Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Seems like in doing genealogy you either have too many pictures or not enough. Or maybe it is that you have way too many snapshots and not enough portraits. This snapshot is one of many dozens that have survived on my mom's side of the family - and my generation is hard pressed to know what to do with them all.

I look at this picture and know that it is of my uncle Bob and his paternal grandfather. I have portraits of both of them, so I don't really "need" this picture, but for my money it tells me a whole lot more than those portraits do.

Grandpa James Arthur Ryland (my great-grandfather) looks older than Moses in this picture, but I know that since little "Bobby" was born in 1906 and JAR was born in 1847, Grandpa was really only 63 year old and he would live through the births of 8 more grandchildren and not die until the mid 1930s when he did, in fact, look more like Moses.

This picture shows me that little boys even after they were old enough to start walking were dressed in dresses. I don't know for sure but I'd guess it had something to do with putting them in pants when they were toilet trained (and boys are notoriously slow at that!). But whatever, little Bobby (his name was actually Nevalyn Eugene Ryland) sure does look cute and cuddly here. And for sure he is trying to trying to ask his Grandpa what that large black animal is.

James Arthur Ryland came from Indiana to Caldwell, Kansas as a young man, intending on teaching school. There is a book entitled "Midnight and Noonday: Or the Incidental History of Southern Kansas and the Indian Territory 1871-1890" by G. D. Freeman (and ghost-written in 1890 by JAR's wife Louise Hall Ryland, according to a letter JAR wrote that is in the possession of other family members). This book gives a great look at just what kind of a rough and tumble, wild western town Caldwell was when Ryland arrived. He did, in fact, teach some school, but he also bought up old bedraggled cows that were being brought up the Chisolm trail and were too tired to go any further. He bought some land, put the cows on it to fatten then up, and then he sold them at a great profit. It is likely that the photo of little "Bobby" and his Grandpa was taken on that ranch in Kansas.

I look at this picture and I see the world my mother was born into. She was the third of seven children born in Caldwell to JAR's son Byrd Ryland. She told us stories of growing up in Kansas - the farms, the tornados, the hanging of wet sheets in front of the doors to try to cool off the house, the one-room school houses, the animals, the vegetable gardens, and yes, the chickens. The Ryland family (at least most of it) left Kansas for California in 1931. I have gone to Caldwell several times and while I feel some symbiotic feeling for it, I can't help but be thankful that at least my line of the Rylands went west. We may have earthquakes but we don't have tornados!

1 comment:

Stacey said...

That is a great picture! In this case, I would definitely say that the "picture tells a thousand words". Thank you for the story!