Thursday, August 21, 2014

A little Charitone history: Junkin & McCollough

I've had my nose to the grindstone --- sort of --- this week, trying to finish the text for a commemorative book about the Hotel Charitone that will be issued this fall by the Lucas County Preservation Alliance, non-profit partner of Hotel Charitone LLC.

That's involved a good deal of editing and considerable writing, bridging the gaps left by earlier pieces about the grand --- and now fully restored --- old hotel.

I'm not going to publish here, too, but thought it might be interesting to post one of the new chapters dealing with conditions that led to the Charitone's construction in 1923 and the men, William D. Junkin and Henry F. McCollough, who built it.


William D. Junkin
To understand why the Chariton square was a prime location for a hotel of the Charitone’s scale in 1922-23, it is necessary to know a little about conditions in Lucas County at the time.

The county continued to flourish agriculturally as it had since the first settlers arrived in 1846, combining livestock, grain and hay production in a traditional manner that continued to make it one of Iowa’s top producers.

In addition, the coal industry --- first developed near Lucas during the 1880s --- was booming.

Chariton’s population, which stood at 3,794 in 1910, had by 1920 increased 36 percent --- to 5,175. There was no reason to believe the upward trend would not continue, and it did just that until reaching its peak of 5,754 in 1940.

Henry F. McCollough
The north-south Rock Island Railroad line, completed during the summer of 1913, had turned Chariton into a major transportation hub. It provided both a direct route from the Twin Cities to Kansas City, thus giving the Rock an advantage over the Great Western, then dominant, and also allowed the vast coal fields of northeast Lucas County and southern Marion County to open.

The east-west C.B.&Q. line continued to link Burlington and Omaha, as it had since the late 1860s, and C.B.&Q. spur lines linked Chariton to St. Joseph, Missouri, and Indianola.

The Chariton square was located midway between the C.B.&Q. Depot just northwest of downtown; and the new Rock Island Depot, two blocks east. Much of the nation continued to travel by train. Those who didn’t drove and State Highway 14 and U.S. Highway 34 intersected at the southeast corner of the square.

The legendary Central Iowa Fuel Co. mines beginning just north of Chariton and continuing northeast to Williamson, Tipperary and Olmitz developed after the Rock Island and its spur lines to the mines were completed. In Marion County, Melcher-Dallas also developed into a coal mining center when the Rock Island was complete.

There was a housing boom in Chariton as dozens of compact, white, one-story homes for mining families were constructed --- some, such as those in the area of southeast Chariton known as White City, built by the mining company; many others built by private entrepreneurs.

There were no empty storefronts downtown, businesses flourished and the square was packed on Saturday afternoons and evenings.

As these developments occurred, Chariton’s two principal hotels --- the Depot House, built in 1872 on the second floor of the big C.B.&Q. depot, and the tree-story brick Bates House, a half block west of the square on Braden Avenue, built during 1873, were beginning to show their ages and decline.

It was into this setting that Junkin & McCollough stepped with sufficient backbone and funding  to commission the Charitone.

William D. Junkin, born April 19, 1864, in Fairfield, was a son of William W. Junkin, pioneer editor and publisher of The Fairfield Ledger. He married Vermont Petty during 1893 in Fairfield and they became the parents of two daughters, Kathryn, who died young, and Louise.

After the turn of the 20th Century, William D. and his brothers through various corporate arrangements acquired additional newspapers in Albia, Creston and Corning and added a share of The Chariton Herald to their holdings in 1908.

In 1912, William D. --- then editor and publisher of The Albia Republican --- purchased controlling interest in the merged Herald-Patriot and moved to Chariton to take charge.

The Junkins’ daughter, Louise, met the dashing Henry F. McCollough in Chariton and married him here on July 20, 1918. He was a son of Anna (Gibbon) McCollough/Copeland and her first husband, Ralph McCollough  --- a young man related both by blood and his mother’s second marriage to Josiah C. Copeland to some of Chariton’s most affluent and prominent families. Their marriage was a social highlight of the summer.

After 10 years at the helm of The Herald-Patriot, Junkin became interested in the financial potential of building and operating a modern hotel in Chariton. His interest in the Chariton newspapers became the basis for financing the new enterprise, first in 1922 when some shares were sold and again in 1925, when William D. and his brother, Paul, sold out of the newspaper corporation entirely. It seems likely that Henry McCullough’s family also backed the project, which required an investment in excess of $100,000, although that never was acknowledged publicly.

If contemporary newspaper reports are to be believed, Junkin and McCollough paid G.W. Larimer $24,000 for the hotel lot (including the White Front building), including as part payment another building on the square valued at $16,000.

The men selected as their architect William Lee Perkins, who had practiced in Chariton since 1917.

Perkins, a native of Ridgeway, Missouri, would go on to become one of southern Iowa’s most prominent architects, designing some of Chariton’s most familiar buildings in that process --- City Hall, the American Legion Hall and the Masonic Temple among others.

Junkins knew Perkins well since he had offered the young architect one of his first commissions, the then-innovative Chariton Newspapers building just east of the Charitone along Braden Avenue, constructed during 1917.

It isn’t known when Junkin and McCollough selected the name “Hotel Charitone” or exactly why. The most familiar explanation is that “Charitone” was believed in the 1920s to be the French version of “Chariton.” According to lore, none of which can be documented, a French trader named Chariton or Charitone established a trading post in the late 18th  Century along the Missouri River deep in Missouri, at the mouth of a river named Chariton (minus the “e”) in his honor. That river, of course, rises in southern Iowa, passes through Lucas County and is the source of the city of Chariton’s name.

Excavation for the Charitone’s basement began during late January, 1923, with the intention that the walls of the basement would be completed to ground level before spring rains began.

Some decisions apparently had not yet been made, however, including whether the hotel was to be three or four stories high. It was soon decided to build four stories, but not finish the interior of the fourth floor. An elevator shaft was installed as planned, but an elevator car would not be added until the fourth floor was finished.

As the building began to rise, Henry McCollough enrolled in a hotel management course so that he would prepared when the doors opened.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Shirley, Baby Jean and then (and now) Marilyn

This is my friend Marilyn Smyth Johnson, also curator of the Lucas County Historical Society Museum, who sat down last evening to tell her story --- or at least to talk about a few aspects of 80 years spent for the most part in Lucas County among fascinating people, doing interesting things.

The conversation is part of an historical society oral history project coordinated and conducted by museum intern Karoline Dittmer, who heads off to college this weekend and is finishing up this phase with a flourish that includes several interviews.

These interviews are, or will be, available on DVD at the museum for anyone who wants to look and listen and learn.

I've been especially fascinated for as long as I've known Marilyn by the story of how she came to be in Chariton in the first place --- and she talks a good deal about this in the interview. Her first months were spent at Iowa State University, then Iowa State College, as part of a program that would not even be considered today, but was thought to be quite innovative and progressive at the time.

Marilyn was born during June of 1934 in Des Moines to a birth mother who could not care for her, and so she was placed in custody of the state. Her birth name was Shirley, but that would be temporary.

At the age of three months, during September of 1934, little Shirley was placed in the Ellen H. Richards House at Iowa State College. This was a "home management practice" house where young women enrolled in the Department of Family Environment were expected to gain experience in running a household and raising children. There were four of these houses, each equipped with an infant, at ISU at the time. And Shirley was renamed "Jean" upon arrival.

Six to eight students were assigned to care for Baby Jean and the house on a rotating basis --- new students arrived every six weeks. They became, in effect, surrogate mothers.

Jean lived in the Richards House for a year, cared for by dozens of students, before she was adopted during August of 1935 by Porter J. and Joy Smyth of Chariton, brought home to their lovely and distinctive home on North Grand Street. Porter and Joy gave little Jean a new name, Marilyn --- and that name has endured.

Marilyn had a happy childhood as the treasured only child of older parents and, when she was old enough to understand, Porter and Joy told her that she was adopted and described the circumstances of her first 15 months. 

There was a scrapbook, too, maintained by the students and containing photographs of Baby Jean with her student mothers, at play and on her first birthday; details of her growth and development and the "scientific" schedule her mothers had been expected to adhere to; and some writings by the students themselves.

Marilyn, of course, doesn't remember her first months; only that as a child whose initial exposure was exclusively to young women she was for a time less comfortable with older women and men. 

One of the state workers who made home visits after Marilyn had been placed in Chariton told her parents that the birth mother had been a concert pianist and encouraged piano lessons. Porter and Joy complied, but Marilyn was less enthusiastic. Other than that, Marilyn says, she knows nothing about her birth mother nor has she ever had any interest in finding out more.

She did become interested some years ago, however, in locating other children who had been placed in the Iowa State program and as part of that process took her scrapbook to the University to be placed in its archives. She discovered then that she was the only "home management baby" ever to return or to contact the University. She suspects that most if not all of the other adoptive parents simply never told their children that they were adopted.

Marilyn has, however, visited with a few women who were involved as students in the program, including Charlene (Trumbo) Meyer of Chariton.

There's a good deal more to the interview than this, so stop in and take a look sometime once Karoline gets it processed. Or just stop in and talk to Marilyn.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Give me (and a few others) liberty ...

Note to the headline writers at "The Daily Beast" --- Missouri is not burning, although the situation in Ferguson is awful and no one seems to know what to do to avoid making it worse.

Like many others, I was thinking about Ferguson Sunday morning when one of those odd overprinted images with a message showed up in my Facebook feed. I suspect it was intended as a commentary on social welfare programs.

This one was of Patrick Henry (left), one of our "founding fathers," in an oratorical moment and offered up his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" line with the subtitle, "It wasn't free condoms, food, housing and make my neighbors pay for it."

Well of course it wasn't. I honestly don't know about the condoms, but Patrick had slaves to do his farm work, grow and prepare his food and keep his house tidy. The first six had been a wedding present from his father-in-law upon his first marriage.

It's not clear how many enslaved black folks Henry owned during his lifetime, but there are records of 78 purchases and his property at death included about 65.

Other founding fathers were slave owners on a grander scale, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

By the time of the Revolution, an estimated one-fifth of the colonial population consisted of enslaved black people (who really weren't looked upon as people at all) and the colonial economy south and north was fueled by slave labor.

When Henry arose to deliver his impassioned and famous line, he had white male property owners in mind --- not black people, not indigenous people and certainly not women.

When compared to the tyranny of the slave-based society and economy in which Henry and his counterparts moved, the offenses of the British were minor.

Some years later, roughly 620,000 young men north and south died in a great war that freed those enslaved by their forefathers, dying for their sins; other rights and privileges have been granted, in many cases grudgingly, by white folks as the decades have rolled on.

But we've never really dealt with our racist roots nor acknowledged that racial prejudice is as American as apple pie and in many cases embedded as deeply as it ever has been. Nor do we deal with our own racism, subtle or overt. Until we do, Fergusons will occur.

Lord have mercy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lucas County's last men standing to be honored

Frank D. Myers photo

Doris Christensen photo
There's something to be said for coming in first, but ending up as the last man standing is at best a mixed blessing.

In the case of Lucas County's longest-surviving Civil War veterans, however --- William Humphreys and Robert Killen --- the consolation of having a counterpart lasted until the end. Both expired on the same day --- Jan. 25, 1941.

Humphreys, who was 96, died at his home in Oakley. Killen, also 96, died at the home of a daughter at Norwood. Neither endured long illnesses. Pneumonia claimed Humphreys in a week. Killen had been active until an unspecified illness took his life in a few days, too.

Now, some 70 years later, both men will be honored for their longevity --- and service --- during public graveside observances next Saturday, events that are among Civil War sesquicentennial observances conducted by members of the Iowa Division, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The remembrance for Killen will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Graceland Cemetery, located northeast of Norwood at the intersection of two Otter Creek Township gravel roads, 150th and 570th streets. The remembrance for Humphreys will begin at 10 a.m. at Mount Zion Cemetery, located just off the Lacona blacktop north of Oakley. All are welcome to attend, according to Mike Rowley, of the Department of Iowa.

Later in the day, similar observances will be held at noon at the grave of Jonas Hoffhines in the Leon City Cemetery (Decatur County) and at 2 p.m. at the grave of Theodore Yetts in the Hopeville Cemetery, east of Hopeville in Clarke County.


Killen was a Kentucky native, born during March of 1844 in LaRue County. He enlisted in Co. F, 1st Kentucky Cavalry, during August of 1861 --- when he was 17 --- and served honorably in this and other units (Co. F, 37th Kentucky Infantry, and Co. E, 55th Kentucky Infantry) until discharge on Sept. 19, 1865.

After the war, Killen moved to Marion County, Indiana, where he married Delila Robinson during the mid-1870s and they moved to Lucas County soon thereafter. They had three children before Delila died during 1879. Delila and and an infant son are buried in the Arnold Cemetery, Liberty Township.

 He then married Mary Etta Baker in Lucas County on Aug. 4, 1882, and they became the parents of seven children. She predeceased Robert during 1928.

Although Killen was unaffiliated with any church until baptized at the age of 94, his second wife was a member of Graceland Church, located at the cemetery and a congregation of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (now Community of Christ).


William Humphreys was born May 6, 1844, near Portsmouth in Scioto County, Ohio. He enlisted on Aug. 2, 1862, when he was 18, as a wagoner in Co. D, 1st Ohio Artillery Battalion, and also served in Co. D, 117th Ohio Infantry, until discharge nearly three years later, on June 20, 1865. 

Two years after the war had ended, William married Mary Jane Caton on Aug. 29, 1867, and they moved west to Lucas County during January of 1872. The Humphreys had no biological children, but adopted Florence Hook when she was 15.

Mary Jane died during 1912 and William married as his second wife Laura Parry, who died during 1930.

He had been active in the organization of Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church and in construction of its building, so that was where his funeral service and burial occurred.


Both Killen and Humphreys had long affiliations to varying degrees with the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans designed to close its books when the last surviving veterans died.

Humphreys joined Chariton's Daniel Iseminger Post No. 18 during 1892, but also was affiliated with Lacona Post No. 309. He seems to have been a fairly consistent dues-paying member.

Killen's membership was somewhat more problematic. He joined the Lacona post during 1889, was suspended in 1895, dropped in 1900 and rejected during 1914. 

Both Killen and Humphreys, however, paid their G.A.R. dues on Feb. 2, 1940, and so were in good standing in that dying organization when they marched more or less together off into the sunset less than a year later.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Simple, savory summer soup

Here's what's for lunch today, cooked up yesterday and enjoyed --- with the balance refrigerated to be reheated as needed. It takes just a few minutes to assemble and can be served after cooking for about an hour, although like most soups it improves with age (within reason).

I used canned tomatoes, but there's no reason fresh couldn't be substituted. This recipe serves four generously; double the ingredients to serve more.


1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic (sliced, diced, or whatever)
1 12-ounce package of Italian chicken sausage
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
2 cups chicken broth
1 package fresh kale
Salt and pepper to taste


Place olive oil in a dutch oven, heat to medium and add sliced garlic and sliced chicken sausage. Saute for 10 minutes or so.

Add tomatoes, cannellini beans (drained and rinsed) and chicken broth, mixing well.

Rinse kale well and tear into small pieces, discarding central stems; add to the soup mixture and fold in.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for at least an hour, stirring now and then.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The gold standard atop Mount Zion

Lucas County has two Zion cemeteries, which can lead to confusion. One, simply Zion, is located atop a hill in Pleasant Township, east of Williamson, overlooking the Cedar Creek valley. It takes its name from the now-vanished Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, once located north of the cemetery lane.

The other is Mount Zion, named for the equally vanished Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church that it once contained, located atop a bluff bordering White Breast Creek north of Oakley, or what's left of Oakley.

A tombstone errand took me to the latter Friday, tunneling in through the trees along the lane that commences just north of the White Breast Creek bridge. This lane, once a road that continued west, now turns, climbs and circles the site of the old church.

That was where I discovered gold --- blooming in tall spikes surrounded by intense green.

And lichen, too, gilding a tombstone.

The old hymn tells us that neither silver nor gold hath obtained our redemption, and that's probably true on many levels. But this kind of gold can redeem at least a few minutes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

High noon at the Twilight Tearoom

Fine old rural Iowa school buildings generally run out of luck when declining population forces consolidation, students are moved elsewhere --- and doors are locked.

That hasn't been the case with the Williamson School, fortunately, so it was fun to drive out with others from Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street late Thursday morning for a ribbon-cutting at the Slykhuis Twilight Tearoom.

Those in the ribbon-cutting photo are (from left) Linda Baynes, director of Lucas County Volunteer Services; Scott McLin, Mosaic; Teresa Buckalew, who works at the tearoom; Kris Patrick, Main Street coordinator for Chamber/Main Street; Tina Slykhuis, who with her husband owns building and business; and Courtney Geesaman and Jessica Travis, both of U.S. Bank. I joined the crew after taking my own photos.

We then went inside to see the new first-floor tearoom --- probably the most elegant interior ever developed in English Township. The Slykhuis family converted the gymnasium into an events venue a couple of years ago, so the tearoom is the second phase of three-phase plans for the building. In perhaps a year and a half, according to Tina, the second floor will open as a bed and breakfast operation.

Three of the four classrooms on the 1923 building's first floor now flow together into a reception and dining area. Grand opening celebration luncheons continue here from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and Saturday. If you're interested in more about the business, dining opportunities, services offered and the building, check out the tearoom's Web site, located here.

Here's Tina (left) visiting with Linda in the tearoom's reception area (above) and Teresa visiting with Scott (below). Teresa, by the way, is a cousin. And for all the other Miller cousins out there, here's how it goes: Teresa's mom was Mary Elizabeth (Feight) Buckalew/Hockart; Mary Elizabeth's mother was Mary (Abrahamson) Feight; and Mary's mother was our great-aunt, Cynthia (Miller) Abrahamson.

There's another family connection here, too. The Slykhuis family purchased my grandparents' farm just west of Williamson Pond from my Aunt Marie Miller a year ago, and now live there. They also have a farm near Carlisle and previously, when in Williamson, occuped second-floor quarters in the school.

The Williamson School, built in 1923 to a design by Chariton architect William L. Perkins --- and listed on the National Register of Historic Places --- dates from a time when Williamson was a thriving coal mining town with a population many times the current 150 or so. The gymnasium wing to the east was added in 1929.

As both town and rural population began to decline, so did the number of Williamson students. The Class of 1944 was the last at Williamson High School and, in 1959, Williamson was consolidated into the Chariton Community School District. The Williamson School continued to serve as a district elementary building until 1995, when all students were moved into Chariton and the building was passed to the Williamson Historical Society.

The historical society operated the building as a community center for a time, including a library and museum. When it became impractical to continue that operation, the building was sold. I'm thinking the Slykhuis family are its second private owners, but am not quite sure of that.

Whatever the case, it's wonderful to see that the fine old building continues to be maintained, appreciated --- and used.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

There's a sucker born every minute ...

You grow up, you look things up in Wikipedia --- and illusions shatter. Darn. Take P.T. Barnum, for example, that great American showman. So far as anyone can determine, he never said "There's a sucker born every minute." But he should have. It's a great line. And assuredly true.


Ghosts and demons, for example. I was surprised early in the week to note a big uptick in views of a 2011 Lucas Countyan post entitled "House Proud in Garden Grove." 

I'd thrown that one together hurriedly utilizing old snapshots of the since-restored Stearns mansion and Realtor photos of the J.J. McClung house, which had come onto the market recently.

As it turns out tall (and improbable) tales involving a demon, told by a former owner of the Stearns house,  apparently have been incorporated into an episode of a low-budget series called "A Haunting" that seems to be part of a dumbing-of-America television service called "Destination America." Other affiliated programs have titles like, "Hillbilly Blood," "BBQ Pit Wars" and "Armageddon Arsenals." You get the idea.

This episode seems to have been broadcast first over the weekend, and quite a few viewers have then rushed to their computers to Google "Stearns" in some combination of words. Apparently some of them actually take this crap seriously.

Old houses are haunted by failing roofs, dry rot, outdated wiring, rusty plumbing and faulty foundations --- but not by spirits of the deceased --- or demons. Get a clue, people.


And then yesterday, a video clip purporting to prove that Jesus identified Barack Obama by name as the Antichrist somewhere in the New Testament popped up in my Facebook feed. Just for giggles, I watched it through "Barack" to the start of "Obama." Oh my ...

Sadly, I'm afraid the poor soul who launched this took it seriously. 

The concept of Antichrist has been around for centuries, based upon a couple of New Testament verses that reputable scholars agree have nothing to do with an actual personage. Protestant reformers had a bone to pick with the Vatican, so quite naturally identified a succession of Popes as the Antichrist (some demented Protestants still do).

More recently, religious loons have taken to looking among politicians. I abandoned that train of thought when Ronald Reagan died, but others carry on.

The lovely thing about this, of course, is that it bodes well for Hillary Clinton. She's a woman, you know, and women aren't allowed into positions of authority in the celestial scheme of things. Since the Antichrist obviously will have authority over men, Hillary's off the hook.


Earlier this summer, somebody stuck a video entitled "Evolution vs. God" between the front doors after I'd inadvertently left the storm door unlocked. I held on to that for a week or so, thinking it might be good for a laugh or two, then finally tossed it after deciding life was too short for such nonsense.

I suspect some religiously-affiliated group purchased these in bulk for distribution, since that's one of the ways the video is being marketed. No idea who, however. Well, actually ....

I did read a review or two, however.

Prepared by an evangelist named Ray Comfort, the video claims to prove that one or another of the creation myths recorded in the Hebrew Bible book of Genesis somehow is factual.

Unfortunately for Comfort, even proponents of creationism among fundamentalist and evangelical scholars were not impressed simply because the video is so poorly done.

Fortunately, for Comfort, there's a sucker born every minute --- as P.T. Barnum didn't say. But he should have.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hallelujah! We're officially an Historic District!

This just in, so to speak: "The Lucas County Courthouse Square Historic District was listed in the National Register yesterday, August 11, 2014."

In other words, Chariton's square officially has been added to the National Register of Historic Places as an Historic District.

This is great news, sent out by Patrick Andrus, historian for the National Register of Historic Places; and forwarded to Alyse Hunter, chair of the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission, by our intrepid friend and architectural historian Molly Myers Naumann.

Molly handled the application process, which stretched over two years; a project of not inconsiderable expense that was paid for by the city of Chariton as part of its commitment to the Main Street program in Chariton. Those of us involved with the Preservation Commission helped Molly with the extensive research needed to launch a successful application.

This is wonderful news! First of all, it is a considerable honor to be added to the National Register. Several individual buildings in town already were listed, as is the Chariton Cemetery Historic District.

This means that all "contributing buildings," i.e. historic structures with considerable remaining integrity, in the district now are listed individually, too, on the National Register. This makes owners of those listed buildings who restore and repair in conformance to Department of the Interior preservation guidelines eligible for federal tax credit financing.

Our application was approved at the state level earlier this year. But there's still nagging doubt until that official notification arrives from Washington, D.C. Needless to say, we're thrilled!

Sic transit gloria? Try marble and granite

Mansions crumble and descendants forget, but in the area of temporal immortality granite and marble go on for considerably longer --- in most instances. So if you want to be noticed after shuffling off this mortal coil, a distinctive tombstone could be your best investment.

Most have forgotten David and Amanda White as well as their son and daughter-in-law, George and another Amanda, but their distinctive memorial --- a confection of marble and granite --- continues to catch eyes not far inside the front gate of the Chariton Cemetery.

This is a transitional tombstone, combining traditional marble --- preferred by stone cutters because it was easier to work with although prone to erosion --- and granite, far more stable but substantially more difficult to shape and inscribe.

The elaborately inscribed base, loaded with carved symbolism, is topped by a red granite column, then crowned by a marble urn. Although there are other similar monuments in Lucas County, this is the largest.

Symbols include the traditional Christian cross and crown (the Whites were Presbyterian).

A shock of wheat (ripe for the harvest, long a symbol of death).

The symbol of the I.O.O.F. (David was an Odd Fellow and fellow lodge members conducted his funeral).

And this crescent and star, which I've never managed to sort out. Although now ceded to Islam, the crescent and star combination also is an ancient Christian symbol. This also could have been a fraternal symbol of some sort.

David White, born in Ohio, married Amanda Reynolds on Aug. 28, 1856, in Hendricks County, Indiana, and they removed almost immediately to White Breast Township, Lucas County --- west of Chariton --- and began to farm. Their only son, George, was born here on June 17 of the following year. Their two daughters were born much later --- Mary in 1874 and Nellie in 1880.

David was only 44 when he died on Sept. 13, 1882, of "a complication of complaints." He was at the time, according to reports in the Chariton newspapers, "one of the most intelligent and wealthy farmers of this county." His tombstone, among the most elaborate in the cemetery when it was erected, certainly reflected that wealth.

George had served in the Civil War, with Co. H, First Iowa Volunteer Cavalry, and it is quite possible that his poor health and premature death could be attributed to the vicissitudes of  that service. 

The farming operation was passed on to son George, then 25, who had married Amanda McFarland on March 3, 1880. David's widow, Amanda, lived 30 more years, dying in Chariton on July 13, 1912.

George and his wife, Amanda, continued to farm in White Breast Township well into the first decade of the 20th century, but he was subject to some sort of chronic health condition that eventually caused him to retire while in his 50s. The farm was passed onto son, Harry, and George and Amanda moved to a home on West Braden Avenue in Chariton.

At age 60 and increasingly despondent, George waited until his wife and youngest daughter had left for church on Sunday morning, Feb. 10, 1918, then went upstairs and hanged himself in a bedroom closet. 

Amanda was seriously injured in an automobile accident near Sioux City some 15 years later, during October of 1933, and died of complications at home during June of 1934 after many months as a patient at the new Yocom Hospital.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Butterfly upon the Sky

Emily Dickinson

The Butterfly upon the Sky,
That doesn't know its Name

And hasn't any tax to pay
And hasn't any Home

Is just as high as you and I,
And higher, I believe,

So soar away and never sigh
And that's the way to grieve —

Chance encounter Monday morning on the prairie east of Derby with an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) of the female variety (identifiable by the blue jewels at the base of her wings); brunch on a thistle. R.I.P. Robin Williams and all the others who have despaired.