Trending In Superior

Despite what you may have heard about the wanderlust of Americans, at heart, we’re really a bunch of homebodies.

The thought occurred to me when I noticed that the Lovewellhistory website is trending in Superior.  Numbers had sagged for a while, but now things must be back to normal there, because we’re trending.  

I’m not even sure what trending is, but it’s apparently considered a good thing and I’m told it’s what the site is doing in Superior and elsewhere.  You would think that it should be possible to trend negatively, but evidently not.  It’s like the old adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity, even if Bill Cosby might disagree.  The Urban Dictionary, which pulls no punches, informs us that the term “derives from a sad misunderstanding of the verb to trend as meaning to become a trend.”  A few days ago someone in Russell, Kansas, scrolled through 37 pages of this site during a session lasting 21 minutes, briefly creating a one-person trend, as far as Russell is concerned.  There were visits from web surfers in 123 cities in the past 30 days, including a few unhurried sessions by folks in Oklahoma City, New York, Nashua, Raleigh and Shawnee.

Given the content here, it’s hard to imagine that a large portion of those visitors are not Lovewell relatives, leading me to wonder, in some cases, how they got where they are.  Which branch of the family made a home in Boca Raton, for instance?  Nashua is a no-brainer, since Lovewells have been hanging around those parts since the 1600’s - but what circumstances brought a relative to George Town, the one on Great Exuma in the Bahamas?

Several cousins live near Superior because the farms of Thomas Lovewell’s children and grandchildren were only a few miles away, and because Superior lies astride a good highway, making it an unlikely candidate to dry up and blow away.  Even those who actually reside in the country or in other small towns in the region, probably show up in the analytics data as “Superior” because that’s the location of their Internet service hub.  There are numerous Lovewell relatives in southern Nebraska and northern Kansas, all because Thomas Lovewell liked the looks of the White Rock valley when one of his scouting trips first took him there in the 1850’s.

My house is 350 miles from that valley, but I still live in Kansas, which was a territory when my great-grandmother was born here in 1857.  It had been a state for over thirty years when Thomas Lovewell brought her and her children to live near him when she was stricken with cancer.  Thus, while my grandmother was born in Portland, where her father had herded his family while he looked for a job that would support them, she grew up in Kansas instead of Oregon, married and had children here.  None of her seven children left the state for any length of time, except for military service.  Only one of the seven moved outside of Jewell County.  

A cousin named Dennis Emerson does live in Oregon because his great-great-grandfather Solomon Lovewell homesteaded at Manzanita in the 1860’s.  Mary Penner, another great-great-grandchild of one those Lovewell brothers who went rambling about America in the mid-1800’s, grew up in Nevada, Missouri.  She apparently started out in that region because her ancestor, William Lovewell, made nearby Pleasanton, Kansas, his final stop.  

I haven’t delved very deeply into William Lovewell’s military service record, but his regiment of Missouri Militia Cavalry seems to have been one of those involved in the Battle of Mine Creek, in which troops commanded by General Alfred Pleasonton stopped Confederate General Sterling Price’s invasion of Kansas in 1864.  Did William settle in Linn County because it reminded him of his glory days during the war, and because a town there decided to honor his old Union commander by misspelling his name?  Actually, the misspelling may not have been the town’s fault.  When railroad section chiefs filled out the paperwork for depot signs, evidence shows that they acted much like today’s overzealous spell-checking software.  One of them may have guessed that citizens of the little settlement in east-central Kansas had meant to make their town’s name a contraction of “pleasant-town,” and missed the mark.  Well, he would fix that.

Anyway, William Lovewell cashed in his chips at Pleasanton, Kansas, and three or four generations down the road, some of his descendants had moved as far as 40 miles away.  

Another cousin, Kathy Knight from New York, the descendant of a famous Kansan, has sent some fascinating D.A.R. paperwork that I plan to share soon, but not before explaining how she came to be in New York.

Some explaining seems to be in order, because Kathy’s great-grandfather was Kansas’s great 19th-century popularizer of science, Professor Joseph Taplin Lovewell, who spent the bulk of his adult life in Topeka where he held the chair in chemistry and physics at Washburn.  After his retirement he was elected secretary of the Kansas Academy of Science, holding the post for the next twelve years.  Joseph Lovewell was born in Vermont and had served as a professor of science and physics at schools in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, before the death of his wife Margaret in 1876 brought him to Kansas to make a fresh start.  In 1885 he married fellow Vermont native, Caroline Forbes Barnes, a major figure in creating the music department at Washburn.

When she was eleven years old, Joseph and Caroline Lovewell’s daughter Marguerite made a fateful trip East, spending six weeks in New England in the company of a chaperon, Mrs. H. T. Miller.  The news item reporting their visit gave no details, but we are left to assume that this may have been Marguerite’s introduction to nights at the theatre, to grand opera, and her own great big dreams.  In 1905, after graduating from Topeka High, Marguerite moved to Hartford to begin her vocal studies.  From that moment, her calendar year became a reverse image.  For the bulk of the year she lived with her half-sister Bertha in Connecticut, coming home to Topeka for the summer, until at last Topeka was no longer home.  The final news tidbit I’ve seen about her visits to Topeka is an item from 1925 which mentioned that she had stopped there to see her half-brother Paul, on her way to California to spend a holiday with Bertha and her husband, who had moved to Pasadena.  Marguerite was now a New England girl with her own place at Mt. Vernon, New York, where her children and grandchildren were born.  If not for that six-week visit in 1897, they all might have been Kansans.  

Kathy has asked me to keep her informed about plans for the Lovewell/Davis reunion next summer, because she and her husband just might be able to attend.  I hope so, because it would make for an historic reunion.  As far as I know, these two branches of Lovewells haven’t had a get-together since 1902, when Thomas Lovewell hopped a train for Topeka to chew the fat with his cousin the professor.

Getting back to the subject of Superior, Pat and Carolyn called yesterday to suggest the third week of June as a tentative date for the reunion, one that’s especially appropriate for celebrating our ancestors, since it’s Father’s Day weekend.  Visitors arriving from afar will probably want to book a room in Superior.

So, if everything works out, around June 20, 2015, Superior should be trending.          

© Dale Switzer 2016  dale@lovewellhistory.com