As I was typing up the last entry, it occurred to me that I didn't know when my great-grandfather got a hold of these journals, so I wrote my grandmother to ask her about that, and to ask some other questions I had been wondering about.
She says he probably got the journals in the 1930s or early 40s (he was born in 1900, so it's easy to do that math). Before that they were probably in his grandparents' (Jessie's parents') possession, or possibly held by Jessie's youngest sister Emma. (Jessie mentions writing letters to Emma -- I'm glad to know who she is!)
I had said before that Jessie died in childbirth -- my grandmother tells me that the specific cause was uremic poisoning (kidney failure). She is buried in Union Cemetery in Kansas City. I was there in 1996 to bury my great-grandmother (yes, that's me in the photo), but I would love to go back someday.
I have Jessie's engagement ring (minus the diamond, which is in another family ring at the moment). It's just lovely. Good job, Herman!
[I think I'm supposed to get the diamond back at some point, but I don't really care. Maybe someday I'll have the money to have the ring sized and a different stone put in it. It's so beautiful.]
Jessie's twin children, Conrad Lyman and Cornelia Jessie, were basically raised by Jessie's parents. They were with them until 1903 when Herman remarried a woman who by all accounts was certifiably insane. The woman took out most of her anger on Cornelia. I've heard from my mom (I think?) that the twins spent summers with their grandparents after Herman remarried.
Both Conrad and Cornelia went to college, courtesy of Jessie's older brother Forest (mentioned often in the journals). Cornelia chose the University of Kansas, to get away from Conrad, whose shadow she felt she was in. She graduated from KU and did graduate work at Cornell. (I'm trying to figure out if I can find information on her courses of study at either school -- if you have ideas on how to find out, let me know!) She worked with the YWCA, then as a Presbyterian missionary to China, and then as the dean of women at the American University of Beirut! My grandmother remembers Cornelia ("Aunt Corney") visiting them in the 30s or 40s (before WWII). She says that she loved Cornelia, she was in awe of her, and that Cornelia had the most gorgeous red curly hair. Cornelia then moved to Connecticut to work with the YWCA again, and she also did some commercial art. (I wish I could get a photo of her! I think any photos of her are with my great aunt -- maybe I should write to her about getting a copy of one...)
After the war, Cornelia met and fell in love with a man, and her brother decided he needed to check the guy out. Cornelia was very offended and refused to speak to Conrad. Turns out this guy had been married before and had tried to kill his first wife. Then after he and Cornelia had been married a couple months, he tried to kill her too! Around this same time she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (plasma cell cancer), which metastasized to her brain. She died in pain, with Conrad and his wife Isabell by her side, in 1949.
Conrad on the other hand (or Gramps, as I call him), lived a long, full life. He married his high school sweetheart, had two daughters, 8 grandchildren, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 great-grandchildren. He worked in the same profession ("the credit profession", in his own words) until he retired in 1968, and then he lived to be 91 years old. Life is funny.
[Isabell and Conrad circa 1988]Who knows how Corney's life would have gone had her mother not died? Or Conrad's, for that matter. Reading Jessie's journals, reading about the everyday, boring things, knowing that in 2 1/2 years she'll be dead and her children will be motherless -- it's really sobering. Our lives are so different, yet so similar. Technology has come a long way, but we still can't tell the future.
(Also -- twins in my family! Lord have mercy!)
Oh, one more thought: The internet is so great! It seems each person in the family has different pieces of the family history puzzle. I have the journals, my great aunt has the file on the twins, my grandmother has some other documents... but with just a little time and effort, the journals will be online for anyone to access. Long live the de-monopolization of information!