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Katharyn J. Lass

(September 22, 1891 - December 27, 1972)

Katharyn Jane Lass, who was known as 'Kathie' (long A sound) as a girl, led a most interesting life and was Kay's 'favorite' grandmother.  It was partially Katharyn's life-long interest in her family and her memoir, Lest We Forget, that really inspired Kay's interest in genealogy.  Needless to say, a HUGE amount of Kay's family information comes from her grandmother's writing.  It is interesting to note, that while Katharyn gave numerous details in her memoir, there are almost no dates given, and events are not even listed chronologically.  Thus, it has been a big challenge to connect events to an accurate timetable. (Kay's daughter, Lydia, re-typed the original 'Lest We Forget' manuscript in 2000, in order to maintain a digital copy for future generations.)

Katharyn met Elmo Joslin, her first husband,  while both were students at Goodnight College, an academy that opened in 1898 and prospered until enrollment reached 175.  In 1906 the faculty numbered 6 and there were five dormitories.  In 1914, Goodnight became a junior college.  At the time Katharyn and Elmo attended, the school was operated by the Baptists, but it only operated until 1917.  Katharyn writes of taking freshman and sophomore classes there at the age of 16, which would have been about 1908-1909.  As her parents left the Panhandle to move to San Antonio in about 1909, she must not have graduated, although she was well educated by then.  Her parents first appear in the 1910-1911 San Antonio city directory.  And, she writes that she took the train to Memphis from San Antonio to marry Elmo Joslin. 

We know that Katharyn and Elmo Joslin married in Memphis, Texas, in October, 1911.  Memphis is on the train route from Dallas to Amarillo, and Amarillo is only a few stops west of Memphis.  Questions abound -- why did they marry there instead of in Amarillo, where Elmo's family could have attended? Who is the uncle (of Elmo) mentioned as where they stayed when they arrived in Amarillo the next day? Is this J. C. Joslin's brother, or a brother of Hettie? Was the marriage not approved of by Elmo's family? As Katharyn seems to have gotten along very well with his family, it is doubtful that they didn't approve of the marriage. 

Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last and Elmo Joslin asked for a divorce when their daughter, Xelpho, was about 4.  I think they actually divorced in 1918, as Elmo Joslin is listed as 'married' in his draft registration for World War I.  Eventually, Katharyn and Xelpho ended up back in San Antonio, living with Katharyn's parents.  She writes that her first job was putting together celluloid doll dishes, and later to test hydrometers.  A job at Grants in charge of infant's wear followed at some point.  After quite a bit of dating, Katharyn met and married a barber by the name of Lawrence Halkyer in 1923.  In 1926, they eventually had their daughter, Virginia, and it was soon afterwards that the accident happened which cost Lawrence (Happy) his right arm.  It was at this time that Xelpho went to live with her grandparents in Edinburg, Texas.  Katharyn became adept at helping Happy, being his 'right hand'. 

Although he had to sell his barber shop after his accident, Happy eventually learned to live with his handicap, and even built several houses mostly on his own.  He and Katharyn managed what little money they had very well and did a fair amount of traveling; I'm not sure if Happy liked it as much, but Katharyn loved to travel.  While Katharyn never learned to drive (as was quite common for women of her generation), Happy drove her everywhere, and even on several long trips, to California, Oregon, Kansas and Pennsylvania, among other places.  Each locale was chosen with a family visit in mind, and Katharyn also had a large correspondence with far-flung family members. 

While Katharyn always wanted more children, only Virginia survived of her many pregnancies.  I assume that accounted for her becoming a foster mother to a young teenager a bit younger than Virginia.   Vivian Anderson went to live with Katharyn and Happy when she was 14 and stayed until she graduated from high school, when she got married and moved to California .  By this time, Happy and Katharyn were the proprietors of a grocery store and meat market, and were doing very well. 

Katharyn was always very creative, writing some poetry when she was young, doing a bit of water-color painting, sewing, embroidering, etc.  During the 1950s the craft craze was ceramics, and she made several nice items.  Kay received a ceramic egg from her when she was about 8 or 9 years old.  She brings it out each Easter and enjoys thinking of her grandmother.  As Katharyn never approved of Kay's father (and there was no love lost on his side), she did not visit often; however, she loved to have Kay and Patricia visit during the summer in San Antonio.  Eventually, Patricia got too old for summer visits, so Kay visited alone.  She has very fond memories of these visits.  On one of them, Katharyn and Kay each painted a pastel of a fishing boat scene.  To this day, that is the only pastel picture Kay has ever done.  Kay's brother, Elmo, also related how he and Katharyn would go to the movies on Friday nights during the years he spent in San Antonio where he finished high school.  Katharyn sewed sometimes for Kay, and made her an outlandish nightgown of leopard print material when Kay moved into the dormitory in college.  Kay loved it!  As Kay's college graduation was to be only 4 months after her wedding, Katharyn chose to make the trip to Dallas for Kay's graduation instead of her wedding.  She really valued education!

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