Orville Thomas Conner

As many of you know, I spent the weekend with Grampa (Pierre Conner) a couple weeks ago and scanned about 500 pictures and wrote down at least as many stories.  I'll be sharing them here over the next couple of months, so please stay tuned!!!

As a family historian, I tend to think of my ancestors by their full names. “William Mason Conner” “Anton William Konst” “Elizabeth Bauhaus” “Petter Eriksson Felt”  So when I hear stories and they are “Bill”, “Tony,” “Lizzie,” and “Pete”, it’s a story and a smile all on its own.

Also, I’d always thought that my great grandfather’s name was Thomas Orville Conner. But it was Orville Thomas Conner. I’d heard stories that he changed it from one to the other because he didn’t like being called “O’Conner” but when I visited my grandfather, he said that his mom and older brother Miles always called him “Orville.” In Grampa’s papers, there was the delayed birth certificate which is listed to “Orville Thomas Conner”. So I guess it’s official. He was an Orville who was called, “Tom.”]

Tom was a true cowboy; he broke horses and herded cattle through the Midwest. When times were tough during the Depression, though, Great Grampa would do just about anything- from odds and ends around town to working on a bridge crew for the railroad. He also was very well-respected in their small town of Capa, South Dakota. Without being asked, he’d walk the 15 miles to Midland to fetch the doctor when someone needed him. He was the first to volunteer to help out with anything anyone needed.

In those days, the baseball town teams were a very big deal. Each town had a team and the kids played all summer. There were two Native American railroad workers who were exceptional baseball players from Fort Pierre. They were named Louis and Franz Franier and as they traveled their rail routes, they would teach the kids all over the Midwest to play baseball. Tom convinced them to come to Capa and they played on the Kleven’s property by the river. Tom was also the organizer, housing the balls and bats and arranging the games.


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