Monday, September 7, 2015

Scandal Sheet: My Father, My Husband, My Sister, My Daughter


Virginia "Jennie" Woodington married Albert E Harper after the death of his first wife, Lillie Belle.

Albert and Lillie Belle had four children. Those children were grown or mostly grown by the time of Jennie's marriage to Albert in 1913 in Grant County, Wisconsin.

Gladys Harper was the third of the children, born 28 Sep 1893. Gladys Harper briefly married Robert Walter Van Riper of Franklin County, Iowa at about age 15. What was probably a shotgun wedding was not so rare, even in those days, so that in itself wasn't necessarily so scandalous. Their daughter Grace was born on 14 Jul 1909. By 1910, Gladys was living back with her family.The Van Riper’s divorced. 

Gladys married Charles Dewey Hansell in 1916 in Brown County, South Dakota while both residing in Aberdeen. Charles was also from Franklin County, Iowa. In 1920, Gladys and Charles resided in Marmath, Slope County, North Dakota. Gladys gave birth to Lorraine Hansell in about 1922 after their return from The Dakotas to Franklin County. Gladys died on 24 May 1924 in Hampton, Iowa. Charles, acting as father, continued raising his now 15-year-old step-daughter and his thee year old daughter.

On 12 Jul 1927, Charles married his step-daughter Lillian Grace Van Riper in Mason City, Iowa, In what I'm sure was a shocking move to the families. I wonder if they felt the need to leave the area because of the scandal of it all and not return.

They moved with Lorraine to Chicago, where Charles worked in a foundry and later as a waiter.
Charles and Grace had three children while living in Chicago: Betty Lou (1930-1940), George Charles (1932-1948), and Jacqueline Jean (1937-1942). 

The Hansell’s lived in Jefferson County, Wisconsin beginning in the mid-1940s and remained there until their deaths. Their son George was the last surviving child and died at age 16 after an auto accident in Jefferson.

Lorraine, Grace’s half-sister and step-daughter, left home and was boarding in Chicago by the time she was 18. She was married, at least once, to Wallace Craig, whom she married in 1957. No other information is available on what became of her.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Scandal Sheet: The End of the Frank & Grace Noble Marriage

William Cooper > Amos Cooper > William Lloyd Cooper > Ann Cooper Thompson > Omar Hazzard Thompson > Grace Lorene Thompson & Frank Noble 

Ann Cooper Thompson Hardy lost her first husband, Daniel Thompson after 14 years of marriage in 1864. They had seven children, including Omar Hazzard Thompson, the second born. Ann remarried Andrew Hardy and had two more children, one of whom died in infancy.

Omar and his wife, Mary Louisa Herbst married in Chickasaw County, Iowa on 25 Sep 1872. They moved west and by 1880, were living in Wheeling, Nebraska. They had six girls and finally a boy, Grace being the third child, born in October 1882 in Burwell, Garfield County, Nebraska.

Grace Lorene Thompson met and married Frank Noble of Illinois on an unknown date. They moved around a bit in Nebraska, then moved Haxtun, Phillips County, Colorado, where they were found in 1920. By this time, they had four children and owned a small hotel. Also noted in the 1920 census, was the fact that they also housed four lodgers: John Dill, Michael Burn, Charles Kester, and Hugh McLane.

1933 Billings MT City Directory
Frank and Grace were then divorced some time prior to 1929 when Mr. Hugh McLane, bachelor, married the divorcee, Grace Lorene Noble, in Livingston, Park County, Montana on 03 Sep 1929. They had been residents of Dillon, Montana. There is no indication that Grace kept the by-then teenage children, with her. They are all found in Nebraska on their own or married in 1930.

1933 found Hugh and Grace living in Billings, Montana. After this, no record is found, but I did find a grave marker for a "Grace L. McLane" located at Crown Hill Cemetery, in Park County, Wyoming which may be hers. No trace of Hugh exists either...except he may have gone to Colorado and worked as a woodcutter as of 1940, living with his business partner. I can't confirm this either.

Frank Noble reportedly died in 1958, though I've not been able to confirm. Three of their four children survived, Frank Jr. dying at age 53 in 1966 while living in Grand Island, Nebraska, after he was hit by a car while driving his son's motorcycle. Daughter Hilda died in Minnesota in 1995 after a long marriage to a railroad man and subsequent remarriage after his death. Daughter Helen married as well, dying in Nebraska in 2001.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Micro-Memory: Moderntone Dishes

My mother, who is from the other side of my family and unrelated to all the people I've discussed
here so far, visited me yesterday as she had various errands to run in town. She lives way out - having retired to an idyllic rural setting about 70 minutes from here about 20 years ago.

She had called me the night before she left to see if I was interested in some things she was going to be clearing out. Included in those things were some beloved small specialty dishes, like a relish tray, that my grandmother had always used on special occasions. I was interested.

Then, she mentioned she had her grandmother's Moderntone dishes made by Hazel Atlas in the 1930s. I leaped all over that. My great grandmother had used those depression-era plates and bowls every day, though I have no memory of her using them. I do remember that my grandmother used them all the time. I adored them. It was all part of the "going to Grandma's" experience. She always saved the blue set for me.

This morning, I will be washing those up and putting them into my buffet, excited that I will be able to use them come Thanksgiving. I care naught for fancy china and silver, but will be using my grandparents silver-plated flatware and Modertone dishes for all of my special occasions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Willow Creek, Montana - Pt 2: Frank Oscar Cooper

"Poker Crew- Bill Taylor, Ted Heily,Johnny Jenkins, Frank Black, Frank Cooper,WN Nixon" - 1935 Ron V. Nixon Collection - Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University - Bozeman 
William Cooper > Amos Cooper > Chalkley Jared Cooper > Barton Gourley Cooper > Frank Oscar Cooper

Chalkley "Charley" Cooper, Frank Cooper's grandfather, found most of his children decamp from the Stephenson County, Illinois area and remain in parts west. One exception was Barton Cooper. He did leave Illinois for the untapped prairie of Prairie, Jewell County, Kansas for about eight years in the 1870s/1880s. He and his first wife, Mary's first addition arrived months after the great blizzard of April 1873 and before the holidays, 21 Dec 1873 in the form of Frank Oscar Cooper. In the early 1880s, the Coopers returned to Stephenson County and remained there

Frank moved from Stephenson County to Seward County, Nebraska, where he was found in 1900. Several other of Charley's children had either settled there permanently or had lived there temporarily. In that year, he married his first wife, Anna Diers Dupin, daughter of Joseph W. Dupin and Georgia A. Fairleigh. They had three children before Anna died in 1914. She was buried in Seward.

That year, Frank headed west to Willow Creek, Montana. His brother Theodore also arrived that year (see that story here). A young widow named Anna Matilda Shogren Holden married Frank in 1916. She had one child, Leslie Holden. Between the three children Frank had with Anna Dupin, the five they had together, and Leslie, there were nine kids. Son Jack took over the ranch from his father and continued the ranching legacy which has now reached into its fourth generation.
Jack Cooper
Willow Creek.

According to the family website, the history of the land went like this:
"Recorded as the Silver Brook Farm by the County Clerk on November 28, 1914, the original homestead of 480 acres was settled by Frank Oscar Cooper. He raised farm animals and harvested a large garden before losing the land during the Great Depression. After receiving a Land bank loan for $200/year, Frank repurchased the land. In 1946, his son Jack bought the land and continued to run a general farming operation for several years.
In 1977, after studying Ag-Production at Montana State University, Jack's son Mark returned to Willow Creek permanently to assist with the ranching and farming operations. Mark began actively working with registered cattle as a teenager under the tutelage of his father. He and his wife Cristy now manage the ranch which consists of over 5,000 acres."
In 1942, daughter Marjorie moved to Vancouver, Washington, where she worked for Kaiser Ship Builders, designing "baby flattops" for the war effort. She then enlisted in the US Navy. She was stationed in Washington, DC, where she drew maps showing where the US fleet was during WWII. Her sister Connie also served as a WAVE for two years.

All nine children have died: Leslie Holden (Anna Shogren's son); Mary Verniece, Howell Raymond "Raymond", and Helen Dorothy (Anna Dupin); Jack Lawrence, Marjorie Lee Jenny, Betty Ann, Clee Scott "Scott", and Constance "Connie," but the legacy of what Frank Oscar Cooper and his children built remains.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Willow Creek, Montana - Part 1: Theodore Lloyd Cooper

Willow Creek Today
William Cooper > Amos Cooper > Chalkley Jared Cooper > Barton Gourley Cooper > Theodore Lloyd Cooper

Theodore was born the sixth of eight children to Barton Gourley Cooper and his first wife, Mary Magdaline Bollinger in Rock Grove, Stephenson County, Illinois. By 1910, Theodore had moved west to Seward, Nebraska where he was a farm hand to the August Brandhorst family.

The Willow Creek, Gallatin County, Montana area had first been mapped by Lewis & Clark in 1805.
It’s considered part of the greater Bozeman area. The stage route also ended up routing through the area in the 1860s. The Northern Pacific Railroad came through Willow Creek in 1887. Theodore arrived in 1914, when the town had a population of about 400 people.  His brother Frank Oscar Cooper bought land there the same year. Electricity arrived in 1918 and some families had telephone service some time later. The downtown included a saloon and a handful of small businesses, including a grocery/meat market, where he was employed. He later purchased the market and operated it as “Cooper’s Market” until 1944, when he retired to his farm.

Cooper married for the first time to at the age of 41 to Effie M. Coursin/Coursan in Silver Bow, Montana on 09 Dec 1925. Their son Ralph Cooper was born in June of the following year. His daughter Ella was born about 1933. The main road through Willow Creek, bringing trade and traffic, was The Yellowstone Trail. In the early 1930s, Highway 10 began construction and bypassed the town in favor of Jefferson Canyon. This hurt the economy of small Willow Creek in the midst of the Depression.  T.L. died in 1957 at a Bozeman hospital and was was buried in Mount Green Cemetery in Willow Creek leaving his wife, children, and four grandchildren. Effie died in 1973 and son Ralph in 1980.

T.L.'s brother Frank became a rancher and next up is a little about the five-generation 5,000 acre ranch just down the road from the little store his brother operated.

Friday, August 14, 2015

CASE SOLVED: Susan L Cooper

Amos Cooper > Chalkley Jared Cooper > Susan L Cooper
Bellingham, WA 1910

I complained recently about how difficult it is to trace women "back in the olden days" because of marriages and the loss of their original identity. In hunting down the children of Chalkley Jared Cooper, this really impacted my work.

Chalkley "Charley" Cooper and his wife Margaret Ann Thompson married in 1840 in Crawford County, Illinois and had nine children. They are, in order:

Capt Robert T Cooper > Emma Brenizer
Mary Ellen Cooper > Jacob M Fisher
Barton Gourley Cooper > (1) Mary Magdaline Bollinger (2) Alice Bollinger
Joseph L Cooper > Carrie L Miles
Margaret Anna "Annie" Cooper > George Emrick 
Amy/Ann Cooper (mystery to be solved)
Susan Lavica Cooper > William May "May" Jones
Chalkley Jared "Jay" Cooper, Jr. > Minnie Janet Kaup
Harlin Cooper (year of birth unknown, died young before 1880)

I found very little to support Susan's existence until I found an obit for Joseph L Cooper. It said he was survived by "a sister, Susie Jones Bellingham of Washington." Hmm. 

Then, I found the Washington Death Records. They list an incorrect first name for her father, but the last name was correct. A person who put a family tree on Ancestry had the wrong first name for her husband which sent me down a road to futility. Doing some tricky backwards detecting, I finally found, and definitely confirmed Susan's story and her later lineage. The gap in information from 1881 to 1899 due to the infamous missing 1890 US Census could be overcome! If she hadn't lived in Washington during those missing years, where was she? She wasn't back home in Stephenson County. Several of her brothers went to Nebraska. Maybe they were close by. 

Susan was born in 1853 in Stephenson County, Illinois. She moved west sometime prior to 1900 when she was both married to W. May Jones and living in Hiawatha, Nebraska. I also found reference they had also lived in Jewell County, Kansas in the 1880s - her brother Barton had also lived there in the late 1870s/early 1880s. They had three children in Jewell: 

Lyman Llewellyn Jones
Edward James Jones
Ira Truman "Casey" Jones

In about 1904, the family arrived in the wild west mining, lumber, fishing/canning town of Bellingham, Washington, where they settled, with the exception of their brief stint in Chilliwack New Westminster, British Columbia. Susan was a piano tuner and lived until 1934, when she died at the age of 81. Her husband May either sold or built sewing machines and farmed during his time in Canada and died prior to Susan on 15 Aug 1931 in Bellingham. Her children survived her. She died 16 Sep 1934.

Ira T. Jones was the fire chief of Bellingham under two administrations and served as assistant chief between political appointments. He retired in 1943. He had a giant cacti collection, which he began selling off in 1943. In 1946, he and his wife bought a beautiful new home. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1970. Ira died in 1978 in Bellingham, and Iona, his Icelandic wife, died in 1990 in Seattle.

Ira named his oldest child Clayton Cooper Jones, further reinforcing the theory that Susan had been found. Ira died in 1978.

I have more items to provide as proof, but will be posting these privately. I'm happy to answer any questions about this research. Fill out the contact form on this page and I'll get back to you!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Race to the Finish: Fred C Monteith & Martin Rector

Andrew Monteith > Edward Boyd Monteith > James Robert Monteith > Fred G Monteith and Martin Rector

The Monteiths were a sprawling family, headed by Scotsman Andrew Monteith and his wife Isabelle Hendry. The family had lived in Penninghame, Wigtownshire, Scotland. They had 11 children, all born in Scotland, and all the surviving children came to the Wisconsin area along with the parents, except oldest child, Mary Ann Monteith McCullough, who moved to the Chicago area with her husband.

Edward Boyd Monteith was a stone mason by trade and was the fourth of Andrew and Isabelle's 11 children. When he came to Platteville, Wisconsin in 1854, he was employed in the building of the State Normal School. He ended up settling on a farm near Liberty, Wisconsin. He and his wife Agnes McCubbin had eight children.
Edward Boyd Monteith

Edward's third child, James Robert and his wife Elizabeth Barger had twelve children. The oldest child, Agnes Mary Monteith married Martin Frederic Rector in 1898 in Preston, Grant County, Wisconsin. They had three boys before 1903, the youngest being only 10 months old at the time of the story. Martin and Agnes farmed near his parents at Spirit Lake, Iowa, having moved there the previous year.

Fred G. Monteith, at age 21, was the middle child of Edward Boyd Monteith. He was a schoolteacher in Grant County and was visiting his sister's family near the east shore of Spirit Lake, Iowa. His visit had lasted 10 days by November 28, 1903. He was scheduled to return to Fennimore, Wisconsin the following Monday.

On the fateful day in question, Martin and Fred had been to town, having been dropped off by the
Okibojiin the Sumertime
Rector's farmhand in the wagon. They told the team's driver, Sam Rettig, if he did not see them along the way back, to go on home. The two dropped their overcoats off at the Schumen's home and stated they would race across East Lake Okiboji by skate and would return to the farm that evening.  At 11 o'clock, Rettig had returned and found the men had not returned. By midnight, Agnes was extremely worried. Rettig notified Martin's father, Dr. A. E. Rector, who along with his brother, the dentist, went to the farm to wait for the dawn so a search could go on.

Fred at about age 15
It didn't take them long, once dawn broke, to find the hole through which both men had fell. Their bodies were discovered immediately and floating side-by-side. They had fallen into water of about 9-feet in depth and gotten their feet stuck in the mud, evidenced by the mud on their skates. Had it not by then been dark and sleeting or had they fallen just a "few rods" in either direction, where the depth and mud would not have been so deep, the outcome might have been completely different.

Martin, the eldest of 10 children, would have been 32 years old the following month. 

Martin's wife Agnes raised her boys and died without remarrying on 23 Aug 1925, at the young age of 49.

Many newswire accounts list the dead incorrectly, naming Fred's brother Llewellyn "Clyde" Monteith as among the dead. The initial article from the Spirit Lake Beacon, on December 4, 1903, listed the dead correctly.

Pioneering Nebraska and the Twister of 1933: Agnes Smith Callander

Jacob Smith > James Smith > William Lawrence Smith > Agnes Smith Callander

You can read about Agnes Smith's parents, William Lawrence and his wife, Agnes Watson and her
Agnes and mother Agnes Watson
difficult pioneer life, here.

Agnes was the oldest of the two Smith children and was born on 07 Jan 1879 in Nebraska. Agnes was not a particularly handsome woman. Fred Callander's family had come to Saline County, Nebraska from Indiana, when Fred was about 13. Fred's father Archibald had emigrated from Scotland and he and Fred's mother Elvira Beebe Jacoby had married in Minnesota in 1859. Agnes and her brother, William Lawrence "Willie" Smith, lived in New Era Precinct, Furnas County, Nebraska after the death of their father. Agnes met Fred Callander and they married on 08 Apr 1897 and as of 1900 resided next door to his parents, Archibald and Elvira Callander.  Her brother, Willie, was a lodger at the home of Archibald and Elvira Callander in 1900.

Tryon, Nebraska 1912
In 1905, the young Callander family, then made up of the couple and three children, moved just down the road to the relatively untouched prairie of near Tryon, Nebraska in the Sandhills, filing on the Kinkaid 640-acre property. According to Fred and Agnes' daughter Mildred, they set about building up their sod house and breaking prairie. Ultimately, the Callander's would have seven children.

McPherson County, Nebraska had a population of just over 2,000 in 1912, the time of this photo of Tryon. According to Nebraska Outback, at one point McPherson County had 20 post offices, five towns and 63 school districts. The trail road in the foreground is now Highway 97. McPherson County is now the third least populous county in Nebraska, with a population just over 500.

Mildred Callander Grabbe described their life in those early days:
"My father had a four-horse team of small horses and a freight wagon used to haul freight of various kinds, mainly I think, food supplies, and taking corn to market and returning with some coal for heating. He hauled freight from Stapleton and from North Platte, many miles on ungraded roads, through valleys and around hills, for both the Mike David and I.C. (Ide) Heldenbrand stores. He would take one day to go, and another to come back. The miles have been shortened much as more modern roads were made. In these little stores they had most anything you would want to maintain that way of life, from food, remedies, pills, liniment, kerosene for the lamps, hardware, dress material by the yard, (or dry goods) sewing notions, hardware, feed and some lumber and fence posts.

In winter it was unbearably cold, so to keep going the long hours the trip would take, he walked many miles alongside the wagon. When he made the trip with snow on the ground, the sound of the wagon wheels made a very weird or eerie sound that could be heard for miles on a cold quiet evening. I remember so well when waiting for him, if after dark, going outside listening in the stillness, and guessing how long yet? It was always a homecoming for we all loved him so much. 
It is hard for today’s generation to imagine, or visualize the “way of life” of so long ago (three quarters of a century). Flour came in 48 pound cloth sacks (the old David Harum brand and the Sioux Lookout brand) I remember, and sugar in 100 pound muslin sacks. These sacks were used for dish towels, or whatever the need. There were very few cereals, a few boxes of Corn Flakes, but mostly long cooking Quaker Oats or ground corn meal for mush. Of course we didn’t get eggs and milk in cartons, but from our own farm. There was no electricity, so no refrigeration, telephone, radio or TV. To keep foods cold they were kept in the water barrel with fresh cool water being pumped by the windmill, and it was kerosene lamps and lanterns that lighted our way.

He also did some carpenter work for others, helping to build barns, and other buildings as progress came. Even when building a sod house, there were doorways, window frames and sometimes floors. There have been many live on a dirt floor till there was money enough to buy the lumber for the floor. 
My father also worked for the U.P.R.R. “Rip-track” for a time, but he had to stay in North Platte away from home, so it was not for long. Then by 1914 and 1915, he and Archie worked planting pine trees at the Halsey Reserve. During the time of planting they rescued some of the smaller culls of Jack, Scotch and Yellow Pine that were being discarded, took them home, planted and nourished them. For many years they were the only pines in the Sandhills and they still stand out, tall, proud and glorious. One spring day 20 or more years later, pushed by high winds, a fire raged through the forest burning many of the trees planted during the years the Callanders worked there. But over the years, our home trees grew very well. Planting at the Forest involved first plowing a furrow over prairie hills and all, then working with a spade pushed into the soft sandy soil, worked back and forth, a tree was inserted and with a firm step pressed closed, it was left to grow."*
The Callanders farmed for many years, raising their seven children and moved into their old age. The work was hard and along the way they experienced their share of tragedy. Oldest son Archibald was drowned at age 31 at Whitewater Lake in western McPherson County, leaving a wife and two small boys. Daughter Ruby and her husband William Cass were killed in an auto accident in 1950.

In May of 1933, Tryon, along with many other towns stretching from Minnesota to Kansas, was struck by a twister, wiping out buildings and the old soddie. Fortunately the family did not experience any loss of life, but Agnes was injured along with 17 neighbors. Other neighbors and friends were not so lucky.

Ann Callander McGiff recalled the fateful day:
"On Monday, May 22, 1933, the old sod house was destroyed by the cyclone that caused so much damage on that fateful evening. On the previous Friday afternoon, on the last day of school when I walked home with little Iola Pyzer, I had no idea that the next time I would see her she would be with younger sister in their Mother’s arms lying in a casket. Along with the other five victims in the mass funeral services held in Miller Chapel. The Harry Pyzer family lived less than a mile north of us."
Mr Pyzer had been in North Platte that day and returned to find only his dog, Nick, and a few hogs remaining alive. His entire family was lost: Willis Bender, 29; Don Bender, 9 months; Iola Pyzer, 7; Mary Evelyn Pyzer, 5; Mrs Dora Pyzer, 25 and Mrs Edna Nelson, 23, were killed. The Benders and Mrs Nelson were visiting there.

Fred died 15 Jan 1944 and Agnes followed him 01 Jul 1962.

Sources: US Census; Find A Grave, and with thanks to *OutbackNebraska, who provided permission to use photos and stories previously published as reference.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sideroad: The Preston Family

Matthew Preston
Jacob Smith > James Smith (and after that, it gets murky)

I find that sometimes, I get distracted when working on a specific line or family. Something outside of the direct line catches my fancy. This would be a case in point.

Matthew PRESTON founded the small town of Preston, Grant County, Wisconsin. He was an early settler there, having arrived from Yorkshire, England in 1851. His first wife, Elizabeth Little, also of Yorkshire, bore him seven children. Two of those boys, James Woodward PRESTON and John Thomas PRESTON, married two Monteith sisters, Martha and Mary Agnes, respectively.

They were daughters of Edward Boyd MONTEITH and feed into my line. EB Monteith's daughter Elizabeth married Jacob Smith, his daughter Jessie married Jacob's brother, Alexander, and his daughter Isabelle married Walter Smith, William Custer Smith's son  (my 2d great grandfather) and nephew to Jacob and Alexander. That's clear now, right?

Young Edwin Wesley Preston
Anyway - back to the PRESTON family. Matthew's first wife died in 1865. He headed back to England and brought back his new bride, Abigail Jane Heseltine, whom he married in 1868. In 1870, the Preston's moved to Platteville, Wisconsin. They too had seven children. Matthew donated 120 acres of land to Platteville for what was then Platteville Normal College what was later known as the University Farm. And this is where I took a major sideroad.

One of their sons, Edwin Wesley Preston, skeedaddled out of the area and little was found on him except the usual documents. He looked, on the surface, to be the least interesting of the set of seven kids of Abigail. How wrong could I be? He was not in the news much, but he was a one of the powerhouses behind what got reported.

He married the former Mabel Peck in 1900. They had no children.

According to a report from the Boston Herald on 20 Dec 1941, his story went a little like this:

Corinthian Club
He graduated from Wisconsin State Teacher's College but he had no interest in teaching; business was more of his forte. He was involved in a number of commercial enterprises in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere, when he came to Boston in 1913. He was connected to a group of New England publishers, representing their newspapers in the national advertising field. In 1915, his work was brought to the attention of James H. Higgins, at that time the publisher of the Herald-Traveler where he began working in their automotive advertising section. Before long, he was the advertising director.

As the Boston Herald-Traveler broadened its success, he became the general manager of the paper in 1927. He continued the success of the publication and it was said he, "disclaimed personal credit, saying it was much more due to those who worked so loyally in co-operation with him."

246 Beacon St Boston
His home in Boston was located at 246 Beacon Street a block from the Charles River. They had three servants to run the large brownstone. Edwin was a member of Boston's Algonquin Club, which was founded in 1886 by individuals who valued "accomplishment over inherited status." He was also a member of the Corinthian Yacht Club and other clubs throughout Boston.

From 1929 to 1937, he took several trips to Europe and more tropical locations aboard passenger liners. He also spent time in Florida, a warm alternative to California. Sometimes with his wife, and after her death in 1935, with other family members. Sometime around the time of Mabel's death, his niece, Ruth Tiffany, came to Boston and looked after her uncle and ran his household. I'm hoping to learn more on Ruth's life in Boston soon.

In 1940, he was forced by ill health to give up the active reigns of the Herald Traveler. He moved to Beverly Hills, California, where he died 19 Dec 1941. He died a very wealthy man and I believe a chunk of it ended up going to Ruth Tiffany. Look for a coming post that will discuss the Tiffany's of Hollister, California.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Edge of Madness:Unraveling the Mystery of Bertha McKinney, Part 2

Bertha McKinney Surber
To catch you up on Part 1, go here. I had to find out a lot of things to close the loop on this one. For one, where did she come from and why was she in Cherokee?

Bertha was born to Oliver Blowers McKinney, MD and Carrie Snider on 29 Jun 1887, in Champaign, Illinois. Dr. McKinney was born in Muncie, Indiana in 1863, and graduated from the Medical College of Indiana in 1885. He came to Lyon County, Iowa in 1893, settling first in Little Rock and a year later coming to George. Mrs. McKinney died in 1897, leaving her husband and Bertha, brother, James Oliver and sister, Bessie June surviving. Her father married Margaret Bernadine Block on 02 Jun 1908 in Kingsbury, South Dakota. They would have two more children: Roy Ira and Olive B. The new Mrs. Block would serve as Dr. McKinney's nurse during the entire time he practiced.

Bertha, according to a family history written in 1904 by G W Nance, had a magnificent singing voice: "She has devoted much time to music and has a reputation throughout northwest Iowa for her musical ability, and expects to go abroad to continue her music."
Dr. O. B. McKinney, Bertha's mother Carrie Snider, Bertha's stepmom, Margaret
Now I know how her future husband, Guy Surber and she connected - through their love of music. She never did go abroad to continue her music and instead married Guy on 05 Sep 1917 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, where he was serving in the Army and playing in its band at Ft Sam Houston.

Guy Arnold Surber
The Surbers would lead a traveling life of a military family before having their children. While living in Minnesota, Bertha was struggling. She was admitted after a suicide attempt, to the Cherokee Hospital for the Insane on 26 Aug 1935. Her son Guy, Jr. would have been about 12 years old. The Cherokee facility was very near where Dr. McKinney and his family lived. Guy Surber continued on with his military life. Who ended up raising the children is not clear. The hospital record indicates that at least Marijune at one time resided in George, Lyons County - home of the McKinney's. Both children ultimately ended up out in California and so did Bessie, Roy and Mrs. McKinney, so it can be posed that it's possible one of Bertha's siblings chipped in to help.

When Dr. McKinney died in 1937, his will was probated and the outcome of the distribution took some time. The Cherokee facility moved to have Bertha declared incompetent and a trustee name so that the trustee could handle her inheritance. Of course, the facility also provided Bertha with a bill for the care provided for the past three years: $548.79.

She was diagnosed as a manic-depressive with possible dementia and while there were no more suicide attempts, she wasn't getting better, in fact, she continued her slow descent for 13 more years until her death at age 60 of pulmonary tuberculosis, never leaving the hospital.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ma, the Rawleigh Man is at the Door: Claudius Cooper

William Cooper > Amos Cooper > Chalkley Jared Cooper > Barton Gourley Cooper > Claudius Milton Cooper

Barton Gourley Cooper and his first wife Mary Magdaline Bollinger had eight children, including their last, a set of twins, Claudius Milton and Minnie M. Cooper, who were born on 19 Feb 1886.

Minnie remained in their hometown of Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois her entire life, never married, and was the last remaining of Barton’s children, dying in Mar of 1982.

Her twin brother Claudius, or Claude as he was known, graduated from Northern Illinois Teacher’s College and went to work for W. T. Rawleigh Co., a Freeport firm that sold more than 100 household products — medicines, salves, balms, spices, flavorings, seasoning, ointments, makeup, and cleaning products.
A typical W. T. Rawleigh Salesman early 20th Century

W. T. Rawleigh Factory, Freeport 
At 18, W.T. had reportedly started his business with $15 and a borrowed horse. As his success grew, he moved from Wisconsin to Freeport, Illinois, where he built his first factory. W.T. Rawleigh’s success spread across the country where he built production facilities and had thousands of door-to-door salesmen adding to his success. Products were sold on “time and trial” – meaning they’d sell the product with satisfaction guaranteed. The height of the popularity of W. T. Rawleigh, like so many other companies of its type, was primarily in the 1920s-1940s. Large pharma and consumer product companies were buying up brands to add to their lines and absorbed many such companies. Rawleigh’s managed to keep things going until 1989, when financial struggles finally did it in, leaving five massive factories vacant. The W. T. Rawleigh name is now owned by a company in Florida called Vitamins Direct.

251 Wildwood Ave, Piedmont
Claude was a sales executive when he was transferred to Oakland, California. He eventually became a division manager of the Oakland factory. He met Miss Josephine Fisher (born 04 Nov 1896 in Michigan) while there and they married on 01 Sep 1917 in Marysville, Yuba County, California. The Cooper’s had two daughters while in California, Mavis (10 Jan 1919-23 Feb 1999) and Joyce (Theodore) Pierce. They resided at 251 Wildwood Ave in The exclusive Piedmont section of Oakland, off of Piedmont Park. The estimated value of that home today is $2 million.

Prior to 1930, Claude was called back to Freeport corporate headquarters to work. After residing briefly with his parents, the Cooper’s settled into their own home. Claude continued to work for W. T. Rawleigh until 1958, when he retired. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, the Elks Club (past president), and the Freeport Country Club. Claude died at the Freeport Memorial Hospital after a long illness in March of 1973 at age 87. His wife and children survived him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Losing the Trail: Harriet Smith

Vineyards in a much younger San Joaquin County, CA
Jacob Smith > James Smith > John R Smith > Harriet Smith Robinson

Damn. Stuck. Can't go any further with this relative. One of the greatest frustrations in my genealogical life is women. Women who get married. Just about every dead end I have is related to a young woman in a family who marries (we know not who, because of a lack of trails to that husband) and we never see her again. Or women in marriages who remarry after the death of their first husband and the trail to the second husband is not in the available records. Or women, who lose their spouse and somehow history loses them completely.

These occasions also give way to my imagination. I begin filling in the blanks. With this case, I imagined a full story, but only have a couple of details. And I learned a lot about a lot along the way. Leaving it to the details only...

Harriet Smith was third of 12 children of John Richard Smith and Nancy Catherine "Nannie" Baker. The Smith's lived in Fennimore, Grant County, Wisconsin, for some little time before heading to Iowa and then South Dakota for a spell. They then headed way West to San Joaquin County in California. San Joaquin is part of the great California bread basket - the Central Valley - home of some of the most productive agricultural land in the world. Sometime after 1900, the Smith's bought land in Dent Township, which in 1910 had a population of about 2,000 souls. This is in what is now the Manteca, California area.

Sawtelle National Soldier's Home, Malibu
Nannie died in 1910. John farmed with his son Samuel and both tended vineyards and sustenance farmed. I would suspect that they sold their grapes to any one of the up and coming wineries in the area. John, a former Civil War vet, was residing on and off from about 1914 at the Sawtelle National Soldier's Home in Malibu, Los Angeles County, due to heart problems. He was last admitted there on 07 Oct 1921, but returned home and died in Ripon, San Joaquin County, California on 22 Nov 1922.

Harriet, born in  Iowa on 07 Mar 1871, married Frank L Robinson in 1888. They lived in Oakland, California in a very diverse working-class neighborhood. Frank was a bridge carpenter. Many bridges were built in Alameda County during the 1890-1920 time frame. In 1918, Frank died. No record of his death was found yet, but it could have been accident or illness. Construction was a dangerous business back then.
Oakland California in 1912
This left Harriet with three girls to finish raising. I suspect that the first two, Alice and Mattie, got married somewhere between 1910 and 1918, but the trail is lost. Young Dorothy, however, remained with her mother.

Having lived in this part of California for many years, my research led me to some interesting places that I can picture as it is today. Newark, which now has a population of about 55,000 people, is part of the sprawling and endless corridor between Oakland and San Jose. Then, it was agricultural land. Newark Precinct was for farming, not freeways.

Rasmus Albertsen Family
Back then, dairy farms were rife in this part of California and a full 65% of the dairy farmers in the state were Portuguese. The Danes accounted for a large number as well. There was a dairy farm in Newark Precinct where I found Harriet in 1920. She and her daughter were classified as "servants," cooking for the many German and Swiss dairy hands. The farm manager and Harriet's boss, was Rasmus Albertsen, who lived on the property along with his wife Catrina and daughter Ruth. Rasmus had come to America from Denmark in 1905 and his wife in 1915. He would go on to own his own dairy in the same area in California that Harriet's father farmed.

Harriet then drops off the face of the earth, along with her daughters. The next time I can find her is in the California Death Index, where it says she died in neighboring Contra Costa County on 12 Mar 1937. Did she live in a facility? Did one of her daughters take care of her? What did she do in the intervening years?

This is one I have to chalk up to the imagination, because I see nowhere to go.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Miracle Braves of 1914: Leslie Mann

William Cooper > Amos Cooper > Chalkley Jared Cooper, Sr > Joseph L Cooper > Jessie Cooper
Young Les Mann
and Leslie Mann

The great extended Cooper clan of Pennsylvania was everywhere in the Stephenson/Winnebago counties area by the late 1800s. Amos, the first pioneer, who had settled in Clark County, Illinois had a large family which included Chalkley Jared Cooper and his wife Margaret Ann Thompson who had found roots in Stephenson County. They were successful and very well-regarded citizens of Rock Grove.They had nine children, the fourth being Joseph L Cooper, who headed west to Nebraska.

Joseph married his wife, Carrie Miles, born in Marengo, Iowa, on 26 Dec 1881 in Buffalo, Nebraska. He lived in Norfolk, and was later a day laborer in Lincoln and eventually ended up in Omaha, owning a second-hand shop. They had three children: Fred Harmon, who died at age 30 in 1914, Jennie, and Jessie. Jennie is not listed as a surviving child in her parents' obituaries, so I would guess she too died young.

Jessie met Leslie Mann, a star 4-letter man who attended Lincoln High in Lincoln, and married him immediately after his graduation, on 04 Mar 1911 across the river from Omaha in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Leslie was the son of Samuel and Minnie Mann of Lincoln. Leslie and his brother Chauncey (Channing) R Mann, both stood out on the athletic field. Both would make athletics/education/service their life's calling. Les looked back later in life on his greatest sports moment and he said it was the football game between Lincoln High and Omaha Central in 1909 or 1910. Football would remain the game he loved best.

Miracle Braves of 1914
Leslie attended Springfield YMCA college in Springfield, Mass, where he also 4-lettered. In 1913, he joined the Boston Braves and played in the World Series as an outfielder on the "Miracle Braves of 1914." The team had moved from dead last in the rankings in the last two months of the year and ended up taking it all in four games straight (you can read more about that here).

Les Mann as a Cub
In 1915, he moved on to play with the Chicago Cubs and played in the 1918 World Series between the Cubs and Boston Red Sox. It was while in Chicago that their only child, Leslie Mann, Jr., was born in 1918. Mann would have an RBI single off of the famous Babe Ruth in Game 4 of the 1918 World Series. He would later also play for the St Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Giants.

Baseball wasn't the million dollar contract game then that it is now, so Les coached between seasons. He taught basketball at Amherst from 1915-1917, and Phys Ed at Rice Institute from 1919-1924. During the first World War, he worked at Camp Logan in Texas for two years. He was the head basketball coach for Indiana University in the 1922-23 and 1923-24 seasons and at Springfield College in the 1924-25 and 1925-26 seasons.

Once he retired as a player and coach, Mann became an advocate for baseball as an international sport. He founded the USA Baseball Congress and organized a 20-game tour of Japan in 1935. He was also largely responsible for baseball being selected as a demonstration sport for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He went on to found the International Baseball Federation, which organized an international championship in England in 1938, Cuba in 1939, and Puerto Rico in 1941.
Spalding Official Base Ball Guide

During World War II, he worked for the USO, first as director of the federal USO building in Tampa,
Florida, and later as director of the mobile division of the USO for the West Coast area.The family, after a life on the road, settled in the Pomona/Pasadena area of California and Les remained mostly retired after the War. Les wrote many books on various sports.
Coach Mann, Indiana University Basketball, 1922-23

Tragically, Leslie's California retirement was cut short. Despite his athletic background and good health, Les and Jessie were driving in Pasadena on 14 Jan 1962 when Les complained of feeling faint. Moments later, he had a massive heart attack, lost control of his vehicle, and hit two parked cars. Mrs. Mann survived the crash, but Les died of the heart attack that day at the age of 67. Jessie died 08 Jul 1969.

Jessie & Leslie's son Leslie grew up to serve in the US Navy during World War II as an Ensign. After the War, he attended Stanford Law School. He married and was a successful attorney in Pomona who later resided in Scottsdale, Arizona. They had a son, Leslie Mann III.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Together Forever: Alta and Elva Cooper

William Cooper > Amos Cooper > John L Cooper > Alfred James Cooper > Alfred D Cooper > Elva & Alta Cooper

The girls were raised in Traverse City, MI, depicted here from 1908.
Elva (16 Oct 1885, Kansas) and Alta (18 May 1887, Traverse City, Michigan) COOPER were the daughters and only children of Alfred D Cooper and Martha “Mattie” Cline. Their mother died prior to 1900 and unlike many men who found themselves a single parent during that era, Alfred managed to keep the family together by living in a boarding house with the girls while he worked as a machinist. The home at 820 Randolph St in Traverse City was owned by Mina Packard, who was also widowed and living with her child.

In 1906, Alfred married Diana AUTEN Calkins Kempton. Diana had at one time been a dressmaker. She had recently lost her second husband, John Kempton, a farmer, who was 79 at the age of his marriage to Diana in 1900 (she was 43).

The girls completed their schooling and became school teachers, teaching in the same communities beginning in 1908. They lived at home for some little while, being noted in the 1920 Census as living together with Alfred and Diana while both teaching school in Ridgeway, Lenawee, Michigan.

In 1930, the girls were residing together in Athens, Ohio, where they were instructors in education classes to training teachers at Ohio State-Athens. They were grade supervisors at the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education. The school, like many teaching colleges, created a laboratory school called the Rufus Putnam School. The ladies supervised teachers doing their practicum until at least 1937. By 1940, the ladies were living in Cleveland, Ohio, but returned by the mid-1940s to Athens Township, in The Plains, where they remained. They also taught at The Plains Elementary School in Athens, where they taught until at least 1958 (in their 70s).
Together their entire lives and into death

The ladies were incredibly active in the community. hosting and holding numerous events for the Plains Women's Methodist Society, The Plain Garden Club, The Plains Women's Society for Christian Service, and later, the Naomi Study Group.

Upon retirement, they continued to reside together until they could no longer remain at home, moving to the same long-term care facility in Athens, where they died within 24 hours of each other on 06 (Alta) and 07 (Elva) Mar 1980. They were buried together at Athens County Memory Garden.

Elva and Alta Cooper by grapevine. They were first cousins of noted historian
Angie Debo and kept in touch with each other.