My brother Jim was year ahead of me in school, and our farm was four miles from downtown Columbia. Mom saw advantages to the University Elementary School with its smaller classes and higher pupil/teacher contact. Jim rode to first grade with Dad in the milk truck. Mom learned to drive the dairy truck in which she and I made a daily trip at 4 p.m. to bring Jim home and do shopping. What a change! To ride in an auto! Our dairy truck!
What a treat for Mom, to drive the truck all the way to Centralia to visit her parents and sisters; one route followed the Wabash Railroad tracks where vehicles had to cross the tracks, back and forth several times. A second route was "the prairie route," quiet, through many active farms. The distance was similar, and we alternated routes.
About once a month, we drove to Centralia to visit her parents on Saturdays. Jim and I were permitted to walk to town, about three short blocks from our grandparentsí home where we played in the harness shed or in the grape arbor or on sidewalks. It was our first opportunity to take a few coins to a store, unaccompanied, and spend them. It was an adventure, an afternoon spent in the new truck, back in time to have supper for the family. Dad was teaching Mom what he had learned about Fords, and she learned rapidly.
Grandpa was a returned Confederate soldier who had been in prisons a few times and in the hospitals. Grandma was a much younger woman, and they had two daughters, including Mom, and a son. We kids could have asked so many questions - but we didnít. After Grandmotherís death and burial in the Centralia cemetery, we often had long visits from Grandpa at our farm. He had "dropsy," and I took his bitter medicine to him three or four times a day. I took the medicine and water and a dry cracker to "destroy the bitter taste in his mouth." This was an important chore, and I was his capable nurse. Why didnít I ask more questions?
I was about 11 years old when this old soldier lived part time with us, and I was probably out on my bike during free times. Now I wonder why it took him several weeks, walking home from either hospital or prison, after the warís end. Grandpa didnít initiate any information, and suddenly he was buried at Grandmaís side in Centralia Cemetery.
Entering from the south, a visitor sees a monument with one word: HENRY. Thatís Grandpaís marker. He was father of six children; three in each of two marriages. He survived many tragedies as a Confederate soldier, but he didnít talk about that.
How could readers seek information about their own ancestors? The Missouri Historical Society and the Boone County Historical Society have some records of survivors, written by the soldiers themselves shortly after the war.
How do you access this information? Use the telephone directory; youíll be rewarded!