Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day with Ev Brightman

Among other things, Memorial Day is a time for story-telling and I got to thinking yesterday, while sitting with others on the front porch of the Chariton Cemetery Shelter House, of our friend Ev Brightman, one of the most accomplished.

We traded tall tales for the last time on that front porch three years ago, over the Memorial Day weekend of 2016. Less than a year later, on May 7, 2017, cancer claimed her. Little more than a year later, on July 25, 2018, her son, Cody, died.

Their remains are interred just north of the Shelter House, next to the graves of her parents, and during the last year a tombstone has been put into place. So those of us who keep the Shelter House open over Memorial Day are still spending quality time with Ev, in a sense.

The Shelter House will be open again today, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., come rain or shine. 

At 2 p.m. today, there will be a special program at Veterans Memorial Park during which a replica of the U.S.S. Iowa bell, recently installed, will be dedicated. All are welcome to attend.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Above and beyond the call ....

As many know --- I hope --- the Shelter House at the Chariton Cemetery is open Memorial Day weekends, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday-Monday, staffed by volunteers. This is a project of the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission and volunteer genealogists. The goal is to be on hand to help visitors locate graves when we can, offer free water, lemonade and cookies, allow guests to tour the little building, ordinarily locked --- and provide access to the cemetery's only restroom.

Anyhow, the intrepid Karen Patterson and Dorothy Allen were on hand about noon yesterday when the delivery person for a local florist threw up hands in despair and was ready to concede defeat. Michael Roach's children, who live in Washington, had ordered flowers, asking that they be placed at his grave for Memorial Day.

But locating a grave in the Chariton Cemetery can be a challenge. It is very large and very old, by Iowa standards. And even though we have a complete record of recorded burials at the Shelter House, these records work best in conjunction with the huge map, upon which lots are clearly marked, in the records room at Chariton City Hall.

Anyhow, Karen stepped into the breech, accepted the bouquet and promised to deliver it. This involved two trips to a section in the southwest corner of the cemetery where records indicated that Michael was buried. I arrived in time to accompany Karen and Dorothy on the second trip after the records had been double-checked and Alyse Hunter had arrived to relieve them from Shelter House duty.

This time we found Michael's grave with few problems. The difficulty had been that his marker is small, flush with the ground and located at the foot of his mother's grave, only evident when you're upon it. But Michael was there along with his parents, brother, sister, grandparents and aunt, Ruth Roach, one of Lucas County's most admired and longest serving educators.

I know that Karen, Dorothy and the others consider it a privilege to volunteer at the cemetery on this meaningful weekend. Me, too. So if you're at the cemetery today or tomorrow, stop at the Shelter House. Someone will be there.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Shaking Cory Booker's hand ....

So I was late --- but sleuthing after the fact revealed that U.S. Sen Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) had arrived at Marti and Jim Mefferd's house within five minutes of the projected time Friday afternoon. That's a positive sign.

The overflow rainbow coalition crowd of guests, politicians and staffers --- accented by Marc Daniels' pink yamaka --- suggested that this was a gathering of Democrats.

The candidate's presence was amazing and there was plenty of time after for conversation --- and selfies with a guy I hope is going to be a leader during this election cycle's caucus season.

My favorite candidates are Booker, Buttigieg and Warren --- in alphabetical, not preferential, order. 

And for Iowans, there's no good reason we shouldn't be able to meet and greet in person all three --- and everyone else seeking the presidential nomination. Friday's visit involved driving across town.

Booker has the advantage, in my book at least, of an Iowa connection --- His great-great-grandmother, Adeline McDonald, brought her nine children to the legendary Monroe County coal mining town of Buxton a century ago from Alabama in search of opportunity, and found it for her family. One of his grandmothers was born and raised in Des Moines and he still has relatives there.

It was a great afternoon with an inspiring candidate.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Memorial Day 1920: Changing of the Guard

Memorial Day 1920 in Chariton was marked by a changing of the guard. Although the old Civil War soldiers of the Grand Army of the Republic, now in their 70s and 80s or older, still were very much in charge along with their auxiliary, the Womens Relief Corps, the young men of Carl L. Caviness Post No 102, American Legion, participated in the day-long observance for the first time.

The Legionnaires --- organized and chartered the previous summer as World War I veterans returned home --- marched to the cemetery from the courthouse square that morning. The G.A.R. men and their ladies, not as hardy as they once had been, were driven.

At the cemetery, programming centered on a cenotaph, or representational grave that commemorated more than 150 of Lucas County's Civil War dead, a majority unidentified, who had been gathered for the most part from temporary burial sites and reinterred in national cemeteries across the South when that war was over. The cenotaph probably was located in the G.A.R. Section of the cemetery, near where a flourish of flags (above) was flying on Memorial Day 2011.

The remains of Lucas Countyans who had died in combat or of disease in France during 1918 had not  yet begun to return home. The coffin containing the remains of Caviness, Lucas county's first combat fatality of the Great War after whom the Legion post was named, would not arrive in Chariton until a year later --- on June 3, 1921.

Memorial Day required endurance back in 1920. After lunch, the day's events resumed with a program at First Methodist Church followed by a visit to what now is Yocom Park where flowers  in commemoration of those who had died at sea were strewn upon the waters of the pond that once filled most of it.

Here's a report of the day's events from The Herald-Patriot of June 3, 1920:

Chariton Pays Fitting Tribute to Its Soldier Dead with Flowers and Ritual
Relief Corps, Boy Scouts and Many Citizens Join Grand Army in Remembering Departed Ones

Memorial day was observed in Chariton with impressive and most fitting ceremonies. For the first time the American Legion took an active part in the exercises, giving proof to the old soldiers of the Civil War that, though they may pass away, the day devoted to their memory shall not fail observance, but rather, with the passing years it shall have an added significance and be dedicated, not to them alone, but to all the brave of the reunited country they fought to serve.

The women of the Relief Corps, those earnest workers who have been the cheerful helpers of the G.A.R., were busy before the day and in the morning hours, under the leadership of their selfless president, Mrs. McGinnis, securing flowers and seeing to it that no soldier's grave was left unmarked. Headed by a martial band, the parade formed about the court house square, where the Grand Army flag hung at half mast.

Veterans of the Grand Army, nearly forty in number, although bent with years, fell in line as the drums resounded. They were followed by the ladies of the W.R.C. The boys of the American Legion came next, the uniforms of the soldiers and sailors bringing forcibly to mind the strenuous days of recent history. The Boy Scouts followed their elder brothers and lacked but the stature of looking as soldierly. These were followed by the Daughters of Veterans, the whole making a most credible appearance.

Ample provision had been made for transporting all from the city to the cemetery, but the Legionnaires and the Scouts preferred to show their respect for the dead by marching. Members of the G.A.R. and W.R.C. were taken in the autos provided and the marching column was followed by hundreds of automobiles filled with reverent citizens. Under the marshalship of L.S. Combs, the march and all the arrangements at the cemetery were carried through perfectly.

To the natural beauty of the cemetery had been added the fragrant loveliness of a myriad of flowers, and every grave where waved the Union flag was a mass of bloom. Arrived at the cenotaph, the column formed into a hollow square and the solemn and inspiring ritual of the Grand Army, which has become of itself historic, was read by members of the Post. It was rendered more impressive by the exceptional manner in which it was given, all the voices ringing loud and clear, in spite of the weight of years.

Following the ceremony, the Grand Army gave way to the Relief Corps and with fitting words the members of the Corps stewed flowers upon the symbolic grave of all. It was given to a select squad of Boy Scouts to fire the salute of honor and after an earnest benediction, pronounced by Rev. C.W. McClelland, the ceremonies were concluded. The music at the cemetery, the sounding of "Taps" by the bugler, the singing of the quartette and of the little girls, was all singularly appropriate and well rendered.

Afternoon Services

The Methodist church was well filled for the afternoon services, the various patriotic orders attending in a body. The church was beautifully decorated with flags and flowers. Words of invocation were spoken by Rev. E.A. McKim and the choir rendered an appropriate selection.

The address of welcome on the part of the Grand Army was eloquently given by Comrade D.W. Cowles. His talk was intensely patriotic and he dwelt upon the proven fighting prowess of America when its cause was right and told of Perry's memorable words, of some of the splendid achievements of the Union troops during the Civil War and how the traditions of America had been lived up to by the boys of the Lost Battalion, who fought on to victory after the Huns had reported them defeated. With warm words he welcomed the members of the American Legion as joint heirs of American glory.

These words of welcome were most fittingly acknowledged on the part of the Legion by Adjutant Charles L. Holland. He spoke of the principles of the Legion, particularly in regard to good citizenship and the maintaining of real, true blue Americanism in the face of the bolsehvik tide of unrest. He also stated with what sense of responsibility the Legion accepted the mission of keeping alive the memory of department members of the G.A.R. and the continued observance of Memorial Day.

The reading of Lincoln's Gettysburg speech by C.F. Wennerstrum was an impressive feature of the program as the reader was able to bring out the full meaning and intensity of the solemn words of the martyred president.

"The Drum of '61" was a patriotic and stirring recitation splendidly rendered by Frances Elliott.

The chief feature of the afternoon was the brilliant address delivered by Mr. Wm. Collinson.

This was voted by many as one of the strongest and most eloquent of the many Memorial addresses which have been delivered in this city. His tribute to the Grand Army veterans was filled with dignity and pathos and a deep spirit of patriotism, and the words which he spoke to the young soldiers of the republic were no less appropriate and inspiring. He took occasion to touch upon some of the problems of today and urged strict obedience to law, no matter whether the law met one's personal approval or not.

With the benediction, pronounced by Rev. McKim, and the congregational singing of "America" closed one of the most perfectly arranged and executed Memorial programs Chariton has known.

Rites for Sailor Dead

The last public ceremony of the day was the ritualistic remembrance of the sailor dead of the nation by the ladies of the W.R.C. They adjourned from the church to Electric Park, where with the solemn words of the ritual they cast blooms upon the waters in memory of the sailor dead, no matter in what seas their bodies lie.

The organizations which planned and carried through the many arrangements for the day in such excellent manner are to be sincerely congratulated and the impressive services could not fail to impress the lessons of higher patriotism upon the hearts of all.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Meet Austin and Miranda (Threlkeld) Wayland

Two amazing portraits --- of Austin and Miranda (Threlkeld) Wayland --- were added to the Lucas County Historical Society collection this week. They were "orphaned" (we don't know who the last family members to own them were), but fortunate enough to fall into the hands of a donor determined to see that they were preserved. Somewhere along the line they lost their original frames, but remain in remarkably good condition.

As it happens, I know quite a bit about this couple --- and also know a great-great-grandson who had never seen images of these ancestors. So not long after the portraits arrived Tuesday, they left the building to be framed and hopefully will be back and on display sometime during the current season.

These are examples of what sometimes are called "crayon" portraits and several of Chariton's early photographers were skilled at the technique. But there's no indication who produced them. The technique involved enlarging a photographic negative onto drawing paper covered with a weak photographic emulsion. The artist then drew over the faint image that resulted with charcoal or pastels, attempting to duplicate the photograph while making it look hand drawn.

The portrait of Miranda is especially well done, but in her case the artist probably was working from life and probably had photographed her himself. Austin died during 1877, 46 years before Miranda, so the artist most likely was working from a much smaller and older photograph when the portrait was done. We do know from the portrait that Austin had blue eyes and a magnificent mustache.


I've written briefly about Austin and Miranda a couple of times before: "First death, then the judgment ..." here and "Causes of death and Uncle Joe Slattery" here.

Austin was a twin and both he and brother Elijah were sons of Joseph (1784-1851) Wayland and his second wife, Patsy Threlkeld. The twins were born on 13 April 1841 in Johnson County, Indiana. Following Joseph's death, Patsy brought her children west to Lucas County, Iowa, where many members of the extended Threlkeld family also settled.

Austin and Elijah enlisted at Chariton for Civil War service as privates in Company E, 34th Iowa Infantry, but Elijah fell at age 22 on July 1, 1863, at Vicksburg and is buried among the "unknowns" at Vicksburg National Cemetery. Austin returned home safely and on Jan. 17, 1864, married a cousin, Miranda Threlkeld, daughter of Washington and Lucinda Threlkeld. They had seven children, six of whom survived their father and ranged in age from 13 to 2 when Austin died at the age of 35 on April 10, 1877.

When Austin died, an inscription memoralizing his twin was added to his tombstone, located southwest of the rules-and-regulation sign near the Chariton Cemetery entrance.

Miranda persevered and, according to her obituary, continued to "fight life's battles as best she could."

Some of the children were farmed out, but all remained close to their mother. Her twin sons, Egbert and Elbert, were only five when their father died. "Bert" was taken in by Joseph and Jennie Sanborn, of Cedar Township, and he took the name of his foster parents. Bert's son was the late Jubal Sanborn, who I remember very well indeed as a childhood neighbor of my grandparents.

Miranda outlived Austin by 46 years, dying at age 80 on her 59th wedding anniversary, Jan. 17, 1923. She is buried near him --- and their deceased children.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Woodman Hardware: When Russell was retail leader

There was a time, more than a century ago, when Lucas County's largest retail business --- the Woodman hardware, furniture and undertaking operation --- was headquartered on the north side of Russell's main street with a substantial branch store that filled the Dewey Block on the southeast corner of Chariton's square. Nothing elsewhere in the county at the time could match it.

The operation had been built single handed by by Alfred J. Woodman (left), who arrived in Russell --- then about six years old --- during 1872, when he was 21. Born Aug. 23, 1851, in Somerset County, Maine, A.J. built a modest frame building on the north side of the square, stocked it with hardware and opened for business on May 25 of the next year. 

Once able to support himself, he married Alice Butts, they had six children and he continued at the helm of the operation until 1926, when he died. The original plan had been for the oldest son, Edward, to carry the business forward, but he had other plans. As a result the business passed to son John H. "Johnny" Woodman, who continued to operate it with his wife, Marie, until his own death during 1967.

Several of us still alive and roaming around remember Johnny, Marie and their daughter, Mary. All of the Woodman landmarks still are standing --- the store buildings in both Russell and Chariton, the Woodman home (later funeral home, too) in southwest Russell and Russell First Baptist Church, of which the Woodmans were mainstays. But there are no more Woodmans in Lucas County.

That's a ledger from Woodman Hardware, commencing in 1880, above --- now part of the Lucas County Historical Society collection. Some years before Marie Woodman's 1997 death, she passed several family-related items on to the historical society (there was no Russell museum at the time), including business records --- and the original blueprints for one part of the Russell store, the Woodman home and First Baptist Church.


When A.J. Woodman decided to celebrate his 30th anniversary in business on Monday, May 25, 1903, it was front-page news in The Chariton Herald of May 28, in part because Alfred had developed a friendly relationship with Samuel M. Greene, the young pup (under 30) who was its editor and publisher --- and invited him to the celebratory banquet. The editor of The Russell Union was there, too, but issues of that newspaper have not survived.

Here's what Sam published in two full columns of Page 1 of his Herald under the headline, "30th Year in Business: A.J. Woodman of Russell Celebrates the Event With His Friends."


An event unique in the business world is the celebration held by A.J. Woodman, the merchant, at his big store in Russell this week. On last Monday Mr. Woodman began his thirtieth year in the same line of business in Russell, and in honor of the event he prepared a banquet for all his customers of that first year, 1874. During all of this week the celebration is in progress --- the banquet on Monday evening, a musical program for everybody on Tuesday afternoon and evening, a public reception with refreshments for everybody on Wednesday afternoon and evening, and entertainment during the day and evening on the remaining three days of the week. During the week he is also making a big reduction on the prices of all articles in his immense stock, so that it will be a very busy and memorable week with him.

The celebration of the thirtieth anniversary in the same line of business for one man is so unusual as to deserve special notice. Of the whole week's program that of Monday evening was the most notable. Mr. Woodman looked over his ledger of his first year, 1874, and picked out the name of every man who traded with him then, and who is still living in this part of the country. He found over thirty, and he issued neat invitations to all of them to partake of a banquet in honor of the event, and his store, on Monday evening. Nearly all of the old patrons assembled, and in addition several of the business and professional men of Russell had seats at the banquet.

The list of Mr. Woodman's patrons of 1874 is as follows: L.A. Butts, J.J. Logan, Geo. Plotts, John Cook, Wm. Stacy, A Goodwin, Dr. Powell (now at Albia), C.H. Post, J. Lichtenbarger, M.V. Barton, J.F. Sprague, M. Ewald, J.H. Cook, Sam'l Taylor, L.M. Hanlin (Chariton), J. Criwell, John Dixon, William Branham, Ed Plotts, Dan'l Van Dyke, John Clowser, J.S. Johnston, Tandy Allen, T.S. Crozier, Wm. Larimer, Samuel Vannice, A.S. Beals, Jacob Werts, Wm. Spurling, T.D. McKinley, T.O. McKinley, Milton Allen (Des Moines) and Adam La Follette.

Those from Chariton present at the banquet were Col. W.S. Dungan and S.M. Greene.

Mr. Woodman's store was in spick-span shape for the event, the banquet table being spread in the vehicle room upstairs, between two long rows of carriages. The table presented a beautiful appearance, with decorations of flowers and ferns, and candles for lighting. A carnation lay at every plate. The menu was as follows: Veal Loaf, Saratoga Chips, Ham Salad, Radishes, Cottage Cheese, Pickles, Fruit Salad, French Rolls, Coffee, Ice Cream, Strawberries, Cake.

After the last course a most enjoyable part of the banquet took place --- the toasts and reminiscenses by those present. Mr. J.F. Sprague presided as toastmaster, and the toasts were responded to as follows:

Alfred Goodwin spoke of thirty years ago in Russell. He reminded the company of the appearance of the town thirty years before, and its healthy growth through the years, and complimented the host on the active and successful part he had taken in building up the town.

S.M. Greene spoke of his recollections of thirty years ago. Fortunately for the company, Mr. Greene was not born thirty years ago, so his speech was necessarily brief.

J.H. Cook spoke of early reminiscenses, and recalled to the minds of his hearers many amusing incidents of the long ago in their midst. He referred to the arrival of Mr. Woodman in Russell, as a lad, and of the curiosity of the citizens, especially the young ladies, as to who he was. He also recalled instances of his perseverance in business, and of the success he had attained, through the help of his excellent wife.

J. L. Werts spoke along a similar line recalling memories of his younger days in Russell.

T.E. Plotts spoke of his personal deep interest in Russell, and of the great interest and aid that Mr. Woodman had always given to the town and its welfare.

Col. Dungan spoke in his usual vein, fluently and interestingly. He recalled the fact that he had once platted an addition to Russell, and only regretted that he sold it when he did.

Wm. Branham related amusing incidents in the early life of the town, and referred to the honesty and uprightness of Mr. Woodman.

W.L. Werts outlined Mr. Woodman's close identification with every forward move of the town, its business prosperity growing with his own.

J.L. Long, editor of the Union, prophesied the future of Russell, as if taken from the files of the Union.

Mr. Woodman closed with a brief speech, in which he spoke with mingled emotions of the pleasant years he had spent in Russell, and spoke of the pleasure it afforded him to greet his friends in this way. He read from his day book of 1874, giving the names of many of the old residents who have passed away, and recalling to the minds of the guests many of the happenings of the early years.

He also referred to a remark of Col. Dungan's, in which the latter said he could trace his ancestry back to 1638, when they came to this country. Mr.Woodman said he could beat Col Dungan in that, as his ancestors landed here from England in 1635, and he could trace both his mother's and his father's family to that date.

The guests departed from the banquet at a late hour, with regret at having to conclude so enjoyable an evening, but with pleasure at being permitted to enjoy it. Besides the above program, instrumental music was furnished during the evening by Messrs. VanSickle and Hughes, of Chariton, and delightful vocal solos were rendered by Miss Fern Sprague, Miss Butts, and Dr. Stote, with piano accompaniment by Miss Abbie Woodman.

Chariton and Lucas county people have a general idea that Mr. Woodman does a large business in his hardware, implements and furniture, but they probably do not realize the immensity of his establishment. He has two stores, one at Russell and one at Chariton. The store at Russell contains more floor space than any other store in the county. The main building is of brick, and contains three floors, each 24 x 80 feet. The warehouse is also of brick, and is 44 x 50 feet. The tin shop is 22 x 14 feet. The furniture building is 20 x 60 feet, and contains two floors and a basement. Besides the above, there are ware and storage rooms outside that are not included.

The store at Chariton is conducted in the Dewey block, at the southeast corner, and besides the full length of the business lot, a building across the alley south is used. So it will be seen that Mr. Woodman's business is immensely large, and is something for Lucas county to be proud of.

When Mr. Woodman came to Russell from Maine about thirty years ago, he was only 21 years of age. In 1874 he built a little store room 20 x 40 feet of frame, and put in a stock of hardware and furniture, beginning on May 25. He did all the business himself, and drummers who dropped into the store would not at first believe that he was the proprietor. They always asked him where his pa was. He would tell them that his pa was back east. On being asked when the old gentleman would be back, young Woodman would reply that he didn't know, as his father had never been out here yet. In spite of his youth, he prospered from the start, and when he found that he could make a living for two, he won the heart of the girls of his choice, Miss Alice Butts. Now he has six children to make his home happy, and in his two establishments gives employment to five heads of families and one single man. He and his eldest son, Edward, also give their personal attention to the business.

No one deserves more than does Mr. Woodman the prosperity that he enjoys. He has won a place in the successful commercial world by dint of hard and honest toil, and in his labor he has always taken time to help those around him and give time and money to the upbuilding of his home community. The fact that his patrons of 1874 are still his patrons is the highest tribute that could be paid to his business standing. no man in Russell has more or better friends than has A.J. Woodman, and no man has the respect of his acquaintances more than he has. The Herald editor feels honored to have been invited to the banquet of the patrons of 1874, and congratulates Mr. Woodman and his excellent family upon the success that he has attained during his life in Russell, and on the success of the thirtieth anniversary this week.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Consider the iris, how they grow ...

It's been a banner year for iris on the Lucas County Historical Society Museum campus --- a little too banner, perhaps. Stalks are so heavily laden that they just fall over when provoked.

Jane is busy in the kitchen of the Stephens House this week, applying new wallpaper in the kitchen --- the last paper, probably installed 50 years ago when the house was restored, has declined recently to stay put, coming loose in strips. New paper seemed in order.

If you look carefully at the back porch pillar, you'll see a robin's nest on top. The eggs have hatched and the adults are not especially thrilled by the traffic in and out.

Kurt managed to get acres of grass mowed between showers on Monday --- so everything's looking as manicured as it gets.

And Patrick adjusted the settings on the Sesquicentennial Flag Pole Sunday so both the new U.S. and the new Iowa flags are aloft --- above a cushion of spirea.

The painters began work on Puckerbrush School's exterior late last week, then it started to rain again and that job now is in a holding pattern.

It's far too wet to begin work on the new concrete approaches to the Bill Marner Blacksmith Shop, or to move the Lenig windmill that has to be relocated a little farther down the big hill in order to clear the handicap-accessible route. Another holding pattern.

Kathleen, Kylie and Terry Sue have managed to get quite a lot of garden planted in the heirloom spot at the foot of hill, however --- despite all of this general dampness.

We're open now regular hours, from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and at other times by appointment. So feel free to stop in to take a look --- as long as you can live with various works in progress.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Drowning tragedies --- in a multiple of four

The word "drowned" on twin tombstones in the southeast quadrant of the Chariton Cemetery most likely is not noticed by passers by today who, for the most part, are focused on exercise routines. The stones commemorate brothers who died in their teens five years apart during the 1920s, tragic enough.

What isn't evident is that the death of the older brother, Clyde Smith, 18, on May 3, 1920, was part of a larger tragedy that claimed two other young lives --- Hazel Hulse, 16, and Grace Massman , also nearly 18, also Chariton High School students nearing the end of another year of classes.

I wrote here on May 9 about the deaths in Crystal Lake's waters of the Powell brothers, Roy and Harlan, on June 23, 1911. Nine years later, the placid waters of that little body of water claimed three more lives.

Here's how The Chariton Leader reported the deaths in its edition of May 6, 1920, under the headline, "Three Young Chariton People Meet Tragic End."


Annals in the history of Lucas county community life were darkened very sadly indeed on last Monday afternoon when three young Chariton people were drowned and two others narrowly escaped a tragic death when their boat overturned in the waters of the lake west of town. the dead are Hazel Hulse, daughter of Rev. Hulse, of Bethel; Grace Massman, daughter of John Massman; and Clyde Smith, son of J.W. Smith. The two survivors are Quig Timmins, son of Alf Timmins, and Ted Stewart, son of Cory Stewart. These young people were all high school students and well known. And now Chariton is pausing; a terrible tragedy has come and hearts not often reached are slowly and forcibly being touched with a sad reality.

Some high school students were "hooky" on Monday afternoon. A picnic had been hurriedly planned at the lake. During the afternoon a row boat was procured and several trips were made across from the point known as the cove. About 4 o'clock, as we have it, while most of the picnickers were gathered at the entrance to the grounds about a half mile south, getting ready to come back to town, the ill fated party, Grace Massman, Hazel Hulse, Clyde Smith and Ted Stewart, started in the boat across from a point farther south to land at the foot of the cove. Raymond Lewis and Quig Timmins had started on foot around the head of a small arm of water extending out from the main body, and were for a time out of sight of the young people in the boat on account of the hill coming between them.

It was during this particular time that in some manner, supposedly caused by the brisk wind, the boat was overturned and screams were heard. The boys hurried to the rescue and came upon the young people battling for life but a short distance from the shore. But the odds were great and of the party who but a few minutes before were living in an accustomed sphere of care-free existence, three were carried to the bottom of the lake to there meet one of the most tragic deaths that the hand of fate disposes.

One young man, Ted Stewart, managed to maintain his struggle until rescued by Quig Timmins, who was able to reach him just in time to save him from the fate of his companions. The boys, although nearly exhausted after reaching the shore, made their way to the farm house of C.H. Hechtner about three-fourths of a mile south, and there gave the first word that Chariton knew of the tragedy.

Cars were soon on the way, and by 5 o'clock several hundred people stood on the banks watching the efforts that were being put forth to locate the submerged bodies. Soon the body of Hazel Hulse was found floating perhaps a hudnred feet from the scene of the accident. It is generally believed that a heavy coat with an almost impervious lining was responsible for the early recovery. More help arrived and additional boats were found until more than half a dozen sets of hooks, chains and poles were in service. Not until about 6:30 were the efforts successful, when first the body of Miss Massman was caught, then that of Clyde Smith. They were brought to town immediately after recovery and taken to local undertaking parlors, where they were prepared for burial.

We have given as best we could the disconnected bits of the story that we were able gather. Some of it we have from one of the young men who struggled in the cold water until nearly numbed. Between other bits we have tried to discriminate until generally we believe the account here given is fairly authentic.

These young people were all about 18 years old. The boys were quite well known generally, young Smith having lived here for about five years and the others all their lives. The girls were known best in high school circles, both coming here in late years. Miss Massman moved to Chariton with her parents last fall from Melrose, and Miss Hulse came here to attend school from her home near Russell, where her father is a United Brethren minister. They are both members of the Junior class. Timmins is also a junior, while Ted Stewart is a sophomore as was young Smith.

Funeral services over the bodies were held yesterday. The service for Miss Massman was held at 9 o'clock at the family home and conducted by Rev. C.W. McClelland of the Presbyterian church. Interment was made at Iconium, in Monroe (actually Appanoose) county.

For Miss Hulse, a service was held at 2 o'clock at Bethel chapel, northeast of Chariton, conducted by Rev. E.W. Curtis, of the United Brethren church, with burial in the cemetery nearby.

Services were held for Clyde Smith at 10:30 at the Methodist church, conducted by Rev. E.A. McKim, assisted by Rev. J.W. Goodsell. Interment was made in the Chariton cemetery.


Hazel M. Hulse was born Aug. 14, 1903, near Knoxville, Tennessee, At 16, she was the eldest child of the Rev. Henry N. and Effie Jane (Taylor) Hulse, and had lived in both Nebraska and Iowa as part of a pastor's family. When she died, she was survived by her parents, three sisters and two brothers, all living in the Bethel Church parsonage just east of Bethel Church in Cedar Township.

Hazel was buried in the Bethel churchyard where a small stone bearing only her given name was erected to mark the grave. Her father died during 1955 and her mother, during 1967. They are buried in the Clarinda Cemetery in southwest Iowa's Page County.


Grace Massman, among the younger children of Clara (Brandon) and John Massman, was born May 12, 1902, near Iconium, and was a few days short of 18 when she died. She was a granddaughter of Thomas Brandon, a widely known and prominent pioneer of Appanoose, Monroe and Lucas counties. She was survived by her parents, a sister and six brothers.

Her parents had moved to Chariton from Melrose specifically during the fall of 1919 so that she might attend Chariton High School. Her father died during 1925 and her mother, during 1964. They are buried together in the Iconium Cemetery, graves marked by a common stone.


Clyde Smith was born near Newbern on May 11, 1902, a son of James W. and Ola Ann (Clingman) Smith, and also was a few days short of his 18th birthday when he died. The family had moved to Chariton during 1915, where James became a dealer in automobiles. He was survived by two brothers and a sister. Both of his parents died during 1948 and were buried near their sons in the Chariton Cemetery.


Five years after Clyde Smith drowned, his younger brother, Donald, 15, also drowned --- on May 23, 1925 --- and was buried beside his brother in the Chariton Cemetery.

His death, reported upon in The Leader of May 26, 1925, occurred in a pond that still exists in north Chariton, although not visible  now behind the row of houses that lines the west side of Highway 14 as it enters town from the north.

The pond was built during the late 19th century as the centerpiece for the race track on Chariton's second fairgrounds.  Here's the report of Donald death as published in The Leader:


A gloom was cast over this community last Saturday afternoon when it was learned that Donald Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. Will Smith, of North Main street, had been drowned in the pond in the north edge of this city, known as the fair ground pond.

Donald, in company with his younger brother and another lad, had gone to the pond to fish. In some manner Donald's line got away from him and he took off his clothing and waded out to get it. The water is several feet deep a few feet from shore, and it is thought that he stepped off beyond his depth and was seized with cramps.

This is the second time in five years that tragedy has visited the Smith home and in each instance a beloved son was taken by drowning. The parents are heart broken at the double visitation, and to them and the other sorrowing relatives the deep sympathy of the entire community will be extended.

Donald Francis Smith, second son of James William and Ola Clingman Smith, was born in Lucas county, near Newbern, Iowa, on October 20, 1909. The family moved to Chariton in 1915. Here Donald started school and pursued his way through the grades to the Freshman year. He was an apt and faithful pupil, and made a good record in school work.

He began attending the Methodist Sunday school as a little child, and was a regular and very interested member of the XXX class in the teen age department. In his twelfth year he joined the Boy Scouts and followed loyally the Scout Law. He had made good plans for his future. He was one of the Institute Club which plans to attend the Epworth League this summer. He was just ready to take examinations for several Merit Badges in Scoutcraft. He had a good place of employment for the summer.

On May 3, 1920, his brother, Clyde, had been drowned. It seems a cruel and capricious fate which led him to a similar death on May 23, 1925, at the age of 15 years, 7 months and 3 days.

Clean in habit and ideals, thoughtful, reverential and kind, he was indeed a good son and brother, a good student, a good scout and a good Christian, according to what God has planned that a growing boy should be. The sympathy of all goes out to the bereaved father and mother, the little sister, Dorothy, and the little brother, Clell, who will miss him sorely.

Funeral services were held Monday at 4 p.m. at the Methodist church, conducted by Rev. Frank Bean, his pastor and Scoutmaster, assisted by Rev. J. D. Pontius of the Church of Christ and Rev. J. A. Riggs, of the Baptist church. The Boy Scouts formed an escort and furnished the pallbearers.

At the Chariton cemetery, when the ritual was closed, Scout Clifford Wells signaled the International Code message, R.D.G. N., meaning, "The message is ended, Good Night." Scout Harold Ordway sounded "Taps." The floral tributes were profuse and beautiful, tender and silent messages of love for the dead and sympathy for the living.


If you visit the Smith boys' graves, you'll notice the small bronze Boy Scout marker near his tombstone. I've not see another like it in Lucas County.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A few words of wisdom from Black Elk

The Christian family value I'm most intimately acquainted with is homophobia. For others, it's racism; others still, antisemitism. That mix as well as a skeptical nature results in odd and unorthodox relationships with my native white-folk cultural religious traditions.

Open to various insights, like any seeker product of the 1960s, I'm familiar with John G. Neihardt's 1932 Black Elk Speaks --- I mean, who hasn't read it? It's far more "American" than the Bible and perhaps as relevant. Allowing that Neihardt's own romantic vision no doubt colored his interpretation of the Oglala Lakota medicine man's (1863-1950) vision.

I like this Black Elk quote, which seems especially relevant during these contentious times: “The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.”

What Neihardt doesn't mention in Black Elk Speaks --- the elephant in the room if you like --- is the fact that from the date of his baptism on St. Nicholas Day, 1904, until death, Black Elk was a practicing and apparently devout Roman Catholic. There's even a move among American bishops and others now to propel him toward sainthood.

We'll never know exactly how Black Elk fused his native vision with his adopted one --- no one bothered to ask. But it's interesting to note that one of America's spiritual icons managed it, feet planted in two worlds, united perhaps by that "oneness with the universe." 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Resurrecting the memory of Lucinda "Cindy" Fisher

Lucinda Jane "Cindy" Fisher had been a resident of the Lucas County Home for 38 years when she died there on May 5, 1912. Her death certificate gives stomach cancer as the cause. Having outlived 10 siblings, only her baby sister, Lucretia, survived --- in Lewis County, Washington.

The physician who filled out the death certificate got Lucinda's name wrong --- He recorded it as "Elizabeth Jane Fisher" --- and the place of burial, too: Goshen. She actually was laid to rest near her parents, Leonard and Sarah Fisher, in a graveyard now known as Fisher-Webb, a scrap of land atop an embankment on the west side of U.S. 65 about a mile south of Goshen in Union Township. There is no tombstone.

Her age was recorded, and reported, as 78, but she probably was closer to 75. Early census records suggest that she was born in 1837 or 1838 in Jackson County, (West) Virginia. The precise date has been lost.

Although classified by Lucas County in census records and elsewhere in harsh early 20th century terms as an "idiot," it would appear --- if her brief obituary is any indication --- that Cindy was loved by those she lived among at the county farm. Here's the obituary published on Page 1 of The Chariton Leader on May 9, 1912:


Cindy Fisher passed away at the county home Sunday night after an illness of six weeks with stomach trouble. She was seventy eight years of age and was an inmate of the county home for over 30 years. She was a good Christian and died in faith of a risen Savior. She was loved by all at the home and one of the ladies dedicated the following lines in her memory. Interment was made in the Fisher Cemetery Monday.

In remembrance of Cindy Fisher:

"One sweet flower has dropped and faded,
One sweet voice has fled.
We are lonely now in yearning,
Our dear companion now is dead.

"She has gone to heaven long before us,
But she lives and moves her hand,
Beckoning us and pointing to the glories,
Of that far away and spirit land."


Lucinda had arrived in Lucas County during its earliest days, ca. 1852, with her parents and siblings and settled most likely on rising land south of the Chariton River bottoms about a mile northwest of where the village of Derby would spring up along the new railroad during the 1870s.

Her mother, Sarah, died at the age of 55 on Aug. 22, 1855, and probably was the first to be buried at Fisher-Webb, most likely located on family land. Five years later, when the 1860 census was taken, Lucinda was living nearby with her sister, Hester, and brother-in-law, Matthew Comer. Another sister, Rebecca (Fisher) Harper died in childbirth that year and was buried near her mother. Her brother, John McComas Fisher, died three years later --- on Aug. 11, 1863, at the age of 38, and was buried there, too. Leonard died June 4, 1865, age 76, and joined his family on this little hill.

It's not clear where Lucinda was living in 1870 --- the Comers had by this time moved to Missouri ---but schedules attached to the 1880 federal census of Lucas County show that she became an "inmate" of the Lucas County Poor House during December of 1874 --- and remained there for the balance of her life.

During July of 1860, neighbors north of the river --- George and Elzey Courtney --- lost an infant. Elzey herself died during January of 1861. Both were buried on land that George then donated to the Goshen Baptist congregation as site for its first church --- and a community cemetery. Although occasional burials of Fisher family members and others continued in the old graveyard south of the river, nearly everyone who died in the neighborhood after that was buried at Goshen. A cemetery was begun northeast of Derby when that town was founded and it, too, became a popular burial place.

William Evans Webb and his family arrived in Lucas County during 1869 and purchased the farm that included the Fisher Cemetery and so it became known as Fisher-Webb, although no one of that name is buried there.

The little cemetery marooned above a busy road with no easy access fell into disrepair and was in a bad state when the Lucas County Pioneer Cemetery Commission arrived on the scene to restore it during 2004-2005. Today, it is well cared for.