An American Family History

Bertha Edna Smith Kimsey


Wyoming was admitted into the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.

Lucas County is in south central Iowa. It was founded in 1846 and the county seat is Chariton.

Elmer Kimsey
The Great Depression was world wide and originated in the U.S. with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929. Income, revenue, profits, prices, and trade plunged.. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%. The negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the end of World War II.
Bertha Edna Smith Kimsey was born October 21, 1890 in Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa. She was the daughter of Eliza Fox and Josiah Smith. Family memories of Bertha are recorded in The Wind and the Willow.

She married Elmer Leroy Kimsey when she was seventeen on February 4, 1908 in Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa. Elmer was born on September 26, 1885 in Iowa. His parents were William Lafayette Kimsey and Etta Kitselman. 

On Tuesday evening, February 4, 1908 at eight o'clock at the home of the bride's parents Mr. and Mrs. Joseph [should be Josiah] Smith, occurred the marriage of their daughter, Bertha E. Smith to Mr. Elmer E. Kimsey. Rev. Hugh Moore, pastor of the First Baptist church, performed the ceremony in the presence of about twenty-five relatives and friends. The couple were attended by the groom's brother and sister, Earl and Maud Kimsey, and the wedding march was executed by the bride's sister, Miss Nellie Smith [I'm not sure who this was]. The bride was attired in a gown of while mulle and carried a bouquet of bride's roses. The bridesmaid also wore white mulle. At the conclusion of the ceremony a two--course luncheon was served. Mr. and Mrs. Kimsey expect to leave in a few days for Rock Springs, Wyoming where they will reside.

The bride has resided in Chariton for several years and is a young lady possessing many admirable qualities. She is in every way fitted to preside over a home. The groom is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson [should be William] Kimsey and was reared in this city. He is an energetic young man of excellent character and has won the regard of all with whom he has come in contact. The Herald joins the many friends of the happy couple in extending congratulations and trusts that their wedded life will be long and happy.

The Patriot also covered their wedding and added the detail that her traveling dress was dark blue panama with gloves and hat to match.

Bertha's niece, Maryon White , wrote that

Elmer's father was a railroad man, and, shortly after Bertha and Elmer were married, the whole Kimsey clan moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming. There were 5 or 6 Kimsey boys, and I believe Elmer was the oldest (Elmer, Frank, Roy, Guy, Lyle and Earl). . . The boys who were old enough worked in the coal mines in that area for a while, but soon the Mother, Etta and the boys moved to Crook County to homestead. I don't know what happened to Mr. Kimsey, but I assume he died or was killed in a railroad accident. Elmer and Bertha and Etta Kimsey had adjoining homesteads, and the other boys (at least some of them) settled in other parts of the county. One of them, and I think it was Guy Kimsey, claimed a piece of property adjoining the one which Josiah Smith later bought.

They had three children. Dorothy Arline Kimsey Smith was born about 1912, Mina Lee Kimsey Keef was born about 1918, and Donald Dee Kimsey.

At the time of the 1910 census they had moved to Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyoming. They were living with Elmer's parents and siblings. The men were all coal miners. They moved to Moorcroft, Wyoming in 1912.

In the 1920 census they were in Moorcroft, Crook County, Wyoming where they had homesteaded in 1912. The household consisted of Elmer age 34, Bertha age 29, Dorothy age 8, and Mina Lee age 2.

Bertha's nephew, Bill Smith said that their son, Donald, died when he was a small child when he choked on a piece of bark. Her niece, Maryon White , said "The girls rode a horse about a mile to a country school where Dorothy later began her teaching career." 

Maryon also said that Bertha was a meticulous housekeeper and a terrific cook. She loved to play cards. She was a

pretty good  storyteller and actress and some of her best stories were the ones she told on herself. One of these was about the time she and Elmer were attempting to hang wallpaper.  They would carefully measure, cut, paste and hang one strip of paper and by the time the second or third was up, the first fell down.  I don't know how many times this happened before they discovered they had mixed the paste form a box of pancake mix instead of the powder she was supposed to use.

Bertha's granddaughter, Karen Ellis said

During the depression, Grandma kept the ranch and livestock going while Grandpa went out on construction gangs to save their ranch. She was a dead eye with a gun and not afraid of any snake or critter found on the ranch.

Children of Josiah Smith, Jr.
and Eliza Fox
  • Mary Grace Smith White Hanley
  • John Elmer Smith
  • Bertha Edna Smith Kimsey
  • Harry William Smith
  • Ethel Edith Smith Taylor
  • Bryan Sewell Smith
  • Augusta Lena Smith Larson
  • Andrew Jack Smith
  • Twyla May Smith White
  • Chariton is the county seat of Lucas County, Iowa and is in Lincoln Township.

    Baptist churches were found in early colonial settlements and grew out of the English Separatist movement and the doctrine of John Smyth who rejected infant baptism.

    Dorothy and Mina Lee Kimsey
    about 1920

    In the 1830s settlers began arriving in Iowa from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. Iowa became a state in 1846.

    Moorcroft, Crook County, Wyoming

    Karen said

    Bertha and Elmer were married over 50 years when Bertha died suddenly. Grandpa had taken her to town to buy a new dress for her birthday and left her at the dress shop while he ran errands. Someone came to get him when she collapsed while trying on a dress.  A sudden stroke felled her and she did not regain consciousness.

     Bertha died on September 4, 1962 in Gillette, Wyoming. Elmer died in January 1969. They were buried in Moorcroft Cemetery.



    Presbyterians are Protestant Christians. The denomination originated in Scotland and congregations are ruled by elected elders. Presbyterian theology follows the Calvanist tradition and emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and grace through faith in Christ.

    September 13, 1962 Gillette News Record, page 1
    Funeral Services Held Friday for Mrs. E. Kimsey, 71

    Funeral services for Mrs. Elmer Kimsey, 71, of Moorcroft were held from the First Presbyterian church there on Friday, September 7, at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Robert M. Phenix of Gillette in charge.

    Mrs. Kimsey had come to Gillette on the morning of September 4 and was shopping at the Vaugh-Ragsdale store when she was stricken ill. She was taken to the Campbell County Memorial hospital where she passed away that evening.

    Berta Edna Smith was born October 21, 1890, in Chariton, Iowa. On February 4, 1909 she was united in marriage to Elmer L. Kimsey at Chariton, Iowa at the home of her parents.

    Immediately following their marriage they moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming where they resided for six years. From there they moved to Moorcroft where they filed on a homestead in 1912.

    Eight years ago they moved nearer Moorcroft which is their present location. They had been married 54 years last February 4.

    Mrs. Kimsey was a member of the First Presbyterian church of Moorcroft.

    Those left to mourn her passing are her husband, Elmer Kimsey; two daughters, Mrs. Dorothy Smith of Buffalo and Mrs. Mina Keef of Sheridan; and two grandchildren. Karen Keef of Sheridan and Donald Keef of Sacramento, Calif., one great-grandchild, Ronald Keef also of Sacramento, three sisters, Mrs. Ethel Taylor of Moorcroft; Mrs. Twyla White of Spokane, Wash., and Mrs. Augusta Larson, Sac City, Iowa; and three brothers, Bryan Smith of Moorcroft; Jack Smith of Portland Oregon, and Elmer Smith of , California.

    Burial was made at Moorcroft cemetery

    Obituary provided by Campbell County Public Library in
    Gillette, Wyoming

    The first U.S. railroad opened in the 1830s. In 1869 the first transcontinental railway was completed.

    The Homestead Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. It gave an applicant 160 acres of undeveloped land outside of the original colonies. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the United States could file an application. They had to live on the land and make improvements to receive title.
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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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