Wednesday, September 16, 2015



I first ran into Mrs. Biddle on her way to a funeral.  The newspaper report of young Rolland Humphrey Stevens' death in 1903 ended with the following:  "Mrs. Biddle of Carbondale, George Stephens of Ashton, OT, and A. H. Stephens of Kansas City arrived in the city yesterday to attend the funeral, which will be held today [Nov 1, 1903] at 3:30 o'clock from the family residence."

Roll, as he was called, was only 17 and had just started on his first job out of Business School - a "Train Butch" who walked through the cars while the train was chugging to its destination, selling travelers food or snacks, newspapers, books or whatever he carried that trip to make train travel a little more comfortable.  It was his first - and only trip - as there was an accident in Cimarron, Kansas, and he was one of the three people killed.

Roll's mom had died giving birth to a second son in 1899.  His dad's business necessitated his traveling a great deal between Oklahoma Territory and Kansas.  At various times unidentified pictures were taken by photographers in Purcell, Blackwell, Guthrie, (Oklahoma) and Hutchinson, Sterling, Carbondale and Wichita, Kansas and put in a big velvet album that was passed down in the family.  So we knew there were plenty of aunts and uncles to tend to Roll and his two younger sisters.

But there were no people with the surname of Biddle in his background.  It was a mystery: Why was Mrs. Biddle coming to Roll's funeral?

After several years of research on other family members, I came back to the Stevenses.  There were a few loose ends I wanted to wrap up.  One was getting to know Lillian Humphrey Stevens a little better.  Her children, Roll, Estelle and Helen, were my own grandma's cousins.  Grandma's mom was Nellie Stevens, a younger sister to Frank Dana Stevens.  My grandma would have played with these kids. I wanted to find out a little more about them.

In looking at some census records for Estelle Stevens, who was 9 years old in 1900 (shortly after her mother died) I found all three of these children living in Osage County, Kansas with Amos and Mary E. Biddle.  And Mary was listed as their grandmother.  I checked the cemetery and found that a John A. Humphrey had died in 1876 and his wife had later married Amos Biddle.  And I found that in 1880 Lillian May Humphrey was 17 and a school teacher.   My records showed that Lillian and Frank D. Stevens had married in 1885 and babies came fast -- and my grandma was born in 1885 and she and the girls probably played "dolls" together, like all little girls do.  Who would think that in a short period a few years down the road, Lillian, Frank D. Jr, and Roll would all be dead, way too soon.

(Estelle, Helen, and Rolland)

So when Roll died, of course his grandmother, Mrs. Biddle, came to the funeral.  One thing the obituary did not note and I found very interesting is that Lillian May Humphrey Stevens named her first child after her own brother - Rolland Humphrey.

Bits and pieces of this story have been in my mom's side of the family for years.  But we just didn't know how the pieces fit together.  Now we do.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Wichita Mourns Popular Woman Taken in Death
An infection Claims Life of Mrs. Henry Wallenstein, Jr.

Mrs. Dana Wallenstein, 25, wife of Henry Wallenstein, Jr. of the firm of Wallenstein & Raffman, died Wednesday afternoon in Colorado Springs after a short Illness.

For the past month Mrs. Wallenstein and her two daughters, Nadine and Dana, had been in a cabin in the mountains near Colorado Springs.  About two weeks ago a pimple appeared on her chin which later developed into a carbuncle.  This became infected last week, but not until Friday was it thought serious, at which time she was taken to Blockner (sic) Glockner Hospital in Colorado Springs.  Monday and Tuesday her condition seemed improved, but Wednesday she rapidly grew worse and died at 1:30 p.m. of septic poisoning.

Mr. Wallenstein was called to Colorado Springs last week and was at her bedside when death came; as were also her parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Stevens, 4000 East Douglas and Henry Wallenstein, Sr.


Mrs. Wallenstein's many friends in Wichita always remarked about her devotion to her small daughters.  Although she was interested in community and other activities, being a member of Entre Nous and other organizations, her paramount concern was her home.  She was a member of Temple Emanuel, Reformed Jewish Church.  Mrs. Wallenstein had no enemies and was always the most gentile of women.  She carefully avoided petty difficulties and was usually the peacemaker in any community differences.  She was always ready to help those in distress, and her kindly spirit made her many devoted friends.


Mrs. Wallenstein was prominent in social circles in Wichita.  She was educated in the public schools here and attended Lindenwood College in Missouri.  Before her marriage to Mr. Wallenstein she was Miss Dana Stevens and their wedding five year ago last June was of much social prominence uniting, as it did, to socially prominent families.  Mr. and Mrs. Wallenstein lived at 120 North Broadway. 

Mrs. Wallenstein is survived by her husband; two daughters, Nadine and Dana, her parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Stevens, two brothers, Frank and Larry, both of Wichita, and one sister, Rosana, Wichita.  The body will be brought to Wichita Friday morning and the funeral will be held at 4 o'clock Friday afternoon.

31 August, 1927