Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Glimmer of Times Gone By

Karen Utter Jennings

Have you ever thought of a hat as a piece of magic? Margaret Sliter wrote, “A hat is a flag, a shield, a bit of armor, and the badge of femininity. A hat is the difference between wearing clothes and wearing a costume; it’s the difference between being dressed and being dressed up; it’s the difference between looking adequate and looking your best. A hat is to be stylish in, to glow under, to flirt beneath, to make all others seem jealous over, and to make all men feel masculine about. A piece of magic is a hat.”

Years ago, hats were used for protection from the weather or as a symbol of royalty and reverence. Hats also indicated social standing and professions. 

A milliner designs, sews and sell hats. Historically, milliners were usually women. I found a few references to milliners in Pineville, Missouri from old newspapers that I read. The following was taken from the 1893 and 1895 books entitled A Unique Little History of McDonald County, Missouri written by James Reed.

For millinery, go to Mrs. J.S. Maxfield. She has the largest and best selected stock in Pineville, and bought them at the very lowest rates.  She will likely give you a bargain that will surprise you, December 14, 1894.

Miss Mary Youngblood, who spent the holidays with her parents at Tiff City, returned to her position at Mrs. Caldwell’s millinery and dress making establishments, Tuesday, January, 1895.

And, June 1, 1895, A nice new awning is being erected in front of Mrs. Caldwell’s Millinery store.  In August 1895, Mrs. Caldwell will go to Kansas City in a few days, where she will remain for a few days, learning the latest styles of millinery and trimmings. She will also select her fall and winter stock while there, which will be the largest and best ever brought to Pineville.

Hats have evolved from sturdy and sensible bonnets to gorgeous little pieces of art. With plumes, lace, ribbons, jewels, flowers and other d├ęcor, hats are compliments especially for women’s attire. Through the years, different types of hats were worn. From straw bonnets, turbans, boaters, cloches, pillbox, teardrop and fascinators, hats are beautiful and complete an outfit.

In my family, I found many of my ancestors wearing hats. Both women and men wore hats and still do today.

This is a photo of my great, great grandmother, Christina Hunt Utter in her hat. 

This is my great grandmother, Ollie Francis Johnson Utter Brier with friends.

Flora M. Utter Bailey in her driving hat; there's a veil on it, you can barely see it in this old photo, it's not very good quality, 

Ollie's sister-in-law with a team of horses.

Mame Utter Long and her husband, Ernest G. Long in their hats.

The Bronson sisters, Charlotte & Bessie; their sister, Sarah Ann married Milton Zimri Utter and moved from Indiana to SW MO in McDonald County.

Sam Utter wearing his straw hat. Sam was a great farmer in the Longview and Rocky Comfort, Missouri area; he had an apple orchard and sold lots of apples.

Jennie Mae Utter Stewart at the Utter family reunion located in Neosho, MO.

An unknown woman; the photo is from Ollie's collection that I inherited.

Ollie, my great grandmother. 

Ollie with her niece Mae Utter Martin. Ollie's hat is setting beside Mae. Look at Ollie's hair, it's in the shape of the hat that she was wearing.....

Amy Walsh Modlin in her hat....

Brothers Ernest & Jim Long with their hats 

Mame Utter Long in her cloche hat

William and Amy Walsh Modlin taken in 1917 ~ I love her hat!

Ollie and her third husband, Bill Brier in the 20s in Kansas

Ollie in her fur and her cloche hat

Utter reunion 1960s

and the funniest hat of all ~ Lydia Modlin Firzgerald ~ her hat is hilarious! 

Ollie, my great-grandmother in her bonnet holding her son, my grandfather, Perry Gresham Utter. 

Hats are a part of every family. I'm glad I have photos of an array of different hats. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Jesse James ~ A Potpourri

This weekend Pineville Missouri is celebrating Jesse James Days, August 6-9 on the square in Pineville. Come down and enjoy all that they offer and visit with Tyrone Power, Jr. 

Last year when I researched the life of Jesse James & his gang, I read several books and used my local McDonald County Historical Society to gather information. What a treat I had in historical research. Here's a photo cover of Cindi Myers' book "The Woman Who Loved Jesse James" ~ 

What a great read ~ I enjoyed Cindi's writing and recommend you reading it! 

When I learned that Jesse & some of his men rode with Bushwhackers, that led me to read other books about the Kansas and Missouri Border Wars...

"Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerrilla Warfare in the West: 1861-1865" by Richard S. Brownlee is a great book about the Civil War & the making of the Bushwackers, I highly recommend it. 

There are other wonderfully written books about the Civil War in Missouri, the James Gang and the Border Wars...check them out! 

Here's the story that I wrote for our Historical Society newsletter. I enjoyed finding the tidbits from all of my research and decided to write about those little gems that are interesting, because there has been so much has been written about Jesse James.

Outlaw, Missouri Bandit, and Hero: 75 Years of Jesse James
Karen Utter Jennings
            Outlaw, notorious Missouri bandit, and hero; Jesse James was all that and more. Folks formed their own opinion about the young man, born in Northern Missouri and who rode through the country making history by robbing banks and trains, terrorizing the Union Forces and blazing a name for himself. Some say he was a criminal and worthless, while others call him a hero and idolize his name.
            75 years ago, during August and September in 1938, Hollywood came to McDonald County because of Jesse Woodson James. This caused one of the biggest sensations McDonald County will ever see. As I read about the filming of “Jesse James,” I found fascinating facts that I offer here in my article. These tidbits come from various newspapers, oral history from area residents and photographs.
            Henry King, movie director for 20th Century Fox Productions, chose Pineville and the outlying area as the principal location to shoot the moving picture because Pineville resembled the town of Liberty, Missouri and the courthouse that stands in the center of Pineville’s public square was crucial to the film’s storyline.
            Pineville’s mayor, F.T. Drumm, worked closely with the motion picture director and received a telegram from Henry King on August 10, 1938: “Dear Mayor: At our executive meeting yesterday the decision was rendered in favor of doing the picture at Pineville for which I am very happy. Mr. Bowman and the Art Director and staff are leaving for Pineville, August 11. The company will arrive on or about the 20th. You can acquaint those in the vicinity of Pineville with these facts but I prefer to continue this information to that locality as much as possible. Kindest regards, Henry King.”
            It was official. Hollywood descended on McDonald County.
            Stars of the movie were Tyrone Power who played the part of Jesse James; Henry Fonda was Frank James; Nancy Kelly portrayed Zee James; Randolph Scott was the U.S. Marshal; Jane Darwell played the part of Jesse’s mother; Lon Chaney, Jr. was a member of the James Gang.
            The movie company made their headquarters at Noel, where more than 150 movie people arrived there on a Sunday morning. Several private homes, cottages and tourist cabins were readied for the movie actors and members of the company. Marx Cheney, owner of the Shadow Lake Resort of Noel commented, “About the only air-conditioning we can offer is a cool Ozark Breeze.”
            Henry Fonda invented his own air conditioning by placing large cakes of dry ice outside his cabin window. He used an electric fan to blow across the ice and his cabin was cool when he ended the day’s movie shootings.
            Shadow Lake was a favorite hangout for dinner and after hour’s entertainment for the movie crew and actors. The resort town boomed when tourists arrived by the hundreds to see the movie stars and possibly get their autographs.
            The Pineville square was transformed to represent Liberty, Missouri. This was done by covering the paved streets with 400 loads of dirt and gravel, hiding the concrete walks with old-fashioned board walks, building false store fronts, adding hitching rails and water troughs, and erecting several buildings such as the U.S. Marshall’s office, a newspaper office representing the “Weekly Gazette” and building the Dixie Belle Hotel.
            Twentieth-Century Fox spent $25,000 to make those changes in Pineville.
            On August 16, 1938, more than 200 local people were hired as extras for the motion picture. Men grew their beards and women gathered the appropriate attire to “look the part.” Men, women, and children were excited to be a part of such a huge production.
            Initial scenes were filmed at the log cabin home of Albert Barnes, a Pineville barber. The Highway Patrol was stationed along the main road to stop traffic and request that motorists shut off their engines because the noise ruined the scenes.
            Mrs. Florence Crowder received $3,000 for the use of her farm that was used as Jesse and Frank James’ mother’s home. Mrs. Crowder became distressed when she had to stay away while the filming took over a month to complete. She received an extra $100 because the crowds excited her guinea hens and they made such a racket that it interfered with the sound recordings. Director King bought the guineas and had them served on the menu to the movie crew.
            Mrs. Crowder died on September 22, 1938, just days after the film’s completion. Physicians said her death was partially due to the excitement of the movie filming, not being able to live in her home while the filming took place, and being outdoors in the hot sun.
            The Southwest city train station was the scene of Union soldiers coming to court martial the county seat where Jesse and Frank were held as prisoners.  A special old model train was rebuilt with engine and cars at Ft. Smith, Arkansas, for the big scene when Jesse and his gang staged the robbery. Thousands came to watch the filming of the train hold up. Movie producers used a section of the Frisco tracks for the shooting and they employed about 250 McDonald and Newton County people as extras for the train robbery scene.
            In Pineville, one Friday night in August 1938, three men robbed the Tavern and took $300. Pineville Sheriff Bone said, “Somebody is taking this James business too seriously.” 
            Carl Mayfield of Anderson supplied 100 horses for the movie and the other horses used were Hollywood trick horses.  A photo postcard depicts a scene where Zee meets Jesse and Frank in a cave. Jesse holds the reins of a horse named Sally.
            An estimate of 10,000 people crowded into Noel and Pineville, causing traffic jams along the highway that connected the towns. People form 48 states visited McDonald County and the crowds swelled to 5,000 daily. Labor Day, 1938, the crowd topped 15,000 people. Highway Patrolmen directed the traffic flow.
             Mrs. E.J. Cookerly, Joplin, furnished over 300 zinnias and marigold flowers from her home garden for the filming of Jesse’s funeral scene. 
            Finally, after two months of filming, Hollywood departed from McDonald County.  
            When “Jesse James” hit the big screen in January 1939, Joplin’s Fox Theatre’s box office praised the movie as “the most exciting picture you’ve ever seen…acclaimed by everyone as TERRIFIC.” Opening day saw 5,000 people walk through box office. Adult tickets sold for 30 cents until 2 pm, 40 cents plus tax afterward, with children 10 cents.
            Ten days after the movie hit the big screen, people wrote to Hollywood criticizing Twentieth Century-Fox for their portrayal of Jesse James’ life in the movie. Hundreds of letters pointed out discrepancies and inaccuracies of the real life of the gang. The letters of criticism got no response from the Twentieth Century-Fox, however, for they knew controversy leads to interest and interest leads to success.
            And successful it was! Each year Pineville celebrates Jesse James Days with activities around the square. Residents gather to watch the movie to try to get a glimpse of a family member who was an “extra” in the film.
             During the summer of 1973, Director Henry King came back to Pineville to attend the annual Jesse James Days Celebration; he stayed at the Ginger Blue Lodge. During a dinner in King’s honor, Pineville Mayor Orlin Armstrong represented the people of Pineville and presented him with a plaque for outstanding service and dedication to the movie industry. Director King praised the local community the folks who helped in every way and said the movie was a success due to their cooperation and hard work.
            At the 1973 celebration, Buel Buzzard, pastor of the Christian Church, performed the marriage of Penny Harmon and Gary Pogue at an old time brush arbor wedding.
            Today Pineville continues to celebrate Jesse James Days. Visit the Historical Courthouse Museum on the square where the Jesse James Room highlights memorabilia. Folks round here still talk about the bandit and the Hollywood filming of the movie in their county.
            My father recalled stories told to him about the filming of the movie; he told me that his great-grandfather, Thomas “Bud” Johnson, was riding in the train when the movie was being filmed. He also said they had to put a wagon load of hay in front of a corner gas station to hide the gas pumps and they could not get the horse to jump off the bluff into the hole of water so they had to build a ramp and covered the ramp with branches. The horse fell off the ramp and that is why he went off bottom first into the water.
            Mr. John Wright to the McDonald County Historical Society donated the old Washington hand printing press. The hand press was used in the Jesse James movie in the Weekly Gazette Newspaper Office and printing shop. The printing press is now housed inside the Historic Courthouse Museum. 
            I have formed my opinion about Jesse James and his family. Where do your sympathies lie? If you are curious and want more information, visit the Historical Courthouse on the Pineville square museum. Because 75 years later, Jesse James’ life story lives on. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jesse James Is Coming to Pineville, MO!

In 1938, Hollywood descended on McDonald County, Missouri to film the movie Jesse James. It debuted in January, 1939 and since then, Pineville celebrates this momentous event every year with Jesse James Days. This year it is scheduled for August 6-9, 2014 and Tyrone Power, Jr is a special guest. He will attend a Meet & Greet on Friday, August 8 at 5 pm at the Pineville Community Center and sign autographs on Saturday at 5:30 pm at the Historic Courthouse on the Pineville square.

If you or a family member was an "extra" in the movie, join us on Friday evening as a special guest at the Meet & Greet occasion and sit on a panel of people to tell your story about Jesse James movie making.

Don't forget the grand old courthouse museum on the square! Shown below is the entrance to the Jesse James room. Funding for the room was provided in part by Leon & Carol Klein, McDonald County Historical Society members. The room represents the Dixie Belle Saloon that was in the movie. 

Below is a wall display in the JJ room ~ 

One more wall display ~ 

We look forward to you attending our grand event; there are many activities planned for the 4 days. 

Come see the Historic Courthouse at Pineville & get your history on! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Canvassing & Researching in Cemeteries

Canvassing a cemetery is a job.....the person or people who are doing the work invest a huge amount of time and money into it. I helped my brother, Bill Utter, canvass the Rocky Comfort Cemetery at Rocky Comfort, Missouri, located in the extreme NE corner of Newton & McDonald Counties. Bill began this task in April, 2014 and I signed on with him to help. I did it for several reasons; to help him, so he would not be alone, and so I could experience cemetery exploration and to get photographs of headstones, headstone symbols, epitaphs and learn, learn, learn. 

Learn, I did ~ or actually, we did! Many of our Utter and Johnson family members are buried at the cemetery so we were familiar with it. 

On my Genealogy Journey I have discovered that I love cemeteries. Maybe it's because I helped my great-grandmother, Ollie Johnson Utter Brier pick flowers from her garden, put them in tin foil-wrapped coffee cans and take them to the cemetery on Decoration Day to decorated the family graves. Or maybe it started with the Dark Shadows TV show back in the 1970s ~ no matter the reason why I enjoy wandering through old cemeteries, I have found a wealth of family history and society's history in doing so. 

I'm a member of McDonald County Historical Society and I'm on the research committee; we have sponsored workshops and on July 19, 2014, I'll present a Power Point presentation on Cemetery Research. 

Cemeteries is a great resource for genealogists.

Here are a few photos I've taken of interesting symbols, epitaphs and headstones. 

this is a homemade wooden marker we found. 

An example of modern symbols....

Doves are a symbol of eternal peace....

the dove on an old headstone 

this dove is carved into the headstone as lines, hard to see in ordinary light 

Angels are popular on children's graves

another version of an angel

here's an epitaph....

and another....

My brother took over 2,200 photographs of the headstones; there were some retakes and he took shots of the cemetery from different views. We worked hard and finished it. 

What can you learn from cemetery research? You learn social history about the county or town where the cemetery is located; you can discover if there were possible epidemics that took many lives at one time by reading the headstone death dates. You can see beautiful artwork in the headstones themselves. The older the stone, usually the more ornate and Victorian it is. 

From the epitaphs and scriptures to the symbols found on the headstones, you will see how our ancestors thought about death and their loved ones. 

Before you visit a cemetery, prepare a "kit" to take with you. First, try to go along with someone or have them go with you; the buddy system works best to stay safe. Always tell someone where you are going and give them specific directions to the cemetery and tell them when you think you will return. 

In your "kit", which can be a box or tub or a wheeled cart, you want to include a notebook and pen, flashlight, bug spray, a sun hat or visor, sunscreen, a small jug of water and a few rags, shaving cream, Crayola Brand sidewalk chalk (this brand has no lead in it and try to get white only). Take a small cooler with ice and water and a few snacks if you will be gone for a few hours. You might want to take a stick with you to hold back plants so you can photograph a stone; I use an old broom handle that has come in very handy. With crayons and large paper, you can make headstone rubbings. If you do this, you can take the headstone home with you....

Bill did rubbings of our great, great-grandparents' headstone, David Jefferson & Christina Hunt Utter, at Union Cemetery. We brought the papers home and it's like we have the headstone in our homes. 

Last, don't forget your camera and fresh batteries. Keep it in your camera case until it's time to begin photographing the headstones. Remember to always look at your surroundings before getting out of your vehicle. Safety is first and foremost at all times! 

Dress for the occasion; sturdy shoes or boots, a jacket, sunhat or visor. You'll be walking a lot so dress comfortably. Watch for uneven ground and holes while walking through the cemetery, look out for snakes and other animals, and keep an eye on the weather. Being caught in a storm is not a good thing. 

This is Owsley Union Cemetery south of Longview, Missouri, Memorial Day 2011. We had to run to our vehicles until it blew over!

Dark stones do not photograph well and you MUST use the shaving cream..otherwise you will not be able to take a picture of them. Also, on some stones you have to use the chalk; the very old stones will not be legible if you do not. 

Some people are against using the shaving cream and chalk claiming it is detrimental to the headstones. However, if you are canvassing a cemetery you must use these items or you will not be able to finish your project. If we do not preserve the old headstones today, they won't last much longer and the information carved on them will be lost forever. Here's why:  

"Born in Lewis Co. Ky Died in Newton Co Mo" is all that is left of this headstone. We don't know if the stone marks a man or woman's grave, their name, when they were born or when they died.  

Bill and I found several headstones like these broken's a sad thing to see; the information about the graves are gone forever unless the cemetery records are in good shape; many are not, so don't rely on getting information from them.

Before taking on a cemetery canvassing job, find out if the cemetery has already been photographed. Rocky Comfort Cemetery had been several years ago, but it was not up to date and many graves had been left out. When the job came up, Bill volunteered to take it on because we have close family buried there. I helped him take notes and prepare many of the gravestones so he could take the photos. 

I have not went into depth on how to canvass a cemetery nor how to do good research. This information will hopefully help you get started discovering cemetery research. Remember, stay safe!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Genealogy Journey ~

The McDonald County Historical Society's first summer Research 101 workshop was yesterday. We had a great time and lots of information about researching your family history was presented. Attendees enjoyed learning about all that is involved in family history research and genealogy. 

Gayle Foster is lecturing about internet research.....

Our Society President, Raylene Lamb, talks about a variety of topics about family history research....

Dorothy Beauchamp presents research tips to the group....

Karen Jennings presented "Writing About and Documenting your Family Heirlooms" and "Writing Your Memories" in the afternoon. The workshop was a hit and a great success!  Participants left with some homework to do and prepare for July's workshop. 

Don't miss July 19th's workshop when the gals will present topics about Going Beyond Your Basic Research, Gathering Oral Histories, and Cemetery History & Research. The workshop is $20 and will be held in Pineville at the Historic Sheriff's House just south of the square, 10am to 2pm. 

Jocelyn Green's Yankee in Atlanta latest Historical Fiction

Jocelyn Green's Yankee in Atlanta is book #3 in the series Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War.  The story will steal your heart away and sweep you into the days when the war descends into Atlanta. Ms. Green's writing is beautiful and rich with characters who quickly become like family. Follow Caitlyn and Ruby into the throes of the Civil War that bring heartache and healing. 

Yankee in Atlanta  click on the title for the link...

When finally looking up from reading Yankee in Atlanta, hours had passed and I was not in Atlanta, but in my own chair at home.....

My Genealogy Journey ~

Keeper of Your Treasures:
Write Heirloom Provenances
Karen Utter Jennings

Are you the keeper of your family history “stuff”? Do you have family heirloom treasures in your possession?  Do you know stories about your treasures? Does anyone else in your family know what they are, where they came from, why you have them? 

Above an antique oil lamp given to me by my great-grandmother, Ollie Johnson Utter Brier. After researching it, I discovered much more about it. 

What if those important treasures were thrown away or sold after you passed away because your family did not realize the importance of those treasures in your family history?

Below is my father's Goosey Goosey Gander child's sterling silver fork and spoon set.

It’s important to document your heirlooms stories before a disaster happens. The women in my family passed down heirlooms and told the story behind them so that each generation knew the story behind the items. A provenance is the history of ownership of an item.

I have many special family heirlooms in my home. 

How do you start? You say that you cannot write. Yes, you can! Here’s how.

Start by taking photos of your precious family heirlooms. After you are finished, sit down with paper and pen or an inventory form (you can make one yourself) and start documenting the information about each item.

What should you write about?

Your name:

The date:

Item name:

What is it?

Describe it:

When did you acquire it?

Where did you get it?

Who gave it to you?

Who had it before that person?

If it is handmade, who made it?

Where did it come from?

Why is it important to you?

Does it have a story?
After you write the provenances and include the photographs for all of your family heirlooms, tell your family about what you are doing, then keep your documentation in a safe place.