Hattie LaMaster
Hattie LaMaster
(Laura Kilgore's Girl)

Date: 1906-08 Studio: Agnew

"Family Reunion"

David Preston: Interestingly enough, this photo was once in my personal family collection but is now lost to me forever -and with good reason.

On the back of the photo, in the handwriting of one of my long-departed relatives, were scrawled out the words "Hattie LaMaster - Laura Kilgore's girl." I suppose that this sweet girl's mother Laura must've been a friend to one of my grandmothers, but since Hattie wasn't related to either side of my family that I knew of, I considered the photo to be another Agnew Mystery photo, in the same category as all my other unidentified photos. I knew who the subject was (which was certainly a plus) but that was all.

In the process of doing an Agnew photo interview with Jean Ide in the summer of 2006, I happened to mention that I had this photo of Hattie LaMaster. I told Jean I thought Hattie was a pretty girl with a pretty name and that I'd like to learn more about her someday, if only I could track down someone in the Creston area who might have known her or her mother Laura Kilgore. Well, within a few weeks of the interview with Jean I got an e-mail from her at my home in Seattle. As it turned out Jean knew someone who knew someone who knew the daughter of the little girl in my photo. Just a few e-mails later and I was in contact with a woman named Betty Sinclair, Hattie's daughter, who wanted to purchase the photo for her son Tom.

Instead of selling Betty the photo I gladly gave it to her in exchange for information about my mystery girl Hattie. Betty in turn was happy to provide me with this info, along some additional photos of Hattie. Here's what she told me her mother...

Hattie LaMaster
by Betty Sinclair

My name is Betty Lou (Rowe) Sinclair and I am the daughter of Hattie Pearl LaMaster, born in Kent, Iowa, and Maurice Dayton Rowe, born in Macksburg, Iowa. My grandmother was Laura Bell Kilgore, wife of Walter W. LaMaster of Kent, Iowa. Grandmother Laura died when my mother was about five years old...

I have a picture of my mother as a baby and suppose she was about a year old. She was born August 25, 1905 and died on September 23, 1961 at 56 years of age. My father Maurice served in WWI and Mom worked for the Department of the Navy in WWII. They are buried next to each other in Arlington National Cemetery, VA.

After graduating from Creston, IA high school in 1920 Mom had two years at Cedar Falls Normal School and taught at the Zion, Iowa Consolidated School. According to her contract she was in the highest paid teacher category. After Mom and Dad married Dad worked as a Phoenix, AZ Motorcycle Police Officer. He then worked in Knoxville, IA at the VA Hospital until 1939 when he was transferred to Washington, D.C.. In 1940 the family moved there to join him. We lived in Arlington, Virginia for a few years and then moved to Maryland. During the war Mom went to work at the Navy Annex that borders Arlington Cemetery. She then transferred to the Hydrographic Office in Suitland, MD, where she had top secret clearance, drawing maps on starched linen fabric for Navy pilots to use for upcoming battles in the Pacific. In 1946 she transferred to Air Weather Service at Andrews AFB in Maryland, where she continued working as a draftsman. She worked there until her death at 56, of a heart attack.

My husband Rufus Sinclair, whom I met at Andrews AFB, and I were married on July 3, 1947, eighteen months after he returned from the CBI (China-Burma-India) theater in WWII. Rufus retired from the US Air Force and the US Civil Service Commission.

My folks had one other child: my brother Bill (Walter William Rowe). Bill died of cancer in 1993 at age 63. His wife Joanne still resides in Upper Marlboro, MD.


Hattie as a teenager


High School Graduation

Middle Aged

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