Sunday, September 27, 2015

Two Sons of Doniphan, Ripley Co., Missouri

Some gals have romantic tales to tell, of their courtship and their engagements, and how their man went down on bended knee. I too could tell the story of meeting my husband, and  how he swept me off my feet. But instead I shall tell a much more amazing one, that seemed at the time, too fantastic to be believed.

I met my husband in the spring of 1979, ours could be called a whirlwind romance, for we met and were married but three short months later. As is usual for most weddings, the families of both sides came from far and near, to attend the wedding. My grandmother came, tho hers was a drive of over four hours in order to attend, and she was over 70. A thing that pleased me well, for she was the mother of my father, (who had died when I was but 1 year of age), and my favorite grandmother in all the world. She mingled among the guests, meeting the new in-laws and others of the wedding party, and after it was over returned to Auburn, Washington, where she lived.

Some time after the wedding, I got a call from her and in the process of chatting, she said that my married name of Hanners, kept ringing a bell, and that she knew people by the same name and did I think they could be related? She then asked if my father in-law was from Doniphan, Missouri? Since my husband was sitting near, I put the question to him. He replied, "Yes, my father was born in Doniphan, Missouri." I relayed my husbands reply, to my grandmother, who then asked if his father knew an Ethele Hanners of Doniphan? At this question my husbands face grew even more puzzled, than it had at the first question, and he replied, "Of course I know an Ethele Hanners, that is my great aunt, the wife of my grandfathers brother, Franklin Hanners."

At this point I was becoming as astonished as my husband, at the questions my grandmother was asking, and asked her, "Why would you ask questions about Ethele Hanners?" This is when the whole crazy story came out, and this is what she told me.

My grandfather, Gerald Dawson Robison, whom I had known little about, (as he died when I was but three weeks old), was born September 25, 1909 in Doniphan, Ripley Co., Missouri. The very same town that my father in-law, Daniel Autrey Hanners had been born in on July 11, 1921. My father in-laws uncle, Franklin Thomas Hanners, had been the boyhood best friend of my grandpa Gerald. They had hunted together in the woods for everything from squirrels to wild turkeys, and had fished and swam together in the Current River, that flowed near the town. She told me many things about my grandpa, that I had never heard before and the more she talked, the more it felt like a bombshell had dropped in my lap. I just couldn't take it all in. When I finally put down the phone, my whole outlook on life was changed. I suddenly went from not knowing who my people were, to feeling just like Ruth in the Bible. "Thy people shall be my people," it felt really crazy.

The upshot of it all was, that before my grandpa's death in 1960, (tho he had moved from Doniphan many years before, to the Pacific Northwest), he made several return trips to Doniphan, along with my grandma Lillie, where they visited with Franklin and Ethele Hanners. Grandma told how Ethele was a school teacher, and had taught my grandpa in school, even tho she was near the same age as himself. She and Ethele got on well, and Grandma Lillie continued to make trips back to Doniphan, to visit Franklin and Ethele, as well as Grandpa's Shorty's 1/2 brother, Edwin Knickerbocker, well into the 1980's. (Sadly I was never able to travel there with her, but I and my husband went in 1994, but that is a tale for another time.)

Thus began an astonishing story, that has only grown more fantastic, since that phone call back in 1979.

Grandpa, Gerald "Shorty" Dawson Robison in his Eagle's cap, prior to 1960 in North Bend, King Co., Washington.

Father in-law, Daniel "Dan" Autrey Hanners at the Hotel Claremont, Berkeley, California July 2, 1946

Two Sons of Doniphan, Ripley Co., Missouri who moved to the Pacific Northwest.
Where their two descendants met, fell in love, and married.
Just what are the odds of that?!

I was born and grew up, several hundred miles from the childhood home of my future husband, yet life's journey brought me to a place, where I would meet and marry him. Only to find that he was already deeply connected to my family, and had been for many generations.


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