House Genealogy: Small World

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 Ancestry.com, 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 familysearch.org 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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2 Responses to “House Genealogy: Small World”

  1. [...] 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 [...]

  2. Joyce Seely Rosswaag says:

    Hi. I just found this by accident and was interested in it mainly because Barzille Winfred Merrill is also my great, great grandfather. My grandmother, his daughter, was Elisabeth Frances Merrill and she married Edmund Hills Seely. They then had my Dad, Francis McLain Seely. Anyway, I am always interested in my ancestors, so thanks for this information. Sincerely, Joyce :)

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