Friday, December 24, 2004

Ben and Dora

On Christmas Eve 1900, 17 year old Dora Mae Langley married 28 year old widower Benjamin Franklin Franz. Dora Mae was the daughter of "H.C." (Henry Cornelius), and Fanny Newton Langley, prosperous farmers in New Bloomfield, Missouri. Ben was the daughter of William and Schletta Morse Franz, refugee emigrants from "Germany" (a country in the making) living in O'Fallon, Missouri. Ben worked for the Atcheson, Topica & Santa Fe Railroad. They came from very differant backgrounds. Her father had served in the Confederate Army, his in the Union. She a farmer's daughter, he a city man with a young son, Willie, from his first marriage.
They had three children. Their first child, Georgia Lorraine, died as a toddler. Their second child, Gerald Allen, and my mother, Dorothy Juanita. All three children were born on the Kiowa Indian Reservation in Oklahoma where Ben was working as a railroad station master.
I wish I could say that Ben and Dora were deleriously happy. I can't. I wish I could say their marriage was happy. It wasn't. But I like to think that there was a time when they loved each other, when the hopes of a new marriage, a new life and a new century lay brightly before them. A time before bitterness and recriminations poisined their relationship. Ben died just four months before their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Dora Mae died nine years later.
I wish I had a great message to go with their story. I don't. Perhaps as you read this your heart will speak to you of love and hope or of dreams gone awry. If it does, please share them with me.

May this Christmas find you full of joy and hope and peace!

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