Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy 139th Birthday, Caroline Belle Mendell Cramer (1872-1929)!

Wally Cramer's mother

My sister is named after this ancestor!
Caroline Belle was born in Pennsylvania to recent Civil War vet George and Margaret Mendell, seventh of their ten children. The Mendell family was educated and literate--she had a brother who became a doctor, and two brothers named after authors (Cicero and Lew Wallace).

The family moved to Nebraska, where twenty-year old Caroline married Joseph Cramer on a Tuesday evening. They had a dozen children. Caroline (called Carrie) was remembered as a good mother, always seeing the bright side and staying young with relatives and friends. She was always ready to help.

When she was a young mother, a freak lightning ball rolled down the stairs while Carrie was ironing on the first floor--she got the kids out in time, but the house was consumed. Note the before photos of the house in this scrapbook and then the colorized flames as the house burned. (Who carried the camera out with them during the fire?)

Carrie may have shared the creative gene her son Wally exhibited; note the clever cutouts creating these scrapbook pages (although I don't know who in the family made the album):

The Cramer family was saddened by the infant deaths of two of their children: three-month old Gladys in 1907 (Gail's twin, siblings just older than Wally), and the eleventh child, five-month-old Kenneth in 1912. Then in 1922, Carried was widowed just before her 50th birthday when Joseph died suddenly on a trip.

Her change in marital status made me weep as I examined Wally's seemingly innocuous report card that Carrie signed that autumn, and saw the transition in her signature right at the time she was widowed:
Carrie only lived seven more years after her husband passed away, dying of a malignant tumor at her daughter Helen's home, and leaving teenagers behind.
Carrie with her daughters

I would give her a shopping trip to a craft store to get some neat scrapbooking supplies!

Carrie's rocker, in possession of
 grandson Craig Cramer


  1. I would love to be known for all the things she was known for! What a great namesake to have. Thanks for sharing Anita!

  2. great post. i love hearing about these ancestors that fairly close in time to us.

  3. I'd give her a computer to Photoshop and create online scrapbooks.

  4. Hi Anita, Thank you so much for sending the piece on Carrie, this is the only way the history of the family can be prevented from being lost, and you do a great job. Thanks also for using some of the pictures I sent to you I'm glad you like them. I don't know if you noticed or not the picture on the book case behind the chair of George Mendell.
    Craig & Marty