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My words and photographs are copyrighted, and may not be used without permission, even on Pinterest.

~ Kathy M.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sepia Saturday #104: Flora Fletcher Hedrick and The War Letters

Hello, Friends!  This week's Sepia Saturday theme seems to be mother and child, dressed in Navy uniforms. They were not really Navy uniforms, that is the Princess of Bavaria and her little boy, but it makes a nice introduction into what I wanted to post today.  Oh, boy.  Do I have a story of a Navy mom, who also had a son in the Air Force during World War II.

Flora Fletcher Hedrick

Once upon a time, there was a family named Fletcher, from Mercer County, Illinois.  Three Fletcher brothers and their families crossed the plains in a covered wagon during the year of 1864, and settled in the Silverton and Salem, Oregon area.  One of the youngest of the wagon train party was a baby named Ellsworth E. Fletcher.

Ellsworth E. grew up, married, and had three children.  The children were Lorraine, Flora and Ellsworth.  They were a tight-knit family, and Ellsworth E. wrote in his diary every single day for a long time, lucky for us.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
 Hobert, Flora and Danny

Flora grew up and became a school teacher. She met my great-uncle Hobert Hedrick, and they had two little boys, Danny (b. 1925) and Lyle (b. 1926).  Flora was my great-aunt.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
Hobert, Flora and Danny are on the left.  
It looks to me as if Flora was pregnant with Lyle in this photo.

Then, for a reason unbeknownst to anybody but him, Hobert left, pretty much abandoning Flora and the boys.  Hobert divorced Flora and later married Velma and had two more children, Mom's cousins Judy and Bud. 

My great-grandparents, Ben and Litha Hedrick, were fit to be tied over the divorce.  Everybody loved Flora and the boys, and they kept in close contact with them.  At one point, Flora, Dan and Lyle moved to Drain so that they would know their grandparents, Aunt Florence (my Grandma T.), Uncle John and Uncle Homer, and their other Hedrick relatives.

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Flora taught school in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  At one point, she was teaching at Ainsworth School on Council Crest in the Portland area.  Flora also kept a diary of her boys for quite a while.  Sometimes the three lived with Ellsworth E. and Lorraine.  Flora's mother died when the boys were around three and four.  Dan and Lyle grew up to be fine, hardworking young men.   Flora was a loving and dedicated mother.  

When World War II came along, Dan was in the Navy, and Lyle and my Uncle John were in the Army.  Coming from a writing family, the letters flew back and forth on a frequent basis, and Grandpa Ellsworth Fletcher kept his daily diary.

Very sadly, near the end of the war, Danny's ship was bombed by the Japanese, and Danny died.  This devastated the whole family.  My Mom remembers being a little girl and they were listening to the radio when the news came on about that ship being hit.  She remembers Grandma T. (who had a special bond with Danny) saying, "That's Dan's ship!".  Unfortunately, she was right.

Flora had a difficult time figuring out the details of what actually happened.  Finally, she received this explanation:

 Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

Later on, Lyle compiled all of Grandpa Ellsworth's diaries,  Flora's diary entries, and all the war correspondence.  He transcribed them and put everything in chronological order.  He essentially made a book of a 1265 pages, and was hoping to get it published.   Lyle wanted others to know what it was like for families during war.  He submitted the manuscript to several people, but nobody wanted it at the time.

  Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

  Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

  Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

One day, my Mom and Grandma T. drove to see Lyle.  Lyle showed them the manuscript and let them borrow it so that Mom could read it.  Mom and Aunt Sondy made a copy of it behind Lyle's back.  They were afraid that he would say no if he asked!  Later, after Lyle died, they made copies for us kids and for Judy and Bud and others.

The War Letters is simply amazing.  I have had my copy for several years, but am just getting the time to really sit down and read it.  I will read it in order someday, but went through and read all of Uncle John's letters, and am trying to figure out how to organize it in my mind.  My thought is to tell about the main family members of the Fletcher-Hedrick family and highlighting their lives.  A couple of weeks ago, I posted some about my Uncle John Hedrick, and you may " CLICK HERE" to read that post.  In that post, Uncle John is writing to his sister-in-law, Flora. 

Also, speaking of other posts, I featured Sepia Saturday earlier this week on my blog, and gave a shout out and links to some of my Sepia Saturday friends' blogs.  Please "CLICK HERE" to see that, and if you are a Sepia Saturday participant, please give yourself the award! 

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody! 

Kathy M.

At Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy, if you miss a day, you miss a lot!  All material on this post is copyrighted and not for use without my permission ...Please click here to go to my home page and see what is happening in Mayberry today.
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Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Wow! You're fortunate to have such detailed knowledge of your early family, Kathy. And to have so much already written down and organized is fantastic! I'll be curious to see what you do with it all :)

Anonymous said...

Daily journaling is such a lost art. My great grandfather kept a daily journal as well. On one note he talks about the business deal he worked on that day, and scribbled in tiny script to the side it says "George born." :-)

Postcardy said...

That was a very interesting post. It is good that there were copies made.

Maybe you could post some of the entries or those from a certain time period. One idea that I have seen done is to have a separate blog and post entries that match up with that day of the year on the same date.

Karen S. said...

Wow, what an amazing source of details, and the photos are just priceless, I especially like how he's holding his hat to keep the sun away from the baby's face...this is just a work of art and love! nicely done!

Bob Scotney said...

Kathy you have an amazing amount of material here. I'm blown away by the photos.
You have your work cut out to sort out the 'book' but stick at it, it's a fascinating story.

tony said...

Kathy.The Typed Letter Is Very Moving.How Strange To Type:How Devastating To Receive.
The Family Photos all Have A Close-Knit Friendly ,Open Feel To Them.A Real Family.Solid, Together.Thank You For Sharing Them With Us.

Little Nell said...

My goodness Kathy what a story. Lucky you to have all that information but you have quite a task on your hands.

Tattered and Lost said...

Love that shot of the man holding the hat to shield the babe from the sun. I have a shot of two men, one holding a baby, the other holding a hat. Don't think I've ever seen a guy these days doing it with baseball caps.

Arlee Bird said...

Love seeing the old pictures and hearing the stories behind them.

Linda Hoye on adoption and writing memoir at
Wrote By Rote

Wendy said...

Outstanding post. Lucky you to have a copy of all those journals and letters. Amazing.

Mike Brubaker said...

A fine story with the special addition of the letter. Today we receive so much instant communication: email, cellphone, etc. that future generations will not have such treasures.


Stunning post!!
I liked how Hobert raised his hat to protect his son from the glare of the sun; but was disappointed in reading he had left his family behind...

Sad letter to receive. The kind you never want to receive...

Nice that you have all of this historical material, if only for your family, for now...

No Copying!


Links to My Oregon Blog Posts (Except for Central Oregon):

"Oregon Bloggers"

"Sepia Saturday, Postcard and Stamp Blogs"

"Writing and Poetry Blogs":