Life in Corbin, Kansas [1907-1918]

By Mary Potter Boyd

Submitted by Ann Evans, a Winfield resident, formerly from Corbin

 

††††††††††† I was surprised the other evening when I got a phone call from Leona Brownback from Corbin. I am Mary Potter Boyd, and my parents were Lucius (L. D.) and Alice Potter. Most of my childhood was spent in Corbin, and my family and the Liles were friends and church workers together. Also we children went to school at the same place. Memories often come back to me of those childhood days. This recent conversation has refreshed my thinking and has brought pleasure in the doing.

 

††††††††††† We came to Corbin in 1907. I was 4 at the time. My father was agent and operator on the Rock Island [Railroad]. He had not been there too long when my parents bought one of the 3 General Merchandise Stores which then existed in the town. My mother ran the store and he [dad] continued his work at the Depot. During that time we lived in a room back of the store.

 

††††††††††† Corbin was very much a country community, though it had several houses, a good Bank, the school and two churches. These were the United Brethren and Methodist denominations. My ancestors had been Methodist on both sides, from a way back, so naturally my parents soon aligned themselves with that local congregation. Preaching was twice a month and the 2 churches worked together, so that preaching duties would alternate for there to be services in town every Sunday except the 5th Sundays.

 

††††††††††† I have a July birthday and the fall after I was 5 I started school. It was a frame one room building in the southeast part of town. My first teacher was Miss Jessie Thompson. They required one year in the Primer and one in the first grade at that time. I only went one year in that building. The second year the new brick school house had been built in the southwest part of town and there were 3 teachers. The first 3 grades made up one room, the 4th, 5th, and 6th were another room, and the teacher for the 7th and 8th was also considered a Principal. I remember one big room on the second story where we sometimes had assemblies. It could also be used for community purposes. A few winters there were pay programs given there by outsiders Ė such as Lyceums. Ours was a country community, so some of the pupils came with horses. There was a shed for them, just east of the schoolhouse. That was a wonderful place to play anti-over. Marbles and work-up in Baseball also filled in at play periods.

 

††††††††††† I remember quite a hill just back of the schoolhouse. There were teeter-totters on the playground, with removable boards. What fun it was when there was a bit of snow to take one of these boards and all pile on that it would hold, then sail down the hill. It wasnít so much fun to get the board back up, but there was plenty of help, so it got done for the sake of going back down again.

 

††††††††††† I finished the 8th grade there at age 13, under Miss Cora Ganet. Then I went back one more year and she crowded in some Freshman High School studies with her 7th and 8th grade work. I later got credit for this as I got my High School Diploma in Mo. [Missouri] at age 17.

††††††††††† We left Corbin in Dec. of 1918. I was 15 at that time. My grandmother in Holden, Mo. had just passed away and grandfather, in the upper 80ís, had to be cared for; so mother felt the job was here, and they made the change. The Cadwalders took over the Rural Route and bought our home. This move to Mo. opened the way for me to finish High School, and I did it in the 4 years, though I had much work to make up. I was in the middle of my Sophomore year when we made the move.

 

††††††††††† Going back now to the town in general with my story. My father and his railroading did not last too many years. Telegraphy was a very important part of it. He had to take and give messages by the dot and dash method. It made him very nervous, he was so afraid he would get messages wrong and it was affecting his health. He had a chance to become Rural Mail Carrier, so he gave up the other job. For a while mother continued with the store, then gave it up and they bought a small 2 room house just a little west of the church. They added 2 rooms on the ground floor at the time they moved to it, and before we left they built an upstairs addition, which they never got finished inside before the change came. I had a baby sister born in that house in Sept., 1911. I had been the only one up to then.

 

††††††††††† Now a few thoughts in regard to our church life. Most of the years we were there we worshiped in a wooden one room structure with a tall steeple. IN 1917 it was torn down and a new church was built. When we left the next year some inside parts were not completely finished as planned; but the whole thing seemed very grand to us. There was always Sunday School every Sunday and worship services on regular schedule. At times there was Jr. Epworth League. Many times it was the Preacherís wife who would lead this. Childrenís Day Programs came every year on the 2nd Sun. in June. Christmas Programs on Christmas Eve created much excitement. The tree would usually reach the ceiling and families brought all their gifts so the tree was really full. They used real lighted candles. Now we would not think of that, but no fire resulted. Cedars were hard to find and buying was unheard of. My dad used the team he had for his route several times, and would travel considerable distance, but would bring in the tree. One year they just could not find an evergreen, so a plain tree was used and branches were covered with cotton. There would be practice for weeks on those programs and they really meant something to the community. There just wasnít as many outside activities then as there are now. This filled a need.

 

††††††††††† The church women had week day meetings. I guess they called them Ladies Aid. I went with my mother at times. They did some quilting and they made clothes to distribute when there as a need. They took food in case of sickness, too. The church women made money to help with the church needs by sponsoring big feeds in an empty building down town. There would be oyster and soup suppers, or sometimes chicken dinners, where many families and individuals would come and buy their meals. In hot weather an ice cream supper would be very popular. Of course it was with homemade ice cream and cake. The turn outs were always good at these events.

 

††††††††††† Church night services were by kerosene lamps hung on the walls, and the instrument for music was an organ. The musician had to pump it with her feet to make music. A new organ was bought while we were still in the old building. It was bigger and better, but it took a strong boy to pump it with a crank while it was played. Revival Meetings meant much They came once a year and lasted 2 weeks.

 

††††††††††† Passing years have certainly brought their changes, we hope for the better. But material things do not necessarily mean happiness and success. These depend so much on the things money can not buy, and they come only when our life is right with our Lord and with our fellow men.