Remembering you, Betty Balch

GAK_Betty BalchBetty Balch was a young girl, 11 years old, when she stitched quilt squares for her and her brother to contribute to Doris’ Christmas gift.

Betty Muriel Balch was born near Savannah, Missouri on September 6, 1923. Sometime between the 1925 census and the quilt squares made in 1934, the family had moved to Athelstan, Iowa.

Betty was not only friends with Doris. She was also related to Leona and Darlene Booher, two other young girls that created quilt squares for this set. Betty’s mother, Grace (Hayes) Balch, was a half-sister to Leona and Darlene’s grandmother, Viola Jane (Paris) Booher.

Betty’s uncle, Joseph Hayes, was also related to Georgia (Hayes) Older, who was also related to the Bownes’, who was also related to the Rusco’s ….. well, now you understand why I haven’t been able to make all the connections clear yet.

What we do know, and the proof is in the stitching, is that these lives were connected in 1934. The connections were etched in history with pieces of calico and muslin, evidence that remains almost eighty years later.

Betty went on to live a full life. She finished four years of high school with a ‘straight A average’. She met her husband, Cleo, while fishing at the Platte River that crossed by Athelstan. After dating for several years, they married August 9, 1943 and raised five children together.

Betty enjoyed gardening, flowers and vegetables, and cooking. She lived at the farm house in Gravity from her marriage until the day she passed away, remaining self-sufficient and capable to the end.

When she passed at the age of 85, (one day before her 86th birthday) September 5, 2009, she left thirteen grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren to remember her.

I never met Betty. But because of the hours she spent stitching a calico quilt square one fall day in 1934 when she was eleven years old, to give to her friend for Christmas, I know she lived and can honor the memories of her life.

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