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Submitted by Judy Sharp
The Depot connection can be fascinating. This weekend I spoke with Steve Morgan of Pasadena, CA. I had lived in CA, so I knew approx. where he lived. No big deal, just a name and number. [Thanks to Brenda Aeschliman who found my number, the weekend got very interesting.] Steve was calling about a Dr. Deviney (we were guessing the spelling) in Downing during the late 1930s to 1940s. I didn’t know anything about the doctor or Steve Morgan, but I planned to look up the name in our (over 1,650) family genealogy files the next day, then give him a call.
I went back to downloading pictures from my phone to computer. [Note: I document all the items in the depot with one or more photos, before they get an inventory number and caption. These are then stored and backed up on my hard drives.] I was looking at the front pages of a DHS music book with a list of students in the 1937–38 chorus. In the second picture, at the very top showed “—nne De Vinny.” “OH! What?!” The next picture showed the name, Lou Jeanne De Vinny. She must be the doctor’s daughter. I wouldn’t have noticed the name if I hadn’t just heard it.
The Museum’s De Vinny file held two obituaries, Dr. Frank Van Ness De Vinny and his wife, Lois Bondurant De Vinny had lived in Downing. They were there after WWI until the late ’40s then moved to Kansas, then Texas, where they each had died….. but, they were both buried in Camp Ground Cemetery! They had two children, Paul and Lou Jeanne. A look at the internet showed Frank’s middle and last name were spelled several ways as was of their family. I wondered how Steve fit in this story—how old was he—had he always been in California—how did he relate to Downing?
As it turns out Steve is a year younger than me. His dad (Richard “Dick,” died last year at 102) was a brother to Billy. Steve talks with Norman regularly. He knew of the Greens and Barbs I’m related to—Walnut Grove School—Campground and McGrady cemeteries. He told where Dr. De Vinny lived. He’d visited Downing many summers, and told where his relations lived. They always had a tenderloin at Keith’s—he knew H Middleton—say hello to John Cook. It was like a reunion, but we’d never met.
That evening Steve emailed with a more info about friends, families, and the depot. I returned an email telling more about my family and the Museum.
If you remember, a while back, in a Museum news article, I wrote about the Downing Reunion in Los Angeles with a picture from 1959. My family was in it, but I didn’t know anyone else. Carrie Wineinger had donated the picture to the Museum so I guessed she was there too.
In my email back to Steve I sent a copy of the picture with circles around my family and asked if his family went to the reunions. Yup. There it was, the connection.
The Downing Depot Museum’s open schedule:
TUESDAY, 10th (10 a.m.–3 p.m.; open for the Missouri Statehood Bicentennial; also visit the Hall Museum, Lancaster, celebrating with an ice cream cone social, and art competition with a Circus theme)
FRI/SAT, 13–14 (10 a.m.–3 p.m.)
THURS, FRI, SAT, 26–27–28 (10 a.m.–5+/- p.m.; booth at Scotland County Antique Fair; Depot building closed; look for the yellow tent near the west courthouse door)
SUNDAY, 5th (2–4 p.m., Dedication of our new Veterans Room; sharing of memories, songs, light refreshments)
THURS, FRI, SAT, 9–10–11 (10 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–9 p.m., during Downing Appreciation Days)
If you’d like to visit the Museum when it’s not open, donate items, or volunteer your time or talent(s), give a call to Jerry or Margaret Scurlock, 660-379-2467; Carol or Don Scurlock, 641-929-3915; or Judy Sharp, 660-342-1454. Then, we’ll see you at the Depot.