Monday, September 26, 2016

Notes From My Grandmother | Potwin Lineage and Genealogy, Part 7

Somehow, much of my grandmother's hand written and (badly) typed notes and research wound up in my possession. Traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles and back to Chicago again. It sat, in the dark of my mother's closet, until my dad passed and my mom decided to begin her great purge. Knowing I had picked up the torch, the next generation to pursue the Greatest Hobby on Earth, the papers came to live with me. Unsure for many years on just what to do with them, I have decided to bring them out and share them with you - transcribed, of course - no one can read my grandmother's handwriting! But in her own words; mistakes, rambling sentences, and all. I think she will be pleased her work and her writing are once again out in the light.


Irving Augustus Potwin was the second son of three and had two sisters (one died in infancy). He was born in Corning, Adams Co, Iowa and received elementary education there and attended the Academy also. He went to University at Northfield, Minnesota. The stories of severe winters there were often topics of conversation. Before the winter months many structures were erected, which appeared to be scaffolds, over all the walkways; one who lives through a winter in snow country is familiar with 'snow fences'; but these strange looking skeletons were a puzzle until the snow storms arrived. Students and all residents walked 'on top' of the snow by way of the high stilts. Irving studied the classics as well as mathematics and business courses.

During vacations and time in his home town he courted his future bride, Carrie Elizabeth Twining (Bess). They both had attended the Academy in Corning. Irving's sister, who was nine years older than he, was influential in securing admission to Northfield for him. Gertrude had taught classes there. The courtship really began when Bess and Irv walked home together from the Academy. Bess attended three years, Irv for two before he went to Minnesota.

Bess and Irv grew up in the same community, attended the same Sunday school and church. Bess said, "I used to see him in the Presbyterian Sunday school (Irv's father was the superintendent there) and Irv would rest on the roof of the woodshed. I'd often see him for he would ride his huge bicycle and that was the way he'd get off it." The bicycles in those days had the great big front wheel and tiny wheel in the back. Irv would often ride into the yard of Bess's home.

Carrie Elizabeth and Irving Augustus Potwin were married in the Twining home, Corning, Polk Co, Iowa on January 3, 1899. The bride and groom made their home in Corning until after the birth of their first child.

Irv heard of an opportunity in Oklahoma (then a new territory, not yet a state, opening up). Along with a friend, Mr. Nelson, left to establish a home for his family. Misfortune overtook him; he was taken ill while there. He was extremely ill; he contracted smallpox; and returned to Corning upon recovery. However Irv realized that there was opportunity in the new settlement and moved with his wife and daughter in the year 1901. They established their home in Guthrie.

Irv's friend Gus was a carpenter and Irv took up the painter's trade; there was plenty of work to keep them occupied in the new community. A second child was born there, a little boy, Kenneth Grayden, April 10, 1902.

Later on Irv started a water service (still a new settlement) hauled barreled water and delivered it to the homes. Oklahoma was very dry and barren, Bess would 'sweep' the yard around their little home; no grass would grow to make a lawn. Bess and Irv were really pioneers in a new territory.

There was an opening for a cashier in the bank. Since Irv was an excellent mathematician; one of the subjects he had mastered in college; he was asked to fill the position and filled the need of the bank and so started a new profession. Once again Gus Nelson was influential in Potwin's future, a very devoted friend.

The next year Irv moved his wife Bess and young family to Des Moines. Again his devoted friend had heard of an opening in a bank there. Irv applied for the job as cashier of the Des Moines National Bank which was later the Iowa National Bank and he was hired. Potwin [built] his home on Capitol Hill in Des Moines for his family. It was here that their third child was born in 1904. They moved into a larger house on College Avenue. It was from here that the eldest child entered school.

The little son was taken ill with the dreaded disease measles and died from the aftermath of complications.

A few years later Irv planned and built a new two story house for his [family] in a new development, know as 'Middlesex', in the western section of Des Moines, Iowa. There was much open country and with the feeling of freedom and being close to nature. It was here that the youngest began her schooling. The two sisters trudged through all kinds of weather, four times a day.

They established themselves as good neighbors and solid citizens. They became affiliated with the Congregational church.

Irv was a outdoor man and enjoyed sports. On his property he had a fine clay court constructed for tennis. The streets were being paved at this time and Irv had the steam roller (used in road construction) driven on the court and made an excellent firm court. He and Bess would go north in the fall on a hunting trip. He had many trophies. Also the couple enjoyed their social life with friends; cards and dancing principally. Bess would carry her dainty little dancing slippers in the satin bag (one never walked in dancing slippers!).

Irv went into his own business, that of certified public accountant.

During World War I everyone planted 'Victory Gardens'. Irv had the tennis [court] plowed up and it was turned into a potato field. After the war was over and the Armistice signed life returned to more normal living. Irv built another beautiful new house just next door, where there had once been the tennis court that joined the war effort as a potato field. Many happy years of living made the house a home. His daughters were married. He gave a home to Bess's mother and father after his retirement in his home now devoid of children.

After many years of love and service to his devoted family he died in 1938, August 16, as he was preparing to enter his automobile for a usual day. There was no suffering or pain of illness now.


Irving Augustus Potwin b. 3/9/1880
                                         d. 8/16/1938
                                          m. 1/3/1899 to Carrie Elizabeth Twining

Dorothy Irene b. 7/24/1899 d. ----- m. 6/18/1924 to Albert H. Adams
                                                                John Irving Adams
                                                                Richard Albert Adams
                                                                Elizabeth Ann Adams
                                                                Thomas Louis Adams
Kenneth Grayden b. 4/10/1900 d. 12/1908
ELIZABETH TWINING b. 10/28/1904 d. ----- m. 5.25.1923 to Robert Willis Thomas
                                                                                      b. 5/3/1904 d. 5/25/1955
                                                                                  Robert Willis Jr. b. 2/14/1924
                                                                                  Barbara Jeanette b. 5/2/1931
                                                                                  William Irving b. 7/30/1933
                                                                                  Elizabeth Alice b. 9/21/1936
                                                                                  Kenneth Lauren (died in infancy)

Married in Corning, Iowa moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma with wife and first born before she was a year old. He moved his family to Des Moines, Iowa after birth of their son. There another daughter was born.

END of Part 7

©2016 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved
©1980 Elizabeth Twining Potwin Thomas - private collection

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