Nora Kirsch (1866-1949), Quilter Extraordinaire!, 52 Ancestors #92

Nora motorcycle

Nora Kirsch on a motorcycle with 3 of her daughters, Eloise, Mildred, Nora and Edith, my grandmother.  These women were always up to some sort of mischief!  I come by it honestly!!!

Nora, or actually, Elnora or Ellenora Kirsch lived a remarkable life for a woman born in 1866, immediately following her father’s service in the Civil War.  Nora, as she preferred to be called, was born on Christmas Eve in Aurora, Indiana, on the Ohio River in the location known as the Kirsch House.  Proprietors of the Kirsch House for nearly 50 years were her father, Jacob Kirsch and her mother, Barbara Drechsel, who were married May 27, 1866.  Jacob and Barbara were both born in Germany.

Yes, indeed, if you’re counting on your fingers, it was a brief pregnancy – something that the family would spend the next several generations trying in a number of ways to hide – not the least of which was falsifying the family Bible.  It was the church records that would finally spill the family secret, more than 125 years later.

Aurora St. Paul Church

We know that Nora was baptized in 1868 at the St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Aurora.  In fact, that’s the only place her name is recorded as Ellenora.  According to her daughter, she didn’t like the name and never used it.  Witnessing her christening were Barbara and Georg Drechsel (also spelled Drexler), her grandparents.  We know that the Kirsch girls all attended the subscription Lutheran school held in the Lutheran church, above.

At that time, proprietors of hotels or inns lived in the establishment and oversaw the running of the restaurant and bar, plus the rooms and guest services of course.

Kirsch House 2008

Today (above), the Kirsch House building still stands, although for how much longer is questionable.  In the summer of 2008, I visited the Mayor of Aurora and he was kind enough to take me on a tour of the old building which has been abandoned for well over a decade.  The City at that time was hopeful of obtaining funding to restore the building.

I assured him that if I won the lottery, he would have his money, but instead of calling it the Neaman Hotel, for the proprietors following the Kirsch’s, they would have to rename it.  He laughingly said that if we funded the restoration, we could name it anything we wanted.  I’m still buying lottery tickets.  Sadly, the building is in very poor shape with many of the previous owners’ “improvements” compromising the structural integrity of the building.  It was nice to see it one more time, and to be able to see inside, especially upstairs in the private areas, which we had been unable to do before when mother and I visited in the 1980s.

Nora Kirsch probably

This photo was unlabeled.  By process of elimination, I believe this is Nora Kirsch as a child.

Nora spent her childhood at the Kirsch House with her 3 sisters and two brothers, all born before the end of 1876, meaning that Barbara had 6 children under the age of 10 years old.  How Barbara handled this, while running a hotel, is utterly beyond me, but she did and raised lovely young women. In one census, one of Barbara’s sisters lived there to help.

Nora must have helped to care for her siblings. Nora who would have been 10 at the end of 1876 must have had a lot of responsibility and received little individual attention.

In addition to caring for the children, Barbara cooked for the Kirsch House and she cleaned the rooms after the guests. On Tuesdays, she would make her famous “mock turtle soup” (no turtles, just beef) and the girls would deliver it to families who had ordered a “pail,” in their wagon, up and down the streets of Aurora.  A bowl of turtle soup and a beer was 10 cents at the Kirsch House and was served at the bar, shown here with Mother in the 1990s.

Kirsch house 1990s

The Kirsch House must have been a very interesting place to grow up.  The discussions of the politics of the time must have permeated the walls and one would not be able to avoid becoming enchanted with the various handsome strangers.  Some men would not come and go quickly, but would take up residence for quite some time, affording the family an opportunity to get to know them.

The photo below, laminated onto the bar of the Kirsch House, but now no longer in the building, shows the Kirsch House (at right) and the Aurora train station.  Notice the “taxi” waiting for passengers getting off of the train.

Three blocks directly down the street was the dock where passengers would board various steamers and paddleboats on the Ohio River.

Kirsch house map

The Kirsch House, at 506 Second Street (upper left hand corner of map above with little grey balloon,) was in an ideal location – close to both forms of primary transportation and hopefully high enough in elevation that the Ohio River floods didn’t reach that far north.  Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t.  The family tells stories of the floods.

Kirsch House street view

Here’s a view today of the train depot, the Kirsch House on the left and a view down Second street to the Ohio River where you see the trees in the distance.

Aurora landing

This is the Ohio River at the end of Second Street where passengers used to board the steamers.  It’s called Aurora Landing today.

Meet the Family

This is the only photo where all of the Kirsch children are present with both of their parents.  Left to right, I can identify people as follows:

  • Seated left – one of the Kirsch sisters – possibly Carrie.
  • Standing male left behind chair – CB Lore – which places this photo before November 1909
  • Seated in chair in front of CB Lore – Nora Kirsch Lore
  • Male standing beside CB Lore – Martin or Edward Kirsch
  • Male standing beside him with no tie – Martin or Edward Kirsch
  • Woman standing in rear row – Kirsch sister, possibly Lula.
  • Standing right rear – Jacob Kirsch.
  • Front adult beside Nora – Kirsch sister, possibly Ida.
  • Child beside Nora – Mildred Lore
  • Adult woman with black skirt – Barbara Drechsel Kirsch
  • Young woman beside Barbara to her left – probably Curtis Lore

kirsch family

Inside the Kirsch House

The Kirsch House was much less grand than the stories lead one to believe.  The rooms aren’t large, and the living area for the proprietor and the guests does not seem to be removed from each other.  One room is slightly larger than the rest and I would presume this is the owner’s bedroom.

There is a parlor, which we would consider a living room, and that seems to be the only common living area for the family or guests.  There were many small guest rooms.  The mayor had been in the building many times, as it had become the local “flop-house” when he was a paramedic.  A sad finale for such a fine civic landmark.

Nonetheless, in the late 1800s, the Kirsch House was a fine establishment and the Kirsch family was well-respected within the community.  They raised their daughters and sons here and sent them to private Lutheran schools.  They were literate and intelligent and went on to live successful, healthy, productive lives.

Ellenore “Nora” Kirsch was the first child born to Jacob Kirsch and Barbara Drechsel Kirsch in December 1866.  Nora would marry Curtis Benjamin Lore, known as “CB” Lore, at 4:30 PM January 18, 1888 at the Kirsch House.  Nora’s daughters shared the story that she made her own wedding gown (and wedding cake) and descended the spiral staircase into the parlor to meet her groom.

Kirsch house staircase

Our visit revealed that the spiral staircase wasn’t spiral, and it wasn’t open either (photo above), but nonetheless, the memory of the bride greeting her groom was joyfully shared for at least 3 generations.

Alas, I’m not at all sure that her life was as joyful as it was portrayed.

Nora’s Wedding

Nora Kirsch wedding invitation

The photo below was Nora’s wedding picture.  She is such a beautiful young woman.

Nora Kirsch wedding

Even though Nora married C.B. Lore on January 18, 1888, you might note in her Bible, below, she recorded her wedding at having taken place in 1885, which my mother corrected to 1888.  Nora must have rolled over in her grave.  THAT was indeed the family skeleton, but not nearly as large a skeleton as a secret that C.B. Lore harbored.

The following Bible pages were sent to me by Nora’s daughter, Eloise, and are from Nora’s Bible.

Nora's Bible cropNora's Bible2So, why did Nora modify her wedding date?

Nora and CB were married January 18, 1888 and their daughter Edith was born August 2, 1888 in Indianapolis.  At this time, this “early birth” was a social faux pas, but in this case, it carried even greater significance.  It is the key to a secret that has stayed buried for 120 years and only divulged itself in the overheated, oppressively dusty archives in the attic of a Pennsylvania courthouse on a humid August day.  It begs the question:  Who was Curtis Benjamin Lore?  Perhaps he wasn’t quite who he seemed to be.

Curtis Benjamin (known as C.B.) Lore

C.B. (Curtis Benjamin) Lore was a man who worked the oil and gas fields.  The census in Indiana says he was born in 1860 or 1861, but the 1860 census in Warren County, Pennsylvania shows us that he was born in 1856.

In 1887 when he came to Indiana from Pennsylvania, he was 31 years old, hardened and tan, a strong, worldly and extremely handsome man.  Nora was 21 and had little experience with men.  It’s no wonder that he subtracted a few years from his age, reducing the 10 year divide between their ages to a less questionable 6 years.  I don’t know whether she ever knew the truth or not, but his redesigned birth year stayed with him for the duration of his life, in the census and on his tombstone.

Below, C. B. Lore’s wedding photo.  Odd that there isn’t one of the two of them together…until you realize that Jacob Kirsch, Nora’s father signed for their marriage the very day they married.  This marriage was a bit hurried, one might say.  There probably wasn’t ‘time to prepare for much of anything.

Lore Kirsch Marriage

Little did Nora know that C. B. was not yet divorced from his wife in Pennsylvania. Ummmm, mmmmm, mmmm…as the old ladies used to say.

Curtis Lore Wedding

Curtis Benjamin Lore, most handsome rogue!

We have very few photos of Curtis (C.B.) Lore.  The one below is Curtis Lore (right) with his brother-in-law Martin Kirsch.

CB Lore Martin Kirsch

This photo belies the very rough childhood experienced by C. B. Lore.  His father would be dead before C. B. was 10, leaving C. B.’s mother to struggle to feed her children.  Sometimes she couldn’t.  At 14, C. B. was working as a farm hand and a decade later, by 1880, his mother would be dead too.  He spoke of this as a tragedy, although we don’t have any details.  In 1876, at age 20, C. B. Lore married Mary Bills in Warren County, PA.

In 1886 C. B. would move to Indiana, leaving Mary, to work the oil and gas fields as a driller and by late 1887 would fall in love with Nora Kirsch.  It’s unclear whether C. B. intended to “leave” Mary or if he just intended to work and then return home.  In any case, the leaving turned out to be permanent.

C. B.’s wife, Mary sued for divorce in November of 1887 which was final 4 months after his marriage in January 1888 to Nora Kirsch.  I suspect strongly that old Jacob Kirsch, Nora’s father gave C. B. the choice of the business end of a shotgun or the preacher, and being an intelligent man, C. B. selected the preacher.   His soon-to-be-x-wife was hundreds of miles away, would likely never know and might not care, and the gun was but a few inches distant in the hands of an angry father of a pregnant daughter who was a crack shot.

After their marriage, C. B. and Nora moved to Indianapolis, where their first child was born.  They then moved to Rushville, Indiana where they had 3 more daughters.  Curtis Benjamin Lore contracted tuberculosis, reportedly in Kentucky tending his race horses, and died in 1909.  His daughter, also named Curtis, contracted tuberculosis caring for him and died three years later, in 1912.

Nora must have been devastated.  Two of her sisters had also lost their husbands between 1908 and 1910 as well, one from suicide and one from syphilis.  This family had no shortage of drama and tragedy.

Nora’s parents were aging.  Jacob would pass away in 1917 and Barbara would hold onto the Kirsch house until 1921 when she would sell it and move in with her daughter Carrie, in Indianapolis.  Carrie would die in 1926, of syphilis contracted from her husband, hospitalized in an asylum.  There was no cure for syphilis at that time.  First it destroyed your body, then your mind.

A Stranger Knocks at the Door

One day, after C. B. Lore died, my grandfather, John Ferverda, Edith Lore’s husband,, was standing in the kitchen of his mother-in-law, Nora, in Rushville.  A man knocked at the door.  Nora answered the door, and the stranger said that he was looking for C. B. Lore, his father.

A long poignant silence fell over the small group. Nora seemed to recover her ability to talk within a minute or so, and then asked the young man inside.  She told him that C. B. had passed away.  The young man was too late to meet his father.

Both my mother and Eloise, mother’s Aunt (Nora’s daughter), told me about this event.  It was quite the scandal and was apparently one final blow to Nora.  Let’s just say that C. B. had not left her in the best of circumstances and had apparently accepted money for services he did not provide.  Perhaps it was because he was ill, but regardless, it was left to Nora to make things right after his death.

Unfortunately, Mother never knew the name of the young man, nor did she tell me any details.  I don’t think her father told her.  He may have left Nora and the young man alone to talk privately.  I’m sure the situation was quite distressing and embarrassing for all involved.

Poor Nora.  And the poor young man too.  I can’t help but wonder what happened to him.

Nora’s Second Marriage

Nora married Tom McCormick on October 28, 1916 in Rushville, Indiana, a man with whom she was never happy.  The only example we have of Nora’s signature is on her marriage document to Tom McCormick.

Lore, Nora marriage to McCormick

They lived happily never after.  They never divorced, but neither did they live together after a short time.  Nora is buried in Rushville beside C. B. Lore.

By 1920, Nora had moved with Tom McCormick to Chicago where they lived at 3820 Washington Boulevard Per the 1920 census) and he was listed as a superintendent in a factory.  Eloise said that he managed the woodworking for the Victrola factory.

Nora Chicago location today

The location of the address is this vacant lot today, but the property in the photo above looks almost exactly like the backs of the apartments show in the photo below.

Nora and Claude Martin 1920 Chicago

Nora Kirsch Lore McCormick and Claude Martin, probably about 1920.  At least she is smiling and laughing in this photo.  The men both have white hats – must have been the style of the day.

Below is a photo of Nora with Tom McCormick.  He looks like Scrooge and she looks miserable.  She was better off without him.  Mom says he deserted her but somehow the family eventually received word that he had died.

Nora and McCormick in Chicago

Below are the fronts of the buildings in Chicago whose backs are showing above, so it’s likely that the building Nora lived in looked much like these.

Nora Chicago building fronts

This is less than a block from Garfield Park, complete with a pool and an observatory.  At that time, this would have been a rather posh neighborhood.

However, let’s take a step back in time.

A Visit To Rushville, Indiana

In the 1910 census, Nora and the girls were living at 324 W. First Street in Rushville which is, today, the state highway through town.  Nora is listed as a widow at the same address in the 1916 City Directory as well, with Mildred listed as a sales clerk and “Elouise” as a student.

Wabash 324 w first

Nora sold fabric and such, after C. B.’s death, so this would have been a perfect location for her business, as it is the main street through town.

I don’t know if she lived in this location when C.B. Lore was alive, but I suspect that she did not move unless she was forced to.  To my knowledge, they never owned property.

Judging from the photos in Mother’s box, her visit with me was not the first time she visited Rushville.  She apparently visited with her mother at least twice, once about 1940 and then again after Nora’s death in 1949.

Rushville Willkie

Our family was connected with Wendell Wilkes’s ill-fated 1944 run for the presidency.  Willke’s wife was from Rushville and judging from a newspaper article, Nora and his wife were friends, and their children had attended school together.

Willkie sign

In the photo below, Mom stands near the memorial to Wendell Willkie in the cemetery where C. B. Lore and Nora Kirsch Lore McCormick along with their daughter Curtis Lore are buried.

Rushville Mom and Willkie memorial

The following newspaper article from Mom’s scrapbook is very interesting, not only in terms of the Willke family, but in terms of information about Nora herself.

Rushville newspaper article

In 1940, Nora is living with her daughter in LaFontaine, Indiana and is thinking of returning to Wabash.  She states that her husband has died.  I suspect his means McCormack.  Nine years later, Nora would pass away in Lockport with Eloise.  I find her final comment very telling, not only about her life, but about women’s lives in general, particularly in the generations born before the 1950s when women would begin to have more generous choices.  I hope she got to do the things she aspired to before her death and hat she missed doing in her younger life.  I wish she had shared with us what they might have been.  It’s sad that the most intimate glimpse of her life’s aspirations and her only “voice” remaining is through a newspaper article.

It’s too bad there were no photographs accompanying the article.  This trip must have been very exciting for mother, who would have been about 18.  Had things gone differently, she could have met the man who would have been president.

After we finished at the courthouse and cemetery, we went on to find the Graham School that the Lore girls would have attended, which was located a couple of blocks from their house, which was on Main Street according to the census.  It was abandoned in the 1990s, but when the girls would have gone to school, it would have been a bustling place full of youthful voices.

Rushville school

Below is the First Presbyterian Church in Rushville.  I can’t recall exactly what we discovered, if they attended this church, if C.B. Lore helped to construct this church, or both.  Whatever the connection, Mom was very excited to find their church and is standing in front in the photo.  In Aurora they were Lutheran.  By the time Edith would move to Silver Lake, the family would be Methodist.  Mom would become Baptist.  Our German ancestors would be appalled.

Rushville church

Life Growing Up in Rushville, Indiana

Having a houseful of 4 daughters must have provided some very special times.  I can hear the laughter, giggling and squeals in my imagination.  The 4 girls were born in sets of 2, the younger 2 and the older 2, over a span of 14 years.

Buggy ride

Eloise, Nora’s youngest daughter, told me that the girls used to go with C. B. Lore in the buggy when they were young. He had race horses and oil wells, and visited Kentucky often, probably having to do with his horses.  He would check on them in local places as well, and the girls would ride along.  Eloise in particular loved those rides.  I initially thought this photo above was of the Lore daughters, but Mom’s photo says this is Aunt Carrie and Aunt Lula Kirsch and that the horse is Dexter.  It seems that buggy rides were popular with all of the family females.

Rushville 1908

This photo shows Nora’s daughters Mildred and Eloise in Rushville in 1908.  According to Eloise, both Mildred and Eloise were sent to live with their grandmother, Barbara Drechsel at the Kirsch House in Aurora for two years while their father was terminally ill with tuberculosis.  That probably saved their lives.

Aurora 1907

Eloise and Mildred in 1907 in front of Depot in Aurora.  The building behind them looks like the Kirsch house and this is a train wagon.

Kirsch sisters at the lake

1911 – the Kirsch sisters at the lake.  The photo says 1905 on the back, but 1911 on the front.

Let’s meet the girls!

Curtis Lore

Curtis, a female born in March of 1891, was the second oldest child of Nora Kirsch and C. B. Lore.  Edith always said that when her sister died on February 9, 1912, she lost her best friend.

Curtis Lore baby

Curtis’ photos are distinguished by her large ears.  Thankfully the baby picture and the one below were labeled.

Curtis Lore teen

Eloise told me that at that time home remedies for tuberculosis included keeping the person in a very cold environment.  Eloise said they had to put Curtis on the enclosed porch and it nearly killed Nora to see her there so cold.

Nora felt responsible for Curtis’s death to some extent, as Curtis was wanted to go to the southwest (Arizona) with her boyfriend’s family.  Nora had told her she could not go, and so she remained in Rushville, to succumb to tuberculosis.  Nora believed that had she gone, she either would not have contracted the disease, or would have survived it.

Curtis’s obituary:

Rushville Republican, Feb. 9, 1912

Curtis Lore Succumbs

Curtis Lore, age 21 years, daughter of Mrs. C. B. Lore of West 1st street died late this afternoon after suffering with tuberculosis for several weeks.  She took treatment at the state sanatorium near Rockville for some time but did not improve.  She is survived by her mother and three sisters.

John Ferverda, the beau and eventual husband of Edith Ferverda would develop tuberculosis as well, but not until the 1950s or early 1960s.  The doctors told him his lungs were scarred and he had probably harbored the virus for all the years since C. B. Lore and Curtis both contracted and died from the disease.  Mom and I had to have chest x-rays and TB tests for years.  Mom’s lungs were scarred as well.

Eloise Lore

Eloise, born October 8, 1903, was always a beautiful girl, young lady and woman.  She was kind hearted and loved her family.  She never had children, so she adopted those of her sisters as her own.  Mother was very close to Eloise who was always a bit of a renegade.  I liked her a lot.  She was always the one to do the thing that was unconventional.  I recall her dancing with me on the dance floor alone at the Elks Club long before that was accepted practice in “good company.”

Eloise 1907

Eloise in 1907.

This is probably a school photo and may have been Eloise’s graduation photo.

Eloise graduation

The photo of Eloise, below, was taken in Wabash, not in Rushville or Chicago.  Eloise would have graduated in about 1921 and given that they were living in Chicago in 1920, it’s likely Eloise graduated in Chicago. She looks a bit older than 18 in this photo as well.

Eloise portrait

The 1920 census shows us that Eloise was living with her mother, Nora and her step-father, T. H. McCormick at 3820 Washington Blvd, in Chicago, Illinois.  McCormick was a superintendent in the Victrola factory, which was what took them to Wabash, Indiana.  Eloise is noted as a high school student.  Eloise said she went to school her Freshman and Sophomore years in Wabash, then her Junior and Senior years in Chicago where she graduated.  The family moved back to Wabash, where McCormick left Nora, “up and left, just disappeared” as Eloise put it.

In 1929, Eloise would marry Warren Cook.  He apparently had a disease of some sort, and he had a stroke very young, shortly after they were married.  Eloise would remain his wife and become the breadwinner of the family for the duration of their marriage. He died in 1970.  He and Eloise were married for 41 years.

Apparently Nora felt that Warren’s mother had the responsibility to tell Eloise about the disease that Warren had before Eloise married him.  The Lore family felt that Warren’s family withheld information from Eloise which caused a life-long rift.

In spite of the situation, Eloise made sure she had a full life and never once did I know her to feel sorry for herself.  On the contrary, she was an inspiration to everyone she met.

Eloise Lore Warren Cook 1955

Eloise and Warren about 1955.

Eloise and Mildred in Florida

This photo is more how I remember Eloise.  She had downgraded from a motorcycle to a bicycle, but she is riding, coifed to the max, with her sister Mildred, in Florida.

After Warren’s death, Eloise remarried Al Rutland, “a younger man,” who outlived her.  The family liked Al, even if that younger man thing was scandalous.  Most of us cheered her on!  We figured at the pace Eloise lived, it took a younger man to keep up with her.  Eloise and Al were able to travel together and have much more of a normal life than she was able to have with Warren.  We were grateful Eloise had that opportunity.

Eloise and Al Rutland

In the photo below, Eloise is visiting with my parents.  Note the old wood shingled roof, the burn barrels and the outhouse behind the garage, complete with sidewalk.  That was life on the farm.

Eloise on the farm 1970s

Eloise was an amazing woman and died on June 5, 1996 in Lake County, Florida.  She was blind in her later years.

My memories of Eloise are of how sharing she was, and of how she was a woman born several decades before her time.  She was always positive and understanding of everyone’s differences.  She was an early supporter of women’s, gay and lesbian rights and equality for all, regardless of race or any other factor you could think of.  She could be comfortable around almost anyone, in any circumstances, and inspired everyone she met with her quiet solidarity.  She was indeed a shining example.

She mentioned to me one time that Curt, her father, brought the girls souvenir spoons home after he traveled, and she wondered out loud if one of those spoons might hold a clue to some genealogy question.  Her eyesight was failing, so I asked if she could have Al read me what was engraved on the spoon.  She said, “I’ll just send you the spoon.”

She not only sent he spoon, she sent her mother’s wedding invitation and a note from Nora’s Bible.  I’m not sure what Nora was trying to do, but it appears to have been done in 1890 and she was calculating ages, apparently.  Aside from Nora’s signature on her marriage application for McCormick, this is the only example of her handwriting that we have.

Nora Bible note

Note that while Nora shows Edith’s age correctly, in spite of the birth versus marriage date, she shows her own birth a year later than it was.  It’s possible that Nora never knew what year she was actually born.  Nora also thought Curt was born in 1860.  Eloise wrote her mother’s death date and initialed her work, ELC being Eloise Lore Cook.  That must have been a very sad day for Eloise.  It’s hard enough when it happens, but recording that death date in the Bible is so final.

Mildred Elvira Lore

Copy of Mildred Lore

Mildred was the third child born April 8, 1899.  Mildred’s “first love,” a doctor’s son from Wabash, died during WWI, an event very difficult for Mildred to cope with.  Mildred would go on to marry Claude Martin on June 3, 1920 in Wabash, Indiana and live a long and happy life.  During their lifetimes, she and Claude would live in Indiana, Texas and Michigan, and possibly other locations.  They had 2 children, Jim born in 1922 and Jerry born in 1924.  Jerry died in 1954, and I have little information about his family other than he married Shirley and some of the photos with Eloise are with this family.  Eloise adopted people within the family, so perhaps she adopted Shirley and the boys as well after Jerry’s death.

Jim Martin eventually moved to Michigan, living in Drayton Plains and his daughters would include Judy who provided a large number of the Kirsch photos years ago, and Patty who contributed a number of Rushville photos.   I remember visiting Jim and his wife Inez with Mom in the 1980s.

Judy thought that there was a box of photos that had gotten drywalled into a closet in her parents old home.  We never were able to check, so some of our Kirsch photos may well be “archived” forever in a wall in Michigan.  Jim, Judy’s father, told me that there was a trunk of photos that got “pitched” when they moved and what didn’t get thrown away then, got thrown away in the next move to Roanne, Indiana.  I just felt sick.  I can’t bear to think about what might have been there.

Mildred and Edith about 1918

Mildred and sister Edith with husbands and Edith’s son, Lore, above.

Mildred and Claude Martin 50th anniversary

Above, Mildred and Claude Martin’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Mildred died on May 30, 1987 in Houston, Texas, living with her son.

Edith Barbara Lore

Edith as a child cropped

Edith Barbara Lore was the eldest child of Nora Kirsch and C.B. Lore, born in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana August 2, 1888.  Edith is my grandmother.

It appears that there is some confusion about Edith’s birth year.  Apparently either her mother was embarrassed about her birth not occurring more than 9 months after her marriage, or Edith was embarrassed about it.  The family story was that her birth had artificially been set back a year for insurance purposes.  Regardless, Edith was born in 1888, not 1889.  Apparently at some time she needed a delayed birth certificate and she didn’t realize she had been born in Marion County (Indianapolis), not in Rushville.

Edith married John Whitney Ferverda on November 17, 1908 in Rushville, Indiana.

Their life together would begin in Rushville, Indiana where he worked at the depot for the “Big 4” Railroad as the telegraph operator.

Edith umbrella postcard

The above photo of Edith was made into a postcard.  Here’s the back.

Edith postcard back

Apparently all of that flirting was effective.  They were married the next year.

The marriage license for Edith Lore and John Ferverda in 1908 was huge so I scanned it in halves and have “sewed” them back together digitally below.  He is a telegraph operator and she is a stenographer.

Lore Ferverda marriage application

By 1910, the census shows that Edith and John had moved to Lake Township in Kosciusko County, where Silver Lake is located.  His occupation is shown as a telegraph operator.

Edith young woman

Edith was truly a beautiful young woman.  I see mother’s eyes when I look at the photo above.

Edith was an unusual woman for her time as she worked her entire life.  During the depression, when John’s hardware business went belly up, it was her job that saved the family.  She lived with her grandmother, Barbara Drechsel Kirsch at the Kirsch House and attended business school in Cincinnati before her marriage in 1908 to John Ferverda.

The 1930 census shows John as a salesman for the Ford garage and Edith as the bookkeeper for the chicken hatchery.  They own their home, it’s worth $3500, which is more than most of the other homes, and they also own a radio which was quite the luxury.

Edith died in 1960, living her adult life in Silver Lake, Indiana.  This color photo of Edith and John was taken not long before she passed away.  This is how I remember her.

John and Edith 1959 standing

Nora after Rushville

Nora did not stay long in Rushville after C. B. Lore died.  In her 1913 photo, below, she does not look happy.  Of course, her husband had died and so had her daughter in 1912.

Nora Kirsch Lore 1913

Below, Nora is on the left in Florida with either her Aunt Lou Fisk or her Aunt Ida Kirsch on the right.  There was discussion of some property that was owned in Florida near a beach.  No one knows how or when it was disposed of, or even where it was.  Gotta love the hat!

Nora Florida

By 1920, Nora would be married to McCormick. Ironically, Eloise, who lived with the couple from the time she was 13 never said anything about this man.  Maybe she was practicing the old adage of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

We don’t know a great deal about Nora between 1920 and 1930, but we do have a few photos.

Nora 1920

Nora Kirsch Lore McCormick and Harold Lore Ferverda, probably about 1920 judging from his age.  I think my mother and her brother both inherited their noses from Nora.

I love the old car which was probably a new car then.

Nora 4 gen 1922

Four generation picture with Barbara Drechsel Kirsch (far right), Nora Kirsch Lore (far left), Mildred Lore Martin (center) and Jim Martin, infant, born in 1922, above.  This would have been about a year after Barbara sold the Kirsch House and moved north with her daughters.  I’m surprised at how much Nora doesn’t look like Barbara.

After that, Barbara would move to Wabash, Indiana, living with Nora in “the little house” as mother remembered it, and would pass away in 1930.

Nora 1923

Above, Nora Kirsch Lore McCormick, James Martin, Harold Lore Ferverda and Barbara Jean Ferverda in 1923.  Mom was 2 months old here.  Nora is obviously enjoying her grandchildren a great deal and below, enjoying her garden.  Her love of flowers is reflected in her quilts.

Nora garden

Maybe I received the gardening gene from her.  Flowers I love, weeds not so much, nor do I like pulling them.

Nora 1939

Dad (John Ferverda), Warren (Cook), Grandma (Nora), Me (Jean Ferverda), Mother (Edith), Eloise, Mildred, Jimmy (Martin).  At least Mom put these in a scrapbook and labeled them.  Thank you Mother!

Nora 1944

Mildred Kirsch Martin, Warren (Eloise’s husband), Jerry Martin, Eloise, and Nora.  Nora is beginning to look quite elderly here.  But everyone is dressed up, so this must have been some occasion.  Based on Jerry’s approximate age here of maybe 20, this was probably about 1944 and she would have been 78 years old.

Nora 1940s

This photo is Nora Kirsch Lore in her later years, in the 1940s.  She looks like she may have had dementia.

Nora, Mildred and Eloise

Mildred, left. Nora Kirsch Lore, seated, and Eloise, right.

Wabash

Nora Kirsch Lore McCormick moved to Wabash, Indiana first about 1916, then again between 1920 and 1930 because of Tom McCormick’s job.  Mom, born in 1922, remembers visiting her there when she was young.  Nora was a quilt maker, and it is here that she made the wonderful quilts that would eventually win a trip to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair to represent the State of Indiana.  Mom said that the quilt frame would be lowered by pulleys from the ceiling to above the table in the dining room.  She said the house was quite small and this was the only way she could have enough room to quilt.  Mom would play under the table while Nora would quilt.

Mom and I went to Wabash, and Mom showed me the “little house” where Nora lived.  I don’t know if she owned or rented the house.  This is probably where she lived with McCormick, but I really don’t know.

Mother never said anything about him except that they weren’t married very long and that he left her when they lived in Wabash, but they never divorced.  Eventually Nora received word that he had died from one of his children from his first marriage.  However, he is in some photos that range apparently from the 1920s through the early 1940s.  Maybe he came and went.

Wabash noras

Back to Rushville

At some point, Nora moved to Lockport, NY to live with Eloise, where she passed away on September 13, 1949.  Her body was returned to Rushville, Indiana where she was buried by her first husband, C. B.  Lore.  According to her daughter, Mildred, she had specifically asked for the McCormick surname not to be put on her gravestone.  I’m not sure if that was where her heart was or not, but it is where she rests for eternity.  C.B. Lore may have been her true love, despite everything.

In the 1990s, Mom, Gretchen and I would revisit the area (in addition to Aurora) to see what kind of genealogical evidence we could find.  We had a difficult time finding the tombstones, but we were eventually successful.  The photos below were taken by C.B. Lore’s headstone when Mom was probably 28 or 29.

Mom Rushville 1940s

The grave looks fairly new in this photo, and this is Nora’s burial, so I suspect that Mom’s visit was shortly after Nora’s September 1949 death, perhaps in the spring of 1950.

The Payne family crypt is located in front of the stones, so getting a good photo is difficult.  However, it makes a great landmark when trying to find the stones.

Lore graves Rushville

Lore graves Rushville2

The 3 Lore family members in a row.  Note no grass on Nora’s grave.  This must have been a very sad visit for Mom  and her mother, Nora’s daughter, Edith.  At least she had Mom with her.

Rushville Payne memorial

The Lore headstones are to the left of the Payne memorial or mausoleum in the photo above.  It’s one heck of a lot easier to find the Payne building than the Lore headstones.

Nora Kirsch Lore stone

Nora stone with CB and Curtis

Nora is buried with her daughter and her first husband, C. B. Lore.  Her grave was difficult to find, because by request, her surname on the stone is Lore, but in the sextant’s book, she is registered as McCormick.  I found her by finding Curtis’ grave.

Curtis Lore stone

CB Lore stone

Nora’s Quilts

Nora was a master quilt-maker, a quilt-maker extraordinaire – and that’s not because she was my great-grandmother.  She truly was, as confirmed by the fact that her quilt was one that represented the State of Indiana in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

There is absolutely no question about where my interest in needlework, lacemaking and quilt-making came from.  It’s ironic that this gift seems to have followed the direct mitochondrial DNA line.  Of course, mother’s do influence daughters, whether they realize it at the time or not – although my mother was not a quilter nor a lace-maker and neither was my grandmother.  I think they had to work too hard, for too many hours, to develop hobbies that were also time intensive.  They did not have the electronic assistants and time saving tools we have today.  Everything was done by hand then, from food growing to prep to dishes to sewing.

The Needlework

Kirsch lace collar

No discussion of the Kirsch women would be complete without mentioning their absolutely stunning needlework.  Barbara Drechsel’s and possibly Nora Kirsch’s lacework above and below.

Kirsch Lace handkerchief

It’s a tradition in our family that every female that marries selects one of the remaining lace handkerchiefs and carries in as she marries.

Barbara Drechsel Kirsch was a lacemaker, and her daughters likely learned the craft from the time they were young, at home as well as in the German schools.

Kirsch lace collar2

In 1994, mother and I were asked to create an exhibit for the Allen County Public Library that included both their needlework and a genealogical aspect of the history of the family.  The Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana is a nationally known and widely respected genealogical library.  Mother was particularly thrilled as so much of her family and her own personal history centered in and near Fort Wayne.

We titled the exhibit Six Generations of Hoosier Needlewomen and included lace works from Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, her daughters, including Nora’s wonderful collection of quilts, Edith’s work making doll clothes, Mother’s beautiful fine crocheting, my quilts, counted thread works and lacemaking, and my daughter’s  crosstitch. Of those 6 individuals, at least 4 are national level award winners.

Kirsch lace collar3

We displayed Nora’s quilts in a number of locations over the years. Rockome Gardens, an Amish village in Illinois was renowned for both their counted thread show and competition, as well as a companion exhibit for quilts a week or so later.

Mother particularly loved Nora’s Climbing Vine quilt.  Mom made an afghan that was similar, and I designed a counted thread piece in her honor that won the 1988 Embroiderers’ Guild National Event.  Below, my “Needlewoman’s Enchanted NeedleGarden” sampler is displayed in front of Nora’s Climbing Vine quilt, the inspiration for the sampler, at Rockome Gardens.

Needlegarden with Climbing Vine

Mother and I traveled to the Embroiderers’ Guild Awards Banquet in Louisville, KY as well as to Rockome where they displayed all of the related pieces together.  We thoroughly enjoyed those trips and our wonderful heritage.  How I wished I could have known Nora.  How glad I am that Mom and I did these things, together, while we had the opportunity.

Below, Nora’s Climbing Vine quilt, dated 1932, to the left, Picket Fence to the right and Mother’s Climbing Vine afghan in the center.

Nora's quilts and Mom's afghan

Nora’s Climbing Vine quilt was featured in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.  Unfortunately, we have no photographs of it at the fair, but Mother told the story of their visit to the fair to see her quilt.

Nora had entered the quilt in the local Sears competition, then it progressed to the regional and then the state competitions, finally winning and going to the World’s Fair.

The depression was in full swing, and money was scarce.  The family could not afford to go for an overnight to Chicago, so they got up very early and left from Silver Lake, Indiana with Nora and the entire family packed into an old black Model T Ford.  They drove to the World’s Fair, took their food and picnicked, and the entire family saw the quilt hanging in its splendor in the exhibition hall.  Then they drove the entire way back home, arriving in the middle of the night.  All in all, the trip was about 24 hours in duration.  The photo below is Mom, me and my daughter at a quilt exhibit with Climbing Vine.

Climbing vine family photo2

Nora was 66 years old when she created this World’s Fair award-winning quilt.

climbing vine quilt

This work is all hand appliqué with fine hand quilting.  Everything in Nora’s quilts was done by hand, including the piecing.

Needlewomen display case

The photo above is from the Six Generations exhibit and it shows my lace in a tray, center, Mom’s crocheted afghan and baby booties, rear, a table runner made by the Kirsch sisters that mother displayed on the piano and some lace in the far right corner.

Needlewomen display case2

This photo shows Mother’s crocheted afghans, shawls and table covers, the doll clothes made by Edith for Mother, embellished handkerchiefs, and beautiful, but tiny, crocheted gloves.  Those Kirsch women had tiny little hands. Nora’s hands were so tiny she had to step on her thimbles to bend them to keep them on her fingers.

The quilt below is called Picket Fence.  Mom also referred to it as Flower Garden.  I always particularly liked this quilt, as it reminds me of the perfect family that everyone wants, and doesn’t exist anyplace.  But the beauty within our family is nurtured and grows within the white picket fence.  This quilt is dated 1931.  The fence is hand pieced, the flowers are appliquéd and the entire quilt is hand quilted with small, fine stitches.

Picket fence quilt

This red and green quilt below, sometimes called the Christmas Tree quilt, was made by Nora, as were the rest of the quilts here.  This quilt was on Mom’s bed for years. Mom said that it was on the bed in Silver Lake too, and when her parents passed away, other people were interested in the “show quilts,” but no one was interested in the ones used for bedding, so Mom took them.  I have very fond memories of this quilt.  Can you find the “error”?  Quilters have a proverb that one cannot make a perfect quilt, because only God is perfect. Some quilters will intentionally introduce an error in the pattern.  I don’t need to do that.  I make plenty of mistakes without trying.  I don’t know if Nora was aware of this or not, but the proverb is not a new one and is not of the current generation, so it is likely she had at least heard it.  Today, that’s “our excuse” when we make a mistake.

This quilt’s colors are known as “depression green and depression pink” in the antique fabric world.

Nora's pink and green quilt

The yellow and white quilt below reminds me of sunshine.  This nine patch and snowball block quilt was never used.  Before Eloise passed away, she sent this to Mother, along with some other needlework and family items.  I’m sure that Mildred would have had some quilts as well.  I wonder what hers looked like.  This quilt was made in 1927 or 1928.

Mom told me that when she went to visit Nora in the little house in Wabash, that she had a large quilt frame set up.  All of these quilts are hand quilted and hand pieced.  I can’t think of a better way to spend retirement – creating family heirlooms and memories.  Those scalloped edges are quite difficult.  Nora would have been about 61 when she made this quilt.

Nora's snowball quilt

The oldest quilt is shown In the photo below, a crazy quilt made at least in part by Carrie Kirsch, age 11, is shown hanging on Mom’s quilt rack that was behind the couch.  Carrie (Caroline Kirsch) was 11 in 1884, so this quilt is almost 125 years old.  Unfortunately, the quilt is now in very bad repair.  From this we know that the Kirsch girls were quilting at the Kirsch House and they started as children.

Kirsch crazy quilt

The quilt below, although it looks pathetic, is one of my all-time favorite quilts. This quilt, without the handkerchiefs, was the quilt that was always on the bed in Kokomo, on the farm.  I slept under it, my kids slept under it, and we used it on the couch for a couch quilt.

All those years, I never really knew about Nora, but I knew that this particular quilt had seen so much within our family and was a constant companion and continuous source of comfort.  Mom washed it several times, and over time, it began to deteriorate with use.  It was well loved.

Not wanting to throw it away, Mom asked me if I could make something out of it, like maybe teddy bears for the kids.  I told her I surely could, and took the quilt home to give it yet another life as teddy bears.  I told the kids.  They cried and cried.  My daughter said, “you can’t cut up Mawmaw’s quilt.”  Little did they know it was Mawmaw’s Mawmaw’s quilt.  I really didn’t know what to do, but clearly, I could not do what we had planned without causing my children permanent psychological trauma.

There were actual holes through the quilt, so I had to find a way to reconstruct some fabric and restuff parts of it with batting.  I remembered my grandmother’s handkerchiefs, safely tucked away for some wonderful future project.

The future had come. I took the Kirsch and Lore women’s handkerchiefs and used them to create fabric for the old much-loved quilt.  I gave the quilt back to Mom, and it served another decade or two before retiring permanently.

Ironically, when I go to quilt shows and tell this story, everyone loves to look at and discuss the beauty and history of Climbing Vine and Picket Fence, but this is the quilt that makes everyone smile…and cry.

Handkerchief quilt

Quilting was obviously a very important part of Nora Kirsch Lore’s life.  Her quilts are her legacy that she passed to us, through the two intermediate generations.  Quilters say that wrapping up in a quilt is like a hug from the quilter.  Thank you so much Nora.

Not only did I receive 12.5% of Nora’s autosomal DNA, her mitochondrial DNA and the quilting bug, which I am attempting to pass on to the next generation, I received so much more.

Through her quilts, Nora triumphs above the finality of death and reaches across the generations and decades to touch us with the beauty and warmth that her hands and heart created.  Even some 66 years later, I can still have a hug from Nora, an ancestor who died before I was born..  I wonder if she knows how much her legacy is cherished.

17 thoughts on “Nora Kirsch (1866-1949), Quilter Extraordinaire!, 52 Ancestors #92

  1. Roberta, There was a Barber(Yes an actual Barber) In Springfield Missouri, that cut my Hair back in the Nineties his name was Kirkmeyer? Or something close to that. THe picture that you have with the ladies sitting on the Old Harley Davidson, he too had that photo in his Barber Shop. Kirk as everyone knew him as, Had lived in OHIO when he was a young boy and moved to MIssouri.
    His Dad would ride a Bicycle on the Railroad tracks back to Ohio several times. Then he got one of the first Harley’s in Missouri and would ride it on the Rails with a Wheel sticking off of it to accomidate the tracks and he keep him straight. Curious name with Kirkmyer and Kirsh and the Photo. Kirk passed away around 2000 but he was well over 100 years old. He had the same Barber chair for 75 years in Downtown Springfield Missouri.

  2. I was interested in your post about Nora Kirsch. I am a descendant of the Kersh family that originated in Orangeburg District of SC back in the 1700’s then continued on to Rankin Cty, Ms and Texas. I did a ftdna project that compares all spellings of Kirsch, Kirsh, Kersh etc. to see if they are all interrelated. I wondered if you had knowledge of this dna project and if you had research it. I did the autosomal dna through Ancestry and then transferred to family tree. I would be interested in knowing if the dna matches with any of the Kirsch/Kersh families. Thank you, Peggy Turpin

    • Yes, I started the Kirsch project. You can compare with everyone in the project easily. Go to the tools and apps tab and compare with people within the project. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of people but hoping for more.

  3. I enjoyed reading about Rushville today. My Dove/Ryan ancestors lived there in the 1890’s. Your story and pictures really brought it to life.

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  8. I really enjoyed reading about your ancestors and appreciate so many details and pictures. The quilting heritage reminded me of both my grandmothers and their quilts that have become such a part of all our lives. My mom’s mom used to make a special quilt for her grandchildren for when they were getting married. She signed and dated them in one corner, which makes them even more tangible from a family history perspective. She made many quilts over the years and donated so many of them to their Lutheran Church to use in raffles and various fundraisers which helped to erect a new steeple at that church. At some point I hope to create family history pages like these you’ve shared about your family…they (and you) are an inspiration! Blessings…

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