Leona L. Baxter (1883-1967) was the seventh of eight children, and the last girl, of Alonzo and Elizabeth Baxter. Unlike her siblings who were born in Colorado, Leona was born during the family’s short residence across the state line in Kansas. She kept up that distinction in every official record. In the 1900 census, at age 17, Leona is living in Trinidad, Colorado with her parents and younger brother Eddie. She is listed as attending school. Then in 1903, at the age of 20, she is found in the Pueblo City Directory, boarding with a family and again attending school. It would be interesting to know what school she was attending in Pueblo. In the 1940 census, Leona reports that she had four years of college. Southern Colorado Junior College, a 2-year institution, wasn’t established until 1933, so clearly she didn’t attend the Pueblo college. By 1906, again in the Pueblo Directory, and at the age of 22, Leona is listed as working as a clerk for the Grand Union Tea Company. Perhaps her education was some type of secretarial school.
In 1906 at the age of 23, Leona Baxter married Leo Andrew Glatzel. The marriage record indicates they were married in Denver, although they probably met in Pueblo, since that’s where they were both living at the time. In the 1910 census, they are living in a home near Leo’s parents. Leo’s occupation is listed as “Receiving Clerk” for the railroad; Leona’s occupation is “none.” The couple lived in Pueblo until they moved to Cañon City, Colorado, a town about 30 miles from Pueblo. They’re found in that town in the 1920 census, Leo still working for the railroad and Leona’s occupation still listed as “none.” In the census, Leona’s reported age is “30” (actually she was 37). Leona underreported her age in every census. In the 1930 census, 47-year-old Leona lists her age as 39, and in the 1940 census she was 44 years old–12 years less than her “real” age.
So what did Leona do with herself all day, living in Cañon City? She was obviously intelligent. She had no children to keep her busy from morning to night. This census doesn’t indicate that she kept a boarder, although later in the 1930 census she had one boarder. Yet the Glatzel’s were renting their home. It’s hard for me to understand why she wouldn’t have had a job somewhere. It wasn’t uncommon for women of that time to work outside the home. Her husband Leo worked for the railroad. Leona almost surely also could have had a job with the railroad. She could have been a telegrapher like another of my great-aunts who lived in the same area. Or she might have been a clerk in a store, like her older sister. Leo and Leona lived in Cañon City until Leo died in 1934–from 1917 until 1934, when Leona age 27 to 51. What did she do in that small town during those years? Was she a “club woman” like one of her nieces I found in Kansas, joining every club in sight? Again, perhaps the small town newspaper would help–if not to find mention of Leona specifically, then at least to find what clubs might have been available to the women of the town during those years.
I think Leona probably liked to cook, since in most family group photos around this time she is wearing her apron. But she also had lovely hair that she wore for decades in a Marcel Wave, and she “kept herself up”–one of my mother’s phrases. Judging from her hair and the way she dressed, it looks as though Leona was a woman who didn’t mind spending money on herself. The only comment I remember my mother making about “Aunt Leona” (her great aunt) was this: “Leona liked nice things–and she had them.” Here is a photo of Leona and her father, Alonzo H. H. Baxter. It’s probably the last photograph taken of Alonzo. Based on Leona’s dress, and also the evidently deteriorating health of her father Alonzo, I’ve dated the photo as summer, 1928. Alonzo had been a widow for four years by then. At some point after his wife died, he moved to Cañon City to live with Leona. I can’t tell for sure where the photo was taken, but it certainly could have been taken outside Leona’s house. Leona’s dress and shoes are lovely, showing she had taste and style.
What Leona also had was a very obvious love for her father. Not only did she take him in and care for him (Alonzo is found in the 1930 census in the Leo Glatzel household in Cañon City), she probably also helped her father with his abiding interest at the end of his life: promoting the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) posts in southeastern Colorado. Alonzo Baxter was the Commander of Kilpatrick Post No. 41, La Junta, Colorado, from 1916 to 1921. Leona wrote a rather flowery “Short History” of this La Junta post, “Dedicated to My Father A.H.H. Baxter”
[The Grand Army of the Republic’s] fundamental object was expressed in three words: Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. . . . No child can be born into it. No proclamation of a president, edict of a king or czar can command admission. No university or institution of learning can issue a diploma authorizing its holder to entrance. No act of congress or parliament secures recognition. The wealth of a Vanderbilt cannot purchase the position. Its doors swing open only upon presentation of the bit of paper, torn, worn, begrimed it may be, which certifies to an honorable discharge from the army, navy or marines of the nation during the war of the rebellion.
Along with the La Junta post, Alonzo also belonged to the Post No. 25 in Trinidad, Colorado, and he was involved in the post associated with Cañon City, Greenwood Post No. 10. Follow the early 1900s history of those posts, and you will probably find Alonzo and Leona. According to Alonzo’s obituary:
Mr. Baxter was the last surviving member of Kilpatrick Post G.A.R. at La Junta, and on going to Cañon City transferred his membership to Greenwood Post No. 10.
In November of 1934, Leona was widowed when Lee Glatzel died suddenly of a stroke. In June of 1935, she married Max Lepkovitz and the couple moved to Walsenburg, Colorado, another small southeastern Colorado town. The 1940 census shows that Max worked for the railroad, like her first husband, Leo. Again, Leona has no listed occupation. For the first time, however, Leona owns the house she is living in. Living with them is her sister Daisy and Daisy’s husband Tom, listed as “visitors.” That’s the first time I’ve seen that designation on a census record.
Leona was the youngest daughter in the family. Not only did she take her father into her home at the end of his life, she did the same with her older siblings. Her sister Minnie was living with her when she died in 1936; her brother Edd died at her home in 1945; and her sister Daisy lived with her after she was widowed and died in Leona’s home in 1959. Other than the fact that she cared for her siblings, I don’t know anything about Leona’s time in Walsenburg, Colorado from 1936 to her death at the age of 83 in 1967. Leona is buried with her second husband Max Lepkovitz at the Masonic Cemetery in Walsenburg.
This is the last photo in my collection of the dear ones, Daisy just days before she died, the dog as always at her feet. Leona is standing in the background. No doubt this was taken at Leona’s house; Daisy was blind by this time, so she wasn’t likely to be leaving her home.
I’m working on a timeline of the three sisters. A timeline is always a work in progress. I may be working on this one for weeks.