Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Frankie Gunnell’s wife and children

At Washington DC the local government began in about 1874 to experiment with a system of birth certificates, using what was called the “Return of a Birth,” a short form to be filled in following every live birth by the attending doctor or midwife. Two of these early Returns report children—both of them boys—born in the District to Fanny Miller Gunnell and her husband Frankie Gunnell. Another child was probably born before the Returns system was in place, since the babies in the two documents are numbered Fanny’s second and third: a boy born in 1876, then another in 1881. The Returns do not record babies’ names.

The Returns do ask for the address of the mother. In one case Fanny was living in Southwest Washington, and in the other case in Northwest. Since the children were born in DC to a mother living at a local address, it seems almost certain that Frank and Fanny did live there more of less continuously in the years from 1872 or so through to 1881. This makes it that much more noteworthy that they are not in the 1880 Census enumeration, and downright strange that they are never even included in the DC directories published during those ten years. Exactly what their domestic situation was during this period there’s not much telling. On each Birth Return there’s a line for the father’s occupation, and it shows that Fanny in 1876 called Frankie a carpenter and in 1881 a mechanic. So much for the inexplicable Frankie Gunnell.

Recently and out of the blue I heard from a descendant of Frankie and Fanny. Thanks to some friendly correspondence with this distant cousin, I’ve been able to learn what later happened to Fanny and to the Gunnell children Violet, the first born, and Rosser, the boy born in 1876. (The boy born in 1881 was not heard of again.)

The Civil War seems to have scattered the Miller family, and two of Fanny’s older brothers had left Virginia and gone to live in Arkansas. Fanny made her way there. She met a peripatetic lawyer from Ohio named George Bushnell Denison. In 1885 at Conway near Little Rock Fanny and Denison were married. Subsequently Violet and Rosser Gunnell were called by the surname Denison, and Fanny referred to G.B. Denison as their father. The peripatetic lawyer moved on to Alabama, while Fanny and the children went to live, for unknown reasons, in Galveston, Texas. There Violet came of age and married a jeweler called Field, a Massachusetts man. The Fields had two daughters.

When the Spanish-American War came, Rosser Denison enlisted in the army and went off to the Philippines. He stayed on after the war, living at Zamboanga, where he married and raised a family. A large number of Rosser’s descendants (and thus Milburn descendants, as well) presently live in the Philippines.

Violet divorced the jeweler Field and promptly married a civil engineer called Morris who was about to leave Texas to take up a position with the city of Portland, Oregon. It’s around Portland and in the U.S. Northwest that Violet’s descendants, including my excellent correspondent, are living today.

Fanny, meanwhile, reached San Antonio where she married for the third time. Her new husband William Knight was yet another peripatetic lawyer, only this time from New Hampshire by way of West Virginia and Missouri. The Knights didn’t live together for long. After a few years Fanny took off, and continued to travel about the country visiting her kith and kin. So many changes of name and place! Finally, with her resources depleted, she wound up back at San Antonio in a rooming house. She died there in 1931 and was buried in the City Cemetery.

A story that circulated among Fanny’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren was that she had insisted that no one ever again say the name Frankie Gunnell. Well, that rule was obviously broken, but still nobody is able to say what became of Frankie. We’ll probably never know the rest of that story. He'll just remain a minor character, a footnote in the history of Spiritualism and stage illusions.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Inexplicable Frankie Gunnell

Mary Ann Milburn Hinton and Henry D. Gunnell were married in 1854. Both of them had been widowed. They quickly had a child together called Franklin, the last child for both parents. Frankie was born in late 1854 or early 1855, making him right about the same age as his cousin T.W. Milburn. They lived only a few blocks from each other, T.W. on D Street and Frankie on G Street. But from an early age Frankie was markedly different from Tom Milburn.

Frankie Gunnell went on the stage. No, he didn’t perform as an actor—at least not any conventional one. He did magic in the mode of the Spiritualists. In the theater of Spiritualism the audience was invited to believe that the performer was a medium who was somehow in touch with invisible powers—spirits who nevertheless made themselves manifest in sight, sound, and deed. The medium was thereby demonstrating the existence of a Spirit world, and confirming for the spectators that there are “more things in heaven and earth” beyond what common understanding can reckon with.

Spiritualism was big news in the middle years of the nineteenth century, and Frankie got in toward the end of it’s great initial vogue. His public performances began at the latest in 1868, when Frankie could not have been older than thirteen. A report of his show, and how it was going over with the Washington DC audience, was published in New York by a correspondent to a French language newspaper. The writer recognized that Frankie was repeating a great deal of the spectacle developed fifteen years earlier by the much better known Davenport Brothers. These Brothers (who, like Frankie, began their public career when they were in their teens), had developed as their signature effect a trick with a large cabinet resembling a double armoire on a raised platform. The Brothers took seats in the cabinet across from each other. They were bound to their chairs, and the cabinet doors were shut. The audience would see mysterious hands emerge from small apertures in the doors. Musical instruments would sound, and bells would ring. When the doors were opened there were brothers, still tied up in their seats as they were before. Frankie’s version of the famous Cabinet manifestation was slightly different The French report notes that the cabinet doors burst open and Frankie proudly showed that he was no longer bound.

A number of appearances by Frankie Gunnell in DC are recorded in the newspapers during the next few years. His act also included a “Dark Séance” like the one that the Davenport Brothers did, and other bits of Spirit business. There was also a show done at the Gunnells’ house for selected local notables. (Such a private demonstration for special guests seems to have been de rigeur for Spiritualist acts of the period. I suppose it established the medium’s bona fides and promoted the act by gaining an association with prominent men and women.) It’s clear that Frankie traveled some outside of the District, performing at Baltimore at least (“a tip top medium”), and possibly in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. His youth was emphasized when he was mentioned in the news or in books, since people seemed to think the youth of the medium meant that he was incapable of humbug or duplicity.

from the Evening Star, March 19, 1869

In 1872 a newspaper mentioned with a wink that a certain “Professor Gunnelle” was amazing folks at a market fair in western Virginia. This suggests that Frankie was trying something new—a stage persona that sharply differed from his first “boy prodigy” appeal. Maybe the old version of the act was worn out in his hometown. Or perhaps the professional debunkers who lectured in the larger cities, caused business there to decline. In any case it was just about this time that he apparently got married to Miss Frances Miller of Salem, Virginia.

From this point on Frankie more or less disappears from view. His name comes up—his longer name: Franklin D. Gunnell—in the course of the 1875 Milburn property trial. His name appears once again in 1889 in the Washington Post notice of a transfer of property to his oldest half-sister. However, he’s not listed in DC directories during all this time, nor is he enumerated in the 1880 census or in later ones. The rest of his story belongs instead to Fanny Miller Gunnell.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

They received the Amidon Medal

From the Evening Star of January 7, 1871:
Last evening the pupils of the Fourth District Schools gave a grand concert, at Lincoln Hall, to aid in erecting a monument in memory of Mrs. Margaret Amidon, (formerly teacher of the female grammar school, fourth district.) They were assisted by the pupils of the second district and former pupils of Mrs. Amidon. The hall was crowded, and the duetts, choruses, and piano solos were well rendered. The choruses were under the conductorship of Professor Daniel. Miss Rachel Garrett presided at the piano. About seventy-five young ladies were on the stage. During the evening the Amidon medal was presented by Mr. J. O. Wilson, superintendent of the public schools, to Miss Susie Howison, with an appropriate address, which was neatly responded to.
Miss Howison was approaching her twenty-first birthday and so was older by several years than the rest of the winners whom I've been able to identify. Most of the young women were around sixteen. I think Susie Howison (later married to James Ratcliffe of Loudoun County, Virginia) was honored for her achievements in “amiability and scholarship” for the previous year or years.

The “grand concert” was not a recurrent event, but a singular one that inaugurated the Amidon Prize. After Susie Howison, all subsequent winners were announced by the District of Columbia Trustees in a regular fashion, together with a number of other prizes and scholarships, at the end of the school year in June, after the examination of the schools. Here are the names of the winners I've been able to spot so far, drawn from newspaper items or from annual Trustees' reports.

1871   Kate Maxwell
(became a teacher for a time)
1872   Martha Travis
1873   Isabelle Haliday
1875   Sarah C. Dulin
1878   Ella S. Cooke
1879   Eugenia Hilleary
1881   Marie Madeleine De Vote
(died June 8, 1888)
1882   Rose Mary McCauley
1883   Carrie McLaughlin
(1866-1949) wife of Harry Howser
1884   Mary Violet Petty
(daughter of J.T. Petty)

Nothing about the Amidon Medal shows up in the Washington DC news or reports in the years after 1884. How did the medal come to be discontinued? Was there no longer a need to encourage girls to be schoolteachers by this means? Did the funds for the prize dry up?

It would be terrific to see one of these medals. I count at least twelve of them: the ones given to these eleven young women, and one more, in bronze, which was presented to the Trustees.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Mrs. Gunnell

Margaret Milburn Amidon was not the only family member to teach in the District’s public schools. Her older sister Mary Ann taught there, too, though she never became a celebrated figure like Mrs. Amidon. And unlike Margaret Amidon, Mary Ann only taught for a short span during the years when she was a widow.

Mary Ann was married in 1843 to Mr. Robert Hinton. The marriage was performed by Rev. Mr. Richard de Charms from Philadelphia, one of the leading lights among the Swedenborgians. About Mary Ann’s husband Hinton I know almost nothing save that he died in Nashville at the beginning of 1848. It would be nice to know what he was doing there. During their marriage Mary Ann gave birth to at least three children. Two of those died in infancy. The third, a girl called Violet, lived to the age of fifteen. (Violet Hinton’s obituary declared, strangely, that “though young, she was willing to die.” I presume this was a pious formula of the New Church.)

During the first part of the 1850s Mary Ann Hinton and her daughter Violet were living with the two Margarets in the Milburn house. This was the period when Mary Ann was a schoolteacher. Then in 1854 Mary Ann got married again, this time to an older man, a widower named Henry Gunnell. Mr. Gunnell came from Virginia and operated a wood and coal business across the street from the Milburns. He already had seven children from his previous marriage, and in fact was a grandfather. Nevertheless Henry and Mary Ann did have one child, their remarkable son Frankie Gunnell. Frankie will need to be the subject of a future post.

Mary Ann Gunnell died in 1870. She had survived an accident earlier in which she was run over by an omnibus car. The obituary does not say exactly what took her off, only that her death followed a painful illness of two weeks’ duration. She lies now in Congressional Cemetery. Violet Hinton is also buried there, but for some puzzling reason mother and daughter are not near one another.

After Mary Ann died Henry Gunnell married for the third time. All three of his wives were named Mary.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grandfather B on the telephone

It used to be that when Grandfather Bartholow would telephone our house and ask for Dad, if I answered the call he simply wouldn’t respond to me. Me: “Hello?” Grandfather B: “Is Jack there?” Me: “Hello, Grandfather! This is Thomas. No, Dad isn't around now, but if—” Grandfather B: Click. Sometimes, just before the click, I could catch that he said “oh” in a mild grunt, not to me but just into the air while he was already setting down the receiver. He lacked any feel for social talk, and took negligible interest in other people for their own sake. And he appeared to believe that, whatever his aim was in wanting to talk to Dad, it did not possibly concern anyone else. Communication of even trivial matters was handled on a need to know basis. And my wish to talk to him? It seemed as if no sensation could impinge on him when it fell athwart his intended business, not even a word from one of his grandchildren. One of my cousins mentioned to me that Grandfather B actually frightened him. I was never frightened, but I did come to feel a kind of awe of Grandfather as a paterfamilias out of an earlier century, an atavism in whose presence I would from time to time find myself.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The afterlife of Margaret Milburn Amidon

It began with her funeral, held at the Milburn home on Virginia Avenue. Rev. Jabez Fox spoke a sermon. Mr. Fox, representing the Swedenborgian affiliation of Hollis Amidon and of old Mrs. Milburn, was only the short subject. There was a second divine engaged for the main feature, namely Rev. George Whitfield Samson, at that time the president of the Columbian College. He was also a pastor, had been Mrs. Amidon’s pastor, at the E Street Baptist Church, and something like a spiritual advisor to her. He delivered a eulogy full of heavy piety, extolling her virtues of honor, duty, faith, and public usefulness. With the additional presence of the choir from E Street Baptist singing hymns to open and close the ceremonies, the house must have been crowded.

The following February saw two even larger memorials. At the first Margaret’s friend and champion Samuel Yorke AtLee gave an oration on her life and death to a crowd at the Seventh Street Presbyterian Church. Rev. Jabez Fox also appeared for this occasion. Various other trustees and dignitaries of the schools rose to speak about Mrs. Amidon, dwelling in particular on the elevation of the public schools which she accomplished by her own example and by means of her protégées, fifty-four of whom were said to have gone on to be teachers. Some few days later another gathering, this time of teachers specifically, listened to even more speeches commending Mrs. Amidon and building up the schools.

It’s interesting to note that although Margaret is shown in these speeches in relation to her school, her community, and her city, there isn’t much mention of her living family. Of course I can only go by what was afterwards told in the newspapers. Her parents are referred to and her stepmother, but Margaret Agnes is never called a beloved sister to her own sisters and brother, or said to be a dear aunt to her own nieces and nephew.

Mr. AtLee’s oration, the one from the principal memorial service in February, was in April issued as a pamphlet. At least two newspapers printed excerpts of the material, relating details of her childhood, teaching career, and marriage. (It’s from these excerpts, primarily, that I’ve learned so many details, or clarified them, about the Milburn family. There may be even more pertinent material included in the full printed work. I’ve not been able to see this yet, but there’s a copy in the Library of Congress according to their catalog. With the promise of a photograph as frontispiece!)

Over the summer of 1870 the school trustees considered a new plan for a prize to be given annually in Margaret Amidon’s honor. This was the “Amidon Medal,” a gold medallion designed by Goldsborough Bruff and struck by the Mint. The plan was underwritten by a published group of subscribers that included many of Margaret’s friends. (At least one family member contributed, her brother-in-law John Abell.) The trustees approved. The prize would be given to a girl from the Fourth District who was outstanding in the year for “amiability and scholarship” as judged by her teachers and fellows. There were a number of other awards and scholarships available to Washington students. This one was aimed to dignify specifically girls who might go on to become teachers (and several of the girls did), as well as to perpetuate Margaret Amidon’s name.

1871 began with a concert given by school pupils to raise money for some sort of Amidon monument. During the evening the first of the Amidon Medals was given out (to a Miss Susie Howison—really the 1870 medal). The concert was said to be a success, but I don’t know of any monument built from the funds raised. At the close of the school year the following June, the regular award for 1871 was made at the period of the yearly class examinations. Medals were given in this fashion year by year, continuing at least into the 1880s; after that time I’ve found no more mention of them.

short contemporary newspaper notice of the display of the portrait of Mrs. Amidon
1883 newspaper notice
It’s possible that whatever money was got from the 1871 concert was used instead to commission the portrait of Margaret Amidon that was mentioned in the newspaper in 1883. By that time there was a new school building that bore her name, and the painting, after being on public display, was placed in the school.

The Amidon School for the Fourth District stood originally at the corner of 6th and F Streets in southwest Washington. Used for seventy years or so, that original school is now gone, along with the entire neighborhood, obliterated in the middle of the last century as part of a vast renewal program carried out on Southwest DC. That former intersection 6th and F Streets would now lie in the traffic of a cross-town freeway. At some point around 1960 the Amidon school was reestablished on I Street. Amidon-Bowen is, I believe, the current official name, now that the school has combined with the former Bowen school, but the building today bears on its facade only the name Margaret M. Amidon. As recently as 2003 somebody dredged up details of Margaret Amidon’s life for a “ceremonial resolution” on behalf of the fifth grade class.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Alice Milburn Wood vs. Hollis Amidon

Let’s lay out the course of events leading to the 1875 lawsuit over lot number 11. There are just two pieces of information that I’m relying on here, the newspaper article that presented the case to the general public in May of 1875 and the abstract of the case published in the following year with the court records for the term.

Lot number 11 was just one piece of the estate of George Milburn. When he died in 1838, the everything was bequeathed to his children and their heirs. But the use of the property and the decisions on how and when to distribute it were invested in George’s widow Margaret for her lifetime. As the children did come of age and marry, provision was duly made for them. When the fourth and last child to marry, namely George’s middle daughter Margaret Agnes, did finally become the bride of Hollis Amidon, nearly everything in the estate had been disposed in accord with the will. Old Mrs. Milburn retained only one piece of property. That was lot 11, sometimes called more explicitly part of lot 11, at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Seventh Street SW. And on that lot stood the house where all three of them lived—had lived for over ten years. Hollis and Margaret Agnes made some kind of improvements to the property. Old Mrs. Milburn then, in November 1866, turned over the whole, both the land and the house, to Margaret and Hollis Amidon, to be Margaret’s portion as George’s heir, and in consideration of her own—old Mrs. Milburn’s—need to be looked after in her later years.

We don’t know what the reaction by the rest of the family was to any of this business up to this point. But when Margaret Amidon died “intestate and without issue” in December of 1869, someone in the family put it to Amidon that he could not expect to have title to the land, since that belonged to George’s heirs by rights, and Mrs. Milburn lacked any power to deliver it to anyone else; that whatever contract appeared in the 1866 deed, it was void with respect to Hollis Amidon. But nothing else happened, it seems. In the 1870 census, Hollis's name appears on the record at the top spot in the household, with old Mrs. Milburn next, keeping house for everyone; and then follows the usual assortment of boarders.

In November of 1874 old Mrs. Margaret Milburn died. The following January Amidon registered the property in his own name. Straight away Alice Milburn Wood and her husband complained to the Court. The deed should be cancelled, since it was improper, and there should be a “partition.” I suppose that to mean a separate consideration of the house, which the Woods appear to have recognized as Amidon’s now, from the land which they believed was by right due to them. Who else took their side? The newspaper account of the suit names Violet Abell, George Milburn’s youngest daughter, as a defendant along with her husband. I can only think that this is a mistake. The only way, it seems to me, that Violet and her husband could ever be involved was as fellow Milburn heirs with an interest in the property. Surely they must have counted among the plaintiffs? The published abstract does not help to clarify who lined up with whom. It does include an “et al.” for Amidon, but I can’t imagine who those others could be or, indeed, why there should have been anyone else in his corner.

However this may be, Amidon, for his part, filed a “demurrer” to say that the Woods’ suit raised only invalid points and ought to be dismissed. The Court agreed. George Milburn’s will was consulted and found to give to old Mrs. Milburn all the discretionary power she needed to look after her own interests, so that she could give up the house and the land to the Amidons with the understanding that they would continue to look after her, while at the same time making this final distribution of George Milburn’s estate as a marriage portion for Margaret Agnes. It was all made so explicit by the language of the will and of the 1866 transfer that it’s hard to see how the Woods or their counsel thought they had the slightest chance to prevail.

So that was that. Alice Wood didn’t live too much longer, as we’ve already heard. Hollis Amidon got married one more time, his third wife being a widow lady from Vermont. The couple went to live in a new house clear on the other side of town. Amidon was eighty-two when he died in 1889, and the newspaper obituary mentioned his widow, but got his lady from Vermont confused with Margaret Agnes Milburn.

• • •

Why didn’t Mrs. Milburn marry Amidon? That’s one thing I can’t figure. Would she have lost control of her remaining property and income if that had happened? It just seems so much more likely that those two were the natural couple—compatible, near in age, close in religious experience. I suppose it is possible that there was some ardor between Amidon and Margaret Agnes. However, the brief mention of the Amidons’ union that we’ll get to hear in the eulogy for Margaret Milburn Amidon does nothing to convince me.

One other question comes to mind due to that description of Mrs. Amidon being “intestate and without issue.” Recall that she had tuberculosis and knew for a long time—perhaps years—that she was dying. How is it that she never made a will? I wonder about that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mrs. Margaret Milburn and Miss Margaret Milburn at home

If you go to Washington DC, and you make your way to the corner of 7th and D Streets in the small southwestern quadrant of the city, and you look toward the northwest, there in your view will be a large, sandy-colored office building of a vague, shapeless shape. Ignore this office building, and instead pay attention to the city block it rests on, the triangular block bounded by 7th, D, and Virginia Avenue. This block is called “Square 464” in the city property books, despite its triangular boundary. All the lots in this “Square 464” were once owned by Thomas William Milburn’s grandfather, Mr. George Milburn, who “established the Milburn home” at the eastern end of the block.

George died some years before TW was born. But George’s widow Margaret was still living here into the 1870s, in a house on the western corner of the block at Virginia and 7th.

Mrs. Margaret Milburn was George’s second wife. George’s first wife and the mother of his children was Alice, who died in 1833. Margaret was actually Alice’s younger sister, and thus she was aunt as well as stepmother to the children. George married Margaret three years after Alice died, probably in order to provide for her, and certainly so that she could look after his children when George was gone, portioning out to each one some of the remaining property.

George’s daughters Mary Ann and Violet and his son Thomas—TW’s father—got married in the 1840s. (I don’t know what parts of the property they may have received. Thomas and his family had an address some blocks west of here for many years. Violet and her husband did build here along Virginia Avenue, and their daughters lived there still in the ’80s.) That left George’s unmarried middle daughter Margaret Agnes at home with her aunt. A serious and pious schoolteacher, Miss Milburn remained single for nearly two decades. Meanwhile old Mrs. Milburn took in boarders.

We actually know a little something about Mrs. Margaret Milburn beyond what the census tells. Judge Job Barnard in 1920 offered to the Columbia Historical Society a short account of the formation of the Swedenborgian church in DC. He tells how Mrs. Margaret Milburn’s aunt Mary Arnott, was shunned by her church due to her early interest in Swedenborg’s doctrines, and how Margaret went on to be one of the founding members of the Swedenborgian society. Barnard’s paper continues with how the society grew from the meetings of those in the District who were interested in Swedenborg, rather like a little club, to a regular denomination with an official charter, a church building to meet in, and hired clergy. (Judge Barnard was himself one of the members of the church.)

It’s also clear from Barnard’s paper that some of Mrs. Milburn’s boarders were themselves adherents to the Swedenborgian Church. I’d like to know whether Margaret Milburn pressed information about the church into the hands of her boarders, or whether persons with a prior interest in Swedenborg’s New Jerusalem found Mrs. Milburn and found her home convenient. At any rate there was one particular boarder in the Milburn household we must take note of: an older fellow called Hollis Amidon, a widower from New York. For more than a decade Mrs. Milburn kept house with her niece Miss Margaret A. Milburn and Mr. Hollis Amidon.

Miss Milburn was teaching school. She began her career at about the age of sixteen when she opened her own private school. The Washington public schools were just then starting to come into their own as an institution acceptable to a broad public. Margaret was soon hired by the Trustees to teach in the public schools in the Fourth District, which is to say in that same neighborhood where she lived. She became an extremely well-regarded teacher, commended for her keen skill in interesting her pupils individually in the schoolwork, prompting their genuine engagement rather than merely teaching by rote. Evidently she was highly dedicated to her efforts with her students, and a kind of warm enthusiasm for her shows up in the Trustee reports and in the newspaper accounts of the annual examinations.

Then in December 1862 Miss Margaret A. Milburn wed Mr. Hollis Amidon. She, who had not up until then seemed to be interested in getting married, wed the man twenty years her senior—Amidon was actually old Mrs. Milburn’s age—with whom she had been living for years. Very little really changed. Mrs. Amidon kept working as a schoolteacher in the Fourth District, and she and Amidon continued to live with old Mrs. Milburn in the same house where they had been so long.

The lot, or partial lot, where the house stood was the last piece of George Milburn’s “Square 464”  property left to bestow on one of his children. Mrs. Milburn was getting on in years and thinking of her old age, and so she arranged for its transfer to the Amidons. But all was not secure. Margaret Amidon was ill with tuberculosis. (Maybe she knew this, or suspected it, at the time she married.) She died in 1869, remaining with her beloved pupils until close to the end. Mrs. Milburn didn’t outlive her by many years: she died in 1874. Hollis Amidon, Milburn-less, undertook to put his wife’s property (“lot number 11”) directly in his own name. This was the situation to which some others in the family objected in the courts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cogee tells a joke

Cogee Milburn liked to tell jokes. If I remember she even wanted to tell one during her taped interview in 1983. Here’s a joke that she used to tell with delight. I’m sure she repeated this one to me several times, but these aren’t her words exactly, only my recollection.

“A farmer was out working in his fields. Here comes his little boy, calling to him, “Daddy, Mama says to come in right quick, ’cause the preacher’s coming by for a visit!” The farmer asked his boy which preacher was coming, but the boy didn’t know. So the farmer said, “I’ve got to stay and work here longer. You run back, and if it’s the Catholic then hide the whiskey jug. If it’s the Methodist, make sure you hide the that jar with the money in it. But if it’s the Baptist preacher, you just sit on Mama’s lap till I come home.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thomas William Milburn’s “Vicissitudes”

Besides his “Texas letter,” one other piece of Thomas W. Milburn’s writing has survived and turned up again after seventy years. Late in his life TW put down on paper a set of anecdotes, a little clutch of incidents from his childhood and youth in Washington. He calls them vicissitudes, a word he must have chosen to be a little too fancy, like a stage wink. The three pages of his “Vicissitudes letter” were mailed to Mrs. G.F. Carlisle, and introduced by a sort of bread-and-butter cover letter. The whole thing was found in an envelope with a 1943 cancellation.

The memoir content was certainly written two years earlier, in about August of 1941, and seems from the language of its apologetic last paragraph to have been conceived as though talking to some specific person, not to The World or to Posterity. Why then the two-year gap between the writing and the mailing? And, since the letter was actually sent off to Mrs. Carlisle, how did it come back into possession of the Milburn family, so that we have it now?

To answer that last question I’ll have to guess and say that Mrs. Carlisle simply returned it to the family when TW died in 1944. Seems reasonable. As for the first question, about the gap, I just don’t know. I can’t come up with a good explanation.

TW’s “Vicissitudes Letter” is short enough that I will print the whole content here, and after it mention a little point of interest to me.

Some of the Early Vicissitudes in a Long Life.

To have been born, in Washington D.C., in the 1850’s. was my first V.

Three years after birth, while meandering along, back of the stalls of a lot of big mules, upon my Uncle’s Maryland farm and being led to the slaughter by a little slave girl, at least one mule saw an opportunity for revenge against the white race and kicked me in the middle and against the barn door. In some manner, the dead boy survived a long buggy trip to W. and after the third day he returned to life, thanks to that sweet drug – Niter.

A couple of years later, this same colored nurse permitted this same near angel to crawl from bed, while enjoying a high fever and to roll down the kitchen roof, to the walk below, which, I suspect, caused the fever to drop to a reasonable figure —

So, we get to the beginning of our Civil War – Washington was in as much confusion then as now, in 1941 – but there was a Patriot in the White House. Lee’s army was just across the mile wide Potomac, in Virginia. The Northern Army, mostly, had come to W. to save the city and I stared daily at the troops, officers, cannon and at the killing upon the streets, of many distempered horses. The streets were all unpaved and muddy, except between the double car tracks, in all parts of W., which were cobble stoned – in fact there were no paved streets – that I remember until U. S. Grant’s inauguration, when Penna. Ave. was paved, from Capitol to White House, with pine blocks, laid upon boards, which lasted until they floated away – Cement and bitulithic were practically unknown.

I grew up or down in South Washington – It was then known as the “Island[”] – V-shaped by the Potomac on one side – Eastern Branch of same, upon the other and a canal, upon the N. and S.E. sides entirely separating it from Northern & Eastern W.

This canal began at Harper’s Ferry, ran to Georgetown parallel, all the way, with the Potomac – At G. there were flour & meal mills. The canal kept on going – crossed down back of the Executive Mansion and from 15th street to the Botanical Gardens it paralleled Penna. Ave. one block South, thence south east to empty into the Eastern Branch.

This canal has been filled in but not before its great attraction nearly got me. Skating upon its ice one day, an air hole suddenly engulfed me and when they pulled me out I was a stiff mass of mud and ice[.]

Not long after this, while under a bridge my boy friends shoved me into deep water, knowing that I couldn’t swim – that and the next act were cruel acts.

I was growing up and trying to impress females. Sunday School time was the most impersive [impressive] place, so one Sunday, dressed in a white duck suit, I lined up at the curb with a muddy pool behind me – Something suggestive must have been seen in that duck suit because the boys ganged up on me and over I went into the mud — Did I put up a fight – no. I ran 8 blocks to the river[,] jumped in with all that finery and walked home and sneaked into other clothing –

I have to omit some other escapades, such as taking the School Trustee’s horse for a ride, so, at 17 I landed 3 or 4 jobs, finally stuck to telegraphy and in 1875, at 20½, came to Texas but my vicissitudes don’t end yet this “I” story must end, as I am 86⁷⁄₁₂ths and sleepy.

T. W. M.

There is a PDF of the letter available which includes the cover letter and envelope.

“My Uncle’s Maryland farm.” In a chronicle that makes no mention of any of TW’s immediate family, who was this off-stage uncle? On TW's mother’s side there was no family, or none that I know of. On his father’s side TW had three aunts. The oldest was Mary Ann. Her first husband, Mr. Hinton, was long dead by 1858, the purported year of the mule incident. Mary Ann’s second husband, Mr. Gunnell, has no connection with Maryland that I know, but came from Virginia, and his family is always associated in that direction. TW’s middle aunt was Margaret, who was not married at the time, nor for some years more. Last there was the youngest aunt, Violet. Her first husband, Mr. Williams, in 1858 was recently deceased. He might have had some property in Maryland since Violet held a sale of his slaves in December of 1858 at Hughesville in Charles County. Violet did marry for the second time in October of 1859 to Mr. Abell, who was without question a Maryland farmer. The Abell property was located at Scotch Neck near Hollywood, in St. Mary’s County. That’s almost sixty miles from Washington—long for a buggy ride. Perhaps TW simply made a mistake, and the mule incident took place when he was four or five years old rather than when he was only three. Of course there is, as ever, the great likelihood that there are persons and places that I simply don’t know about yet.

I do know that TW’s brother George died, according to the papers, at Vineyard Farm, located in Charles County, Maryland. If that’s the same farm as the one with the stalls of big mules it must have seemed like a place of doom.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

End of the family in DC

What became of the Milburn household after Thomas William Milburn set off for Texas? His father, Mr. Thomas Milburn the carpenter, had died in 1872. TW's little sister Eva, the youngest of the children, had died in 1874 when just a schoolgirl. And the rest of them?

TW’s older sister Alice was married and not living at home any more. Before her marriage she had been—like a number of women in the Milburn line—a schoolteacher. For five years she had taught in the Fourth District schools around where they were living, first primary school, then secondary. In October of 1870 she resigned her post, and married John R. Wood. Mr Wood, a Virginian, was a river boat pilot. The Woods moved to a house of their own a few blocks further south. They apparently tried to start a family (this is not clear to me), but never got very far. Alice took sick with a “lingering illness” and died in the summer of 1877. Her husband stuck around Washington. He was now a boat captain taking day-trippers and pleasure-seekers on excursions to, say, Leonardtown down on the Maryland shore. I’m sorry to say I don’t yet know what happened to him, nor where he ended up.

TW's sister Ada was just out of secondary school when she married in January of 1876. Her husband George Kleindenst came from Washington, from the neighborhood, so they had likely known each other for years. Right away they started their large family. Suddenly in 1880 George headed to Texas, following his brother-in-law to San Antonio, and Ada and the children came and joined him there.

Mrs. Pamelia Milburn, TW’s mother, decided to remarry, a few months after Ada wed George. Pamelia's second husband was Mr James H. Granger of Washington. Granger was another carpenter. He was a little bit older than Pamelia, and had been married twice before, with a grown son. For a time the Grangers stayed in Southwest DC, but in the coming decade they wound up moving out to the suburbs south of the Eastern Branch. All of Pamelia’s own children were either dead or living far away.

Portrait from a reproduction of a tintype of a woman, Pamelia Milburn, seated, with dark clothing of the 1860s and a shawl.
TW’s mother Pamelia

There will be more about Pamelia Granger in another post, and more about Ada Kleindenst when we get back to Texas.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thomas W. Milburn and family in Washington DC

Thomas William Milburn came from Washington, DC, where he was born on 20 January 1855. He was the son of another Thomas Milburn and his wife Pamelia Sawyer. At home TW had an older sister called Alice, born about 1848. He should have had an older brother George, but that boy died the year before TW was born. We know about George from the notice run on 6 July 1854 in a District newspaper,
On Sunday, the 2d instant, at Vineyard Farm, Charles County, (Md.) George W., aged 17 months, only son of Thomas and Pamel[i]a Milburn, of this city. 
Another sister was born in 1858 or 1859 (there is some difficulty settling on the year) and was named Ada Violet. Two more babies, born during the time of the Civil War, we know only from their graves in the family plot in Congressional Cemetery, where they were buried with no given names recorded. And then one more child, the youngest sister, called Eva, born in 1866. She brings the Milburn family up to its largest number, the four children shown in the census of 1870, Alice, Thomas, Ada, and Eva.

TW’s father, Mr. Thomas Milburn, was described in his census records as a carpenter. That term evidently was applied to the occupation we might call contractor  or builder. Although Mr. Thomas Milburn is very little mentioned in the newspapers, there is one article, reporting estimates submitted for constructing “the new asylum,” which shows him turning in a $34,950 bid. Now, which building might this have been? I’ve never found any asylum in the city to match the date of construction and the architect talked about in the article. The Milburn bid was not, by the way, either the highest or the lowest of the ones recorded. Mr. Milburn seems to have done well enough at his business. He is mentioned in another article carrying $170 in gold on him, which he lost to a pickpocket! In addition to getting on with his business he was a member of both the Odd Fellows and the Masons, and he was elected Commissioner of his city ward (the Seventh). He was evidently a pleasant enough fellow of the common sort, well enough liked, but there isn’t so much to tell about him.

One possibly interesting thing, to me, is the appearance starting in 1869 of advertisements for the partnership of Angus & Milburn. Mr. Angus worked in Northwest Washington. Our Milburns lived and worked in the Seventh Ward, which is to say Southwest Washington. I think the early signs of the decline of that latter part of the city must have already been felt in the 1850s with the coming of the railroad. The B&O eventually crossed through Southwest, in fact right beside the Milburn home. A nuisance of itself, what with the noise, soot, and embers, the train also changed a small scale residential and commercial neighborhood into a more industrial one. Then, after the Civil War was ended, the population of the area started to grow dense from newcomers to the city. So when Mr. Thomas Milburn found a partner in Job Winans Angus, a very well respected builder who flourished in a far more illustrious quadrant of the city, that alliance might have begun a transition to a better established business, in a prosperous and expansive locale.

from an 1869 directory

Mr. Thomas Milburn died in 1872. He was just 48 years old. The paper says it was “after a lingering illness.” Perhaps that was tuberculosis—quite common. And Mr. Milburn’s death was not the only loss happening for the family. Mr. Milburn’s sister Margaret died in 1869 (definitely tubercular), his sister Mary Ann in 1870. In 1874 his little daughter Eva, TW’s sister, went to her grave in May; and old Mrs. Milburn, Mr. Milburn’s aunt, who had been the guardian of the family property, died in November. The following spring the family split into opponents in a lawsuit over some of the property, and TW joined up with the Signal Corps bound for Texas.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A minor blasphemy

It must have been around 1970. My sister Carolyn was back at home for some occasion or other. At the dinner table my father returned thanks in his usual way. “Father, bless this food to our use and us to thy service. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.” Then in those seconds of silence before the clink and clank of the table restarted, Carolyn was saying brightly, “All things come of thee, O Papa.” You could hear her grinning. My mother set her jaw and gave a brief shake of her head, like a tiny tremor. That was her sign of unacceptability, My father looked puzzled for a moment. I burst out laughing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thomas W. Milburn on the frontier in Texas

At this point I’ve got to bring in the letter—the one that started it all. A while back my brother e-mailed me with a transcript of an old letter he had found. It turned up among some of the papers that got cleared out after our father died. My brother wasn’t altogether sure about who had written this letter. I knew it had to come from our great-grandfather Milburn. Three pages give an account of what was going on when he came to Texas so long ago.

Tom Milburn writes:

This is a story of a young Washingtonian who landed in Denison, at the terminus of the Katy railroad, in 1875. There was one other railroad, the Central, from Denison, through Dallas, to Houston, with branches from Bremond to Waco, and from Hempstead to Austin. The young buck came to Texas to serve with the U.S. Army Signal Corps, in the construction of a military telegraph line connecting all of the military posts in Texas, for the purpose of giving quick information concerning marauding Mexicans from the south and Indians from Indian Territory—now Oklahoma.

This single wire line started at Denison, down through the hamlet of Pilot Point, crossed over to the hamlet of Jacksboro, thence north through the only other hamlet (Henrietta) anywhere around, thence along the Texas line to Fort Sill and Lawton hamlet. The main line continued southwest from Jacksboro to Graham—just a spot—thence to Ft. Concho—San Angelo, another small spot. There was nothing in between Graham, Henrietta and San Angelo but the bald “staked plains,” with wild buffalo and wild horses—deer, turkeys &c—not an inch of fencing and no inhabitants in that vast territory reaching up to Colorado and New Mexico. The telegraph line branched at Concho, one line going west, to Ft. Stockton and Ft. Davis and to Ft. Bliss, at El Paso. The other leg ran through Ft. McKavett Menard, Mason, Boerne, San Antonio, thence through Castroville, Uvalde, Ft. Clark (Brackettville), Eagle Pass (Ft. Duncan), Laredo (Ft. McIntosh), Rio Grande City (Ft. Ringgold), & Edinburg, winding up at Ft. Brown, at Brownsville.

(I prepared a map to show the places connected in this large project and the tremendous extent of it.)

All of these lines were built by detachments of troops from the Forts above mentioned (excepting some miles of the line, in the Stockton El Paso region, which were carried upon 3-inch wrought iron 20-foot pipes, which came by water from Norfolk, Virginia, to Galveston). Texas red cedars, from the river territory of Texas, were furnished by contractors who cut them & trucked them to the holes, as staked out by Army Engineers.

The telegraph offices at all of these points were manned by civilian operators & linemen who had enlisted in the Signal Corps for a term of 5 years.

At this point the speaker suddenly shifts to the present, and to progress and abundance.

This Washington youth has now reached the senile age, without having improved with the country but attributes his longevity to the salubrious climate of this grand state—to his having survived the stage robbing and Indian treachery periods and to his never having had any employer to designate his working hours. But it is a source of pride to note that one half of this largest state in the Union, which in 1875 was uninhabited, is now dotted, from end to end, with fine towns—that a country in which a scouting party of a Cavalry Troop died from thirst, now produces artesian water at 20-feet depths, more cotton than they have storage for, great quantities of finest melons, grown by irrigation, vast sheep and goat ranches from which millions of pounds of wool are gathered and vast herds of beautiful white-face cattle which have drowned out the old Texas longhorns and don’t forget the vast areas of oil and gas wells and other things which have come to a land which, a few years ago, was given over to the cactus, to millions of buffalo & horses, millions of colt-high jack rabbits, and—but what’s the use spreading it on? Newcomers to Texas find the thing all ready for them to settle down in security.

The transcription above has been lightly edited for clarity. You can see the original, handwritten on four unruled pages.

I keep calling it a letter, but without a salutation, direction, date, or signature, is it really a letter at all? Why did he prepare it? And who saved it? With that boosterish summing-up at the end, it occurred to me that this could be the text for a speech—maybe a speech intended, say, for his company colleagues on the occasion of his retirement. Did he mean for it to be preserved? Or did somebody in the family just silently tuck it away?

• • •

Let’s step back to that small paragraph where Tom Milburn brings up the staff at the telegraph stations. He mentions civilian operators and linemen with a five-year term of enlistment. His own five-year term began on the first of June, 1875, and lasted until the end of May, 1880. This information can be found in the Army registry of enlistees. The registry also tells us that he was already a telegrapher in Washington, DC, at the time when he was assigned to the Signal Corps.

The Signal Office made a report to Congress each year reviewing the stations, their staffs, their equipment, etc. The reports from this period mention T.W. Milburn, and in fact show him at his first post at Denison, Texas, as soon as 1 July 1875. Every so often he might be relieved at one post and move on to take another position at a post down the line. In 1876 he was working at Boerne and at San Antonio. A very interesting civilian’s name appears in the report. Working alongside T.W. Milburn was none other than Miss Anna Pollmar, his future wife. She was about a month shy of seventeen years old at the outset of her employment in 1876, and she was a civilian operator. Her name continues to appear in the Signal Office reports—and sometimes she was in charge of her station—until the spring of 1879, when she was Mrs. Anna Milburn. She would have been pregnant with their daughter, Pamelia, who was born that year in May.

One more civilian of note at the stations was J.K. Dunbar. This was the same man who, we’ve seen, later headed the exchange at San Antonio. The astute family historian, knowing that Tom and Anna Milburn’s son was named Jack Dunbar Milburn, will already have guessed that it was in honor of this Mr. Dunbar, telegraph and telephone man.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thomas W. Milburn in San Antonio

When Thomas Milburn died on 12 November 1944, the Dallas Morning News printed only a short death notice. “Milburn, Thomas W., passed away at residence, 3519 Lindenwood, Sunday. Survived by wife, Mrs. Anna Milburn; one daughter, Mrs. R. C. Mynatt; one son, J. D. Milburn; two grandchildren, Miss Dorothy Ann Mynatt, Mrs. Cathryn Milburn Cate; two great-grandchildren.” There was no obituary (that I've found) in the Dallas papers. Nor was there any in San Antonio, where Thomas lived before he moved to Dallas.

Here’s an early mention in a newspaper. Printed in the Galveston Daily News on 29 August 1878, in a series of items from San Antonio: “Miss Annie Pollmar and Thomas W. Milburn were married this morning [the 28th]. The bride is the daughter of Mr. Pollmar, printer, of this city; the groom is one of the telegraphers at this place.” (It’s interesting to me that their marriage was deemed worth reporting in Galveston. Was it the Pollmar family, or was it the telegraphy?) So Thomas was at that time associated with the telegraph, a fully standard piece of communication, unlike the very new-fangled telephone.

Looking at Morrison & Fourmy’s 1881 San Antonio city directory you can find the listing for Thomas Milburn which tells that he was simply a clerk at the Signal Office, which is to say a telegrapher. The same volume, in a sort of preface called San Antonio: Future Commercial Metropolis of Texas, carried this brief article pointing to the future.
A few months ago a telephone exchange was established in this city, under the management and control of Mr. J. K. Dunbar, and the patronage already extended to it makes its success a foregone conclusion. The present number of subscribers is about one hundred, and this number can be increased indefinitely. The lines are already extended all over the city, and into the suburbs, and it is safe to say that no one now enjoying its privileges would consent to give up this great aid to the business and professional man as well as private citizens.
Thomas took his experience of wired communications to a position working for Mr. Dunbar at the young telephone company. These were hectic years when the monopoly telephone system was taking shape, merging and acquiring and reorganizing its holdings over and over, doing battle with rivals like Western Union. Thomas was soon managing local and then regional operations, promoting long-distance service and encouraging the proliferation of exchanges in towns across Texas.

Studio portrait, with short hair going gray at the temples, a thin neck, large eyes. Suit is tight and straight.
Thomas Milburn in the 1880s.
And Texas was booming. After 1877, when the railroads connected Texas cities, the population swelled rapidly. Galveston had for a long time been the largest city in the state, but now San Antonio, which had been second, came to be for a while in first place. Before the Civil War a little more than 8,000 people lived there; by 1910 there were over 96,000. New people and new businesses, and sooner of later they all required telephone service. The growing telephone company was called early on the Erie Telegraph and Telephone Company. By the turn of the century it was known as Southwestern Telephone and Telegraph. It must have seemed as if the “indefinite increase” was the surest thing in the world.

An early title for T.W. Milburn at the phone company was South Division Superintendent. At some point he came to be called Circuit Manager. Thomas began, after some years in the operation at San Antonio, to shift toward Dallas. Newspapers in the mid-1890s talk about his travels around Texas, and little items mention him in Dallas in this period. He starts to show up in Dallas city directories. In April of 1899 it was announced in the Dallas Morning News that T.W. Milburn would shortly be taking the position of General Superintendent of the North Texas Division.

Someone made this picture of Texas telephone men meeting at the Akard Street headquarters in Dallas. An arrow points to the figure of Thomas Milburn standing somewhat apart on the steps near the doorway.

A row of men seems small in front of am imposing two story building with very large windows. Some are in shirtsleeves, some in suits.
Managers meeting at the Telephone Building, Dallas, about 1900

In 1900—the year, more or less, when this photo was made—the census records Thomas boarding at a Dallas hotel. His daughter Pamelia was with him. (The children must have accompanied their father to Dallas from time to time. Jack at fifteen was eager to follow his father into the modern world of telephones.) Anna, however, was still living in the house in San Antonio. She may have been reluctant to give up her life there, or she may have remained behind to care for her father who was ill (he died in 1902). But sometime shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, probably by the time that Pamelia married in 1903, Anna followed Thomas to Dallas, and the Milburn family was gone from San Antonio.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thomas W. Milburn in Dallas

My mother’s paternal grandfather was named Thomas William Milburn. Here he is in 1920, holding my mother, Cathryn, in the crook of his arm.

A studio photo of an old couple and two grandchildren.
Anna, Dorothy, Thomas, & Cathryn, 1920

Thomas has closely trimmed hair, rather bushy, overhanging eyebrows, and a small mustache, all silvery-white. His chin is slightly pointy, and his nose is long and high-bridged. (That nose perplexes me, since I don’t know anyone in the family who inherited it.) Standing behind Thomas in the photo is Anna, my mother’s grandmother. The little girl at the left, sitting on a stool and holding a toy chicken, is Dorothy Mynatt, my mother’s cousin. Everyone—even the chicken—is looking at the baby, propped comfortably on her grandfather’s lap.

(Missing from the picture, you might say, are the children’s parents. Dorothy’s mother Pamelia was the older of Thomas’s and Anna’s children. She was married to Dick Mynatt. Pamelia’s brother Jack Milburn and his wife Cogee were Cathryn’s mother and father.)

My mother kept the group photograph hanging on the wall in the house where I grew up. And that’s how I came to learn about Thomas Milburn, from seeing the picture and asking about it. Mother was dearly fond of her grandfather, and always liked telling about him.

When Mother was born she and her parents lived with her Grandfather Thomas and Grandmother Anna in a house Thomas owned on Corinth Street, south of downtown Dallas. There was a short period when her parents took her to live in Kansas City, but after only about a year they came back to Dallas, and back to live on Corinth Street.

She remembered her grandfather as kind and gentle with her, and funny with a mild, whimsical sense of humor. Thomas smoked cigars and sometimes a pipe, and she liked the way he smelled. He would bring treats for her in his jacket pockets, and he called her by the pet name Katrinka. She’d sit with him while he read the funny papers out loud, and they’d laugh over, say, Maggie and Jiggs. It was different, though, with her grandmother. Anna Milburn was a demanding woman who became more and more difficult as she grew deaf in her old age. Mother was a little afraid of her.

Thomas was retired. He had been a telephone company man, a manager for ever-growing Southwestern Telephone and Telegraph until the end of 1909. After that Thomas and Anna did some traveling. There are records showing a trip to Europe in 1910, a passage from Cuba to Boston in 1914 (just as the First World War was beginning), a trip to California, and one to Minnesota where Pamelia was convalescing at the Mayo clinic. Sometime in the middle ’teens Thomas bought the Corinth Street house. His son, Jack, back from Chicago in 1918, brought his bride to live there, too.

Mother’s birth certificate mentions a “½” address for her parents, so maybe the house was a duplex, or maybe they simply divided it. The Corinth Street house no longer exists. I remember that a very long time ago my mother took me down to see the place. It surprised me to find out that she’d lived there as little girl. I think I can remember a dilapidated frame house with two broad porches, upper and lower, that ran the width of the building. The place was painted white but peeling badly.

After the Great War and into the 1920s “everybody” was beginning to move farther away from downtown Dallas. Mother’s parents built their cottage-style house in Highland Park in, I think, 1927. And the Mynatts moved up north, first to the Lakewood neighborhood, and then they, too, bought a house in Highland Park on Lindenwood. In about 1932 Thomas and Anna left Corinth Street, and came to live with their daughter. Really, they were all very close again since 3519 Lindenwood was just a block from Jack’s house at 3701 Gillon.

Gizmo-crazy Jack Milburn had a movie camera. Cogee must have shot these bits of a family party in the back of the Gillon house about 1929. We see Thomas and Anna begin to dance, and immediately they are joined by Dorothy with her Uncle Jack, then Dick and Pamelia Mynatt, and at the end, Cathryn and an unknown friend of hers. (Cathryn’s the taller of the two girls, with a ribbon in her very dark hair.)

Milburns dancing, 1929

Close to the end of his life Thomas had occasion to be photographed again with a child and a baby. This time the young pair were his great-grandchildren, Richard and Carolyn.

A very elderly man holds a young baby in his lap, while a little boy stands close by.
Thomas with Richard & Carolyn, 1942

The place is Jack’s house again, at the edge of the covered porch. It’s a dappled afternoon. The picture has no date, but it must be from about the summer or fall of 1942, the year Carolyn was born. Everbody’s smiling. Thomas is eighty-seven years old.