Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grant County, Wisconsin

Up at the butt-crack of dawn, I was on the road by 7 am. Overcast and chilly, I had to slip on the utility sports pants over my shorts to stay warm. Glad I decided at the last minute to throw in the rainish jacket.

Train Museum, Fennimore
Fennimore, Wisconsin is a neat little town. Population about 2,500, it sports two good breakfast places and a gas station I lucked into. Inside were three old guys, standing around, chuckling, enjoying their gas station coffee. They meet there every week. I asked the clerk if Prairie Cemetery was to the left as I went out and the guys jumped in to give directions. By the end of the conversation I had a fully illustrated map of all the township cemeteries. It was mostly not productive as the key Smith's I was hunting for seem to be elsewhere. I wonder if they had their own burial ground on their property. But, I did find several of the families that married into the Smith's and that was great.

The train pictured is called a "Dinky," which is a 3 gauge line train which operated from 1878 to 1926. Trains ran daily between Fennimore and Woodman by way of Werley, Anderson Mills and Conley Cut, through 16 miles of Green River Valley and serving as a key link to other railroads. According to the information at the museum, narrow gauge tracks once were scattered across the country, as railroad builders looked for economy in construction and equipment costs to serve remote areas. As I had no cell reception for almost 24 hours while up there, I'd say it's still pretty remote.

Unique Cafe, downtown Boscobel
After several hours tromping around those cemeteries, I grabbed a bite and hit the road for Boscobel. I have no guide map or information on where the relatives were buried in Boscobel City Cemetery, but I thought I'd wing it. Nope. Bad idea. This is a huge cemetery built into the side of a large hill with no apparent rhyme nor reason era-wise as to how burials went. I was overwhelmed by it all after driving up and down the steep roads lined with thousands of graves and just drove into town to look around before heading back to Iowa. I need to locate the Sexton for the cemetery and see if they have any kind of map or resources that are not available on the 'net and make a day of it all by itself.

The Unique Cafe is the highlight of downtown. It's been in business since the 1930s in a building built in the 1860s which previously housed a hardware store.  Most of the downtown buildings are constructed of this cool stone.

And then there was this guy's garage I found as I headed out of town. Definitely a conversation piece.

By the end of my time there I was ready to head out, but thought I'd try one more cemetery in Iowa to help out my mom on the way home. I got there only to find that it was too hot, my feet were killing me and I needed a nap. I headed home and did just that. I need more vacation time - I think I'll tell the boss!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On the Road...Stephenson County, Illinois and Grant County, Wisconsin

I left the house this morning about 8 or so. Three hours later, after a scenic drive through Dubuque, Galena, and other gorgeous vistas in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, I moved into Stephenson County, Illinois headed for Freeport. The townships around Freeport were home to many of my Smull relatives, formerly of Pennsylvania. Despite being tucked away, without address, on country roads, I found the Lancaster, Dakota, and Rock Grove Union township cemeteries. The big score was the Rock Grove cemetery, which held the graves of W. L. Cooper, one of the well-regarded early pioneers in the area and father to my 2nd great grandmother Mary Jane Cooper Smull who married the handsome Sgt Jonathan Smull, later of the Civil War. The young Smull family removed to Bremer County, Iowa area and generations later, there are still Smull's in the area.

This fellow, W.L. Cooper, has a severely damaged stone as are many in the Rock Grove Union

The History of Stephenson County, Illinois: containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., biographical sketches
WL COOPER, retired, Rock Grove, born in Delaware 11 Apr 1807; a year or two later his parents returned to Pennsylvania having moved to the state of Delaware, and lived in Delaware for only about two years; they lived in Bucks County, Penn, until about 1823 when they moved to Crawford Co, Ill and lived in Crawford and Clarke Cos thereafter; his parents Amos and Hannah Cooper, both died in Clarke Co, Ill - his father aged 63 years and his mother, about 50; his grandfather, William Cooper, also his grandfather on his mother's side, John Lloyd, both lived and died in Montgomery Co Penn.  The subject of this sketch was married 10 May 1831 in Crawford Co Ill to Miss Elizabeth Beems; she was born and raised near Williamsburg, Whitley Co, Ky; on the Cumberland River; she is a daughter of James and Nancy Beems, who were quite early settlers on the Cumberland River, coming there from Virginia and both died there at the advanced age of over 90 years.  Mr and Mrs Cooper have had eight children, seven of whom are living:  those living are Ann (Mrs Daniel Thompson), Hannah (Mrs Valentine Haas), James, Mary (now Mrs Jonathan Smull), Henry, Eliza (now Mrs Charles Hennick), and Elizabeth (Mrs Franklin Boyd), the third child, George, died at Rock Grove, at the age of 18 years in 1840.  Mr Cooper removed from Crawford Co to Will Co some nine or ten miles from Joliet; lived there one year, then came West in 1841, the land not being yet in the market, entered his land from the government, so that his farm work was commenced here with the ground it its original state of uncultivated wildness; was engaged in farming until the last ten or twelve years, when being too old for hard farm labor, he sold his farm and has since lived in the village of Rock Grove, has a good house and lot, horse and buggy, and with enough money at interest to yield him a living is enjoying a quiet old age, he has done his part well in the affairs of his community.

Since the Historical Society was not open, and there were far too many township cemeteries to visit, I decided to move north to Grant County, Wisconsin. After being sent down every single backwoods County Rd by my GPS, I finally arrived in Lancaster, WI, the county seat, around 5 pm.

It's a nice little town, but still 10 miles short of my ultimate destination. Since the hotel situation was so grim in the largest town in the county, I decided to stay there rather than take a chance further north.

I took a quick walk around the town and made a stop at a local restaurant with good burgers and horrible salads and took a few shots.

 The Grant County Courthouse is currently under renovation. It was built in 1902 of red sandstone and designed by Armand D Koch, a well-known Wisconsin architect from Milwaukee who did a nice job with the Classical Revival style.
The IOOF building in Lancaster, Wisconsin was built in 1901 and is located directly across the street from the Courthouse. It's in pretty good shape and houses retails stores.
Reed's Opera House was built around 1890 and is still in use as an entertainment venue.

Friday, April 10, 2015

To Infinity And Beyond! Chuck Yeager Wasn't the Only One with The Right Stuff

UNK SMULL > Henry SMULL (my 3rd GG's brother) > Thomas Jefferson SMULL > Dr. Thomas Jefferson SMULL,Jr  > Thomas Leland Kemp SMULL married (2) Ruth RHYNE
Herbert H Hoover. Test Pilot

Ruth Rhyne was born to Richard and Edith Rhyne. She was born on 17 Nov 1921 and raised in
Stanley, Gaston County, North Carolina. She met a young man by the name of Herbert Henry Hoover from Tennessee whose father was visiting his sisters and family in Stanley. His father ended up marrying her aunt.  By the time she was a junior in college, Herbert had set his sights on marrying Ruth. Herb was working for Standard Oil as a pilot in South America. He left Standard to go to work as a test pilot for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the precursor of NASA. They married after her graduation in 1942 and moved near Langley, Virginia, where aircraft testing was done on the East Coast.

Though NACA was founded in 1915 to spur aeronautical research, the efforts at the time Hoover started working there were put towards World War II and then, after the war, to supersonic flight. The facility at Langley eventually led to the opening of Muroc, an adjunct facility in California (later Edwards AFB).

Herb thrived at Langley and tested hundreds of aircraft. He was the first person to test drive the X-1-2. Chuck Yeager had previously tested the X-1-1 (with a different wing weight) at Muroc. Yeager finally flew at Mach 1.06 and shortly thereafter, Herb became the first civilian and second person to break the speed of sound while flying in the X-1-2.

Bell X-1-2, Champine & Hoover
All this while, his wife had two young children and Ruth focused on the home. On one sad day, the chaplain from the base arrived to tell her that Herb had died flying a B-45 that broke apart mid-air. Declassified documents reveal his body most likely hit the broken plane on his way down. His parachute never deployed. His co-pilot survived with minor injuries. Ruth's oral history, including her thoughts on Chuck Yeager, are here.

A good friend insisted Ruth get out and find a husband and introduced her to Kurt, an Air Force pilot. After two years of marriage, he too died before his time - of a brain aneurysm. Her friend once again stepped up to insist she find a husband and introduced her to her boss, TLK Smull, an engineer and administrative manager at NACA. Recently divorced with a daughter, he married Ruth about 1964. Ruth recalled their meeting:

Then the same gal that introduced Kurt and me, my second husband, said, "You've got to come to Washington [D.C.] and meet Tom, my boss." She worked for Tom Smull, who was in the Office of Grants and Research. He was at Langley for about four years and then sent to Washington. I said, "I'm not ready to go out." They called me one morning—I was working in a church office at that time—and Lee's husband called and said, "Come on up and attend the Christmas party that my group is having." I said, "I'm not ready to go out." I said, "I'll call you tonight when I get back."

So I called him that night and I said, "I'm not ready to go out." He said, "Well, you get off your high horse and get up here," he said, "just consider it an evening out." Well, I made reservations on a flight to fly to Washington, and I got up that morning and there was snow on the ground, and I thought, "Oh, good, I don't have to do." I called the airport, "Yeah, planes are flying."

So I go, and I meet Tom. We just considered it an evening out, that's all it was, but he knew Herbert. They had worked together and they were friends. A couple weeks later, I got a letter from him, and his handwriting was terrible. I couldn't decipher what it was for my life. It took me about two days to read it. Finally, he says, "I'm coming to Langley for a meeting. Would you go have dinner with me?" So I did. He had a sailboat up near Annapolis [Maryland] with West River Sailing Club, and he’d invite me up to go sailing with him, and it just kind of developed. We had so many mutual friends, he knew the Reeders and the Bales, and it was just all ones that Herbert and I knew. So he asked me to marry him, so I did. We were married 35 and a half years.

~ NASA Headquarters NACA Oral History Project; Edited Oral History Transcript; Ruth Hoover Smull; Interviewed by Sandra Johnson; Virginia Beach, Virginia – 1 May 2008

Thomas L K Smull was born in Ada, Ohio in 1916 to Dr. T J Smull, Jr. and Cora Anita Kemp. He attended Ohio Northern University in 1937 and two B.A. degrees from the University of Michigan
Thomas LK Smull
in 1939, one in mechanical engineering and a second in aeronautical engineering. In 1949 he was awarded a Sc.D. in aeronautical engineering from Ohio Northern University.

He went to the Washington DC area where he started working for NACA - the precursor of NASA - in 1939. He started his career as a research engineer, but quickly moved up, putting to use his natural talents as an administrator and manager. He held positions from assistant to the director of NACA; chief, Research Coordination Division, NACA; director, Office of Grants and Research Contracts, NASA; special assistant to the administrator, NASA; program manager in the Office of Advanced Research and Technology, NASA; to special assistant to the director of Research, NASA. He authored articles on aeronautical and space issues and served on administrative and technical committees. He retired in 1974. Their boat and golf filled much of their retirement time.

Ruth, I believe, is still living and would be 94 now. Tom died after a long illness in 1999 and was buried in his hometown in Ada, Ohio. He left a daughter, an artist in California, her son, and two stepchildren.  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

All Aboard! The Railroad Men of the Wabash Railroad

Jacob Smith > William Smith (my 3rd great grandfather) & Mary Ann Munson > Ella Mae Smith married Howard Sean Cunningham > Effie Mae Cunningham married L.I. Bouque

Wabash RR Lines
As major railroads stretched across the country, allowing people and freight to freely travel to and from major settlement areas, smaller, regional railroads cropped up as well. The railroad business has long been one to have lines pop up, merge with other, larger railroads, and then for more to pop up later on. One of the enduring regional lines, which was brought about as a result of a merger, was the Wabash Railroad Company. It operated primarily in the Midwest and was considered a "bridge" railroad. Major rail lines were forced to use these bridge rail lines to to get from one main line to another. One branch of the family relocated to Moberly, Missouri, a town completely beholden to the previous Northern Missouri RR for its very existence when founded in 1867, and embarked upon lives in a true railroad town.

Ella Mae Smith was the fifth surviving child of William Smith and Mary Ann Munson. She was the
Moberly, Mo Union Station
first Smith to be born in Iowa and was born in 1866 in Butler County, near Plainfield (Bremer County), shortly after the end of the Civil War. A young man by the name of Howard Sean Cunningham had moved alone to Bremer County and worked as a farm hand. He was the son of Edward Cunningham and Delilah Griffith, of whom little is known other than they were born in Ohio and lived in Guernsey County at the time of H.S.'s birth in 1861. Ella and H.S. married 30 Aug 1885 in Bremer County and then relocated to Moberly, Missouri, where H.S. started working his way up the ladder for the Wabash railroad, ultimately becoming a common sight at the train station in his job as conductor. They lived a comfortable life in Moberly. Howard died in 1918 and Ella in 1924.

He and Ella had four children, three girls and one boy. His oldest daughter Effie Mae was an outgoing girl born in 1886. She was the talk of the town when in 1905, her father presented her with a bicycle, still a novelty item for most. Effie grew up and and married railroad man L. I. Bouque. Effie was frequently mentioned in the Moberly society pages for her untiring efforts in various women's groups and most importantly, for her almost fanatic devotion to her pinochle clubs.

The railroad men of Moberly made a decent living from the Wabash, but there were very real hazards. Rail accidents were not uncommon. Trains met animals, bad rail line, cars, people, and even each other far too often. Howard was involved in at least one, but unlike many of the accidents, there were no fatalities this day:

Wabash Trains Collide 
Passenger Engine Damaged and Engineer Russ Slightly Injured at Morgan Valley, Iowa
Two Wabash passenger trains met in a head-on collision at 7:35 o'clock this morning at Morgan Valley, Iowa, but fortunately no fatalities resulted.The trains were No 1, in charge of Conductor JC Jacks, with engineer CC Barclay on Engine 1751 and No 2, in charge Conductor HS Cunningham, with Engineer WM Russ on engine 262.The trains collided at a point just east of the east switch at Morgan Valley. Both engines were derailed and the pilot was torn from each of them. None of the coaches of either train left the rails. Engineer Russ received slight injuries about the chest but they are pronounced to be of no serious nature. None of the passengers were injured according to the best information available. The track was cleard at 1:30 o'clock.Moberly Weekly Monitor February 15, 1910, pg 2

L.I. worked on various routes along Wabash lines, but one he rode as engineer for many years was the Pacific Coast Special, which ran from St Louis to Kansas City, ultimately destined for Los Angeles. He was involved in one of the most tragic accidents in Wabash history.  Ten people were killed that day; nine of whom were African-Americans working the Section Gang (maintenance of railroad way).

Effie Mae's bright light shut off in 1949, leaving L.I., alone. He remarried in 1950 to the widow Florence Dayton Eichelberger and took the opportunity to travel to visit the children they'd raised who had scattered to the wind. All had had opportunity to attend college. His oldest surviving son, Lester, became a successful engineer with Sinclair oil and an investment house in St Louis, and then became a highly-placed civil servant, serving as chief of the requirements planning division of the European Command for many years in post-war Germany. His baby sister, Gertrude rose from her modest Moberly roots and can be read about here. Lester shared this story about his father at his bible study class while he still lived in Moberly:

Leaving home for the meeting, Lester invited his father L I Bouque to come along, explaining that refreshments would be served.
"That's nice," said Mr Bouque
"And we're going to have several speakers," Lester added
"That's nice," Mr Bouque repeated.
"And after the speeches," Lester continue, "We;re going to have a round table discussion of the Devaluation fo the Dollar."
"Well, son," said his pater, "On second thought, I guess I'll just stay home and sleep. But if you find out anything about the dollar, you wake me up when you come home."
And after the discussion, Lester, retelling the story, had to admit that Mr Bouque's sleep was uninterrupted that night.
Moberly Monitor Index February 23, 1934, pg 4
L.I. Bouque died in 1964 in Moberly.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Mystery of Ghost Farm

UNK Schmull/Schmoll > Henry Smull (my 3rd great grandfather's brother) > Henry "Harry" Smull > Jasper Guerney Smull

Switching over to a little of the SMULL side. This would be my paternal grandmother's, mother's
side of the family. Old Grandma Kate was quite a pip I hear. Her people came from Germany originally, but settled first in Eastern Pennsylvania and then set up shop for generations in Miles, Centre County, Pennsylvania.  Right in the center of the state, imagine that. It was a heavily-German area and the residents spoke German and lived as they might have in Germany. Strongly Lutheran, this particular branch of the family was Methodist, thanks, I'm sure to Jasper's mother, Olive Elizabeth "Lizzie" Rauchau.

Jasper Guerney Smull was born 04 Mar 1901 in Centre County. "Guerney" as he was then known, hired out to Mr. Wallace Walker as a farm hand some years before this incident. Mr. Walker had a wife named Malissa "Laura" Walker. Since before 1920, the two had also shared their home with  a summer boarder named Velma Burd Miller. Velma boarded with them except for the time of her brief marriage in the 1920s.

All was not happy in the Walker home, it would seem. Laura had quite enough of said Mr Walker and wanted to drive Mr. Walker off the property. So, she devised a plan that would send Wallace skittering away, thus ensuring the land would fall to her. The outcome of her mad plan hit the AP news wire and was published nationwide.

Hold Farmhand as "Ghost" Who Scared Farmer
Mystery Thought Based on Desire of Wife for Property

Bellefonte, Aug 27, 1927 - A farmhand today is in jail at Bellfonte charged with being
the "ghost" who for years has terrorized W J Walker, farmer, of near Madisonburg. Two alleged accomplices also are detained.

Gurney Smull, the farmhand, in alleged confession, said that he had been hired by Mrs Walker to drive Walker from his home so that the property would fall into her hands.

Corporal T. E. Willer, of the State HighwayPatrol, and Sheriff Robert Taylor caused arrest of the trio after he had spent a night at the Walker farm at the request of the terror-stricken farmer.

Bed linen was snatched from the two sleeping officers in the farmhouse, They saw a white-clad figure slip away. Signs written in a red fluid were found posted in the house the first day, telling  all occupants to flee.

Smull was suspected because his stature tallied with that of the ghost. Under a grilling, he is said to have given a signed confession. Mrs Walker was arrested as well as Miss Velma Miller, a summer boarder, who was also taken into custody. The three are under bond."

The three cohorts in crime must have not been the sharpest knives in the drawer to have tried to pull one over on the local constabulary. Why not wait until they left to start their ghostly shennanigans again?

Wallace Walker must have been an incredibly forgiving soul, because the wife, boarder and hired man continued to live there with him until at least the time of the 1930 census, nearly three years after he'd been frightened nearly to death by the ghostly apparition of Jasper Guerney Smull.

Mrs Walker ended up spending the rest of her days with Mr Walker,who lingered on until 1949. Jasper eventually moved on and became a hired man to another farmer. He remained single, and died in 1987.