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. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

What's Missing When We Do This

I've been plugging away at this family genealogy for many months now. I had no idea it could be so addicting. Listening to those who've done far more in their advice has really helped. Source, source, source. This is where it gets tricky. Who has time to go to all these court houses all over the Midwest and hunt this stuff down? I may have to wait until I retire.

The part that's missing is learning about who these people were. What were they like? How did they move in the world? Sometimes, you can get a glimpse through news articles, but mostly, you have only raw data and some dates which will stand to represent that person in time. Kind of sad.

There are those who have taken the time to interview those that came before them. Some people have written things down to tell their story, but mostly people don't do that. They are too busy living the life to write about what it was like.

When I run across something like this, I get excited. Mr. Good has spent lots of time putting together a cohesive set of photos, interviews, books, and genealogy information that tell a story. I want to be him when I grow up.

In contrast, I'm think of an example of a guy who married a relative whom I would never had known more than name, rank, serial number without a story being passed down. He had a nice name. He fathered many children with her, then they divorced in a time when it wasn't common. I knew nothing about him but his date of birth, death, and the names of his kids. I interviewed another very distant family member who had talked to his children. Turns out he was a mean, no-account drunk, who disowned his last three children because he believed they weren't his, left the family with nothing and died a penniless drunk somewhere in Detroit, but not before marrying a 17-year-old in his 50s.

The unfortunate thing is the generation that would hold the key to much of this information is for the most part, now gone. I've interviewed a number of people who are still hanging in there and in some cases, I should have talked to them 10 years earlier - the memory fails, the names are forgotten, the story is lost.

Over the next little bit, while I continue to plug away at finding the stories, I've decided to start telling the ones I remember. Hopefully it will help me and possibly others who are doing as I'm doing and sifting through data instead of reaching the heart of who a person was.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Edge of Madness:Unraveling the Mystery of Bertha McKinney

Andrew Jackson SURBER married Mary E HINMON 02 Oct 1879 in Polk Township, Bremer
County, Iowa. From that union, four children were born: Ira Franklin (1880), George Richard (1882), Ray Andrew (1887) and Guy Arnold “Bud” (1888).
Left: Andrew Jackson Surber; Center: Mary Hinmon Surber; Right: Surber Children

Guy Arnold Surber (Left)
Mary left the family sometime in the mid-1890s. In 1900, Ira had relocated to South Dakota, George headed West, Ray was being raised by, but never formally adopted by the James Furnoy family (he later went by their last name), and Guy was serving time in the Eldora State Training School for Boys (a place to reform youthful offenders and educate them) in Hardin County, Iowa. It seems the loss of their mother was hard on her children.

Guy left the reformatory at some point and joined the Army at age 25 in 1910. He married Bertha Viola McKinney who was born in Penfield, Champaign, Illinois on 29 Jun 1887. Guy was a musician and had joined the Army band. He served an entire career in service and seemed to thrive in that environment.

He and Bertha had two children: Marijune (1921) and Guy A, Jr (1923). In 1930, the Surber’s were renting a home in Richfield, Minnesota near the local army post and hospital. In 1940, he had attained the rank of Master Sergeant and was still in service and stationed at Fort Amado, Panama Canal. In 1942 at the time of his death, he resided in Los Angeles, California.
Bertha McKinney Surber

According to the 1940 Census, Bertha was living at the Cherokee State Hospital in Cherokee, IA and classified as “insane” in 1940. She died at age 60 in 1948 while still residing there. The cause of her institutionalization is not known – I hope to sort it out in the coming weeks. What caused her hospitalization? Was she mad?
Peri-Menopausal? A drunk? Epileptic? The only way to find out is to petition for her medical records.

As early as 1890, a movement was begun to build a fourth mental hospital in the state and northwest Iowa was the logical location for it. The plan was to relieve crowding from the other hospitals in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Clarinda, Iowa, Independence, Iowa, In 1894, Cherokee residents started an active campaign to get the legislature to select their city for the new hospital. It took 14 ballots in the legislature to give Cherokee the hospital. The legislature appropriated $12,000 to purchase a site, but it was 6½ years after the first excavation before the administration building, sitting on bare prairie land, was ready for occupancy. There was a struggle each session of the legislature to get appropriations to continue with the building. The original plan for patients was to hold alcoholics, geriactrics, drug addicts, the mentally-ill, and the criminally-insane.1
The facility in Cherokee is a Kirkbride buildings are named after Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, a nineteenth-century physician and asylum superintendent who authored a treatise on hospital design. This treatise and Dr. Kirkbride's other work had a far-reaching influence on the construction of American insane asylums through much of the latter half of the nineteenth century. Kirkbride buildings are most recognizably characterized by their somewhat unique "bat wing" floorplan and their often lavish Victorian-era architecture. Their design was an attempt at creating a space to facilitate the return to sanity. The buildings were conceived by Dr. Kirkbride and his contemporaries as active participants in treating the mentally ill.2  
The hospital was opened for patients on August 15, 1902 under the name Cherokee Lunatic Asylum. The name changed several times over the years, going from Iowa Lunatic Asylum to Cherokee State Hospital. From August 15 to August 26, eight patients were admitted. On August 26, 1902, 306 patients were transferred from Independence and two days later 252 from Clarinda. These patients were brought by special trains and met with teams and hayracks at the end of the Illinois Central Railroad spur and transported to the hospital. Beginning with about 600 patients, the hospital population increased year by year until the peak was reached in December 1945 with a total patient census/population of 1,729, beds in every hall and every building being overtaxed. Then began the gradual campaign to send patients who had reached maximum hospital benefits back to their own counties. Initially, social workers found placements for the mentally-retarded and the indigent in the community and at the "county farms". With the discovery of psychotropic drugs in the 1950s, the push for getting rid of restraints, community-based services and the establishment of Mental Health Centers in the 1960s, the massive asylum census continued its decline. 


Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes - Dimmick Farr


Children and adults with disabilities were born with probably the same frequency in previous generations as today, but for many, their life spans were shorter or they did not survive infancy because of a lack of medical advancement. Down’s Syndrome children often had serious heart defects – some stayed home, but many were institutionalized until they died.

People with epilepsy were often housed in special facilities along with the alcoholic, the dementia patient, those with a same-sex attraction, or the severely mentally ill. In the early 19th century, these were grim and desperate places where many treatments was tantamount to torture. By the late 19th century, more progressive institutions, such as the Kirkbride institutions, were being built to deal with the myriad of issues that couldn’t be handled by the family at home. Now relics, they used a method of treatment called “The Moral Treatment” and were built to be sanctuaries for the mentally ill who would be active participants in their own recovery.

Throughout the course of the family history, I’ve learned of many in the family who were institutionalized for various reasons. Many of these reasons would be dealt with on an out-patient basis today and medication is available that would allow many of them to have led a normal life had they been born 100 years later.

In the COOPER family for example, the Henry Wesley COOPER line has had many children born with Down Syndrome according to a report from a COOPER family genealogist. The Cooper kin kept those children at home and did not institutionalize.

Just about anything that set your behavior outside of the norm placed you at risk for institutionalization.

One of the cases that stuck out for me in my research was the case of Dimmick FARR, born the
Plainfield, Bremer County, IA sometime between 1874-1880
oldest son of Polk Township, Bremer County, IA pioneer Silas FARR and his wife, Louisa Lorraine ORCUTT. The Farr’s had come to Iowa about 1853. Silas Farr built a steam sawmill in nearby Plainfield in 1855. He ran it as a sawmill for three or four years, then turned it into a grist mill and distillery. It was finally removed. He also farmed. They had two children, Dimmick (1855), was named in honor of Louisa’s father and grandfather, John Dimmick ORCUTT, and Albert (1860). About 1873, when he was 18, Dimmick began displaying unusual behavior that concerned his parents greatly. By the time he reached 24, he was listed in the 1880 Census Supplement for the Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes as being diagnosed with Melancholia. He was still in the home at this time. This is a very vague diagnosis, but the Supplement was divided into four classes: The Blind, The Deaf-Mute, The Idiot, and The Insane. Under note B of The Insane section it reads:
“It is not necessary to make minute subdivisions, but to ascertain the number suffering from certain marked forms of insanity-mania, melancholia, paresis (general paralysis), dementia, epilepsy or dipsomania.” 

Dimmick's change of residential accommodations could be related to the fact his parents had gotten elderly. Records indicate he was institutionalized in 1894. His mother died in 1895 while residing with her other son. In 1895, Silas Farr moved to the County Home himself and died there in 1899. Silas had experienced all kinds of financial setbacks, business losses, and lawsuits in his lifetime, so it is likely that he was indigent.  He received a non-county burial after his death.

In 1900, the now 45-year-old Dimmick lived at the Bremer County Poor Farm and Asylum in Warren Township.
Bremer County Poor Farm & Asylum
"The Poor Farm system established in Iowa had a slightly different feel to it than the State Insane Asylums and was meant to reduce the costs of counties in caring for the indigent. The theory of a Poor Farm, or County Farm as it was later known, was to provide the residents with a way to raise their own food, thus making the farm and residents self-sufficient and lessening the drain on local tax funds. The Bremer County Farm raised field crops, dairy cattle, hogs and poultry, as well as maintaining a very large garden. While few records remain, it appears that the atmosphere at the County Farm was that of a large family, rather than an institution. The residents all had jobs appropriate to their age, skills and health. The women helped with the cooking, laundry and gardening, while the men cared for the animals, did the milking and worked in the fields. The farm did its own butchering of the beef, pork and poultry that were used for their food. Part of what was produced was sold and the money used to buy those items that could not be produced on the farm. There was a commission of three people who reviewed cases before a resident entered the facility. There was a judge, a doctor and a lawyer who would decide if placement at the County Farm was appropriate. Early in the history of the County Farm, the residents appear to be elderly or a person with a health problem such as alcoholism. In examining the census information most of the residents were older adults, with occasional families coming for a period of time. Any orphaned children or those whose parents were unable to care for them were transferred to orphanages or placed with a local family.”1 
Because Dimmick was kept in the home so long, he was probably somewhat functional and non-violent, which would have made the choice of this type of institution more compassionate. At the time of his residence there, fully half of the residents were classified as “insane” and the other half “indigent.” He died there on 04 Dec 1901 at the age of 46 of unknown causes and was buried in the Poor Farm cemetery in Warren Township.

Another case coming up next where we visit a State Hospital for the Insane.


Louisa's sister, Adaline married Reuben Moore, grandfather of Arthur Dwight Moore who married Florence Smull.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919: Liddle Family

The Great Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 was first traced to March of 1918 and spread across the
country through the Spring of 1919. Iowa began to see a marked increase in cases in October of 1918. Most of the state's 2.4 million residents were living in rural areas, slowing the spread, but leaving devastation in its wake due to a lack of information, preventive measures, medical staff and hospitals. The toll in the US at the end of the pandemic was 675,000 dead. Worldwide, that number, difficult to gauge, was estimated at 21.5 million dead.

The pandemic hit the state on October 5, 1918, with cases in Des Moines, Dodge City, and Onawa. Camp Dodge, the military encampment, was put on lockdown. By October 9, 1918, Dr. Guilford Sumner, the state health commissioner, banned all indoor funerals for influenza victims. From that date forward, only outdoor funerals were permitted. People were encouraged to clean their mouths and noses at least twice per day.

Little did the Frank Liddle family know in the early days of December 1918, that their lives would be changed dramatically before Christmas. Frank and Letitia farmed outside of Horton in Bremer County, Iowa. Additionally, Frank and son Floyd operated a milk route for the Mohawk Condensed Milk Company. In all likelihood, their travels most likely brought them into contact with the flu.
Chronological Map of the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 indicating the approximate dates on which the disease
reached an epidemic stage.

Frank and his wife Letitia Ogbin Liddle had nine children. Little Arthur Liddle, born in 1887, had died at just over a year old. The remaining eight children resided with their parents on the family farm or were married with families of their own. The eldest son residing at home, Floyd, fell ill with the influenza that was sweeping the state. Then, Letitia fell ill along with little Hazel. Finally, Frank, who had done all he could to hold things together fell ill along with Gynith and Irving. On December 5, 1918, Floyd died. His mother died on the 10th, unaware of her son's passing. Hazel, a particularly cheerful child referred to as her father's favorite followed on December 13th and finally, father Frank succumbed on December 15th. Somehow, Gynith and Irving survived, but were left orphans along with their adult siblings Guy, Grace, and Florence.

Sunnycrest Sanitarium
Irving ended up living to see his 89th birthday and died in 1991. Gynith, who had struggled so valiantly through her brush with death in 1918 ended up being a successful teacher in the Bremer County rural schools, began to notice her health declining in 1929. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis, spent time in at the Sunnycrest Sanitarium in Dubuque, Iowa and saw her health improve.  Weeks later, however, her health again declined, and she died at the age of 26 just after the new year in 1931.