Sunday, June 26, 2016

With the Masons at Humeston's Front Street Inn


It's not true at all that I crashed the Mason family reunion on Saturday to see the interior of Humeston's Front Street Inn without paying rent --- although there are probably going to be more photos of the house here today than the family.

I was there to visit with the seven siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren --- descendants of the late Ray and Marlene (Shore) Mason. There they are (top, from left): Gary, of Marshalltown; David (Patty) of Corydon, Mary (Ed Frank) of Norwalk, Richard (Rhonda) of rural Corydon, Marcia (Jack Lufkin) of West Des Moines, Don (Susan) of Oxford, Mississippi, and Ken (Sharon), of Overland Park, Kansas.


Here they are again, this time with spouses, on the front lawn of the Inn.




And here's the whole clan, again in the front yard of the inn, a beautifully restored 1908 house right on Highway 65 (Front Street) at the north edge of Humeston.

The Masons were kind enough to invite more distant cousins to attend. So I represented my mother, a first-cousin of Ray Mason; and Christine (Kenton) Coons and Julie (Fred) Fuller represented their mother, a first-cousin of Marlene (Shore) Mason.

The siblings set about as high a standard as I've experienced for a family reunion, renting the entire inn for the weekend (it contains four bedrooms) for lodging and socializing as well as a nearby cabin in the country to ensure an adequate number of bedrooms.


This is what the potluck table looked like just after noon on Saturday, set up in the east end of the inn's long living room. There was ice cream made the old-fashioned hand-cranked way later on.


And here's a view of the serving area looking into the inn's formal dining room beyond.


This area also contains a vintage fireplace, restored to its original condition.


And offers access to the sun porch to the south.


And a conversation area to the west.


Here's the staircase leading from the foyer to a large sitting room, four bedrooms and two bathrooms above.

Here's the sitting room on the landing above, opening to the inn's four bedrooms, two off the sitting room and two more down the hallway to the left.




We got to talking during the Mason reunion about the huge Miller family reunions that we all used to attend, ending some time in the 1960s. It was great to be able to participate in the continuation of an old family tradition.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Filling in Polly Jeffers' date of death

Photo by Carl Nollen
Writing about Marion County's Jeffers family yesterday, I said I didn't know when Mary Ann "Polly" Jeffers, widow of Crudeup and the last of the first Iowa generation of this family, died. That was because her date of death had never been inscribed on the tombstone she shares in Indiana Chapel Cemetery with her husband.

Karen Cowles Kester promptly provided that missing piece of information by sharing via Facebook a copy of Polly's obituary, published in The Oskaloosa Herald of Aug. 7, 1913. So now we know that Polly died on Aug. 13, 1913, at the home of her son, Andrew, in Buxton --- that legendary mining town in far northern Monroe County where racial harmony prevailed early in the 20th century.

I suspect that Karen found the obituary by searching Newspaperarchive.com more efficiently than I had earlier since I was able to find it there myself --- once I knew exactly what I was looking for. So thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

Here's how the obituary reads --- and the original contains a few typographical errors that I've corrected and at least one factual error, which I've noted:

Mrs. Polly Jeffers, the oldest member of one of the pioneer families of Iowa, passed away about 4 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3, 1913. She died at the home of her son, Andrew Jeffers, in Buxton, where she had resided for the past year.

The deceased was born in Orange county, Indiana, on Dec. 5, 1835 (tombstone inscription reads Dec. 25). Thus at the time of her death she was 78 years, 7 months and 29 days of age. She came to the state of Iowa in 1848. At the age of sixteen years she became a member of the Indiana Chapel. She was a very active member of that church for about forty-five years. Then the family moved to Knoxville, and she changed her membership to the M.E. church, of which she was a member at the time of her death.

Mrs. Polly Jeffers was married to Mr. Jeffers on March 6th, 1868 (Marion County records date the marriage to March 17, 1858). She lived in Marion county until 1890. They family then moved to Lucas county. She left there and came to Knoxville in 1895. Her husband died in 1900. Since that time she has made her home with relatives. There are four children, three sons and one daughter, who survive. They are Andrew Jeffers of Buxton, Simeon and W.E. Jeffers of Des Moines, Ia.; and Mrs. Martha More, of Winterset, Iowa. She is also survived by two brothers and one sister. Mrs. Jeffers leaves a host of fiends who share with the family in their bereavement. Funeral and burial at Indiana Chapel at 8 a.m. Aug. 5th, funeral party leaving Buxton.

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Andrew Jeffers had opened a restaurant in Buxton prior to 1905, according to Chariton newspapers, and his brother, Simeon, home-based in Chariton, went there frequently to help out. After the Buxton mines closed and the town faded, Andrew joined his brothers in Des Moines. The Martha More, of Winterset, listed in the obituary as a survivor, was the widow of John Kay, who remarried twice after his death in 1906.

Friday, June 24, 2016

John Kay (Part 2): Marion County's black first family

Tombstone of Burrel and Sarah Jeffers/Photo by Carl Nollen

Please note that all of the tombstone photographs here were taken by Carl Nollen for Find a Grave and all credit for them should go to him.

Chariton's John Kay married into a fascinating but by now largely forgotten family when he was wed to Martha Jane Jeffers at the home of her parents, Crudeup and Polly Jeffers, in Indiana Township, Marion County, on May 8, 1881.

The Jeffers were free people of color who had moved from their previous homes in southern Indiana to the Iowa frontier during 1848, some five years after eastern Marion County had opened to non-native settlement in 1843. They settled south of a village known then as Barkersville, now Attica, established during 1847.

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There were three senior male members of the Jeffers family. Burrel (sometimes spelled Burl or Berl) was the oldest. According to his tombstone in Indiana Chapel Cemetery, he was born in Virginia Oct. 29, 1804, although census records suggest an earlier date, ca. 1800 or 1801. Burrel's wife was Sarah, known as Sally, born March 29, 1811, in North Carolina.

Next in order of age was Anderson Jeffers, born according to his Indiana Chapel Cemetery tombstone on April 15, 1813, also in Virginia. Anderson's wife was Mary Ann, born March 20, 1814, in North Carolina.

Burrel and Anderson may well have been brothers, although I have no proof of that. Each of these families had eight children by 1850, when a federal census was taken. They ranged in age from 15 to newborn.

The third and youngest of the Jeffers was Crudeup, born in North Carolina on April 15, 1826, according to his tombstone. He was 23 and single when the 1850 federal census was taken, living with the family of Anderson Jeffers. Crudeup could have been a son of Burrel, but again --- no proof. If so, he would have been part of a second, older family.

Prior to 1856, Crudeup had begun a family with Mary A. "Polly" Jeffers --- apparently the eldest daughter of Anderson and Mary and a cousin of some degree. They were living on their own nearby farm in that year with children Andrew, 2, and Elizabeth 1; as well as Nancy Jeffers, 18, and David Griffith, 8. Marion County marriage records show that Crudeup and Mary formalized their marriage on March 17, 1858. By 1860, they had two additional children.

Nancy Jeffers was Polly's younger sister; David Griffith, part of another "mulatto" family that had moved west from Indiana ca. 1848 and included during 1850 David, 23, a plasterer by trade, and Julianna, 37, who headed the family; and Mary Ann, 13, Nancy J., 10, Sarah M., 7, John, 5, David, 3, and Alexander, 1. This family seems to have been broken up by 1856, quite likely by death, and the children were scattered among other households, white and black, in the neighborhood.

All of these family member were identified as "mulatto" by census-takers, rather than black.

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The Jeffers had come west from Indiana with sufficient resources to purchase land, and I've highlighted in yellow the locations of the farms they had purchased prior to 1860 as shown on an 1875 landowner atlas of Indiana Township (right-click and open in a new window to enlarge).


 Anderson Jeffers apparently purchased his farm south of Attica from an earlier owner, but records show Burrel and Crudeup acquired their farms directly from the government, paying as all pioneers did $1.25 per acre. The Crudeup Jeffers farm was directly south of Indiana Chapel church and cemetery; the Burrel Jeffers farm (marked "S" Jeffers on the map because he had died during 1869 and the property now was owned by his widow, Sarah), on the south side of North Cedar Creek, right up against the Monroe County line.

The Jeffers families were as prosperous as most of their pioneer white neighbors in these early days. The fine tombstones that mark many of the family graves in the Indiana Chapel churchyard are one indication of that.

By 1860, Crudeup and Polly Jeffers owned land valued at $1,000 and personal property valued at $300. Burrel Jeffers' farm was valued at $800 and he owned $200 in personal property. Anderson Jeffers' farm was valued at $300 and his personal property at $200. With the exception of Burrel, who died on April 19, 1869, leaving his widow, Sally, and many children, the Jeffers continued to prosper modestly during the balance of the 19th century.

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The Jeffers probably came to Iowa during 1848 from Orange County in southern Indiana. A "Birrel" Jeffers, his wife and three children, two sons and a daughter, were enumerated as "free colored persons" in Southeast Township, Orange County, in the 1840 census. This almost undoubtedly was our "Burrel." Only heads of households were named in the 1840 census; other family members merely noted by gender in age categories.

Southeast Township, by 1840, was the location of what today is called the Lick Creek African American Settlement, an area that in its heyday included about 1,500 acres owned by free black families and also known variously as Little Africa, South Africa and Paddy's Garden. This was a fully integrated area, however, and land owned by black and white pioneers was adjacent.

The first black families arrived from North Carolina --- point of origin for the Jeffers --- with sympathetic and supportive white Quakers who moved to Indiana in search of a land free from slavery. Free blacks in North Carolina were facing increasingly restrictive laws and mounting discrimination at the time. Quakers, who generally opposed slavery, were becoming increasingly unpopular and subject to harassment.

Census records suggest that the Jeffers most likely arrived in the Lick Creek settlement about 1837, based upon the birth places of their children. By 1860, when Orange County's black population reached its peak, about 260 free black people had settled there, a third of them in the Lick Creek settlement.

But black families who settled there faced a number of issues. In the first place, the land was wooded and not especially productive and that became an issue as families grew. There were few if any non-farm-related employment opportunities. The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 brought increasing harassment from bounty hunters. And although Quaker neighbors were friendly and supportive, non-Quakers shared the racial prejudices prevalent among most white Americans at the time and tension increased as slavery became a major political issue across the land. Indiana's new constitution of 1851, although unenforceable, prohibited black people from settling in the state.

It probably was some combination of these factors, but certainly the search for more productive farm land, that caused the Jeffers to sell out in Indiana and invest in Marion County, Iowa, prior to 1850, perhaps following white neighbors who were moving west in sufficient numbers to cause a new township in southern Iowa to be named "Indiana" when it was organized.

Whatever the case, the three Jeffers and their wives all produced very large families and continued to live in the vicinity of Indiana Chapel throughout the 19th century. Burrel had died during 1869, but his widow, Sarah, continued to live on their farm until her own death on Sept. 10, 1884, and some of their children remained on that farm into the 20th century, the last Jeffers in the neighborhood.

Anderson's wife, Mary Ann, died at the age of 71 on August 29, 1888, but he survived until Feb. 17, 1896. Their land south of Attica was sold to white neighbors.

Tombstone of Anderson and Mary Ann Jeffers/Photo by Carl Nollen
Crudeup and Polly sold their Indiana Township farm about 1890 and puchased  80 acres in Pleasant Township, Lucas County, address Belinda, where they lived for a few years before old age and illness forced them to move to Knoxville. He died there Feb. 13, 1900, age 73. Polly outlived him, but her date of death never was inscribed on their fine tombstone at Indiana Chapel Cemetery, so I don't know when she died.

Tombstone of Crudeup and Polly Jeffers/Photo by Carl Nollen

By the 1890s, three children of Crudeup and Polly were living and working in Chariton --- Martha, who had married John Kay; and her brothers, Andrew and Simeon, employed in various capacities between 1870 and 1900 by Lucas County's principal entrepreneur, Smith H. Mallory.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Black lives matter: Chariton's John Kay (Part 1)


I can show you where in the Chariton Cemetery John Kay is buried --- an unmarked grave incorporated into the root system of a fine maple tree just north of the tombstone of his infant son, Charles (above).

But I know far less than I'd like about the man himself, a complication that arises partly from the difficulties of tracking down the fractured family histories of men and women born into slavery and partly from the fact that the children and grandchildren of Lucas County's black first settlers generally moved elsewhere in search of opportunity.

But some of John's story is told in a brief obituary, published on the front page of The Chariton Patriot of Oct. 18, 1906:

John Kay died at his home in Albia, Saturday, October 13, 1906, of heart trouble, aged 60 years, 6 months and 24 days. the body was brought to Chariton Monday, and was buried in the Chariton cemetery. Funeral services were held in the A.M.E. Church Monday morning at ten o'clock, conducted by Rev. J.H. Bell, of Albia, assisted by Rev. Press Ervin and Rev. Wright, of Chariton.

Mr. Kay was born in Jackson, Mississippi, March 20, 1845. June 7, 1880, he was married to Miss Martha Jane Jeffers. They were the parents of three sons (actually four; Charles died young). Mr. Kay united with the A.M.E. Church in Chariton in 1888. Mr. Kay and family resided in this city for many years and were respected by the community. He was an honest upright colored man and to the widow and sons, the Chariton friends extend their sympathy. Those who accompanied the remains were were Mrs. John Kay and son, David, Mrs. Bennings, E.F. Butler, of Albia, and Andrew Jeffers, of Buxton.

The Leader, in its edition of Oct. 18, carried a similar front-page obituary, but added these details: "His has been a typical life of many of his race. He was born into slavery and served his country in arms during the struggle for emancipation and it is related of him that he was a servant of Gen. McPherson and when that distinguished warrior fell he was caught in the arms of his loyal friend."


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The death of Maj. Gen. James Birdseye McPherson, second highest ranking Union officer killed during the Civil War, is a relatively familiar story. Given command of the Army of Tennessee on March 12, 1864, after former commander Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman had been appointed to command all armies in the West, he rode into a line of Confederate skirmishers early in the one-day Battle of Atlanta, July 22, 1864, and was shot dead while trying to escape.

Unfortunately, I've been unable to turn up any sort of confirmation that a servant or orderly was present when the general died. And while a John Kay did serve in Co. D, 101st Regiment of U.S. Colored Infantry, organized in Tennessee during September of 1864, there is no way to prove that this was our John.

It wasn't until 16 years later --- when John was 36 --- that his name first appears in a public record that can be tied with some assurance to the John Kay who a few years later would move to Chariton.

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When the 1880 federal census of Knoxville, Marion County, was taken, John Kay, age 36, was boarding in the home of Henry Mason, 38, a barber; Della, his wife, age 28, a washerwoman; and their children, Hattie, Creola (a son) and Estella. John's occupation was given as day laborer; his birthplace, Mississippi; and the birthplaces of his parents, Alabama (mother) and Georgia (father).

Also living in the Mason home was Lizzie Jeffers, a servant, age 23. Everyone in the household was identified by the census-taker as mulatto.

Lizzie, or Elizabeth, probably was the elder sister of Martha Jeffers, whom John Kay would marry the following year (the date of marriage given in his obituary is inaccurate). Most likely she had moved to Knoxville from her family's Indiana Township farm home to find employment.

Burrel, Anderson and Crudeup Jeffers, North Carolina natives whose precise degree of relationship just isn't known, and their wives and children, were Marion County's black first family --- arriving to settle in newly opened territory from Indiana during 1848. Their farm homes were in Indiana Township, two miles south of Attica, in the immediate vicinity of Indiana Chapel Methodist Church and cemetery, which they attended and where they are buried.

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A year later, on May 8, 1881, John Kay, age now given as 38 but still a day laborer and a resident of Knoxville, and Martha J. Jeffers, age 19, were married at the Indiana Township home of her parents, Crudeup and Mary Elizabeth "Polly" Jeffers, by the Rev. C.H. Montgomery.

John gave his father's name as David Kay when applying for a marriage license in Knoxville.

Very soon thereafter, it would appear, John and Martha moved to Chariton. I'll have more to say about the Jeffers family and John Kay's career in Lucas County another time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Models, peanuts & the historical society open house


The plan always is to take many photographs during open houses or other events at the Lucas County Historical Society museum --- and then I fall down on the job because there are so many people to talk to, and that's more fun. Tuesday evening's "Peanut Day" open house was no exception.

But we were exceptionally grateful to Dan and Tammi Christensen for hauling to the museum for display two of the large-scale model buildings that he has commissioned for use in a model railroad setup under development on the family acreage south of Chariton.


The largest and most elaborate of these depicts the Hunter Brothers and Olson Store building that once stood on the south side of Front Street in Lucas. The other is a depiction of May School, once located in Warren Township but now on the grounds of Hunter Tree Farm at Chariton.


Both models were built for Christensen by Garry and Diana Thomas of Garden Grove, although he fabricated the metal windows himself and commissioned others to handle some of the detailing.

I believe Dan said he now has 10 large-scale model buildings, including a church, the Weldon Depot and four constructed many years ago by the late Robert Stech. When all is said and done, these will form part of the backdrop for a large-scale model rail setup --- powered by steam --- on the Christensen acreage. If we're lucky, there may be an open house!

Dan also said that this may have been the last time the store building leaves the family property. Not only is it large and heavy, but also fragile because of the complex detail. So we were very fortunate to have it on display Tuesday.

About the only other photo I took was of this group around the table in the dining room of the Stephens House. The vintage drop-leaf table and cane-bottom chairs came to us during the last year from the estate of Charlene (Trumbo) Meyer, and we're grateful to have them. I'm not exactly comfortable about the water bottle on the table --- but no damage was done.


And since all turned out well in the end, it can be acknowledged now that there was just a little concern this year that "Peanut Day" might be peanut-less. 

The museum has served for many years peanuts fresh-roasted in the 1888 roaster that came to us from Piper's Grocery --- and the Hy-Vee warehouse has been our supplier, keeping a couple of jumbo cartons of raw peanuts on hand for us.

During the last couple of years, the demand for raw peanuts has increased --- and this year "our" peanuts had to be sold to a paying customer elsewhere. The folks at Hy-Vee came through for us, however --- and had cartons delivered on Monday via UPS. So thanks to Hy-Vee and to Bob Ulrich who coordinates the peanut operation on our end and with Jerry Pierschbacher insured that everyone who wanted peanuts got them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Juneteenth vs. Emancipation Day in Chariton

Saturday was Juneteenth in Iowa, a statewide day of commemoration marking the end of slavery set officially for the third Saturday in June and signed into law by then-Gov. Tom Vilsack during 2002. It was observed this year with small celebrations in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo-Cedar Falls, the Quad Cities and elsewhere.

Now the most widely observed celebration of its type in the United States, Juneteenth actually falls on June 19. This was the date in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger, commander of federal forces then occupying Texas, read aloud in Galveston General Order No. 3 announcing total abolition of slavery.

An estimated 250,000 slaves and their former owners lived at the time in Texas, which had become a refuge for those who had moved west with their slaves from other parts of the South in hopes of denying them the freedom granted by President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective across the Confederacy on Jan. 1, 1863.

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In Iowa and elsewhere, however, Juneteenth is something of a late-bloomer and so far as I know never has been observed officially in Chariton. Emancipation has been celebrated in the south of Iowa, however, since soon after the Civil War, but generally on other dates --- and those dates have varied from year to year and region to region.

As nearly as I can determine, the biggest celebration in Chariton was held at the fair grounds on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 1888 --- close to the official Emancipation Day date of Sept. 22 --- the date in 1862 when President Lincoln announced the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that went into effect on the 1st of January following. Here's a report from The Chariton Democrat of Sept. 27, 1888:

EMANCIPATION DAY

This very important day in the history of the colored people was duly celebrated by them at Chariton last Tuesday, a goodly number being in attendance at the Fair Grounds north of the city. The Oakdale military band from Marion county, and the Belinda band from this county furnished the music and made things lively with the fife and drum. A very good dinner was served and the day was fully enjoyed.

Rev. J.W. Laws, a colored preacher from Galesburg, was orator of the day and made a very creditable speech. John Kay, of this city, was Chief Marshall and distinguished himself as a commanding officer.

In the evening they induced Rev. Laws to deliver an intensely radical republican speech at the Opera House.

The colored people were well pleased with the success of the celebration and express their cordial thanks to Chariton people for patronage.

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I found the earliest reference to Emancipation Day celebrations --- dates of observance varied --- in Chariton newspapers in 1875. It looks like these celebrations moved from town to town as the years passed. 

Chariton attorney Frank Q. Stuart was featured orator during 1880 when Chariton residents traveled to Corning for a regional celebration on Sept. 17. During 1884, there was a celebration in the Lucas County mining town of Cleveland; and during other years in Creston, Albia, Buxton, Des Moines and elsewhere.

John Kay, an interesting guy about whom I'll have more to say another time, probably was principal organizer of the 1888 Chariton celebration. He was widely respected as a horseman in Chariton and chief groom of Iowa's famed Clydesdale stallion Merry Comet, owned by Smith H. Mallory. The stallion, when he died in 1891 of old age at 31, was eulogized as "having done more to improve the draft stock than any stallion brought into this state."

John's wife, Martha, was a member of the Jeffers family --- Marion County's oldest black family, having settled on farms in the area south of what now is Attica during 1848. Her parents, Crudeup and Polly Jeffers, were living on a farm near Belinda during 1888 and that probably accounts for participation of the Belinda band in the Chariton celebration.

Monday, June 20, 2016

"Peanut Day" at the museum Tuesday evening


We've tried several times to rebrand "Peanut Day," the Lucas County Historical Society's annual June open house at the museum, 123 North 17th Street. And it's never worked. Peanut Day it's always been and, apparently, Peanut Day it will remain in the hearts and minds of members and friends.

In any case, this year's open house will be held from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. All seven buildings on campus will be open and staffed and there should be plenty of time to look around.

In case you've forgotten, there's the Stephens House, an aspirational 1911 mixed-masonry house built by contractor A.J. Stephens for his family; and the Lewis Building, which doubles as historical society headquarters and contains in addition to the commons room and office three large galleries, the library and a fourth gallery, the Swanson Room, filled with equipment ranging from a threshing machine and vintage tractor to our Model A Ford, with separate entrance off the patio.

Also --- Otterbein Church, Puckerbrush School, the Pioneer Log Cabin, Pioneer Barn and Blacksmith Shop.

We'll be serving peanuts fresh-roasted in the 1888 roaster originally housed at Piper's Grocery and ice water in the Mine Gallery, just off the patio.

In addition, Dan Christenson will be bringing models of Lucas County landmarks, including May school and two vintage Lucas business buildings. These will be displayed in the barn-patio area.

And don't forget the gardens --- flowers on the upper campus; vegetables in the heirloom garden at the foot of the big hill.


This will be an opportunity to take a look at an ongoing project --- rejuvenation of the Lewis Gallery and the Library, a project funded by a major grant from the Vredenburg Foundation. The walls have been repainted, crown molding installed, new carpet put into place and most of the artifacts returned to rearranged spaces.


We have not, however, had time to rehang the photographs and art work that ordinarily line the walls of the library and are displayed on the walls of the main gallery. That's the next step.

We've been working hard since the arrival of four new cases during early June on pulling the military section together --- much of what we want to display will be on display Tuesday. These photos are of the south end of that section. But, interpretation is a little shaky right now. That will improve as the summer progresses, so by autumn we hope to be in a high state of organization again.

Everyone's welcome. Everything's free.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thoughts & prayers for conservative Christians

This post-Orlando week has been a tough one for conservative Christians, preachers and layfolk alike, and they need our thoughts and prayers.

It's been strenuous to acknowledge the horror of America's biggest mass shooting (by a single perpetrator) without appearing to affirm the 49 victims, most of them gay.

Although a few Christian preachers got right out there and actively celebrated the deaths of gay infidels, they were in the minority.

Most asked, what exactly are believers whose faith is based in part upon the demonization of LGBT people supposed to do?

Some focused almost entirely upon the shooter and the fact he was Muslim, hoping that the embarrassing sexual orientation of the dead would be obscured in a tide of Islamophobia if the flames of this global war on terrorism were fanned a little.

This strategy generally involved failing to mention that the slaughter occurred in a gay nightclub and that the victims were, indeed, LGBT.

Another segment acknowledged the sexual orientation of the victims and expressed sympathy, but added footnotes (of course we don't approve of their "chosen lifestyle").

"Othering" was another tactic, sending thoughts and prayers in much the same way that aid packages would be dispatched to flood-devastated villages of primitive heathens in, let's say, Johnson County, perhaps with a few gospel tracts in their native language included.

Middle-of-the-road, even modestly liberal, preachers called to serve "mixed" congregations --- where those of varying political and social philosophies share pews, keeping the offering plate full is a constant challenge and no one can be too offended --- were hard hit as well and adopted modified versions of the aforementioned strategies.

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Curiously, polls suggest that some 48 percent of the U.S. LGBTQ population identifies as Christian and among those who do, some are especially eloquent. Ben Moberg is a young gay guy from Minnesota who blogs as Registered Runaway.

I liked what he had to say this week --- "Some Thoughts On Orlando."

Here's a sample:

And this is what I love about God: The Church has driven out LGBTQ people for centuries, with an especially intense malice over the last several decades, and in response to this, God just says, okay, fine, we’re good out here. Where you chase my people, I will be with them. Where they gather, I will be there. Clubs. Conversations. Protests. In lament and anger and tears and laughter and way too many drinks. I will be with them and make this right for them. I will love them more fiercely for their wounds. I will draw them close. I will know them and they will know me. They will tell you my name ...

... God was at the club, because God lives in clubs. God lives in the homeless shelter and the street corner, the hospital bed and the drag show. God lives in the queer community. His true home has always been with the oppressed.

I want to talk about this, because if you’re looking for the faithful to lead the conversation, here we are. If you’re looking for God in all of this, here we are. The LGBTQ movement has the breath of God in its’ sails. The breath of God is in our lungs. God is at home within us. So if you’re trying to sort out where God is in all of this, what God is trying to tell you in your heart, turn to us and find him. We’ll show you.

















Saturday, June 18, 2016

The rise and fall of Thomas T. Anderson's fine home


You need a lot of imagination these days to conjure up an image of what this once-proud home at the intersection of Linden Avenue and South 13th Street must must have looked like in 1907, when it was built by Thomas T. Anderson and his second wife, Adda. 


It's been barely hanging on for years, but within the last few has become derelict --- many windows broken, volunteer trees springing up from its foundation, big front room askew as it settles at a rate faster than the square block of the main building.



I've been thinking I should go take a few photos of it before it's gone and finally did that late yesterday afternoon after four descendants of its builder --- Carolyn Meyer, Ann Davis, Barbara Ates and Marsha Davis, all of Colorado --- visited the museum. They told me who built the house, sad about its condition.


Later on, I drove out to the cemetery to visit Anderson's grave, freshly decorated by his granddaughters, in the Grand Army of the Republic section. A veteran of the 18th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, he once commanded Daniel Iseminger Post No. 18, which established the plot in the first place.

According to his obituary, Thomas was born Nov. 4, 1848, at St. Clairsville in Belmont County, Ohio, and came to Lucas County about 1858 with his father, Joseph B. Anderson, and stepmother, Orpha. They reportedly settled in Otter Creek Township, but by 1860 were living in adjoining Liberty Township, Warren County.

Anxious to enlist when the Civil War broke out --- but too young --- he reportedly served as a drummer boy until he was old enough to pass for 18 and on Feb. 24, 1864, actually age 16, he was able to enlist as a private in Company G, 18th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served honorably until the unit was mustered out on July 20, 1865, at Little Rock.

Thomas returned to Iowa and on Jan. 1, 1869, married Hulda Ann Smith of Liberty Center. They became the parents of eight children before her death on Dec. 3, 1889.

About 10 years later, on June 14, 1898, he married Adda Willoughby, of Chariton, who was some 25 years his junior, and they settled in Chariton.

The Chariton Leader reported on June 20, 1907, that "Our friend T.T. Anderson has torn his house down, just west of the south school building, and has commenced to build a new structure on the site. It will be a large two-story building to cost about $2,500 and will be modern throughout. Mr. Anderson is to be complimented on this show of enterprise and determination to have a good home."

Thomas became very active in Daniel Iseminger Post No. 18, Grand Army of the Republic, during his years in Chariton and  was serving as its commander during the time the Civil War monument on the southeast corner of the square was planned and constructed. He and Adda also headed an association of 18th Iowa veterans, organizing reunions in Chariton and opening their home to the old soldiers.

After more than a year of ill health, Thomas died at home of a stroke on Nov. 6, 1917, having just turned 69. The Andersons were communicants of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, under whose direction funeral services were held; and burial was made in the Grand Army of the Republic section of the Chariton Cemetery.

Newspaper reports suggest that Thomas and Adda were hoping to move to California and join members of her family there before he became seriously ill and unable to travel. 

After Thomas's death, Adda did indeed move west, establishing her home in Covina. She died in Covina on March 10, 1927, age 51, and was buried there.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Consider the lillies ...

 ... how they grow: 




they toil not, they spin not;


 and yet I say unto you,


 that Solomon in all his glory


was not arrayed like one of these.

More flowers from the museum garden.