Jane Gingles

Next in the lineage of the Wolff Sisters was Ida Belle.   She had been married to Thomas Bentley in 1902 and they were the parents of two children:  Alethea and Jessie.  Mr. Bentley disappeared from the home in the summer of 1919 and no trace was ever found of him.  Jessie died of pneumonia at age seven in Aunt Ida’s arms.   Aunt Ida got a divorce from the missing first husband and moved to Wyoming to live near her daughter.

In 1924 Aunt Ida married Thomas Adams Keith who had served in the U.S. Army for 13 years and worked for the Union Pacific Railroad in Cheyenne.  None of the nieces and nephews ever called him any name but Uncle Keith.  He was a tall and slender, very patriotic gentleman.  They returned to live in Kansas at Grandma Wolff’s home after Uncle Martin had bought his farm and had planned for he and Aunt Metta to live on it.  I could go across our pasture and stop at Aunt Ida’s just to play the old piano.  It was always fun to visit with both Aunt Ida and Uncle Keith.

Gladys wrote in her family memories that at her wedding to Tom who was a newly graduated 2nd Lieutenant Fletcher, Uncle Keith snapped to attention and saluted him.  It impressed Tom immensely leaving a very special Windmill Memory of their wedding day.

I remember a very stormy time one winter when I was a 7th or 8th grade student.  The aunts had gathered at our house for 2 or 3 days during the snowstorm.  They had decided that because I was a much younger niece, they and Grandma who was spending ‘her turn’ at our house would spend the stormy days making “Hope Chest” articles for me.  They made dresser scarves and pillow cases.  Aunt Metta would draw a design and all would embroider or crochet edgings.  When the storm was over, I had a large dresser drawer full of beautiful fancy work.  I have used those articles through the years still remembering how busy those fingers were and how much they enjoyed those stormy days together.

The family story has been told through the years of Aunt Ida who was just two years older than my Mother, being curious to see the Baby.  When she climbed the side of the crib to see Mom, she slipped and fell into the crib onto Mom.

Aunt Ida’s daughter married young and had four children.  Her oldest daughter, also married at age 16 became a mother at 17.  This let Aunt Ida be a Grandmother at age 40.  Alethea did not come back to Kansas to visit very often but relatives from Kansas would go to Cheyenne to see her.  I do remember how important it was to always fix a Christmas box for Alethea and her family.  Her boxes were welcomed in Kansas with excitement.   Even when there was little money spent, the homemade gifts and small trinkets carried the love that was shared across the miles and kept the family connection close.  As we prepare for the holiday season, do we think of the caring factor that makes family ties important through the years and across the miles?

Aunt Ida and Uncle Keith had moved back to Cheyenne where she died in 1961 at age 80.  Uncle Keith made several trips back to Kansas to visit as he had become a much loved Uncle who made Aunt Ida very happy after a first marriage of sadness.