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Posts tagged ‘Genealogy’


Room 2 at the Hotel Manning

In mid-November my sister made arrangements for us to give some Long Journeys book talks in Iowa. Like me, Lonna grew up in Eastern Idaho, but several years ago she and her husband, Mark, had moved to property near Keosauqua, Iowa, that had once been his family’s summer home. Although only about four miles out of town, the house is secluded, with acres of woodland, its own pond full of fish, and deer and other wildlife roaming freely. It would be our base of operations for the week of the talks, but because it has only one bedroom and no place to house guests, Lonna made a reservation for us to spend our nights at the Manning Hotel in Keosaqua. Knowing my interest in the old hotel, she didn’t even need to consult with me before making the decision to stay there. It was the perfect choice.

When we pulled up in front of the hotel to check in for our first night, we saw a young woman get out of the only other car on the street and walk toward the entrance. As she unlocked the front door, she said she saw us coming and thought she better wait to see if we were the guests she was expecting. We would be the only people in the hotel that night. While she checked us in, gave us our keys and directions to our lodgings – Room 2 at the top of the stairs on the 2nd floor – I asked if the hotel is haunted.

“Well, yes, I think it is,” she said. She explained that until two days earlier she had been living with her two young daughters in an apartment within the hotel. One day she was scolding her six-year-old for not eating the lunch she had prepared and sent with her to school, when a cart with wheels started moving on its own around the kitchen. She said while some of the floors in the old hotel were not level, this was not the case in her kitchen. “There was no reason for that cart to have moved.” I laughed and said the ghost was probably a woman who had lost her own child in a measles epidemic and was angry that she was scolding her daughter for something as trivial as eating her lunch.

“I’m going home now, but if you need anything just call me at this number. I only live a couple of blocks away.” With directions to be sure to take our key with us if we left the hotel – so we could get back in – she was gone and we were, as she had stated, the only ones in the hotel for the night.

We made our way up the steep and squeaky stairs with all our luggage, laptop, snacks, and other essentials, to look for our room. Number 2 was the only room with the door closed and locked. We could have slept in any room on the 2nd floor. It was decorated with vintage wallpaper that was starting to peel, bedspreads to match, antique dressers and washstands, plus it had its own bathroom which Lonna had requested because only eight of the sixteen rooms in the hotel do. There were two queen sized beds. We loved it, slanted floor and all.

We were in a corner room with a balcony running all the way around it and outside lights hanging down from its roof. The two beds had heavy vintage metal frames and were on opposite sides of the room. Mine on an outside wall, with windows facing the DesMoines River; Lonna’s on an inside wall with a door that could be opened to another suite.

We worked on our talk for the following day, compared the books we were reading and laughed about the ghosts and about being, literally, the only people in this lovely old hotel. About 11:00 or so we decided to turn out the lights and go to sleep. The building made the usual creaks and groans of a very old structure, but nothing to be alarmed about. For about 20 minutes . . .

And then there was a loud RAP on the wall right behind Lonna’s head – coming from the room next door with the adjoining doorway – the doorway we hadn’t thought to check to see if it was locked. We were nervous, too nervous to go next door and check on that other room, but not nervous enough to get up and leave the hotel in the middle of the night. We settled back down to sleep again. For about 20 minutes . . .

And that is when the lights hanging over the terrace outside our room got weird. I was facing a window at the front of the building by the side of Lonna’s bed, when those outside lights suddenly got very bright. Lonna swears the lights on the side of the building, by my bed, not only got brighter but turned blue.

We talked about leaving. We could go back to Lonna’s house in the woods; I could sleep on the couch with Hootie the Wiener Dog. Eventually I explained to Lonna that since we can’t touch ghosts, they can’t touch us either, so while they might scare us to death, they probably couldn’t do any more than that. We turned the lights back off and settled down to sleep once again. Eventually we both fell asleep and there were no more disturbances, at least that we were aware of, that night or the following one. We did, however, make the decision to move to a more modern building on property behind the original hotel for the remainder of our time in Keosauqua.

The Manning Hotel was built in the late 1800s, had been sold and renovated in the 1940s, and is currently in the process of being restored by a group of local people who have invested in it. The property includes the original hotel, a newer two-story building and several cabins. The guest rooms in the old hotel are the last to be renovated and appear to be on schedule. Restoration on the main floor has begun and the space is already being used for both public and private events, including a 2019 Halloween ghost tour.

But . . . We are not afraid of ghosts!

Upcoming Events

Hi, this is Michelle I help Myrna with the blog. In our family we have a game that we like to play called, Did You Know. We are always playing. Sometimes you don’t know you playing until you are halfway though the conversation. So here is a smaller version of it.

Did you know that Myrna is going on a small book tour in the Midwest in the next week? If not here is a list of where she will be feel free to stop by and learn more about the amazing journey of this book and say hi.

Monday, November 18 6:30 p.m., Van Buren County Historical Society, Bentonsport, Iowa.  Book signing and presentation

Tuesday, November 19 1:30 p.m., Keosauqua Public Library, Keosauqua, Iowa. Book signing and presentation.

Thursday, November 21, 3:00 p.m., private book club presentation and book signing, Oskaloosa, Iowa

Friday, November 22, 2:30 p.m., private book club presentation and book signing, Pittsburg, Iowa


I shared my growing-up years with 32 cousins, the offspring of the children of Alf and Emily Cramer.  All of the families lived within a 20-mile radius of each other in southeast Idaho. We celebrated birthdays and holidays together at our grandparents’ house, which happened to be next door to my own family home.  We got our hair cuts from one aunt and uncle, eggs and milk from another; when my band instrument disappeared from the music room at Bonneville High School my police detective uncle solved the mystery of the stolen clarinet.  When one aunt’s health was too fragile for her to care for her newborn baby, one of her sisters took the baby girl home for several weeks. My mother and her siblings helped each other any way they could. Our families worked and played, laughed and cried, together.

Last weekend we had a cousin reunion at my home in Idaho Falls.  Since my book Long Journeys is filled with family stories it seemed fitting that the cousins be among the first to get copies of the book and I had promised to distribute them at our reunion.  I ordered them the first day the book was available for purchase through Amazon. Days passed and the message on the Amazon page never changed – Your order has not been processed. I knew several people who had ordered EBooks or individual print books and already received them but my larger order was sitting somewhere in limbo.  My sisters and I had several discussions. Should we postpone the reunion or go ahead and hold it with the possibility of no books? The reunion was scheduled to start at noon on Saturday. Since we had family here from Iowa, Arizona, and Utah, and more arriving from across the state of Idaho it was a huge relief to see the boxes of books stacked on my front porch at 5:00 Friday evening.  Nothing like cutting it close!

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who came had a good time.  Some cousins hadn’t seen each other since we were children. We had some fun discussions based on our memories of those early years in our lives.  Someone asked, what are some life lessons you learned from your parents? One answer: Work hard, use it up, wear it out, make do or do without. That fit our hardworking, frugal families perfectly.

One cousin brought several family treasures to share including Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus suits made by our grandmother for our Christmas Eve celebrations.  This prompted another discussion my sisters and brother and I have already had on numerous occasions. Who played the part of Santa at our parties?

Excerpt from Long Journeys:

Each year after Thanksgiving dinner was finished and the dishes cleared away, names were drawn for Christmas gift exchanges, one for the adults and another for all the cousins.  Christmas Eve together was the highlight of the holiday season for the entire family. There was always a program by the grandchildren, the opening of gifts and a visit from Santa Claus.  In my immediate family we have different recollections of who Santa was in his everyday life. I was quite sure it was a friend of the family – a rather rotund farmer who lived a few miles away.  Reta was equally sure it was Grandpa himself and our brother Lynn is certain it was someone who lived behind the blacksmith shop and drove a rust colored pickup. Lonna doesn’t remember Santa attending our parties.

Conclusions from the reunion discussion:  We all got it right – the answer changed from year to year.  The Santa suits seem to prove that Grandpa and Grandma were indeed Mr. and Mrs. Santa.  But some years they lent the suits to others who didn’t mind spending their Christmas Eve with the Cramer family, including the rotund farmer and the man who lived behind the blacksmith shop and drove an old rust colored pickup.

Even Lonna’s assertion that Santa didn’t attend the parties she attended is likely true.  Several of the other younger cousins don’t remember him being there either.


There is still plenty of work to do before I reach the finish line of a project I have been working on for several years, but today a major hurdle was passed.

Long Journeys, the stories of 7 generations in my family who have preserved and cared for an old book since 1778, is available today at Amazon Books in paperback and EBook.  The hardback version is in its final stages of proofing and will be ready in two to three weeks. A second volume with the revolutionary war records and court cases of the old book is in the works.

It has indeed been a long journey – of research and writing, of travel to find and verify facts, and of time-consuming hours at the computer.  I thought when the stories were finished the work was done, but publishing has been another long process. I was fortunate to find a local publisher to work with who not only helped me through all the stages of getting my manuscript ready to print but also designed the beautiful cover for the book.  More about that later . . .

Right now I am excited, happy, proud, and very, very tired.

An Abundance of Nathaniels

When my granddaughter Megan visted a few weeks ago she went home with a copy of the manuscript for Long Journeys, to read and offer editing advice.  She texted me the following day asking “Is this the same Nathaniel as in the previous story?” She had caught an error in one reading that I had missed in all the times I have read and corrected the stories of the people who cared for John Comins, Junior’s old book.  To make matters worse, I brushed her off with: “Yes, there is a Nathaniel in every branch of the family.”

To me, everything seemed fine with the Nathaniels.  And yes, there are a lot of them in the Tyler family.  Daniel Moroni had a son named Nathaniel, as did his father, the first Daniel in our stories, whose father Andrews had named his first son Nathaniel, after his father Nathaniel, and he after his father Nathaniel, etc. etc., back to 1611 when I found the first Tyler in our line who didn’t name any of his children Nathaniel.  To make matters a little more complicated all the families were large, with 8 to 12 children each, and every line of every family seems to have had, as well as a Nathaniel, a William, a Daniel and an Elizabeth. 

Last week as I completed one last reading before the manuscript was to be submitted for printing the following morning, I finally saw what Megan was referring to.

In the story about the first Daniel Tyler and his wife I had written, “Their son Nathaniel, who was born while Daniel was on his mission, died at 16 years of age from an illness related to diabetes.”  In the story about his son, Daniel Moroni Tyler and his wife, I had written, “Their son Nathaniel died at 16 years of age from an illness related to diabetes.”

Oh No! The Ebook is already available on Kindle and the paper books nearly ready to order.  How would I fix this?

After a few minutes of panic, I went to to see which Nathaniel had died at 16 from a diabetes related illness and then I would decide how to correct the problem.

This is what I learned:

Both those Nathaniels died at a young age, though neither at precisely 16.  

Daniel Tyler’s son was born on August 17, 1853 and died April 28, 1869 – at the age of 15 years, 8 months and 11 days.

Daniel Moroni Tyler’s son, William Nathaniel, was born May 31, 1882 and died January 7, 1897 – at the age of 14 years, 7 months and 7 days.

Of even more interest, they both could very well have died from an illness related to diabetes.

I had originally obtained my information from old family histories passed down from my grandmother Emily Tyler Cramer and simply hadn’t noticed that the information was written identically for each of the boys.  In a history written by her about her parents she said of her older brother, “After a few days illness with diabetes, Nathaniel died January 7, 1897.” Family Search has an obituary of the earlier Nathaniel showing he died of gangrene.  In the days before antibiotics an abrasion caused by diabetes could easily turn to gangrene.

I made a couple of small changes to the stories and let them be.

Long Journeys is available now through Amazon Kindle E-Books.  The paper-back version is just a few days away and will be available either from Amazon or directly from me.  The beautiful hard back book will be available in 2-3 weeks exclusively from me. Watch for my next blog with specifics.