Monday, May 23, 2011



Charlotte was the third of six daughters and one son born to New Englanders Elijah and Catherine Whipple Bond. She was born in Genessee County, New York. Her parents were from New Hampshire.

It's possible to get an idea of the family's movement west by looking at birth and marriage places. Elijah and Catherine were married in Kingston, Vermont in 1816. The first daughter, Mary Angeline, was born in Vermont. The next five daughters, Philena, Charlotte, Harriet, Jane and Marinda, were all born in New York. Son John was born in Summit County, Ohio in 1836.

Sometime around 1847 the senior Bonds, along with several of their married daughters, moved to Noble County, Indiana, and that is where they settled. Charlotte and her husband, James Ryland, lived near Kendallville and Charlotte's sisters, Harriet Graham and Marinda Ihrie lived near Lisbon, where their father, Elijah, became an exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

It is unfortunate that in that time period women's stories are mostly the stories of their husbands, especially when they settled in somewhat rural areas. So Charlotte's life was circumscribed by being the wife of a farmer and the mother of 5 sons - Francis Marion, James Arthur, George Washington, Charles Albert Eugene, and Alfred Adelbert - and 1 daughter, Olive Clerzen, who died as an infant.

Son Alfred died unmarried at the age of 29. George Washington had some sort of accident that left him somewhat brain damaged and he lived with his parents until they died, after which time he was cared for by his brother Charles.

As her sons married, some moved away - James to Kansas and Francis to Ohio. Charles stayed in Indiana until both Charlotte and James died, and then he and his brother George moved to Mississippi.

Charlotte was widowed in 1902 and our family has letters from her written in 1907 where she admits she is going deaf and that she is lonesome to see her sons who have moved away. She chides her sons for not writing often enough and praises her grandson, Byrd Ryland (son of son James) for continuing to write letters to her, the last one about the birth of Byrd Jr., her grandson, in Kansas. She died in 1908.

She and her husband are buried in the Kendallville, Indiana cemetery. Two obituaries exist, one from the Kendallville Sun on 11/5/1908:

Ryland, Charlotte, 87, died at Lima Ohio where she was visiting her sister, Monday. She was the widow of James Ryland of Allen Twp who died about 6 years ago. She had resided in Allen Twp since 1847, coming to this county from Ohio. She leaves 4 sons, C.A. and G. W. of Allen Twp., F.M. of Cincinnati, and J.A. of Caldwell, Kansas.
A second larger obituary was printed on November 11, 1908 that added the following information:

Charlotte Ryland: Daughter of Elijah and Catherine Bond, she was born in Genessee County, NY Dec. 25, 1820. She with her parents came to eastern Ohio in 1832 and was married to James Ryland in 1841. On July 24, 1902 her husband died, aged 82 years 3 months and 23 days. They had 5 sons and one daughter. The daughter died in infancy and one son in early manhood. She died November 3, aged 87 years 10 months and 8 days.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011



Lillie Jane (sometimes Jennie) McConnell was the first of eight children born to John B and Narcissa Frances "Bonnie" Wright McConnell and one of only three who survived to adulthood. She was my Grandma Maud's sister. There was 8 years between Lillie and Maud another 8 years before brother Harrie Uberto "Bert" was born. The first seven children were born in Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky. Sometime before 1880 the McConnells left Kentucky and settled in Kosse, Texas, where John took up farming.

The family records that Lillie spent a year teaching school in Texas and then in 1886 married Benjamin Franklin McCammon, a train engineer. They shortly moved to Colorado City (now part of Colorado Springs) and by 1892 four children had been born. The oldest baby died, but the other three children, Hazel, Floyd and John all lived.

Ben either purchased or had a house built at 1804 Colorado Street, which remained in the McCammon family until 1977.

In 1893 Lillie was widowed when her husband was killed in a train wreck. A local newspaper gave the details:

Lillie's family came from Texas to help her, and it was decided that her younger sister Maud, now nearing 18 years old, would stay and help her sister with the children.

Once they got to be of school age, Maud took a job at a bookstore in town, and in 1898 she met and married Scott Dobbins, a rancher and musician. The wedding was held at Lillie's house. A year later, Lillie married Charles Wheeler, a building contractor and in 1900 she gave birth to their only child, Lucy Eleanor Wheeler.

Maud's husband died in 1917, leaving two children, Dorothy 13, and Scott Jr. 9. Maud had to go to work full time, so Lillie returned the favor and became a loving caretaker to her own sister's children. Lillie died in 1939 and Charlie in 1940.

Sunday, May 15, 2011



Ed was born Jan 31, 1897 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the fourth of six children. His parents were Henry and Carrie Kaufman. According to his story, he joined the Marines at a young age, probably somewhere near 17, and by June of 1918 he was fighting against the Germans in a very famous WWI battle at Belleau Woods, 70 miles outside of Paris. The Germans used gas warfare (a poisonous mustard gas) and Ed was taken ill from the gas and hospitalized. He was released from the service with severely impaired lungs. By 1920 he was back home with his family in Baton Rouge, but the doctors advised him that if intended to continue living, he needed to get out of the humid climate of Louisiana and go to Arizona. He did, but he found way too much desert in Arizona so he decided to try California. He was able to find a job with Swift Meat Company in Los Angeles and settled in Glendale.

While Ed was still living with his family in Baton Rouge, a young female student at LSU, took a room in the Kaufman house. Her name was Sylvia Asher. She had been born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana but both parents had died about the time she headed to college. She and Ed fell in love and after his move to California she followed him. They married in Los Angeles in 1926 and had a single child, Carolyn Phyllis Kaufman, in 1930.

After working a few years in Los Angeles, Ed was assigned the territory of East Riverside County. The family moved for a short while to Banning and ultimately settled in the city of Riverside.

Ed was the consummate salesman. He made friends easily, could talk a good talk, and made money for the Company. He was known to his customers as “Swifty.” Those customers were buyers of large quantities of meat – restaurants, hotels, resorts – and a great deal of his business was done in Palm Springs, which in those days (1930s) was to Southern California what Las Vegas became later to Nevada.

Ed’s lung condition was greatly improved by the mellow California climate, though of course his smoking wasn’t helping it any. Ed had started smoking unfiltered Chesterfield cigarettes in Louisiana when he was eight years old and continued smoking until his death in 1984. Sometime around 1953 or 1954, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was put in the Riverside Community Hospital. He was there for a month or so before a bed became available at the City of Hope in Duarte. Ed spent a year there recovering. At the end of the year, Ed was released as recovered and he went back to Riverside and to work.

Ed's wife, Sylvia, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1956 and died within the year. Later his only daughter, Carole, also developed breast cancer and she died in 1974. Ed spent his last years back and forth between Southern California and Louisiana. He loved being near his own family in Baton Rouge but hated the humid weather. In Southern California he had two grandchildren but he rarely saw them except at the Jewish holidays. As much as anything he lived a nomadic life, using his stationwagon bed in lieu of motels on the trips back and forth.

During his lifetime he had serious intestinal problems, which necessitated removal of a portion of his stomach. As he aged he became more and more debilitated and finally in his 87th year he passed away in a convalescent home.

It was not in Ed's genes to die of lung cancer after smoking for almost 80 years. And a tiny bit of his obstreperous nature kept him from stopping "just in case." In spite of the loss of his wife and daughter, he led a life on his own terms, a life full of fun, family and friends.

He and Sylvia are buried side by side at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011



Family History
William Hurlbut's paternal grandfather was Stephen Augustus Hurlbut, an attorney from South Carolina who arrived in Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois, in 1845.

William’s paternal grandmother, Sophronia Stevens, was the daughter of George Stevens, a New York lumberman for whom Stevens Point, Wisconsin is named. Leaving Almond NY in the late 1830s, George made his way to the Wisconsin river and prepared to go up into the pineries. The point on the river where he offloaded his supplies became known as Stevens landing, later Stevens Point. Upriver he set up his sawmill at Big Bull Falls, which later was called Wausau. The story of his lumbering years is told in Malcolm Rosholt’s “Pioneers of the Pineries.”

George Stevens moved his family from New York to Belvidere by 1847, where he retired. Sophronia Stevens and Stephen A. Hurlbut married in 1847.

Two of his daughters married attorneys. These men knew Abraham Lincoln, who practiced law in the same area. In 1861 Stephen was appointed a Brigadier General by General Grant and saw action in Missouri, Mississippi and Louisana. Later in his career he was appointed minister to Peru.

Stephen and Sophronia had only one child, George Henry Hurlbut, who was born in 1848. George H. graduated from the University of Chicago where he received a degree in Civil Engineering. He was mayor of Belvidere for two three-year terms. He was a businessman and an inventor, as well as a community activist. In 1905 he and his wife moved to New York where both their sons, Stephen A. and William J. had located.

Their oldest son, Dr. Stephen A. Hurlbut, became a Professor of Greek and Latin and taught both in New York city and later at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C.. He also operated St. Alban’s Press in Washington and later in Charleston, S. C.

So it is not unusual to find that William J. Hurlbut, George’s youngest son, made his own name in “lights” – both on Broadway as a playwright and in Hollywood as a screenwriter.

William's Career
Newspaper clippings from Belvidere indicate that as a child, “Will’s” interests were in writing, acting and drawing. In fact, upon graduation from high school he attended art school in both St. Louis and Chicago, intending to be an illustrator. But before graduating, he decided he was ready for New York, where he set up an art studio and sold some magazine illustrations. However, he found himself dissatisfied with what he was producing and what he was selling, so instead he began writing for the theater, with his first play produced in 1908. After 25 years writing for the stage, he was summoned to Hollywood and from that time on he lived in the Los Angeles area where he finished out his career. His two best known movies were "Bride of Frankenstein" and "Imitation of Life."

He built a house up in Whitley Heights near the Hollywood Bowl where he entertained lavishly. The house was demolished to make way for the 101 Freeway. In the late 1930s he had an acquaintance with Meher Baba, a Spiritual Master from India, who was involved with a number of members of the movie colony.

William continued writing through the late 40s. He died on May 4, 1957 and is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011



The picture above may be of Roll Humphrey Stevens. It is in the Stevens family album but does not have a name on it. A process of elimination, although very “iffy,” suggests it is he.

He was my grandma Jessie’s first cousin. Both were born in Sterling, Kansas, one in 1885 and the other in 1886. He died in 1903 while still a teenager, and I never heard any family stories about him. In fact, I didn’t even know he existed until 1984 when I received in the mail a copy of a short handwritten family history written by Frank Dana Stevens, forwarded to me from a very distant relative in Wichita. The first page said, “Roll Humphrey Stevens, born August 29, 1886, died October 29, 1903.” Nothing more was said. The fellow was only 17.

He was buried in Maple Hill cemetery in Wichita but without a tombstone. I knew that Humphrey was his mother’s maiden name, and that there was a family friend or relative also named Roll Humphrey, which I’m sure is where Frank Stevens got the name. And in a printed bio of father Frank in a Kansas book it noted that Roll was killed in a train accident. I also learned that his first name was Rolland.

A newspaper article about the train wreck excerpted from the October 31, 1903 issue of the Wichita Eagle says this:

“Roll Sevens was a young man well and favorably known in Wichita, and has always borne an excellent reputation. He was born in Sterling, Kansas, August 27, 1885 [sic]. His parents moved to Wichita a number of years ago and the young man has always lived with his parents until a few weeks ago, when he left for St. Louis to accept a position with a train news company. The boy had not been heard from since he left home, and consequently Mr. Stevens was horrified to learn of the sad accident. The boy attended the public schools of the city in his boyhood, was a student at the high school at Carbondale and graduated from the Wichita Business College.”
The newspaper article is very vague on the cause of the accident, calling it simply a “smash-up” and it isn’t clear about the injuries and deaths of passengers. It was probably too soon to have the details in print. What is left hanging is an understanding of the following paragraph: “The engineer and fireman jumped and saved themselves, but three tramps who were riding on the blind baggage got the full force of the collision. One man named Stevens, who lived at Wichita, was killed and another was seriously injured.”

Roll's father, a well-to-do man in Wichita business circles, didn’t know why his son would have been in that location. But he admitted he hadn't heard from his son since he graduated. And in fact, at first there was some question as to whether or not Roll was one of the three who died in that crash. Unfortunately, he was.

As for what a "train news company" was, a Wikipedia article on the Van Noy Railway News and Hotel Company noted that early passenger trains had neither dining nor lounge cars so they employed young men to walk through the cars selling newpapers, books, food, etc. They were referred to as “News Butches.” I am sure that is exactly what Roll was doing on that train. He was a bright young man with a future in business and was from a well-known family in Wichita. It was obvious that he was not a tramp hitching a ride on that train.

Roll Stevens had a short life. While I can't prove it, I'd like to think that it truly his life that is honored with the picture above.