CEDAR RAPIDS — Four score and two years ago, a teenage Gladys Hindman sat in the parlor of her grandmother’s Springville home. Mary Hindman relaxed in her rocking chair.
“Bless her heart,” Gladys says. “She sat in the room and rocked and rocked, talked and talked. But I was a teenager. I didn’t listen much.”
Gladys does recall, however, hearing her grandmother talk about the Civil War. For Mary Hindman had grown up in Gettysburg, Penn., and was just 15, when the bloodiest battle in American history took place in her neighborhood. When, a few months later, Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery with his Gettysburg Address, beginning “Four score and seven …”
“My grandmother heard that speech, I’m sure she would have been there,” says Gladys McShane, now 99, a longtime resident of Garnett Place retirement home.
“She talked about General Lee,” Gladys continues. “He talked to her and said there was going to be a battle. If she had a basement or an attic, she better get there.”
Yes, it seems amazing that Gladys is but two generations removed from the Civil War. But her grandmother lived to be 89. Her mother, Rebecca, lived to be 84. And Gladys turns 100 on Dec. 2, coincidentally her grandmother’s birthday.
“I don’t know why we do, but we hang on,” she says about the longevity.
That must have been how Mary Wisemantle felt as gunfire surrounded her home. A Gazette report 75 years ago (featured recently in the historical column, “Times of Our Lives,”) said the windows were shot out in the house. That dead and dying soldiers surrounded it. That Mary and her mother nursed soldiers, Confederate and Union, back to health.
Not long after that battle, Mary’s mother died in a typhoid epidemic. Her father and brother were killed in the war.
So it was, at 16, Mary came to Marion, Iowa, to live with an aunt. She would marry Thomas Hindman, a Civil War veteran, and live near Springville. They would have six children, one who died at age 9, and one, Harry, who would father Gladys.
Harry and Rebecca Hindman farmed in Linn County, often moving from one rented place to another. That’s how Gladys, while a senior at Springville High School, came to live with her grandmother.
“I didn’t want to switch schools,” Gladys says. “I lived with her that year.”
Gladys would marry Kenneth McShane (he died in 1995), work at the Peter Pan Bakery day-old store, have two daughters, work at Killian’s Department Store in Cedar Rapids.
Always, she will cherish a grandmother who witnessed history.
“I didn’t listen to her, being a teenager,” Gladys says. “I wish now, I had.”
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