David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wedding Wednesday ~ Mary Moreland Saylor

For this Wedding Wednesday, I am sharing this delightful photograph of Mary Moreland Saylor, wife of Roscoe Saylor. Mary was the daughter of William and Ida Moreland of Indianapolis and Roscoe was the son of Perry and Ida Belle Swadner Saylor, grandson of Samuel and Caroline Routsong Swadner, and my 2nd cousin, 2 times removed.
Roscoe was born in Montgomery County, Ohio on 17 December, 1892 and worked as a salesman in Indiana, where he married Mary on 28 June, 1924. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Jacob and Anna Margaret Swadener

For today's Tombstone Tuesday, I am sharing the final resting place of Jacob and Anna Margaret Swadener, the grandparents of Charles E. Swadener, the attorney whose story I shared in an earlier post.  Jacob and Anna are my 3rd great grand uncle and aunt.

Jacob Swadener was born on 27 November, 1786 in Libertytown, Frederick County, Maryland, the son of Henrich (Henry) and Elizabeth Sentsor Schwedner.  By 1840, he was living in Van Buren Township, Montgomery County, Ohio, with his wife, Anna Margaret, and sons William and Michael (M.J.).  His oldest sons, Valentine and Abraham had not come with them.  They may have died in Maryland, but I have found no official records.
Jacob owned his farm in Van Buren Township, where he appeared on the US Census records until 1860.  Anna Margaret died in 1861 and Jacob followed her two years later.

They are buried in David's Cemetery, Kettering, Ohio.

Black Sheep Sunday ~ From Golden Goose to Black Sheep in One Afternoon

The gentleman pictured above is my 2nd cousin, 3 times removed, Charles Edward Swadener. I "discovered" Charles about a month ago, while I was spending a couple of hours searching for information on random last names in my family tree.  On that particular afternoon, I had decided to research the maiden name of my maternal great great grandmother, Clarinda Swadner, using the various ways it has been spelled throughout the years.  Using the "SWADENER" spelling, I began to search a newspaper resource.  I first discovered an article about Charles' father, Michael Swadener, whom I learned had once been the sheriff of Montgomery County, Ohio.  Feeling a sense of pride in the fact that one of my ancestors had been an early "lawman" in my hometime, I began to search for more information about Michael and his family.  Almost immediately,  in the 1882 Beers History of Montgomery County, Ohio, I found a biographical paragraph about Charles Swadener, attorney at law.  What a shining story it was!  Charles has been born in Dayton in 1853 and had attended the St. Mary's Institute and had been determined to study law.  He was accepted into the bar in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1874 and had formed several law partnerships in the city of Dayton.  He had married Leila Duel, a holder of Bachelors and Masters Degrees herself.  The final line of the biography states  "In his profession he is noted for his devotion to his clients' interests and this combined with his comprehensive knowledge of the law and correct application of its principles has carried him into important professional relations."  After reading this, I was feeling quite smug about my family member; especially since I had been writing recently about so many family scandals.  I saw my next blog post in my mind, "Charles Swadener, Attorney in the Family".  If my research had ended with that biography, that post would have probably been written.

 But, then I found the small article printed on page two, column 1 of the 18 December, 1895 edition of The Cleveland Plain Dealer.  It began  "RUIN AND DISGRACE".

You've got to be kidding. I couldn't believe what I was reading. The article began with the facts that Charles had been disbarred, was "shorn of all his former fortune, disgraced socially, his wife and children in want" and that he was a "physical and almost mental wreck".   Charles Swadener, my 2nd cousin, 3 times removed, just two years before the date of this article, was worth over $200,000, was a prominent and well respected citizen of Dayton.  Now, I was discovering that because of poor real estate investments, he had gone deeply into debt and to try to hide this debt he had begun embezzling the funds of his clients, to the tune of $90,000.  According to the article, he had to sell everything he had and even his family gave up some of their own belongings to try to pay his debt, but he still owed thousands.  His plea of guilty led to a sentence of one year in the penitentiary.   Oh shoot. There went my bragging blog post.

I was curious what happened to Charles afterwards.

Interestingly enough, on the United States Census form of both 1900 and 1910, Charles is listed as living in Dayton, with his occupation listed as "lawyer" and "attorney".  He is living with his wife, daughter, and servant, Sadie.  Obviously, Leila must have truly loved Charles since she stood by him and waited for him to come back home to her and it seems that he was able to come home and pick up the pieces of his life and become an attorney again.  I hope the victims of his crime were able to do the same.

According to his Ohio death certificate, Charles died on 9 September, 1910 from interstial nephritis with contributory arterio sclerosis. He was buried in Dayton's historic Woodland Cemetery.  Lela lived until 9 January, 1927, when she died in Chicago, Illinois.

I learned many things during that afternoon of work; not the least of which was to make sure I have researched everything I can about a subject BEFORE I start to write.  But, I guess I could still brag about the "lawman" in my family!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not So Wordless Wednesday ~ The Calling Card

I discovered this calling card while going through some of my grandparents old photographs. I wasn't familiar with the name "Hezekiah Cashour" so I decided to do some "detective work" to see if I could find out just how my grandparents (or great grandparents) may have known this gentleman.
Here is what I have found:
In a memorial posted on Findagrave.com, it states that Hezekiah was born on 20 January, 1820 and he died on 29 April, 1908.  He is buried in the Sam's Creek Church of the Brethren Cemetery in New Windsor, Carroll County, Maryland.
According to the United States Census records of 1850, 1860, and 1870, Mr. Hezekiah Cashour was living in New Windsor, Carroll County, Maryland.  His listed occupation is "wagon maker".  On 20 April, 1844, Hezekiah married Harriett Miller or Millards in Carroll County.  They had a son named David, who moved here to Montgomery County, Ohio sometime after 1860.  He had a farm in Madison Township.  He died on 10 January, 1914, after suffering a diabetic coma.  David was buried at the Hillgrove Cemetery in Miamisburg, Ohio. 
From this information,  I can only guess that somehow one of my ancestors knew David and could have received this calling card from him, perhaps when they were interested in obtaining a new wagon of some sort. 
I will probably never know the exact relationship between my family and the Cashour's, and I'm sure they never imagined that a century after this card was produced, it and Hezekiah's story would be shared with the world! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Frank P. Kesling

For today's Tombstone Tuesday, I am sharing the final resting place of Frank P. Kesling, my husband's 1st cousin, 4 times removed.

Frank Kesling, was born to John and Elizabeth Garrett Kesling on 25 December, 1852 in Clearcreek Township, Warren County, Ohio.  His great grandfather was Diderich "Teter" Kesling, German immigrant and veteran of the Revolutionary War.  I have shared information about Teter Kesling in previous blog posts.

According to census records, Frank became a farmer and remained a single man his entire life. He died of pneumonia at the age of 70 years, 11 months, and 2 days. Although his death certificate states that his date of death was 6 March, 1923, his headstone is inscribed "1922". He was laid to rest on 9 March, 1923 at the Springboro Cemetery in Springboro, Warren County, Ohio.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - Grandma and Grandpa's Wedding Announcement

 I could hardly wait for Treasure Chest Thursday this week to share the newest addition to my collection of treasured family heirlooms.  The difference between this and other items I have shared in the past is that this one is brand new; at least it is to me!

Today, I have posted the wedding announcement of my maternal grandparents, Leland and Gladys Marling Norris. Up until this week, I never knew this article existed. Not only that, until my mother read this newspaper clipping, she wasn't aware that her parents had had a church wedding.  She had always just assumed they had recited their vows in front of a justice of the peace. So, it was quite a surprise to read that they were married at the Presbyterian church in Elkhart, Indiana and then had a wedding supper at the home of my great grandparents. 

I have to thank Genealogy Bank for giving me the chance to own this treasured bit of my family history.  I hadn't looked at their website for a couple of years and this week when I discovered they now had the Elkhart, Indiana newspapers available, I knew I had to get a membership.  Within the first 10 minutes of researching, I found this wedding announcement. I also found an article pertaining to their marriage license and my grandmother's bridal shower.

I discovered another fact while searching within the pages of the Ekhart newspapers.   My great grandfather, Ralph  Marling, who was a moulder by profession, also happened to be the financial officer of the moulder's union.  Pretty exciting news for someone who makes her living at being a bookkeeper!  His name is mentioned numerous times during the newspaper's coverage of the union's strike in Elkhart.  My great uncle, Chet, is not left out.  His marriage announcement and several articles detailing his World War I army service are included.

This is just further proof that family history research cannot be done with just one website, at one time, and even when you think you are "finished" with a branch of your family tree, you can always discover something new, wonderful, totally unexpected! You never know when you might find a new "treasure"!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Military Monday ~ Grandpa's Official Army Papers

In the past I have shared several stories about the military service of my grandfather, Leland Norris. Today, I am sharing the Honorable Discharge papers he received on the day he was released from the Army, following World War I.

  To Whom it May Concern
This is to certify that Leland V. Norris 1532896 Corporal, 5th Battery F.A.R.R.
THE UNITED STATES ARMY, as a testimonial of honest and faithful service,
is hereby Honorably Discharged from from the military service of the United States by reason of
E.T.S. under fro. frobair / 16 M.D. 1918
Said Leland V. Norris was born
in Dayton, in the state of Ohio
When enlisted he was 18 3/12 years of age and by occupation a student
He had Blue eyes, Light hair, Medium complexion and
Was 5 feet 5 inches in height.
Given under my hand at Camp Sheridan this
19th day of May, one thousand nine hundred and nineteen

Fred H. Zinn,
Major Infantry U.S.A.

My grandfather, Leland V. Norris, during his service in the Army, 1918-1919.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sentimental Sunday - Unknown Routsong Gentleman

The distinguished looking gentleman in the above photograph is a member of the Routsong family.  I know this because I found his picture in a cluster of old Routsong photographs that had belonged to my great aunt, Grace Norris Bailey.  He definitely has the features of my great great grandfather, Henry Mathias Routsong, so I think he may be a brother of my great grandmother, Elizabeth Routsong Norris.   I have sent the picture to several people in the family, hoping to put a name to his face, but so far nobody seems to know.  Even so, it is one of my favorite pictures. I love the intensity of his expression and his attitude.  Maybe someday, someone will see this pictures and identify him for me. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shopping Saturday - HATS!

While browing through old editions of The Portsmouth Daily Times Newspaper, I discovered this advertisement from 1927 from Flora Dellert for hats.  Through my family history research, I discovered there are several ladies in my ancestry with milliner listed as their occupation. My 2nd great Aunt Dessie loved to wear hats and luckily for her, her step-mother was a milliner!
Here she is pictured with what must have been one of her favorites.

I certainly don't think I would ever have wanted to wear a bustle, but I think I would have enjoyed wearing hats like these very much!  Let's go shopping!

Thriller Thursday - The Murders at Rocky Fork ~ Part Three

With the Nichols family behind bars for the Piatt murders, the law officers of Scioto county assumed they had solved the crime.  Prosecuting the crime was going to prove more difficult.  They couldn't seem to put together a case against the Nichols family members.  Both 13 year old Hammond, who was already physically crippled, and the Nichols' cousin, David Brown,  became ill.  Months went by without any case going to court.

Then, a series of events happened that sent fear throughout Scioto County and created some doubt that the Nichols men were guilty of the crime.

In September, 1911, Sheridan Piatt, son of the murdered Oliver, was viciously attacked by James Evans, his son, Otto, and James' wife, Nora.  After almost killing Sheridan, they went on a crime spree. For three days at the end of September, they sent shivers throughout the community of Buena Vista.  The Portsmouth Daily Times on 27 September, 1911 stated that the Evans' "Went on the Warpath".  Several people were shot and wounded.   Officials from both Adams and Scioto counties began a manhunt for James and Otto Evans, and Nora was found and arrested.  Citizens were concerned that the Evans boys were out to settle "old scores" and many were afraid to confront the outlaws. At one point, the posse found the men and Deputy George River was shot and wounded. Because the Evans had such detailed knowlege of their surroundings, they were able to escape.  After several days, the law officers decided it was too dangerous to continue to go after the boys so they gave up the  hunt.  Speculation began that the Evans were probably involved in the Piatt murders, but they were never pursued.

Nora Evans was sentenced to 6 months in prison for her part in the assault and attempted murder of Sheridan Piatt. She was sent to the Cincinnati Workhouse, but due to illness and for "good behavior" she was released after only 4 months.

Then, on December 30, 1911, one year after the Piatt brothers murder and after spending almost a year in jail, the Nichols family was released on their own recognizance.  No material witnesses could be found to testify against them and it was deemed impossible to convict any of the Nichols men.  Because of the violence of the Evans family two months before, it could have been that too many questions about their possible involvement existed as well.  The Nichols did have to keep the courts informed of their whereabouts, but no further action was taken against them.  In May, 1912, the Nichols family considered legal action against the county for their imprisonment.  As of the writing of this post, I haven't determined the outcome of that lawsuit.

After the escape of the Evans' and the release of the Nichols family, no further arrests were made in the murders of Oliver and Minor Piatt.  It seems that someone did literally get away with murder.
To add to this tragedy,  on 8 March, 1921, 10 years after surviving the brutal attack by the Evans family, Sheridan Piatt was killed when he was hit in the head by a large branch while he was at work trimming trees. 

At this time, I do not know what became of James and Otto Evans, the "Wild and Wooly" father and son team who terrorized the county.  Scioto County in the early part of the 20th century was still a very rugged area.  Moonshiners were plentiful and the newspaper was often filled with stories of lawlessness.  It is sad that no one ever paid for the ghastly crime that occured on that cold December night, now one hundred years ago. Was it a robbery or something more personal?  We will never know.

Thriller Thursday- The Murders at Rocky Fork ~ Part Two

As early as Friday, 30 December, 3 days after the murders, Sheriff Eckhart of Scioto County was telling the press that he expected  to make an arrest in the Piatt murders "within a few days".  

 Countless stories were reported about the status of the case. Supposedly two women had appeared at the crime scene on the day following murder; acting strangely.
At one point there was even an erroneous report that a third body had been found in the burned out cabin and it was most probably the murderer, who had been killed himself by one of the Piatt brothers.

Doubtless, the sheriff was under great pressure to put the culprit behinds bars
  The victims were well known in the community.  Oliver Piatt was a divorced man.  His wife had left him and moved to West Virginia a few years before, taking one of the couple's sons with her.  Another son, Sheridan, had stayed in Rocky Fork with his father.  Not long Oliver and his wife separated, his brother, Minor, moved into the 3 room cabin he shared with his son and they began farming the tobacco fields together. The land was located in a rugged and remote part of the county.
Their cabin sat at the base of a dangerously high hill.  Surrounding the home were some thriving apple trees and nearby grew an apple orchard that Oliver had planted in 1907.  There was a well-kept garden and a successful 80 acre tobacco farm.  The farm itself was so large that it actually straddled the Scioto/Adams county line.  The Rocky Fork Creek ran through the property and a large ravine made it difficult to traverse the area without great care. 
According to an account in The Portsmouth Daily Times, the Piatt home itself contained a sitting room with a large stone fireplace, a bedroom, and a kitchen. Outside, a porch ran along the entire length of the front of the house. 
The speculation was that the murderer had to have been somewhat familiar with the Piatt's property, and it was believed the killer would be arrested sooner rather than later.

On 4 January, 1911,  the police officers of Scioto County arrested Hammond Nichols.  Nichols, 13 years old and "crippled", was not originally a suspect in the murders. However suspician had fallen on his brother, Jesse. The Nichols brothers lived in a "shanty", in Adams County, one and a half miles from the Piatt cabin.  When officers had searched the shanty, they found an empty gun shell exactly like the three that had been found at the murder scene.  The marks made by the plunger on the shell also matched those on the spent shells at the scene of the crime.  Jesse Nichols, the elder brother, had left town quickly the day after the murders and no one knew where he had gone.  By arresting his younger, handicapped brother, the police thought they could pull Nichols out of hiding.    They decided to leak the story that Jesse was no longer a suspect, hoping he would think it was safe to come home. It worked.  As he tried to make his way to his home, he was recognized by some men working in the woods and they turned him in.  He swore he was innocent, but the Sheriff believed they had their man.
He was questioned, or as the newspaper put it, "sweated" by Sheriff Eckhart, Ex-Sheriff Gillen, and Deputy Smith.  He continued to declare his innocence, telling the officers that he had only left town to visit an uncle in Indiana for the holidays and had fully expected to return. 
Hammond was released from custody on January 30, only to be arrested again, along with Nichols boy's father, Alex in June, 1911.   Then, in July, David Brown, a cousin of the Nichols by marriage who was described by newspaper reporters as a "squatter" was also arrested for the Piatt murders.  The only evidence pointing to Brown was the fact that he appeared to have come into money suddenly.  The Scioto county lawmen thought they had the entire case wrapped up with the arrest of the family Nichols and were just waiting to take the case the court. It should have been an open and shut case.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thriller Thursday - The Murders at Rocky Fork ~ Part One

This is the story of the murders of Minor and Oliver Piatt, my husband's 2nd cousins, 3 times removed.

John Piatt, Jr. is standing on his front porch with his son.  It is about 9:30 p.m., Tuesday,  two days after Christmas, 1910.  In the distance he can hear the frantic barking of some hounds on a fox hunt.  The night is cold and he feels the chill through his coat.  Suddenly, the sound of gunshots echoes in the night. It is not unusual for men to carry guns during the fox hunt and  John just assumes that is what has happened..  He is joined on the porch by his son and soon they notice  what they think is the hunter's campfire. It grows larger and larger and John tells his son the men must be burning up the whole country.  The air turns  colder and after watching the flames for awhile, John and his son go back into the house to warm up and head to their beds, blissfully unaware of the tragedy that had taken place only one and half miles away, at the home of his brothers, Oliver and Minor.

At about noon, on Wednesday 28 December, 1910, John Piatt, Jr. was shredding tobacco in his field at his home, near Rocky Fork in Scioto County, Ohio.  He was approached by Mr. Hazelbaker, a storekeeper from the town of Pink,  who informed him that he had heard John's brother's home had burned to the ground.  Neither Minor nor Oliver Piatt,  had been seen, and it was feared they had both been killed in the fire.  John quickly stopped his work and headed for the home of his brothers, an 80 acre tobacco farm, 18 miles from Portsmouth, Ohio on the Adams/Scioto County line. He asked his friend, James Brownfield to go with him.   It was around 3:00 pm when they arrived and before he was able to look for his brothers, two ladies, Mrs. Nichols and Mrs. Brown, apppeared on the scene.  Mrs. Nichols told John that it was her sons who had discovered  what had happened. She had sent them to the Piatt cabin to buy some tobacco.  When they saw the tragic scene, shocked and scared, they ran back home to tell their mother. She and her neighbor came to see if their story was true. Sadly, it was.

 Inside the home, John found  the bodies of his brothers, Minor, age 50 and Oliver, age 53.  They had both been killed by gunshot wounds to the head and they were burned beyond recognition.   One body was located in the corner between the fireplace and the kitchen. It appeared that any gunshot would have come through the front window, perhaps killing him with no warning.  The other man's body was found near the front door.

Sheriff Eckhart was summoned to the scene, as was the coroner, Dr. O.W. Robe.  The investigation began immediately and the speculation was that the Piatt brothers had been murdered for their money.  Family members told the investigators that the brothers were hard working, thrifty individuals who were known to keep large amounts of money in their home.  They carried silver money with them, but no silver was found in the ruins.  Armor Piatt told reporters for The Portsmouth Daily Times that he believed his brothers probably had between $500 and $1000 between them  and it would have been somewhere in the cabin. John Piatt put his suspicians on a man named William Briggs.  For a reason which he could not remember, Briggs had once said that the Piatts would "die with their boots on".   This man had been charged with selling his vote during the last election and was waiting for his punishment on that charge.  He was the first suspect.

The crime scene itself  filled with clues, even though the murderer had done his best to hide his deed.
In the yard were 3 empty Winchester cartridges.  Fresh, sized #8 footprints led in and out of the cabin and a bloody butcher knife was found on a window sill.  It appeared the culprit had approached from the west, up a small ravine that led down to the Rocky Fork Creek.

Within a few hours, a hundred people converged upon the crime scene.  This was a rugged and isolated area and travel to the cabin wasn't easy.  The sheriff, the coroner, and those who reported the crime details for the newspaper had a difficult time navigating the rocky and overgrown terrain to get to the cabin.  In the case of the reporter, he had to have footman on either side of his rig to help steady it and keep it from falling over. 

It didn't take the coroner long to make his determination on the cause of death for the men and he set about gathering up their remains for burial.  All he was able to find of both of the men was placed into an old lard can. and early on Friday morning, 30 December, 1910,  what remained of Minor and Oliver Piatt was placed in a "rough box" and buried in the cemetery at Berry Chapel on Rocky Fork.

In my next post, I will cover the investigation and arrests for the murders of the Piatt brothers of Scioto County.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Almost!) - The Great Blizzard of 1978

On January 26, 1978, when I was a sophomore in high school, Ohio and most of the eastern half of the country was hit by what was then called "The Blizzard of the Century" and I have to say that in the 34 years since I have yet to see anything that matches it.  We have had many heavy snowfalls, below zero windchills, and strong winds, but never have they come together in the manner in which they did on that January day.  The state of Ohio was virtually shut down for days.  Pleas were aired on the local television and radio stations for those with four wheel drive vehicles to help get emergency personnel to work.  I was very pleased because my school's second and third days of final exams were cancelled.

Pictured above is a certifcate given away by Dayton television station, WHIO, channel 7.  In the photograph is the late Gil Whitney, beloved weatherman and television personality. The official blizzard statistics are listed along the left side. 
Winds 60 mph
Temperature 3
Wind Chill -65
Low Barometer 28.66 (Record)
12.0 inch snowfall in 24 hours (Record)
Snow on Ground 25.5 inches (Record)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Jefferson Peacock

Sometimes, when I am visiting cemeteries, I will discover a name that captures my imagination. On my most recent visit to Locust Grove Cemetery in Peebles, Adams County, Ohio, I happened to spy this tombstone which bears the name of Jefferson Peacock and I knew I had to find out more about him. 

According to his death certificate, Jefferson was born in Rainesboro, Ohio on 19 April, 1868, the son of William Peacock and a mother whose name is listed as "unknown".  He was married to Emma and his named  occupation is "common laborer".  His death came as a result of coronary thrombosis on 5 November, 1942.   In the census records, I discovered a "Thomas J Peacock" in the 1880 Highland County census, living with his father, William and his mother, Martha, along with 3 brothers and 1 sister.  It is possible that this could be him.  I don't find him again until the 1920 census.  At that time, Jefferson Peacock  was living in Pike County, Ohio.  He was single and was a laborer on a farm that he rented.  I have found no further information about Mr. Peacock, nor did I find any burial place nearby for Emma.  So for now, most of his life will remain a mystery, but his name will certainly stay in my memory.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shot Through the Heart - The Story of Harry Odle

The cause of death listed on the certificate stated simply "Shot through the heart by officers."   The headline of The Portsmouth Daily Times on 1 March, 1927 proclaims "Coroner Starts Investigation in Death of Harry Odle -  Was Slain in Home in Rardon by Officers; Wife is Slightly Wounded in Gun Battle, Victim Insane, Alleged".   I stumbled upon that headline last night as I was doing a little "light" family history research on my husband's family.  On just another one of those days when I wanted to avoid doing the housework that is still waiting to be done, I discovered another compelling family story. 

As has happened so often in the past for me, researching newspaper archives had provided the beginning of a story that required more research to fill in the missing pieces and to finally put together a more complete picture of an event and a greater understanding of a distant family member.

Harry Odle, my husband's 1st cousin, 2 times removed, was born to John P. and Sarah Alice Cochran Odle on 20 April, 1883 in Nile Township, Scioto County, Ohio.  On 30 April, 1900, he married Iva Estella Freeman and between the years of 1902 and 1920, they had 8 children. 
According to the United States Census, in both 1910 and 1920 he was farming in Rarden Township,  Scioto County.  What could have happened that would have lead to his violent death on 28 February, 1927?

 I began with the lengthy article about the gun battle itself.  I learned that Harry Odle had been shot only once, with the bullet passing first through his forearm and then completely through his body. 
His wife, Iva, had been wounded when she was hit by a bullet that first hit a stovepipe, then the wall, a door, and then lodged in her calf.   Somehow, miraculously, Harry's mother who was also sitting in the room, was not injured. 
It had all begun when Deputy Sheriff Willis and City Patrolman Goodman had arrived at the Odle home with a warrant in hand certifying that Harry had been deemed "insane" and they were to return him to the state hospital in Athens, Ohio. He had been an inmate there in 1924 for the period of about one year.  He had run away at that time and was home for a year and half before being sent back to the asylum where he stayed until he was dismissed. The article states that the first time he was taken, it took more than a half a dozen men to handle him and while in his cell, he had torn out the iron bars with his hands.  During the short time following his release, he had worked off and on farming and working for the railroad with his brother, Nelson.  However, not long before the shooting incident, Harry's family and friends had complained to the sheriff that he had threatened their lives.  Harry himself  had also sent the County Clerk, Fred Warner, this threatening message: "To the Courts of Scioto County:  I herewith set my  hand and seat.  Harry Odle the ruler of Almighty God swear to do what is right by all people.  so I warn you to go according to law.  The first thing my trip to the insane asylum paid all my debts by law.  The second thing I seen in the paper where you appraised my place.  It is a d---- lie. It was never appraised as I know of, and I have been at home all the time.  I wasn't looking for trouble, but if that is what you want go ahead.  But, remember I am a citizen of the U.S. born and bred in Scioto County, and must be recognized."

On the Friday before his death, Harry had gone to the office of Mayor Walter Scott and threatened him with a gun, pointing it into the air and firing it several times. Then, on Monday, the day of the shooting,  Harry's daughter, Gertrude, sent the sheriff a telegram that stated, "Harry Odle dangerously insane. Family in great danger.  Come Immediately." 

Armed with a warrant for Harry's capture, the officers arrived at the home with the hope that they could "nab" him before he had a chance to shoot.  They entered the house through the kitchen and upon stepping into the middle room,  Harry fired upon them with a .32 caliber revolver,  as he wordlessly sat in a chair.  The officers drew their guns and stepped behind the door, returning fire.  Even after the shooting stopped, so wary were the officers about approaching Harry, that they threw tear gas into the room to make sure he was incapacitated.  Upon the coroner's investigation, it was discovered that Harry also had in his possession a large knife and several packs of 32 cartridges in his coat pocket.

The portion of the article that I found most interesting came towards the end when it detailed the following:  "According to relatives, Mr. Odle was a hard, earnest worker and was a sober man always and was never known to use a profane word until after he was first taken mentally ill about six years ago.  At that time, a young daughter, Berlin, about six years old, died, and he turned to religion in the hopes of forgetting his great sorrow.  Instead, relatives claim, he gave every thought to his new religious faith and soon showed signs of insanity."

When I read those lines about the mental illness not manifesting itself until after the death of his precious little girl, I knew I had to find out more about her.  According to the 1920 United States Census, Harry and Iva had a daughter named, Elizabeth B., who was 8 years old.  I felt this was probably the little one I was looking for.  I researched the Ohio Death Certificate database at familysearch.org and there I discovered the information I sought.  Elizabeth Burlene Odle, aged 7 years, 10 months, and 10 days, had died on 1 November, 1920 as a result of typhoid fever that she had contracted at school.
Harry and Iva had buried their little girl just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, 1920.   Certainly, Harry Odle would not have been the first parent to have been driven "insane" by the death of a child.  Today, there are many resources where grieving hearts can receive support, love, and understanding.  But, in 1920, counseling, especially in very rural areas, would have been virtually non-existent.  In fact, in many instances, grieving families were expected to just move on once an "acceptable" period of mourning was over.  The newspaper article reveals that Harry had "turned to religion", but we don't know exactly what that meant.  I'm sure his clergyman and his family all tried to help him ease his grief, but severe depression and it seems in this case, pychosis, could not have been talked away or even "loved" away.

According to an article in The Portsmouth Daily Times, dated 9 April, 1924, the probate court first officially judged Harry as "insane" on 8 April, 1924, and sent him to the Athens State Hospital because he had become violent and had terrorized his neighbors numerous times.   It is possible that his mental condition would have deteriorated without the death of his little girl, but it is hard to look at Harry's life just preceding the incident and not believe that his grief was not the major contributor to his downfall.   The fact that Harry Odle was a different man before his illness was told by the story of his funeral in The Portsmouth Daily Times on 5 March, 1927,  which stated "The throng that filled the church until the obtaining of standing room was next to impossible testified to the wide friendship of the man."

Thankfully, his actions did not harm anyone else,  at least physically  However,  I can't imagine what life must have been like for Iva, his wife, who had to grieve for her child and then for her husband.  She survived the gunshot wound, but remained in serious condition for many weeks.

The tragic story of Harry Odle began many years before he was "shot through the heart".  I can't help but think that his heart was injured twice; the first time by the loss of his beautiful Burlene and the final time when the lawman's bullet took his life.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Mom's Tuna Noodle Casserole

In honor of my mother's birthday, I am sharing her recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole.  This dish is a family favorite and she always has to make more than one casserole for my boys. It's delicious!


2 - 16 oz. packages Extra Wide Noodles
3- 6 oz. cans Tuna Fish

2- 10.5 oz cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 or 2- 15 oz cans peas
1 c. + 1/2 c shredded cheese

Cooking Instructions

1.  Boil water in large pan.
2. Drop noodles into boiling water and cook for 8-11 minutes
3.  Drain noodles and rinse
4. Add tuna, soup, peas, and 1 c. of cheese to the noodles
5.  Add a little water if mixture seems too dry
6.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top
7.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Those Places Thursday - Home Sweet Home

Have you ever thought about all the poems and songs that have been written about "Home"?  Think about it. Just off the top of my head I can remember "Be it Ever So Humble, There's No Place Like Home", "Back Home Again", "Green, Green, Grass of Home",  and one of my favorites, Michael Buble's version of "Home".   On one episode of "Little House on the Prairie", Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls proclaims, "Home is the nicest word there is."  I certainly can't disagree with that.  In my nearly 50 years on this earth, I have had only 3 homes.  In one, I spent the first 10 years of my life. A typical suburban ranch style home built in the late 1950's, my parents and my brothers were the first family to move into the house, when the yard was still mostly dirt and the trees were barely more than seedlings.    The best memories of my childhood revolve around that house because it was there where we all lived together for the longest period of time.  We moved into a new home right after my oldest brother graduated from high school, and even though he and my sister in law spent an entire summer there when they married, it was just temporary and things were not quite the same as they were when we were all living in our home on Chinook Lane. My mother still lives in that second house, and she and my father certainly made that house into a "home".  It contains memories of laughter, love, sadness, and grief, the way only a dwelling lived in for 40 years can.  My third and current home is the place I moved into as a new bride, almost 31 years ago.  It was owned by my father-in-law and we rented it from him for many years before we took over it's ownership.   What a wonderful life we have had within it's walls.

But, there are other homes that helped to "build me", including that of my maternal grandparents, Leland and Gladys Norris.  A few days ago, I drove past their old home, which has yet again been renovated with several large rooms added.  My grandmother wouldn't even recognize the place.  I thought about all the times I spent there; drinking ice cold 12 oz. bottles of Coca-Cola, eating cookies out of the ceramic cookie jar, pretending to be a singer while using a part of my grandpa's bed as my microphone, imagining the glass doorknobs were diamonds.  My mother has told me stories of how she roller skated in the basement and how her father raised a field of dahlias and sold them during the depression. Stories not unlike those that everyone shares.  Since my grandmother's death, that house has been owned by several different families. They have remodeled the house, made it bigger and increased it's worth and then moved on.  They created their own memories during the periods of time in which they lived there. But, they couldn't possibly appreciate the rich history of the place; how the land had belonged to my great great grandfather, Henry Routsong in the 1840's before it was passed down to his daughter, Libby, and then to my grandfather, Leland. How Leland and Gladys had raised 6 children in that house with 3 bedrooms and only 1 bathroom.  They couldn't have known how our large family held picnics every Labor Day, playing croquet in the side yard and making ice cream on the patio. 

 Driving by the house is very bittersweet.  How I long to climb into the old wooden swing on the apple tree again; the one that Grandpa tied onto a branch that would swing and sway along with me. What I wouldn't give to sit on that back porch again and just listen to the conversations that were boring to a 10 year old, but priceless to the 50 year old me.

As I sit at my computer, in the little dining room of my home of almost 31 years, I realize that someday, this house will no longer be my home.  My children will all have established homes of their own and created their own memories.  I hope that somewhere within these walls, our voices and our laughter may still echo, and that the tears will fade away. I pray that this house will be a sweet home to whomever it may shelter.

 And now, I gaze around my humble home, with it's remaining holiday disarray and I am reminded of one final poem, "A house is made of brick and stone, but a home is made of love alone" (author unknown).  Think of how different the world would be if everyone could have the shelter of a "Home Sweet Home".