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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in arline (3)


    Women of Colorado! You Have the Vote!



    Mom sent me a photocopy of this image a few years ago showing my grandmother Arline posing in front of a Colorado campaign poster. Mom was able to decipher the entire sign by using other pictures taken the same day of Arline's friend and her little boy standing with the same background. Little Gaylord was so small that the lower half of the sign is quite visible in his photo. 

    Although women in Colorado were granted full voting rights in 1893, when this photograph was taken in 1915 some states were still barring women from the polling booth. It would be a full five years until the 19th Amendment gave women in all states the right to vote.

    Women -- and Men -- remember to vote Tuesday, November 6th.



    Surname Saturday - Kinsels Were Considerate Folk

    Today is the 42nd Anniversary of my grandmother's death. Arline Allen Kinsel and my grandfather Frank Ammi Brown were both kind and considerate, if somewhat unconventional, grandparents. Frank was Arline's fourth husband and fifth marriage (she married one man twice).

    Born October 2, 1890 in Kansas City, Missouri, Arline was one of those unregistered births that twists genealogists into knots. No family Bible records names and events, no civil records include her name. But buried deep in a box at the bottom of a trunk of papers, I found a printed card completed by a conscientious clergyman after baptising 10-year old Arline on Easter, 1901. It records her birthdate, birthplace, and parents names. Thank you Reverend Mann.

    Arline may not have appeared in the civil birth registers, but she was no stranger to the newspapers. Clippings and full page tear sheets record the events of her life. Her marriages, divorces, court appearances, battles for child custody, and testimony during the investigation of her sister's disappearance all tell a story filled with more drama than Penny Dreadful could ever invent.

    The scandals disappeared as Arline grew older, married Frank, and raised a second more conventional family in Southern California. She became a respectable woman, wore a hat and gloves to church every Sunday, and didn't trouble anyone as she grew older and more feeble.

    When she finally died at the age of 77, the cause of death was a ruptured appendix; she couldn't or didn't want to trouble anyone. She died the day before Memorial Day 1968. My grandfather, Frank, had died a few years earlier on Christmas Eve. It is always easy to remember when they left us, courtesly leaving the holiday itself free for it's intended memories, and the day before to remember each of them.


    A Mystery in Two Acts -- Act One

    This photograph has intrigued me for many years. It shows Arline (front, center) with her sister Mercy (front left) and friends posing as the Cast of Characters from the drama "A Noble Outcast." My students laughed at the tall fellow in the back row. They thought he looked so mock-stern. We all understood the pose better when we realized that his part was "The Villian or James Blackburn." I have often wondered about this play. Was it a mystery? A parlour romance? A farce? Sometimes, mostly in the wee hours of the morning, I search on the internet for references to the drama but I don't seem to get very far.

    The Google gods were smiling recently, however, and I began to locate information about this late 19th century melodrama -- yes it was a melodrama. In fact, the number of references to the play indicate that it was a popular amateur theater production by at least 1907.

    Written in 1888 by John A. Fraser, the play was performed from Strathcona, Canada to Atlantic City to Wellington Township, Wisconsin. The number of references to local productions indicate that the drama was well known and well received throughout small-town America. Alas, it is difficult to find the script itself. Copies seem to be held in the Princeton Library and the New York City Library but it is not widely known today, and those libraries are a bit off my beaten path.

    Fortunately, a local historian in Curry County New Mexico also found an interest in the old-fashioned drama. Don McAlavy read about the play in the memoirs of his wife's grandfather, Levi J. Whiteman, who produced the play with friends in Portales, New Mexico in 1907 when he was 20 years old . Mr. McAlavy seems to enjoy a challenge and he took on the task of finding a copy of the script and then staging a production in 1994 for the Clovis Pioneer Days.

    With this new clue to the whereabouts of a script, I took to the internet for further research. Mr. McAlavy is no longer living in New Mexico, but he still writes a history column for the local newspaper. He responded quickly to my email and told me more about the script he located and used for the 20th century production.

    I have a copy of the original melodrama. That copy of the "A Noble Outcast" was used by others and many of the pages were written on, crossed out, but most of it is readable.

    Mr. McAlavy has very kindly offered to share a copy of the script with me, and I am excited at the prospect of actually reading the 80-page play and discovering the roles played by Arline and Mercy as Frances Lee, Leading Lady and Mrs. Lee, the Colonel's wife.


    Please stay in your seats; I will be back with more after the Intermission.



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