Saturday, July 29, 2017

How My Dog Got Her Name

SMITH, JACOB > SMITH, WILLIAM CUSTER > SMITH, WALTER m Isabelle Monteith > SMITH, FRANKIE m (1) Lloyd Baltzer (2) Tom Tamen

Frankie & Lloyd Baltzer
I learned so much about the Walter Smith family on my recent visit to his youngest daughter's home this year. And, I was at last able to see the person who provided the name for my dog.

Frankie Smith was the last of Walter Smith and Isabelle Monteith's biological daughters. Betty, their adopted daughter and biological great granddaughter would join the family when the rest of kids were in middle age. Frankie was born in March of 1890. According to Betty Smith, Frankie most likely got her name because Walter tired of waiting for a boy child. Though, he was proud as could be of all of his daughters.

Frankie married Nashuan Lloyd Lendo Baltzer on 04 May 1914 in Mitchell, Iowa. Lloyd was the son of Arthur E and Viola Baltzer and was born 27 Mar 1888 in Nashua. Lloyd was originally a harness maker, but then took up employment with the telephone company that served Rudd, Rockford, Lakota, Hampton, and Mason City (area towns). Frankie and Lloyd lived in Rudd and then Lakota for many years. Eventually, the couple divorced and Baltzer married Mabel Orr in December 1932.

Smith Sisters
Thomas "Tom" Tamen was born 27 May 1889 in Parkersburg, Butler County, Iowa. He had married Clara Augusta Beyer on 15 Mar 1914 in Winnebago, Iowa. They had two children: Clara Beverly "Beverly" Tamen and Frederick Thomas Tamen. The Tamen's resided in Lakota when Mrs Tamen, a long time Buffalo Center resident, hanged herself in the attic of their home, being found when daughter Beverly, then 13 years old, returned from school. Mrs Tamen was 40 years old and had been "troubled with nervousness for some years"and may have been troubled by illness.

Tom was formerly an implement dealer in Lakota, but his shop burned down in 1930 and since that time, he had been selling real estate. He was out of town on business when his wife was discovered. It was 20 Apr 1932 when Tom and Frankie went to Galena, Illinois, and married.

Tom got a job as an instructor at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Illinois, and the family resided there until Tom's retirement, when they moved to Nashua. Tom's son Fred married and had a number of children and resided in Carbondale, Ill. Tom's daughter Beverly Van Rossum died in 1966, preceding her father in death.

In the final years of Tom's life, Frankie and Tom loved to winter in Florida. Tom died 11 Nov 1969 in Iowa (there are conflicting reports whether it was in an Independence, Iowa hospital or at Iowa City Medical Center in Johnson County).

Frankie continued on for many years after Tom's death, wintering in Florida and summering in her beloved Iowa. She survived until just past her 100th birthday, dying 06 Jul 1990. All of her sisters reached their 90s, but Frankie was the final surviving biological daughter of Walter and Isabelle.

We sat in the car on the way to pick up our new Iowa Collie and tossed around various "old-fashioned" names for the puppy. Some included Mabel, Ruth, and finally, I said, "Frankie" as I had just been discovering her story in my work. Here is the little face that ended up with Frankie's name.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mystery Murder Muddle: Truth, Legend, or Something In Between?


The stuff family legends are made of - the possibility that my 3rd Great Grandmother Elizabeth Beams Cooper's sister Jane was a murderess.

All of what I've learned is anecdotal, but rather than ignore it, I'm going to discuss the three pieces of information that are posted on Ancestry.

Elizabeth (my 3GG), Jane, and two married sisters came to Crawford County, Illinois from Whitley County, Kentucky together and resided near one another. Elizabeth married William Lloyd Cooper in 1831 and Jane married Henry Wilson Hand in 1830. The Hands lived about seven miles from the town of West York in a cabin just north of the Crawford-Clark County line.

1.  According to Rmillis on Ancestry, Jane discovered that Wilson was having an affair with a woman from West York and began to poison him with arsenic. Wilson died 11 Sep 1850. This source states that "She knew she had cancer so apparently didn't worry about any consequences from her actions."

2. According to Crates99, the following tale is told: "James Hoskinson's Uncle Otis became curious about the early demise of both his maternal grandparents and decided to try to find out what had caused their deaths. He was concerned that some hereditary factor might be present that his children should be aware of. To that end, he contacted the doctor who had attended both Wilson and his wife, Jane, who died soon after him. The doctor was very reluctant to discuss the matter which merely made my uncle more curious until finally the doctor told him that he need not worry that they had any passed on any health conditions and that he could expect to live a long and healthy life. Upon further pressing, the doctor gave his opinion that very likely arsenic figured in Wilson's death but that no examination had been made to prove it. In response to Otis' "Why wasn't justice done?", The doctor explained that Jane was also dying (cancer, which does have some hereditary features) and that it was better to let well enough alone and spare the children the embarrassment. The children were raised by their uncle and the property was sold to settle the estate. The property was acquired by Mae Spraker's family (the Coxes) and was passed on to her and Jesse."

Typical cabin, Crawford County
photo by Warren Jennings, 1999
3. Finally, according to dmdough7, "According to a letter dated, July 27, 1937, Mrs. Margaret
Lucretia [Shepherd] Mitchell - a cousin of Arthur Hand, "My Mother's younger brother Wilson, lived east of your Grandfather. He and his wife both died of Milk Sickness, which was prevalent in that district at that time, they left 3 children, Martha, Isaac, and Bet-Ann. Uncle Jimmie took them home and raised them. Martha married Elias Hoskinson, lived one fourth mile west . . . " Hand Family Scrapbook, page 93.  Will we ever know what really happened?  Could this have been an attempt to maintain a family secret or she just did not know?"

For #3, the idea that the couple both died of milk sickness, yet died nearly two years apart (Jane died 15 Sep 1852), seems implausible. Did Jane murder her husband? We'll never know. It's a mystery for the ages and will remain in the family lore of the Hand and Beams families in perpetuity.

Some of the children were nearly grown at the time of their parents' deaths. The "Uncle Jimmie" referred to is James Fleming Hand, who not only took in one of Wilson's kids, but two of his youngest brother Lorenzo Dow Hand's two boys, Jasper and Clinton D. Hand, who had also been orphaned. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

William Joseph "Bill" Wagner, Professional Baseball Player


The Cooper side of the family had this guy, from the Miracle Braves of 1914, but the Wagner side (Mary Waggoner married one of the Brothers Smull of Brush Valley - Peter) had William Joseph "Bill" Wagner.

John Waggoner's son William lived in Centre County, Pennsylvania and in the 1850s, removed, along with many others from the area, to Stephenson County, Illinois, where Williams' family settled in Oneco Township. William and his wife Julie Rider had at least five children, among them Joseph Wagner, who married Mary Hershey about 1855. Joseph was born 04 May 1831 in Miles Township, Centre County. Mary was born in Canada on 06 Jun 1837. The Joseph Wagner's also went to Stephenson County, but decamped from that area to Buchanan County, Iowa. He died in 1904 and his wife in 1907, after raising three children and were buried in Old Barclay Cemetery in Black Hawk County, Iowa.

Their son William Joseph Wagner married Lizzie Cronemiller. William was born in 1863 in
Stephenson County, Illinois and his wife was born in 1864 in Illinois. They had five children, including William Joseph "Bill" Wagner, who was born 02 Jan 1894 in Jesup, Buchanan County, Iowa. By 1910, he was 16 years old and was apprenticed at the Illinois Central railroad boilermaker shop in Waterloo, Iowa. Just a couple years later, his turned his sandlot skill in the still young sport of baseball into something more.

by John Neagle, Courier Sports Writer
The umpire turned to the crowd and roared "B Wagner hitting for H Wagner!"
The occasion was a June day in Pittsburgh in 1916.
Today, almost 35 years later, this memory and other of bygone baseball days are the main comfort of a lonely, old time ex-big leaguer. He's Bill Wagner of Waterloo, bedridden most of the time at the home of his son, Al Wagner, of 35 Rainbow Dr.
On that June day in 1916, Bill, a rookie up with the Pirates from Sumner, Ia, town team, received "the greatest thrill of my career because, you see, H Wagner was the great Honus Wagner."
Despite his illness, Bill beamed and went on to say, "It was a close game and Honus hadn't been hitting that day, so the manager sent me up to the plate and I got a single to tie the ball game. Bill Hinchman, our right fielder, followed me and poled out a home to ice the ball game."
Wagner, now 57 years old, played sandlot ball as a kid and when he was "about 17 or 18" went directly to the Waterloo team of the Class D Central association as a catcher in either 1913 or 1914. In those days the ball park was by Deere's plant. Doc Andrews was manager of the team.
Honus Wagner
After playing about half the season with Waterloo, Bill joined the Sumner ball club. It was there that Chick Frazier, Pittsburgh scout, spotted him and signed him on with the Pirates.
Frazier immediately took his rookie to St Louis, where the Pirates were playing. The trip to the Mound city was the first time Wagner hd ever been stone's throw from Waterloo."
He said, "I was a pretty excited kid. We immediately went up to Manager Cap Clark's room in the hotel upon arriving in St Louis, and there I met Honus Wagner for the first time. After introductions and a brief visit, Honus took me out and bough me my first pair of big league baseball shoes. Boy, did I feel good! That Honus was one great guy."
Bill went on: "That season I caught batting practice and worked out with the team but didn't get into any games."
Asked if any of the old timers gave him any tips on catching during that time, Bill replied, "No, not a bit. At that time you were supported to be good enough to be up there or you wouldn't have been there. They were a rough and tough bunch in those days. It seemed to me they made it especially tough for a rookie to see if he could take it. If you couldn't take it, you were all done."
The next year Pittsburgh farmed him out to Youngstown, Ohio in the old Central League and the following season he was sent to Terre Haute, being recalled to Pittsburgh in the fall. The next year, 1916, he played the entire season with the Pirates.
Bill said, "I played in about 50 ball games that year, catching mostly for a pitcher by the name of Wilbur Cooper and sometmes taking over first base, I hit 260, which I felt wasn't too bad for a player not playing regularly.
The Waterloo man was only thumbed out of one ball game during his major league carreer. At Philadelphia the umpire put the tag on him for a catcher's balk and in the resulting ------ Bill was given the heave ho!
"Never did hear of that catcher's balk before or since," Bill reminisced, "I don't recall who was up to bat, but he made like he was going to bunt and I came forward and the guy changed his mind and started to take a full cut. The bat hit my glove and the ump waved him down to first. I raised so much of a fus about it I got waved to the dugout."
The next year found Will with Columbus Ohio, in the American Association after a trade deal involving Earl Hapulton, a southpaw pitcher.
The American Association closed the season a month early because of World War I and BIll finished the year out with the Boston Braves.
George Stallings, known as the "miracle men" was manager of the Braves at that time. Bill caught about half of the remaining games for Boston and recalls having batted against the great Walter Johnson. Asked if he got a hit, Bill laughed and replied, "No, no, I wasn't trying to get a hit. All I was doing, was trying to get a foul ball I didn't even touch the ball, but I went down swinging. When the Big Train let fly that ball looked like a pea coming across the plate. His curve ball was just as fast as his fast ball, too."
After finishing the season with the Braves, Wagner went back to Columbus in the American Association but after a short while jumped his contract and went to Steelton in Pennsylvania in an outlaw league that paid more money. He got $750 a month. That, said Bill, 'was the biggest mistake of my career."
Joe Tinker, manager of Columbus, blacklisted Bill for five years and fined him $500 but Wagner didn't have to pay the fine because he never returned to organized baseball.
Leaving Steelton, Bill played ball with various teams, including Oelwein, a team "that beat everything around this part of the country." 
It was while with Oelwein Bill hit the longest ball ever hit in the old Dubuque ball park. Syl McCauley, a lefthander, formerly with the White Sox, was on the mound for Dubuque when Bill got hold of a curve ball and sent it soaring out over the fence to land on the Chicago Great Western tracks beyond the ball park. Throughout most of his career Bill batted in the cleanup position because of his ability to hit a long ball.
The oldtimer wound up his playing days with Nash Motorsof Kenosha, Wis in the North
Bill and dog Tiz just prior to his death
Shore League. The team was made up of all ex-big leaguers.
Wagner was the only player from Waterloo to make the big leagues until 1949 when Jack Brumer went up with the White Sox. Actually Bill was born four and a half miles northwest of Jesup, Iwa, but when he went to the majors, drowned out the more feeble voice of Jesup, claiming him as a native son.
Like most oldtimers, Bill takes a dim view of the present day ballplayers. "They aren't as rough and don't hustle like they did in those days. We really battled every ball bame. I sure would like to see Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb and some of the boys tie into the modern live ball too," he chuckled.
 The ex-railroad boilermaker said the top pay of his career was $750 a month with Steelton and I guess my best batting average was 312 with Columbus. I'm not sure about my lifetime average but would say it was around .285." 
Several years ago Wagner was selected on an all time Waterloo baseball team by a group of old timers.
The ex-major leaguer's advice to young ball players? It is "Take care of your legs; when your legs go bad, you go bad all over."
Wagner's present illness hit him about two months ago, forcing him to give up his job on the Illinois Central. As he waved the reporter out of his sick room, Bill added a parting remark, "You know memories are fine but I am very lonely and sure would appreciate a letter or two from some of my old friends."
Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa
Monday, January 8, 1951 

Bill and Mary had two sons, John Allen Wagner (Waterloo) and Robert Joseph Wagner (Ft Madison). Bill spent the rest of his working life as a boilermaker for the Illinois Central. His wife Mary died on 17 Jan 1950 in Iowa City of a serious illness. Bill passed away three days after the article above was published, on 11 Jan 1951. He did have an opportunity to read the article and it made him happy.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Waggoners of Centre County: William Wagner

JOHN WAGGONER > William WAGNER m Julia Rider

Peter Smull married Mary Waggoner/Wagner, daughter of John Waggoner/Wagner. I've not ascertained who the mother is, but it appears as though John, brother William, and the Smulls were all neighbors in 1830/1840 census.  As a whole bunch of people from Miles Township did, William Wagner and his family moved on to Stephenson County, Illinois in the 1850s, settling in Oneco. Father John and wife are no longer living in the 1850 census. It also appears there is at least one other child of John - aged 30-40, married, with at least three children living with them. Who that is, I don't know yet. Still working on that angle.

William, born in about 1797 married Julia Rider. She was born in 1805 in York, Pennsylvania. The couple had ten children, some of whom stayed in Pennsylvania as their parents and other siblings
Wm Wagner, died Oneco,
Stephenson County 1870
moved west.

William lived until 29 Sep 1870 and died in Oneco. His will went through probate in December. His wife lived on until 20 Apr 1879, and also died in Oneco.

1. Margaret was born 03 May 1827 in Miles Township, Centre County. She married William Herman and I've thus far located three children, John Henry, Clark, and Arabella  Herman Keen, all of whom settled in Pennsylvania. She died 03 Sep 1893.

2. Sarah was born about 1829 and died in 1865 in Miles Township, Centre County. She married first George Aurand and had a daughter, Emily Jane. George died and she married Samel Shutt and had four more children.

3. Joseph Wagner was born 04 May 1831 in Miles Township, Centre County. He married Mary Hershey about 1855. She was born 06 Jun 1837 in Canada. They had three children, Nancy Amelia, Abraham, and William "Will" Washington Wagner. Joseph and his wife originally settled in Stephenson County, Illinois and then moved on to Black Hawk County, Iowa. Nancy & Will both moved to Iowa; Abraham remained in Stephenson County. Joseph's grandson, William Joseph Wagner, played professional baseball from 1915-1919 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Braves. I'll post about him separately.

4. George Wagner was born in Oct 1833 in Miles Township, Centre County. He married Anna Margaret Weiss. They had eight children and lived in the Lock Haven area of Pennsylvania. George died in 1921 in Lock Haven. His wife Anna, died in 1888.

5. William Wagner was born 1835 in Miles Township, Centre County He married Elizabeth Rex about 1858. They moved to Floyd County, Iowa. Their five children were raised in Floyd County. Elizabeth died in 1922 and William died in 1913.

6. Mary Wagner was born about 1837 in Miles Township, Centre County. I have no other information on this child.

Rosa Klontz Wagner
7. Jacob R Wagner was born in 1840 in Miles Township, Centre County. He married Eliza Jane Divan on 17 Feb 1867 in Green County, Wisconsin. They then located to Illinois and then southern Wisconsin, the moved on to Iowa and settled in Butler County. Their twelve children are spread across Wisconsin, Illinois,  and Iowa. Jacob died in 1925 in Butler County and his wife preceded him in death in 1919.

8. Peter Wagner was born 23 Aug 1841 in Miles Township, Centre County. He reportedly died on 02 Aug 1918 in Oneco, Stephenson County, but I have not been able to find a lot on this Wagner. His wife was Catherine Divan, sister to Jacob's wife.

9. Samuel Wesley Wagner was born in 1848 in Miles Township, Centre County. He married Rosa A Klontz in Stephenson County about 1872. They had six children who were raised and lived in Marble Rock, Floyd County, Iowa.Samuel died in 1927 and Rosa died in 1928 in Floyd County.

10. Emily Wagner was born about 1851 in Miles Township, Centre County. That is all I know about her at this time.

Monday, July 17, 2017

That OTHER SMULL Family, Part 2 (Robber Roy Smull)

Roy Gilbert Smull (1912-1940)
You can read Part 1 of the 2-installment story concerning the nefarious "Other Smulls" here.

What do you do when your mom is a brothel madam? In this case, it didn't turn out well. Roy Gilbert Smull was born 24 Feb 1912 in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois to Russell Grant Smull and Della Gilbert Kornfeld Smull. Roy's parents divorced and his brother Don lived with his father back in Missouri, from whence he came.

Early on Roy was in trouble. He affiliated himself with all the wrong kind of people and did basically whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. One of his earliest serious run-ins with the law was in February 1931 when he, his brother, Norman, and his fifteen-year-old bride, were arrested by Macon county deputies for robbing a market and a restaurant in nearby Pana. On the surface, the story appears quite funny - they were arrested because the butcher at the market could identify the unique way he cut the ham they had, among their other bounty, stolen during the robberies. The men both ended up pleading guilty and were sent to the state reformatory at Pontiac, Illinois. Jessie Louise Hughes, the bride, was present with the Smull boys during the commission of the robberies, but both boys stated she had nothing to do with either crime and she was released. Immediately after sentencing, the mother of Roy's young bride moved to have the marriage annulled.

Norman kind of disappears after his stint in prison. In 1938 he's driving a taxi and married. His brother, Roy, however, continued on with his life of crime.

In 1933, Smull was arrested with Harold Preston, aged 38, for stealing an automobile and for their participation in two holdups. Preston had previously served a term in Leavenworth. They were found with revolvers and a sawed-off shotgun. Smull went to prison for a while on the automobile theft and was released on parole. He was still on parole when he committed his last crimes and met up with his final judgment.

Police were searching for Smull and two accomplices for a series of robberies in the weeks previous, when they drove past him changing a tire. The police turned around and Smull took off, running. Police fired and a bullet struck Smull in the leg and passed through to his other leg and he was arrested and sent to the local hospital, where it was initially reported he was expected to live. He did not. He died that following early morning of his wounds. There was little doubt that Smull had committed the crimes for which he was stopped and his co-conspirators were later arrested. His automobile would reveal revolvers, ammunition, the keys to pay telephone boxes, a machine gun, and other items.

This was the end of the young life of Roy Gilbert Smull, who died a villain at the age of 28.

Friday, July 14, 2017

That OTHER SMULL Family, Part 1 (Madam Della)

Click to enlarge
It's tricky, sorting through various families to make sure you're connecting things up properly. One of the problems I ran across early on was that several people had the early Westmoreland, Pennsylvania Andrew Smull connected to the Brothers Smull and it's really just not possible - the locations, dates, and data just don't line up for a direct connection. Still, the descendants of Andrew keep cropping up across the country as I sort through my Smull story so I decided to just chart them out a bit so I'd know when I ran across one who they were.

Of course, along the way, I ran into a very interesting multi-generational story of crime and punishment. So, while not from "my" Smulls - here's an aside from those "Other Smulls."

Andrew Smull was born about 1765. He married Barbara Weigel, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1768. They had at least seven children and lived in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Among them was Andrew Jackson Smull. AJ Smull was born 10 Apr 1803. He married Rebecca Ann Wray and they had at least nine children. AJ Smull went west to Columbiana County in Ohio, then on to Wilton in Muscatine County, Iowa, Among their children was Andrew Jackson Smull, Jr., born 1837 in Ohio. AJ Jr married Cynthia Francis about 1860.

AJ Jr. died in 1868 and Cynthia remarried to Alton Long. Long raised the Smull children, including Grant Smull, born about 1864. Grant also died young, prior to 1904. He and his wife, R. Mary O'Hare had four children before his death and her remarriage to WJ Hagener in 1904. Among those children were Russell Grant Smull, born 08 Jul 1890 in St Louis County, Missouri.

Russell married Della Gilbert, who had previously been married to a man named Kornfeld and had two children. The couple had at least three, possibly five children (it's murky), before their divorce. Russell returned to Missouri with son Don. Della remained in Decatur, Illinois, where she would gain an infamous reputation. Her sons Norman and Roy would reside in Decatur.

Della was a madam. She had operated a number of bawdy houses at various times in Decatur proper, two of them raided prior to 1939, but when morals squads were cracking down, she invested in the purchase of a large old mansion in the suburbs. She opened the Lone Birch Tourist Home, where gents could visit and enter and leave under the watchful eye of security. It didn't help on this occasion, though, in 1942, when the Macon County Sheriff's Department raided what was described as the fanciest bawdy house to ever open in Macon County.

Lone Birch Tourist Home
The history of the site of this whore house is as interesting as what happened there before the arrest. An African-American couple, Samuel Houston "Hue" and Laura Singleton, successful restaurateurs in Decatur, built a stunning home in the suburbs. Hue had started out working from a young age and eventually opened a barber shop in Decatur. In the 1880s, he started his restaurant with his wife and it flourished, making them some of the wealthiest people of any skin color in Decatur. His appeal and good reputation allowed him friendships across race lines. Singleton served eight years on the board of supervisors; something unheard of in a town of the size of Decatur. When he died in 1926, he left the beautiful house on West McKinley which would eventually become a bawdy house under Della Smull's rule.
Hue & Laura Singleton Cafe
In 1947, Della was again involved with illegal activity when it appears she was running yet another whore house and it was robbed. One of her "lodgers" was shot in the ensuing fray.
Carbondale Free Press, December 4, 1947

Della did not live a long life. She died after a brief illness at the age of  60 on 01 Feb 1951, outliving her son Roy Gilbert Smull, who we'll cover in the next installment.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mystery Muddle: The Family Legend of James Fenimore Cooper

Since earliest days, I remember my dad telling me we were related to James Fenimore Cooper, the noted author. As I started this project, my Uncle Harold Ripley also reminded me that this was so. He added that his grandmother had letters from Cooper, and he was quite adamant about them having existed in the ownership of his grandmother,  Mary Jane Cooper Smull (daughter of William Lloyd Cooper).

I've poked around some, but don't see a direct connection. Both William Cooper, James' father and William Cooper, Amos Cooper's father, were Quaker and both lived in Quaker communities in Pennsylvania, but they are not the same William Cooper. James Fenimore Cooper's father William, was quite well-known and removed to the town he founded, Cooperstown, in Otsego County, New York. He was a US Congressman as well. Our William Cooper seems to have been a modest farmer. Records get dicey going back earlier, but this is what I've come up with. I'd say if there is a connection, it's very distant, at best. Though, I will keep poking at it.

The second point I want to mention is that if you had letters from a famous author in your family treasures, where are they? No one in the Cooper/Smith/Smull family has them. Would they have tossed them out? I doubt it. Especially as I learned recently that a third cousin also grew up hearing this legend.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Peter L Smull Family: Oscar S Smull, County Home Superintendent


I wrote about my questions and points related to Oscar's father, Peter L Smull, here. Oscar S Smull was born 13 Sep 1861 in Rock Grove, Stephenson County, Illinois. In 1870, he was living with his parents, Peter L and Rebekah Smull. Peter L Smull, Jr., the eldest of the two boys, was not living at home. In 1860, he had been living with his grandparents, Peter and Mary Smull. The 1870 Census indicates Peter L Jr. was living with Simon and Rebecca (Brown) Rote in Lancaster, most likely as labor. He was 12. In 1880, Oscar was working as a farmhand on the C.A. Sullivan farm in Stephenson County.

Oscar grew up and married Miss Cora Stites on 02 Oct 1887. She bore him three children: Lucy Amanda, Archie Leroy, and Florence. She died 28 Jul 1895. In  1900, Oscar and his daughters were living with his cousin Thomas Newcomb Smull. Newcomb and his wife had one child who had died during her first year of life. They ended up raising the girls, and later, Archie, after his living situation at the John McDaniels farm.

Oscar married Lena Gerbitz, who was born on 23 Mar 1888 in Cadiz, Green County, Wisconsin. They married 09 Oct 1907 in Dubuque, Iowa. They had four more children: Edrye, Marjorie,  Oscar James "Jim," and Francis W.

Between 1910-1913, Oscar was appointed as Superintendent of the County Poor Farm, later called the County Old Folks' Home. In 1935, his pay was $1,800 per year.  Thinking back, that was a time when the poor elderly and infirm needed some provision for their care. This was a time before Social Security. When the old age pension was started in 1935, the Home had 70 residents; with 30 of those over the age of 65. Those under 65 years old would be able to remain in the home once the new pension started.

In 1927, a terrific fire destroyed the 3-story stone and brick building and annex after a fire of unknown causes started in the attic. Smull was working in the fields and saw smoke from the fire. Amazingly, all 59 old residents were rescued, including the six who were missing at the original count. Only two firefighters were injured. Smull was reappointed by the County Commissioners each year until his retirement in 1942.

After his retirement, he and his wife moved to 1408 South Chicago Ave, Freeport and lived in town. Friends gave them a little shower with gifts since they were basically reestablishing their home all over again.

Oscar died 11 Dec 1945 and Lena died 20 Oct 1952 in Freeport.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

It Must Have Been in the Blood: Cunningham Railroad Men

EDWARD CUNNINGHAM > Charles, Howard, and Ed Cunningham

William Custer Smith's daughter Ella Mae met and married a young farm hand named Howard Sean Cunningham, in 1885. He ended up moving to Moberly, Missouri, one of the hubs of the Wabash Railroad and worked for the railroad until his death. Interestingly, two of his brothers also had the railroad in their blood.

Charles Scott Cunningham
Edward Cunningham and his wife, Delilah Griffith, daughter of Joseph Griffith and Nancy Scott, resided in Guernsey County, Ohio, They had five children: Charles Scott, Lillie Belle, Kathryn "Katie," Howard Sean, and Edward "Ed." The children's mother died in 1865 and Howard went to live with relatives in Marion County. His siblings lived with other relatives. He reconnected with his siblings later in life.

His oldest brother Charles Scott Cunningham was born on 19 Apr 1856 in Guernsey County, Ohio. He was later a conductor on the Wabash out of Moberly.  Then, he moved north and worked for the Grand Trunk Railway, which served the Northern tier of the midwest and NE and Canada. Charles served in a number of positions and lived in both Canada and Michigan, including Lansing. In 1913, he was appointed by Michigan Governor Ferris as one of the state railroad commissioners. He was renamed by Governor Sleeper in 1919, but it was not confirmed by the Michigan House as they abolished the commission and created the Utilities Commission. Charles died from a long illness at age of 63 on 21 May 1919 - outliving both of his brothers and a sister and leaving one sister, Mrs Sidney A. (Lillie Belle) Briggs, of Moberly.

Ed Cunningham, the baby of the family, was born in 1864. He, too, ended up in Moberly working for the Wabash. He married Mollie Thompson, a Tennessee native who came with her family to Missouri when a young girl. The couple had two children, Charles Edward and Mabel Marie. Prior to 1900, the couple moved to Texas and worked for a railroad out of  Fort Worth.

Ed didn't have the best luck. He was hit by a train in June of 1905 and sustained a serious head injury, but miraculously survived. But, that apparently wasn't the end of the run of bad luck.

He then was struck by a locomotive engine while in the Frisco Yards and killed 20 Mar 1909.

His body was taken back to Moberly for burial. His family remained in Texas after his death. His son Charles became an insurance agent and eventually settled in Houston. His daughter married a salesman who later became a sales supervisor and remained in the Fort Worth area. His wife Mollie died 21 Mar 1958 in Tarrant County, Texas.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Matilda Smull Family: Sarah Meyer & George McGilligan


Sarah A Meyer was the oldest child of Matilda Smull and Daniel Meyer. She was born 19 Dec 1851 in Rebersburg, Centre County, Pennsylvania. She married George E McGilligan on 02 Mar 1875 in Stephenson County, Illinois.

Sarah and George had one son, Willard Erwin McGilligan, on 03 Apr 1876 in Rock Run. Sarah got ill and died in a hospital in Chicago on 08 Mar 1898. The funeral was held at her parents' home and she was buried in Dakota Cemetery.

By 1900, George had moved to Carlton, Tama County, Iowa and later to Janesville, Iowa. He married Eliza Wiltse on 26 Nov 1902 in Floyd County, Iowa. George died 12 Sep 1924 in Warren Township in Bremer County.

Willard had five children who remained in the Bremer/Black Hawk County area of Iowa. He died 07 May 1944 in Janesville.

George had three brothers, two of whom remained in Stephenson County. Brother Charles experienced the same bad reporting that this guy did. Charles was a member of Co L, during the Spanish-American War in the late 1890s. He then enlisted in the regular army and joined Co C, 9th Infantry and was sent to the Philippines during the insurrection. It was reported that he and another Stephenson County soldier were killed in a particularly violent way at the hands of insurgents. Then, the war department announced that oops, they didn't mean it, he was really not on the KIA list. Charles was alive and was eventually discharged, returning to his normal life in Ridott in Stephenson County.