Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Russell Bank building's first year


This vintage postcard view of the Russell Bank building, marking its 123rd birthday this summer and still standing at the intersection of Maple and Shaw streets, turned up yesterday while I was avoiding excessive heat by doing some filing at the museum.

I wasn't able to find a newspaper story devoted specifically to its construction. Although the Russell Recorder was publishing at the time, back issues haven't survived. And routine coverage of Russell in the Chariton newspapers varied, based on the enthusiasm of the Russell correspondents of the day.

What I was able to do was piece together the following chronology, based upon references in the "Russell News" columns of The Chariton Democrat and The Chariton Herald:

April 1896: Mr. F. R. Crocker, cashier of the First National Bank at Chariton, was in the city a short time Tuesday evening looking over the ground as to the most advisable location for a new brick structure to be occupied by the Russell Bank. Cashier Goodwin of the bank informs us that a corner lot is desired and the choice lies between the one on which Dr. Palmer's office is situated and that east of Huston's livery barn. The project has been in mind for some time and in all probability will be carried out in a short time, as we earnestly trust it may. (Chariton Herald, April 9, 1896)

May 1896: Teams are busily at work on the basement of the new bank building. (Democrat, May 29, 1896)

July 1896: D. A. Enslow has been awarded the contract for the erection of a new bank building and Odd Fellows' hall, a large two-story brick structure, at Russell. This will be the largest brick building in that city and will contain beside the bank, another business room on the first floor and the I.O.O.F. hall above. It is estimated that it will cost $8,000. (Democrat, July 24, 1896) Note: A report in The Herald of July 23 gave the amount of the Enslow contract as $5,084, "if we are correctly informed."

August 1896: The new bank building is humming right along now. (Chariton Herald, Aug. 12, 1896)

November 1896: The bank building is now almost completed, and is a fine ornament to our little city. A stone walk has been laid on the north and east sides, which adds greatly to the appearance of the building. (Chariton Herald, Nov. 19, 1896)

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As the chronology suggests, Chariton's First National Bank --- owned principally by Smith H. Mallory and his family with Frank R. Crocker as cashier --- was the major player in the State Bank of Russell when the building was constructed.

That was all well and good until 11 years later, Oct. 31, 1907, when First National crashed after Frank Crocker's suicide and subsequent revelations that he had bankrupted the institution with speculative investing of its funds.

Crocker killed himself overnight Oct. 30-31 and because of that, the Chariton bank remained closed  on the 31st and never re-opened. The Russell Bank did open, however, but depositors rushed it as soon as news about the Chariton bank reached town and after $6,000 had been withdrawn in 12 minutes, doors were closed and locked.

The venerable Thomas Brandon (1826-1923), also a major investor in the Russell bank and its president in 1907, saved the day by stepping up to guarantee depositors that he would cover with personal assets any losses the bank might sustain because of its affiliation with First National. So the Russell Bank re-opened, surviving what remains as Lucas County's major banking disaster because of Mr. Brandon's integrity.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The passing of a pulchritudinous porker: Longfellow


It's not likely we'll see again a time when front-page obituary honors are accorded to a Poland-China boar, but when Longfellow Jr. passed to his reward as the result of his own folly during the summer of 1913, The Chariton Herald-Patriot of July 10 did just that.

That's a faded image of the great beast above, but the best I could do, lifted from the pages of a 1912 edition of The Iowa Homestead as Longfellow's star ascended.

Longfellow's owner was George W. Sefrit, who farmed northwest of Lucas in Otter Creek Township. Here's the story, published under the headline, "A Severe Loss."

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"Geo. W. Sefrit has lost his most valuable hog, death coming to Longfellow, Jr., Monday as the result of paralysis induced through fighting with another animal. The two hogs got together June 30th and proceeded to fight each other without delay, Longfellow Jr. receiving wounds which resulted in his death a week later despite all the efforts of Dr. C.E. Stewart to save him.

"He was four years old, was bought two years ago by Mr. Sefrit from Peter Mouw, of Orange City, and developed into the grandest Poland-China hog in the state under the handling of his new owner. Hog raisers and those posted in such matters pronounced him the best Poland-China boar in Iowa, if not in the United States, and his loss is a severe blow to them, as well as to Mr. Sefrit.

"The latter had refused $1,500 spot cash for the animal a few months ago, but refused to part with him at the price, preferring to keep him at the head of his excellent herd of brood sows. To such a judge of stock as George W. Sefrit, the loss is not irreparable, but it will be a long time before either Mr. Sefrit or any other hog man will have a hog which will excel Longfellow Jr. or surpass him in those qualities which made him the pride of the state among fanciers of the best in swine."

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A few years after Longfellow's passing, Mr. Sefrit --- aged 45 at the time of his loss --- sold out in Lucas County and moved his operation to a larger farm near Mount Ayr in Ringgold County. He died there on Jan. 14, 1957, having outlived his prize boar by 43 years.

George is buried in Mount Ayr's Rose Hill Cemetery. We have no idea where the remains of Longfellow repose.




Thursday, July 18, 2019

So when did that first train steam into Chariton?


Hugh Larimer II
So I was enjoying my breakfast yesterday when three distinguished women sat down at a nearby table and began to discuss one of the trivia questions found on July's "table tent" --- a stand-up folder distributed to businesses by Chariton Area Chamber-Main Street that contains the city's monthly events schedule, advertising, and four or five local trivia questions.

My ears perked up. I'm responsible for churning out the monthly trivia questions --- and someone was questioning the accuracy of one of my answers: "On or about July 4, 1867" in response to the question, "When did the first passengers reach Chariton by train?"

Well! Rarely quick to anger, however, I smiled and walked away but now feel constrained to defend my answer. Although I'm willing to admit that the precise date seems to have been July 3. But I did say "on or about."

Actually, the history books are a little vague --- stating only that the first train arrived in Chariton on or about the 1st of July, 1867. Construction of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad from the Mississippi to the Missouri rivers had begun at Burlington during the 1850s, but was stalled at Ottumwa by the Civil War.

As soon as the war was over, construction resumed and the tracks crept toward Chariton. 

I have a witness to call in regard to the precise date passengers reached Chariton: William McKlveen Larimer (1847-1922), son of Hugh II and Nancy, grandson of the venerable Hugh, 1780-1859, senior member of the Larimer tribe in Lucas County.

Henry Gittinger, editor of The Chariton Leader, ran into Mr. Larimer as he was preparing to report on 4th of July festivities in Lucas County during 1912 and included in his coverage in The Leader of July 12 this statement:

"W.M. Larimer: I celebrated the 4th of July in Chariton 46 (actually 45) years ago. The day before, the first train was run over the road. Naturally this was a big event and as many as could got on and rode to town. A train was scheduled for the 4th and when the people heard the whistle they forgot all about the whangdoodle procession and ran to see it. Chariton has been celebrating on the Fourth pretty much ever since."

"Whangdoodle procession" may need a little explaining. Fourth of July celebrations in Lucas County at the time sometimes featured two parades. The big one was serious: brass bands, contingents of veterans, carriages containing the day's orators and entries by churches, businesses and other worthy organizations. The other was pure silliness --- clowns, kiddies and costumed adults willing to play the fool. That was the whangdoodle parade.

The illustration here is a Burlington & Missouri River Railroad stock certificate owned by William M. Larimer's father, Hugh. Serendipitously, I found it for sale online while searching for an illustration to accompany this post.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The view from Murray's bench


Murray Funk, who died during June of 2017 at the age of 90, was one of the kindest people I've known --- and I'd known him for a long time when he passed. 

Murray and Lucille moved from near Lacona to the small farm in Benton Township where they lived for more than 50 years in 1961, when I was just a kid. This was adjacent to our "other place" --- used mostly for grazing cattle and, on endless hot summer afternoon, putting up hay to feed those critters during the winter. Murray always was there to help out when my dad needed an extra hand.

He also worked more than 30 years at the Hy-Vee Distribution Center to make ends meet. And for many years, too, was one of the custodians at the Chariton Cemetery.

So I was happy to see the other day that Murray's memorial bench has been permanently located in the cemetery, adjacent to the drive on a high point overlooking his grave site. Accepting the invitation, I sat down for a while to enjoy the breeze, the view and a memory or two.

If you're out walking in the cemetery, please sit down, turn off your mobile device, relax a little and do the same. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Franklin Park goes to the dogs (and their humans)


July 6 was a big day in Chariton for dogs --- and their humans: grand opening of the Chariton Dog Park, a volunteer-driven effort to turn a little-used city park in the northwest part of town (Franklin) into a play and exercise area for canines and their companions. 

As it stands now, fencing is complete and the park is in use daily from dawn to dusk. Plans call for landscaping, tree-planting, benches and more as funds become available. You'll find more about the park on Facebook, link located here, or at its website, which is here.


And I'm guessing that the youngsters who attended school on these grounds from the fall of 1890 until the spring of 1964 would get a charge out of the way their former playground has been creatively recycled and the area brought back into active use.

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The Franklin Park property was purchased during 1889 by the Chariton School District when student numbers were causing its three existing buildings to overflow. At that time, South School was located on the current site of Columbus School and housed, in addition to lower grades, the high school. North School was located on the current site of the high school; and East School (now Garfield and privately owned) was located on South 7th Street. South School was the district flagship; North and East schools, similar in size and appearance to the planned new building.

A bond issue was passed to finance the new structure and it was turned over to the school board during late November 1890. Approximately 100 students and their teachers, Alice Bradrick and Mollie Freel, began their first school day in the new building on Wednesday, Nov. 26. More students and teachers joined them after Thanksgiving.

By contemporary standards, conditions were primitive. Each room in the new building was heated by a separate stove. The "restrooms" were outhouses on the school grounds.

The Chariton Patriot and The Chariton Herald contained identical descriptions of the new building. The following is taken from The Herald of Dec. 4, 1890:

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(West School) is a four-room building, 47 x 50 feet, two stories high, with a fine ten-foot basement under the whole. The rooms are 23 x 35 feet each with height of ceiling twelve feet in the first and 13 feet, 8 inches in the second story. The contract price was $6,370 to which the Board of Directors added an allowance of two hundred dollars for changes and additional work, making the cost of the building proper $6,570, which with the building of outhouses, fencing, and walks, putting in heating furnaces and furnishing the rooms will make an aggregate cost of about $8,000.

This building is a much needed and certainly very creditable addition to our already fine school facilities. It is substantially built, well finished throughout, and of tasteful and harmonious design. The broad and easily rising stairways is an especially good feature.

The architects who furnished the plans and specifications were our fellow townsmen, Messrs. Layton & Hougland, and much credit is due them for the excellent taste and skill displayed in their elaboration, as upon the accuracy of their work depended the harmony and symmetry of the entire superstructure as well as the solidity of its foundations.

The contractor, W.A. Corbett, one of Chariton's well known mechanics and builders, has done his work in a manner to reflect much credit upon himself. His principal assistant in the carpenter work was our good friend, R.E. Edmundson; with George Rea later on in the work. The brick work was done by A. D. Enslow, of Derby, assisted by S. B. Swift of this city, these two experts doing the entire job themselves. The school board are to be congratulated on the careful and efficient business management which has secured to the district so good a building at a reasonable cost.

Chariton now has four excellent brick school houses of modern construction, containing an aggregate of 18 rooms, with a seating capacity of over 800 pupils. The district now owns school property which cost them in grounds, buildings and furniture $45,000. They now employ seventeen teachers, including principal, at a monthly expense of $719, which with the janitors and cost of fuel runs our monthly pay roll for carrying on the school up to $874. To this will be added two additional teachers for the rooms soon to be occupied, when Chariton will expend about $950 per month for school purposes.

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Two years later, during August of 1892, the Chariton School Board approved a resolution renaming its four buildings. South School became Columbus, East School became Garfield, North School became Bancroft and the newest, West School, became Franklin.

As the years passed, the original Bancroft School was torn down and replaced by a new flagship building for the district, built in 1900 and renamed Alma Clay in 1928 (demolished during 1970). The new Chariton High School, oldest part of the current high school complex, was built just east of Alma Clay during 1923.

Garfield School was substantially improved in 1916 when the current east front of the building, containing four classrooms, was added to the original structure; and again in 1940 when much of the rest of the original building was replaced by additional new classrooms and a gymnasium.

Although repaired and now equipped with central heating and restrooms, Franklin remained as the smallest of the district's building.

When the new Columbus School and the new Van Allen School opened their doors in 1964, the school district decided to demolish Franklin and turned to the city for assistance. The city agreed to demolish the old building in return for a 99-year lease on the grounds for use as a public park.

There were ambitious plans --- tennis courts, a shelter house, landscaping, etc. --- but funding was not available and by the time money was available, recreational attention had shifted to north and far northwest Chariton and Franklin Park just kind of fell asleep --- the grass was clipped regularly and trees continued to grow, but no particular use was found for it.

That's all changed now and hopefully the momentum will continue. Anyone interested in contributing to the Franklin/Chariton Dog Park effort will find information about how to do so by following the links given above.


Monday, July 15, 2019

An historic "oil station" on an historic site


Not that long ago, this vintage "oil station" at the intersection of North Main and Roland in Chariton took a direct hit from an out-of-control vehicle and the service bays to the south were badly damaged. As you've probably noticed, the damage has been repaired now --- except for fresh paint --- and the building given a new lease on life.

That's good news for the Lucas County Courthouse Square Historic District and for a structure built here in its original form 93 years ago, during the summer of 1926.

Before that, the Gardner House --- a family home, boarding house and hotel --- had been located on this corner since Chariton's earliest days. 

The transition from one era and one use to another was noted on the front page of The Herald-Patriot of Jan. 7, 1926, in an article headlined "Gardner House Thing of the Past" that provides some insight into the history of the site, as follows:

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One of the old landmarks in Chariton, the Gardner House, located one block north of the northwest corner of the square, is to be supplanted by a new, up-to-date oil station. The building, which belongs to the B. R. Van Dyke estate, is to undergo many changes. The south half of the building, constructed of old native lumber, is being torn down and the north half, which also contains much old native lumber, will be remodeled and moved to the west part of the lot, where it will face north. A basement will be put under it and when completed it will be a modern cottage.

The front 50 feet of the lot, facing the east, and where the Gardner House now stands, has been leased to the Shaffer Oil and Refining Company, but the Deep Rock Petroleum Company will have charge of a new oil station which will be erected on the grounds.

The Gardner House was erected probably in the early 1850s as Mr. N. B. Gardner purchased the property in 1855 of John Edwards, and it has been owned continuously in the same family since that time, a period of seventy-five years.

After purchasing the residence, Mr. Gardner added to the building until it was a commodious structure. He and Mrs. Gardner conducted a boarding and rooming house there for years. Mrs. Gardner passed away in 1890, but Mr. Gardner and daughter, Minnie, conducted the hostelry until 1896. In this building, all the Gardner children, Frank, now deceased, Mrs. Ella Van Dyke, of this city, Mrs. Minnie Wiltsey, who passed away a few years ago, and Dell and Fred Gardner, now of Chicago, all grew to years of maturity. Since the Gardner family ceased to occupy it as a home, it has been conducted by different ones as a boarding and rooming house, but has always been known as the Gardner House.

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I'll have more to say about Nelson B. Gardner another time, but here's an image of the city block bounded by North Main and North 11th streets and Braden and Roland avenues from an 1899 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map that shows the location of the Gardner House.



Note that the building currently housing the Hurribak Club, south of the Gardner House on the alley, was serving as a billiards hall in 1899.

The Bates Hotel site as well as the grounds of the house to the west currently are occupied by Midwest Heritage Bank.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

About the Perkins Apartments ...



Perkins
A couple of folks asked me last week about the history of Chariton's distinctive Perkins Apartments, located on Lucas Avenue between 7th and 8th Streets in the northeast part of town. So this seems like a good time to write a little about them. 

Keep in mind that I have no useful advice to offer the owner, nor am I interested in starting one of those "he/she/they-should" and "we-shouldn't-have-to" conversations. But, yes, it is too bad that the apartments complex sits empty and it would be wonderful if the main building and its annex could be restored.

They're called the Perkins Apartments after William Lee Perkins (1886-1957), Chariton's best-known architect and designer of some of our most distinctive buildings --- Hotel Charitone, City Hall, American Legion Hall, Masonic Temple and the Steinbach-Crozier House among them. These buildings all are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the apartment complex certainly is eligible.



There actually are two buildings on one lot here. The apartment building faces Lucas Avenue to the north. The smaller annex is located on the alley to the south. Both were designed, built and owned by Perkins; he lived in the apartments with his wife, Jessie, and son, William Jr., and the building on the alley served as his office.



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A native of Ridgeway, Missouri, Perkins and his family arrived in Chariton during April of 1917 to open his practice as architect and civil engineer. If you'd like to know more about him, follow this link to an earlier post.

Although not immediately evident, the apartment building was constructed in two phases --- a one-story or one-and-a-half-story duplex built during 1925 to which a second story containing three apartments was added in 1940.

The Herald-Patriot reported the start of Phase I construction in its edition of May 14, 1925, as follows: "W. L. Perkins, the architect, has the grounds staked out for excavating for a double house on East Lucas avenue. The ground plans will be 40 x 60 feet, and the walls will be 16 feet, and constructed of brick. This gives ample space for upstairs rooms. The building will cost about $10,000, so it is stated."

Progress was noted by Chariton Leader editor Henry Gittinger in his edition of Aug. 11, 1925: "... the brick duplex of W. L. Perkins ... is progressing as the days go by, the walls almost being finished. Chariton is the city of opportunity."


Construction of Phase II of the apartment building was reported upon in The Herald-Patriot of Oct. 17, 1940, as follows: "Work has been started at 726 Lucas Avenue on the construction of a second floor on a one-story house owned by W.L. Perkins. The second floor will include three apartments. Work is expected to be completed by the first of the year."

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The smaller building on the alley took its current form during 1939 when Perkins was elected secretary of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and moved that organization's offices and its two employees, Sadie L. Stubbs, executive secretary, and Lucille David, stenographer, from Chicago to Chariton.


The compact structure served both as Perkins' office and as headquarters (upstairs) for the national organization. It had been completed and the office and its employees moved by February of 1940. 

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William L. and Jessie Perkins continued to live in the Perkins Apartments until his death, resulting from a heart attack, at the age of 70 on Aug. 12, 1957. Some years later, Jessie moved to California to live near her son and the building was sold. She died in California during 1992 at the age of 103.

Lucille David, who arrived in Chariton to work for Perkins, married Cleo Judd during 1943 and Chariton remained her home until she died at age 90 during 2003.

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So far as I know, we have no notion exactly what the Perkins Apartments looked like during their first incarnation as a duplex. Most likely there was a sloped roof of some sort to accommodate the second-floor rooms that newspaper reports suggest were included. 

The decorative brickwork on the building's exterior probably dates from 1925; the heavy concrete elements, from the 1940 renovation and upward expansion.

Perkins-designed buildings were sometimes quirky, but generally of extraordinary structural integrity, built when possible of steel, masonry and concrete. Those steel-framed windows are, in Chariton, a good indicator that William Lee Perkins was at work here.

In their time, the Perkins Apartments were Chariton's best; perhaps that will be the case again --- if the stars ever align themselves in the proper order.



Saturday, July 13, 2019

In admiration of the Admires --- and their dog



As ancestor portraits go, this vintage image is up there with the best so far as character is concerned --- Mary Jane (Callahan) and Jacob Admire, their daughter, Margaret Stumbaugh, and the family dog posed in front of their home in Whitebreast Township three and a half miles or so west of Chariton.

These aren't my ancestors, although I do know some of their descendants. I just happened upon the image online and was intrigued by it. Nor was I able to track down its owner --- it has been shared too many times in too many online "family trees."


But everyone who drives west of Chariton on U.S. 34 passes near the location of this little house and of Grimes Cemetery at the top of the big Whitebreast hill, where Mary Jane and Jacob are buried. The Admires lived about a quarter of a mile south and a half mile east of the cemetery.

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Doris Christensen/Find a Grave
When Jacob Admire died a century ago, during early July of 1919 at the age of 94, someone identified only as "a friend" submitted the following to The Chariton Leader, duly published on July 10:

"With the passing of Jacob Admire, or Grandpa as he was most commonly called, another old landmark has been removed. Coming to Iowa when she was in her young statehood, before the coming of railroads, when transportation was made by wagons, Grandpa Admire, then a young man in the bloom of youth, with his young wife and one small child, came from Indiana in a covered wagon and settled on the old homestead in Whitebreast township, which place has never changed title but has passed into other hands.

"There was not a road or even a bridle path that he did not know, and before his eyesight failed he could point out the graves of the Mormon children at the head of Grave Hollow on the Mormon Trace. His last year was spent among his children, passing away at the home of his youngest daughter, Mary. But his memory was ever fresh on his coming to Iowa, the joys and sorrows, the hardships of a newly settled country, but with it all he loved old Iowa and with pride told how he took the first democratic paper published in Chariton and continued to take it until too sightless to read and then passed it on to his son. We know not just how long Grandpa has lived in Iowa, but we do know he was a good citizen, honest, upright, and ever ready to help in any good cause. And here let us pause and give one silent thought for the old landmark that is no more. By a friend."

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Jacob's obituary also was published in The Leader of that date, although inside on Page 6 as follows. Note that Jacob's middle name, spelled "Lemon" here is spelled "Leamon" elsewhere.

"Jacob Lemon Admire, son of Nancy and Jesse Admire, was born near Lexington, Ky., Dec. 24,  1824, and departed this life at Chariton, Iowa, July 2, 1919. His age was 94 years, 6 months and 8 days.

"He was united in marriage to Mary Jane Callahan in December, 1849, in Johnson county, Indiana. To this union were born nine children, Elizabeth and Julian, deceased; Mrs. Margaret Stumbaugh, Mrs. Hattie Vincent, Mrs. Mary Quadt, Mrs. Bertha Dale and Thomas S. Admire, all of Chariton; James O., of Ainsworth, Neb., and Edward of Morris, Okla. Also 24 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

"He came to Iowa in 1855 and took a homestead the following year in Whitebreast township, where his home has been ever since. Chariton at that time had but one store, a post office, a land office and a few dwelling houses. There were but few cabins between Chariton and Osceloa, and there were no churches or school houses in Lucas county.

"The religious meetings were held in the dwelling houses. the first school was taught by J.R. Callahan in a log cabin north of where is now Whitebreast Junction. He made brick near the Grimes farm on the Chariton and Lucas road to replace the rock chimneys and fireplaces used by the citizens.

"In his 64 years as a resident of Lucas county he has seen almost all of the history and development of the county.

"His wife preceded him in death six years ago, for whom he never ceased to mourn. He was active in the business life and was upright, and was a kind and loving husband and father. He never united with any church but said he had made his peace with God and was waiting for the call to rest. All the children were present at the last sad rites except Edward of Morris, Okla., who had been present during his sickness, but had returned home. The funeral services were conducted from the residence July 5th by Rev. E.W. Curtis and interment was int he Grimes cemetery."

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The J.R. Callahan mentioned in passing in the obituary was Jeremiah Riley Calahan, Jacob's father-in-law. I've written about him here, in a post entitled "But did George Washington see Jeremiah Callahan?"

Mary Jane had preceded Jacob in death six years earlier and her obituary was published in The Leader of March 3, 1913, under the headline, "Called Suddenly Home." It reads in part as follows:

"On Saturday, March 1st, at the ripe old age of 89 years, Mrs. Jacob Admire was called into the immediate presence of her Lord. Mrs. Admire, whose maiden name was Mary Jane Callahan, was born near Lexington, Kentucky, on May 24th, 1824. When but a small child her parents moved to Johnson county, Indiana, and later to Brown county, in the same state, where she resided until womanhood was reached.

"She was united in marriage to Jacob Admire in the year of 1848, and to their union was born nine children, three boys and six girls. Of the latter, one died in infancy and one in womanhood. The surviving children are: Margaret Stumbaugh, Hattie Vincent, Tabetha Dale, Mary Quadt, and James, Edward and Thomas. These mourn with their aged an infirm father the departure of one who was a true wife and a loving mother. In addition to these, twenty-four grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren, two brothers and two sisters."

Friday, July 12, 2019

Tubas, peanuts & a musically "historic" evening


Any event held on the museum campus is, of course, historic --- but Thursday evening's "Peanut Day" concert by the Chariton Community Band with guest performer Jon Hodkin, Britain's "Triking Tubador," was especially memorable.


This music was terrific, the weather (a cool breeze on the shady patio) ideal, a crowd of some 160 registered guests gratifying and the peanuts, memorable (Bob Ulrich and his crew did an especially fine job this year of toasting to perfection in the 1889  Royal roaster the raw peanuts donated by Hy-Vee).

The band led off with the National Anthem, of course, then a Karl King march, before performing "Chariton Chronicles," a piece of music, premiered this spring, that was composed for the Chariton High School Band by Vince Gassi under a Lucas County Historical Society commission.


Hodkin (above) then was introduced and performed two pieces on his traveling tuba, accompanied by the band. Introductions were made by Dave Hendricks (left) of Chariton's Connecticut Yankee Pedaller, Jon's principal sponsor for his two-month journey from the north of Scotland to the middle of the United States of America. Hodkin, based in Thurso, Scotland (the most northerly city on the British mainland), has traveled across Great Britain for years, performing benefit concerts on his tricycle, hauling his tuba behind in a custom-built cart. The tuba was shipped from Scotland, he's borrowed a trike for his Iowa travels and Connecticut Yankee is finishing up just now the cart he'll use during the next few weeks while navigating Iowa byways.


Now registered for RAGBRAI, participation in that huge cycling extravaganza will be a highlight for Jon. Chariton is one of the pass-through cities on this year's RAGBRAI route and, if all goes according to plan, Jon will be performing again at 11 a.m. on July 24 at the Larry Clark Bandstand on the square with a RAGBRAI-based brass ensemble. He'll be moving around Iowa, raising funds as he goes for a Blank Childrens Hospital project, until late August, so keep your eyes open for him this summer.


This also was the week Scott McGee and his crew arrived to install new concrete walkways to open up part of our lower campus and provide ADA-compliant access to the Bill Marner Blacksmith Shop. The crew was amazingly efficient, but as of Thursday morning there still was a big pile of dirt on the patio as the backfilling continued.


Then members of the Chariton Volunteer Fire Department pulled up late in the morning to wash down the approach and the patio itself and by evening, everything was immaculate. 


All in all, it was a great evening --- so on behalf of the Lucas County Historical Society board and staff, thanks to all who made it possible! This also was the Community Band's final performance of the summer season, directed by Diane Tordoff, and we're especially happy that they agreed to add this concert to the schedule to feature Jon and to appear on the museum campus.



Thursday, July 11, 2019

At least Burial No. 3,573 had enjoyed a good meal


More than 175 human stories, many of them indecipherable now, form the narrative for this pretty section of the Chariton Cemetery known as Potter's Field. Lucas County's desperately poor, ranging in age from infants to the aged, were buried here for nearly a century. Among them are several known, as they say, "but to God" --- strangers who died among us whose names we didn't know.

The Chariton Leader reported the death of one this way in its edition of July 8, 1909, under the headline, "Unknown Man Killed."

"A tramp called at Clint Noble's lunch counter on Saturday night, saying that he had walked thirty miles without anything to eat and was hungry. Clint fixed him up and started him on his way rejoicing. Next morning, the crew of No. 15 found him out by the "Y," where he had apparently been struck by a passing train. The coroner went out and he was brought into town and taken to the Melville undertaking establishment. There was nothing on his person by which he could be identified and he was apparently between 40 and 50 years of age --- some say older, some younger."

The Herald's report of the same date was similar, but more detailed in some areas:

"A stranger, evidently a tramp, was killed some time Saturday night at the top of Whitebreast hill between here and Lucas. He was seen lying by the track by the crew on fast mail No. 15. When they reached Osceola, they notified the officials here and an engine and way car were sent to the scene of the accident and the remains were brought to Chariton and taken to Melville's undertaking parlors. The man's neck was broken, and one leg and nearly all his ribs on both sides were broken, and a deep gash was cut in the side of his head. When found the body was still warm, and it is thought that he was either struck by train No. 5 or fell from it while stealing a ride.

"He was a man about 50 years of age, five feet tall, and dark complexion. He was seen on our streets Saturday. The only articles found on his person were a dime, a spool of thread, and a needle, which was fastened to a copy of the Saturday Evening Post. The remains were interred in the potter's field yesterday afternoon."

Chariton Cemetery records identify the deceased as "unknown tramp" and note that his was the 3,573rd known burial in the cemetery when interred on Wednesday, July 7, in "public ground."

And this is all we're likely ever to know.