More about Rose McKeen and Zillis

Hello Marisa,

My name is Karen McKeen Saunders, I am Rose McKeen's other daughter. (Rose had four children: Rosemarie, Bill, Jack and Karen. Bill predeceased my mother.)

My brother Jack told me about your blog last night, it is a fascinating piece of work....a family history quilt of information, if you will.

I did write an article about Elsbeth Polin and her work as a photographer in San Luis Obispo. It was published in Westways Magazine in October, 1979. I borrowed pictures from my mother Rose Polin McKeen and her cousin, Katherine Coates (who also helped with information and anecdotes) about their aunt. No article was ever published in the Union Oil magazine, Seventy Six, about Elsie Polin. I was editor of that magazine for several years, so that is where the confusion might have occurred.

Besides Cullen Coates letter about the Civil War, my great grand father Martin Polin wrote down his memories of his war experience: "Memories of the Civil War: April 4, 1892 - February 24, 1863." It starts out that it was written to his son O.M. "Oscar" Polin. The original of that story is owned by my brother Bill McKeen's family. My siblings and I have copies of the original.

I also have one of the large Romanish Bibles (1718) which my mother owned.
I also have correspondence to my grandfather, Oscar Martin Polin, from his various relatives. Oscar, from what I can tell (I never met him, he died soon after I was born) kept everything...including every tooth he pulled as a dentist in San Luis Obispo County. Included are letters from Joe (his letters from Mexico are typed, so they are faint but readable), Annie (in Canada), and Elsie. There are also all the bills, businesses he dealt with buying dairy cattle and more. I am slowly sifting this correspondence.

Information about Switzerland

Sebastian Polin and his brother (I do not remember the name) were prominent in politics in the area. They also had a home in Chur, the political center of that area. They lived with their sister Rosa, I believe they were all unmarried.

My family (husband John, and sons Scott and Chris) and I visited Zillis in 1999. I found an English speaking teacher who lives in Zillis to help us find out about our family. She was able to find a building still standing that was the building the family visited as they moved the cattle from the lower pastures to the higher pastures during the year. Using old photographs, as we had in a previous visit, we located a home which I believe was the Polin family home on the far side of the town. The teacher told us that a few years previously some children were playing and brought home some old Roman coins. Their parents wanted to know where they found the coins, the children showed them a cave and excavations found a cave with three Roman skeletons very near to where the Polin house still stands. We were able to visit this site. There is another home in Zillis with the name Polin painted on the side, none of our old photos resemble this home.

The teacher pointed out that if we drove to the other side of the valley and drove into the hills we could get a photo of all of Zillis, including where the family had moved their cattle. We did get this photo and used it in our Christmas cards that year. I still have some copies of the photo, but it is film, not digital. If you wish, I could locate one and mail it to you.

When my mother wrote her book Parade Along the Creek, she wished to share it with her Mexican cousins. My sister (Rosemarie), brother (Bill) and his wife (Fay )and my husband and I were asked to deliver a copy of the book to the cousins in Ensenada. We met with Rogerio, the father of the owners of Papas and Beer, and his wife. They gave us a wonderful tour of the city and were a wonderful host and hostess.

Karen Saunders
Glendale, California

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