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Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

Growing up in 'The Valley' region

Friday, February 1, 2013

Courtesy photo The Oxford School Band, 1930. Back row, Bill Coady on the tuba and to his right, Ivan Coady on trombone. To his right is Glen Mcquiston, also on the trombone. Others are not identified but Sue would love to know who they are.
By Susan Doak

SW Genealogy Society

My family ties in this area span a region from Long Island, Kansas to McCook. Dad's mother's family settled in the Long Island area (Smith's) and the Coadys ended back in McCook after a circular route through the Oxford, Alma, Franklin, Mascot and Orleans area. That area, referred to by dad as the Valley, had a large group of Irish immigrants.

As I returned to the 1930 census searching for my father's family, I expected to find several notations of Ireland as a place of birth. I was two decades late, for as I looked through the 19 pages of Oxford census information, most of the families listed Nebraska as the birthplace of both themselves and their parents. The Irish had truly become US citizens.

Younger than his brother, Ivan, dad skipped two grades and graduated with him so that he could work to help his mother support their younger sisters; Evelyn, Eva, and Erna. One precious school days memory was when John Phillip Sousa came to the valley and the Oxford school band (both dad and his brother were in the band) played under Sousa's direction. The picture shown here is that band. Dad was born in 1916, so when he graduated from school, he entered the work force during the depression. Dad hauled chickens and turkeys penned alive in wooden cages stacked atop a flatbed or farm truck over the rutted dirt roads that connected many of the villages and towns. He bought my grandmother a used bedroom set with his first paycheck and it is still in our family. Over the years he tried to get rid of it, much to my dismay, finally giving up in the 1980s and completely refurbishing the bed for his only living grand-daughter.

When you read the employment listings in the 1930's census, many forgotten jobs are there. One distant relative, Stanley Clark, was a movie machine operator, one a telegraph operator for the railroad. Some worked at the power plant (many little towns had their own electrical company) and the ice house. One managed the "Pleasure Resort" which I am sure wasn't what it sounds like.

When work got harder to find, Dad and a friend hopped a freight train and went to Northern California where they worked in a CCC camp until things got better back home. That may be why neither dad nor mom was ever concerned about the hobos that would come to our farm in Indianola off the train asking for food. If you have lived it, you understand it, at least in those days.

Grandma and Erna (Aunt Tiny to us) worked at the turkey processing plant in Oxford. Erna later moved to McCook and worked as an operator for Bell Telephone, a company from which she retired.

I have searched the internet for articles on John Phillip Sousa's trek through Nebraska picking high school bands to join his orchestra but found none. I will need to make another trip to the Nebraska State Historical Society to physically search their large selection of newspapers, including the Oxford Standard. Hopefully one of the valley's newspapers caught a picture of the performance that I can add to my family history book.

Let SWNGS help you find the history of your family. Check our website:www.swngs.nesgs.org for meeting dates and class schedules.

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