I suppose every family has a box of these, pictures of anonymous relatives posing in front of unfamiliar structures, the exact location of which is unknown.  Luckily, some kind soul had the foresight to write the names of the young woman and the older gentleman on a copy of this one, although for a while the names meant nothing to me.

Kate & Will Wide

According to the caption it’s a picture of Kate Leece visiting her uncle, Will Simmons, apparently in front of his home in the village of Lovewell, Kansas.  Kate was born Kathryn Louise Doxon at Lovewell in 1884, so the picture might have been taken around 1920 when Kate was in her thirties and William A. Simmons was about sixty.  Kate was the daughter of Will’s sister Mary, generally known as “Nellie," and her husband John Doxon.

Nellie was an informal medical practitioner around White Rock and Lovewell, and a popular midwife who helped bring many of the region's children into the world.  John Doxon was one of Thomas Lovewell’s closest friends, and according to The Lovewell Family “Orel Jane Lovewell and Nellie Doxon remained inseparable friends all their lives,” and died within days of each other.  The Lovewells and the Doxon family were so tightly-knit that one of Kate’s brothers was named Lovewell Doxon.

The picture may have been in a box of mementos my mother gave me in the 90’s.  She could have provided a helpful description, such as, “Your great-grandfather with one of your cousins,” but you can’t have everything.  Besides, we more fully appreicate the things we have to work for, or so I’ve heard.  Thus far it’s the only photo I have which I can say with some certainty, is a photographic record from Lovewell in its heyday.  But we have other kinds of records of the place, thanks to its tireless historian Orel Poole, one of the daughters of Stephen Lovewell.

Orel Poole wrote a brief account of the development of the town, describing some of the first businesses to relocate from White Rock.  Among the cornucopia of historical goodies she left behind is a hand-drawn map, showing where many of the residents lived and where businesses were located.  I was amused when I saw so many names that are now familiar to me listed as property owners, all bunched towards the top of the map.

I probably know only a fraction of the relationships represented here.  But I know that Simpson Grant Lovewell's daughter Pansy married Earl Wurth, whose name is misspelled on one of the middle blocks.  Looking to the left side of the map, two of Adam VanMeter's daughters, Villa and Lulu, married Thomas Lovewell’s sons Stephen and William Frank.  Looking further right, a third daughter, Emma Alice, married Will Simmons, and then the couple's daughter Alice married their neighbor across the street, Jake Switzer.  We sweep up two more names from the north side of the tracks when, several years after the death of his wife Villa, Stephen Lovewell marries Alta Kershner Mann.

Apparently, one of the great things about a little town is that one does not have to stroll far to go a-courting.   


© Dale Switzer 2023