Scared to Death

One of the interesting things about doing genealogy is discovering “cause of death”.  I know it sounds a little morbid, but what’s interesting is how much has changed over such a short time in terms of actually assigning a cause.  Science is better.  Medicine is better.  Autopsies….probably better.

As I was finding info on a friend’s tree I came across the death notice for her gg-grandmother, a Mrs. May (Hunt) Stewart from Modoc, Indiana.  Never heard of Modoc?  Yeah, same here.

Death notice for May Stewart, April 1901.

Death notice for May Stewart, April 1901.

So, the runaway is referring to a horse…not a teenager or a train.  I think she was actually on the horse.  So yes, that would probably give me a fright as well.  But would it scare you to death?

What do you think?  Scared to death?  Did she hurt something and didn’t recall because she had been so rattled?  Did she have a congenital heart defect?  A too-tight corset?  It’s a sad story but especially so because being frightened by a runaway horse doesn’t seem like a valid excuse to die at such a young age, just 21 years old.

 

A forgotten murder/suicide in Downtown Indy

So, one of my favorite things about doing genealogy is coming upon these wild stories in families that people knew nothing about.  A lot of times horrible things will happen and people don’t want to talk about them and they get swept under the rug.  These stories get lost in history.  I found one of those stories today!

I started a new tree for a friend with the last name of Totten.  While she was here I hit a few little roadblocks but once she left I had some more time to delve a little deeper into her Totten branch and figured out how her family got to Indiana.  The first Totten to have a child in Indiana was Calvin P. Totten who came to Johnson County with his parents and quite a few siblings.

I couldn’t find any death or burial information on Calvin and his wife Cora, which was frustrating me so I hopped on genealogybank.com to see if there were any newspaper articles where either of them were mentioned.  This is what popped up in my first search:

“Jealous Husband Kills Wife and Commits Suicide

A Double Tragedy Enacted on Streets of Indianapolis

In a fit of jealous rage, Calvin Totten, a contractor, aged fifty-five years, this evening shot to death his wife, aged forty-years, as the woman ran screaming into the street, and then in the presence of a crowd of Saturday afternoon shoppers he sent a bullet into his own head, inflicting a fatal wound.”

Ack!  What?!  I must know more!

This came from an article in the Cleveland Leader on Aug 31.  I couldn’t find anything online from the Indianapolis News or Star about this so I’ll be looking tomorrow.  How will I look tomorrow?  I knew you’d ask.

Well, tomorrow is my birthday.  Andrew asked what I would like to do for my birthday and I asked him if I could spend some time at the State Library because it’s been about forever.  Today, after working on this Totten tree I have even more to research!  I could spend all day there.  Happy Birthday to me!

The Totten that I know was shocked at this bit of news.  Although she did respond with a, “Tottens are pretty intense.”  HA!   I hope to find some more info tomorrow to pass along to her.  I am also interested to find out if her grandfather Totten (still alive) knew anything about this craziness.  It seems that many (not all of them, obviously) of the Tottens may have left Indiana after this incident so there may not have been a lot of family around to even bring it up.

********************************************************************************************

(Written the following day)

So I found an article in the Indianapolis News from September 1, 1902.  The article is pretty wild, and obviously very sensational writing (given the times) so I think I have to post the whole thing.

“Slain Wife and Suicide Are Buried Together

Calvin Totten, Jealous Husband and His Victim

At Town of Courtship

Husband Killed her Saturday Night After Years of Jealous Rage – Efforts to Evade Him

Imbued with a jealous rage that had been rankling within him for several years, Calvin P. Totten murdered his wife by shooting her with a revolver, Saturday evening, and then turned the weapon on himself.  A bullet in his brain caused his death an hour and a half later at City Hospital.

The shooting occurred at the home of Mrs. Benjamin Carr at 216 East New York Street, where Mrs. Totten and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Minnie Totten, had gone to make a social call.

Because of domestic differences, Mrs. Totten had left her husband several months ago, and refused to live with him.  She had applied for a divorce on the ground of inhuman treatment on several occassions.  The threats of Totten to take her life had caused the family no end of alarm, and care was exercised to keep Totten from ascertaining the whereabouts of his wife.  The woman moved many times to keep from coming in contact with her jealous husband.

Recently she had been living with her daughter Minnie at 427 East Market Street.  The girl is employed by the New Telephone Company.  Last Friday Minnie saw her father lurking near their home and Mrs. Totten in moral dread, asked the police to lock him up.

Superintendent Taffe allowed Totten to go free on his promise to leave the city immediately.  He was not seen again until he appeared suddenly in front of the Carr home.

The woman and girl were talking of Johnson County, where all of them formerly lived.  Minnie went to Franklin last week to attend the Johnson County Fair and she was telling of her experiences when her mother, with blanched face, suddenly exclaimed, “My God, here comes Cal.”

She seemed almost paralyzed with fear, but managed to struggle to her feet as though to escape.  She was too late, however, as Totten with the expression of a demon in his face, drew his revolver and began firing.  With a scream Mrs. Totten staggered and was about to run into the house when four shots from the revolver came in rapid succession.  The woman fell heavily to the floor of the porch, three of the four bullets having inflicted fatal wounds.

One of them had passed through her heart and the other three entered her back.  Mrs. Carr was so close that the bullets almost touched her as they sped by to their mark.  Minnie Totten fell in a swoon and the man turned toward the street.

The firing attracted the attention of a dozen or more men passing in Massachusetts Avenue nearby.  They ran to the house and the murderer coolly emptied the shells from his revolver and filled the chambers with fresh cartridges.  Waving the weapon defiantly at the crowd he started to run east in New York Street. The men followed him at a respectful distance, and when Totten realized that escape was impossible he stopped and fired a bullet into his right temple.

The couple were married in Franklin seventeen years ago on the wife’s nineteenth birthday.  Totten at that time was thirty-six years old.  Mrs. Totten’s maiden name was Cora Kipheart, and her brothers and relatives are well-known citizens of Johnson County.  Totten was also a member of a well-to-do family.  He was employed as a carpenter and a bricklayer.

Totten from the start had a jealous disposition and this culminated in an unreasoning suspicion that his wife was not true to him.  Quarrels were frequent, and as a last resort, and after sixteen years of suffering, Mrs. Totten decided to separate from him.  This only developed and strengthened the man’s jealousy and he swore often that he would someday take her life.

Yesterday evening at 6 o’clock both the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Totten were buried side by side in the little graveyard at Bargersville, Johnson County.  It was in this little village that Mrs. Totten was born and reared, and it was there she first met Totten.  There was much feeling against Totten among the relatives and friends of the dead woman, but it was finally decided that both bodies should be buried in the family plot next to the grave of one of their children.

The grave of Mary Lenore Totten who died just two years before her father killed her mother and himself.  She was just 13 years old.

The grave of Mary Lenore Totten who died just two years before her father killed her mother and himself. She was just 13 years old.

At 2:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon two hearses bore the bodies from Ragsdale’s undertaking establishment to an electric car of the Franklin line, at Georgia and Meridiant Streets.  This car was met in Franklin and the funeral procession went over a country road to the Bargersville cemetery.  A large crowd of people followed all the way.  Short services were held at the graves and the last chapter of the tragedy was closed when the coffins were lowered into the ground.”

Bravo, 1902 journalist!  Well-written, sir!  One thing that always amazes me about reading these old stories…they are so rarely labeled with the name of a writer.

The next time I get some time to go to the library I hope to check out some of the newspapers from Johnson County during that time.

Any Tottens or Kiphearts out there in the world ever hear about this story?  Please comment!

 

A Story on a Headstone

So, my buddy Jumwaltie and I had a few hours to kill on a Friday afternoon.  We had taken a trip last year out to Montgomery County (and learned that all dogs in Montgomery County do not love strangers and will chase your car) to visit some cemeteries to find some of our significant others’ family members.  We are still looking for how they may be related.  We don’t have a link QUITE yet, but we’ll get there.

Anyway…

We decided to take a trip back.  We started towards New Richmond, IN.  This is a surprisingly adorable little town that actually made me squeal at it’s preciousness.  On the way we stopped at a couple of smaller cemeteries.and just looked for surnames that looked familiar.  We also love finding bizzaro headstones.  We found a couple of interesting ones, some with weird names, and some of Revolutionary War vets (which is always interesting to find in Indiana).  Our first stop was Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, which actually seemed to be two cemeteries across the street from one another, one side decidedly older than the other side.  We stopped to have a look around and have lunch – picnic style!

Coraline watching us in amusement while we ate sandwiches and apples.  What a lovely little picnic.

Coraline watching us in amusement while we ate sandwiches and apples. What a lovely little picnic.

 

Very strange headstone for B.A. Thompson.  Was this look the goal?

Very strange headstone for B.A. Thompson. Was this look the goal?

IMG_6559

I'm not sure which is the front and which is the back.  But on one side we find the inscription.  on the other side is a box to put in decoration?  Or memorials?  Or...what?

I’m not sure which is the front and which is the back. But on one side we find the inscription. on the other side is a box to put in decoration? Or memorials? Or…what?

 

A Revolutionary War veteran

A Revolutionary War veteran

Then we headed to New Richmond Cemetery, which is seriously NOT ON GOOGLE MAPS?!?!  It really wasn’t.  There were cemeteries with like…12 people in the whole thing on google maps.  New Richmond with a TON, nope.  Not there.  I was looking for Bastions.  One of Andrew’s ggg gradfathers was Riley Bastion and his history is eluding me.  He died young (his early 30s) so his paper trail is short.  I found a few of them…took some pics, and we were on our way to…

Oak Hill Cemetery in Crawfordsville.  This is a beautiful and calming cemetery that is kept up very well.  The baby was not all that excited about being cooped up in the car, so we got out to walk around and came upon a very strange “headstone” for a man named Nathaniel Parker Willis.  It was huge with a metal plaque, with like…a ton of writing and a relief picture of who we assumed was him with his daughter (who is mentioned on the plaque).  Here it is, to read for yourself:

IMG_6562

Relief picture of Nathaniel Parker Willis and his daughter, Mary Frances Laura Willis. I wonder what happened to Mary.

Headstone and inscription for Montgomery County native, Nathaniel Parker Willis

Headstone and inscription for Montgomery County native, Nathaniel Parker Willis

So I thought, was he ACTUALLY murdered?  Or is this metaphorical?  How was he killed in a court of justice?  Huh?  So Jumwaltie and I decided that we would look this up when we got home cause it was just too weird.  Soooo….we did.

Nathaniel Parker Willis WAS killed in a court of law.  He was actually shot in the heart by his ex-wife’s new husband because Mr. Willis had just won custody of his daughter after a 7-year custody battle that seemingly played itself out in the press.  I found articles about it starting in 1902 until he was shot in 1909 (and actually beyond that, as they mentioned the trial for the shooter).  Here is what we gathered from the articles…

Nathaniel and his wife, Hattie, were not married in 1899/1900 and lived in Indianapolis with Nathaniel’s mother, Frances.  They had little Mary Frances Laura Willis and within 18 mos they were filing for divorce.  The mother claimed that Frances was a crazy lady with a horrible temper who she didn’t want her daughter living with.  She also said that Nathaniel was cruel to her which was why she wanted the divorce.  The wife left town with the child, claiming that at one point Nathaniel had done the same and tricked Hattie into kidnapping her.  It sounds like she left with Mary and Nathaniel wasn’t sure where…and he spent years trying ti find her and finally did in Arkansas.  He won the custody case that then took place in Arkansas.  When they were meeting up to discuss transfer of child, Hattie’s new husband, W.Y. Ellis, came to the meeting and pulled a gun, nearly missing a Senator when he shot, and got Nathaniel in the heart.  Wow!  What a sad and amazing story.

It actually reminded me a little of the book Indiana Gothic, by Pope Brock.  This was a great book that Brock wrote after he started researching his family history and learned of this terrible scandal, tragedy, and court case in his family’s past.  I thought what an amazing story this could be if written into a novel.  Someone get started on this, pronto!

Sadly we were unable to find any Bastions here, and the cemetery office was closed (we were obviously very prepared and organized on this trip) and headed home.

Then I went to dinner.  Then my car was broken into.  That’s a story for another place.  Wah Wah…..

Family (non) secrets

I want to start this post by announcing that I am back in the saddle again, after that hiatus…with the kid and the hospital and the transition and all that jazz.  We are cool now.  Well, actually I’ve started waking up at 6am every day to get a little time to myself where I am not washing dishes or clothes, entertaining a baby with a very short attention span, or trying to get said baby to eat.  So now I have a little more time…as well as a little more exhaustion by the end of the day, but I’m pretty sure it’s worth it.

So…I made a discovery in the Munn family.  Well, I thought it was a discovery, because no one had ever thought to tell me about it.  Turns out it’s not a big secret, but a very interesting story!

So I started using this site called www.newspapers.com very recently.  I thought I would try it out for a year to see if it was of any use.  And OMG within seconds it paid for itself.  I found all kinds of stuff I had been searching for FOREVER.  Brick Walls broken down!  Hooray!  Anyway…I most recently found a crazy story about my great grandfather, John Darl Munn Sr.

John was born and raised in Darke County, Ohio, much like the rest of our crazy clan, and when he and his wife Eva had raised their kids and they all moved off they decided to move out to Arizona!  They lived in Tucson for quite awhile.  John had been a farmer on Ohio, but he was also a barber.  He obviously had quite the flair for hair, as you can tell in this amazing picture.

Check out the coiff on Mr. Munn! I wonder if he was a Dapper Dan man. My great-grandparents are holding my grandmother, Gene Odell (Munn) Brown in this pic.

John  was doing hair out in Tucson.  He eventually rose in the ranks of the Barbers’ Union.  Yes…there’s a union.  And he became the president!  Then he resigned and left the union completely.  Supposedly there was a disagreement over some rules that had been passed and John Munn was done with them.  And he felt like he didn’t need to abide by those rules since he was not a union member anymore.  Some of those rules involved not posting your prices.  There was also a set price that all barber’s would use ($1.00 at that time, which undercut other barbers).  They would also only be open on Tuesday-Saturday.  I’m not sure which rules he had the most issue with.

The reason this was all in the newspaper was because shortly after leaving his post after the disagreement, his shop was BOMBED!  Yes, you heard that right.  Bombed.  Now, the Union claims that it had nothing to do with it.  But seriously?  How crazy is that?  A barbers’ union.  I guess Arizona was still kind of wild west-ish back then (just before the Sunbelt explosion), but it sounds more like The Sopranos than anything else.

So I called my dad to tell him what I had found, thinking I was going to be giving him some new amazing information.  And he was all, “Oh yeah…I never told you about that?  They also tried to run your grandparents off the road once while they were driving.”  Yeah…no.  You never mentioned it.

Turns out the union also took him to court…sued him.  They were pretty mad, it seems.  I’m not really sure what came of the case, but if I find out I will update.

Here is the article and picture taken post bombing.

John Munn inspects his shop after it's been bombed!

Here is the link to the article in PDF, for those interested in reading about it.

Barber Shop Bombing article

Sunday’s Obituary – Asa Caywood

I found this when I visited the Indiana State Library.  I love 1.) that the writer is also the man who ministered the funeral service and 2.) how delightfully flowery the language is.

Here is the tribute to Asa Caywood, a pioneer of Hendricks County, Indiana, outside of Brownsburg, Indiana. Taken from the Hendricks County Republican on Nov. 13, 1884:

Father Caywood was born in the State of Maryland in the year 1790.  From there he removed to Kentucky, and thence to Indiana in 1833, where he resided until his death.  In early life he made an open profession of his faith in Christ the Savior, and United with the Baptist Church.  Previous to his leaving Kentucky he identified himself with the Christian church.  On locating in Hendricks County in 1837 he took membership with the church at Brownsburg, where it remained until his death.  In 1856 his beloved companion was taken from him by death, and the evening of his life was spent with his son in law, Mr. Ben McDonald, where he received every kindness and attention that love could bestow.  He was the father of 13 children, 8 having preceded him to the spirit world.  For several years, on account of bolidy infirmities, he had been prevented from meeting in the public worship, but his faith wavered not, though the “eye grew dim and the natural force abated.”  His last illness was brief.  Gently as the sun descends to his western home, he, on Nov. 3, 1884, closed his long period of service at the age of 94 years.  He came to “his grave in full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in, in his season.” Services were conducted by the writer at the church at Brownsburg, after which his remains were laid to rest beside his wife, while the rainbow of immortality arches their graves.

-J.B. Ludwig

Asa Caywood's headstone in the middle of a stand of trees... in the middle of a corn field...in the middle of nowhere.

Asa Caywood is related to Andrew (the husband) in this way:

Asa Caywood (father of) > Leah (Caywood) Ward (mother of) > Margaret (Ward) Sparks (mother of) > Henrietta (Sparks) Boyce (mother of) > Dorothy (Boyce) Nelson (mother of) > Kevin Nelson (father of) > Andrew!

Blogging about blogs

*** Warning – This post has nothing to do with ancestry***

I have some amazing friends.  They are talented in all sorts of manners.  A few of them have blogs.  This post has nothing to do about ancestry.  It is merely recognition of my friends who have neat blogs you might want to read.   The links to these blogs are also located under “Friend Blogs” over there….on the right.  See it?  Good.

(in no particular order – other than this is the order already listed on my page)

cottage revolution

Claire (C-Dogg in some circles) has been a friend of mine for well over a decade now.  We were co-workers in college, and every so often we still work together.  She is the craftiest person I know in real life.  I’m not talking decoupage.  I’m talking about making her own clothes, terrarium-building, slipper development, and sewing buttons back on my clothes (because I’m useless at such things).  She is my neighbor and we do neighborly things like walk the dog together, or borrow eggs.  It’s super cheese, but I love it.

Her blog is all about the things she creates.  Her photos are simple and amazing, sometimes with the help of her husband (who I’ve known even longer!).

Irvington Bungalow

Carmen is a friend of mine from grad school at Ball State.  Unfortunately we don’t see each other at ALL anymore which is not enough, especially since she lives like 12 minutes away.  Side note:  I know it’s exactly 12 minutes because we used to carpool, and it was fun. Luckily there is Facebook and her blog, which allows me to see what’s new in Carmen’s world.  For a long time much of her world revolved around fixing up their bungalow in a near-east side Indianapolis neighborhood called Irvington.  I love Irvington, and I love their house.  I want most of their furnishings and want her husband (Chad) to plan a landscape for us.  This is the blog about the work they have done.  I have posted a few things on facebook about work we have done, but they are doing their best to maintain historic integrity.  I love it.  Carmen recently had her first baby and blogging has gotten sparse.  I’m hoping we’ll see some more when the little one gets a little older.  Speaking of the little one, I STILL need to go meet her.  I am a horrible friend.

The Sweetest Baker

I have had some great roommates throughout my past.  Kelly is one of them.  I only got to live with her one year in college at IU but we had an amazing time (at least I think so).  Months (and sometimes years) could go by without talking to my old roomie.  Once she moved back to Philly, communication was sparse…but then she got on Facebook.  My friend Kelly is alive!  Sometimes when people aren’t on Facebook it’s almost as if they have fallen off the earth.  I hate that I am so reliant on this stupid website to keep me up to date on friends, but I am.  I really am.  Kelly has finally gotten on Facebook and I found out what has been going on with her.  She is a pastry chef!  Well, now I might have to move to Philly soon.  Check out her blog, full of great information, pictures, and news on what she is doing.  It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

View From an Irish Backyard

I met Maryann through Claire.  They were co-workers and we all eventually were in a little book club together.  Unfortunately for all of us in Indy, Maryann met and fell in love with an Irish filmmaker (Frank Kelly).  She skipped town…and in fact the entire country…and moved to Drogheda, Ireland, just outside Dublin to be with Frank (and they have a baby girl, Evelyn, now).  We are all able to keep up with her crazy days and hilarious musings via her blog.  Many of her posts are about life in Ireland and how it can be SO different, challenging, enjoyable, and amazing.  If you are an ex-pat at all, or if you’ve been to Ireland, or if you just enjoy good writing then this is a great blog.

So those are some of my talented friends that I felt like I had to show off.  There will be more ancestry adventures coming up soon.  The weather is getting warmer!

Indianapolis Pioneers

New Pioneers

As I have mentioned before, my family is not from Indianapolis.  My dad’s side comes from Western Ohio for generations.  My mother’s side was from Pennsylvania and nearby New York towns for generations.  My Grandfather Kinsley changed that for all of us.  He moved the family from Scranton to Alabama (where my mother attended school) and then he settled in the Indianapolis area.  During his short time in the city he certainly made his mark.  I would almost consider him a pioneer.  He was a developer, and had huge impacts on trying to improve the downtown Indianapolis area.  He was even one of the founding board members of the Near Northside Community Development Corporation.  He was an important part of bringing businesses to the area that still remain in the city today.

Charles W. Kinsley Office

My grandfather, Charles W. Kinsley in his office....with a cigar....and why not?

Now, when I was growing up I didn’t know any of this about my grandfather.  All I knew was that he was kind of scary.  My memories of him include him refusing to read me Cathy from the comics because, “Women shouldn’t be writing the funnies”.  Even at age six I thought that was a weird thing to say.  I mean, I think Cathy is horrible too.  I just don’t think that’s the type of thing to say to a kid.  Anyway, I didn’t know much about him growing up except the stories I would hear from my mom, aunt, and uncle.  They were often kind of scathing.  But as I began to research the family in my own search I found out that my grandfather was kind of a pioneer for the city of Indianapolis….or rather current Indianapolis.

Old (Timey) Pioneers

Now, as I have ALSO mentioned before, I am kind of jealous of Andrew’s family because they have been here for ages, so it’s much easier to research that branch.  But I hadn’t realized that they had been here for so long.  I had hit a brick wall for so long on his Nelson branch.  The farthest back that I could get was a James A. Nelson who was born in Kentucky in 1814 (who knows where…?) and died at some point before 1870, after living in Keithsburg, Illinois.  I also knew that James was married to a lady named Sarah Heaton.

So one day I was just messing about on the Internet trying to work my way through that wall.  I very rarely use Census information before 1850 because the information is so sparse it’s hard to match up with real people.  However, I typed in James A. Nelson in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.  I found one living in Washington Township, Marion County (which was considered outside Indianapolis at that point).  Turns out this James Nelson lived next to a family of Heatons!  BINGO!  Based on this information I tracked the Heaton branch farther back.

The most interesting part was finding out that Andrew’s great great great great grandparents (Eli and Mary Heaton) are buried about a mile from where his parents live now.  No one in the family had any idea!  They are buried in Union Chapel Cemetery, and have been living in Indianapolis since the early 1800s; although, like I said, this was well-before this area was part of Indianapolis.

Eli Heaton's headstone in a cemetery just about a mile from Andrew's parents current home.

They are some serious ye olde Indianapolis pioneers.