Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Wishes for 2012

Best wishes for 2012 to all my family and friends!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Nativity: Early 1950s Family Heirloom

This nativity scene has been around almost as long as I have.  Mom told me that, because she didn't have the money to buy the whole set right away, she saved her money and bought the pieces a little at a time. She purchased the stable, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the manger the first year and each year after that Mom purchased another piece. These figurines were bought at our local Ben Franklin store, a "five and dime", within walking distance of our home. Over the years, Mom added the Angel, the Three Wise Men, the standing camel with the colorful saddle, and the three tiny chalkware sheep. That was it, that's what we had. Mom and I re-glittered the star several times when I was a child and Mom even had extra straw for the roof in case it needed replenishing. I still have that little vintage bag of extra straw.

When I got married and had children of my own, Mom decided to pass the nativity scene on to me, and I have displayed it proudly each and every year.

I have always enjoyed antique shopping and I was forever visiting antique malls and flea markets looking for vintage items. One Saturday, when visiting the Wagon Wheel flea market, I spotted the vintage figurine of the Shepherd Boy carrying the lamb on his shoulders. I remember how excited I was to purchase it, and that satisfying feeling I had when I made a place for the old figurine in the nativity scene the following Christmas. After that, I was on a mission to look for more pieces from the same time period that would match the rest of the collection. 

Over a period of about six more years, I purchased the rest of what you see in the photo: the burro, the camel laying down, the standing brown camel, the oxen laying down, and the donkey laying down. Some are plastic, some are chalkware, but they are all from the same time period. Most still have the little purple ink stamp on the bottom that gave the original price which was usually between 15 and 39 cents each. 

There has never been a year since the early 1950s that this nativity scene has not been on display. Sure, there are some dings and missing paint on some, but each figurine is cherished. Every year, I wrap each one carefully in tissue and pack it away under the guest bed...never in the attic where most of the other Christmas items get stored and where it gets hot. I want this nativity scene to last a long time and I hope it will always be cherished as much as I have cherished it. I will pass it down someday, to someone who will love it as much I have.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: James John Trowbridge 1933

Death of James J. Towbridge

Knightstown Banner
May 5, 1933 pg. 8 c. 1 & 2
     James J. Trowbridge, age 82 years, died at Charlottesville last Friday morning at 8:30 o'clock of a complication of diseases, coupled with heart trouble. He is survived by one son, Arthur Trowbridge, at whose home he died; a daughter-in-law and one grandson also survive.
     Funeral services were held from the late residence at 10 o'clock Sunday morning, conducted by Rev. Omer Hufferd. Burial was at Curry's Chapel cemetey, in charge of O. M. Wilson, undertaker.
   Those out-of-town attending Mr. Trowbridge's funeral Sunday, were Mr. and Mrs. Joe Miller; Mrs. Genoa Holland of Knightstown; Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Runyon and daughter of New Castle; Mrs. Charles Newby and son Charles of Spiceland; Mr. and Mrs. Joe Emay, of Dunreith; Miss Ina Harrison; Mr. and Mrs. Claude Downey and son George of Fountaintown.

James John Trowbridge was the son of William Bradford and Julia Ann (Duncan) Trowbridge. He was married to a distant half-cousin, Sarah Elizabeth Trowbridge, daughter of John and Phoebe (Cook) Trowbridge. (Phoebe Cook married two distantly related men named John Trowbridge. Sarah is daughter of the first husband, I am a descendant of the second husband, John Calvin Trowbridge.)

Relationships to out-of-towners mentioned above: 

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Miller - Joseph F. and Estie (Trowbridge) Miller, Sarah Elizabeth's niece and her husband.

Mrs. Genoa Holland - mother of Estie. Genoa's first husband was Albert Franklin Trowbridge (brother of Sarah), and second husband was Edwin Holland.

Mr. and Mrs Lawrence Runyan and daughter - my maternal grandparents, Lawrence and Fern (Newby) Runyan and my mother, Janet Runyan.

Mrs. Charles Newby and son Charles - Ida May Newby and son, Morris Henry (mistakenly listed as Charles), my great grandparents, parents and brother of Fern Runyan.

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Emay - not sure.

Miss Ina Harrison - sister of James and Sarah's daughter-in-law, Myrtle (Harrison) Trowbridge (wife of Arthur Manuel Trowbridge).

Mr. and Mrs. Claude Downey - another sister and brother-in-law of Myrtle Trowbridge.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Loren Yancy Newby

Obituary Knightstown Banner dated Apr. 25, 1924 pg 1, col. 3

Death of L. Y. Newby

     Loren Yancy Newby, aged 73 years, died at his home in this city, Saturday morning at 4:30 o’clock of leakage of the heart. He was born in Greensboro, Ind., but had lived most of his life in Knightstown. Besides his widow he is survived by two children—Gurney Newby, of Gary, Ind., and one daughter, Mrs. Pearl Pollitt, of Gwynneville. Mr. Newby had been sick for some time. He was the son of Jacob N. Newby, removing from Greensboro to Knightstown in 1872.
     L. P. Newby, of this city, is a brother, and Mrs. Will Carroll, of Shirley, a sister of deceased.
     Mr. Newby was an active man until a few months ago. For several years he was a poultry buyer for the W. G. Brosjus company and also for Midkiff Brothers.
     The funeral was held from his late home Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock, conducted by Rev. Hartsuck, of the Friends church. Burial was made at Glencove cemetery in charge of C. F. Baxter, undertaker.

Loren Yancy "Yank" Newby was the son of Jacob N. and Lavina (Leonard) Newby and the brother of my great, great grandfather, John A. Newby. He was married to Mary Florence Evans in 1877. He had one son, Carl Geurney b. 1881 who married Fame O. Haas, and one daughter, Alma Pearl b. 1879, who married 1)  William O. Smith and 2) Harry L. Pollitt. 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Pansy: Daughter of Strother and Flora A. (Lindamood) Newby

Strother Newby was my maternal great, great granduncle. Just recently I received two articles from the The Knightstown Banner concerning his death and I learned more about Strother from those two articles than I ever would have dreamed. (See the articles and transcriptions at this link: The Gruesome Demise of Strother E. Newby - 1915.)

Pansy Newby circa 1913
The second, very short article, held a real surprise for me. Strother had a daughter, and her name was Pansy. In 17 years of research I had not found documented evidence that Strother had any offspring, other than his son Everett by his first wife. Pansy eluded detection probably due to the fact that Strother and Pansy's mother Flora divorced and, for whatever reason, Flora's older sister Mary and her husband Truman Goldsbarry took over Pansy's upbringing. Pansy had been born in 1889 and her mother remarried in 1891. No amount of research has turned up anything on Flora or her second husband after their marriage, at least not yet.

Corporal Truman Goldsbary
Pansy lived with her aunt and uncle until they died. It is hard to tell how much interaction she may have had with her father or her Newby aunts and uncles during those years. She lost her closest family within a period of four years. Aunt Mary died in 1913, her father Strother died in 1915, and her uncle Truman died in 1917. Mary J. (Lindamood) Goldsbarry had given birth to three children but apparently they all died young. Pansy is listed living in the Goldsbarry household in 1900 and 1910 as their niece and the only child. Truman and Mary Goldsbarry are buried in the Lewisville Cemetery in Lewisville, Henry Co., Indiana where they resided all their married lives. Truman was a civil war veteran and his photo appears in my very own antiquated and quite rare copy of "Hazzard's history of Henry County, Indiana 1822 - 1906".

Oddly, Truman's youngest brother died a similar death to that of Pansy's Father. Alexander Goldsbary was crushed under the wheels of a train in 1902.

The Goldsbarrys saw to it that Pansy received a good education. She is found in the yearbooks of Spiceland Academy and Normal School as early as 1900. Pansy is later found listed many times in the 1913 "Arbutus", a yearbook of Indiana University. Pansy was quite involved in all aspects of school life. Listed under her photo in the Arbutus - Latin; Y.W.C.A. Cabinet, '12-13; Women's League Board, '13; Student Council; Strut and Fret; Student Staff; Secretary English Club; Socialist Club; Franchise League; and Class Prophet. Pansy graduated from Indiana University in 1913 with a Bachelor of Arts in Latin. The photos of Pansy are all taken from this issue of the Arbutus.

In the Indiana University Bulletin, Vol. 15, issue 5, pg. 179 - Pansy is listed as a 1913 graduate, teaching English and Latin at a high school in Pennville, Jay Co., Indiana.

In the school year 1918-1919 Pansy took over the Journalism class and supervised the publishing of "The Register", the school newspaper, at Morton High School in Richmond, Indiana. This information was found in the school memory book "The Pierian", June 1921, pg. 64.

On September 1, 1919 Pansy married Clinton A. Stevens, also a teacher, and shortly afterwards they moved to Springfield, Illinois where they both taught school. On his death record (1946), Clinton was listed as Principal of Douglas school.

Pansy is mentioned in the Indiana University Alumni Quarterly, Vol. 1, pg. 192 as a graduate and again in Vol. 7, pg. 128 as "Mrs. Clinton A. Stevens" who was teaching English at the high school in Springfield, Illinois.

Strother's son Everett by his first wife, Rhoda Ellen Musselman, was born in 1875. Like Pansy, it seems that Everett may also have been raised by someone other than his parents. Strother and Rhoda were divorced by 1880 and Everett was living with a Kemper family at that time.  Everett married Maude A. Crose in New Castle, Indiana in 1908 and they had two children, Raymond Virgil and Viola May. Everett moved his family to California and died there in 1941.  He was divorced from Maude at the time of his death.

Note: Truman's surname Goldsbary is spelled with two rs on his tombstone and is often spelled with an e instead of an a in other documents.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Roy L. Trowbridge 1911 - 1969

Roy L. Trowbridge

Obituary: Knightstown Banner - pg. 8, col. 3 - dated April 10, 1969:

Roy Trowbridge, 58 Henry Co. Native

     Roy L. Trowbridge, 58, of Charlottesville, died suddenly Sunday morning at Hancock County Memorial Hospital.
Obituary of Roy L.
Knightstown Banner 1969
     Born in Henry County he was the son of Arthur and Mabel McNew Trowbridge and had lived in Charlottesville since 1944. He was a member and Elder of the Charlottesville Christian Church.
     Mr. Trowbridge was employed at the Columbia Barber Shop since 1947 and was a member of the Barbers Union and secretary of Local 212. He was an Army Air Force veteran of World War II.
     Survivors include his wife, Irene; two daughters, Marsha and Pamela Trowbridge, at home; a half sister, Mrs. Julia Landes; two half brothers, William and Dude Badgerow, all three of Michigan.
     Services were held Wednesday at Pasco Memorial Mortuary with Rev. John Rhoades and Rev. David King officiating. Burial was in Glen Cove Cemetery in Knightstown.

My maternal great grandmother, Ida May (Trowbridge) Newby and her sister, Millie (Trowbridge) McMullen, were particularly fond of Roy's father Arthur, their half-nephew. (See Art's obituary at this link: Sunday's Obituary: Arthur Manuel Trowbridge 1944. I would love to hear from descendants of Roy's daughters, Marsha and Pamela.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Gruesome Demise of Strother E. Newby - 1915

Strother was the son of Jacob N. and Lavina (Leonard) Newby and the brother of my maternal great, great grandfather, John A. Newby. He was born in Henry Co., Indiana in 1849 and he was married three times and divorced twice. It is likely Strother would soon have been divorced for the third time had death not claimed him first. Strother married Rhoda Musselman in 1874, Flora Alvin Lindamood in 1888, and Laura Agnes (Colley) Haugh in 1894. Laura Agnes' daughter who is mentioned herein, was Lulu M. Haugh, wife of Lawrence Merton Hiatt.
Streetcar photo via The Commons
on Flickr

When I first saw this shockingly descriptive article, my first thought was: "Why didn't my mother ever mention this terrible incident?", but of course Mom probably never knew a thing about it since the grisly accident took place about 10 years before she was born and may not have been talked about in her family. 

From the Knightstown Banner, dated May 7, 1915 - pg. 1, col. 1.


Former Knightstown Man Instantly Killed by Street Car in Indianapolis. ---Brothers Reside Here.

     At an early hour Thursday morning last Strother Newby, sixty-six years old, a brother of L. P., John and L. Y. Newby, was killed by an outgoing East Washington street car, near New Jersey street, Indianapolis. He had spent the night at an East Washington street hotel and was crossing the street when he was killed. Newby formerly lived in Knightstown and was well known by our older people. By reason of two or three accidents which had happened to him during the past ten years, he was a cripple and moved about by the aid of a crutch and cane. The body was horribly mangled and crushed by the car wheels and death was instantaneous. The car was running at a high rate of speed and after the accident ran more than one hundred feet before stopped. A large crowd collected and it required several policemen to force the people back from car tracks. Newby's head was crushed, his skull being fractured on both sides, his body was cut to pieces, his left foot was severed from the body and his right foot was left hanging by a thread. The car was in charge of Russell Nevitt, conductor, and Clinton Hart, motorman. They were among the first to reach the body which was left a few feet behind the car when it stopped. The latter was so overcome by the sight that he almost fainted and would have fallen but for the assistance of those near him. Newby and his wife, Mrs. Agnes Newby, had not been living together for sometime and she had been staying with her daughter, Mrs. Lawrence Hiatt, at 223 South McKini avenue.
Add caption
     Richard A. Poole, coroner of Marion county, said: "There was nothing to prevent the motorman from seeing this crippled and deaf old man, who was crossing the track. He was walking with cane and crutch, making it instantly apparent that he was feeble and that caution should be exercised. In addition, the car ran for more than 100 feet before it was stopped after striking the man, indicating that it was running at excessive speed. The old man was dragged along beneath the car and literally cut to pieces by the wheels."
     One witness declared the car ran 125 feet after striking Newby before it stopped and that the gong was not sounded.
     Clinton Hart, the motorman, said that his car was running at a speed of not more than six miles an hour. His gong was sounded, he said. The cripple walked into the street with his head down and paid no attention to the approach of the car, according to Hart.
     Newby's funeral was held from the parlors of Blanchard & Moore, funeral directors, Friday afternoon at 2 o'clock, burial being made at Crown Hill.

On the same date, but on page 4 of the Knightstown Banner, I found a second column about Strother's death and funeral. Until this article, I was not aware that Strother had any offspring, other than his son Everett by his first wife. It seems he had a daughter, Pansy, by his second wife Flora.

     L. P. Newby, John A. Newby and L. Y. Newby, three brothers, of this city and a daughter, Miss Pansy Newby of Lewisville, were at Indianapolis Friday afternoon to attend the funeral of Strother Newby, who was killed by a city street car Thursday morning on East Washington street. However, the daughter, by missing a city car was too late for the funeral, and she reached the cemetery just as the grave was being filled up.

Strother was buried without a tombstone in Crown Hill cemetery in Indianapolis, Marion Co., Indiana.

Strother's daughter, Pansy, was born in 1889. Her mother, Flora, married George W. Keiser in 1891 and I do not (yet) know what became of Flora after that. Pansy is found living with Flora's sister Mary J., wife of Truman Goldsbarry, in 1900 and 1910. Pansy married Clinton A. Stevens in 1919 and moved to Illinois where the couple had at least two children: Chester A. Stevens and Margaret V. Stevens. I would love to hear from descendants of this family.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Myrtle (Harrison) Trowbridge

Myrtle (Harrison) Trowbridge
Daughter of George Washington and Martha Elizabeth (Gunn) Harrison, wife of Arthur M. Trowbridge, step-mother of Roy L. Trowbridge. Myrtle was born Sep. 14, 1887 in Sedgwick Co., Kansas and died in Whiteland, Johnson Co., Indiana.

Obituary: Knightstown Banner pg. 1, col. 3 dated April 7, 1955.

Former Charlottesville Resident Dies At Whiteland

Obituary of Myrtle Trowbridge
Knightstown Banner 1955
Mrs. Myrtle Trowbridge, 67, a former resident of Charlottesville, died Thursday, March 31, in the Johnson County Memorial Hospital. A resident of Whiteland, she was the widow of Arthur Trowbridge.

Funeral services were held Saturday afternoon from the Burkhart Funeral Home in Greenwood, and graveside services were conducted at 4:15 p.m. at Glen Cove Cemetery.

Surviving are a step-son, Roy Trowbridge, Greenfield barber; two sisters, Ina Harrison, Fountaintown, and Mrs. Claud Downey, Fairland; two brothers, Homer Harrison, Indianapolis, and Clay Harrison, Greenfield.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Thursday


Today is Thanksgiving Day and I am thankful for the immigrants, the new Americans, who struggled for freedom and a better way of life so that their descendants could live and prosper in a country free from tyranny. I am thankful for those that continued that struggle and for those that protect our freedom today. I am thankful that I live in what is, and always has been, the greatest country in the world, America!

And always, and every day....

I am thankful for the Sacrifice and the Promises of God.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Art Trowbridge and Family

Wedding photo of Arthur Manuel Trowbridge
and Mabel (McNew) Trowbridge (parents of Roy L.) - 1904 Indiana
Roy L. Trowbridge - b. March 25, 1911
Left to right: Roy L. Trowbridge, his step-mother Myrtle  (Harrison) Trowbridge,
and his father Arthur M. Trowbridge - circa 1922 Indiana

Photos from the collection of my maternal great grandmother, Ida May (Trowbridge) Newby.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Arthur Manuel Trowbridge 1944

Art Trowbridge was the son of two distantly related Trowbridges. His mother, Sarah Elizabeth Trowbridge, was the half sister of my maternal great grandmother, Ida May (Trowbridge) Newby. His father was James John Trowbridge.  In her will, Ida May's sister Milla, divided her household goods equally between her sister Ida and her nephew Art. Art married Mabel McNew, daughter of Moses Elwood and Harriet C. (McDougal) McNew, and they had one son, Roy. Art and Mabel divorced and Art later married Myrtle Harrison, daughter of George Washington and Martha Elizabeth (Gunn) Harrison.

Knightstown Banner, pg. 1, col. 6 - June 16, 1944

Former Charlottesville Barber Dead
   Arthur M. Trowbridge, 62, nightwatchman at the Johnson County highway garage, was found dead in the office of the barn by his wife Sunday. The Johnson County coroner pronounced death was due to a heart attack. Mr. Trowbridge formerly operated a barber shop in Charlottesville where he was well and favorably known. The survivors are the wife and one son, Ray [sic] Trowbridge, serving with the armed forces somewhere in Australia. The funeral services were held Tuesday morning at ten o'clock at the home of Henry Widvey in Carlottesville. Burial was made in Glencove cemetery.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Grandpa Wallen's Stolen Chevrolet Touring Car 1926

1925 Chevrolet Touring Car
Thanks to this online Decatur Review newspaper, now I even know what my grandfather drove when my dad was 5 years old, cool!

Apr. 11, 1926 - Decatur Review
     William J. Wallen, R. R. 5, "Homewood Place," reports that his Chevrolet touring car was stolen Saturday night while he was in town. The car's license number is 155-533.

Apr. 23, 1926 - Decatur Review
Had Auto Stolen From W. J. Wallen - April 10.
     J. D. Allison of Cero Gordo was arrested in Grant Park Thursday, having in his possession the automobile stolen from W. J. Wallen in Decatur on April 10. There was another man with Allison, but he got away. Allison is wanted in Piatt county for jumping his bond in another case and he will be tried there first. He denied taking the car, crediting the theft to the man who escaped. The latter's name was not learned.
     The automobile stolen from Wilbur Etchison on April 4 was found in Vandalia Thursday.

1925 Chevrolet Touring Car


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Lake Decatur Four, WJBL Radio Quartet

Decatur Herald
Dec. 20, 1930

   William Wallen of Gushard's, radio department, and the Lake Decatur Four, radio quartet, are sponsoring a musical entertainment next Tuesday evening for the bnefit of the Salvation Army's Christmas basket fund. Admission to the entertainment will be 10 cents and 25 cents. All proceeds will be urned over to the Salvation Army.
   The Lake Decatur Four, who are Mr. Wallen, Melvin Bateman, Floyd Myer and Donald Linton, singers over WJBL, head the program. Bryan Bradshaw and Mr. Hudson will play duets on Hawaiian guitars. They also are WJBL stars. Robert Black, pianist, will offer piano numbers. Paul and Scott Gessaman and William G. Shepherd will present a musical comedy act. Jackie Carroll will whistle. Bill and Mell, harmony team from WJBL, will sing.

I never had a chance to know my paternal grandfather, William Jesse Wallen. He and my grandmother divorced when I was very young and he moved away, married another woman, and never kept in touch with us. I don't remember ever seeing him, even one time. My mom said I did, but I was just a baby.

Decatur Herald
Sept. 14, 1930

Two years after I started into genealogy, my dad's first cousin Charlie tracked me down and we became research partners in our Wallen family history. My dad was still alive then and was tickled pink to hear I'd teamed up with Charlie, he hadn't seen Charlie since they were kids.

A few years after my dad died, I was talking with Charlie on the phone and he mentioned that my grandfather used to sing. It was the first I ever remember hearing about that. I asked my mother what she knew and she beamed and said, "Yes, Bill could sing! He had the most beautiful tenor voice and he used to sing in a quartet!". Of course, since that time I've heard more from other members of the family about my singing grandfather. Imagine my delight when I discovered these newspaper articles from old Decatur, Illinois newspapers today!

Gushard's was a dry goods store in Decatur. I didn't know until I found these two articles today that my grandfather worked in the radio department there.  
Full page ad in the Decatur Herald for Gushard's Dry Goods Store
September 14, 1930

I know I've said it before but I'm saying it again: 
I LOVE digging through old newspapers!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Killing of Brack Thacker 1908

Brack Thacker was the step brother of my paternal great grandfather, Oliver Morton Wallen. His killer was 60 year old John Calvin Graves who had been a neighbor for many years. Oliver mentions J. C. Graves numerous times in his diary. Sometimes J. C. wasn't particularly amiable, sometimes he was. I think he might have been a bit cranky after he got older.

Mt. Vernon Signal
Aug. 7, 1908
"John Graves shot and instantly killed Brack Thacker near Graves home Wednesday morning. Graves is a well-to-do farmer, and is about 60 years of age, the deceased was about 25 years. Bad feeling had existed between the parties for some time. The circumstances immediately preceding the trouble as told us by Coroner John Taylor, who held the inquest over the body of Thacker, are these: Graves and his son, Rome, were at their barn and Thacker, who lived nearby came to Mr. Graves' peach orchard, climbed a tree and was knocking peaches, when Graves told him to get down. Thacker did so, got his shot gun and started toward the barn where Graves and his son were working with a crippled mule. What words took place just before the shooting we are unable to say. The only eye witnesses were Thacker's wife and Rome Graves, yet Mrs. Thacker says she run in the house just before the shooting took place. Graves came to town Wednesday afternoon and surrendered and is now under guard. His examining trial is set for to-day."

Later, we have the outcome of the trial:

Mt. Vernon Signal
Aug. 28, 1908
"John Graves had his examining trial Monday for the killing of Brack Thacker a few weeks ago, and was discharged on the grounds of self defense."

Twice in Oliver's diary he speaks of disagreeable encounters with J. C. Graves and his double barreled shotgun:

John C. Graves
"May 23, 1900 – Got up in the morning and found Ben Price’s mules in my meadow. These mules were running on Mr. J. C. Graves’ pasture and them and his mules had been getting in the meadow. I went down to see Mr. Graves to get him keep the mules out, we got mad and fought. I got the best end of the fight but did not hurt Mr. Graves very bad."

"June 4, 1900 - ....Came home and went to turning ground for millet on some land that papa and I had rented from Mr. J. C. Graves.  Mr. Graves came out with a D. B. shotgun and ordered me to quit the field but I plowed right on."

Other times all seemed well between the neighbors. 

I do believe Brack (aka Robert) Thacker may have had a few screws loose. Two years before he was killed, he tried to commit suicide over lost love...

Mt. Vernon Signal
Aug. 3, 1906

"Robert Thacker, aged about 22, a step-son of W. M. Wallen, having been disappointed in love, decided that life was not worth living and attempted to end his life by firing a bullet from a 32 caliber revolver in his right breast, the bullet passing through the lung. The last report stated that he was in a very critical condition, but would probably recover."

And then there was the time, just a couple of weeks before Christmas in 1907 that Brack was fined $25 for disturbing religious worship.

Within a year after his death, Brack's mother and my great, great grandfather, William M. Wallen, packed up their family and moved to Beeville, Texas. 

Time for a change of scenery....and neighbors, no doubt.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sophia Thacker Wallen and Son: The Step Family

My paternal great, great grandmother, Serena (Sutton) Wallen died in 1886 and left 8 children for her husband, William M. Wallen, and his mother, Louisa (Tyree) Wallen, to care for. Serena's parents were both dead by this time, as was William's father.

In the diary of William's oldest son Oliver, my great grandfather, Oliver stated that in February of 1887 his father left their little community in Wabd, Rockcastle Co., Kentucky and went to work for a surveying company in Pineville, Bell Co., Kentucky and then, in 1889, he wrote his father was in Clay Co., Kentucky working for W. W. Duffield, a civil engineer. A bit of research produced several biographies on William Ward Duffield, previously a Civil War General and a Michigan State Senator (1879-1880) who had graduated from Columbia College in New York City in 1843 with a degree in civil engineering. According to Duffield's biography, he was engaged to make important surveys in Kentucky in the counties of Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Leslie, Clay and Perry during the decade from 1884 to 1894, so I think it is safe to say that William was working for W. W. Duffield in Bell Co. in 1887 as well as in Clay Co. in 1889. 

While William was away from his children he would send money home to them for clothing and school. In 1892 William married Sophia "Sofa" Thacker, daughter of William and Elizabeth (Britton) Thacker. Sofa was born in Clay Co. and was the same age as her new step-son Oliver, both having been born in 1870. Sofa already had a son that, I assume, was born out of wedlock, named Brack Thacker. Brack was born in 1885 when his mother was only 15. An article from the Mt. Vernon Signal in the early 1900s suggests Brack's first name may have been Robert.

After William's marriage to Sofa, according to Oliver: "from that time he never helped us any more so Jessee and I had to look after the children".  Unfortunately, he forgets to give Grandma Wallen credit for the huge part I'm sure she played, since all the children were living under her roof. Aunt Myra Sutton, the children's maternal spinster aunt, moved in with them in order to assist in the children's care.

It is unclear exactly when William moved back to Wabd with Sofa and Brack. He was still in Clay Co. in the fall of 1894 when Oliver says his father got the promise of a teaching position for Oliver's brother Jesse at a school "in Clay Co. near where he lived". Oliver's daughter Sula (Wallen) Splitek, my grandaunt, was the first to do research on our family and Sula thought William and Sofa's children were all born in Rockcastle Co. However, Minnie Wallen was born in 1893 so it is very likely she was born in Clay Co. and it's certainly possible her sisters Martha, born in 1895, and Fannie, born in 1897, were born there also. Oliver doesn't mention his father again until January 2, 1900 when he says "Went to Papa's and got a scalding tub...", indicating his father was again living in Wabd. Unless I missed something, even the newspapers don't mention William again until 1902.

William and Sofa had six known children, Minnie b. 1893, Martha b. 1895, Fannie b. 1897, Virginia b. 1900, Samuel b. 1903, and Louise b. 1905. Then, I discovered this year that there was a seventh child. According to the Mt. Vernon Signal, dated February 28, 1902: "The little child of Wm. Wallen died on the 23rd." This doesn't tell us the birth date or the sex of the child and I have found no other record of his/her birth, death or burial. It is my opinion that he/she was very likely born between Virginia and Samuel in 1901 or early 1902.

Oliver only mentions Sophia twice in his diary. On two consecutive days, July 16th and 17th, 1902, when he and his brother Willie were sick: "Papa and Sofa came out." and: "Papa and Sopha went home." He mentions Brack three times in context with doing certain chores together. Never once does he mention the births of his half siblings or the death of the child in 1902. I don't believe the lack of mention was deliberate or that there was any animosity towards his step family and half siblings; in fact, I don't get that impression at all. Oliver simply failed to mention many important life events in his diary.

Oliver and the rest of the family, including his grandmother, aunt, and an orphaned niece, left Wabd, Kentucky and headed for Kempner, Texas in 1905. William and Sofa and their children moved to Beeville, Texas after Sofa's son Brack antagonized a neighbor and got himself shot and killed in 1908. Details of the incident and a brief look into the temperaments of the killer and the victim will be in an upcoming post.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day: Honoring The Patterson Patriots

In honor and recognition of 6 patriots, the sons and grandson of Robert and Mary (Root) Patterson of Fayette Co., Illinois, who served in the Mexican and Civil War.  

Civil War Infantry - U. S. National Archives

Mexican War  
Private, Co. E, 3rd Illinois Infantry
Civil War  
Corporal, Co. F, 130th Illinois Infantry - Camp Butler
DIED Sept. 5, 1863 at Carrollton, LA

Mexican War
Private, Co. E, 3rd Illinois Infantry - Camp Butler
DIED Nov. 6, 1846 at Carmago

Civil War 
Private, Co. I, 106th Illinois Infantry 
Sep. 17, 1862 - July 12, 1865

Civil War 
Private, Co. F, 130th Illinois Infantry - Camp Butler
Private, Co. F, 77th Illinois Infantry
Oct. 25, 1862 - ? (Taken prisoner - Camp Tyler, Texas)
Civil War 
Private, Co. F, 130th Illinois Infantry - Camp Butler
Private, Co. H, 130th Illinois Infantry
Oct. 25, 1862 -  ? May have died during service.

ROBERT W. PATTERSON (son of John, age 15) 
Civil War 
Private, Co. F, 130th Illinois Infantry
Private, Co. C, 130th Illinois Infantry
Private, Co. F, 77th Illinois Infantry
Feb. 27, 1863 - Aug. 15, 1865

Robert Sr. and Mary (Root) Patterson were my paternal 3rd great grandparents. Their daughter Mary Ann (Patterson) Townsend was my great, great grandmother. These men were her brothers and nephew.

Happy Veteran's Day to ALL U. S. Veterans and thank you for your service and sacrifice to keep America free.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Those Places Thursday: On the Steeples of Louisville

Bud Melvin - St. Peter's steeple
It wasn't all that easy to identify this church. All I knew was that it was a photo of Charles Walter "Uncle Bud" Melvin up there, working on the side of the steeple. (Click photo to enlarge.) I thought the church was most likely in Louisville, Kentucky since that is where Bud lived but it could just as well have been in southern Indiana or Ohio. No one in the family could remember.

I dragged the photo file to Google Images in order to let Google find it for me but I had no luck with that so I continued doing my own searches there. I made search after search on three consecutive days and on the third day I was finally successful in finding a drawing that matched the photo and the church web site that went with it. Sure enough, it was in Louisville on Jefferson street; St. Peter's United Church of Christ. (Click here to compare the drawing of St. Peter's United Church of Christ done by Mr. Forrest Steinlage, member of St. Peter's). Nowhere did I find another actual photo of the outside of that church, even after I had the name to search with.

I don't know the exact date of the photo. The square photo with the scalloped edges (cropped from my photo here because of damage) would lead me to believe it was taken in the late 1940s or early 1950s. By 1930, and likely much earlier, Bud had become a Tuckpointer, or a Stone Mason who specialized in tuck pointing. I am not certain when he decided to specialize in steeple work as a Steeplejack as well.   

Bud Melvin - Churchill Downs
An undated newspaper clipping tells how Bud and his crew re-installed one of the twin spires of Churchill Downs that had been damaged by lightening. From this clipping, which is probably from the same time period as the photo above, I would suppose that Bud, who was born in 1896, was doing this type of work for his entire working career, certainly through middle age.

First Unitarian Church
In another clipping, dated November 1, 1947, Bud and W. T. Shackelford are shown doing repairs to the steeple of the First Unitarian Church on S. Fourth street in Louisville.

Finally, I have a photo of Bud and his sister Myrtle, dated 1957. As you can see from the advertisement on the side of his car, Bud, age 61, is still in business. I would assume by that time his crew was doing the high steeple work. However, Bud's grand nephew, my husband Mike, is still climbing scaffolding and high ladders at the age of 64, much to my dismay. I think it's time to let his crew do that.
C. W. "Bud" Melvin and his sister Myrtle 1957