“The place of my beginning was Great Bend, Kansas on Saturday, February 5, 1916 ... ”
Thus begins the story of 96-year-old Marietta Younkin Showalter’s life now in her book “Marietta’s Stories: From Kansas to California, Memories Of My Life.”
Showalter was born into an era before immunizations and antibiotics when many children died, including six of her siblings. Her family struggled through the Great Depression, her brothers fought in World War II, and she was uprooted from the security of hometown and extended family to accompany her husband. Motherhood, relocations, and unexpected anguish followed, along with newly discovered joys and insights.
In her book, Showalter also includes a fascinating overview of her heritage, for long before her birth, her ancestors were living their own lives, laying the foundations which would support the framework of Showalter’s life. Various families from several states migrated, married, and had children who eventually settled in Kansas, setting the stage for the marriage of Marietta’s parents and, subsequently, her birth and that of her siblings.
It also includes more than 60 historic photographs and an index with more than 144 surnames.
Showalter’s great-grandparents include Samuel and Rachel (Dietz) Younkin of Turkeyfoot, Penn.; William and Content (Hawley) Rearick of New York; Stephen and Hariett (DeWitt) King, also of New York; and Anson S. and Hannah (McDonald) Verbeck of Windham, Penn. How the descendants of these couples ended up in Kansas provides a fresh glimpse of America’s westward movement and interesting family history facts. For instance, Anson and Hannah (McDonald) Verbeck were among the early settlers in the Wisconsin Territory, where Anson and Hannah were married in 1846. Their union is recorded as the first solemnized marriage in Washington and Ozaukee Counties.
Showalter is a woman who delights and inspires all who experience her practical wisdom, wit, optimism, creativity, and a deep and abiding faith that has comforted and sustained her throughout her lifetime. Marietta’s easy-to-read vignettes, which cover all ninety-six years of her life, are not only a window on the past, they also reveal the heart of a woman who is still planning her future.
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