Betsy-Tacy Days

Mankato Honors Maud Hart Lovelace in 1961

In June 1961 the Mankato Free Press reported “Betsy Tacy Day’ is planned for October.” The Mankato Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) had been working on plans to bring Maud Hart Lovelace to Mankato, her childhood home.

The idea for the event was suggested at an AAUW board meeting that was held at the home of the board president, Kathryn Hanson, in May 1961. Ellen Skibness, a professor at Mankato State University, proposed the group sponsor a Betsy-Tacy weekend because Maud had grown up in Mankato and was writing about Mankato and most of the major characters were still living. The proposal was quickly accepted and it was decided that Dr. Anna Wiecking, who lived in the house across the street from the Gerlach house (Tib’s house) and knew many of the people involved, would be the general chair for the event.

The AAUW group was active all summer making plans and preparations. On August 19, 1961, the Mankato Free Press reported: “Mankato and the surrounding area will have a literary ‘treat’ this fall due to the efforts of the American Association of University Women, Mankato Branch. Maud Hart Lovelace, who lives at Claremont, California, and is famous for her Betsy-Tacy stories throughout the United States, will come to Mankato October 6 and 7 to speak to her admirers and friends.”

Betsy-Tacy Days was made official by a proclamation by Mankato Mayor Rex Hill, who said Mrs. Lovelace’s visit to Mankato “would be of great interest to Mankatoans since the author was born and reared in our community.”

 

Maud 1961 Free Press

This photo of Maud Hart Lovelace was found in the Free Press files for October 6, 1961. The photo was never published.

Betsy-Tacy Author Planned Only 1 Book

(Mankato Free Press- Friday, October 6, 1961)

“When I wrote my first Betsy-Tacy book I never planned to write another. But the children wanted more of them,” related Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy series of books for girls.

Mrs. Lovelace is the guest of honor this weekend at Betsy-Tacy Day in Mankato, an event sponsored by the Mankato branch of the American Association of University Women.

“The Betsy-Tacy books have been rewarding to me because of the correspondence from children in every state in the Union,” said Mrs. Lovelace, a native of Mankato. “The children ask me about characters in the books and they tell me what books they want next.”

Mrs. Lovelace wrote her first Betsy-Tacy book in 1940 and 11 others in the series have followed. Other children’s stories have also been written by her since the advent of the Betsy-Tacy tales.

“I’ve always written. I sold my first story when I was 18 years old to the Los Angeles Times while visiting my grandmother in California. ‘No. 8’ was the title of the article. It was the number of a streetcar somebody was murdered on. That’s all I can remember about it. It sold for $10.

“My second story was called ‘Three Roses.’ My husband always said it should have been ‘Four Roses.’

“I married Delos Lovelace in 1917. He wrote short stories for The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines but I wasn’t good at short stories. He suggested I write novels,” remarked Mrs. Lovelace.

Mrs. Lovelace did write novels, six of them. Two were written with her husband. The first was “The Black Angels,” a book which was staged in Blue Earth county.

Ft. Snelling is in the background for “Early Candlelight.” “One Stayed at Welcome” relates to Minneapolis and the Fairmont area is the setting for “Gentlemen from England.” “Petticoat Court” and “The Charming Sally” were the novels written with her husband. [Editor’s note: Books co-authored by Maud and Delos Lovelace were “One Stayed at Welcome,” “Gentlemen from England” and “The Golden Wedge: Indian Legends of South America.”]

Mrs. Lovelace said she developed her interest in children’s stories when she started telling stories to her daughter, Merian, who is now the wife of a magazine editor in New York City, N.Y., and also a short story writer.

Mrs. Lovelace’s husband has continued his writing since retiring from the staff of the New York Telegram and Sun. He has written a biography of former President Eisenhower for children and two other juvenile books in recent years.

The next Maud Hart Lovelace book will be entitled, “Betsy’s Bettina.” “I have done some work on the book but it really hasn’t started rolling.” The latest in the Betsy-Tacy series will be about the child of Betsy and her husband.

Mrs. Lovelace has not visited Mankato since 1953. She moved to Minneapolis from Mankato in 1910, the year she graduated from Mankato high school, but still recalls what the city was like then.

“I lived at 333 Center Street. At that time the hills at the end of Center were completely wild. We called it the Big Hill. Now it is called Sumner Hill. There were only one or two houses on the hill then.

There is another great change. The slough is gone. The high school is on it.

“We drove up Front Street last night. The only change I notice is the traffic. My father had a shoe store on Front street. He sold it to Wood and Sterling. The rest of the town looks quite natural to me,” she commented.

“The college was the Normal school then with only two or three buildings. The second house I lived in during high school in Mankato is now the journalism house at Mankato State college.

“I can’t imagine a more wonderful place than Mankato for children to grow up. There is something about it that is friendly. I’ve always loved it. Being large won’t change it,” said Mrs. Lovelace.

With Mrs. Lovelace, who is Betsy in her series of books, are other persons who are the basis for characters in the stories.

Maud 1961a

Maud Hart Lovelace, famed author of the Betsy-Tacy series of book for girls, is in Mankato this weekend to take part in Betsy-Tacy day. Seen with Mrs. Lovelace, who is sitting, are (left to right) Mrs. Marjorie Gerlach Harris of Chicago, who is the character of “Tib” in the Betsy-Tacy books; Mrs. Charles Kirch of Buffalo, N.Y., who is “Tacy,” and Mrs. Ruth Williams of Port Orchard, Wash., “Alice” in the series. This is the first time the group has met in nine years. (Free Press Photo) [Editor’s note: This photograph is from the Free Press files and was published October 6, 1961.]

They include: Mrs. Frances Kenney Kirch (Tacy), of Buffalo, N.Y.; Mrs. Marjorie Gerlach Harris (Tib) of Chicago, Ill.; Mrs. Beulah Hunt Ingenfritz (Winona) of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Mrs. Ruth Williams (Alice) of Port Orchard, Wash.; and Mrs. Mildred Oleson Cahill (Irma) of Waseca. Other characters in the books are Mankatoans, Mr. and Mrs. Jabez Lloyd (Cab and Irene) and Mrs. Eleanor Wood Lippert (Dorothy).

Also in Mankato is a life-long fan of the Betsy-Tacy stories, Libby Demp, of Philadelphia, Pa. Miss Demp has corresponded with Mrs. Lovelace since the first of the books appeared on the market. “I always wanted to be a writer. I admired the characters in the books,” said Miss Demp, who is chairman of public relations for the Academy of Natural Science, the oldest natural history center in the country.

Miss Demp and another Philadelphia woman have written a book on secretarial careers for young women which will be published next year. “Mrs. Lovelace has been an inspiration in my writing. When I signed the contract for this book I phoned her first.”

After leaving Mankato, Miss Demp will visit Minneapolis and Milwaukee, other settings for the Betsy-Tacy books, prior to returning to Philadelphia.

Mrs. Lovelace will speak at Lincoln school at 8 p.m. today. Saturday she will give a talk to children at the school at 10 a.m. She will autograph books at the Mankato public library from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

From 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday there will be a “turn of the century” exhibit of items in use during the Betsy-Tacy period, including some personal items belonging to Mrs. Lovelace. The exhibit will be at the Blue Earth county museum.

Also, there will be foot tours of the locales of the Betsy-Tacy stories.

Monday, Mrs. Lovelace will visit friends in Minneapolis. Wednesday she will return to her home in Claremont, Calif.

 

The Andrews (Humphreys) Boys

 

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Football Team: Front Row (L-R) H. Andrews, Chambers, R. Andrews (Capt.), Johnson (Mascot), Bean, Rossman. Row 2: Hunter, Briggs, Harper, Ash, Shaul, Mason, Ireland Row 3: Bogard (Manager), Kilty, Doig (Coach), Lusardi, Hackelman. From The Russ, June 1909.

I wrote this article in 2006 for a Betsy-Tacy Society newsletter and thought I’d share it here. Nancy Wilson, from Seattle, Washington sent photos of Rupert and Helmus Andrews (characters of Larry and Herbert Humphreys) that she found in the San Diego High School yearbook, The Russ, June 1909. Nancy wrote:

“I first met Betsy and Tacy when I was just their age—5 years old. My best friend and near neighbor, Virginia, introduced me to these stories. I checked them out one by one from the old children’s library in Santa Ana, California, and I continued to check them out of the library and read them over and over, even as an adult, until I discovered at about the age of 50 that they were available in paperback. Quickly I purchased every one, and now I have a complete collection.

It was only after my grandmother’s death in 1978 that I began to realize that the characters in these books, everyone in the Crowd, were her contemporaries, not my own. I had read the books so many times, yet I somehow never let go of the illusion that we were all the same age at Deep Valley High School. I will never forget how I waited for Betsy’s Wedding to be published, rounding out the series.

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San Diego High School Track Team: Back row: Howard Briggs, Frank Garrettson, Willard Newman, Harry Clark, Bill Madden, Arthur Loveland, B. Ward. Front row: Eugine Daney, Helmus Andrews (Herbert Humphreys), Rupert Andrews (Larry Humphreys), Paul Sloane, George Harper, Sydney Morgan. From The Russ, June 1909.

One day it dawned on me that my grandparents had graduated from San Diego High School in 1909. This meant that they might have known Rupert and Helmus Andrews, the Humphreys boys, who moved to San Diego at the end of Betsy’s freshman year. Sure enough, my sister and I found the school yearbooks in the archives of the San Diego Historical Society, and there were the pictures of Rupe and Helmus, alias Larry and Herbert.

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This discovery seemed very fitting to me. My only regret is that I did not figure it out          when my grandparents were alive. How I wish I could have asked them about the Andrews brothers. I’m sure they knew one another, because the school was quite small in those days.”

 

The Theater, on Sunday?

“I love the theater so much,” said Betsy, “that I wouldn’t care if the play was in Chinese. But Tib!” She grasped Tib’s arm suddenly. “It can’t be tonight we are going.” “Why not?” Betsy laughed merrily at Tib’s mistake. “It’s Sunday!” “Yes,” answered Tib, “That’s the night Uncle Rudy got the tickets for, Sunday, the twenty-second.” Betsy was silent, astonished. She could hardly believe her ears. They were going to the theater on Sunday. It was certainly Sunday, for they were on their way to church.  Nobody Betsy knew ever went to the theater on Sunday. (Quote from Betsy In Spite of Herself)

Wonder why Betsy was so surprised to go to the theater on a Sunday? The answer is in an interview with Guy Crane, a stage manager of vaudeville theaters in Mankato, who was 86 years old when he was interviewed by Lowell Schreyer in 1975. Crane worked at the Wonderland in 1908 and at the Unique in 1909; before he went to the Wonderland he had worked for a few months at the Opera House. His experience included many vaudeville acts including tap dance, minstrel troupes, comedy acts, song and dance, marionettes, hypnotists, magic and illusions, and, fairly common in those days, blackface acts. Crane left Mankato in March 1909 to work in vaudeville theaters on the west coast.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the interview.

Opera House

Mankato Opera House

Crane: There were no Sunday shows of any kind here, in those days. I used to work at the Opera House where they play here on Monday nights. Six a week. New Ulm on Sunday nights.

Schreyer: What was the average length of their performances in Mankato?

Crane: Three days

Schreyer: Did children come to the matinee and the evening performances or was it understood they be at only the matinee?

Crane: No, no. They went to night shows as well, the younger people that is. The children would be with their parents, as I remember.

Schreyer: What times during the day did the shows begin?

Crane: Well the matinee, I think, was 2:30. And the evening shows at 7:00 and 9:00.

Schreyer: So it was generally about an hour and a half show all together?

Crane: Yes, and they had another half hour to clear the audience and get in a new one.

Schreyer: Was the Opera House in operation at that time already?

Crane: Oh, the Opera House was old by then.

Schreyer: So, that actually would have been a competitor to the Wonderland?

Crane: Well, when the show was over in the Wonderland and they had the play still going on at the Opera House, we’d go over if we wanted to see the last of it.

Schreyer: Were they legitimate plays or were they the vaudeville acts as well?

Crane: Oh no, they were legitimate.

Schreyer: What were some of the plays that you got a chance to see?

Crane: Oh my, I worked there for about a year before that is, one winter, one season before I went to the Wonderland, in property and I helped with the scenery. Of course, I was a light weight in those days. Skinny as a rail. But, oh, “The Lion and the Mouse” and Joe Howard and a lot of George M. Cohan shows. Let’s see, what’s some of those Southern plays…“The Old Plantation” and things like that.

Schreyer: So that [Opera House] was more a legitimate playhouse than a vaudeville house.

Crane: Oh yes.

Schreyer: What’s the earliest time that you can recall a film – a motion picture being shown in Mankato?

Crane: 1906 “The Great Train Robbery.” That’s one of the first…I think that was the first.

Crane: The Opera House had one section of removable seats. They were cranked off under the dress circle of the theater.

Crane: Chauncey Olcott, they had big choruses with them. They played at the Opera House.

Schreyer: Chauncey Olcott, did you see him there?

Crane: At the Opera House. Oh my, you bet.

 

 

A Great Matchmaker

Maud Delos 1917

Maud and Delos Lovelace after their wedding in November 1917

Writing would bring Maud Hart and Delos Lovelace together, with a little help from a matchmaker. That matchmaker was Lillian Wakefield.

In 1915, Delos Lovelace began working as a reporter for his good friend Harry Wakefield, the city editor of the Minneapolis Tribune. The following year, Wakefield’s wife Lillian opened the Wakefield Publicity Bureau in Minneapolis. At some point Harry steered Delos to his wife’s office. In the spring of 1917, Delos left the publicity bureau to join the First Officer’s Training Camp at Fort Snelling.

When Lillian was charged with spearheading a fundraising effort she needed a writer, and she was introduced to Maud Hart. Maud recalled, “I went to see her and we liked each other very much. She told me to look through the collection of articles and materials to see the kind of thing they were doing. I remember coming across Delos’ name and saying, ‘Why, what name is this? It sounds like a valentine.’ Then I went on to read some of the things he had written, and I said, ‘My, he certainly writes well.’

In a 1974 interview with Jo Anne Ray, Maud told her, “Mrs. Wakefield was a great matchmaker, and she invited Delos, myself, and Helen [Maud’s sister] to dinner at her home – I think she invited Helen because she was young enough not to give any competition. Well, we had a lovely time Delos and I were seated across from each other and we kept eyeing each other. I remember we walked Helen home and then Delos and I walked and walked, around the lakes, and talked and talked – it was practically dawn before we reached my home. After that, whenever possible, Mrs. Wakefield would send me on assignments out to Fort Snelling,” where Delos was stationed.

This first meeting between Maud and Delos was in April 1917. They were married on November 29, 1917. When they wed, their combined names sounded even more “like a valentine”.

Maud dedicated Betsy’s Wedding to Lillian Hammons Wakefield, the matchmaker who brought her and Delos together. The fictional names Maud gave to the Wakefields were Bradford and Eleanor Hawthorne.

My Dear Stella – Part 2

Curious to see if I could find out more about some of the people and places Thomas Hart wrote about in his letter to Stella in 1886, I went to the Blue Earth County Historical Society to do some research.

The closest available Mankato City Directory is 1885-86 or 1888. There is no listing for Beebe & Hart in the 1885-86 directory. The 1888 directory lists the T.W. Hart residence as 515 South 4th Street. It also includes an ad for Beebe & Hart that matches the letterhead Tom used for his 1886 letter to Stella.

Beebe ad

Andrew Hiram Beebe and Thomas Hart were partners in a grocery business, Beebe & Hart, located at 521 South Front Street.

Thomas Hart and Stella Palmer were married on October 15, 1887. He left the grocery business in 1888 and joined the business of his father-in-law, Austin and Son Shoes, as a traveling salesman.

“Mr. Beebe and his girl have gone to the Opera House tonight for an entertainment…”   “Miss Walfram comes in the store every day now and has long personal interviews with Beebe.”

Andrew H. Beebe married Anna Wolfram in Mankato on February 5, 1888 and lived in Mankato for 17 years. They had four sons and one daughter.

“Jim has been working for Mr. R. James in China Hall the past week…”

Jim was Thomas Hart’s brother. According to the 1888 directory, China Hall was a retail and wholesale store at 228 South Front Street, which sold china, crockery, glassware, silverware, and cutlery.

China Hall ad.jpg

“Jim and I went up to Mr. Demerays today to dinner had a splendid dinner and a vary nice time. I think it was the best dinner I ever ate.”

According to the 1888 directory, Mr. Demaray was C.H. (Charles Henry) Demaray and he lived at 113 Beech Street. He was listed as an Expressman.

“Alene Demaray has grown to be almost a young lady she is as tall as I am and so womanly poor girl to be left without a mother so young as she is. She was quite cheerful today but “What is home without a mother?”

Mr. and Mrs. Demaray had three children, Edward, Lyman and Alene. Mr. Demaray became a widower and the children their mother at an early age.

“I wonder where we will spend next Christmas? I suppose in Mankato in some humble little wigwam eating turkey perhaps. I hope so.”

As Tom had hoped, he and Stella did spend the next Christmas in Mankato in their own humble home, as newlyweds of two months.

 

 

 

My Dear Stella

This transcribed letter was written by Thomas W. Hart while he was courting Stella Palmer. It was found in the wall of the old Hart house (Betsy’s house) at 333 Center Street and donated to the Mankato Library years ago by Mrs. Robert Murphy.

letterheadMy dear Stella,

I received your most welcome letter some time ago and have started to answer two or three times but each and every time occurred to prevent until tonight I have been vary busy. Your Christmas gift to me arrived yesterday and truly Stella I am delighted with it. It is so much nicer than any present received by any of the boarders at Mrs. Trinques. Please accept many many thanks for the same and also accept from me a gift which you will find at the American Ex offices in your city – a gift that is old as the hills but still one I hope will please you. Please excuse my tardiness in getting it off but was disappointed in getting it. I have been vary busy the past week and am not feeling vary well al though I am not sick now that the rush is over I am going to get rested up and will be all right soon I hope. Jim has been working for Mr. R. James in China Hall the past week he is getting along nicely makes a good salesman so Mr. R. says. Miss Dunn has gone home to spend the Holidays. Dave is wandering around almost lost since she went away. Mrs. Trinque received lots of beautiful presents today. The gentlemen boarders chipped in and bought her a nice $10.00 hanging lamp with which she was delighted. I think she must have got $50.00 worth of presents in all. Hows that for an old lady? Mr. Beebe and his girl have gone to the Opera House tonight for an entertainment of some high fangled sort I have forgotten what it is.

What do you think of “My Partner now? He is coming out in great shape nothing small about him ha! Oh well I was young once myself. You can remember can’t you? Miss Walfram comes in the store every day now and has long personal interviews with Beebe. What’s that ah sign of? I tease him almost to death. I can bother him awfully. I had a letter from Mollie in which she wished to be remembered to you and said she had not heard from you for some time. I sent her a Christmas card today. Jim and I went up to Mr. Demerays today to dinner had a splendid dinner and a vary nice time. I think it was the best dinner I ever ate It seemed so funny to get out of the store for one whole day or afternoon rather for, I worked in the store till noon. Today seems like Sunday I can’t think it is Saturday Eve.

Alene Demaray has grown to be almost a young lady she is as tall as I am and so womanly poor girl to be left without a mother so young as she is. She was quite cheerful today but “What is home without a mother?” As I was coming back from supper tonight I stopped in and bid Miss Wilson a Merry Christmas. Jim was with me and she showed me a stack of presents about four feet high she was on her high heels she had a basket of nice muscat grapes a basket of nice oranges and vases, perfume. I can’t remember half of the things. Sister May is married I suppose all though I have not heard from her yet I think they are living in Alden, Minn. Mr. Crocker was in the store tonight he has just returned from a trip out west looking well. Mr. Tenney was just in the store he was exhibiting some vary nice presents which I received today. I wonder where we will spend next Christmas? I suppose in Mankato in some humble little wigwam eating turkey perhaps. I hope so.

Stella I believe I will close as I don’t want to try your temper too much by cyphering out this tardy ill written epistle so bidding you a kind farewell and wishing you a happy New Year also hoping you will write soon. I will close.

Ever your true friend,

T.W. Hart

1886letterSignature

T.W. Hart handwritten signature from letter.

Whittier booksmall

The gift that Stella Palmer gave to Thomas Hart for Christmas in 1886 was a book of poetry written by John Greenleaf Whittier. This book was donated to the Betsy-Tacy Society from the estate of Merian Kirchner.

Inscription

Stella’s inscription to Thomas.

full page inscription

Full page inscription from the Whiitier book on display at Tacy’s House.

Photos courtesy of Michelle May.

 

Books Make Great Gifts

IMG_2206Books make excellent gifts during the holidays. Do you have a fan of Maud Hart Lovelace and her books on your gift list? Consider introducing someone new to the author and the wonderful world of Betsy-Tacy and Deep Valley. Or treat yourself to a book you’ve been wishing for.

Minnesota Heritage Publishing is offering free shipping through December 31, 2015 to our friends.

This offer applies to the following Lovelace related books and all other books featured on our website:

The Black Angels by Maud Hart Lovelace

One Stayed at Welcome by Maud and Delos Lovelace

Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley by Julie Schrader

Discover Deep Valley by Julie Schrader

Collected Stories by Maud Hart Lovelace and Delos Lovelace, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

Orange Blossoms Everywhere by the SCCBTS

To take advantage of this special offer, email julie@mnheritage.com the titles you’d like to order and I’ll email an invoice that can be paid by PayPal. In the subject line of your email, please use: SHIP FREE.

Happy Holidays!

Iris Blossom and Boxing Gloves

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Iris Blossom book coverIris Blossom and Boxing Gloves, written by Avis Iris Wright (Iris Avis Segelstrom), is a series of essays that tell the story of life for siblings Iris, Bruce and Alfred Segelstrom living in separate cottages at the State Public School Orphanage at Owatonna, MN in the early 1940s. The Segelstrom family fell on hard times after the Great Depression and a series of unfortunate events led to the three of the youngest children being taken from their parents and sent to live in the orphanage.

The author shares her memories and those of her siblings in their own words. Their stories will touch your heart. Of particular interest to Maud Hart Lovelace fans, is that Alfred Segelstrom was adopted by Frank and Helen (Hart) Fowler. Helen is Maud Hart Lovelace’s youngest sister and the character of Margaret Ray in the Betsy-Tacy books.

Alfred was nearly 10 years old when he was taken to the orphanage and remembers spending his 10th birthday there on March 10, 1939. He shares his memories of home life, foster homes and
living in the orphanage.

In March 1943, Alfred went to live with Frank and Helen Fowler in Forest Lake, MN and was adopted by them in 1944. I wrote to Iris after reading her book and asked what she remembered about Frank and Helen. She replied; “The Fowlers owned two movie theaters and a roller rink. Frank was a brusque, harsh person, as I recall. Helen was a slender, very fragile-appearing person and was so kind and good to Bruce and me. Helen must have been a wonderful mother to my brother Alfred. He wanted Frank and Helen to adopt Bruce and me, but our foster parents, Ralph and Elfie Sutherland, would not give us up, though they never adopted us.”

“Bruce and I were invited to visit Alfred and his parents, Frank and Helen Fowler, at one time. I still remember seeing a movie. “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life at Last I Found Thee” was the theme song. (ed note: this movie was Naughty Marietta from 1935).

Alfred Segelstrom Fowler

Alfred Segelstrom Fowler

I still remember Alfred, at age 16, flying a Piper Cub Airplane from Forest Lake, MN to the Sutherland farm near Fountain, MN and landing the airplane in our farm field.  He was checking on his younger siblings.  His living situation was very different from the Sutherlands, who did not have indoor plumbing or electricity, when Bruce and I went to live with them.”

Helen Fowler was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she and Frank moved to Florida and then to California. When they moved to Florida, Alfred (age 15) went to live with Frank’s parents in Minneapolis and finished high school.

Iris wrote; “When I graduated from Chatfield High School in 1952, I worked at a Chatfield insurance company. Alfred, then married to Patsy O’Brien and living in Santa Ana, California, invited me to come visit them in the summer of 1955. Patsy is a very vivacious lady.  I did learn to stand up for myself from Patsy. She also helped me to shop for clothes, as Patsy and Al owned “Patsy’s Clothes Closet,” a retail second-hand clothing store. So occasionally I did see Frank and Helen at that time.  Helen was a gracious, gentle lady. I do remember that Frank had white, curly haired dogs—what breed I do not know. I can still see Helen in my mind’s eye, so slender, so unassuming.”

If interested in this book, please contact the author to order a copy write: Iris Wright, 302 Bench Street SW, Chatfield, MN, 55923.

Boy in Blue Civil War Memorial Dedicated in Lincoln Park

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Lincoln Park was a pie-shaped wedge of lawn with a giant elm tree and a fountain on it.    Quote from Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill

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Several living history actors pose in front of the memorial after the ceremony. Photo by Brendon Schrader.

Maud Hart Lovelace, grew up several blocks from Lincoln Park. In an article written for the “I Remember Mankato” series published in the Mankato Free Press in 1952, Maud wrote, “As we grew older we made more trips downtown, pausing to play by the fountain at Lincoln Park or rest under the big elm there.” The little park and the fountain was an important landmark in Maud’s Betsy-Tacy books.

The memorial fountain had long been gone from Lincoln Park, but on May 30, 2015, a replica of the fountain Maud Hart Lovelace referred to in the Betsy-Tacy books was dedicated to the memory of Blue Earth County Civil War Union soldiers. Hundreds of people packed the little park for the ceremony and to witness the unveiling.

The ceremony, planned by the Boy in Blue Memorial Project committee members (of which I am a proud member), closely followed the original dedication ceremony that occurred on May 30, 1893 when Maud was just one year old. Imagine, Mr. and Mrs. Hart probably attended with their two young daughters, Kathleen and Maud.

A military parade began at the corner of Lewis and Center Streets in front of the Betsy and Tacy houses and marched to Lincoln Park. Costumed Civil War living history members from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th MN Volunteer Infantry Regiments and the New Ulm Battery were led by a fife player and drummer. They were followed by veterans from subsequent wars and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Civil War era patriotic music was played by Schell’s Hobo Band Quartet, and soloist Barb Dunker and the Mankato Children’s Chorus sang several songs that were performed at the 1893 ceremony. Following several speeches, the red, white and blue drape was removed from the Boy in Blue statue and the water began to flow from the fountain. Nearly 100 years later, the “Boy in Blue” has returned to his post in Lincoln Park.

A paver walkway surrounds the fountain pool. Engraved pavers will continue to be sold until the walkway is filled. The Betsy-Tacy Society purchased a paver in honor of Maud’s grandfather, Solomon Palmer, a Civil War veteran. All funds raised continue to go toward the cost of the memorial and future maintenance.

For more information about the project, visit www.boyinblue.org or to see more photos go to www.facebook.com/BoyinBlueProject.

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After the unveiling.

James Olson photographer

Photo by James Olson.

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Living history actors at the dedication ceremony.

Deep Valley Homecoming

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The Betsy-Tacy Society hosted the 2nd annual Deep Valley Homecoming this summer and I was proud to serve as the event coordinator. This explains my long absence from the blog. Very sorry about that and I plan to be posting regularly again.

The 5-day event (June 26-30, 2015), to celebrate author Maud Hart Lovelace and her books, brought fans from 13 different states and across the state of Minnesota. For some attendees this was the first time they had visited the Betsy-Tacy sites in Mankato. Some local attendees knew nothing about Maud Hart Lovelace, her books or the historic literary homes until this event. It was great see old friends and meet new ones!

The event took place in various locations in Mankato including the “Betsy” and “Tacy” houses, Kato Ballroom, Lincoln Park, Carnegie Art Center, First Presbyterian Church, Sibley Park Pavilion, Old Main Village, Blue Earth County History Center, Elks Nature Center, Children’s Museum of Southern MN, and the Blue Earth County Library.

Here are just a few photos from the many activities enjoyed.

“Betsy-Tacy Go Downton” performed by the Deep Valley Players at the Kato Ballroom for the Deep Valley Homecoming on June 26, 2015. Cast members from L to R: Lucas Youngerberg (Tony), Grace Webb (Bonnie), Kendra Braunger (Tib), Lydia Helder (Tacy), Molly Vouk (Betsy), Bjorn Linder (Joe), Joe Bidwell (Thomas, the valet), Jason Barkmeier (Lord Grandtham) and Susan Hynes (Lady Violet). Photo taken by Sherrie Hansen, playwright.

Maud Hixson performs songs from the Betsy-Tacy books in

Maud Hixson performs songs from the Betsy-Tacy books in “Maud Sings Maud”. She is accompanied by Rick Carlson.

Horse-drawn trolley rides through the Betsy-Tacy neighborhood (Lincoln Park). Trolley rides by Rainbow Country Trolley.

Horse-drawn trolley rides through the Betsy-Tacy neighborhood (Lincoln Park) were narrated by costumed living history actors. Trolley rides provided by Rainbow Country Trolley.

L-R: Tib, Betsy and Tacy play croquet in front of Tib's House.

L-R: Tib, Betsy and Tacy play croquet in front of Tib’s House.

Young Illustrators Competition at the Carnegie Art Center.

Several of the artists at the Young Illustrators Competition at the Carnegie Art Center.

Lots of Betsy-Tacy character look-a-likes at the Betsy-Tacy play tea at Lincoln Park.

Lots of Betsy-Tacy character look-a-likes at the Betsy-Tacy play tea at Lincoln Park. “A Day in the Betsy-Tacy Neighborhood”

Deep Valley Book Festival at the Sibley Park Pavilion, a Deep Valley Homecoming event. Photo by Sara Gilbert Frederick.

Deep Valley Book Festival at the Sibley Park Pavilion, a Deep Valley Homecoming event. Photo by Sara Gilbert Frederick.

Deep Valley Homecoming Vintage Car Show at Sibley Park. Owner Bernie Davey giving a ride. Photo by Sara Gilbert Frederick.

Deep Valley Homecoming Vintage Car Show at Sibley Park. Owner Bernie Davey giving a ride. Photo by Sara Gilbert Frederick.

All set for the Victorian Afternoon Tea in Deep Valley at Old Main Village. Flowers arranged by Barb Huebsch from The Peddler of Rapidan.

All set for the Victorian Afternoon Tea in Deep Valley at Old Main Village. Flowers arranged by Barb Huebsch from The Peddler of Rapidan.

Susan Hynes and Grace Webb welcome guests to the Victorian Tea. Christine Schulz, pianist, provided music from the Betsy-Tacy Songbook.

Susan Hynes and Grace Webb welcome guests to the Victorian Tea. Christine Schulz, pianist, provided music from the Betsy-Tacy Songbook.

Deep Valley in Style (fashion show). Right out of the pages of the Betsy-Tacy books! — Back, L-R: Grace Webb, Susan Hynes, Emily Klammer holding Annaliese S., Leah, Bjorn Linder, and Michelle Parsneau. In front: Elsa, Aidan behind Maggie, Holly, Destiny, and Leslie DuPree-Cady

Deep Valley in Style (fashion show). Right out of the pages of the Betsy-Tacy books! — Back, L-R: Grace Webb, Susan Hynes, Emily Klammer holding Annaliese S., Leah, Bjorn Linder, and Michelle Parsneau. In front: Elsa S., Aidan K. behind Maggie K., Holly K., Destiny T., and Leslie DuPree-Cady.

Arlene Kase presents

Arlene Kase presents “Pre-Betsy-Tacy: The Historical Novels of Maud and Delos Lovelace”.

Guest author, Melissa Wiley, presents

Guest author, Melissa Wiley, presents “The Other Side of the Desk: Publishing Maud”

Guest author, Nancy McCabe, presents

Guest author, Nancy McCabe, presents “From Little House to Little Women”

Living history exhibit – “Sewing with Miss Mix”. Making a bookmark on a hand crank sewing machine. Miss Mix (Anne Kusilek)

Albertine's Millinery exhibit by the talented Susan Hynes.

Albertine’s Millinery exhibit by the talented Susan Hynes.

T.W. Hart Shoe Store exhibit for the 2015 Deep Valley Homecoming.

T.W. Hart Shoe Store exhibit for the 2015 Deep Valley Homecoming.

Kathleen Baxter presents,

Kathleen Baxter presents, “The Road to Stardom: Three Beloved Children’s Authors Who Grew Up on Our Own Highway 14: Maud Hart Lovelace, Wanda Gag and Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Stories from Little Syria program. Kim Youngerberg portrayed Anna Sabo Abdo, Richard Reisdorf as James Ray Tinkcom (Mr. Meecham) and Alex Oldenburg as Margeuriete Marsh (Emily Webster). Photo by Susan Hynes

“Stories from Little Syria” program. Kim Youngerberg portrayed Anna Sabo Abdo, Richard Reisdorf as James Ray Tinkcom (Mr. Meecham) and Alex Oldenburg as Margeuriete Marsh (Emily Webster). Program was at the Elks Nature Center in Rasmussen Woods (Little Syria). Photo by Susan Hynes.

Betsy, Tib and Tacy in

Betsy, Tib and Tacy perform “Everything Pudding” at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota.

Maud Hart Lovelace history player from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Maud Hart Lovelace history player from the Minnesota Historical Society.

The 5-day celebration concluded with a Patriotic Band concert in Lincoln Park with the Mankato Area Community Band. This was the first concert in the park with the new

The 5-day celebration concluded with a patriotic band concert in Lincoln Park with the Mankato Area Community Band. This was the first concert in the park with the new “Boy in Blue” memorial and fountain.

For more photos, visit the Betsy-Tacy Society facebook page, click on photos and there is an album for the Deep Valley Homecoming 2015. The 3rd annual Deep Valley Homecoming is planned for June 2016. We hope you will join us! Registration forms will be posted online in January 2016.