Jarboe and some griping that Nora's sister Loutie didn't save that letter or the newspaper that had Nora's wedding announcement in it.  She worries about what has happened to Loutie's only child Gertrude McAndrew as no one got a card from her at Christmas.

Second page has Nora saying she's been sick with liver problems and missed mass four days last week.  She notes that the two sisters living with her at the time Anna Laura (Annie) and Susan Agnes (Aggie) have healthy appetites and they are hoping that Aggie's application for old age pension goes through.  She recounts seeing her dead husband Bernard in a visit just before Christmas.  Lastly, she wishes Bernadette's sister Josephine well at the birth of Alice Bell Gander, born earlier that month.

Nora's sister Annie Bell died  just four months after this letter was written.  Nora died in November, 1957.  Aggie went on living in Los Angeles until her death in 1964.

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September 26, 1961, from John Jacob Beechwood, Sr. in Jobstown, New Jersey, to Bernadette Jarboe Kelly in Monroe City, Missouri.  John is answering a sympathy letter from Bernadette after the death of his sister Mary Beechwood Coverdale in July, 1961.  Another sister Viola Beechwood had died in June, 1961 while the sisters were on a trip to Europe.  The wish stated here to bring Viola's body to the family plot from England was never realized due to lack of embalming.

The ardent fox hunter referred to in the letter is almost certainly Clifford Gander.  


  The papers below will be moved soon to a separate "Research Room" page.

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