Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Unexpected Story

We are getting closer and closer to the opening of our new exhibit, The Way We Worked: Serving Harvey County on September 8, 2012. Watch for details on our web and facebook pages.

The following story of James & Annie (Andes) Romig illustrates one aspect of working in Harvey County.

Sometimes  research can take a person in an unexpected direction. One of the goals for our upcoming exhibit, The Way We Worked:  Serving Harvey County, was to tell the stories of those working behind the scenes serving others.  For example, businessman R.A. Goerz and his wife Martha are well known in Harvey County history, but what about their maid? What was her story?

With this goal in mind, one area my research focused on was women identified in the City Directories as "domestics". The 1887 Directory listed Miss Annie S. Andes, Miss Susie Andes & Miss Winnie Andes as "domestics".  I wondered how, what appeared to be, three unmarried sisters came to be in Newton and what happened to them. Although I found out quite a bit of interesting information, it always led to more questions, including some that will, for now,  remain a mystery.

In approximately 1884 the Andes family moved from Ephrata, Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Newton.  The father, Levi Andes, was a tailor and an Old Order Brethren minister. 
Old Order Brethren Ministers, ca. 1880s
Levi Andes is among these men.
The Andes family also included wife Susan, daughters, Lizzie, Annie S,  Susie, Lovenia "Winnie", Alice and sons, Wilton and  Jacob. Jacob seems to have died soon after the family's arrival in Kansas. Levi continued to work as a tailor in Newton.

Levi built the family home located at 410 E. 2nd, Newton, Kansas.
Andes Home 410 E. 2nd, Newton.
Wilton S. Andes, unknown, Annie S. Andes Romig holding baby, small child,
unidentified, unidentified, Alice Andes Andes
For several years, the three sisters, Annie, Susie and Winnie, worked as domestics, likely cleaning and cooking in Newton's wealthier homes. Gradually, they each got married and no longer worked outside of the home. Lovenia "Winnie" married Thomas Greer in the spring of 1888. Susie married Robert B. Slayton  in January 1890 and no other information could be found on her. Lizzie married Edwin F. Lehman in March 1891.  Both Winnie and Lizzie remained in Harvey County throughout their married lives.

Annie married James G. Romig March 30, 1893.  Her father, Levi Andes, conducted the ceremony.

Marriage Certificate
Annie S. Andes & James G. Romig
Original at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives

James A. Romig was born in Cedar County, Iowa, March 9, 1866 and began working for the Santa Fe Railroad in 1885.  He started  "at the bottom of the ladder as a wiper, gradually climbing by means of conscientious work and real ability to the high place in his work" as an engineer.  At the turn of the century he was "so thoroughly master of his engine that it was he that was the most often called when any through specials were to be taken over the line at an unusual speed and an expert was needed."

By 1905 the couple had two children, James L. (c. 1895) and Carrie C (c. 1897) and were living at 410 E. 2nd, Newton, KS in the house built by Annie's father. 

In February 1905 tragedy struck the Romig family. The Newton Evening Kansas-Republican, Feb. 13, 1905, carried the story of a "Wreck on Santa Fe." According to the article, a collision occurred when local freight number thirteen was stuck in a snow drift five miles east of Walton.  Somehow this message did not get to the train with Engineer Romig on it. Perhaps due to blowing snow which led to low visibly, or an error in communications between dispatcher and conductor, but Romig was not aware of the stuck train.   The article went on to note, "the fast train which was running a double header went into the drifted freight causing the engineer . . .  to be severely injured."  

Newton Evening Kansan-Republican
February 13, 1905

Romig was found unconscious with a severe wound to his leg.  He had lost a great deal of blood. The paper further noted that he was"obliged to endure the exposure until the wreckage was cleared away"  and he could be freed. He was taken to his home around 10 o'clock at night.  The February 14, 1905 Newton Evening Kansas-Republican had further details about the accident, noting that the engineer had been caught between the cab and the tender and could hear the hiss of escaping steam. Romig knew he was in danger of being scalded at that point.  In the frantic effort to get loose, "the muscles in the calf of his leg were torn and an artery severed."  He did eventually get loose.  The article concludes by noting, "his experience was indeed an awful one and his friends will be glad if he comes out of it with nothing more serious than a badly bruised leg."   

The next day, Romig had not improved, so he was sent to a Topeka hospital to get better care.  His brother-in-law Will Andes went with him.

Despite reports that Romig had survived the trip to the Topeka hospital, he died at 7:15 a.m. on February 16, 1905.  James G. Romig had worked for the Santa Fe Railroad for 20 years and was 39 years old. 

Newton Evening Kansan-Republican,
Feb. 16, 1905

James G. Romig
Greenwood Cemetery
Newton, Ks

 Annie was widowed with two young children, James,10 years old and Carrie, 8.      

Annie continued to live at her home on 410 E. 2nd, and it is not clear how she supported herself and young children.  In 1939, when she moved to San Diego to live closer to her daughters, Carrie and Alice.  She died November 28, 1949 at her daughter's home in San Diego. Her obituary noted that she was survived by two daughters, Carrie, who had not married, and Alice (Romig) Nevitt and one son, James Romig.  

Annie S. <i>Andes</i> Romig
Annie S (Andes) Romig
Greenwood Cemetery
Newton. Ks

This wasn't the story I expected to find when I started researching the Andes sisters. Questions still remain, and I did not get a feel for what life was like as a domestic from this particular family. However, the life story of James G. Romig highlighted how dangerous the work we do can be, despite skill and caution. 

In the end it is a real story about real people living in Harvey County.


  1. Interesting story, Kris! We will be having two related programs in 2013 on women working as domestics. 1/20/2013 at 2:00 is "African American Women Domestics: The Story of Two Kansans," presented by Angela O. Bates. And 9/22/13 at 2:00 Isais McCaffery will present "19th-Century Rural Kansas Women at Work." Both speakers are funded by the Kansas Humnaties Council, annd the programs will be FREE and open to the public at the museum, 203 N. Main, Newton. So mark your calendars!
    Deb Hiebert, Museum Director

  2. Thank you for this story.
    I was researching Anna S Andes (1870-1949), wife of James Geary Romig (1866-1905). Of concern was identifying her correct parents, who are listed in many online trees as Levi Andes (1844-1910) and Susanna Stark (1846-1919). I have not found Anna living with her parents in any census. She must have been born right after the 1870 enumeration. In 1880, she is listed as the ten year old servant of the Wolf family in West Cocalico, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. There are several children on the page also working as servants! I had hoped this was a mistake.
    In the 1885 Kansas State Census, Levi Andes is enumerated in Topeka with his wife, Susan (Stark), and four children: Lizzie, Susan, Wilton, Alice. No Anna!
    By the time the 1900 federal census came around, Anna was married with her own children.
    Thank you for this article.

    1. Hi Jody,
      This was a tricky one to research for some of the reasons you listed. I went back over my notes, and remembered I pieced together the relationships from obituaries of her sisters where she was listed as a survivor. On the 1880 Census, I wondered if there wasn't a mistake and a daughter listed as "Susan Andes" really was Anna S.Andes (the 'S' for Susan after her mother? and at some point she started to go by Annie?). The other sisters match up and the age seemed right. (I have a big note in my notes "where is Annie?" on this page from the 1880 Census.) I would wonder about the 1885 Kansas Census too. In our 1887 Business Directory she is listed as Miss Annie Andes at 310 Main, Newton, Ks. (Of course to add to the confusion, also listed are Miss Susie Andes and Miss Winnie Andes, all domestics at 310 Main, Newton, but no Lizzie who was not married yet). At HCHM we have the marriage licenses for Winnie, Lizzie, and Annie. Their obituaries appear in the Newton Kansan, which we have on microfilm. So, that is how I came to some of my conclusions. If you have other information, I would be happy to add it. Thank you for your comment. -Kris (my e-mail: