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