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Sunday, August 13, 2017

We Spat the Spit

We finally decided to take the plunge and do DNA testing.  I was initially untrusting of the whole thing, but decided this may be the only way we're able to make any breakthroughs in the Joyce family research.

We waited for the tests to go on sale, and they finally did - $69, down from $99.  Today, the spit has been spat and they'll go back to Ancestry in tomorrow's mail.  Then comes 6-8 weeks of waiting patiently (not).  As I mentioned, we are most interested in hubby's Joyce line, hoping to make contact with a distant cousin descended from one of his great-great grandfather's siblings.  As for me, my most intense interest right now is to see how Ancestry's DNA algorithms handle double cousins.  My double cousin Shane has already been tested, and since we should have more genetics in common than typical first cousins, but not quite as much as siblings, it will be interesting to see how this is interpreted.

In the last six months, I've been reading stories of DNA surprises.  I'm not expecting anything to pop up from these tests, but then again, most of the people who got surprises probably weren't either.  At any rate, it's interesting.  I will post updates here.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Father James Joyce

I learned many new things about Father Jim while transcribing this newspaper article from 1988. The specific origin of the article is unknown.  One of the things I found interesting was that he was inspired by Father MacConnachie, whom Joyce family members will recognize as the priest to the Joyce family on the plains of South Dakota in the early days.  You can read more about Father MacConnachie on my companion blog, Ancestor Soup, here.



BRANDON PASTOR, FATHER JOYCE, HONORED BY FRIENDS AND FAMILY ON 40TH ANNIVERSARY
By Randal Hunhoff

                Brandon – When Father Jim Joyce was sent to Risen Savior Catholic Church in Brandon in 1986, he must have been confounded by the new surroundings.  Risen Savior is a new church, built in 1981, and usually where Father Joyce is sent, a building follows close behind.
                Last Sunday, Father Joyce celebrated his 40th anniversary in the priesthood; he was ordained by Bishop William O. Brady on March 13, 1948.  Rise Savior parishioners celebrated with Father Joyce and members of his family, including a brother and sister who traveled from California to be with him.  Bishop Paul Dudley of the Sioux Falls Diocese and retired Bishop Lambert Hoch also attended.
                Father Joyce, a Redfield native, has been instrumental in supervising several major building projects completed in the Sioux Falls Diocese in the last three decades.
                He worked closely with architect Howard Perez when O’Gorman High School was built in 1960-61 and helped design the school.
                In the fall of 1964, when Roncalli High School was built, he was there, and remained as superintendent of the school until 1967 and the first class graduated.
                And when Holy Spirit Parish in Mitchell built a new church in 1976, he was the pastor who led them in the project during the money-tight years of the mid-70’s.
                He now serves on the Diocesan building commission, and will help with planning of the new parish in Sioux Falls.
                But it is teaching that Father Joyce recalls most fondly.  He taught science and math at Sacred Heart Junior High in Aberdeen, medical ethics at the McKennan Nursing School, religion at O’Gorman, sociology at Heelan, and many subjects while teaching 13 year[s] at Holy Spirit Grade School in Mitchell.
                Father Joyce attended St. Bernard’s Seminary in Sioux Falls for two years, and graduated from St. Paul’s Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1948, with majors in English, Latin, history and religion.  He earned an M.A. in Educational Administration from St Thomas College in St. Paul in 1958.  He credits Father George MacConnach[i]e, the parish priest in Redfield when he was growing up, with instilling in him an early interest in the priesthood.
                Father Joyce is not thinking of retirement and said he is happy to work at whatever job the Bishop gives him.  Anyway, as Father Howard Carroll told him in the reception line: “The first 40 years are the hardest, it’s all downhill from here.”
                Father Joyce’s first assignment was as an assistant pastor to Father Thomas Flood at Vermillion in 1948. He was also in charge of the Newman Club at the University.
                In 1949, he transferred to Sacred Heart Parish in Aberdeen, where he stayed for six years, and was chaplain at the Newman Club at Northern State.
                He was secretary to Bishop Brady and then Bishop Lambert Hoch from 1955-57, while also serving as chaplain to McKennan Hospital and teaching at the nursing school there.
                From 1958-61, he helped build O’Gorman High School and taught there, and also served as chaplain to the state penitentiary, “one of the most fascinating assignments I’ve had,” he says.  He also taught for a year at Heelan in Sioux City.
                He was pastor of Millette, near Aberdeen, serving two missions in Chelsea and Athol, at the same time helping to plan Roncalli High School.  He was superintendent of the school for three years, 1964-67.
                He served as pastor at St. Agatha’s in Howard for a year, and then spent 13 years at Holyl Spirit Parish in Mitchell, as pastor, teaching and planning a new church.
                In 1980 he was sent to St. Wilfred Parish in Woonsocket where he stayed four years.  He spent part of a year at St. Nicholas Parish in Tea, and then became Chancellor of the Diocese from 1984-87. 

                He is currently serving as pastor at Risen Savior parish in Brandon.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Perfect Storm

 [Note: The Conductor of Train #412 was my great-great uncle, E. E. Hittle of Huron, South Dakota.  He was married to Maude Graves, sister of my great-grandmother Elvirta Knutz, and at this time lived in Huron, South Dakota.  As far as I know, he walked away from the crash without injuries.





****



                Webster defines the term “Perfect Storm” as a critical or disastrous situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors.  And that is precisely what culminated on the morning of Sunday, April 25, 1937, when Chicago and North Western passenger Train #412 plowed into the rear of Train #504 just west of De Smet, South Dakota, killing one and injuring several others.


                It was described as a “freakish late-April storm” that rolled into the area on Saturday, April 24, bringing strong north winds of 60-65 mph.  Only an inch of snow was deposited in the city of Huron, but massive drifts high enough to cover the fence line could be found east of Huron between Iroquois and De Smet.  Highway 14 was quickly impassable, with dozens of cars stalled and abandoned near Manchester, as their inhabitants made their way into town to catch the eastbound train to their destinations.

Map of pertinent area in eastern South Dakota, courtesy of Google Maps.

                Late Saturday evening, Train #504 left the depot at Huron for its eastward run, hauling a passenger car plus five other cars, with a gas-electric motor coach that was hitching a ride, or “deadheading,” to Tracy, Minnesota, at the end.  All was uneventful but for a few small drifts until they were within three miles of De Smet, when the train met its match in snow and became stalled.  Conductor Arthur Howard, of Huron, and his Engineman Mr. Key, thought the train might have a better chance without the deadheading motor coach, so it was detached and they attempted to thrust the train through the deep snow, but this effort was unsuccessful.  The crew then attempted to get the detached motor car back to Manchester to summon help, but the high winds and heavy snow only allowed about 50 feet of movement before it, too, was stuck.  Engineman Key sent out the flagman to the rear of the train, and they made the decision to have Conductor Howard try to walk the three miles to De Smet for help and to notify the proper people of the stall.

                The Flagman Mr. McIntyre sprang into action to minimize a very dangerous situation.  This area of track was single-rail; trains were operated on a timetable, with train “orders” and a manual block-signal system during the day.  During other times, “time spacing rules” were in effect to prevent accidents.  Flagman McIntyre situated a red fusee (very similar to a flare) about 500 feet behind the train, and continued walking until he found another clear spot on the rail on which to put torpedoes to alert any oncoming trains.  Continuing, he put another two torpedoes down about 1/4 mile from the train, then went back to the train to warm up.  He went out a second time, this time 3/4 mile from the train.  Overnight, he made several trips back and forth, standing guard to get the attention of any approaching train, and returning to his train when his eyes and face were covered with the freezing heavy snow.  In the early morning hours, he and baggage man Fred Behrens, of Tracy, decided to try to get to a nearby farm house in hopes of being able to contact the depots in Huron and De Smet to let them know of their predicament, and bring back some food for the passengers, despite their conductor already being on the way to summon help.  In his absence, Flagman McIntyre enlisted Baggageman Venard to take his place as flagman.  Although Venard’s 16-hour “tour of duty” would soon be expiring, McIntyre did not consider it of importance during an emergency situation, and departed with Behrens. They were ultimately not successful in locating the farmhouse, and leaving Behrends behind, McIntyre proceeded to De Smet. 

                Meanwhile, Venard acted as flagman, but informed Conductor William Innes, who was in charge of the deadheaded motor car, that his 16 hours were nearly up, expiring at 7:40 a.m.  According to Venard, Innes replied that he would take over the flagging duties at that time.  When 7:40 rolled around, Venard came back to the train, and made a sign to Conductor Innes, who nodded back.  Venard took this as a sign that Innes would take over, and he proceeded to the mail/baggage car and went to sleep.

                Sharing responsibility with Innes for the deadheaded motor coach was Engineman Frank Carpenter, also of Tracy.  He and Conductor Innes alternated going to the engine for coal.  Carpenter was preparing for his turn and Innes went to the passenger compartment of the motor car, located at the rear, apparently having no knowledge that there was no longer anyone at all acting as flagman.


****

Depot and Rail Yard of the Chicago and North Western Railroad at Huron

                Meanwhile, at the Huron Depot, the crew of passenger Train #412 was preparing for its run.  Dispatcher Kelley came on duty at 6:30 a.m., and discussed the situation with the night shift dispatcher, who informed him that all communication east of Huron was down.  However, he had no reason to believe that the previous nights’ train, #504, had not been successful in reaching its destination.  As Dispatcher Kelley was preparing to issue orders for the outgoing train, he was distracted by a train patron inquiring about shipping animals, and he inadvertently issued the conductor a clearance card reading “block clear” rather than issuing a caution order. 

                At 8:18 a.m., Conductor Hittle and crew left the depot 13 minutes behind schedule.  Engineman J. C. Shephard noted the severity of the storm, but the visibility was at least good enough to see the front of the engine, and the train had no trouble attaining its regular speed.  But all that changed as they went through Manchester; the snow on the tracks caused the train to lose speed, and Fireman Hoffman expected a stall, but Engineman Shephard was able to use more steam to get the speed back up and keep the train moving.  Their speed was up to about 20 mph, but visibility was so poor that the front of the engine was now a blur in the blizzard conditions.  


****

   
             In De Smet, Train #504 Conductor Howard discovered that communication lines were down in the whole area.  He knew he would not be able to contact the depot in Huron, but was at least hoping to contact someone in Iroquois to warn of the stall.  He stayed in De Smet until 5 a.m., then headed back toward his train, but discovered the drifts had become 2-3’ deep and was forced to return to De Smet.  He was surprised shortly after that when his Flagman McIntyre showed up at the De Smet depot.  When Howard inquired who was doing the flagging, he was told that Venard was handling it.  They were in the train station when the mail clerk came over and told them that the unthinkable had happened.


****

                There was nothing the crew of Train #412 could have done to stop the crash.  They heard no torpedoes, and saw neither fusees nor a flagman.  After the accident, Train #412’s Flagman Shanahan went to the rear of the train to flag, and found an unexploded torpedo about a half mile behind the train – his train had slid right over it.1  He walked the 6 miles back to Manchester, and his face became covered with ice in the nearly 3 hours it took to get there.

                The deadheading motor car with Conductor Innes and Engineman Carpenter was the first to be hit, and it was hit hard.  Made of steel, it was crushed like a piece of aluminum foil, “telescoping” it.  Conductor Innes was in the rear part of car, and was critically injured.  Engineman Carpenter, in the front part of the car, sustained a broken nose, numerous head lacerations, and bruises.  After the motor car was hit, it propelled into the main train, partially derailing it and causing minor injuries among the passengers.  Had the motor coach not been detached, the situation would have been much more serious than it already was.

                A plea was immediately made in the passenger car for anyone with any medical skill to help.  A young Huron College student, Paul Besselievre of Pierre, was traveling to Irwin, South Dakota to preach a Sunday sermon, and his scouting experience gave him some basic first aid skills.  A nurse, Miss Beulah Vostad of Rapid City, was also aboard.  Nurse Vostad attended to the more seriously injured Condcutor Innes while Besselievre cleaned and dressed Engineman Carpenter’s wounds, stating that the hardest part was keeping Mr. Carpenter still – he was compelled to go to the main train to see what he could do to be of service, despite his wounds and dazed condition.  Unfortunately there was not much that could be done for Condcutor Innes other than an injection of morphine to ease his pain.  He was talking coherently Sunday night, but took a turn for the worse and passed away the following day.

This was the Perfect Storm of conditions – snow, wind, lack of visibility, downed phone lines, and a number of critical human decisions that went wrong.  The investigation questioned why the flagman would leave his job, which was paramount to the safety of everyone on the train, to duplicate the efforts of his conductor.  His replacement went “off-duty” in an emergency situation.  The next replacement apparently did not know he was expected to act as flagman in addition to what he was already doing.   In a moment of distraction, the depot clerk did not caution the outgoing crew of a potential problem down the line.  These were all factors that came together resulting in a large amount of damage and most importantly, the loss of Conductor William Innes’ life.

****


1Pg. 63 of Accident Bulletin, Issues 63-82, by United States Federal Railroad Administration, Office of Safety.
                “When a train is stopped by an accident, obstruction, or from other cause, the flagman must immediately go back with stop signals to stop any train moving in the same direction.  At a point one-third of a mile from the rear of his train, he must place one torpedo on the rail; he must then continue to go back at least one-half of a mile from the rear of his train, and place two torpedoes on the rail, 60 feet apart (two rail lengths), when he may return to a point one-third of a mile from the rear of his train, and he must remain there until recalled by the whistle of his engine; but if a passenger train is due within 10 minutes, he must remain until it arrives.  When he comes in he will remove the torpedo nearest to the train, but the two torpedoes must be left on the rail as a caution signal to any following train.  At night he will also leave a green fuse burning on the track.  If there is not a clear view for one-fourth mile to rear of train, the train must start before calling in the flagman, and move ahead at a speed of not less than 4 miles per hour until it reaches a point where the view is unobstructed for one-fourth mile in its rear.”

Monday, January 2, 2017

The 1880 Agricultural Schedule Sheds Light on William Graves

Years ago, I found digital copies of the 1880 Agricultural Schedule for my direct-line ancestors, William Graves and Lawson Lair in Peoria County, Illinois.1  The headings of the schedules were impossible to read, and I wasn’t terribly sure how valuable any of the information would be, so I stashed them to deal with later.  Yesterday I decided to put the effort into seeing exactly what was on those schedules.

William Graves
I was able to find a document online with information on the agricultural schedule and blank forms for several years2; then began the work of going back and forth between the blank form and the schedule until I had extracted the information.  I repeated the process on the second schedule I’d downloaded for Lawson Lair – but discovered that William Graves was also listed on that schedule as well!  Princeville Township only had one William Graves during that time period, so I assumed he had a second farm somewhere in the township.  I was aware that William, through thrift and hard work, had given each of his children (including his daughters) their own 80 acre farm when they became adults.  I began looking at plat maps for various years, and looking at neighbors both on the plat maps and on the agriculture schedules to determine which schedule entry pertained to which of the farms he owned.

As it turns out, one schedule entry notes that William does not own this particular farm, but is leasing it for a share of the profits produced.  Looking at the other entries on the schedule and comparing them to neighbors listed on the plat maps for 1873 and 1896, I was able to determine the farm was located in Section 4 of Princeville Township, land that William owned in 1873 and his daughter Sarah A. Cox owned in 1896.  Sarah was married to Charles Cox in 1874, and may have been given that farm at that time, or at least prior to 1880.

1873 Plat map of Princeville Township, Peoria County, Illinois.  The red "X" in the upper left corner shows the location of land that would later belong to William's daughter Sarah; the green "X" toward the center shows the location of William's farm, with land he'd later give to Tom and Oscar; across the road, denoted by the purple "X" is the land that would later belong to Austin.

The second entry is a bit harder to explain.  Again, looking at those around him both on the schedule and on the various plat maps, this farm appears to be his personal farm.  William had purchased land that was clustered around his primary farm in the western half of section 2 and the eastern half of section 3.  On the earlier 1873 plat map, the section 2 land had been divided into two farms – one owned by his daughter, Martha Cox, and the other in his name.  Later that land would go to his son, Austin, who was just 3 at the time this map was created.  Across the road, in section 3, he owned a 240 acre farm, which would by 1896 have been divided into thirds – 80 acres for his son Oscar, 80 acres for his son Tom, and 80 acres for himself.  But this does not explain the findings on the 1880 agriculture schedule – William’s farm was described as 80 acres.  Twins Austin and Oscar would have been just 10 at the time of the schedule, and Tom would have been 18.  It is conceivable that Tom had gotten his farm by 1880, but unlikely that Austin and Oscar’s would have been in their names.  Perhaps these 240 acres of unaccounted-for land was rented out and appears on the schedule under the renter’s name.  Thus, William’s second appearance on the schedule with 80 acres of land would make sense.

William Graves' land, photo taken about 2007 by author.
Regarding the specifics of William’s farming, he tilled 79 of the 80 acres on Sarah’s farm, but only 30 of his own, keeping the remainder as meadow or pasture.  Each farm produced about $700 for the year in profits.   He kept horses, pigs, and chickens at both places, but also kept cattle on his own farm – 2 cows for milking and 16 others to sell or slaughter.   Butter was produced on his home farm – 150 pounds in 1879. 

Crops grown on both farms include Indian corn, oats, and Irish potatoes (as opposed to sweet potatoes).  100 bushels of apples were sold from the orchard on Sarah’s land, and 125 gallons of molasses were produced from there as well.

Besides an interesting snapshot of what a typical workday for William may have looked like, finding these two entries on the agriculture schedule really forced me to take a good look at William’s land ownership and how his land acquisitions were divided among his children, and when that may have occurred.

I have one question I wish I could ask William’s wife: Who really churned all that butter??


Both these men were great-grandfathers of Bill Knutz Jr.  William Graves’ son Tom married Lawson Lair’s daughter Nettie, and they were Bill’s grandparents.
2https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/agcensusschedules.pdf

Saturday, August 13, 2016


"It's your turn."   "Okay ... OW!!!!  Let's play checkers instead!"

And so went our games of Carroms at our grandparents' house.  Most of the time when Grandpa would play a game with us, it involved the Carrom board, either playing our own version of the game on one side of the board, or flipping it over and using the other side for a game of checkers.  We never did know the real rules for Carroms but instead would play it like billiards, only on a board.   The little pool cues that came with the set disappeared long before we started playing with it (or did Grandma decide the last thing she needed was three wild children running around with little sticks?) so we'd "snip" the carroms with our fingers into the little net pockets.  The first game usually wasn't bad, but after that our fingernails really, really hurt.

I never thought about where the carrom board came from, only that it was always there, and still is (somewhere).   Last week, while cleaning out a closet full of games, I found a rusted coffee can filled with the old wooden carroms, and I started wondering how this relic made its way into our family.  A few days later, I was going through family photos and there it was, in the background of several photos from Christmas of 1958!   It was perched under the Christmas tree, all pretty and new, just waiting for someone to try it out.  And later, apparently someone did - my aunt June and her boyfriend (and future husband), Everett, were playing a game of checkers on it in one photo (I wonder if Grandma took the sticks away from them, too...)

Christmas, 1958.  If you peek behind Everett, under the Christmas tree, you can see the Carrom board in all its sparkly newness.

June and Everett checking out the new game.

I will have to remember to drag out the Carrom board when my granddaughters are visiting, just to see how long they put up with "snipping" those hard little carroms around the board.  I'm guessing just once.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pheasants Raised on Miller Farm Are Displayed at Washington Zoo

Huron Daily Plainsman (Huron, SD)
Sunday, May 26, 1968
Page 15

[Caption 1]: The Raising of Pheasants is a project of the Seeman Pheasant Farm, which is located at the northwest edge of Miller.  The farm is operated by Mrs. Mary Yost and owned by her two sons, Jerry Yost, of rural Miller, and Jack Seeman, of Willmar, Minnesota.  The majority of the pheasants are sold for “the dinner table,” although last year 500 were purchased by Pheasants Unlimited, Inc., of Sioux Falls, to stock Hand County.

[Caption 2]: Pheasants raised on the Seeman farm at Miller are a cross between a ringneck and a monogolian.  The eggs (shown at top) are not nested, but instead lay in the open, requiring 24 ½ days to hatch.  Once the egg is hatched, it takes another 16 weeks before the chicks (shown at bottom) are full grown.

PHEASANTS RAISED ON MILLER FARM ARE DISPLAYED AT WASHINGTON ZOO

                Miller – A Miller woman who has been raising pheasants for the past six years says when she first started “I didn’t know anything about this business.”
                Mrs. Mary Yost, who manages the Seeman Pheasant Farm located at the northwest edge of the city, said she’s in the pheasant business “for profit” and last summer sold 500 ringnecks to Pheasants Unlimited, Inc., of Sioux Falls.
                “The birds which were purchased by Pheasants Unlimited were used to bolster the pheasant population in Hand County,” she said, “and we anticipate they will do the same again this year.”
                The farm is owned by Mrs. Yost’s two sons, Jerry Yost, of rural Miller, and Jack Seeman, of Willmar, Minn.
                “When we first started this business I didn’t know anything about raising pheasants,” Mrs. Yost said, “but have learned from experience.”
                But, this business has gained in popularity and in 1965 received national recognition when the State Game, Fish and Parks Department acquired six of Mrs. Yost’s pheasants and gave them to Sen. Karl E. Mundt, R-S.D., for display at the Washington zoo.
                The request for the birds came after Sen. Mundt had visited the zoo and found only one ring-necked pheasant displayed – and that one looked like a “scrawny rooster.”
                The South Dakota senator immediately contacted the State Game Department and requested “six healthy species” of the state’s official bird to be placed in the zoo.
                Upon receipt of the birds, it was first announced that they had been “trapped in the wild,” but this was quickly straightened out and proper credit given to the Seeman farm.
                Mrs. Yost said she is faced with numerous problems – topped by the fact that pheasants are cannibalistic.
                “Only about 50 per cent of the hatched eggs live and we can’t put two hatches together – otherwise the older birds will eat the young ones,” she said.
                The eggs lay out in the open since the pheasants don’t nest and it’s necessary to check the pens frequently and collect the eggs before they are eaten by the birds, she added.
                “The wild pheasant hen usually does nest – finding a good hiding place for her eggs,” Mrs. Yost said.  There are approximately 400 eggs in each hatch, with a total of five hatches counted last year. 
                Other problems are cats and horned owls “who are constantly a threat to the young pheasants, although Mrs. Yost said she has had little trouble with hawks or skunks.
                “It takes about 24 ½ days for an egg to hatch and 16 weeks before the bird is full grown,” she said, adding: “We clip one of the chick’s wings at birth to keep them from flying away.  If we didn’t we’d have to put a roof on the pens.”
                The pheasants raised on the Seeman farm are a cross between the ringneck and mongolian pheasant, she said.
                When asked if the drop in the state’s pheasant population has bolstered her business, Mrs. Yost replied: “We sold more pheasants last year than we did a year ago, but I don’t think this had anything to do with it.”
                “Pheasants which are raised on a farm such as this are much tastier eating than the wild ones,” she said – a fact which has probably played a major role in the recent success of the farm.