In one of my boxes of miscellaneous family papers I found a few letters. Here is one from my grandfather, Charlie Kircher, to my grandmother, Agnes. Seeing how much he loves her and his children just warms my heart.
In the transcription below, I have adjusted the punctuation somewhat for clarity.
Well, here we are again in Sausalito 7:45 after a rather hard day. Olaf’s dad in law died and he wants we to work tomorrow night for him so more trouble. I ate breakfast at Bradleys[iii] this morning and slept home last night. My bed was made when I got home and I don’t know who did it. You ma says she didn’t. Let me know if you get the papers all right and if you want anything sent just say so. I am so glad you can have a little outing and if you need anything to add to your or the kiddie’s pleasure let me know.
A funny old bird is the pelican
His bill holds more than his belican
He can hold in his beak
Food enough for a week
Although I don’t see how the helican
And how are my little honeybunches[iv]? I just love them so much that it makes me most cry to think they are so far away. And are they sleeping outside? I think they would be fine outside with you and Brownie.[v] You’ll let them won’t you honey? And you will tell me all about how they like it and how you cook spag[vi] on that cunning little stove and what time you go to bed and what time you get up. You’ll tell me everything won’t you Dear Darling Duckie Daddle. I just love you honey and when I come up we’ll sit on some big log and spoon and spoon and spoon. You’ll fix it so Brownie will be on watch minding kids when I come up won’t you. It must me just dandy sleeping under those great redwoods isn’t it. And you ought to see how cold it is here. Just awful. Is it warm there? Bye Bye dearie and kiss them all for me. Miller will go to work Sunday morning so I will send the clocks up then. That is if Sunday time is the same as week day and brings him on my boat.[vii] This isn’t good writing or a good letter but it is all big love for you honey. Your loving Husband
[i] The letter is undated, but I found another letter written on the same Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co. letterhead, dated June 17, 1914, so I presume this letter might have been written around the same time. I also found an item in the Marin County Tocsin, "County News Condensed", 15 Aug 1914, page 8, col 2 which reads "Mrs. Chas Kircher. and daughter Mary returned Friday from an extended visit to Cazedero."
[ii] I believe “D.D.D.D.” stands for “Dear Darling Duckie Daddle.” Later in this letter he uses the full term of endearment.
[iii] This is probably Tom and Mary Bradley’s, Agnes’ parents.
[iv] The honeybunches would have been their first children, daughters Mary and Bertha.
[v] Brownie is Agnes’ younger sister. Though her given name was Miriam, she was known as Brownie.
[vi] Not sure what he means by this. Perhaps spaghetti?
[vii] By “my boat” I assume he means the ferry he was working as engineer on. Miller is likely a fellow Northwestern Pacific Employee, probably working on a train northward. Since Charlie references the redwoods in his letter, it sounds like Agnes might be
I find my great grandmother, Mary Ahern Bradley, my grandmother, Agnes Bradley Kircher, and my great aunt, Elizabeth Bradley, on a very special list in 1912.[i] My other grandmother, Mary Jane Hardy, wasn’t on the 1912 list, but by 1914 she’d met the age requirement and she, too, got her name on that powerful roster.[ii]
Before 1911, none of these women, regardless of age, were entitled to have their names on that significant roll. But in a special election, California Proposition 4 narrowly passed with 50.7% support, granting women the right to vote. In Marin County, home to the Bradleys and Kirchers, only 41.6% of the male voters approved allowing their mothers and daughters and sisters this right.[iii] Did my great grandfather, Patrick Bradley, and my grandfather, Charlie Kircher, ignore the majority of their neighbors and support their wives? I hope so.
I believe my Grandma Kircher took her privilege and responsibility seriously. In 1914, not only did she cast a ballot, but she was an election judge for her local Tiburon precinct.[iv] That civic-mindedness continued for the rest of her life. In 1961 she and her sister, Miriam served as precinct inspectors. [v]
What would she think of this historic election of 2016? How would she vote? I can only guess. But one thing I do know for certain - she would vote, and she would expect me to exercise my right to vote as well. I’m glad I can. Be like Agnes. Vote.
[i] Index to Great Register of Marin County, October 1912, Tiburon Precinct, Tiburon, Marin, California. From California State Library, Ancestry.com. California, Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008, Original data: State of California, United States. Great Register of Voters. Sacramento, California: California State Library. (accessed 6 November 2016), images 418 and 419 of 697
[ii] Index to Registration Affidavits Amador County, State of California, 1914, North Amador Precinct, Amador, California. From California State Library, Ancestry.com. California, Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008, Original data: State of California, United States. Great Register of Voters. Sacramento, California: California State Library. (accessed 6 November 2016), image 258 of 542
[iii] “California Proposition 4” from Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_4_(1911) (accessed 6 November 2016)
[iv] “Primary Election Notice” Marin Journal, 13 August 1914, page 4, col 1, from California Digital Newspaper Collection, http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=MJ19140813.2.39&srpos=1&e=-------en--20--1-byDA-txt-txIN-%22agnes+b+kircher%22-------1 (accessed 6 November 2016)
[v] “Proclamation and Notice of Special County Election,” Daily Independent Journal, San Rafael, California, 9 Jun 1961, page 21, col 6 from Newspapers.com (accessed 6 November 2016)
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.