Saturday, April 19, 2014

Aunt Sadie: Life with the Thomas Family

Bird's-eye view of Milo, Maine, where the Thomases lived.
From a c. 1910 postcard
Source: Wikimedia Commons


This is the fourth excerpt from my Aunt Sadie's Memoirs. The previous posts are: Parts 1 and 2 (Life on the Farm), and Part 3 (Separated From the Family).

Aunt Sadie continues:

Now I will tell you about life with the Thomas family. The Thomases were wonderful people and welcomed me with open arms and hearts. Auntie [Sarah Ermina Crabtree Thomas] had six children and I would like to introduce you to each of them individually.

1. Eddie [William Edgar Thomas, 1892-1956]:

Eddie was not religious. (I think he was bitter about losing his beloved brother Blair in the War [World War I]). I adored him because he always laughed at my jokes. He lived in Abbot Village, Maine with his wife, Ina, and two children, Grace and Blair [named for Eddie's brother]. Grace was my playmate and I still hear from her. She is married to a rancher and lives in Nebraska. I think her brother Blair is dead. (By the way, Grace looks a lot like Auntie).

2. Blair [Blair Frazier Thomas, 1894-1918]:

Blair had passed on and I did not know him.

3. Hayward [Hayward Stanley Thomas, 1889-1956]:

Hayward was a Harvard graduate and a Methodist minister in Presque Isle, Maine. He was a delightful man with a wonderful sense of humor. He and his wife, Marian [Marian Whitaker, 1890-1982], had three children, Ruth, Esther, and Stanley. [There were four more children who died young]. I visited them a lot and loved to be there. They had wonderful toys and books for me to enjoy. Marian always told me she wanted to keep me but she had three children of her own. She lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her daughter Ruth after Hayward's death. And I wrote and visited her until her death.

Hayward said he would rather spend a day talking philosophy with Papa [David Jewett Crabtree, Sr., 1875-1954] than anyone he knew. He loved what he called Pap's "horse sense." Do you know Pap prophesied exactly what is happening with China today? He knew China would be our ultimate enemy. I lost track of Esther, but I know Stanley died quite young and Hayward was devastated.

4. Perry [John Perry Thomas, 1890-1961] :

Perry lived in his own little home very near us. Auntie and I could walk over and play Parcheesi in the evening. Perry was a staunch Methodist. I think he helped Auntie with the farm. He was a dear sweet man. I spent many happy times with him and his wife, Effie [Effie Mae Gourlie], . One of [their] neighbors was fortunate enough to have a radio and we would all make a trek to their house to hear "Amos and Andy" in the evening. They had no children but took care of Effie's little nephew because his mother was sickly.

5. Annie [Anna Maria Thomas, 1888-1962]:

Annie was a little uppity and bossy. I suppose being the only girl she usually got her way. She married Charles Kinney [Rev. Charles Lewis Kinney, 1882-1977], no blood relation. He was a Methodist minister. They always vacationed with us. She declared the Crabtrees were on the Mayflower and I am inclined to agree with her as I have read several historical novels that mentioned an Abby Crab who was very fertile. That sounds like a Crabtree to me! [Note: The family name was changed in court in Milo, Maine from Crabb(e) to Crabtree in 1910].

6. Bernice [Bernice Clifford Thomas, 1899-1947] :

Bernice was the baby of the family and he didn't like me much. I gave him mumps when he was a grown man and he nearly died. Also, I was exploring the vast attic region (I never did see all of it) and I found a still. He was making home brew. Of course, I asked Auntie what it was. I don't think that endeared me to him. He just sort of ignored me.

Auntie's sisters Annie Bolster [Anna Thursa Crabb Bolster Field, 1883-1964] and Addie Anderson [Adelia Mae Crabb, 1871-1944] were around a lot. They behaved exactly like us. Lots of giggling and very jolly. Their favorite pastime was playing Parcheesi.

Next: Sadie's "Jess story"

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Aunt Sadie: Separated from the Family

This is the third installment of my Aunt Sadie's Memoirs. (See Part 1 and Part 2). There's a large cast of characters here and I've done my best to clarify who is who. You will want to note that there are three Sarahs: Sarah Norma (my Aunt Sadie), who is the namesake of Sarah Ermina Thomas (Aunt Sadie's "Auntie"); and Sarah Ann "Annie" (Sadie's Grammy).

Click on any family member's name to see a profile and all sorts of ancestors and descendants that are linked, in turn, to more profiles. 

I am sorry that I don't have a picture of Sarah Thomas. If anyone reading this has one, I would love to use it for this post.

I am indebted to Patricia Parkhurst Gee Pickard, Pentecostal historian and author of some of the books that you will find listed by clicking on the "Books and Publications" tab at the top of this blog. She has answered my questions patiently and kindly. 

Aunt Sadie continues:  

Pa's sister, Sarah Thomas [Sarah Ermina "Sadie" Crabtree Thomas], was widowed and caring for her aged mother [Sarah Ann "Annie" Kinney Crabtree]. She prevailed on Papa  [David Jewett Crabtree] to let her take her little namesake home. I was seven years old and lived with her until my marriage except for the two years I went to high school in Houlton [Maine].

Sarah Ann "Annie" Kinney Crabtree, 1842-1935
Sadie's "Grammy"

Richard Wayman Kinney, 1856-1932
Sadie's Great Uncle Richard Kinney, brother of Annie.

When she was dying, I was in the hospital having Dick [Dickie Ayotte] and I have the last letter she ever wrote asking me to name my baby after "Uncle Richard Kinney," Grammy [Annie Kinney] Crabtree's brother [Richard Wayman Kinney].

"Auntie," as I will refer to her henceforth, lived on a beautiful estate in Milo, Maine called "Pleasant View Farm." You could sit on the veranda and see the lakes around Mt. Kahtahdin. The house was so vast I would get lost exploring. By the way, she brought up several children besides me. If one of her brothers or sisters died and left a child, she took that child in.

She bought a lovely piano and gave me music lessons. I took to that like a duck to water. She was a seamstress by trade and could make a man's tailored suit. I developed a love of sewing just from watching her.

Now I will go into her religious affiliations. This was in the heyday of the famous evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. Pap was converted to Pentecost under her and Auntie followed suit wholeheartedly. She decided there must be a Pentecostal church in Milo. She bought a schoolhouse and refurbished it. She imported young ministers from the Glad Tidings Institute in California. She fixed beautiful apartments for them. Her motto was "If someone said 'Praise the Lord' it was hang up your hat and make yourself at home."

I think I met most of the ministers in the early Pentecost movement. Sister [Christine] Gibson, the Bickfords [Harold, Don, and Sunny], the Dearings [Rev. John and Anna], a Mrs. Duly, the Grovers [Rev. Fred and Jennie], Gene Kimball, and numerous others. I know Auntie and I went by train to all the camp meetings: Bridgewater, Marshall, Pea Cove... I remember one at Moosehead Lake (this must have been after Grammy Crabtree's death, my memory fails me on that). A lot of the zealots were barely literate. I heard a lot of fire and brimstone preaching. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now! My God is loving and forgiving.

At this point I would like to give a little background on my education. When I was four, I cried to go to school with the older children and Papa said, "Let her try it." So, I attended school in Canada for three years and learned my lessons by rote.

When I was enrolled in school in Milo, I was promoted to the fifth grade. Consequently, I started high school at 12, graduated at sixteen, married at seventeen, had Richard at eighteen. Would you believe the school bus at that time in Milo was a covered wagon drawn by a team of horses?

Next: Life with the Thomas family