prune picker

This is the blog of a prune picker. (Native born Californian) Retired oilfield. I am an old man. (91) I blog a lot about my body and getting old. As I approach death life gets more interesting. More interesting is not good. I still drive. I attend sports, music, and civic events. I am writing my memoirs. I attend swim class three times a week. Some of my blogs might be interesting. A lot of my blogs are silly and trivial. None are very long.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Romance on the Plains.

It was quiet and peaceful on the plains around Sterling, Kansas. It was in the spring of 1906.  However, a romance was brewing that would end that peace and quiet. The culmination of that romance would drastically change the lives of many people. A large established family and a new family (started by the romance) would move a half continent away to California. The romance helped settle the State of California.

The romance was between my Father (25) and my Mother (16).

My Dad was born in 1881 in Covington, Kentucky, which is located across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. Billy the Kid was killed that year and George Custer had been killed five years earlier. Evidently, Dad’s first family was dysfunctional and an uncle who had previously settled in Kansas adopted him. That Uncle’s name was Charles Morton Monson. He had a large prosperous farm in Alden, Kansas. He had moved to the farm in 1878. Alden is a few miles out of Sterling. I have visited his (my grandfather by adoption) grave in Alden. His grave has a large impressive tombstone.

I have spent several days in the Alden area trying to get the feel of where my Dad was raised. And where my Mom and Dad had fallen in love. Dad hired out as a cowboy and farm hand. He told me that he can recall working six-day weeks for a month and his pay was one coin, a twenty dollar gold piece. He was working for Mom’s father as a farmhand in 1906. He lived with them.

My Mother was born in 1889 in Sterling, Kansas. Her Father was a well to do gentleman farmer. He lived in town and rode a fine horse out to his farm when his presence was required. His name was Edwin John Knowlton. He was born in 1854 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This picture of the Knowlton family was taken around 1905.


Look at the ties and the sailor suit. That indicates well to do. The girl on the left is my Mother. The girl on the right is my Aunt Margery.

Sterling was and still is a very straitlaced town. Two years before the birth of my Mother a Christian college (Sterling College) was founded. The college is still there and is still a Christian college.


This is in a small town of about 2000 people. A flavor of the times is this item. When the train station was built it had two waiting rooms. One for male and one for female. No telling what might happen if both sexes used the same waiting room.

I can imagine the alarm, consternation, and shock when it was discovered that my Mother was pregnant. I do know that the baby (my sister Nita) was born in a different city about eight months later in 1907. The city was Elk City, Oklahoma. About 250 miles south of Sterling. Another Uncle in Dad’s Kentucky family lived there.

Dad and Mom went from Elk City, Oklahoma to Holtville, California. Dad worked for years in that area on farms. He was a skilled teamster who could work horses. Later he had a team of horses and would do contract work in the orange orchards in the Pomona area. The horses were named Bert and Beck. I remember chewing on some of their oats. He could excavate a basement with a team of horses and a Fresno.

My folks had eight more children after they moved to California. They were born in Long Beach, Redlands, Riverside, Chino, and Pomona. Here is the romantic couple. Charles Abner Monson and Olive Knowlton. My Dad and Mom.


Within a year or two the whole Knowlton family had moved to California. They were a short time in Long Beach but settled in the San Francisco area. After my Mother passed away I would visit Aunt Margery. (Once to visit the Golden Gate Fair) Later during the war I lived at her house while I worked in Emeryville.

I could have been born in Kansas, except for the romance. The romance worked out, however. It resulted in nine children. I was the ninth.

It all started with a romance on the plains of Kansas.

1 comment:

  1. Great story, and well told.

    Thanks Mr Prunepicker.

    Bigfoot in TX

    ReplyDelete

!-- Site Meter -->