Contributed by MERLE (BUS) CORNELIUS and produced by SUSAN STAFFORD.

Marie Boling Cornelius

Born Greeley, Ks. 1903 / Died La Jolla, Ca. 1988

For more than six decades, Marie Boling Cornelius' son, Bus, has been collecting stories, anecdotes and other bits of Kansas history, and in particular Lane, Kansas history. Bus writes, "Years ago my dad showed me the Old California Road that went northwest out of Lane to the East side of Ottawa, the John Brown area, I was hooked on history. I have so many hobbies, genealogy for several families, which ties in with my research on old family history and history of Lane Kansas, the two tie together." His love of Kansas and history finds many expressions: "The Franklin County Historical Society, sends me stuff to identify. I like to draw the old buildings, of Lane, Ottawa, Osawatomie and of old Ghost towns of the West such as Bodie, Ca. Then I research all the history I can find on such; when I have something of interest, I send it out in my monthly newsletter to seniors in rest homes." The newsletter is a happy combination of humor, interesting history, and ghost town stories which many seniors -- not just those in rest homes -- enjoy and look forward to reading.
     Bus is generously contributing copies of the materials he has collected or created to KanColl, and among them are a number of pieces written by his mother, Marie Boling Cornelius. She was a remarkable woman -- a talented writer and tireless recorder of family and local history. Here Bus writes about his mother and the influence she had on him

     Our mother's education was in small, country schools where she learned much and grew to appreciate literature. She was a human dictionary, rarely missing the meaning or spelling of words. Her special loves were Longfellow's Evangeline and Hiawatha's Childhood. She could recite a lot of this all her life. Her lifelong love of the written word probably was, in part at least, because of loneliness on the farm. She worked very hard but found time to read everything. One old farm house Mom's parents bought had a treasure trove of books left in the attic by a former owner, and one of the Bush City neighbors also had an extensive library where Mother borrowed books. Maybe in later years when Mother's eyesight failed and most reading became impossible, she substituted the writing with the large penned word she could see and loved so much.

     When did she start writing? This is like catching a cold. Just when did you catch it? In 1930, I was in the sixth grade at Lane Kansas. Each student was asked to write a story There were some wild stories. I did not know any thing to write about. My mother came up with a story about an American Aviator flying over a South American jungle and his plane went down. The South American Indians saved him and thought he had been sent as their new white god. I copied my mother's writing, and the teacher knew I did not write the story. However I received one of the few (A's) I ever received in school. Later in the year the teacher asked if there were any more episodes. My mother wrote several more. He was their white god and they would not let him leave. I wished we had kept copies of this.

     In later years, Mother lived in California. She was a great communicator. Often siblings who were living only miles or blocks apart received news of the family through her letters. She began writing about the 1903 family (Mother, father and seven children) Oklahoma covered-wagon trip. She being just three weeks old on that trip relied on the memories of her brothers and sisters and recorded the events of the trip. We believe she did this so we would not forget our connection to the family and where we were raised. Her 400 pages of writings of the family, events and many of the town's people have been read many times, used as reference. I have so cherished her writings that she passed on to us; when we talk about her writings we feel like she is present, a wonderful mother. In my humble way I have tried to do the same to future generations.

-- M.L. (Bus) Cornelius

"There should not be a blank piece of paper
as long as you have memories in your mind."
Marie Boling Cornelius

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