The town of Cherryvale was nestled among the gentle sloping hills of southeastern Kansas. The town was aptly named for wild cherry trees bloomed every spring and an outpouring of wildflowers graced the landscape. By 1886, the railroad boom provided an atmosphere of adventure as this town began growing. The St. Louis-San Francisco Railway along with the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway had laid its tracks into this upcoming hamlet. Many businesses flourished and helped establish this developing area. Cherryvale had its own privately owned fire station. The town had six different brick factories; so many streets, sidewalks and buildings were built from sun-dried bricks. The city made use of the natural gas from the oil fields, for it was an inexpensive source of fuel. Electric streetcars ran the course of Main Street and provided access to the local businesses. Cherryvale had a bank, churches, and a school. This growing community boasted three newspapers, The Herald and the Cherryvale Torch, and the Cherryvale Republican. It even had its very own opera house. The population had grown to about 2400, and life flourished in Cherryvale.
This was the world that greeted my great grandmother, Annie Strassburg. She was born on January 16, 1892 in Cherryvale, Montgomery, Kansas. Her father, William (Wilhelm) Strassburg, was 39 years old, and her mother Ellsa La Duke Strassburg was 27 years old at the time of her daughter’s birth. The infant had three older siblings: Mabel (10), William (7), and Francis (5). The year before she was born, she had an older brother, Allen, who died when he was about two.
According to Kansas State Census, dated on March 1, 1895, three year-old Annie lived in Cherryvale with her family. Her family included her father William (34), her mother Elsie (32), her older brothers William (10) and Frankie (8), and her younger brother Herman who was six months old. Twelve year-old, Mabel, was living with her grandfather, Joseph La Duke, her aunt Ellen Frink and her uncle, Walter Frink (Ellen’s brother) in West Cherry, Kansas about seven miles from her parent’s home.
On January 28, 1898, Annie’s mother, Ellsa La Duke Strassburg died in Cherryvale, Kansas. On May 13, 1898, her father, William, remarried a woman named Mary Shay in Canada.
According to the 1900 United States Federal Census, eight-year-old Annie was now living with her uncle, Walter Frink. Other family members included her aunt, Ellen Frink, her grandfather, Joseph La Duke, her sister Mable (17) and her brothers William (15), Francis (13), and Herman (5). She was also attending the Byler School in Coffeyville, Kansas.
Twice, in 1902, I discovered an Anna Strassburg that was mentioned in the “School Report” of the Coffeyville Daily Journal. The last report, dated March 8, 1902, stated that Anna had perfect attendance and was not tardy “for the term of five months.” According to the article, the last day of the term for Byler School was on February 28, 1902. A surprise was planned for their teacher. Wagons arrived at the school, and a dinner was served. Everyone visited and talked about the school year, and the students provided a program. The gathering ended and everyone sang, God be With You Till we Meet Again.
On March 1, 1905, thirteen-year-old Annie and her 11 year old brother, Herman, were still living with her aunt, Ellen Frink and uncle, Walter Frink. Her older siblings had left the nest.
On March 18, 1908, Annie married William Franklin Bryant in Independence, Kansas. Although the marriage license stated the she was 17 years of age, my grandmother was only 16 at the time.
In 1910, I found that Annie and my grandmother were living with Annie’s father, William Strassburg and his wife Mary. At that time, they were living in Gunnison Colorado. According to the census, she was listed as divorced.
In July of 1911, according to news reports in the Coffeyville Daily Journal and the Independence Daily Reporter, my great grandmother left her husband the day after they were married and never returned. Her husband, Frank Bryant, advertised for a divorce on the grounds of desertion.
I did discover that Annie did live in Montrose, Colorado for several years before she passed away. Annie and my five-year old grandmother lived with the family of Daniel Morrison Kelley. He was a well-known rancher in Montrose County.
My great grandmother, Annie was visiting a friend in Ohio City. For a week, she had not felt well. On Saturday, August 9, 1913, her condition changed, and on August 12, 1913 at 1:05 in the morning, she died in Ohio City. Later in the day, her body was shipped home to Montrose, and a funeral was held that afternoon. The service was held at the Hawley and Smith Chapel, and Reverend R. J. Picken from the United Presbyterian Church spoke at her funeral. Since Annie was well-known in Montrose and Olathe, Colorado, many friends attended her funeral, and later she was buried in Cedar Cemetery.
Shortly after the funeral, the court intervened and took charge of my grandmother’s care. The court placed her in the home of Mrs. Belle Freeman and gave her temporary custody until a permanent arrangement could be made. Mr. Kelley had written to my grandmother’s grandparents who were living in Portland, Oregon at the time. Again the trail grew cold, and no other information had been discovered about my grandmother, Elva Bryant and what happened to her in the years that followed her mother’s death.
Further information found showed that my grandmother remained living with Belle Freeman for many years. One burning question I harbored was about the paternity of my grandmother, but DNA confirmed William Franklin Bryant was her father.
Since then I also received a photo of my great grandmother.
“1900 United States Federal Census.” Ancestry, Online Publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. http://www.ancestry.com.
“1910 United States Federal Census.” Ancestry, Online Publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. http://www.ancestry.com.
“Ancestry Family Trees.” Ancestry, Online Publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com. , http://www.ancestry.com.
“Funeral for Mrs. Bryant.” Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection, Montrose Daily Press, 13 Aug. 1913, http://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org.
Godfrey Memorial Library, comp. “ American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI).” Ancestry, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. http://www.ancestry.com.
“Kansas, Births and Christenings Index, 1885-1911.” Ancestry, Online Publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. http://www.ancestry.com.
“Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925.” Ancestry, Online Publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009. http://www.ancestry.com.
The Coffeyville Weekly Journal – 14 Mar 1902 – Page 4.” Newspapers.com, Coffeyville Kansas, http://www.newspapers.com.
“One Day of Honeymoon. The Evening Star – 13 Jul 1911 – Page 1.” Newspapers.com, Independence, Kansas, http://www.newspapers.com.
Revize.com, Samir Alley @samiralley. “THE HISTORY OF CHERRYVALE, KANSAS.” THE HISTORY OF CHERRYVALE, KANSAS, 2015, cherryvaleusa.com/residents/history/index.php.