Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kansas Gothic

Reading about Grant Wood's "American Gothic" brought this photo to mind because of Steven Biel's reminder that the pose of the couple in the 1930 painting was not uncommon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (or for that matter, now) --- couples or entire families gathered by intinerant photographers in front of their homes, often holding or posed near prized possessions. In one of Biel's illustrations, entitled "Nebraska Gothic," the head of the household even was holding a pitchfork.

There's no pitchfork in this battered photo of the John and Susan (Myers) Hickle family, posed in front of its Lincoln County, Kansas, home probably during the late 1880s, but it's still an interesting and typical shot. Other than John and Susan, who was my great-grandfather's sister, I can't identify the others in the photo by name, although that may be Jesse standing in the wagon in the background.

John, born 22 August 1831 in Ohio, reportedly led an interesting life --- including work as a Pony Express rider --- before settling down in Benton Township, Lucas County, where he married Aunt Susan (born 27 February 1844 at New Florence in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania) on 9 April 1867.

John and Susan farmed in Benton Township for 17 years and nine of their 10 children were born there --- and two died, Jacob Edwin (28 September 1873-14 June 1874) and Rosa May (30 June 1879-1 August 1880). Jacob and Rosa are buried near their grandparents, Jacob and Harriet (Dick) Myers, in Salem Cemetery.

The Hickles moved from Lucas County to Kansas in the fall of 1884. John died there 12 years later, on 1 October 1896; and Susan followed on 12 June 1903.

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