Hiram Miles Femrite was my maternal grandfather. He was a highly respected member of his community and a successful businessman as well. He outlived two wives and died in 1995 at the age of 97. I always looked up to him when I was young and admired him even more as I grew older after learning about some of the challenges that life threw at him. However, he was not an easily approachable person, especially to children, and he was more than a little mysterious at times.
Grandpa Hi had two younger sisters, Hannah Almyra Femrite and Jeanette Griselda Femrite. The family lived in western Minnesota in the town of Madison. The picture at the top of this post was taken at the end of the year in the school they attended together, I’m guessing around 1910 (the postcard doesn’t indicate the date). Each child in the picture is enjoying a peppermint stick which I’m sure was a reward given to them by the teacher and probably made for a very enjoyable afternoon. (I think the photographer did an amazing job of getting everyone’s attention for such a fine shot. There’s only one student who isn’t looking at the camera!) Hannah and Jeanette are the only girls in the picture, Hannah on the left of the teacher and Jeanette on the right. Hiram is immediately to the right of Jeannette in the same row.
I never met either of my two great aunts. Hannah died in 1947, five years before I was born so I didn’t have a chance to meet her. However, Grandpa never talked about her to me or my other siblings. I know she died in Seattle, but I have no idea what the circumstances of her death were. Disease? Car accident? I can’t find any news reports or official documentation online that would explain this. Someday I may go to Seattle and see if I can find the answers using local resources.
Jeanette lived to be 80 and died in Omaha in 1983 when I was 31. She had a son named Bob who died in 1988 at the age of 51. I never met him either and neither my grandfather nor my mother ever spoke of great aunt Jean or cousin Bobby to me that I know of. My sisters have no more information than I do.
When Hannah died, she left behind two sons, Earl Ross Pomeroy and John Charles Pomeroy. Apparently, their father, Earl Ross Pomeroy, wasn’t able to raise the boys himself, so Ross was farmed out to some relatives whose names escape me and Grandpa Hi brought his nephew John home with him to Madison where he raised him from the time he was six until he graduated from high school. I’m grateful that my mother and John communicated regularly over the years because now John and I have a long distance relationship that continues to this day. Since I haven’t yet found any living Femrite relatives, he’s the only blood relation left on my mother’s side of the family.
I pieced this oddness together after my mother died and I inherited all of her photo albums. There is clearly some additional context that would explain these strained relationships, but unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever find out what that might have been. I’m just sad that I never met these significant relatives of mine.