Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Great, Great Grandfather William M. Wallen

William M. Wallen (far right), son of Jesse B. and Louisa (Tyree) Wallen, and father of my paternal great grandfather, Oliver Morton Wallen

Front row (left to right) - Virginia Wallen, Zora Norton (granddaughter), Mable Norton (granddaughter), Sam Wallen, Virgil Norton (grandson), Louise Wallen * Back row (left to right) - 2 neighbor ladies not named, Fannie Wallen, Martha Wallen, Minnie Wallen, Sophia (Thacker) Wallen, William M. Wallen * Circa 1908, Wallen-Francisco Cemetery (probably), Wabd, Rockcastle Co., Kentucky.

Grandchildren listed are the children of Euna Ellen (Wallen) Norton who died in July of 1907. At the time of this photo, only Jesse was still living, the last of 9 children by William's first wife Serena. Sophia and the other children in this photo are William's second family.

My thanks to the Lyon family (descendants of William and Sophia) for the many photos passed on to me! I will be forever in your debt!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jimmy Rizzardi: The Illegitimate Grandfather - Pt. 3

Continued from part 2...

The rest of the Rizzardi story: a brief timeline 1922 - 2001

In 1922 Louise Rizzardi was living in Louisville. She sold soft drinks for a few years at 1600 W. Broadway and her boys clerked for her at times. Her husband was still residing in LaFollette.

1600 W. Broadway (May 2011)
In 1926, at the height of the roaring 20s, the LaFollette Coal, Iron and Rail Co. failed and operations ceased. James Rizzardi changed his profession from coal miner to furniture store merchant.

In 1927 Jimmy married his second wife, Mildred Roberta Longmire, daughter of George Emerson and Ida May Smith Longmire.

By 1930 Louise and James were divorced. Louise, still in Louisville, took in boarders at 534 Jefferson St. under her maiden name Hallet. At the same time, her son Jimmy, now a salesman for a sporting goods company, and his wife Roberta were living next door.  A year later Jimmy was listed in the city directory as a salesman for George Rizzardi Realty at 530 W. Jefferson, which was also his residence. It appears he was no longer living with his wife.

Louise remarried sometime after 1930. Her second husband's name was J. O. Adams.

In 1931 Jimmy married Maybird Elwina Hoover in Bradley Co., Tennessee. Maybird was the daughter of  John Wesley and Henrietta E. Settlemyre Hoover. It was the first of his three marriages to Maybird.

On August 30, 1931 Jimmy's father died at the Fort Sanders Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. James "Giacomo" Rizzardi's body was interred the same day as his death at the St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery in Williamsburg, Whitley Co., Kentucky, just a stone's throw over the state line from Jellico, Tennessee.

In 1934 Jimmy married Maybird a second time, this time in Jeffersonville, Clark Co., Indiana.

Sometime between 1935 and 1936 Florence took her 13 year old daughter, Florence Edna, to the Court House Grill & Bar in Louisville where together they confronted Jimmy, who was then the proprietor of that bar. I don't know the details concerning the confrontation, but Jimmy likely denied paternity.

In October 1936 Jimmy again married Maybird in Clark Co., Indiana, the third and final time.

In the 1937 Louisville city directory, Roberta is listed as Jimmy's wife. Their residence was 2621 Whittier Ave.  Did Jimmy marry Roberta again after his third marriage to Maybird just a few months earlier? Was he married to two women at the same time, one in Indiana, the other in Kentucky? Or was the directory using years old information? Nothing would surprise me.

Louisville during the great flood of 1937
In the early part of 1937, due to weeks and weeks of persistent rain, the Ohio river flooded it's banks in a big way. By March, seventy percent of Louisville was under water and 175,000 residents had to be evacuated. Many rescues were made by small boat. Jimmy was the proprietor of the Court House Grill and Bar in Louisville and his brother Louis owned a restaurant there. Louis and his family were among those who had to be rescued from the flood.

In December of 1937 Jimmy married Emma Belle O'Hara, daughter of Milton Cartwright "Mack" and Aurora Belle Howe O'Hara. Though records would indicate that Jimmy and Emma divorced before 1942, Emma's last name would remain Rizzardi until she died 40 years later. 

Louise Hallet Rizzardi-Adams died at St. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in March of 1938 after losing a week long battle with influenza. Jimmy was the informant listed on his mother's death certificate. Louise's body was interred at Calvary Cemetery in Louisville.

In the 1940 census Jimmy was listed as married and living in Bristol City, Washington Co., Virginia. No wife was listed with him but he had a male boarder and was the proprietor of a beauty shop and owned his own residence. The same year his only known legitimate daughter Marguerite, married Angelo Paul Triasco in Summit Co., Ohio. She was previously married to a man who's surname was Dally. Her mother, Lois Seivers Rizzardi, married a Yugoslavian widower named George Simon and was also living in Summit Co., Ohio.

In 1942 Louis Rizzardi, Jr. and his uncle Jimmy, now divorced and claiming no dependants, enlisted in the United States Army in Oglethorp Georgia. Their residences were listed as Nashville, Davidson Co., Tennessee. Jimmy stated he had a 1 year high school education, and his occupation was Hotel & Restaurant Manager. He was 5'8" and weighed 196 lbs.

Jimmy resided in Nashville until he died in March of 1974. His wife at the time of his death was Nancy Elizabeth Cobb Rizzardi. Jimmy's body was interred at Calvary Cemetery in Louisville. His brother Louis Sr. died in August the same year and his nephew Louis Jr. died the following year in June.

Jimmy and Lois's daughter, Marguerite, was last married to a man who's surname was Lane. Marguerite died in California in 1986. She had at least one child, a daughter.

Jimmy and Florence's daughter, Florence Edna, mother of my husband and his four siblings, died in 2001 without ever knowing her real paternal grandparents, James and Louisa, and of course she never knew she had an older half-sister, Marguerite. I certainly hope Florence Edna is not squirming in her grave over this public disclosure of the circumstances of her birth. In my opinion, and probably in the opinion of all who knew her mother, it was Jimmy Rizzardi who was the illegitimate one, not his daughter!

I am not able to include but a small percentage of information from the timeline I created because of the sheer length of it. The full timeline includes details of Jimmy's siblings and their families and his ex-wives and their families. I will be more than happy to supply more information and the sources for that information upon request.

As always, I am grateful for any additional facts or corrections that need to be made.


Jimmy Rizzardi: The Illegitimate Grandfather - Pt. 2

Continued from part 1...

Florence Polly Melvin decided to accompany her older sisters to the bar in Louisville that evening. She was different from her sisters; I think she probably always was...she had an innocence about her. Due to hardship, and a mostly absent and alcoholic father, Florence and her siblings had spent much of their childhood within the walls of the Louisville Industrial School, a house for orphans and delinquent children. Florence and her youngest sister had finally been released to family in 1919 while the older siblings had been released to live with their mother and seek employment seven years earlier. 

Jimmy Rizzardi was at the bar that night and I don't know any of the details, or even if Florence had ever seen Jimmy prior to that evening, but I can imagine that 22 year old Jimmy was probably a handsome lad and very adept at courting the ladies. He would marry at least five different women during his lifetime and one of those women he would legally marry three times!  Did he love women? Probably!

The way Florence told it: "Jimmy put something in my drink". But we all look at each other and nod our heads knowingly. Florence was never a drinker and she was just naive enough to suspect her drink had been spiked. I'm pretty sure she knew she was being served an adult beverage, but I'm also fairly certain she had no idea how alcohol might affect her; therefore, she believed there had to have been some extra "something" slipped into her drink to cause her such a mortifying loss of judgment.

A romantic encounter ensued. The alcohol allowed Florence to be sweet-talked by the charming young Jimmy; she didn't stand a chance, I'm sure. A few short weeks later, there she was: young, unmarried, and slowly waking up to the fact that she was pregnant. 

Florence's father had passed away while she was in the orphanage, and her mother, Eddy, had recently married a Louisville city policeman, T. J. "Jess" Price. Florence's only brother Bud, the oldest of her siblings, wrote to her mother and had this to say:

"As for Florence, I don't care what you do. She can have a dozen for all I care, as I haven't time to worry about her, and I'm not a good hand to worry. If she would not take ones advice once, I can't see how you could beat it in her to do right afterwards. That's just the way I feel about it, so tell Jess what he does for her will be appreciated regardless of how I feel."

It is uncertain exactly when Jimmy's wife packed up and left, taking their daughter with her. Jimmy was probably still legally married to Lassie during his brief affair with Florence...and I suspect he had many of these brief affairs during and in between his many marriages.

In September of 1922 Florence gave birth to a daughter, Florence Edna Melvin, Jr., and on the birth certificate Jimmy Rizzardi is clearly listed as the father.

Harvey J. & Florence Polly (Melvin)
Moore and her daughter
Florence Edna
Kentucky circa 1923
Less than a month after her daughter was born, Florence's childhood sweetheart, Harvey Moore, asked her to marry him, allowing him to give the baby his name. Florence agreed and she and Harvey were married on October 10, 1922. The name Florence Edna Melvin Jr. was eventually crossed out on the birth certificate, and Florence Edna Moore was penned in.

Harvey Moore died a little over seven years later in January of 1930 and in March that year Florence's sister Ruth wrote to her:

"I told him that Harvey stopped court trial over that baby and claimed it and knew you had it and promised to give her his name and protect and care for her and begged you to marry him so F.E. [Florence Edna] can rightfully claim anything that was his." 

(Ruth was married to Harvey Moore's brother William and this excerpt from the letter concerned a dispute with their father, Cornelius C. Moore, over property rights.)

This is where things got skewed. Florence and Harvey had been sweethearts long before her encounter with Jimmy. Some speculated that the baby must be Harvey's after all.  It appears Florence didn't insist on the truth being known at that time so the rumors persisted and after a while I think even those who once thought they knew the truth, were now confused.

A little over a year after Harvey's death, Florence married Elza Scott, the man that all her grandchildren would know as their grandfather.

Concluded in part 3...


Friday, January 17, 2014

Jimmy Rizzardi: The Illegitimate Grandfather - Pt. 1

My attention was divided between the two adults in my kitchen and my children, a baby and a toddler, who were making just enough noise that I couldn't hear everything that was being said. I clearly remember the expression on her face though, just like it was yesterday. Florence wasn't even five feet tall but the spark in her eye was commanding. As she gazed up into the face of her grandson her expression left no doubt; what she was about to reveal was important and she wanted to make sure he was listening with both ears. Perhaps she feared it was too late to tell the truth and that we were going to think she was senile. But no, this woman was sharp as a tack up to the day she died, and we all knew it. 

Florence P. Melvin Scott
My husband respectfully leaned down closer to his grandmother and gave her his full attention. Like her grandson, Florence was soft spoken, so all I heard of the conversation was the name "Rizzardi" and "He put something in my drink" and "I told Jimmie (another grandson) too"...and finally: "I want all you kids to know the truth".

Well...we had all suspected the truth for years but it had been covered up more often than not, stubbornly painted over and brushed aside by those who knew. But the rumor had been around so long that we knew there was something to it. Now, in her late 70s, Florence was determined to put an end to the rumor and make sure that cat would never crawl back into the bag.

So now here it was 1980 and the rumor was finally fact. Out-of-wedlock births were no longer the big scandal they were thirty years ago; however, this event took place a full sixty years earlier so I can only imagine how difficult life must have been for my husband's grandmother, who was only a teenager at the time.

Florence died in 1989 and a few years later I started researching the genealogy of our families, but it was still several years after that before I even considered doing any research on my husband's illegitimate grandfather, Jimmy Rizzardi. The first search turned up just enough information to get me hooked on the hunt, and over the years I have put together quite a timeline on Jimmy's life and that of his parents, his siblings, his many wives, and his one known legitimate daughter. When merged with the timeline I created for Florence, and with two telling excerpts from family letters, there is no room left for doubt about her story; not like there ever was any doubt really, but just in case!

A brief history of the Rizzardi family 1866 through 1921

Jimmy's father was James Joseph Rizzardi, Jr. (some records, and his tombstone, list him as "Giacomo" - which is the Italian version of James). He was born in Italy on October 17, 1866. His death certificate gives his father's name as James J. Rizzardi and states that both his parents were born in Italy.

James married Marie Louise Hallet between 1886 and 1889. The Flemish speaking Louise was born in Liege, Belgium on St. Valentine's Day in 1870. According to passport applications, James immigrated to the U. S. from Havre, France around 1887, and Louise immigrated still later, between 1888 and 1890. The different sources of data are only slightly conflicting so these dates are approximate, but fairly close. I don't yet know if James and Louise were married over seas or in the U. S., but it is likely they were married both places. They would marry each other twice more before they finally divorced.

Between 1890 and 1895 Louise had given birth to two daughters, Angelina and Annie, and one son, Gustav or Gastin, all born in Pennsylvania.

James Rizzardi received his U. S. citizenship in Greensburg, Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania on the 31st day of July 1897.

From information obtained from passport applications and other documents, it would appear that James and his pregnant wife left Pennsylvania early in January of 1900. On January 30, 1900, James and Louise's fourth child, James Joseph "Jimmy" Rizzardi III was born in Joliet, Will Co., Illinois and in April that same year, in the same county, James and Louise married again.

By early June of 1900, the Rizzardi family had landed in LaFollette, Campbell Co., Tennessee, an area that had been known as Big Gap Creek just a few years earlier. There, they lived in a rented house and James found employment as a coal miner with the newly established LaFollette Coal, Iron and Railway Co. It is very likely that James had been a coal miner during the years he lived in Pennsylvania. Many immigrants of all cultures would come to LaFollette for employment opportunities offered by the town's founders. In 1900, the town of LaFollette had a population of 300. By 1920 there had been a significant increase to a population of 3000.

In 1902, Louis, the fifth and last of James and Louise's children, was born. In late 1905 or early 1906, James made a trip back over seas and returned in late May 1906 on the ship "La Provence". In April of 1908, he and Louise were married once again in Campbell Co., Tennessee, and by 1910 James owned his own farm in La Follette. (All records appear to indicate that there were no divorces between marriages up to this point.)

In March 1913 Louise and son Jimmy sailed to Liege to visit her parents and returned about 4 months later aboard the ship "Kroonland".

In October of 1917, young Jimmy Rizzardi married his first wife, Lois Gladys "Lassie" Seivers, daughter of Samuel Smith and Mary Elizabeth Norman Seivers. In September of 1918 Jimmy filled out a WWI draft registration card. On it, his occupation was listed as receiving clerk for the American Express Co. In October that year Jimmy and Lassie's daughter, Marguerite Madalon Rizzardi was born. The young family lived with Jimmy's parents in LaFollette.

In May of 1921 Louise made arrangements for another visit to see her parents in Liege. She left in June from the port of New York on the Red Star Line, this time alone.

In late December of 1921, at a bar in Louisville, Jimmy Rizzardi seduced the impressionable and inexperienced 18 year old, Florence Melvin.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

In The Beginning...... Year 4: Maybe This Year!

As I begin my 4th year of blogging about my family history and genealogy, I find myself winding down and writing has become more sporadic. This past year I was down to posting an average of four times per month. As this year progresses I hope to start writing about some of the hard, but important topics that I've been putting off.

Maybe this year I'll finally tell the story of my maternal aunt Lela, the aunt my siblings and I didn't know we had until we were in our 20s. Up until then, we all thought our mother was an only child. I've put Aunt Lela's story off because I have so pathetically little to tell really. There's a host of unanswered questions. Any who knew her are now gone and there doesn't seem to be anyone left to pump for more information. Not only that, but probably most, if not all records concerning Lela's sad life have been destroyed with my mother's consent.

Maybe this year I'll get the rather incredible story told about my husband's "illegitimate" grandfather, that Italian, woman loving, seducer of his sweet, young, and innocent grandmother. My husband's niece, Dana, made a special request that I tell this story soon...after all, something could happen to me and then no one would have the details to tell it like I can.

Maybe this year I'll finally finish transcribing the diary of my paternal great grandfather, Oliver Wallen. That will surely bring about more stories to tell! It would also please a few family members who have waited patiently to read the full version instead of the partial, tampered-with version created by Oliver's daughter Sula. Sula meant well and it was her efforts that made the diary known to the rest of the family and her version is what eventually interested me in our history.

I suppose my blogging will slow even more this year than last, but there will always be new stories to tell as long as I'm still working on the genealogy and history of my family...and I've been doing that since 1995, with no intention of stopping..ever! There are always new cousins with which to confer and share, and exciting new photos of ancestors surface from time to time as do new record sources. I am always amazed at what each new year brings. The story never ends! 

Maybe this year will be the most exciting year of all!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: William N. Runyan 1860-1885

William N. "Willie" Runyan - b. 25 May 1860 - d. 4 Jun 1885
Brother of my maternal great grandfather, Robert Noah Runyan
Died at age 25 - Buried Spiceland Friends Cemetery - Spiceland, Indiana


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: John and Mary Martin

John was the brother of my paternal great, great grandmother Ursula Ann (Martin) Davis Burnette. His wife was Mary Martha Thompson, daughter of John and Sarah (Debord) Thompson. They were married in Pulaski Co., Kentucky on 17 Nov 1867.

Mary Martin b.  29 Oct 1844 d. 3 Nov 1907 - John Martin b. 1 Jan 1843 d. 7 Nov 1875
Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Pulaski Co., Kentucky


Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Covert Burial of William Jesse Wallen

I suppose I can let this little story slip and not get anyone in trouble since the two concerned are now dead. It's probably not all that unusual an act but I'm pretty sure what the siblings, Sula Splitek and Hobart Wallen did was illegal. I just happen to think it was a darn good idea and I admire them for their daring!

William Jesse Wallen circa 1960
Sula and Hobart's brother William Jesse Wallen, my paternal grandfather, died in Tuscon, Arizona in 1976. This is the story concerning his burial that Sula told her nephew Charlie Wallen, taken from Charlies's genealogy notes:

"During a conversation between Sula and my wife and I at her home in Elsinore (California) in 1985, she related the following: She and her brother James Hobart went to Tuscon, Arizona upon being notified of their brother William's death. They claimed the cremated remains of William and took them back to Sula's home in Elsinore. Then came the question - what to do with the remains? Neither one of them had much money, so, according to Sula, one night they took the remains to the Elsinore Cemetery and dug a hole into their brother Charles' grave and put William's remains in it. Knowing Sula, I tend to believe this story. I leave it here for what it's worth.
     Charles H. Wallen"

What I find especially amusing is that Sula and Hobart were both in their 70s when they entered that cemetery after dark to make their covert burial!


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Rockville Road Barber Shop

My maternal grandparents, Lawrence and Fern (Newby) Runyan moved around a lot. Before they were married they both lived in Henry Co., Indiana. After they were married they lived in Marion Co., then Delaware Co., then back to Henry Co., and finally back to Marion Co. again. And that's just what I see in the census. My mother told me of other moves that weren't recorded by the census!

The photo below is of my brothers and I in front of the Barber shop next to the house my grandparents lived in on Rockville road in Indianapolis. It was the last place they lived before moving to Florida to be with us.

Terry (Bob), Lisa, and Mike Wallen August 1953
In front of the Barber shop - corner Rockville Rd./Lynhurst Dr.
Indianapolis, Marion Co., Indiana

You can barely see in the upper left, the typical barber's pole on the side of the building. The candy striped cement post I am sitting on is one of many that went along the entire store front. There is an alley in front of us between the house and barber shop where my mother is standing to take this photo.

Here's a second photo of just my brothers from a little better angle to see the shop front and the line of cement posts. Brother Mikey would never let loose of that cigar box, he carried it everywhere!

Mike and Terry (Bob) Wallen August 1953
In front of the Barber shop - corner Rockville Rd./Lynhurst Dr.
Indianapolis, Marion Co., Indiana

This last picture shows my grandparents house and the barber shop as they look today. It was a big disappointment. Progress is ugly.

Their house is now an income tax company and the barber shop is a law office. The house was truly unrecognizable. The front porch has been enclosed and painted that ugly green, there's a large addition to the back of the house that wasn't there, siding has been added, and they've done something to the side where the windows were. The cute little back yard with the garden lined path back to Grandad's tool shed is now a parking lot. You can still see the old barber shop cement posts, now plain white, in this photo and the store front glass looks the same as in the photos above. This building hasn't changed all that much.

Old Rockville road Runyan residence and barber shop building today via Google Earth

That house was were my first, and maybe only, memories of what a basement smells like came from. I loved it and I'll never forget that smell. It was dark, damp, and cool down there, something you northerners take for granted, but a rare experience if you grew up in Florida. My grandmother caught a turquoise blue parakeet in the back yard here. She named him Sassy because he bit her fingers. Then she gave him to us and we had him for a long time.

After my grandparents moved to Florida, true to form, they changed residences at least three or four times, maybe more!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Shadrack Cundiff 1802-1858

Shadrack Cundiff b. 1802 Pulaski Co., KY - d. 1858 Nelson Co., KY
Son of Meshack and Elizabeth (Dale) Cundiff, md. Sally Stillwell 1822
Maternal 3rd great grandfather of my husband Mike


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Great Grand-Aunt Mary Susan (Davis) Denny

Mary Susan is a bit of a mystery in our family. She was the oldest sister of my paternal great grandmother, Sarah Francis (Davis) Wallen-Livesay. Their father, John Miller Davis, died in 1880 when the sisters were all very young. Mallie, the youngest sister was only 2 months old. Almost four years later their mother, Ursula Ann (Martin) Davis, married Cornelius Donaldson Burnette and soon the three sisters gained four half-siblings, three more sisters and a brother.

Mary Susan was only 16 when she married James Wilson Denny in Rockcastle County, Kentucky in 1891. She and James moved to Avon, Hendricks Co., Indiana and that is where their first son, Thomas Lee, was born. Their second son, John Wilson, was born in Pulaski Co., Kentucky and then two daughters, Retta May and Lola Edna, were born in Hendricks Co, Indiana.

Shortly after 1901 it became clear that something had happened to Mary Susan as she is no longer in the picture. In his diary, my great grandfather, Oliver Morton Wallen, husband of sister Sarah, stated that Mary S. Denny and one of her half sisters had come to visit them mid-March of 1901 and that is the last time her name is found. James Denny remarried in 1904 and started a new family so I am left with the conclusion that he and Mary Susan divorced. If she had died, the family would surely have some knowledge of it.

Family Group Record
In going over my grand-Aunt Sula's genealogy records for the family I found something that I had overlooked these many years: there was a note at the bottom of their Family Group Record that Mary Susan's sons Thomas and John were left deaf and dumb after having had Scarlet Fever. This is why I found Thomas in Allen Co., Indiana in a home for simple-minded youth in 1910. However, Thomas filled out applications for WWI and WWII and although he was listed as partially dependent on the first, there was no mention of any disability other than two missing fingers on the second. He also went on to marry and raise a family. On John's WWI application, he is listed as being deaf and dumb and in 1910 he is in Marion Co., Indiana in a home for the deaf. Mary Susan's daughter, Lola Edna, was living with an older woman as a servant in 1910. She was only 12. I do not know what became of Retta May. She and her mother are a total blank after 1901.

In an e-mail with my paternal grand-aunt Myrtle, age 90 at the time, she asked what I knew about Mary Susan. She had been told that Mary Susan "left the family and disappeared when hardly out of her teens". When I told her what I knew about her, Myrtle indicated near disbelief that her aunt Mary Susan had interaction with the family into the turn of the century: "I was surprised by all that information about her, because Mother definitely gave me the impression that she just went off and had no other contact with the family.  I think that was what Sula thought too.  The only solution I can think of is that what she did when she left home was so thoroughly disapproved of by the family that they cut her off and had no other connection with her, even though your newspaper articles indicate that she visited my mother years later.  I wish I had asked some questions about my mother's early life but I was only 10 or 12 or 14 and was interested only in myself, God help me."

Sula knew about the births of the children when she was working on the family history back in the 1960s because she had them all listed on Mary Susan's family group record and Sula got most all her information by contacting family members. Mary Susan was slightly older than "hardly out of her teens", as Myrtle thought all those years because she was 26 years old in 1901 when we last hear of her.

If Mary Susan did something to displease the family, it wasn't very likely that it was her youthful marriage to James Denny. James was a local boy and, from the few excerpts mentioning him in Oliver's diary, he seemed to be an accepted member of the family. Could it be that Mary Susan left James and her children for purely selfish reasons? I wonder if I can ever know.

Other than "Denny", some of James and Mary Susan's descendants have the surnames Northcutt, Barrickman, Hine, and Isenhour. Maybe there is at least one that can enlighten me about their ancestor, my great grand-aunt Mary Susan. I'd love to know the rest of the story!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Samuel Grunden: Racism in Mercer Co., Ohio

In 1835 Augustus Wattles, a native of Connecticut, purchased 190 acres of land in southern Mercer Co., Ohio and, just a few years later, founded a school, the Emlen Institute, for the support and education of colored boys of African and Indian descent. By 1838 Wattles had purchased a total of 30,000 acres in Mercer county and proceeded to found a settlement to be colonized by freed blacks from Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

Emlen Institute

This large influx of coloreds was objected to by the white residents of the area and a number of disturbances broke out, reaching a climax in June of 1846 when word reached the neighborhood of the coming of 400 more blacks, the freed slaves of John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia.

The freed slaves arrived in Cincinnati and were transported by canal boats as far as New Bremen. Whites from Auglaize and Mercer counties assembled together and every able male citizen of the township of New Bremen joined in forming picket lines, refusing to let the boats land. The would-be settlers had no choice but to turn back. This organized group of whites was led by Silas Young and Samuel Grunden.

When I first read this story I was startled by those two names.  My ancestor was Samuel Grunden and he lived in Mercer Co., Ohio during that same time period! I also knew that two sons of Philip Young had married into the Grunden family, also in Mercer Co., Ohio, and that the two families were close.

With further research, I realized that my ancestor was too old to have been the Samuel Grunden who was vice-captain of this resistance group. Samuel was nearly 70 years old in 1846. The vice-captain was likely his son Samuel Jr., brother of my ancestor Joseph. *(Please see update at the end of this post) I am not yet sure how the captain, Silas Young, is related to the Young family connected to mine, but I have little doubt that he is connected in some fashion.

Severe racial friction finally took it's toll and the Emlen Institute closed it's doors in 1857.  In 1866 many of the freed slaves left for Liberia, South Africa, while another portion of them was successful in making a settlement in Montezuma in Franklin Township.

Cleveland Plain Dealer
3 Dec 1916
It's an interesting story and it doesn't end there. In 1907, descendants of the slaves of John Randolph tried to regain the land that was purchased for their ancestors. It was a 10 year battle which they eventually lost.

This is just a very brief summary of the story of the Wattles Negroes and it's briefness is not meant to marginalize these lives or the efforts of Augustus Wattles and others, but rather to bring attention to what I think is probably a lesser known story of racial conflict that took place before the civil war. 

While I'm not proud that members of my family were involved in this racial stand-off, it is history, and it is what it is.


Winter, Nevin O. "Mercer County." A History of Northwest Ohio: a Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress and Development from the First European Exploration of the Maumee and Sandusky Valleys and the Adjacent Shores of Lake Erie, down to the Present Time,. Vol. 3. Chicago: Lewis Pub., 1917. 513. Print.

"Kansas Bogus Legislature - Augustus Wattles." History of Western Ohio and Auglaize County, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Pioneers and Prominent Public Men,. Columbus, OH: Press of W.M. Linn & Sons, 1905. Kansas Bogus Legislature - IntroductionWeb. 04 Feb. 2011.

Mathias, Frank F. "John Randolph's Freedmen: The Thwarting of a Will" The Journal of Southern History Vol. 39, No. 2 (May, 1973), pp. 263-272 Published by: Southern Historical Association Stable URL:

Woodson, Carter Godwin. "Vocational Training." The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861: a History of the Education of the Colored People of the United Sates from the Beginning of Slavery to the Civil War. Belle Fourche, SD: Kessinger, 2004. 294-95. Print.

*Update: I have to admit to a bit of sloppiness on my part at this point. I assumed Samuel Sr. was too elderly at nearly 70 years of age, to be vice-captain of such a group. Had I checked my own notes I would have seen that Samuel Jr. was in Clinton Co., Indiana before and after this incident took place, so it is extremely unlikely that he was at all involved. Unless there was another Samuel Grunden in the area, it would have indeed been Samuel Sr. who led this group along with Silas Young. (Kudos go to cousin Phil Grunden, descendant of Samuel Jr., for bringing this to my attention!)


Monday, December 31, 2012

Military Monday: Uncle Billy A. Wallen

Happy New Year to all! I am finishing out the year with a couple of photos of my paternal uncle, (my only uncle), Billy Athol Wallen, circa 1955, when he served our country as a Paratrooper in the U.S. Army. Isn't he a handsome fella?

Billy A. Wallen circa 1955 - U.S. Army
Billy A. Wallen -Paratrooper- U.S. Army

Thanks for your service Uncle Bill!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Charles Alexander and Josie (Bean) Logsdon

Charles Alexander Logsdon, son of William and Alice (McIlvoy) Logsdon, married Ann Josephine "Josie" Bean on 4 Sep 1878 at St. Charles Church in St. Mary, Marion Co., Kentucky. 

Josie was the daughter of Ignatius Eulogius "Logan" and Margaret (Warren) Bean. Josie was the great granddaughter of Clotilda (Vincent) Bean who I have written about before. 

Charles Alexander and Ann Josephine (Bean) Logsdon circa 1878
Charles and Josie had 8 children before Josie died in 1907; Alice, Herman, Josie, Agnes (Sister Baptista), Charlie, Leslie, Marie, and Lillie. Leslie was my husband's grandfather. Leslie died young, before his children were grown.

Photo courtesy of the descendants of Herman Logsdon, particularly John F. Hagan with whom I have had the pleasure of corresponding.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Daniel and Lucinda (Tyree) Walling - Beyond 1860

Lucinda Tyree was born in Scott Co., Virginia in 1838. She was the oldest daughter of Jesse and Rosanna (Roberts) Tyree. Her father was the uncle of my maternal 3rd great grandmother, Louisa (Tyree) Wallen. 

Lucinda married Daniel Walling, brother of Louisa's husband Jesse B. Wallen, in Rockcastle Co., Kentucky in 1854. (Wallen and Walling were interchangeable within my early family and I use here the spelling carried on by descendants of these siblings.)

In late 1861, or early 1862, Daniel, Lucinda, and their two sons William and James, left for Indiana along with Daniel's father William II, and his brothers, William III and Isaac, and their families. Eventually, they all came back to Rockcastle Co., Kentucky except for William III and his family.

Daniel and Lucinda had a third son, Daniel W., born shortly after arriving in Indiana. It appears that Daniel Sr. was having an affair with a young woman in Indiana, Nancy McCloud, who gave birth to a son, Connard Walling, in 1871. Daniel and Lucinda then show up in the Rockcastle county tax records in 1872 through 1875. By 1877, Daniel had returned to Indiana to wed Nancy, daughter of George W. and Eunice (Bray) McCloud. By this time young Daniel was about 15 years old and Connard had just turned 6.

In 1880 Lucinda and her two youngest boys turn up in Rawlins Co., Kansas and she is listed as divorced. In undated Rawlins county homestead records she is listed:  Walling, Lucinda - Section NE 20, Twp. 5,  Range 31. In 1885 they are all three listed again in the Rawlins Co., Kansas state census, Jefferson Township. This time, Lucinda is listed as widowed.

Lucinda and Daniel's oldest son, William Jesse, married Kitty Mahala Houston in Rockcastle Co., Kentucky in 1873. Instead of going to Kansas with his mother and siblings, he and Kitty went to Nebraska to live and years later they would move to Wyoming. They had a dozen known children, three born in Kentucky and nine born in Nebraska.

Daniel and Nancy would have a total of 5 children together before Daniel died. His last child was born in 1885 and it is thought that he likely died prior to that birth or shortly after. Death and burial records have not yet been discovered.

Lucinda seems to disappear after that 1885 state census. I have seen a death date and place of 1892 in Kentucky in unsourced research on, but, as of this date, those researchers seem to be completely unaware of anything about Lucinda or Daniel after 1860; not the move to Indiana, the birth of Daniel W., the out-of-wedlock birth of Connard, the return to Kentucky, nor the split of Lucinda and Daniel or Daniel's return to Indiana and marriage to Nancy. Neither do they know of Lucinda's move with her sons to homestead in Kansas. If they don't know any of these things, where does this death date come from? Ancestry makes it impossible to know who said what first. 

Did Lucinda and her sons construct a sod house like this one?
I wanted to tell Lucinda and Daniel's story just because of how it seems to come to a stop at 1860 everywhere else...just because there was a lot more to their lives, and because pioneer women like Lucinda are fascinating, homesteading on her own with only her two boys...young men at the time. I wish I could know more. Did she and her sons construct a sod house, like so many other homesteaders? Did she, perhaps, remarry, or did she die of hardship and get buried in an unmarked grave? Could she have died in 1892 after moving back home to Kentucky? So many questions I hope to have answered someday!

*Update* Thanks to my distant cousin Nan Harvey, Tyree researcher extraordinaire, I have the source for the 1892 death date for Lucinda Tyree Walling! From "The Tyree Trail With Allied Lines of Adams and Blair" by Ella Rae Wilson Coleman, Gateway Press 1987 " pg. 44: Lucinda Tyree, b. 11 November 1838 in Scott Co., VA., d. 1892, Rockcastle Co., KY, m. in Rockcastle Co., KY on 24 July 1854 David (sic) Wallen.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Harvey J. Moore and Family

Harvey J. and Florence Polly (Melvin) Moore
and  her daughter Florence Edna
 Kentucky circa 1923


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oliver's Diary: The Death of Sister Lucy 1901

The very last entries in book #1 (of 4 books) of Oliver's Diary, tell about his sister Lucy's illness and her death approximately a week later. Oliver's mother, Serena (Sutton) Wallen, probably had tuberculosis long before the birth of her first child. Serena would give birth to 9 children before she died at the age of 35. All 9 of her children died fairly young. The local newspapers attributed each of their deaths to Tuberculosis.

The first of William and Serena's children to die was Emiline. Emiline died in 1879 at the age of 4. In 1886, between six and seven years later, and about a year after her 9th child was born, Serena passed away. At least she did not have to bear the sorrow of seeing the rest of her children suffer from illness and death. 

The second child to die was Mary. Mary was a young mother at the time. She died at age 33 in 1895. The third child to die was Louesa in 1896 at age 19. Fourth was Lucy, the subject of this post. Lucy died in 1901 at the age of 17. Fifth to leave the famiy was Sarah Elizabeth in 1905 at age 25. Sixth to go was Willie in 1905 at age 19. Seventh to pass away was my great grandfather Oliver in 1907 at age 36. Oliver was a father of five children, my grandfather and two sets of twins. Eighth to go was Euna Ellen in 1907, another young mother, age 35. The ninth and last to leave was Jesse Uriah in 1917, at age 44, never married. Father William outlived them all, passing away in 1922 of heart disease, leaving a second wife and six more children.

Oliver does not give as much detail in Lucy's death as he does with Sarah Elizabeth and his youngest sibling  Willie . This is the record he leaves us in his diary about his sister Lucy's passing in the year 1901:

Mar. 8 – Went to Dr. Isaac’s and got a truss he had ordered for me. Went from there to Grandma’s and staid all night. Found sister Lucy very low. 

Mar. 9 – Staid at Grandma’s until noon. Came home. 

Mar. 10 – Sunday. Feeling very tough. At home all day.

Mar. 11, 1901 – Jess came out to see me, said Lucy was worse. He went home after noon.

Mar. 12 – Mary S. Denny and Cordia Burnette came out to see Sarah. I got a message from Jess, said Lucy wants me to come and baptize her. I went and baptized her at 4 P.M. Bro. John Cash assisted me. Staid all night at Grandma’s. Lucy very low. 

Mar. 13 – Went to Maretsburg to meet Dr. M. L. Bryant. He came to see Lucy. Staid all night at Grandma’s. 

Mar. 14 – Staid at Grandma’s with Lucy until after noon, then came home. 

Mar. 15 – John Norton and Ben Price came after me, got to my house at 4 A.M. Said that Lucy died at 1 A.M. I went to Grandma’s and ate dinner, from there to R. L. Bray’s and helped to select a place to bury Lucy. Staid at Grandma’s.

Lucy (C.) Daughter of W. M. Wallen
B. Aug 15 1883 - D Mch 15 1901
Wallen/Francisco Cemetery, Wabd, Kentucky

Mar. 16, 1901 – Lucy was laid to rest by the side of sister Lieuesa at ½ past 12 o’clock. There was not any funeral service. Bro. John Cash led in prayer. The choir sang “Where is now my brother dear”. Lucy gave us good evidence that she was going to rest. While we grieve to give her up, we rejoice to think she is with Jesus. And so may the Lord take us all. 

Rest in Peace, great grandaunt Lucy!