Saturday, October 17, 2015

No More Blue!

The Owen Block, 121 - 127 Chestnut Street, Evansville,  has taken on a new look with the removal of the blue paint.

 In all its glory painted blue
March 2015

With most of the blue paint removed
17 October 2015

Which do you prefer - with or without the blue paint?

Published 17 October 2015, Rambling Thoughts - Out of my Mind, Brenda Joyce Jerome, C.G.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Singing Career

During the early and mid-1950s, girl singing groups were popular. When I was a high school freshman, 3-4 girls in my school formed their own group. They were among the most popular girls in school, each one was beautiful and every one could sing. They were an instant hit. My friends and I were impressed so we decided to form a similar group. I think we were really hoping some of their beauty and talent would rub off on us. {sigh}  Our group didn't last long. We lacked a major ingredient ... we could not sing.  That ended our singing career.

Published 29 August 2015, Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind by Brenda Joyce Jerome

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tenants of the Owen Block - B.F. Dickson

Mr. and Mr. Barton F. Dickson moved into 121 Chestnut Street in January 1894. He was employed by the L & N. Railroad  as superintendent of  the St. Louis - Henderson division. The family's stay at the Owen Flats was marked by sadness. Just 10 months after their move, their daughter, Bessie, just six months old, died of cholera infantum. [1] Friends were invited to the funeral, but the grieving family chose to have a private burial at Oak Hill Cemetery.

On the 22nd of April 1896, John, the six year old son of Mr. and Mr. Dickson, was playing with several neighborhood children along Chestnut Street. They found a container with an unknown mixture and, being inquisitive children, decided to taste it. The events  were published in the local newspaper:[2]

                "As the result of swallowing a compound of poisons concocted for exterminating
 roaches, while at play, two children, John Dickson and Loretta Ricketts lie dead at their homes, 119 and 121 Chestnut street.

                "Frolicking in the front yard of the Ricketts' with a group of neighborhood children, they ran across a half-empty can of the poison, and as one of its parts was a syrup of some sort, they eagerly ate the death-dealing mixture."

The funeral for John Dickson was conducted at the Dickson home and burial took place at Oak Hill Cemetery. The pall bearers were headed by Mr. Walsh of the L. & N. Railroad of Howell and the different departments of the company were represented[3] , thus showing their deep regret in the death of the little boy and their respect for the bereaved parents.

B.F. Dickson was appointed captain of an engineering corps at the beginning of the Spanish-American War and enlisted a number of Evansville young men in his company.  He had charge of the preparation of the camp at Montauk Point, New York, where the soldiers from the Cuban campaign were taken for recuperation before they were mustered out. After the war, Dickson was employed with the Southern Railroad Company and later became superintendent of the street railway at Kansas City, Missouri, where he died 10 May 1904. His remains were buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.

[1] "Bessie Dickson  Death of Infant. Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B.F. Dickson," Evansville Courier, 4 October 1894, p. 8.
[2] "They Are Dead!" Evansville Courier, 23 April 1896, p. 2.
[3] "Two Little Graves," Evansville Journal, 25 April 1896, p. 4.

Published 17 May 2015, Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind, Brenda Joyce Jerome, C.G.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tenants of the Owen Block - Short Term

Renovations continue at the Owen Block
Photographed 25 April 2015

Some folks who moved to the Owen Block after it was constructed in 1882  did not stay long. It appears that many stayed for a year or so and then moved elsewhere.  Below are three families who were short term residents at the Owen Block.

Fred Jones, manager of Blemker Stone Company of Evansville, moved to the Owen Block in May 1883 and still lived there in December 1884. By July 1885, Mr. and Mrs. Jones had moved to Golconda, Illinois[1], staying there but a short time before moving to Dallas. It was reported in an Evansville newspaper that Jones, manager of Avery Branch Plow House of Dallas, had passed through Evansville. "He reports his boy, who was born here and named after Dr. Owen, as being proud of his Hoosier birth."[2]

"William L. Heysinger, local manager of the Monarch Sleeping Car Company, was married on the 17th inst. at Columbia, S.C. to Miss Mary L. McAlister. He held high position in Mr. Lincoln's administration."[3] A month later the newspaper reported the newlyweds had taken a suite of rooms at 123 Chestnut Street in the Owen Block.[4] The next year the couple had moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where he continued as an agent for the Monarch Parlor Sleeping Car Company.[5]

Ethelbert T. Kemper was 20 years old when he was enumerated on the 1880 Garrard County, Kentucky census[6] in the household of Andrew Kemper.  E.T. Kemper married Annie Van Pelt by 1890. Mr. and Mrs. Kemper, along with their children John and Laura, moved to Evansville before 1900. That year they were enumerated on the Vanderburgh County census at 127 Chestnut Street, Owen Block.[7]  The Kemper family moved on to Indianapolis by 1910. Annie Kemper died in 12 February 1919 in Fayette County, Kentucky[8] and her husband, Ethelbert T. Kemper, died  1944 in Elmhurst, DuPage County, Illinois. [9] Both are buried in Lexington, Kentucky.

[1] "Personal," Evansville Courier, 2 July 1885, p. 4.
[2] "Personal," Evansville Daily Journal, 14 May 1887, p. 9.
[3] "Street Talk," Evansville Daily Courier, 19 November 1886, p. 4.
[4] "Personal," Evansville Journal, 12 December 1886, p. 5.
[5] 1887 Jacksonville, Florida City Directory, p. 127.
[6] 1880 Garrard County, Kentucky census, E.D. 44, p. 543D.
[7] 1900 Vanderburgh County, Indiana census, Pigeon Township, E.D. 0088, p. 9A.
[8] Kentucky Death Certificate #5534, Annie VanPelt Kemper, age 56, parents William VanPelt and Deborah Warner,, accessed 20 March 2015.
[9] Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths 1916-1947, Ethelbert T. Kemper, born 23 September 1860 and died 26 June 1944. His parents were listed as Andrew Kemper and Martha Lawless.

Published 1 May 2015, Rambling Thoughts ... Out Of My Mind, Brenda Joyce Jerome, C.G.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tenants of the Owen Block - Edward N. Viele

Edward N. Viele was born June 1860 into one of the most prominent families in Evansville. His father, Charles Viele, was president of the First National Bank and a businessman in Evansville. 

The 1880 Vanderburgh County shows Charles and Mary Viele with their younger son Edward, who was age 20 and "off at school,"[1] along with their older son Walter and his wife, Maggie. They were living in the platial family home at 704 Water Street, now re-addressed as 400 SE Riverside Drive. 

Edward was educated in preparatory schools in Connecticut and in Europe. By 1885, he was back in Evansville, where he met Miss Daisy Potter of Delaware, Ohio, who often visited a sister living in Evansville. Their marriage occurred 8 April 1885 in Ohio and was followed by a wedding tour to Cincinnati, Louisville and New Orleans.[2]  Later that year the local newspaper reported that Mr. and Mrs. Ed Viele had moved to one of the flats in the Owen Block.[3] 

Edward Viele was a merchandise broker and proprietor of Caldwell-Viele Co. of Evansville. Apparently, they did not live at the Owen Block very long because the 1890 City Directory lists their home address as 624 Upper 2nd Street [4] He was a musician of note and he and Mrs. Viele were very active in the social scene of Evansville.  They had one son, Douglas, who died of meningitis  at Fort Benjamin Harrison in 1917.  The Vieles were active members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, just one block from the Owen Block.

By 1920, Mr. and Mrs. Edward N. Viele were living in his father's former home on Riverside Drive. In late February 1924, Mr. and Mrs. Viele left on a trip to Chicago and beyond.  On the 1st day of March, Mr. Viele died suddenly in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His remains were brought back to Evansville for burial at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Mrs. Viele continued to live in Evansville and remained active in social circles until her death 2 September 1937. She had been an officer of the Rathbone Memorial Home as well as the Public Health Nursing Association and the Fortnightly Literary Club. She, too, was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

A number of paintings were bequeathed in Mrs. Viele's will to St. Paul's Church and to the Society of Fine Arts and History. The paintings were given as a memorial to her late husband, whose father, Charles Viele, had collected many of them during trips abroad. Other art items were given in memory of her deceased son, Douglas.

Viele Home
400 SE Riverside Drive
Evansville, Indiana

[1] 1880 Vanderburgh County, Indiana census, p. 287B, E.D. 78, image 215,, accessed 13 Mar 2015.
[2] "Personals," Evansville Daily Courier, 31 Mar 1885, p. 4.
[3] "Change of Domicile," Evansville Daily Journal, 6 Oct 1885, p. 8.
[4] 1890 Evansville City Directory, p. 470.

 Published 21 April 2015, Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind by Brenda Joyce Jerome, C.G.

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 visiting 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.

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.