If you are at all interested in your ancestors and have delved into census records, cemetery records, county history books, old correspondence, photographs of long ago, then you can appreciate that, at times, some very colorful stories and people are often discovered.
Ed is an avid genealogist with much success in tracing back both his family and mine. If we know that a locale is a potentially “hot” spot on one of our family trees, we spend some time there — visiting cemeteries, public record offices, and local libraries. We did this a few years ago in Kansas — the prairie state where my grandmother was born. In the genealogy room of the Coffeeville Public Library, Montgomery County, Kansas, we tracked down Lizzie Bryant.
Lizzie was my great-grandmother’s niece. We found a picture and a few paragraphs about her in the 125th anniversary edition of History and Families of Montgomery County, 1869-1994.
Lizzie lived from 1868 to 1941. She is described as having had “a fine education” and as graduating from “the College at Winfield, KS.” I find myself liking very much that she obviously valued education, which for women back in the 1880s was not to be taken for granted. Yet, in an apparent about-face, Lizzie took to the “raw, rough life of outdoors and wild adventure.” She “was afraid of nothing,” and is claimed to have harbored border gangs of men, to have ridden all night to bring food to the Indians in Oklahoma who were sick with typhoid, called on the sick and needy, and wrote obituaries for her friends that had “the beauty of an artist.”
In later years, Lizzie lived on a farm “out west of Elk City” and raised hogs. It was reported that neighbors could hear her hog calling for miles around. She was invited to hog call at the fair and “she put everyone to shame.” From this first triumph, she went on to enter other hog calling contests, ultimately going to the state fair “with her new permanent wave, and a new fringe jacket.” She came home with a ribbon for hog calling.
For any of you readers who do not know what a hog call is like, it’s sort of a rather high pitched and loud “OOOO–EEEE.”
This is the fun of doing genealogy. Disparagers of doing genealogy seem to think we are looking for royalty or famous people in our ancestry. But that’s not the case. It’s the Lizzie Bryants who give our search its sparkle — a hog caller with a permanent wave!
*With apologies to American poet Carl Sandburg — “Chicago: Hog Butcher for the World.”