Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

Life is complicated

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Passed our rough in re-inspection last week. Reinstalled some windows. Easier than expected. BioBased insulation goes in on Monday. (Supporting northwest Arkansas innovation.) Frantic rush to get speaker wire in before the polyol goes in. Dry wall the week after. Hit a stump with our construction loan so we ended up scrambling to pay for the sheathing, siding, and repainting ourselves. School is out so we have a second grader in our house. Lease is up August 1 so we three will be moving back in with my mom. Not my mom and my dad, because, four weeks ago, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died at home, with all of us with him, a week ago, on Father’s Day, during the summer solstice – the shortest night of the year. Memorial service Tuesday. I miss him.

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Jackson Street Methodist Church, Magnolia, Arkansas

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

stained-glass-1.JPG stained-glass-2.JPG

One of the places I went during our prolonged blog silence was a field trip to UT-Galveston Medical Branch. (Umm. Before Ike. Right after Dolly.) My dad and his brothers (and their father) all have (or had, in the case of Poppaw) a spinocerebellar ataxia that hasn’t matched anyone else’s ataxia genes as of yet, so we went to visit my uncle’s neurologist. The neurologist was not as helpful as we had hoped, but the visit was great. (A lot of driving, however, from Fayetteville AR to College Station TX and thence to Galveston. And back.) We had creamed corn, purple hull peas, corn bread, two desserts, and some sort of meat, along with great company for dinner. And more great company when we visited my Houston cousin and her son. (Memory fades on the details.) My uncle called dinner a Floy meal, and he was right.


(Lisa, The Uncles and my mom)

We left, however, with a small mystery. One of the two stained glass windows (above) at my uncle’s house is from the Jackson Street Methodist Church in Magnolia AR. The other is not. None of us are sure which one it is. (My folks bought it for my grandmother long after the church was replaced by Asbury UMC.) So, I’ll need to share this post with my cousin who remembers more than I do, and who has cleaned that window more than I have. I have a feeling I know the answer, but I don’t want to bias her.

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Happy 120th* Birthday, Lucy Leigh!

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Miss Lucy Leigh Brown and her sister Katherine lived with a Presbyterian minister Charles D. Bates and his family in our house in the 1920s, and owned it (while two couples rented from them) per the 1930 census, as I have explained earlier. Miss Brown taught violin. Eventually, the house was sold to others, and Miss Brown moved to University Avenue. I learned Miss Brown died in February 1969 from the Social Security Death Index and looked up her obituary at the Fayetteville Public Library Saturday.

Miss Lucy Leigh Brown, 80, 112 S. University Av., died today in a local hospital. Born April 29, 1888 in Marshall, Mo., the daughter of Henry J. and Ella Carthrae Brown, she was a music teacher.

Survivors are one brother, Sidney E. Brown of Fayette, Miss.; one niece Mrs. Truly Mounce [sic, should be Truly Mount] of Danville, Ky. and two grandnieces.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Nelson’s Funeral Chapel with burial at Son’s Chapel Cemetery.**

Obituary from Northwest Arkansas Times, Feb. 12, 1969 (page 2).


* Or maybe it’s Lucy Leigh’s 119th birthday? Social Security Death Index has her birth date as April 29, 1889.

**Son’s Chapel Cemetery, off Hwy 45, is one of the oldest cemeteries in Washington County. I checked its inventory at the library, and didn’t find Miss Brown so I suppose she doesn’t have a headstone. Decoration is (or was) the 4th Sunday in May at 1:30 p.m. Some time during the 1930s, land was given on which to build the current Son’s Chapel Memorial Church. (The land was originally owned by two men named Son.) 

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Fayetteville is not a large town

Monday, April 28th, 2008

We met with our architects a week ago, and are now contemplating their plans while they propose ways to fit our furniture into the space. They asked for an inventory of our furniture and salvage, which I obsessively turned into a photo album with pictures and dimensions of everything we could find. (Keep in mind we have two storage units, so not everything is accessible. Like our upright freezer.  I no longer know which side it opens from, let alone its dimensions.) The photo album includes a picture of our house on the cover.

Tne next day, one of their clients came in to discuss a house they are building, and our album was still on the table. Client knew the house. In fact, the client owned the house for fifteen plus years. (Maybe twenty-five?) He sold it last summer to our neighbors, who sold it to us. Our architects say he’s nice as can be to work with, and that he’d enjoy telling us what he knows of the history.  Between him and son of the previous, previous owner, we would have quite a few years of house history if we can get over our innate shyness.

(That reminds me: I still have a post in my head on more connections to The Band, and a Delta Ramble post.  Lots of posts in my head never make it to paper, umm, bits and bytes.)

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How to tell you are watching too much HGTV …

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

… When your 5yo daughter finds some kids’ names chalked on the underside of the stairs in the grody, dark, scary hallway and says, “Mom! Now we can be on TV!”  So I took her picture with them.  I think we may be watching too much If Walls Could Talk.

Martin and Madalyn names Under stairs Grody under stairs

(names in blue chalk: Martin, Madlen [sp?], Tom J., Jack B.)  She also helped clear out under the stairs, wearing a dust mask and gloves that were too big for her, until I got grossed out by it all.  Then we turned to nail pulling.

Trust me.  It’s much grodier in real life.  It’s cramped, dark, dusty, and there were old mice nests in the ceiling.  (We washed her coat when we got home.)

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Our retaining wall (south of the house)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

We’re working on getting our retaining wall tuned up. It’s really a nice-looking wall running along the south border of our lot, made of native stone with flying buttresses and a stone patio.* Serene. The wall starts out at maybe 18 inches at the front of the lot, and then it growed like Topsy until it’s maybe twelve feet toward the back.  As a result, our lot is fairly level.  I think the patio (just off the kitchen) is even prettier than this pre-ownership picture shows.

Patio in summer

The only problem is that the wall is covered with ivy. Well, that, and the fact that once you pull off enough ivy to make five or six or ten ivy people**, you find big cracks and crumbling mortar.  And a definite tilt toward our lot.

Huge pile of ivy Typical fault line hiding behind the ivy

We had an appointment with our rock wall guy Monday.  He says the flying buttresses were probably added later and are helping to prevent the wall falling over, but we really need to build more wall at the base to push back against the tons of soil and water and put in holes to let the water out.  So we are.  Or rather, he and his crew will.  The first load of rock came Tuesday morning.  This weekend, Don and I hope to get more of my landscaping books out of storage so I can show our rock wall guy what I want. (Once I figure it out, of course.)  I picture some raised beds, some niches for rock garden plants in the walls, plenty of stone seating in front of the raised beds.  (Since the wall is facing north, I’m not sure if the heat sink attributes of a stone wall will make it a warmer microclimate than its surroundings, but I guess it might be a good place for more tender perennials.)  Also, low voltage lighting, a water feature, and maybe a fire pit, but probably not.  A fire pit, that is, due to local codes. 

Oh, and maybe a cold frame?  I saw a neat one in Washington State Park this fall.  It was original to the house (Greek Revival so early 1800s), and dug down six feet into the earth, so it only got noon sunlight, but never froze.  Ours couldn’t go down that deep due to rocks, but maybe we could build something that could go over one of the raised beds and attach to the stone bench in front.  Then, we could raise our own lettuce and tender perennials.  Daydreams, but fun to think about.

Sunday afternoon was beautiful.  Sunny and in the 60s.  The Little One and I made seven wreaths with ivy and nandina berries, which made no significant difference to the amount of ivy left, but delighted her.  Then I pulled as much of the ivy off the wall as I could so our rock wall guy would have a better idea of what he would be dealing with.

While making ivy wreaths, we watched a gang of small neighbor boys rampage through the yard and up the highest flying buttress on to the next yard.  All wearing hoodies, sneakers, and skateboards. We saw the touring version of Peter Pan this fall at the Walton Arts Center, and we’ve been reading Peter Pan this week, so I suggested to the Little One that they might be Lost Boys. She said, “No, Mom. I know one of them. He goes to my school.” (I don’t understand the barrier myself, since she is currently Peter Pan’s sister, but I guess I’m grown-up.)  I like living in a neighborhood with rampaging small boys.

Enough of that. Let’s look at more pictures. When we bought the place, it came with a really large container for holding trash cans. I think it held six big ones and it was just west of the patio. You might be able to see the flying buttress the Lost Boys scaled just behind it.  (Sorry for the terrible picture, but the container is gone now so I can’t improve on it.)

Big Trashcan Container

Don gave it to a utilities guy he met one of the three times we’ve had a meter replaced so far. Here’s the guy hauling it off. You can see it fills his trailer up.

Nice guys hauling off big trashcan container

Pictured below is the space behind the trashcan container and the Lost Boys’ flying buttress (at right). It was mostly ivy-free already, but I pulled a lot more out between the trashcan space and the patio (where the green, mossy area is). The bar growing through the redbud (I think it’s a redbud — see summer patio picture) is a clothesline remnant.

After trashcan container left

Below are better before-and-after pictures of what the ivy-covered wall looked like. These are just east of the patio, but I pulled ivy off the entire length of the wall.

Typical before ivy removal condition After ivy removal condition

Here’s our first load of rock. It’s really pretty stuff, with lots of lichens. And I am very glad that I don’t have to move it.

First load of rocks to fix the wall

*Our neighbors to the north tell us they used to watch drunken bashes at our house. Kegs and beer bottles flying out of the upstairs windows. Police calls all the time. One of the more recent tenants spent a lot of time picking the broken glass out of the patio area, for which I am grateful. I did find a pull tab in the ivy Sunday.

** I Googled Ivy People.  Would you believe it’s a Celtic astrology sign, more or less?  And that Don and I are Ivy People?  Weird what Google will tell you when asked.

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More House Genealogy

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I am interested in how readers come to my blog.  The most common way by far is through  (Go there if you are interested in the genre of house blogs.  You won’t regret it.)  Another common way is to be a relative or friend of ours.  An interesting way is via searches.  Searches sometimes give me clues about other things that might be interesting.*  (That’s how I found out that Herman Tuck, Jr. was both a restaurateur** and a rock n roller.)  This week, I had a visitor find my blog by searching for “Bradley Kidder in Ohio.” 

While our house is not in Ohio, Bradley W. Kidder lived in our Apartment 3 in 1955, so I thought I’d see if I could figure out what happened to him.  The internet reports that a Bradley W. Kidder wrote “Goodbye, Tall Old Oak,” The White River Valley Historical Quarterly (Summer 1998): 3-11.  (Per a list of articles about Hanging Judge Parker of Fort Smith.)  In 2007, Bradley Kidder Sr. won the Walter L. Brown Award for Best Article, “Who Took the Trees?” in The Journal, Fort Smith Historical Society.  He also earned an M.A. at the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR), and wrote as his 1996 thesis:  “Who Took the Trees:  A Review of Timber Trespass Litigation in the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas Under the Administration of Judge Isaac C. Parker, 1875-1896.”  In addition, the Rev. Brad Kidder Sr. does pastoral care at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Fort Smith.  So, I conclude that Bradley W. Kidder went into ministry, had a son (Sr.), went back to school as a grown-up person, and has spent at least the last ten years or so in and around Ft. Smith.  Maybe one day soon we’ll contact him and see if he is the same person who once lived in our house.  Or maybe he’ll Google himself and contact us.  We’d be happy to hear from him.

*Other interesting searches: 

  1. Is the Canadian musician Lawrence Gowan married? A: I don’t know, but he used to play with Ronny Hawkins.
  2. Fifteen centimeters is what part of a meter? A: 15%.  One hundred centimeters in a meter.
  3. Faucet quit working on one side. A:  So sorry.  Our current problem has been that Don can only get one side of any given faucet shut off.  That makes it either harder or wetter to decommision faucets or other plumbing.  We’re hoping that lubricant will help.  He has pulled three toilets out to date.  (Leaving two more.  One for us and one for the tenant.)
  4. Charles Bates in Kentucky. A: Might be the same as ours.  Rev. Charles D. Bates does seem to have lived in Kentucky, among many other places.  Let me know. 

** Why is there no N in restaurateur?  [Pause to find out.]  Well, there can be, but it may raise eyebrows.  Apparently, the N-less version is derived from the French, but the n-containing version restauranteur is now considered a standard variant. 

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The house is connected to The Band! And Herman’s Ribhouse!

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Herman Tuck, Jr. is one of the first people to live in our house after its conversion to a five-flat (Apartment 2 of “the January Apartments”) per the 1951 Fayetteville City Directory. (He would have been about 22.)

Who is Herman Tuck? He is the Herman* of Herman’s Ribhouse (at least forty years old per its website, although I think it existed when my folks were in school here 45+ years ago, here’s a 1998 review) and he played drums with Ronnie “Hawk” Hawkins and the Hawks. Hawkins** in turn was associated with early versions of The Band*** and is a “household word in Canada.” The Hawks started in about 1956. (Hawkins, age 10, moved to Fayetteville in 1945, and graduated from Fayetteville High in 1952, so all the circumstantial evidence makes it unlikely for Herman to have played with Hawkins in Apartment 2. Or to have started his ribhouse while living there.)

In an oral interview (2002), Hawk had this to say about Herman Tuck:

RH: Everyone wanted Herman Tuck to play in their band. He played in country bands, but his love was swing. He really liked the old swing days, better than anything. Jerry Lee Lewis wanted to hire him. He played with Jerry a couple or three times. Irene [Tuck, his wife] didn’t want him going on the road with us. [Laughs]


In 1930, Herman (then a babe in arms) lived with his parents at 514 North College Avenue, and our house is just a step (or twenty) away from that house. Fayetteville is indeed a small town.

* I truly did wonder if he was connected to Herman’s Ribhouse when I saw his name in the city directory, but I didn’t look him up then.

**Ronnie Hawkins was at the University of Arkansas (about 1952) when he first started playing in his band, The Hawks. As his bio puts it:

Over the years, Hawkins gained recognition for recruiting and grooming outstanding Canadian talent. The membership of his band, The Hawks, kept changing as the talent flowed in and out, but the name stayed the same. One edition of The Hawks (with Canadians Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, and drummer Levon Helm) moved on to become Bob Dylan’s backup band and later achieved superstardom as The Band. Another incarnation became Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, and another Robbie Lane and the Disciples. Other famous Hawk alumni include David Clayton Thomas of Blood Sweat and Tears, actor Beverly D’Angelo, musician Lawrence Gowan, and fellow Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Burton Cummings and David Foster.

*** When we watched The Last Waltz, we realized that Don’s brother is a dead ringer for Van Morrison.

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Sign of our house’s history

Thursday, December 20th, 2007


This sign was behind the lath and plaster in the living room in Apartment 2. As Don pulled it out, he thought it was going to be a license plate, but, instead, it is a tangible sign of our house’s history.  (Pun intended.)

The current tenants are renting unfurnished apartments, but sometime* at least one of the apartments was furnished. Unless the sign was behind the wall because it was such a bad idea.

Demolition continues apace.  All the lath and plaster is out of the back room in Apartment 2.  Most has been removed from the living room (Apt. 2), but that demolition is complicated by all the salvage on the floor.  Some of the ceiling tiles are out of the dining room  (Apartment 1).  We have peeked under the really dirty carpet in Apartment 1.  Looks like the flooring in there matches the foyer, except (as I mentioned yesterday) it was installed at right angles to the foyer flooring.  We don’t know yet what the flooring will be in the former porch at the front of the house. 

In most excellent news, the smelly sofa bed has made its way into the dumpster.  (Say, did anyone click through my links yesterday?  I was expecting at least one comment about the picture of the former tenant’s detritus.)  It was up in the 50s or 60s yesterday, so the house got aired out.  And the gas to the stoves in the vacant apartments has been shut off.  Somehow or other, the house is smelling better.

In other news, I have been tweaking my masthead. 

Actually, my brother has been tweaking it.  Bill is very talented and helpful.  Besides being my IT go-to guy, roller coaster expert, former valet parker, and co-author of the TortsProf blog, he knows everything about children’s rock.  He and my niece host Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, and he is a stringer for Parenting magazine on children’s rock.  And, apparently, he writes a column for Little Rock (Arkansas) Family and Minnesota Parenting.  He is the cool one in the family.  I think using this sign in the masthead helps us transition to the blog’s current focus on our Fayetteville house.  I’ll have to update my signage, too.  Thanks, Bill.

*When did they make For Rent signs out of metal rather than cardboard? I would hazard a guess that we can eliminate during World War II.

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House Genealogy: Small World

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Who was Charles D. Bates, first known owner?  Where did Lucy Leigh and Catherine Brown, sisters and second known owners, come from? These burning questions were raised by the Fayetteville city directories.  I am getting closer to the answers.

Charles D. Bates was a pastor, probably Presbyterian, who moved around quite a bit, but his people were from Washington County (that is, they were from these parts).

Lucy Leigh Brown was a violinst, who came from Columbus, Ohio to stay with the Bates family in Spring 1921 at our house. And, apparently entranced by the beauty of Northwest Arkansas, she stayed.  This does not exactly answer how she came to know the Bates family, but we can certainly come up with hypotheses.  (And it raises another question: Why was Charles D. Bates called a contractor in the city directory? Human error or moonlighting or … ?)

May 11, 1921 Story May 21, 1921 Advertisement

The May 1921 advertisement (right) announces that Lucy Leigh Brown, violiniste [sic] is residing at our house.  The May 1921 clipping (left) says:

Miss Lucy Leigh Brown of Columbus, Ohio, professional violinist on the concert stage, is coming to Fayetteville the latter part of this week and will spend the summer here at the home of the Rev. and Mrs. C.D. Bates. Critics are said to have compared Miss Brown’s playing with that of Maude Powell.

That leads to a third question: Who is Maude Powell? Maude Powell (1867-1920) was a world-renowned concert violinist from Aurora, Illinois, where she lived at 16 N West Street. Her father was superintendent of the (East) Aurora public schools, and she would take the Burlington Northern Santa Fe to downtown Chicago for violin lessons. She studied with Joachim in Germany (1884-1885), and evenually toured the world. She was the first solo instrumentalist to record for Victor. Famous Chicago violinist, Rachel Barton Pine, recently released a Maude Powell tribute album. 

I bring this up in a small-world sort of way. My great-great-grandfather Barzille Winfred Merrill (1864-1954) was also a concert violinist from Aurora, Illinois. His New York Times obituary credited him with founding the first high school orchestra in the United States at East Aurora in 1880 (we know he was teaching there in 1886), and he also studied with Joachim (1900-1903), where he developed a neuralgia so he could no longer play full concerts and turned to music administration.  He later became the first dean (1921-1938) of the music school at Indiana University.

My great-great-grandmother/his wife Alma Etta Shedd* (1864-1892) grew up at 428 Claim Street, Aurora, no more than half a mile away from Maude’s childhood home. Their daughter (my great-grandmother and namesake) Elisabeth (1891-1954) lived with her grandparents on Claim Street for a while, and, like Maude Powell, took the BNSF to Chicago for violin lessons. She would go to the Marshall Fields department store afterwards for tea. (We used to take the BNSF to Chicago to work.  The Little One came, too, since her daycare was on-site at Don’s office.) 

As far as I know, nobody has put B.W. Merrill and Maude Powell together in the last thirty or forty years.  Let alone connected them to Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Small world, huh?

Throughout the Fayetteville newspapers (indexed through 1924) that are more-or-less searchable on, I find the Bates family and Miss Brown intertwined, with Bates children playing at recitals led by Miss Brown, and Mrs. Bates and Miss Brown (and Miss Mildred Gregg) having recitals of all of their students — usually at Miss Gregg’s studio at 205 Dickson Street.  It is not clear what church Mr. Bates served, if anywhere, but he frequently was responsible for the invocation at public events. 

What happened to the Bates before they appeared in Fayetteville? First, I found a Charles D. Bates in Pottsboro, Grayson County, Texas in the 1920 census.  (He was a Presbyterian pastor.) So that may be him. (Charles D Bates, age 52, head; Catherine, wife, age 45; Dortha, daughter, age 11; Charles Jr., son,  age 8; Joe, son, age 6. Charles and Catherine were born in Arkansas, while the children were born in Oklahoma.  They were renting.) 

Then, I found C.D. and Catherine in Oklahoma City in the 1910 census, with Dorothy and five lodgers.  They had been married five years, and she had had one live child.  Joe and Charles Jr. weren’t born yet.  (His parents were born in Tennessee and Illinois; hers, Tennessee and Texas.)  In the 1900 census, he was in Hickory Flat, Warren County, Kentucky.  A boarder with the Blewett family, he was single, born in August 1867, and a minister of the gospel. 

I believe, based on an unsourced tree on and various corroborating evidence, that Rev. C.D. Bates’ full name was Charles Dyer Bates, born August 9, 1867 to Peter Russel Bates and Clementine Perette Dyer of Washington County, Arkansas.  Peter (1833-1907) and a wife Sallie (1835-1918) Bates are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery near the University.  Katherine Patterson Bates (1874-1956) is buried there, too.  (If you left your scorecard at home, she is probably Mrs. C.D. Bates and thus Peter’s daughter in law.)  Senator Fulbright is also buried there.  Clemmie P. Bates, wife of P.R. Bates (12 Jan 1839-06 Dec 1892), is buried in Whiterock Cemetery, near Lincoln, Washington County, Arkansas.

In yet another small world coincidence, it appears that C.D.’s daughter Dorothy Bates moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma (where I grew up), and was teaching in the public schools there in 1930.  She lived with her aunt and uncle, Loren (age 54) and May W. (age 48) Campbell, and their daughter, Martha.  Dorothy was 21, and single.  (The Campbells were both born in Arkansas, and his parents were born in Tennessee, as was May’s father.  Her mother was born in Missouri.  So it is not immediately evident to me how May was blood kin to the Campbells.)  Mr. Campbell was an insurance agent.  They lived at 157 Dewey Avenue. I don’t know where Dorothy’s parents were in 1930 or what happened to them.  Yet.

* I wore Alma Etta Shedd’s 1890 wedding skirt when I married Don in 2000.  My own grandmother Alma had given it to one of my aunts for safekeeping until I was ready to wear it.  I don’t remember telling her that I would want to wear it, but I did and I am glad she knew it.  (Another aunt of mine wore it in the 1980s, and I loved it then, but I didn’t get married until 2000, and my grandmother had died four years earlier.)  I do miss her. 

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