Friday, March 14, 2008

Aunt Jane

Or, to be correct, she was my grandaunt Jane. But we always just called her Aunt Jane.

Choella Jane Brubaker was a sister of my grandmother, Hazlette Brubaker Phend. They were the children of Maud Wise and Charles Romain Brubaker.

The picture above was taken about 1909 when the family lived at Traverse City, Michigan. Jane is on the left, then my grandmother Hazlette, and their brother William Hale. Their mother, Maud Wise Brubaker is the pretty lady seated behind them.

Jane Brubaker was born April 14, 1903 in Etna-Troy Township, Whitley County, Indiana. My grandmother had this to say about Jane's birth: "It was such rainy bad weather and no one could get through the muddy side roads. Doctor Alice Williams from Columbia City had a difficult time getting to the delivery. Aunt Hazlette Burns was there and she had a little pug dog. She put a note for Grandpa Wise around his neck and sent him home. Then Grandpa Wise walked the five miles or more to see his new granddaughter."

She continues "Jane was about three years old and having difficulty with her speech. She always said "Me" instead of "I". One evening Papa placed her in a high chair and left her in the dark kitchen, the door was open into the living room, and he told her she could come into the living room when she said "I". After a short time she began to cry and said, "Oh Papa, me tan't say I." Of course Papa took her into his arms and never again tried to make her say "I" and after that let her speak, as she liked. She said a lot of funny words but he let her alone."

Jane married Floyd Stoffer on December 22, 1920. The marriage lasted about a dozen years. A few years after they were married they moved to Elkhart, Indiana and ran a restaurant. They had two children. The first, a son, Kenneth Keith Stoffer was born on February 6, 1923 and died three weeks later on March 17th following an operation for stomach trouble. Their second child, Betty Catherine Stoffer was born June 20, 1831. Betty married Robert Walker; they lived in Columbia City and were the parents of three children. Betty passed away on September 21, 1995.

July 1921 - Hazlette and Jane Brubaker, 19 and 18 years old.

Betty Catherine Stoffer with Charley and Jane Jacobs. Betty was born on June 20, 1931. Charley and Jane were married November 3, 1934.

You can't tell by these pictures, but Aunt Jane was a tiny lady, barely five feet tall. She and Charley made their home in South Whitley but they had a trailer at Goose Lake Resort where they spent most of their time during the summer. Usually when we went to visit, Uncle Charley was out in the middle of the lake fishing from his boat. There was a public beach there at that time, which was quite nice, and we had fun when we went to visit Aunt Jane. She always had a smile on her face and seemed to be genuinely happy to see us. In later years, she attended many of our family gatherings.

Uncle Charley passed away on December 28, 1965 at the age of 86. During his working years he had been an excavating contractor. The farm where they lived on the southern edge of South Whitley is now a housing subdivision. Aunt Jane spent the last 6 months of her life in a nursing home where she died on June 10, 1992 of complications from a fractured hip. She was the last surviving member of her family, with her brother having died in 1979 and her sister in 1984. I wish now that I had been able to spend more time with Aunt Jane and talk to her about her life experiences, but it just didn't happen. I think part of the reason is that I knew my grandmother had written a bit about her life, but it would be nice to have another perspective on certain events. I actually know very little about Aunt Jane, but I do have some fond memories, and I guess that is probably the best that can be hoped for in some cases.


Chery Kinnick said...

Becky - what great photos, especially the uniquely comical ones of Jane!

Anonymous said...


What a great story! It reminded me of my own niece last week. She's almost 3 and has been speaking well since 2, but some words aren't always right, like "my" for "I". She said, "My broke it." Her almost-13-year-old sister corrected her, saying, "No, say *I* broke it." So the little one looked at her big sister and repeated, "You broke it." Everyone laughed!


Moultrie Creek said...

I love the photo with the hat - they all wore such divine hats back then. She sounds like a very special lady.

Terry Thornton said...

Becky, I most enjoyed this tribute to your GrandAunt Jane. The photos are so moving --- and your article honors also your Great GrandMother Maud and your GrandMother Hazlette. I can see where your good looks came from!

The photo of Jane and Hazlette in the Indiana cornfield is most appropriate. My antique Volume 7 of the 1932 Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia states that the "big four" in agriculture in the Hoosier State are corn, wheat, potatoes, and apples. In 1930, Compton says the state's population was 3.2 million and that Indianapolis had 364,161 citizens. Things have changed. But pretty girls in cornfields are always a treat to see.