Tuesday, April 5, 2011



This is a picture of Miss Maud McConnell and her sister Lillie’s children posing on donkeys. The oldest, Hazel, is in the middle, and her brothers Floyd and John are on either side of her. It is true, the boy in front looks like a girl, but in those days boys stayed in dresses until they were out of diapers. I’ll make an educated guess that this photo is dated about 1894. Every photo tells a story. Today I’m going to tell you about this one.

Maud always went by her middle name. According to her family bible, she didn’t like her first name, Susan! Her parents, John B. McConnell and Frances Narcissa Wright McConnell, lived in Barren County, Kentucky and eight of their nine children were born there. About 1880, the McConnell family moved from Kentucky to Kossee, Texas, where they bought some farmland. The last child, Harrie Uberto McConnell, was born in Texas. Lillie shortly met and married a railroad engineer, Benjamin Franklin McCammon, and the McCammons moved to Colorado City, (now west Colorado Springs) where he worked for the Midland Railroad.

In 1893, Ben was killed in a railroad crash, leaving Lillie with three small tots. Lillie’s parents, along with Maud (now 17 years old) and little brother “Bert," came up from Texas to help her out. Maud chose to stay in Colorado to help her sister with the children. Her folks and Bert went back home.

Maud lived with Lillie and the kids until the little ones were in school. At that point, Maud, now 20, went to work at a bookstore in old Colorado City. In those days, almost every Sunday there was a band concert at the local park. It was a social event and once the concert ended the band members mingled with the audience.

It was at one of these band concerts at Stratton Park in Colorado Springs that Maud McConnell met a cornet player named Scott Dobbins, who in the summers played in the Midland Railroad Band. During the rest of the year, he lived on the Dobbins ranch in Las Animas, Colorado and played in the Las Animas band. Maud herself was an accomplished pianist and apparently she and Scott discovered they made sweet music together. On December 28, 1898, Maud and Scott married in Colorado Springs at Lillie's house. After the honeymoon they settled in at the Las Animas ranch. In 1904 Maud gave birth to their first child, a daughter Dorothy, and in 1908 they added Scott Jr. (my father) to their family. Shortly before Scott’s birth, they sold the ranch and moved into town.

Maud was widowed in 1917 and because it was necessary for her to go to work to support the two children, they relocated to Colorado Springs where jobs were available. After a few odd jobs, she found her place as a matron at Glockner's Sanitarium.

A few years before he died Dad and I were talking about what life was like in Las Animas. He said that his folks always had a piano in their house, and during the freezing winters all the neighbors would bring their musical instruments to the Dobbins house and spend the afternoon making music for their own enjoyment, my grandma Maud on the piano and grandpa Scott on the cornet. A neighbor taught my dad to play the banjo, and other neighbors and relatives filled in with guitars, trombones, and clarinets. Those who didn’t play an instrument became the “choir.”

I was born in California in 1935. Grandma Maud began making yearly trips to visit our family. Because I was so young when she came, I really didn’t know who she was and I referred to her as “that lady.” Eventually “Lady” became my name for this grandma. She died in 1940 and I don’t have any real recollection of her. But I do have this picture of me, my mom and Lady taken in 1938, and when I think of her, it is always this picture that always comes to mind.

For those of you who are my Dobbins siblings and cousins, my grandma Maud is also your grandma. To our children, she is their great-grandma, and to our grandchildren she is their great-great grandma. So when your grandkids hit fourth grade and are required to produce a genealogy of their family, you can at least show them this picture, tell them this story and then, if I am still living, I can fill you in on all the rest. This is, of course, the whole purpose of genealogy – passing the family history on down through the generations.

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