Aunt Lydie found herself widowed at age 24 after just two years of marriage. It seems as though Joe’s family handled all the funeral arrangements. Certainly Lydie couldn’t have managed the elaborate tombstone on her own.
As far as I can tell, she stayed in Weston after Joe’s death and may have been living in her mother’s house. We have a few pictures from this time period. Two of the photos associate her with a friend, Emma Janak. Emma is listed in the same family tree as Joe Novak, so she may have been a cousin to Lydia’s late husband.
We also have this set of three photos with Lydia (see below) all taken at the same location but maybe not on the same day. There’s a “costume change” between the first photo and the other two, and the shadows and lighting are a little bit different. Family lore is that she became a “practical nurse” at some point; is she wearing a nurse’s uniform in the second two pictures?
I don’t know if she obtained any formal nurse’s training. The phrase “practical nurse” has several different meanings and I dont know what it implies in Lydie’s case.
Several mysteries remain about these photos. I had dated two of them (by guessing) in different years, but the center one has 1919 written in pencil on the back. I don’t know the identify of the other woman. I also can’t figure out the setting of the photos. Are they on a rooftop or where exactly? (Or perhaps were these photos taken in Colorado? See below.)
Images of Lydia Novak sometime before 1920 (click to enlarge)
In her capacity as a nurse, Lydie helped care for her older brother Peter William “P.W.” during his terminal illness. P.W. died on June 24, 1920, but by then Lydia had already left Nebraska.
She is listed in the 1920 census living in the small town of Walden in Jackson County, Colorado.
She is living on her own as a widow and her occupation is listed as “domestic”. I have pored through the rest of the census for Walden and can’t find anyone connected to Lydia – I looked for people born in Nebraska or Sweden.
In 1920, Walden was accessible by train from Laramie. There was a small amount of mining but most of the economy revolved around hay crops and ranching. It wasn’t until 1926 that the road going west out of Fort Collins was completed. Walden was out of the way, small, and difficult to reach. I wonder how Lydia found herself there, and why she left Nebraska as her brother was dying?
Meanwhile, the 1920 census also shows a farm hand by the name of Dick Parr living as a boarder with a family in Fort Collins, in Larimer County, Colorado.
Next time, more about the Parr’s and their married life.