|Frank Whitman Raney, c. 1910|
During his retirement years from the Northern Pacific RR Frank enjoyed puttering about in his vegetable garden and growing roses, but he never had liked farm work. There might have been a shotgun wedding while a teenager. Uncle Paul and Pat said they found evidence of it on a trip back to Princeton, but what I located on Ancestry.com was a marriage in Pike County, Indiana, dated 9 Aug 1902, between W. Frank Rainey (b. 1876) and Estella B. Armstrong (b. 1878). They had three daughters and are in the 1920 census. Whether Frank ran off because his dad (he always called James Raney "Dad") was a tough taskmaster or because he regretted being married, he left Indiana in 1906 and ended up in Fredonia, Kansas, near the Oklahoma border, working at its glass factory. Mr. Lentes, the glass factory owner or manager brought him to the boarding house run by the Smith family - Eugene, Louise, Gus, Mary and Laura. [They rented their original farm, but would rent another in 1909 and give up the boarding house.] Frank recalled first seeing Mary crossing the street in a red dress. She claimed in later letters to him that she'd fallen in love with him during the short time he lived with them. Apparently, so did her younger sister, Laura. Whitman's stay in Fredonia was short; he left on 26 November 1906 to join the United States Army, his 3-year enlistment papers claiming birth in Oil City, Pennsylvania (to avoid being found by his wife?). After basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, he was sent to the 21st Infantry at Fort Logan, Colorado, just south of Denver (and later at Fort Douglas, Utah.)
This photograph was taken toward the end of August 1908 at temporary Camp Emmet Crawford between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming, in an area called the Vedauwoo. His infantry unit was on joint maneuvers with a cavalry unit from Fort F.E. Warren in Cheyenne. He must have marked the photo with an X before sending it to Mary in Kansas. They wrote each other often. According to a contemporary issue of the Laramie Boomerang newspaper, the Fort Logan soldiers had come north from Fort Logan by train to Ft. Collins, Colorado, and from there had marched the 59 miles to Laramie and then east about 20 miles into this rugged area. [When the U. of Wyoming Cowboys football team plays the Colorado State Rams, each ROTC unit runs from its perspective university to a nearly midway point at the state line to exchange the "Bronze Boot trophy." Funny how distances decrease with the years.] The army could have brought the soldiers all the way by train (Union Pacific), but that was too easy.
|Vedauwoo - a great recreation area|
Grandpa was quite a storyteller. He wrote of hair-raising adventures to Mary, recounting how his unit hunted bank robbers across the Wyoming prairie. When I read that letter some years back while living in Laramie, I went to the library and found the newspaper article about the bank robbery in Laramie and the search for the robbers. It was a long article and I suspect Grandpa read it while out on maneuvers. His unit may have been told to be on the lookout, but it became his personal adventure.
|Whitman wrote of going off on rides with his friend who had an auto and sent Mary this photo. I assume Whitman took the wheel for the photograph.|
After three years in the service he returned to Fredonia, converted from Baptist to Catholic, and married Mary Smith in June of 1910. On their wedding night, Mary's younger sister Laura sat outside their bedroom door and wept all night. Some wedding night! Years later, up at Laura and her brother Gus's farm outside Addy, Washington, Mary Agnes (still a girl) came to the open doorway to get a drink to find her father embracing and kissing Aunt Laura, who had never married. I'm certain Frank was just being kind.
Don't get me wrong. I was very fond of my Grandfather, and Grandma loved him dearly. In my next blog, I'll get on with Frank and Mary's story.