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Condon, Kleckner, Gilles, Ethen, Milton, Meyer, Mitchell, and Liston Family History

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The following letter was written by Nina Condon Burke to Dick and Doris Condon in 1992 when she was 95 years old.  It recounts some of the Condon family history growing up in northern Iowa on the farm, and the story of some of the Doran family. Nina was born Aug. 30, 1897 and died Nov. 29, 1997.  I obtained a photocopy of the letter from Doris in 2000 and scanned the photocopy.

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Dear Doris & Dick,

My!! It is a hot day. 90°. I keep the air cond. on at 75° at all times so it is comfortable in here.

Kellie & I went to 12 o'clock Mass. Now I'm alone so decided to write to you. She didn't say so but I'm sure Patty will send me a wonderful dinner about 5 p.m. You asked, "To whom is Laura a half sister" Answer: To my mother.

When you realize that if my mother would be 121 years old and that Laura is 86 you will know this story goes back a very long time.

On farms not too far from Rockford, Ill. lived two families. One was Tom Doran & the other was Mike Condon. Mr. & Mrs. Tom Doran were a couple of about thirty years old. The Condon family were younger. They had twin sons, Edwin & Edward & the Dorans were their Godparents. Both the Doran & Condon families owned land in Iowa about 2 mi. from each other. I don't know how they had that land. Perhaps by Home-stead. At any rate the Doran family decided to move to Iowa & live on their land. The Condon land just stood empty. Years went by and the Condon boys grew up along with another brother, William. One day Mr. Condon told the boys that he would give the boy, who would go to Iowa & live on it land, the farm. My Dad said he would take it. He came to Iowa, and as the Dorans were his Godparents he went to their home. It was there he met my mother. They built a house on the farm & after a year were married.

The next year my mother had a baby & so did her mother. Her mother died & so did my mother's baby. So my dad & mother took the baby [Bernice] who lived to their home to care for. She always stayed there & I was a grown girl before I knew she was not my oldest sister. My grandpa Doran continued to live on his farm.  We kids loved him & not a day passed by some of us would ride the pony or our bikes over to see him. Years passed quickly & all at once people were saying "Tom Doran is going to marry Lena Frank who is young enough to be his daughter." My mother & Aunt Mayme were furious & never did forgive him. They might as well have shut up for she joined the church & they were married. My mother said we kids could never go there. [See photos below.]

But Dad said that was not right. That we loved our grandpa & he loved us. And as fas as he could see the girl he had married was O.K. And she surely was. A fine house-keeper, excellent cook, & she really seemed to love him. Why a good looking nice girl could love an old man I don't know.  Anyhow we kids liked her a lot. After awhile they had a daughter Laura! at the same time my mother had my sister Catherine. After 2 years my mother had my sister Margaret & they had a daughter Alice. When my mother had my brother Jim & they had a son James. Those six kids grew up together etc. Were the best of friends. After High School my sister Catherine & Laura went to St. Mary's at Rochester to study to be nurses. Why, after a time, Laura decided to quit I don't know. I do know it was her own decision for the Sisters & Catherine tried to talk her out of it but she had made up her mind.

Shortly after coming home she married Gilbert. He ran a movie house in Marion & in the summer an out door movie. Their 1st baby was a lovely little girl but the Dr. injured her when she was being born. She never walked or talked. Was just a vegetable. Live a few years & the care she was given was wonderful. But god was good to take her. Later, they had Dixie who is one wonderful lady. She married a High School Principal & they had 4 lovely children. The twins Mary & Mark, Yvonne & another girl.

Mark graduated from Ames & Mary was a Nun for some time & now has a fine position in a College. Dixie writes she has a lovely apartment & she dresses like a million. She is very pretty. Keeps in close touch with the Nuns & is very generous with them. Yvonne has a perfectly wonderful job with the U.S. Government & travels the World over. Has been in every continent. Lives in New York. The youngest girl married a young farmer from a good family. He had a farm not too far from Des Moines. Edmund said "That land can't raise a crop." Anyhow things were not going well. He sold everything they had & just walked out & her 3 months pregnant. I forgot to say that after the children were grown Dixie had divorced their father. Why I was never told & didn't feel it was my business to ask.

Any how Dixie took her daughter home with her & she had a lovely baby girl. She just made her 1st Communion. 6 yrs. old. Dixie sent me a picture. Very pretty. After a while she started dating a friend she had known in school. She had no trouble getting an annulment. He joined the church & they are very happy. Dixie has a fine position. Is manger of a big office of many workers. Mark & wife have wanted a baby for years. Couldn't have some of their own. They asked only for a white child & had no luck until now. Dixie writes they are walking on air.

Now to get back to grandfather's other 2 children. Alice was nothing like Laura who everyone loved. She was tall, & dark. Black hair & big brown eyes. She was a school teacher & every one said she was a Snob. I never thought so for I liked her. She went out to Dakota & met a well to do Rancher. He had a house in town & a big shoe store. Drove a Cadillac car etc. They married & had but one son. He is a handsome man & very nice. But he had back luck with marriage. Divorced the 1st two he married then met a widow with 3 children. Their marriage has been very happy. He is a Texas oil man & has money. To get back to Alice. Her husband died very suddenly. She was always very capable & took over very well. She made [met] a man, who had worked in store a long time the manager. All went well until one Sun. she thought she would go to the store. She did & found the manager & his 3 children about to leave all wearing expensive shoes. She subtracted the price of shoes from what she owed him for salary & told him: "I'll be manager here from now on." And she was until she had such a good offer to sell that she felt she could not refuse. All went well until the last 2 years of her life. She was real ill. The neighbors knew it & when she didn't come out with the dog one morning they came to the house & found her dead.

Of course the son came. He did not want to sell or rent the house so asked Laura & Gilbert if they would come & live in it. They were about to retire. Everyone, including myself [said] that they were crazy to go way out there & leave friends & family. But it worked out great. They joined the country club, were active in church etc. etc. & were never happier until these last two years of sickness. Dixie is taking her 2 weeks of vacation to go out & be with them over the 4th. Laura is the image of her mother. Only her mother was tall & slender not heavy like Laura.

Grandpa's son [James] left from up home. He married & had 2 children. Both he & wife are dead.

If you can read this you will do better than I so I can't correct any mistakes.

Now don't ever say I didn't tell you how Laura is my mother's half sister.

Here comes Kellie with my dinner. I've spent the whole p.m. writing & Patty expects Pat & Mary on July 3, 4, 5. They live right across from Country Club where 4th fireworks will be.


Dick you could have told all of this story for your mother knew it.


Lena Frank

Pauline (Lena) Frank

Thomas and
                                    Lena Doran with their children

Thomas and Lena Doran with children (from left) Alice, Laura, and James
Photo probably dates from late 1910 to 1911

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