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Jean Harlow's grandparents
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a larger version.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Speroni
Pictured above are Abraham and Diana (or Dianna) Carpenter at home in Pratt, Kansas in 1916.  The picture in the oval frame on the table is of their granddaughter Harlean - the same one shown above right.  The family Bible and photograph album visible at the bottom center of the picture are still in the possession of the family.
Inside the family Bible is the page recording marriages; the section below documents the marriage of their youngest son, Mont Clair Carpenter, to Miss Jean Harlow on October 1, 1908.
Segment of marriage record in family Bible
Click on the image above to see the entire page.
But let's back up a bit... to Abraham Carpenter, Harlean's grandfather.  He was born in 1842, raised in a closely-knit farming family, and served in the Civil War as a member of the 138th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  He fought at the battle of Cedar Creek; he was wounded in the thigh, and while sitting beside the road waiting for an ambulance, he witnessed General Philip Sheridan's famous ride from Winchester, which turned the tide of the battle.  Returning home, Abe married Diana Beale in 1868. 

(Note the Carpenter chin in this picture!  Abe wore a beard most of his adult life, so we are lucky to have this picture to see where Harlean got the cleft in her chin.)

He and Dianna had five sons, three of whom survived childhood: Earle Bert (b. 1869), Arden Howard (b. 1870) and Mont Clair (b. 1877).  During this time, they moved west, first to Iowa, then settling in Kansas.  The picture below was taken some time in the late 1880s in Pratt, Kansas, the closest large town to their home near Haviland. 


Seated: Diana and Abraham Carpenter
Standing, L to R: Earle (the author's great-grandfather), Arden, Mont
By virtue of hard work, and no doubt a certain amount of luck, they managed to prosper modestly at farming and ranching in the sometimes hostile climate of Kiowa County, Kansas.

Wheat harvest, ca. 1895?
Click on the image for an enhanced closeup of Mont.
Education was important to the Carpenters, and Earle went on to become a school teacher, optometrist, store owner, and railroad telegrapher, always keeping a hand in running the family farm and ranch. He married a lovely young Quaker, Elma Bevan, and had three children; Chester Mont (grandfather of the author), Carl Bevan and Elsie Elma Carpenter. 

Arden married Carrie Miller, and had one daughter, Inez, who died young. 

Mont evidently preferred city life, and moved to Kansas City, Kansas.  He worked for a time for George Fowler, Son & Co., Ltd, pork and beef packers, and kept in close contact with the family, as he continued to do the rest of his life.  Several of his letters have survived the years, including one written hastily on April 22, 1898 describing the public reaction to the declaration of the Spanish-American war on the previous day.

The picture at right was taken at a Kansas City studio at an unknown date.  Jean's resemblance to her father is particularly evident in this picture. 

Mont decided to attend Kansas City Dental College, graduted in 1902, then opened his practice in Kansas City, Missouri.


Updated August 2004
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