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Edna Gladney

Edna Browning Kahly was born on January 22, 1886 to Maurice (or Morris) and Minnie Nell Jones Kahly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Nothing is easily found about her father, but by 1900, Minnie Nell, her mother, Edna and her sister were living with Minnie’s mother in Milwaukee.  Around 1903 Edna was sent to Texas to live with relatives in Fort Worth and about three years later in 1906, she married Samuel William Gladney.  Sam was born in 1877 in Commanche County to Thomas Lacy and Joyce Cathron Bowdon Gladney in 1882.  Tom was a rancher there in West Texas.  By 1900, Sam was 22 and living with the family in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.

Sam was in the flour milling business and first bought a flour mill in Wolfe City, Texas and eventually another one in Sherman, Grayson County, where Sam sold milled wheat flour under the now-familiar brand name of Gladiola Flour.  In 1921, Sam sold out to Fant Milling Company and the couple moved to Fort Worth.  The explanation for the sale was that Sam’s business had run up large losses and debts due to wheat speculation, a common industry practice designed to insure that the mill would always have an adequate supply of product to mill.  This caused Sam to be forced to sell the mill and he reportedly worked for years to pay off the debts.  The Gladiola brand seems to have since disappeared, but continued to be marketed at least up through the 1990s by its successor owners.

Perhaps growing out of her own experience as the child of a single mother, Edna had shown a burden early on for underprivileged children and while living in Sherman had worked to improve the county poor farm.  She also established a free day care facility for children of Sherman workers and financed it from her own funds.

Once the couple to Fort Worth, Sam continued to work to pay off his debts from the flour mill and Edna began to work for the Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society, which had been run for many years by Rev. Isaac Zachary Taylor Morris, a Civil War veteran and an ordained Methodist minister.  Morris had died in 1914 and his last wish had been that his wife Isabella would be allowed to succeed him as superintendent, which she was allowed to do.  During his sixteen years as superintendent, Morris had found homes for over 1,000 orphaned children.  Edna began to work for the Home and Aid Society and after Isabella Morris’ death in 1924, was named as superintendent of the organization in 1927.

Sam died of a heart attack in 1935 and Edna continued to devote her energy to running the Home.  In addition, she increased her role as an activist and advocate for orphaned children.  She worked to influence the Texas legislature to have the word “illegitimate” left off birth certificates.  The well known expression “There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.” is attributed to her.  Gladney lobbied for legislation to give adopted children the same inheritance rights as other children.  Her work was successful and the State of Texas instituted the policy of issuing second birth certificates in the names of adoptive parents.  Edna continued to work at the Home until her retirement in 1960.

In 1941, the film “Blossoms in the Dust” was released, directed by Mervyn LeRoy.  Loosely based on Edna’s life, the screenplay was written by Anita Loos, perhaps the first female screenwriter to be widely employed in Hollywood.  Loos also wrote the screenplay for the comedy “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” among others,  “Blossoms” starred Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon.  Though it varies from some of the actual facts as we now know them, it tells the compelling story of Edna’s life of advocacy for orphaned children.  Along with “Goodbye Mr. Chips,” released in 1939, it is considered one of the springboards for Garson’s long and successful career.  It was MGM’s most successful film of the year.  The film was also a critical success, winning an Oscar for Best Art Direction and being nominated for three more awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress.

ggarsonandednagladney

(Image credit: blog.adoptionsbygladney.com;
Greer Garson-left and Edna Gladney-right)

The film helped Gladney’s reputation spread throughout the country, and Garson and Gladney are said to have become close friends.  In 1948, the organization was renamed the Edna Gladney Home.  In 1957, Gladney received an honorary doctorate from Texas Christian University, which she had attended as an undergraduate.  She retired in 1960 due to health issues and died on October 2, 1961.  Edna is interred in Fort Worth’s Rose Hill Cemetery with her husband Sam.

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Posted by on May 28, 2020 in biography, films, texas women, Uncategorized

 

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Luther Dean Stanford

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Luther Dean Stanford served in the US Navy from September, 1943 through July, 1944. His Tours of Duty: San Diego, CA, Norman, OK, Norfolk, VA, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was Killed in Action in a seaplane accident in Great Exuma, Bahama Islands, on July 1, 1944. He was posthumously awarded the following Medals: American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal.

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Posted by on May 25, 2020 in biography, world war 2

 

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Presley Bazelle Land

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As we approach Memorial Day, we honor Presley Land of Alvord, Texas.  United States Army Sergeant Presley Bazelle Land was killed on the island of Okinawa on June 17, 1945.  He was the oldest son of Jessie Clarence and Sarah Isabelle Magers Land and was born in Alvord, Wise County, Texas on October 22, 1916.  Jessie was a farmer and Isabelle was a housewife.  Presley graduated from Alvord High School around 1933 and married the former Vera Katherine Richards on September 4, 1937.  Presley had attended college for one year and was working as a clerk in Fort Worth for Convair, an aircraft manufacturer, at the time he enlisted in the service on May 24, 1943.

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Posted by on May 21, 2020 in biography, world war 2

 

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Jim Beck

Not much can be found in newspaper archives about recording engineer Jim Beck, perhaps due to his shortened career and untimely death, but his name is well known in the music and recording industry.

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Posted by on May 14, 2020 in biography

 

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John J. Pershing

General John Joseph Pershing served in Texas immediately prior to the United States’ entry into World War I.  His name might be familiar to some in Texas due to the raids into Mexico that were intended to catch the bandit Pancho Villa.

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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in biography, world war 1

 

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Apollo Program: Missions 7, 8, 9 and 10

On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University in Houston.  His speech included these famous words, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” (1) This was a challenge that some felt could be achieved but NASA had been working to develop the building blocks to get there.

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Posted by on April 30, 2020 in space program

 

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Marcelino Serna

The headline in the El Paso Herald-Post on Veterans Day, November 11, 1970 read “Hero of World War I Rides in Parade” and went on to tell the amazing story of Marcelino Serna.  Private Serna was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart and Victory Medal (United States decorations) along with the French Medaille Militaire and two Croix de Guerre and the Italian Merito de Guerra.  The article added that Private Serna spent his first Armistice Day in a hospital recovering from his wounds that he received about a week earlier on November 7, 1918 while participating in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

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