Saturday, June 23, 2018

SIDEROAD RIPLEY: Tragedy Follows...Again and Again

Wm Ripley Dorr
WILLIAM RIPLEY > JOHN RIPLEY > JOSHUA RIPLEY > JOSHUA II RIPLEY > JOSHUA  RIPLEY, JR >  NATHANIEL RIPLEY > WILLIAM YOUNG RIPLEY > JULIA RIPLEY DORR > WILLIAM RIPLEY DORR m Helen Miller "Nellie" Thurston > CYRUS "Bud" Thurston DORR

I was doing a little dabbling a few months ago and ran across a Find a Grave for Cyrus Thurston Dorr, the son of William Ripley Dorr, who was the son of Julia Ripley Dorr, the noted author and daughter of the business titan, William Young Ripley of Vermont.

A group called "Missing In America" had located and identified Cyrus' remains, which had been left unclaimed in a Nashville mortuary since 1918 and had his ashes interred at Ft Leavenworth, with full military  honors, along with the remains of several others whom the project located and had interred in 2011.

As a veteran, and as the former wife of a career man, the specter of military suicide has always been of special concern to me. When we have so many of our young men and women taking their lives during or after service, it makes me quake with anger that the awareness and treatment options for our service members are so incredibly lacking and the stigma that still persists stifles great strides in treated our psychically wounded warriors. It made me incredibly sad to think of Cyrus' remains and what caused them to sit, untouched, for several generations and I needed to understand why.


The progeny of William Young Ripley were legend. The lineage is chock full of leaders, business luminaries, and adventurers. William Ripley Dorr, the offspring of Julia Ripley Dorr and Seneca Milo Dorr, was no exception.  Raised in Rutland, Vermont, the ancestral hometown of this branch of Ripley's, he was educated at Norwich University, where he graduated in 1873.

He moved on to Appleton, Wisconsin, where the lumber business was booming and started his life there. Upon hearing of the death of his father in 1884, he returned to Vermont and entrenched himself in the various business interests of the family, including his father's brokerage firm, S. M. Dorr Sons.

Eventually, he moved on to St Paul, Minnesota, where his business acumen was targeted at a number of businesses from gold mining to insurance. In addition to many business interested, he was also President of the Chamber of Commerce in St Paul for many years.  In 1890, he married Helen Thurston, a young woman born in Iowa. From 1891-1900, the couple had four children, Seneca Milo dying in infancy. Once they began getting to the age where they needed an education, William relocated the family to New Jersey so the children would be educated in eastern schools.

In 1904, he  was sent to Chicago as a representative of the American Car Company, and while on business there, he took ill and died suddenly. After William's death, Helen moved to St Paul once more. She passed away in Spokane, Washington in 1922.

Cyrus, the second of four children, was born 30 May 1893 in St Paul, Minnesota. By 1915 he was in Silver Bow, Montana, where he married Kathryn Helen Carpenter on 15 Oct 1915. Kathryn was born in Dec 1893 in Houghton County, Michigan.

Kathryn's family included her parents, William Esau Carpenter and his wife Margaret "Maggie" Sullivan.  Married in 1891, the couple had at least six children, of which Kathryn was the second child.

The Carpenter's young life was marred by tragedy. In 1902, their 3-year-old daughter, Gladys drowned in a nearby waterway while following her siblings as they went to school. In 1907, 4-year-old Fred died of infantile convulsions. It was after this death the couple pulled up stakes and moved to Montana. While there, their 17-year-old daughter, Margaret, died of typhoid in 1913. Son Chellis would become a lawyer and reside in California and daughter Lydia would go on to teach domestic sciences.

Kathryn and Bud had a daughter almost immediately. Named after his grandmother, Julia Caroline Ripley Dorr, young Julia was born 5 Jul 1916 in Broken Bow. From here, things get murky because there is no trace of Cyrus.

It's now 1918 and the war is raging in Europe. Everyone was contributing to the war effort in any way they could. Suddenly, though, Kathryn becomes ill with Scarlet Fever and dies at the home of her parents on 19 April. Both husband and daughter are mentioned in the obit, but at the time, Bud was living in Kansas City, selling bonds.


On 8 Jun 1918, Bud married Margaret Poncelette in Kansas City.  Just in time for him to report to duty on 2 Jul 1918 with the US Marine Aviation Corps at the Philadelphia Shipyards.


He visited his cousin JD Steele in Appleton, Wisconsin,  while on furlough, 24 Aug 1918. Presumably furlough was taken from Great Lakes Naval Air Station. We see no word of Bud until next we hear of his death. The first report to his widow in Kansas City, Margaret, lacked details as to the cause of death. The second posting regarding his death, published in Appleton, indicated it was an accidental death, yet, the article posted in Nashville bared the truth of the matter - suicide.




No interment was made and the ashes were never retrieved. No mention is made of Bud's second wife Margaret. Margaret, through much of the 1920s, remained a widow. What became of her, I don't know.

Mother Helen was alive and living in St Paul when he died, yet one of the articles refers to "parents" - William was long dead.

William & Maggie Carpenter raised their granddaughter Julia, in Montana. Julia married Robert A. Mohr and had at least two daughters. They divorced. The 23-years-older Julia married young naval man, Gail A. Brownlow in 1962. Reportedly, she died of COPD two days after their transfer from Hawaii to El Paso, Texas.

What did I learn from this foray into the life of a veteran who succumbed to suicide? I learned nothing about what drove the man to this permanent solution. Did whatever darkness he carried impact his first marriage? Did he see himself as a failure? Was there some rift with second wife Margaret? What I do understand, is suicide is rarely ever just about one thing.

Why did no one go pick up the ashes? Clearly it was known where they were. Was the stigma of suicide too great? Was the family in disagreement of what would become of his remains? We'll never know, but thanks to the Missing in America project, this Marine received full honors and a very belated burial.

Things look like they might be changing. The Department of Veteran's Affairs, claims the prevention of suicide is the top clinical priority. Let's hope.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Munsons: The Newcombs and Mayflower Immigrants.

Governor Wm Bradford
The children of Amos & Mary Ann Munson married into the Newcomb family of Pennsylvania and here and read more here. Their immigrant was Capt Thomas Munson, founding father of the Munson's of America, who arrived in the US in 1637.

Caroline married Uri Clark Newcomb and sister Julia married Frederick Porter Newcomb. Caroline and Frederick died and Julia married her sister's widower, Clark. To top it off, Almira Munson married George Ball. Their daughter married Arthur Gilman Newcomb, a nephew of Clark and F.P. Newcomb. Now, we're going to have a quiz. Or not.

Anyway, my point is, the Munson's ties to the Newcomb's are very deep and complex. The Newcomb's time here in America is also quite long. It even includes a marriage within the the family of one of the original Mayflower immigrants - a great granddaughter of Governor Bradford  of Plymouth with Hezekiah Newcomb. There are 35 million claimed descendants of this relatively small group of Mayflower settlers.

Capt Andrew Newcomb was born in the East of England, possibly Devonshire, about 1618. He was a sea captain. He died in Boston in 1686. The descendant Newcombs are in the millions - but our Newcombs are descended from LT Andrew Newcomb, the eldest son of the first wife (Andrew is not mentioned in his father's will and there is some contention over his parentage).

According to The Genealogical Memoir of the Newcomb Family by John Bearse Newcomb, it is believed that Lt Andrew Newcomb came to America as early as 1666. He was also a sea-faring man in his younger life and his earliest recorded mention in writing is regarding a meeting he attended to help set the price of fish in the new colony. Andrew ultimately settled on Martha's Vineyard and does not appear to have felt the call of the sea for many years. He owned a number of pieces of land and served as constable during his lifetime. He died intestate.
Fishing in the New England colonies dates back to the early 1600s when the first Pilgrims made the journey across the ocean to the New World. The poor farmland caused the fishing industry to become vital to the success of the 13 colonies. 
Early fishing vessels
USA Today
Simon Newcomb born about 1666 and believed to have been born at the Isles of Shoals in Maine before his father moved to the Edgartown area on Martha's Vineyard. Simon later moved his family to New London, Connecticut, where he remained until his death in 1774. Simon's son Hezekiah was born in 1693 in Edgartown and married the great granddaughter of Governor William Bradford, of the original Mayflower immigrants.

Jerusha Bradford was born in 1692 in Norwich, New London, Connecticut. They married 14 Nov 1716 in Norwich. Jerusha's line from the Governor is: Thomas, Maj WilliamGov William Bradford. Jerusha's aunt Hannah Bradford married into the Ripley line when she married John Ripley in 1684. That tells you just how tied in those New England folks intermarried!

Hezekiah's son Silas was the father of  Capt John Brewster Newcomb, born in 1760. According to the Lineage Book, Vol 19 of the DAR, Newcomb was a, "conductor of trains for the transportation of supplies from Lebanon to the Continental Army," during the Revolutionary War.  John was the grandfather of Uri Newcomb - the father of all the "modern" Newcombs who pioneered west to Iowa and South Dakota.
The great grandfather of Uri, Silas Newcomb, was born in 1717 and married Submit Pineo in Lebanon Crank (now Columbia), Connecticut. His wife's family were French Huegonots. Old Silas died suddenly of a stroke while sitting under a tree, 24 May 1773. His wife was described as, "having a remarkable attachment to her children and grandchildren. " Five of their sons were coopers and three were physicians. Uri's grandfather, Captain John Brewster Newcomb, was born in Lebanon, Windham County, Connecticut. He and his family lived for many years on "Metcalf Hill," which he had received from his father Silas' estate in 1774. After the birth of their last child, they moved around quite a bit in New York, moving to Oxford, Owasco Flats, Oswego, Moravia, Owego, where his wife died. He then moved to Scipio, where he remarried in 1818, to Reliance (Ticknor) Strong, widow of Daniel Strong. He held various offices in New York, including justice of the peace, as a captain in a calvary company, and was a prominent member of a masonic fraternity. He was described as "an intelligent and an eminently good man," in the Newcomb Family History. ~ Me, Here, Right Now

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Hoodoo, Voodoo, and Quackery

Abner Gile, Millionaire Lumber Man
I was doing some research the other day, and ran across a person who is connected to a line I'm related to only by marriage, but who's family had enough historical interest to follow the bread crumbs. Genealogy is like that, isn't it?

So, way back when, in Wisconsin, three of my Smith fellows married three Monteith women. The Monteith's also married into the Preston family - a more prominent family in the Brodhead area. You can read a little about my family and the Preston connection here.

One of the Preston women, Elizabeth, married into the Tiffany family (yes, that Tiffany family). The  Nathan Tiffany's family ended up in California and I hope to write a little more on another day.

Elizabeth Giles Tiffany's brother Abner Gile was a multi-millionaire lumberman in Wisconsin. Pretty impressive career and achievements in contributing to the growth of his corner of Wisconsin. He'd been born in Wyoming County, New York in 1820. He built a saw mill and lumber business in Illinois in 1843, and in 1850, spent a year in California. On his return, he worked in someone's lumber business and later partnered with NB Holway. He later built the LaCrosse Lumber Company and later yet, built the Island Mill Lumber Co. in 1881, which
Tower Jackson Gile claimed to have an
institute dedicated to the cure of disease through
electro-magnetic treatments. Early quackery
at its best!
he operated until his death. He had his fingers in all kinds of pies from the new utilities concerns to high society and philanthropy.

Abner was also helpful to his family. His brother, Tower Jackson Gile, for example, was the recipient
of his largesse for much of his adult life. When Abner died, Tower was left a bequest, but  Tower did not live long after his brother's death, both dying in 1897.

What grabbed me about Tower is, he went from being Tower Jackson Gile, to "Dr TJ Gile." Tower married Mary Knickerbocker, daughter of Harmon Knickerbocker and Phebe Haughton (or Horton) in upstate New York. Records indicate that they most likely divorced. The couple had at least two children.

In 1875, he left the Wisconsin area and cut a swath through the midwest including Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado with his miracle cures. The references I could find about Tower (I just love that name) show he was into the spiritual use of electro-magnetic healing. He claimed he could diagnose you during a free consultation and would provide you with electro-magnetic cures (which I'm sure came at a pretty penny).

He was the "inventor" of many devices and operated the Globe Electric Company. Its appliances, which included an electric chair, electric vapor bath, and other devices, were stock in trade for his "cures."

After the death of his brother Abner, Dr Gile claimed to have been visited by a visage of his brother. This made it into the book, "Beyond the Vail: Narrations and Illustrations of Spirit Experiences, Spoken, Written, and Made by Full-Form Visible Materalizations"; (1901) Kansas City, MO and is excerpted here:
Abner Gile. 
803. Here is a spirit who, in his earth life, came into pos- 
session of rather a large fortune for a person of his locality, 
Wisconsin. And this fortune, it seems, was accumulated large- 
ly from milling into lumber timber of Government lands, and 
handling lumber so made. 

804. His brother, Dr. T. J. Gile, was less fortunate, hav- 
ing accumulated nothing in a financial way; but had made quite 
thorough search into the merits of Spiritualism, and was one 
of this circle during several weeks of the preparation of "Rend- 
ing the Vail," and about that time Abner Gile passed on to 
spirit life, and now, by invitation of this psychic band, stands 
in materialized form before this circle, saying: 

(a) "I am Abner Gile, and I am glad to be here in this way r 
to tell of some things I found when I got to this country. And, 
of course, about the first thing I learned was that my brother 
was about right in this matter. I thought it bothered him. I 
thought it troubled his mind. I tried to hold him back and 
away from it. But I begin to think it was my own mind that 
was off. I was pursuing dark shadows, and he the light. I was 
piling up treasures that I had to leave behind and their bane 
binds me in dark conditions and shuts me up in dark prison; 
makes of me a 'spirit in prison.' While my brother was casting 
bread upon the waters for which I now hunger, and of which 
he may eat and be satisfied, my wealth, instead of a blessing,, 
is a great curse to me. I cannot explain to you how I have 
been confined in darkness. What light I had was of itself the 
most profound darkness, for I find the church dogmas are abso- 
lutely false. 

(b) "I wish I had known these things, but I did not. I 
would not try to know the truth of future life and its relations, 
but scorned whoever did try to learn. So I had no teacher 
when I got here, but have to work it out alone. Each must 
work out his own salvation. I wish all your world could know 
what I know now. But T helped to keep the world in ignorance,, 
and now must try to turn on the light." 
Tower died in 1897. If he's making his own spirit known, I haven't heard.
Tower Gile
La Crosse, Wis., Jan. 22. - Intelligence has reached the city of the death at Cleveland of
Tower J. Gile, aged 73, a brother of the late Abner Gile, the millionaire lumberman of this city. The deceased gained considerable prominence after leaving here in 1875, through his belief in spiritualism and magnetism, and traveled through the country preaching his views and acting as a magnetic doctor. During his travels he was supported almost entirely by his wealthy brother at La Crosse. When Abner Gile died he left a legacy for his brother in his will. The deceased went to Cleveland a few weeks ago, and died there on Thursday last. [Source: Wisconsin Weekly Advocate (25 Jan. 1900)]