Monday, December 27, 2004

May Chamberlain Cornelius -- Photo 3

I've posted several pictures of my grandmother, May Cornelius. These earlier pictures have shown her as a young woman years -- decades actually -- before I entered her life. This is a picture of how I remember her -- in her farmhouse kitchen with an apron tied around her waist getting ready to prepare another meal. This picture was probably taken in the early '60s.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The early years

My grandparents with my dad (on the left) and my Aunt Elaine (Cornelius) Frahm. Dad was a year older than Elaine -- she was born in 1925 and passed away in 1995.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

New York, New York

Dad with an unknown Army buddy before shipping out. I don't know if this photo was taken in a bar or a "staged" photo for the GIs. It was probably taken in either 1944 or 1945. Dad was in the Pacific Theater and was part of the Okinawa invasion.

On the town

My parents (on the right) on a hot date during their college days at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln! The identity of the two other couples is unknown.

Mom and me (Easter 1954)

Picture of Mom and me taken Easter 1954. This picture was taken in their Magnolia Avenue apartment in Chicago.

Dad and me (Christmas 1953)

Picture of Dad and me taken most likely around Christmas 1953. I would have been 16 months old at the time. The picture was taken in their Magnolia Avenue apartment in Chicago. We moved to the 'burbs in August 1955. I asked my mother why I would have been wearing shorts and short sleeves in December in Chicago and she said that was the fashion of the day. I didn't know pneumonia was in style back then. :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Dad's baby picture

This is a picture of my father taken, probably, sometime in late 1924. Dad was born February 8, 1924.

Monday, November 15, 2004


This is an undated picture that was recently found of two of my great-aunts. The sister on the left is Anna Helebrant Smaha (1881 - 1959) and the sister on the right is Tonnie Helebrant Stanton (1883-1964). They are -- stay with me now! -- half-sisters of my maternal grandfather, Edward Kostal. I never knew Aunt Anna, but I did know Aunt Tonnie. In fact, my sister and I have inherited a lot of her old dishes, glassware and the like.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Joseph Chamberlain

This is an undated photo of Joseph Chamberlain, my great-great grandfather. Unfortunately, I do not have much information regarding Joseph's birth or death. I did ask my Aunt Sandy (my dad's sister) what information she had about Joseph. She said: "I know Joseph had two different wives and a ton of kids and I know Grandpa George had to leave home at an early age and start making it on his own because there were too many children to be fed at home."

"Grandpa George" is George Chamberlain, Joseph's son who was the father of May Chamberlain Cornelius, my paternal grandmother. (God this gets confusing!)

In May 1987, the Grant Tribune-Sentinel wrote an article about the pioneer families of Perkins County. The following is excerpted from the article:

George and Mary Jane Chamberlain were two of the earliest settlers of Perkins County, Nebraska. Their story is one of hard work and determination that was typical of pioneers of their time. George Chamberlain was born in Memphis, Missouri on January 4, 1855. Mary Jane Black was born in Butler County, Pennsylvania on December 2, 1860. Mary Jane was working as a domestic when she met George. They were married in Craig, Missouri on February 4, 1886 and [shortly thereafter] moved to Nebraska. George came to Ogallala, Nebraska in 1886 on an immigrant train with the early Perkins County settlers. Mary Jane followed in a few weeks. They settled on a tree claim 5 1/2 miles southeast of Madrid where they built a sod house and planted hedge apples and yellow plum trees. Some of these trees are still growing. [Steve's note: I picked some of these hedge apples when I visited the site two years ago!] Six children were born in the sod house:
  • William (4/28/88)
  • Jennie (3/27/90)
  • Bertha (1/31/92)
  • Fred (1/23/94)
  • May (5/21/00)
  • Galen (4/16/02)
At one time, George and Mary Jane had a large jar of rattlesnake rattles. The story goes that when Mary Jane was picking up buffalo and cow chips to burn, she would come upon rattlers and kill them. She saved the rattles and put them in the jar. They had good crops for a few years, but in 1892, a seven-year drought came. So, in 1904, after 18 years of farming, they rented their farm out, had a sale and moved to Madrid. They bought a livery barn, a butcher shop and a hotel called "The Madrid House." In 1919, Mary Jane's health began to fail. In 1920, they sold the hotel and bought a farm one mile west of Madrid. Mary Jane died March 8, 1922 of sugar diabetes. Insulin was discovered the year she died. George continued to live on the farm until 1939 when he had a farm sale. He lived with one daughter and then lived with May and Floyde Cornelius until January 1928 when he went to California to visit his children, Jennie Morgan and Galen Chamberlain. He got ill and died there October 13, 1938.

George and Mary Jane are buried in the Chamberlain family plot at the Madrid Cemetery.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Floyde W. Cornelius Jr.

It's technically still Veterans Day so I am posting this service photo of my dad, Floyde W. Cornelius Jr. I'm not sure when this picture was taken, but Dad served in the Army Signal Corps and was stationed in the Pacific Theater. He saw extensive action at Okinawa. Dad passed away in early 2002. Happy Veterans Day...and thanks!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

May Chamberlain Cornelius -- Photo 2

My Aunt Sandy sent me this wedding picture of her mother (my paternal grandmother), May Chamberlain Cornelius. I don't know if this is her engagement photo or a formal wedding picture.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Fred Astaire

This little 2" x 3" picture has been in my family for many years. It is a picture of a young Frederick Austerlitz who was known to the world as Fred Astaire! No, he's not a relative. Fred was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 10, 1899. His father, Fritz E. Austerlitz, worked for the Storz Brewery in Omaha and would travel throughout the midwest on his sales calls. My great-uncle, Edward Stanton, owned a tavern in Ravenna, Nebraska and the senior Austerlitz would often bring his son along with him as he traveled. Young Frederick would sometimes be a guest at my great-aunt and great-uncle's home in Ravenna. This picture appears to be taken at my aunt's home. Unfortunately, the identity of the boy on the right is unknown. We believe he is a relation (a distant cousin, perhaps), but his identity is lost. The picture was probably taken in 1904 or 1905 when Frederick would have been 5 or 6. According to a number of Internet sites, his show business career began in November 1905 when he and his older sister, Adele, began dancing in vaudeville together. There are a number of great Fred Astaire sites including and Dance on Air.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Sod House

This is a picture of my great-grandparents' sod house in Nebraska. The house was located a mile or two from my grandparent's farm. My grandmother, May Chamberlain Cornelius, lived here as a young girl. In summer 2002, I visited the site. The house was torn down years ago.

May Chamberlain Cornelius -- Photo 1

This is my paternal grandmother, May Chamberlain Cornelius. This picture was taken for her high school graduation. My grandparents were married on April 4, 1922.

Floyde W. Cornelius, Sr.

This is my paternal grandfather, Floyde W. Cornelius, Sr. My grandparents farmed near Madrid in Perkins County, Nebraska located in southwest portion of the state.

Basic training

A picture of my grandfather (under arrow) and his company from Sherman County, Nebraska as they prepare for basic training. This photo was probably taken in 1917. His basic training took place at Camp Funston, Kansas and then on Long Island before he was shipped off to France. I have about 20-30 letters that he wrote to his sister from camp and when he first arrived in France.

A young doughboy - Photo 1

A photo of my maternal grandfather, Edward Kostal, taken in 1917 before he shipped off for France. He was severely wounded in action at Argonne in Septmber 1918, a few weeks before the Armistice was signed. He eventually recovered from his wounds and settled in Ravenna, Nebraska, a small farming community in central Nebraska. He became a rural letter carrier until he retired in the mid-1960s. He was a pretty good golfer, winning a number of state and local tournaments. He passed away in January 1967.