The Naming of Ladysmith
goldfish is one year old now. Before she was given this goldfish she heard this
story from her Grandmother, Georganne Robb Welty, about Keely's great great
grandfather, Thomas Robb. Keely named her goldfish "Ladysmith" in
honor of the story.
Robb grew up in America but his family had come from the Island of Ireland in
Great Britain. He moved to Salina, Kansas to start a farm and raise a family. Kansas is
in the middle of the 48 United States.
there were so few trees for lumber to build a house in Kansas, Thomas dug a hole in the side of
a hill for his family to live in. In those days in the grassy lands of the
prairie, people built sod houses. Sod is the dirt of the grassland but it is not
just crumbly earth. It is so packed with the roots of the grasses that grow in it
that it can be cut out of the ground as bricks. Once he had built his house Thomas
Robb began to farm the land around his sod covered hole in the ground.
Kansas it is very hot in the summertime. Thomas Robb did not want his family's supply of meat to spoil in the summer heat so he did what other people did to keep meat fresh. He dug another hole in the ground and filled it with the winter ice that he chopped out of the nearby Smokey Hill River. This ice stayed frozen through much of the summer and kept his ice cellar cool. It was the family's refrigerator.
* * *
Robb was a loyal American, but he was also loyal to his family's old country
Great Britain. In 1899 a war broke out between Great Britain and the people of
Southern Africa called Boers. Thomas Robb wanted Great Britain to win this war
but his children wanted the Boers to win. Because Africa was many thousands of
miles away it was easy for the family to forget how terrible war is and to cheer
for one side or the other.
The British soldiers captured a town called Ladysmith that belonged to the Boers. The Boers wanted their town back but it was full of British soldiers. The Boers laid siege to the town. This meant that they surrounded it and would not let anybody out and would not let any food be taken in to the town. They wanted to starve the British soldiers into surrendering.
All summer long newspapers told the world about the siege at Ladysmith. Thomas Robb and his family in Kansas followed the story closely. Thomas Robb cheered for the British soldiers in the town but Thomas's children cheered for the Boers. Everyone wondered if the British soldiers would surrender their town to the Boers. Thomas hoped the British would send reinforcements ( that means more soldiers ) to save the town. Thomas Robb's children hoped the Boers would force a surrender.
* * *
That Summer one of the farm's cows gave birth to a calf.
The family decided to name the calf "Ladysmith" in honor of the
besieged African town.