"...more the silent one..."

In honor of Halloween, allow me to introduce you to The Spook, also known by the less macabre name of Sarah Jane Conley, one of my maternal second great grandmothers.

The Spook holding a pumpkin, appropriately enough.

Sarah Jane Conley was born in November 1857, in Richland County, Illinois, sixth child (of seven) of David Conley (abt 1822 -aft 1880) and Rebecca Tolliver (abt 1823 - 1869). It is through Sarah Jane that I am a Double Tolliver, as her parents were second cousins. Sarah Jane's great-grandparents on her father's side were William Maxwell and Lucy Tolliver, while her great-grandparents on her mother's side were Jesse Tolliver and Martha Stamper, Lucy and Jesse being brother and sister.

The Conleys were farmers, and moved to the recently formed Redwood County, Minnesota, sometime in the early 1870s. In 1875, on 13 Nov 1875, the just-of-age Sarah Jane married William Edwin Kinman. The Kinmans, like the Conleys, had been living in Illinois in 1870, and moved to Minnesota about the same time as the Conleys. I do not know if they families knew each other in Illinois; the Conleys and Tollivers (and associated families) tended to be clannish, and I can find no records of other Kinmans in their milieu.

At any rate, the newlyweds seem to get along fine; their first child (of six), Cora Mabel Kinman was born just ten months later. Growing up with siblings named Susan, Rebecca, Catharine, George, John, and Anna (all common names of the era, and much-used in the Tolliver clan) it comes as a bit of a surprise to find Sarah Jane giving her own children such comparatively exotic names as Alta, Iza May, and Lola.

From left: William Edwin Kinman and Sarah Jane (Conley) Kinman; their grandson,
 Dana Earl Brown; daughters Lola Dorothy (Kinman) Gilmore, Cora Mabel (Kinman) Brown,
 Alta Edith (Kinman) Anderson; and son-in-law Walter Campbell Gilmore.
 In front; grandson Ray Edgar Brown?  About 1925.

The Kinmans remained in Redwood County until just after 1900 (William Edwin Kinman is listed as the postmaster of Morgan on the 1900  U S Federal Census), although by the early 1890s William had given up farming and taken up insurance sales. In late 1904 the family moved to Minneapolis, a consequence, no doubt, of William's success; by this time he was the State Manager of the Modern Brotherhood of America, a fraternal organization founded in 1897.

By 1920, the Kinmans had moved twice more; William Edwin Kinman was now State Director for the MBA, and along with his two unmarried daughters, Iza and Lola (both teachers), had his oldest daughter, Cora, and her family (husband Clarence Edgar Brown, and sons Dana Earl Brown and Ray Edgar Brown) living with them.

3512 Third Ave S. The house was built in 1909, and is still standing.
 Apart from a paint job, it looks nearly the same.

But what, you ask, of The Spook? After her husband's death in 1925, Sarah Jane again lived with her oldest daughter and her family, this time in their home in Moorhead, Minnesota. Apparently as time went on she became more and more reclusive and odd. (She was, by this point, in her seventies, so today we might assume she was suffering from senile dementia.)

By the time my maternal grandmother, Myrna Margaret Severin married my grandfather, Dana Earl Brown, in 1933, Sarah Jane had taken to wandering the house, silently (in part because she always wore slippers). She was known to suddenly appear, staring silently, which would usually frighten whomever she encountered. Hence the sobriquet "The Spook."

From left: The Spook, AKA Sarah Jane (Conley) Kinman, daughter Cora Mabel (Kinman) Brown,
 and granddaughter-in-law Myrna Margaret (Severin) Brown. About 1933.

In true Spook fashion, she died on Friday the 13th, March 1936.

5. Sarah Jane Conley (Nov 1857 - 13 Mar 1936) married William Edwin Kinman (Mar 1858 - 13 Jun 1925), son of William Kinman and Sarah R Moore, on 13 Nov 1875, in Redwood Falls, Minnesota.

4. Cora Mabel Kinman (4 Sep 1876 - 22 Aug 1958) married Clarence Edgar Brown (1 Dec 1878 - 21 Aug 1937), son of Silas W Brown and Malinda J Carter, on 16 Sep 1903, in Morgan, Minnesota.

3. Dana Earl Brown (26 Jan 1910 - 10 Sep 1984) married Myrna Margaret Severin (6 Nov 1907 - 12 Jun 1997), daughter of John Jacob "Jack" Severin and Isabelle "Belle" Runser, on 21 Oct 1933, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

2. Beverly Alane Brown (8 Aug 1934 - 7 Mar 2010) married [Living] Burnett, son of Leroy Stanley Burnett and Hazel Lucille Erickson, on 4 Mar 1961, in Long Beach, California.

1. Your humble blogger.

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