Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Race of Extraordinary Goodness

Bombast was unusual, as my mother's people passed family lore to me. Body language behind assertion – that James Monroe Leer, Sr. (1841-1894) "was the largest dealer of Jennys and Jacks in the Mississippi Valley" – cast dignity. It was a grand statement ... offered in a staid yet impressive manner.

Illustriousness lingered, whenever I imagined this maternal great-grandfather (right).

My immediate question was, "What's a Jenny?"

Properly called a 'jennet,' it's a female donkey. A 'jack' is its gender counterpart: think 'jackass.'

I was, at that young age, astounded to learn donkeys and horses will interbreed. A mule is the offspring of a male donkey – a jack – and a female horse. This presents a wise market niche: mules are nearly always infertile. Jacks and stallions must be trained to breed outside their species, however. Breeders receive credit in trade journals because theirs is not a passive practice: much is involved beyond mate selection.

Leer, born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, opted out of his father's agrarianism. "In his youth, he took mules South and sold them to the cotton growers," a cousin relayed. He emerged from Civil War (in which he was not known to serve1) as a cattle broker. His father, farmer David Leer, Jr. (1803-1885) likely experienced the vicissitudes of war: David valued his real estate at $34,000 when  in 1860 – sons James Monroe and Charles Carrol Leer (1835-1922) yet remained in a household he kept with his wife of thirty years, the former Charlotte Corday Kenney (1809-1897). Another $9,000 were accorded to David's personal estate. Ten years later he appeared in reduced circumstances, claiming $25,000 and $5,000 respectively in the 1870 census.

Bulletin 176 of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Experiment Station appeared in 1913. It is replete with ancestral lines … for jacks and jennets. Just as my grandmother and her sisters forged membership with Daughters of the Ameri-can Revolution, Daughters of Colonial Wars and the like, Hooper and Anderson gave lineage to ‘Jack Stock of Kentucky.’ They depict a King of Spain’s gift of a jennet to George Washington, and confer that Lafayette “sent him a jack from France.” And, sure enough, Washington’s correspondence confirms Charles III of Spain shipped a pair of jacks (and a Spanish keeper) to honor him, c1784. “I have likewise a Jack & two Jennets from Malta, of a very good size, which the Marquis de la Fayette sent to me,” penned the retired General while occupied at Mount Vernon. “From these, all together, I hope to secure a race of extraordinary goodness, which will stock the Country.”  

Anderson (who taught eugenics at Kentucky Wesleyan College) and Professor Hooper (in the newly-formed American Genetics Association) followed on in the next paragraph: “It appears that a Mr. Leer was in the employ of General Washington at this time and, on a visit to his relatives in Bourbon County, Kentucky, he told of Washington's jack stock and mules. Soon after this, a small jack was secured and brought to Bourbon County, Kentucky. It attracted no little attention and comment. The story is told in this county that the people went miles just to look at the little fellow.”2

Tobias Lear (1762-1816) did serve as Washington’s personal secretary … from c1786 until the President’s 1799 death. Lear descended from a long line of New Hampshire Yankee namesakes, however. He’s unlikely related to German or Flemish ‘Lier’ ancestors in my line, arriving at Maryland a decade before revolution.

Hooper and Anderson anchor many Kentucky ancestral lines on ‘Imported (or Imp.) Mammoth,’ a “very large jack” brought overseas in a hammock from a place unidentified. His South Carolina-to-Kentucky journey, c1840, required six months. In what must have been part spectacle, the prodigious beast was walked but short distances and permitted to rest each day. Eventually and near the date of it, Imp. Mammoth reached James Monroe Leer's place of birth. The academics asserted “Henry Leer, of Bourbon County, bred a jennet to him and called the jack foal ‘Buena Vista.’ This proved to be a very large animal and at this time would be considered a rough jack, but in 1853 Mr. Leer sold him … for the sum of $3000.”

This is almost assuredly reference to Henry Leer (1797-1871), brother to David and uncle to James Monroe and Charles Carrol. Anderson and Hooper carried on in Bulletin 212 (1917): “Henry Leer, of Bourbon County, breeder of Buena Vista, imported a jack that had a far-reaching influence in molding the breed. The name of this animal was Imp. Napoleon, and thru his son, Leer's Napoleon, he proved to be a sire of most beneficial influence on the early stock of that county.” Reference among breeders became plural: “The Leers also imported two other valuable jacks: Moro Castle and Alvarado. No description has been left of these two animals but both appear in the ancestry of good strains of the present day.” Moro Castle fetched $5,000 from a Tennessean … “a record price for a jack” at that unspecified date.

It’s not insignificant business. “From these few jacks which have been named, sprang the great jack stock which has made Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and to a lesser extent, Indiana and Illinois famous as mule producing states.” Perhaps on firmer, factual footing, the academics attested “Had Imp. Mammoth sired only one son … Maringo Mammoth … he would have justified all the confidence placed in him by Messrs. Everette and Young in bringing him at a great cost to Kentucky.” The scientists estimated one Maringo Mammoth bloodline alone “was worth $100,000 to Tennessee,” in terms of stud fees generated and livestock produced.

The Leers, as breeders and boosters, played no insignificant part in this vocation. 'Dr. Hartman' (right) was "one of the most noted jacks in the Cook herd" at Lexington, Kentucky, according to The Southern Planter. Chicago's Mayor Fred A. Busse (1866-1914), while in office in 1909, bought the six-year-old. He planned his own breeding program, employing the jack chosen Reserve Champion at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. "While the price paid is not made public, it is known that he sold for more money than any jack has brought Kentucky for fifteen years," when Monroe Leer was most prominent as a market-defining stockman.

The chart below depicts Dr. Hartman's lineage.3 I've boxed antecedents with which Leer family breeders were known to be affiliated. Their influence extended for generations. Allow three years, minimum, for a jack to reach breeding age; they can remain fertile for decades.

Perhaps David settled legacies on his two sons after the war. In one of two land deals the brothers were known to have engaged in, in the summer of 1866, Monroe and about-to-be-married brother Charles (C. C.) Leer purchased the Major Hibler Farm. The partners promptly resold fifty of the 250 acres ... and covered their purchase price.

Observations by "Monroe Leer, a promising young trader," circulated. Return from Demopolis, Alabama, "where he had sold 300 mules at handsome profits," was reprinted in Raleigh, North Carolina in March, 1867: "He reports the trade as having been active, but declining somewhat."

“Cattle men are shipping but few East,” a Louisville paper acknowledged in the fall. “We also observed some superior free martins, sold by Monroe Leer, being shipped on Monday last.” I'd not heard of such a creature: a freemartin is an infertile, female heifer. It offers no reproductive value. If you understand how masculinized cows could be deemed 'superior,' please leave a comment below.

Leer, still in his twenties, was often willing to appear knowledgeable in his trade. The interestingly named Weekly Caucasian in Lexington, Missouri carried his report of an 1869 venture to New Orleans. He'd sold forty head of "medium stock" for $185, and reported "a reasonable market" in The South. We can justifiably associate Leer with Mississippi riverboats.

By 1870, Monroe and Charles were sharing a household, quite likely the Hibler place. Charles valued his estates - combined - at $8,500: his younger brother had apparently begun outpacing him. His estates amounted to $12,500; real estate alone (which included livestock) was enumerated at $9,000.

An 1893 account (left) relays economics of animal husbandry. Language is attributed to 'J. M. Leer, of Paris, Kentucky' ... locale of the state's oldest, continuously operated Thoroughbred breeding farm. “In years past, when horses became so low [in value] that it did not pay to raise them in Kentucky, all mares were turned to the jack,” declared Leer. "Mule raising was the order of the day; in a few years, horses became very scarce, and mules not numerous because they do not reproduce." Mares were not delivering horse stock.

The breeder is keenly aware of long-term, economic trade-offs. In commentary no doubt meant to draw attention to his offer of twenty-one Kentucky Mam-moth Jacks, Leer advocates “Now is a good time to commence breeding to jacks, which virtually means stop raising horses, and thus raise their price …” Does he encourage Indiana competition in mule breeding? It seems contrary to self-interest.

Perhaps Leer could afford to be magnanimous. Accounts a decade earlier reported "the principal jack man of Bourbon" selling dozens of animals, some fetching more than a thousand dollars. When offering five jacks in 1884 (right), Leer boasted "They are of the best breeding, descending from Napoleon, Buena Vista and Imp. Mammoth." Leer's reputation had been established: "Mr. Leer has long been known as one of the most reliable breeders of jack stock in Kentucky," trumpeted a Kansas newspaper in 1886.

In 1887, two years after his father's death, Leer began purveying in earnest: a Delaware buyer spent $700 on one beast. Reporting in both Kentucky and Texas describe, in their own ways, "one of the finest car loads ever shipped from Paris pens to Fort Worth." Fourteen jacks accrued him $10,000. His days of wandering southern byways had passed: Leer offered a catalogue of bred stallions and jacks.

"J. Monroe Leer, of Glenwater Stock Farm ... is one of the largest jack handlers in America," advanced the Courier-Journal, from Louisville, Kentucky in 1888. He'd spent $8,000 on a buying trip into Tennessee. (The same page reports an Ohio real estate investor had just disappeared in that state: "He had a large amount of money on his person, foul play is suspected.") Leer's twenty-two acquisitions were to have descended from "old Buena Vista stock, their dams from Napoleon." Glenwater, which may have been a name he gave his father's 400-acre farm upon inheriting it, reportedly contained-ninety nine head, perhaps in jacks alone.

“Stand upon the crest of the ridge anywhere upon the farm and cast your eye north, east or west, and somewhere in the shade of a locust bush or maple tree you will see one of these shaggy haired lovers,” wrote a “Kentucky newspaper man, detailed to write up the Monroe Leer jackass stock farm” in 1889. The account, which included an up close and personal experience of “the emperor of jackasses, the great ‘Napoleon of Glenwater,'” was reprinted in Missouri. It’s an extraordinary word picture (right): it conveyed a clear sense of the braying cacophony surrounding Leer and his family. Dolefulness permeated the work: “Pulsatory poems … touch the heart of the listener with a strange, half melancholy flavor of hope deferred.” Death came as relief in a pair of allegorical allusions. Perhaps a demise is inadvertently foreshadowed. 

Though breeding vigorously, and buying a herd of Cotswold sheep, Leer seemed to liquidate jacks in the next two years. A Kansas buyer spent $1200 for one. A Californian payed $900 each for a jennet and jack. The Climax in nearby Madison County reported (April, 1890) that Leer sold forty-two jacks  at an average exceeding $700 apiece – in two weeks. Likely based on self-report, the paper declared he'd accrued $66,875 in the previous six months.

That's a tidy sum to put away. Commodities worth $67k in 1890 might today be valued at $1,860,000.

It's a convenient amount.

Leer had married Amelia Turner (1852-1915) at Madison County, Kentucky in 1874. At the cusp of the 'Gay Nineties,' she – and five surviving of nine children that had then been born to the couple  filled a five-room cottage on their Glenwater Stock Farm in Bourbon County. In November, 1889 – for $61,000 – Leer purchased an estate almost adjoining his brother's farm, and within sight of Glenwater. The name 'New Forest' rang with enchantment whenever my grandmother spoke of it. [Loura Kittrel (Leer) Early (1891-1984) would be born there twenty months later.]

“The farm is watered by ponds and never-failing springs, has plenty of timber of the best quality; there are two orchards on the farm; both contain the best varieties of fruit, cherries, plums, apricots, etc., also a fine vineyard," read an 1882 Horace Miller (1831-1903) biography. Leer would supplant Miller as New Forest's "owner and proprietor" seven years later. Amelia must have been delighted. "The residence is a large, two-story brick, with basement of nine rooms; above contains eight large rooms, besides halls, attics, and double porches on the rear; [the structure] has a double parlor with folding doors; the wood work is of solid cherry, all of which was grown on the farm; the yard contains about ten acres, filled with evergreen and forest trees of all kinds; its long winding avenues and drives are lined with trees and shrubs, forming a compact arbor overhead, giving the place a picturesque and romantic appearance.”

The stock farm served its proprietor well. "Its location is 2½ miles from Paris, on the Maysville and Lexington Pike. The Maysville and Lexington [Railroad] runs within 200 yards of his yard gate, where there is a station named ‘New Forest,’ in honor of the farm, which contains 610 acres of choice land, handsomely located, and nearly in a square, in plain sight of Paris ...” A rail siding would have facilitated shipping carloads of mules. I will attend presently to some irony contained in that.

An 1877 map (below) shows New Forest, the Pike, and M&L rail line:

Brother Charles' home can be identified on what is today Mitchell's Run, proximate to a Maysville and Lexington Pike Toll House. The Leer home on the Jackstown Pike – kept by David, 'Cordee' and their Black, inter-generational domestic servant and farmhand (Rachel and son Shadford Bates) – is also indicated. 

The selling spree continued at least through 1891. "Monroe Leer, our noted dealer in jack stock, sold to Mr. Monroe, of Monroe City, Monroe County, Mo., the yearling Jack Monroe, for $1,500, the highest price ever paid for a yearling," bragged the Kentuckian-Citizen, ninety days after Leer secured New Forest.

Sales in 1891 include nine jacks, a jennet, and a gelding and stallion sired by Almont (above), the 'Great Sire of Trotters,' at Lexington, Kentucky ... for $12,000 in April. In September, Leer collected about $10,000 for a dozen jacks, a pair of horses and two of Charles Leer's colts, all disposed of in Missouri. At close of the year, Leer was offering – as far away as Kansas – seventy-seven jacks "of extra bone, muscle and vigor," and "some high bred trotting stallions."

Contemporary authors contend "The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, perhaps along with the protectionist McKinley Tariff of 1890, has been partially blamed," for a financial crisis which swept into the United States from Europe three years later.

Financial collapse at the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad in January, 1893 focused people’s minds on market instability. A string of failures continued, with the Erie Railroad going under in July, Northern Pacific in August, Union Pacific in October and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in December. In all, perhaps 30% of the nation’s railways went into receiver-ship that year. Creditors lost confidence in lenders that had financed railroads. At least five hundred banks foundered, initially suspect for funding shaky enterprises, and then – in a panic – as investors watched logging, mining and livestock transport slow to a crawl. In his lifetime, Leer had seen locomotion replace brute animals in haulage and tilling. In the end, collapse of speculation in that supplanting industry did him in.

That, and bad weather.

Drought-stricken Toronto, 1893.
"Farm products shared in the universal depression," declared Kentucky historian Smith, in what he two years later described as "what will be known in the future as the great panic of 1893." Drought struck the planet. "Although the yields were comparatively small, prices were the lowest ever before reached," Smith reported ... on Kentucky crops, specifically. "The prices of wheat fell below forty and fifty cents on the farms, according to distances from market; other grain and products shared in the decline." Demand for mules fell away as millions of unemployed laborers became itinerant.

Kentucky Advocate editors made 'personal mention' in January, 1894: “Mr. Monroe Leer, a prominent stock man of Bourbon county, is attending the Fox & Co. sale to-day” at Danville, Kentucky. The presence of a monied man likely buoyed hopes for a good auction. Depression lingered, however: "Prices do not compare with last year," came report from the annual jack sale. "Money matters considered," values were described as "fairly good." Leer purchased 'Jim Lane' for $375.

Hard money grew scarce. European banks hoarded American gold. Relays Smith, "The demand for [paper] currency fell off until money soon became a drug in the market." And Leer apparently had creditors. From October through December, 1894, in several publications (left), Leer offered two carloads of extra-fine jacks.

Seventy years later, I heard murmured observation that 'Uncle Charlie' "held notes" to his younger brother. And that he had been unable to cover his IOUs.

On Christmas Eve 1894, a short paragraph in an evening newspaper at Maysville, Kentucky reported J. Monroe Leer's death. In that enumeration of his survivors, "a wife, four daughters and three sons," was correct, perhaps we can trust as accurate that he "died Saturday morning after a brief illness." Leer was described as "a prominent and wealthy stock man of Bourbon County."4

James Monroe Leer succumbed - mysteriously - at age fifty-three. My grandmother ... and her sisters ... were known to contend, "If you can't say something nice about your family, it's best not to say anything at all." Cause of death was murmured as 'Papa's Condition' and, for some time prior, the children had been encouraged not to invade on Mr. Leer's tranquility.
(Read Finding Everett, for more on whispered family lore.)

Cure for Papa's Condition may have centered on opiates. Dr. Bell's opium-based 'Anti-Pain' (right) was likely introduced at Paducah, Kentucky in 1890. It was just one of many such serums available to the afflicted.

Almost as if hurried into type, the Louisville Courier-Journal tucked mention of Leer at the bottom of page seven. Beneath "Sudden Death at Paris" were thirty words. In conclusion: "Mr. Leer was probably the most extensive importer and breeder of jacks in the United States." Certainly a sphere of influence beyond the Mississippi Valley.

I'll leave it to another post, to describe widow Amelia's travails with New Forest. She traded the property with William W. Massie (1820-1906) in 1897.

A photographic record was made in 1905: T. W. Allen, of Paris, as a novice, won Honorable Mention in Kodak’s national competition that year ... for "Driveway at New Forest, Bourbon Co., Ky..' Undoubtedly from that outing, I provide (below) an image of the home the Leers occupied for eight, bustling years.

1'Munroe' and Charles Leer registered for the draft in July, 1863. With a Provost Marshal in the Union Army.

2Anderson and Hooper relied on Charles Carrol Leer as a source. Though fully six years older than brother James Monroe, ‘Uncle Charlie’ outlived him by 28½ years. On Imported Mammoth in Bulletin 176, the authors declare “We have been able to find only one man, Mr. C. C. Leer, who saw this great old jack. He says he was fully 16 hands high and wonderfully well made for his day and time.” Charles’ son Courtland Ewing Leer (1871-1956) would, in 1904 offer ‘Napoleon Jack,’ a “direct descendant of Old Napoleon." He declaimed antecedents had "been in our family for eighty years.” He no doubt referenced Imp. Napoleon, imported by his Great-uncle Henry Leer.

3Note replication of 'Alverado' in the chart (in one instance as 'Imp. Alverado'). According to Kilgore (1858), “From Mammoth has descended Buena Vista, one of his best sons and the largest jack in America.” The indicated animal, sired by 'Patterson's Napoleon,' bears the name ... but was not bred by Henry Leer. Deft breeding undoubtedly added value to genetic strains. There was merit in attending to ancestry. Naming was often intended to indicate heritage and, at times, the breeder. By the 20th century, stock associations registered births and set about protecting against misattribution. Even following introduction, names recycled furiously: historians added appellation, 'Old Buena Vista,' 'Buena Vista, Jr.' and the like. I found examples of Missouri jacks including the preface "Leer's ..." Bourbon County Leers' reputation extended that far; though I am unsure whether any had responsibility for those animals' bloodlines. 'Duke of Glenwater,' foaled there in 1887, plays on Monroe Leer's brand.

Kentucky livestock naming conventions at times hint at the same whimsicality I found in titles to colonial Maryland land parcels. (See Good Luck If It Hits.) Some animals' names are so unusual, there's almost certainly a backstory in their selection. Particularly in early days, name choices often commended owners' values ... or places, events and personages they admired.

4In a way evoking herd instincts, both Charles Carrol, and James Monroe at New Forest, died within a mile of their place of birth. The sense of not straying went back generations. The brothers’ grandfather, David Leer, Sr. (baptized as ‘Lier,’ c1769-1852) built identical houses on Jackstown Pike for four sons … David, Jr. included. The ‘D. Lear’ home place, which Monroe likely later ran as Glenwater Stock Farm, is indicated on the 1877 map above. It sits on land Heinrich Lier (c1720-1802) settled by 1785. “On the east side of the Stoner [Creek], one of the earliest settlers was Henry Leer …” who was grandfather to David, Jr. and the Henry Leer referenced above. According to Perrin (1882), Heinrich (as Henry) "settled among the very earliest, locating on the land now owned by his grandson, David Leer … it having been in the family ever since its original purchase.” My maternal grandmother was delivered within sight of a holding that her foreign-born, great-great grandfather pioneered.

Bold face indicates the author's ancestors.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

To Write on Ends As Was at Hand

Virginia Darcey Slaughter in 2004 opened a window into the life of Kentucky jurist Squire Turner (1793-1871). She posted on a message board that Turner, son of Thomas 'Trading Tom' Turner (1764-1847), wrote Talton Turner (1791-1858). From Richmond, Kentucky to Glasgow, Missouri. "One of these letters survives today," she advised. "It was written August 9th, 1845."

Squire's papers, once entrusted to what is now Eastern Kentucky University, have been lost; yet he is voluminously represented in the record, if you know where to look. Henry Clay kept Turner's letters. Clay was but months from vaulting to U.S. Secretary of State from a third stint as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1827. In the third of six annual terms he'd serve in the state's Lower House, Turner fed political intelligence to his fellow Kentuckian.

The two would migrate to the Whig Party, and Turner would speak for Clay's nomination as Presidential candidate at the party's 1844 convention in Baltimore. (Turner is well-represented in debate at the Kentucky Constitutional Convention of 1849. A prolific writer, he can be credited with much of state law, codified under his influence the following year.)

Portrait of Squire Turner (1793-1871), in the county courthouse, Richmond, Kentucky.
If his mien, conveyed by an oil portrait (detail, right) hanging in the Madison County courthouse at Richmond doesn't do it, surviving historical documents, primarily his legal opinions, tend to portray Squire as taciturn. A rather poignant communique to his cousin breathes life into other reaches of the man's character.

I thought to identify the persons referred to.
Being at leisure this morning I determined to drop you a few lines and found I had no letter paper and thereupon determined to write on ends as was at hand. It is now a good while since you and I started this life - four fifths of our school mates have passed off this stage and gone from this world of care. It is meet therefore that we, while spared, should rekindle our early affections long buried in the busy scene of life. In a few years more, should we be spared, we shall be among the oldest of our name and kindred.

I was very much gratified at the visit your two interesting daughters paid us lately & that gratification was much increased by their companion Miss Clarke.

I hope it is not the only visit we shall receive from your family and Gen'l Clarks - The Turners have never [sic] for as much as they were entitled to. They have never paid enough attention to educating their children and giving them accomplishments and high aspirations.

You have organized a fine estate & are fully able to place your children in the first ranks & I am trying to do it with mine.

I was quite gratified to hear all about you and family & your father and all branches of this family - Your sister Polly was a great favorite of mine. We are nearly of the same age
Tell Gen'l Clark that he and his wife & Ann must come. Ann is a smart girl & a pleasant fellow - I contraried her several times & when she became crusty over it, her good humor soon returned.

Father is greatly taken with Mrs. Pulliam. She must write the old man a letter. He will be delighted to get one [sic] cher him up. Mrs. Estill is a good girl & very discreet so far as I could discover. She was at my house less than the others. They were all such good company that we appeared lonesome after they left.

My health is reasonalby good but age is creeping up on me & my cares are greater as my family grows up.

Your children have of course given you an account of my family & of the community generally. Horace Turner, Joseph's son, has gone to Philadelphia to live.

My daughter Mary rec'd a letter some ten days since from Ann Clarke. Mary will go to Louisville to finish her education in a few weeks.

Old Marsh was about as glad to see your children as anybody was. He came a second time three days after they left. Betsy and all the family send their respects to you all - especially to our late visiters. Tell Mrs. Pulliam to carry to your father my highest respects & to tell the old man that I inquire after him every opportunity & find a lively interest in his health & happiness.

Squire Turner
Turner admits he "contraried" a young woman. This may confirm a churlish tendency. The idea that he would convey sentiments on scraps of paper, "on ends as was at hand," is incongruous. Let's call 'frugal' an attorney who twice turned down judicial appointment to the state's Court of Appeals, "because of the small salary." He "felt entitled to" seven slaves, enumerated in 1840 and likely at his Richmond homestead. He was halfway to an 1850 accounting of a whopping twenty-nine souls held in bondage ... and valuing his 'real estate' at an impressive $45,000.  (See this calculator: had that worth all been slave valuation, the labor value of such human chattel would today represent an estimated $10,400,000.) The attorney in private practice was investing in canals and the like, as part of Clay's visionary 'internal improvements' to infrastructure. Squire Turner was by some evaluations in the billionaire class of his day.

Squire styled his father Thomas as 'Old Marsh.' It is folksy euphemism for aging slave-master. Undoubtedly comfortable in perceived racial supremacy – a view shared by many Euro-Americans in his sphere of influence, even peers advancing emancipation – it may indicate inter-generational value the two men placed on domination. (In 1852 depiction of his jury-trial conduct, Livingston would compare Turner to a commanding general. The antebellum biography may have been based on self-report.)

I find it affirming that Turner valued "our name and kindred." My maternal grand-mother showed similar inclination as she lauded the "fine man" she had never met. Her (half) great-uncle attended to her mother's legal need not long after Amelia Turner (1852-1915) survived her own mother at six years of age. My family history research grows out of handed-down reverence for kinship.

Recipient Talton Turner was not thirteen months older than Squire. It may be remarkable to note these cousins were a generation removed from one another. Both descended from John Turner, Sr. (1705-c1768) and Sarah Elizabeth Williams (c1720-aft 1778). Talton by John and Sarah's last surviving child, Philip Turner (1762-1852), to whom Squire above sends "highest respects." Squire descended from John and Sarah's third surviving (son and) child John Turner, Jr. (c1738-1813) and wife Rebeckah Smith (d 1774). John Jr. was purportedly a full twenty-four years older than Philip. John Jr.'s son Thomas - 'Old Marsh,' above - actually occupied Talton's generation. He, 'Tradin' Tom,' had fathered a dozen children by two of his three wives. (And likely others, by his slaves. More here.)

Talton was age fifty-three; Squire, fifty-two. In "the busy scene of life," the cousins' political paths had aligned after Talton left his Madison County birthplace. An 1883 History declared the early Missouri settler was "remembered to this day" as being one of "only two Whigs who voted that ticket for years."

Image of Talton Turner. No biographer I found indicates Talton (left) or Squire received anything more than crude, frontier education as children. The men gave short-term enlistments to different Kentucky Militia regiments in the second war of American independence in 1812. Talton did acquire training, and by 1817 had secured the role of County Surveyor for Chariton County, Missouri. Three years later he married Sarah 'Sallie' Small Earickson (1802-1878). By 1825 Talton began speculating in land: his agglomeration did not fall short of phenomenal. At times partnering with his father-in-law, who became Missouri State Treasurer in 1829, the men secured thousands of acres in the years preceding Squire's note.

The Santa Fe Trail and Missouri River both brought Talton great wealth. In 1839 he and James Earickson took on proprietors to organize a town at Glasgow, on a bend in that watercourse. On a fine-timbered rise the pair owned, midway between Saint Louis and the newly rising Kansas City. A deepwater landing propelled Talton's hemp and tobacco to European markets.

1946 image of Talton Turner House.
By the 1840 census, Talton held twenty-five slaves on the "fine estate" (right) he is to have built for his bride fifteen years earlier. A dozen labored in agriculture, four enabled him to engage in manufacture and trade. By 1850 he would value his real estate at $100,000. Talton was twice the equivalent billionaire that Squire was.

Some in this cast of characters are easy to identify.

'Polly' was first-born Talton's closest sibling in birth order: Mary Turner (1793-1856) was not much more than eight months older than Squire. She had by 1845, the date of Squire's remembrance, outlived two husbands and was in her third marriage.

"Should we be spared" takes on poignancy. Squire does not ask after Polly and Talton's younger brother Cyrus Turner (d 1844). Almost exactly a year earlier, while driving cattle to Minnesota, the enterprise had wandered into territory the Sioux held by sovereign right. He'd been "captured and maltreated by the Sissetoan Dahkotahs," according to Neill. Cyrus escaped. Destitute and wounded, however, he drowned in attempt to find civilization. U.S. dragoons apprehended alleged perpetrators that fall. Who promptly escaped. The loss may have remained raw. In July 1845, perhaps while Cyrus' nieces were with Squire, four Sisseton men were captured "and sent down to Dubuque, Iowa for trial by the civil authorities."

'Betsy' had been Elizabeth Stone (1800-1887) before marrying Squire Turner in 1819, one year before Talton and Sallie made their union. In her 1840 household were Squire, three sons and two daughters. Among their slaves, eldest was a woman then between thirty-six and fifty-four years old. Of the seven enumerated, three slaves were younger than ten.

Squire and Betsy's daughter 'Mary' Ann (1828-1879) was seventeen and preparing to leave home. He also mentions Horace Turner (1822-1871) as "gone to Philadelphia." Horace is likely notable for having survived the recent death of his father Joseph (1793-1854), with whom Talton and Squire grew up. Perhaps Horace the brewer is remarkable among Turners ... for moving north, to cast his lot among Yankees.

Reference to Joseph indicates these Turners could be clannish, no matter where westward migration took their kinfolk. By his father Edward, Joseph is grandson to Thomas Turner, Sr. (1734-1822) ... eldest sibling of Talton's father Philip and Squire's grandfather John Turner, Jr.. Thomas was likely delivered while parents John Sr. and Sarah (above) were yet in Virginia. Brothers John Jr. and Philip were born in Rowan County, North Carolina. All three siblings would follow Daniel Boone out of the Yadkin River valley and into Madison County, Kentucky. Only Philip would resettle in Missouri, however.

Women occupied Squire's recall, of the troupe that had visited.

"Mrs. Pulliam" was Talton and Sallie's eldest daughter, Eliza Jane (1822-1902). The twenty-three year-old was eligible: first husband Elijah Robertson Pulliam (1816-1842) had died less than three and a half years into their marriage. It was in the 1839 period of their union that George Caleb Bingham painted a (now missing) portrait of the Chariton postmaster. Elijah had in 1840, no doubt with his father-in-law's guidance, purchased a forty-acre parcel of Missouri land in nearby Saline County.

The discreet "Mrs. Estill" was Talton and Sallie's second (child and) daughter, Mary Ann (1826-1900). She was but two years older than Squire's daughter of the same name. Talton had given her away four months earlier. To James Robert Estill (1819-1900). Mention of 'Estill' enchants my research: by his father Wallace, James Robert is grandson of James Estill (1750-1782) ... owner of 'Uncle' Monk Estill (d 1835), the one-time slave who saved the life of my 4x great-grandfather James Berry (1752-1822) following 'Estill's Defeat,' or 'Battle of Small Mountain.' (See Meet Monk Estill.)

Howard County, from unidentified 1851 Missouri map.By 1850, after their first child is born, James Robert Estill will be farming in Missouri with fourteen slaves, and valuing his real estate at $12,000. He named his plantation 'Estill' (now Greenwood). An 1851 Howard County map (left) is revealing: Glasgow contends with the county seat in importance. Estill's enterprise is indicated. Talton's 'Home Place' was a mile and a half south of bustling Glasgow.

Companion "Miss Clarke" was certainly the most challenging to identify. One can assume she is Ann, daughter to a General.

On 10 January 1840, Talton had purchased almost 1200 acres: 312 of them in Linn County, Missouri were secured by a syndicate. From the record (detail, below) I discern his partners were William C. Boon, Thomas Reynolds & John B. Clarke.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, Volume for Missouri.
William Crawford Boone, Sr. (1812-1885) already occupies my database.* Father William Linville Boone (1768-1847) was in August 1845 aboard a steamer. A pall bearer returning to Kentucky from Missouri. At the very time Squire took leisure to correspond, William Linville Boone accompanied what he took to be disinterred remains of his aunt and uncle, pioneers Daniel and Rebecca Boone. For memorializing and reburial at Frankfort.

William Crawford Boone was, like Talton, running a Missouri mercantile business. Talton, when Boone's age, had government contracts to supply beef to the military and an Indian Agency. If he had not already, Boone would soon provision the state legislature from his warehouse at Fayette, Missouri.

Partner Thomas Reynolds (1796-1844), former Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, had for three years been riding Missouri's 2nd circuit. Judge Reynolds was a climber: in the interim, he had swiftly risen from Missouri's House of Representa-tives to serve as Speaker of that body.

The Turner-Boone-Reynolds-Clark land syndicate is interesting for its timing and membership. On 11 August 1840, seven months after its filing, Missourians would go to the polls to elect Reynolds, a member of the 'Central Clique' political machine of pro-slavery Democrats. As Missouri's seventh Governor. His opponent? Whig John Bullock Clark, Sr. (1802-1885), also indicated on the above land grant.

Reynolds was dead by the time Squire reconnected with Cousin Talton. Apparently 'melancholic' and disturbed by treatment in the opposition press, Reynolds had the year before shot himself in the head. With a state-supplied rifle, while at his desk in the Governor's Executive Office.

But for peradventure, the 1840 gubernatorial election could have cost Clark his life as well. A month following the governor's race, a purloined letter – in which the candidate that July had proposed voter fraud – appeared in the Boonslick Democrat. In back-and-forth, public correspondence via that newspaper, Clark finally demanded a "personal interview." After unmasking his accuser as banker and serving State Representative Claiborne Fox Jackson (1806-1862).

Image of news reporting depicting terms of Clark-Jackson duel.
Dueling was then illegal in Missouri. Yet Jackson's second, Chauncey R. Scott,  proclaimed response (right): rifle fire at seventy yards. The medical doctor subsequently refused Clark's demand to choose a venue where none held jurisdiction over code duello.

Clark's final, written shot in this matter gives context for Reynolds' melancholy. He styled Jackson "a cold-blooded slanderer, a reclaimless scoundrel and a blustering coward." As a result of Reynold's election, syndicate member Boone replaced Jackson as Cashier at the Fayette branch of the Bank of the State of Missouri.

It is through Clark that I believe I've identified Ann, daughter of a General whom Squire thought "a pleasant girl." In 1826 Clark had married Eleanor Turner (1805-1873) ... a younger sister to Polly and Talton. None offer source documents, but several online family trees assign a daughter Ann to the Clarks. Not all that attribute an 1848 death date are running her mother's lines, but they may have cut and paste this data from Turner researchers who've placed a child of this name in their trees, based on Squire's 1845 letter above.
(At Finding Everett I explore how the childless tend to fare in preserved, historical record.)

Image of John Bullock Clark, Sr., c1865.
As did Squire and Talton, Clark (right) took his first steps in Madison County, Kentucky. He removed to Missouri with his parents c1818, and was Clerk of the Howard County court when passing the bar in 1824. In 1832, a militant Sac war chief led his people back onto land fraudulently ceded in 1804. Clark was commissioned Colonel of Missouri Mounted Volunteers, but saw no action in the Black Hawk War.

In 1838, Governor Lilburn Williams Boggs issued (the likely unlawful) Missouri Executive Order Number 44 to "Genl. John B. Clark." Squire would have been well aware of Boggs' commission of Clark as Major General, 1st Division, Missouri Militia. And the Governor's directive: "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace ..."

Clark "ferreted out the guilty" among state's enemies and forced dozens, including the beleaguered sect's founder Joseph Smith, into jail without charges. He reported to Boggs, "They have societies formed under the most revolting covenants in form, & the most horrid oaths to circumvent the law & put them at defiance, & to plunder & burn & murder & divide the spoils for the use of the Church." Once the majority were released, Smith's 'Danite Club' (unlike the Sac band, also weakened by hunger) were, by Clark's order, allowed to winter over before being sent from their land.

"As my family grows up."

Squire seems prompted to write to his cousin, to plead that the Turner clan "never paid enough attention to educating their children and giving them accomplish-ments and high aspirations." Placing children "in the first ranks" was important to him. He disclosed his daughter will finish her education in Louisville, then thirty percent more populous than Saint Louis, Missouri. (Squire would obtain financial reckoning on behalf of my great-grandmother Amelia - mentioned above - while she and her sister Matilda Tribble Turner (1845-1926) boarded at William Teeter's Kentucky school, c1854.)

Squire, the prominent jurist, repeated solicitation for Clark's attention. He may have known full well that his son, John Bullock Clark, Jr. (1831-1903), was entering the University of Missouri. And bent on a career in law.

Squire and Betsy's sons were among dozens of men who read law with their father. His first-born, Cyrus Squire Turner (1819-1849), attended but did not matriculate from Centre College. Still two years from serving his first term in Kentucky's legislature, Cyrus seemed content to start a family on a fine farm his father no doubt financed. His second (child and) son, Thomas Turner (1821-1900) had graduated from Centre, taken a law degree from Transylvania College, served nearly four years as Attorney for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and, with seven slaves and an estate of about $40,000, taken his law practice to nearby Montgomery County. Youngest son William Stone Turner (1825-1876) had entered but not matriculated from Centre either. In the 1850 census he declared no real estate, as he practiced law while lodging at a Louisville inn. Squire, with the state's Chief Justice, had received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the college in 1843.

Katherine 'Kate' Turner (1831-1913), Squire and Betsy's youngest surviving child, turned fourteen that summer. Perhaps during the cousins' visit. With Mary's pending departure, Squire may have reckoned with a declining sphere of parental influence. Hence, "my cares are greater as my family grows up."

"I was quite gratified to hear all about ... all branches of this family."

Image of stairway, Talton Turner House
By "a few years more, should we be spared," Squire alluded to the cousin's futures. I found it challenging to create a snapshot in time, culminating as best I could at August, 1845. (Discovery that "Mrs. Estill" would die eight days after her husband, in 1900, touched me.) The U.S. Congress would allocate $1,500 from annuities due the Sioux, in August 1846. To compensate 'legal represen-tatives' of Talton's childless and unmarried brother Cyrus "for depredations." Talton would partner in forming the Exchange Bank at Glasgow. He was not entirely spared: he would die, bedridden by rheumatism, in an upstairs room at his 'Home Place' (above). A Glasgow obituary gushed, "at the time of his death, he was perhaps the most extensive land owner in the state." Squire's firstborn, another Cyrus, would be killed at a political event in the following year. History did not finish with others identified: a War of Northern Aggression would leave - in particular - Squire and the Clark father and son on consequent pages of history.

*I share ancestry with William Linnville Boone's wife, Nancy Grubbs (1771-1835). Their son (William Crawford's older brother) Rev. Hampton Lynch Boone (1802-1851) is notable. I have vague plans for book-length depiction of the Reverend's son-in-law, Napoleon Bonaparte Giddings (1815-1897). The pair's political and social exploits are 'intriguing.'

Bold face indicates the author's ancestors.

Beyond the above time-frame, I thought it might be gratifying to report that Squire concretely anchored notions of "fine estate" and placing children in society's "first ranks." A home (below) he had built near his own - for widowed daughter Mary - would be completed after his death. It still stands, in Richmond, Kentucky.

Image of Mary Hood home, 416 N Second St., Richmond, KY.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finding Everett

UPDATE: Click Finding Everett to see tree.
Divorce. My bluegrass, Kentucky-born maternal grandmother whispered the term in adult company in much the same way she confidentially breathed "cancer." Taboo firmly censured marital disunion in her parents' line. When a television commentator recently used the term 'scandalous,' in reference to the practice in the 1920s, the disapprobation resonated with me. I agreed with the contention.

Another penchant drives this post. I seem not at all deterred from researching subjects who leave no survivors. I'm impelled by source documents: if it emerges in my awareness, I don't mind compiling a distinguishing fact into the arc of a family member's life ... though few will ever trace its contours.

Image of Gertrude Hardesty (1896-1916), seated in a photographer's studio, likely in Lincoln County, Oklahoma.
Let me introduce Gertrude (Hardesty) Rhodes (1896-1916). Youngest of three children born to Oliver Ellsworth and May (Hyde) Hardesty; by the time I'd learned of her, my paternal grandfather Roy David Hardesty had wrapped his youngest sibling's memory with deep affection.

Gertrude died young.

Her final year was likely one of considerable suffering. On 11 May 1916, the 20-year-old gave birth to daughter Gail. The child died four months later, on 12 September.

My Great Aunt's potential line of descent terminated 31 December 1916. A niece, not yet born when Gertrude died, associates tuberculosis. One must be suspicious regarding cause of death in all who pass on New Year's Eve. Gertrude and Gail share an untended Fallis, Oklahoma grave with an interloping, scrub cedar. Their stone is inscribed Gone but not forgotten" ... in an overlooked burgh now described by the state's tourism department as a ghost town.

Image of Gertrude (Hardesty) Rhodes grave maker.
Oklahoma Cemeteries Website
I'd been asked about Gertrude when posting a schoolhouse photo (bottom) to a Facebook group last week. I knew precious little about her spouse: his name was relayed to me as Everett Rhodes. He was a 'railroad man.' I was given to think the groom held an itinerant job, and may not have been present throughout Gertrude's final year. Mr. Rhodes had quickly moved on, while my grandfather's family remained with localized grief during the misery-inducing Dust Bowl. (Note that the marker, right, references parents 'O. E.' and May Hardesty ... not Gertude's spouse.)

Thinking to check my facts, I dug into the record. I sifted through ancestral photos and my document cache; I wandered among family-depicting databases. One online community can be particularly helpful: Find A Grave is a self-organizing group of genealogy 'angels.' Most often altruistically motivated to document 'what is,' they photograph grave markers and manage online profiles. (Some admittedly embellish profiles, introducing facts not in evidence.) While the data set may not be verifiably true, at least it's carved in stone.

It was gratifying to discover Sharon Spain Ingle had created a Find A Grave memorial for Gertrude (Hardesty) Rhodes. It is hyperlinked to daughter Gail, perhaps the child's only original manifestation in the World Wide Web. I was touched to discover a Joyce Hopkins had in 2011 laid virtual flowers on each of the pair's memorial pages. I lovingly submitted hyperlinks to Gertrude's parents, as if somehow reuniting her.

Research then brought me to one of those supremely gratifying moments. A source document, excruciatingly pertinent to these admittedly minor characters, came to my attention: The Oklahoma Historical Society has posted the 2 July 1915 issue of the Carney Enterprise. Two sentences in the 12-page weekly leapt out: "It is reported here that Everet [sic] Rhodes and Miss Gertrude Hardesty were married at Fallis last Sunday. We have no particulars."

Image of 2 July 1915 Carney Enterprise, (Carney, Okla.); Vol. 14, No. 49, pg. 3, col. 2.

We have no particulars. That's an affront to a researcher. A wedding date of 27 June produced no trove among returns from Internet databases. Gertrude, married but a year and a half, remains a stub in the few online trees where the most diligent family historians deigned to record her birth ... likely as they discovered her enumerated in O. E. and May's 1910 census entry, when that family of five farmed Fallis environs in Lincoln County, Oklahoma. None depict spouse or child.

An Everett – born in Missouri, September 1894 – was, in the 1900 census, identified with parents 'Ed.' and Anna, and 2 Rhodes siblings ... in Lincoln County's Otoe Township. At age 16, Everett was no longer resident in the 1910 household of Edwin Beardsley Rhodes (1869-1939), then at Cimarron, Lincoln County. Rhodes the elder left farming, for work at a rail yard as Section Foreman. The younger Rhodes left school.

And thus begins a most delicate task.

I've pursued racial justice work that at times broaches difficult conversations about family heritage: I peer into Rhodes and ancillary family trees posted online, and I suspect a social minefield awaits ... as I consider inviting collaboration, in ascertaining whether Gertude was the first wife of Ollie Everett Rhodes (1894-1980). Nearly all of this man's profiles reference a September 1894 birth date: no Rhodes researcher offer a Hardesty spouse. Two camps have formed. Two spouses are generally assigned to Rhodes. (See the chart, next paragraph.) Only a couple profiles list both.

Flow chart depicting Everett Rhodes' spouses & children.
Here's the rub. When ferreting out 'the particulars' of unsubstantiated family lore, I depend  in the main  on descendants who hold ancestors in some esteem. Else they might not devote the effort of compiling records and offering online trees. I suppose I could have approached each researcher with a limited fact set, foregoing mention of a marriage they may not be aware of. It may be completely self-defeating (and is certainly cumbersome) to drop intermarriage on them ... but, now that I have the fact sets, I feel somehow compelled to lay them out. Untangling this generation's web of relationships certainly inspired a learning experience for me. Divorce may not have been as scandalous at I've been led to believe: heck, it may not always have been prerequisite for re-marriage.

Color image of overgrown schoolhouse, Fallis, Oklahoma.
Brick School, Fallis, OK, 2011
Fallis was not always a ghost town. Author Vingetta Elizabeth Roe's novel, A Divine Egotist, was published in 1916. Without mentioning Fallis by name, the recent resident is to have observed, first-hand, “a town that is fast approaching the dignity of cityhood.” Originally [UPDATE: a Christian Mission among Natives, then] a segregated, African American community, the Fallis Blade had a Black Editor, advertising Black-owned businesses. Yankee capital flowed in. Diligent labor on productive land in the valley of Bear and Mission Creeks produced a cotton boom that generated a half-million, 1904 dollars. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway and the Fort Smith & Western Railroad crossed paths at Fallis. To use a metaphor, my Rhodes research quickly became a maze of switches: I was shunted from one track to another in short order.

By the summer of 1917, months after Gertrude's death, widower 'Everet' was almost undoubtedly going by the name 'Ollie E. Rhodes.' He was a Telegraph Operator for the Denver & Rio Grande Railway Company ... at Grand Valley, Colorado. As the Roaring Twenties kicked in, he was with the Southern Pacific Rail Road at Casmalia, Santa Barbara County in California. He was barbering in Santa Margarita, San Luis Obispo County there, likely by 1922.

Thumbnail image of Luisa Anita (Garcia) Rhodes (1905-1955), c1943, Santa Margarita, CA. maestraslopez shared this with, 10 Mar 2013.
Luisa/Louise Anita Garcia (1907-1955) is known to be in Santa Margarita by 1920. In 1924, the teen bore son Edwin Rhodes (the name given Ollie Everett Rhodes’ father and brother). She bore daughter Gloria Aileen Rhodes the following year. Louise (right) is enumerated as divorced in 1930. The family afterwards referred to Edwin as 'Edmund.' Louise's San Luis Obispo Find A Grave memorial links to no kin.

Rhodes launched into an odyssey with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. As Telegrapher and Clerk, he thrashed about in Arizona and California until his 44th birthday ... in 1938.

I now introduce Loretta Magdalen McGeough (1896-1976). She and Rhodes married in 1960. Santa Barbara voter registration records have the pair sharing an address (she using the surname Rhodes) c1939, however. 1933 birth records of stillborn daughter Sarah bear the surname Rhodes, as did Mary Ann, born two years later. Delay in solemnizing this Rhodes partnership may result from unresolved, earlier unions: Loretta had been married before. Three times, by my count. Twice by Catholic clergy.

Loretta was, apparently, the first wife for all but Ollie.

Image of Loretta McGeough (1896-1976), c1922.
Minnesota-born Loretta (left), working as a bookkeeper, was with her siblings and widowed father in Santa Barbara by 1920. In 1923, immediately after he finished a 3-year stint in the U.S. Army, she married Walter Henry Bruley (1903-1992) ... at Fort Collins, Colorado. Walter was an orphan. Not a prime candidate for online, family tree building. I sense it's a rare find, to discover divorce records: this marriage – to a Denver Tramway Conductor – concluded 28 January 1930. Walter's Find A Grave memorial, documenting a National Cemetery in Riverside, California, links to no kin.

Image of 1924 Brunswick label, ‘California, Here I Come,’ by Al Jolson.
Loretta's next union, with Santa Barbara phonograph salesman Frederick G. Orr (b1889), serves the theme: he too had already experienced matrimonial bonds. He'd stressed, but not identified, a 'dependent wife' when registering for the draft in 1917; Frederick was married, living alone in 1920. Though he'd been resident at the Y.M.C.A. before the couple set up housekeeping on De la Vina St. in 1924, the one-time rural New Yorker might have been 'a catch' for Loretta the Telephone Operator. He sold Brunswick phonograph players. Al Jolson signed with them that spring. His California, Here I Come charted at #1 in June.

Image of Bailard-Cramer Co. Pianos at 936 State St. as seen after the June 29, 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake.
An earthquake hit Santa Barbara the following June. It's unclear how much damage was done to inventory at Frederick's employers, Bailard-Cramer Piano & Phonograph Co. (left). One can surmise – likely for completely distinct reasons – that the couple's marriage took a shellacking in this period. Loretta moved on, Frederick escapes my ability to find him subsequently in any record. Perhaps the earthquake got him.

It's my belief that Frederick Orr doesn't even have a memorial at Find A Grave. He left no heirs I'm aware of. That too seems to be a limitation on representation in my online environment: few care sufficiently to request photographs of their graves.

Loretta's marriage the following year, to Vandal Martin Branstetter (1898-1988), reveals divorce to be far more common than I realized. Vandal left his widowed mother in Portland, Oregon to take up work as a Steam Shovel Operator in Santa Barbara. (Perhaps he warbled along with Al Jolson, en route.) Vandal and Loretta Orr, then of Los Angeles, married at Idaho Falls, Idaho in the autumn of 1926. Walter Bruley that year listed Loretta as his wife, in the Denver City Directory.

Vandal was back with his mother when, in 1930 and six weeks after Walter obtained a Denver divorce from Loretta E. [sic] Bruley, an Oregon court provided Vandal judicial separation from Loretta M. Branstetter. The following summer Vandal married fellow Portlander, Margaret Jolly Christie (1900-1962) at Skamania County, Washington. Except that her surname was Liston. A decade earlier, the apparent divorcĂ©e had married J. Delbert Liston (1894-1976). The Eugene, Oregon automobile salesman was enumerated as divorced in the 1930 census. By 1935, 'J. Del' was married to Junior High School Teacher Iva Belle Wood (1894-1947). Well, that was her maiden name: Iva had, in 1920, gone to Idaho to marry Charles Herman Brune (1900-1978). Charles in 1927 married Elizabeth Mills Harriman (1900-1974) ... also at Skamania, on the Columbia River and not far from the home place of your diligent family history contributor.

Thumbnail image of Iva Belle Wood, (1894-1947) 1915.
Elizabeth, thankfully, had not been married previously.

Iva (right), like Louise, Loretta, Walter, Frederick, Vandal, Margaret and J. Delbert, spent time as divorced persons in 1930. In Santa Barbara at the time, census takers might not have caught up with Ollie Everett Rhodes.

Vandal was, with his mother, settled and farming in Colorado by 1940. Second spouse Margaret, then a doctor's assistant, remained as a renter in Portland ... with 2 young daughters. Had he not succumbed at or near the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, Vandal might have a Find A Grave memorial. The most diligent among those who voluntarily inventory cemeteries could have clarified, via hyperlink, this relationship web.

Though she is buried in Portland, and he among an extensive Eugene family, childless couple Margaret and J. Delbert have memorials. And the divorced couple are hyperlinked (a diligent Find A Grave caretaker posted and sourced Margaret's Oregonian obit: it references Vandal). J. Del is not linked to second wife Iva, however. Iva shares a fate similar to Gertrude's: though her death certificate lists 'Iva W. Liston,' a grave marker in her parent's Wood plot reads 'daughter.' No surname at all is carved into it. Iva's Find A Grave memorial is not linked to anyone.

Elizabeth (Harriman) Brune bore Charles two sons. These parents are buried where they started a family while tending sheep. They are linked in a virtual, Wasco County, Oregon Odd Fellows Cemetery. Digital flowers also appear at these graves.

Image of Mildreth Margarite Ladner (1912-2008) & Gertrude Hardesty (1896-1916).
Gertrude, with a cousin's daughter.
I'm not casting aspersions. This post is to be a digital beacon. To lure those with family lore describing this cast of characters ... to leave comments below (or here), should they be able to corroborate, debunk or clarify my contention: that Everett Rhodes was initially married to Gertrude Hardesty. "Do I have sufficient evidence," I wonder, "to suggest caretakers of Ollie E. Rhodes' Find A Grave memorial accept a link to Gertrude's? How much social unpleasanty would this create?" [UPDATE: subsequent to this blog post, genealogy angels knit Ollie to his purported three spouses.]

Conversational taboo preserves family dignity. It also allows those subsequently afflicted, by disease or societal choices, to be handicapped in isolating belief that they are the first in their family to ever experience a particular hardship. I try to avoid false pride; forgo taking unwarranted, psychic credit for ancestors' meritorious conduct when I find it: so too do I avoid shame. Particularly with regard to slave-owning ancestors, I admittedly find it generally challenging not to judge historical figures against contemporary mores.

When I am able to suspend judgment, I actually grow closer to 'what was.' It seems somehow more rewarding than allowing imagination to paint the past.

Those of you who delve concertedly into family history will understand my sense of immersion; of being neck-deep ... cross-referencing documents as I'm retaining names and dates. While the image of the log schoolhouse (below) initiated this study, it was an extraordinary observation that prompted me to draft this post.

Today is the centenary of Gertrude's death. Happy New Year, everyone!

This photograph, of a rustic, one-room schoolhouse near Agra, Oklahoma, triggered my labyrinthine investigation. Gertrude is depicted with the letter C.

Image of Oak Dale School, near Agra, Okla.

I find this final image (below) compelling, and wish it to be unleashed onto the World Wide Web. O. E. & May's children: Hallie Hardesty (1893-1980), Roy David Hardesty (1891-1970) and Gertrude Hardesty (1896-1916). Roy married a divorced woman whose own father declared himself 'widowed' in the 1920 census ... though his spouse lived on. Roy's son, my father, would divorce before establishing a family. I myself am twice divorced.

Portrait of siblings Hallie Hardesty (1893-1980), Roy David Hardesty (1891-1970) and Gertrude Hardesty (1896-1916).

With deep appreciation for all archivists, particularly those who took time to post the above photographs.