K Westhues


Links to information and commentary about the family of John Henry Conran (1872-1955), Bertha Lee Whitman (1876-1915), and Lena Oser (1882-1956).

Kenneth Westhues, Professor Emeritus, University of Waterloo
2021, 2022


Left: John Henry Conran about 1953, at the age of 81. He and his wife Lena Oser Conran had moved two years before from their farm south of town by the Hurricane Creek to a small apartment in Glasgow MO. His son-in-law John Westhues, my father, rented the farm, planted corn and grazed cattle on it, just as he did on our own farm north of town. Dad would sometimes bring Grandpa along when he was working there. Grandpa would sit on a chair with his walking stick by the front porch of the tumbledown house. Often he whittled. Always he chewed Beechnut tobacco. He came across to me as a kind old man altogether at peace with himself.


Left: from a tintype of John Henry Conran about 1890, age 18. Right: Bertha Whitman Conran about 1901, age 25. No portrait photo of this couple survives. They married in 1900, had three children: Mary Olive (Olive), John Douglas (Doug), and Francis Lee (Lee).




Right: John Henry Conran and Lena Oser Conran in the home of their daughter and her husband, Olive and John Westhues, on Christmas Day, 1951. John had married Lena in 1921, six years after Bertha's death.


Bertha Whitman's Essay on Girls' Rights, 1892 — actual text of the feminist manifesto of a precocious sixteen-year-old, saved by her teacher, lost for 30 years, discovered in 1935.

Loving, being loved, and living well in poverty — detailed, amply illustrated memoir of the grandparents I knew and loved as a child, John Conran and Lena Oser Conran

John H. Conran's family of origin — his Irish parents, his brother Charles (inventor and railroad man in China), his sister Lizzie (hotel owner in California who, on a train trip to Missouri in 1954, carried along the deed to the hotel and then lost track of it), and John's other siblings.

Bertha Whitman Conran's family of origin — Sam and Missouri Stewart Whitman and their eleven children, the old American, Protestant family culture, the scourge of tuberculosis, Sam's Lincoln ancestry, and my encounter with Aunt Ollie Whitman in the fall of 1957, when I was 13 years old.

Lena Oser Conran's Family of Origin — the Oser family tree, with stories about Lena's tragic death in a car crash, her prim sister Mary, her jaunty sister Anna, the Naberhaus moan, and Anna's wink in 1960, while enjoying ice cream.

Basic biodata as of 1993, family of John and Lena Oser Conran


John and Olive Westhues — basic biodata as of 1993, family of John H. Conran's eldest child, Olive Conran Westhues (1902-2003)

Prairie Fire: Autobiography of Olive Conran Westhues, 1992 — description of book and excerpt from it

Prairie Fire, 2017 — 40-minute biopic by Kevin Westhues, marking the 25th anniversary of the publication of Olive Conran Westhues's autobiography

Obituary of James Conran (1830-1921) — Irish immigrant, father of John H. Conran.

Uncle Jim Conran's Legacy to Me — essay about James F. Conran (1871-1946), lawyer in St. Louis, brother of John H. Conran

Jim Westhues's Reminiscences, "How my old red hen with scaly legs helped Dad catch a thief" — James F. Westhues (1924-2018) was a grandson of John H. Conran

The Highwayman — a brother's memoir, 2020, of Eugene J. Westhues (1926-2020), grandson of John H. Conran

Father Drimped, Cousin-in-law — memoir of Rev. William J. Drimped (1900-1961), pastor of St. Mary's Parish, Glasgow MO, brother-in-law of Mary Conran Drimped, John H. Conran's niece.

Boone's Lick Literature — history of the town and region in Missouri where John Conran settled on his return from Colorado in 1918, where he married Lena Oser in 1921, and where they lived for the rest of their lives.