Friday, March 20, 2015

Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, and The Keeley Cure: Agnes Watson Smith Bowers

Jacob Smith > James Smith (brother of my 2nd great grandfather William Custer Smith) > William Lawrence Smith married Agnes Watson

Agnes Morrison Smith and
Agnes Watson Smith Bowers
James Smith, born in Guernsey, Ohio, in 1822, left his family in Grant County, Wisconsin and headed to Polk, Bremer, Iowa along with several other family members in the mid-1860s. He had served faithfully as a sergeant with Company K, Wisconsin 19th Infantry Regiment from early 1862 until mid-1865. Part of that time was spent as a POW. He and his wife Susanna Johnston Smith had seven children.

Their fifth child, William Lawrence Smith, was born in 1853 in Grant County, Wisconsin. He moved with the family to Iowa, then moved as a young man West to the Republican Valley, Spring Creek Township, Harlan County, Nebraska. The Republican Valley, named after the Republican River, was a rich prairie land and favorite buffalo hunting ground for the Sioux Indians. Settlers had feared to travel there until the the US Army ran a series of campaigns, ultimately annihilating the warriors and capturing their women, children, and horses in 1869. W.L. Smith arrived sometime in the mid-1870s, when the settlements were only a few years old.

Agnes Watson, the fifth child of Scottish Immigrant parents, was born 22 Dec 1856 in Astoria, Queens, NY.  Her parents were James Watson, born 07 Jan 1825, and Agnes Morrison, born 07 Aug 1826, both in Dundee, Angus, Scotland.  The two surviving children of the four they had in Scotland, accompanied them across the ocean. Young Agnes was the first to be born in America and was quickly followed by four others, one of whom died in infancy.

Jesse James
With the Civil War over, the family decided to move West. The eldest son, James, and a couple of other young men walked West in hopes of finding a place for their families to settle. And, of course, what would any family story be without the appearance of outlaw Jesse James?
"Most of their money they carried in their shoes, but they also had a little pocket money.  One day they were robbed by Jesse James of their pocket money.  When they reached Nebraska, they decided this was the place and soon the rest of the family joined them."
Agnes met and married William Lawrence Smith on 08 Jan 1878. They had two children, Agnes Morrison was born 07 Jan 1879, and William "Willie" Lawrence was born 22 Mar 1880. Willie did not get to meet his son, because in early February 1880, Willie died at age 27 of what the coroner determined was heart disease.

What's a girl to do - on the frontier, with two small children to raise, but get a job and figure it out? In 1880, her widowed father-in-law, James Smith, lived with the family in Spring Creek. But then,
Buffalo Bill Cody
Agnes was hired to work in the kitchen of  Buffalo Bill Cody and Frank North's cattle ranch dubbed Dismal River Ranch, outside of North Platte. The ranch was built in July 1877 on the headwaters of the Dismal River in the Nebraska Sandhills. Cody and North sold the ranch in 1882 and it's unknown whether she continued to work there.

In 1884, she met  and married Mr. Joseph Cyrus Bowers, born 16 Jun 1861 in Linneus, Linn County, Missouri. Joseph is sometimes listed as an M.D., but is listed in the 1900 census as a pharmacist. He worked for the Keeley Institute, which promised cures for alcoholism, tobacco use, and drug addiction. He traveled extensively pitching the cure - a concoction of widely varied chemicals that are thought to include strychnine, alcohol, apomorphine, will bark, ammonia, and andatropine. Bowers extolled the virtues of the "Keeley Cure" far and wide until his untimely death at age 44 in 1905 at Oxford, Nebraska. This "cure" eventually fell out of favor, but was used in variations through 1965.

Joseph and Agnes had two children who survived to adulthood, Van Buren (named for Joseph's father), born 02 May 1885 in Oxford, Nebraska and James Harvey, born 20 Sep 1888 in Bucklin Township, Missouri. Van Buren reportedly left home in 1902 to go work for his uncle Dave Watson and aunt Belle Watson Richardson, both of whom had married and moved to Crook County, Wyoming. He returned home for a visit in time for his father's funeral.

Agnes' daughter Agnes Morrison Smith had met and married Mr. Fred Callander sometime before the turn of the century and pioneered in Nebraska. Their story will follow.

Life after Joseph's death had its ups and downs. Her son, like his father and namesake, died at age 27.
"Agnes then kept house for her eldest son, Willie, as he had a homestead and times were hard. There were a lot of big birds in the area and many of them roosted on the windmill. Willie and Agnes devised ways of catching them and used the meatiest part for food to keep from starving. In 1907, Willie somehow injured his foot and it developed into blood poisoning and he died June 6, 1907.
Agnes decided she wanted her family reunited and so she and James Harvey loaded all their belonging into a covered wagon and Agnes' buggy and headed for Sundance, Wyoming.  The wagon was so loaded that in places they had to unhook the buggy team and hook them on the wagon to pull the load over the steep places, then go back for the buggy.  By the time they reached Sundance, where Van lived, the horses were nearly dead."
Bear Lodge Country is located in a small mountain range outside of Sundance. It's near Devil's
Devil's Tower
Tower, the first declared national monument. Sacred to the Indians of the area, the tower was so declared by naturalist and President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Sundance, founded in 1879, was settled after numerous battles with the Indians in the area. Early settlers set up mining claims and cattle ranches. Crook County was named in 1885.

"When the family was all together again, they each took out a homestead in the Bear Lodge Country about 13 miles from Sundance.  They built a log house for Agnes near a beautiful littlespring.  They cleaned out the spring and rocked it up so they could get the water deep enough to dip from and still leave it to run freely. They lived there long enough to prove up on their homesteads and for the two boys to marry.  Van married Hilda Reinhold on 01 Oct 1913 and James married her sister, Amalia, 11 Nov 1917."

Sundance, Wyoming abt 1910
Once the boys were both married, Agnes moved into town and took in patients to nurse in her home. When age and infirmity kept her from being able to work, she moved in with son James and wife Amalia. She died on 06 Jan 1934.  She'd lived a long life, fraught with hard work, near-starvation, the loss of two husbands and two children, yet she was a survivor.

Quotes taken from a document believed to be:
Pioneers of Crook, County, Crook County Historical Society, Crook County, Wyoming, Pierre, SD; circa 1981

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Raid at Cabanatuan: Japanese POW Clinton Spencer Goodbla, World War II

I've decided to try and provide a list of descendency for these stories to help my fellow genealogists:

Jacob Smith > James Smith (brother of William Custer Smith - my 2nd great grandfather) > John R Smith  > Alfred Smith > Susie Smith Behrends > Dorothy Behrends married Clinton Spencer Goodbla
Add caption

Clinton Spencer Goodbla was born to Carl F Goodbla, originally from Sweden and Amelia S. Backlund in Montana. Spencer, as he was known when he was young, lost his mother in 1915. He lived with his aunt and uncle Anna and Henry Goodbla in 1920 in Musselshell, Montana and by 1930, was living with his father in Mitchell, South Dakota. By 1940, he was living in Cowlitz County, Washington. His father lived in West Bend, Iowa.

Clinton served in the US Army during World War II and was assigned to Battery A of the 60th Coast Artillery Regiment that was assigned to protect Manila and Subic Bay with anti-aircraft support. The battle for the Philippines was fought from 1941-1942 under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur. By March 1942, the Japanese having overrun the area, MacArthur was ordered by the president to leave the islands so he wouldn't be captured or killed. He ran his battle from Australia. The Japanese took many prisoners before the ultimate surrender of the islands by MacArthur with his famous words, "I came through and I shall return."  

POWs Celebrate Liberation
The Bataan Death March wherein 78,000 (12,000 US and 66,000 Filipino) POWs were moved north 63 miles to confinement areas began on April 10, 1942. Clinton was one of those force marched. An estimated 7,000-10,000 died on this trek which lasted 5-12 days. The Japanese were not prepared to deal with this many people and also believed that those who surrendered had no honor and did not deserve humane treatment. Once the group arrived at San Fernando, they were herded into box cars for Camp O'Connell. From there, many were transported to one of three camps at Cabanatuan. Clinton was placed in one of these camps.

Conditions in the camp were brutal.  According to Clinton, "The healthiest prisoners were segregated and shipped to Japan, (ed note: where they were slave labor) many after the Nipponese realized the Yanks would reconquer Luzon." Many of these POWs were forced to work in factories, airfields, and shipyards to help the Japanese war effort in Japan, Manchuria, and Formosa.

The camp hospital doctors were forced to list causes of death for those who continued to die as being from disease instead of abuse or malnutrition.  Those who tried to escape were shot.
"To prevent any more escape attempts, the Japanese captors initiated what were called 'Shooting Squads' or 'Blood Brothers.' Each POW was assigned to a group of ten. If anyone in that group escaped, the other nine would be shot," according to fellow POW Billy Alvin Ayers.
According to this report from medical officer Col Webb E. Cooper:
"Each day an attempt was made to clear each barracks of the dying. They were removed to “zero” ward (ed note: those landing in this ward had '0' percent chance of leaving alive), laid on the bare floor entirely naked. These patients usually were profoundly emaciated, in fact, little better than skeletons with a feeble spark of life. Heroic corpsmen and doctors did what they could to alleviate the indescribable conditions.  They tied grass onto sticks and attempted to cleanse the floors.  They used the same method of cleansing the body.  Occasionally a big puddle of rainwater would provide enough water to wash the floor. At this time the use of the regular water supply system was strictly forbidden by the Japanese.  The few laymen who saw these conditions were utterly horrified.  Even the Japanese doctors would not enter these wards and the Japanese staff at Headquarters gave it a wide berth."

After three long years of horrifying imprisonment, with MacArthur and troops back in country, the Sixth Army's intelligence chief Colonel Horton White and Lt. Col. Henry Mucci, leader of the 6th Ranger Battalion, and three lieutenants from the Alamo Scouts—the special reconnaissance unit attached to his Sixth Army—met for a briefing on the mission to raid Cabanatuan and rescue the POWs.The group developed a plan to rescue the prisoners. After only a brief couple of weeks, the plan was approved and they took action on January 30, 1945, successfully freeing the prisoners in Cabanatuan and Camp O'Donnell. The exciting adventure is a must-read here.

Noted Associated Press war reporter from the Pacific, Fred Hampson, wrote this about his meeting with Clinton S. Goodbla after his liberation:  

Clinton was released from the military as a Technical Sergeant. He returned home and married Dorothy Behrends. They resided in Longview, Washington, where Mr. Goodbla worked as a millwork shop foreman.

Tragically, on December 19, 1953, Mr and Mrs Goodbla were driving along the Columbia River, 11 miles west of Longview, when their car plunged into the river. Dorothy was killed and Clinton was critically injured.  He did eventually recover and in 1954, married Lenore Malone. Clinton died on Feb 27, 1988 and was buried in Willamette National Cemetery in Multnomah County, Oregon.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

B. F. Lichty & Sons, Waterloo

Jacob Smith > William Custer Smith > Mary Madora Smith married BF Lichty

60th Anniversary, 1938
Mary Madora "Dora" Smith was the second child of my great-great grandparents, William Custer Smith and Mary Ann Munson. She was born on 23 Jul 1859 in Hazel Green, Grant County, Wisconsin. Shortly after  reaching her majority, she married Benjamin Franklin "B.F." Lichty who hailed from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in 1878 in Janesville, Bremer County, Iowa. They resided in Elma, Howard County during the early years of their marriage.

Dora and B.F.'s first son, Norman Arthur "N.A.", was born 1879, within months of their marriage.
Original East High School, 1910
Their next child, Claude Smith Lichty, was born in 1887. Their final child, Verne Elias, was born in 1893. In 1902, they set up house in Waterloo and eventually lived on lower Franklin St in East Waterloo. Sometime shortly after that, BF opened his business, "B. F. Lichty & Sons" which specialized in sheet metal fabrication at 720-722 Water St. All of the boys attended East High School.

The business thrived through the 1910s to such a degree, they had to expand. They built a new facility at 1127 Sycamore in East Waterloo and the business remained there until it closed. At that time, Waterloo had 116 manufacturing plants in the city. Lichty & Sons had 16 employees. That building is still standing and is currently owned by the City of Waterloo. In the 1920s, in what was a nice middle-class neighborhood, the Lichty's built an adorable brick bungalow where they resided for the remainder of their life at 1202 Mulberry St. The area now is run down and while the house still stands, it is in need of restoration. That was a 2-block walk for the Lichty's from plant to home every day. The business maintained a respectable reputation and was able to continue operating through the depression and World War II.
Lichty & Sons, built 1913, 1127 Sycamore St

Young Verne was a star athlete at East High School  He attended the Waterloo Business college beginning in 1911 to prepare himself to work with his father and brothers in the business. At Christmas time of 1913 while playing basketball at the Waterloo YMCA, he injured his leg. In early 1915, he went to the Mayo Clinic and learned his leg injury had turned into a sarcoma after a surgery. In  May of that year, his left leg was amputated below the knee at Presbyterian hospital in hopes of putting the cancer in check. He then walked with crutches. Verne married in 1918 and had a daughter, Dorothy Anne, with his wife Anna Geyer Lichty and was expecting another child when he fell ill with a recurrence of cancer. He died at home at age 27. The son he never met, Verne Edward, born in May of 1921, served in the US Navy on the USS Auk, a minesweeper that saw heavy action, and left the service as a Boatswains's Mate 2nd Class. He worked as a tool and die maker at John Deere before having a massive heart attack while bowling at Maple Lanes (which still stands) in 1959 and died. Daughter Dorothy Ann lived with her mother in Northern California until her mother died in 1979. She married for the first time at age 51 to Welles Halley Crawford in Santa Clara, California.

In an article published in 1922, the company was located at 922 Sycamore, just a couple blocks down from the previous location. There had been a slump in business, business picked up again and there was a scarcity of both materials and labor due to the building boom. They were by then employing 20 people.  Sometime in the 1920s, N. A. Lichty and his wife moved to California. N.A. spent six years there and it appears that Mrs. Margaret (Kildee) Lichty remained behind and they divorced prior to
N. A. returning to Iowa, where he was president of the company until his death at age 56 in 1935.

He had one child, Evan, who died in Butte County, California in 1985. Evan enlisted in the US Army in 1943 and retired from the service in 1963.  The information I could find so far indicates he was a Seabee Chief Metalsmith in the US Navy. Evan's first wife was Ethyl Ruth Merrill, whom he married in 1926. He married Ina "Geraldine" Stewart next. They had three sons, two of whom survive. His family was stationed in Tokyo in the mid-1950s but his family spent the bulk of its time living in the Bay Area of California and eventually in Butte County.

Claude's son, Wilfred Franklin Lichty, suffered from diabetes and died of complications at age 20 in 1931. Claude and his wife Lulu divorced and he remarried. He continued to work in the family business until after his father's death and retired from the business in 1950. He died in 1953.

Dora died in 1941 at age 81 and B.F. died in 1945 at 87, both of complications of age.

An Aside

B.F. had a brush with the law in 1930 when he was interviewed about the violent death of a
Murder victim F.R. Smart, center
reclusive, divorced, elderly implement and real estate dealer of his acquaintance named Francis Robert Smart. Lichty was one of the last people to have contact with Smart.  Mr Smart had dined with the Lichty's on the night he died along with his stepson and his wife. About 10 o'clock that night,  just 45 minutes from the time estimated as time of death, Mr. Lichty called Mr. Smart to inquire about a wallet that had been misplaced by one of the other guests. The murder received no coverage in the Waterloo paper and appears to remain unsolved, with robbery as a motive. Mr. Smart was known to keep large quantities of cash in his office/residence. 

An inquest was set for today into the slaying of F. R. Smart, 77, implement and real estate dealer, whose bullet-riddled body was found in his office-bedroom late Saturday night.
Clutching in his hand a chunk of iron casting, and slumped against the wall opposite the door that apparently had admitted his assailant, the body of the recluse was discovered by a neighbor, Johannes Hanson, at 10:45 o'clock Saturday night. 
A deck of cards, half-played, indicated to police that the old man had been interrupted as he was playing solitaire. Aside from evidence of a scuffle, officers could find no clews (sic) or fingerprints.
Robbery was evidently the motive, investigators believe, for Smart was know to have as much as $500 at a time in his living quarters, which also served him as office. The amount that he might have had with him Saturday night was undetermined, nor was it ascertained whether anything was missing. That Smart had tried to protect himself, led the officers to believe that his attacker was not prepared to find the victim at home.
Bullet holes slanted upward into the body, indicating the assailant had been floored and had shot supine. Three empty shells from a .32 automatic were found on the floor."
Mason City Globe Gazette, 14 Apr 1930, pgs 1 and 2 
The County Coroner declared it a murder by persons unknown on the following day. No further information was published about the crime, indicating it was never cleared from the books.