This compliation is a summary of family historical
material left by my parents, Marlin Deric Bownds II and Helen Machemehl
Bownds. I'm Marlin Deric Bownds, III. The idea is to pass this narrative
on to my kids, Jonathan Duncan Bownds
and Sarah Elizabeth Bownds. Supporting files and photographs are stored in Madison, WI.
Parts I and II cover material on my grandparents. The childhood and early education of Marlin and
Helen Bownds are the topic of parts III and IV. Part V deals with their married life until their passing.
Here is the partial lineage,
starting from the earliest records:
The Bownds lineage (starting
with Deric's father's side of the family)
Jonathan and Sarah Bownds
are the 11th generation of a man named John Bounds,
a carpenter probably born in England between 1600 and 1640, who came to
Somerset County, Maryland, where he held land from 1669 through 1671. Nothing
is known of his life or family before 1669. Extensive detailed
history and genealogy to which Marlin D. Bownds, II's sister
Ruth contributed, is found in "The Boundless Bounds Family", second edition*
(revised June 2000, it includes Jon and Sarah). The old records are tricky,
since the name was alternately spelled as Bound, Bownds, Bound, Bonds,
and Bownds. Fragments of research, land office records, etc. are
in the Bownds-History folder that Helen Bownds left. The folder
contains a newspaper article and photograph of a restoration of 'Bounds
Lott' originally a two room and loft structure dating from 1685 to which
Jonathan Bownds (Jon's namesake) added more rooms and a stairway in 1742. It
also contains the attempts of MDB II's sister Ruth to reconstruct the migration
route of the Bownds from Maryland through Tennessee to Texas.
Deric Bownds III (MDB III) has a Bownds heirloom, kept in my bank safe
deposit box to which Sarah and Jon have access: a very old straight razor,
with a horn or tortoise-shell handle. It is known to have been in
the Bownds family since 1775 and probably longer. Thomas Bownds received
it from his father prior to settling in the 'wilderness of western Tennessee',
carried it on campaigns with Andrew Jackson to New Orleans and with Sam
Houston to Texas, and at his death it passed to his youngest son, L.
D. Bownds of Utopia Texas, who in turn passed it to his son MDB I. There
are numerous Bownds family members around Utopia, and one of them Ron
Bownds (a nephew of Lois Bownds, Marlin Bownds II's mother), established
the Hill Country Spring Water company in Utopia, bottling water from
the spring on L.D. Bownds' farm
(see the Utopia Water folder). Jon
great grandfather, Marlin Deric Bownds I, was born 16 May 1888 in Utopia
Texas, Uvalde County, son of L. D. and Susan A.T. Cleveland Bownds, who
came to Utopia in 1885 from Independence Co., Ark. Accounts of
his youth and professional life are found in the Johnson/Hall family
history binder, in the obituary from the Big Bend Sentinel of Jan. 19,
1940 in the files, and his own private journal covering his early history and the
years 1918-1928. (The 18 pages of that journal are available HERE).
Baylor College from 1905-1907, where this picture was taken.
entered the Texas University in 1909 after working on a farm for a year for
money to continue in school. "Due to poorly graded classification' he
gave up the idea of graduating and in 1910 went to work for the First State
Bank of Sabinal as bookkeeper and janitor without a salary, but after one
month salary was fixed at $40.00 per month. His journal lists his
Baylor and Texas University expenses, and then his net worth as $411.50 on
Dec. 31, 1912. The journal then gives an annual financial summary and
lists major events of the year through 1928.
1912 was the year he took
a position with the Marfa National Bank at Marfa, Texas (est. 1907) as book-keeper,
having decided there was poor chance for getting ahead at the Sabinal bank. After
a series of promotions he was made president of the bank in 1926 and remained
in this position until his death (from appendicitis, this was before antibiotics)
on Jan. 16, 1940.
the depression banks printed their own money, and my bank safe deposit
box contains 22 $10 bills printed by the Marfa National Bank and signed
by my grandfather, Marlin Deric Bownds. (The collection was appraised
in 1994 as being worth $3,300.)
The Marlin Deric Bownds
I file contains memorabilia from the Bank (ledger pages, checks), his
personal wallet and metals, records of his W.W. I service, correspondence
with future wife, wedding certificate, etc. He was discharged from the
18th Calvary with the rank of Captain in 1919.
married a Marfa schoolteacher, Lois Leo Johnson (b. 28 Aug. 1892), on 15
June 1913 in Cookville Texas, and they set up housekeeping in Marfa. Beginning
at age 17, Lois Johnson taught two years at Green Hill in east Titus Co., algebra
and Latin, and went to Baylor University part time, and in 1911 to the University
of Texas. In 1912, she and her sister Ann Johnson came to Marfa to teach,
via Texas Pacific RR to Pecos, then a hundred miles by narrow gauge and buckboard,
fording Limpia Creek 17 times. Some of her students were older than she. The
Johnson family history (from about 1790 forward) is found in the binder: "Ancestors and
Descendants of Isaiah Timothy Johnson and Lavinia Elizabeth Hall". My
copy contains a very poor reproduction of them (Lois' father and mother), but
an actual photograph of her and her seven brothers and sisters. She
is on the top left.
'Marfa Stories"* told
by Ruth Kershner (my father's sister) and recorded in a pamphlet (click HERE)
by her daughter Susan give interesting glimpses of family life in Marfa
in the 1920's. Here is a picture of Marlin Deric Bownds after he
become bank president, standing outside the Marfa house, described in the
pamphlet, in which my father grew up. For many years it was the
only two-story house in Marfa.
Here is a picture of Lois Bownds taken in the late 1970's
This picture of Marlin Deric Bownds I was taken in
his prime, at the hunting cabin during the Christmas
season of 1939, shortly
before his unexpected death by appendicitis
in January of 1940.
I have very little material on Lois Bownds, my father's mother, after the death
of her husband. In the period 1943-45 she was put under the legal guardianship
of my father due to mental incompetence. After a recovery she lived
in Marfa for many years and then with Ruth Kershner's family in Houston Texas. She
was under my father's guardianship again in the 1970's, before her death
The Machemehl/Burns lineage
(Deric's mother's side of the family)
The Machemehl name first
appears in 1316 in property records from Meiben, near Dresden in Saxony. It
literally means Maker of Flour, or Miller. The files have records
for our family only from the early 1800's. Sometime between 1845
and 1850 John Machemehl, his father Michael and very young son Paul came
to Texas from Germany. Their coming to the U.S. was part of the sizeable
German migration that resulted from the unrest in the various German principalities
in the revolutionary period of the 1830's and 1840's. John's wife, Henrietta
Borel, brought with them on the 10 week sailing voyage a china set which
now is in storage at the Mohle Drive home of Helen and Marlin Bownds
where my son Jonathan lives. Wikipedia has an account of the Machemehl family migration to Texas and its subsequent history.
is a photo of John Machemehl with his son, Paul, and daughter in law.
We have an interesting set
of letters written to Henrietta Borel (in Courland, see below) between
1840 and 1849 by her mother and brothers in Switzerland before a move
to Lyon in 1848. John had a university education, was forester for
the city of Annaberg in Saxony. His wife Henrietta, born in Switzerland,
was a French Huguenot who was a governess for the family of a Russian prince
of Courland whose estate was on the Baltic. She met John Machemehl
in Saxony while traveling with the Russian Family. Henrietta died
in Texas in 1850. John married two more times, had four more children,
and died in 1880.
Here is the house that
was bought by Michael and John in 1849, in Travis, near Bellville
Texas. The photo looks like it is from the 1930's.
was a successful farmer and cattleman and acquired land in other parts of
the county before leaving the farm in 1913 to live in Bellville. Paul's wife was
Hermine Brune of the adjoining Colorado county, also of German immigrant stock. My
grandfather Herbert was one of their six children (bottom right in picture
below). I have an inheritance passed down from my great grandparents
Paul and Hermine, a fraction of the mineral interest in land they once owned
(from which I have occasionally obtained royalty payments for natural gas). More
detailed versions of Machemehl family history are in the files, records of
Machemehl family reunions through 1999, etc.
The Burns family had owned
a farm near Kenny, but shortly before leaving the area to move to San
Antonio they lived for awhile on the "Machemehl place" at Travis (see above, dates
unclear at this point). Ollie, my grandmother, taught school for
a year or two in Nelsonville, a nearby small town. Sometime around
1913-1915 she was chosen as "queen of the May" for the Kenny Mayfest – a
major social occasion. She chose Herbert Machemehl as her king. The
files contain a newspaper account of the Mayfest at which "King Herbert" crowned "Queen
Ollie." That is all that is known of the courtship.
was in school at the University of Texas, and scheduled to graduate from
law school in 1917. A picture from then.
the U.S. entered the war in April, the entire senior law class enlisted
in officer's training school
and all were award their degrees without completing the spring semester.
Training was at Camp Leon Springs north of San Antonio.
By then Ollie was teaching
in San Antonio and living with her older brother Fred. They were married
at Fred's house on May 3, 1917. The Bellville paper's account
of the wedding starts, "A wedding whose announcement came, at this time,
as somewhat of a surprise to their friends, was that of." All indications
are that the Machemehls, being of higher social rank than the Burns, were
not enthusiastic about the marriage. They had reportedly chosen a
German girl for Herbert.
Pictures at the time
of the wedding
Burns family roots cannot
be traced back very far (but, see the Burns family history files*, Helen
Bownds visit to Burns family cemeteries. etc.) Ransom C. Burns brought
his family to Texas in 1840-41, coming from Mississippi when his second
child Felix was about 6 months old. Felix Burns was the
father of my grandmother Ollie Burns. He served in the Civil War,
fighting in the battle of Galveston, married Helen Trott in 1871, cultivated
a large farm in Bellville until his retirement in 1917 to San Antonio,
and died in 1937 at the Confederate Veterans Home in Austin Texas, chasing
the nurses until the end. Deric has passed on to Sarah Bownds
commemorative metals from his trips to confederate reunions across the
photograph shows Felix and Helen Burns, along with Ollie (top left) and her
This photograph shows
Ollie Machemehl with classmates at the Huntsville Normal School around
Herbert finished the Leon Springs training camp he and Ollie lived in Waco
where he had further training. In September 1918 he was promoted to
Captain in the infantry and with his company of negro troops was sent to
Brownsville to await shipment overseas. He was there when the Armistice
pregnant, was with her parents who had moved to San Antonio in late 1917
or 1918. Herbert was discharged from the army in late November or early
December. Ill with the World War I flu at the time of his discharge,
he is reported to have driven all night through bad weather to reach San Antonio
to be with his wife. He never recovered. The flu became pneumonia,
and there were other complications. He was in the hospital when Helen,
my mother, was born on Jan. 20, 1919. The story is that Helen was taken
up to his room and that he named her for her two grandmothers – Helen
Burns and his mother, Hermine. (However, Helen's middle name has always
been spelled Herminia.) He died on Jan. 22, 1919.
The files contain Herbert's
military records, commissions, letters from Herbert to Ollie, newspaper
clippings of the marriage and then Herbert's death, memorial resolutions
from the Masonic Lodge and Lawyers of Bellville, and various small photos.
Ollie Machemehl's abilities
to cope with an infant child, a teaching job, and matters of business and
finance were limited, at best. She trusted her older brothers to
manage money left to her, including $5000 she entrusted to her older brother
L.A., who was vice-president of the Austin County State Bank. He
speculated in land, and lost everything in the agricultural depression
that followed World War I in the 1920's. During the great depression,
Ollie was paid for school teaching with promissory notes rather than real
money, and she and my mother had to get by with very simple food and resources. This
conditioning by the depression conditioned my mother's financial behavior
for the rest of her life.
and my mother Helen in 1919
Ollie Machemehl taught in
the San Antonio public elementary schools from 1924 through 1955. She received
a "permanent" teacher's certificate from the State of Texas in 1924 on
the basis of 1 2/3 years work at Sam Houston State Normal School at Huntsville
and teaching experience at Nelsonville and San Antonio, 1910-1917, and
1922-23. Then, in the early 1930's "permanent" certificates were
declared no longer acceptable. B.A. degrees were required. After
years of after school and summer course at Lady
of the Lake, Incarnate Word, and the University of San Antonio she received
a BA in 1939. The files contain copies of her academic records.
Ollie Machemehl in 1937
I frequently spent time
with my grandmother in San Antonio during the summer, and she would visit
Austin. The files contain letters I wrote to her (scratchings, actually,
before I could write) and then letters to my parents in Austin while I
was staying in San Antonio, as well as a list of questions I asked when
I was little (example: "Does the air hold God up?").
Here is as picture of us from 1946
the teacher's photograph from
Hillcrest School for the 1948-49 years.
In 1954 she retired and
moved into the house across us, 1708 Mohle Drive in Austin.
These are pictures taken at Deric and Marilyn's wedding, and then
later in 1968.
Here is a picture taken at her 94th birthday party, before her death at a retirement
home on July 14, 1984.
Marlin Deric Bownds, II - Childhood and early education up to 1935
My father Marlin (Marlin Deric Bownds, Jr.) was born on Sept. 24, 1917 and died on Feb. 25, 2003. He grew up in the Marfa Texas house described by his sister Ruth, in her "Texas Stories." (These stories of her youth and also Marlin's were transcribed by her daughter (my cousin) Susan in 1999, two years before her death. Marlin's bedroom was on the second floor above a pergola, or arbor way whose trellises held grapevines. When Marlin and Helen took me to visit grandmother Louis in Marfa (1947-52) I played in the window seats of his old bedroom.
Here is a photo of Marilin and Ruth standing and holding their guns in front of the Ford Model T touring car in 1920. (West Texas was very much a gun and hunting culture.) The picture of Marlin was taken in 1922.
Marlin and Ruth liked to visit "Aunt Ann" (the sister of their mother Lois), who lived in El Paso, 200 miles west on the border with Mexico and Ciudad Juarez . She was a quilter, rock collector, and devout Christian Scientist. When I was a Harvard freshman in 1959, she visited me in Cambridge Mass so that she could finally see the mother church in Boston. Ruth, three years older than Marlin, dominated him during his Marfa childhood in a pact with mother Lois which was probably facilitated by Marlin senior being away at the bank during the day.
Here is a letter to Santa on which Marlin and Ruth collaborated in 1924.
Marlin carried a chip on his shoulder over the early henpecking from Ruth, and I noted in her later life that she seemed to radiate a subtle aura of superiority in his presence. Marlin harbored sufficiently negative feelings about Martha that he didn't like to return there very much. My mother Helen and I were much more enthusiastic about visits.
When Marlin was 10-12 he adopted one of the stray burros that wandered about Marfa and rode it to school, tying it up during class.
Marlin and his father on Marlin's burro
He learned to drive at age 12 - in ranch country kids learned to drive early! Because the quality of the Marfa HIgh School had deteriorated and virtually no math instruction was available, Marlin left Marfa in 1934 to attend the Texas Military Institute, an Episcopal boarding school in San Antonio. In the files is a letter from Marlin senior to TMI permitting Marlin Jr. to leave the campus for a circus and also with his older sister at UT. I have a stack of 1934-35 letters from Marlin senior to Marlin junior at TMI, detailing events at the bank in Marfa, and giving advice on guns and Marlin junior's finances. The files have TMI's rules and regulations, his graduation diploma, and a fascinating 1935 yearbook containing Marlin's picture. The yearbook celebrates the 300th anniversary of "Texas Military Institute and San Antonio Academy," suggesting that the original institution or location derives from the 17th century Spanish colonial period.
Marlin at TMI
In one year at TMI Marlin completed high school math, spelling, and language requirements (16 1/2 credits), and then started at the University of Texas (UT) at age 18 in Sept. of 1935. The files have his TMI entrance credits and course applications at UT. He purchased a car from sister Ruth, who had obtained it very cheaply from a friend in trouble, and used it drive himself and friends between Marfa and UT.
Throughout Marlin's childhood and teen years, deer hunting was a major feature of life. He was given guns by his father from an early age, as in the Model T photo above. One letter to Marlin at TMI from his father gives cautionary notes to accompany a shot gun he is sending to Marlin. Marlin left hunting behind in the early 1950's. He said that it was because he was the best marksman, and after he had his two deer limit, ended up also killing bucks for the rest of the hunting party. I think he also felt the odd man out in the macho banter that comprised the social life of hunting trips. By the time I was wanting him to take me hunting, he was unwilling to do it. So, I had to be content with my target pistol, which I still have.
Marlin's buck, 1933
There is a 1938 inventory indicating the disposition of numerous guns owned by Marlin senior. Several of the guns, including an 1975 silver handled Colt revolver, two civil war pistols, and a front loading flintlock rifle have passed down to me. The pictures below show some of these guns, and also Marlin senior's dress cavalry sword from the period he was involved with pre W.W. I U.S. cavalry efforts to deal with Mexican refugees from the Pancho Villa uprisings. (VIlla was the rebel general of the Mexican Revolution who invaded US territory and led American soldiers on a wild goose chase all over the harsh Mexican countryside for months in the 1913-1916.) He told stories of escorting convoys of Mexican refugees, whose pregnant women had to pause briefly behind a bush when they needed to give birth, and then immediately rejoin the moving convoy with their new babies.
Guns and dress cavalry sword
Helen Herminia Machemehl - Childhood and early education up to 1935.
Helen Herminia Machemehl, my mother, was born on Jan. 20, 1919 and died July 2, 2002. At birth, she was taken up to her father's hospital room, where he named her for her two grandmothers (Helen Burns and his mother, Hermine). He died on Jan. 22, 1919 from a flu which had become pneumonia. Because the army ruled that his flu had been contacted while he was still in the service, Ollie Machemehl received a modest government widow's pension for the rest of her life.
From 1919-1929 Helen and her mother lived with Ollie's parents on Nogalitos street in San Antonio.
Here are pictures showing Helen with Fox Terrier puppies in front of the grandparent's house, and with her toy truck.
The files also contain a more formal photo and a Christmas calendar.
Helen recounts that the grandparents were severe Baptists, disapproving of dancing, movies, etc. She took summer trips to South Carolina with Aunt Lillie and Uncle Jim (Lillie was Ollie's sister). The files contain pictures of Aunt Lillie and also of Mary Brewer, Ollie's oldest sister. Lillie taught in the public schools in New Braunfels, between Austin and San Antonio, because they offered her a job when she had to leave the Belleville area for criticizing the local Klu Klux Klan. We used to visit her when driving between Austin and San Antonio during my childhood.
Ollie and Helen then moved to a house on Barrett Place in San Antonio where I remember staying during visits in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The house had a huge pecan tree in the back yard, which yielded several bushels of pecans every year.
Helen went to Brackenridge High School, where she joined the debate team, and became a debating star, wining the girl's state championship in her senior year. Her files contain romantic letters from Joe Neal, as well as a newspaper clipping showing his picture. He was a handsome student on the San Antonio Junior College debate team.
Helen was a straight A student through high school and graduated with the highest academic standing among girls, thus earning a college scholarship from the Association of Texas Colleges. The files have Helen's report cards from grade 1 through U.T., also a collection of poems, articles, and quotations saved from her high school and early college days.
Here is Helen's senior photograph for the 1935 Breckenridge High School yearbook, named "La Retama". Also another high school picture.
Helen started at the University of Texas in the fall of 1935, in the new liberal arts program Plan II. After she met Marlin, Joe Neal, in spite of his pleading letters, was left behind.
Marlin and Helen Bownds - College, courtship, marriage, professional lives, family life, and retirement.
Marlin and Helen met in their freshman year at UT (1935). Both were students in the first class of the new liberal arts major called Plan II (this program was a major beneficiary of their will, executed through a family trust). The story is that they met because Helen found this new student (Marlin) sitting in her customary seat and initially gave him a hard time. They started dating, and Marlin saved several letters from Helen indicating a lively correspondence during summer and holiday breaks - very emotional and poetic. Helen wrote this little gem of a "love contract" in September 1936.
Marlin's files also have financial records of car trips, random medical, university, and financial records from 1934-37.
Here is a picture of Marlin and Helen taken in the Hill Country outside Austin in 1937.
And here are pictures taken in 1938
Helen was a straight A student at the University of Texas; Marlin's grades were good, but less stellar. Both of their transcripts are in the files. One bundle in Marlin's files contains an English essay, a rental agreement, degree requirement summaries, letters applying (unsuccessfully) for jobs at Austin banks and Humble Oil Co. on graduation. One interesting letter from Marlin to his parents in May 1938 is on the subject of whether Helen might go on a summer vacation trip with the family, during Marlin's last summer in Marfa (she did go with them).
Another file folder contains the complete set of accounting books that Marlin kept for Striegler Co-operative house where Helen lived (this was a part time job). He also waited tables in the Co-op. Another folder contains his entire personal accounts for the college period. (He was an accountant early on, having been rigorously trained by his Bank President father from early childhood.)
There is an envelope of memorabilia from Helen's U.T. period. These include pictures of her in The Daily Texan with other members of the Orange Jackets - the women's social club that cheered on the football team and marched in formation with the band at half time. Helen was president of the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) and remained active on its board for many years after graduation. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Here is a picture from Helen's senior year, which was used in a newspaper article describing her activities (in the files).
Marlin and Helen graduated from the University of Texas in June 1939.
They were married at Ollie Machemehl's home on Barrett Place in San Antonio on June 20, 1939.
Helen and Marlin wanted to live in Austin or San Antonio, where most of their friends were, but were unable to find adequate employment in either place. Thus they decided to live in Marfa after their wedding and graduation from UT. Marlin took a part time position in the Marfa National Bank and from 1939 to 1941 was a junior partner in the W. B. Johnson Ford agency.
Here is the main street of Marfa, Texas.
Marlin at the Ford Agency, in front of the 26 millionth Ford that was manufactured.
Here is their first Christmas card, from 1939.
A�scene from their early marriage:
There is a stack of letters from Maj. General R. H. (Bob) Lewis to Marlin spanning 1940 to 1948, written as Lewis was moved by the army from post to post (Panama, Washington State, etc.) From Jan 20, 1943, "Give my love to Helen and start teaching young Deric to shoot as soon as he can hold a gun.." The letters suggest that Lewis was a father surrogate, especially after the death of Marlin senior from appendicitis in Jan. 1940.
As the second world war escalated Marlin signed up as a civilian employee of the Navy, an electronics aircraft technician. This was not easy, for at the time gas was rationed, and he didn't have enough to drive from Marfa to San Antonio to sign up. So... he pilfered enough gas from the Ford agency to make the trip. He spent 1941-45 as a civil service aircraft inspector at Kelly Field in San Antonio, TX and smaller airfields in Victoria and Cuero, TX. (He saved some IFF boxes - identification friend or foe - which I later converted to ham radio transmitters during my boy scout days in the early 1950's.)
This picture is Marlin with fellow inspectors in Cuero, Texas.
I was born in San Antonio TX on May 16, 1942). We spent periods of time in Victoria Texas, where the aircraft work was done, and in Gulfport Mississippi, where he graduated from the Naval Training School in Nov. 1945.
Pictures from Gulfport, 1945:
Seeing that he was likely to be drafted, Marlin enlisted in the Navy in March of 1945 and was in San Diego about ready to ship out to the Pacific when the war ended. He was discharged in March of 1946. During this period, Helen and I were living in San Antonio with her mother. The files contain official documentation from this period, and one manila envelope contains random correspondence and Christmas cards from 1939-45. The files also contain three manila envelopes stuffed with frequent correspondence between Helen and Marlin while he was in the military. Skimming them I find accounts of Deric being stubborn about eating food he didn't like VERY slowly, and Helen worrying about how often to spank him. It would take many hours to read through all the correspondence.
In 1946 Marlin obtained a position in the Texas State Auditor's Office, as an assistant state auditor, which he held from 1946-1958. He was on the road auditing colleges around the state during much of my early childhood. In 1946 he constructed a prefab house on the corner of Kerby Lane and West 35th street (1516 W. 35th St.) where we lived until buying the house at 1708 Mohle Drive in 1952, where I lived through high school. The house is now owned by our family trust, was occupied for a period by my son and his family, and I have lived there since 2017 with my husband Len Walker.
Here are some pictures from the Kerby Lane house, taken in 1946 or 1947.
Here are pictures from the Mohle Drive house taken in 1952, one showing the playhouse Marlin built for me in the back yard, constructed from a fence he had taken apart.
Marlin and Helen lived in the Mohle Dr. house until they moved into the Westminster Manor retirement center in 2000.
Marlin's professional life:
Marlin took the C.P.A. (certified public accountant) examinations in 1947-48. A number of documents associated with this process are in the files. Over the next 10-20 years, he proctored these examinations many times. In March of 1956 he was elected to the American Institute of Accountants. The files contain a June 1957 letter from Helen to Marlin on the occasion of their 18th wedding anniversary, commenting on communication issues (too much negativity being expressed in both directions) and ending with "I love you."
In the late 1950s Marlin audited various state agencies, and a succession of annual audits of the Teacher's Retirement System revealed such disarray that he was asked to become Comptroller of that organization, where he built up their data processing and computing faculties from 1958-68. There is just one 1963 letter from this period thanking him for a talk he gave. There is also a certificate in data processing awarded by the Data Processing Management Association in 1968. When agency head Frank Jackson died of cancer, the lieutenant who became head fired Marlin, feeling threatened by his competence (Marlin's report). A contributing factor was that Marlin, a classic boy scout, had protested when the system's endowment fund made (very successful) real estate investments that were prohibited by state law.
He worked for the Consumer Credit Commission from 1968-70 (regulating loan sharks), and then moved to the Texas State Rehabilitation Commission where he was Assistant Commission for Fiscal Affairs from 1970-1979. He became caught in political crossfire in 1978 (a dispute with the legislature and state comptroller's office described by a newspaper article in the files) and was forced into retirement in 1979, at the age of 62. This was a devastating blow to his ego, from which he never really recovered. He did volunteer work for a government effectiveness program, and there is a 1982 letter from Governor William Clements thanking him for his efforts. He also gave accounting advice to several young minority men starting their businesses.
Starting in the late 1940's Marlin was a serial hobbyist, plunging intensely into an activity for a period of ~ five years, and then moving on. He was a very competent carpenter and wood craftsman, building the Kerby Lane House, making all of its furniture in the 1950's Knoll and Eanes style, building a front bedroom and bathroom addition onto the Mohle Drive house. His furniture is still in the Mohle Drive house. He expanded his electronic background from the military experience to build all of the radio and HiFi equipment we used in the 1950's. These were usually made from components sent with instructions from a company (Heathkits, now deceased, in Benton Harbor, Michigan.) I constructed several of these kits when I was a teenager. He helped me set up Ham radio operations (KN5DDM), which never progressed beyond the morse code stage. The next major hobby was photography, and hundreds of prints of Texas scenes are stored at Mohle Drive, many of the best are in our various family residences. On retirement, Marlin transferred the expertise he had developed with main frame computers to the newly emerging personal computers, writing Cobal code to manage all his financial transactions.
Helen's professional life:
After college, Helen continued to take some university course through the 1940s and 1950s and obtained a master's degree in education in 1960. (The files have grade records of all her graduate and undergraduate work.) This gave a salary boost to her teaching position in the Austin Public Schools. She had begun teaching social studies and geography in the late 1950s as I was preparing to leave for college. Helen taught Social Studies at Baker J. High from 1954-64, and served on the Texas State Textbook recommendation committee in 1961-62. She then was supervisor of social studies for the Austin Independent School District from 1964-69.
Here are 1964 photos from her Baker Jr. High School Period. (1964 was my first year of graduate school at Harvard).
She worked with students teachers from the Univ. of Texas, and was asked to join the Education faculty in 1969 where she directed the training of students teachers until her retirement in 1980. She was appointed Assistant Professor with tenure in 1974. The files contain records of the three phases of her professional life and correspondence, Baker Jr. High teaching, AISD social studies supervisor, and Univ. of Texas direction of student teaching in social studies.
Helen was a social activist. A 'yellow dog democrat,' she worked with precinct politics and volunteered for campaigns. She was on the board of the Planned Parenthood Association in Austin for many years, doing volunteer work at their clinics. She was on the board of the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association). Helen and Marlin systematically gave to a broad range of charities supporting the disadvantaged. By the time I had distributed the charitable portion of the trust left on their death, more than a million dollars had been donated to the Austin Community Foundation and to the University of Texas to support Plan II, the program from which they had graduated.
Social Life and Family:
Beginning in the 1940's on Marlin and Helen's main social life centered on a small circle of intimate friends they had known since college: Dorthy and Chester Lay, Hoyle and Marie Ann Osbourne, Mike and Helen Mooney, and Martha and Hugo Leipziger. At the time of this writing in 2007 the only survivors of this group are Martha Leipziger and Marie Ann Osbourne.
The following are some random pictures showing some of these friends, family, friends, home life, vacations, fishing, etc. ....
Marlin fishing in the 1950's. (grumpy that what he had hooked was a tiny perch).
Helen with Dorthy Lay in the late 50's or early 60's
The Lays and the Mooneys
Here is a family photograph taken in January of 1966 in the back yard of the West Lake Hills (Austin suburb) home of Marlin's sister, Ruth Kershner. (Ruth married an oil company engineer named Stuart and they had four kids, my cousins Stuart jr., Susan, Tommy, and Ann). From left to right, with relationship to me: Ruth Kershner (my aunt, Marlin's sister), Susan Kershner (cousin), Stuart Kershner, jr. (cousin), Jane Morton (my finacee, who suddenly died of cancer about a year after this picture was taken), me, Ann Kershner (cousin), Ollie Machemehl (grandmother, Helen's mother), Helen Bownds, Marlin Bownds, Jan Kershner (wife of Stuart jr.), Lois Bownds (grandmother, Marlin's mother), Stuart Kershner, sr., with Tommy (cousin) and Jill (his wife) holding first of their sons.
Here is a picture of Helen and her mother, who we called Ms. Mach, at the wedding of Deric and Marilyn in 1968
And pictures taken in the Christmas of 1968
Marlin and Helen put a new aluminum roof with a Teflon coating over the shingles at 1708 Mohle Dr. in 1969. It is still there and will probably last another 50 years, at least.
Here is Marlin at the Scholtz Beer Garden in 1969
Here are pictures of Marlin and Helen in 1987, and then separately, in 1988.
Their fiftieth wedding anniversary was in1989....
In 1991 Marlin and Helen purchased 2820 Marshall Ct. #2, the Shackleton Square condominium (which we call "Shack") in which I had lived since declaring my second (gay) life. They had been staying at an apartment during their visits to see Jon and Sarah, and so now had the condo as a base. My partner Len and I moved to a house in Twin Valley, an 1860 stone schoolhouse converted to a residence on the west edge of Madison.
This picture, taken at Marlin's 80th birthday party in 1997 shows Hoyle and Marie-Ann Osbourne, Chester Lay (Dorthy had died from cancer).
Marlin and Helen on the Wisconsin Union Terrace, 1997
This is a family lunch at the Westminster Manor retirement community in 1999. Marlin's sister Ruth is on my left and my cousin Susan on my right.
A major activity during Marlin and Helen's retirement was supporting a senior learning association called L.A.M.P. (Learning Activities for Mature People, or something like that). Both he and Helen served on their board, helped select speakers, provided computer support and audiovisual support. On May 4, 2000, Marlin was given a plaque and award, the award and the speech by George Nokes presenting the plaque are in the files. Here is a picture from that dinner.
Marlin's Sept. birthday party in 2001
Helen was diagnosed with colon cancer in late 2001 and died on July 2, 2002. Here is a photo from the period before her death.
After Helen's passing Marlin entered a rapid decline and he died on Feb. 25, 2003. Here is a picture from his birthday party in Sept. 2002.
Note: This narrative is the tip of the iceberg of material now passed on to my son Jonathan Bownds, who at the time of this update (12/26/2022) lives at 2811 Zach Scott St in Austin TX: files, photo albums, documents, etc. There is a shoebox of several hundred black and white photo negatives from 1918-1962. These are a treasure trove of early childhood pictures of Marlin and Ruth. They chronicle a trip to Yellowstone in 1934, The Chicos Mountains in the mid-30's, British Columbia in 1938, Helen in Marfa in the summer of 1938. They continue through the periods described in Part V of this narrative, Marfa (1939,40), Cuero, TX. (1943), Victoria TX. (1944), San Antonio TX and Gulfport Miss. (1945. There are Austin scenes from the late 1940's at the Kerby Lane house, and the Mohle Dr. house in the 1950's. There are numerous pictures of Deric's childhood through Harvard graduation, college dorm rooms, etc. There is a black binder with an extensive typed index of the photos, indicated, year, month, topic and location of the pictures taken. Description of the contents of each numbered envelope containing negatives are given...very organized.
One file box is devoted largely to correspondence and journals keep during Jon and Sarah's childhood in the 1970's, 80's, and early 90's. Another has Marlin and Helen's correspondence with friends, letters to each other concerning relationship issues, files on Helen's professional life, records from their interactions with several charitable foundations, the Westminster retirement center period, and so on... There are files on Jon, Sarah, and Deric from the early 2000's.