I, Laura Fuller Taylor, was born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 5th, 1883 the second child of Alonzo Albert Curtis and Lovancia Mehetible Fuller.
Mama and Papa were first cousins sharing Grandpa Dennis Fuller and Grandma Lovancia Bradley Fuller. Blanche Eulalia was born May 23rd, 1880 in Moline, Illlinois. Little brother Curtis Albert Fuller was born February 5th 1887.
Don't remember much of the twelve years of life in St. Louis, only that we lived in an upper apartment in a brick house. Can remember mother and father went to Chicago to the Fair and left us home with our downstairs folks and that they let Blanche and me sleep in a folding couch with a feather bed over us so it must have been winter time. It was something new to Blanche and me as we had never slept under such a thing before. They were German people I believe.
Then we moved to Elliot Avenue where we lived over the Franklins. We all three had scarlet fever and were quarantined. I was the sickest as I almost had diphtheria with it and I remember the Methodist pastor calling on us at the time we just got out of quarantine and that we all kneeled down while he prayed for us. Another time when we lived on Elliot Avenue we had a birthday party - boys and girls and we must have been pretty noisy and rough since mother said "never again." We always went downstairs when it stormed or there was lightening. Papa's health was beginning to fail so Mama made money by helping neighbors and friends with their sewing.
The last place we lived in St Louis was upstairs in a four apartment between Elliot Avenue and Jefferson Avenue. The Crawfords were beside us upstairs with the Peats and the Molyneaux below. They were all Latter Day Saints and very nice. Blanche and I chummed with and went to school with Olive and Nonnie Hardaway across the street.
We always spent summer vacations in Davenport with Grandpa Phineas Curtis and Grandma Lovancia Curtis who lived in a big house and had several more houses to rent.
"Phineas Curtis* was born in Otsego county, New York, June 10, 1830, and is a son of Daniel and Mehitable (Masters) Curtis. At twenty years of age he moved to Quincy, Illinois where he taught school. In 1851 he moved to Scott County Iowa where he purchasing a quarter section of entirely wild and uncultivated land for one-dollar per acre. On February 27, 1853 he married Laura L. Fuller, daughter of Dennis R. and Lovancia (Bradley) Fuller, of Allens Grove. Laura was the first white female child born in Scott County.
Phineas and Lovancia had seven children: Enola M., April 19, 1855; Lovancia M. October 22, 1857; Blanche E., November 23, 1880; Laura, September 5, 1883; Curtis, February 5, 1887; Dennis D., January 19, 1862; Frank R., February 28, 1864
He served as assessor for several years, was made collector of the money to build schoolhouses and served as justice of the peace. In 1872 he purchased a small stock of goods and opened a general store, was postmaster and conducted the business successfully for ten years; sold out and built and operated the Allens Grove Tile Works plus serving as postmaster and station agent for Davenport & St. Paul Railroad. In 1890 he moved to Davenport, where he erected a fine residence at 1202 Arlington Avenue and built a large number of houses in the city, their rental enabling him to retire.
Mr. Curtis was a stalwart Republican since organization of the party and filled a number of local offices, the duties of which he discharged with promptness and fidelity. He holds membership in the Christian church, in which he is serving as elder and in its work he takes active and helpful interest, while his entire life has been guided by its principles and teachings."
Papa had a pass because he was a railroad man. Believe he was a checker at a freight yard in St Louis. Before that he was an iron molder in one of the Davenport foundries when he and Mama married in Moline, Illinois. I remember Mama saying he traveled a lot as a union organizer founding ACUW lodges.
Papa's health got so bad he drug his feet and barely walked with a cane. Then his mother came from Colorado to see us and they decided to break up our home. Mama, Blanche and I moved to Davenport to be with her folks and Papa and Curtis went home with Grandma Fuller to see if the Colorado climate wouldn't help Papa.
We three lived with Grandpa and Grandma Curtis in the big house at 1202 Arlington Avenue for two years where I attended Washington School. I was placed in 7th Grade but within a day or so was moved up to 8th grade with Miss Davis. They thought I was small so Alice Libby was asked to watch out for me. Mama nursed all she could to earn money to support us.
Papa got homesick and came to live with us so Grandpa Curtis let us live in three rooms upstairs. We children lived in the attic. Papa didn't like living there and was so sick he decided to move back to Colorado where he lived with his mother. Curtis stayed with us. Papa started a ranch for us in Colorado but died a year later just after I turned fourteen and started high school. We couldn't afford to have his body returned to Davenport so he is buried in Jaqua, Kansas just across the Colorado line.
Mama took all Papa's insurance money she had left, after sending some to Grandma Fuller for having taken care of him, and bought us a little house at 1314 Carey Avenue for $1,100 and we were very happy to be by ourselves again. Mama put us all through high school.
We children always went to whatever Sunday School was closest. Went to an Episcopalian church where I was given a storybook and a Methodist church where I was given a Bible for one year of perfect attendance. Then at fourteen years of age my friend Frances Marian Evans and I joined the Christian Church where I still attend as I write.
When sixteen John Taylor asked me to go boat riding with him to celebrate my 17th birthday which created a crisis as we became engaged at once. John was five and one-half years my senior and so very nice. John gave me a diamond ring to the envy of all the girls at school as I was engaged all my last year of high school. It was because of John's help that I managed to graduate.
Blanche worked as a bookkeeper for Earl Nichols the grocer until she got married December 24, 1901. Then I took her place and worked there until I got married on May 15, 1902. Blanche married Joe Gould but lived with mother as Joe was in the Insurance Business in Dubuque. Blanche's health was very poor, she died exactly three weeks after she became a mother to Albert Fuller Gould on June 22nd, 1903.
John and I were married in my mother's home by Pastor C.C. Davis with just our immediate family present. Had a nice lunch then took the midnight train to Chicago for our honeymoon. We stayed till Sunday evening when we came home to set up housekeeping in a house at 1428 Fulton Avenue John had rented. Unfortunately we were only able to stay two months as Mr. McAnich decided he wanted to move back with his wife from whom he had been separated.
So we found an upstairs flat near John's work at the freight depot. Think we paid $10/month rent at both places. John was making $40/month which seemed like a lot to me since I never before had so much money to handle so we got along nicely on that amount. A neighbor was moving away and wanted us to keep her piano so Grandpa and Grandma Curtis paid to have it moved upstairs. John paid $10 for a term of lessons, I learned to play and play piano whenever one is near.
We moved back in with Mama to help her care for Blanche's baby Albert. I was busy sewing for our new arrival when I found out our baby was on the way. We called Lady Doctor Kelster and Dorothy Blanche arrived a little after noon on October 15th. Aunt Nola came and helped Mama take care of us. Albert was put into short clothes. We got along nicely but it was confusing with two babies so John and I decided to be alone again in a rented flat. We lived there for a year until John was offered a $75/month job in Russellville, Arkansas.
Seventy-five dollars a month seemed like a lot of money so we crated and packed most everything, Dorothy and I moved in with mother Fuller as he went to Russellville to see what it was like.
In about a month John wrote that he had rented the only available house in town and we could come on. It was quite a trip to take as I did not take a sleeper. Left Davenport in the evening, arrived in St Louis next morning; changed trains and didn't arrive in Russellville until around 10pm the next night where Papa met us at the train and took us to Mr. Stuart's for the night.
We joined the local Christian Church where I sang in the choir and made a lot of friends but all was not well. Papa had to be at the depot to after nine almost every night and then Dorothy got pink eye which I then caught from her. We became lonely.
Papa wrote to ask for a job back at the Davenport Depot and was offered one at night so we packed up once again, sold lots of furniture to the second-hand store and headed home as quickly as possible because it was already October and getting cold. After being south six months we decided Davenport was good enough for us. We rented Grandpa and Grandma's big house on Arlington Avenue with Mother Taylor and three girls (a mistake).
There was always sickness. Papa died, Blanche died of tuberculosis and Blanche's boy Albert died of typhoid fever. Dorothy had scarlet fever and a relapse when she was seven years old which left her throat and eyes weak. Then when Dorothy was fifteen she had a fever and was poorly for six months when the doctors scared us by saying she had tuberculosis which quarantined her for six months. Then Leona's little girl Helen died of membrainous croup so we had to move.
Grandpa Curtis let John and I rent another one of his houses for $16/month but alas that was too much rent for our $40/month salary especially given we were expecting another new addition to our family. Our neighbor, Mr. Booth, rented us a little house he had vacant on Pershing Avenue and we moved there in August. James Alonzo Taylor was born Monday morning October 8th, 1906 and we were very happy. Dr. Allen and Mama came and took care of us while Albert stayed with Mama's neighbors.
Next year we had a chance to start a $1,100 house of our own for $100 down. John's mother Elizabeth Taylor lent us the money and we moved into our own four-room cottage. The total payment was $17/month but it was ours. Put a furnace in and were comfortable only crowded as Esther Lovancia was born Christmas morning 1909.
We had a chance to sell and make a little money so we did. John cashed his twenty-year endowment insurance policy which we couldn't afford anyway and we bought the large house at 1812 Esplanade Avenue where we still are as of March 1929. We moved in on the 4th of July, 1913. We were finally home after having moved seven times in seven years. We wanted our new house to pay for itself so there was a lot of work to do. We had a chimney built from the ground up through the roof and installed a kitchen and bathroom upstairs. We rented the upstairs for $15/month. There were only a few years when we had all four children home and needed the entire house for them when it was not rented.
Richard Curtis was born April 7th, 1917 the day before we declared war on Germany. James was almost 18 and went away to Iowa City to become a chemist. Dorothy got a job as a stenographer through Aunt Gertrude with White-Phillips where she made $24/week which she then kept until she got married January 16th, 1926.
Grandma Fuller's health was failing and her house was empty downstairs so she decided to come live with us just before Dorothy was married but alas; she was never happy this last year of her life and my health gave out too. But that wasn't the worst blow of all.
It was our Esther who got discontented and was restless after Dorothy got married and kept us worried to death as to what she was going to do next. When we went to visit Dorothy in Crawfordsville, Indiana in July 1926 we stopped and spent the night at her husband Chet's first cousin's house (Who was best man at the wedding and fell for Esther) to break our long trip. What did he do but follow us to Dorothy's place and persuade Esther to run off and marry him in Lafayette, Indiana on July 3rd, 1926.
I thought I would never live through it with both my girls married and gone but her father said it was alright and she'd have to settle down so I'm still living but it was an awful shock to go through and we missed them so and Esther just a girl of 16 ½ and only one more year to graduate from high school.
Mother Fuller gave up when Dr. Lambach said I must go to the hospital to get fixed if I ever wanted to be strong again. Childbirth had left me in bad shape. I was under ether for almost three hours for the operation and stayed at the hospital eleven days.
Mama had to stay with Curtis and Zula and got so she couldn't even dress herself and was afraid at night. May stayed with John and Richard a week and then John got Mrs. Harmon (Zue's mother) to come and take charge of things. Kept her three weeks. Mama came home and then Ora came and visited for two weeks. I had to be very careful not to lift or overdo.
Aunt Nola came and stayed two weeks while we took a short vacation to live on Lake Darling at Alexandria, Minnesota. We were gone almost eleven days. Aunt Nola was a worn out wreck when we got home. Aunt Lizzie came next and stayed almost a week.
From then on I took care of Mama full-time until she fell down one morning in December. We finally decided poor mother would have to go to the hospital. We took her in an ambulance the Saturday after Christmas and she only lasted three weeks. Everyone came for the memorial service: Howard and Esther drove both ways on ice and snow.
Mama's death surely changed my life.
It seems strange to have so much time
to myself to plan and do as I like which I had not been able to do
since the first year of my married life.
It does get pretty lonesome some days.