Saturday, February 24, 2018

Summer outing in Kalona for our Throckmorton quilt

Jeannette Throckmorton Dean
A legendary quilt from the Lucas County Historical Society collection --- created in 1943 by the late Dr. Jeannette Throckmorton Dean --- was on the move this week, headed for Kalona. It will be part of an exhibit there, at the Kalona Historical Village, opening later this spring and continuing into August. So if you're in that neighborhood during the summer, stop in.

We're grateful to Nancy Roth, village director, who drove down Wednesday to pick the quilt up and who will chauffeur it home during August. If you look carefully here, you'll see hands and feet --- Kay Brown and Kathleen Dittmer were holding the quilt up so that it could have its picture taken before being packed for transport.

Dr. Jeannette, who continues to hold a special place among quilters both state- and nation-wide, created the quilt in 1943 for Marcia Murray Eikenberry, whose name is sewn into it. It came into the society collection as a gift from her son, the late Bill Eikenberry, during 1967.

The artist was born Jan. 26, 1883, at Derby into one of Lucas County's prominent family of physicians. Her parents were Dr. Thomas Morford Throckmorton and Mary Anna (Bentley) Throckmorton. 

A 1900 graduate of Chariton High School, Dr. Jeannette went on to earn a degree from Simpson College in 1904, then enrolled at Keokuk Medical College, completing the four-year course of study there in three and graduating at the top of her class.

She practiced with her father in Chariton until 1919, but deafness had been an issue in her life since childhood and by that year it was beginning to hamper her communication with patients, so she accepted a position with the U.S. Public Health Service as a traveling consultant and educator. In 1928, she married Dr. Charles Noah Dean, a Keokuk Medical College classmate, but he became critically ill within days of their marriage and died 10 days later.

In 1929, Dr. Jeannette became head of the Iowa State Medical Library in Des Moines and remained in that position until shortly before her death on July 24, 1963.

Her quilting companion during the years she was at her creative peak was Frances O. "Aunt Fanny" Crist (1868-1962), who had been taken into the home of Dr. Jeannette's grandparents after she was orphaned and remained a member of the extended Throckmorton family until her death.

Aunt Fanny continued to live for so long as she was able on the John Throckmorton homestead near Derby, which did not have electricity at the time. When daylight hours were at their peak during warm weather, the two women quilted there and shared their mutual passion for wildlife, especially birds. In the winter, Miss Crist moved to Des Moines to live with Dr. Jeannette and they continued to quilt together there.

The quilts Dr. Jeannette is best known for are applique works to original designs featuring extensive trapunto and stuffed work. Because she gave so many quilts away, she lost track of exactly how many she had created, but guessed somewhere in excess of 60. Four of her works are part of the quilt collection at the Art Institute of Chicago --- Goldfinches & Flowers, State Birds & Flowers, Rosebreasted Grosbeak and Iris and Blue Iris.

Fanny Christ died during 1962 and Dr. Jeannette, during July of 1963. Both are buried in the Throckmorton enclave in woodland at the rear of the Derby Cemetery.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Miss Capitola Dukes among the heathen ...

I like to think that the typesetter who formed the headline "Heathen at the Baptist Church" for The Chariton Herald back in February of 1898 at least grinned a little as he was doing it. Chariton's newspaper editors back in those days tended toward heathenism themselves and occasionally were taken to task for it --- most often, however, from the Methodist rather than the Baptist pulpit.

The headline introduced a brief story about a missionary program at First Baptist Church  organized by the worthy Miss Capitola Dukes, then heading up the congregation's Mission Society: "The Baptist missionary society had charge of the services at the First Baptist church last Sunday evening during the hour usually given to the evening sermon. The missionary cause was presented in an unusual but effective way. Genuine costumes, such as are worn by the heathens, were procured, consisting of Chinese, Hindoo, African and Japanese toggery. Capitola Dukes acted as Missionary and other members of the society adjusted their complexions to suit the particular parts they took and donned the garb of the mongolians and blacks of the east. With this "make-up" they formed a scene so striking that the audience could with ease imagine they were face to face with the natives of heathendom. After a program had been rendered a collection was taken for the benefit of missions."

I'm trying to envision distinguished Baptist matrons in blackface cavorting around the platform at the old First Baptist Church in native costume --- and failing. But it certainly must have been "striking."

Capitola, born during 1863, would have been 34 in 1898 --- and with her sister, Miss Daisy Dukes, was acting as a companion to their venerable father, Harrison L. Dukes (their mother had died some 15 years earlier).

Although a heathen himself, Harrison Dukes was widely respected in Lucas County and had encouraged his children to pick churches and attend, if they wished. Miss Capitola and Miss Daisy settled on First Baptist. Capitola led mission efforts; Daisy became the church organist.

Capitola had trained as a missionary at what was described as a "Baptist training school for missionaries" in Chicago, 1891-93. During 1899, a year after the reported upon missionary program in Chariton, she set off to work for a year and a half as city missionary among the heathen of Tacoma, Washington. Later on, she worked briefly as a missionary in the Dakotas, too.

Sadly, her career was cut short when she suffered a stroke on May 10, 1905, age 42, and died at home in Chariton. She was Sunday school superintendent at the time. Her father died two years later, leaving Miss Daisy as the sole survivor among siblings who had once numbered seven.

When she was 39, Miss Daisy married George Fancher, but he died in less than a week after the ceremony leaving her his abstract business, which she operated for the next 12 years. In 1923, she married Philip A. Rockey of Russell, and that marriage lasted for 20 years. Following his death, she moved in with Miss Jennie Haywood, who operated the Russell switchboard, and they lived together companionably until Daisy's death in 1956. Daisy ended her musical career as pianist at First Presbyterian Church in Rossell.

All of the Dukes, including Capitola and Daisy Dukes Fancher-Rockney, are buried in the Chariton Cemetery.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hellfire & damnation among the sinners at Knoxville

Billy Sunday preaching, George Bellows, Metropolitan Magazine, May 1915

The passing this week of the venerable Billy Graham brought to mind Iowa's own Preacher Billy --- Billy Sunday --- as much if not more of a celebrity on his "sawdust trail" during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as his inadvertent namesake was on the airwaves of the later 20th.

Born during 1862 near Ames, left fatherless by the Civil War and raised partially in orphanages, Sunday switched from professional baseball to protestant evangelism as a young man and launched his independent career as a soul-saver in Hancock County during 1896. 

It is estimated that during the next 40 years he preached face-to-face to as many as 100 million people during a career that continued until his death at age 73 in 1935 and "saved" --- as many protestant Christians understand the term --- as many as 1.25 million souls.

Sunday never made it to Chariton, but he did come close during the early summer of 1907 while conducting a four-week series of meetings in Knoxville. The local columns of The Herald, Patriot and Leader were sprinkled with reports of  Lucas Countyans headed north to attend one or more of his preaching sessions.

These Knoxville meetings were held at a pivotal time for Sunday. A rising star regionally, his huge canvas tent --- a necessity at the time for a traveling evangelist --- had been destroyed in Colorado during a late October snowstorm. Rather than buy a new one, Sunday discovered that he had enough  reputational leverage to demand in the future that host cities construct at their own expense temporary wooden "tabernacles" capable of seating several thousand if they hoped to gain the spiritual --- and economic --- advantages of one of his crusades. The Knoxville tabernacle was one of the first. From then forward through the 1920s he would become a nationwide sensation.

On May 15, 1907, The Des Moines Register sent a reporter down to Knoxville to hear Sunday preach and published the following report the next day. Sunday was known for his "athletic" preaching and his outspokenness, which sometimes bordered on crudity. 

Some of the references are difficult to decipher today. By "race suicide" Sunday was preaching against birth control --- a preoccupation among those who feared white Americans would become a racial minority unless they continued to reproduce enthusiastically; "infanticide" refers to abortion. The Corey scandal, which had transfixed America between 1905 and 1907, involved U.S. Steel President and multi-millionaire William Ellis Corey who had paid out $3 million in a divorce settlement in order to marry actress Maybelle Gilman.

Here's the Register report, published under a four-deck headline,  "Sunday Grills Eastern Society; Washington Set Scored to a Finish at Knoxville; Corey Wedding 'Damnable'; The Officiating Clergyman is Called Disgrace to Cloth; Evangelist Conducting Revival Services Excoriates Race Suicide and Talks With Great Plainness."

"KNOXVILLE, Ia., May 15 --- Special: 'So-called high society in Washington is characterized by common worship, whisky-drinking and licentiousness,' said Billy Sunday to an audience of 1,800 people here tonight. 'Their conduct is disgrace, a crying disgrace to the American nation. And they are not alone --- look at New York! Think of the Corey wedding. That is the most damnable episode in recent history. The preacher who married them disgraced his ministry, his manhood and his decency. Why I would crawl naked to heaven before I would marry a divorced person so long as one of the parties was living. when it comes to divorce, I am a Roman Catholic from the top of my head to the soles of my feet.'

"Talks Plainly On Infanticide

"From divorce Sunday passed to murder and grew intensely dramatic on the theme of race suicide and infanticide, discussing with a plainness not permissible to public print.

"Next gossiping women engaged his attention and he declared that the average gossip is a 'hatchet faced, gimblet eyed, lantern jawed, grim visaged, carrion peddler and scavenger vendor'

"Beginning his address tonight with a word picture, remarkably vivid, of Belshazzar's feast, he then passed on to a discussion of the violation of the ten commandments, referring to the subject indicated above incidentally, but at times lengthily, and always with fervor.

"When talking about excessive drinking in Washington, he suddenly changed to Knoxville and said:

" 'Booze is doing Knoxville just as great harm as it is in Washington high life. You could not get your booze, if the Knoxville Christians would stand up against the express companies. You old drunken sots. Your name is on the church record anyhow.'

"Profanity was his next theme. 'A man is never so low as when he swears. But the worst is the man who in church says "Our Father who art in Heaven" and then goes out on the streets and damns God and curses.'

"Shows Audience Up

"When Sunday was concluding tonight he suddenly said: 'How many of you have been violating God's commandments? Stand up, you sinners! Stand up!' Ninety-five percent of the congregation immediately arose, the other five sitting tight, some of them grinning at those risen, but some looking sheepish.

"The music was a feature of tonight's meeting. Chorister Fisher sang a solo with great effect and the choir of 150 voices rendered several hymns with great skill. Robert Matthews of Des Moines played two piano accompaniments."


Although disappointed at the amount dropped into collection plates during the Knoxville meetings, Sunday and his sponsors declared themselves satisfied with the result.  An estimated 1,000 souls had been saved. There were, however, some less than desirable outcomes.

The Marshalltown Times-Republican, for example, reported on July 9 a sad case under the headline, "Pleasantville Youth Deranged After Hearing Sunday Preach."

"Knoxville, July 9 --- Found by the board of insane commissioners to be demented over religion after hearing Rev. William Sunday, William Kubil, a young man living near Pleasantville, has been sent to the asylum at Mount Pleasant as a result. the youth, who is 27 years old, lived alone with his mother. When the evangelist came to Knoxville he began attending the meetings, and it was not long before he was one of Sunday's most enthusiastic converts.

"It was not until Sunday left town that he began to manifest his hallucinations. He heard voices condemning him and insisted always that he was the only orator on earth to deliver the wicked from their sins. He became violent and was brought to Knoxville after he attempted to hang himself, and was sent to the insane, hospital."

Billy Sunday at the White House, 1922

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Making the games a little gayer ...

I doubt that it's easy, even now, to grow up gay in an overwhelmingly straight world. But back in the day 60 years ago when I was doing that, there were no positive images to look at or public role models to pattern after.

Which is why a few of the images coming out of the winter games have made me happy in what otherwise have been unsettling days of violence and rancor.

That good-luck peck involving freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy and his boyfriend, Matthew Wilkas, for example.

Or how about figure skater Adam Rippon, who brightens an arena just by being in it.

And these brief spots engaging several categories of bias --- part of P&G's Olympic-themed "love over bias"  campaign that challenges viewers to "imagine if the world could see what a mom does."

Hal David and Burt Bacharach came up with "What the world needs now ..." back in 1965. But love, sweet love, remains the answer more than 50 years later.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A visit to New Cleveland & Whitebreast No. 4 mine

Samuel M. Greene, an excessively bright, well-educated and talented young man from Clarinda, had just purchased The Chariton Herald back in 1901 and was exploring its territory during October when he alighted from a C.B.&Q. passenger car at New Cleveland and set out to explore.

This miracle town of a thousand people and sprung in less than two years from farm land two and a half miles southwest of Lucas around what at the time was the largest and most technologically advanced coal mine in Iowa --- Whitebreast No. 4.

The Whitebreast mines No. 1-3 had been located between 1878 and 1891 just east of Lucas at Old Cleveland --- also a mining town developed by mine owners to house and serve hundreds of mining families. It had faded away after those first Whitebreast mines closed; even the big two-story school had been moved west and joined to a similar structure in Lucas.

So when the new Whitebreast mine opened as the 19th Century closed, the name simply was recycled. And here's what Sam Greene found --- as published on Page 1 of the Herald of Oct. 31, 1901:

The Prosperous West Side Town With the Biggest Mine in the State

"Not everyone knows that Cleveland, the little mining town on the west side of Lucas county, can boast of the biggest coal mine in the state of Iowa and one of the biggest in the United States. There is a hole in the ground over there --- two holes, by the way --- that go down for about 325 feet, and then ramify in all directions in the coal strata. There are tunnels to the north for half a mile, east and west from the shaft for a quarter mile each, and south for an equal distance. There are seven miles of these tunnels in all, and scattered through them are 350 or more miners, working eight hours a day, digging, loading, hauling, lifting, running machinery, sorting the black diamonds after they come to the light, and the total amount of the work amounts to a great deal.

"For instance, last Saturday, so Superintendent D.O. Campbell informed us, 851 tons of coal were dug and loaded on the railroad cars on top of the ground. It made 35 cars in all. All in a good day's work, you would think, yet there have been days when over 1,000 tons were dug and hoisted. To secure that amount of coal from the bowels of the earth last Saturday required 328 men, 207 of them working inside the mine. For the labor they received in all a total of $750, $510 of which went to the diggers and the remainder to other workers. When it is realized that the wages of the miners and workers is only part of the total cost of production, our readers will not want to start a coal mine for themselves for the mere profit of the thing.

"There is the machinery, the wear and tear, the breakage, the mules to buy and keep, the props to buy, the tracks both inside and outside to build, and numerous other losses and breakages, unforeseen and avoidable, to contend with and overcome. It is no snap to own a big mine, and it requires constant watchfulness and management of the minutest details to make it pay at all.

"It is an admitted fact that Mr. Campbell, who has had charge of the Cleveland mine since it was opened in March of 1899, is one of the best managers and most successful superintendents that the state contains, besides being an unusually popular man with the immense force under him. He not only gets down among his men in "workaday rig," helping and directing the workmen personally, but he mingles with them in their sports and in their amusements, gives sympathy and aid in their trouble and sickness, and gives them no cause whatever to think that his elevation over them has made him in the least proud or arrogant. Mr. Campbell, or "Dave" as he is familiarly called, is a type of the modern and most effective mine superintendent, and his honesty with his men and the manner in which he mingles with them has created a sentiment of satisfaction and respect among them that would make it a difficult matter indeed for a strike to be stirred up at Cleveland No. 4.

"Mr. Campbell is a young man, still in his early thirties. He is a Pennsylvanian by birth, but came west when he was a tiny chap. At thirteen years of age he began working in the mines at Old Cleveland, now out of use. From the lowest position he worked up by degrees, stopping to railroad for a few years, until he now holds the present responsible position. He is eminently a self-made man, and a well-made man. Active in body, alert in mind, strong in character, yet mild when need be, well educated along general lines, knowing his own business thoroughly and with a pleasing and engaging manner there is no man in Lucas County better known and liked than young "Davy" Campbell. He is a modest man and does not care for notoriety, so the notice that this small comment will bring him will prompt in him a wish that the editor had not taken it into his head to give him so much 'taffy.' But this is not taffy. It is our honest opinion of a young man whom we respect and consider it an honor to know.

"But about the mine and the town of Cleveland. The mine belongs to the great Whitebreast Fuel Company, as most people know, which company has seven mines in operation in Iowa and Illinois, none of the others, however, as large as this one. The amount of money poured into the town of Cleveland every month in salaries is almost appalling. At an average pf $750 per day, which is about normal, a month of 25 days aggregates salaries of nearly $20,000, which the Whitebreast Company turns into Cleveland. Very little of it is spent outside of the county; much of it is spent at home, much of it at Lucas, and quite a little at Chariton. The miners make from $1 to $6 per day, depending much on the man, and the money is nearly all spent as it is earned. With these stupendous facts in view, it behooves Chariton to nurture well the new mine being operated by Mr. Haven for the Inland Coal Company, only two miles northeast of Chariton. It promises to yield richly of a fine quality of coal, and with proper encouragement can be made to pour a wealth of trade into Chariton such as is not now dreamed of.

"The town of Cleveland is larger than it looks. Most of the houses are exactly alike and are owned by the Company, which rents them to the miners at $7 per month each. the Company also owns a large general store, where the miners can buy the best of provisions and supplies at little more than cost. A meat market in connection is run in the same manner.

"With all its reported lawlessness, the town of Cleveland is remarkably orderly. Considering the fact that most of its population of 1,000 consists of miners and their families, and that miners, as a rule, do not have the advantages of moral and religious training that such cities as Chariton afford, it is surprising that the town is not worse, rather than as bad as it is. We doubt not that it has less lawlessness in proportion to its population and advantages than has Chariton, or many other towns of equal size.

"Many of the miners are Welshmen, and their love of music is inherited and proverbial. A large and well trained glee club, led by J. L. Morgan, one of the mine bosses, is maintained; besides two brass bands, one of white men and the other colored. Mr. Morgan is a natural and skilled musician, and is a composer and arranger of music --- much of which is played by the organizations under his charge. At the annual music contest of Welsh miners at Ottumwa each Christmas time, his music and his singers always have a prominent part in the programs. The miners take pride in doing well whatever they undertake, as witnessed by the baseball team which they maintain each year, and which is an uncomfortable match for the league teams of the state.

"Taken all in all, a visit to Cleveland is at once instructive and interesting to one not accustomed to coal mining on a large scale, and it will be a pleasure for us to return to the lively little city of Cleveland in the near future."


Whitebreast (or Cleveland) No. 4 mine continued to produce until 1908, when the Whitebreast Coal Co. closed and sold it. The coal vein it tapped contained at this location a good deal of black shale, or "bone," that had to be separated before the coal could be marketed. This cut into profitability and made the operation less viable as more profitable mines --- with less shale --- began to open northeast of Chariton and into Pleasant Township.

Although new owners made efforts into 1912 to keep the mine going at least on a part-time basis, it closed for the final time during that year. By then New Cleveland had for the most part vanished. Most of the miners' houses, designed to come apart and be moved, were loaded on rail cars and taken to Chariton and the new towns of Williamson, Tipperary, Olmitz and elsewhere.

Dave Campbell, who certainly had managed to catch Sam Greene's eye, continued to work in supervisory positions for William Haven's mining interests until the Ottumwa-based Haven retired, moving to other locations in Iowa and Illinois --- wife, Margaret, and son, Wade, moving with him. After that, he found comparable positions in Colorado and in the mines at Melcher.

In 1923 --- recognizing a trend in the fuel industry when he saw one --- Dave and a brother-in-law formed the Campbell-Phillips Oil Co. and opened two service stations in Centerville, where the family moved.

The Campbells were prospering there when a heart attack claimed his life at age 58 on Oct. 3, 1927. The remains were brought to Chariton and he was buried in the Chariton Cemetery.


During the same week that Sam Greene published the report of his visit to New Cleveland, he also reported that the main shaft of another of William Haven's operations --- the Inland Coal Co. --- had reached coal at 240 feet three miles northeast of Chariton. This would commence an entirely new chapter in Lucas County coal mining history, launching the industry northeast into Pleasant Township, bringing the Rock Island Railroad to town and resulting in the legendary Tipperary, Olmitz and Indiana No. 4 mines --- among others.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Murder (or not) at Lucas County's "New Cleveland"

The dual nature of the Lucas County coal mining town of Cleveland, which died and then rose again in another location, is one of the complexities facing those who try to sort out place names in this neck of the woods.

The first Cleveland, developed just east of Lucas after the first Whitebreast coal mine was opened in 1878, faded away when the last of the first three Whitebreast mines closed in May of 1891.  During 1899, a fourth Whitebreast mine was opened southwest of Lucas. The old Cleveland plat was vacated and the town name reclaimed for a new mining camp housing hundreds of miners, this one at the new mine site a few miles southwest of Lucas.

"New Cleveland" is the setting for a murder (or not) mystery that occupied the attention of Lucas Countyans during the fall and early winter of 1901 and, during December, attracted attention statewide and beyond.

The details of the case are spelled out in the story that follows, published under the headline "Shooting at Cleveland" and published in The Chariton Herald of August 29, 1901:


"Thomas V. Hall, proprietor of a saloon at Cleveland, a small town twelve miles west of here, was shot last Sunday night by Charles Sage, his partner, and died at four o'clock Tuesday morning from the effects of the wound. The circumstances surrounding the tragedy are as follows:

"Hall is a bachelor 35 years old, and sleeps in the saloon. Of late Sage has been sleeping with him on account of trouble with his wife at home. On Sunday night at 10:30 o'clock Sage entered the saloon, partially drunk, and Hall, who had also been drinking, greeted him with accusation of theft from the establishment. In the altercation that followed, both men became angry, and Hall drew a revolver and tried to shoot his partner. Sage also drew a revolver, and in his attempt to keep Hall from shooting him, struck the latter. His revolver was discharged in the striking, and the bullet entered Hall's left shoulder, breaking the clavicle, severing the sub-clavian artery, and ranging downward into the left lung. Help was immediately summoned, and the wounded man was cared for. It was thought that he was not seriously wounded, but interior hemorrhage set in, and he died as stated above.

"Before his death he repeatedly stated that the accident was all his fault, and requested that Sage be not prosecuted. A coroner's jury was impaneled by Coroner T.P. Stanton, and investigated the killing on Wednesday at eleven o'clock. They heard several witnesses, among them Sage himself, who stated that Hall attacked him with a revolver when he went into the saloon Sunday night, and in self defense he pulled a gun himself. He did not intentionally discharge the gun, but accidentally discharged it while trying to keep Hall from killing him.

The jury exonerated him from any felonious intent, and found that the deceased had come to his death accidentally. Ed. J. Giles, E.P. Harris, and J.P. Lane composed the jury.

The funeral of the dead man was held on Wednesday afternoon at two o'clock under the auspices of the K.P. Lodge, of which both he and Sage were members Interment took place at the Lucas cemetery (now called Fry Hill). Deceased had no relatives in this part of the country. 


We know very little about Thomas V. Hall. He was single, seems to have had no family in or near Lucas County and his grave at Fry Hill Cemetery is unmarked. When the 1900 census was taken he was boarding with a family in New Cleveland, age 35, and apparently not sleeping in his saloon. His occupation was given as coal miner rather than saloon-keeper and he was native to Scotland.

Charles Sage, about 38 when the shooting occurred, was a native of Port Mulgrave, north Yorkshire, and had married his wife, Elizabeth Ann, there during 1883. The following year, they had emigrated from England to the United States and, by 1890, were living in New Cleveland with their three youngest children, all teen-agers. He, too, was a coal miner.

The seem to have been having marital difficulties. Elizabeth filed for divorce during September of 1901, a month after the shooting, and the decree was granted the following February.

Although the coroner's jury had ruled the killing accidental, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and a Lucas County grand jury disagreed. Some time during the fall, Charles was charged with murder, indicted and his trial scheduled for early December in Chariton.

Shortly before that trial, a sensational story about the case hit the front pages of many Iowa newspapers --- and a few beyond. Here's that story as it was published in The Waterloo Times-Herald of December 6, 1901:


Sequel to a Romance Seldom Equaled Outside the Covers of a Story Book
Were Rivals for the Hand of Miss Reynolds --- Case Will Come Up for Hearing

"Chariton, Dec. 6 --- The preliminary gathering of evidence which is to be used in the approaching Sage murder case assigned for Monday, Dec. 9, has developed many elements of heart interest and a romance seldom equaled outside the covers of a story book. It is the narrative of one who, in his dying hour, forgave his old friend, rival and slayer and bequeathed to him his entire fortune.

"On June 25, 1901, Thomas Hall, a saloonkeeper and bachelor, was shot and killed at his place of business by his bartender, Charles Sage. The shooting arose over some charges made relative to the conduct of Hall's business by Sage when the former was away. A quarrel between the two men ensued. Sage seized a pistol and shot his employer in the left breast. Hall died, but before death came, he signed an ante-mortem statement exonerating Sage from all blame and making oath that he was responsible for his own death. He also made a will in which he bequeathed to his slayer every penny he owned in the world, including his business and a number of houses and lots here.

"Subsequent developments ascribed a motive to what was looked upon as one of the strangest transactions of modern times. Years ago, Tom Hall was in love with Gwendoline Reynolds of this city. Owing to some misunderstanding the match was broken up and she became the wife of Charles Sage. Hall never married. He never gave any stated reason for remaining a bachelor but intimate friends knew that away down in his heart he still had a spark of the love, which one woman, at least, possessed the magic power to fan into a blaze.

"The bachelor was always prosperous. He saved his money and, while the business in which he was engaged did not meet the approval of a great many, it was truthfully said of him that he implicitly obeyed every letter of the law.

"The two men were always fast friends and when circumstances seemed to be a little against Sage, a place was made for him in Hall's saloon. There he remained until the ugly rumors were set afloat connecting the employee's name with an alleged illegal transaction, resulting in his being branded a murdered by the Lucas county grand jury. Attorney W.H. McHenry of Des Moines has been retained by the defense."


The difficulty with this story --- and it's a good one --- is that none of the detail was published in Lucas County newspapers; in fact, the case was hardly covered at all beyond references to the impending trial in published court notes. So we don't know where the story came from.

Charles seems always to have been married to Elizabeth, not a Gwendoline, and they had been hitched for nearly 20 years and had produced six children before she booted him out during 1901 and he found refuge in his friend's saloon. Admittedly, we don't know how faithful he had been. And it's possible the two friends had gotten into it at some point over a rival love interest. 

The case did come to trial during December in Chariton, although postponed a week; but none of the newspapers seem to have covered it (there were three independent weeklies in Chariton at the time).

The Herald report of the outcome consisted of a paragraph buried under other "Court House Notes" in its edition of Dec. 19, 1901:

"The state case against Charles Sage, for the murder of Thos. Hall at Lucas, was sent to the jury on Tuesday and after hanging until today, six members being for convicting Sage of manslaughter and six being for acquitting him, they came in this morning with a verdict of acquittal. As the killing was largely accidental and Hall exonerated Sage before he died, the verdict seems the proper thing to do."


By the time the verdict came in, Elizabeth apparently had moved herself and those children who remained in her care to Colfax, where the extended Sage family seems to have settled soon after their arrival from England.

Charles high-tailed it for Montana where, on Oct. 4, 1907, in Carbon County, he married 40-year-old Margaret (Cavender) Wilson, also native to England and also divorced. This marriage does not seem to have endured, however.

Charles eventually moved back to Iowa, working in the mines at Melcher; and about 1930 returned to Lucas County to make his home in Chariton with his daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Robert Phoenix (Robert also was a miner). He stayed on with his son-in-law after Mary's death in 1936 and died himself at the Phoenix home on October 21, 1938, age 77.

His former wife, Elizabeth, had died at Colfax a month earlier --- on Sept. 26, 1938. Charles's remains were taken from Chariton to Colfax where funeral services were held at the Methodist Church and he was buried beside Elizabeth in the McKeever Cemetery.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Reuel R. Fogg and Russell's cathedral of lumber

Giant structures like this --- cathedrals of lumber if you like --- one stood in nearly every Iowa town of any size at all, but few remain.

That makes this grand old and somewhat battered building just south of the railroad tracks at the intersection of Prairie and Short streets in Russell a rare survival.

The line drawing dates from 1901, when it was published in The Chariton Herald on August 29 as part of a "Merchants' Edition." The fuzzy image of the building today was lifted from Google Map --- and the map mobile apparently rolled through Russell on a rainy day so the quality isn't very good.

The text that accompanied the 1901 drawing --- a paid-for "puff piece" --- is valuable for the information contained under the headline, "R.R. Fogg, Owner of Russell's Big Lumber Yard, Planing Mill, etc."

"One of the most important business enterprises of Russell  is that owned by R.R. Fogg, who conducts a large lumber yard and planing mill.

"This  business was started in 1879 as a lumber yard. A steady growth was sustained from the start until at the present time there are ten men employed steadily, besides occasional extra men, to handle the business.

"The lumber is housed in the building shown in the cut, which is 112 x 130 feet and 47 feet to the comb. It contains four stories, and has a large elevator running from bottom to top. Pumps, windmills, stock tanks and patent well refrigerators are also housed in this building. The yard is as complete as any in the country.

"Across the street west from the lumber yard and office is located the planing mill and the building where stock tanks are made. The planing mill is equipped with a 21 horse power Otto gasoline engine for power and with first-class planing mill machinery for doing all ordinary work. Mr. H.L. Hill is the foreman and his work has proven very satisfactory to customers.

"A specialty is made of cedar tanks, which are made from clear Washington red cedar lumber two inches thick. They are manufactured and kept in stock in all sizes from three feet diameter up. Those who have bought the Fogg tanks claim that they are the best on the market.

"Coal, brick, tile, etc., are kept by the side of the railway track, west from the big building.

Several hundred well refrigerators have been sold here during the past few years. This is inexpensive and most convenient and useful. It is the invention of W.H. Argo, who is manager of the yard and mill.

Those who patronize R.R. Fogg find him and his representatives very pleasant people to deal with and people can come as near getting their money's worth at this place as anywhere in southern Iowa."


Reuel R. Fogg (1843-1928) was a native of Maine who, following military service during the Civil War, married Eliza Jane Woodman there during 1869. 

Eliza Jane's brother, Alfred J. Woodman, moved west from Maine to the new railroad town of Russell, Iowa, after the war and established a hardware business that included an outlet in Chariton. 

The Foggs and their son, John, followed that family connection to Russell where Reuel established his successful lumber and planing business.

Sadly, not long after the Herald piece was published during 1901, Eliza Jane's health failed and they decided to move to Boulder, Colorado --- where son John had been living --- in the hope the climate there might improve her condition.

The planing operation was closed and during April of 1902, the lumber yard was sold to Eikenberry & Co. of Chariton, the company that would carry it past the mid-point of the 20th century. Later on, it was owned by the Arnold brothers and others.

The Foggs were visiting the Woodmans in Russell when Eliza Jane died during November of 1905. Reuel returned to Boulder, where he lived until his own death during 1928. Both are buried in the Russell Cemetery.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The death of Jake Baux in the Number 1 Mine

Find a Grave photo by Doris Christensen
Jake Baux came from a long line of coal miners, a line that stretched back several generations in the native land of his parents, Jacob and Jane (Flower) Baux --- in and around Timsbury, Somersetshire, in southwest England.

During 1870, Jacob and Jane brought their family to the United States to work in the Midwest's expanding coal industry, landing in Illinois --- but sorrow awaited.

After surviving many years of hazardous work as a miner, Jacob died of typhoid fever two years later, on Nov. 10, 1872, at Illinois City, near Rock Island. Jake --- Jacob Jr. --- was born five months later, on April 24, 1873.

His mother remarried another miner soon thereafter and kept the family together. Young Jacob went to work in the Illinois mines as soon as owners would hire him --- about age 13 --- and followed that line of work along with brothers and brothers-in-law west to Iowa --- to Mystic in Appanoose County, then to Hiteman, in Monroe.

He was married at age 27 to 18-year-old Rosa Belle Phillips at Hiteman in 1900 and they had one son, Clarence, born in 1905 --- 10 years before Rosa divorced Jake and moved herself and their son elsewhere.

Most likely that divorce was a major factor in Jake's move soon after to Chariton, where he went to work in the Central Iowa Fuel Co's No. 1 mine, catching a rail car on workday mornings at the new Rock Island depot and riding the mile or two to the mine just northeast of town. He was, by all accounts, greatly respected both by his fellow miners and the company that employed him.

Death came in that mine on Monday, the 18th of February, 1918, when he was 44, through no fault of his own. 

Here's The Chariton Leader's Feb. 19 account of the accident, resulting from the carelessness of others, that killed him:

"Jacob Baux, who was a trap rider in the Inland Mines, was killed by a fall of slate Monday. A trap rider is the conductor of the string of coal cars as they are brought from the rooms to the shaft, and his position is on the rear car. The timbermen had worked in this entry the day before and had taken out one of the top timbers and had replaced it with a new one which projected beneath a couple or three inches lower than the old one. Prior to this there was only sufficient room for the loaded cars to pass beneath and as these cars are propelled at the speed of 12 or 15 miles an hour, it may be seen that any obstruction might result disastrously.

"The cars had all passed through except the third one from the end, the coal being piled higher on this, and when it struck, the timber was dislodged, besides several others and some uprights, and this loosened a section of the roof, which fell by the time the last car came directly underneath, with the result that the trap rider was crushed to death."

Funeral services were held two days later, on Wednesday, Feb. 21,  at First Baptist Church.

"The United Mine Workers attended in a body," The Herald-Patriot of Thursday, Feb. 21, reported, "marching to the church, which was completely filled by friends of the deceased. By special request, Mr. Giles sang a solo in addition to the hymns sung by a large choir. In his remarks, Mr. Donovan repeated the comments which all of Mr. Baux's acquaintances, as well as friends, made concerning his unfailing good nature, sterling manhood and his fidelity to every duty. The Central Fuel Company confesses that it has lost one of its best workmen; a man whose interest went beyond his own immediate affairs, and always included the care of the company's interest.

"Mr. Baux was born at Belleville, Ill., April 14, 1874 (sic), and died February 18th, 1918, at Chariton, Iowa, at the age of 43 years, 10 months and 4 days. Interment was in the Chariton cemetery."

The United Mine Workers had arranged for and conducted Jake's funeral, and most likely was responsible, too, for the substantial stone that continues to mark his grave in the Chariton Cemetery today --- ensuring that someone now largely forgotten is at least commemorated.

His ex-wife, then living in Des Moines, brought their son to Chariton for the funeral. Clarence married and continued to live in Des Moines, worked at a variety of jobs and finally moved to California during World War II perhaps to work in war-related industry. He died at age 40 in Los Angeles during 1945.

The Central Iowa Fuel Company's No. 1 mine continued to operate until 1925, when it closed and its miners went to work in newer mines in Pleasant Township.

You still can drive through the area of the old mine by turning right off Highway 14 onto the graveled 510th Lane a mile or two north of Chariton --- just before the highway curves and descends into the Little White Breast Creek valley. The shaft was some distance off the road to the south; deep beneath the ground, however, chambers and passages that have not collapsed remain.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The road to a "modern Gomorrah" --- back in 1870

One of the oddities after great public calamities often involves a turn of conversation to younger folks --- followed sometimes by a shift into another gear as oldesters declare, "this younger generation sure is going to hell in a handbasket" or something similar.

One of my favorites yesterday involved a widely circulated meme that ran something like this: "Back when I was a pup every pickup in the school parking lot had a gun rack in the back window and nobody got shot."

But when I was a pup more than 50 years ago, there was no school parking lot for students and classmates lucky enough to have their own vehicles would not have dreamed of investing in a pickup (pickups became sex symbols many years later). Some of us Iowa farm boys were in fact so poor that our families could not afford the luxury of both a good car and a utility vehicle.

Maybe I lived a sheltered life, but quite frankly don't ever recall seeing a pickup parked near the school with a gun rack in the back window back in the good old days, although my Wyoming cousins tell me this was not unusual there.

But this isn't about gun racks --- rather about perceptions of younger folks. So I was interested to find the following article on Page 1 of The Chariton Democrat of April 26, 1870, under the headline, "Crime Among Children."

It's not local news --- these were early days still for Iowa weekly newspapers and The Democrat relied heavily on syndicated copy. Only one page of hand-set type was entirely local. This story was a reprint from The New York Times.

At that time, The Democrat --- a four-page broadsheet --- was printed on sheets of paper that arrived partially pre-printed weekly by rail, most likely from Chicago. These were known as "patent insides" even when, as in The Democrat's case, Page 1 was a pre-print, too --- other than a hole at the top where The Democrat's flag --- or nameplate --- could be added.

But even though the setting was New York City, the patent insides editors probably were fairly certain it would resonate across the Midwest as well. It's something of a morality tale, too, involving lessons about the examples older folks should be setting if they expect younger folks to behave.


Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined; and those who read the newspapers cannot fail to see that the present tendency of wrongdoing among children threatens a lamentable warp toward evil hereafter. Youthful crime hereabouts is rapidly increasing. Several children have lately killed or attempted to kill their parents. Nearly every day, small boys commit highway robbery --- usually by snatching the purses of ladies --- in the streets of New York and Brooklyn.

On Monday last, a little rascal of seven, who had been picked up on Broadway and placed in charge of the matron of the Lost Children's Department at Police Headquarters, actually, with great deliberation, set fire to the room in which he had been temporarily left, and the building was only by accident saved from conflagration.

Thefts from shops by juvenile experts are of constant occurrence, although these cases, when detected, are often hushed up by friends and so do not get into the police reports. The torture of animals by children is almost as common. Some small fiends anointed a cat with kerosene the other day in a neighboring city, set fire to the poor animal's fur, and drove her, while she screamed with agony, through the streets.

Another form of misbehavior we alluded to a short time ago. Gangs of lads stop other single boys and rifle their pockets of whatever they may contain. If interrupted by an adult, the young brigands are only "in fun." If undisturbed, they make off with their booty.  All this is lamentable and ominous and yet there is reason to fear it is only what under existing circumstances ought to be expected.

There can be little doubt that most boys if left to themselves are likely to be selfish and cruel. Society recognizes this by subjecting them in general to much coercion, and by dwelling strenuously in its precepts relating to children upon the force of example. The immediate occasion of increased juvenile crime apparently lies, then, in the slackening of the reins of coercion, and in permitting children to become familiar with bad examples. Young New York smokes, chews, gambles, falls in love with ballet girls --- does anything in a word in the way of promiscuous sensuality, and no man says him, nay. His younger brother, gazing with admiration on these splendid achievements, makes haste when he can go and do likewise.

But it is not merely social vices of the class that may be called sins against one's self that are thus inculcated. The spectacle of notoriously bad men in high office, of gamblers, thieves, and assassins, mounting to official station, the prevalent worship of money, no matter how got, and all but universal chuckle over what is called sharp practice and ought to be called scoundrelism; all this corrupts the young, breaks down their moral sense and first induces their assent to such evils, and subsequently their active participation in them.

Some imagine that children do not see or know of these blots on our escutcheon, which is a grievous mistake. The knowledge and influence of such social stains extend to all classes, conditions and ages, down almost to the very cradle. As surely as the bad habits of parents work their effect in the household, are the vices of a community reproduced in its rising generation.

Example, to be sure, is not always literally and instantly followed. It is not all children who would do what the Canadian lad lately did, who, having seen a pig butchered took the earliest private opportunity to cut up and dress his little brother in the same way. 

But the influence of bad example, if commonly less direct than this, is pervasive and destructive, and although the methods of turpitude vary like fashions, so that different kinds of crime have their spoch just as different modes of executions have theirs, depravity may, at the various times, equally exist. We may be preparing fewer Jack Sheppards and Claude Duvals for future use than ballot box stuffers, repeaters, or robbers of our city treasury; and the harm in that case may be the greater because more difficult to punish.

It is plain, meanwhile, that the disposition to evil on the part of our city youth is growing strong and dangerous. There may be ways to cope with or to extirpate this disposition; but one way is most palpable and certain, however it may be among the most difficult. It consists in the establishment of a pure local government. The influence for mischief of our municipal system, as for years it has practically worked, might almost have made of New York a modern Gomorrah. Let us hope that with the reforms promised for the immediate future, we may accomplish among other collateral benefits, a diminution of the ratio of juvenile crime. (New York Times)