Hiram Culvin Reynolds Partial Life Story

Submitted by Mary Ahrenholtz great granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin Reynolds, brother of Hiram Culvin Reynolds.
© Mary Ahrenholtz 2004.

--Chapter 1--

The following is excerpted from a "book" written by his son, Oris Harold Reynolds. This book was never published but written in the form of long letters to his daughter, Jane. Jane sent it to me. I will summarize and copy out of the book giving you the information you need for your website.

Hiram Culvin Reynolds was born in 1857 to Benjamin Cornell and Sarah Lower Reynolds on a farm near Ollie, Iowa. He was the youngest of eleven children (9 boys and 2 girls).

Clara Thurman, H. C.'s first wife, was born in Washington County, Iowa, which is the next adjacent county east of where Culvin was born. However, they did not meet there. It is possible that they first met in Marion, Kansas, as that was Clara's mother's family home at the time. Clara was the oldest in a family of three girls. Her sisters were Elizabeth (called Lizzy) and Mary, who passed away in childhood.

H.C. [who liked to be called Culvin] and Clara were married in Emporia, Kansas, in 1885. At that Culvin was a traveling commercial photographer commonly called a view photographer. It seems that after their marriage they spent the following year traveling and living in hotels. Finally they settled down at a town known as Hay City, possibly it is the present city of Hays, Kansas. Culvin established a photo studio there. A newspaper clipping read as follows: "H. C. Reynolds is the happy father of a nine pound boy. The young man arrived last week and the first thing he cried for was a dozen of those cabinets that his father is making for $3.00." (Oris Harold was born January 15, 1887.)

The summer of 1887 Culvin, Clara, and Oris moved to Sherman County, Kansas, near Goodland. He homesteaded a claim there and began his attempt at farming. At that time the government had opened a portion of western Kansas for free homesteads. For improving, cultivating, and planting a definite number of trees and living on the land for a stated period, the government would execute a clear title to the land. Most of the improvements then consisted of sod shanties, that being about the only available building material. Culvin also opened another studio in Goodland as the following brief appeared in the local paper: "A rather laughable accident happened to one of Mr. H. C. Reynolds's children last week. The child is only three years old and he concluded to learn photography so he could help his father. He managed to get into a preparation Mr. H. used as a bath for his pictures with both feet and, as a consequence, now has two very black feet and ankles which no amount of scrubbing can remove."

It was there in Sherman County, Kansas, that Mamie was born. The stay in Sherman county did not last long. A typhoid epidemic swept that section during the summer of 1890. It was here that Clara passed away. She was only 24 years of age. Culvin gave up his holdings there. Mamie was quite ill and was taken to the home of Clara's mom for treatment.

Culvin took his little boy, Oris, and hit the trail as a traveling photographer again. Oris recalls being in many towns. He remembers sitting in hotel rooms and drawing pictures of trains not knowing then that later he would be a railroad employee. He also remembers becoming friendly with a local boy at the hotel. The boy suggested they go to the bluff. Since Oris didn't know what a bluff was and it sounded interesting, he went with this boy. Oris had not asked his father and when Culvin could not find him, he became worried. Culvin searched and searched. Upon finding Oris, he gave him a "warm reminder" never to do that again. That was the only whipping Oris ever received. Oris also recalled another hotel where he was befriended by a waitress. She let him play in the hotel dining room. Oris had a cloth cat as a toy and was tossing it about when it landed on a stack of chinaware. Many dishes were broken. After that, he was not permitted in the dining room except at mealtime.

Oris recalled being at a town in southeast Texas on the Brazos River. He thought the name was Velasco. Being only a few miles from the Gulf, Culvin and Oris made trips on the steamboat. Heading back north Culvin met a young woman in Caddo, Oklahoma that he later married. Her name was Ada Cooper and she was only 19 years old. She and her two sisters, Minnie and Maude, were living on a farm near Caddo. Culvin would take Oris along when he "called on" Ada. During one of their dates, they let Oris go exploring on Ada's farm. It was strawberry time. In the orchard Ada had all the strawberry boxes ready for berry-picking time. Oris proceeded to break up all the strawberry boxes. However, he was unable to "break up" their engagement. Culvin and Ada were married in the spring of 1893.

They spent their honeymoon visiting the Chicago World Fair then in progress. As for Oris, he was not invited along. Instead, he spent the summer with Grandpa Ben and Grandma Sarah Reynolds in Iowa. He was given a tricycle which to Oris was a wonderful prize!

-end chapter 1--