Thursday, April 16, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Reddick and Mary Ann

Today is the anniversary of the marriage of my great-grandparents, Reddick Smith and Mary Ann Wolstenholme. On the 2nd of August 1866, they stood before Henry Holt, justice of the peace in Davidson County, Tennessee, and promised to “love, honor and obey” each other for the rest of their lives.

I don’t know if they were able to fulfill that promise, but I do know they lived together until Reddick passed away in Hardin County, Illinois. Reddick and Mary Ann must have met during the Civil War when he was stationed in Tennessee. He stayed there when the war ended, they married, and had two children before moving to his family home in Hardin County about 1870.

Reddick and Mary Ann had 14 children, with only about half living to adulthood. My grandmother, Beatrice Mary, was born in 1877 and lived until 1968. When I was a child, she told me that one of her younger brothers, I believe it was Earl (1883-1896), became ill suddenly and his footsteps remained in the dusty field after his death. Several other of the children died as infants.

In 1902, my grandmother married James P. Joyce and had two sons when they, along with her parents and brother Ed decided to move to Washington. Selling everything they owned, they boarded a train to an area where they hoped life would be easier. According to a story told by my father, Reddick hurt his back, didn’t like Washington, and everyone boarded the train to go back home to southern Illinois. Reddick died in Hardin County in 1913 and Mary Ann in 1933.

Oh, the stories they could tell. I would like to know about Reddick leaving the army each spring to go home to plant crops. I would like to know about the months he spent in Libby Prison before being exchanged. I would like to ask Mary Ann what her life was like in Davidson County. Why did she not keep in touch with her family after she moved to Illinois. Family legend has it that Mary Ann’s father, Hugh Wolstenholme, died on the road between her old home in Tennessee and her new home in Illinois. I bet she could tell me exactly where Hugh is buried.

Reddick and Mary Ann witnessed many changes during their lives. They saw the birth of the telephone and automobile and electricity became common. My dad used to relate the story told to him by Mary Ann about the first time Reddick hear a phonograph record, which was played on a wind-up apparatus and was part of a large cabinet. Reddick circled the cabinet, tried to open the back to learn who was sitting inside singing.

All I have of Reddick and Mary Ann are a few documents, pictures and, my prize possession, the wedding ring Reddick made for Mary Ann. A jeweler told me a silver coin was placed on a rod and hammered until a circle of the right size appeared. Apparently, this was a common way to fashion a ring when money was scarce.

On the 143rd anniversary of their marriage, I thank them for all they did.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tenants of the Owen Block - Belle & Minnie Murray

Owen Block
121-127 Chestnut Street
Evansville, Indiana
4 April 2015

One of the few single women to live in the Owen Block during the first 20 years of its existence was Mrs. Belle Murray, wife or widow of Enos Murray of Owensboro, Kentucky.  When or if they they married is unknown. Belle, age 31, and her daughter Minnie, age 10, first appear on the 1880 Daviess County, Kentucky census. By 1886, they are living in Evansville, where a new items stated Minnie Murray of Evansville had been visiting her father, Enos, a railroad agent in Owensboro.[1]

Belle, a widow, and Minnie lived at 515 Upper 1st Street in Evansville 1899-1900.[2] The 1900 Vanderburgh County census lists Belle's occupation as modiste, or dressmaker.  A brief news item in an Evansville newspaper in 1902 announced that Mrs. Belle Murray had moved her family to the Owen flats.[3] From 1902 through 1907, the Murrays lived at 125 Chestnut Street and later moved next door to 127 Chestnut Street.

By 1903 Mrs. Belle Murray and her daughter had moved away from the Owen Block. When she died in January 1926, she was living in the Harrison Apartments at 626 S. 1st Street.  The funeral was in her home with the Rev. Powell, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, officiated. Belle's survivors included her daughter, Minnie, and two sisters living in Owensboro. She was buried at Locust Hill Cemetery.

Minnie Murray continued to live in Evansville, where she had a distinguished career in the trust department of Old National Bank and was a prominent member of the Altrusa Club of Evansville. Miss Minnie Murray, 75, died at the Rathbone Home in February 1948 and was buried at Locust Hill Cemetery.

[1] "Personals," Evansville Journal, 22 Jul 1886, p. 5
[2] 1899 Evansville City Directory and 1900 Vanderburgh County, Indiana census, p. 2B, E.D. 88, lines 51-55,, accessed 3 Feb 2015.
[3]  "Personals," Evansville Journal-News, 13 Feb 1902, p. 7.

Published 13 April 2015, Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind,

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tenants of the Owen Block - S.W. Douglas

Owen Block
4 April 2015

Work on the Owen Block has begun. Judging by the number of trucks on Chestnut Street and the noise from hammers and saws, no time is being wasted in stabilizing this beautiful old building.   Fire escapes go from upstairs windows down to the ground, but there are no rear doors to the outside. A workman told us the fire escapes are all being removed, but  he did not know if this was a temporary situation or not.

In the above photo, note the door. It's hard to say if this door was from the time the building was constructed, but it certainly appears to be old. I wonder if it was in use when Sidney W. Douglas moved  to the Owen Block in 1894.

Douglas, a professional photographer,  moved his family from New York to Evansville in 1878. For a time in the early 1890s, he lived at 1002 Upper Water Street, but moved to 125 Chestnut Street in 1894. The Douglas family consisted of S.W. and his wife, Lucy Ellen Tucker, and their three sons, James, Dallas and Kenneth.  The second son, Dallas, had worked on steamboats as a cub pilot and later as a freight clerk and shipping clerk before becoming a traveling salesman for the Crown Baking Powder Company of Chicago.  He contracted typhoid fever and passed away 26 May 1895. The funeral took place at nearby St. Paul's Episcopal Church with burial at Oak Hill Cemetery.

The Douglas family continued to live at the Owen Block from 1894 until at least 1901. In 1904, they were living at 426 Upper 1st Street.[1]

S.W. Douglas was initiated into Masonry in May 1877 and at his death was the only past grand master living in Evansville.  Douglas suffered a blow in 1910 of his photographer's studio on the third floor of the old Bray building on First Street, between Main and Locust Streets, in the fire that originated in the Fendrick building.[2]  In this fire the negatives collected in a career of 40 years were destroyed. Rather than reopen a gallery, Mr. Douglas retired.

In addition to being one of the most prominent Masons in Indiana, Douglas was president of the Board of Children's Guardians. He helped bring about its organization in 1898 and became president of the board in 1900. It was through his efforts that the home on Lincoln Avenue was built in 1904.[3]

On the first day of January 1916, both S.W. Douglas and his wife contracted "the grip." Douglas became a victim while on an inspection trip to a Masonic commandery in Aurora, Illinois. Mrs. Douglas became ill at their home at 816 Upper 1st Street. Just seven hours after Mrs. Douglas died on 10 January 1916, her husband passed away. The funeral was held at the home with the Rev. A.L. Murray of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in charge. Mr. and Mrs. Douglas were buried beside their son, Dallas, at Oak Hill Cemetery.

[1] 1904 Evansville City Directory, p. 227.
[2] "Partners of Half Century Called a Few Hours Apart," Evansville Journal-News," Tuesday, 11 January 1916, p. 1.
[3] Ibid.

Published 5 April 2015, Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind,

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tenants of the Owen Block - Michael Lyon

One of my favorite tenants of the Owen Block was the Michael Lyon family. About 15-20 years ago Ruth Lyon, wife of Michael,  had been the focus of a research project involving an autograph book belonging to Capt. John Strother Chapman during the Civil War. Through that project I learned that Ruth David, daughter of William and Barilla David of Uniontown, Kentucky, had married Michael Lyon in 1863. They later moved to Evansville and lived on Chestnut Street  in what I called the Blue Building, but is  now known as the Owen Block.

Michael Lyon was born in New York City in 1833 and moved to Ohio where he studied law before moving to Evansville about 1856. Michael Lyon was a man of many talents. Shortly after his marriage, he opened a private bank, known as "the Continental Bank under the firm name of M. Lyon & Co., Mrs. Lyon being the company."[1] The latter part of 1865 he went to New York, where he engaged in gold speculation. Unfortunately, this did not work out and he lost over $100,000.[2]

Lyon returned to Evansville, where he went into the clothing business, becoming the first ready- made clothier in the city. It was in the clothing and tailoring business that he achieved his greatest financial success.  At the time of his death,  M. Lyon, Clothier was located at 228-230 Main Street.

Before moving to the Owen Block, the Lyon family lived at the St. George Hotel, where the now-closed McCurdy Hotel is located. The family moved into 123 Chestnut Street (Owen Block) by 1891, where they were living when Michael Lyon died of "congestion of the brain"[3] 24 May 1893. The funeral took place at the home on Chestnut Street  with the Rev. Charles Morris of the nearby St. Paul's Episcopal Church officiating.  Survivors of Michael Lyon included his widow, Ruth, and two sons, William and Robert, the youngest  son, Webb, having drowned in 1882 while visited relatives in Union County, Kentucky.

Ruth Lyon continued to live at the Owen Block another year after her husband's death and then moved to 816 Upper 1st Street. [4] A few months later, Ruth Lyon entered into a partnership with Charles A. Habbe to conduct a clothing business under the name of M. Lyon Clothing Store.[5] The partnership was to remain in effect  until the 1st day of August 1903, but a Notice of Dissolution, effective 12 June 1900, appeared in the local newspaper.[6]

For the rest of her life, Ruth Lyon divided her time between Citronelle, Mobile County, Alabama and Evansville. In 1911, her  son. Robert, died in Citronelle and, on 9 February 1921, Ruth Lyon passed away in Evansville from pneumonia and old age. She had been born in 1840 in Union County, Kentucky. Her only survivors were a son, Will Lyon, and a younger sister.  Will Lyon would pass away just two years later.

A beautiful monument  in Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville marks the burial places of the entire Lyon family. Only the names of Michael and Webb Lyon are engraved on the monument, but cemetery records show that Ruth and her sons, Robert and Will, are also buried there.

Unfortunately, he also suffered losses in his private life. He and his wife, Ruth, had three sons, all of whom died without marrying or having children. The youngest child, Webb Lyon, drowned in 1882 while visiting relatives near Uniontown.  The other two sons, Robert and William, died in 1911 and 1923 respectively.

Michael Lyon Family Monument
Oak Hill Cemetery
Evansville, Indiana

[1] "A Brief Illness," Evansville Journal, 25 May 1893, p. 2.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4]  1894 Evansville City Directory,  p. 401
[5] "Certificate of Limited Partnership," Evansville Courier, 26 August 1893, p. 5.
[6] "Notice of Dissolution," Evansville Courier, 13 June 1900, p. 6

Published 28 March 2015, Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind,

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tenants of the Owen Block - Evansville, Indiana

Owen Block
121-127 Chestnut Street
Evansville, Indiana

The Owen Block in Evansville has been in the news a lot recently. Should it be demolished because of its poor condition or should it be restored because of its unique architecture? I am pleased that it looks like the proponents for restoration are currently in the lead. Built in the second empire style most popular after the Civil War and with its blue color, the Owen Block stands out in the downtown historic district.

Dr. A.M. Owen built the Owen Block in 1882 and the building consisted of four three-floors-plus-basement townhouses at 121-127 Chestnut Street. The building was also known as the Owen Flats. Dr. Owen and his family lived in one townhouse and the other three were rented out.

 This type of housing was new to Evansville. In a newspaper article[1] in 1909, the following was written: "Flats are increasingly popular in Evansville. Thirty years ago the only buildings in the city which were known as flats were the Owen houses on Chestnut street between Second and Third streets. Now flat buildings are springing up in all parts of the city."
I will leave it to others to decide if Dr. Owen was a visionary of what Evansville needed. At any rate, he provided something new in housing for the citizens of Evansville, but who was Dr. Owen and what part. if any, did he play in the history of Evansville?
Abraham Miconius Owen was born 19 March 1849 in Madisonville, Kentucky, the son of Dr. A.B. Owen. After a common school education, he studied medicine and received his diploma from Bellevue Medical College in 1870. After serving  on the staff there for a short while following graduation, he moved to Evansville, where he was associated with the local medical college.
Dr. Owen married Laura Jerauld 20 October 1875 at the home of her parents in Princeton, Indiana. Three children, Amelia, George J. and Leartus, were born to the couple.
 In 1880 A.M. Owen was a physician and surgeon and professor of surgery at the Medical College of Evansville. His medical office was located at 504 Upper 1st Street and his residence was at 615 Upper 1st Street,[2] not far from where the Owen Block would be constructed in 1882.
Dr. Owen was involved in the municipal as well as medical affairs of Evansville. He served as president of the local medical society and, with two other physicians, published a medical magazine. One of his biggest ventures was with Dr. Edwin Walker in the establishment of the Evansville Sanitarium in 1894 at 712 Upper 4th Street. The sanitarium, later renamed Walker Hospital, was the forerunner of Welborn Baptist Hospital. Evansville Sanitarium contained three floors, each one supplied with hot and cold baths and provided the latest facilities for patients. The sanitarium had accommodations for 20 patients - 12 in private rooms and the remaining  in two wards.  
Ironically, Dr. Owen died 18 September 1898 in the Evansville Sanitarium after being in poor health for about a year. Funeral services were held at his home in the Owen Block with burial at Oak Hill Cemetery.
The tenants of the Owen Block were among the more prominent residents of Evansville. Many worked nearby and a number worshiped at St. Paul's Episcopal Church at 301 SE 1st Street  or Grace Presbyterian Church at 601 SE 2nd Street. Social events at the Owen Block were often described in the local newspapers. One such event, hosted by Mrs. Owen, was a "high tea" with an orange theme - from the ribbons tied around sandwiches to the dress of the hostess. Color-theme parties  were described as "in vogue in Washington, Brooklyn and New York."[3]
Other tenants of the Owen Block will be discussed in the next post.

Published 24 March 2015, Rambling Thoughts ...Out of My Mind,

[1] "Modern Flats Are More Popular," Evansville Journal-News, Sunday, 4 July 1909, p. 18.
[2] Evansville City Directory, 1880, p. 228.
[3] "High Tea," Evansville Journal, 12 April 1887, p. 5.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

John Morgan Joyce 1913 - 1975

In my mind's eye my dad is still middle aged, but in my heart I know he would be 102 years old if he were living.  He left this world at the age of almost 62 in 1975.

My memories are growing dimmer and I can barely remember the sound of his voice. That bothers me.

John Morgan Joyce 
1913 - 1975

Published 13 January 2015, Rambling Thoughts by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG.

Friday, August 2, 2013

147 Years Ago

One hundred forty-seven years ago Reddick Smith and Mary Ann Wolstenholme married in Goodlettsville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Reddick had served in the Union army during the just-ended Civil War. Apparently, he met Mary Ann while stationed in Tennessee and elected to remain there after the war. Shortly after 1870, however, they moved to Hardin County, Illinois, where Reddick had been reared and where his family lived. They settled into life on a farm and remained there except for a brief time in the state of Washington.

Reddick died 14 April 1913 and Mary Ann died 7 January 1933. Both are buried at Central Cemetery, but Mary Ann has no tombstone.

Reddick Smith
Born 28 Sept. 1842
Died 14 April 1913

View from Central Cemetery
November 2012
Published 2 April 2013, Rambling Thoughts,