Surplus Sunday: The Bucklin/Keys/Ausman/MacVey connections

Surplus Sunday?  What is that?  It’s an additional sharing of information on family history, that’s what it is!  I know I already posted two times this week, but I had so much information that came my way recently.  Fair warning – this post is extremely long and covers 125 years of history with the Keys and Bucklin families and how they were connected with two other families of no relation – the Ausmans and the MacVeys.  All because of a secret old letter that was recently uncovered.  It also connects several other previous posts that I have written.  Hopefully this will answer all of the questions that you may have had on the subject.  So first off you will need to read the letter that Louis Charles Bucklin received on that long ago day in April of 1893.  The envelope was addressed to L. C. Bucklin and the letter commenced with a quaint “Dear Friend.”  Here is the letter in its entirety:

Leeds, Iowa                    April 20th (18)93

Mr. L. C. Bucklin

Dear Friend,

Will now try to answer your welcome letter, which I received some time ago.

I hope you are not having as dissagreeable weather as we are having at present. – It snowed quite hard for over an hour yesterday forenoon, it commenced by raining in the morning, and then turned into snow in the forenoon, and then rained again in the after noon.

This morning the wind was blowing hard and cold and it was cloudy, this after noon it commenced to snow and snowed nearly all after noon and was snowing yet at dark.

Yesterday It looked very nice to see the large snow flakes falling so thick and fast, I thought, when I could sit in the house and look at it through the window, but it was not so nice, today, when I was out in it and had to face it part of the way home, but even then It was better than going home in the rain would have been.  We have had quite a good deal of cold, bad weather since we came

Here, but I don’t think we feel it a bit more than we did down south, it does not chill us so, but of course it is sharper and more kean hear than down there.

Willie and I commenced going to school a week ago monday.  we both like it real well, our teachers are real nice.  Mine is very kind to me. – We have a very large brick school building there are seven grades in the school.  Willie is in the fourth grade, and I am in the fifth grade.  I always told you I did not know any thing and I guess you will beleave it now if you did not before. – but I think I can learn more for a while, in the fifth grade than I could in the sixth, if it don’t sound quite so

“big.” –I have to study very hard, and quite a good deal at night, and as I am not used to it, I get very tired.  In my room we have, mental and complete Arithmetic, vocal music, spelling and reading in the after forenoon, and Geography, Language and drawing in the after noon, school is let out at a quarter to twelve and takes up again at half past one, and we have no recess.  I took my dinner today as it was so cold, and I studied all the noon hour after I ate my dinner and I have had the headache ever since. – I can keep up in all my classes execept music and Language, and they have been nearly a year at them and as I never studied eather of those before I am behind them in that.

My brother Phil lives ten or twelve miles north of here on a farm, and Sioux City is south of here.

Lambert is living in Merrill but perhaps I told you that before.  Mother is visiting at Phils, and Lamberts this week.  Pa and her went out to Phils Saturday night and Pa came home Sunday night. – It seems very lonely without mother here.

The Church and School house are quite close together, both are quite a distance, from here.  It seems so nice to go to Sunday school in a church once snow, of corse the church is not so nice as the ones you go to but it is away ahead of a “school house”.

Ida and Willie both had the fever about two weeks ago and again this week.  Willie has it this afternoon Ida had it Sunday afternoon and as Ma is away I have to help Ida all I can, and I do not have much time to write.  I had to learn a lesson tough before I commenced this so it was after nine when I commenced to write, it is ten now so I must close for tonight will finish this the first opertunity I have.                  Good night..

Sunday Afternoon

Thursday night when I commenced this letter I thought I would finish it the next night, but there was a temperance lecture in the M. E. Church Friday and

saturday nights and we all attended them so I could not finish this as I would liked to have done.

They organized a good Templers loge last night.  John, Anna, Mother, Ida, and myself joined.  We will meet next Tuesday night.  We have a prayer meeting every Wednesday night and they have a young peoples Epworth League every Sunday night before preaching, there is a small room seprate from the main part of the church that they use for that, and prayer meeting.

How I would like to go to some of those nice churches you attend they must be grand.  I am afraid I would not know how to act in so large a congragation as you told about.

there was one hundred and one (101) members in our Sunday school today.  I like living hear real well going to school, and so many other things to go to that I have not been very lonesome yet.  We are getting aquainted with quite a good many too.

Now Lou, please don’t be angry at me for not answering sooner, for I could not help it.  Mother says she don’t want me to write so often as I have been doing. – I some times, don’t know what to do, she does not know how we feel towards each other, and she is so afraid of looseing me. – She does not need to worry about that, for I consider it my duty to take care of her as long as she needs me.  she has raised a large family, and, I, am her youngest girl.

3) and I think it is my duty to stay with her now since she is not strong any more.

It will be better for you to learn to care for some one else, if you can, Lou, for I am afraid we can never be anything more than Friends.

Oh if we only knew just things would be, but perhaps it is better that we should not know, for one might feel worse than we do as it is.

Remember Lou, that you can always find a friend in Jesus he is always redy and willing to help us, in time of trouble and sorrow, if we will only ask him, for I know by experience.

We received a letter from Aggie last week telling about the awful storm they had.  How glad I am that none of them were hurt.  I am so sorry

it ruined so many of your sisters things, but that is not so bad as if some of them were hurt.  Oh how much we have to be thankful for.

You spoke of your Uncle and cousins thinking of going to La.  Perhaps they will wait till you will be home for vacation.  how nice for you, it would be if they would.

When does you have vacation and how long.

I wish I could see you marching with your uniforms and guns.  I never saw any Soldiers eather.  I will have to close now.  I hope this will find you well,

I remain your true friend

May Ausman

I first saw this letter on May 14, 2017.  It was texted to me from my mom’s first cousin Julie Phenice Campbell.  She said that she found it in a pouch from her father that contained some old letters that had been sent to her (and my mom’s) grandmother Daisy Keys in the 1880s.  In addition to those letters, there were two other letters that were sent to my mom’s grandfather Louis Charles Bucklin in 1893.  Since Julie is not related to the Bucklins, it is a mystery how those letters ended up with her father.

I was kinda glancing through this letter when I first read it because I thought it was written by an old roommate.  She starts it with “Dear Friend” after all.  I was so surprised to see the signature of this letter that I had started to realize was a “Dear John” letter.  May Ausman (who was about 17 years old when she wrote the letter) mentions some of her siblings in this letter – Phil, John, Lambert, Ida, Willie, and Aggie.  Aggie Ausman was married to Lou’s older brother Joe Bucklin.  They had gotten married in 1892 and were living in Jennings, Louisiana.  But for Louis, this letter was the beginning of a rough few months. This sad news was received in April 1893.  Next, Lou received a letter from Joe in May of 1893 that talks about their sister Jennie doing poorly.  Then Jennie ended up dying in June of that year.

He was keeping a journal at this time.  The entries started in January of 1893 when he was traveling from his home in China, Louisiana, to attend Ohio Normal University in Ada, Ohio.  The entries for 1893 stopped when his sister died in June.  When I found this letter and realized it was during the time of the journal, I checked the journal for the time he would have received this letter.  He was talking about things in early April, then the next entry was in June.  So where were the entries for May?  I looked closely and noticed that there were pages missing.  Each page had a number on it and the April entry was on page 30 and the next page in the journal was 33.

I was looking for reference to the letter in his journal to see if he had been upset by the news.  Maybe little May didn’t mean much to him, or maybe she meant a lot.  The other letter that I received from my mom’s cousin Julie was a letter to L. C. Bucklin in Mar. 1893 from his previous roommate.  It is a very short letter, but it does mention that Lou might be sending letters “out to Iowa to that May you know.”  So someone else knew that he was interested in the girl named May.  But more telling are the missing pages from his journal.  If she didn’t mean anything, he wouldn’t have said anything about it.  It looks like he must have written something about it.  Then either he didn’t want anyone ever to see what he wrote, or someone else didn’t want it to be known and the pages were made to disappear.  Is that why Addie always had a scowl on her face?  I should hope not!

The reason the letter surprised me was because of the added connection to the Ausman family.  I mention earlier that Louis Bucklin had it rough for a few months, but his brother Joe had it rough for a few years.  (I wrote about this in The Sad Story post on Aug. 17, 2016.) He and his wife Aggie Ausman had a daughter named Leola in 1893 and then it shows that they had another daughter named Gladys in June of 1896.  They had a son in July of 1899.  Those were all of the good things.  Then the bad things started the next month.  In August 1899 Aggie died.  I’m not sure what she died from, but it could be complications from childbirth.  Following that, Leola died in December 1899.

Since Joe was having such a hard time, his mother Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin went and stayed in Jennings to help him care for the children.  At least to care for Joe and his son Austin.  For some reason, at least according to the 1900 census, Gladys was living in Iowa with her Ausman grandparents and Aggie’s younger sister Ida, who is listed as Ida McVey.  Anyway, his mother ended up dying in April 1900.  It was a really tough year for Joe.

But by the end of the year things were changing for Joe.  He married Aggie’s younger sister Ida in November of 1900.  I guess things were good for him for a while.  He and his brother Ed ran a boot and mercantile store in Jennings and he was married with a young daughter and son in the household.  I’m assuming that Gladys was staying with him due to information you will hear later.  Joe and Ida had a daughter named Ida Bucklin sometime around July of 1903.   Then on Sept. 5, 1903 Joe’s wife Ida died.  I’m not sure of the cause of death for this sister, either.  In addition to that, further tragedy occurred in December with the death of his daughter Ida.  A very sad story indeed.

When I got the letter that was sent from May to Lou in 1893, I already knew about all of the tragedies of their sisters and nieces.  But it made me start to look at the connection between these families again.  One of the questions that stood out was the name Ida “McVey” in the 1900 census.  How did she get that last name?  I didn’t see any marriage or divorce for her.  She was living at home in 1893 when May wrote that letter and was living at home in 1900 when her name was McVey.  So I decided to look into it.

I did a search on Ida Ausman at, but this time I added a husband with the name of McVey – no first name.  I just wanted to see what would show up.  And sure enough something did!  I found a family tree that listed a William Lee MacVey who had married Ida Ausman in Iowa in September of 1895.  All of that information fit with what I knew about Ida and her family.  But that’s not all of the information that it showed.  It had a divorce date from a month later and a reason for the divorce.  That’s amazing.  I hardly ever see a reason for a divorce in people’s family tree.  I was excited about that because I was really curious to know why a marriage ended in divorce in less than a month!

The information in the family tree gave the reason for divorce as, “Marriage did not last long because she was pregnant but NOT William Lee’s child.”  Oh, my goodness!  Say it isn’t so.  I was curious about how someone would know this, so I looked to see whose tree it was in relation to these people.  The person who had the tree was the granddaughter of William Lee MacVey from his second wife!  I got in touch with her (let’s call her Nancy MacVey) and Nancy said that she didn’t know about this juicy bit of history when her grandparents were alive, she only found out about it when she started researching.  She found marriage records and divorce proceedings where he told the judge, “She can go back to her mamma!”    This was very scandalous for a small Iowa community in the 1890s.

Hey wait a minute!  She was supposedly pregnant in October of 1895.  If that was the case, she would have had a child in the middle of 1896.  There is no child attributed to her at that time. But her sister Aggie who was married to Joe Bucklin is supposed to have had a daughter named Gladys in June of 1896.  Is Gladys Bucklin actually the daughter of Ida Ausman McVey?  Why else would Gladys go live with her Ausman grandparents in 1900 when her brother stayed in Louisiana with his dad and his dad’s family?  And then after the death of the two Idas, Gladys shows up again in Iowa with her Ausman grandparents in the 1910 census.

Too bad May didn’t write another letter with all of these details in it.  Maybe she intended to, but sadly she had died by 1910 herself at the age of 33.  The Ausman family lost five of their children before 1910.  According to Bucklin family history Gladys had also died at the age of 21 in 1917, yet in the 1920 census and the 1930 census, she was still living in Iowa.  Did they just write her off because she wasn’t exactly a Bucklin and tragedy seemed to follow her wherever she went?  I guess we’ll never know.  Gladys may have had a hard life.  Born out of wedlock in the 19th century (barely) and then her mother and sister dying.  Some people may have thought she were cursed or some such thing.  She may have thought the same thing.  Again, we’ll never know.

Of course, you know, just because someone in that MacVey family made a claim about Ida didn’t mean it was true.  Just how trustworthy was this MacVey family anyway?  Sure, there was family lore on the Keys side of my family about a McVey family in southern Louisiana.  The Keys family had nothing but praise for these people.  But not every MacVey family was as good as our McVey one.  Right?  So I saw that the names of William Lee’s parents were Thomas and Rebecca, and I started some more research.

The Keys family has a lot of information about the family when it immigrated in 1887 from England.  My grandmother’s first cousin did a lot of research and put together a book about the family in 1980.  I knew the McVey name was in there somewhere.  Everyone in my family knows the last name, we never bothered with the first names before.  I found a poem my mom’s aunt wrote, but all she mentions is “the McVeys.”  So I had to scour the old 1980 Keys family history book.  And guess what I found?  That’s right, I found some names.

In one part of the book, it talks about a family that helped my Keys family when they decided to stay in southern Louisiana: “The McVeys were one of the families which treated them well.  Mr. McVey had a large chicken house with wood floors and a window which they cleaned.  This was their first home though temporary.”  That’s the legend.  Our family lived in a chicken house that was provided by the McVeys!  Those Keys definitely did not suffer from a feeling of entitlement back then.  They were extremely grateful.  So much so that when they mentioned the people who were nice to them, the short list included a Frank McVey and a T. L. McVey.  Hey, could T. L. be Thomas?  I went back to the family tree, and sure enough William Lee MacVey’s father was Thomas Lord MacVey, our very own T. L. MacVey.  And William had a brother named Frank.

So the family that made the comment about Ida wasn’t just related to the legendary hero McVeys on the Keys side of my family, they were the very same family!  So I guess Ida was a tramp after all!  I looked into the MacVey family history and found out that the family of T. L. MacVey and his wife Rebecca Noble MacVey and their two sons had just started homesteading in China, Louisiana, in 1887 themselves.  So it was at least a brand new chicken house that the Keys stayed in.  That’s always good to know when looking for a chicken house to live in!

I corresponded a bit more with Nancy MacVey.  I expressed my thanks from my family to hers for the help given to us in our time of need.  I let her know that if she were ever in Baton Rouge and needed a place to stay, my house would always be open to her.  She had actually been to Louisiana a few times  in 2011 and 2012 looking for the graves of T. L. and Rebecca.  (Uh oh!)  She had found T. L. and had been unable to find Rebecca’s.  According to her information, Rebecca had been buried in a place called Fairview in 1892.  She didn’t know if that was a church name, cemetery name, or whether it was in Louisiana or Iowa.  She couldn’t find it.  I didn’t remember ever hearing the name Fairview before.

As I tried to keep track of all of these details, I thought I’d double check those missing pages from the L. C. Bucklin diary.  I have a paper copy from Louise Bucklin Connors, but she gave me a digital copy as well.  So I went to look for the digital copy and came across something else that she had sent me as well.  It was a transcription of headstones at the Raymond Methodist cemetery.  I thought I might as well check it for the grave that I just heard that Nancy was looking for.  Sure enough, it was in there.  I had been to that gravesite with Louise’s son Joseph and took photos of the Bucklins’ graves.  I remembered Joseph telling me that he had taken photos of all of the graves at that site.  So I sent him a note asking if he could find the photo of Rebecca Noble MacVey’s headstone.  He was able to find it quickly and send it to me.  I let Nancy know that I had located her great grandmother’s burial site and then created a memorial for her on Find a Grave.

As a finishing touch to this story, my cousin Mary sent me a note saying that she knew someone who was writing a history of Hathaway.  Really?  Who would write such a thing?  And even more puzzling, who would read such a thing?  Of course I would, but I’m unusual.  Not many people know about that tiny hamlet in southern Louisiana.  And even less care.  Anyway, I told her about a blog online that had some Hathaway information and she sent me a booklet that she got from Grandma Bucklin about the history of the Methodist Church in Raymond.  On the first page of this history it talks about the new church, “known as the Fairview Methodist Episcopal Church, represented by Gilbert N. Brown.”  So Nancy had asked if I knew about a Fairview church or cemetery and I said I didn’t.  But now I do.  Her great grandmother had been buried in the Fairview Methodist Cemetery, which is now known as the Raymond Methodist Cemetery.  Mystery solved.

And doesn’t that Brown name sound familiar too?  Well, maybe not to you, but to me it did.  Nancy had told me that one of the MacVeys had married a Brown.  And, in another little twist, Grandma’s best childhood friend had been a Brown as well.  I’m sure you know where this leads, so I’ll explain the details.  Thomas Lord MacVey and Rebecca Noble’s other son Frank married Gilbert Brown’s daughter Libbie.  Libbie’s brother Eugene Brown had a daughter named Emily, whose childhood friend was Myrtle Phenice.

I wonder if Grandma knew that her friend’s uncle and parents were the ones that owned the chicken coop that housed her mom’s family when they moved to the area?  Or that her friend’s uncle’s brother was the first husband of her future father-in-law’s sister-in-law?  Probably not, they were too busy fixing their hair with the latest styles or chatting as they were riding their buggy to that old Hathaway school.

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