Sunday, October 8, 2017

Josie Miller Must Have Liked Quirky


I loved exploring the family of David Owens, my 3rd great grandfather. He was a good farmer, a solid citizen, and had an adventurous spirit that took him from Indiana to Illinois to Iowa and finally, to South Dakota. He married three times and had a total of 14 children.

Among his children was Lucy, my 2nd great grandmother. She married Ira Miller and they had nine children, among them my great grandmother, Florence and her sister Josephine, the fourth of the nine.

Josie, as she was known, was born 05 Nov 1882 in rural Urbana, Benton County on the family farm. She first got married to a man who would be described by the newspaper as a "well-known Vinton character," in earlier articles and in his obituary.  This item, listed under "Just for Fun" in the Cedar Valley Times on 16 Oct 1936, describes him philosophizing while a resident of the County Home:
"Ed Redington was around town talking politics today. Ed says he hasn't decided whether or not he will vote at the general election next month. However, he does make his position clear insofar as his choice between the two presidential candidates is concerned when he asserts: "If I do vote it will be for Roosevelt. But as I don't believe he will need my vote to win, I don't think I'll bother about going to the polls."
"According to Ed, he has been having considerable trouble of late with people breaking into his trunk and taking things that don't belong to them. Ed said that only recently someone broke into his trunk, which he left locked, and stole two pairs of underwear, two shirts, two quilts, besides a good army overcoat. "They even took my dishes," declared Ed, "and that is what I call a low-down truck." Ed maintains that he has lost practically all faith in humanity on account of the unfortunate experiences he has had lately."
WCF&N Trolley

His name was James Irving Edmond Redington, son of Mr & Mrs Ben Redington. Josie and "Ed" married 14 Feb 1905 in Benton County, Iowa. They had a son, Ira Edmond Redington, who had some sort of mental disability and lived in the Hospital for Epileptics and School for the Feeble Minded in Cass, Iowa from at least 1930. Ira died in 1966. The couple divorced and Ed went on to several more marriages before dying at age 62 in April 1940 in Vinton.

Josie then married Charles H Swanger on 23 Apr 1923 in Waterloo, Black Hawk County. Charles was born in Fredericksburg, Iowa on March 11, 1882, to James and Hattie Sisson Swanger. Charles had previously been married to Cora, whom he married in 1903 and was divorced from in 1911 in Waterloo, having alleged adultery and addiction to intoxicants as grounds.

In 1931, Josie's widowed mother, Lucy Owens Miller, came to the Swanger home for the last five weeks of her life, with Josie caring for her.

Charles worked as a section man on the WCF&N Railway, the interurban rail and trolley system that ran in the Central Valley and its surrounding towns. On December 22, 1932, while he was out shoveling snow off the tracks, he was struck by an auto driven by Mrs Roy Hamilton. Mrs Hamilton said her car got caught in the tracks and she attempted to turn when she skidded into Swanger. He survived!  He retired from the company in 1941 after 25 years of service.

Both Josie and Charles were very active in the Salvation Army for many years. In addition to taking care of the home, Josie also sold magazines on the side. Josie died at Allen Memorial hospital of a heart condition on 12 Jan 1954 in Waterloo and had services in the Salvation Army's Stone Church on Park Ave at Mulberry. After her death, Charles remained in the family home at 1104 Franklin St. In August 1964, be received a knock at the door one day from two men purporting to be from the public utility company wanting to inspect the electric meter. While one distracted him, the other robbed his house of $280. The article in the paper was a warning to citizens that this con was being worked in the area and to always verify identity with the IPS ID card or by calling the utility.

He kept busy after Josie died by continued work for the Salvation Army. Charles ended up spending 40 years with the Salvation Army, attaining the rank of Sergeant Major, until his second retirement in 1948. He continued volunteering with them after that. This article outlines his trips to the front entry of Rath Packing Co. where he handed out the Salvation Army War Cry newspaper every other day for 13 years and was dubbed "Uncle Charlie," by those who worked at Rath. His eventual absence, which started in 1968, was noted by many and the local paper wrote this article about what "Uncle Charlie" was up to now.

Waterloo Daily Courier, Mar 29, 1968                 
He spent the last years in the Platte Rest Home in Waterloo before dying at Allen Hospital on 22 Apr 1970.

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