One more day of work and then I’m on a four day vacation. At the ridiculous hour of 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday March 21st – my sweet husband drives me to the downtown depot in Greensboro NC where I take an Amtrak train to Charlottesville VA for the #vabookfestival.

Reason for the train instead of driving? Sweet husband will drive up and join me on Thursday evening but being the dedicated high school teacher that he is, he can’t afford to miss more than one day of school (even though he has almost a year of vacation accumulated) because, well, did I mention, he’s dedicated?

I’m looking forward to having a couple of days on my own and going by train. I love attending book festivals and the Virginia Festival of the Book is my favorite.  For one thing, it has something for everyone. Such a variety of authors and talks – from civil war history to poetry; farmers and chefs to weather experts, not to mention useful talks about writing and the publishing industry.

Secondly, I love that it begins on or near the first day of Spring – my favorite season. I don’t love that 3 to 5 inches of snow are predicted for Charlottesville on Wednesday but I’m planning to wear my boots and make the best of it.

If you’d like to experience the festival vicariously through my posts- be sure to check back to this blog over the next week. This will be my fourth year attending the #vabookfestival. I’ve been with friends from work, book club friends  and my husband. This year I’m going to meet my cousin who I haven’t seen in 25 years. How cool is that?!? She recently moved to VA and will meet me on Wednesday. Coincidentally we reconnected a couple of years ago when we both began blogging!



Flora Jane Bush Kingsbury (1860-1900)

I know very little about my great grandmother, Flora Jane Bush Kingsbury. My grandfather was nine years old when she died on May 21, 1900. A recently discovered link to online copies of historic Osage, Iowa newpapers allowed me to learn a bit more about her. Sadly, I still do not know her cause of death. 

From news reports on Thursday May 18th, it seemed as though Flora Jane might recover, [1] which probably made her death, three days later, even harder on the family. The day before she died was a warm summer day with lots of sunshine and blue skies and temperatures in the 80s.[2]   The week before had been warm but with a good amount of rain and thunderstorms in northern Iowa.

Flora Jane Bush Kingsbury died at home on Monday evening, May 21, 1900 and was laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon, May 23rd.[3] There was no detail about her life and her accomplishments but this verse was printed in the paper along with the announcement of her death:


Only a spark of an ember,
Only a leaf of a tree,
Only the days we remember,
Only the days without thee.

Only the flower thou worest,
Only the book that we read,
Only that night in the forest,
Only the dream of the dead.

Only the trough that was broken,
Only the heart that is lonely,
Only the sigh and the token,
That sob in the saying of “only.”

I’ve never heard this verse before so I googled the phrase “only that night in the forest” and though I still didn’t find who wrote the poem, it was referenced in a 1890 periodical entitled Book Chats, as an example of “consumptive poetry” under the heading “How to Fail at Writing Poetry.”[4]  I assume Wayland Kingsbury, Flora’s husband, selected this verse. Did it have some significance to the two of them? It’s not a great poem, but I think it’s appropriate to choose “consumptive” verse when your wife of 18 years dies when she’s only 40 and you are consumed by grief.


Since her obituary doesn’t provide much insight into Flora Jane’s life, I consulted several news articles from the years preceding her death, to understand her better.  Flora was born in 1860 and was the third of five daughters born to Eliza Jane Moore and Reverend Alva Bush. (They also had one son, Albert Lincoln Bush born in 1864.) She was only two years old when her family moved from Fayette County Iowa to the frontier town of Osage in Mitchell County in 1862, when her father became one of the founders and first principal of Cedar Valley Seminary. Cedar Valley Seminary played a prominent role in the life of the town and the Bush and Kingsbury families.

Wayland B. Kingsbury moved from his home in Fayette County, Iowa in 1878 to attend Cedar Valley Seminary. He lived in the Bush family home, working his way through school by doing chores for the family and the school.His oldest son Forrest, who also attended CVS provided this account of Wayland’s time as CVS, on the occasion of the school’s 100th anniversary in 1969.


Forrest also included this transcription of one of his father’s first letters home:


The 25th wedding anniversary of Reverend Alva Bush and his wife Eliza Jane was celebrated at the Seminary Chapel on Monday April 22, 1878. The description of it took up almost a full column in  the Mitchell County Press the following week[6]. It was quite an affair with lots of school and town dignitaries and alumni giving speeches, singing, praying, playing music and this:

“Miss Flora Bush, to the utter surprise of her father and mother, then stepped before the assembly and read the following appropriate and beautiful poem:

A crown of glory – silver hairs –
  That grace my father’s brow:
No diadem a monarch wears,
No brilliants that his forehead bears,
   Eclipse your glory now.

O, reverent locks of shining gray,
   Long may your beauty shed
The sunlight of its gentle ray
Along my dim and doubtful way,
   A blessing on my head.

And when the breath of heaven’s own land
   Shall fan that blessed brow,
God grant that I may near thee stand
And smooth these locks with this same hand
   That loves to smooth them now.
                        A. B. – C. V. Sem, Feb., 1878

The next year in 1879, Flora graduated from CVS and participated in an elocution competition as part of the graduation ceremonies. It was actually a competition among the top five male and top five female students. Flora won second place for her recitation of “The Painter of Seville.” The quality of the copy is poor so I’ll transcribe what appeared in the Mitchell Valley Press on July 3, 1879:[7]

“The Painter of Seville,” by Miss Flora Bush, took the second prize for the ladies. Miss Bush certainly deserves a high compliment for the peculiar power and emphasis, which renders such selections entertaining, and she probably had the finest and most difficult recitation of the evening.”

I didn’t have as much luck when I Googled “Painter of Seville” as when I found the verse in Flora’s obituary but I did learn that it was common in the late 1800s for schools to use recitation and elocution as part of the curriculum. On Google Books I found several catalogues of recitation verses, including a reference to “The Painter of Seville” in the index, but I’ve yet to find the full verse. 

Cedar Valley Seminary was a school ahead of its time; women were admitted from its inception in 1869. CVS was essentially a junior college, providing a course of study that would be useful in your trade or business, (i.e. shorthand and double entry accounting if your time at CVS was the end of your formal education) but also college prep courses, (i.e. Greek, Latin and advanced mathematics, if you were going to college.) I know that my grandfather attended CVS for at least a year before he began college at George Washington University. I think all of his brothers also attended CVS. Here’s the earliest Mitchell County Press reference to the Institution.

This is my grandfather Joseph Bush Kingsbury around 1909 when he attended Cedar Valley Seminary. Quite serious looking don’t you think? And maybe a little sad, but I never thought of him as a sad person. Perhaps because I knew him in his later years, I detect his kind and sensitive nature even in this early picture.


Ah yes, pictures. It would be so nice to have a picture of Flora Jane Bush Kingsbury.


[1] Mitchell County Press, May 18, 1900, p.3, col.3; image copy, Digital Archives of the Osage Public Library ( May 21, 2017)

[2] Mitchell County Press, May 22, 1900, p.8, col.7; image copy, Digital Archives of the Osage Public Library ( May 21, 2017)

[3] Mitchell County Press, May 25, 1900, p. 3, col.1; image copy, Digital Archives of the Osage Public Library( May 21, 2017)

[6]  “Silver Wedding – Grand Affair – The Silver Bill Thoroughly Vindicated,” The Mitchell County

Press, 2 May 1878, p.2, col.1; image copy, Digital Archives of the Osage Public Library ( May 21, 2017)

[7] The Mitchell County Press, 3 July 1879, p.3, col.6; image copy, Digital Archives of the Osage Public Library ( May 21, 2017)


Day One is Done! – National Genealogical Society 2017 – Raleigh North Carolina

It’s 11:00 pm and I’m ready to get a good night’s sleep. Today’s sessions were great (with one exception) and it’s even better than what I remember from three years ago when I attended my first NGS Conference in Richmond VA.

So here are some things I learned today:

  1. I saw a map of Iowa from the year 1846, which was about the time my Kingsbury ancestors from New England settled out there, and gained a new appreciation of their pioneering spirit. Although they eventually settled in Osage, the first county they lived in was Fayette County. On the 1846 map of Iowa – Fayette County was surrounded on three sides by “Indian territory.”
  2. In many states in the 1800s, when a couple divorced, the “guilty” party, was not free to remarry – only the spouse who filed for the divorce and got a favorable court ruling could remarry.
  3. Typewriters were not commercially available until the 1860s.
  4. There is a free software program entitled “” that lets you type in a metes and bounds legal description from an old deed and it generates an image that shows the shape of the property, based on the metes and bounds legal description.
  5. There are so many more records in courthouses than the ones I’ve been using. Now I’m even more excited about my next trip to a county courthouse.

Continue reading

Time to Shift Gears to Genealogy

April was fun but – hey it’s May! Thus ends my focus on poetry and a transition to a very busy month of genealogy research.
I was thrilled to find out about a year ago that the National Genealogical Conference was going to be in Raleigh in May 2017.

From the count down on their web page, you can see that the fun begins in less than a week! (Assuming you can read the numbers in those tiny blue rectangles at the top of the image above.) My first NGS national conference seems so long ago and my attendance was combined with a visit to my home town of Richmond, VA to spend time with my mother so my attention was divided. You can read about it here.

I remember being completely overwhelmed by the number of course options and being exhausted at the end of each day. Sensory overload – knowledge overload; it was almost too much. I was just getting started in genealogy back then, so I think I will have a much better handle on which courses to take and what I want to get out of the conference. I am super excited!

But even before next week’s immersion into the NGS national conference (I’ll be staying in Raleigh for Wednesday and Thursday nights and will have nothing to distract me from complete genealogy immersion!) I have a road trip to Richmond, VA (to visit my mother) this Friday. And there is always a county courthouse or cemetery somewhere along the way between my home in Greensboro NC and home town of Richmond, VA, that I’ve yet to explore.

This Friday’s target is the courthouse in Charlotte County, VA just over the NC border on Highway 15. It is likely to be the place where my “probable but yet to be confirmed” Revolutionary War ancestor William John Hubbard, married Nancy Jones on either September 1st or 9th, 1783. There’s no doubt that a William Hubbard, born in Goochland VA fought in the Revolutionary War and was shot in the leg in the Battle of Germantown. I’ve seen his pension files as well as those of his widow Letitia Hubbard (nee Letitia Frances) and several applications to the Sons of the Revolution that document his war time service.

The question yet to be confirmed (by me anyway) is whether that William Hubbard (also known as “Peg Leg Billy” after his leg was amputated a few years after the war because it just wouldn’t heal) was the father of Henry Hubbard, born in Halifax County, VA in about 1799. My connections to Henry Hubbard are pretty solid so I just need to make sure I’m connecting the right dots to get back to Peg Leg Billy.

Because really – who doesn’t want to have an ancestor named Peg Leg Billy, who fought under Patrick Henry (my favorite Patriot!) and Nathaneal Greene (my next favorite Patriot because he forced that pesky Lord Cornwallis out of the Carolinas!) It is easy to make the connection between any number of trees on but if you look at them closely things don’t line up properly. And if you look very closely, you’ll find even more things you hadn’t thought were issues that you might need to resolve. And that’s why I love genealogy – it’s a never ending challenge.

For instance – compiled marriage indices for Virginia marriages are the source for a marriage between Nancy Jones and William Hubbard and that relationship is documented as fact on several records on But when I looked more closely at the index – it seems that the man Nancy Jones married in Charlotte County in September of 1783 was NOT William Hubbard but Hubbard or Hubard (first name) Williams (last name)! And sure enough – there is another Revolutionary War Patriot named Hubbard Williams who enlisted in VA and is buried in Kentucky. So now I’m wondering if William Hubbard’s wife was Nancy or another woman, perhaps Elizabeth Guthrey.

Obviously Hubbard Williams isn’t the father of Henry Hubbard, but the real question for me is to find out the name of William Hubbard’s wife (or wives) the dates of their marriage and whether or not they had a son named Henry who I know to be my great great grandfather. Lots of dots to connect – lots and lots of dots!

Charlotte County VA – here I come. But please make it easy because I will only have an hour or two for this research on my way to Richmond on Friday morning!

Day Eleven – A Bop


EArth on Fire.2017
Photo from Pixabay


Our world is a mess these days.
Too many demands on limited natural resources.
Too much time and money spent in the destructive pursuit
of progress.
Urban oases of green sacrificed to the greedy god of growth.
Too much concrete and asphalt. Where does it end?

Be still and the Earth will  teach you her ways.

There’s a balance and a rhythm
Ancient as Time itself.
The yin and yang of living in harmony with the Earth.
But Man is consumed by greed.
The never-ending quest for power and dominion over the natural world.
Power that pollutes our waters, poisons our air.
Until the last best hope for our survival is gone.
Gone like the Carolina parakeet and sea mink.

Be still and the Earth will teach you her ways.

You’re not as insignificant as you feel
When you stare in disbelief at the open scars of a new highway
Cutting through woods you played in as a child.
Maybe you can’t stop greed-fueled progress
But you can teach your children to love the Earth.
To cherish and protect, rather than destroy.

Be still and the Earth will teach you her ways.

© Kalen Kingsbury 2017

Here is the prompt from NaPoWriMo on April 11, 2017
The invention of poet Afaa Michael Weaver, the Bop is a kind of combination sonnet + song. Like a Shakespearean sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition. In the basic Bop poem, a six-line stanza introduces the problem, and is followed by a one-line refrain. The next, eight-line stanza discusses and develops the problem, and is again followed by the one-line refrain. Then, another six-line stanza resolves or concludes the problem, and is again followed by the refrain. Here’s an example of a Bop poem written by Weaver, and here’s another by the poet Ravi Shankar





Day 10 – NaPoWriMo 2017 – A Portrait Poem

Grandfather Kingsbury

The smell of fresh pipe tobacco lingered after he was gone
But memories of our time together lingered longer.

Long walks after dinner – sometimes talking, mostly walking.
Afternoons at the big dining room table that never hosted family dinners
Playing Russian Bank – a form of double solitaire.
Alone together.

Visits to my third grade class to tell of his world travels.
Feeling so special as my classmates sat in rapt attention
listening to stories of his life in Thailand.
Water buffalo and beautiful dancers in golden crowns with wrists so supple that fingers bending backward could almost touch their wrists.

When my grandfather visited, I was important – someone who mattered.
Not just at school but at home.

When my grandfather visited, his son stopped drinking for a while.
My parents stopped fighting for a while.
We were a ‘normal’ family for a while.

My grandfather was my portal to the world.
With his stories and his support
I got to see the world
and realized that my world was not all there was.

With his quiet voice and thoughtful, measured speech
He taught me to listen.

With his never-ending encouragement and example
He taught me to seek adventure.

With his patience and kindness
He taught me compassion.

With his unfailing belief in my abilities,
He taught me to believe in myself.

Oh, how I’d like to take an after dinner walk with him now.
Slowly walking, quietly talking.
Or play a game of Russian Bank at my dining room table
(that has hosted many family dinners.)
Alone together again.

© Kalen Kingsbury 2017

Prompt for Day 10

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you. It doesn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, as what they are or were. If you need inspiration, here’s one of my favorite portrait poems.

joseph-kingsbury (2)


Day 25- NaPoWriMo 2017 – Poetics of Space

I am determined to complete the challenge – 30 poems in 30 days.  Here is today’s challenge from NaPoWriMo 2017

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.

A Child No More

In the small quiet confines of my corner dresser drawer
I kept my treasures – hidden out of view
A dog’s skull with loose teeth
Perhaps a rock or bit of moss
An eerie shade of green.

 I had more dresser drawers than I could use
So why not claim one for secret treasures
Underwear, shorts, shirts and socks filled all the others
But the upper right corner was my
Secret space for hidden treasures

 I remember wondering why I kept the skull
And when I became too old to remember why
I threw it away.
Too old to remember why the hidden treasures
Of my corner dresser drawer had meaning
Too old to care
Too old to dream
Too old to dare.

That’s what I lost when I emptied the dresser drawer
The chance to dare, to dream, to care
Soon it held nothing but rolled up socks
No rocks, no skulls, no treasures from my woodland romps

Just socks.
That’s when I knew I was a child no more.

Day 23 – NaPoWriMo 2017 – Elevenies

I’ve been frustrated that work and life have disrupted my daily poetry writing but finally – a new post! Today’s prompt is to write a double elevenie. An elevenie is a five line poem with exactly 11 words. So as you may have deduced by now, a double elevenie is a poem with two five line stanzas with a total of 22 words.  I’ll post my poem first (which turns out to be a quadruple elevenie) followed by more information on this type of poem.

Sustains life
Falling from above
Gently soaking spring-time soil

Heavy, strong
Days on end
Pounding torrents flooding streets

Summer shower
Passes quickly through
Washes all things new

Quietly patters
Outside my window
Lulling me to sleep

© Kalen Kingsbury 2017

Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above.

A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea.

Day 14 – NaPoWriMo – A Clerihew

You can’t make this stuff up! I’ve never heard of a “clerihew” – have you? Here are the instructions for today’s assignment:

Last but not least, our prompt! Because it’s Friday, let’s keep it light and silly today, with a clerihew. This is a four line poem biographical poem that satirizes a famous person. Here’s one I just made up:

Emily Dickinson
wasn’t a fickle one.
Having settled in Amherst,
she wouldn’t be dispersed.

By Maureen Thorson at

I’m hoping that a clerihew doesn’t REQUIRE satire because the one I wrote doesn’t really “mock, ridicule or make fun of.” Because REALLY – who wants to a make fun of Ansel Adams when we’re only one week away from Earth Day? (Which coincidentally happens to be the anniversary of his death in 1984!)

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams – grandson of a timber baron, a shy only child
Made photos that taught us to treasure the wild.

Yosemite, Big Sur and Aspens at Dawn
The work of this genius helps Nature live on.

© Kalen Kingsbury 2017