Saturday, July 8, 2023

On Account of My Husband, Parents and Little Boy

Chapter One: Discoveries

Bert Parmaster had been engaged to haul rubbish from Salvation Army Maternity and Rescue Home at Des Moines, Iowa. He began this task about three o’clock on the afternoon of 4 April 1916. From initial wagonload, dumped that Tuesday at Southeast Sixth Street bridge, the site’s Dump Master discovered an infant’s body.

Black and white bust portrait of William Edward Weaver (1870-1961) in uniform, undated
A person undisclosed telephoned police. Assistant Chief William Edward Weaver (1870-1961, left), with Sergeant Sherman E. Delmege (1881-1953), hurried to the corpse.

According to Des Moines Register and Leader front-page reporting, the pair “hastened in pursuit of the driver of the wagon and overtook him.” Parmaster disclaimed any knowledge of having hauled dead baby to dump site: he was, however, able to point investigators to place where debris had piled ... along east side of Rescue Home barn.

Newspaper clipping with photo of West: ‘Mrs. Fred West’s Maternity Home.’ 26 Nov 1905 - The Des Moines Register and Leader, p. 22, cols. 6 & 7.
Images enlarge when clicked.
Townsfolk may have kept an eye on haulings from Rescue Home ash pit. Nine years earlier, February 1907, Clara Belle (Eduards) West (1870-1951, right), Proprietress of Oakdale Lying-In Hospital (which had earlier been a Salvation Army maternity operation) was put on trial for similar abomination. She and her Nurse Anna Beattie (1890-1978) were arrested “for allegedly using the sedative Laudanum to kill blind ‘Baby Jim,’ then incinerating his body in the furnace and dumping the remains in the cinder pile,” per
Zeller. The City had gone into paroxysms, tamping down on ‘baby mills’ among anti-vice initiatives also targeting prostitution and liquor.[2]

Bust photograph, ‘Claud H. Koons,’ 21 Apr 1917, Des Moines Register, p. 3, col. 2.
Police in 1916 called Claude H. Koons (c1888-1917, left), Mortician for Patrick, Selover, Knight & Hamilton. Koons was in second term as Polk County, Iowa Coroner.[3] He apparently observed crime scenes and saw remains removed to the funeral parlor.[4]

English-born Salvation Army Adjutant Edith E. Dennis (b. c1863), Superintendent of the Home, declared “after viewing the body that she could throw no light on the child’s identity.[5] She said it was her belief that the body had been left on the rubbish pile Sunday night by some woman who wished to dispose of her child.” This may have been based on observations lent by Captain Alice Morrow and Ensign Ida Alhstrow, also employed at the Home: they “heard a horse and wagon, back of the barn, shortly after midnight Sunday night,” and were “of the opinion the body was left by the person driving the wagon.”

Group photograph, William and Rosa Barton, standing with another seated, c1930.
Washerwoman Rosina Theresa ‘Rosa’ (Gash, Miller) Barton (1881-1956, right) greatly advanced investigation. Austrian-born Barton accompanied police officers and a Register reporter, and “positively identified the blanket in which the child was wrapped. She said the blanket belonged to Mrs. Anna Duty, who stayed at her house for several weeks. She is the wife of Ben Duty, a laborer.” (The itinerant pair did not own horse or wagon, however.)

Barton was firm: she declared couple “constantly were quarreling.” She informed that the husband had threatened to leave his wife if she did not get rid of the baby. “It became so that I could not stand it any longer and I had to ask them to leave. They neglected the baby and I believe the child starved to death after they left my house. I am positive the baby in the undertaking establishment is the same child.”

Barton provided crucial but daunting leads. “The man said, when he left, that he would ship one of his trunks to Chicago and the other to Minneapolis.”

The Evening Tribune at Des Moines incandesced in later edition. Front page, column 1 headline decried “NURSES LEARN IDENTITY OF BASKET BABE.” By their account, “Little One Found Dead at Army Rescue Home” had been “FOUND ONCE BEFORE IN STARVING STATE.”[6] (I never found authorities referencing a basket; the child – initially, at least – might have more logically been bruited as 'Blanket Baby.')

And, where there is heat, might also be enlightenment: Miss Adah Louisa Hershey (1880-1947), Superintendent of Des Moines’ Public Health Nursing Association, with Miss Minnie M. Bush, Assistant Secretary for Associated Charities of Des Moines, described 18 March “rescue which resulted in saving the little one from starvation.” (Eighteen days earlier.)

c1909, black and white postcard by Enos P. Hunt: Methodist Hospital, Des Moines, Iowa.
On advice from the Polk County Physician, nameless infant of undisclosed gender had been taken to Iowa Methodist Hospital (right). It was discharged 25 March “as strong enough to be cared for at home by the mother. Nurses at the hospital … said the baby gained several pounds during the week it was there and was able to assimilate its food. Mrs. Dudi, say the nurses, frequently visited the baby and displayed sincere motherly affection.”

There can be no question about the identity of the Dudi baby,Nurse Hershey pronounced. I believe the mother really loved the child but the father did not want it and said he would not live with his wife if she kept the baby.

C. M. Young, Secretary of the Iowa Humane Society, had occasioned a grand jury to try facts on Ben Dudi’s alleged desertion.[7] Indictment had been returned. According to this report, husband and wife had been arrested on complaint filed in Juvenile Court. “They were charged with willful desertion, the mother being accused of purposely failing to care for her baby.” No adjudication was described.

Undated black and white portrait photograph of Roy J. Chamberlain (1888-1968) in uniform.
Perhaps credit for doggedness is due Des Moines Police Detective Roy J. Chamberlain (1888-1968, right). Chamberlain subsequently traced his quarry, “by means of their baggage, to Chicago. He arrived there after they had left but discovered that the pair was in Minneapolis and expected money from a relative. He then wired the Minneapolis police, who took the two into custody at the St. Anthony Falls bank” on 8 April. The Minneapolis Journal reported Chamberlain arrived at the Twin Cities the following day, to extradite Mr. and Mrs. ‘Bergen Dude’ “to face a charge of strangling their six-weeks-old daughter, Rose.” The tale had grown even more sordid: “It was first believed by the Des Moines police that the child, in a weakened condition, had been tossed on the heap to die of starvation. Investigation by the coroner [Koons] is said to have indicated that the baby was strangled.” Chamberlain may have been emotionally invested: the former Minnie Shicker (1888-1964) was due to deliver their first child, daughter Margaret, on 10 August.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune declared the dead baby girl was named ‘Rosa.’ As for identification, it wouldn’t be until 13 April that the Journal would cite records sufficient for me to identify defendant Bolesław ‘Ben’ Duda (1884-1963). Wife was depicted as Anna (Garbacz) Duda. (‘Mrs. Anna Duty,’ above.) I, perhaps mistakenly, believe spouse to have been Rozalia ‘Rosa’ (Rudnicki) Duda (b. c1887), mother of baby Rosa.[8] By then the English-language-proficient but not-yet-naturalized Catholic Poles in Des Moines jail had legal representation.

Black and white bust photograph of William M. Nash dated 14 April 1918.
Brothers, partnered Minneapolis attorneys John P. Nash, Jr. (1881-1922) and William M. Nash (1882-1934, right), mustered a defense. [9] Minneapolis Health Department record had certified an infant death, 2 April. (Two days prior to discovery of Des Moines corpse.) Attending Minneapolis Physician (Iowa-born) Richard James Phelan (1876-1925) “gave a description of the father and mother, which tallied with that of the prisoners taken to Des Moines.” Dr. Phelan had pronounced “bronchial pneumonia was the cause of death,” in Minneapolis Tribune reporting.[10]

Headline 'DEATH TANGLE BABIES TO BE SIDE BY SIDE,' 15 April 1916 – Des Moines ‘Evening Tribune,’ p. 1, col. 4.
Three Des Moines witnesses had identified body there as the Dudi baby. Three witnesses in Minneapolis averred Duda baby had been interred northward. Chillingly, Koons proposed “The only way to settle it, is to take the Minneapolis body to Des Moines, lay the two side by side and have all the witnesses look at them.” Press frenzy at Des Moines thrilled at macabre prospect.

On 13 April the Polk County Attorney ‘demanded’ Minneapolis cadaver be exhumed. Koons arrived at the city two days later … with or without the Basket Baby’s corpse. Hennepin County Coroner Gilbert Carl August Seashore (1874-1951) promptly authorized Minneapolis disinterment.[11]

“The grave was opened in a drizzling rain late yesterday, five days after the body of Rose Dudi was buried at St. Mary’s cemetery, April 3,” reported Sunday Journal ... from front page at Minneapolis, 16 April. With Koons were Dr. Phelan, attorneys Nash, reporters, and no doubt morbidly curious onlookers.

“Resemblance between the exhumed body and that found on the refuse heap at Des Moines is so close Coroner Koon said that he readily understood how those who confused the two arrived at their conclusions” the Journal announced. The Tribune at Minneapolis contended Koons finally, on 17 April, “wired the chief of police and county attorney at Des Moines to release Ben and Anna” ‘Dadi.’ For all the errors he’d made, in the Basket Baby’s date and cause of death, Mortician Koons (and justice delivery) might have benefitted from forensic tutelage by Dr. Seashore.

To his credit, Koons had informed the Sunday Journal “I shall not only ask the dismissal of the charge against Mr. and Mrs. Dudi, but I shall ask the Des Moines police to begin [immediate] investigation to determine whose baby it was which was found.” The grieving Bolesław and Rosa returned with two surviving children to New Jersey, to live out their days in proximity of his brother Stanisław Duda. Likely without bidding adieu to former landlady Rosa Barton or meddling neighbors.

Chapter Two: Revelations

Let us return to scene of the crime. Zeller found “The [Salvation Army Rescue Home at Des Moines] in 1917 cared for 81 girls and 71 babies. Of these, 56 babies had left the hospital and five had died [SIC]; a very good rate of success for the times. Seventeen girls and ten babies were typically under was its care at any one time.” The enterprise was surprisingly well endowed. Also, Army brass proved sophisticated in charity-legislative initiatives. Zeller documented deft property trades, and not only close operational ties with other agencies … but capacity to roll out services under female administration. The Rescue Home had been electrified, an operating room added in 1912. Maternity for unwed mothers was impressively addressed charitable concern in Des Moines.

Allie Belle (Moore) Haradon (1889-1962) was described as “a large woman with kind, motherly face” in 1916. Born at Cass County, Iowa, a Des Moines Justice of the Peace had, in 1908, married nineteen-year-old Allie to Teamster William Warren Haradon (1874-1929). A divorcé, his second foray into married life was to a girl fifteen years his junior. Haradon had survived his father … wounded, Union Civil War Veteran Samuel O. ‘Sam’ Haradon (1839-1903). Eldest of three surviving sons, William lived with mother Nancy A. (Meader) Haradon (c1852-c1932) until attaining his mid-thirties. Allie, firstborn of Day Laborer Jacob Theodore Moore (1859-1946) and the former Maggie Lena Robinson (1869-1946) had seventh-grade education … and was likely to have been the more educated in her marriage.

Formal, black and white family portrait, ‘Mrs. Allie Haradon, with her husband and child,’ 17 May 1916 - Des Moines Register and Leader, p. 3, cols. 2 & 3.
Allie had given birth to Harold Laurence Haradon (1910-1985). By the time family tableau (right) was rendered, William Haradon had labored along in freighting wagons at Des Moines for several years.

Allie had, in February 1916, placed classified advertisement in the Des Moines Register and Leader. She was intent on adopting a girl child. By Register finding, a “baby was adopted from the home of Ernest and Emma Ohrtman of Bagley,” Iowa on 6 March. Allie “brought it straight to her home in Des Moines.”

And the story fractures into scenarios.

‘W. W.’ Haradon informed the Register “he and his wife decided after she had brought the baby to their home that they could not raise her conveniently and it was decided to give her away.” Evening Tribune followed with variant, emotive frame: “It was the husband who, police say, first objected to the adoption of the baby, and the police believe that Mrs. Haradon’s great love for him might have driven her to desert the child after keeping it for only a day.” The Sioux City Journal from some distance contended Mrs. Allie Haradon “had adopted it from a woman at Bagley, Ia., but says it was unhealthy and she decided not to keep it.” I’m struck by genderless references. And immediacy of Wagoneer William Haradon’s reaction.

Dormant following Dudas’ exoneration, front pages of Des Moines papers blossomed with news that Allie was arrested 16 May. In the Haradon home.

I conject Allie had transited from subtler disquiet while Dudas were under investigation. She reported sleepless nights after their release. Phantasms may have been harrowing, indeed. The twice dismissed infant had not been laid to rest. Koons retained evidence at the ready, in morgue at the Polk County Courthouse. Allie was transported to Des Moines City Jail.

Though two other detectives took up the case, no revelation on how they came to put themselves on Haradon doorstep was made public. I suspect Allie could not contain herself. She gave up her secret to another. Reporting made it clear she was astoundingly inclined to confess … and seems to indicate she only came clean with William once she had been jailed. For all I know, the divulgence had been pre-arranged. More than one paper concluded with “Mrs. Haradon said that her husband had nothing to do with the death of the baby,” drawn from her confession. Under subhead ‘Woman Conscience-Stricken,’ the Register related “About April 5 my husband told me that some man had found a baby on the dump. I made up my mind it was the baby I had abandoned. I read nearly all the articles in the paper about Ben Dudi and his wife being arrested for killing this baby. I thought at the time I should give myself up and stand punishment for what I had done, but on account of my husband, parents and little boy I could not do it.”

For his part, W. W. confided to Register reporter on 17 May “I supposed my wife had given the baby away, and dismissed the matter from my mind. Not until today did I dream that she had abandoned the child.”

While backing off from confession to abject murder, Allie’s account of events did not waiver from initial story-telling. Affidavit following arrest anchored her into it: “I took it to a shed near the Salvation Army home. When I left, it was nursing the bottle. I supposed the Salvation Army people would find the baby and give it a home. When my husband came home from work, I told him I had given the child away. He asked me what name I gave the people.” Allie replied she had not named the infant, and that “I abandoned the baby March 7 and have not seen it since.” Remorseful by all accounts, Allie claimed responsibility for a death. Overwrought, she had been signatory to document interrogators had constructed.

By Allie’s disclosure, the infant died between 7 March and Dump Master’s ultimate discovery of the corpse on 4 April. I sense four weeks to be extraordinary interval. (Inexpert Koons reported the baby dead a mere twenty-four hours in postmortem analysis.) I can readily imagine Allie would not expect confirmatory reporting on foundling taken into Rescue Home in near-monthlong interim. Until cadaver’s revelation, I suppose, she could have contented herself.

She had known of tragic outcome from her March decision – not to reveal shame-tinted predicament to Salvation Army staff – for forty-two days. Duda parents had unconscionably been under disgracing suspicion of murder for thirteen of them. They too quite likely fostered deep concern for their children ... rendered parentless in transit, following loss of a sibling.

Side-by-side black and white bust photographs, Montage, Thomas Roy Pettit and George Ferdnand Trimble (in uniform), 1911
Des Moines Detectives reached out to German-born Ernest Otto Heinrich Ohrtman (1877-1922) … and ‘wife.’ From Register reporting on day immediately following arrest, one discerns investigation by Detective Thomas Roy Pettit (1891-1962) and Officer George Ferdnand ‘Fred’ Trimble (1875-1933), left, had been ongoing prior to their apprehension of Allie Haradon. Mailed intel must have been several days in exchange prior to 17 May receipt: “In reply to an inquiry made by Detective Chief James McDonald, a letter was received from Mrs. Ernest Ohrtman, asking if the baby was getting along all right.”[12] Correspondent seemed unaware inquiry was linked to a child’s remains. To outrage prominent in clangorous reporting for a month. “Mrs. Ohrtman said the child did not belong to her but to her husband’s first wife.” The former Lavina Johnson (1883-1954) had, in 1914 at Pomeroy, Iowa, sued Ohrtman for divorce.[13]

When questioned by telephone, Ohrtman – supporting himself at Yetter, Iowa the day following Haradon confession – confided to a Tribune reporter he had no plans to go to Des Moines. “Why should I?” he asked. “The baby is not mine.” (Present tense? Infant remains were two months and eight days old.) “I got rid of the woman, and then I didn’t see why I should should keep it.” Ohrtman let it be known “he was divorced from the mother of the child about a year ago, and did not know who its father was.” In questionable assertion, Ohrtman “said his first wife, not he, gave away the baby, and he simply signed the contract with Mrs. Haradon to please her.” I note William Haradon could not be bothered to witness this undertaking.

Under headline ‘Woman Adopts Baby And Then Kills It,’ scant, two-paragraph notice of Mrs. Allie Haradon’s confession appeared, page four, in The San Francisco Examiner 17 May.

Allie was taken before tall, slender Municipal Judge Joseph Ethan Meyer (1882-1960) on 17 May. His only child was a daughter who would celebrate second birthday the following day. “Will you plead guilty to a charge of murder?” he enquired. Only Judge Meyer’s clerk, Policewoman May Goddard and three reporters observed as Allie trembled visibly and “could barely stop her tears.”

“Murder?” the prisoner no doubt gasped. In recoil, “… as if not understanding,” according to Evening Tribune report. “I didn't murder the poor little baby. I just left it in the vacant building.”

“It was as if she couldn’t comprehend what was going on …” “After Mrs. Haradon had haltingly denied the charge of murder, Judge Meyer asked her how long it was between the time the baby was found and when she had deserted it.”[14]

“The little baby was there a month,” acknowledged Allie. “Then she broke almost completely.” The mournful attestor pleaded “I want to see my husband before I answer any other questions.” I surmise, by William’s absence from proceedings, he abandoned Allie. That, if she were reading newspapers, it was medium by which the couple had been communicating.

Meyer charged the defendant with murder, bound her over for a Grand Jury to try. He ordered the twenty-six-year-old mother held without bail. Allie, who had reportedly been styled ‘The Woman of Tears’ by City jailers and detectives, was immediately transferred to Polk County Jail … across 6th Avenue from infant victim in the morgue.

Black and white bust portrait, James MacDonald, 1911.
A distinctive ‘Mrs. Ernest Ohrtman’ was certainly in circulation. The Des Moines Register and Leader quoted from communique sent by a purported twenty-year-old at Yetter thus styled. (Lavina was likely age thirty-three.) It was apparently Emma who wrote Scots-born Chief of Detectives MacDonald (1867-1927, right). This letter arrived 18 May. She presented as indignant while both self-centered and in close association with her man: “We cannot understand why she murdered our innocent baby. If she didn’t want my baby why didn’t she return it? She didn't have to keep it if she wasn’t satisfied with it.” Emma resolved, of Allie, “We want her to suffer for the awful crime she has done, if she is guilty.” I suppose Ohrtman’s purported second wife intended damage control, to preserve social standing amidst tawdry, public approbation for having birthed unwanted child: “It is impossible for us to come to Des Moines and look after it, as my husband has several men working for him … working every day to make an honest living.” I am reluctant to judge other’s grief, but Emma too seemed to indicate a corpse might require looking after. She and Ernest had probably been asked for burial intentions. For baby they had obligated to another.

German-language Tägliche Omaha Tribune reported on Herr Ohrtman, Frau Allie Haradon and ‘Heilsarmee’ (Salvation Army) on 20 May. Their correspondent was sufficiently informed to relay that Red Line Transfer Company employed Frau Haradon’s ‘Mann’ William.

Salvation Army Commander-in-Chief for Western States, Thomas Estill (1859-1926), astutely conducted Iowa-Nebraska Congress over long weekend at Des Moines, 20-22 May. Well-attended, public meeting (featuring Songster Brigade) facilitated “united demonstration” intended to reset Rescue Home in favorable community regard. Finance Board activity had been impressive prior to scandal: regular luncheons among socially elite women were punctuated with annual fete, Thanksgiving recital, rummage sale and ‘Melting Pot Committee’ converting statewide jewelry donations to operating funds.

A Register and Leader reporter – apparently new to the story – was allowed to look in on “Mrs. Ollie Haradon, foster mother of the “basket babe,” abandoned on a city dump where its lifeless body was later found.” The story’s subject “sits in her cell at the county jail and spends her time weeping and brooding.” 22 May reporting had soft edges: a subhead admitted “Mrs. Ollie Haradon Has Excited Sympathy of Jailers.” Six days in custody, a bereft Allie had not engaged legal counsel.

On 1 June, by 3-2 vote, Polk County Board of Supervisors allocated $500 from pauper fund to Salvation Army Maternity and Rescue Home at Des Moines. In consideration of care said Home would give indigent maternity cases sent there by proper authorities.

Sub-headlines stacked beneath ‘Mrs. Haradon is Indicted,’ 3 Jun 1916 – Des Moines Register and Leader, p. 13, col. 5.
The following day a Polk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Allie: for murder in the second degree and ‘exposure of a baby.’ Observe (left) “She Is Charged With Abandoning Famous “Basket Baby”” in Register and Leader sub-headline. And consider what engenders fame. “Basket Babe” appeared in brief copy trumpeting jury decision. I do not know whether Coroner Koons’ determination – that Dudas’ daughter was strangled – carried over to Haradon accusation.

Allie was arraigned before Ninth Iowa Judicial District Justice Hubert Utterback (1880-1942) on 3 June. Represented by Attorney James Morgan Parsons (1858-1937), she entered plea of Not Guilty to all charges. Parsons, interestingly, had been orphaned at the age of ten.[15]

“One of the most baffling cases ever brought to the attention of the Des Moines police department” was scheduled for trial at the end of September. Des Moines Register and Leader reporting imbued Chief of Detectives MacDonald and Coroner Koons with noteworthy forensic capacity: initially described as ‘blanket,’ the pair determined the baby’s corpse had been swaddled in a piece of white cloth. They detected the shroud “torn from an old tablecloth in a restaurant at Herndon, Iowa.” A mere five miles due East from Bagley site of contract for adoption (and nearly a hundred miles East-Northeast from Des Moines). Further, “Women in the restaurant described the woman to whom they had given the cloth to wrap around the baby.” It seems the near-newborn had been close to naked in conveyance (never did transaction appear as exchange, that Allie paid for the child); one wonders whether rural women stirred themselves in response to abject neglect of an innocent … or whether Allie had presence of mind to pause and organize a babe’s preservation from early March vicissitudes.

Black and white postcard, 'Looking West at female cellhouse, Anamosa State Reformatory, 1910-1930. Reads “Female Department, Iowa State Reformatory, Anamosa, Ia.”
For murder, the accused faced minimum sentence of ten years’ confinement to ‘Female Department’ at Anamosa Penitentiary (left). If found guilty on the charge, Utterback had discretion to commit Allie to conclude her life in prison.

War in Europe seized press attention. Space allocated Allie’s plight evaporated beyond Iowa. Quarter-page column on page three contended Allie had been “put through the third degree” before confessing. The Register’s tone was less damning than it had been. First sub-headline alerted to “Foster Mother of Mystery Babe.” As if the pair had bonded. ‘Mothering’ opportunity had not persisted much into second afternoon of foster care.

Murder charges were dropped. Concluding first column on second page of the Evening Times-Republican at Marshalltown, Iowa delivered relatively sparse, 30 December notice: “Another chapter was written today in the basket baby murder mystery.” I did not find any Des Moines papers reporting on culmination of The State of Iowa vs. Allie Haradon.

Color photograph of courtroom, 'Inside Renovated Polk County Courthouse,' 2022.
Trial had that day been conducted in Utterback’s third-floor courtroom at elegant Beaux Arts Polk County Courthouse (right). A Trial Jury found Allie guilty “on a charge of exposing a child” and Utterback from his perch handed down five-year sentence. Evening Times-Republican headline read “Woman to Anamosa,” but Parsons personally signed $2,000 bond. This concluding record I was able to find on the matter reported “Her case is now before the parole board and it is believed she will escape a prison term.”

William ‘Waren’ Haradon (his signature) registered for military conscription 12 September 1918 at Des Moines City Hall. He gave Allie ‘Bell’ Haradon at Caldor Avenue residence as nearest relative. Allie was enumerated with William W. and nine-year-old son Herald Haradon at Caulder Avenue in 14 January 1920 census record: surely parole board appeal would have been litigated by then.

William was near thirteen months dead when forty-year-old Allie was taken to Broadlands Hospital by police ambulance 8 June 1930. She had fainted after pleading guilty to double-parking. Des Moines Tribune-Capital notice did not associate her with Basket Baby or murder.


Floss LaVerne (Haradon) Hardesty (1895-1967) was (Allie’s age peer and) paternal grandmother to the author. Sharing descent from William Warren Haradon’s great-grandfather, ‘Flossie’ was second cousin to William … one generation further removed from common ancestor. I thought it unlikely the pair were cognizant of one another. Yet the Queen City Times, at Agra, Oklahoma reported 13 January 1916 (four months prior to Allie’s arrest) that Flossie’s father “is here from Iowa.” Flossie, almost assuredly then at Agra, had in 1905 been enumerated in paternal grandfather Orlin’s household at Early, Iowa. (The town formed around smithery that brothers Orlin and Eli Haradon, Jr. established, 1875.) Early, Iowa was but fifteen miles from Yetter … where admittedly transient Ohrtmans appear in above account. Sac City, where many of her father’s maternal and paternal kinsmen farmed in 1916, was (their county seat and) near midpoint between Yetter and Pomeroy … twenty-five miles distant. Both were places of Ernest Ohrtman residence. I deem it highly likely that Sac County, Iowa Haradons alerted to a cousin of their surname become so prominent in Des Moines reporting. The Queen City Times noted Flossie’s father in return, 28 September 1916 visit to Agra: I now assume word of this sordid affair filtered down to my grandmother.

Black and white bust photograph, Sherman E. Delmege, 1911.
Firstborn brother to Sergeant Delmege (right), Frank Raymond Delmege (1873-1909) had been a Des Moines Police Detective when shotgunned to death in attempted apprehension of a suspect. BACK

[2] Jury decision was 9-3 for conviction of West and Beattie: prosecutors declined to retry the case and the pair – likely blameless – reportedly adjourned to ‘Old Mexico.’ (Both were enumerated at Des Moines in 1920 census.) As for anti-vice crusade, Iowa General Assembly introduced statewide prohibition: alcohol ban had gone into effect 1 January 1916. BACK

[3] Coroner Koons, “youngest man ever elected on the republican ticket in Polk county,” according to his obituary, would die four months after Haradon verdict was rendered. He had been compensated $100/month, slightly higher than some of the investigating officers at Des Moines, and outside of income acquired as Embalmer, Mortician. BACK

[4] Koons in 1917 complained Polk County morgue was “a useless thing.” He averred the chamber, without ventilation or running water “… has been used only once since the courthouse was built” eleven years earlier: “The body of the 6-weeks-old girl, adopted by Mrs. Allie Haradon and later found dead on an ash pile, was brought there for examination.” BACK

[5] Matron Dennis, single and boarding at the Home, reported annual income of $216 for the year 1914. BACK

[6] See Des Moines Register reporter William H. ‘Bill’ Millhaen, Sr. in Wertsch for World-War-I-era changes in editorial policy: “We built up feature stories as well as crimes of violence and tales of misfortune. If you could tie into a big headline, the paper would sell,” particularly among street-vending paperboys. “We manufactured headlines that would sell papers on the street.”

After 1916 prohibition settled into place, 'Basket Baby' murder displaced simmering and months-running dispute over Mayoral decision to ban the film Birth of a Nation as distribution was scheduled to rotate to Berchel Theater at Des Moines in April. I was suprised by Grand Army of the Republic veterans publicly contentious in opposition to racially disparaging messaging. BACK

‘10 Quax, Drake University, Des Moines entry for Clarence M. Young, Class of 1910, (n.p.); includes black and white bust photograph.
I believe C. M. to have been the extraordinary Clarence Marshall Young (1889-1973, right). Raised in Des Moines, preceding Yale Law School degree with Drake University diploma there, he would be one of five enlisted in Aviation Section of the nation’s Signal Reserve Corps to be sent, 1917, to train to pilot tri-motor Italian Caproni bombers. Shot down and captured the following summer, Colonel Young would serve in Hoover and Roosevelt administrations, regulate commercial aviation and retire as Vice President of Pan American World Airways.

‘C. M. Young,’ Secretary and ‘Humane Officer’ of the Iowa Humane Society, in 1931 successfully appealed adverse Polk County decision of 1928. On 30 January 1928, Dugan v. Midwest Cap Co. (wherein Young, under authority of the county’s Insanity Commission, had issued warrant then being contested for merit) had been dismissed for plaintiff’s failure to appear for trial. On 1 February 1928 – two days later – dashing aviator Young sailed from San Francisco aboard S. S. Maui for Honolulu. BACK

[8] 1918 draft record registered a Boleslaw Duda (b. 1884) of medium height and build, with brown eyes and black hair. At Irvington, New Jersey. Spouse appeared as ‘Rosalia.’ Daughter Sofia (b. c1907 at New Jersey) had been enumerated 1910 with Bolesław (b. c1885) and ‘Rosa’ (b. c1887, married 1907) on mortgaged farm in rural Slavic community at Wisconsin. Per 1920 census, Sofia had been joined by brother Edward Duda (1912-1981), also New-Jersey-born: the family had returned to Newark environs there. I contend Sofia and Edward were alive and likely in traverse when sister Rosa died at Minneapolis and parents were incarcerated. Bolesław and spouse Rozalia were deemed literate in 1910; they had immigrated separately shortly after turn of the 20th century, were naturalized in 1917.

Sofia and Edward may not have been left shiftless at Minneapolis. I found three others surnamed ‘Duda’ thought to be interred in Catholic-consecrated Saint Mary’s Cemetery ... all born between 1888 and 1897. They would have been in late teens to their twenties in 1916. Confoundingly, I note Find a Grave memorial not associated with any marker, for Mary Anna (Garbacz) Duda (1897-1953), maiden name identified in Journal reporting. BACK

Black and white head shot of John P. Nash, Jr. (1881-1922).
[9] Brothers Nash would be tainted by 1920 Winnipeg Liquor Conspiracy. William had by then been elected Hennepin County Attorney … and was indicted and arrested for bribery and bootlegging. Minnesota Governor Joseph Alfred Arner Burnquist (1879-1961) ordered William removed from office … in scandal revealing elder brother John (right) as Minneapolis brothel owner. The Iowa Humane Society had, since at least 1912, with resources and careful planning from office in Polk County courthouse, prosecuted investigations to disestablish “white slave traffic” among vulnerable women. Had handed evidence ready for trial to Des Moines law enforcement. John Nash, in the trade and upon hearing Dudas’ “civil rights affliction” brought on by Young and the Iowa organization, may have been predisposed to offer multi-jurisdiction defense of Dudas’ case. BACK

[10] Dr. Phelan’s son Richard B. would succumb to disease, age nine in 1920. By alumni association account, the 1903 University of Minnesota Medical School graduate died of injuries sustained in 1928 “jump from window.” BACK

Campaign material, 'Dr. Gilbert Seashore, Candidate for Coroner,' undated. Black and white bust photograph in profile.
Iowa-born Seashore (right) ran for Hennepin Coroner in 1908. “My first day in office satisfied me that I had stepped into an awful mess,” the death-certifier later recalled. “That day the new coroner had seven calls, including the case of a suicide victim in whose pockets Dr. Seashore found a handful of cards advocating his election.” Governor Burnquist would appoint Seashore Acting Hennepin County Sheriff in 1920 anti-corruption remedy. BACK

[12] Chief MacDonald was in 1916 father to three daughters, ages twelve to nineteen. Per obituary, his twenty-year police career ended in 1924. BACK

[13] See The Pomeroy Herald, 15 Sep 1949, p. 8, col. 1 for 1914 retrospective. Ernest apparently acknowledged son Harry Leroy Ohrtman born to Lavina in 1912. Two of the couple’s three purported children were born following the House Carpenter’s 1908 bankruptcy. Ohrtman can be distinguished from William Haradon by 1912 Evening Times-Republican report … that Ohrtman’s automobile “became unmanageable” at Pomeroy depot. “The auto disputed the right of way with a freight engine.” Haradon apparently drove regularly for transport companies, was at the time likely considered a proficient horsecart driver. Ohrtman’s 1922 Lake County Times death notice (at Munster, Indiana) bore headline ‘Bitter End.’ Beneath: “Efforts of police to interest [friends] of the dead man in the east to provide decent burial proved unavailing.” BACK

[14] Attorney ‘Joe’ Meyer had been on Des Moines municipal bench but two months. The Bystander at Des Moines, “The Best and only medium that reaches the colored people of the middle west,” had given him affirming front-page press in March campaign.

Inquiry for length of time passed may allude to considered prosecutorial scenario whereby the baby had been killed before any could witnesses it within Haradon’s custody ... and late-night wagon had indeed transported long-dead body to Rescue Home just prior to 4 April discovery.

Four-story Masonic Temple of Des Moines had been raised, 1913: Meyer was in elevated rank of brotherhood assembling there … as were members of Des Moines Police Department with best prospects for career advancement. Attorney Parsons, who would become Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, would be interred at Des Moines Masonic Cemetery. As would Detective Chamberlain and Chief of Detectives MacDonald. BACK

[15] Drake University Graduate Utterback (Class of ’08) had been elevated from Judge of the Des Moines Police Court (1912-1914) in 1915. He had, at time of trial, apparently not yet become President of the Iowa Humane Society.

Parsons matriculated from Iowa State College (Class of 1876). By New York Times obituary he left Civil Engineering at Cornell University to read law ... after taking satisfaction in settling legal dispute. Another biographer asserted ‘Jim’ Parsons had prevailed over his legal Guardian. BACK

Thursday, June 1, 2023

With the Spirit of Enthusiasm

Canal Dover was known from 1916 simply as Dover, Ohio. I can be forgiven for misrelating William Couzens Hardesty (1891-1962) with Walter Collins Hardesty, Sr. (1879-1935). Both appeared professionally as ‘W. C. Hardesty.’ Both were successful profit takers associated with Dover … on banks of power-generating, goods-transporting Tuscarawas River. It transpires the pair were but vaguely related.[1]

2019 post Wild Confusion in Every Direction opened with “terrific explosion” of 1862. One-ton steam boiler launched with sufficient velocity to crash down through roof of adjacent, three-story warehouse belonging to Haines, Hardesty & Co. at Malvern, Ohio. I bookended winding blog post with concluding reference to “Blast Followed By Pandemonium.” Hardesty Chemical Company explosion gravely rocked Dover 4 May 1949. Speculation that firms’ ownership sprung from Hardestys sharing close kinship was overreach.

Unattributed poster c1942, 'For Gunpowder, Save Waste Fats, Rush Them to Your Meat Dealer.' Gaping muzzle of artillery canon attended by alert crew.
Images enlarge when clicked.
Some backstory, before attending to art (and spoken word) that prompted reassessment of my 2019 speculation.

William Couzens Hardisty was born 23 August 1891 into locale where ancestors had migrated from Yorkshire, England almost two hundred years earlier. At Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Richard Hardisty, Jr. (1864-1943), was enumerated there as Iron Worker, Bridge Shop in 1910 census. Where eighteen-year-old William C. appeared, same household, as law office Stenographer.[2]

1917 draft record made me privy to Couzens as middle name. And that our subject’s eyes were gray, hair was brown. William, in his own hand, presented as (‘Hardesty’ and) Sales Manager for Philadelphia-based General Manufacturing Company.[3] He had married Elizabeth L. Heck (1891-1924). And declared her, their two daughters and an unidentified brother dependent on him.[4] William C. Hardesty manifest as ‘Private Secretary’ to Philadelphia Meat Packers three years later. He, Elizabeth and daughters were resident in his own, mortgaged, Philadelphia home.

Interior page, 1926 brochure, Routes to West Laurel Hill Cemetery with Clock Tower graphic.
Second daughter Ella Marie died 1920 … of bronchitis and having just attained age three.[5] William’s paternal grandmother, Margaret (Talbot) Hardisty (1835-1922) expired two years later. At Washington, D.C.

Influenza took Elizabeth in 1924, at tender age of thirty-three. She was survived by William, daughters Elizabeth Louise (1913-2004) and toddler Vivian Elizabeth (b. 1919). Mother Elizabeth was interred near Ella Marie at West Laurel Hill Cemetery … noted for imaginatively designed landscape on Schuylkill River north of Philadelphia. [NOTE: Pedigree Chart concludes this post.]

Undated photograph, snowy Pelham Biltmore Apartments exterior, Pelham Manor.
Our subject was depicted as managing candle manufacturing at New York in 1930 census. We discover only son of a firstborn son, of a firstborn son, in mobility upward and toward opportunity. William had remarried … to Philadelphian Mary Elizabeth Pierson (1897-1998). The foursome took up fashionably modern conveniences at Biltmore Hotel Apartments (right), Pelham Manor, Westchester County, New York.

Haynes described trajectory at birth of oleochemical industry: “W. C. Hardesty Company, Inc., was established Oct. 1926 … solely for the production of fatty acids.” Recall Hardesty’s stint with Philadelphia meat packers. “The fatty acid industry of that day was undeveloped. Some fatty acid manufacturers were controlled by packing-house interests, which thus created intracompany consumers of the fats and tallows from packing houses; others also made soap or candles and consumed much of their own fatty acids.” Hardesty, who claimed but secondary education, “… was enthusiastic about the potential possibilities of this industry.” No doubt proffering work history of business recordkeeping, sales and executive management – while demonstrating some imaginary thinking – he secured financial backing from Binney and Smith, Incorporated.[6]

In November 1926 W. C. Hardesty Company began operations at a Carnegie, Pennsylvania plant. “The first products made were stearic acid, Oleic acid, crude glycerin, stearin pitch, and animal and vegetable fatty acids.”[7] Innovation soon followed, and “disastrous fire” wrecked the plant in April 1929 “… before most of these undertakings could be translated to full-scale production.”[8]

Unattributed, undated photograph, first-class smoking room, S.S. Columbus ... anteroom to Library and Grand Social Hall.
Disaster from volatile glycerin would in due time rain from skies at unfathomable scale. On 6 August 1930, in early stages of Great Depression, William, Mary E. and ‘Lavina’ Hardesty returned to New York from Bremen in seven-day crossing. Aboard newly refitted North German Lloyd luxury liner S.S. Columbus (left).

W. C. Hardesty Company bought Century Stearic Acid Candle Works, Inc., at Manhattan, in December. Operating as a wholly owned subsidiary, operations were relocated to Dover in 1933. Where sons of Thomas Hardesty (1820-1869) depicted in 2019 post had launched from flour milling at scale into banking … and one of them, Alonzo Hanes Hardesty (1846-1892), had fathered Walter Collins Hardesty. Having relocated to spectacular manse in Daytona Beach, Florida environs a decade earlier, Walter was beckoning clientele nationally to his glamorous ‘Riviera on the Halifax’ resort in 1933. And struggling with launch of million-dollar development for extravagant Rio Vista community. He had no Dover overlap with our subject.

William Hardesty’s processes diversified between industrial supply and consumer goods including cosmetics and crayons. “Also in 1933 a new plant was established at Los Angeles, the first fatty acid plant on the West Coast,” reported Haynes.[9] “The original quarters being outgrown by 1937, a larger building was erected.” 17 February 1937 reporting in Daily News at Los Angeles described “Explosive force released by atomic action of hydrogenated oil caused a blast …” and estimated $10,000 damage to W. C. Hardesty plant at the harbor. His initiatives suffered second industrial catastrophe in eight years.

“I am W. C. Hardesty of W. C. Hardesty Co., Inc. And business is good! We have done more business in the first two weeks of January than we did the whole month of December.” Henry Morgenthau, Jr. (1891-1967) was Secretary of the U.S. Treasury when taking 2 February 1938 meeting with a cadre congealed as “Association of Small Business Men of the Second Federal Reserve District.” One gets a sense of Hardesty’s gregarious personality from the Secretary’s diary: “People who order from us, like Firestone Tire and Rubber Co., when they send their orders in, want them shipped the same day. Wonderful!”

Hardesty gave backstory in his own words. “We entered business in 1926. We go overboard, hook line and sinker for everything we had, when we go through the depression of 1931-1932. Then we get our friends to come to our rescue with $150,000” as bonds to be repaid over ten years. By New York Times reporting on “Small Business Parley,” Hardesty advocated U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation resume lending from $1,500,000,000 fund. I assume ‘friends’ to have been bankers. They may have been corporate co-investors.

Hardesty presented as attuned to manufacturing processes and business accounting. He detailed specific machinery purchased with borrowed money in 1935, “… and we paid taxes of $11,371.19. In 1936, still with the spirit of enthusiasm, we spent [an apparently borrowed] $31,705.09 and, glad to say, we paid $25,207.53 in taxes.” In back-and-forth with Morgenthau he declared 11% corporate profit on $1,800,000 gross business.

While angling for clarity on government policy, the forty-six-year old conveyed a certain folksiness, referring to Washington, D.C. “fellows up there who are now giving us the ha-ha.” Hardesty gushed “I am one of the fellows who thinks the Government has done a swell job. I want to congratulate the Government and the wonderful spirit which is going along.” “Let me say, from my angle, my treatment from the banks was fair, from the Manufacturers Trust, from the National City, from the Sterling Bank; all right. We are getting a very moderate rate.” “… so far as I am personally concerned, I have no complaint.”

Candid photograph, exterior at White House exit, of Roswell MaGill and Henry Morganthau.
Transcript ran twelve pages. A dozen Association men attended; Hardesty occupied Morgenthau for the final two pages. And prevailed. Obtained promise of immediate meeting with the President’s Special Tax Advisor, Undersecretary Roswell Magill (1895-1963, with Morgenthau, left).

Hardesty Company operations in 1938 unfurled further with $50,000 investment in Toronto, Canada subsidiary and W. C. was on trajectory to sincere financial comfort. As top-echelon industrialist. Or ‘Small Business Man.’

27 March 1939 reporting on wage adjustment by Hardesty Chemical Co. at Dover. Group portrait, standing.
William was not an absentee Dover Business Man. Daughter Elizabeth was Stenographer at W. C. Hardesty Company there, and by 1939 married Walter W. Somers (1909-1993) … Superintendent of Hardesty’s Dover operations.[10] Somers appeared at Hardesty’s side in 27 March 1939 reporting (right) on act I find particularly commendable. Under our folksy subject’s leadership, his company responded to capitalism’s decade of job eradication and wage suppression. Increasing for a second time compensation paid Dover’s two hundred or so employees. Dispersal of additional $1,500 in bonuses transpired as unilateral act, President Hardesty failing to obtain industry-wide consensus for such.[11]

Defendant W. C. Hardesty Company, Inc. – described as “a corporation of Delaware doing business at Dover, Ohio” – prevailed in patent infringement case brought by New Process Fat Refining Corp. Decided 16 November 1939, defendant’s means of steam-distilling fatty acids did not incur royalty. Important for this narrative, ruling found “Raw fatty acids are derived from garbage, grease, tallow or cottonseed foots. This raw acid is a chemical composition of [industrial] fatty acids and glycerine.”[12]

Society pages noticed W. C. and Mary Hardesty spent Christmas of 1939 at the posh El Mirador Hotel, Palm Springs, California. Star-studded New Year’s Eve parties there had become a rage in elite social strata. Our subject reported 1939 earnings exceeded $5,000.

1940 census entry from Greenway Apartments residence he shared with Mary at Forest Hills, Queens, New York seemed underwhelming: Hardesty’s occupation was enumerated succinctly as Executive at an Oil Company. (W. C. Hardesty Company that year registered a trademark.)

1942 baby picture of Libby Lou from Christmas card of Walt and Betty Somers.
Poignantly, “With W. C. Hardesty of New York City, president of the Dover W. C. Hardesty plant, attending [Grace Lutheran Church celebration of the 4th of July, 1941 at Dover] for the baptism of his granddaughter, Elizabeth Louise Somers,” (1942-1998, left) our subject matched congregational funding in purchase of a $25 war bond. William’s well-bred daughter ‘Viv’ that summer (at Forest Hills) married commercial artist Joseph William Shaw (1913-1982).[13] 

Nearing age fifty-three, Hardesty’s hair had grayed, complexion was described as ‘ruddy’ in 1942 Registrar’s Report for military draft.

He provided W. C. Hardesty Company corporate headquarters on 42nd Street, in the heart of Manhattan, as means of contact. National Academy of Sciences inventory for available research facilities described five chemists then at W. C. Hardesty Company’s Dover plant. (At least two, when later lauded, cited time spent in these laboratories.) It was the only facility in the nation found producing sebacic acid. His firm complemented a mere five others in production of fatty acids. Dover output “helped to furnish glycerin used in the napalm bombs which burned the enemy out of Pacific Island pillboxes,” reported Daily Times from nearby New Philadelphia, Ohio. “High-altitude bombers carried Capryl alcohol to keep hydraulic systems working at extreme temperatures. Even a special lubricant was made for General Eisenhower’s forces and flown to them in time for the invasion of France.”

Undated ‘Save Waste Fats’ poster (above) prompted me to investigate fats, war and W. C. Hardesty Company operations at Dover. (I found unattributed placard eye catching. Imagined viewer attention seized, motivation well executed.) Consider the boost to Hardesty’s narrow industrial niche. Federal spending prompted and then compensated civilians’ free-will offering of waste. It summonsed source materials on which several company product lines relied. Butchers operated local collection centers; the U.S. government organized transport to corporate distillation facilities. (The effort proved rewarding. W. C. Hardesty Company – or bankers for him – invested in centralized processing center at St. Louis, Missouri.)

War-effort Public Service Announcements prodded participation. 25-second radio spot from 20 April 1942 certainly conveyed urgency: “need for waste fats and greases” grew “more critical” every day barked taut announcer.[14] (Click triangle, above, to hear him.) Appeal was personal: “The enemy may be superior … unless you help make up the difference from your kitchens.” [A Turtle’s Approach to Truth is set among postwar persuaders.]

Montage, 1942 'Food for Freedom' instruction sheet from U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Department of Agriculture ‘Food for Freedom’ instruction sheet brandished (elements, right) strategic partnership. Behind fat globules’ marching ranks stood ‘Glycerine Refinery.’ A contrastingly sober Kitchen Grease Quiz circulated in 1942. Version distributed by Oregon State Salvage Board to local committees addressed housewives as intelligent actors in war effort. Disguised fact sheet detailed curtailment of vegetable oil supply in global terms, addressed protections against potential kitchen grease diversion to profiteers. It gave 12% as effective rate for glycerin refined from household fats.[15] Seven pages of suggestive messaging concluded with proposed supportive slogans … none as catchy as “Loose lips sink ships.”

1942 placard, Glycerine Producers and Associated Industries.
Pluto and Minnie Mouse got in the act in the summer of ’42. “Every skillet is a little munitions factory,” voice talent Arthur Gilmore (1912-2010) pitched during high-quality Walt Disney Production of Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line. 3-minute Technicolor animation promoted recognition of ‘Bring Waste Fats Here’ … in-store insignia (left) prepared by Glycerine Producers and Associated Industries.

7 Feb 1943 'Help Wanted' employee solicitation by W. C. Hardesty Co. in Los Angeles Times.
American entry into global conflict inflated Hardesty’s already considerable enterprises. Per Haynes, “These expanded production facilities were of incalculable importance to the splendid production records achieved by West Coast fatty acid-consuming industries during World War II.” Help Wanted ads sprouted in the Los Angeles Times in January 1943 ... offering “Chemical Plant Work, Experience Not Necessary.” Openly stated wage offer was unique among competitors for labor. Within weeks, dense, six-line ads were replaced by two-inch vertical swaths (right), to which “Essential War Work” was added. By April the firm specifically targeted Negro laborers, offering the same starting wage. Which escalated to 93¢-$1.08 in June. The Company pledged to retain Engineers following war’s conclusion.

National quotas for scrap drives were set in 1943. Officials purposefully expected collection of 200,000,000 pounds of household fats. Bulletin went out 10 May. Under ‘Los Angeles War Council,’ a War Production Board heralded “all-out national effort to put 17,000,000 pounds a month of waste household fats into war production -- the makings of 8,500,000 pounds of dynamite for our fighting men.”[16] It also proclaimed the American Meat Institute would implement the campaign “through every meat dealer in the United States.” U.S. Citizens Salvage Committees in Southern California organized under slogan “A Spoonful of Grease a Day will Blow the Axis Powers Away.”

Operation Gomorrah, or the ‘Hiroshima of Germany,’ resulted in nearly 40,000 civilian casualties following massive-scale Allied firebombing raids on Hamburg at end of July 1943.

Time would elapse before the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI) expanded messaging beyond result in explosives and incendiaries. Lubricants, also within W. C. Hardesty Company production capacity, joined military medicines and protective coatings as rationale in ongoing pleadings for salvage fats.

1943 'Housewives! Save waste fats for explosives!' poster by Walter DuBois Richards. Skillet pouring grease into gun emplacement.
Graphic posters, intended for butchers’ shops, captured my imagination. Walter DuBois Richards (1907-2006) was already a prominent Printmaker, Painter and Illustrator when producing 1943 signboard while assigned to OWI. I found his treatment of gun emplacement (right) downright painterly.[17]
1943 poster 'Save waste fats for explosives' by Henry Koerner. Skillet pouring grease into cluster of munitions ahead of fireball.
Intensely  provocative ‘Save waste fats for explosives’ (left) was work product of Henry Koerner … named Heinrich Sieghart Körner (1915-1991) at Austrian birth. He would accrue multiple awards for his postwar art.[18]
1943 poster, 'Save Fats, Help Kill These Rats' by Alfred John Plastino. Skillets pouring grease spilling on angished caricatures of Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo and Adolf Hitler sporting rats' tails.
One can sense by 1943 illustration ‘Kill These Rats’ (right) Alfred John Plastino (1921-2013) had already moved from Marvel Mystery Comics and then departed Novelty Comics for military service as Illustrator. His representation of Superman in particular would appear in comic books and syndicated comic strips long after his war service.

Government agencies were not the only propaganda source operant in this genre: “Paid for by Industry” appeared as tag beneath torrid-storyline comic strips urging ladies to “hurry” waste grease “to your meat dealer at once.”

1943 mockup, 'Out of the frying pan - into the firing line' by Charles Henry Alston. Frying pan pouring grease into gun emplacement surrounded by alert crew.
Private Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977) had illustrated Fortune, Mademoiselle, Melody Maker and New Yorker magazines. The Columbia University graduate (M.A., 1931) had designed album covers for fellow artists that included Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins … before being ordered as Manhattan-based Staff Artist into the Office of War Information in 1940. He had been active as a muralist in Harlem Renaissance prior to shaping behavior (left) among Black newspaper readers. Alston, by then a pioneering educator, would be elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1958.

Richard Hardisty, father to our subject, died 22 December 1943 at his Mitchellville, Maryland farmhouse. Services were held Christmas Eve and, age 79, he was interred as his parents had been. At Holy Trinity Church cemetery.

1944 W. C. Hardesty Co. advertisement, Chemical Industries. Two businessmen confer in photograph.
“Extensive research and the resultant development of HARDESTY fatty acids during the past few years have brought forth qualities and high purities not heretofore obtainable — fatty acids that are extremely light in color, free of contaminants, and each with unusual characteristics to meet the buyers' specifications,” advertised W. C. Hardesty Company in May 1944. Dover factory appeared first in list of operations run from Manhattan offices. (I leave it to readers to assess whether our subject posed (left) as left-most decision maker for full-page ad. The model was certainly Rooseveltian.)

William C. Hardesty in 1944 press release issued by Hardesty Chemical Company. Portraits of two executives.
Chemical Industries, on cover of July 1944 issue, touted “Peacetime Markets for Chemicals.” The business journal also announced organization of Hardesty Chemical Co., Inc. Based on “scarcely known sebacic acid” in Dover production, another joint enterprise – with our subject (far right) as Vice-president – established operations at Philadelphia. Haynes made technical advances meritorious; in plasticizers, synthetic organic chemicals and “petroleum sulfonates, unrelated to fatty acids chemically.” Undoubtedly imaginative and persuasive, Hardesty continued demonstrating dexterity for financing untested process.

HARCHEM trademark issued 1945 to Hardesty Chemical Co.
Indiscriminate, 1945 aerial fire-bombings at Dresden and Tokyo preceded Axis capitulation. In May, Hardesty Chemical Co., Inc. registered ‘Harchem’ trademark (right). The unit, retooling for peacetime without War Office contracts, processed castor-oil-based products. Harchem’s molecular chain of sebacic acid would prove primal in plastics: acrylics, polyesters, polyurethanes, vinyls; synthetic rubber and lubricants propagated from chemists’ laboratories.

William and Mary Hardesty, of Forest Hills, were in Dover environs for his daughter Elizabeth’s second marriage. (Divorce from Somers had been uncontested, 6 June 1945.) She united with Dover Optometrist William B. Bailey (1912-1990) in October 1946. And he set up Zanesville, Ohio practice.

Crowley found “Hardesty was having difficulty in getting into production” at a recently retired war production plant, Henderson, Nevada. Amecco Chemicals, Inc., underwriters for Hardesty Chemical Company, by 1948 undertook financial obligations and I suspect Hardesty had sold his stake in it. (See endnote.) William and Mary Hardesty in the Spring of 1948 flew from Nassau, Bahamas to Miami, Florida in what was obviously leg in wider ambulation. Our subject won Senior’s Championship when in golfing pair at Winged Foot course, Mamaroneck, New York that summer.

Unatttributed Associated Press wirephoto, 1949 wreckage at Dover Ohio.
William Hardesty was not at Dover for deadly 1949 explosion depicted in my 2019 post. (The imaginative Walter Collins Hardesty, Sr. was dead, as was his same-named son. Walter Collins Hardesty III (1938-1984) was age ten … and likely in his mother’s Daytona Beach household.) It may be of slightest interest that Daily Reporter at Dover placed Hardesty Milling Company among ten largest companies there in 1929. (It was then under Presidency of paternal first cousin to Walter Collins Hardesty.) In list compiled recent to 1965, “Harchem Division of Wallace & Tiernan” sat in top tier of principal Dover companies. Our W. C. Hardesty had introduced the manufactory to a disused plant there.

Samuel Harold ‘Sam’ Bonifant (b. 1908) died of burns in 1949 pandemonium. Twenty were injured in all. “We want our appreciation expressed to Mr. Hardesty and other officials,” President of Local No. 20, International Chemical Workers Union, told the press in August. Each employee had been awarded $50 bonus ... as “token of the company’s appreciation of the fine spirit and loyalty” shown following disaster. (Each check included note from Hardesty.) Widow and mother of two, Edith Isabell (Besozzi) Bonifant (1908-1976), was compensated almost $30,000. Company outlay formed nearly half of her quittance. None had been laid off when Somers announced weeks of paid vacation in July dependent on length of employment.

The plant had suffered an estimated $240,000 damage. I did not realize, when referencing it in 2019, that industrial blast would dent W. C. Hardesty’s career.

(Montage) 1955 registry of brands accorded W. C. Hardesty Co. & W. C. Hardesty Chemical Co.Somers was summarily replaced as Plant Superintendent. Though I don't know at whose instigation, Binney and Smith assumed management of W. C. Hardesty Company in early 1950 ... and they subsumed his corporate identities to Belleville, New Jersey base of operations. (Dover’s local baseball team played as ‘W. C. Hardesty’ into the mid-1950s … several seasons after Wallace & Tiernan acquisition of Dover plant.)

William was described as ‘Executive, Manufacturer of Raw Materials,’ working 40 hours a week, in April 1950 census. He and wife Mary were ensconced in stately Larchmont Village home, Westchester County. ‘$10,000+’ (overstricken) appears in columns both for earnings and income aside from it (dividends in first instance, perhaps proceeds from buyout in the second).[19]

The following year, Hardesty (placed third in his age class for U.S. Senior’s Golf Championship and) established entities with corporate relationships that had apparently been distilling since wartime. Hardesty Industries Company was established in joint venture with Philadelphia tannery under new generation of management by Jacob Stern & Sons.[20] Hardesty was also credited as founder of the Acme-Hardesty Company: it remains a branded division within Jacob Stern & Sons to this day.[21]

oap & Detergent Association chart showing steep increase in production of 'Tall Oil Fatty Acids,' 1953-1963.
The firm’s name appeared first in alphabetized list of members in a Fatty Acid Producers’ Council formed in 1951. The trade group committed to “statistical, technical and educational projects” encouraging “more effective use and broader application of fatty acids.” Perhaps mindful of potential for pandemonium, the Council (which included Harchem) moved in “direction suggested by quality-minded and research-minded thinking.” 1963 report (above) by Soap and Detergent Association relied on Council data to chart impressive increase in fatty acid production over the next decade. Twenty-page brochure (graphicly portrayed intricate, multi-stage production process in two-page spread, and) meticulously described tallow-to-product vision in which Hardesty had been formative.

Hardesty likely summonsed his clan to Bimini in the Bahamas in summer of 1956. Passenger records revealed return to Miami by daughter Vivian’s second husband, Frank Brisbin Foster, Jr. (1908-1982). (She had divorced Shaw, 1950.) A teen who would marry granddaughter Libby Lou made the same crossing five weeks later.
1964 image of exterior, Mary Hardesty's one-story ranch house on Sprain Valley Road.

After brief illness, William C. Hardesty, age 70, died at his comfortable Greenburgh, New York home (right). On 18 April 1962. The New York Daily Post promptly eulogized him as “pioneer in the conversion of fats to industrial uses.” The New York Times (laid out career highlights and) observed him as still-serving President of Acme-Hardesty. Three-paragraph Dover obituary manifested 20 April. As perfunctory notice to local friends of the deceased.

He was declared survived by widow Mary, his daughters Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Bailey and Vivian (as Mrs. Frank Foster, Jr.), two granddaughters, and sister Emma Gertrude (Hardisty) Barker (1895-1987). To put our subject’s trajectory into perspective, Gertrude had by 1950 divorced John Anderson Barker (1885-1956) … who was in 1940 enumerated as Stationary Engineer at a Baltimore scrap yard.[22]

Services for Hardesty were held Saturday, 21 April at a Scarsdale, New York funeral home. And also at Laurel Chapel, Philadelphia later that same afternoon. He was interred with first wife Elizabeth and their daughter Ella Marie in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd. Second wife Mary, having removed to Haverford, Pennsylvania in 1964, would join them, and her father – at same plot in 1998. Former Schoolteacher Elizabeth Louise ‘Betty’ (Somers) Mikolashek, William’s granddaughter baptized 1943, died that year in a Cleveland hospital.


The author has been a collector of World War I propaganda art.
After endnotes were sewn up, I discovered Hardesty Chemical Company in 1947 appeared before their own ‘McCarthy hearings.’ U.S. Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy (1908-1957) was interrogator for Senate subcommittee finding the company $18,000 in arrears on rent due Federal corporation created by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. According to staff, the company had been “induced” to surplus Nevada plant; produced detergent and resold cogenerated hydrochloric acid there. Company President testifying was Samuel J. Cohen (1898-1960, image above). Per Haynes, Cohen, through his firm Amecco, spent $500,000 retooling the Nevada plant by 1949; he had apparently bought Hardesty out c1947 and remained a Director of Harchem’s Dover plant at his drowning.

[1]  Walter C. Hardesty descended by four generations from Methodist ‘Brother’ George Hardisty (d. 1779). William C. Hardisty by one account was six generations removed from immigrant Francis Hardesty (1671-1734) … whose most earnest biographers do not support specifics in the contention. I have long concurred with supposition that all colonial-era Hardestys in North America were related. That all by some means descended from Francis, a patriarch who arrived Maryland before 1703 from Yorkshire. BACK

[2] William C., age eight, was in 1900 enumerated in Richard Hardisty’s rented Baltimore domicile. (Consult endnote [22] for disambiguation attempt.) Three of six children born to Mary Emma (Murr) Hardisty (b. 1863) survived … William and sisters ages six and four were enumerated. The quintet occupied a different Baltimore household in 1910; two ironworkers boarded with them. Our subject may have left home as a teen: a William Hardesty appeared in 1910 Philadelphia directory as Bookkeeper.

I note some decline in intergenerational status. Baltimore Sun obituary for Richard Hardisty, Sr. (1829-1908) credited William’s paternal grandfather as progressive Farmer, General Store Merchant at Collington (now subsumed into Bowie), Maryland. As “intimate social and political friend” of one-time Governor Oden Bowie (1826-1894). Richard, Sr. likely married Margaret Talbot in 1862 and was taxed four years later for carriage, piano and gold watch. (Her father, Thomas Jefferson Talbot (1804-1869), was well-situated at 800-acre ‘Medford’ estate, Prince George’s County, Maryland.) Richard, Jr. was first-born, preceding at least nine siblings.

Census records for 1915 and 1920 suggest Richard, Jr. was at Manhattan. As ‘Farmer’ on East 81st Street; then as Manager of a Club. If so, Richard, second wife and Dressmaker Sarah T. McGrail (1875-1968), with her three sons, four daughters (and, initially, her mother and sister, also in Hardisty household) would have preceded his son William to New York. Richard Hardisty was enumerated 1930 as Tobacco Farmer, Prince George’s County … with (no wife) daughter Emily (1919-2017) born at New York, and that McGrail sister-in-law, in his domestic arrangement. Emily's obituary divulged mother Sarah remained at New York. BACK

[3] Our subject elevated from Sales into corporate machinations of impressive scale: “The General Manufacturing Company has purchased from W. C. Hardesty for a nominal consideration the lot on the north side of Delaware avenue in the middle of Bigler street. The ground was purchased earlier in the day by Mr. Hardesty … for $110,000,” reported The Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 July 1918. G.M.C. expected to erect a number of factory buildings at 204-acre parcel.

See The American Fertilizer Handbook, Vol. 8 (1915), p. A-67: W. C. Hardesty appeared as Treasurer for Martin Fertilizer, Inc. at Norfolk, Virginia (with plants at Baltimore and Philadelphia). Hardesty would have been, at most, age 24. See Moody’s 1920 Manual, p. 1055: W. C. Hardesty was listed as a Director of D. B. Martin Company, Philadelphia slaughterers also manufacturing fertilizer, glue, soaps and broad range of meat-based products. The company was valued at nearly $10,000,000. BACK

[4] Unidentified brother, sketched into 1917 draft record almost as afterthought, was perhaps son to his father’s second wife. He may have been brother to wife Elizabeth Heck. She had been only child in Henry Granville Heck (1870-1918) household at Dauphin County, Pennsylvania 1900. Village of Heckton had been established there 1832 by Dr. Ludwick ‘Lewis’ Heck (1810-1890). Grandsons born at Heckton achieved distinction. Among them, Lewis Heck (1889-1964), age peer of Elizabeth’s, was U.S. High Commissioner to Turkey 1918-1919. His brother Nicholas Hunter Heck (1882-1953) at time of Elizabeth’s marriage was pioneering underwater acoustics: he would revolutionize hydrographic surveillance. BACK

1920 Burial Record, Ella Marie Hardesty.
[5] Baby Ella Marie was borne from funeral service in Hardestys’ home in White Plush Casket (see right) by white hearse, to Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Conundrum: Philadelphia Inquirer obituary for ‘Elizabeth Shipley’ appeared two days after death of our subject’s spouse. It named ‘W. C. Hardesty’ as survivor, gave his home address for services. And surname is contradicted by death certificate … for which W. C. had just been informant. Where he stated Elizabeth L. was daughter to Granville Heck and Elizabeth Feeser. BACK

[6] After property transfer to G.M.C., Hardesty’s model for joint venture seems to have been offloading site and facility cost to investing companies. Meeting supply agreements within their business, he reinvested his earnings to staff laboratories and factories with chemists and workmen inspired to develop new materials. Lucrative reward arrived from identifying, patenting and marketing or licensing branded products. Hardesty was innovator, adopting new industrial processes also increased his profit. When they did not explode.

Binney and Smith had profited immensely from carbon black (cast off by coal refining) and industrial coloring. They had introduced Crayola brand wax crayons in 1903. Principal’s wife Alice (Stead) Binney (1866-1960) is credited for combining French word for chalk, ‘craie,’ with Latin ‘olea.’ (Think olive oil.) Hardesty would make the most of oils, fats and Binney and Smith funding. Blackening formerly white Goodrich tires was apparently joint enterprise the companies performed. BACK

[7] Additionally, 1927 Buyer’s Directory gave Hardesty Company as source for Candle Tar and Distilled Red Oil. Adhesive Candle Tar was newly being processed via vulcanization for elastic properties. The latter was an oleic acid of distilled grease the texture of lard, preferred by textile manufacturers as a soap. Industry was beginning to explore Red Oil’s antiseptic and lubricating properties. BACK

[8] See ‘Fire Loss Set at Million in Grease Plant,’ The Pittsburgh Press, 15 April 1929, p. 19, col. 8: “W. C. Hardesty, president of the Hardesty company, estimated the damage in excess of $1,000,000.” Firefighters required a day to extinguish fire originating in “still house” and which soon fed from grease and oil tanks. At least a hundred working men lost jobs. Same-day New York Times reporting described thirty buildings destroyed, $500,000 loss. Pennsylvania Railroad passenger traffic was shunted to branch route “because of the danger of tanks adjoining the right of way exploding.” Another account put Binney and Smith as facility owners, in the business of making pencils. BACK

HYDREX logo at 1934 registry to W. C. Hardesty Co.
[9] W. C. Hardesty Co., Inc. registered trademark HYDREX (right) in 1934. From description of goods and services: “Preparation of fatty acid of marine, animal, and vegetable origin for use as a rubber compounding ingredient, as an aid in the dispersion of pigments, as a binder in the preparation of buffing compounds, and as an ingredient in the compounding of lubricating greases.” BACK

Unattributed photograph, Walter W. Somers in 4 May 1949 reporting.
[10] Wide-eyed “Plant Manager Walter Somers (pointing)” appeared (right) in 1949 Dover reporting beneath ‘Hardesty Plant Damage Over $275,000.’ Somers (who had no middle name; Draft Registrar noted middle initial ‘W.’ did not refer to any) had been “head of the GOP committee” inviting (U.S. Senator for Ohio and) Presidential candidate Robert Alphonso Taft, Sr. (1889-1953) to Dover in 1948 campaign to counter economic New Deal before an audience of five hundred. BACK

[11] Retrospect reporting recalled 55 Dover employees striking 4 August 1937 and obtaining wage increases. 1939 act was apparently unbargained follow-on. American Federation of Labor members nevertheless struck W. C. Hardesty Company in 1941. 8¢/hour pay rise had been bargained, unionists agitated for a closed shop and more favorable means of dues collection. BACK

[12] Cottonseed oil foots – or soapstocks – become admixtures of soap, vegetable oil and other aqueous liquids when refined from crude cottonseed oils. Our subject would in 1942 be named to ‘Soap and Glycerine Committee,’ by the U.S. War Production Board. W. C. Hardesty Company surfactant process would be referenced seventy years later, in another’s 2009 patent application. BACK

Portrait of 'Viv' Hardesty (b. 1919), 1937 Penntonian, Penn Hall, Chambersburgh, PA.
[13]  After being elected President, freshman class at Linden Hall – Lititz, Pennsylvania boarding school (1929) – ‘Viv’ (right) had in 1937 graduated Penn Hall Girls’ Preparatory School at Philadelphia. The groom was of Vesper George School of Art at Boston. Connecticut death index would describe Joseph W. Shaw as President of Shaw Advertising. And widower to a second wife. BACK

[14] mp3 audio file retrieved 20 May 2023 from Old Time Radio Catalog website BACK

[15]  Fat Salvage Program Copy Policy by the War Food Administration, February 1945, offered intriguing insight for using language to solicit intended behavior. Specified word choice preferences for instructing civilian participation. It opened with declaration defending “Need for salvaging used kitchen fats in 1945 is more important than ever.” Compare this with Strasser’s 2014 claims: “Women who did contribute felt good about being part of the war effort, even if that contribution was somewhat of a ruse. The types of explosives made with such fats were not of major importance in the war…” And “Keeping women busy and productive was the important thing.” See Turning Bacon Into Bombs by Adee Braun (2014).

For those interested in psychology of marketing messages to consumers, see A Turtles Approach to Truth (2023)BACK

[16]  Independent Commodity Intelligence Services reported the American Fats Salvage Committee collected more than 924,000,000 pounds of household fat during their campaign. BACK

[17]  Richards, probably at Manhattan by 1943, was 1936 graduate of Cleveland School of Art, less than 80 miles due north of Dover. I recommend the blog ‘Walter DuBois Richards,’ respectful and intelligent tribute by the artist’s grandson, Andrew T. Richards.

Copy for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History exhibit ‘Posters on the American Home Front (1941-45)’ described “Two contending groups within OWI clashed over poster design. Those who saw posters as “war art” favored stylized images and symbolism, while recruits from the world of advertising wanted posters to be more like ads.” We might deduce from Fat Salvage Program Copy Policy [at 15] that “Advertising specialists in OWI finally gained the upper hand in 1943.” BACK

[18]  Koerner’s WWII poster ‘Someone Talked’ won award at National War Poster Competition by the Museum of Modern Art. He returned to Vienna in 1946: to discover his parents and brother – all but two of his relatives – had been deported and put to death during the war. BACK

1952 image of Hardestys' two-story, field-stone-faced Larchmont Avenue home exterior.
[19] The Hardestys sold their five-bedroom Larchmont home … with “vapor oil” heating system and maid’s quarters (right) in 1952. To take up Sprain Road residence at nearby Greenburgh on Hudson River. Mary, active in Greenville Garden Club, entertained persistently here and at Sprain Road. BACK

[20] The Family History at Jacob Stern & Sons, Inc. website contends “A chemical engineer named William Hardesty approached Lucien Katzenberg [in hides and tallow business] with the proposition of splitting tallow to yield glycerine, a substance that could be used to produce explosives. The idea was appealing to the family and the plant was commissioned …” Hardesty was not known to have had formal science training. Acme-Hardesty celebrated 80th anniversary in 2023 with 49-page booklet. Jacob Stern & Sons’ single shareholder, Chairman Philip Lucien Bernstein (b. 1942) recalled meeting ‘Bill’ Hardesty, “... future co-founder of Acme-Hardesty, “a number of times” when a “youngster.” Per Bernstein, Hardesty “figured out” how brokers between fat renderers and soap industry could profit as manufacturers. “[His] proposition to my grandfather was that we take the tallow that Jacob Stern had access to, and split it to get the the glycerine, to sell to people who were making ammunition and munitions ... Hardesty was a chemical engineer by training and reckoned that there was a fortune to be made by selling material to the government to support the war effort.” As the U.S. began warring in Korea. “Glycerine, at the time, was worth close to a dollar a pound. The splitting idea had appeal and, before long, open kettles were added” to Jacob Stern & Sons facilities at Philadelphia. On incorrect premise, Bernstein reported “Hardesty went on to start another fatty acid business in Dover, Ohio. To this day, that plant still exists, in a greatly transformed state …”

Lionel® scale model train “tank cars lettered for Jacob Stern, the parent company of Acme-Hardesty, a firm in Philadelphia … were promotional items that Jacob Stern gave to customers as gifts or incentives around 1949 or 1950.” Asserting “no critical problems of fire protection are created,” 1963 Soap & Detergent Association report on fatty acid transport also described “specially lined cars equipped with heating coils …” to prevent discoloration.  BACK

[21] “Acme Hardesty Co., New York, N.Y. Principally for hand soaps and resins” was listed behind only General Mills as members of Fatty Acids Division of the Association of American Soap & Glycerine Producers, Inc.” in 1953 Soybean Digest ranking (here). “Few products have a wider range of usage yet are more unheralded. The consumers of the end products never hear of fatty acids,” observed Pellett, who drew attention to “big expansion” in previous five years. Soybean fatty acids had been considered near-worthless byproducts of soybean oil refiner’s ‘foots kettle,’ sold only to soap manufacturers, who bought them for little more than transportation costs. “Now they are convertible into fatty acids of uniform grades which enter into products as various as rubber and paints, perfumes and paper, and insecticides and cosmetics. And fatty acids are quoted on commodity exchanges at about the price of crude soybean oil.” BACK

[22] 1910 census enumerated Richard C. Hardisty in first marriage, wife Mary E. in her second. And that three of six children born to her survived. William C. and Emma G. (Gertude) were recorded … as was daughter Ella M. (b. c1894). The quintet mirrored 1900 household. 1936 Baltimore Sun obituary cast Emma M. Murr (c1864-1936) as having married Richard C. Hardesty. 1937 Social Security application for Ella Matilda (Hardesty) Delker (b. 1893) gave Hardesty and Murr as parents. ‘Mary E.’ (b. c1862) appeared in 1870 enumeration for Baltimore household of William F. and Mary Murr. ‘Emma’ (b. c1862) appeared in enumeration of William and A. Mary Murr at Baltimore a decade later.

Vivian’s son Stephen J. Shaw (b. 1945) was not mentioned in maternal grandfather’s obituary. Viv made consequential second marriage … to Frank Brisbin Foster, Jr. at Manhattan in 1953. Significant heir to fortune accrued from Diamond Glass Company at Royersford, Pennsylvania, Foster also entered second marriage. He and Vivian returned in First Class Andrea Doria cabins from Naples in 1955. When Mary (Pierson) Hardesty removed to Haverford, it was to be near step-daughter Vivian. BACK

Three-tier graphic representation of generations immediately preceding and following Walter Couzens Hardesty (1892-1962). subscribers will find sandbox titled ‘With the Spirit of Enthusiasm.’