Pearle’s Silverware Set

I posted earlier that after the death of my grandmother, Pearle Vernon Edwards, I acquired her silverware set. Here are some more details and photos.

Her silverware canteen contains 4 different patterns. I’m guessing that she may have started out with her 8-piece set, and then received other silverware from family members.

The first pattern (shown on knife at bottom left) is her 8-piece set, that is, 8 knives, 8 large spoons, 8 large forks, etc. Pattern 1881 Rogers Oneida Ltd.

The second knife shows the pattern her 4-piece set. Oneida Sterling Heiress.

The spoon of the left shows the pattern for 6 teaspoons, identified as Tudor Plate Onieda Community Made. The one on the right is a pattern for 5 teaspoons, a butter knife, and a sugar spoon. Community Plate.

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Obituaries: Louisa Edwards 1836-1917

Below are newspaper clippings of two obituaries about Louisa Edwards, the mother of my grandfather, A.E. Edwards. There are only slight differences between the two.

The obituaries mention her burial at Glendale Cemetery. I still go there whenever I’m in Kansas—although It was always a pain finding it. Thankfully, with electronic devices, that’s no longer a problem.

Glendale is a small country cemetery, one you can easily miss even if you’re on the direct road that goes by it. The Edwards family members make up a major part of the cemetery, with their gravestones along a high point on the right-hand side.

When I was little, I remember reading the gravestones in the cemetery’s lower right-hand quarter, the resting place of soldiers from the War between the States. On my last visit a few years ago, I found the oldest stones so eroded that I couldn’t read names, dates or other inscriptions.

My parents used to travel regularly to the cemetery to tidy up around the memorial stones of the Edwards family members. My parents were upset when they discovered that the person who mowed the cemetery had chipped one of the stones. I think it was either replaced or fixed somehow.

Louisa Myers: life details

  • Louisa Myers was born in Pennsylvia in 1836.
  • At age 20, she and her parents moved to Mason county, West Virginia.
  • She married Rensseller Edwards in 1863, and they had nine living children (3 girls, 6 boys). She was widowed in 1878, during the family’s emigration to Kansas, when Rensseller died in Vernon county, Missouri. She did not remarry.
  • A year later, in 1888, she and her children again traveled to Kansas– this time by train–and lived in Reno county.
  • In her last 12 years, Louisa lived with her son, A.E. Edwards, and his wife Icea. She died March 1917, age 81, leaving 21 grandchildren and five surviving children: Jake Edwards and A.E. Edwards of Sylvia KS, G. Edwards of Oklahoma City, Shilo Edwards of Moscow KS, and Rufus Edwards of Los Angeles CA. Two step-children: Crawford Edwards and John B. Edwards, of Woodard OK. Deceased children: Abraham, Martha, Flora, and ‘a baby girl’.
  • Her funeral was at Glendale. She was a member of the United Brethren Church, which she joined in West Virginia, in 1859.
  • The card of thanks in the local newspaper, was signed by the Edwards:  Jake, A.E., Icea, Charlotte, Glen, Freddie, G., R.H., and Shilo.


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Westward Ho!


The following two typed pages give more details about the Edwards family’s move from West Virginia to Kansas, making two trips halfway across America before settling.

If only someone had kept a diary. It would be so interesting to have details about the trip and learn why Louisa, Rensslear’s second wife, returned to West Virginia, had her baby, then again made the trek to a new life.

There’s a famous book title, by American author Thomas Wolfe, which has become a well-known phrase: You can’t go home again. I wondered if Louisa, after making such a major move, then having her husband die, felt that she no longer fit in when she returned east. Or perhaps she and her children thought there were better prospects in the new land.

I remember at the funeral of my grandfather, Andrew Enoch Edwards, my cousin Greg Welch gave a lovely eulogy. He commented that our grandfather’s world changed dramatically in his lifetime, with transport moving from the covered wagon of his childhood to sky travelers in jet planes.

I wonder if the younger generation wonders how we older people grew up without all the modern gadgets available today. I for one never imagined typewriters would become obsolete. And when we visited Pop and Mameen at their farmhouse, Dad would sometimes phone someone and then hoist me up so I could talk on the wall phone. He’d wind the handle to make so many rings, which identified who was being called on the party line, and then I could talk. Soon we had phones on cords, so you didn’t have to stand up to talk. And the winding handle changed to a dial with numbers. Now I have a mobile, so small in comparison to the old phones, that half the time I can’t find it.

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Nelson Edwards & the Newsreels: Part 1

After sending my last post, I wondered if there was anything about Nelson Edwards on the Web, given that he was well-known for his film reportage in the 1930s and 1940s.

I found two links to an article about him, published in 2012, by Cooper C. Graham and Ron The new strain of wheat, Turkey Red, brought in by the Russian Mennonites, helped Kansas become famous as the Wheat State. Perhaps Jake Edwards had been persuaded to move to Kansas by reports of the money to be made in wheat.van Dopperen. The article is interesting not only because of the account of Nelson’s career, but also because of details about his younger years, including his family’s decision to travel by covered wagon and settle in Kansas.

Abstract of the article

Nelson Edwards (1887–1954) was among the first newsreel cameramen in American film history. From 1914 he filmed for Hearst International News Service and covered the Mexican Revolution. In 1916 he filmed the Turkish and the German side of the World War. He was also chief cameraman for Fox Newsreel during the year of its birth, and thereafter a longtime stringer for Paramount News. The essay describes Edwards’s life and work, as well as some of the background of Hearst’s first attempts to get into the newsreel business, based on research in Edwards’s personal documents, reports in the press and interviews with his family.

The start of the article, titled ‘Nelson Edwards and the Newsreels: An American life’,  is summarized below. I don’t have a way to get the whole article–my town library doesn’t have access–but thought Edwards family members would be interested in reading a little bit about Nelson.

Nelson’s early years

Edwards was one of the best-known photographers in the early period of newsreels. His career included working for William Randolph Hearst  before and during World War I, being head cameraman for Fox newsreels and later a stringer for Paramount Newsreel. In these roles, he was part of many major historical events.

Nelson Elisha Edwards was born in Point Pleasant, Mason County, West Virginia on 25 November 1887. His parents, Jake C. and Margaret Edwards, farmed in West Virginia. When Nelson was six months old, the family moved, by covered wagon, to Plevna, Reno County, Kansas, a journey that took between two and three and a half months. It is possible that the family was convinced to move because of he success of the new strain of wheat, Turkey Red, brought in by the Russian Mennonites.

They lived in a sod dugout, what Nelson called “a hole in the ground”. By 1915, photographs show that the family now had a solid house and farm. Jake served twice as a member of the Kansas State House of Representatives, in 1915 and 1917, and was also appointed county chairman. The Edwards had nine sons and one daughter: Preston, Nelson, Cecil, Clarence, Roy, Hobart, E.K., Morry (who died in infancy), Naomi, and Curry. Some of Nelson’s brothers would also become newsreel cameramen.

Nelson was described in the article as “a tall, muscular man with prominent cheekbones, a hawk nose, lighthouse eyes peering out at the world from under heavy eyebrows, and thick, dark hair which photographed jet black”, who was “stocky, but . . . quite large” and was also athletic.

Subsistence farming apparently did not suit Nelson. In 1908, he went to New Orleans to learn photography. By 191o, he was in New Jersey, working for a ‘celebrated photographer’, whose sister-in-law, Cornelia Fisk, eventually married Nelson. In 1912, he was working as a still photographer in New York for the chief of photo syndication, the International News Service.

Source:  Cooper C. Graham and Ron van Dopperen (2012). “Nelson Edwards and the Newsreels:  An American Life. Film History (vol. 24), pp. 260-280. ISSN:  0892-2160.

Ron van Dopperen studied history at the University of Utrecht, Holland, where he wrote his Master of Arts thesis on the American World War I documentary films (1988). He now works as a communication advisor for the Dutch government. Correspondence to
Cooper C. Graham is retired from the Library of Congress where he was a curator in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. He is the author of numerous articles, as well as Leni Riefenstahl’s “Olympia” and (in collaboration) D.W. Griffith and the Biograph Company. He is presently working on a series of World War I film subjects.  Corespondence to



Final Christmas Cards

I think this is the last set of Christmas cards I have in my Edwards box of stuff.

The first one has a drawing of a girl in a blizzard, a photograph of what looks like a farm house, and a couple in silhouette, the man behind and slightly left of the woman. The inscription:  Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a year of happy days.  Mr. and Mrs. Jake Edwards.

QUERY: Does anyone know where they lived, and if this photograph was their home?


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The other black-and-white card shows a snow scene, and is signed, Nelson & family. I wonder if Nelson was the one who took that photo, similar to the other photo-cards of his that I’ve provided in other posts. There’s no year given. It’s a change from the humorous ones in the early ’30s.

The  red-and-black card postcard is difficult to see, even in the original, so I’ve worked on it a bit.

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What a lovely card!  On the back is this inscription: Nelson Edwards family Baltimore

Fire & Death at A.E. Edwards Farm–

The Front page of the Turon Weekly, Thursday 30 June, 1921, covers the death of a local girl, Bernice, who helped my maternal grandparents, A.E. and Icea Edwards, with house and family.

My mother, born on 13 January 1921,  was a baby when the fire broke out. She told me that she and her sister Virginia were left in a safe spot outside while the rest of the family who were there unsuccessfully fought the fire. Bernice suffered extensive burns and died hours later.

At some point, my mother found and framed two items from the fire–small sewing scissors and a squashed thimble. Do any other Edwards relatives have relics from the fire, or know more about it? If so, click on the Comment option to the left.

Some years ago now, I took back to Australia the small frame, which my mother used to mount the two items. (My brother bought the house after my parents died, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to their possessions.)

At the Wichita Airport, I was pulled up by security for having a weapon in my carry-on. I thought they were crazy, until I saw the scan and realized it was the scissors. I explained what they were and what they meant. They told me to put them in my checked luggage or kiss them goodbye. Lucky it was a small airport. I raced back, and the staff at the check-in counter caught my bag just in time before it disappeared to be loaded onto the plane!

I’ve typed out the relevant articles from the Turon paper. Scroll down to read them.

img446033Newspaper article about fire and death at A.E. Edwards farm.

The paper provides an account of the fire, with the headline Fatally Burned (column 3),  a Card of Thanks from Bub and Pearle Edwards (col. 2), and Memorial, the death notice for Bernice Helen Hodson (col. 2) .

Some relatives will know more about the fire than I do. Mom said that Bernice was brought out of the house, horribly burned, and was put in the back of a wagon. She apologised to A.E. Edwards for her mistake. I’m not sure if she died there at the farm, or later. The obit mentions that Bernice was a member of Glendale Church. A.E. Edwards and his family were also members. The church is no longer there, but the Glendale cemetery is.
Does anyone know if the Rev. J.N. Edwards, of the Glendale church, is a relative of A.E. Edwards?

Fatally Burned

Miss Bernice Hodson of Sylvia, who was at the A.E. Edwards home six miles north of Turon, assisting Mrs. Edwards with the harvest work, was fatally burned Saturday evening about five o’clock when she attempted to hasten a slow fire in the kitchen range by pouring kerosene on it. The can was a 5-gallon one and contained only about a gallon of oil, leaving space for the accumulation of a good deal of gas.

The explosion which followed the attempt threw burning oil all over Miss Hodson and also set fire to the house. Mrs. Edwards was burned about the hands and arms in trying to save the girl, as also was Mr. Edwards, who was coming in from the field at the time of the explosion and hurried to the house as quickly as possible.

Miss Hodson was so terribly burned that she died at midnight and the house and contents were entirely destroyed. The property loss is partially covered by insurance.

Card of Thanks

We want to thank our friends and neighbors for their warm sympathy and generous assistance in our recent misfortune.

Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Edwards


Bernice Helen Hodson was born in Sylvia, Kans., Feb. 4th, 1903. She was converted and joined the United Brethren church at Glendale at the age of nine, was baptized by Rev. Givens and has lived a devoted Christian life ever since.

She went to her eternal home June 26th, 1921, aged eighteen years, five months and twenty-two days. She was president of the Christian Endeavor Society of Glendale and the last time she was at church led one of the best meetings ever held there.

She was graduated from the Sylvia High School in a class of fourteen, May 26th, 1921. She was very patent in time of suffering and all who knew her loved her. Her chosen life work was to help the sick and suffering.

She leaves to mourn her loss, her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. James Hodson, of Sylvia; one sister, Bertha; two brothers, Harry and Albert; an aged grandfather and grandmother, Mr. and Mrs. John Proctor of Nickerson; and a large number of relatives and friends.

Funeral services were held at the Glendale church Monday at 2 p.m., conducted by the pastor, Rev. J.N. Edwards. A mixed quartet from Sylvia furnished the music and six girls from her graduating class were pallbearers and her body was laid to rest in the Sylvia cemetery.



The Two Families of Rensslear Edwards

Rensslear Edwards was the father of my grandfather, Andrew Enoch Edwards. The list below identifies his two marriages, and the children of those marriages.

Rensslear Edwards 2 families listInterestingly, the name Rensslear continued into successive generations, with different spellings as time passed. I remember an grand-uncle, I think, who was called Rant. When I’ve mentioned to friends some of the odd nicknames I know, I think Rant is the most striking or mysterious!

The other interesting fact is that Rensslear’s work is listed—perhaps by my mother—as ‘tobacco farmer, preacher, blacksmith, pioneer’. That’s pretty extensive!

He was buried in Rich Hill, Missouri. At some point, Mom and my cousin Janice Allison drove there to find his grave. I was told that the family had started out from the east coast by covered wagon, intending to reach Kansas. But they turned back when Rensslear died (and his wife was 5 mths pregnant), but trekked back west the next year.

When I was recently sorting through the Edwards family papers that Mom had gathered, I saw a couple that should provide more information about the trip to Kansas. I just have to locate them again.

Regarding large families, I once taught at Andale HS, in a German Catholic community. Large families were common, the most memorable being the family with 16 kids–whose surname was Mohr!  My students told me they planned on having smaller families. For them, that meant 4-6 kids.