Friday, December 6, 2019

Edith Balliet, Bazine, Kansas 1890s

The back reads:
"Edith Balliet to

Edith Balliet was born in Pennsylvania in November 1877. Her parents, Peter and Katherine, moved with Edith and her older brother Willie to Kansas not long after she was born. In Pennsylvania, Edith's father had been a carpenter with a sawing mill in White Haven. In Bazine, Kansas, he became a farmer.

As a young woman, Edith considered becoming a teacher. In a June 1896 edition of the Ness County News, Edith is listed among those attending the Normal Institute in Ness City. I suspect this photo was taken during her time in school- maybe "Mamie" was a school friend? If Edith had plans of becoming a teacher, those plans quickly changed. She was married to Charles Frederick Harbeson, or "Fred," in 1897 at the age of 20. Fred was a farmer from Iowa who later became a carpenter, similar to Edith's father. The couple's first child, Bertha, was born in September 1898. Their only son Lawrence arrived in 1905, followed by Florence in 1914.

The Harbesons lived in Stafford County, Kansas. Here, Edith was close to family and enjoyed visiting her parents and in-laws. As well as raising her three children, Edith kept busy in other ways. During World War I, she volunteered her sewing skills to the Red Cross. She was also an active member of the Daughters of Rebekah, a branch of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.

Their oldest child, Bertha, was very social and enjoyed entertaining at the Harbeson house. In 1918 she was attending business college, and was married to Abraham Bowman in 1919 (I wonder if there is any relation to the Bowmans in my last post?). After serving in World War II, Lawrence moved to Austin, Texas with his wife, Helen, and their son Stanley. There he became a cabinet maker. Florence, who went by her middle name "Alma," married Dewey C. Boles in Oklahoma in 1932.

Edith and Fred remained in Stafford County for the rest of their lives. Fred passed away in 1951. Edith followed in 1954 at age 77.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Eli Bowman and Family, Dayton, Iowa 1913

Written on the back: "Mr + Mrs Abraham Bowman. Oct 4. 1913"
 I believe this photo was sent by Eli to his father and stepmother back in Indiana.
Eli Emery Bowman was born in Hagerstown, Indiana in 1873 to Abraham and Louisa Bowman. Abraham and Louisa were both of the Dunkard faith and were baptized into the Church of the Brethren in 1863. Abraham was a deacon in the church before becoming a minister and eventually, an elder. Eli was the youngest of their six children, including older brothers Oliver, Daniel, Charles, William, and Abraham Jr. Eli tragically lost his oldest brother when he was 7. In 1880, 18-year-old Oliver was returning home from helping with the harvest when he suffered an epileptic seizure, fell into a water-filled ditch, and drowned. Three years later, tragedy struck the Bowmans again when the family fell ill with the measles. The children all recovered but their mother did not. Abraham remarried soon after Louisa's death to Elizabeth Mahoney, with whom he had two children, Albert and Mary Ethel. When Elizabeth died in 1889, Abraham was married a third and final time to Catharine Hoover.

Written on the back: "Ethel Allred's picture. All Bowmans picture."
Ethel was Eli's half-sister. Unfortunately the individuals in this photo are not identified.
In 1893, a notice in the Hagerstown Exponent announced the marriage of 20-year-old Eli to a Miss Letha Ann Scott. Eli and Letha had one daughter, Lola, born in 1894. A few years later, the couple separated, and Lola stayed with her mother. I wasn't able to find any official record of a divorce, which would have been uncommon at the time, but in 1899 they both married other people: Letha to a Mr. Lewis Wrightsman, and Eli to Luetta Mae Shields.

Eli had met Luetta, or Louie, in Dallas County, Iowa, where he had moved the year before. According to the Hagerstown Exponent, Eli was "getting along famously" having "struck Iowa practically without a dollar, determined to carve out his own fortune." He began as a farmhand and saved his money until he could purchase a farm of his own. The paper describes Louie as "one of Dallas County's finest young ladies, who has proven herself a helpmeet indeed." Eli and Louie's first child, Ralph, was adopted. They went on to have two more children, daughters Edna and Ruth. The Bowmans did not stay put in Iowa for long. In 1908, they moved to Wyoming, where Eli had purchased 320 acres of land near the town of Egbert. Perhaps the Bowmans were not quite as fortunate in Wyoming as they had been Iowa, as they returned to Iowa not long after. In the 1915 Iowa State Census, they are living in Dayton, where this photograph was taken.

In 1920, Eli, Louie, and Ruth are living in Des Moines. Eli is working at a brickyard, while 15-year-old Ruth has gotten a job as a "saleslady" at a grocery store. By this point, Ralph and Edna had moved out. Edna married Martin Wolff in 1918 and soon moved in with his family in Grove, Iowa. After serving in the army between 1918 and 1919, Ralph went to Sugar Grove, Iowa to work on the farm of his aunt and uncle, Mary and Edward Shields. He married Estella Britton in 1922. It wasn't long before the youngest Bowman, Ruth, was married herself. She married Frank Anthony Barber in 1923. Ruth didn't go far, however, as she and her husband, as well as their 5-year-old daughter Mary Lou, are living with the Bowmans in 1930. Eli, at 57, is now a watchman for a heating company. Ruth's husband is a clerk at a cigar store, while she works as a "comptometrist" at a packing house, meaning she worked a mechanical calculator.

Eli and Louie lived out the rest of their lives in Des Moines, though Eli did return home to his family in Indiana for special occasions. Eli worked up until three weeks before his death. He died of heart problems on December 7th, 1945, at the age of 72. According to his obituary, he left behind a wife, three children, twelve grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. Louie followed him in 1947.

If you know who this family may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Julia Eberly, Delaware, Ohio 1889-1890

Julia Eberly was born in Perrysburg, Ohio
in 1868 to parents Rosina Schauker and John Eberly, a shoemaker. The Eberly's were German immigrants, though they had been settled in Ohio for several years by the time Julia arrived. She was their 10th child, with older siblings Amelia, Frederic, Elizabeth, John Jr., Frank, Charles, Mary, Frances, and Emma all having been born before her (though Mary and Emma passed away before Julia was born). She had one younger sibling, a sister named Clara.

In 1871, Julia's oldest sister, Amelia, married furniture store owner Joseph Matzinger. Tragically, Joseph died a year later, leaving Amelia a widow at 21. Their son, Frederick, was born months later. In 1880, Amelia and Fred were living down the street from her parents and with them were Julia and Clara, her two youngest sisters. Julia was 14 and already working as a milliner, while Amelia was a dressmaker. Perhaps Clara, at 12, was too young to work (though I have a feeling she helped.)

As a young woman, Julia was already showing signs of accomplishment. She was a member of the Second Rhetorical Section at Perrysburg Highschool and often recited essays at special presentations. When she graduated in 1886, she was granted something remarkable- a scholarship. She was only the second girl at her school to receive one. As the daughter of an immigrant shoemaker and one of the youngest girls in a large family, Julia had likely never considered the possibility of going to college. She chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. There she studied Literature, which according to the 1889-1890 OWU catalog required "two years of Latin, one of German, and one of Mathematics" for admission into the Freshman class. Julia lived in Monnett Hall, the women's dormitory. An account of Monnet Hall by Professor E.T. Nelson in 1895 describes a building complete with a spacious dining room, finely-furnished parlors, and a well-stocked library. Best of all, Julia would have gotten her own room! When Julia returned home to Perrysburg during winter break that first year, she reported that she was "well pleased with her studies and general surroundings." These two photographs were taken during her senior year of college, one at the beginning and one at the end. On the back of the 1890 photo is written "Etta Hagenbuch." Though I don't know why her name was written here, I do know that Etta Florence Hagenbuch was a fellow Literature student at OWU and lived in Monnett Hall. She graduated in 1888 and may have been a friend of Julia's. In 1890, the Perrysburg Journal proudly announced that Julia had graduated with honors and with the high praise of her professors. 1890 was also the year Julia left Ohio.

In October, Julia went to Lake City, Florida, to become a teacher. Unfortunately, I don't know much about Julia's time in Florida or about her teaching career. Four years later she returned to her hometown in Ohio, this time with a fiance. On December 18th, 1894, Julia Eberly married Robert S. Pyles, a sheriff from Brunswick, Georgia, in a "modest yet pretty home wedding." After an "elaborate wedding banquet," Julia left with her new husband on a midnight train back to Georgia, where they planned to make their home. The Perrysburg Journal described Robert as "a gentleman of refinement and culture, and of high-standing in the community where he is known..." The couple had one child together, a daughter named Clara, who I have to imagine was named after Julia's younger sister. In 1900, their home was also occupied by Robert's 62-year-old widowed mother, Elizabeth, and their housekeeper, Rebecca Night. By 1910, Robert's twin nephews Thomas and Richard Matthews had joined the household. In the 1920s, the Pyles took in several lodgers, three of whom were teachers, just as Julia had briefly been. Finally, in 1930, it was only Julia, Robert, and a 20-year-old Clara in the house. Clara was married in 1931 to Chapman K. Curry. After Robert passed away in 1935, Julia moved in with her daughter, son-in-law, and their daughter, named Julia.

Julia Eberly Pyles passed away in 1953 at the age of 80.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Marie Frances Ruppert Lees, Washington, D.C. 1907

"Marie Frances Ruppert Lees
1907- age 6"

Marie Frances Ruppert was born in Washington, D.C in about 1901. Her parents, Theodore and Amalia, were both German immigrants who had arrived in the United States in the 1880s. Marie was the youngest of their six children. She had four sisters- Mary Lena, Rosalie Christina, Margaret Anna, and Cecilia Bernata- and one brother, Frederick Carl. Their father was a grocer and a member of the Sons of Jonadab, a fraternal society that promoted temperance. 

In 1910, when Marie was 9-years-old, her only brother Frederick died. He was 18.  It was not the only loss she would experience as a young girl. In 1917, her father Theodore died suddenly of a stroke at the age of 56. The year before, 15-year-old Marie had attended the wedding of her oldest sister to Mr. Henry Wellington Floyd of Maryland. Mary Lena- who had been working as a stenographer for her father's grocery- was dressed in a gown of "white satin and chantilly lace" with a veil "wreathed with orange blossoms." Her sister Margaret was her maid of honor. Lena and Henry welcomed their first and only child, Anita, in May 1917, just days after Theodore's death. Then, when Anita was only 18-months-old, Lena passed away. At 17, Marie had lost yet another close family member. Soon, Henry Floyd moved in with the Rupperts so that they could help take care of his infant daughter. According to Anita's obituary, "she was raised by her maternal grandmother, Amalia Spahn Ruppert, and a bevy of loving aunts." I can imagine that after so much loss, Marie was delighted to have a little girl in the house to help care for and play with. 

As young women, the Ruppert sisters all took jobs to help support the family. Living in Washington, D.C, it wasn't hard to find positions in government offices. In 1920, 23-year-old Margaret was a stenographer for the Navy. (During World War I she had enlisted as a Navy "Yeomanette". After the war, she continued to work for the Navy until retiring in the 1960s.) Cecilia worked as a clerk for the War Department. Marie was also a clerk, but for the United States Shipping Board. Their sister Rosalie had by this time married John Whyte and started a family of her own. By 1930, Marie's life had again changed drastically. Her brother-in-law Henry remarried and moved with Anita to Maryland. Then, in 1929, her mother died at the age of 67. Marie, now 28, moved in with her sister Rosalie at 1261 Irving St. in DC. Most of the houses from this time appear to still be standing along Irving St. and while they're nice homes, they don't seem very big- certainly not big enough for the 10 people living at number 1261 in 1930. Along with Rosalie and her husband John were their 3 children, Rosalie's sisters Margaret, Marie, and Cecilia, Cecilia's husband Martin, and a lodger named Edith Johnson. 

Marie finally left the crowded house when she married Wilton W. Lees. Wilton was from Scranton, Pennsylvania and a veteran of World War I. He also worked as a clerk, just as Marie had when she was younger. His World War II draft card describes him as having blonde hair, blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion. Marie and Wilton never had any children. Marie lived to be 73-years-old. In 1974, the year after the death of her sister Margaret, she passed away at her home in Arlington, Virginia.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Ella Gibe Ruark, Atlanta, Illinois, 1880's

Luella Gibe was born in Bonpas, Illinois in 1869 to Adam and Elizabeth Gibe. Adam was a German farmer who had immigrated to the United States as a young man. Ella was the third of Adam and Elizabeth's seven children. At the time of the 1880 census, Ella was living with her parents and her siblings, Sarah, Jacob, Ida, Willie, and John, as well as their 80-year-old grandfather, Henry Gibe. 11-year-old Ella is also marked as being "maimed, crippled, bed-ridden, or otherwise disabled." I wonder what had happened to her?

Ella married George B. Ruark, a druggist, on October 16th, 1889. George was the co-owner of the Stokes & Ruark drugstore in Sumner, Illinois, until he established Ruark & Co. early in 1900.  Ella and George had 8 children, though tragically none of them survived past childhood. I could only find record of one of the children, a 6-year-old boy named after his father, in the 1900 census. In 1910 George was no longer working as a druggist and was taking odd jobs to support his wife and himself. Then, in 1915, he was admitted to Anna State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Anna, Illinois. He died there six years later at the age of 63.

By this point, Ella had disappeared. I'm not sure where she went after her husband was institutionalized, as she doesn't seem to appear in any records after 1910. She may have moved to a different state, or remarried and changed her name. George's death records state that he was a widower, though no one is exactly sure when Ella died.

I would love to be able to complete Ella's story, so if you know anything else about her, let us know in the comments!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bob Birch, Lone Wolf, Oklahoma 1908

"Well Ag I will
send you the
finest picture
you ear saw
this is a cold
day looks like snow
Bob Burch"

Robert "Bob" Burch was born in Yellville, Arkansas in 1890 to Frances Marion Burch and Alice Lee Hurst. Bob was one of twelve children. He had two older siblings, Callie and Hardin, and nine younger siblings, Francis, Amanda, Nancy, Bryan, Ruth, Nellie, John, William, and Clifton.

Sometime after 1900, the family moved to Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. There, Bob and his brothers worked on the family farm with their father. On December 8th, 1908 Bob sent this postcard to a Mrs. Agnes Newton, who he affectionately refers to as "Ag." Agnes was Bob's aunt, his mother's youngest sister, who lived a few counties away in Eufaula. She was only seven years older than him and may have been more like a sister to him.

Bob, along with his brothers, went on to serve in the first World War. After the war, Bob and his brother Francis took over the family farm. Their father had died in 1916, followed by their mother three years later, and their older brother was married and starting a family of his own. By their late 20's, Bob and Francis were not only running a farm, they were also caring for their seven younger siblings. I can imagine their house was a crowded place- also living with them was their sister, Amanda, and her two young daughters, Greta and Mabel.

Bob never married and continued to work on the farm with his brothers for many years, long after their other siblings had moved away. He passed away in Retrop, Oklahoma in 1956 at the age of 66.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Dr. Percy Alexander Riddler, Missouri 1900's

This man is identified as "Dr. P.A. Riddler."

Percy Alexander Riddler was born September 19th, 1876 in Jefferson City, Missouri. His father, John G. Riddler, was a surgeon for the Union army during the civil war. After the war, he married Percy's mother, Sophia Sharp, and became a druggist. Together they had 6 children: Edith Bell, Mabel, Myrtle, Percy Alexander, Bonnie Kate, and Garth Arthur.

Percy arrived during a tragic period for his family, at around the time they lost two of his sisters. 5-year-old Mabel died in 1872 and was followed by 8-year-old Myrtle in 1877. Then, in 1887, the same year their father was elected mayor of Jefferson City, the 4 surviving Riddler children lost their mother. Percy was only 10. John Riddler placed his children in the care of their grandmother, Wilhelmina Sharp, who took over raising them.

As a young man, Percy decided to pursue medicine just as his father had. He attended St. Paul's College in Concordia, Missouri for 2 years before transferring to University Medical College in Kansas City. A newspaper article would later describe Percy as having a "quiet and serious personality," and claimed that he "impresses one with the seriousness of his individuality." In Percy's senior yearbook, he is described simply: "Likes the ladies. Guardian angel of Pi Beta Phi pledges. Can cuss if necessary."

After graduating, Percy moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas. In the 1910 census he is living as a boarder with a family and is practicing out of an office at 411 Garrison Ave. Also living in Fort Smith was 21-year-old Ethel Wier Kelleam. She was a very social young woman and appeared often in the society column of the paper. She attended many picnics, parties, and outings like the one captured in these photos. In November 1912 Percy and Ethel were married in a "quiet wedding" at the home of Rev. P.G. Preston.

Upon returning from their honeymoon, the couple moved in with Ethel's mother. By 1920, Mrs. Kelleam's residence had become a crowded place. Along with her 16 year old daughter, Dorothy, was Ethel, Percy, and their 2-year-old son, John. Also living in the house were two boarders, a tailor named Duke Sills and his wife, Edith.  In 1919 Percy was elected chairman of the Fort Smith Board of Health and later was reelected. Though he relocated his office within the city a few times, Percy never left Fort Smith. He died there in 1933, leaving behind his wife and 16-year-old son, John, who would go on to become a surgeon.

If you know who this man (or any of these partygoers) may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Lizzie Liming Fellows, Van Buren County, Iowa 1890's

"Mother thinks this is
Lizzie Liming Fellows,
your grandmother."

If "Mother" is correct, this is Elizabeth Peacock Liming, who was born on April 16th, 1871. As written in her birth records, she was born on her father's farm in Douds, Van Buren County, Iowa. Her father was William H. Liming, a farmer from Ohio. Her mother was Mary J. Peacock, who had immigrated from Ireland with her family as a baby. Elizabeth was the second oldest child after her brother Arthur and had 4 younger siblings: Chloe, Paul, Della, and Mary. Not long after Mary's birth, their mother became ill with pneumonia. She died in 1880 at only 33 years old. Elizabeth was only 9. The next year, her father was remarried to 18 year old Alice Viola McCullough and in the following years, Elizabeth would gain 3 half-siblings.

On April 21st, 1892, Elizabeth married Clay D. Fellows. He was a young doctor who, like her, had been born and raised in Van Buren County, Iowa. He had just graduated from Keokuk Medical College in Keokuk, Iowa that year. Their first child, Hazel Josephine, was born in February 1893 and their second, Esther Elizabeth, arrived in 1904. By the 1900s, the family had settled in Algona, Iowa. In 1913, 21 year old Hazel married Roy Keen and began a family of her own.  Esther never married but instead persued a career in advertising. Around 1920, their father began to suffer from a heart condition. He passed away from it in 1925 at age 58. Though Esther soon went away to work in Des Moines, Elizabeth had the company of her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, who all lived on a farm just outside of Algona.

When Esther was offered a position as the advertising manager for a cosmetic company in Hollywood, Elizabeth sold their house and joined her a few years later.  Elizabeth, now in her 60's, seemed to thoroughly enjoy her time in California. Even when Los Angeles was rocked by an earthquake in March 1933, she wrote home that "she was experiencing everything California had to offer, and she was glad to have had the experience." Hazel's oldest daughter, Eleanor, stayed a summer in Hollywood with her grandmother and aunt in 1936. (Eleanor and her two younger siblings, Richard and Marilyn, were Elizabeth's only grandchildren. This photograph must have belonged to one of them at some point.)

Elizabeth lived with Esther in their Hollywood apartment until she passed away on Christmas Eve, 1951. She was 80.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Part Two: L.E. Decker, Manager

Source: The William F. Cody Archives

In the 1890s, William F. Cody built the town of Cody, Wyoming in the Big Horn Basin. Envisioning the town as a tourist destination and gateway to Yellowstone National Park, he constructed the luxurious Irma Hotel at it's heart. In 1903, as the Irma was undergoing its first major renovation, Louis was made the manager of the hotel. He was reportedly told by Cody to make the Irma "just the swellest hotel that ever happened regardless of expense." Among other improvements, Louis had monogrammed crockery specially made for the hotel's dining room.

Louis and Mary both lived and worked in the hotel. In the 1910 census, they are listed
alongside several other employees of the Irma: clerk Edward Connery, cooks Robert Velick and Jess Minson, and waitress Hilda Friedenburg, as well as the other housekeepers, maids, and laborers that kept the hotel clean and functioning. A photograph taken that year shows Louis, Mary, and William Cody seated together in Cody's private room at the Irma.  Louis is older now, in his late 40's, and sports a mustache. His discussion with Cody looks serious, though there's a slight smile on Mary's face.

Louis continued to manage the hotel until 1913, the year William F Cody filed for bankruptcy and the Wild West show ended. Louis and Mary left Wyoming for Denver, Colorado and moved into 2932 Lafayette Street, a Queen Anne style home built in 1892. Louis went from being the manager of the Irma to being the manager of the White Motor Car Company, and soon became the owner of the Court Place Garage. Shortly after the move, Cody paid his sister and brother-in-law a visit. It was from their house on July 25th, 1913 that he wrote a letter to his lifelong friend, John H. Tait. "Well the old show is closed," he wrote. "But I'll soon have a better one."

In his later years, Cody frequently stayed at 2932 Lafayette Street with Louis and Mary. According to Mary, her brother often referred to the house as the "Home of Peace." It was during one of these stays in January 1917 that his health began to decline. He was 70 years old and dying of kidney failure. When told by his doctor that he had only 36 hours to live, Cody's first response was to call Louis to his bedside. "The doc says I've got 36 hours," he reportedly told him. "Let's forget about it and play some cards." William F. Cody died on January 10th at 12:05 PM. At 1:33, Louis sent a telegram to John Tait that read simply, "Colonel Cody passed away twelve five today. Louie."

In 1919, the editor of the Daily Pantagraph traveled from Bloomington, Illinois to Denver to interview Mary about her brother. The editor describes the large cabinet case that sits in the living room of their home, filled with souvenirs and gifts from Buffalo Bill, and how Mary spoke of her brother with "solemn pride."

In 1926, after three months of illness, Mary Cody Decker passed away at age 73. According to her obituary, Mary's last words were murmured to her husband: "I'm going west." Louis suffered from heart disease in his later years and in 1935 passed away at the home of a friend in Denver. He was 71. Louis's obituary claims that he was the manager of Buffalo Bill's Wild West for two decades, a claim that I've found repeated elsewhere. As far as I can tell, Louis was never the manager of the show. He was, however, many many other things. He was the cousin, brother-in-law, and employee of the famous showman, Buffalo Bill. He began as a ticket-seller and through hardwork became a secretary to Buffalo Bill and to his manager, Nate Salsbury. He was the manager not of Bill's show, but of his luxurious Irma Hotel. He was the owner of a successful garage in Denver, Colorado. He was at Buffalo Bill's side when he died.

Researching Louis Decker's story has been fascinating. If you're interested, here is an article about the restoration of Louis and Mary's home in Denver.

If you know anything else about Louis, let us know in the comments!

A few of the sources I used for this post:
  1. Center of the West article on the Irma Hotel
  2. Denver Library Article on the Whittier Neighborhood and San Rafael Historical District
  3. 1913 letter from William F. Cody to John H. Tait
  4. Virginian-Pilot article, "The Last, Great Performance of Buffalo Bill Cody"
  5. 1917 telegram from Louis Decker to John H. Tait announcing the death of William F. Cody

Friday, June 21, 2019

Part One: Louis E. Decker, Youngstown, Ohio 1880's

Writing on the back reads:
"Louis is nicer
looking now
than in this

Louis E. Decker's rather interesting life began in Youngstown, Ohio in 1864. He was the youngest of Bartholomew Decker and Sophia Billings's seven children. His father was the owner of a feed store, B.S. Decker & Co., where Louis's older brother Charles would work as a store clerk during his teenage years. Charles would follow in his father's footsteps and go on to own a shop of his own, a grocery and confectionary. It's possible Louis may have worked in his father's store at some point as a young man, but he was certainly not destined to become a grocer or clerk.

In February 1882, Bartholomew and Sophia took a trip to Cleveland, Ohio. They were visiting Sophia's cousin, William F. Cody, who is perhaps better known by his nickname: Buffalo Bill. Cody would not form his famous Wild West show until the following year, but he had already gained a reputation as a skilled hunter, rider, and scout during the Indian Wars. Louis's parents must have seen an opportunity to get their youngest son a job with the famous showman.

Louis began working as a ticket seller for Buffalo Bill's Wild West about 1885 when he was 20 years old. That same year, sharpshooters Annie Oakley and Frank Butler joined the show. Louis continued to sell tickets for several years and possibly sold tickets during the show's European tours between 1887 and 1892. Then in 1893, the Wild West came to Chicago and set up in a lot right next door to the fairgrounds of the World's Columbian Exposition (after a committee declined to include the show as part of the fair itself). While researching Louis, I was surprised and very excited to discover a brief mention of him in one of my favorite books, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. In order to illustrate the success of the fair, Larson describes how Louis "sold 17,843 tickets during his shift, the most by any one man" and as a result won a box of cigars. Though Larson mistakenly refers to Louis as Buffalo Bill's nephew, there's no doubt to me it's the right man. Why exactly he was selling tickets at the fair instead of at the Wild West show is unclear to me. Maybe he was looking to earn a little extra money while in Chicago, or perhaps he just really wanted to win that box of cigars.

According to an 1896 souvenir book titled "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Route Diary," the traveling show made a stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 9th. Louis, or "Lew" as he is called here, took the opportunity to visit his sister in Elk Rapids. Though she isn't named in the diary, I believe he visited his oldest sister, Carrie, who was living in Michigan around this time. The diary also says that Louis made the visit with his wife, and a "Mrs. Lou Decker" is listed as the Matron of the Camp. This is interesting considering the fact that, as far as I know, Louis wasn't married until 1906. If she's a different woman, I haven't been able to find a record of her.

In the 1899 "Route Book," Louis has moved up to being a secretary for Cody and for Nate Salsbury, Cody's manager, though it appears that he continued to help sell tickets and work as a mail carrier. During his time working for the Wild West show, Louis must have been introduced to William F. Cody's sisters, Julia, Eliza, Nellie, and Mary, who also went by "May." Cody was close with his sisters and wrote to them frequently. Photographs show that the Cody sisters were rather stern, serious looking women. The youngest, Mary, had been married to Edgar Bradford, a locomotive engineer, until his death in 1896. She was left a widow at 44, with two adult children. She and Louis had likely known each other for a while, as Louis was an employee of her brother (not to mention the fact that they were technically cousins.) Though she was 10 years his senior, a relationship formed. Mary and Louis were married in Big Horn, Wyoming on December 30th, 1906.

Before the marriage, Louis experienced big changes in his career as William F. Cody embarked on an ambitious new project- a tourist destination that would serve as the gateway to Yellowstone National Park.

Find out more next week in Part Two! And if you know anything about Louis, let us know in the comments!

A few of the sources I used for this post:
  1. 1882 letter from William F. Cody to Al Goodman in which Bartholomew and Sophia's visit to Cleveland is mentioned
  2. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, page 319
  3. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Route Diary, 1896
  4. Route Book Buffalo Bill's Wild West, 1899

Friday, June 7, 2019

Mary Katherine Southall, Florence, Alabama 1900

Writing on the back reads:
"Mary Katherine Southall
c 3 years"

Mary Katherine Southall was born in Florence, Alabama on February 24th, 1897. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Charles Morton and Ida Mae Hester Southall. She had 2 older brothers, James Morton and Eugene H. The Southalls were fairly wealthy. Mary's father was a successful druggist in Florence and he appears often in the Florence Herald advertising such miraculous cures as "Electric Bitters," "Herbine," and "Dr. Howard's Specific."

Growing up, Mary was a bit of a social butterfly. The early years of her life were full of parties, clubs, and outings with friends, all of which were recorded in detail in the Florence Herald. At age 9, Mary served punch at a friend's birthday party "beneath the roseate glow of pink-draped chandeliers." Mary hosted her first tea party in 1908 at age 11. That same year she was the hostess of the T.F. Club and served refreshments at a party held for her Aunt Maney Hester when she visited from Chicago (the house was decorated with white and yellow). At 15 Mary and friends served frappe in the music room of Miss Olive Rogers "where pink and white roses rioted in lovely profusion." She attended countless other events, including dinner parties, barbecues, plays at the Princess Theater, and a football game between Vanderbilt and Auburn in 1919.

Mary was not only an excellent hostess, she was also well-educated. In 1916 she left Alabama for Pennsylvania, where she attended the Baldwin School, a private girls school, and later Bryn Mawr College. There she studied economics and politics and graduated in 1919. On February 26th, 1920, shortly after Mary's 23rd birthday, the Florence Herald announced Mary's engagement to a Mr. Benjamin Hall.

Benjamin Homer Hall was born in Illinois but had lived in Hoosick, New York for much of his life. He was a reporter for, and later the owner and editor of, the Rensselaer County Standard. I'm not sure what brought Benjamin to Alabama in the first place- did he meet Mary in Florence or did they meet while Mary was attending school in Pennsylvania? Friends and family poured into Florence from across the country to celebrate. The week leading up to the wedding was filled with luncheons, tea parties, and receptions all in honor of the bride-to-be. The ceremony itself was held in the Southall home on April 29th. I was surprised that I couldn't find any descriptions of the wedding- maybe Mary wanted to keep this particular event private.

Not long after the wedding, Mary and Benjamin moved back to Hoosick, where Benjamin continued to run his newspaper. During WWII, Benjamin served in the Office of Strategic Services both in Washington and overseas and, according to his obituary, was "closely connected" with William J. Donovan, the head of the OSS. After the war, Mary and Benjamin lived in Pittsburgh for 14 years. When Benjamin retired, they moved to Tryon, North Carolina where he built a home for them. The couple lived there together until Benjamin passed away in November 1965.  Benjamin and Mary never had children, but they were close with their nephews Derick and Donald Hulme. In Benjamin's will, he passes several family heirlooms onto his nephews. Mary passed away ten years later in 1975 at the age of 78.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Maude Harkless, Green Ridge, Missouri 1900's

Maude Lee Helsley was born in Ionia, Missouri on Feb. 6, 1885 to parents William and Mary Catherine Helsley. Maude was the oldest child and had six siblings: twins Blanch and Nellie, Henry, Abbie, Perry, and Frank Guy. In 1904, when she was 19, Maude married Count Harkless. Like Maude, Count came from a family of farmers and eventually became a farmer himself.

In March 1905, Maude's mother passed away at age 41. In this photograph, Maude wears a memorial pin which I believe is a small photo of her mother. It's sad that she experienced such a loss at only 20 years old, especially so soon after her marriage. Her father remarried soon after. From the marriage Maude gained two step-siblings and later, three half-siblings.

Maude and Count spent their marriage in Green Ridge, Missouri. They never had children, but Maude stayed busy. She was a member of her local chapter of the Royal Neighbors of America, a fraternal beneficiary society that provided women with life insurance and was an early supporter of women's suffrage. Her sister Abbie, who would later live on the farm with them, was also a member of the society. In 1915, Count announced in the Windsor Review that he had decided to quit farming and was selling off all of his livestock and equipment in a large sale. According to the notice, dinner would be served by the R.N.A ladies of Green Ridge. For whatever reason, Count was not entirely successful in giving up farming. In both the 1920 and 1930 censuses, his occupation is still listed as "farmer." By 1930, both Maude's sister and their father had joined them on the farm. The family was very social and frequently hosted guests at their home. Maude kept a garden and would send a large bouquet of roses to the office of the local paper, the Sedalia Democrat, every year.

In 1943, Maude and Abbie recieved news that their half-brother Billie had been captured while fighting overseas and was being held prisoner by the Japanese. He had initially been reported missing the previous year, so I can imagine this news was a relief as much as it was terrifying. Luckily, Billie returned safely home after the war. Sadly, Count passed away the following year at the age of 62. He was buried in Green Ridge, where he had lived his entire life. Maude continued to serve her community through the Royal Neighbors of America until she passed away in 1969 at the age of 84.

If you know who this woman may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Hugo Fuessel and Ella Zander, Taylor, Texas, 1906

Hugo Ludwig Fuessel was born in Pflugerville, Texas in 1884. He was the first child of Pauline and Ludwig Fuessel and the older brother of Frieda Fuessel, the subject of my last post. As a young man, he worked on the family farm with his father and brothers until he bought his own farm near Buckholts, Texas.

In 1906, Hugo married Ella Augusta Zander, who is misidentified as "Mary Sander" on this photo. Ella's parents, William and Carolina, were also German immigrants. William immigrated to the United States in 1873, followed by Carolina 8 years later. Ella was their second child. Hugo and Ella had 11 children of their own: Clara, Alexander, Conrad, Adolph, Lora, Freeman, Clarence, Hugo, Ella, Raymond, and Paula.

Four of Hugo and Ella's sons- Alexander, Conrad, Adolph, and Freeman- all served in the Second World War. They were inducted into service in 1941, the beginning of a difficult period for the Fuessel family. On July 3rd, 1942, Hugo was out plowing on his farm when he was struck by lightning. He was killed instantly. Though Ella had to endure the sudden loss of her husband and the absence of her four oldest sons all at once, she had the support of her community. 6 days after the tragedy she posted a brief note in the Cameron Herald thanking her neighbors and friends for their kindness. In September 1943, the family learned that Adolph had been captured in Sicily and was being held prisoner by the Germans. In May 1945, Ella was notified by the War Department that her son had finally been liberated and was safe. Alexander, Conrad, Adolph, and Freeman all returned home safely after the war.

Ella lived to be 85. When she passed away in 1970, she had 18 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

If you know who this couple may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Frieda Fuessel, Taylor, Texas 1900's

Frieda Fuessel was born in Pflugerville, Texas in 1888 to parents Carolina "Pauline" Walther and Ludwig Fuessel. Like the majority of the families in Pflugerville, the Fuessels were German. Pauline and Ludwig immigrated together from Germany to Texas in 1882, though they were not married until 1883. Frieda was their 4th child. She was one of 14 children in all, of which 11 lived to adulthood.
In 1908 at age 19, Frieda married Charles Galler, a German farmer from Nebraska. I think this photo may have been taken around that time.

Frieda and Charles lived together with Charles's brother, Emil, who helped them run their farm near Taylor, Texas. On November 6th, 1910, Edwin, their only child, was born. He had blonde hair and blue eyes like his father. After Frieda's mother passed away in 1924, her father moved in with the family. He lived with them until his death in 1939.  In 1940 the Gallers moved to Houston, where Edwin began working as a truck driver for an electric company. That same year he was drafted into the army. Sadly, Frieda died two years later at the age of 55 while her son was still overseas.

In next week's post, we'll discuss Frieda's older brother Hugo and his wife, Ella.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Hopwood Family, South Union, Pennsylvania 1900's

The writing on the back reads:
"Hudson Hopwood
Mother Hopwood
Your grandmother, Pat
Verda Hopwood
George took picture"

In this small photo, three members of the Hopwood family sit around a table. Each person is reading or at least pretending to, almost as if the photographer told them to look busy with something in their hands.

The Hopwoods lived in South Union Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. George Hopwood was a farmer and member of the Pennsylvania State Assembly. The Hopwoods were a prominent family and had lived in the area for several generations. In fact, the town of Hopwood in Fayette County was named for one of George's ancestors, John Hopwood, who according to family lore was a friend of George Washington. George Hopwood's wife, Alverda (née Black), was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and came from an equally distinguished family. Together they had 8 children: George, Verda, William Hudson, Julia, Margaret, Jane, Walter Monroe, and Mary Katherine. In September 1898, just a few months after finishing his second term in the Pennsylvania State Assembly, George Hopwood died of heart trouble. Though the family had lived in Pennsylvania for generations, Alverda decided to relocate to West Virginia with her daughters a few years after his death. They remained there until 1911 when they moved to California. I believe this photo may have been taken in the time before the initial move, while the family was still together in Pennsylvania in the "old Hopwood home."

George Black Hopwood, who took this photo, was the eldest of the Hopwood children. As a young man, he worked as a reporter for the News Standard, a local paper. In 1902 he left his job at the paper and went to Philadelphia with his brother, Hudson, the young man in this photo reading a newspaper (I wonder if he's reading the News Standard?). Together they enrolled in Jefferson Medical College. Hudson graduated in 1906, after which he worked in Grindstone, Pennsylvania as a physician for the Pittsburgh Coal Company. In 1909 Hudson became ill with tuberculosis. He spent the winter of that year in Mexico and Arizona, hoping to improve his health in a drier climate. Sadly he never recovered and died in July 1910 at the age of 28.

The young woman in this photo is Verda, the eldest Hopwood sister. She attended the California State Normal School, graduated in 1904, and became a schoolteacher. She mainly taught the 4th grade. In August 1919, Verda began showing signs of severe mental illness. According to hospital records, she suffered from hallucinations and became violent. She believed her doctor was a German spy and threatened to kill him, and at times imagined she was on fire. The record also suggested her illness may have been caused by a head injury she suffered as a young girl after falling off a horse. Her mother admitted her to Stockton State Hospital in Stockton, California a few weeks later. Verda remained there for the rest of her life. She died in 1947.

Alverda, or "Mother Hopwood," continued to live in California with her daughters Julia and Jane, Jane's husband Charles Rice, and Alverda's sister-in-law Julia. Alverda suddenly became ill after attending a Women's Christian Temperance Union convention in September 1921. She passed away 2 months later at age 68.

George Hopwood's life turned out somewhat happier. After graduating from medical school, he went on to practice medicine for nearly 50 years. He married Mary Reed, with whom he had two daughters, Dorothy and Myrtle. He died at age 77 in 1955.

I think the "Pat" referenced on the back of the photo may be Patricia Rice, a daughter of Jane Hopwood. She was born in 1922, the year after her grandmother passed away. I wonder if Jane wrote the inscription?

If you know who this family may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Mattie Holmes, New Lisbon, Wisconsin 1889

"To my dear friend Edna

with loving remembrance
from Mattie Holmes.
April 17- 1889"

This young woman, Martha "Mattie" Holmes, was born in Biment, Iowa in October 1869. She was the daughter of Henry P. Holmes, a farmer, and Rebecca Carrier, who passed away not long after Mattie was born. When Mattie was still only a few months old, the family moved to New Lisbon, Juneau County, Wisconsin. Her father soon remarried, this time to Emma Van Hiesen, a woman 27 years younger than he was. Mattie already had 7 older siblings by her mother- Lucy, Andrew, George, Phoebe, Freeman, Volney, and Frank- when she gained 3 younger half-brothers, Winfield, Henry, and Elmer. Mattie's father died in 1883 of "consumption," or what we would now call tuberculosis.

This photograph was taken in 1889 when Mattie was 19 years old. Two years later, in 1891, she married Peter M. George. Peter worked as a drayman, someone who delivers beer for a brewery, and later as a teamster. Mattie and Peter had three children, Otis, Rena, and Chester, as well as two other children who did not live past infancy.  The eldest, Otis, was granted a registered pharmacist certificate in 1916 and became a druggist in Sparta, Wisconsin.

Mattie passed away the next year, 1917, at age 48.

Otis went on to become President of the Sparta community commission and in 1928 was elected mayor. Rena married Carl Reinhardt, a carpenter from Norway. Chester became a chauffeur and married Elizabeth Manzeck, with whom he had one son, Chester Jr.

If you know who this woman may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Mary Madzin Pidich, Scranton, Pennsylvania 1910's

Mary Madzin was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on June 26th, 1900. She was the 2nd child of Helen Yanochko and Michael Madzin, both Czech immigrants. When Mary was born her family was living in a house with other Czech immigrants, many of whom were day laborers like her father. She had one older sister, Helen, and 2 younger brothers, John and George. As a teenager, Mary worked as a weaver in a silk mill. Her brother John worked as well, in a button mill.

There's nothing in this photograph that explains who all of these kids are or what group they're a part of, but I have a guess. The Madzins were Roman Catholic and were a part of St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church.  According to the Scranton Republican newspaper, Mary's brother George was a member of the St. Mary's Choral Club. I think it's very likely that Mary was too and is photographed here with the club on the steps of the church. In fact, I think that may be one of her brothers sitting to her left with his hand around her arm.

In 1922, Mary married a coal miner named Nicholas Pidich. According to his WWI registration card, Nicholas was tall and slender with brown eyes and dark hair. They had two daughters, Minerva (born 1923) and Evelyn (born 1925). Soon after her mother's death in 1938, Mary's father Michael moved in with them. In 1940, Nicholas is working as a laborer in a machine shop while Mary stayed at home with their daughters, who were now teenagers. Mary's husband and both brothers all served in WWII. Sadly, her brother George died while serving on December 25th, 1943. He was buried in his hometown of Scranton.

Minerva worked as a nurse before marrying Frank Sempa, a reporter for the Scrantonian Tribune. Evelyn was a secretary until she married Thomas Evanko, who served in the Navy.

Mary Madzin Pidich died in 1999, just shy of her 99th birthday.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Elizabeth Havens, Marion, Indiana 1890s

"Aunt Beth Havens"

Elizabeth Barley was born October 3rd, 1843 in Bedford, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Mary Stuckey and David Barley, a farmer, and was one of 8 children. Her father died in 1854 when she was only 11. After his death, her uncle Daniel became her guardian and much of the family's land was sold, including their home, described in the newspaper as a "good log house, cased with brick."

From Pennsylvania, Elizabeth moved to Grant, Indiana, where in 1866 she married Samuel B. Havens. Samuel served in the 34th Regiment, Indiana Infantry of the Union army during the Civil War and had been mustered out earlier that year. After the war, he worked as a plasterer. Elizabeth and Samuel had 8 children: Van Rancelier,  Carolyn Effie, Clyde, Gertrude, Margaret Mary, Laura, Charles, and Grover Cleveland.

In 1899, the same year her son Van was married, Elizabeth's daughter Effie died. It was the beginning of a difficult period in Elizabeth's life. In April 1901, she lost her son Clyde to tuberculosis. Later that month, she lost her daughter Laura. She was 20 years old and unmarried when she died in childbirth. During this time, Samuel's health had begun to decline. He suffered from chronic rheumatism, pain from an injury in his left hip, and scurvy, which resulted in the loss of his teeth. He had also lost his left eye and had limited vision in his right. Elizabeth decided to admit him to a home for disabled soldiers in 1904. He died of tuberculosis there in 1907.

In her old age, Elizabeth was cared for by two of her sons, Charles and Grover. Grover worked in a motor factory to help support them.  Elizabeth passed away in 1932, at age 88. Though she faced many hardships in her life, she must have been remembered fondly as "Aunt Beth" by her nieces and nephews.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!