Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vintage newspapers & the Mallorys

We've (make that mostly Judy) been sorting through our small collection of old newspapers at the museum this summer, moving into safe storage vintage Chariton publications and a limited number of historically relevant papers published in other cities.

These generally are too fragile to display or to be examined on a regular basis by visitors --- so the goal is to keep them safe but accessible when needed. We have, for example, the only known copies (only a couple) of the very short-lived Chariton Republican. That paper did not get off the ground primarily because the long-established Chariton Patriot already was a Republican newspaper, so it really wasn't meeting any need.

Glancing through this edition of The Chariton Herald of Sept. 30, 1909, Judy discovered a couple of interesting things.

In the first place, it is the last issue of The Herald ever published. The next week, The Herald was paired with The Patriot to become The Herald-Patriot, still published every Thursday. With that, Chariton became the two-newspaper town that it still is, although both The Leader and The Herald-Patriot now are published by the same company.

And then there was this advertisiement --- for an auction at the Ilion (aka Mallory's Castle) conducted as the last of the legendary Mallory family --- Annie L. Mallory and her daughter, Jessie (Mallory) Thayer --- were severing their last ties with Lucas County.

That's a sad story I've written about before. The Mallorys --- railroading entrepreneur Smith H., wife Annie and daughter Jessie --- had been Chariton's first family, more or less, since arriving with the first trains during 1867. They had built a grand Italianate house, the Ilion, on their 1,000-acre Brook Farm at the north edge of town.

Following Smith Mallory's 1903 death, Annie and Jessie became too reliant on Frank Crocker, who managed the family bank --- First National. In 1907, when it became evident Crocker had taken the bank down by misappropriating its funds, he killed himself. Annie and Jessie were found financially liable after a long court battle and in 1909 turned over to a federal receiver all of their holdings in Lucas County, including Brook Farm and the Ilion.

This did not mean the Mallorys were impoverished --- Jessie retained substantial assets of her own, including many transferred into her ownership over the years by her parents. But the settlement left Annie for the most part flat broke and entirely dependent upon her daughter. After the 1909 settlement, Jessie hired professional movers to pack many of the Ilion's contents for shipment to Orlando, Florida, where she and Annie lived thereafter.

This advertisement is for the sale of what remained after the Mallorys had departed --- farm equipment, household goods and that sort of thing. Since it's probably been more than 100 years since this advertisement has seen daylight, we really weren't sure what was left in Chariton to be sold.

Another interesting thing about it --- no doubt these items were purchased by Lucas Countyans and most likely some remain here. I'm looking right now, for example, at nine small books bearing the Ilion library bookplate that probably were sold at that auction held in the fall of 1909.

Because the break between the Mallorys and Lucas County was so final, we have very little other than the courthouse clock to remember them by. Even Smith Mallory's body and his tombstone were removed from the Chariton Cemetery and shipped to Orlando. 

So --- does anyone out there have a folding mahogany bed stashed in the attic that looks like it might have belonged to the Mallorys?

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